ECHOES FROM EDEN
THE OBEDIENCE OF SONS
"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die...and when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6).
Genesis opens wondrously, first announcing a creation, then showing it marred, and then a restoration. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." As for God, His work is perfect. If He created, His work must have been good. And yet the next thing is a darkened, chaotic world...for "the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." In some way, not revealed, God's work had been destroyed. Contrast this statement of a chaotic condition with the following from Isa 45:18: "For thus says the Lord Who created the heavens, God Himself Who formed the earth and made it, Who established it and created it NOT A WORTHLESS WASTE; He formed it to be inhabited." Is this a contradiction between Isaiah and Moses? That question can best be answered by a careful study of the first two verses of Genesis.
The first contents itself with a simple statement of a consummated act: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Not a word about the method, manner, means or procedure of creation, and nothing of its result. The second verse carries a tremendous suggestion of collapse in its touching picture of the Spirit of God brooding over the watery face of the formless void! Let us see what a careful word-study of this second verse will yield.
In the King James Version the text begins: "And the earth was..." This word (and) in the Hebrew text is also translated "but," or "moreover." Thus in the Septuagint version of the Scripture the text begins: "But the earth had become..." and this is the sense of the Vulgate as well. The second word to be noted is the one translated in the English Bible "was." The Hebrew language lacks a word for "became," so the word "was" is always used to carry out the sense of "became." This phrase then literally reads, "But the earth had become...tohu v'bohu!" This Phrase, "tohu v'bohu," is translated in the American revision "waste and void." In the King James Version it reads, "without form and void," but the sense of this phrase is even stronger than that. The Septuagint says, "But the earth had become unfurnished and empty," the Vulgate says "dreary and empty," and the Aramaic makest the strongest and clearest statement of all: "And the earth had become ruined and uninhabited!" Hebrew scholars have said that this is the clearest statement of all, as the term "tohu v'bohu" literally means "desolation succeeding previous life."
The second verse of Genesis, then, literally should read, "But the earth had become desolate, ruined and unfurnished, covered with and shrouded with darkness. And the Spirit of God brooded over the face of the waters." Let us clearly keep in mind that all this is prior to the six days of creation. Isaiah says that God created the earth not a waste and Moses states that the earth nevertheless had become a waste. God, then, in the six days, restores that earth, not originally made dark by Him, yet now in darkness; and on this ruined earth His work proceeds UNTIL HIS IMAGE IS SEEN, and He can rest there.
This wonder - of a work of God so soon self-destroyed, meets us again in the beginning of human history, in the Garden. Scarcely is God's image seen in man, before that spiritual work is marred in Adam. The creature formed to bear God's image falls, and thus becomes the stage for another work. In each case mystery surrounds the fall. How the earth once beautiful became "without form and void and dark," is not told us. And how the man, God's image, falls, is a great deep: for great is the mystery of godliness, and not less the mystery of iniquity. But the fact is here. We see man made by the Word of God; and then we see man, AS HE MAKES HIMSELF BY DISOBEDIENCE!
In the midst of Eden's fair garden, the Lord God set up a testimony, established a law, and this testimony was a test for Adam. It spoke of death in the midst of life. "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Strange, solemn sound! Yet it was a needed sound. Adam's life was dependent upon his strict obedience. The link which connected him with the life of God and the image of God was OBEDIENCE, based on implicit confidence in the One who had set him in his position of dignity - confidence in His truth - confidence in His love. He could obey only while he confided, trusted, relied, believed - without questioning.
I would here suggest to my reader the remarkable contrast between the testimony set up in Eden and that which is set up now under the grace of God. Then, when all around was life, God spoke of death; now, on the contrary, when all around is death, God speaks of life! Then, the word was, "In the day thou eatest thou shalt die; now, the word is, "He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath EVERLASTING LIFE, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Jn. 5:24). And again, "Blessed are they that DO HIS COMMANDMENTS, that they may have right to the tree of life" (Rev. 22:14). Then, in the midst of life, God spoke of disobedience and death; now, in the midst of death, God speaks of OBEDIENCE AND LIFE!
