ECHOES FROM EDEN

 

Part XVI

 

DRESSING THE GARDEN

(continued)

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed...to DRESS IT AND KEEP IT" (Gen. 2:7-8,15).

As the pattern of things in the book of Genesis progresses, we see unfold before our wondering eyes a word which, when perceived, is seen to be one of the great Principles of the Kingdom of God. This word reveals the grand and glorious truth that just as surely as GOD PLANTED EDEN'S LOVELY GARDEN, so certain is it that He then placed Adam in the Garden TO DRESS IT AND TO KEEP IT (Gen. 2:7-8,15). As surely as the planting is the Lord's, the dressing and keeping is committed to Adam. These words are far too potent and full of meaning to be read over carelessly, or considered merely as a statement of historical fact to be lightly laid aside and forgotten. Herein lies the source of a river of wisdom and understanding. This is a gate through which God's chosen ones pass on their way to the treasure house of the knowledge of God. Here are things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man. Here are wonderful and priceless principles by which the Kingdom of God is developed as a living and quickening reality in the lives of God's Sons.

Adam was a Son of God (Lk. 3:38) and was placed in the Garden of the Kingdom of Heaven to dress it and to keep it, but falling to attend to the garden of his own soul, to prune away the desires of the carnal mind, to dig up the weeds of his self-life, he became unfruitful, ready for cursing, as was the tree upon which Jesus found no fruit. Under the curse Adam withered and died, alienated from the life that is God. Can we not see by this that the first work in the Lord's Garden, which He entrusts to us and calls upon to do, is to care for and guard our own lives and first partake of the fruit? How very important this becomes in the light of the wonderful truth that the blessed Garden of the Kingdom of God is planted eastward in the Eden of God's great and eternal domain, and from its portals shall come that many-membered MAN, the LAST ADAM, Head and body, the CORPORATE SON OF GOD, who is the image of God, whose authority and Lordship is destined to be as boundless as the heavens, for God shall put all things under His feet!

DEALINGS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE GARDEN

The first step in the preparation of the Sons of God is when we are lifted out of the vineyards of the world and planted in the Garden of God. Then, many and varied are the ways and paths by which the Lord in faithfulness processes and develops the people He has chosen. A most important aspect of this preparation is found tucked away among the priceless gems in the treasure house of truth of the Song of Solomon. "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my Garden, that the spices thereof may flow out" (S. of S. 4:16).

Let us try to understand what it means, this cry of the heart, "Come, O wind; blow upon my Garden." In becoming partakers of the realities of the Kingdom of God, there is a work God does and a work we have to do. God does His work by moving us to do our work. The work of God is hidden and silent; what we do is something distinct and tangible. Conversion and faith, prayer and obedience, putting off the carnal mind and putting on the mind of Christ, forsaking the traditions of religion and walking in the Spirit, are all conscious acts of which we can give a clear account; while the spiritual quickening and strengthening and direction that come from God are secret and beyond the reach of human sight, wrought deep within the spirit of the inner man. It is the work of God to cause the believer to hunger and thirst for fuller measures of HIS LIFE AND REALITY, and this work is not effected from without, but from within, as the Spirit of God, dwelling in the quickened spirit of the child of God, stirs him from the inner depths of his being to desire a further dealing, unveiling and experiencing of God. Out of this secret and hidden moving of God bursts the heart-cry: "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my Garden, that the spices thereof may flow out!"

