ECHOES FROM EDEN
THE TREE OF LIFE
"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the TREE OF LIFE also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen. 2:8-9). "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the TREE OF LIFE, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden" (Gen. 3:22-23).
The wonderful Tree of Life in Eden was, as it is said of Christ, "in the world" but "not of the world." The life-giving fruit of this tree was accessible to man but had absolutely nothing to do with the realm of earthiness, for it was heaven's own divine life brought into man's world and made available to him. In the Tree of Life God invited man to find Him as the source and center of life, that in union with Him God would be at once both the indwelling power of life and the environment in which man would live, and move, and have his being. By eating of the Tree of Life man would be full of light, abounding in heavenly wisdom and knowledge, fearful in power and dominion, ethereal as a spirit and shining in the image of God. The fruit of this wonderful Tree would indeed make men radiant with the resplendent glory of God as was Jesus, the second Adam, at the transfiguration, whose face shone as the sun and His raiment was as the light. The mighty power of this Tree would raise man up beyond any possibility of sin, corruption and death into the incorruptible divine life demonstrated by Jesus when He arose from the dead in a body of glorification. In this Tree of Life the effulgent perfumes of the heavenly realm would be fragrance and life to man's nostrils. He would taste spiritual realities and touch spiritual things. The wisdom and power of God Himself would be wide open to him and he would walk in the presence and glory of celestial realms. The gates of that realm would never be shut by day or night. The heavens would be opened over his head would walk in the glory and presence of God Almighty.
THIS was the glory of the Tree of Life in Eden! Let me present this Tree: "In the beginning was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...in HIM WAS LIFE; and THE LIFE was the light of men" (Jn. 1:1,4). This life-giving Tree, the LIVING WORD OF GOD, Christ, was from the beginning "in the world" but yet "not of the world." when Eden's gates clanged shut behind our banished foreparents, that blessed Tree of eternal life was never again seen by the wondering eyes of mortal man until the day in which Jesus stood upon the earth and declared: "I am the LIVING BREAD which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread which I will give is MY flesh, which I will give for the LIVE OF THE WORLD" (Jn. 6:51). Christ WHO IS OUR LIFE has come and has been planted as the Spirit of Life in the garden of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, that all may come and eat and drink and have life.
In this article we want to take a look at some of the principles of life. For three hundred years the scientific community has been rent with discussions about the origin of life. Thus far only two theories have been advanced by science in order to explain the origin of life. One theory is that matter can spontaneously generate life, the other that life can only come from pre-existing life. The first theory is called by scientist Spontaneous Generation. The theory of Spontaneous Generation teaches that life is capable of springing into being of itself; that at some time in history, billions of years ago, the necessary synchronization of chemical elements accidentally took place and life spontaneously generated itself. The second theory is called by scientists The Law of Biogenesis. This law demonstrates that during all of recorded history life has only come from pre-existing life.
Today, as in former times, people are asking the questions, "What is life? How did life on earth originate?" The United States government continually spends a considerable amount of money in order to study this question. Nearly all of our space probes are concerned with the question, "Does life exist out there?" During our Apollo flights, science was interested in looking at the moon to determine if it might contain some form of life. Even now, as further Mars investigation is taking place, the question is still being asked, "Will life be found there?" Yet all the evidence that science has received to the present time indicates that no physical life as we know it is present anywhere in our solar system except here upon earth. One might ask the question, "What is life? Is it possible to define life?" At the present time the scientists tell us that the answer concerning the origin of life is not available, yet most scientists still emphatically deny that life came to earth through a creative miracle of an all-powerful God. Instead, they declare that natural law produced the first life. To believe this, one would have to admit that Spontaneous Generation produced the first life, whereas the great principle of biology, the Law of Biogenesis, teaches that life comes only from life. That natural law could produce life is a violation of all the known facts of biology today. Many indications today point to a time when life was not present on earth - when the earth was only a mass of some 100 inanimate elements. According to scientists, certain combinations of these elements had to be QUICKENED in order for life to become present on earth. But if one begins with dead matter, life must appear by quickening dead matter, whereas biology postulates that life had to come from some other life. We know that life is not now being originated on earth and that all the life forms today spring from pre-existing life forms of the same kind.
No human power has as yet been able to produce life out of inorganic chemical substances. One of the famous attempts that was hailed by the press as a success, was the attempt of a young Russian biologist. He succeeded in producing, or rather, organizing, five low forms of life in his test tube. The fact that they were of the lowest forms known did not damage the wonders of his accomplishment, as that is just what the scientists would expect to get from inorganic substances. He arranged his chemicals in a certain order in the test tube, subjected them to considerable heat, and eight hours later he had a group of very small one-celled animals (infusoria) living in the tube.