We shall briefly look at Adam's position in Eden. The Word of God teaches us that Adam was a Son of God, and as such, a type, shadowing forth "the second man, the Lord from heaven," our Lord Jesus Christ. That Adam stood in blessed relationship to God as a Son is clear, for the Scripture, when tracing the genealogy of Jesus Christ, follows His lineage back to Adam through Enos and Seth, and the record states: "...which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God" (Lk. 3:38). Let us open our hearts that God may speak to us and show us how the obedience or disobedience of Adam constituted the obedience or disobedience of A SON, a fact which defies all possibility of comprehension apart from the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God. Then, the apostle Paul by inspiration reveals a little understood truth about that Son of God called Adam, explaining, "Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, WHO IS THE FIGURE OF HIM THAT WAS TO COME" (Rom. 5:14). Adam...a figure, a type, of Christ!
The word used in the original is "tupos," from which our word "type" derives. The word "tupos" comes from a verb that means "to strike." Tupos, however, did not take on the meaning "blow," but rather the meaning of what is left by a blow, that is, "impression," "imprint," "statuette" (small works of sculpture). Further the word also takes on the meaning of the "mold" with which an impression, imprint, or statuette is made. Thus it can also mean a "pattern." That Adam is called a "tupos" of Christ means that Adam and Christ are related in the same way the mold in which a statuette is cast and the statuette itself are related. The mold prefigures the statuette, and Adam is the "prefiguration" of Christ. The first man Adam, the type, was made "IN the image of God" (Gen. 1:26), but of the last man Adam, the anti-type, the reality, it is written: "Who IS the image of God...the brightness of His glory, and the EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS PERSON" (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3).
Some glad morning, the dawn of which me thinks I now behold, when the processing's of God in the lives of His firstfruits company are complete, our eyes will behold with endless joy the full glory of that heaven blest Eden, the garden in which walked Adam, the Son of God. Our eyes, long dimmed by the darkness of this carnal realm, have not beheld such glories as were there; our ears have not heard its celestial song, nor have our wildest imaginations probed the splendor of that realm of life where Adam and Eve, the Son and daughter of God, stood in God's image knowing no sin, no sorrow nor crying, no labor nor sweat, no pain nor death; for even now, in this "in part" realm of the firstfruits of the Spirit, we yet see through a glass darkly. In the secret place of Eden, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, Adam dwelt beneath the shadow of the Almighty, for the Lord God is a sun and a shield to all who walk uprightly.
Then in God's inscrutable wisdom the dark hour came when the creature was made subject to vanity (Rom. 8:20). Stretching forth his hand in DISOBEDIENCE, he took of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and did eat. "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord" (Gen. 3:7-8). Surely none could have known more fully or intimately the glory of God than did Adam and Eve as they stood in His image and daily walked and talked with Him, but now their disobedience thrust them into a dreadful outer darkness that made them feel naked, ashamed, and frightened at the very thought of God's presence so that they desired only to hide themselves from Him forever.
Here, then, when Adam in disobedience and fear and shame hid himself from the presence of God, was the beginning of all our labor, sorrow and night. The image of God in man was marred, his soul became like the primeval earth, without form and an empty waste, darkened, and agitated by the angry waters of its own passions and lust and frustrations and sorrows. Thus from the brightness of God's glory all men in Adam were cast out; for there is no difference, since all have sinned and come short of the glory of God through man's transgression. Upon our eyes a veil was cast that could not be taken away until the day of triumph in which JESUS CHRIST, THE ONE PREFIGURED BY ADAM, THE SECOND MAN, rent the veil in twain and flung Eden's gates wide open that repentant, forgiven, and newborn men might come with boldness into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus - by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that we who have fixed our hope upon Jesus may now enter back into the glories of Eden, finding ourselves IN THE LAST MAN CHRIST.
Man, through self, is all that we see in disobedience Adam, debased and sunk from God and thrust out of the Kingdom of Heaven into the desolation of self-hood, from joy and glory into misery; and yet in Christ, THE SECOND MAN WHO WAS OBEDIENT, man has been, and shall be set in all the glory which the first man typified, so that Paul can say, "God hath raised us up, and blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 2:6; 1:3). Adam, sinless and ruling all things in Eden's blest domain, is the type of the man in Christ, as God makes him by the Spirit; fallen Adam. losing all through disobedience, with mind and will and body and soul devastated by the tyranny of sin, sorrow and decay, typifies man in self, as he unmakes his own nature. Adam in the image of God prefigured, with glories more than the eye can see, the wonderful hope of Sonship to God which is the hope set before us who are today following Christ, which hope we have as an anchor for the soul both steadfast and sure and which entereth into that within the veil (Heb. 6:19).
