"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
ECHOES FROM EDEN
IN THE MIDST OF THE GARDEN
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 knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:8-9).
The Bible begins with a garden The Garden of Eden. In the morning of the world, the Lord God planted a garden How exciting that statement is to all who love a garden. Come with me into a garden of luxuriant loveliness with dells of delight and paths of pleasantness. A garden planned in the mind of omniscience, prepared and planted by the hand of God. As we visit the garden together, I beseech you to walk with reverent heart and spiritual awe for the place whereon we tread is holy ground.
This is the Lords paradise. This is mans first and perfect home. A holy environment of righteousness, peace and joy divinely ordained. This is the Garden of Eden where flowers never fade, where leaves never fall, where living streams never fail, where creatures never fear; without thorns or thistles, weeds or wickedness; without desolation, decay or death; where every prospect pleases and where there is no guile. God dipped His brush in the pot of colors and touched the flowers with a beauty outshining the glory of Solomon. And man walked there in life and light and love man in the image and likeness of the Lord God Almighty. God and man walked together in the same spirit, so they had sweet fellowship. Eden is Gods picture of His plan for man. Eden was a prophecy in miniature. The word genesis means beginning. Thus the book of Genesis is the book of beginning. Therefore the inspired record of things that transpired all through that wonderful book concern the beginnings of Gods plan. In Genesis we see in the form of a tiny seed what Gods plan was to be in the age of innocence, but the depth of the meaning of things written there are revealed to those who seek as the light of the ages unfolds its mysteries. All the world was to be a Garden of Eden. To that end God gave Adam and Eve dominion over all things with the commission to subdue them to gather all together into God! God and man were to live together in sweetest, most intimate fellowship. The family is Gods ideal for us, with its home in a garden, and Himself as Father Mother in the midst; its atmosphere, love; its music, the rhythm of our wills one with His, our purpose and work the extension of His. With the growth of the God-family the garden becomes a city, but it is a Garden-city, and finally the city becomes a kingdom, and it is a garden-kingdom where the wolf and the lion shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them (Isa. 11:6). The lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpents food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain (kingdom), says the Lord (Isa. 65:25). Truly these conditions are prophetical of that glorious age when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. It is even now true in those who are made one in Him. The prophet Isaiah tells how the Lord will comfort Zion and all her waste places. He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody (Isa. 51:3). O that men might see the whole plan of creation and redemption as a celestial harmony, hymning its beautiful refrain from the sun-kissed heights of the Garden of Eden to the glistening gates of the new Heavens and new Earth and spreading its mighty wings in loving care from the moment God said, Let us make man in our image, until that glad day when all things are subdued unto Him and God becomes all-in-all everything to everyone everywhere. All mankind will be in the image of God, death will be destroyed, the ages will be no more, for time as we have known it will vanish away and we will be found to be inhabitants of the eternal realm.
In Genesis, as I have previously stated, we have the book of beginnings. To its first three chapters we are specially indebted for a divine light shining on many questions to which human wisdom never could find an answer. And yet it is the wisdom of God revealed in a mystery. There are two kinds of mysteries in the world, make-believe mysteries and real mysteries. A make-believe mystery is one that depends on its concealment; it is shrouded in secrecy. Such a mystery relies on darkness and the unknown. So long as it remains hidden, it arouses interest, but when it is revealed, the mystery vanishes and the secret loses its fascination. Such is the secret of the trickster and the charlatan, the stage magician and the mystigogue; their spell lies in the undisclosed, the mysterious maneuvers. When the secret to the trick becomes apparent, the magic disappears. Such is not the case with a real mystery. A real mystery can be opened and apparent to everyone. All can see the matter clearly and examine it from all sides. Nevertheless, the more it is looked at and examined, the more mysterious it becomes, deep, profound and insoluble. The story in the first part of the book of Genesis is very well-known and still it remains a mystery. And the more the extremely simple words of the Bible text are studied, the more numerous the aspects of the riddle and mystery. As greater illumination is shed upon it, new facets of inscrutability become apparent. As we approach this wonderful scene our hearts can only cry out with the great apostle, O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! (Rom. 11:33). Every revelation birthed within our spirit from the lines of these inspired passages of Gods Word lead but to another intersection from which innumerable paths branch out, paths which a person can continue to tread all the days of His life. Oh, the mystery of it! Oh, the wonder of it!
MAN IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
Let us make man in our image and after our likeness, was the proclamation of the Lord, and having so proclaimed His intention, the Father set in motion a plan that would span millenniums before the first Son of man, the first begotten Son of God would emerge from the inky darkness and be presented perfected and faultless as the Captain of our salvation and the Redeemer of us all. Then, after perfecting the first Son, other thousands of years would roll by while He who has begun a good work in US would complete and consummate it and thereby bring many sons to glory. Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.