His announcement startled the world of biology, and his formula was revealed, many other biologist tried to follow his experiments. But, alas, nobody except the discover seemed able to make it work. All that the others got was a mass of chemicals, no more alive than they had been when they were in containers on the laboratory shelves. So they suggested that the discoverer repeat the experiments under observation so the rest could watch and see what mistakes they had made, if any. The young scientist suggested instead that they go through with the experiment while he watched them, and he could then correct any error they made. The last stage of the technique was to impregnate the mass with a gas before the mass was subjected to heat, and as the experimenters proceeded to do this, the inventor of the method said, "There is your trouble, gentlemen; you are using chemical carbon dioxide. You must use gas that has been generated by rotting vegetation!" That, of course, pricked the bubble; the balloon collapsed. Gas generated by rotting vegetation is simply teeming with the spores, or eggs, of a multitude of living creatures, and all this fellow had done was to incubate them in his test tube. He had created life no more than the farmer does when he puts eggs in his incubator to hatch out by artificial heat! So we see that all attempts to get the living out of the dead have failed. And it is now recognized on every hand that life can only come from the touch of life. There is no other way!
THE UNCROSSABLE GULF
May the Spirit of wisdom and revelation from God seize upon our hearts and impress indelibly upon our minds the wonderful truth that all the things that are seen in the Natural World are but pictures and images of the GREATER REALITIES in the Spiritual World. And in this understanding of the impassable gulf that exists in the Natural World between the inanimate and the animate, the dead and the living, lies the revelation that in the Spiritual Realm there is also a great uncrossable gulf between the realm of Spiritual Death and Spiritual Life, between the Carnal Mind and the Spiritual Mind.
Let us at this point fix vividly in our minds the picture of two great Kingdoms of Nature, the inorganic and organic, the dead and the living, as these now stand in the light of the Law of Biogenesis. What exactly is involved in saying that in the Natural World there is no such thing as Spontaneous Generation of life? It is meant that the passage from the mineral world to the plant or animal world is hermetically sealed on the mineral side. It is simply impossible for the mineral to produce any life or raise itself up into the Kingdom of the Living. What is the difference between a stone and a plant? They have much in common. Both are made of the same atoms. Both display the same properties of matter. Both may be very beautiful. But besides possessing all that the stone has, the plant possesses something more - a mysterious something called Life. This life is not something which existed in the stone only in a less developed form. There is nothing at all like it in the stone. The plant is possessed by something new, an original and unique possession added over and above all the properties common to both. When from vegetable life we rise to animal life, here again we find something original and unique. It is an entirely different quality of life as high above the plant life as the plant is high above the dead stone. From animal life we ascend again to SPIRITUAL LIFE. And here also is something new, something still more unique. He who lives in the Spiritual Life has a distinct kind of life added to all the other phases of life which he manifests - a kind of life infinitely more marvelous than animal life. The Spiritual man is, in fact, living in a realm of life more distinct than is the animal from the plant or the plant from the stone.
The natural man belongs completely to this earthly order of things. He is endowed simply with a high quality of the natural animal type of life. He has flesh as the animals have flesh. He has blood as the animals have blood. He has a heart and circulatory system as the animals have hearts and circulatory systems. He has a digestive system as do the animals, feet for walking, a brain, nervous system etc. etc. The natural man lives and dies as do the animals. Paul pointed out the contrast between the natural man and the spiritual man in Romans chapters six through eight. In Rom. 8:5 he exposed the yawning gulf between those who live after the body realm (which is the flesh) and those who live after the Spirit. He taught that "they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh: but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit." It all depends what we are AFTER. When I was a young man I met a beautiful young lady by the name of Lorain Walker. I decided that I wanted her to be my wife. For a year and a half I dated her, pursued her, spent every moment I could with her, proposed to her - and got her! At that point in my life she was what I was AFTER. This is the idea Paul has in mind when he speaks of being AFTER the flesh and AFTER the Spirit. We manifest whether we are a natural man or a spiritual man by what we are after, what we are actively pursuing in our lives.