THE POWER OF DISOBEDIENCE
Let us pursue a little further the thought of the effect of Adam's disobedience upon all mankind. Paul says in Rom. 5:19: "for just as by one man's disobedience (failing to hear, heedlessness and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man's obedience the many will be constituted righteous - made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him" (Amplified Bible). The word disobedience in this verse is from the Greek word "parakoe" which comes from a root meaning "to mishear; neglect to hear; inattention." It speaks of A HEARING AMISS, or a wrong hearing. The verse also speaks of Christ's obedience, the word for obedience in the Greek is "hupako" meaning A SUBMISSIVE HEARKENING. If obedience is a right hearing and obedient action thereto, then disobedience is simply a wrong hearing, a hearing amiss, and then acting in kind. It means a hearing of a voice OTHER THAN GOD'S, a LISTENING TO THE WRONG VOICE and then acting upon what is suggested. Adam and Eve listened to the voice of a stranger, the voice of the bestial spirit of this world, as represented by the serpent, and found that sin was at the door, and death by sin.
It would not have been so tragic if Adam's sin had affected himself alone, if all after him could have observed the horrible fruit of his sin and then kept themselves from the same ravaging despair; but the Scriptures faithfully point out the awful POWER OF DISOBEDIENCE, revealing that it was by ONE MAN'S DISOBEDIENCE that "the many" - ALL - WERE MADE SINNERS! As Adam fell, we fall each one, for Adam lives yet in his progeny. Because Adam had the principle of sin and death imposed as an actual feature of his biological life, his descendants also have inherited a life principle which involves a built-in death principle. The moment a child is conceived the nature of disobedience is in him and the power of death - so that in the same moment he is conceived he is a sinner by nature and also begins to die; he is dying ere he is born, and eventually the death principle wins out over the life principle and he does die. And, fallen in Adam, men prove he is in them, by walking just as he walked. Adam yet relieves old Adam's life in every unregenerated man, as Christ in us yet lives Christ's life. With all emphasis I must declare that at the very most, the worst offender on earth, has committed a crime WHICH IS INHERENT IN HIS OWN NATURE, and the eye of the all-seeing God sees what even we, in most cases, cannot see, that the most wicked sinner on earth IS SIMPLY DOING THAT OVER WHICH HE REALLY HAS NO CONTROL. People tell me that "man has a choice," but I declare to you that when I came into this world some 43 years ago ADAM HAD ALREADY MADE MY CHOICE FOR ME. God didn't ask me if I would prefer to be born a sinner or a saint - Adam answered that question for me in the dim and misty past! Never in my life did I have a choice until the blessed day when the Spirit of God came and illumined my mind, convincing me of sin, of righteousness and of judgment to come, and showing me the things of Christ, taking the glories of Him and unveiling them to my astonished soul; then, and not until then did I have a choice, and it did not take me long, beloved friends, to make that choice!
Until the day God intervened and apprehended me sovereignly by His Spirit I was in no way responsible for my actions and, try as I might, I could never have been different that I was, and neither could you. If this is not the case then the apostle lied when he said, "And you He made alive, when you were dead, slain by your trespasses and sins in which at one time you walked HABITUALLY. You were following the course and fashion of this world - were under the sway of the tendency of this present age - following the prince of the power of the air. You were obedient to him and UNDER HIS CONTROL, the demon spirit that still constantly works in THE SONS OF DISOBEDIENCE...who go against the purposes of God. Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in passions of our flesh - our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature; obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind - our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings. WE WERE THEN BY NATURE THE CHILDREN OF WRATH...like the rest of mankind" (Eph. 2:1-3, Amplified Bible).
Surely this explains why the day-old infant in the crib gets mad, turns red in the face, screams to the top of his lung's capacity, and the only reason he doesn't "cuss" is because he hasn't learned the words! Have you not observed that in this world children do not have to be taught to do wrong - it comes naturally! You don't have to teach little Johnny to sneak around and disobey - and then lie about it. He will do it naturally, out of his own heart and mind, without ever being taught. Johnny will steal cookies out of the cookie jar and then look you straight in the eye and swear he hasn't been near the cookie jar - while the telltale cookie crumbs around his mouth give the lie to his affirmations! Ah, children only have to be taught to do right - never wrong!