The word, wind, in both the Hebrew and in the Greek, is the same word that is translated, "Spirit," in other places. The way into the Kingdom of Heaven was opened up through Christ's first advent, by His death and resurrection. When the time of His departure drew nigh, He promised His followers that He would not leave them desolate, or orphans; but that He would pray the Father, who would give them another Comforter, even the Holy Spirit; whom the world could not receive. It was not until Jesus had opened up the way into the Garden of the Lord, and was glorified, that the Holy Spirit was poured forth and began His work (Acts 2:32-33; Jn. 16:8). When the clouds of sin and darkness and death and unbelief have hidden the sky, "The wind (or Spirit) passeth, and cleareth them. Out of the north cometh golden splendor; God hath upon Him terrible majesty" (Job. 37:21-22). Thus is it with that working of the Holy Spirit, which is called the "North Wind." He comes, blowing upon our Garden, convicting, judging, shaking, stirring, blasting, reproving, dealing. It is He who convicts us when we are not walking in the Spirit; it is He who teaches and stirs us up to press on; He shows us where we are slack and where we must put off the flesh, that we may put on Christ. He moves upon the dark clouds of the carnal mind, He moves upon the fog of man's traditions and theories and self-righteousness. Out of the north, He moves upon all that hides the truth from our vision; and as He clears the spiritual atmosphere about us, the golden splendor of the light of God shines into our lives, with the revelation of His terrible majesty, His awesome greatness!

Blessed be God! the Holy Spirit comes to God's elect, not only as the north wind, but also as the south wind. It is after the work of conviction, stripping, and purging, that the Holy Spirit comes as the Comforter. It is after man's unworthiness is uncovered, that the spirit comes as the balmy south wind. With warm rain and gentle breezes, He brings encouraging movings within us as we listen to His voice and yield to Him. As the south wind, the Holy Spirit woos us on and reveals our destiny in Christ, bringing to us a deeper apprehension of the magnitude of the grace of God, the gracious purpose of God for His entire creation, and the high and holy calling with which we are called as Sons of God.

It is after He has come with convicting and purging power, showing us our shortage and the vanity of our confidence in ourselves and of all our efforts and abilities, that He comes with encouragement, enlightenment and quickening and points to OUR SUFFICIENCY IN JESUS CHRIST. It is when, as the north wind, He has blasted all our self-activities; and, through a revelation of ourselves, He has brought us low in the dust of humiliation, that He comes as the gentle Spirit of consolation and faith and reveals to us that CHRIST WITHIN will do all and must be our all in all. Then He blows upon that which remains after the work of purging and pruning, He gently waters it with warm, refreshing rains, He reveals Jesus Christ as all we need; and the blossoms that are left, begin to grow and bear fruit. The spices begin to send out their fragrance.

"The Garden," which both in Genesis and in the Song of Solomon has the significance of the Kingdom of God, has been set up on earth by the work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection. In this Garden, God has planted precious plants, stately trees, costly spices and aromatic herbs. This "Garden" is not only the universal Kingdom of the Lord, not only do we live and feed and work in this Garden, but we are part of it. Each of our lives is a little vineyard which is a part of God's great Vineyard, a little garden which is a part of God's great Garden. Thus we pray earnestly that the work which the Holy Spirit must do in our "gardens," may be done to the glory of God. Very often, we are more inclined to ask God to bless us, supply our needs, heal, perform miracles, flood our souls with glory, than we are to pray that He will deal and uncover all that is hindering Him from perfecting that which concerneth us. Ah, the blessings will come, the glory will be revealed, the fullness will break upon us, but the north wind must blow first!

Dear reader, are we crying from the depths of our hearts, "Awake, O North Wind"? Are our hearts longing for Him to blow upon gardens in stripping and dealing and testing, however hard it may be on the flesh? Can we pray most fervently that God will send His Spirit, as the north wind, to search out the pride, to search out the self-interest and self-will, to search out the unholy passions, emotions and desires, to search out even the hidden spirit of Babylon that remains; and that He will blow upon it until it is blasted and drops off, and we are clothed in humility and righteousness and the mind of Christ?

Are we praying that the Lord of the Vineyard will send the Holy Spirit, as the north wind, and strip away the false assurance that believes we have more than we have, and mistakes revelation for possession? How many times we assumed that we had entered into possession of those things that God had showed us and called us to begin to possess. How many times God has let us see the blessedness of the path in which we walk alone with Him, and we thought we were walking in it. But when He sent the Spirit to blow upon our lives, we found that HE WAS NOT OUR ALL IN ALL; that we were yet depending upon some one else, or something else, be it our feelings, our works, gifts, ministries, meetings etc. rather than upon the Lord.