The Father has a desire to the work of His hands, and I rejoice to be one mall part of the work of His hands. In that long ago beginning Adam, the type and prophecy of man in Gods image, was brought forth from the hands of God on the sixth day of the Lords creative process. Why was the creation of man saved for last? Because it was the culmination of all that preceded it. Into that man God breathed the breath of life. God breathed! Although all living things have a breath of life, man was the only being who received his breath of life directly from God. Mans breath of life is not the air of earths atmosphere. The breath of God is the Spirit of God for breath and spirit are the same word in Hebrew. God breathed God infused into man His very own life. This set man apart from the animal kingdom, for man was endowed with divine life and was fashioned in the image and likeness of God. There is great purpose here! Let me ask was the creation of mankind an incidental event, or was it the event around which all else revolves? I believe we are perfectly safe and on Gods ground to say that the creation of man is the event around which all else revolves. Man was made in the image of God and given dominion over all things and commissioned to subdue and subject all things. That dominion is to the extent over all the works of the Creators hands and that includes, according to Psalm 8:3, the heavens, the moon and the stars. Can we not see by this that our earth, yea, our galaxy, is the launching pad for Gods creative, redemptive, reconstructive program on behalf of the whole creation? Let us UNDERSTAND! In man, and in man alone, was blended the reality of both the Creator and the creation! God is invisible spirit. Creation is visible material. Adam was formed of the dust of the ground earth; and God breathed into him the breath of life spirit. Man in his spirit was from God and heaven, while in his body he was from earth. Even since man has been, he has been made to live for the one purpose of giving revelation and manifestation to God, and to be ruler for God. The invisible God desired to be known by His visible creation but then existence was on two different planes. So God put His spirit and His image into Adam, that in the visible could be seen and known the invisible. Adam is thus the connecting link between the upper and lower worlds between Creator and creation. Man was created for the specific purpose of becoming the bridge between the celestial heights of the spiritual realm and the lowest depths of the physical world, that God might be known, experienced, fellowshipped. Man is thus the channel through which the Creators grace and glory and blessing and power flow from the high realm of the spirit to the corporeal world.
Scientists are probing into two unseen worlds. One is a world too vast and far away to be seen by the eye and the other is a world too small to be observed by the eye. I want to give you three words in this connection, together with their meanings. First, we find the word MICROCOSM. This word means a little world: anything regarded as a world in miniature: man, viewed as an epitome of the universe. This word comes from two words in the Greek. One is MIKROS which means little or miniature. The other is KOSMOS meaning world. Thus we have the meaning of LITTLE WORLD. The word MACROCOSM, on the other hand, means the great world, or the universe. It also comes from two words. One is MACROS meaning great and the other is KOSMOS meaning the world. We noted above that the word MIKROS carried the meaning of man viewed as an epitome of the universe. This word EPITOME means, among other things, A CONDENSED REPRESENTATION of something. The word MICROCOSM then gives us the meaning that man is a CONDENSED REPRESENTATION OF THE WHOLE UNIVERSE! Thus, man is the CONDENSED REPRESENTATION OF THE WHOLE UNIVERSE! Thus, man is the CONDENSED REPRESENTATION of all the universe, or man is all the universe in miniature. After the original creation, God then began to move to bring the whole vast creation into fellowship and harmony with Himself. In order to accomplish this God made man in the image of the creation, but also in the image of Himself. Man is therefore the bridge or connecting link between God in His spiritual existence and the creation in its visible and material constitution. God put both Himself and the whole universe into man in miniature a microcosm of the macrocosm! His purpose is that by and through man all things shall be brought into subjection to the mind of the Lord. We read in Hebrews that we do not as yet see all things put into subjection to man, but WE DO SEE JESUS who was, we may safely say, as the second man and the last Adam, a CONDENSED REPRESENTATION of God, the universe, and all mankind. In other words, what was done in and through the singular Man, Jesus the Christ, will also be done in and through corporate man, but on an enlarged scale, for Jesus said we would do even greater works than He did. There is no stagnation in God, for He continually moves ahead. And as He moves we move with Him, advancing according to His pre-determined plan. What wonders lie ahead of us in this majestic pathway! Adam in the Garden of Eden was the type and prophecy of man as God intends him to be, and Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Gods purpose in man. All men in Christ will be the consummation of Gods purpose man in the image of God.
Would God that I had the tongue of angels and wisdom that could unfold to every spiritual mind an understanding of those supernal glories that pertain to the Garden of God! One thing is abundantly clear. Gods people are His garden, that which brings forth His fruit. The Bridegroom speaks in the Song of Solomon and says, A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. (S. of S. 4:12-15). To which the Shulamite replies, Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits. (S. of S. 4:16). The soul is here likened to a garden. What a beautiful analogy! This is not the only place in the scriptures where this description is used, for in Jeremiah 31:12 we read, Their soul shall be as a watered garden. And the apostle Paul expresses it on this wise: Ye are Gods husbandry, which is another way of saying, you are Gods garden. Jesus testified, I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit (Jn. 15:1-2). The body of Christ the Garden of God! If we constitute Gods garden, then nothing shall prevent the great Husbandman from bringing His heritage to abundance and fruition. It is His responsibility to look after it, and to see that it brings forth a harvest for His glory.
Corporately we all make up Gods garden, while individually we are each a garden within. The garden often becomes a beautiful type of the inner part of our being, and it can be traced all the way through the scriptures, beginning with the charge that was given to Adam to keep or guard his garden. In the beginning God created the earth. The earth is often a symbol of man, for man was taken from the earth and formed into a physical and soulical being. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly (1 Cor. 15:47-49). But now I would draw your attention beyond that earth which man is. Within the earth there was a smaller, but very important place called Eden. Eden was the region in which God prepared a still smaller entity called the Garden. In the midst or middle of the Garden He planted two important trees. And above all we must notice that it was in the Garden area that the voice of God was heard. May the Spirit of the living God lay His finger of inspiration upon this scene that we may see clearly that in order to commune with God we are to enter into the deepest part of us inside of us, which the scriptures often call the spirit. This is where He communes with us. The hour cometh and now is, when the true worshipper shall worship the Father in spirit (Jn. 4:27). In the spirit that is where we walk in the cool of the day and commune with our heavenly Father.
Now then, since a garden is a beautiful and fragrant and fruitful place, an attractive spot, it naturally follows that the child of God should be the same. The radiance of heaven should shine from our countenances, the fragrance of Christ should emanate from our souls the life of God should flow out from our spirit. Just as folk are attracted to a lovely flower garden, because of its inherent beauty, and look upon it with an, Ah! and an Oh! completely enthralled with Gods creative ability so we, as members of Christs body, are to be shining examples of the grace and glory of God, living epistles known and read of all men, a sweet fragrance of Christ unto all. So I would ask you to take a tour of your garden today and ask yourself this question: How many flowers can I discover? How much fruit is there on the trees? If your heart is, indeed, the garden of the Lord, then you are not growing thorns, briars, or stinkweeds; but you are producing exquisite blooms of rich and varied hues, pleasing to the eye, and fruits which have an exciting aesthetic quality, delicious to the taste and nourishing to the life.
