ECHOES FROM EDEN
THE TREE OF LIFE
"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there 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 of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen. 2:8-9).
In this world we live by symbols. We use either written symbols or sound symbols to express every thought or feeling, to identify every person, place or object. Words are only symbols. Names are only symbols. Numbers are only symbols. Our alphabet is only a group of 26 small symbols that can be organized into words - then words into sentences - sentences into thoughts - and thoughts into knowledge. God claims the title of the "Alpha and Omega," or the "A" and the "Z" of the alphabet which includes all the other letters in between and can contain and express all knowledge.
Symbols only represent the things for which they stand, not the reality itself. Money is considered the most important factor in human life by many because it represents power and security. Of itself, money has no value whatsoever more then the paper or metal it contains, though through it, it is possible to purchase the comforts and luxuries of earth. There is as much difference between the symbol and the reality as there is between the letters of alphabet and the great thoughts that can be woven into tangible form through those tiny little letters. There is as much difference between the symbol and the reality as there is between the money in your pocket and the actual things that money can buy.
It is important that we understand clearly that God has spoken to us predominantly in the Scriptures by symbols. Symbolism its spiritual application means that an object, animal, tree, mountain, person, action, form of words or whatever else is involved has a deeper spiritual meaning than a simple literal interpretation would suggest. A symbols, unlike a type, is usually not prefigurative, but rather represents something that already exists. Without a clear understanding of this great truth the Bible would be the most ridiculous book ever written. Consider the implications if Jesus had meant it literally when He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you" (Jn. 6:53). If this statement had been intended literally Jesus would have become the founder of the world's most bizarre religious cult: cannibalism! But beyond these physical figures lies the glorious REALITY of which He spoke, the reality that His flesh means His Word and His blood means His Spirit Life.
The apostle John begins the Book of Revelation with these words: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it unto His servant John" (Rev. 1:1). The word "signified" is the Greek word "semaino" which is a derivative of the word "semo" meaning a mark or sign, or to indicate by signs or symbols. The English word could be written "sign-i-fied" - demonstrating that it means to communicate by means of signs and symbols. We understand, of course, that this is exactly how the Revelation was communicated to John and the whole book is a book of pictures and symbols. The candlesticks are Churches (Rev. 1:20), the stars are ministries (Rev. 1:20), the beasts are governments, the horns are kings and dominions (Rev. 17:12), the bowls of incense are the prayers of saints (Rev. 5:8), the great dragon is Satan (Rev. 12:9), the waters are peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues (Rev. 17:15), the New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:9-10) etc. etc. etc. Armed with this understanding let us look at another important symbol employed by the Spirit in the Book of Revelation. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the TREE OF LIFE which is in the midst of the paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7). In harmony with the symbolic language of the Book of Revelation it becomes crystal clear that the tree of life is not a literal, physical tree but a SYMBOL standing for a spiritual LIFE-GIVING-REALITY.
THE TREE OF LIFE
I have written of this truth in a number of articles, however, let us go back once again briefly, to the beginning. At the beginning of man's existence we are shown man in a relationship with three kinds of trees. To understand God's plan, we must be completely clear about these three kinds of trees and what they represent. The three types of trees are set forth in Gen. 2:8-9, 16-17. "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 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." Here are the three classes of trees which could be experienced by Adam: (1) all the trees of the garden (2) the tree of life (3) the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
There is a clear distinction made between a grove composed of "every tree that is good for food" on the one hand, and the two trees which were in "the midst of the garden" on the other hand - the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. "All the trees of the garden" may be spoken of as a grove, but these taken collectively are not the "tree of life," nor the "tree of knowledge," as shown plainly in verse 9: "And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is...good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." Thus, all the trees of the garden are distinct from either the tree of life or the tree of knowledge. The tree of was not of the same nature as "all the trees of the garden" and the tree of knowledge, likewise, was not the same as those trees.
After God created man He placed him before these three kinds of trees, and man's whole life was pictured as a matter of feasting upon one tree or the other. How man would live and walk after his creation depended entirely upon his relationship with these three kinds of trees. God told man plainly, "You may freely eat of ALL THE TREES OF THE GARDEN." He also said, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it." What original command, the only command, was given Adam? To eat! Eating is receiving, and receiving is the basic function of the human self. It is most striking that here at the creation of man this was the only command given him...EAT! Receive! Take something into you! And this is still the only command to man! "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye EAT THE FLESH of the Son of man, and DRINK HIS BLOOD, ye have no life in you. Whose EATETH My flesh, and DRINKETH My blood, hath eternal life" (Jn. 6:53-54). "But as many received Him, to them gave He power to become the Sons of God" (Jn. 1:12).
