Preston Eby -
THE MIDST OF THE GARDEN
“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He
put the man whom He had formed. And
out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to
the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also IN THE MIDST OF THE
GARDEN, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the
garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest
thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen.
It needs to be perfectly clear and forever settled in our minds
that God makes no mistakes, because He is omniscient.
He is never taken by surprise nor is He ever forced to alter His
plan, for He is immutable. He
never fails in His purposes, because He is omnipotent, glorious
in power, fearful in praises, doing wonders.
It is only foolish and ignorant men who picture God in heaven taken
by surprise at Adam’s sin, pacing up and down Hallelujah Boulevard
wringing His hands, hastily trying to concoct some new scheme by which to
rectify an unforeseen an unfortunate situation.
I find nothing but pity for those preachers who purport to be the
ministers of Christ yet possess no more spiritual understanding than to
teach that Adam’s sin took God by surprise, upset His apple cart,
destroyed His wonderful conceived plan, and aborted His magnificent
purpose. God didn’t plan it
that way, they say, but that’s how it turned out!
If this be so, then God is not omniscient, God is not
omnipotent, and God is not immutable.
Such foolish prattle is repugnant to the spiritual mind, for it
leaves us in the unenviable position of having to believe that satan is
wiser and more subtle than the Omniscient Himself.
It causes men to believe that lie that God was tricked by a
creature of inferior wisdom. H.G.
Wells portrayed it vividly for us when he said that the world is like a
great stage production produced and managed by God, and as the curtain
goes up, all is lovely to behold. It
is fantastically beautiful and the characters are a delight to both eye
and ear. All goes well until
the leading man steps on the hem of the dress of the leading lady, who
falls over a chair and knocks over a lamp, which pushes over a table into
the side wall, knocking this over into the back scenery, which brings the
whole thing down in chaos on the heads of the actors!
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, God, the producer, is running
frantically to and fro, pulling strings and shouting orders, desperately
trying to restore order to the chaos, but… ah!… alas!…unable to do
so! This is the God of the
modern church, a very little, very weak, very limited God.
As one unbeliever put it, “Either God is not good, or He is not
powerful; otherwise the world could not be in the mess that it is in.”
And since most people are unwilling to believe that God is not
good, they conclude that He therefore is not all-powerful; He’s doing
the best He can in the face of satan’s subtlety and man’s rebellion,
but the “best He can” is just not good enough!
Many people see this world as a world that is running loose, like a
chariot which has thrown off the driver, the horse running wild, the
reigns flapping in the wind, knowing not wither it goes, and about to
plummet off the edge of the road into the abyss.
But the scripture presents a God who has the reigns of this world
firmly in His hands… who is absolutely in control of all things
whatsoever shall come to pass… who is working out His perfect plan for
the world, and has been doing so from the very beginning.
The Lord God Almighty says, “My counsel shall stand, and I will
do all My pleasure… yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass;
I have purposed it, and I will also do it.”
But as always, the preachers and teachers are convinced that such
an One as He could be outsmarted and outwitted by such an one as satan.
This childish nonsense has been upheld as truth by the church
systems for centuries and even today is shouted from practically every
pulpit and proclaimed over radio and television to untold millions of
The usual idea preached in this dark and confused hour is that
redemption is God’s plan for repairing the damage caused when
satan slipped up on God’s blind side, when He wasn’t around and
didn’t know anything about it, and instigated the tragic fall of man,
causing God’s Kingdom to tumble down.
God, so the world has been taught, had completed His work
of creation – man was a finished creation – spiritual, immortal,
perfect in character, wisdom and power.
Then along came satan, and by cunning wrecked God’s beautiful
handiwork, thwarted God’s purpose, caused man to fall into sin,
darkness, and death, ruined God’s perfect creation!
Poor God! Then God is
supposed to have looked down upon this unforeseen and unfortunate smashup,
and to have thereupon thought out THE PLAN OF REDEMPTION as a means of repairing
the damage. But
His success seems limited. He
brought forth a plan by which He would actually be able to salvage only a
small part of mankind from the fearful dilemma into which he was fallen.
The devil was destined to make off with the vast majority of
God’s creation and they would all end up in eternal hell and damnation,
while an elect few would make it to some beautiful Isle of Somewhere and
find the golden streets. I do
not hestitate to tell you that this ridiculous story is a monstrous lie
and a gross and blasphemous misrepresentation of the character, purpose,
wisdom and power of God almighty.
God was not found napping when man sinned.
He was not taken by surprise by what the serpent achieved
in the Garden. He had
foreseen it all; yea, He had planned it all!
“Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the
world” (Acts 15:18). Yes
– the serpent was successful in Eden.
But his victory, foreseen and foreordained, was already being woven
into the pattern of the redemption of the Son of God.
In the final consummation, it would be made to serve the glorious
purposes of the Most High God, out of which would come a family of
redeemed men fashioned after the likeness of Christ – a New Race
springing from the second man, the last Adam, that should forever triumph
over “that old serpent the devil”, and fully vindicate and truly
glorify the God of Heaven.
It was the Mighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of ALL THINGS, who
in the beginning proclaimed, “Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness: and let them have dominion” (Gen. 1:26).
This wonderful purpose of God to make man in His own image had been
settled in the divine councils of God from eternity.