Men have, in their very blood, been saturated with sin, with lawlessness, with nervous temperaments and diseases WHICH HAVE BEEN THE DIRECT CAUSE OF THEIR TRANSGRESSION. God in His great mercy knows this, and thus it is written, "And the Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every living thing, as I have done" (Gen. 8:21). I do not hesitate to say that all the multiplied sins upon earth today ARE THE RESULT OF HEREDITORY WEAKNESSES - inherited from Adam! Ah, beloved, such is the unspeakable POWER OF DISOBEDIENCE, a power beyond the scope of human imagination. I now invite you to meditate deeply upon these inspired words penned nineteen centuries ago by the consecrated hand of the apostle Paul. "Well then, as one man's trespass - one man's false step and falling away - led to CONDEMNATION FOR ALL MEN, so one Man's act of righteousness leads to ACQUITTAL AND RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD, AND LIFE FOR ALL MEN" (Rom. 5:18). Can we not see by these words what a mighty power there is in both obedience and disobedience?
THE POWER OF OBEDIENCE
How shall I describe the blessing that came to my own soul when Jesus Christ revealed to me that as potent as was the power of Adam's disobedience, mightier yet is the power contained in THE OBEDIENCE OF THE SON OF GOD. All the languages and dialects of earth do not contain words meaningful enough to describe the immensity and all-embracing work of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Open wide your heart to behold the power and the glory of the CONQUERING LOVE OF GOD spoken of in these words of Scripture: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him that loved us" (Rom. 8:35-37). To be MORE than conqueror in the face of such trials and perils as the apostle enumerated, there must come to us, yea, INTO US, a mighty power. Think of it! "We are KILLED all the day long." What kind of power is needed to be "killed all the day long" and yet remain alive - conqueror? The answer is: THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, not life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us FROM THE LOVE OF GOD, which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:38-39).
But now, take careful note of the truth the Spirit is here revealing. "In all these things we are MORE than conquerors." Not just a banner waving sense of personal victory that "I" am a great conqueror. No! It is not that "I" am, but that HE IS - more than conquerors THROUGH HIM THAT LOVED US. If then it is through-Him-that-loved-us, by which we have become more than conquerors, then HE IS NOT ONLY A CONQUEROR BUT MORE THAN A CONQUEROR, blessed be His name!
More. More then. My deepest prayer to God is that He may grant understanding to all who read these lines that you may see the wonderful significance of this word "more." You can never comprehend the greatness of God's love, the majesty of His purpose, nor the glories of His Kingdom and the bright ages yet to come unless your spirit can grasp this word "more." "More' is that which goes beyond the limits. A pound of beans is a set limit. I pay 53 cents for a pound package of beans. But if I find in my bag a pound and a half or two pounds, that is "more." It surpasses the limits of the 53 cents. I am amazed, delighted, happy, and a sense of well-being pervades me; someone has done MORE than required or paid for. It has a language all its own. That language of MORE THAN is what the Bible is teaching from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse in Revelation. That is what GOD IS AND DOES. That is what LOVE IS AND DOES. That is what GRACE IS AND DOES. That is what SALVATION IS AND DOES!
More than! You cannot understand God nor His language apart from it. Nor can you really fellowship deeply with the Father in prayer unless you understand HIM as being "more than." Nor can you understand what His Kingdom is, nor how it shall develop, nor His plan and purpose for the ages to come, unless you understand what "more then" means. If your hope is merely something for you, and the rest of the "little flock" of saints, and not "more than," then it is not from the heart of God and is a product of self. Listen! "The love of God is broader than the measures of man's mind; and the heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind." "More than" is something for HIM - yes, ALL for Him! More than means abundance - MORE THAN ENOUGH.
"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. AND THE PARCHED GROUND SHALL BECOME A POOL, and the thirsty land springs of water" (Isa. 35:1,6-7). Abundance may mean: a good rain as compared with a dry season. Now if it keeps on steadily, that abundance becomes super abundance - "more than' enough. And, more-than-enough is floods (Isa. 44:3). But again the term "floods" can mean: a wonderful, wonderful abundance, almost unknown, as compared with a characteristic dryness of long, long standing. That is what "more than" means in God's Word: "FLOODS" - overflowing, super-abounding!
And what has god promised? "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it MORE ABUNDANTLY" (Jn. 10:10). LIFE - "more abundantly." The root of the word "abundant" or "abound" is the Latin "abundare" meaning to overflow; to rise in waves; that motion of which the wave is a figure - a breaking over, a going beyond limits, a flowing over." Isn't that glorious? LIFE - more abundantly. More than more-than-enough. Floods. To the uttermost! The very image of God's love and His desire and will. LIFE more-than-enough. Life to swallow up every vestige of the curse in us. Life beyond the life Adam had in the beginning. Redemption - and MORE THAN. All that Adam possessed - plus! Life beyond angelics life. The eternal, holy, divine LIFE OF GOD HIMSELF. Life floods. Floods of life; floods of God! To the dry, and thirsty, and parched ground of human hearts - FLOODS...blessed be the name of the Lord!