How little we recognize our own plans and desires, which are as suckers in our spiritual lives. How little we appreciate the place we give the flesh and our own interests, our likes and dislikes, our experiences and self-absorption, our religious activities and multiplied works, which eat the strength and life out of our relationship with God. When God sends the Holy Spirit as the north wind, He comes and uncovers our nakedness, exposing the fleshliness of our thoughts, acts and position. With a blast of conviction, He blows upon those suckers, and like a mighty wind He sweeps down upon them to try them. As they fall off, we are left apparently stripped and bare; but, in reality, we are in a better condition to bring forth blossoms and fruit to His glory than we have been before.

Can we look into His face with confidence and say: "Awake, O North Wind, and blow upon my garden? Lord, send the testings and processing's that you see I need; send the hard things that are needed to try every blossom. Blow upon the blossoms in my life that are so beautiful and look as if they would bear luscious fruit for Thy glory; blow upon my gifts, and ministries, and works, and doctrines, and plans, and hopes, and ambitions, and doings and prove them whether they will abide, or whether they have no beginning of fruit in them." How many of God's dealings and revelations have been rejoiced in, how many of His callings to higher places in Him have made much show before our eyes, how we have revelled in the knowledge of His High calling, of Sonship, of the Glory to be revealed in us, of the great and powerful ministry to come with His Fullness, of the throne to be shared in His Kingdom, but how often we have not yielded that God might make these things FRUITFUL, and they remained only dealings and revelations, head-knowledge and dreams, and never became possessions in some measure for the todays.

God also sends the Spirit, as the north wind, to blow upon every relationship in our lives; upon those relations we deem harmless, but which come between God and us, sapping the spiritual life out of us, and robbing God. Upon every relationship that is not of His choosing and to His glory, He sends the wind. He separates us from every one and everything that is harming our vineyards; He blows upon our human affections, both in us and in those who have a place in our lives; and before His north wind human love withers up. Not one thing of eternal value that has been inworked in our lives can be harmed by the north wind of God's dealing, which only blasts and withers the superficial and unfruitful; and the sooner these fall off the better. The sooner we see ourselves stripped of our self-confidence and blindness, our false hopes and delusions that we are far beyond the place to which we have really attained before God, the better.

He blows upon our involvements with religious systems, our feverish "Church activity," our running hither and thither doing the so-called work of the Lord, our trotting from meeting to meeting, from preacher to preacher, from revival to revival, and before His north wind the anointing upon these avenues of service lifts and we are left with a bare branch from which the superficial beauty and fragrance has been stripped. It is the strong blasts of the north wind that drive our roots down deeper and deeper into the soil of HIS LIFE, until that which has gone down and is out of sight, is greater and stronger than that which appears above the surface. We are astonished and disheartened as we behold some of the most beautiful blossoms in our lives drop off; those in which we had placed much confidence. But the very blasts of sharp conviction and dealing that destroy the fruitless blossoms, also cause the roots of the spiritual life to go down deeper INTO CHRIST; and they become firmly rooted and grounded IN HIM. Thus striped and with our roots going deeper and deeper, we learn to take the time to wait on God long enough for HIS LIFE TO ARISE WITHIN US, long enough to hear HIM SPEAK and have Him divulge HIS WILL to our seeking hearts.

To every apprehended Son of God who purposed in his heart to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, God will send the searching north wind of the Spirit that his garden may be stripped and prepared for further processings; and so that nothing of SELF may be encouraged to remain. When He has dealt with everything, He will send the south wind of the Spirit in wooing and encouragement, in warm showers of faith and glory, which will refresh and entire and entice the fruitful buds to come out and develop into for the glory of God. The more testings the Lord sends, the stronger the searching north wind blows upon our garden, the more spices and fruit are perfected, and the more fragrance and glory flow forth from our lives.

