ECHOES FROM EDEN
A RIVER OUT OF EDEN
"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium (pearl) and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates" (Gen. 2:10-14).
In connection with the parable of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, we are told of a remarkable river that had its source in Eden, but on flowing out of the garden divided itself into four branches. The picture is that of man placed in the garden before a tree called the tree of life. By the side of the tree of life there was a river, and by the flowing of this river there were some precious materials: gold, pearl, and onyx stone. Remember this scene is in the second chapter of the whole of the Bible. At the end of the revelations of the Scriptures, we find the same things again in the very last two chapters. There we see a city built of gold, pearls, and precious stones, the same kind of materials listed in Genesis chapter two. There we also see a river flowing, and on either side of it grows the tree of life. Here you have the river and the tree of life once more. How remarkable that man's history began and ends at the same river and tree of life! The tree of life in Genesis and the tree of life in Revelation are not two different trees, but the one and selfsame tree. The river flowing out of the garden and the river flowing from the city are not two separate rivers, they are the same wonderful river.
THE OUT-FLOWING OF GOD
How many times throughout the Word God is spoken of as a flowing stream of water! "How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men...shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the rivers of Thy pleasures. For with Thee is the fountain of life" (Ps. 36:7-9). The Lord Jesus tells us that the water that He gives will become a fountain of living water within us, springing up unto eternal life (Jn. 4:14). He says again that whoever is thirsty may come to Him and drink, and whoever believes on Him will have rivers of living water flowing from within him. (Jn. 7:37-38). All these words relate to one thing - that God Himself has flowed out and is still flowing on this earth into humanity AS LIFE. We may ask, In what form has God flowed out? He has flowed out first in Son, in Jesus Christ; and then He has flowed out as the Holy Spirit. Let us see God's order: God Himself is the spring, the very source of the water of life; Jesus Christ, the first-born Son, is the fountain, the reservoir of this divine water; and the Holy Spirit, flowing through the body of the Christ, the corporate Son, is the living stream, flowing all the time.
The Scriptures tell us that along this river grows the tree of life. What is the tree of life? It is simply Christ as our life. The tree of life in Eden, on the one hand, signifies the partaking of divine life by man, the dispensing of God into man. The river of life, on the other hand, signifies the outflowing of life from man who has received life, the pouring forth of life out of the Kingdom of Heaven unto the barrenness of the earth realm. All life was to be found in Eden, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Eden was constituted debtor to the whole earth to send forth the life-giving streams. Thus, the river of life out of Eden is the profound expression of God's purpose to not only enter into the lives of His people, transforming them into the tree of life kind of people, but to further bring forth in the earth a RIVER OF LIFE COMPANY, a people out of whom the life would flow! Ah - beloved, God is bringing forth His elect who shall be a RIVER OF LIFE, for He Himself in them is an ever-flowing wellspring of life and glory. Wherever God flows out by the Spirit, there He is found as life and eternal reality. To all of man's need God Himself is the supply, the only supply, and all the supply, bless His wonderful name!
Our usual desire, as the Lord's people, is to come together with other "end-time saints" and through praise and the ministry of the Word etc. to all get "turned on" together, until we feel the mighty up-surgings of the river of life in waves of the glory and victory. How we thank God for those tremendous surges of His life which we experience from time to time as we are brought together in praise, worship, ministry of the Word, and flow of revelation, and rejoice in each one of them, but I tell you of a truth that out in the desert, arid, barren, so parched and destitute, there God will cause His ELECT to pour forth as a mighty flowing river with an unending supply, even there shall the river of God's Spirit flow like a flood-tide to sweep out and change the world.
The river of life is the flowing out of God as life. His flowing out has passed through four steps. The first step was His becoming flesh. This enabled Him to flow out from heaven into the midst of men and manifest Himself as life. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:1,4,14). Therefore, the Bible speaks of Christ's coming into the world, on the one hand, as "GOD manifested in the flesh" (I Tim. 3:16), and, on the other hand, as the "LIFE which was manifested" (I Jn. 1:2). Hence, when Christ was in the flesh, He said, "I AM the life" (Jn. 14:6). As a man He had received the Holy Spirit without measure and His whole life was under the complete dominion of the Spirit. The words He spake, the deeds He wrought, the miracles He performed were all the result of that limitless fullness of God that indwelt Him. When Aaron the priest was anointed with the holy oil, Moses poured it on His head until it ran down over his face and beard, over his body and down to the very skirts of his garments. This is typical of that measureless fullness of the Holy Spirit of life which Christ enjoyed - not just a drop of oil on the forehead applied by the finger, but oil in abundance for the whole man! Wonderful and glorious as was this reservoir of divine life, full and abundant in Christ, it was but the first step in God's flowing out into humanity and the blessed river of God had not yet begun to flow out from the garden of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Although in this first step in God's flowing out He could manifest Himself as life to us, in Jesus, He could not yet be received by us AS LIFE; man could see the life, observe the life, yea, even handle the life, but could not yet partake of the life! Therefore, He must take the second step in flowing out.
