TWO TREES IN EDEN
When God created man, in His image and likeness, He gave him dominion over the whole earth. God also planted beautiful trees in the garden of Eden which produced pleasant fruits. Two trees were specifically mentioned – the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life:
And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)
However, man’s status was to be determined by his choice in the simple test God gave Adam:
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TWO TREES
An appreciation of the importance of these two trees is necessary in understanding what God expected from the man He had created and the role that man was to play on the earth. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents man’s will apart from God’s, i.e., proclamation of independence from God so that man can do whatever he desires to do. The tree of life, on the other hand represents God’s will, i.e., man’s acceptance to obey God without question. Whereas the former is rebellion, the later is obedience. Whereas the former leads to death, the latter leads to eternal life. Since man was created in the image of God; the only way he could remain in that state was through doing the will of God, i.e., abiding in God’s Word through obedience to His command in the garden of Eden.
Man’s role on earth, therefore, was to obey God implicitly through doing God’s will only. God’s expectation was that man, in recognizing God’s love in creating him, in His image and likeness, would gladly surrender his will freely to God so that he (the man) can do the will of God. His continued obedience to God’s command not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil would invariably have culminated in his eating the fruit of the tree of life, also in the garden; and man would have lived forever.
In the context of the above, it is easy to understand why Satan (man’s arch-enemy) always directs all his efforts at seducing man into “walking a walk” that is independent of God. Where he is successful, he hijacks that person’s will to do his (Satan’s) bidding. That is the tragedy of all who have elected to do things their own way instead of the willful surrender of their will to their Maker. That is why the Word of God admonishes children of God to preach the gospel in season and out of season so that those in opposition may repent:
and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:26)
Eve was deceived by Satan and she ate the forbidden fruit, in disobedience to the command of the Lord God; having believed Satan’s lie that in the day she eats of it her eyes would be opened and she would be like God. She exercised her free will and ate of the fruit because she wanted to be free to do things her own way; without depending on God. Adam was not deceived like the woman:
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14)
The Word of God does not tell us Adam’s reason(s) for eating the forbidden fruit – and we should not speculate. The point to note is that he exercised his freewill and ate the fruit contrary to the will of God. Yet, before their disobedience, they could have eaten the fruit from the tree of life. All they needed to have done was obey the command of their Creator to eat every other fruit in the garden minus one. They had a choice – God’s will or their will. But they listened to their selfish thoughts under the seduction of the devil; and chose to do their will instead of God’s will.
PROCLAMATION OF THE FIRST ADVENT
God called out the first nation (the Israelites), blessed them abundantly, delivered them from bondage and led them to the land flowing with milk and honey. He gave them the law and the prophets to guide them so that they could realize the purpose of their calling – demonstrating God’s love to the rest of the world through their changed lives. Even though man’s spirit was dead in trespasses and sins (and only Christ’s death on the cross would set him free); the Jews who yielded were spiritually reborn since Christ’s future sacrifice was already put to their account. Unfortunately, God’s first nation failed to discern that the law is not the end in itself but was given to enable them realize their need for the Saviour. They were, therefore, to have proclaimed the Lord’s first advent to the rest of mankind through practicing God’s ordained way of life.
THE LOVE OF GOD
As all men were in the genes of Adam at the time of the fall, and therefore were party to his disobedience, the Word of God records that:
…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Whereas Adam was created in the image of God, all who came after the fall were in the image of Adam (which image was that of a slave held captive by Satan and was, therefore, subject to sin, sickness and death).
The two Scriptures below summarize the difference between Adam in his unfallen state and his descendants after the fall:
…In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. (Genesis 5:1) And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. (Genesis 5:3)
When the time appointed by God for the redemption of man came, the Word of God has this to say:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father”! Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Galatians 4:4-7)
The Lord Jesus Christ came from the Father with the commission to redeem mankind. He, as a man, had to depend completely on the Father, while on earth, to fulfill His ministry of reconciliation of man to God. He went obediently to the cross to be the sacrifice for the sins of mankind and through His death save man from eternal death. He, as the Second Adam, chose to do the Father’s will by freely surrendering His own will to Him; in contrast to the first Adam who chose to do his own will instead of God’s:
Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God”. He takes away the first that he may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:8-10)
THE BELIEVER AND THE WILL OF GOD
The Lord Jesus Christ chose to do the will of the Father. Therefore, as many as will accept that He has paid the penalty for the sins of man through the shedding of His precious Blood on the cross become children of God according to the Word of God:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13).