May the garden of my heart, O lovely Christ
Be fragrant with the odors of thy grace;
May sweet perfume of blooming flowers
Make pleasant, Lord, Thy dwelling place.
May fruitful vines and trees abound,
Lest tares spring up to spoil or mar;
For the beauty of Thy fruitful garden
Must waft its perfume near and far.
Send heavenly mercy drops of rain
To water oft its flowers and trees,
That birds and bloom shed forth perfume
With every south winds gentle breeze.
Oh let the cold north wind blow, too,
That fiercer blasts may have their part
Within Thy fenced-in dwelling place,
The garden, Lord, of mine heart.
- Eldora E. Taylor
IN THE MIDST OF THE GARDEN
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, saying, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil the fruit of the tree which is IN THE MIDST OF THE GARDEN ye shall not eat of it, lest ye die (Gen. 2:8-9, 16-17; 3:3).
Against the background of this picture of the Garden of Eden it is related how man was put into this Garden in order to live in it and how two trees stood in the middle of the Garden: one the tree of life, the other the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And upon these two trees IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GARDEN the destiny of man was to be decided. There were, indeed, three kinds of trees in the Garden. There was the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then all those other trees denoted as all the trees of the garden. Man began his sojourn upon earth living in the realm of all the trees of the garden. But mans future experience and destiny were to be decided by his relationship to the two trees in the middle.
Two trees in the middle. First of all there is the tree of life. It is clear from the context that man was not forbidden to eat of it. It was there, revealed, offered, available. LIFE, abundant, immortal, incorruptible, eternal! For this reason the tree of life is mentioned very casually in Genesis 2:8-9. It was IN THE MIDDLE that is all that is said about it! It was right there in mans consciousness, in mans nature. The life that comes forth from God is in the middle. This means that God, the source of life, is in the middle. In the middle of the world which is at Adams disposal and over which he has been given dominion is not Adam himself but the tree of Gods eternal and incorruptible life. Adams life was to come from the middle which was not Adam in his self-consciousness, but in his God-consciousness. This means that with God as his center man would have life. It means that man was created and formed with the wonderful capacity to LIVE IN THE SPIRIT and WALK AFTER THE SPIRIT. For to be SPIRITUALLY MINDED is life and peace (Rom. 8:6). One of mans inherent potentials was to know God within as the source and center of his life.
But, like the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil also stands in the middle of the Garden! To this tree is attached the command not to eat of it upon penalty of death. Death in the middle. Within. In mans very nature. Thus is it declared with unquestionable certainty that man was formed with the capacity to LIVE IN THE FLESH and WALK AFTER THE FLESH. For to be CARNALLY MINDED is death (Rom. 8:6). One of mans inherent potentials was to know Self as the source and center of his life. But alas! Self would not bring life, it would bring death. Man could make the world of appearances, the physical realm, mortal consciousness, the bodily senses and appetites his center but death would be found to dwell in that center. Life and death were in the middle. Two trees, two realities IN THE MIDST of the Garden of mans experience and being. Both realities are in the middle within man. One or the other is every mans center, the plane of his consciousness, the sphere of his existence. But mark it well both cannot be the center of any mans life! He who eats of the tree of life will find that the death realm will come to have no more dominion over him. And he who eats of the tree of death will discover that he becomes alienated from the tree of life. Thus, both trees, both realities are in the center of mans life but both cannot be the center of his life! For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live (Rom. 8:13). This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). How simple! God would at once be the limit and the middle of our existence.
But how could Adam grasp these mighty realities? How could Adam, living as he did in the soul realm of all the trees of the Garden understand what divine life is when he had not yet tasted of the tree of life? How could Adam comprehend what death is when he had never yet experienced anything of its dread power? How could Adam even know what difference there is between life, good, evil, sin, and death, living as he did in the unblemished innocence of his child-like beginning? As well explain the mysteries of biology or astronomy to a new-born infant! Could all of this really mean anything more to Adam than empty words? No, Adam could not be expected to understand such awesome things, but under the gracious and skillful hand of God he would be instructed and taught. To this end man was placed on earth in a Garden with two trees in the middle and with both God and a Serpent walking and talking with him!
THE TWO ENVIRONMENTS
It will help us in our understanding of the two trees in the middle of the garden, and mans relation to them, to look at the order of life and death in the realm of nature. Every day in the year, about 200,000 babies are born in the world. All have tiny faces and usually the same number of ears, fingers, arms, legs, and toes. All are little humans, quite alike in size, and with the same needs for food, love, protection and learning. Each also has his or her own special features. Each is like every other baby and also unlike any other baby born on that day, or on any other day in history. Now, if these same 200,000 people were to meet on their 25th birthday, their specialness would be even more obvious than at birth. Some would be very tall, some very short, and the rest would be somewhere in between. They would vary from very fat to very thin. Skin color would be yellow, brown, white, reddish, black, and all kinds in between. Equally different would be the many types of personalities, mental abilities, talents, and life-styles in these 200,000 people. All were born on the same day and at that time were similar in many ways. Within 25 years, each had grown up into an individual who is like other human beings, but who is also very different from other humans. Some would like Mexican food, others American food, and others Chinese food. Some would speak English, others French, and others Russian. They would dress differently, think and act differently.
