Broken Vessels


“Broken Vessels”
Jeremiah 2:13 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.

The prophet Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, was called to prophesy for God at a young age, but he became known as a major prophet in the Old Testament before it was all said and done. He was sent by the Lord like many before him in an attempt to turn God’s people back to Him. The children of Israel were steeped in idolatry, and had been for sometime, and they had long since forsaken the one who had delivered them. The Lord had never forgotten them, despite Israel’s constant turning to sin. The Lord had grown frustrated with His people’s blatant disregard for the Father; therefore, he sent Jeremiah to plead with them one last time to turn back before they suffered their deserving fate.
Babylon was a rising world power at this point in history. According to Smith’s Bible dictionary, this theme verse occurs around the year 629 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar reigned as king of Babylon at the time and would later take God’s children and the kingdom of Judah into captivity. The Lord used Nebuchadnezzar to decimate Jerusalem and bring God’s people into bondage, because they would not heed Jeremiah’s teachings.
The Lord was willing to deliver His people if they would only change their ways and serve the Him. But there is an interesting comparison that Jeremiah makes in our text. The prophet compares the chosen people to broken cisterns, or vessels that can hold no water. A cistern is defined as—a container used for storing water. A synonym of the word cistern that is commonly used in the scriptures is the word vessel. Jeremiah says that they had committed two evils: 1) they forsook the Lord, who is the fountain of living waters, and 2) they had hewn out cisterns, broken cisterns, that would hold no water. Jeremiah’s reference to broken cisterns or vessels in verse 13 actually referred to the idolatrous gods that the people of Judah had sought after in forsaking the Living God. The prophet says that these broken vessels would hold no water because they did not possess the living water of the one true God. They were idols, fake gods, and they had no power at all! It is unbelievable to me how God’s chosen people fought against every one of His commands, yet they were willing to worship an inanimate object even to the point of offering their children as sacrifices to it!
When I compare our society with the kingdom of Judah, I see similarities. I see people’s lives that are filled with immorality, drugs, alcohol, money, deceitfulness, and many other things. These things could easily be deemed as idols in their lives! People’s lives are literally in shambles because they have ruined themselves with idols that have done them nothing but harm! As a result, their heart is like a broken vessel. As long as people continue to put stock in these false “idols,” their lives will continue to resemble that of a broken vessel. Only the fountain of living water can quench our thirst, and heal the cracks in the vessel of the heart that are created by sin.

Colby Culbertson

When Shovels Break Review by Michael Bolton

WHEN SHOVELS BREAK, is a book written as a sequel to MUSCLE AND A SHOVEL, both by Michael J. Shank. It is a story that takes us more personally into the journey of faith that began in MUSCLE AND A SHOVEL. The following contains my opinion and recommendations about the book.
The reader is enthralled with the struggles of Michael and John, the two main characters of the story, their downward spiral, discouragement, and depression. Mr. Shank sets forth the hard facts of how sin enters and the horrifying danger it brings. One can sense the utter hopelessness and despair as John’s life spins out of control. Further one can sense the dichotomy of personalities as these two characters tread the road of shame caused by sin and rebellion. From extreme zeal to discouragement and disappointment because of fellow Christians lack of zeal, to drinking, marital unfaithfulness, drugs and greed until at the end of his rope Michael comes to himself.
I wept and hurt because of the emotions evoked in this story. Then I wept and rejoiced because of the restorations that are told. It seems that the book can be divided into three sections. First there was the story of darkness to light. In this part we have the joy of a man and his wife who had just found the gospel, and were on fire for the truth, who falls away. He/they fell far and hard. Christians everywhere can learn from this section about the high cost of sin. Christians everywhere should learn from this section to flee sin in any and every form.
The final section is not really in story form. Rather it seems to be Mr. Shanks preaching offering to fallen Christians hope. I think this section is very beneficial for brothers and sisters who have fallen away. It is chock full of encouragement to acknowledge sin, the role the individual plays in falling away, and a call for the church to abstain from the destructiveness of gossip. Here is my first criticism; Mr. Shank seems to indicate that the idea of biblical dis-fellowship should be avoided. The plain truth is that the New Testament clearly instructs that certain people are to be marked and avoided. (Philippians 3:17, 2 Timithoy 3:6) Of course when this type of action is taken the same document (New Testament) also teaches that the purpose of such discipline is to cause repentance (1 Corinthians 5:5), this eliminates the reason that is behind the evil of gossip, which appears to destroy the character of the one who is dis-fellowshiped.
The middle section, (this has been saved till last because it is the most dangerous part) is why it is unwise to recommend too highly, or to have many read the book. This part is very small, about 40 pages. This is where Mr. Shank learns about the divisions that has plagued the Lord’s church due to human innovation. On the one hand in these chapters he denounces the ecumenical mindset of our modern society. On the other hand he categorically encourages it among those who are part of the Lord’s church. It simply can’t be both ways. Mr. Shank in this section slams the scriptural position of correct Biblical worship. He derides those who do not use the Lord’s treasury to support institutions. He calls differences in interpretation ambiguous. He deplores those who dare stand only on a thus saith the Lord.
There Are many good lessons to be learned from this WHEN SHOVELS BREAK. The fact of sin and its high cost, the truth that when a Christian falls away he can be restored. We rejoice in these things. But in all I have to urge extreme caution when reading Mr. Shank’s WHEN SHOVELS BREAK. His plea for unity without regard to the plain teachings of the Bible and its examples are dangerous.