What is the signification of the first kind of tree called "all the trees of the garden"? It is of the fruit of these trees that man lived from the moment of his creation and they therefore represent the realm of life in which man lived before he fell. The record states: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a LIVING SOUL" (Gen. 2:7). Man did not come forth from the hand of God as a glorious shining spirit-being, neither did he begin his existence as the depraved, sensual, animalistic creature he is today. Man was created neither a beast nor a god, but a LIVING SOUL. The realm of perfect human life, the living soul, was a plane of life which far transcended the realm of corruption and death which passed upon man through the eating of the tree of knowledge. But is was also a plane of life which was than, and inferior to that glorious realm of DIVINE LIFE which was available to man in the tree of life. Thus, "all the trees of the garden" signify the realm of man as a perfect, sinless, LIVING SOUL. Adam, as a living soul, feasted upon the fruits of "all the trees of the garden." These trees had no power to impart to him either the DIVINE NATURE or the INCORRUPTIBLE LIFE of God. The divine nature and incorruptible life were contained only in the tree of life. The important point here is that Adam, in the beginning, did not walk in that transcendent life and glory typified by the tree of life. The tree of life speaks of that realm of DIVINE SPIRIT LIFE, incorruptible God life, and Adam had been living in the reality of the tree of life He would have been a QUICKENING SPIRIT, INCORRUPTIBLE in both nature and being, and therefore incapable of falling into the ensuing nightmare of sin, darkness and death. It is impossible for that which is incorruptible to be corrupted, for that which is immortal to die, and for that which is divine to become depraved!
Most assuredly the tree of life bespeaks a realm of life beyond what Adam already possessed. Adam was a living soul so it was not necessary for him to eat of the tree of life to be a living soul. The life offered to man in the tree of life is a HIGHER KIND OF LIFE than the life Adam originally knew. It imparts more than the never-ending human life which Adam could have retained simply by refusing to eat the tree of knowledge. This tree of life lifts man up from the realm of humanity, from the earthly, from the physical, from the natural, and infuses him with eternal life, divine life, the very life of GOD. This life is offered us in Christ. According to the revelation of the Scriptures Jesus is not only our life today, but He has ever been, from the very beginning, the life of God made available to man. "In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God. The same was IN THE BEGINNING...IN HIM WAS LIFE; and the life WAS the light of men" (Jn. 1:1-4). "That which WAS FROM THE BEGINNING, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of THE WORD OF LIFE, for the LIFE WAS MANIFESTED and we have seen it, and show unto you THAT ETERNAL LIFE which was with the Father" (I Jn. 1:1-2). This tree of life was known in the beginning, not as the man Jesus Christ, but as THE WORD OF GOD. A little less than two thousand years ago "the WORD was MADE FLESH, and dwelt among us" (Jn. 1:14). The Word made flesh was Jesus, but in the beginning He was known only as THE WORD: God breathed, God expressed, God revealed, God available to man!
THE TWO GLORIES
One of the most significant ever uttered by Jesus was made in prayer on that dark and sorrowful night before the crucifixion. He said, "I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self WITH THE GLORY WHICH I HAD WITH THEE BEFORE THE WORLD WAS" (Jn. 17:4-5). Who can begin to comprehend this? Generally, when people think of the glory of Christ they think of the glory He had while on earth: His holiness of life, the miracles, the teachings, the love, humility, meekness and mercy that flowed forth from His ministry. Those things indeed characterize a great glory. Jesus spoke of it. "I have glorified Thee on the earth" - on the earth plane. But now the blessed Son speaks of another glory as high above the glory He revealed on earth as are the heavens high above the earth. With the most intense desire He petitions the I HAD WITH THEE BEFORE THE WORLD WAS!" Come and hearken to what divine message has to tell us of the eternal glory of the Son, in whom the Father speaks to us. Come and see how truly He is one with God, and dwells in a glory beyond that which can be either seen or known in the earth realm! To be glorified WITH THINE OWN SELF is to be one IN THE FATHER; to be not merely the Son, but God. The deeper our insight into the true Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, the more confident shall we be that He will, an a divine power, make us partakers of His very own glory.
We find arrayed before us here TWO GLORIES. Both glories are uniquely the glory of Christ. The one, the lesser, is His glory as He walked upon earth as a man revealing the Father on the earth plane, in a body of flesh; the other, the greater, is the glory which He had before the world was, and which, having passed through death and into resurrection, He now possesses once more. What is the difference between these two glories and what do these mean for those apprehended unto Sonship to God?
