|Vol. 1, No. 8||Page 15||August 1999|
Back To The Spring
By Curtis A. Cates
The handiwork of God is simply amazing. What a marvel is the majesty of the towering Rockies, or the luring fascination of the Smokies, or the simple beauty of the vividly painted canyons of the West! But, unsurpassed in the mind of this writer is the pure and graceful spring of water, bursting forth from a mountain’s lofty heights. However, it seems nothing so clear can long remain.
Very vivid in the writer’s memory is his having climbed Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains with his father and his brother, Paul, some forty-one years ago. In memory’s eye, the hike must have been twenty miles to the summit and six miles down. What a welcomed sight was a clear, sparkling spring gushing forth from rocks through which it had percolated and cascaded! How refreshing it was! How renewing and revitalizing! Could this stream, clear as crystal, ever become contaminated and muddy?
What a thing of beauty to see it splash and meander down the gorge, displaying in sparkling fascination its water-tumbled and smoothed pebbles, its rainbow-colored trout and even the reflection of its awe-struck observer! However, farther down the gorge when streams from other sources in the valley have fed their mud, filth and debris into the steadily enlarging stream, no longer can one observe the darting fish or the washed pebbles, nor can he see his reflection.
The person wishing to see the pure, sparkling, uncontaminated water must proceed upward, rising ever beyond the streams entering this one, up, up, up the gorge until he comes to the sparkling spring, pure as crystal.
High in the mountain peaks of Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-3) nearly two thousand years ago burst forth a spring of “living water,” a fountain which the prophets saw (Isaiah 12:1-3; 49:10; 44:3), a veritable oasis in a parched desert (Psalms 143:6). Zechariah had excitedly spoken of and predicted “the Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness” (Zechariah 13:1). The Old Testament had stated that from Christ, the Messiah, would “flow rivers of living water” (John 7:27-28), water which – if partaken – would slake the thirst of the famished, “springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14); and, this fountain would be always flowing, for its source would be the unfailing and unfathomable depths of infinite grace and divine wisdom (Isaiah 8:6). No other water could possibly satisfy!
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, So panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: When shall I come and appear before God” (Psalms 42:1-2)?Only “living water” – nothing else – could bring rest from the deepest cravings and otherwise insatiable cries of the human soul. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is (Psalms 63:1).
What a thing of beauty to visualize the unadulterated water of life, pure as crystal, springing forth from Jerusalem, making its way to Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth; all heard the Word (Acts 19:10; Colossians 1:23)! Into this mirroring, sparkling fountain could the sinner look and behold his natural face. If he allowed it to change his life, he could be saved (James 1:21-25). The welcomed message was, “And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). The Holy Spirit had revealed an inspired message, and the first century church vigorously proclaimed it. Could this pure, spiritually revitalizing stream ever become contaminated by the opinions and traditions of men?
Scarcely had the Gospel been preached to the world, however, but that the “water of life” began to be corrupted by the “muddy streams” of human philosophy, judaizing heresy, decadent worldliness, presumptuous creeds and ecclesiasticisms and corrupt worship. Meandering through the centuries of the Dark Ages and the Reformation, the stream’s muddy, impure nature was but exacerbated by the ever increasing debris of superstition, skepticism, rationalism, liberalism, denominationalism, et al.
Famishing sinners, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, could no longer see their actual image in the stream; it had lost its life-giving power. Inasmuch as the sin-polluted, guilt-ridden, desperately-diseased soul has the exact needs today as in the first century, one must proceed back, back, back, beyond the muddy, filthy streams of human traditions which corrupted the original stream of primitive Gospel. Having traced it beyond the Reformation, beyond the Dark Ages, beyond the apostasy of the first few centuries, the sinner must imbibe the pure water of life spoken by the apostles of Christ. The old Jerusalem Gospel – and it alone – can save today. The Pentecostians heard the Gospel, repented of past sins and were baptized for the remission of sins. The Lord added them to the church of Christ, the primitive body for which Christ died.
The faith once for all delivered unto the saints (Jude
3) will be obeyed by honest hearts, lived by the faithful, proclaimed by
Gospel preachers and defended by all Christians, especially elders.
And faithful men will continue teaching the unadulterated truth to faithful
men, who shall teach others also.