The living water

Saint Ignatius Briancianinov

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.(John 4, 23)

My beloved brothers! We have heard in the Gospel that the true servants of the true God worship Him in spirit and truth; that God wants to have such worshipers. If God wants to have such worshipers it means of course that He receives only such worshipers and servants that only such worshipers and servants please Him. We got this teaching from the Son of God himself. Let’s believe in Christ’s teaching! Let’s receive with our whole love Christ’s most holy teaching! And in order to follow Him properly let’s search what means to worship God the Father in Spirit and in Truth.

The Truth is our Lord Jesus Christ according to His own testimony brought about himself: I am the way, and the truth, and the life.(John 14,6). The Truth is the Word of God: Your word is Truth. (John 17, 17).

This Word existed ever before in God, was said by God and towards God. This Word is God. This Word is the Creator of all seen and unseen. (John 1,1,3; Col.1,16) This Word has become flesh and dwelt within us and we saw His glory, glory of someone who was born from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1,14)

No one has ever seen God but the Word of God, the One born Son, who is in His Father’s bosom, He is the One who testified about Him (John 1,18) The Son of God, the Word of God, testified about Him before men, showed God in His fullness to men. The Son of God showed to men the Truth they could not reach by themselves, testifying in an undeniable way the Truth through the plentiful offering of the divine grace. We all took from His fullness grace after grace; for the Law of Moses was given and the grace and truth were given through Christ (John 1, 16-17) This means that Christ did not bring any clearer or more detailed comprehension of the grace and truth but the grace and truth themselves were given to people, engrained in their being.

We were made partakers of the divine nature (II Peter l, 4).

The Truth has its own Spirit. This Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth (John 15, 26 and 16,13). He is the Spirit Who comes from the Father (John 15, 26).  He is the Holy Spirit of God (John 14,26) He is the Spirit of the Son (Galatians 4,6) since He forms together with the Father and the Son a single and inseparable divine Being.

The receiving of Truth is in the same time a receiving of the Holy Spirit: because the most Holy Truth announces about Himself that He shall send the Holy Spirit from the Father of His disciples.

It’s natural that the Holy Spirit of truth dwells where the Holy Truth works to seal its works. In the same time where the Holy Spirit works there is the plentiful presence of Truth, in accordance with the words of the Lord said to His disciples:

 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  (John 16, 13). Presenting the wonderful bond between the divine Word and the divine Spirit, the Lord said about the Holy Spirit:

 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you. (John 16, 14-15). The Holy Spirit announces and shows to men the consubstantial Son, the one of a Being with the Father and the Holy Spirit.. The Holy Spirit is drawn by people by their faith in the Son Who is One of a being with the Spirit. The true Christian is spiritually shaped by the Holy Spirit who changes his appearance and makes him be an abode of God. (Ephesians 2,22) He carves and shelters Christ in his inner being (Ephesians 3,16-17) He brings to men the divine adoption, making them resemble Christ, as they have inside His attributes. (John 14,6)

The men who are adopted by God pray to Him like to a Father, because the Holy Spirit testifies in a truthful and heartfelt way the spirit of the man renewed by Him (Romans 8,16), speaking about the union of this man with God, about his adoption by God.

Since you are sons, says the Apostle, God sent the Spirit of His Son in your hearts that cry: Avva, father! (Galatians 4,6) Such worshipers are recognized as true worshipers of God ! Such worshipers who worship God in Spirit and Truth are sought and received by God.

Out of the true Christianity there is no knowledge of God, no worshipping of God.

No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14, 6), the Lord said. For the one who doesn’t believe in the Lord Jesus Christ there is no God: No one who denies the Son has the Father. (I John 2, 23), who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the anger of God remains over him. (John 3,36)

It is not possible to approach God, it is not possible to partake God otherways than by the intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ the only intercessor, the only means of partaking God for men.

There is no real knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ without the intercession of the Holy Spirit! No one can say “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
, the Apostle says (I Corinthians 12, 3).

And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Romans 8, 9).

Out of Christianity there is no virtue worthy of heaven ! Good can neither be believed nor done if it is not in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – says saint Mark the Hermit. The human good deeds are unworthy of God if they come out of our debased nature, where good is mixed with evil, where good is almost negligible because there is so much evil

Our debased nature has a prevailing condition of evil, according to what God himself declares: Every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. (genesis 8,21)   You,  though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children (Luke 11, 13) 

Such price has before the Gospel and before God the natural kindness of man and the deeds coming from it. In vain the debased human nature praises its great and resonant good deeds! This penny-trumpet is a proof of a terrifying blindness! This self-advertisement is an involuntary disclosure of the true attributes of the resonant human good deeds inspired and fed by vainglory. The bed smell of pride spread by these whitewashed tombs is insufferable for God: He prefers the incense of humility.

For this reason the Lord commanded the renouncement at the debased nature of the degenerate and blind mankind that is not aware if its bitter fall but on the contrary sees in it a great triumph and tries to increase it. Our renunciation at sin is absolutely required for our salvation.

But the sin became so familiar to us that it turned into a second nature of our soul. For giving up on sin it is absolutely required to give up on our debased nature, on our debased soul (Matthew 10, 39) to give up not only on our visible evil deeds but also on the good deeds, so much praised by the world of our old debased self; it is absolutely necessary to change our way of thinking and adopt Christ’s way of thinking and to replace the deeds coming from the impulse of senses and the earthly thought with the zealous fulfillment of the commandments given by Christ.

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.(John 8, 31-32)

Such deep and wonderful words! The teaching we get from them is that the sin keeps the man in its captivity only through the stray and deceitful sights. It is also obvious that the ruinous roving of these sights consists in considering as good what in fact is not good and in not seeing as evil was is baneful evil.

Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God, said the Lord. (John 8,47)

Brothers! Let us humble ourselves before God! Let us show our obedience to God – as the Jews who were petrified did not do, denying God – let us follow his most holy and saving teaching. Let us give up on the way of thinking brought by our debased nature and by the world which is against God! Let us adopt the way of thinking offered by God in his Holy Gospel! Let us follow the Truth and we shall inherit the Truth. The truth frees the human mind from the invisible chains of deceit the sin had chained us with. Even more than this: the almighty Truth bringing spiritual freedom to our mind takes it out – after renewing and reviving it with life from above – on the path of the commandments of Christ far away from the path of injustice (Ps.118,29) The soul revived by the Truth sings with prophet David who was inspired by God:

I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding. Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law  and obey it with all my heart.(Ps 118, 32-34)

A soul like this surely communes with the Holy Spirit who comes and dwells where the divine Truth dwells and reigns and who in his secret communion with the divine Truth says this about himself:

I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts. (Ps. 118, 63).

As long as he remains in his debased nature, the man remains in the darkness of the deepest ignorance: he doesn’t know how to pray and what to pray for (Romans 8,26), he is not able to serve God. Only the faith in Christ brings the knowledge of Truth: the faith proven through the fulfillment of the commandments of Christ brings the grace of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer, as the divinely inspired prophet said:

I open my mouth and pant,   longing for your commands. (Ps. 118, 131).

Only the true Christian, the Christian who has faith and good deeds can be a true worshiper of God, who worships Him as a Father and serves Him as serving his Father, in Spirit and Truth. Amen.