There are two strong forces in nature which influence human life and determine what a person will be. These two forces are HEREDITY and ENVIRONMENT. Neither alone is sufficient to mold a full and useful human life. Heredity is a word used to mean the way in which certain inherent characteristics are passed from parents to children, generation after generation. Because of heredity, each baby is born with human characteristics which make him distinctly human. Environment is a word used to stand for all the external conditions and influences which become a part of a persons life and affect his development. Included in a persons Environment are the food he eats, the liquids he drinks, the air he breathes, the place he lives, the home he is brought up in, the diseases he may have, and the ideas, people, and education he is exposed to. Thus it can be seen that Environment is altogether as important a factor in what a person will be as is heredity. Perhaps even more so!
It needs to be very clear in our minds that the NATURE of man is received through HEREDITY, but the sustenance and development of that nature depends entirely upon the ENVIRONMENT. The first and primary purpose of our Environment is to sustain life. The Environment is that in which we live, and move, and have our being. Without it we would neither live nor move nor have any being. Within every living organism is contained the principle and power of life; but in the Environment is the power to SUSTAIN AND DEVELOP that life, the CONDITIONS of life. Every living thing normally requires for its development an Environment containing air, light, heat, water, and food. When we simply remember how indispensable food is to growth and work, and when we further bear in mind that the food-supply is contributed by the Environment, we shall realize at once the importance of the meaning and the truth that without Environment there can be no life! Almost three-quarters of the human body is water. Other important substances in the body are calcium, phosphorus, and carbon. These substances are called elements they are among the hundred or so basic substances of which everything in the visible universe is made! Your physical body is composed of some of the same elements as is the world around you, and only by being in harmony with that world, only by intermingling what it is, with what you are, do you have life. For instance, through the pores of your skin two pounds of water are evaporated daily from every healthy adult. That water has to be replaced. And from where does it come? From the Environment! Meanwhile you are breathing, taking in air you can use and sending out air you cannot use. From the air you breathe in, your lungs take oxygen. You must have it to live. Matters not how much life you have in you, you must assimilate your Environment to live! The Environment is really AN UNAPPROPRIATED PART OF OURSELVES. We and it must be one. We and it are one. Life depends upon that UNION the organism united with its Environment. An organism in itself is but a part; its Environment is its complement. Alone, cut off from its Environment, it is not. Alone, cut off from my Environment, I am not. Without food, I am not. Without air, I am not. Without water, I am not. I continue as I receive. My Environment may change me, but first it has to sustain me. Its secret transforming power is directly molding body and mind and is sustaining the very life itself.
This is a great truth in the physical world. It is but a wonderful picture of the (GREATER) REALITIES in the SPIRITUAL WORLD! This is a truth of so great importance in the Spiritual World that we shall not mis-spend our time in pursuing it. In the Spiritual World he will be among the enlightened and wise who understands this one great truth: Without Environment there can be no life! I speak of course of the spiritual Environment of the Spiritual Realm of the Kingdom of God. What does this amount to in the Spiritual World of God and His Sons? Is it not simply the grand and glorious truth spoken by the first-born of the New Creation when He said, Without ME ye can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). Through the mighty work of regeneration we have been birthed into the Kingdom Realm of God as SPIRITUAL ORGANISMS, spirit beings, begotten of God, the off-spring of our heavenly Father. There is now within us a new principle and power of life Gods very own divine life, the life of heaven. But let every man consider this that I now propose: even in this, our New Creation Life, we require A SECOND FACTOR, a something IN WHICH to live and move and have our being an ENVIRONMENT! The Kingdom of God has an Environment. The Spiritual World has an Environment. The whole universe is a type and shadow of this glorious truth. Every star has its gravity. Every planet has its Environment. Every living organism has its Environment. Without the Environment of the Spiritual World we cannot live divinely as Sons of God or move or have any spiritual being. Without the Spiritual Environment of the Kingdom of God the life of sonship within us is like the body without air, the fish without water, the eagle without its nest.
The great Pattern Son, Jesus, walked in the full and enlightened consciousness of this inter-relationship between Organism and Environment. He did not live independent of that Spiritual Environment which surrounds and envelops the sons of God. Jesus declared, Believe Me that I AM IN THE FATHER, and the Father IN ME (Jn. 14:11). It was not only the Father IN THE SON, it was also the SON IN THE FATHER. The Father was the CENTER of Jesus life. That blessed Christ also prayed for the younger sons who were to afterward follow in His steps, saying, Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as we are. That they all may be one; even as Thou, Father, are in Me, and I IN THEE, that they also may be one IN US; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me (Jn. 17:11,21). Christ knew that as a son He was the Organism and His Father was the Environment. The Father was that IN WHICH THE SON LIVED AND MOVED AND HAD HIS BEING. And what is the Environment of the sons of God? It is God in Christ. God in Christ is our Environment in whom we live and move and have our being!
Multiplied thousands of Gods precious elect saints have been lifted into new and wonderful realms of understanding and experience as the great truth of Christ in you has been quickened to their believing hearts; but I declare to you today that altogether magnificent is the marvelous fact of our being in Christ. To know Christ in you is to know the reality of your inward spiritual life, but to know yourself as being in Christ is to know the reality of Christ as your Environment, your sphere to existence. By translation into the Kingdom of the Son we have been raised up into a new and altogether different Environment in the heavenlies of which Jesus spoke when He said: As the Father hath loved Me, so I have loved you. ABIDE IN MY LOVE, even as I ABIDE IN MY FATHERS LOVE (Jn. 15:9-10). In the light of Christs union with the Father, our union with Him becomes clear. His life in the Father is the law of our life in Him.
