"For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me-- the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! -- Jeremiah 2: 13 (NLT)
Barnes Notes on the Bible says that while the pagan is guilty of one sin, idolatry, the believer is actually guilty of two because they must first abandon God in order to pursue idols. The modern church has become idol chasers. Whatever the latest Christian fad is, the church dives in head first, seemingly without any care or discernment. I am sure some remember how in the 1990's the WWJD bracelets were going to change how we behaved. The Holy Laughter movement was going to take us into the river of God and soak us with the presence of the Holy Spirit -- forever changing us! Someone reminded me today about the Prayer of Jabez movement and how God was going to expand our territory! You have the "seven steps to a better you" and the "this is your best life" now nonsense. Beloved, if this is your best life then by definition you must be going to hell! Somewhere around 2005 we saw churches across the land unite to read the Purpose Driven Life during the 40 days of purpose campaign. In 2008 we saw the Lakeland Revival and the emergence and eventual fall of false prophet Todd Bentley. I think this is what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he wrote this warning to the Church at Ephesus:
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. -- Ephesians 4: 14 (NLT)
How sad it is that this describes the modern church. Immature like children chasing every new teaching and wind of doctrine. And how did all of this work out? We have traded in our WWJD bracelets and rightfully condemned the Holy Laughter movement as the heresy it always was. Did anyone get their territory enlarged from the heretical Prayer of Jabez? Have you taken those seven steps to a better you yet? Do you feel that Pastor Joel has led you into your best life now? Do you find your life has any more true purpose since being driven to read Rick Warren's Gospel-less gospel? The answers of course are no. Maybe we liked the book. Maybe we thought the movement had merit. At the end of the day however all these are in our lives are cracked cisterns.
We fill our lives and our faith with cracked cisterns beloved. We are chasing idols, or as the Bible says -- myths. The myth that there is a deeper spiritual experience waiting for us in the latest book. The latest small group curricula. The latest Christian fad to hit the market place. What does the key verse today teach us however? First of all, in order to chase after these things we must first abandon God! God is not going to share His glory with Joel Osteen, Bruce Wilkinson, or whoever is at the top of the best sellers list -- even Mark Batterson. We cannot chase after the false while holding onto the truth. It simply doesn't work that way. The truth of God's Word does not compromise with the things or thinking of this world. It does not need to because the Bible always has and always will be sufficient:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. -- 2Timothy 3: 16-17 (NLT)
There are no loopholes in these verses for Rick Warren to squeeze new purposes through. Secondly in the key verse, God reminds us who He is -- the fountain of living water! All a cistern can do is hold water. Do you know what held water does? It stagnates -- just like every teaching and doctrine listed here has done over time. God however is a fountain of living water. A fountain is defined as the source of water! A fountain does not end -- it is running. It is refreshed and renewed daily. You can read the Bible every day for the next thousand years and God can still reveal more and more to you. We cannot get that from a bracelet or an infomercial. Third from the key verse we see that we have dug these cisterns ourselves. It is not like we stumbled upon them -- we have worked for them. We have put effort into them and defend them despite Scriptural opposition. We have grown lazy in what we have been charged with guarding:
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. -- 1Timothy 4: 16 (NIV)
This is serious stuff beloved. Paul is saying here that salvation is on the line for many. When churches fall into apostasy, no matter how popular it may be; false conversions can be expected. What we buy into -- what cistern we choose to dig -- can have eternal consequences. Broad is the path that leads to destruction because there are a lot of people on it. Well intended people. Purpose driven people. This is how people get to the last day and say "Lord Lord" only to be turned away from heaven.
The last lesson from the key verse is that our efforts for chasing these winds of doctrine are all in vain because in the end the cisterns are cracked and cannot hold any water anyway. How many cracked doctrines do we have to see, which cannot hold the fountain of living water, before we turn back to God and back to His Word? Beloved realize that what is past is often merely prologue. We see the same silly things manifesting today that we have already dismissed after digging those cisterns years ago. Right now there is a national campaign for 40 days in hundreds of churches across this country to "change your prayer life" based on the heretical book, The Circle Maker. I have written two devotionals already about this book which seeks to alter our prayer life based on non-biblical characters who demand things from God in prayer. Just like 10 years ago though, we see it being marketed directly to churches, who then market it to their congregants because it is the latest fad in Christian circles. It is the purpose driven model all over again and in another ten years this book will be as useless as the Purpose Driven Life is today but there will be a new fad of doctrine to take its place in American churches.
The latest incarnation of the Holy Laughter movement is found in the Jesus Culture phenomena. Beloved realize that this spirit that seeks to supplant God has been around a long time. The Latter Rain movement in the 1950's was declared heretical by the Assemblies of God but it keeps coming back in other forms. That is all Holy Laughter was. Same as the Brownsville Revival, the Lakeland Outpouring, the "drunk in the spirit" nonsense and now the Jesus Culture movement. It is all about jumping in the river, fanning the flames, or some deeper plane of spirituality which is simply not in the Bible. Droning and inappropriate worship music combined with "fire tunnels", where people who you do not even know lay hands on you until you roll around on the floor. Jesus Culture was born at Bethel Church which is led by known heretic Bill Johnson. The is someone who claims God shows up in "glory clouds" in his services and has left behind angel feathers, gem stones, and gold dust as proof.
God does not share His glory beloved. Especially not with cracked cisterns that cannot possibly even hold water. People criticize discernment efforts such as this under the ruse of unity but the reality is that it just hits too close to home. Have you felt further from God then you were in the past? Have you chased all the winds of doctrine only to be left feeling empty and unfulfilled? Let me ask you one question -- where are you getting your water from? Are you getting it from the source? The fountain of living waters? Or are you digging cracked cisterns in your Christianity? Are you abandoning God to chase after myths or the latest teaching? Are you getting your water from a purpose driven, seeker-friendly, emergent minded, circle drawing cistern? Paul said all we needed to be taught was Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Put down that cup of dirty water. Come back to the Bible. Come back to God.