The man who is forever worrying about the welfare of the physical man will always have in mind ways and means of catering to him - how he can provide a better old age pension, how he can get a better home, newer car, fancier clothes, how he can provide more to see and hear and taste and feel and smell. He expends all his energies to try to make sure the physical man will never be in need. He is always mindful of the physical flesh and all that does is for the physical flesh. He does nothing more than the animals do. He lives his life out on the same plane as does the animal kingdom. He pursues the corruptible things of earth, the things that make for bodily comfort and pleasure, and does not mind the things of the Spirit. A man or woman who cares much about the pleasures of the body such as eating and drinking and sexual passion, holding in high esteem such corruptible things as houses and lands, fine clothes, bodily adornments, bank accounts, and luxuries of all kinds, will never, as long as their lives are wrapped up in the pursuing of those things, attain to the glory of Sonship to God. It is not that such things are wicked or abominable before God, for He has promised to add "all these things" unto us as we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. But I declare to you that to the natural man who is pursuing all these things they are enemies of the Spirit because they never give you leave to seek God without distraction. Carnally minded men, whether they be people of the world or professing Christians, are filled with delusion that those who hold in low esteem the corruptible things of earth, turning instead to the eternal values of the Spirit, are living lives that are not worth living. But such persons do not know that the opposite is true, for "she who liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth" (I Tim. 5:6).
The moment we grasp the meaning of the Scripture, "They who are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, "at that moment we can understand what the carnal mind is. The carnal mind is the fleshly mind and the flesh mind minds fleshly things and none of the fleshly things of earth have one iota of LIFE in them! "To be carnally (fleshly) minded is DEATH" (Rom. 8:6). Not only in his relation to that spiritual man, but to the whole Spiritual World, the natural man is regarded as DEAD. He is as a stone compared to an organism. The Natural World is to the Spiritual World as the inorganic to the organic. "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art DEAD" (Rev. 3:1). "To you hath He given life which were DEAD in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). It is not possible to know God or experience God through any of the physical senses of the body, or through any earthly thing. Those who dwell in the earth realm and live unto the physical world abide in death.
The man who has set his heart and affection on things ABOVE has come to the place where he not only holds in low esteem the things of the earth and of his own body, but he despises them as well, even hating them, for he has learned that these are barriers to his quest after LIFE and REALITY. Jesus knew this great truth when He said that a man could not be His disciples unless he hated his brothers and sisters and father and mother and even his own life also, being willing to forsake all to find CHRIST. In the world today there is a small minority who spend their lives minding the things of the Spirit. The welfare of the inner Spiritual man is foremost in their thoughts, for they seek to partake of THE MIND OF CHRIST. They esteem the realm of the flesh as less than nothing, as common dung, seeking always to be one mind with the Father. These, being after the Spirit, mind the things of the Spirit. The Spiritual man has partaken of a life that transcends the physical - a new and distinct and supernatural endowment. He is no longer of this world. He is of the timeless state, Eternity. He is, even now, a Son of God and it doth not yet appear what he shall be. The difference then between the Spiritual man and the Natural man is not a difference of development, but of generation. It is a distinction of the quality of life. The life of the Natural man is of so poor a quality that it is not even life at all, for it is filled with the corruptible mind of the flesh and the power of death. And he is absolutely helpless to do anything about it!
The inorganic world is staked off from the living world barriers which have never yet been crossed from within. No change of substance, no modification of environment, no chemistry, no electricity, nor any form of energy, nor any evolution can endow any single atom of the mineral world of some living form can these dead atoms be gifted with the properties of life, without this direct contact with life they remain fixed in the inorganic sphere forever. It is a very mysterious law which guards in this way the portals of the living world. And if there is one thing in nature worth pondering for its strangeness it is the spectacle of this vast helpless world of the dead cut off from the living by the Law of Biogenesis and denied for ever the possibility of resurrection within itself. Here we stand in the presence of the uncrossable gulf - the gulf of all gulfs - the gulf between death and life.
CROSSING THE UNCROSSABLE GULF
The Word of God contains an explicit and original statement of the Law of Biogenesis as it applies to the Spiritual life. In the vision of the Spiritual World presented in the Scriptures, the first thing that draws the attention is great gulf fixed. The passage from the Natural World to the Spiritual World is hermetically sealed on the natural side In the Natural World, the door from the inorganic to the organic is shut, no mineral can open it; so, the door from the Natural to the Spiritual is shut, and no man can open it; the door from the earthly to the heavenly is shut, and no power of earth can open it. This world of natural men, of carnal minds, is staked off from the Spiritual World of God by barriers which have never been crossed from within. No organic change, no modification of environment, no mental energy, no moral effort, no improvement of character, no religious exercise, no ritual or ceremony or tradition can endow any single human soul with the attributes of SPIRITUAL LIFE. The Spiritual World of God and His Sons is guarded from the world next in order beneath it, the world of the carnal mind, by a Law of Biogenesis - "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God...Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:3-7).
It is not said, in this statement of the Law, that if the condition be not fulfilled the Natural man will not enter the Kingdom of God. The word is, cannot. It is not that God arbitrarily shuts out the Spiritually dead from the kingdom of the Spiritually living. There is a scientific Law involved here. Paul by inspiration pointed out this Law: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Cor. 2:14). It is not simply that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit, but he cannot. It is as utterly impossible for the carnal mind to know Spiritual things as it is for a stone to spontaneously generate life. The entrance of the Natural man into the things of the Spirit of God is simply a scientific impossibility!