The glory of an object is, that in its kinds intrinsic worth and excellence answers perfectly to all that is expected of it. That excellence or perfection may be so hidden or unknown, that the object has no glory to those who behold it. To glorify is to remove every hindrance, and so to reveal the full worth and perfection of the object, that its glory is seen and acknowledged by all. The highest perfection of God, and the deepest mystery of Godhead, is His holiness. In it righteousness and love are united. As the Holy One He hates and condemns sin. As the Holy One He also frees the sinner from its power, and raises him to communion and relationship with Himself. His name is, "The Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer" (Isa. 54:5). The song of redemption is: "Great is the Holy One of Israel is the midst of thee" (Isa. 12:6). In the union of the two words in the name of the Holy Spirit, we see that what is HOLY and what is SPIRITUAL stand in the closest connection with each other. God is spirit and God is absolutely holy - these are the two basic elements of His being and nature. For this reason the two words are so often found together. So in the song of Moses: "Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like Thee, glorious in holiness" (Ex. 15:11). So in the song of the Seraphim: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isa. 6:3). And so in the song of the Lamb: "Who shall not glorified Thy name? for Thou alone art Holy" (Rev. 15:4). As has been well said: "God's glory is His manifested holiness; God's holiness is hidden glory."
The one work of Christ on earth was to glorify the Father on the earth plane, in a body of flesh and blood, to reveal what a glorious Holy God He is. When the Lord Jesus had glorified the Father on earth, the Father glorified Him with Himself in heaven. This was not only His just reward; it was a necessity in the very nature of things. There is no other place for a life given up to the glory of God, as Christ's was, than in that glory. This principle holds good for us too: a heart that yearns and thirsts for the glory of God, that is ready to live or die for it, becomes fitted to LIVE IN IT. Living unto God's glory on the earth plane is the gate to living in God's glory on the heaven plane. If with Christ we glorify the Father, the Father will with Christ glorify us too. Yes, we shall be like Him in His glory! Herein are the two glories of Sonship.
To help us better grasp a knowledge of the two realms of glory in Sonship let us look at a most important aspect of God's being and nature as revealed in James 1:13. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempted He any man." God is not only holy by choice, He is holy by nature. The Greek in this verse is very strong - God is simply INCAPABLE of being tempted! One translation says, "God is unversed in evil." The nature of God is a nature of such absolute holiness that it cannot be tempted. The nature of God is UNTEMPTABLE! No wonder He is called the HOLY ONE! The nature of God is therefore incorruptible and cannot be influenced, affected, altered, changed, or ruined in any way. Thus we can see that the divine nature contains, among others, these three distinct characteristics: it is untemptable, eternal and incorruptible. To be truly GODLIKE is to be in nature and being untemptable, eternal and incorruptible. In any portion of our being where we fall short of being either untemptable, eternal or incorruptible, in that area of our being we have not yet become like God - we fall short of His glory. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Herein lies the glory Christ had with the Father before the world was: Christ, the eternal Word of God, as Divine Spirit, dwelt only and fully in the eternal, untemptable and incorruptible nature of Godhead! "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (Jn. 1:1).
THE GLORY OF THE SON IN FLESH
Let us turn to Phil. 2:5-9: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him..." The Amplified Bible is so expressive here: "Let this same attitude and purpose and mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus - Who, although being... one with God and in the form of God, possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God. God, did not think this equality with was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained; but stripped Himself of all privileges and rightful dignity is as to assume the guise of a servant, in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form He abased and humbled Himself still further and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! Therefore God has highly exalted Him..."
In this wonderful passage we have a summary of all the most precious truths that cluster around the person of the Son of God. There is first His wonderful Divinity: "in the form of God," "equal with God." Then comes the mystery of Him laying aside that glory in that phrase of deep and inexhaustible meaning: "He stripped Himself," "He emptied Himself." The humiliation follows: "The form of a servant," "made in the likeness of men," "found in fashion as a man." Then comes the atonement with the humiliation, and obedience, and suffering, and death, whence it derives its worth: "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." And all is crowned by His glorious exaltation: "God hath highly exalted Him!" Christ as God, Christ becoming man, Christ as man in humiliation revealing the glory of the Father in a body of flesh, and Christ in glory as Lord of all: such are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge this passage contains.
The two glories of Sonship are here: firstly, the glory He had with the Father before the world was; secondly, the glory He had on earth. Then follows the glory to which He has now been exalted which is one with that glory which He had from eternity.
