The New Cruse
By B.H. Clendennen
(Used by Permission)
“And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren. And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land. So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake” II Kings 2v19-22
Spiritual recovery has always demanded a vessel through which God could pour Himself. In every age there has been a remnant, those 7000 who would not bow unto Baal, who refused to be a part of the spiritual conditions of their day. There were those like Daniel, Samuel, and Benjamin who refused to be a part of the spiritual conditions that prevailed in their time.
These have represented a new beginning with God; it was through them that He recovered the whole. Can this final generation achieve the same results of the first generation? Our conclusion is that we not only can repeat their success, but somebody will rise up to the challenge. This final generation will reach its generation for Christ. In this chapter we shall take a hard look at the vessel of recovery.
We are looking at a vessel of recovery that God is forging through which will come the revival that will usher in the coming of the Lord. There is no question in my heart concerning the times. We are on the threshold of the mightiest move of God since Pentecost. The only man that saw the cloud that looked like a man’s hand was the man who was looking for it. The only ears that heard the sound in the mulberry tree were those ears listening for such a sound.
I have been looking, and listening, and I am seeing and hearing the sights and sounds of revival. Everywhere there are the grass roots and ground swell of a move of God. There is a hunger for reality. This third generation of Pentecostals is tired of gimmicks and games, and those involved are earnestly seeking for reality.
We come now to the vessel itself. Keeping in mind the words of Elisha when he said to bring a new cruse, and put salt therein, let us look at Mark 9v50 which says, “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” The true believer is declared in Matthew 5v13 to be the salt of the earth. The “new cruse” that Elisha called for is the church. She is the vessel; she is not the cure. She is to contain the cure. The word of God speaks of vessels of honour and vessels of dishonor. The vessel, in itself, is neutral. It is the contents that make it honorable or dishonorable.
We must constantly remind ourselves that we are not the river; we are only the vessel through which the river is to flow. Failing to recognize this truth, the church as a whole finds herself in a false position that borders on idolatry. Believing that she is the cure, her only concern is physical growth.
The result of such believing is a soft, under-bellied religious system that is totally ineffective against the darkness. The church that was birthed to be a habitation of God has become a circus, with its only concern being to keep the “tares” happy.
The preacher now has a committee to proof his sermons to make sure there is nothing offensive. Since everything produces after it own kind, there is a great multiplication of “Ishmaels,” but very few “Isaacs.”
God’s purpose is never advanced by religious systems or worldly churches. If there is to be a recovery, the true believer must be made to realize that his only reason for being is to contain the Creator. The measure of our effectiveness is the measure of Christ that we contain; and the river must be allowed to flow if Christ is to be demonstrated as being alive.
Any willful intrusion of the flesh will not only stop this movement toward His image, but will reverse the order, and produce the opposite of what God intended. The result of this is too horrible to contemplate. The “dark ages” were the result of the church that was born at Pentecost turning from the leadership of the Holy Spirit to the scheming of the carnal mind.
We come now to the more definite consideration of the nature and function of this peculiar vessel for God. The passages that we read in II Kings, Chapter 2, and in Mark, Chapter 9 are bound by a common tie; namely, salt and what salt signifies.
The message of the new cruse is this: before the work of spiritual recovery can begin, there must be a specially prepared vessel.
Throughout the scripture, the illustrations using salt stand for recovery, preservation, and permanence. In the first passage, we have the waters of Jericho lacking in some constituent, which resulted in the miscarriage of the trees. There were the trees, the water, the fields (as the church has the labourers, much energy, good motives), but it all stopped short of reproduction. Some essential property was missing, and this absence made everything else futile as to the ultimate or desired results.
While it is the “salt” that is the vital and most important thing, it is the “cruse” in the modern church that occupies our thinking at this time. Our attention is first drawn to Elijah’s request for a new cruse, meaning a small pan or dish. The questions that naturally arise are, “Why a new cruse? Why a cruse at all? Why not use just a handful of salt?” The message of the new cruse is this: before the work of spiritual recovery can begin, there must be a specially prepared vessel.
It has always been an Israel out of Israel, a remnant who, like Samuel, could see that the wrong king was on the throne; that is, that the flesh was ruling. This remnant was not caught up in all the glamour and showmanship of religion. They could see beyond the facade, that when all the “leg-stretching” was over, the legs were still short.