The blessed Lamb had, in the determination of these councils, been
slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8); the names
of all the redeemed of earth had been written in His book of life before
the foundation of the world (Rev. 17:8); and all blessed sons of God,
predestinated to be holy and without blame before Him in love, predestined
to be CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF THE SON OF GOD, were selected and chosen
in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-5).
This is a profound and mysterious truth, impossible to fully
comprehend apart from the Spirit of wisdom and revelation from God, but it
does show us that God is omniscient, that nothing took Him by surprise,
that the fall of man was not an accident, that GOD PLANNED IT FROM
ETERNITY before the worlds and ages were ever framed.
Paul speaks plainly of this predetermined purpose of God to bring
forth sons in His own image, saying, “Blessing be to the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in Christ with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm!
Even as He chose us – actually picked us out for Himself as His
own – in Christ before the foundation of the world; that we should be
holy and blameless in His sight… for He foreordained us
(destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own
children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His good pleasure which
He had PREVIOUSLY PURPOSED and set forth in Him, He planned for the
maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and
head them up and consummate them in Christ, both things in heaven and
things on earth… so that we who first hoped in Christ have been destined
and appointed to live for the praise of His Glory!” (Eph. 1:3-5,9-12,
It is very essential that those who walk with God in this hour
should keep this truth of God’s ETERNAL PURPOSE ever uppermost in their
thoughts. If we fail to
comprehend the certainty of God’s very first statement concerning
mankind, “Let us make man in our image: and let them have dominion,”
we will undoubtedly lose our way in the frightful nightmare of sin and
darkness that has followed on the heels of that inspired proclamation.
The entrance of sin in Eden’s fair garden neither destroyed nor
aborted this, wondrous plan to bring forth human-divine sons in the image
and likenesss of God Himself. Did
not God take to Himself all responsibility for the fall of men when
inspiration penned the words; “For the creation was subjected to frailty
– to futility, condemned to frustration – not because of some
intentional fault on its part, but BY THE WILL OF HIM Who so
subjected it. Yet with the
hope that creation itself will be set free from its bondange to decay and
corruption and gain an entrance into the glorious freedom of God’s
children” (Rom. 8:20-21).
God has some great and magnificent plans for those who become His
sons. “He that overcometh
shall INHERIT ALL THINGS; and I will be His God, and he shall be My Son”
(Rev. 21:7). “And if
children, then HEIRS, HEIRS OF GOD, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be
that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom.
8:17). “It has been
solemnly and earnestly said in a certain place, What is man that You are
mindful of him, or the son of man that You graciously and hopefully care
for and visit and look after him? For
some little time You have ranked him lower than and inferior to the
angels, for You have put EVERYTHING IN SUBJECTION under his feet.
Now, in putting everything in subjection to man, He LEFT NOTHING
OUTSIDE OF MAN’S CONTROL. But
at present we do not yet see all things subjected to man.
But we are able to see JESUS CROWNED WITH GLORY AND HONOR…”
(Heb. 2:6-9, Amplified Bible). “To
him that overcometh will I grant to sit WITH ME IN MY THRONE, even as I
also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev.
In these verses we catch but a flickering glimmer of the glories
the Spirit intended to convey when he by inspiration guided Paul’s hand
to pen these sublime words: “For I consider that the suffereings of this
present time are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to
be revealed to us and in us and for us, and conferred on us!” (Rom.
8:18, Amplified Bible). We
see God’s purpose – to bring many sons to glory, a family of Sons
brought to their highest conceivable destiny as co-sons and co-heirs of
the universe with His own Son. He
had this in mind before the creation, from before the foundation of the
world, and this meant one thing – that the sons must be mature, capable
sons, not a bunch of irresponsible little children, but knowing who they
are as sons, knowing how to function as sons, and thus knowing their
destiny and able to fulfill it. That
means training and development from innocent little children to sons, and
this to sons who can respresent their Father and share His business with
Him. And this is the history
of the human family! Herein
lies the grand purpose in the fall and redemption of the race!
God never meant that first Eden to be man’s destiny.
He knew that Eden would never give Him an Abraham, a David, or a
Paul. There are lessons that
in order to learn man must go into the wilderness of temptation, into the
crucible of crisis and battle. There
are graces which can only be obtained in the midst of sore suffering.
There is an obedience which can be learned only by the things that
we suffer. If man had always
stayed in Eden, he must have become a human jelly-fish, without muscles
and fibre, and there would have been no room for those deeds of heroism
and faith which have brought out faculties otherwise unknown.
Eden could only be a starting point, not a goal.
Through the process of sin and redemption, and by the mighty
working of the Spirit of God, men have received a power which the first
Adam, in his innocence, never could know.
If anyone thinks that redemption is nothing but restoration of
innocence, as was found in that first paradise, then he is sadly
mistaken. God let satan rob
man of this in order to give him His own righteousness instead.
And if man was not to exalt himself in the high estate to which he
was called, he had first thoroughly to learn the misery and wretchedness
of any course other than the wisdom and righteousness of God.
There is one facet of mature experience which is often missed, yet
it lies at the roots of capability on any level and none can be sure of
himself and his proficiency in any profession without it.
Learn this one truth and a great secret thou shalt surely know!