The crux of the Christian message, therefore, is that whosoever repents of his sins, and believes that Jesus Christ is Lord and accepts that He died in his place is a child of God. This is the Word of God. The choice before us today is the same that Adam faced. Our selfish will represents the tree of knowledge of good and evil while the will of God represents the tree of life. Therefore, when we elect to do our selfish will, we are partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but when we do the will of God we are partaking of the tree of life. Christians are commanded to do the will of God at all times because, having surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, they have accepted God’s Word that it is He:
who has saved us and called us with a holy call- ing, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, (2 Timothy 1:9).
The reader should please note that His own purpose is the will of God for each child of God while our works depict the selfish will of a child of God (independent of God’s leading). Failure to surrender this will to the Lord is tantamount to a declaration of independence which is another name for backsliding from the faith. Our good works done without the leading of the Holy Spirit is rebellion. Pursuing His own purpose is the call of God to the first Nation (Israel) and the second Nation (the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ). Man can only bear fruits of righteousness when he is pursuing the purpose of God.
THE ALL SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST’S SACRIFICE
Satan is still using the same tactics he employed in Eden. He is still asking man if God has indeed said Christ’s sacrifice is indeed sufficient for salvation. And as many as enter into a conversation with him, he tells them that good works are indeed necessary to make salvation efficacious; just as he told Eve “You will not surely die” when he was seducing her to eat the forbidden fruit. As one gives further heed, he suggests that good works can atone for sins.
Whoever believes that lie has fallen from the faith because he has accepted that Christ’s sacrifice is not sufficient for salvation. Satan knows that there is salvation in no other name except in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows that a mixture of works and Jesus is unacceptable to God. He knows also that once you fail to heed the Word of God completely, you are charting your own course, i.e., you are declaring your independence from God. The Word of God states:
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
The name of Jesus is the only name given for salvation. There is no other name or sacrifice or practice that can save anyone. The Christian message emphasizes total dependence of the individual and the Church on the Lord Jesus Christ. Only when this is done does the Holy Spirit magnify Christ in that individual or church.
All the counterfeit and compromised churches add some practices that encourage their members to think that their works and rituals will make God to change His mind because they have merited the right to be heard by Him through their having performed the agreed prayers or penance. They preach Christ’s atonement in addition to good works and daily attendance at mass, burning of incense, donations of money, lengthy prayers through dead saints, purgatory and confession of sins to the clergy as being necessary for eternal life – all these in negation of the Word of God which explicitly told us in Ephesians 2:8-9 :
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Knowing these things then, the Minister can only be effective if he: The Christian will inherit eternal life only and only on the basis of Christ’s finished works on the cross nearly two thousand years ago. God answers the Christian’s prayers only and only because His Son has, by His sacrifice on the cross, granted him access to the Father. Satan has deceived many into believing and practicing otherwise.
He is always attempting to introduce works as complement to the cross. But the only requirement that Christ asks of a Christian is to die to self and to follow Him. Any church or group that teaches anything to the contrary is false.
PROCLAMATION OF CHRIST AND THE SECOND ADVENT
The second nation (like Israel – the first nation) is to preach God’s love and the soon coming of their Lord and Master through their changed lives. The Christian message is very well summarized in the following from the Word of God:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18)
Christ’s crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension into heaven, second coming, reward for believers and condemnation for the unbelievers are embedded in these verses. We are preaching the gospel when our aim is to show the Lord Jesus Christ to the world and the heart of the message is on any or all of the above. We depart from the truth and the gospel when the focus of the Christian message is on such peripherals like deliverance, healings, miracles and any other advertised sign or wonder.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CHRISTIAN
The Christian is one who belongs to the family of God. Another name for him is Saint. He was formerly a sinner but who came to be saved because he has believed and confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came into the world as a man, died on the cross for the sins of mankind, rose again on the third day and is at the right hand of the Father in heaven. The Word of God has this to say on the subject:
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
Therefore, those who believe and confess that Jesus is both Lord and Saviour are called the children of God according to the Word of God:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
SALVATION BY GOD’S GRACE ONLY
A Christian acknowledges he has been saved, not by his own works or righteousness; but by the grace of God only:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
He no longer feels condemned and his walk (which includes daily Christian living, Bible studies and prayers) is now directed by the Holy Spirit. He no longer walks the way “others” walk since he understands that his liberty in Christ lies in his continued obedience to the Holy Spirit. The Word of God has this to say on the matter:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
MEANING OF BEING BORN AGAIN
The Christian understands what it means to be “saved” or “to be born again.” He has rightfully appropriated this truth which the Saviour stated in John 3:5 in reply to the question asked by Nicodemus “How can a man be born when he is old?”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.…
We shall use the same words the Lord Jesus Christ used to explain the meaning of being born of water and the Spirit.