The wonderful truth we want to grasp here is that Christ dwelt from eternity in the form, the essence, the nature and the being of God. In that divine nature He was untemptable, eternal and incorruptible. But when He laid aside that glory, emptying Himself of it, taking upon Him the form and nature of man, He, the eternal One, subjected Himself to the dread power of DEATH, as it is written, "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." When Christ laid aside His eternal heavenly glory, the untemptable One took upon Himself all the frailties and weaknesses of human nature so that the One who CANNOT be tempted was found in a nature that COULD be tempted as it is written: "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points TEMPTED LIKE AS WE ARE, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). James says that "every man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust (desire), and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin" (James 1:14-15). Was Jesus truly tempted in all points like we are, or did He have some advantage over us, some inherent quality of divinity, some unique spiritual power which enabled Him to walk fully in obedience to the Father? May God in His mercy give us a true insight into the glory of what is offered us in these words - even this, that our High Priest, whom we have in heaven, is one able to sympathize with us in each and every place, because He knows, from personal experience, exactly what we feel. Yes, that God might give us courage to draw nigh to Him, He has placed upon the throne of heaven one out of our midst, of whom we can be certain that, because He Himself lived on earth as man, He understands us perfectly, is prepared to have patience with our weakness, and give us just the help we need to enter into His glory.
A rich king, who lives every day in luxury, can he, even though he hear of it, - can he fully realize what it means for the poor sick man, from year to year, never to know where his daily bread is coming from? Hardly. And God, the glorious and ever blessed, can He truly fell what a poor mortal experiences in his daily struggle with the weaknesses and temptations of the flesh? God be praised! Jesus knows. As Adam could never have brought us under the power of sin and death, if he had not been our father, communicating to us his own nature, so Christ never could save us, except by taking our nature upon Him, doing in that nature all we would need to do, had it been possible for us to deliver ourselves, and then communicating the fruit of what He had effected as a nature within us to be the power of a new and eternal life. As a divine necessity, as an act of infinite love and condescension, the Son of God became a partaker of flesh and blood. So alone could He be the second Adam, the Father of a new race of God-men.
The point I want to make crystal clear is that when Christ left the eternal glory of the Father to take upon Himself the glory of the Son in human flesh, He EMPTIED HIMSELF of all Hiss prerogatives as Diety and willfully, yea, deliberately subjected Himself to the finite restrictions and debilitating limitations of this physical, material world. As God He had been infinitely rich, while as man He could do absolutely nothing more than any mortal man except as the Father worked through Him. As God He had been eternal and incorruptible, but as man He grew tired and weary, weak and faint, and died a ignominious death upon a cross. As God He could not be tempted with any evil, but as man He was tempted in every point as is common to men. As God He was Omniscient, possessing all wisdom and knowledge, but as man He "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Lk. 2:52). As God He had been the Omnipresent One who filled all things, but as man He lay as a helpless infant in a manger and throughout His life could never be in more than one place at a time. As God He had been PURE DIVINE SPIRIT, but as man He was a physical flesh and blood human being.
Christ's glory as the Son of man was thus a far lesser glory than the glory He had in the Father realm before the foundation of the world. He had faithfully glorified the Father on the earth plane, making Him visible through a body of flesh, but, when He prayed that He might be glorified with the glory which He had before the world was, He was asking to be released from the earthly, material, physical form He had assumed, with its human nature and limitations and restrictions, back into the untemptable, eternal and incorruptible realm of DIVINE SPIRIT LIFE. His yearning was to be forever freed from the whole dreadful realm of physical limitation and confinement. This was to shortly take place through His RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD.
THE GLORY OF THE SON IN RESURRECTION
When we speak of the resurrection of Christ, we enter a new and glorious realm entirely, for no man other than Christ Jesus our Lord has until now experienced the glory of such a resurrection. In the glory of this resurrection is seen not only the glory which Christ now has in His exaltation but also that marvelous glory which He has before the world was. Let us consider this glory.
There are three key words translated "immortality" in the Greek New Testament. Athanasia appears three times, Aphtharsia appears eight times, and Aphthartos appears seven times. these three terms are translated severally in the King James Version as "immortality," "incorruption," "sincerity," "incorruptible," "immortal," and "not corruptible." These renderings make it quite evident in English that the basic idea deals with that which does not perish, cannot be ruined, or that which will never be corrupted in any fashion. The first term, Athanasia, is derived from the Greek word for "death" (Thanatos), so that it speaks of that which is opposite of physical death; namely a resurrected body which is spiritual rather than carnal. Aphtharsia and Aphthartos are derived from the Greek word for "corruption, ruin, destruction" (Phtheiro) which is used of corrupted meat, ruins of ancient cities or sunken vessels, or destroyed armies whose dead bodies litter the earth. Like Athanasia the alpha prefix indicates that the word "immortality" speaks of that which cannot be corrupted, which cannot be ruined in any manner, and which cannot be destroyed!