Glorious and perfect was Adam our father in Eden’s lovely garden,
yet one thing was missing from his glory and perfection without which no
man could ever fulfill the wonders and potentials inherent in being in the
image and likeness of God. Adam
for all his wisdom did not know good and evil.
For that very reason he fell prey to the shattering calamity of his
tempation. Because he did not
know evil, he did not know good either, for nothing in
this world is either big or small, beautiful or ugly, hot or cold, black
or white, up or down, alive or dead, good or evil, except as it stands in
contrast to that which is opposite to it.
He who lacks the knowledge of both good and evil will fall
an easy prey to the devil and this vital knowledge, alas! can ONLY BE
GAINED BY THE EXPERIENCE OF GOOD AND EVIL.
Innocence is beautiful, indeed, but innocence, knowing nothing of
experience, falls an easy prey to every harm and danger before it.
How we all love the simple innocence of little children, but how
swiftly do they in their innocence stick their finger in a light socket,
or dash out into the street in front of the speeding traffic!
Innocence is sweet but it is fraught with all kinds of dangers.
Because of this very thing the beloved Paul wrote in wisdom that
“strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by
reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil”
(Heb. 5:14). Thus in making
man in the image of God, the first great step must be to bring him to the
knowledge of both good and evil. For
this reason the Spirit of the Almighty has recorded these significant
words: “And the Lord God said, Behold, THE MAN HAS BECOME AS ONE OF US,
to know how to distinguish between good and evil, and blessing and
calamity” (Gen. 3:22).
The business world is always looking for people who are proficient.
Proficient means: Highly competent; skilled; an expert.
No one is born proficient in any field.
Proficiency is attained through training and discipline, through
experience that comes through trial and error.
Proficiency does not come by ignoring that there is a WRONG WAY of
doing a thing, still less in denying that there is a wrong way.
Proficiency comes by having known the wrong way, having tried it
out, having learned and proven once for all that that way doesn’t work
at all. Then the RIGHT WAY
can be established AS BEING RIGHT when the wrong way has been
proven to be wrong. An
electrician, to be proficient, must know that you don’t connect the
wires together that way, but this is the way it must be done.
If he does not discern the good and evil in wiring up a thing he
may be electrocuted. No
chemist can be confident in his laboratory until he knows that you don’t
mix this chemical with that chemical lest you create a poisonous gas or a
destructive explosion. You
must know the wrong way and have it proved wrong, before you are secure
and confident in the right. There
is no room for innocence here in proficiency!
And here we have God’s perfect wisdom in the birth of the human
race, and in the placing of them in a garden, in a condition, in a state
of being, in which BOTH LIFE AND DEATH, good and evil were set IN THE
MIDDLE. Through this
interplay of good and evil God would bring His vast company of sons to
maturity. They must discover
that to be in the image and likeness of God they must be conscious that
there are alternatives and make their choice – and ultimately their
right choice through having first made the wrong one, and having tasted
the consequences. And the
wonder of our all-glorious God is that He knew this was the way His
predestined family of sons must take, from wrong first and then to right;
and He knew the anguish and suffering that entailed for them.
He knew it, but He could not turn from it, so we find our first
parents in their garden, and placed in the midst two trees, the one to
give life and the other death.
Why did not the Father just put them there conveniently with only
one tree? It doesn’t seem
very kind of Him to put the two! Why
could we have not just eaten of the tree of life and lived forever in the
incorruptible life and nature of God?
Because we would have been holy without knowing WHY we should be
holy! God not only wants us
to know who we are but WHY WE ARE WHO WE ARE.
God could have left us in innocence protected from evil and sin,
but we could never have inherited ALL THINGS and reigned with Him upon His
throne in that condition. Who
would make an untrained, undisciplined man pilot of a 747 jetliner?
We would have been a crowd of helpless babies who knew nothing and
could do nothing! No, Adam
and Eve must first discover themselves, learn their potentialities for
both good and evil, life and death, misuse themselves – and then they
are ready to become reliable ones.
And at that tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle,
the deceptive voice of that “old serpent, the devil” came to them, and
what it did for them was to awaken them to discover what it is to be a
Self. Enormous awakening with
its vast potentialities. Through
those tempting suggestions to have what she would like, Eve discovered
that she was a SELF. Suppose
there were just God and you in the universe and you were good and, we
know, God is good; how could there be two things to choose?
There certainly could be, and both of them seem pretty good too.
You could choose yourself, and that usually seems good and might
not seem so very bad before there was a fall.
When God originally created man he was good; but mankind
could not develop in wisdom and stature unless they had the power of
choice. The choice was
simple: they could choose God or themselves first.
The instant they chose themselves that was selfishness and
self-will, because the highest good and life was promoted by the choice of
God and sin and death entered by the choice of Self.
Selfishness is the root of all sin; it is in every sin that there
is. You cannot name one that
does not have selfishness as a root, and yet it looks so innocent to
choose one’s Self! There
can be a selfish and hence a sinful ambition to attain even great
spirituality. Evil is always
mixed with some element of good, and that is why it is so deceitful.
The whole world system today is the product and manifestation of
SELF and SELFishness of man. As
fire depends on fuel and as man’s breath depends on air, so also does
the whole sytem of this world live on the self-centeredness and carnal
desires of men. I can
truthfully say that every industry on earth, all the technology, every war
that has been fought, and even the years of learning in schools and
universities have in mind the ultimate benefit of Self.