The love of God must be perfected in us; the love that suffers all things and is kind, the love that shall flow out to reconcile all things back to God, must be tried in the furnace before it comes forth as gold. Many times our love toward God and toward man is tried to the uttermost through the pressures and circumstances that crowd in upon us, but, beloved ones, the DIVINE LOVE that comes forth from the heart of God and is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, will remain and increase. And, under the testings of God, it will begin to send forth such fragrance as it has never had before.

Come smell the spices that abound in the Garden of the Lord! "...love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." It is not the gentle, soothing south wind that wafts abroad these costly spices of His divine nature. It is the north wind that whips and beats it fine, that proves whether it is divine spice, or merely a "fair weather" imitation of man's soul. As the spices are bruised, the perfumes come forth, for it is the hard things that make the spices give out their odor. Let God send the north wind upon our lives until His eye sees that it is enough; and then let the south wind blow that the spices may flow out. Thus the heart of the Lord is made to rejoice as He walks through His Garden and smells the fragrance of our spices; as He beholds the fruit that is being perfected within our lives through the working of His Spirit. It is His Garden and not ours; they are His precious fruits and spices and not ours. Though they are perfected in our lives and borne upon our branches and are sometimes spoken of as ours, they are really HIS; and they are perfected in us through the work of His cross and the power of His resurrection as we come into union with Him, blessed be His name!

THE GARDEN OF THE FIELDS

In Study thirteen of this series I wrote of how there are four Vineyards or Gardens presented in the Song of Solomon, and they all portray the Kingdom of God in different aspects and stages of development. I have already pointed out some of the precious truths contained in three of these Gardens. Let us now prayerfully and reverently consider the fourth and final Garden in this magnificent book - THE GARDEN OF THE FIELDS.

"Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us go up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish; whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: the mandrakes give a good smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved" (S. of S. 7:11-13).

We see that in this Garden, there is the bud and the flower, the newly ripened fruit, and the old preserved fruit. All the characteristics of all the Gardens and Vineyards are to be found in this Garden of the Fields. In another verse of the same chapter we learn that one of the trees in this Garden of the Fields is the palm tree, and concerning God's elect it is written: "This thy stature is like to a palm tree" (S. of S. 7:7). Hear now what the sweet singer of Israel sang of the chosen ones of the Lord: "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree...those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing...to show that the Lord is...my rock" (Ps. 92:12-15).

There are many meanings connected with the palm tree, all of which wondrously set forth the attainments and beauty, the fruitfulness and strength of God's elect. The palm tree always grows beside springs of clear, living water. The weary traveler in the desert is encouraged to press on, as he sees in the distance groves of stately palm trees; even one palm tree gives him courage, for it is a sure sign of water. These palm trees of God, these trees of righteousness, give the water of life to every burdened soul that comes to them for help, BY POINTING TO THE ETERNAL SPRING WHENCE THEY DRAW THEIR OWN REFRESHMENT AND LIFE. As the palm tree beckons to the traveler in the desert, and ever points to the springs at its roots, so the body of Christ is a channel through which living streams, which have their source in the throne of God, flow out to those that are thirsty. The weary children of God who are weak and worn, who are pressed down by many cares and by the heat of the day: those that have not gone far in the spiritual journey into the fullness of God, may hasten to the grove of strong living trees, and may refreshed and encouraged to press on.

They can lean upon those whose faith has been strengthened by many testings, for if a storm sweeps through a grove of palm trees bend low to the ground, swept this way and that before the fury of the gale and so do not break. Afterwards they at once regain their upward position, unharmed, as the wind dies down and all is peace again. The weak can lean upon these whose love never fails to encourage the faltering soul to press on toward the goal.