Our present thought is a very simple one. We seek to show the boundless range and scope of one brief phrase of two or three short words: in Christ, or, in Christ Jesus. These three short words are, without doubt, the most important ever written, even by an inspired pen, to express the relationship between the sons of God and God in Christ. This term appears over one hundred and thirty times in the New Testament. When, in the Word of God, a phrase like this occurs so often, and with such manifold applications, it can not be a matter of small importance; there is a deep design. Gods Spirit is bringing a truth of the highest importance before us, compelling us to give heed that the Spirit of revelation may unfold its marvels to our believing hearts. Paul wrote that if any man be in Christ Jesus He is a NEW CREATION. The things, the Environment of the old creation have passed away and ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW. The New Creation is IN CHRIST JESUS. Every created thing has its Environment. Every created organism has to live and move and have its being in its particular Environment. The Environment of the NEW CREATION is CHRIST! A new life living in Christ. Jesus Himself clearly and forcibly expressed it in John 15:4: Abide IN ME and I in you. The organism is composed of the very same elements as its Environment, but it cannot live in separation from its Environment!
This phrase in Christ Jesus means that He is to the true believer THE SPHERE OF THIS NEW LIFE OR BEING. Let me emphasize a sphere rather than a circle. A circle surrounds us, but only on one plane; but a sphere encompasses, envelopes us, surrounding us in every direction and on every plane. If you draw a circle on the floor, and step within its circumference, you are within it only on the level of the floor. But, if that circle could become a sphere, and you be within it, it would on every side surround you above, below, before, behind, on the right hand and on the left. Moreover, the sphere that surrounds you also separates you from whatever is outside of it. This is ENVIRONMENT! Again, in proportion as such a sphere is strong it also protects whatever is within it from all that is without, even as our atmosphere protects us from the deadly rays in space. And yet again, it supplies, to whomsoever is within it, whatever it contains, as our atmosphere supplies all that is needed for our physical life.
Christ is here presented as THE SPHERE OF OUR LIFE AND BEING, and in this truth are included these conditions: First, Christ surrounds us in His own life; second, He separates us in Himself from all hostile influences; third, He protects us from all perils and foes to the new creation life; fourth, He provides and supplies in Himself all that is needful for us sons of God. Without Christ as our Environment, therefore, there is no life, no thought, no energy, nothing Without ME ye can do nothing!
The most common error in the lives of many of the Lords people is the attempt to live without knowing Christ as their Environment, failing to make HIM the absolute CENTER of their existence, the SPHERE of their life. We have seen that any organism contains within itself only one half of what is essential to life; the second half is in the Environment. It follows that the one supreme condition for life is UNION BETWEEN THE ORGANISM AND ITS ENVIRONMENT. No words could be more solemn or arresting than the statement of Jesus: As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me (Jn. 15:4). The word here, it will be observed is cannot. It is the irrevocable law. Fruit-bearing without Christ is not an improbability, but an impossibility. As well expect the natural fruit to flourish without air and heat, without soil and sunshine. God is our refuge and strength. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, DWELLETH IN ME, and I in Him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live BY THE FATHER: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me (Jn. 6:56-57).
As the natural man must have sustenance from his Environment, so the spiritual man. The spiritual man must come to know how to live by his Environment. After he has got life you must give him food. Now, what food shall you give him? Shall you feed him with knowledge, or with beauty, or with prosperity, or with blessings, or with religious exercises, or commandments, or with gifts, or with power, or with doctrines, or with experiences? No; there is a rarer nutriment than all these so rare, in fact, that few have ever more than tasted it; so rich, that they who have will never live on other fare again. It is this: My meat IS TO DO THE WILL of Him that sent Me (Jn. 4:34). To do Gods will! That is what a son lives for: but it is also what he lives on. MEAT. Meat is strength, support, nourishment. The strength of the life of sonship is drawn from the Fathers will. Man has a strong will. But Gods will is everlasting strength Almighty strength. Such strength he who lives by the will of the Father receives. He grows by it, he assimilates it it is his life.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that cometh out of God (Mt. 4:4). Nothing can satisfy the sons appetite but this he hungers to do Gods will. Nothing else will fill him. Every one knows the world is hungry. But the hungry world is starving. It has many meats and many drinks, but there is no nourishment in them. It has pleasures, and gaiety, and excitement; but there is no food there for the immortal craving of the spirit. It has the theatre and worldly society, and worldly books, and worldly knowledge, and worldly lusts. But these things merely intoxicate flesh and soul.
The Church-world is hungry too. Starving, in fact. Oh, it has many meats and many drinks, but there is no nourishment for the spirit in them. It has rituals, and stirring programs, and impressive ceremonies, and external ordinances, and pomp, and show, and candles, and incense, and temples and cathedrals, and priests and preachers, and organization, and abundance of activity. Its people get all involved in the work, and committed to the work, and giving to the work. They do and do but in all this something other than CHRIST has become the central factor. The center becomes the movement, or the message, or the organization, or the ministry, or the experience, or the method, or the personality or some other thing. But I declare to you that all these religious things and activities merely intoxicate, and millions of Christians are drunk with them and in their distorted hilarity think they know the living Christ. There is no SUBSTANCE in them! So our spirit turns its eye from them all with unutterable loathing. My meat is to do the Fathers will. To do Gods will! No possibility of starving or suffering malnutrition on this fare. Gods will is eternal. It is eternal food the sons of God live upon. In spring-time it is not sown, and in summer drought it cannot fail. In harvest it is not reaped, yet the storehouse is ever full. Oh, what possibilities of life it opens up!
The truth of these words is simply this: the strength of life for a Son of God is to do Gods will. Now that is a great and surprising revelation to many. No man ever found that out. It has been before the world these two thousand years, yet few have even found it out today. One will tell you that life is in keeping the commandments, another that life is in attending meetings, another that life is in taking communion, another that life is in winning souls, another that life is in water baptism, another that life is in speaking in tongues. One will tell you it is to do good, another that it is to get good, another that it is to be good. But life is none of these things. It is more than all. Life is not to have an experience, or do this, or that, or the other just to do what God wills, whether that be working or waiting, or winning or losing, or suffering or recovering, or living or dying.