I do not hesitate to say that only solitary person is now "Immortal" according to the Word of God. By this I mean that there is only one man in the entire universe who is a life-giving Spirit resident in an indestructible body. That man is our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. When Paul writes to young Timothy of the appearing of Christ in the blazing, unapproachable light of the Shekinah, he declares Him to be "the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only (who alone) HAS IMMORTALITY..." (I Tim. 6:15-16). Please observe! Jesus only has what the Bible calls "immortality." He, and He alone, of all the men who have lived and do live, resides in the divine spirit realm in a glorified, resurrection body. As the first-born Son, the God-man, only Jesus is immortal at present. Jesus is the only man now dwelling fully and completely in the divine nature and being of God, far beyond all temptation, sin, sickness, limitation, change, decay and death.
When Christ our Lord rose from the dead, He was raised not in corruption but in incorruption. That which is incorruptible is forever beyond the power of corruption, decay or death. God Himself is said to be incorruptible and we are said to be born of incorruptible seed by the Word of God that liveth forever. This incorruptible life now resides in our spirits, but has not yet been manifest in our bodies. Death has no power over the incorruptible. Thus of the resurrection body it is written: "It is sown in corruption; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body" (I Cor. 15:42-44). Paul declares that this corruptible must put on incorruption. The body of the corruptible man is the body of death, but the body of the incorruptible man is the body of the resurrection, a body beyond the power of death. When Jesus rose from the dead, He arose incorruptible. He had no blood as we know blood. He had forever laid aside that blood which had been the life of His corruptible flesh and was now quickened in His flesh by the life of God, life incorruptible and eternal.
Many precious saints have claimed that they have already put on immortality, that they have by-passed the grave and will never die. I would overthrow the faith of none, for we are now living in the generation that shall see the long-awaited manifestation of the Son of God, but I do say that the body of glory and incorruption is the body of the resurrection. When the kingdom of God comes in power and glory on the earth, the Sons of God will be manifest to the world and to every nation, tribe, tongue and people on the face of the whole earth in the glory of their RESURRECTION. Being children of the resurrection, they will be seen as INCORRUPTIBLE BEINGS and they will rule the world and bless all the nations of earth as resurrected and incorruptible men. Just as Jesus had power after His resurrection to appear and disappear, to pass right through a wall or locked door, to disclose Himself or to hide His identity, taking various forms, to ascend to heaven and return to the earth, to issue instructions concerning the kingdom of God, even to eat and drink if He wished, so also shall the glorified and incorruptible Sons of God have power. All that Jesus was in His resurrection and glorification the Sons of God shall be in their resurrection and glorification, for they are destined to share His glory.
The glory of the resurrection discloses even that glory which Christ had with the Father before the world was. The glory He had and the glory He has are the same glory of INCORRUPTIBLE SPIRIT LIFE.
MINISTERS OF INCORRUPTION
Jesus was the firstfruit of the resurrection. "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept...for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. Then cometh the end (of the resurrection)" (I Cor. 15:20-24). Paul tells us in Rom. 8:19-23 that the whole of creation is in travail to know the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God. because the creation itself SHALL BE DELIVERED FROM THE BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION into the glorious liberty of the children of God. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption (placement as Sons), to wit, the redemption of our bodies."
This glorious realm of incorruption which lies beyond the power of temptation, sin, limitation, sickness, sorrow and death belongs to the children of God, but, blessed be God! it is also the hope of all creation. One of the fundamental laws of nature is that one cannot give what he does not himself possess, one cannot minister that of which he has not himself been made partaker. I therefore declare to you that although the glory of the Sons of God on earth throughout His three and a half years of ministry and manifestation was truly marvelous beyond words to describe, yet, it was a glory which was limited in the extreme. When Christ took upon Him a body of flesh and the nature of man, He willfully subjected Himself to the Limitations and restrictions of that which is earthly, material and mortal. Jesus did not walk upon earth as the incorruptible God, but as mortal man. It was a natural, physical, mortal man that He was tempted; He wept; He slept; He suffered; He died. The incorruptible life of the Father resided in His inner Spirit, but that life was confined, limited and restricted by the bounds of the material world which He had taken upon Himself. It is manifest that His body was not an incorruptible body, else He could not have died though He were nailed to a thousand crosses! His own human nature was not the incorruptible nature of God, else He could not have been TEMPTED in all points like as we are. Truly He emptied Himself, yea, stripped Himself of that incorruptible glory of the Father realm and, as man, as flesh, HE COULD NOT, even as a Son, MINISTER THAT WHICH HE DID NOT HIMSELF POSSESS!