The Law is: Except a mineral be born "from above" - from the Kingdom just above it - it cannot enter the Kingdom just above it. And except a man be born "from above," he cannot enter the Kingdom just above him. There being no passage from the lower Kingdom to the higher, whether from inorganic to organic, or from natural to Spiritual, the injection of a LIFE is a necessity if a stone or a plant or an animal or a man is to pass from a lower sphere to a higher sphere. The earth will never possess the Kingdom of God so long as eternity shall endure. It must be the other way about. The Kingdom of God, the higher Kingdom, must possess the earth. Though the Kingdom of God is within me, yet I cannot possess it. It must possess me, or it will never been known. If I try to possess Christ, I will be as barren in the future as I have been in the past, but if CHRIST POSSESSES ME, then I will be hid with Christ in God and God will raise me up to find my existence in the realm of His divine life and glory.
As we consider these thoughts may God Almighty grant that His Spirit may instruct us in the way of truth and understanding. Let us open hearts and minds before the Lord that He may reveal the eternal truth of this subject to our hearts. The principle by which, in nature, the inorganic is raised up into the organic, and, in like manner, in God's economy, the natural man is raised up out of death into the life of the Kingdom of God, is stated simply by the Lord Jesus in Mat. 13:31-32: "Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs." Let us UNDERSTAND! How are the inorganic, non-living mineral elements of the earth raised up into the organic Kingdom of living things? You begin with a seed. Within the seed is a germ of life. The seed containing the life is planted in the earth, in the Kingdom of the dead. Once buried in the earth, with all the amounts of water and air, and the right temperatures, the seed germinates and the life within the seed begins to grow. Finally the shell of the seed bursts and there takes place a release of the life from the seed. As the life is released it immediately seize upon the chemical elements in the earth, converts them into food, and then builds up living tissue out of matter that never lived! The inorganic chemicals become organic tissue! The dead is converted into the living! The lifeless elements of the earth are transformed into the substance of the living plant. This is one of the most amazing facts in nature, though it is happening every minute all around us! Now we can see clearly what the Lord Jesus meant when He said that the Kingdom of heaven is like unto a mustard seed, which is the least of all seeds, but when it is sowed in the field, and becomes grown, it is the greatest of herbs. The plant stretches down to the dead world beneath it, touches its minerals and gases with its mystery of life, and brings them up ennobled and transformed to the living sphere. In like manner, the breath of God, blowing where it listeth, touches with its mystery of divine life the dead souls of men, bears them across the bridgeless gulf between the Natural and Spiritual, endows them with its own holy and eternal and divine qualities, and produces within them these new and marvelous faculties, by which those who are born of the Spirit are said to see the Kingdom of God and enter the Kingdom of God.
How futile in the face of such truth as this is any form of self reformation! How worthless and unprofitable the empty rituals and the vain and lifeless traditions of Babylon's religion! Place a lifeless rock in the dead earth and nothing will happen. Administer lifeless ceremonies and dead doctrines to a man dead in trespasses and sins and likewise nothing will happen. However thorough the self reformation may be, however beautiful the traditions and doctrines of religion, however impressive and inspiring to the soulish nature of man the rituals and ceremonies, the music and the programs, it leaves us without life and hopelessly dead to the glorious realities of the Spirit of God. Well did faithful Paul bear witness to the life-giving work of the Spirit in the lives of the Ephesians when he said, "You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins...but God, who is rich in mercy, even when we were dead in sins, hath QUICKENED US TOGETHER WITH CHRIST...and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:1-5)
LIVING BY THE TREE OF LIFE
What is this wonderful and mysterious quality which constitutes Spiritual Life? What is this strange new power which can raise us up out of the realm of darkness and death and give us eternal life and glory as Sons of the living God? The answer is brief - it is Christ! "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I Jn. 5:12). Yes, beloved brother, sister, Christ is our life and He is the only Tree of Life in the Garden where we have been planted by faith. "The Garden," which always has the significance of the Kingdom of Heaven, has been re-established on earth by the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. When Jesus rose from the dead and sent forth His Spirit into the hearts of men on the day of Pentecost, the Garden of Eden was re-established in the earth and the Tree of Life was once more planted on earth in the midst of the Garden. The life of Christ by the Eternal Spirit was again made accessible to man by faith.