They were able to see that God’s special concern was a vessel through which He could pour Himself. He was after a “new cruse;” that is, an instrument conformed to the mind of God, based solely upon the Holy Spirit’s order and requirements.
What is the nature of the work to be done? What is the condition that needs to be dealt with? It is the loss and absence of a vital and distinctive spiritual element in the church. Everything else is there; but that certain something is missing, and it must be recovered or there will not be a harvest.
This was the condition in Elijah’s time. The modern spiritual counterpart of this is that things have degenerated into indefiniteness, vagueness, and uncertainty as to the real meaning of life and spiritual purpose. The average Christian doesn’t know why the church exists. He doesn’t know where he is going. He may talk about going to heaven, but he has no idea why he has been born again, why God commands him to be filled with the Holy Spirit. There is indefiniteness, an uncertainty, things don’t mean what they used to mean.
Praying through, walking with God, holiness, and sanctification are vague terms that are rarely ever defined in the modern church today. That is the nature of the work to be done. For this reason, there must be a new vessel forged in the fire. You don’t put new wine in old bottles.
If we take the book of Acts as a model, and the epistles as revealing the truth intended by God to be the abiding basis of what came into being in the book of Acts, we cannot fail to be impressed with the presence of a certain something which made everything very much alive. The church may have the form, the best preacher, the best orator, but if that something found in the book of Acts is missing, then the ultimate purpose of God is lost.
The missing ingredient in a condition is life. We have the buildings, the organization, the education, the music, the preacher, but it all stops short of God’s desire.
What was it that produced the atmosphere and the spirit of life in the first century church? The Lord Jesus Himself. Jesus had been glorified, and the Holy Spirit had come as the Spirit of the glorified Lord to glorify Him on earth through the church.
Jesus was alive in that first century church; and the world knew it. Hypocrites were falling dead at the altar, the dead were being raised to life, thousands were being saved, and the preachers were total fanatics. They were arrested and beaten for preaching in the streets, and while the religious heads were in counsel deciding what to do with them, they were in the synagogue preaching Jesus.
There was life pressing and pushing against death. We read these words of the Lord Jesus Christ when He was upon this earth, “I must needs go to Samaria,” or I must needs go to a certain place. What is the meaning of the “I must needs…?” There was an urgency that was not born out of human appeal; it was born out of life, the life of God.
That same life was in the first church; and it drove them to the ends of the earth. After being treated worse than an animal, Jeremiah said, “… I will not make mention of him (God), nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jer.20v9). A religious world can’t understand that.
Those believers of the first century were not merely saved from something, or unto something, it was the Lord Jesus Himself that captivated their lives. “The love of Christ constrains me,” cried the Apostle Paul. The word “constrain” is from the Greek word “sunecho” which means to capture, to captivate, to control, and to consume. The message of salvation was entirely focused on who the Lord Jesus was. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5v42-6v1). This was not a mere treatise on evangelical theology, but it was a presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
They never felt the call to teach people how to manage their money or how to be successful. They went to Corinth, to Athens, to Tyre, and to India to introduce men and women to a person called Jesus. They knew that salvation was a relationship between a man and his God, a personal intimate relationship with Christ. They had no “seed faith” message; they ceased not to preach Christ. The message was never complete until the people saw Jesus.
This is made so real in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus quoted Isaiah. This is the first message Jesus preached after the wilderness temptation. His message was; “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind…” (Lk.4v18). At that point, He closed the book and said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled.”
Today’s clock watchers want no longer than one-hour church services with twenty-minute sermons, but they want no message. In God’s thinking, the work is ever finished and the book is not closed until the people see Jesus. That day in Nazareth the people saw the Christ. In effect Jesus was saying, “I am the one of whom Isaiah wrote. You have seen the Savior, and now you can close the book.”
If we quit preaching before men see Jesus, we may excite the flesh, but nothing of eternal worth has taken place. When those who hurt see Jesus, the need is met. Those who don’t have time to wait upon the Lord will leave like they came. The
If we quit preaching before men see Jesus, we may excite the flesh, but nothing of eternal worth has taken place.
Bible said, “They ceased not to preach Jesus.”