God's second step in flowing out was His being nailed on the cross. Through death, the body of the flesh which He took, which was the reservoir of life, was broken, thus enabling Him to flow out from the flesh and become the living water of life to be received by us (Jn. 19:34; 4:10,14). The rock in the Old Testament typified Him; it was smitten and from it came living water to be obtained by the people of Israel (Ex. 17:6; I Cor. 10:4). He became flesh in order that He may be a grain of wheat which contains life. He was crucified so that He could flow out from the husk of flesh into us - His many fruits - and become our life (Jn. 12:24).
The third step in God's out-flowing was in the sending of Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost the Lord poured Himself out as the Holy Spirit. "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear" (Acts 2:32-33, New American Standard). Notice the word "poured" in these verses. He "poured out" the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit became the flowing stream of the divine water of life. For twenty centuries since that time, the Holy Spirit has been flowing in this world. This flowing has never stopped and it shall flow into eternity! It shall flow until there is no place in the whole universe that has not been bathed in its life-giving waters! God has poured out His Holy Spirit, flowing with His divine life. There is now a river, a flowing of God's life, and this flowing is the Holy Spirit Himself, poured out by the crucified, resurrected, ascended and glorified Jesus, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah the prophet: "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness" (Zech. 13:1). This fountain is naught but the "head-waters" of the glorious river of life which flows from Eden's lovely garden, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth!
The fourth and final step in the flowing out of God as life is in the river of life itself. Ah - beloved, know ye not that ye are that river? God as life to man has firstly flowed out in His first-born Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus Jesus can give us the water, and the water He gives becomes in us a well of water springing up unto eternal life. It is He who gives us water so that we shall never thirst. It was He who cried out on the last day of the feast: "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water...this He spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive" (Jn. 7:37-39). Every Christian should seek that God would open his eyes to show him that we who drink deeply of Him BECOME THE CHANNEL by which God flows out to humanity. God Himself is the wellspring, the eternal SOURCE of incorruptible life and glory; Jesus Christ, the first-born Son, is the fountain, the reservoir of this glorious life; and the SONS OF GOD are the RIVER by which His life and glory shall be communicated to the arid barrenness of the earth realm. A river is a large stream of water that flows downhill through a channel, within banks. The earth of YOUR BODY and YOUR LIFE is the channel through which the stream of the Spirit of God's life flows!
THE RIVER OF LIFE
Those who know nothing of spiritual realities see nothing in the garden of Eden than merely a literal garden abounding with trees and flowers and animals and sparkling streams over in the land of Mesopotamia. The so-called "literalist" studies the Genesis record from a strictly historical, geographical and geological viewpoint. These do, however, come up with some interesting insights about what such a literal garden would have been like, and this is both fitting and helpful, for every parable and type must, in what it represents, correspond to the anti-typical realities to which it points. One scientist, who has spent much time studying the scientific aspects of the literal garden, has concluded that such a luscious garden would require an abundance of water, far more than could be derived from the diurnal mist which nightly came up from the face of the earth (Gen. 2:5-6). Since there was no rainfall, the river would have to be supplied through a pressurized conduit from an underground reservoir of some kind, emerging under pressure as a sort of artesian spring. The pressure in the subterranean reservoir could have been established, this scientist surmises, either when the waters were first entrapped below the land surface and compressed or else by being heated from a deep-lying heat source. If there was a continuing heat source, as well as a continuing supply of water to the subterranean pool, then the artesian spring at the surface could be fed indefinitely. The water coming into the pool would have flowed by gravity from one of the surface "seas," through penetrable sands or channels in the rocks, down into the great water heater below. This scientist believes there were similar subterranean channels and chambers in the earth's crust all around the world, and that the water flow in the river of Eden must have been very large for, after traversing the garden, it separated into four "distributaries," each of which was a large and long river. The rivers must have eventually reached one or more of the antediluvian seas, thus completing the cycle. One last observation of this scientist: Since all rivers flow downhill until they reach the sea, Eden would necessarily have been located at a high altitude, in the mountains or a plateau. What a beautiful spiritual picture, this!