I suppose that all the arguments and persuasions in the world will not convince some saints of the incontrovertible truth of the words found in Rom. 5:19-20. "For just as by one man's disobedience the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man's obedience the many WILL BE CONSTITUTED RIGHTEOUS - made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him. But then Law came in, only to expand and increase the trespass (making it more apparent and exciting opposition). But where sin increased and abounded, GRACE HAS SURPASSED IT AND INCREASED THE MORE AND SUPERABOUNDED." The King James Version says simply, "Where sin abounded, GRACE DID MUCH MORE ABOUND."
No one will dispute that SIN abounded, or that it overflowed, spilling out of Eden's fair garden and saturating the whole earth and all men. Abound means overflow - constantly filling and running over like a spring of water or ocean wave. Ah, yes, sin overflowed, flowed all over, flooded the world, permeated the minds and temperaments and nature of all men everywhere, until the seed of Adam's disobedience has grown and increased through six long millenniums in the field of the world and has now come to horrible fullness. Wicked man and seducers are waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. The grapes of wrath are not only ripe, but they are over-ripe, as the original implies in Rev. 14:15. The fullness of sin and death is such that no flesh could survive the desolation that lies ahead unless the Lord Himself were to cut the days shorts. We recognize this fact. Men in all walks of life recognize it. Men in high places recognize it. The hearts of men who know what the score really is in this treacherous hour are failing them for fear, as they contemplate the things that are about to come upon the world in this generation.
But what about that order seed that was cast into the earth, the second man, the last Adam, the OBEDIENT SON? Are we going to credit the disobedience of Adam with having more power and authority than the Christ? Are we going to infer that the law of sin and death has even greater potential than the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? Are we going to believe that the law of sin and death has the power and ability to stretch forth its poisonous tentacles into every area of human-kind, to the complete perversion of body, soul, and spirit, and then at the same time draw back in unbelief at the revelation of the Word concerning the law of the Spirit of life (more abundantly) in Christ Jesus? Five times in Romans 5 does the apostle Paul use the expression "much more" relative to the POWER OF GRACE OF GOD, IN CONTRAST TO THE SIN OF ADAM. Shall we not believe that there is a much greater and a "much more" potential in the redeeming grace of Christ, than there is in the law of sin and death? Is there not a "much more" effectual working of grace of God in the last Adam, than there was of the power of disobedience in the first Adam? In other words, are we going to honor the power of Adam and Satan ABOVE THE REDEEMING POWER OF CHRIST?
Our problem seems to be simply this. We believe, oh, HOW we believe in the horrible manifestation of sin and death in Adam - because it is a matter of history in the past, and of fact in the present. But - we reject the glorious manifestation of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ because it is not too manifest in history, nor scarcely visible in this present day. Men will not believe until they see. But those called to be the SONS OF GOD, though unknown by the world as yet, are even now believing what they cannot see, and indeed the whole creation groans for their manifestation, for the creation itself SHALL BE DELIVERED from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. If the life of God is not to overflow super-abundantly to the entire creation, then the manifestation of the Sons of God is TOTALLY WITHOUT PURPOSE. I do not hesitate to declare it.
Who has not been distressed by the overflowing of evil and sorrow and death? But - where sin increased and abounded, grace has surpassed it and increased the more and super abounded. In the same place where sin and evil overflowed, grace did - do we dare to say what the Scripture says here? Will not someone think that we are getting off into some heresy? Oh well, we will just happily sing it out - "where sin overflowed, grace did EXCEEDINGLY-MORE-THAN-OVERFLOW!" Where evil flooded, grace more-than flooded. Grace equaled the overflow of sin, and THEN MORE. Grace overflowed where sin did, and then became permanent floods of mercy and redemption! If the Word of God does not teach this, then I know nothing of the Word. Oft times we have sung the little chorus:
"His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundaries known unto man,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!"
