Article 48

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What we Believe






"The Broken Cisterns of Works Religion"

"For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer. 2:13).

I must begin by pointing out here that I do not follow the Reformed thought and manner of interpretation as some may be prone to do of this passage, especially as it would apply today. In other words, this was not a statement by God through Jeremiah about the Church of old and their failure thus mindful of some of the Church today and her failure. God speaks of "my people" who in this passage is Israel the nation not the Church of old. In this passage God speaks of the reprobate among the nation of Israel not the erring among the called of God in Israel. Even so we see here a correlation of facts relevant to today in that there are those who would be called the Church who are not indeed THE Church. As every natural Israelite is not necessarily a spiritual child of God (Rom. 9:6-8) or a true Jew in the spiritual sense (Rom. 2:28-29) even so every local church member is not necessarily a member of the body of Christ (II Pet. 2:2; Jude 4, 11-13). Moreover, the elect of God begin this life where all others do in the depravity of the Adamic nature (Rom. 3:9-19; Eph. 2:1-3) and thus a warning to the reprobate about their sins against God may well be that which God would use to instruct the elect to "come out" of false religion (cf. Rev. 18:4). Herein is the crux of what I am trying to say here. The scripture revels such evil as mentioned in Jeremiah chapter two, not to correct the Church of her evil but to warn those who would be a part of the true Church of that which manifests the false. God is not seeking the reformation of the Church from the false but the "coming out" of His true people from the false.

Is there a religion, which claims to be Christian but is not? Yes! Sadly, false Christianity seems to be accepted (relatively speaking) by the world as true Christianity rather than the true believers in Christ being so acknowledged. But this is to be expected of the spiritually blind and should be no great wonder. This false Christianity is guilty today of the same two, interconnected sins of which Israel of old was then guilty…

(1) Forsaking God.

(2) Relying on human ability with a two-fold fault.

(a) They relied on the works of their own hands (hewed them out cisterns).

(b) Their works were faulty (broken cisterns that can hold no water).

For anyone who truly hungers and thirsts after the water of righteousness before God that person shall be filled, but they will be filled in the truth and by Him who is "living waters" and not from the broken cisterns of false religion.

Of course, this "water," "cisterns," "hewing," is not literally such but are metaphoric of spiritual realities. However, they are not symbols of something that cannot be relayed in thought by the metaphor itself, nevertheless, their meaning must be confirmed by other scriptures. In other words, they are not open to man’s opinion of what they mean or how they are fulfilled or relate to our day, however studious and educated that opinion may be, but it must be defined by the direct word of scripture in accord with the context of each passage.

So then, the Lord Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh (Jn. 1:1-3,14) who is the water of life (Jn. 7:37-39) and thus it is His to give (Jn. 4:1-14). The whole indication of God being the "living waters" and the sin of cisterns being "hewed out" is that God is the fountain from which and the liquid of which the thirsty drink. No vessel, certainly not one made by man’s device, is needed from which to drink of life seeing that one is to drink directly from Christ the fountain. God condemns as sin not just men having broken cisterns but the hewing of them in the first place. The hewing indicates both their felt need for something of a religious nature and the spiritual rebellion of the hewing itself being a forsaking of God. What are some of the cisterns, which are all broken cisterns, that man is hewing out today? Here are just a few:

(1) Altar calls for salvation.

(2) Various soul winning techniques.

(3) Sunday Schools and DVBS.

(4) Missionary Boards.

(5) Sports teams and vacation trips in the name of Christ.

(6) Humanitarianism.

Religious people who profess Christianity use these things as tools to help God save if not considering them to be outright salvation itself in some cases. The old way and the old paths, which God has ordained and that has worked for hundreds of years is no longer suitable for modern religion, which calls itself Christian. They must hew their own cisterns and they are indeed broken. Granted, some of religion’s cisterns hold their religious water better than others but none are to the honor of God. Religion rejects the mere preaching or proclamation of the gospel of Christ as God’s ordained way. Indeed, Christendom [professed Christianity] has committed these two evils. Let us who know the Lord of glory stick to the old ways and the old paths. To Christ is the honor.

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