There is not only water the palm tree is found, but there is shade from the heat of the sun. The roots of the palm tree out shoots that spread abroad near the ground and make grateful shade for the weary traveler, and thus shall the righteous "flourish" like the palm tree. The weary, tired soul finds rest and a quieting power with those who have entered into the rest of God, and whose lives are fed from the hidden springs that flow from their union with God. The rest of God, which is manifested in their lives, flows out to those who are wearied; and the young and the weak are led to the Fountain where they, too, are refreshed and find life more abundant.

The palm tree never grows earthward but heavenward. The date palm groves of the East inspire awe and wonder as you walk through the long of trees. The trunks are uniform in height and symmetry, resembling the pillars of a great cathedral, upright from their root to the leafy capitals which spread out fanwise and from which hang large, reddish clusters of dates. No pressure nor weight, however great or heavy, that is laid upon the palm tree, can bear it down or hold it near the earth. It will not be bound down, but in spite of all opposition, it keeps its face looking upward, and pursues it heavenward course. This characteristic of the palm tree brings deep conviction to our hearts as we remember how the weights of the pressures, problems, and circumstances of life have many times borne us down! How we have grown earthward because of the pull of the flesh, the power of soulish emotions, the love of the things of the world! How many times we have bowed down beneath the testings and pressures that have come against us, the weights that even our families and friends and jobs have fastened upon us, so that in place of growing straight upward toward the heavenlies, we have bent and have become crooked or deformed in some way.

But it shall not be thus with the Sons of God! God is preparing a people, the planting of the Lord, the good seed of the Kingdom, trees of righteousness, whom no weight of earth, however heavy, shall be able to hold down or bend earthward! Though the weight of influence and earthly love should cling to these Sons of God; though the pressures and problems and perplexities of life should crowd in upon these; though the fear of man and desire to please man should strive to impede their way; though adversity, calamity, sorrow, tragedy, reversal, and trouble should howl at their heels, none of these weights shall be able to hold down, overcome, discourage, intimidate, upset, frustrate, perplex or in any way affect these who dwell in union with THE LIVING GOD, who follow on to know, experience, appropriate HIS GLORIOUS TRIUMPH as overcomers to the glory of His name. Though all hell should strive to turn these palm trees of God downward, it shall not avail; though every foe and earthly friend should conspire together, it shall but make the Sons of God keep their faces more prayerfully and constantly looking UNTO HIM, their forerunner. As these look away from all else to Jesus, they grow heavenward! heavenward!

The palm tree is one of the most stately of all trees. It does not spread out its leaves and bear its fruit near the earth, but it is in its highest branches that it spreads out and becomes strong. We lived for some time among the coconut palms in Central America, and I soon learned that if you wanted to partake of the fruit, you had better learn to climb! Thus is it with the Sons of God! They do not send out large, fruitful branches near the earth, so that all who pass by can pluck them off and devastate their beauty; but they mount up toward heaven, and they abide in the pure air of the presence of God, and they send out strong branches that bear much kingdom fruit of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Through storms and pressures and multiplied experiences these have grown higher and stronger and have spread their branches out to a greater distance; and it is the highest branches that spread out and turn their leaves and fruit upward. It is self evident that those that pass by cannot partake of their fruit, neither can they find support in the branches that have grown up high and spread out heavenward, WITHOUT CLIMBING UP TOWARD HEAVEN! None can pluck the fruit with which these trees are loaded, until they have been lifted up from the earthly atmosphere and gone up into the heavenly realm of their branches!

How different are these PALM TREE SONS OF GOD from the crop of religious hawkers that fills the land today, bearing their fruit close to the earth, as with their carnal programs, ceremonies, rituals, denominational systems, promotions, drives, invasions, concerts, puppet shows, money raising schemes, and divers activities of fleshly appeal, they bear fruit on such a low level as to be plucked carelessly by any who pass by, without ever raising them up out of their attachment to earth into the spiritual heights of THE MIND OF CHRIST.