Dressed For Battle

roman soldier

Every day of their lives Christians are faced with a spiritual battle. This battle involves far more people, brings far more destruction, and causes more confusion than any military conflict.

The apostle Peter wrote of this spiritual conflict in I Peter 5:8-9, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring l ion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the-same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

Because of Satan’s craftiness it is important to identify our enemy and to be aware of the tactics that he uses. Satan desires to render the Christian useless and worthless to the kingdom of God. The Word describes Satan in a variety of ways. He is called a dragon, a murderer, and the father of lies. His spiritual allies engage-Christians in a spiritual battle every day. Satan never gets tired of tempting and harassing Christians. – – The activities of Satan seem to be more open today than at any other time. A few years ago you heard very little about the church of Satan or about witchcraft or the occult. This seems to be a pressing problem in some segments of our society today.

Satan tries to distract us from spiritual things. He wants us to focus on things that are material and on selfish desires. The world is full of things that can draw us away. Satan is the father of lies and his strategy is to deceive the believer. In Genesis, Eve told God, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” Satan misled her by giving her some false information. He told her she would be like God, “Knowing good and evil.” Each time we are tempted, Satan tries to deceive us with false information. One of Satan’s favorite means of deception is to try to minimize the consequences of sin. Sin always has consequences. When the Prodigal Son left his home of love he had to pay the consequences of his sins. God tells us that we will reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7). Satan wants us to believe we can pursue the world’s value system and remain pure. Adopting the world’s system only separates us from a holy God. Satan is the prince of this world system. When we make decisions based only on the world’s principles they are usually disastrous. Yet, Satan never talks about the hurt, pain, broken hearts, and devastation that result from decisions made apart from God’s truth.

A spiritual battle requires spiritual weapons. We must realize the seriousness of this battle in which we are engaged. In Eph. 6: ll-18, Paul describes the spiritual armor of God:

1. We must gird our loins with truth. This is an essential part of the soldier’s equipment. It keeps the other parts of the armor in place. The girdle of truth protects us from Satan’s deception. Truth equips the saint for the spiritual battle against Satan.

2. When we are dressed for battle we have on the “breastplate of righteousness.” We are able to counter the temptations of Satan with the truth of God. If we are familiar with God’s word, then we know how God wants us to deal with the temptations that arise in our lives. If we do not know God’s word, then we are left to handle the assaults of Satan on our own.

3. We are to shod our feet with the “preparation of the gospel of peace.” The Christian must have a good foothold. Preparedness is the thought expressed here. When we put on the “sandals of the Gospel of Peace” we are given courage and are ready for the battle against evil.

4. We are to take up the “shield of faith.” Shields are used to protect a soldier from the weapons of the enemy. The shield of faith covers us from the fiery attacks of the enemy. No matter how ferocious the attack, the shield of faith provides safe cover for the child of God. The shield of faith defuses two of Satan’s most deadly weapons — (I) unbelief and (2) doubt.

5. We are to take the “helmet of salvation.” The helmet of salvation is something that we receive. The only way the Christian soldier can take the helmet of salvation is to receive it from God. He receives it from God by obeying the rules and regulations that He has set forth to gain it.

6. The soldier must also take the “sword of the spirit.” The sword of the spirit is the Word of God. It can be used offensively and defensively. The Word is the wisdom and power of God. It is a weapon that God has armed his children with. The powers of darkness will flee from it. The Christian finds this to be true in his individual experiences. It dissolves doubts, drives away fears and delivers one from the power of Satan. In our struggle and battle against Satan’s attempts to destroy our effectiveness for Christ, it is essential that we know our enemy. Look earnestly into your life, and you may recognize things that are keeping you from gaining victory.

We need to be prepared and able to stand against Satan. We have everything to lose if we are defeated and everything to gain if we win. Are you Dressed for Battle?

 Rick Martin

Symbolism in the Lord’s Supper


Symbolism in the Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s supper, or communion as it is also called, has marvelous design. Just like the Old Testament tabernacle and temple contained symbolism in almost every detail, so does the communion of our Lord Jesus Christ. First, read Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians where he recites Jesus’ instruction on the communion. Not all the details are given in this passage, but other scripture will be provided to fill in the blanks.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

This communion service has been sorely misrepresented and abused by denominations throughout the ages. Because everything in this supper represents the death of Christ in all its splendor and glory, to partake of His communion by distorting the symbolic items in any way would be to put Christ to an open shame.