How this higher life of God reaches down into the earth which we are, seizing upon the earthly elements of our natural life, quickening, changing, transforming, raising us up into the blessed Kingdom of the Spirit, is first to be seen in the life of Jesus as He came into this earth realm. In the very beginning God formed man of the dust of the ground, made him a living soul, and placed him in a garden, in a condition and state of being, with the Tree of Life set before him. God's distinct object was to infuse man with His own divine and eternal life, lift him up by quickening and transforming power into union with Himself, that he should become like Himself. Man was to be a body for God to dwell in. The closest and most intimate union, the indwelling of love: this was what the Holy One longed for, and looked forward to. What was very feebly set forth in type in the temple in Israel became a divine reality in the person of Jesus of Nazareth: God had found a man in whom He could rest, with whom He could enter into union, whose whole being was opened to the rule of His will and nature and fellowship of His love. In Him there was a human nature, and a body of flesh, to be possessed by the Divine Spirit. The Divine Spirit would enter into that human nature, that body of flesh, and so possess it that it would be quickened and raised up into union with God in His very own plane of life and glory. His Sonship on earth was the planting of the Divine Seed of the Father's life into a human body and nature, to seize upon it, to bear it across the bridgeless gulf between the Natural World or men and the Spiritual World of God, to perfect the Son of man and bring His humanity into perfect fellowship and unity with Himself. His resurrection was the entrance of human nature, free from all the weakness of the flesh, into the life of Diety, the Divine Spirit-life. His ascension was admittance as Man into the very glory of God; the participation by human nature of perfect oneness with God in glory in the unity of the Spirit. All this was fulfilled in the first-born Son, and yet, with all this, the work was not yet complete. Something was still wanting. Such God would have all men to be! And such all would be, as they accepted of this Jesus and His Spirit as their life. Man is powerless to carry himself across the impassable gulf between corruption and incorruption, the carnal mind and the Spiritual mind, death and life. But, blessed God! Jesus has opened up the way.
To bring a dead natural man with his carnal mind of death up into the higher Kingdom of Divine Life necessitates the implantation of the incorruptible seed of God into man's earthiness. The point I want to make very clear is that the New Creation is more than the eternal and incorruptible life of God from heaven. The New Creation is that life planted in the earth, seizing upon the earth, changing and transforming the earth, raising it up to find its existence in the higher Kingdom of Divine Life. Jesus is the pattern. We know how the Word, who had from eternity dwelt in the bosom of the Father, entered upon a new stage of existence when He became flesh. When Jesus rose from the dead and ascended up into the Father realm from whence He had come, He was still the same only-begotten Son of God, and yet not altogether the same. For He was now also, as Son of Man, the first begotten from the dead, clothed with that glorified humanity which He had perfected and sanctified for Himself. In His resurrection and ascension He was no longer only the Mighty God, but He was the Mighty God whose Divine Life and Nature had laid hold upon the humanity of man and had raised it up into identification with Himself. The Son of Man became the Son of God. The whole wonderful work of Christ in redemption was not merely to deliver man from the law and its curse of death, but to BRING HUMAN NATURE ITSELF UP INTO THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE DIVINE LIFE, TO MAKE US PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE. This is the work of the Tree of Life. "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field."
Even now at this very moment the life that we live is this body of flesh we live by the faith of the Son of God; and that faith assures us fully that the incorruptible seed, sown by the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit, shall issue forth in incorruption, immortality and eternal life. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Death is corruption and Life is incorruption. As the rush cannot grow without mire (Job. 8:11), as the reed cannot grow without water, as the mustard seed cannot grow without earth, so, in a manner beyond my understanding, the incorruptible Christ seed, planted in the corruptible earth which we are, bears its fruit in immortality, incorruption and eternal life; the NEW CREATION. The seed cannot become a tree without the earth and the earth cannot become a tree without the seed. The tree is neither the life in the seed nor the elements of the earth. The tree is the elements of the earth QUICKENED AND MADE ALIVE by the transforming power of the life in the seed! Such is the New Creation. The New Creation is neither the eternal the eternal God nor is it man. The New Creation is CHRIST, the God-man, humanity admitted into the full glory of the Divine, human nature received up into union with the eternal Spirit. The Kingdom of Heaven on earth is composed of redeemed men who are putting on the divine nature and the incorruptible life of God.