Frail man not only wants to gather things about himself for his own
comfort and security, but he wants to be the center of his own little
universe. The more things and
power he possesses, be it on the job, in politics, or in the church, the
greater his universe seems to be and the greater his desire to add to it.
He never discovers that he has enough, but because he finds that
what he does have does not bring him the satisfaction he thought it would,
he seeks to add more and more to it, hoping the extra he adds will bring
contentment and fulfillment. Why
do men who possess millions in earthly possessions go on adding more and
more millions and billions to them? Why
do men who have power seek more and more power?
Simply because there is NO LIFE IN SELF.
Life is only in God and things possessed apart from God cannot ever
satisfy. The wages of sin is
death, says the Word. It
could also be said that the wages of Self is death.
A consciousness of Self apart from God is a mistaken identity.
Man has made HIMSELF the center and there is death in the middle of
ECCENTRICITY OF SONSHIP
The following is adapted from an article by an unknown author from
“And they (Jesus and His disciples) went into an house.
And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so
much as eat bread. And when
His friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on Him: for they said,
He is beside Himself” (Mk. 3:19-21).
From the world’s standpoint the most pathetic life in the history
of the world is the life of the Lord Jesus.
Those wo study it find out, every day, a fresh sorrow.
Before He came it was already foretold that He would be “despised
and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa.
53:3), but no imagination had ever conceived the darkness of reality.
It began with one of the bitterest kinds of sorrow – the sorrow
of an enforced silence. For
thirty years He saw, but dared not act.
The horrible wrongs He came to correct were there.
The hollowest religion ever known – a mere piece of acting –
was being palmed off around Him as the religion of the living God.
He saw the poor trodden upon, the sick untended, the widow
unavenged, His father’s people backslidden and scattered, His truth
misrepresented, and the whole earth filled with hypocrisy and violence.
He saw this, grew amongst it, knew how to cure it.
Yet He was dumb, He opened not His mouth.
How He held in His breaking spirit, till the slow years dragged
themselves out, it is all but impossible to comprehend.
Then came the public life, the necessity to breathe its atmosphere:
the tempation, the contradiction of sinners, the insults of the Pharisees,
the attempts on His life, the dullness of His disciples, the Jew’s
rejection of Him, Gethsemane, Calvary.
Yet these were but the more marked shades in the darkness which
blackened the whole path of the Man of Sorrows.
But in the Scripture already quoted from Mk. 3:19-21, wherein we
read, “He is beside Himself”, we are confronted with an episode in His
life which is not included in any of these; an episode which had a
bitterness all its own, and such as has fallen to the lot of few to know.
It was not the way the world treated Him; it was not the Pharisees;
it was not something which came from this enemies; it was something His
friends did, yea, something His kinsmen, His very own family did.
When He left the carpenter’s shop and went out into His sonship
ministry, His friends and family were watching Him.
For some time back they had remarked about a certain strangeness in
His manner. He had always
been strange among His brothers, but now this was growing upon Him.
He has said much stranger things of late, made many strange plans,
gone away on curious errands to strange places, has gathered around Him a
motley group of men, performed many strange miracles, and now, when He
should be eating and resting, he gives no thought to Himself, but turns to
minister to the multitude pressing into the house.
What did it mean? Where
was it to end? Were the
family to be responsible for all this eccentricity?
This sad day it culminated. It
was quite clear to them now. He
was not responsible for what He was doing!
It was His mind, alas! that had become affected.
He was beside Himself. In
plain English, He was mad! The
Amplified Bible says, “And when those who belonged to Him, His kinsmen,
heard it, they went out to take Him by force, for they kept saying, He his
out of His mind – beside Himself, deranged!”
An awful thing to say when it is true, a more awful thing when it
is not; a more awful thing still when the accusation comes from those we
love, from those who know us best. It
was the voice of no enemy; it came from His own home.
It was His own mother, perhaps, and His brethren, who pointed the
terrible finger at Him – He was beside Himself – He was mad.
There should have been one spot surely upon God’s earth for the
Son of Man to lay His head – one roof, at least, in Nazareth, with
mother’s ministering hand and sister’s love for the weary Worker.
But His very home is closed to Him.
He has to endure the furtive glance of eyes which once loved Him,
the household watching Him and whispering one to another, the cruel
suspicion, the laying hands upon Him, and finally, the overwhelming
announcement of the verdict of His family, “He is beside Himself.”
What makes it seemly to dig out this harrowing memory today, and
emphasize a thought which we cannot but feel lies on the borderland of
blasphemy? Because the
significance of that scene is still so intense.
It has a peculiar lesson for us who profess ourselves to be
followers of Christ – Sons of God – a lesson in the counting of the
cost. Christ’s life, from
first to last, was a dramatized parable – too short and too significant
to allow even a scene which well might speak to the younger Sons to pass
by unexplored. When Jesus
announced to His disciples that when the blessed Spirit of truth should
come “He will show you things to come,” He did not mean simply that
the Spirit would reveal to men that California will fall into the ocean or
that the oil in the middle East will be seized by the radical Muslim
Fundamentalists. He was
patiently pointing out to His disciples that when the Spirit of truth
should come in blazing glory into their lives He would TAKE THE THINGS OF
CHRIST and show them unto them, for He continued, “He shall
glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you”
(Jn. 16:14). The “things to
come” would not be such earthly things as the rise and fall of empires,
wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, economic collapses and the like,
but rather the glories of the REALM OF SONSHIP in which Jesus Himself
walked, of which His deisciples understood so pitifully little.