What was true concerning salvation in that first century was also true concerning service. In the Acts of the Apostles, service is never something appended to salvation as a further consideration or command. One of the striking omissions from the Book of Acts is any kind of appeal for service. Service was never the result of organizational or special appeals; it was spontaneous, it was free, it was natural, it was at all times, in every place, under all circumstances evident in the Christians as an irrepressible testimony.
There arose a great persecution, they were scattered abroad, but in the face of this, what did they do? They went everywhere preaching Christ. The Holy Spirit glorifying Jesus in their hearts produced the service. The revelation of Christ to them and in them was so great they could not help but serve.
I want us to look back now over the problem of the waters of Jericho, and the miscarriage of the fruit. Is it not true today, in a very widespread way, that the constituents of wonder, glory, and life in all matters that relate to the Lord Jesus Christ is lacking in the Church?
One can hear a great shout when somebody exercises a gift; but if you question the people afterwards, for the most part, they could not tell you what was said. It is evident that they are not shouting over what was said; they are shouting because somebody did something. We are more excited over what people do than we are over who Christ is. We must understand that the Bible is all about Christ; and everything else, including the gifts, is to point to and to glorify Him.
When anything becomes more important than Christ, it always leads to disaster. Look at the Corinthian Church. They were more excited about the gifts than they were about Christ, and the end result was the committing of sin in the church that wasn’t even named among the Gentiles.
Real faith doesn’t come by seeing a miracle; real faith comes by a personal encounter with a man called Jesus. The faith that rests in Christ alone cannot be shaken. Paul said, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil.4v12).
When locked in stocks in a filthy dungeon at midnight, his back laid open by the jailer’s whip, fever raging because of the infection, the church oblivious to where he is, and with a thousand devils telling him that he is never going to see daylight again, he can still sing “Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound” because his faith did not rest in what he had seen, or where he was; it rested in who he knew.
The great need of the church is the recovery of that resurrection life which will make the glorifying of our Lord Jesus Christ dominant in our churches. It is not charisma, but character that must identify the vessel of recovery.
Perhaps, up to this point, most have agreed with the solution; but now, as we deal with what must be done to produce this new cruse, this vessel of recovery, many may turn back as they did in John 6v60 which says: “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?”
We are not talking religion; we are talking about a vessel dedicated to the recovery of God’s full thought and purpose.
There is such a mixture of flesh and Spirit in the modern church that God said if it was not corrected, He would “spew it out of His mouth.” We have a mixture of neo-Pentecostalism and Romanism that is equivalent to the mixture Elijah faced in Israel; and for the most part, the so-called church thinks it is wonderful.
It is this mixture that restricts the Almighty from moving into that church. To counter this idolatrous situation, God must have a vessel of the same type as Elijah. Both the world and the flesh have gotten into the church. The result is that the church is now based on tradition, formalism, faddism, ecclesiasticism, and the mechanics of religion, which are like chains and fetters upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
The church, like Lazarus, must be set free from all that speaks of death. To bring about this miracle of deliverance, a new cruse is needed. It must be a vessel like the first vessel; it must stand on a New Testament basis. No matter who it comes from or how big the ministry, it must irrevocably deny or refuse anything that is not solidly built upon a New Testament basis. It must be where God has a clear way, in which the cross has brought to naught all the personal interests in those who form that vessel. Such a vessel must recognize, yield to, and glory in the absolute government of the Holy Spirit.
We are not talking religion; we are talking about a vessel dedicated to the recovery of God’s full thought and purpose.
If we are going to rule with Him in eternity, we must be ruled by Him now. It must be that vessel which recognizes the Lordship of Christ, and sees in Jesus complete fullness, wisdom, power, knowledge, and grace; and which draws upon Him alone for all its needs.
Finally, it must be that vessel which is selfless and has only one object in this world, and that is to glorify Christ. Our only reason for being must be that God may reveal His Son in us. We are predestined to be conformed to His image. There is no higher calling, and no greater reason for living.
(This article was edited down in size for the purpose of this magazine)
Founder and President of School of Christ International which in 18 years placed missionaries and preachers in about 150 different countries of the world. He was not only a great preacher but a great man of prayer. It was his message on the New Cruse which gave rise to this present magazine and site. I believe his ministry is comparable to that of Wesley, Wigglesworth and many other great leaders of the past who were granted by God as ministry gifts to the church. The fruit of his ministry proves that he was uniquely a missionary stateman.