It is remarkable that during the three and a half years of Jesus' earthly ministry He never performed one act, not even one miracle or wonder on the higher plane of incorruption. Every miracle Jesus did was in the realm of mortality. Jesus raised a number of folk from the dead, including Lazarus, the widow's son and Dorcas, but every person raised from the sleep of death was merely raised up again INTO MORTAL LIFE to continue their lives in their same old corruptible bodies. Each and every one of them DIED AGAIN! Not one single person was raised up out of a corruptible body into an incorruptible body. It would be impossible for the world to even contain all the books that could be written about the marvelous signs and wonders performed by the Son of God on earth, yet, all those works, wonderful though they were, were entirely restricted to the plane of the physical, material and mortal. Jesus cleansed the lepers and healed every manner of sickness and disease among the people, but I declare to you that each and every one of these good people got sick again and eventually died! These were miracles within the realm of mortality, not ministrations of INCORRUPTIBLE LIFE. These deliverances were in all reality but short new leases on the corruptible existence of this body of flesh and blood, this body of death. Though Christ blessed men with healing and health and these were permitted to remain on earth for long series of years, yet He merely lengthened out the period of their mortal existence and none could escape the final catastrophe.
Jesus did many other types of miracles. He turned water into wine. But what kind of wine was it? Very good wine, indeed. But just wine, nevertheless. It was composed of the same chemical elements as is all good wine. It was material, physical, earthly. It was consumed by flesh and blood bodies, digested, and a portion eliminated from the body as waste. Nothing incorruptible or heavenly here! And yet it is written: "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilea, and MANIFESTED FORTH HIS GLORY; and His disciples believed on Him" (Jn. 2:11). Yes, He manifested forth His glory, but it was not the glory He had had with the Father before the world was, but the lesser glory of manifesting the Father on the earth plane, in the world of the physical and material, the mortal.
Jesus fed five thousand people from five little loaves and two small fish. How we stand in awe before the glory of such a miracle, but remember, dear ones, that even a wonder so marvelous as this was but a wonder on the physical plane. Bread and fish. Nothing more. Multiplied! And what have you? More bread and fish. Earthly bread. Earthly fish. Perishable, corruptible elements, both. The multitude ate of it and had their bodily hunger satisfied momentarily, their mortal bodies strengthened for a few fleeting hours and then all the old hunger and weakness returned. Nothing of eternal value there, nothing of incorruptible life! On one occasion Jesus caused the boat in which He and His disciples were sailing to move from the middle of the sea to the shore with a speed swifter than any modern rocket. Wonderful! you say. Yes, wonderful on the earth plane, wonderful to the fascinated eyes of poor finite mortals in their limitation and confinement to natural law, but still no ministration of the higher life of incorruption. Following this miracle the creation was still groaning as it had been groaning for ages - to be DELIVERED FROM THE BONDAGE TO CORRUPTION! Without doubt that same boat which made such a fantastic trip across the sea has long since rotted into the earth or lies ruined on the bottom of the sea. And the creation goes on groaning...
"For even the whole creation waits expectantly and long earnestly for God's Sons to be made known - waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their Sonship. For...the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and corruption and gain an entrance into the glorious freedom of God's children" (Rom. 8:19,21). When Paul by inspiration penned these blessed words of hope he did not have in mind a manifestation of the Sons of God on the same plane on which Jesus was manifested while on earth. Jesus glorified the Father on the earth plane, and so do we, but this is not the glory that we anticipate, neither is it the hope for which the whole of creation is in travail. The creation is not groaning for another revival, nor for another evangelistic campaign, nor for another healing campaign, nor for A New Testament Church, nor for more apostles and prophets, nor for more signs, wonder and miracles, nor yet for 144,000 flaming evangelists just like Jesus in His earthly ministry. For 2,000 years we have had revival after revival, healing after healing, miracle after miracle, and none of them have ever brought in the kingdom of God, not one of them has ever delivered the creation from the bondage to corruption. The creation continues to groan in its bondage and we ourselves, groan within ourselves, as we wait for the redemption of our bodies. It is not another "patch-up" job that we want but a full and complete and eternal deliverance from the whole dreadful realm of corruption.