As I have walked with the Lord for many years and the ever
increasing wonder of the glory of God’s Christ has unfolded to my
wondering spirit, I have come to realize that not only did our Lord speak
in parables, but His whole life from the time of His birth in
Bethlehem to His ascension into heaven was in itself a parable and a
mighty sign of wonders which were to come in the lives of those
apprehended to live and walk in that blessed realm of sonship to God.
His glorious life was a heavenly life and those who have been born
of His Spirit and washed in His blood are called upon to walk even as He
walked all the way into the fullness of God.
In the light of this truth I now declare that the wonderful life of
the first-born Son was in itself a parable, expressly prefiguring the life
and walk and eperience of all those Sons of God who should follow after
In this marvelous parable of parables, the life of the Son of God,
is found this remarkable story of how His own family seized upon him to
take Him away by force because, said they, “He is mad!”
And I declare to you that from the world’s standpoint, the
charge is true. It is
useless to denounce this as a libel, a bitter, blashphemous slander.
It is not so – it is true! There
was no alternative. Either He
was the Christ, the Son of the living God, or He was beside Himself.
A holy life is always a phenomenon.
A life which lives and moves after the principles of the Kingdom of
Heaven is always a wonder. The
world knoweth it not.
It is either supernatural or morbid.
For what is being beside oneself?
What is madness? It is
eccentricity – ec-centr-icity – having a different center
from other people. Webster
defines eccentricity as: Not having the same center, as two circles; not
having the axis exactly in the center; out of the ordinary; deviating from
the norm, as in conduct; unconventional.
Here is a man, for instance, who devotes his life to collecting
objects of antiquarian interest, old coins perhaps, or old editions of
books, or perhaps nothing more sensational than stray dogs or cats.
His center is odd, his life revolves in an orbit of his own, his
center is different from those around him, therefore his friends say, he
Ray Prinzing once commented on this word, “Some folk differ from
the norm of society, filling their life with numbers of cats, or dogs,
their house is full in every room, their yards are full of them, for they
are centering their lives in animals.
Some thus view them as being ‘eccentric’, for their center is
odd, different than those about them, their life revolves in an orbit of
Or here is an engine with many moving wheels, large and small,
cogged and plain, but each revolving upon a central axis, each turning in
a perfect circle. But at one
side there is one small wheel which does not turn in a circle.
Its motion is different from all the rest, and the changing curve
of its motion is unlike any ordinary line of the mathematician.
The engineer will tell you that this is called “the eccentric,”
because it has a peculiar center.
Now when Jesus Christ came among men, He found them nearly all
revolving in one circle. There
was but one center to human life – Self.
Mattered not whether it was the merchant peddling his wares, the
king in the palace, the thief by the road, or the priest in the temple.
Man’s chief end was to glorify himself and enjoy himself forever.
Then, as now, by the all but unanimous consensus of the people,
this present life and this present world were sanctioned as the legitimate
object of all man’s effort and energy.
By the whole gravitation of society, Jesus – as a man – must
have been drawn to the very verge of this vast vortex of self-indulgence,
personal ease and pleasure, which had sucked in the populations of the
world since that fateful day in Eden.
But He stepped back. He
refused absolutely to be attracted. He
put everything out of His life that had even a temptation in it to the
world’s center. He humbled
Himself – there is no place in the world’s vortex for humbleness.
He emptied Himself – gravitation cannot act on emptiness.
He became of no reputation – there is no place in the world for
namelessness. So the prince
of this world came, but found nothing in Him.
He found nothing because the true center of Christ’s life was not
to be seen. It was with God.
The unseen and the eternal moved Him.
He did not seek His own happiness or gain, but only THE WILL OF THE
FATHER. He went about doing
good. His object in going
about was not gain, but to do good.
Now all this was very eccentric to this world system.
It was living on new lines altogether.
He did God’s will. He
pleased not Himself. His
center was to one side of Self. He
was beside Himself. From the
standpoint of the world and the flesh it was simply madness.
Think of this idea of His, for instance, of starting out into life
with so visionary an idea as that of doing good with no price
attached – no offering plate, no books for sale, no monthly
news-letter telling about all the needs of the work, no gadgets offered to
those sending in an offering of $5.00 or more, no special blessings or
prophecies pronounced on those who “obeyed God” in contributing $20.00
to the Kingdom, no brochure on how to make out your will and leave your
estate to the Lord’s work. Jesus
did not operate in worldly methods and techniques.
Man was not His center, money was not His center, means and methods
and programs were not His center, GOD was His center.
His trust was not in God’s people, His trust was in GOD.
God was His source of life and supply.
Yes, Jesus was eccentric. He
had a different center from other people.
From the world. From
the world’s viewpoint He was beside Himself, mad.