We feel helpless beside a truth so great and eternal. God must teach us these things. Like little children we must sit at His feet and learn. If Adam would have realized even this, he would never have touched of death. There, at the very outset is the key to life. Any one of us can tell in a moment whether we are living by this Environment of Gods will. Are we doing Gods will? We do not mean, Are we doing Gods work? - preaching, or teaching, or prophesying, or collecting money, or winning souls, or healing the sick but Gods WILL. A man may think he is doing Gods work when he is not even doing Gods will. And a man may be doing Gods work and Gods will as much by hewing stones, or sweeping streets, as by preaching or prophesying. So the question just means this Are we working out our common every-day life on the great lines of Gods will? Is no THING the CENTER or our lives, nothing but CHRIST. This is the tree of life in the middle of our garden, Christ our sphere of life. In this living union with Christ is brought to naught every work, every religious activity, every tradition and commandment of men, that only that which springs from the Spirit of God shall be wrought out, be it much or nothing.
There is another tree in the middle of our garden, the tree of death. Another potential center other than Christ. This is where the second kind of Environment enters in. Let it be perfectly clear to all who read these lines that the tree of death in Eden is nothing more nor less than the whole bestial system of this physical, temporal world, the entire fleshly realm of soul and body with its roots in the CARNAL MIND. The word carnal is the Greek adjective sarx meaning fleshly. Therefore when the Bible speaks of the carnal mind, it simply means the fleshly mind, or the mind of the body realm and the vanity of the world which it touches. The carnal mind is never concerned with the things of God or the things of the Spirit. The carnal mind is always concerned and only concerned with the things of the flesh and the world. It is always working to satisfy the physical flesh man or the ego of the soul. It is ever planning some unspiritual thing that it can lavish on the SELF. It is significant, then, that Paul begins his list of THE WORKS OF THE FLESH with the words adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred etc. for, these being the cravings of the physical body and the ego of SELF, the carnal or fleshly mind seeks to satisfy its every desire and fancy.
Also listed are rivalry, factions, heresies How much of this we see in the so-called church-world! Churches competing against one another, who can have the most in Sunday School, who can build the most impressive building, who can win the most souls, what evangelist can draw the biggest crowds, each one pointing to the success or importance of their ministry, glorying in the size of the outreach or work, stressing how much more could be accomplished with MORE MONEY, advertising personalities WITH POPULAR (fleshly) APPEAL: a Spirit-filled millionaire, Spirit-filled entertainer, Spirit-filled Senator, Converted member of the Mafia, Catholic Priest, or perhaps a Prophet or Miracle Worker! Brethren must watch how they advertise and announce their meetings and ministries, lest the promotion of the ministry become the promotion of SELF rather than Christ. Selfishness is the nature of Self and there can be a selfish and hence a sinful ambition to attain even great spirituality. Are we furthering our ministry or simply doing the will of the Father? I can assure you that doing the will of the Father will many times not promote our ministry! How Self desires to build an image even in the area of the things of God!
The carnal mind does not always think of evil things. There is nothing particularly evil about eating food, or drinking drink, or resting in sleep, or driving a new car, or living in a mansion, or being a minister in a thriving Church, or having a well-known ministry, or doing a great work, or helping a great many people. But what we want to point out is that the carnal mind is called the carnal mind because it is first and foremost concerned with the things of SELF whether those things be good or bad. The man who robs a bank is centered in SELF no less than the preacher who uses his gifts to fleece the people so that he can fill his coffers and live in wanton luxury or build a name for himself. The carnal mind never thinks of any spiritual thing, it always considers things from the standpoint of NATURAL ADVANTAGE. The things of the Spirit are nothing to it. It is always contrary to the SPIRITUAL MIND which could not care one whit whether there is any advantage to self, for the Spiritual Mind is only concerned with the things that belong to the Spirit and mans relationship with God. These two trees, the tree of life and the tree of death, the Spiritual Mind and the Carnal Mind, stand in the middle of the garden, in the middle of mans nature and existence. Every desire and activity of every single man and woman upon the face of the globe is found in one tree or the other. One or the other becomes the CENTER around which men orbit, the SPHERE of their life.
THE DEFINITION OF ETERNAL LIFE
I am indebted to the wonderful, but long-out-of-print, book Spiritual Law in the Natural World for many of the thoughts in this section. One of the most startling achievements of modern science is a scientific definition of Eternal Life. Science has produced a description of what, biologically, are the exact conditions necessary for an organism to live forever. For the first time science has come forth with a scientific basis for Immortality. Science does not pretend that it can fulfill these conditions. Those who understand the principles involved in the scientific definition of Eternal Life make no claim to be able to produce such a life. It simply speculates about the necessary conditions without concerning itself whether any organism should ever appear, or does now exist, which might fulfill them.
In the book PRINCIPLES OF BIOLOGY we find the following: Perfect correspondence would be perfect life. Were there no changes in the Environment but such as the organism had adapted changes to meet, and were it never to fail in the efficiency with which it met them, there would be eternal existence and eternal knowledge (Principles of Biology, p. 88). To put this definition in language we can all understand, what it means is that if you could find or produce an absolutely PERFECT ENVIRONMENT, and, if you could find an organism which could respond and adapt 100% to that Perfect Environment, then that organism would LIVE FOREVER. The only conditions are that the Environment be absolutely Perfect and that the organism be able to fully respond and adapt to that Perfect Environment. If the Environment is not Perfect, if it is not the highest, if it contains any element of change, or imperfection, or pollution, or weakness, there can be no guarantee that the life of the organism would be eternal. On the other hand, if there is any single thing within the organism which cannot, or does not respond and adapt to the Perfect Environment then there would be a dis-harmony and the organism would die.