While speaking on the subject of the believer’s relationship with the Father and Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ said the following to His disciples:
You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. (John 15:3)
From this Scripture, it is clear that one is cleansed by the Word of God and not by mere water. Therefore, the water referred to in John 3:5 is the Word of God and not the water of baptism as some erroneously believe and teach.The Lord Jesus Christ’s encounter with the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well further illuminates this truth:
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)
Our Lord’s reply to the woman of Samaria who had asked Him where He was going to get the living water is instructive:
“but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)
The woman of Samaria showed, through her question, her lack of understanding of the meaning of living water – just like the “religionists” of our day who use carnal knowledge to interpret Scriptures.
It is clear that the living water is not ordinary water or anything carnal. As the water in John 3:5 is the Word of God; so is living water the Word of God made active by our faith in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and our confession of the same. Therefore, the water of John 3:5 is the living water of John 4:10. The confirmation of this comes from Romans 10:9 which states:
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9
It is at the moment of this confession by the Sinner of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and belief in His death for his offenses and His resurrection for his justification that the Holy Spirit transforms the Sinner into a Saint.
The Holy Spirit makes alive again the spirit of the Sinner (which was dead in sins and trespasses) into what it was before the fall of Adam. The Holy Spirit also restores the fellowship, which Adam lost in Eden, between the new man (saint) and God. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit indwells the new man.
In First Peter, we are told we are born again through the Word of God which lives and abides forever:
having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, (1 Peter 1:23).
Put in another way, we are born again through faith (belief) in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Word of God who lives and abides forever. The confession of this belief brings the transformation and the indwelling by the Holy Spirit.
With the new birth, the Christian follows after His Lord and Saviour in both manner and conversation. He begins to profess and practice what he preaches since he has made a genuine U-turn from a life of sin to a new life in Christ Jesus. He is not afraid of speaking the truth. He knows, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, that it can no longer be business as usual. His ways become different.
All – God, Satan, friends and neighbours – will attest that something has happened to this new man. The Holy Spirit will bear witness with the new man’s spirit that he is a child of God. Satan will bear witness through the ferocity of attacks on his business, plans and health – anyone can be used as an agent by Satan and his demons to launch these attacks. Friends, family and neighbours will also bear witness of the positive changes they see in the new man. It is impossible to be born again and remain the same.
The Christian experiences the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, not only in the Church, but also in his closet. He can confidently proclaim: “I know Him because I have met Him.” Until one’s life is transformed by a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, one should not claim to be born again. One can shout one is born again, but the words will always ring hollow when there is no genuine transformation.
In summary, a Christian is one who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour by his words and his actions and continues in the calling that God has called him, and remains faithfully in that calling, no matter what the situation is, no matter who will want to destroy what God has planned for his life. He will resist unto death before he can compromise his faith (where faith means having absolute confidence in the God of our salvation) because he knows Whom he has known.
A Christian is not somebody who hides under the cover of “I go to church” but at night he goes to the sorcerer or to a secret society. He is not a cheat or a thief. He is not one who proclaims loudly at every opportunity “I am born again” and yet continues living a life of sin and compromise.
A Christian is not someone who attends the so-called Pentecostal or Evangelical churches but lives a life that is contrary to the Word of God. Church attendance is not a measure of closeness to God. Obedience to the revealed Word of God remains God’s accepted standard.
MOMENT OF DECISION:
Dear reader, thank you for having read up to this point. The Lord may have convicted you on the need for you to repent of your sins and to surrender your life to the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have decided to heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit, then kindly do the following:
- acknowledge you are a sinner;
- confess your sins to God now;
- purpose in your heart to forsake the life of sin;
- believe in your heart that the Lord Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and was raised up by the glory of the Father for your justification; and
- confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and ask Him to become your Lord and personal Saviour.
Please repeat this prayer if you have followed the steps :
My Lord and my God, thank you for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for me on the cross. I acknowledge I am a sinner. I purpose from today to forsake the life of sin. I repudiate every contract I have entered into with Satan and his cohorts through my life of sin and through my ancestors. From today I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Saviour. Help me to walk in your perfect will for me. Deliver me from all evil, especially from false brethren and false doctrines. Thank you Father, in Jesus Christ’s holy name I pray, Amen.
Culled the above two chapters from “The Threat of Darkness” by Ikechi Ihejirika with permission.