This high altitude or "higher realm" of the garden of Eden typifies the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. This garden is Canaan, the Promised Land. "A land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year until to the end of the year" (Deut. 11:11-12). God placed Adam the first in the garden of Eden, or the Kingdom of Heaven, a place of light and beauty, from whence flowed the springs of the fountain of the river of life, the source of living water. Without the garden lies the "lower realm" of earth, bespeaking the human condition outside of God, that whole dreadful realm of darkness and death in which is contained every sin, sorrow, tragedy, pain, trouble, sickness, heartache, fear and torment known to man. The higher realm of Eden extends upward into infinitude, glory ascending above and beyond glory, for Eden is the gate to the unbounded and inexhaustible heavens. The lower realm includes this world and everything that is beneath it. It descends into the lowest realms of the bottomless and embraces the outer realms of darkness. And flowing from the higher realm of the Kingdom of Heaven to the lower realm of the Kingdom of Darkness is the blessed River of Life. Its incorruptible waters of Spirit and Truth are more real and sparkling and alive than any river of earth. It pulsates with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit and vibrates with the sheer, exquisite beauty of the divine nature of our great and glorious God and His Christ that is impossible for my poor pen to describe. Its glory surpasses the shining of million diamonds in the sun, for it is the glory of the Lord God Almighty.
The waters of the most frolicking streams on earth, can and do often come to a stale dead-end slough of stagnancy and defilement. They can end in a contaminated swamp that breeds disease and pestilence or in a fishless, salty sea. However, the waters of that bounteous River of Life can never be restricted, defiled, polluted nor stagnated, for they are living waters of God's Spirit and bring life more abundant where they flow. The power and work of this mighty river can best be described by using some of earth's scientific knowledge as comparisons. The whole world is completely enfolded in the ethers and oxygen's and various elements which make up the air we breath. And though the entire earth is completely enfolded and surrounded in this substance we call "air" nevertheless there are, within that air, certain air currents and trade winds which are like living streams or rivers. They flow forth in their destined channels and as they flow they continually RENEW and GIVE LIFE to the whole of the encompassing atmosphere - and to the world. Without these currents, the jet streams, all the pollutants and poisons in the atmosphere would hang around our heads and the entire environment would stagnate and suffocate.
Then there are the great and mighty oceans of water, vast and extensive, covering the larger portion of the earth's surface. And through and across these vast bodies of water there are also currents and streams that are like great, stupendous rivers, flowing onward age after age, forever RENEWING and REVITALIZING the whole. These vast ocean currents are absolutely beyond the power or control, yet they are essential to his existence upon earth. Consider the great Gulf Stream as an instance of this beneficence derived from a source beyond and above human invention. This famous stream has been seen by innumerable visitors and residents in the state of Florida, where the stream leaves the Gulf of Mexico and parallels the Florida coast as it travels north to region of Nova Scotia. As it leaves the Gulf with a temperature of eighty-six degrees Fahrenheit, and practically retains its warmth all the way, it has a tremendous influence on the climate of the lands it passes. The heat of the stream is still eighty-four degrees at Georgia-Carolina border, and the warm temperate climate of these states is directly derived from this stream. Something of its tempering power on the surrounding atmosphere may be understood when we note that the stream is a thousand times the size of the mighty Mississippi River at that river's mouth; being seventy miles wide and something over three thousand feet deep.
The fact is, the coast of North America and Northern Europe would be a frozen waste without this stream. It alone makes the New England states habitable and makes life possible in Northern Europe as well. The British Isles would be frozen and abandoned without the stream, and even now, when the current swings a little wide of its general course, a near ice-age descends upon the old country, and suffering is tremendous. And besides this, there are numerous others gigantic ocean streams which lend their life-giving vitality to cleanse, refresh, revitalize and keep alive the whole, vast, stupendous seas as well as life the land.