It is obvious that science knows of no such Perfect Environment, neither can it produce one, neither does it know of any such organism which could meet the necessary conditions of a 100% adaptation to such an Environment. But I have no hesitation in saying that SUCH AN ENVIRONMENT EXISTS! Yes, there really is a PERFECT ENVIRONMENT, and, furthermore, there has already been at least one living organism which has met all the conditions, has responded and adapted 100% to that Perfect Environment, and has already been raised up into the realm of ETERNAL LIFE, spirit, soul AND body! The Perfect Environment is the incorruptible spiritual realm of Gods divine life. The holy realm of Gods Spirit is the realm outside of all change, all imperfection, all corruption. If any organism, any man, can come into perfect harmony, perfect response, perfect adaptation to the holy and divine life of God, then that man would possess fully the Eternal Life. He and his Environment would be perfectly unified in perfection!
There has been one. His name is Jesus! He is the One who said, For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me (Jn. 6:38,30). Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God (Heb. 10:9). This bespeaks complete adaptation to the life of the Father. Not one jot or tittle of Christs mind, will or actions failed to respond fully to the Father. These words, uttered through the Holy Spirit by the mouth of one of Gods prophets long ages before Christs birth, are the key to His life on earth. At Nazareth in the carpenters shop, at the Jordan with John the Baptist, in the wilderness with satan, in public with the multitude, in living and dying, it was this that inspired and guided and gladdened Him; the glorious will of the Father was to be accomplished in Him and through Him.
This is where Adam in the garden fell short. For, lo; tempted by the devil, man committed the great sin of doing his own will rather than Gods will. Yes, rather his own will than Gods will! In this is the root and the wretchedness of sin, and in this is the power of death! The power of death is in an imperfect organism responding and adapting imperfectly to an imperfect Environment. Since there is no perfection of life, death is the inescapable result.
When Peter speaks to the multitude in Acts 2:23 he refers to Jesus in these words: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Peter then declares, Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: BECAUSE IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE THAT HE SHOULD BE HOLDEN OF IT (vs. 24). This reveals that Jesus rose from the dead for a most remarkable reason: It was simply IMPOSSIBLE for death to hold Him! Death COULD NOT hold Him. Why? Long before that glorious resurrection morning the Lord had declared, For I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me (Jn. 6:38). Jesus lived and walked and breathed in the fresh air of the Environment of the Spiritual World of His Father. Nothing could motivate or control Him except the will of the Father. He had absolutely no correspondence to the desires and lusts and passions and demands of the fleshly realm of this worlds bestial system. Nothing in the whole world could hold Him! Sin could not hold Him, for He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). Satan could not hold Him, for when satan tempted Him He answered, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of God (Mat. 4:4). His mother could not hold Him. His friends could not hold Him. The Pharisees could not hold Him. The traditions of the Elders could not hold him. His own personal desires, His own will could not hold Him. The hatred of His enemies, the plaudits of His friends could not hold Him. So it was a natural thing that DEATH COULD NOT HOLD CHRIST, because nothing else could hold Him! He was not from beneath, He was from ABOVE. He did not live by the polluted Environment of the earth realm, His life was IN GOD who was ALL to Him. It is my deepest conviction that herein lies the secret to the OVERCOMING LIFE OF SONSHIP, the key to the manifestation of the sons of God. When NOTHING ELSE CAN HOLD US except the nature and mind and will of the Father, then every enemy shall be under our feet including the last enemy which is death!
Long before science came along with a scientific definition for Eternal Life, Jesus had already laid down this definition. With Him it was not theory, for He lived it, tested it, and DEMONSTRATED and PROVED IT! Let us place Christs definition alongside the definition of science, and marks the points of contrast. Perfect and complete correspondence with a Perfect Environment is Eternal Life, according to science. THIS is Eternal Life, said Jesus, that they may KNOW THEE, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent (Jn. 17:3). Life Eternal is to know God. To know God is to correspond with God. To correspond with God is to correspond with a Perfect Environment. And the person who attains to this, in the nature of things must live forever. The whole purpose of God in redemption is to bring man into that perfect correspondence with HIM. To bring men to this perfect correspondence involves a process. From glory to glory. Already, in our spirit, this perfect correspondence has been accomplished. In the area of our spirit we are NOW ONE WITH GOD. He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit (I Cor. 6:17). It is now our soul and body which must be dealt with, brought low before Him, in submission unto death, that our whole being may be brought to that perfect correspondence with the Father. Jesus is the Pattern. Overcoming is the process. Eternal Life fully wrought in spirit, soul and body is the result.
Let us return for a moment to the two trees, the two Environments. Life is in correspondence with the Environment of the Spiritual World of God, the tree of life, while death comes through correspondence with the Environment of the natural, physical world, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There is an impassable gulf between carnal mind and the spiritual mind, for the spiritual mind is concerned only with the things of God and all the things that concern the Spirit, which things lead to life and immortality. But the fleshly or carnal mind is concerned only with the things of the physical realm of soul and body, Self, which things lead only to death and corruption because there is NO LIFE IN THEM. For this very reason the Scripture says, If ye live AFTER THE FLESH, ye shall die, but if ye THROUGH THE SPIRIT do mortify the DEEDS OF THE BODY, ye shall live (Rom. 8:13). What other result could there possibly be, for there is no life in the physical world. Therefore, to live for the sake of the body with its earthly desires must end in death. The whole Environment is impregnated with death and to correspond with that Environment means swift and certain death. But the Spirit is eternal, immortal, incorruptible; therefore, TO LIVE AFTER THE SPIRIT IS LIFE. Thus Paul says, To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life (Rom 8:6). Science today is discussing WHAT DEATH IS. To be carnally minded IS DEATH. That is the correct definition of death. What is death? To be carnally minded!
