Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” — John 4: 10
In order to attain salvation, human beings must ask for it and recognise the gift of God. The love of God for all human beings comes to expression in the sending of His Son (John 3: 16).
The Lord speaks to us…
From the moment He appeared on this earth Christ has implored mankind to accept the offer of salvation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3: 20). Here it becomes clear that the initiative often comes from the Lord. This was the case with Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 5) as well as with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The Lord said to her, “Give Me a drink!” He did not pay any attention to the reservations that the people around Him harboured: He called a despised sinner to Himself, and even addressed a Samaritan woman. In the minds of His Jewish contemporaries, both broke societal taboos; it was unthinkable.
After His sacrificial death, the Lord proclaimed the gospel in the realm of the dead (1 Peter 3: 19–20). Once again, God’s universal will to save (1 Timothy 2: 4–5), which also includes the departed, is clearly revealed here. This also applies in the present, even if it may seem inconceivable to many people.
… and those who recognise Him and ask, will receive.
Salvation is not imparted automatically. It requires that human beings realize that they need help. When the Lord turns to someone, the person He addresses must react positively, “If you knew the gift of God …, you would have asked Him.” For their part, human beings must recognise the Redeemer and then also humbly turn to Christ with the plea for help and living water. Also the souls in the beyond must recognise their need for help. This is a prerequisite to receive salvation.
Prayers for insight
Scripture speaks of various instances where people interceded for the necessary insight on the part of others.
- Elisha prayed that God would open the eyes of his servant so that the man could recognise the help of God (2 Kings 6:17).
- Apostle Paul interceded on behalf of the believers, asking God to enlighten the “eyes of [their] understanding” so that they might recognise their calling (Ephesians 1: 16, 18).
Thus one of the points of emphasis of our prayers might include the plea that the departed may recognise the salvation that is being offered to them. Jesus made it clear that no one was to be excluded from salvation. In linewith His example, we do not exclude anyone either when we pray. Let us ask that the departed
- may recognise Jesus Christ as the gift of God for salvation.
- may recognise the Apostles as those who today dispense the sacraments—which can be compared with living water—to those who ask for them.
Thus the imploring call of the ambassadors for Christ also resounds in the beyond today, “Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22: 17).
The events that will transpire on this day are supported by the firm belief that all those who truly long, and sincerely plead, will receive the help they need in accordance with the promise of the Lord, “For everyone who asks receives …” (Matthew 7: 8).
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service for the Departed held on Sunday, 01 November 2015 at Midrand Congregation.