Think of this absurd notion that He had come into the world to
usher in a Kingdom in which God’s will would be done on earth as it is
done in heaven and that God’s mind would direct all things and bring
every nation under the blessedness of heaven’s perfect order; the
simplicity of the expectation that the world would ever become good; this
irrational talk about meat to eat they knew not of, about living water;
these extraordinary beatitudes, predicating sources of happiness which had
never been heard of – Blessed are they that mourn, the
meek shall inherit the earth, blessed are they which are
persecuted for rightousness’ sake, if a man shall smite thee on
thy right cheek, turn to him the other also, love your enemies, bless them
that curse you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what
ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.
Madness! Then these
paradoxical utterances of which He was so fond, such as that the way to
find life was to lose it, and to lose life in this world was to keep it
unto life eternal. What could
these be but mere hallicination and dreaming!
It was inevitable that men should laugh and sneer at Him.
It was unusual.
He wanted nothing of the religion of the Pharisees.
He held nothing but contempt for the religion of that day, for the
blinding traditions of the learned and prestigious Rabbis, the distorted
and false doctrines of the Pharisees who walked about with the most
imposing and pretentious titles, clothed in elaborate and gorgeous
vestments, loving the chief seats in the Synagogue, and binding upon the
people heavy burdens, grievous to be borne, with all sorts of rules and
regulations. Because he was a
SON, Jesus’ center was in nothing of earth, nothing of the physical
world. Unlike other religious
teachers He gives us no detailed instructions about what we are to do or
not do; He does not tell us either to eat or drink, or to refrain from
eating or drinking certain things. He
does not tell us to carry out various ritual observances nor to keep
certain days and seasons. He
built no church buildings nor did He initiate any building programs, but
He did say, “The hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor
yet at Jerusalem worship the Father… the hour cometh and now is when the
true worshipers shall worship the Father IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH” (Jn.
4:21-23). He did not set up
any form of ecclesiasticism, of any hierarchy of officials or any
organizational structure, but He did say, “Be not ye called Rabbi: for
one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are BRETHREN.
And call no man your father upon earth: for one is your Father,
which is in heaven. Neither
be ye called masters (leaders): for one is your Master, even Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Mat.
23:8-10). The blessed realm
of Sonship is an UNSTRUCTURED REALM for it is not of earth, but of heaven;
not of physical things, but of the Spirit and the Truth.
Jesus never concerned Himself with external structures of
organization, hierarchy, buildings, programs, ceremonies, nor any other
carnal thing. He ministered
LIFE, REALITY, SPIRIT, AND TRUTH. Period.
He was unusual. He
would not follow the methods and techniques of the world.
He would not go with the multitude.
And men were expected to go with the multitude.
What the multitude thought, said, and did, were the right things to
have thought, said, and done. Anyone
who thought, said, or did differently, his folly be upon his head, he was
beside himself, he was mad! It
never ceases to amaze me how deep-seated and deep-rooted within the masses
of Christendom are all the things which Jesus denounced, and how scarce
are the REALITIES which He spoke and manifested in the world.
Because the average Christian today has been brought up with a
CENTER OTHER THAN CHRIST he is totally unable to think except in terms of
established orders, sects, denominations, creeds, assemblies, doctrines,
meetings, communions, baptisms, programs, campaigns, pastors, choirs,
rituals, ceremonies, offerings, drives, conferences, elections, board
meetings, committees, invasions, Sunday Schools, Bible Schools, church
buildings, fellowship halls, stained glass windows, robes, special
numbers, special speakers, and etc. etc. etc. etc… But after they have
spent a whole lifetime of this feverish “church activity,” how many
people are there who have ever taken time to wait on God long enough TO
HEAR HIM SPEAK AND DIVULGE HIS WILL TO THEIR SEEKING HEARTS?
I declare to you of a truth that any man or woman who will take the
time to seek God and God alone, hungering and thirsting after God’s mind
and God’s eternal will – that man will find himself drifting away from
all these aforementioned things and from there on THE MIND OF CHRIST will
be his program, his quest, his eternal joy.
I can tell you of a certainty that every man who lives like Christ
produces the same reaction upon the world as did the first-born Son.
This is an inevitable consequence.
What men thought of Him, they will think of you and me.
The servant is not above his Master.
If they persecuted Him, they will persecute you.
A son is simply different from other people.
Time has not changed the essential difference between the spirit of
the world of a people who live out the very same LIFE OF CHRIST that Jesus
lived. The LIFE OF
CHRIST is not the historical story of a man who walked the earth two
thousand years ago. The LIFE
OF CHRIST is the Spirit of Jesus lived out in those who are members of His
body. This is what makes the
sons of God eccentric. There
is no sanctioned place in the world as yet for a life with God as its
goal, and self-denial as its principle.
Let all who would be followers of the Lamb upon Zion’s holy hill
know that sonship is no milk-and-water experience.
It is a fire. It is a
sword. It is a burning,
consuming heat, which must radiate upon everything around.
The change to the Christ Life is so remarkable that when one really
undergoes it, he cannot find words in common use by which he can describe
its revolutionary character. He
has to recall the very striking phrases of the New Testament: “A new man,
a new creature, a new heart, a new birth.”
His very life has been dissolved and re-crystallized ‘round a new
Let a man depart from iniquity, let him depart from the myriad
traditions of religion and make CHRIST AND CHRIST ALONE the center of his
life and he will soon discover that the impression his friends receive
from him now is the impression of eccentricity.