The River of Life can be likened to the trade winds and ocean stream in this way: every existing thing which God has created is enfolded or immersed in His great and wondrous presence and love - a presence and love which fills all time and space. The languages of earth do not contain words descriptive and meaningful enough to adequately describe the immensity and all-embracing presence and love and power of our glorious God and Creator, but one prophet by the Spirit framed the truth of it in these words: "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me" (Ps. 139:7-11). If only men would open their hearts they would see that all things are indeed enfolded in the presence and love of God, as it is written, "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might FILL ALL THINGS" (Eph. 4:9-10). The whole creation is always enfolded and surrounded by the unspeakable power, the boundless presence and the limitless love of God. Mankind has generally taken this love for granted, ignored it, rejected it, denied it, or through their ignorance, remained unaware of it or its life-imparting reality. Nevertheless the love is always there, always awaiting man's acceptance of it. "For God so loved THE WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that THE WORLD through Him might be saved" (Jn. 3:16-17). We have read that beautiful passage ten thousand times. Most of us know it by heart, but today it holds new meaning and wonderful promise. I think I see today what Jesus saw and felt when He spoke those meaningful words about God's love for THE WORLD and His grand and glorious purpose for THE WORLD. He has opened up a river, a River of Life, and that River flows on and on unto all things in that lower realm of the earthy, until everything everywhere shall LIVE by its life-giving waters.
With this picture firmly impressed upon our minds, may the Spirit of wisdom and revelation from God enable us to behold God's glorious River of Life and understand its purpose and meaning and powers. Flowing through the vast glory of God's omnipresence and His all-embracing love is also a mighty current or stream. In nature there is both air and water in every part of the atmosphere, but a "river' is a CONCENTRATED and CHANNELED CURRENT or STREAM of air or water. While God's presence, and love and life enfolds and embraces all things, the River of Life is the river, the flowing of GOD'S CONCENTRATED and CHANNELED LIFE, intensified and magnified as it were a thousand times. This concentrated stream of God's intensified life is wonderful River of Life which holds the power of cleansing, restoration, renewal and transformation for all unto whom it flows. The powers contained within these waters of life are incomprehensible to the natural mind, for they are the powers of heaven's own divine life. These waters contain the divine, wondrous ability to wash away the very power and effects and result of sin and death!
Every sinner plunged beneath the flood of this River has experienced something of the marvelous transformation that takes place when old things begin to be swept away by its purifying waters and all things become new! In an instant of time, at the foot of the cross, where flow these precious life-giving waters, gone was the darkness, the guilt, the bondage and the death, and in their stead bustling life and a bubbling song filled the ransomed soul. The Scripture, speaking of the condition of an unregenerate man, describes him as being without God, without Christ, a stranger to God's covenants and promises, and having no hope (Eph. 2:11-12). He is said to be walking according to the course of this age, under the dominion of the prince of the power of the air, who works in all the children of disobedience. He fulfills the desires of his own flesh and is by nature a child of the wrath working in him. Above all he is dead in trespasses and sins, a captive of the devil. Thus, as the earth stood in the beginning, desert, arid, barren, parched and destitute, so now stands the unregenerate man. whom God formed of the dust of the earth, but who through transgression fell, becoming a stranger to God, bound in chains of lust and sin, captive to every evil spirit, unconverted, enregenerate and without hope in the world. But, as in the beginning, a river flowed out of Eden and waters proceeded forth at the commandment of God with life to quench the strength of drought and death, so that ten thousand forms of life might appear upon the earth, so also is it written of men, once dead in trespasses and sins, without hope and without God in the world, that, whosoever will, may come and take of the water of life freely, and whosoever drinketh of the water that Christ giveth shall never thirst again; for the water that proceeds from the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in a well of water springing up unto eternal life.
While some practice their soulish arts of "inner healing," leading the poor oppressed soul through the nightmare of reliving all the horrible traumatic experiences of his childhood and former life, in an effort to cleanse him from accumulated negative thought patterns of guilt, fear, hostility etc., I can testify to you that one simple plunge into God's glorious River of Life, the River of the mighty surging of His Spirit Life, one plunge, I say, will wash away more guilt, bondage, fear, hang-ups, frustrations, habits, oppression and possession than all the "inner healing" seminars for a thousand years. I will never forget how, years ago, because of an unfortunate experience with some people, a bitterness began to spring up in my heart toward these former friends and brethren in the Lord, and finally the bitterness turned to pure hatred. I could not stand the thought of them, much less the sight. One night, in a meeting, the Spirit of the Lord soverignly swept over the whole congregation with its renewing, sanctifying, cleansing power and suddenly, in an instant of time, my whole soul was deluged, immersed in a baptism of God's divine love, and I found that all the bitterness and hatred, all the animosity and hurt had been swept away by the tidal wave of God's grace and love and I now loved, with a deep and unspeakable love, those whom I formerly despised. I left the platform and embraced these dear people, rejoiced and wept, cleansed and renewed, and these have been among our closest and dearest friends in the Lord since that day long ago. One wonderful sweep of the River of Life accomplished more in one minute than a thousand sessions on inner healing could have ever produced. The so-called inner healing movement is nothing more than a Christianized form of psychiatry and psychology, and I earnestly exhort you in the Lord that all who would be Sons of God depart from such carnal substitutes for the reality of Christ as life. Let it be forever settled in our hearts that there is a River, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the most High. May the deepest prayer of our hearts be that God would cause us to come to HIS RIVER, to drink from HIS RIVER, that we might truly LIVE BY HIS RIVER.