The limitation of God's mercy, if it were possible, would be the condemnation of God Himself. If there are limits to His mercy, then the Word of God, which says that "His mercy endureth forever," is a lie. The limitation of God's mercy is a trick of the devil, to discredit God and to defeat His gospel. The limitation of God's mercy makes the disobedience of Adam more powerful and enduring than the OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST. I am glad for a gospel that is not limited to one age, or to the three-score-and-ten years of man's frail existence, but reaches out into the ages to come until GOD IS ALL IN ALL. I am so glad for a gospel which tells me that God has made a way by which even His banished may return. The Lord Jesus, the Christ, said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw" - how many? "ALL men." "ALL MEN unto Myself! (Jn. 12:32). If that proclamation is not true, if He is not strong enough and gracious enough to draw every man on earth, and under the earth, and throughout the universe, to Himself, then He has told a lie.
If you say that sin abounds to an extent not equaled by grace, you again contradict the Word of God. If God could eventually be defeated in the purpose for which He created man, to be an "Habitation" for Himself, "in the Spirit," and if He were to abandon all effort, and permit man throughout the endlessness of eternity to be possessed by the devil, then He had better stop saying that He is God Almighty. All-wise and All-merciful. That would be failure and proof that the devil is stronger than the Christ, that sin exceeds grace, which we know is not true. You will have to tear the Bible all to pieces if you teach such doctrine.
THE WAY TO OBEDIENCE
The Lord Jesus Christ, the second Man, the last Adam, was the first perfectly obedient man. It is written of Him in His youth: "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Lk. 2:52). The expression "increasing" means to CUT A WAY THROUGH AS A PIONEER. Jesus lived making decisions as no other teenager ever had. He hacked a way through the jungle of selfishness and sin, amidst a people who lived under the curse. He made decisions and choices based on light and truth, the first of His kind. Isaiah had described this learning process centuries before: "The Lord God hath given Me the tongue of the learned that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God hath opened Mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back" (Isa. 50:4-5).
The writer to the Hebrews impresses upon us the intense reality of Christ's humanity - His being made like unto His brethren, His partaking of flesh and blood in like manner as ourselves, His being tempted in all things like as we are. He leads us in spirit down into Christ's humiliation in the flesh, and speaks of the wondrous mystery of the agony there, as the "second man" was prepared and perfected for the redeeming and glorifying work He came to do. Let us enter upon this holy ground with hearts bowed under a consciousness of our ignorance, but thirsting to know something more of the great mystery of godliness, the Son of God become flesh for us..."Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, YET LEARNED HE OBEDIENCE BY THE THINGS WHICH HE SUFFERED; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5:7-9).
THOUGH HE WERE A SON - the form of the expression implies that no one would have expected from the Son of God what is now to be said, - YET LEARNED HE OBEDIENCE BY THE THINGS WHICH HE SUFFERED. Gethsemane was the final class in the school where our Elder Brother, made like to us in all things, learnt His last and most difficult lesson of obedience through what He suffered. As the Son of God, one could say that there could be no thought of His learning obedience. But the first man, the one who prefigured Him, had also been a Son of God, and he had FAILED TO LEARN OBEDIENCE. But Jesus - so real was His emptying Himself of His life in glory, and so complete His entrance into all the conditions of our nature, that He did indeed need to learn obedience.
This is the very essence of the life of man, that the life and the will he has received from God cannot be developed without the voluntary giving up to God in all that He asks, even when it appears a sacrifice. Man can only attain his perfection under a law of growth, of trial, and of development, in the overcoming of what is contrary to God's will, and the assimilating of what that will reveals. In His prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, Jesus maintained His allegiance to God's will: in the wrestlings and bloody sweat He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The deepest suffering taught Him the highest lesson of obedience: when He had yielded His will and His life, His obedience was complete, - He Himself was perfected forevermore, bless His wonderful name!
The fact that Jesus had to pass through such awesome sufferings to lead Him to obedience should teach us something about the plight of the unregenerated man and his total inability to do righteousness or even to voluntarily choose the way of the Lord. This is why Jesus came as a pioneer of obedience, to open up the way. And this is why God sent an OVERFLOWING OF GRACE to redeem poor helpless slaves to the devil. I clearly see what God takes into account when dealing with mankind in Adam. He never forgets that we are "dust," and He remembers just the kind of muck from which our souls and bodies came. Jesus Christ, our High Priest, know what the weakness of the flesh is. He knows what it costs to conquer it, and how little, even we who have been begotten from above, are able to do it. He lives in the heavens, able to succour us; sympathizing with our weaknesses; bearing gently with the ignorant and erring; a High Priest on the throne, that we may boldly draw nigh to find grace for timely help. He lives in our life and reigns in our heart, to impart to us His own spirit of obedience, so that His Priesthood may bring us into the full reality of all He Himself has and is.