The change is bound to strike them, for it is radical, central.
They will call in unworthy motives to account for the difference;
they will say it is a mere temporary fit, and will pass away.
They will say he has shown a weakness which they did not expect
from him, and try to talk him out of his novel views and curious life.
This, in its mildest form, is the modern equivalent of “He is
beside himself.” And it
cannot be helped. We have a
BY THE TREE OF LIFE
“These are in the world.”
“The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even
as I am not of the world.” “They
are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
“Even as He is, so are we in the world.” (Jn.
17:11,14,16; I Jn. 4:17).
If Jesus was not of the world, why was He in the world?
If there was no sympathy between Him and the world, why was it that
He lived in it, and did not remain in that high and holy and blessed world
to which He belonged? The
answer is, The Father had sent Him into the world.
In these two expressions, “In the world” and “Not of the
world,” we find the whole secret of His work as the God-man, the Son of
He was IN THE WORLD in human nature, because God would show that
this nature belonged to HIM, and not to the god of this world, that the
human nature was created to receive the divine and incorruptible life of
God and in this divine life to reach its highest glory.
He was IN THE WORLD in
fellowship with men, to enter into loving relationship with them, to be
seen and known of them, and thus to lead them back to the Father.
He was IN THE WORLD to struggle with the demonic and fleshly powers
which rule the world, to overcome them and open up the way for those who
should follow to overcome; to learn obedience, and so perfect and sanctify
He was NOT OF THE WORLD, but of heaven, to manifest and bring nigh
the life that is in God, from which man had become alienated through
wicked works, that men might see it and long for it.
He was NOT OF THE WORLD, founding a Kingdom entirely heavenly in
origin and nature, entirely independent of all that the world holds
desirable or necessary, with principles and laws and a spirit the very
opposite of those that rule in the world.
He was NOT OF THE WORLD, witnessing against its sin and departure
from the Spirit of God, its impotence to know and please God.
He was NOT OF THE WORLD in order to redeem all to Him, and to bring
them into that new and heavenly Kingdom which He revealed in His Sonship.
This glorious life of Christ on earth, “In the world” but
“Not of the world,” is the very essence and reality of the TREE OF
LIFE in the Paradise of God. “And
the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man
whom He had formed. And
out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to
the sight, and good for food; the TREE OF LIFE also in the midst of the
garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:8-9).
This Tree of Life was in all reality “In the world” but “Not
of the world.” It was
accessible to man but had absolutely nothing to do with the realm of
earthiness, for it was heaven’s own divine life made available to man.
In the Tree of Life, God invited man to find Him as the source and
center of life that in union with Him, God would live, and move, and have
his being. In the Tree
of Life, man would be full of light, abounding in heavenly wisdom and
knowledge, fearful in power and dominion, ethereal as a spirit and shining
in the image of God. The
fruit of this wonderful Tree would indeed make man radiant with the
resplendent glory of God as was Jesus, the second Adam, at the
transfiguration, whose face shone as the sun and His raiment was as the
light. In this Tree of Life
the effulgent perfumes of the heavenly realm would be fragrance and life
to man’s nostrils. He would
taste spiritual realities and touch spiritual things.
The wisdom and power of God Himself would be wide open to him and
he would walk in the presence and glory of celestial realms.
The gates of that realm would never be shut by day or by
night. Man would need to eat
of no other tree nor drink of any of the waters of earth.
Man would have “meat to eat” that no other creature in heaven
or earth knew of and “water to drink” that none other had ever tasted.
The heavens would be opened over his head and he would walk in the
glory of the presence of God the Almighty.
THIS was the glory of the Tree of Life in Eden! And
what was that glorious Tree? “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” (Jn.
1:1,4). This life-giving
Tree, THE LIVING WORD OF GOD, Christ, was from the beginning “In the
world” but yet “Not of the world.”
When Eden’s gates clanged shut behind our banished foreparents,
that blessed Tree of eternal life was never again seen by the wondering
eyes of mortal man until the day in which Jesus stood upon the earth and
declared: “I am the LIVING BREAD which came down from heaven: if any man
eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread which I will give
is My flesh, which I will give for the LIFE OF THE WORLD” (Jn. 6:51).
The reason Jesus came forth as the visible expression of the
Father, the Tree of Life re-planted, was so that there might be a
focusing, a manifestation which would become a MEETING PLACE for us to
come to know God, and become one with Him, as it was in the beginning.
It is IN CHRIST JESUS that GOD AND CREATION MEET, COME TOGETHER,
AND ARE MADE ONE. Christ WHO
IS OUR LIFE has come and has been planted in the garden of the Kingdom of
Heaven on earth, that all may come and eat and drink and have life.
There is a most wonderful statement made concerning Christ in the
Song of Solomon. The
Shulamite proclaims of Him: “As the apple tree among the trees of the
wood, so is my beloved among the Sons.
I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was
sweet to my taste” (S. of S. 2:3).
The word, “apple,” in this place, means orange, pomegranate,
citron, as well as apple, and is applied in the Hebrew to this entire
family of fruit trees. Though
one searched through all the forests of earth, he would not find one fruit
tree; and though one searches through the whole forest of unregenerated
humanity, there is not one tree there that can bear any fruit excepting
that which is poisonous and bitter. Before
the Shulamite found that one fruitful Tree, Christ, she searched
throughout the forest, seeking life, seeking food, seeking fruit; but upon
no tree did she find anything but leaves.