The so-called "gospel" of this hour is fashioned to "appeal" to the CARNAL MIND, offering men blessings, prosperity, instant solutions to all problems, rapture out of tribulation, a miracle a day, ease and comfort and all good things, but men do not have to climb very far heavenward to pluck the fruit of these earthbound bushes, for the benefits are all EARTHLY, not heavenly. I do not err when I say that if all the prayers and faith that are exercised daily for EARTHLY THINGS, blessings of money, jobs, cars, homes, clothes, physical healing, comforts, luxuries that pamper the flesh, etc. were stripped from most Christian's prayers, their prayer lives would be reduced by at least ninety percent!

Yes, much fruit is borne near the earth, so appealing to the carnal mind, so easily accessible, without effort and with no heavenward climb. This "easy" gospel is presented to the poor sinner in this way: "You are a sinner; Christ died for sinners; therefore, Christ died for you; believe this, confess it and you are saved." So easy! The disciples of this easy gospel pick a scoundrel from the streets, pass him through this plausible formula, get him to repeat the words, and turn him out a convert in the space of as many minutes as it takes to tell it. I do not hesitate to declare to you that this is nothing but SALVATION BY FORMULA! The zeal of those who propagate this easy gospel, assuredly, is not to be questioned: their instincts are right, and their work is sometimes not in vain. But the carnal mind is always looking for that which will work automatically, easily by method, technique, formula...close to the earth. Someone will certainly ask, "But isn't it written, 'By grace are ye saved through faith,' 'not of yourselves, not of works, lest any man should boast,' and 'He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life?'" To which, however, I also answer in the words of Scripture, "The devils also believe," and "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." But without seeming to make text, let us ask rather what the supposed convert possesses at the end of the process. That Christ saves sinners, even scoundrels from the street, is a great fact. But in ordinary circumstances, with no searching conviction of the Holy Spirit, nor any deep dealing of God, the person is rapidly urged through the above piece of logic, appealing to his carnal mind, four simple steps to heaven! and then informed that all his past is blotted out, and all his future secured, by a hasty application of a FORMULA. Not so! I do not hesitate to declare it, for it is a believing alright, a mistaken believing, the giving of MENTAL ASSENT, a believing with the MIND, but believing with the mind saves no man. Did not Jesus say, "Out of the abundance of the HEART the MOUTH speaketh," and Paul explains what this means in terms of a man's salvation, declaring, "If thou shalt confess with thy MOUTH the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine HEART...thou shalt be saved. For WITH THE HEART MAN BELIEVETH UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS; and with the MOUTH confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:9-10). In true conversion the mouth confesses what the heart, the deepest part of a person's being, believes. The heart! not the mind. It is deeper than mental assent, mere superficial persuasion of the mental faculties, acceptance of a formula, with no deep working of the Spirit in the inner man.

I now venture to say that vast numbers of those who have embraced this "Salvation by Formula," giving mental assent to the "four things you know to be saved," even repeating the sinner's prayer, and carrying a Bible about, are not truly converted at all, but have had their conscience' soothed with the promise of such an easy escape from hell, for when faced with the prospect of hell, man's chief end is to "get off." And those who pass through the Salvation by Formula process feel "safe." Their minds are worked through a chain of phrases in which the words "sin," "hell," "believe," "saved," and "heaven" are the conspicuous terms, and giving mental assent to this, applying the formula, by all logic, their future is guaranteed! They take out, in short, an insurance policy, with one easy installment, by which they are instantly and infallibly secured eternal life at death.

Ah, beloved, salvation is far more than a passport out of hell! It means DELIVERANCE; the Greek, in fact, denotes a DELIVERANCE UNTO WHOLENESS - deliverance from the whole dreadful realm of sin, darkness, bondage and death - it means a trusting in Christ, not as a fire-escape, but in order to likeness to Christ, a transformation of nature, our spirit quickened by the Holy Spirit, translated into the high and holy realm of the Kingdom of Heaven as an entirely NEW CREATION IN CHRIST.