Hearken now to the words of the prophet as by the Spirit he views this blessed river and its marvelous accomplishments: "Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other...these waters issue out...and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters (of the dead sea) shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall LIVE: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: and everything shall live whither the river cometh. And by the river...shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine" (Eze. 47:7-12).
Thank God that this River now flows! The life of Jesus Christ is flowing as a river from out of the throne of God. "if any man thirst," saith Christ, "let him come unto Me and drink." Because by His death eternal life was released to all, therefore this River flows and shall flow out unto all earth and the tree of life shall stand in the midst of the street of the New Jerusalem on both sides of the River of Life, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations in that blest dispensation of the fullness of times. And there shall be no more curse, no more death, no more pain, no more sorrow, and no ore crying, because the former things, which belonged to the realm of sin and death, are all passed away. Because He lives, we also live by Him, and the hour is wonderfully near at hand when even this corruptible shall put on incorruption and this mortal, immortality. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written - death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be unto God who always causeth us to triumph in Christ Jesus, our Lord! "For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death...and when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall...God...be all in all" (I Cor. 15:25-28).
There is coming a time of unspeakable glory, plainly revealed in God's Word as the tome when He shall MAKE ALL THINGS NEW (Rev. 21:5). This renewal of all things is as certain as the rising of the sun and the going down thereof. There is coming a blessed day when the River of Life shall overflow so abundantly unto the whole creation that the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. There is coming a day when there shall be no more sin and no more curse and no more death anywhere, for the former things have passed away, washed and quickened and renewed and transformed in the life-giving powers of the River of Life. The glorious New Jerusalem, the city foursquare, the government of God, shall fill the earth with the light of the Lord. The people will walk in the light of it and the nations shall bring their glory and honor into it. These are the things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have they entered the heart of man. These are the things God has revealed to them that love Him. These are the unspeakable things, unlawful for man to utter, the things that pertain to the Paradise of God which is the realm of the Spirit. These are the things that shall be brought to pass in the age to come and in the ages to come as the River of Life flows out through the ministry of the Sons of God.
It is an inescapable truth that the power and glory of this River can flow through none but those who have first drunk deeply of its waters and have been washed and made clean and whole in its flowing. Let us heartily expect that as we personally and experientially enter more deeply into the fountain, its cleansing, quickening, life-giving power, will be revealed more blessedly. We know that in bathing we enter into the most intimate relationship with the water, giving ourselves up to its cleansing effects. The living blood of Jesus is described as a "fountain opened for sin and uncleanness" (Zech. 13:1). By the power of the Holy Spirit it streams through the heavenly Temple, which Temple ye are. By faith I place myself in closest touch with this heavenly stream, I yield myself to it. I let it cover me, penetrate into my innermost being, and go through me. I bathe in the River. I cannot withhold its cleansing and strengthening power. I must in simple faith turn away from what is seen, even within soul and body, to plunge into that spiritual River, which is the life of the Son of God, with the assurance that it will manifest its blessed power in me.
This is the fuller revelation of what it means to be "born of the Spirit." As one holds forth his sins, weaknesses, fears, carnality, earthiness, and death to the redeeming power of Christ's holy life they are consumed, cleansed and swept away by the mighty quickening of His power and one is free. Then it is that he is prepared to walk in the life more abundant - even the incorruptible life, which Christ has promised. This wonderful promise is fulfilled unto one as he goes down into the waters of the great River of Life and is literally born of Waters as he comes up out of them. This birth contains the great healing and the full glorifying, restoring power of all perfection. All things are made new and perfect and are exalted by it. All conditions are transformed and readjusted and are completely transformed into the image of God which God has purposed for man since the creation of the world. As one plunges fully into these quickening Waters he is cleansed from all the power, effects, and results of sin and death, becoming an entirely new person, healed and restored to God's glory.