Jesus clearly understood that He could never deliver the creation from the bondage to corruption so long as He remained Himself subject to this realm of mortality. He simply could not minister to men that which He had laid aside in coming to earth. Though He would have walked on earth for a million years in His physical body of humiliation, gaining in favour with the people and power over the nations through all those years, He still would have not been able to raise even one poor mortal up out of corruption into incorruption. It was necessary that He be resurrected Himself by the power and glory of the Father that He might be able then to minister even that resurrection life to a first-fruit company, that they, in turn, might minister it to the rest of creation. For this creation waits expectantly. The law is that one must first POSSESS INCORRUPTIBLE LIFE before He can MINISTER INCORRUPTIBLE LIFE.
Let us give ear to Peter as his lips speak of the resurrection life of Christ in his tremendous sermon on the day of Pentecost. Notice that his message did not center in the Christ of the manger, nor in the Christ of teaching, nor in the Christ of signs and wonders, nor only in Christ crucified, but above all else CHRIST RISEN FROM THE DEAD. "Ye men of Israel," he cries, "hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: WHOM GOD HATH RAISED UP, having loosed the pains of death...for David speaketh concerning Him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is on right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore did my hearts rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope: because Thou wilt leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life" (Acts 2:22-25,31).
How we praise God and bless Him unceasingly for every temporal blessing provided for us by His bountiful grace. We rejoice exceedingly in the provision of finances for our daily needs, for those healings which have preserved our bodies alive unto this day, for every sign and wonder which has quickened our faith and given assurance of His wonderful love, faithful care and gracious presence. We do not minimize the blessedness of any of these things, yet are aware that none of these are that for which the creation, and we ourselves, are groaning. We cannot - dare not - be satisfied until we AWAKE IN HIS LIKENESS! The glory to which we are called as Sons of God is not the glory He had on earth, but the glory for which He prayed when He said, "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them." Paul wrote, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear WITH HIM IN GLORY" (Col. 3:4). And Peter declared, "But the God of all grace...hath called us unto HIS ETERNAL GLORY by Christ Jesus" (I Pet. 5:10).
Therefore the Spirit saith, "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and REDEMPTION" (I Cor. 1:30). Here we have the top of the ladder, reaching into the celestial realm - the blessed end to which Christ and life in Him is to lead. The word redemption, though sometimes applied to our deliverance from the guilt of sin, here refers to our complete and final deliverance from all its consequences, when the Redeemer's work shall become fully manifest, even to the redemption of the body (compare Rom. 8:21-23; Eph. 1:14; Eph. 4:30). The expression points us to the highest glory to be hoped for in Christ. The word invites us to look upon Jesus, not only as He lived on earth, teaching us by word and example, as He died, to reconcile us to God, but as, sitting at the right hand of God, He takes again the glory which He had with the Father, before the world began, and holds it there FOR US. It consists in this, that there His human nature, yea, His human body, freed from all the consequences of sin to which He once had been exposed, is now admitted to share the eternal divine glory. As Son of Man, He dwells on the throne and in the bosom of the Father: the deliverance from what He had to suffer from limitation, sin and death is complete and eternal. The complete redemption is found embodied in His own Person: what He as man is and has in the celestial realm is the complete redemption.
We are in Him who is made us redemption! And the more believingly we abide in Him as our redemption, the more we shall experience, even here and now, of "the powers of the world to come." As our fellowship with HIM becomes more intimate and intense, and we let the Holy Spirit reveal Him to us in His eternal glory, the more we realize that the life in us is the life of the One who sits upon the throne of the heavens. We feel the power of an endless life working in us. We taste the eternal life. We have the foretaste of the eternal glory! The resurrection of the body is no longer a dead doctrine, but a living expectation, and even an incipent experience, because the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwells in the body as the pledge that even our mortal bodies shall be quickened (Rom. 8:11-23). This faith exercises its sanctifying influence in our willing surrender of the sinful members of the body to be mortified and completely subjected to the dominion of the Spirit, as preparation for the time when the frail body shall be CHANGED and fashioned like unto His body of glory. Think you have seen some great miracles? Our bodies are going to be the objects of the most astonishing miracle of Divine transforming power!