There is an greater abomination abroad in the land today. I speak of the "Holy Spirit by Formula" delusion practiced by many in the Charismatic movement, as people are "coached" in how to receive the blessed gift of the Holy Spirit and are then "taught" how to speak in tongues by repeating some strange sounding syllables after someone else! Is not this one of the lying wonders of which Paul warned us in II Thes 2:11-12 by which thousands, yea, millions will be deceived? In my mind there is no doubt about it. Cursed fruit! I believe in speaking in tongues, and might well glory with the apostle Paul that "I speak in tongues more than you all," but I do not believe that repeating gibberish after any man is speaking in tongues by the Spirit of God. Furthermore, no man can speak by the Holy Spirit and still be a worshipper of idols and continue to pray to the Virgin Mary, light candles, count beads, exercise false gifts, and follow after the traditions and foolishness of the religious systems. The holy things of God are today made so easy to attain, so appealing to the carnal mind, as fruit borne close to the earth, to be plucked and possessed by any unclean hands or unsanctified soul that passes by!

God has commanded us: "...Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and YE SHALL BE MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS" (II Cor. 6:17-18). But the so-called gospel of popular religion is glamourized as Hollywood stars and popular night club entertainers intone with their unsanctified voices the sacred hymns given by the Holy Spirit to saints who walked and talked with God in the secret places of His presence. They give glowing testimonies of what Christ has done in their lives, yet they go right on with their Hollywood acting, entertaining the ungodly in the midst of the filth of the devil's strongholds in America's Sodoms and Gomorrahs. Then, if you would engage them to give their testimony at your gathering for the glory of God, you must sign a contract with their agent guaranteeing them many thousands of dollars for their brief appearance! Cursed fruit! Fruit borne too close to earth to lift men heavenward! They popularize such sacred truths as the new birth, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the Kingdom of God and thus by carnal usage corrupt their true message and reality. As the shallow-minded worldlings applaude the smooth words with which they are entertained, the hallowed things of the heavenlies are dragged down into the deepest mire of the earth realm as fruit to be plucked by unsanctified hands, which contains no power to lift them out of their carnal minds into THE MIND OF CHRIST. Corrupted fruit! Truth mixed with error, the holy with the unholy, the heavenly with the earthly, light with darkness, until men are unable to distinguish one from the other, and they do not.

Long ago the Lord said to Israel, "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled. Thou shalt not plow with an ass and an ox together. Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together" (Deut. 22:9-11; Lev. 19:19). Paul would have said, "Doth God take care for oxen, OR SAITH HE IT ALTOGETHER FOR OUR SAKES? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written" (I Cor. 9:9). His argument would apply here just as it did in the case mentioned there. These things are all written for our admonition. The harlot religious movements of our day dare to defy God's explicit command, mixing the spirit of this world with the Spirit of God, mixing the clean with the unclean, the ox of sacrifice with the ass of lust, the wheat with the tares, the Christian with the unchristian, the methods, the techniques, and psychology of this world's systems with the supernatural things of the Spirit.

For such an hour this God is preparing His Garden of the Field, with its stately PALM TREES, Sons of God, who grow up tall and majestically into the heavenlies, to abide in the pure air of the presence of God, there to send out strong branches that bear much fruit - heavenward!

It is not that we have no desire to have men partake of the fruit of Christ in our lives, but it is often easier to bear the fruit of God on a low level in order to make it easily accessible to men, while the fruit loses its purity and perfectness and power to lift men up into the image of God. And while it is true, HIS LOVE flowing through us will give us compassion for others, and a ministering to them, nevertheless there is a priority established in the Garden of God that "...We should bring forth fruit UNTO GOD" (Rom. 7:4). The fruit is, indeed, FOR MEN, but it is UNTO GOD; borne not earthward, but heavenward, not to bless men in the carnal realm where they dwell, but to quicken and lift them up into the divine life of the Son of God. In bearing our fruit heavenward, we must not become centered in the needs around us, our center must ever be IN HIM. Over the past years there has been an increasing emphasis by the Spirit, as a trumpet sounding out the message, declaring that God is first interested in our BECOMING - IN OUR STATE OF BEING IN HIM - before all our doing, before all our activities, ministries, outreaches etc. How often we have ministered so little to others because we possessed so little! And we possessed little because we had not developed in the fertile soil of the Garden of God, being busily engaged in running around from garden to garden, doing this and that, digging here and there, tending all the vineyards, but failing to tend our own! If we would be numbered among the FIRSTFRUITS unto God, then there must be a planting in His Garden, and a dwelling there, with the pruning and purging processes, the cultivating and fertilizing, the passing of the seasons, the blowing of the north wind, and the south, and then patience...while we put down our roots and grow tall and reach the time of the bearing of fruit, that fruit may borne heavenward, that men may be lifted up into HIS LIFE.