Even now at this very moment the divine life is at work within us, changing, transforming, lifting us up into the higher Kingdom. The life of Christ is not something outside ourselves. I am wearied a little because so very often I hear God's precious people singing such songs as "Oh Lord, Send the Power Just Now," or "Jesus is Passing This Way." I rejoice that there are indeed those special "times of refreshing" that come from the presence of the Lord but I can assure you, beloved brother, sister, that you will never know the glorious reality of Sonship to God so long as you live in that consciousness and mentality of "times of refreshing." The consuming desire within my heart in this the end of the age is that God's chosen people might with me become aware of the abiding presence of God. The message of life and triumph that even in this dark and evil hour reverberates through the yielded spirit of every saint separated unto God by His Holy Spirit is this: It is possible for saints here and now to live with the constant and full assurance that even as the Almighty Father indwelt and continually permeated the life of Jesus of Nazareth, so does the Divine Spirit of Christ live and abide within those who are separated unto the Lamb to follow Him whithersoever He goes. As the years have passed since I first heard the call of the Spirit unto the blessed realm of Sonship to God, there has come to me an ever increasing assurance that I am dwelling and walking in HIS PRESENCE, for He is not momentarily passing my way but has been impregnated into my earthen vessel as the incorruptible seed of the Word of God which liveth and ABIDETH FOREVER.
God is no longer far away; He is no longer without; He is here. No longer need saints say, "Who shall ascend into heaven to bring Christ down from above, or who shall descend into the deep to bring Christ up again from the dead?" The Word (Christ) is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart. How exceeding wonderful are the words of Scripture: "Know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you?" (II Cor. 13:5). "Your bodies are the members of Christ" (I Cor. 6:15). "At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in Me, and I in you" (Jn. 14:20). "We will come unto him and make our abode with him" (Jn. 14:21-23). "I am the vine, ye are the branches" (Jn. 15:5). "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20). "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whose eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life; for My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me and I in him" (Jn. 6:53-56).
I would say to you again that the life of Christ, the life of Sonship, is not something outside ourselves. The idea is not that Christ is in heaven and that we can stretch out some mysterious faculty and touch Him there. This is the vague form in which many babes in the Christ conceive the truth, but it is contrary to Christ's teaching and to the analogy of nature. Vegetable life is not contained in a reservoir somewhere in the skies, and measured out spasmodically at certain seasons. Animal life is not bottled up somewhere in the blue beyond and dropped down to earth now and then when it is time for an embryo to be formed. The life is in every plant and tree, every animal and fish and fowl, inside its own tissue and substance, and works there as a mighty power to form even that which is contained within the life. The life is permanently fixed and rooted in the organism. Life is not one of the homeless forces which promiscuously inhabit space, or which can be gathered like electricity from the clouds and dissipated back again into space. Life is definite and resident; the Spiritual Life is not a visit from a force, but a resident tenant of the soul. "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a...seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field." The life of Sonship is not derived from the occasional touch of Jesus as He "passes this way," nor from the weekly reviving or refreshing that comes to our weary souls as we gather together in our Church meetings. Thank God for the fellowship and encouragement of those of like precious faith, but I declare to you that the life of Sonship can only be known as we become sensitive to the reality of CHRIST ABIDING WITHIN, conscious of His Spirit speaking, His hand guiding, and His power continually transforming the spirit, the mind and the body into the image of Him who created them. With my poor and puny ability I cannot make the truth of Christ's indwelling life to be a living, transforming reality to your heart. None but the Spirit of God can perform this wonderful and divine act of illumination. He alone can take the things of God and show them unto you. Nevertheless, I can confidently assure you that, the moment the grand and glorious fact of His indwelling life grips your heart and fills your mind, the reality of His divine indwelling will immediately begin to transform your life. Yea, and I shall further add that the knowledge of His abiding life will also begin to change your mind, quicken your emotions, and renew your body as well.
As speaking in tongues and the gifts of the Spirit are the evidences of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, so the redemption of our bodies from the power of decay and death is the evidence of the manifestation of the Sons of God. "We ourselves too, who have and enjoy the first-fruits of the Spirit - a foretaste of the blissful things to come - groan inwardly as we wait for the redemption of bodies from sensuality and the grave, which will reveal our adoption, our manifestation as God's Sons" (Rom. 8:23, Amp. Bible). This change in our bodies shall not come by the mighty working of Christ crashing down through the clouds over heads, but by the divine inworking words of consolation and faith: "If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (make alive, immortally) your mortal bodies BY HIS SPIRIT THAT DWELLETH IN YOU" (Rom. 8:11).
In Phil. 3:21 Paul says that Christ "shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body." The Amplified Bible reads: "Who shall transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty." This phrase, body of humiliation, is a more correct rendering of the Greek. I must confess that it is indeed humiliating to be found in a body like this! It is humiliating to find it necessary to chew on mints to keep the breath from offending those around us. It is humiliating to be so weary from traveling and ministering that at times it is difficult to sit up and fellowship with God's precious saints. It is humiliating to get laryngitis in the middle of a Convention where hundreds of saints have gathered to receive the teaching of these glorious end-time truths. It is humiliating to be bald at twenty-four years of age and gray at thirty! It is humiliating to sense weakness, to feel the labors of years taking their toll, to see new wrinkles in the skin, flabbiness of skin and muscle here and there, reminders, one and all, of the earthiness and mortality and corruptibleness of these fragile bodies. I will never forget an incident in Canada some thirteen years ago when I had traveled day and night for two days to get to a Conference where I was scheduled to be one of the speakers. When I arrived my clothes were disheveled, I need a bath and my eyes were bloodshot. The Conference had already started, and not knowing where I was to stay, I slipped into the building a number of saints, not knowing who I was, thought a drunk had staggered into the meeting! Body of humiliation! "Who shall transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty." Glorious anticipation, this!