Sons of God! How we need this fuller measure of the birth of the Spirit, how we need this mighty River of the Spirit to wash, cleanse and fill our minds and hearts with the incorruptible water of Christ's life and truth. We need the Water of Life to penetrate to the lowest parts of our inner nature until all has been transmuted and become one in His Spirit; until out of the heights and depths of our being there shall come that undefiled living outflow of the Spirit of God, and our entire being has become a well-watered garden. All the emotions, impulses, desires, will, thoughts, attitudes, intents, actions, conversation and manner of behavior - all are to become expressions of HIS LIFE. This, the CHRIST LIFE, is what the apostle meant when He prayed that the Ephesian believers might be "filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:19). However much other men have experienced the fullness of the Spirit of God or however glorious was their baptism in the Holy Ghost, I feel they are all terribly lacking when compared to CHRIST. He is the reservoir, the fountainhead of the River of the Spirit, and all who make up the riverbed, the banks, the CHANNEL of this wonderful River must receive of all the fullness that proceeds from Him. Therefore, when I speak of the fullness of the Spirit, I am not speaking of an initial experience of the "baptism in the Holy Spirit" such as you may have received thirty or forty or five years ago, but I am speaking of an ever increasing fullness, working, and transforming that gradually saturates and overwhelms your life, your being, and your walk until all your thinking, your walking, your talking, and your doing is done by the Holy Spirit Himself. Your whole life becomes a life lived in a realm that is strange and etheral to all other men because almost all men live on a plane completely governed by the natural and the carnal mind.
THE CONTENT OF THE RIVER
With all emphasis I must declare that Sons of God only exist because of their vital relationship to Jesus Christ. By this I mean that Jesus Christ dwells in you as God Almighty dwelt in Him. If He does not dwell in you, you are not a Son. It is Christ in you that is the hope of glory. Not Christ in heaven! Not Christ in the Father! Not Christ in your brother! It is Christ in you! And it is Christ manifested and flowing through the Sons of God that is the hope of all creation, the River prepared for the vast desert of earth, so arid and barren, so parched and destitute.
It is absolutely certain that nothing can flow out through this River except that which has first flowed into it. It is equally certain that none shall ever know what it is to be part of God's blessed RIVER OF LIFE PEOPLE until first the wondrous reality of the Spirit's words have been fulfilled within them: "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you" (I Jn. 2:6,8).
When Paul wrote to the Ephesian Church, he spoke about "the truth as it is in Jesus" (Eph. 4:21). Initially, the truth was in God, because He is a God of truth. The truth was then recorded for us in the holy Scriptures: "Thy Word is truth" (Jn. 17:17). The truth became embodied in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said: "I am the way, the truth and the life" (Jn. 14:6). The truth comes to us even by the Holy Spirit: "When He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide into all truth" (Jn. 16:13). Finally, the truth must find its embodiment and expression, its manifestation and revelation, in and through the body of Jesus Christ: "Which thing is true," says John, not only in God, not only in the Scriptures, not only in Christ, not only in the Spirit, but also "in you." This is the whole principle of God's Kingdom Economy: If you say you love God, but you do not love your brother, there must be something wrong. The truth of love must find its expression not only in that God loved the world and that this love is revealed in the Scriptures and manifested in Jesus Christ, but this love of God must find its dwelling place, its home IN US. Whatever is true in Jesus Christ must be true in us!
If light is the expression of God in Jesus Christ, who said: "I am the light of the world" (Jn. 8:12); if "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my pathway" (Ps. 119:105), it must be true in us: "YE are the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid" (Mat. 5:14). If it is true in HIM, it must be true in US. He was full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14), so we read that with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, "and great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33). If grace is part of the expression of God in Jesus Christ , then it must be the expression of God in us also. If truth is in Jesus Christ, then the truth must find expression in us too. If love is the expression of God in Christ, then love must be the expression of God also in us.
Why tell people things that are true only in God, or in the Scriptures, or in Christ, or in the Spirit, but which do not work in us? No, if it is true in Him, it must be true in us, for He is the Head of the whole body of Sons. If it is operating in His life, it must come to be operating in our lives. He is come to not only be our Saviour, but our Lord and our Life. "Be ye holy, as He which has called you is holy," is the command. If holiness is true in Him, then holiness must be true in us. "Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Mat. 5:48). If perfection is true in God and in Jesus Christ, then perfection must be true in us. Jesus said in His prayer in the 17th chapter of John: "That the love where with Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (Jn. 17:26).
"God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship in Spirit and in Truth" (Jn. 4:24). Jesus Christ worshipped the Father , Jesus Christ loved the Father, Jesus Christ did the Father's will. Thank God that He did find a man in whom His will, His love, His power, His grace, His truth, His holiness and His life could find a dwelling place and expression. But would it not be sad if there were not a people today, the body of Christ, saved by His blood, cleansed by the washing water of the Word, indwelt by the Spirit, in whom the same thing is true that is true in Him? If He loves and we do not love, if He is in the light and we are in darkness, if He is expressing the grace of God and we are expressing malice, envy and strife, then He has not yet become our life and we have not yet become His River.
"Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth" (I Jn. 2:8). The commandment of loving one another as He has loved us. Why a new commandment? Really it is not new, but it is new in Jesus Christ. The old commandment is: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," but Jesus Christ says: "Love one another as I have loved you!" In the old covenant you love your friend and neighbor and you hate your enemy, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," but under the new covenant Jesus says: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Mat. 5:44). The truth of love in Jesus Christ was that He loved without retaliation for evil, a love that suffered long, even to the agonies of the cross, and then was kind enough to pray: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Lk. 23:34). And I declare to you that regardless of what other sins those wicked men may come into judgment for, they will never stand in the judgment condemned for killing the Son of God, for HE FORGIVE THEM! This truth of love of God in Jesus Christ must also be true in us. Jesus did not love people because He love Himself, as it was under the law. It was the Father's all-surpassing love flowing through Him, flowing as a mighty River out to humanity, so that He could say: "Let your love for others not be based on love for yourself, but on what was true in Me: If the Father could love Judas through Me, and love Peter through Me, and the people that crucified Me, then let the Father's love so find expression through you."
In years past we have sung a chorus that goes like this: "His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundaries known unto men, for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again." That is a lovely chorus and I love to sing it and I say it is true. In Jesus Christ, there is NO LIMIT to His love, NO MEASURE to His grace, and NO BOUNDARIES to His power for He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and His mercy endureth FOREVER. If I say that there is one sin, one condition, one creature, one place, one age or group of ages to which His love and grace shall not reach then I LIE and know not the truth. Jesus loved His friends, His enemies, the man who betrayed Him, the man who denied Him, the men who nailed Him to the cross. There just was no limit to His love! You could never find a place where you could say: "So far would He love, but no farther." Is that love true in us? Or do we say: "Well, I will only stand so much, I will only forgive so long, I will only trust so far, and that is the end of it." It is God's purpose that His love should find no limit in us, His grace no measure in us and His power no boundary in us.
God is preparing a people who, when they stand up and say: "God is love," are not talking about God's love in heaven, or God's love in Jesus, no, they will be expressing the love of God in their own person. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (Jn. 3:16). Everyone likes a verse like that. But how many would like a verse like this: "God still loves the world so much that He would like to give His Sons, right now." We do not like that. We like to be Sons if God will keep us, if He will bless us, if He will take us to His bosom and not let us go. But what does God do with His Sons? He gives them! Jesus said: "As the Father has sent Me, even so send I you." What did Jesus also say? "This is My flesh, My body, which I give for the life of the world." If we are His body, then will He not give us for the life of the world? "Oh," someone says, "I do not like the kind of religion where I do not get something." Well, my brother, my sister, that is how it starts, by receiving, but it must not end there. We must come to the place where God can give us, where we can lie down and become a channel, a river - the River of Life poured out to humanity!
Whatever is true in Jesus, may God make it true in us! And not for our sakes, but for other's sakes, that there shall be an out-flowing of God into their lives. If you have been trying to prove something to somebody out of the Bible, let it be proved out of your life instead. Let us say: "Lord, let the Holy Spirit make it true in me and through me." This is Sonship! This, beloved, is the River of Life through from Eden's lovely garden, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Christ in us, living through us, working through us, loving through us, redeeming through us - this is the stream of the flowing of God's CONCENTRATED and CHANNELED LIFE, intensified and magnified through God's Christ, Head and body; God Himself the wellspring of living water; Jesus, the first-born Son, the reservoir and fountain of this life-giving stream; and the rest of God's Sons constituting the mighty, abounding and endless River, the eternal channel for the out flowing of God's light and life and love to the whole creation.