I can assure you, beloved friends, that this is the hope of all creation. We rejoice in the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, in prophecies, visions, healings and miracles, but I must confess that I am saddened to see men continually following after mere TEMPORAL SIGNS and PHYSICAL, MORTAL BLESSINGS. I would not depreciate for one moment, nor in any measure, the manifold blessings and gracious provisions of God on this earthly realm of mortality. I, above many, perhaps, can testify to God's absolute and unswerving faithfulness to supply every need in this earthly, temporal realm in which we dwell as He provides daily sustenance for my family and the finances to mail out tens of thousands of pieces of literature each year. It is all the LORD'S DOING and I can bear witness that He has never once failed, bless His name! And yet it brings distress to my soul to see my sick brethren healed by the power of God only to behold them smitten again later on with some other debilitating disease. What sorrow it brings to the human hearts to see the precious men of God who have walked in the Spirit and have so mightily blessed the Lord's people, finally become old and pass from our midst into the silence of the grave. I grow tired of healing the sick only to see them sick again. It is frustrating to have to pray for the same saints over, and over, and over again for the same kinds of problems and weaknesses. I am tired of seeing the dead raised (I personally know several people who have been raised from the dead) just to watch them grow old and die again. I tire of signs and wonders which only minister to the physical man on the level of mortality: food, raiment, money, jobs and all the rest of the corruptible things of earth. I am weary of that which blesses men in the natural but then leaves them to carry on their lives in corruptible natures and bodies. What an apt word the Spirit selected when He inspired the apostle to write: "For in this (our earthly house) we GROAN, EARNESTLY DESIRING to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven...that mortality might be swallowed up of life (II Cor. 5:1-5). Paul says that the whole creation GROANS. He says WE ALSO GROAN. That mortality might be swallowed up of life. "Now He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who hath given unto His pledge of the Spirit" (II Cor. 5:5).
Christ shall minister His eternal glory to a first-fruit to company of Sons who shall in turn minister that same eternal glory to the creation. Do not think, dear saints, that the ministry of the manifested Sons of God shall be a ministry of holding great salvation-healing campaigns, of merely emptying out hospitals as the sick are healed, or raising some dead people back to life again as Jesus did. What Jesus WAS is not the pattern for the manifested Sons of God. The pattern is what HE IS IN HIS ETERNAL GLORY. He has planted within an incorruptible SEED which shall in due time produce an INCORRUPTIBLE PEOPLE. The ministry of the Sons of God will be to minister INCORRUPTIBLE LIFE so that ALL THINGS may be raised up out of the realm of limitation and death in the glorious liberty of the ETERNAL SPIRIT. Glory!
"HE is made unto us REDEMPTION." Beloved brethren! Let us lay aside all presumption and purge ourselves of every form of deception. I admonish you - do not allow any man to deceive you into believing that he can in some way minister immortality to your mortal body. Some have professed to have already put on immortality, to have already passed over the grave, but I declare to you that the wrinkles in their skin, the bags under their eyes, the gray in their hair and the unchecked ageing in their bodies give the lie to their confession. Some have tried to teach people into immortality, some have tried to meditate into it, others have had a scheme for baptising people into it while others have foolishly hoped to live forever by eating health food. Without any fear of contradiction I can tell you that all the fruitarians and vegetarians and food fadists of all previous generations are now lying silent in their graves along with all who subscribed to any other method or technique for the putting on of incorruption. The word can not be broken: HE is made unto us REDEMPTION! How can corruption impart incorruption? "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the TREE OF LIFE WHICH IS IN THE PARADISE OF GOD" (Rev. 2:7). Let me present this Tree of Life: Christ, risen, glorified and exalted above all heavens! Christ, in the glory He had with the Father before the world began. HE is the tree of life in Eden's lovely garden! The leaves of this tree are for the healing of all the nations of earth. The Church in its hour of corruption has been claiming to do the "greater works" of which Jesus spoke, but this is not so. The greater works will appear when this corruptible puts on incorruption and the Sons of God are manifested in their resurrection glory. When we consider how marvelous and powerful is this glory of the resurrection unto incorruption, it seems to be but little wonder that these mighty Sons will bring to pass a world wherein dwelleth righteousness!
With what anticipation do we wait for this glorious manifestation! Meantime we are taught to believe: "Of God are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." This is not meant merely as revelation, to be left for the future; for the full development of our life in Sonship we must seek to enter into and appropriate it. We do this as we learn to triumph over death on every level. We do it as we learn to look to Christ as the Lord of our body, claiming its entire consecration, securing even here victory over the terrible dominion sin has had in the body. We do it as we allow the powers of the coming age to possess us, and to lift us up into a life in the heavenly places, to enlarge our hearts and our views, to anticipate, even here and now, the things which have never entered into the heart of man to conceive.
Sons of God! Seek to know Christ as your redemption. Let this