So when He had been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, because He now had that perfected human nature which He could communicate to them. And so He was appointed High Priest - a Son, perfected forever more. As Son of God, He was able to take us up into the very life of God; as High Priest, He was to lift us, in actual spiritual reality, into God's fellowship and will and glory; the way in which He was perfected through obedience was the living way in which He was to lead us; - as a Son, perfected through obedience, who had found and opened and walked the path of obedience as the path into God, and would animate us with His own Spirit to do it too; He, the perfected One, can alone be OUR SALVATION! Salvation is by grace; perfection is by obedience. But even perfection is a part of salvation, for we are SAVED FROM OURSELVES INTO THE IMAGE OF HIMSELF.
THE OBEDIENCE OF THE SONS
All Sons must learn this obedience. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, THEY ARE THE SONS OF GOD. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD" (Rom. 8:14,19). WHY? "Because the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21). Because these SONS will be the living demonstration of the life intended for man before the world began, the life of the last Adam. The whole of God's creation, including every principality and power, every man who has ever lived, every realm of heaven and earth and hell, and all of nature itself, is breathlessly waiting for the time of the manifestation of the Sons of God. The whole creation has been subjected to a kind of UNIVERSAL TRAVAIL. It has endured for millenniums the terrible bondage of corruption, but God has placed a hope in all creation that it will eventually be delivered from its thralldom and decay by the ministry of the Sons of God, who are now being formed in the very image of Christ and will be manifested in the glory of His resurrection at the end of this age and throughout the ages to come until GOD IS ALL IN ALL.
Needless to say, such a manifestation will not include "rebellious, immature Sons," who refuse to walk in the Spirit and fulfill the righteousness of God, not having overcome the lusts of the flesh and the nature of old Adam. There is a "going on to perfection," bringing to maturity this new creation life, bringing the formation of a "firstfruit company" through whom HE shall minister the life and triumph of His Kingdom, to bless all nations, and to fulfill His purpose of restoration of all things, for how shall we minister that which we do not ourselves experiencially possess? And this now brings me to the conclusion that either we are going on to perfection, or we are not. It is not a case of "win some, lose some, one day God is winning, the next day the devil is winning, pray for me that I'll hold out to the end, after all I'm just human, but hope that in the hour when the Sons of God are revealed I may squeak through."
We have already considered the mighty power released by ADAM'S DISOBEDIENCE and the super-mighty power contained in CHRIST'S OBEDIENCE. The languages of earth simply do not contain words that are able to express the VAST IMPORTANCE of THE POWER OF OBEDIENCE AND DISOBEDIENCE. At one time King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon caused a great image to be made and to be covered with gold. This image he set up as an idol to be worshipped on the plain of Dura. At one moment in this pagan service before the image all the trumpets sounded, the drums were beaten and music was made upon musical instruments of all kinds, as a signal for all the people to bow down before the idol. There were in Babylon at that time three young Hebrew men, servants of the Most High God. They stood up and would not bow down! Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage that anyone should dare to disobey his words. He sent for these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and ordered them to worship the god of Babylon. Filled with holy zeal and with the Spirit of God they answered, "Oh King, we are ready to answer you at once. The God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and we know that He will save us. But even if He doesn't deliver us, even then you may understand, Oh King, that we will not serve your god nor worship the golden image that you have set up." The answer made the King more furious than before. He said to his servants, "Make a fire in the furnace hotter than it has ever been before, as hot as fire can be made, and throw these men into it." Then soldiers of the King's army seized these three servants of Jehovah, tied them with ropes, dragged them into the mouth of the furnace, and threw them into the fire. The flames rushed from the open door with such fury that they burned even to death the soldiers who were holding these men; and the men themselves fell down bound into the middle of the furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar stood and looked into the open door. As he looked he was filled with wonder at what he saw; and he said to the nobles around him: "Did we not throw three men bound into the fire? How is it that I see four men loose, walking in the furnace, and the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!" He came near the door of the furnace, and called out to the three men within: "Ye who serve the Most High God, come out of the fire and come to me!" They came out and stood before the King, in the sight of all the princes and nobles and rulers; their garments had bot been scorched nor the hair singed, neither was there the smell of smoke upon them. The King said before all the rulers of his kingdom: "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent His angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him. Therefore I make a decree, that EVERY PEOPLE, NATION, AND LANGAUGE, WHICH SPEAK ANYTHING AMISS AGAINST THE GOD OF SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO, SHALL BE CUT IN PIECES, AND THEIR HOUSES SHALL BE MADE A DUNGHILL: BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER GOD THAT CAN DELIVER AFTER THIS SORT."