Yes, we have a vision for the WORLD, and because we do have such a vision the emphasis becomes, "Abide in Me, and I in you. He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit," for it is THE DEVELOPMENT OF FRUIT IN OUR LIVES that is essential, for this pure and perfect and heavenly fruit is that which shall give life to the world! When men partake of this fully developed "first-fruits" of God's harvest, they will be lifted out of their distressing condition into the glorious liberty of the Sons of God. Those who draw near these PALM TREES in the Garden of God cannot partake of their fruit while remaining bound to the earthlies, neither can they find support in their branches that have grown high, until they have left the earthly atmosphere and begun to climb up TOWARD HEAVEN.

There is a cry in the hearts of God's elect in this hour, deeper desires and yearnings than ever before find expression there, the cry being that the Lord shall go forth in the gardens of our lives and accomplish all that there shall be a harvest. Though the buds and the blossoms are much to rejoice over, we must watch the promises of fruit and tenderly care for them. We must let no neglect and failure to water them with our prayers, no rough handling and picking them in order to make a display, blast the fruit. Without fruit the blossoms are vain, and their beauty of no profits either to God or to us or to the world.

There now burns perennial within our breasts this desire to see the harvest, while at the same time we are learning patience to wait for the fullness of time to come. Let us rejoice when there is bud and blossom; let us thank Him when we see the little green fruit; let us humbly give Him the glory when there is ripe fruit in our lives. Let us not be discouraged if we do not find fully ripened fruit on the branch that He has just pruned, or upon the plants that our Heavenly Father has just begun to deal with. The bud must come before the blossoms; the blossoms must come before the tiny, immature fruit appears; the little green fruit must come before it can ripen and perfected, and the fruit must be ripe and perfect before the heart of the Husbandman is satisfied, and before the fruit can be gathered and distributed as refreshing and nourishment to the hungry and needy. Have you seen the lack of fruit in your life, dear child of God? Do not be dismayed! ABIDE IN HIM, for the process requires many "seasons" to be completed. Know that you are planted in the Garden of the Lord; abide there, yield there, yield to each and every dealing of God in the place where you are, and there shall be fruit in due time!

The bud and blossom, the garden and partly ripe fruit, are all perfect if they are growing and going forward in God's way, although none of these are fit to pick except the fully ripened fruit. It is encouraging to remember that every attribute and characteristic of our divine Father along every line, must begin with the bud and blossom. Their growth is slow and imperceptible, and there is no way to FORCE THEM TO MATURE before God has fully pruned and tended them. How our hearts long that we may nourish the buds until they flower, and guard the flower until the fruit appears; that we may protect the fruit until it is ripe, and carefully gather that which will redound to the glory of God alone! Let us not try to share our leaves, buds, and blossoms with the world, for then the fruit will be lost. Let us not be so busy DOING that we fail to BECOME! Let us BECOME that men may come and eat of WHAT WE ARE. And what we shall be transcends all that this worlds religious systems and outreaches have to offer; and men, seeing the heavenliness of the TREES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS growing by the eternal springs of HIS LIFE, shall turn aside to drink deeply from their inexhaustible supply of living water, and to scale their heights that they may be nourished by their incorruptible fruit that grows heavenward, blessed be His wonderful name!

J. PRESTON EBY

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