April 1, 1998 Issue
by Rick Martin

    The late Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Congress told a story known as the "Keeper of the Spring." This story is about a man who lived in the forest high above an Austrian village that was located on the eastern slopes of the Alps. This man was hired by the town council to clear away the rubbish from the pools of water up in the mountains that fed the spring that flowed through their town. With faithful regularity, the keeper of the spring moved among the hills removing leaves and branches and silt that would contaminate the fresh flow of water. The town became a popular attraction for vacationers who were attracted to its beautiful clear spring.

    Years passed and one evening the town council met for its semi-annual meeting. As they looked over the budget, one man began to question the salary being paid to the obscure keeper of the spring. He questioned why they kept the old man year after year. The council members decided the old man's services were no longer needed.

    For several weeks nothing changed. By early fall, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the flow of water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint to the water. Within a few weeks, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. Tourists to the little town soon left and many of the residents became sick.

    Quickly the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their error, they hired back the keeper of the spring. Within a few weeks the spring cleared and the little town returned to a normal life.

    This story is just an idle tale, but it has an analogy to the times in which we live. What the keeper of the spring meant to the town, true Christians mean to the world. The springs of God's truths have been clogged with the rubbish of man's doctrines and ideas and God's people must be "keepers of the spring."

    Even before the apostles died, the springs of God's eternal truth began to be clogged with the opinions and doctrines of men. Some of the Jews who did not know the difference between the law of Moses and the Gospel began to clog the springs of truth with Judaism. (Col 2:16) "Let no man judge you in meat or in drink or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or the Sabbath days." These were some things that pertained to the law of Moses, but some of the Jews tried to put them in the Lord's Church.

    In his work with the Corinth Church, the apostle Paul spent a great deal of time removing heathen philosophies from the springs of truth.

    Some other man-made doctrines came along and clogged the springs of God's eternal truths. The simple pattern of church organization with elders and deacons over local congregations was replaced by a Roman hierarchy. Baptism as commanded by Jesus was replaced with sprinkling, infant baptism was taught, and for the simple singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, they substituted the playing of instrumental music.

    Throughout history, there have been many things that have clogged the springs of eternal truth. Christians, who would be keepers of the springs, must continue to cry out against every innovation, every evil and damnable doctrine that is practiced. It is well and good, and even right, to cry out against these things that are without, but there comes a time when we must look within. There are some things within that have clogged the springs of God's eternal truths and we must clear the rubbish from our own lives.

    The Church today is not meeting with a lot of opposition from the world. A reason for that might be that in many cases, you cannot tell the difference. The problem is not the Church in the world, but rather the world in the Church. Too many church members have the tendency to become like the world, rather than completely different from it. Being different from those around us is not a new exhortation. God has always urged his people to follow this advice. (Lev 20:23-24) "And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things and therefore I abhorred them. But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it a land that floweth with milk and honey:  I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people." A study of the history of Israelites shows us that they did not always heed God's exhortation. They did not separate themselves and the cost was high. Ultimately, it led to captivity and slavery in a foreign land. Many years later, when the Israelites were allowed to return to their country, God's exhortation was the same. (Ezra 10:11) "Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure, and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives."

    In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul talks about separation from the world. (II Cor 6:15-17) "And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hat the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said I will dwell in them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you." Separation is something that God's people must practice.

    Most of us have heard how a frog can be boiled to death without any resistance. Placed in a cool pot of water on a cooking surface, the frog remains content and unsuspecting as the heat beneath is increased gradually. The frog's temperature rises with the temperature of the water until it is finally boiled alive. Some Christians have jumped in the "pot" of the world and they are getting use to the heat.

    Long ago, Lot chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom. He never considered the character of the inhabitants of the land. In doing so he failed to realize the effect their presence would have on his relationship with God. Today, many Christians have done the exact thing that Lot did. They have adopted a casual view, even participating in worldly things. Worldliness has taken hold of many Christians and it has had an effect upon the Church and the Truth and we must clear our lives of this rubbish!

    Another thing that has hindered the flow of the Word of Life is the unwillingness on the part of many church members to sacrifice. Many are not willing to do anything for the Lord and his cause. They are not willing to give of their time in service to God. The Church will never grow as it should if only a few are willing to sacrifice and give of their time. God needs people who are able to give themselves completely to Him. A half hearted service is unacceptable.

    The Gospel is the greatest message in the world, yet there are many who are not willing to sacrifice their time and money to get this message to others. The Church of today has the greatest opportunity to spread the Gospel of any age, yet there are so few who are willing to do it.

    The early Church labored under the severest of circumstances, but they did not fail in their efforts. Even though many of them were forced to leave their homes, they taught the Gospel wherever they went. (Acts 8:4) "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Gospel."

    People must be willing to give of themselves, their time, their care, and their compassion. This is something that is sorely lacking in our society today. The type of sacrificing and giving needed is personal. It usually involves adapting our ways and schedule to fit into the needs of others and the needs of the Church. Some people never think about giving up their own personal pleasure for the Church. It does not make any difference to them if the Church and the Gospel are going to suffer. Sacrifice calls for flexibility. Sometimes people and the church are going to need us when we had plans to do other things.

    It makes no difference, whether anyone else does the work of the Lord, as individuals we have a responsibility to do the work. When people do not live up to that responsibility, they are not pleasing the Lord. The unwillingness to sacrifice time and self has caused the springs of God's eternal truths to be clogged.

    There are many important jobs in this world—To be a President, King, Queen, or Emperor. Perhaps a great scientist, doctor, lawyer, teacher or Chief Executive Officer of some large corporation. These jobs would bring much recognition as far as the world is concerned. There is one job more important than all of these—it is a job that will not bring much recognition. It is to be a "Keeper of the Spring." We need "keepers of the spring" to clear the rubbish out of the springs of truth; so that a selfish, thirsty world may be refreshed with the waters of life. Let us, as God’s people, remove the rubbish from our lives and become "Keepers of the Spring."

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