Every nation and people and tongue to honor the God of Heaven! Why? Because of the OBEDIENCE OF THREE MEN OF GOD. Nothing else. They did not conduct an evangelistic campaign, they passed out no tracts, they did not no healings nor miracles, they sent no armies against the King of Babylon; they simply OBEYED; and by their obedience every nation under heaven was brought to honor God. This should helps us to understand THE POWER OF OBEDIENCE!
And what shall I more say? for the time and space fail me to tell of Gideon, and David, and Solomon, and Daniel and the prophets who by their OBEDIENCE shook and subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness and filled the earth with the glory of the Lord. Daniel OBEYED and found himself in the lions den, but God sent His angel and shut the lion's mouths. When Darius, King of the Medes and Persians, called Daniel forth from the den of lions it is written: "Then King Darius wrote unto ALL PEOPLE, NATIONS, AND LANGUAGES, THAT DWELL IN ALL THE EARTH; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, that in every dominion of my kingdom MEN TREMBLE AND FEAR BEFORE THE GOD OF DANIEL, FOR HE IS THE LIVING GOD, and steadfast forever, AND HIS KINGDOM THAT WHICH SHALL NOT BE DESTROYED, AND HIS DOMINION SHALL BE UNTO THE END." What a word! What a type is Daniel of those Sons of God who shall pass through the tribulation of these final days of the kingdoms of this world and who shall, BY THEIR OBEDIENCE ALONE, bring in that more glorious age of the Kingdom of God. If by the grace of God this holy vision can burst upon you, you will perceive what a mighty earth-shaking power is THE POWER OF OBEDIENCE. The hour is at hand when a vast company of Sons shall stand in the obedience of Christ and the government shall be upon His shoulder to order the whole world in justice and judgment, peace and equity, redemption and transformation for the glorious kingdom age. At this very moment the kingdoms of this world are falling apart at the seams and collapsing, but God is preparing an enduring kingdom that shall never be destroyed, ruled over by the SONS OF OBEDIENCE.
We have thus far considered the power of Adam's disobedience, the power of obedience revealed through the lives of men of faith, and the transcendent power of CHRIST'S OBEDIENCE. Let us now meditate upon the power contained in the obedience of the Sons of God. There is indeed a wonderful fruit to be borne out of our obedience, as Paul explains in II Cor. 10:4-6. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST; and (Christ) having in a readiness to REVENGE ALL DISOBEDIENCE, WHEN YOUR OBEDIENCE IS FULFILLED." The Amplified Bible reads: "Being in readiness to punish every insubordinate for his disobedience, WHEN YOUR OWN SUBMISSION AND OBEDIENCE ARE FULLY SECURED." The great soul-gripping truth is that all disobedience in every stronghold of the spirit realms and the lofty reasoning's of the carnal minds of men shall be revenged, punished, and SUBJECTED TO CHRIST, WHEN OUR OBEDIENCE IS FULLY SECURED AND COMPLETE!
As we have already pointed out, all creation is groaning in travail and waiting for the manifestation of the Sons of God, for in them lies the embodiment of creation*s hope for its deliverance. Now, as the Sons betoken the hope for creation, it is THE SON who is the hope of the Sons, for it is in our Lord Jesus Christ that all our hope for restoration lies resident. Now when we say that the hope of the world is found in the Sons, that does not exclude our Lord — we are only emphasizing the point that these Sons, when they are fully conformed to His image, become the manifestation of HIMSELF to the world, and thus Christ is glorified and lifted up in measures hitherto unknown. The world shall behold THE CHRIST revealed through the CHRISTED—COMPANY, with the Sons being the many—splendored manifestation of Himself. The price of becoming a part of this manifestation is simply that of being a partaker of the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death, until it is no more I, but CHRIST. Our identity erased, His alone to be revealed. Thus it is not taking way from His glory, but only an adding, enlarging, intensification, multiplying of it, increasing the platform of HIS OBEDIENCE unto the subduing of all things. And it is this obedience, now being personified in a people, THE FIRST— FRUITS OF HIMSELF, that becomes the HOPE of creation, for if God, omnipotent and glorious, gracious and merciful, can transform such as us — we become the hope, yea, the proof — that He can and shall do so for the rest of Creation!
To be continued
J. PRESTON EBY
To be continued J. PRESTON EBY
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