How thankful we are for all of the in-flowing of God into our lives, and with what anticipation do we await the blessed day of which the prophet wrote: "And there shall be upon every high mountain (strong kingdoms), and upon every high hill (lesser kingdoms), RIVERS AND STREAMS OF WATERS in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers (principalities and powers of darkness) fall. Moreover the light of the moon (old-order Church) shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun (Jesus and His body) shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days" (Isa. 30:25-26). That there may be rivers and streams of waters upon all the kingdoms of earth, the Lord is preparing a RIVER OF LIFE COMPANY, a people who have come to live in the glorious and eternal reality of the Spirit. No man can minister what he himself does not possess, neither can he impart to others that which he has not himself been partaker of.
Let us consider the source of this eternal Stream. "And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Rev. 22:1). On the highest peak of the universe there is a throne, one throne, and on this throne the blessed Lamb is sitting. Who is the Lamb? The Lamb is the crucified, buried, resurrected and exalted Lord Jesus Christ. The Lamb is the first-born Son of the living God who stands on Zion's holy hill, followed by 144.000 redeemed ones who have put on the MIND OF CHRIST and the NATURE OF GOD. A Lamb is a very humble thing, and a throne is full authority. As the Lamb slain, pouring out His life blood as a divine River of Life, the crucified Jesus has now been exalted to the throne to have the full authority of the universe. And it is "out of the throne of the Lamb" that the River of Life proceeds. Consider the situation of the symbolic New Jerusalem and with this picture fresh in your mind suppose that you are one who is coming into the city from the outside. When you enter the gate, you immediately come upon the one street of the city in which is flowing the River of Living Water. If you follow the River, it will lead you to the source of the water. It will bring you to the Lamb upon the throne. This means that the River will bring you into contact with the Lord, this living stream of Water will cause you to know something of Christ, to receive something of Christ, to experience something of Christ. How can you experience and know Christ? In the River! Here is the channel; here is the way; here is the means by which you can touch Christ, by which you can experience Christ. The reality and power of the living Christ, therefore, is within the very stream of divine Life. Where the River of His Spirit flows, there is the LIFE OF THE SON OF GOD.
May we meditate deeply upon what is included in this wonderful River. Since it flows out from the throne of the Lamb, then all that Christ has obtained and attained, all that He has and all that He is, must be included in it, for it is the flowing out of Himself. In the flow of this River is all the love, joy, peace, power, victory, righteousness, authority and life of SONSHIP. Everything of God is included in it! From the throne where Christ is sitting, there flows out a River of Water of Life, the contents of which can never be exhausted, the power of which is omnipotent and transforms men into the image of God.
By the flowing of this River there are some precious materials: gold, pearl, and onyx stone (Gen. 2:11-12). At the end of the Scriptures, we find the same materials again. In the last two chapters of Revelation we see a city made of gold, pearls, and precious stones and there we also see a River flowing. Out of the flowing of the River comes the gold of God's divine nature, the pearls of God's incorruptible life, and the precious stones of God's glory. These precious materials are for the building of God's temple of living stones. These are the materials that come out of the current of the flowing of the Holy Spirit. Where the stream of the divine is, there some material, some precious material, for the building up of the house of Sons will come into view. You and I never produce any material for this house of Sons! Beloved, if you would be holy, do not try to be holy. Christ is holy so let Him live you. If you long for righteousness, do not try to be righteous. Christ is righteous, therefore let Him live in you. If you long for purity, do not try to be pure. Seek to let HIM live in you for He is pure. Do you yearn for Sonship? Do not waste time seeking Sonship. Let Him live in you. He is God's Son. He that hath the Son hath wisdom, for in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom. He that hath the Son hath peace, for He is the peace of God. He that hath the Son hath the mind of Christ, and he that hath the Son hath purity, holiness, truth, longsuffering, love, gentleness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance, judgment and government! Oh! world of truth, IN HIM are all things! Christ is all in all, and Christ in you is the hope of glory, and Christ flowing from you is the hope of all creation.
You can never by any self-effort produce anything of Christ in your life. Only the flowing of the divine life can do this. Beloved brother, sister, we must continually be in this Stream! Is it flowing, surging, pulsating within your life at this very moment?
"Whithersoever the River shall flow
Everything shall live,
God's great mercy, His grace and His love
Shall then make all of us one.
The River of God shall flow from the mount
Out ore the valley and plain,
Till everything flows in this great Stream of God,
Great numbers that no man can name."
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
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J. Preston Eby
P.O. Box 371240
El Paso TX 79937-1240
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