The point we must see above all other is that if we live after the flesh we will die, the reason being that there simply is NO LIFE IN THE FLESH or in any of its manifestations, neither is there LIFE in anything it can do, accomplish, or design. Therefore, when Paul says, If ye live after the flesh YE SHALL DIE, the reason for this death is most obvious. It is because you are living after a realm that has no life in it. To get life out of the fleshly realm is like getting blood out of a turnip. You cannot get what isnt there! You are trying to find life where there is only death. Therefore, if a man sees God with the EYES OF HIS SPIRIT, he will LIVE. But if he looks upon the man-made IMAGES OF GOD with the eyes of his flesh, he will die. If he drinks the water of life with his spirit, he will live forever; if he drinks water from a well, or eats soda crackers and drinks grape juice with his body, he will die. There is no external, physical ordinance, ritual or ceremony that can give man life for it is only in WALKING AFTER THE SPIRIT that life can be found. If a man HEARS THE VOICE OF GOD with the EAR OF HIS SPIRIT, he will live; if he only hears the voices of earth, even of creed and doctrine, with the ear of his body, he will die. If his spirit touches God, he will live; but if his flesh touches the things of earth, both he and they will die.
To understand the things written above is of eternal importance, for until we do understand them we will continue to place great emphasis on the things that concern only the realm of the natural man, a realm which consumes all our time and effort from the crib to the coffin, yet a realm that the Scripture describes as grass, a realm that is of no more true value than dung, a realm that profits not one whit those who take their complete fill of it. The Bible asks the question of the fleshly life: What is your life? There lie scattered throughout the Bible no fewer than seventeen answers to this question. Let us run over their names. What is your life? It is: A tale that is told, a pilgrimage, a swift post, a swift ship, a handbreath, a shepherds tent removed, a thread cut by the weaver, a dream, a sleep, a vapor, a shadow, a flower, a weavers shuttle, water spilt on the ground, grass, wind, nothing. Generally speaking, the first thing to strike one about these images is that they are all QUICK things there is the suggestion of brevity and fleetingness about them. Centuries ago, Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit made this remarkable statement: For the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal (II Cor. 4:18).
When you go to the grave, my friend, you will be stripped of all that is temporal, and all your five physical senses will be no more. Choose the eternal, then, and let it never slip from your grasp. Hold with a loose grip all things which belong to this present life, for they are swiftly passing away and withering into nothingness before your eyes.
We spend our health to gain our wealth;
We sweat and toil and save.
We spend our wealth to gain our health,
And all we gets the grave.
We live and work for things we own;
We die, and only get a stone.
Little wonder, then, that the beloved apostle John penned these important words: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF GOD ABIDETH FOREVER (I Jn. 2:15-17). It is IMPOSSIBLE to walk after the flesh and to mind the things of the flesh and at the same time possess Eternal Life. And why? Because those who walk after the flesh depend upon and correspond with an Environment which is not eternal. Their correspondence is established with that which passes away. We find then that man, or the Spiritual Man, is equipped with two sets of correspondences. One set possesses the qualities of everlastingness, the other is temporal. Here, within man, in the center of mans nature and existence, are the tree of life and the tree of death in the middle of the garden. But unless these two are totally SEPARATED by some means the temporal and fleshly will continually impair and hinder the eternal and spiritual. The final preparation, therefore, for the inheriting of the fullness of Eternal Life, and adoption, the redemption of our body, must consist in THE ABANDONMENT OF THE NON-ETERNAL ELEMENTS. These must be unloosed and disassociated from the higher elements of the Spirit. And this can only be effected by the DEATH TO SELF and all the desires and cravings of the fleshly mind. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it UNTO LIFE ETERNAL (Jn. 12:25). Death persists in man because certain relations in his being are not adjusted to certain relations in the Eternal Perfect Environment of Gods Life and Nature.
This is why death is associated with the CARNAL MIND, with IMPERFECTION. Death is the necessary result of Imperfection, the necessary end of it. Science has shown that a PERFECT ORGANISM in a PERFECT ENVIRONMENT would necessarily live forever. To abolish death, therefore, all that would be necessary would be to abolish Imperfection. Paul put it this way: Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to PERFECTION (Heb. 6:1). Of the result of such Perfection he said: But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as one combined loss for Christs sake. For His sake I have lost everything and considered it all to be mere rubbish in order that I MAY WIN CHRIST, and that I may be found IN HIM. For my determined purpose is that I may know Him and that I may in some way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection: and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed to His death, that if possible I may attain to the resurrection THAT LIFTS ME OUT FROM AMONG THE DEAD EVEN WHILE IN THE BODY. Not that I have now attained this ideal OR AM ALREADY PERFECT, but I press on to lay hold of and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me and made me His own (Phil 3:7-12, Amp. Bible).
Thank God that He is changing us! Each and every change and transformation, each and every victory and triumph brings our being more and more into correspondence with the realm of His divine life. Like Him! Blessed hope, this is. More like Him today than yesterday. MORE LIKE Him tomorrow. More weaned away from earths polluting Environment of self-centeredness and fleshiness. More able to breathe the atmosphere of the pure and perfect realm of the Kingdom of God. Death is being swallowed up. Jesus is leading us on!
Having seen, then, the great and important issues at stake IN THE MIDST of our garden, let us no longer spend our lives as men of this world, vainly striving to satisfy that which is passing away, for this serves only to bar our progress to the realm of true reality which is the realm of the Spirit, but, counting soulish and bodily pleasures and pursuits as nothing, let us WITHOUT THESE HINDRANCES, lay hold on immortality where all our spiritual senses operate in the realm of reality and life.
If you would like to receive these studies write to:
J. Preston Eby
P.O. Box 371240
El Paso TX 79937-1240
All writings are distributed on a free-will offering basis.
Pathfinder Homepage | Elwin's Articles | Margit's Articles | Ministry Links | Misc Links