Paul tells us again in I Cor. 15:51-52 how this marvelous change come about. "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." The Greek word for the "moment" is ATOMOS. This passage is the only place in the Greek New Testament where this word is used. ATOMOS is the word from which comes our English word ATOM. The word carried the meaning in the Greek of that which is UNCUTTABLE or INDIVISIBLE because the Greeks believed that the atom was the smallest particle of matter that existed, therefore it could not be divided, cut, split, or reduced in any way. The translators have taken this to mean that our bodies shall be changed in "an atom of time," that is, in an instant of time so brief that you could not make it any quicker, or reduce the time in any measure. But does not this word ATOMOS indicate that we shall be changed in the ATOMS of our bodies, in the very structure and substance of our physical being, in the ATOMICAL STRUCTURE of our bodies? "We shall be changed in ATOMS, in ATOMICAL STRUCTURE, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump!"
Truly we yearn for this change, yea, groan inwardly for the transformation to take place. I continually meet up with brethren who believe that they have already put on immortality and incorruption, that they have already passed over the grave and cannot or will not die. I must be very honest and frank with you, my beloved brothers. I have not one whit of a desire to live forever IN THIS BODY OF HUMILIATION. There is no more repugnant thought, no more frightful possibility, than the idea that I might live forever in this body of humiliation! The thought of such limitation, the suggestion that I might have bathe, brush my teeth and use Scope throughout eternity, the hint that I may retain this same form, that I might be as I am unendingly, falls as far short of what I comprehend of a body made like unto His body of glory and majesty as does no more than does the mustard tree resemble the chemical elements of the earth which were raised up into the substance of the tree by the mighty working of the subtle and mysterious life-force sown in the earth as a seed.
Sons of God! If we would be fashioned like unto Him, co-sharers of His glory and power and wisdom as the God-man, we must not simply rest content with the faith that trusts in the cross and its pardon; we must FOLLOW ON to know the fullness of the New Life, the life of glory and power in human nature, of which the Spirit of the glorified Jesus is the Witness and the Source. Now, practically everything in relation to our Sonship depends upon the clearness with which this great truth that I have stated is recognized. The Holy Spirit of God inspired the message of these words in Rom. 5:9-11: "Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we SHALL BE SAVED BY HIS LIFE...and...we joy...in our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the atonement."
The double provision of Christ is here clearly set forth: reconciled by His death; saved by His life. Christ's death is the atonement, reconciling us to God, granting us a full and free admittance back into Eden's lovely garden from which our disobedient foreparents were once banished. But Christ's life is the Tree of Life in the Garden, the source of the life which shall work in us the complete transformation into the Divine Nature. Sin, sickness, sorrow, fear and death are all part of a power in our life; let us fully understand that it can only be met by another higher power. The power of sin and death works all through our life. The death of Christ, which is the atonement, reconciles us to God, but only the life of Christ can come against the power of sin and death and deliver our life from destruction. Reconciliation places us, in God's eyes, back in Eden's garden, but the Tree of Life, the fruit of which is THE SPIRIT OF LIFE FROM CHRIST, is the power that delivers my life from the power of sin and death. HE redeemeth my life, by His life, from death! Christ's life, not His death, living in our life, absorbing it, impregnating it, transforming it. And this is the meaning of that profound sentence in which Paul records the first great work of salvation and pointedly distinguishes it from the second great work of salvation, saying, "If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
"We shall be saved by His LIFE," says Paul. Paul meant no disrespect to the atonement when he said, "We shall be saved by His life." He was bringing out one of the great facts of salvation. If God gives atoning power with one hand, and power to save the life from destruction with the other hand, there is no jealously between these. Both are from God. If you call the one justification and the other glorification, God is the author of them both. If Paul seems to take something from the one work and add it to the other, he takes nothing from God. Atonement is from God! Reconciliation is from God! Power to conquer sin and death is from God! When we say we are saved by the death of Christ, it is true. When Paul says, "We shall be saved by His life," it is true. Christ is all in all, the beginning and the end. When the thing we want is deliverance from the guilt of sin, condemnation, let us appropriate the gift God has given us to remove our guilt - the DEATH of Christ. "In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of our sins" (Col. 1:14). When the thing we want is power to redeem our life from sin, corruption and death, then let us apply the gift which God has given us for our life, the LIFE of the Son of God. "He that hath the Son hath life."