Here is a list of all the items in the communion and what they represent based on scripture.

• The Bread = Body of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11 vs. 23-24)
• Unleavened Bread = The sinless life of Christ. We find that unleavened bread was used in the communion by looking back at the Passover ceremony of the Old Covenant. The Passover was symbolic of the Christ’s redemptive death and parallels the communion very closely. During the Passover no leaven was allowed in the house. We find in Matthew 26:17 when Jesus instituted His Supper, it was also during the Feast of Unleavened Bread when no leaven was to be in the house. Leaven is representative of sin and false doctrine in the scriptures (*see Matthew 16:6-12). Just as Christ Jesus had no sin, so the bread which represents his body should have no leaven. Read 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, a very good passage to supplement this discussion.
• Cup =The New Covenant (vs 25), this is the covenant we now live under in contrast to the Old Covenant that Moses and the prophets lived under. Paul states that the Old Covenant (handwriting of requirements) was nailed to the cross in Colossians 2:14.
• The Fruit of the Vine = Blood of Christ (Luke 22:17,20)
• The First Day of the Week (Sunday) = The day Jesus arose from the grave. In Acts 20:7 we find the disciples took the communion on the first day of the week. In John 20:1 we see that Mary Magdalene found Jesus’ tomb empty on the first day of the week.

All of this symbolizes the great sacrifice that Jesus gave on the cross so that we might have our sins washed away. This supper is sacred, and to teach or observe Jesus’ supper in any way that would distort the symbols involved makes one a liar (1 John 2:4).

Aaron Battey

Is Your Home Church Strong?


Is Your Home Church Strong?

The following article appeared in the July 1959 issue of the Old Paths Advocate. It was written by Brother Homer L. King. Brother King needs no introduction to the readers of this paper. – Rick Martin

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth (16:13, 14), saying: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity.” If you, the individual, are not strong for God and the church, try the remedy given by Paul above. Can you not see the need of being watchful, standing fast in the faith, quitting all the evil, sinful, and childish practices like men, of drinking deeply and freely of the word of God “that ye may grow thereby,” in order to become strong in the Lord and the power of His might? Then, let all that you do, practice, or teach, be done in love. Brother, the above admonition from Paul will make you strong, and that will make you able to stand against the wiles of the devil; you will be able to face the enemy. Too, being strong, you will be able to work in the Lord’s vineyard, yes, and you will be able to run in the Christian race without fainting by the wayside.

Now, apply the above from Paul to your home congregation. If the whole church will do as Paul says above, the church will be strong and able to do all the above things. Furthermore, the church will be strong enough to be the “Pillar and ground of the truth”-it will be able to hold up and support the truth, thus saving souls and developing the talents of the members. The need of developing the singing, the ability to direct the singing, that we all may more happily and efficiently praise God in spirit and in truth, is urgent. We can never have good singing as long as brethren encourage boys and men to try to lead the singing, when some of these have neither ear nor voice for singing. Talk about leading a song, when one cannot even make a tone, much less a succession of tones! It is high time that we stop and think just a little. The same is true, when we use no better judgment regarding the teachers of the word. The men who teach need to qualify for this important duty. They need to study and train so that they can impart knowledge to others. Unless they know something to teach, they will not be able to edify the hearers-”let all things be done unto edification” -Paul to Corinth. if we expect the church to grow and be strong, we must do something to develop the talents in the church. Prayer and the ability to pray in public intelligently, from the “heart and the understanding,” so that the church will be edified in prayer, needs to be stressed, as well as in all that we do. Just here, I think of some appropriate, well spoken words by that noted gospel preacher, Benjamin Franklin via The Restoration Herald as follows:

“Well spoken Words-We must have living churches. The members must be living members, active, energetic and persevering. There are some churches complaining that they ‘cannot get the right kind of a preacher,’ when the trouble really is, that they are not ‘the right kind of churches.’ Preachers, if they had the power of angels, could not make interesting churches, where no advice that they give can be received, but where members remain inactive.

What can a preacher do for a church where he cannot prevail upon the members to meet to commemorate the saviour’s dying love more than once a month or where he cannot induce them to meet for prayer once a week or where old members cannot be induced to enter the place of worship until a half-hour after time or where old and prominent members take so little interest in the worship that they fall asleep while he is preaching to dying sinners to save them? What preacher can do anything for a people who will take so little interest in public worship that they will not practice singing the praises of God enough to enable them to sing with any spirit and understanding? If some of our churches that cannot get a preacher who can draw out an audience would apply themselves to their own improvement in singing, exhortation, and prayer, and thus make themselves interesting and useful, they would assist mightily in drawing out an audience, and make it infinitely easier to preach when an audience is out.