With intense desire she searched through the forest to find a tree
that had fruit on it! With
determination she looked here and there for a tree that could give and
sustain life. Weary and
exhausted, discouraged and hungry, she looked for peace, but she found it
not; she looked for fulfillment, but she found it not; she sought for a
true “husband” among the forest of men, but she found none.
Neither in man’s creeds or doctrines, nor in their sacraments,
programs, traditions, or forms, did she find that which her soul longed
for. Neither in her own works
nor in those of any other did she find contentment or spiritual
advancement. How she traveled
and looked for reality and could not find it!
At last, by the guidance and purpose of God she came to Him who is
the only “Apple Tree” in the whole forest of humanity; the tree
bearing the richest and most nutritious of all the fruits of earth.
She came and tasted and found that in HIM there is life more
abundant! She has partaken of
Christ, the one and only Tree of Life; she has found fruit, refreshing and
sweet, both nourishing as food and transforming in power.
She has found the tree with the most complete and energizing fruit,
and fruit all the time. It is
the fruit of eternal life and glory!
There is righteousness, peace, joy, knowledge, wisdom, and power!
Ah, precious friend of mine, have you come to the one Apple Tree
and partaken of His glorious and eternal reality?
Is your soul longing for the full nourishment of His holy life and
nature? Do you want the love
of God to be perfected within your life?
Do you desire above all else to put on His mind and to be conformed
to His glorious image – a mature son of God?
Then come and feed upon this Tree, Christ.
This is the Tree that was planted on earth when Jesus came at
Pentecost in the power of the Spirit.
God planted that Tree, the Tree is Christ, and only by the spirit
do we have access to it. And
we find that it is all that we need!
With unutterable loathing we turn from every bitter and poisonous
tree, from every tree bearing naught but leaves.
With haste we flee from every tree of man’s theories,
philosophies, creeds, and religious works, for they are empty and
Many precious brethren are perplexed that we no longer find any
desire to fellowship with them in their religious ceremonies and rituals,
in their so-called “holy days” and festive seasons, in their carnal
ordinances and pitiful programs, in their static creeds and petty
doctrines, in their fleshly board meetings and organizations.
They wonder why we don’t run from meeting to meeting, from
seminar to seminar, from campaign to campaign, to hear every preacher, and
teacher, and prophet, and healer, and miracle worker who passes through
town. I do not want to beat
about the bush in what I am saying, but I want to speak my earnest
convictions with clarity and assurance.
I find that even the Christian bookstores with their endless
shelves of books filled with spiritual Pablum, if not with spiritual
nonsense, have become a stench to my spirit.
I tell you of a truth that I find the vast majority of the
Christian radio and television stations, with their religious racketeers,
showmanship, Jesus rock and confusion of tongues to be nothing more nor
less than ambassadors of the kingdom of Babylon.
Those things satisfied once, but now I have tasted of the fruit of
a tree more delicious, satisfying, and life giving than all – CHRIST
Paul had revelations so great he could not even hint at what they
were about, so startling and glorious that he fell as dead before the
wonder of them, but he still cried out with deep desire, “THAT I MAY
KNOW HIM…” (Phil. 3:10). It
is that FULL, inward revelation of HIMSELF that we follow after.
This is an imperative MUST, and it is this very thing that is
causing us to turn from the chambers of Babylon, yea, and to lay down our
own lives also, that we might know HIS LIFE in fullest measure.
It is this which, as the parable states, “is like unto a merchant
man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great
price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Mat. 13:45-46).
Ah, yes, we gladly offer up all that we have, that we might receive
HIM, and all the fullness of redemption which is resident in Him, our Tree
It is not only to find the one Apple Tree, but it is to take up our
abode under its shadow. It is
not only to taste of its fruit, but it is to eat and be filled with all
the fruit that grows upon this divine Tree; it is to feed upon Him
continually until we are filled with all the fullness of Christ, until we
are strong in Him and in the power of His might.
Oh wonderful Tree that dwelt in the bosom of the Father from
eternity! Oh marvelous Tree
planted of old in Eden’s lovely garden!
Oh precious Tree planted among men as the Son of the Father,
planted by the power of the eternal Spirit, of whose fruit millions have
partaken, and whose fruit is ours as we partake of it through faith!
Oh eternal fruit, gathered for the eternal Kingdom, as He brings
many sons to glory and brings them home to His Father’s house!
How sweet is this fruit to our taste, how satisfying is every
morsel of which we partake! And
we can feed to the full for the fruit is ever growing, ever being revealed
to us, always perfect, and never passes away.
How we rejoice that we have proven there is fruit upon Him; and by
feeding upon Him and Him alone, we too bear fruit to His glory.
He is our Storehouse, He is the only fruitful Tree, and we can get
nothing outside of Him, but we can get everything in Him.
The more we feed upon Him, the more we abide in Him.
The more He feeds and nourishes us, the more He becomes manifested
in our lives to the glory of God.
There is none other like Him among all the sons of men, neither
among the archangels in heaven. And
we are made ONE IN HIM, blessed be His name!
Writings in This Series: