Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 9:10 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 2 (NIV). How You Loved Me When I read this passage of scripture concerning how the people of God were devoted to the Lord in their youth, and how, as a bride, they loved the Lord and followed him anywhere, and how they were holy to the Lord, yet how they strayed from the Lord, it reminded me of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation (See Rev. 2-3). Jesus told the church in Ephesus such things as were praiseworthy about them, but then he said that they had forsaken their “first love,” or the “love you had at first.” He asked them to consider how they had fallen, and he called upon them to repent and to do the things they did at first. And, then he warned them that if they did not repent, he would come to them and he would remove their church (lampstand) from its place. Yet, for those who are victorious, he said he would give them the right to partake in all the richest of blessings in heaven. When we come to true faith in Jesus Christ, forsaking our former lovers of sin and self, being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and being born of the Spirit of God to now walk in his righteousness and holiness, in the power of the Spirit within us, we are like a new bride completely in love with our Lord. He is the only one who satisfies the deep longings of our souls. None other will do! We have entered into a covenant marriage relationship with Jesus Christ and he is now to be our only husband and Lord (master). The desires of our hearts should now be for him, to live holy lives pleasing unto him, and to walk in all of his ways. And, yet, we still live in flesh bodies which have the propensity to sin and to rebel against God, and to forsake our Lord and to follow again the ways of our flesh. Broken Cisterns Sometimes, although we may begin our journey with the Lord with the enthusiasm, love, trust, excitement, devotion, commitment and faithfulness of a new bride, we begin to drift away or to be led astray from our pure devotion to the Lord by the things of this world or by the teachings of humans, which sound pleasing to the ear, but which are filled with all kinds of lies and deceptions of Satan. We get bogged down with the cares of this life and we begin to adopt the ways of the world and the philosophies of humans and their humanistic ways of thinking, and thus we forsake our Lord, his truths and his ways in order to follow after what is not of him; what is not founded in the truth of God’s word, and which will never satisfy the deep longings of our souls; and that which will only lead us back down the path of sin. The Lord Jesus has recently led me to examine the writings and teachings of one humanistic author-counselor-teacher, because his teachings and his books are sweeping across America’s evangelical church, and many are adopting this man’s teachings in place of the teachings of scripture, and some even strongly defend this man and his teachings without truly examining against the word of God what is really being taught by this man. His teachings and writings are a prime example of the “broken cisterns that cannot hold water” over which God’s people have forsaken their Lord in order to run after these “other gods.” What Are We Made Of? John Eldredge, in his book “Wild at Heart,” speaking of Adam (in Genesis), said that Adam was created outside the Garden, and it was only after he was created that God placed him within the Garden of Eden. Biblically speaking, that part appears to be accurate. God created Adam and then he placed him in the Garden. Yet, then Eldredge goes on to make a parallel between Adam and all of men, and to suggest that, ever since God placed Adam within the Garden of Eden, “boys have never been at home indoors” (in Eden), and “men have had an insatiable longing to explore” (outside the Garden), and that man longs to return from whence he came, i.e. to the natural state from which he was first created. He said that is where (or when) “most men come alive.” (Ref: chapter 1, pgs. 3-4 in W.a.H.) Then, in chapter 2 of his book, he said that “A man has to know where he comes from and what he’s made of” (pg. 21). “Who is this One we allegedly come from, whose image every man bears? What is he like? In a man’s search for his strength, telling him that he’s made in the image of God may not sound like a whole lot of encouragement at first” (pg. 22). It is true that Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. They were perfect in holiness, righteousness, immortality, love, truth, and purity. In the Garden of Eden, before their fall into sin, they lived in perfect fellowship and harmony with Almighty God. That is the state in which Adam and Eve were created. They had no sin. Yet, God had also given them a free will, and he gave them opportunity and a choice to obey him or to not obey him. They chose to disobey, and so God banished them from the Garden because of their sin. And, ever since