The Keeper of the Spring

Bible Book: 2 Timothy 
Subject: Christian Living, Church Growth; Holy Spirit

The late Peter Marshall, an eloquent speaker and for several years the chaplain of the United States Senate, used to love to tell the story of "The Keeper of the Spring," a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps. The old gentleman had been hired many years ago by a young town council to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills; removed the leaves and branches and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers: Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the millwheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description.

Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semiannual meetng. As they reviewed the budget, one man's eye caught the salary figure being paid the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of the purse, "Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know the stranger anger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn't necessary any longer!" By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man's services.

For several weeks nothing changed. By early autumn the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools , hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A couple days later the water was much darker. Within one week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. The millwheels moved slower, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left as did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.

Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they hired back the old keeper of the spring . . . and within a few weeks the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps once again.

Fanciful though it may be, the story is more than an idle tale. It carries with it a vivid, relevant analogy directly related to the times in which we live. What the keeper of the springs meant to the village, the Holy Spirit and Christians mean to our world.

Some wonder if our world, our village, is too far gone for us to have any effect. Servants of Jesus Christ have always been in the minority, a small remnant surrounded by a strong-minded majority with their fists clenched.

This morning I want us to do two things . First, let's take an honest look at our "village." Second, let's see how we can become the helpers to the keepers of the spring. This is how to achieve spiritual victory.

I. See The Condition Of "Our Village"

Turn to 2 Timothy 3:1-13. Within the first 13verses, I find three undeniable descriptions of our world-- difficult, depraved, and deceived.

Now, go back and look at the first verse. Circle the term difficult. One version renders the word perilous (KJV). Another translates it terrible (NIV). The Greek root word meant "grievous, harsh,  fierce, savage." It is used only one other time in the New Testament. In Matthew 8:28 it appears when the writer describes two men with demons as being "exceedingly violent." What an apt description of our world! Savage, harsh, violent. If you question that, if you need proof that that is no exaggeration, check this morning's newspaper or listen to the evening news. Both will convince you that our "village" is in desperate straits.

Now look at verses 8-9. Paul mentions two men from the days of Moses as representatives of people in these "difficult" times. Depraved is the word to describe them. Circle it in verse 8. It means mankind is as bad off spiritually as it can possibly be. Dead toward God. Unmoved by anything spiritual. Hard-hearted and dark within. Two sections out of Isaiah come to my mind as illustrations of human depravity.

"All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him" (Isaiah 53:6).

"For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf,

And our iniquities , like the wind, take us away. And there is no one who calls on Thy name, Who arouses himself to take hold of Thee;

For Thou hast hidden Thy face from us , and hast delivered us into the power of our iniquities" (Isaiah 64:6-7).

"All all all all all." Depravity is a universal disease in society. And we are reaping what we have  sowed. Our world is on a collision course destined for a Christless eternity. Now let's look at the third descriptive term.

Our "village" is deceived. It should not surprise you to read verse 13....Circle that last word. The "village" is a place where impostors flourish. Rip-off experts flood every profession. Religious charlatans are here as well. Many politicians speak smoothly from both sides of their mouths . No one can deny the phony facade of ad and fads. And Scripture is right, it proceeds "from bad to worse." Remove "the spring" of life from the village--take away the salt and the light--and within a brief time "the village" becomes a diseased cesspool of contamination.\

It may depress you to take an honest look at our "village," but we must know our task. Are we promised easy lives? No, never on this earth.

What can we do? What can really make a difference? Are we fighting a nuclear war with pillows? We need the "Keeper of the Spring."

II. Let's Look At The Keeper, The Holy Spirit

While He is only one, we, His servants, His representatives --ambassadors receive His strength for the task. It is the power of the Spirit, which motivates the Christian. It is the wisdom of the Spirit, which sets afire the believer's desire to know more about God, about His Holy Word, and about the role he is to play in God's eternal purpose and plan. And it is the abiding presence of the Spirit which provides the constant assurance that one is a child of God, beloved of his heavenly Father, and kept eternally in the circle of His love. Read with me John 14:16-17.

Isn't that wonderful? God has given us His Spirit. The Son has promised His presence.

The Holy Spirit is the key to keeping this world from absolute total depravity. It is His presence in the lives of believers, which makes a difference. When we fail to let Him live through us, we can be quickly overwhelmed. Many are.

There are many in our churches, however, who might be termed "religious dropouts." They have become such because they have never established a pattern of spiritual growth. Thus they are nothing more than "statistics," spiritual and ecclesiastical casualties. One of two things usually happens to these people. Either they become lost in the great, faceless multitude upon whom the church has no influence and for whom it has no appeal, or else they fall victim to the persuasive enthusiasm of some religious cult.

Often the fault lies at the feet of the church, which was so concerned about the salvation of these persons, but lacked spiritual care and nurturing, which left them floundering in the cradle as though they, helpless babes, could take care of themselves!

Let us understand anew this morning the absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit's control of our lives.

Just before His death, Jesus promised the disciples that He would "send another Comforter" who would abide with them forever. He told them that this "Comforter" had been with them, but soon He would be in them. Of course, we know that this came to pass on the Day of Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers, it was a permanent arrangement. He did not come in as an "overnight guest" or a "weekend visitor." He came to abide as the possessor, the owner of God's property. Understand that today and you will go from here a wise person.

The Holy Spirit has a ministry to you and for you. As an unbeliever, the Holy Spirit is the agent of conviction. As a born-again believer, He reveals God's will to him for his life; He makes the Scriptures "come alive" and speak to his heart. He works through the believer's conscience to reveal truth to him and to help him make right decisions. The Holy Spirit is the constant companion, supporter, and guide of the Christian.


Dr. S. D. Gordon tells of an elderly Christian woman whose age began to tell on her memory. She had once known much of the Bible by heart. Eventually only one precious bit stayed with her: "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12).

As time went on, part of that verse also slipped its hold, and she would quietly repeat, "That which I have committed unto Him." At last, as she hovered on the borderline between this and the spirit world, her loved ones noticed her lips moving. They bent down to see if she needed anything. She was repeating over and over again to herself the one word of the text, "Him, Him, Him."

She had lost the whole Bible but one word. But she had the whole Bible in that one word. She had the whole essence of Christianity. Through her many years of commitment to the Lord, God had blessed her with a deep abiding faith that would never let go.

Clearly it has been the design and strategy of Satan from the beginning to distort in every way he can the truth about the Holy Spirit, as that truth is revealed in Holy Scripture. The result has been that the teaching concerning the Holy Spirit has been subjected to everything from bizarre emotionalism to cold intellectualism. Yet, in between those two ridiculous and unscriptural extremes, there is a beautiful and vital and essential teaching concerning the Holy Spirit. Throughout the Bible He is revealed to us. Let us not neglect His vital ministry. Let Him be the keeper of the spring. Let Him control your life so you can be the person God has made you to be.

A minister of the Gospel was riding with a coachman one day. He turned to the coachman and asked inquiringly, "Friend, if your team were running away with you, after you had done your best to stop  them , what would you do if you suddenly learned that a person sitting beside you knew exactly how to control your team and save you from disaster?" To this the coachman replied, "I'd instantly hand over the reins to Him!" Won't you do that today?