When an Israelite was bitten in the wilderness, he never thought of applying manna to the wound. The manna was for his life. But he did think of applying the brazen serpent. The manna would never have cured his snake bite; nor would the brazen serpent have kept him from starving! Suppose he had said, "Now I am healed by this serpent, I feel cured, and I need not eat this manna anymore. The serpent has done it all, and I am well." The result would have been, of course, that he would have DIED. The man, to be sure, was cured, delivered from the condemnation of his rebellion against God, but he has to LIVE, and if he eats no manna his life must languish, go to destruction, die. Without going to any trouble about it, simply by the inevitable processes of nature, he would have died. The manna was God's provision to redeem his life from destruction, after the serpent had redeemed it from judgment. And if he did nothing to stop the natural progress of corruption, in the natural course of things, he must die. Now there is no jealousy between these two things - the manna is from God and the serpent is from God. But they are different gifts for different things. The serpent removed the condemnation to death, the sentence, but could not sustain life; the manna gave life, but could not deal with the sentence. Therefore, the Israelites were saved by the serpent, but they did not try to eat the serpent!
To apply this to the case in hand. The atonement of Christ, on the one hand, is the brazen serpent. Christ's life, on the hand, is the manna - the bread of life. Our sins are not forgiven by bread, nor are our lives nourished and supported by death. Our life is not made incorruptible and eternal by the atonement, nor transformed from day to day from the power of sin and death by the atonement. Our life is not redeemed from destruction by the death of Christ, nor is it brought to perfection from day to day by the death of Christ. But we are saved, as the Holy Ghost saith, by His "life." We cannot live upon death. And after, by the atonement, we are forgiven, and have entered by faith through the gateway to Eden's fair garden, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, having acceptance before God, we shall then be saved, delivered, changed, transformed, perfected and fully glorified BY HIS LIFE. The atonement gives us the right to enter back into Eden, but only the Tree of Life can make us live!
To sum up, therefore. It is one thing to be saved by the death of Christ, and another to be saved by His life; and while both expressions are correct, to talk of being saved by the death of Christ is not so Scriptural as to talk of being saved by the life of Christ. If reconciliation and justification by the death of Christ could make men to be CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF THE SON OF GOD then all the baby Christians in all of Babylon's harlot religious systems would be well on their way to SONSHIP. The death of Christ can make one a justified believer, but only the indwelling life of God's Christ can enable us to truly put on THE MIND OF CHRIST and be transformed in thought, desire, emotion, nature and body into His likeness. He redeemeth my life from destruction. How? By His life. This is the power of a full and complete salvation! Unspeakable are the blessings of the high and heavenly realm of God's incorruptible life which flow to the soul from the union with Jesus in His glorified life.
There may be serious differences of opinion about the promises of Christ's coming again. To one it is plain as day that He is coming very speedily in person to reign on earth, and that speedy coming is his hope and stay. To another, loving the Lord and His eternal purposes no less, the coming of Christ bespeaks the full and glorious revelation of Christ in and through His glorified many-membered body on earth. There is much interest in the study of those things which must shortly come to pass in the earth: the coming of the Lord, the great tribulation, the manifestation of the antichrist, the mark of the beast, one-world government, the World Church, the millennial kingdom, the two witnesses, the place of the United States, Russia, China and the European Common Market etc. etc. etc. How often God's chosen ones get more caught up in the understanding and exposition of all these things than in the putting on of the mind of Christ in union with HIS INDWELLING LIFE. It is by abiding in Christ the Glorified One that the believer will be quickened to that truly spiritual looking for His coming, which alone brings reality within. It is not our analyzing of the schedule of end-time events, nor the correctness of the views we hold, nor the earnestness with which we advocate them, that will prepare us for the momentous things that lie ahead, but the abiding in Him, the heavenliness that shows that the coming One is indeed already our life. Thus only can our being manifested with Him in glory be what it is meant to be - a transfiguration, a breaking out and shining forth of the INDWELLING GLORY that had been waiting for the day of revelation.
Blessed Tree of Life! It is ours, for Jesus is ours. Blessed life! We have the possession within our earth of its hidden power, and we have the prospect before us of its fullest glory. May our daily lives, in all we think and say and do, be bright and blessed proof that the hidden dwells within, daily preparing us for the glory to be revealed. May the eternal and incorruptible fruit of His life within be our power to live to the glory of the Father, our fitness to share the glory of the Son.
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
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