then, man (i.e. all humans) has been born into sin, NOT created in nor bearing the image (likeness; character) of Almighty God. Only Adam (and Eve) and Jesus Christ came into this world without the curse of original sin (See Is. 53:6; Jn. 8:44; Ro. 3:10, 23; Ro. 5:12-21; Ro. 6:20; and 1 Co. 15:22). So, in essence, what John Eldredge is suggesting here is that Adam was always unsettled in the Garden of Eden, where he was in perfect fellowship and harmony with God, and that he longed to return to where he was outside the garden. For him, though, that was still in perfect harmony and fellowship with God until after he sinned, which is then when he would have gotten his wish, if we believe what Eldredge says. Yet, to parallel him with all of men, knowing that the “natural” state in which all of humankind since Adam and his fall is that of being born with a sin nature, is to suggest that ALL humans are born in the likeness of God, which they are not, and that all Christian men are unsettled with their pure fellowship with God, and with living in harmony with his divine character, and that they long to go back to their natural state of living in sin and separation from Almighty God and to wander there. In The Image of God So, if a man needs to know where he comes from and what he is made of, he needs to read the whole Bible, not just the story of creation, and he needs to realize that he comes from Adam and that he is made of original sin, which thus separates him from Almighty God. And, if he wants to know whose image he bears outside of the Garden, i.e. outside of relationship with Jesus Christ/God, then he needs to read the whole of scripture, not John Eldredge, who is teaching what is false about the origins of man and what man, in the flesh, is made of. We are not born bearing the image of God, but we are born bearing the image of Adam (See 1 Co. 15:49) who sinned against God and thus was banished from God’s presence. John Eldredge would have you believe that all of mankind, saved or unsaved, bears the image (likeness) of Almighty God. And, many false beliefs have been built off of that lie. Yet, all is not hopeless! Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth in the likeness of human flesh so that he could become our perfect sacrifice for the sins of the entire world. When he died and was buried, our sins were put to death and were buried with him. When he arose from the dead, he conquered sin, death, hell and Satan so we could go free from eternal punishment and banishment from God; so we could be free from slavery to sin day-to-day, and so we could walk freely in his righteousness and holiness. And, when we enter into such faith with him, it is then that we can begin to bear the image of God, but not in absolute perfection until we reach heaven. So, the way in which we (only true followers of Jesus Christ and not all humans) can now bear the image (likeness) of God is through the cross of Christ. Col. 1:15 says: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 1 Co. 15:49 says: “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.” We, the redeemed of the Lord, have been predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son (See Ro. 8:29). We, who are in Christ, “are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Co. 3:18). So, although we are not created (born) in God’s image, as was Adam originally, yet through Jesus Christ we are being transformed into his image (his likeness, character, holiness, and purity). It is a process, though. Yet, if you are among those who think you bear the image of God just because you are human, then you need to come to the cross of Christ. And, if you are among the “fallen” who have forsaken their first love, as did Adam and Eve, and you were once in sincere and unadulterated fellowship with your Lord, but you have since wandered off to follow after the gods of men, or after the teachings of those who give you the messages your itching ears long to hear, then I pray you would repent of your sin, and that you would return to your Lord, and that you would do the things you did at first. God is going to judge one day. He will bring judgment upon the unbelieving world, but he will also judge his idolatrous church (See Rev. 2-3), so don’t play with what is not of God and think you are ok. Be back in fellowship (in Eden) with him today while you still have today. Near the Cross / Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane Jesus, keep me near the cross; There a precious fountain, Free to all, a healing stream, Flows from Calvary's mountain. Near the cross, a trembling soul, Love and mercy found me; There the bright and morning star Sheds its beams around me. Near the cross! O Lamb of God, Bring its scenes before me; Help me walk from day to day With its shadow o'er me. Near the cross I'll watch and wait, Hoping, trusting ever, Till I reach the golden strand Just beyond the river. In the cross, in the cross, Be my glory ever, Till my raptured soul shall find Rest beyond the river.