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The Tree Of Life Regained

The Tree Of Life Regained

by Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
October, 2002


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Last updated:
November 1, 2002.

God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to dress and to keep it, but he was not to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said, "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2: 17). We know the sad story of Satan contradicting what God had said and Adam's wife, Eve, being deceived by the Devil's lie. He told her, "Thou shalt not surely die." Eve believed Satan rather than God and sinned. Both Adam and Eve ate of the fruit and were banished from the Garden of Eden and its Tree of Life.

THE FIRST DEATH

Man died some kind of death the day he ate of the forbidden fruit or Satan was right and God had lied. But, of course, "it is impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18). When we understand that "death" means separation, we can see that being cut off from the presence of God is the "death" of which He had spoken. Although Adam lived nine-hundred thirty years on earth after his banishment from Eden (Genesis 5:5), he died a spiritual death the very day he ate of the forbidden fruit for he was separated from God.

In Romans 5:13,14 the Scriptures say, "For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." To understand the argument made here we need to realize that God gave a law of life and death to Adam and did not give another like it until He gave the Law of Moses.

PARADISE LOST

From the point of the first man's sin, mankind stood in need of a savior, and yet God, in His wisdom, postponed this for hundreds and hundreds of years, "But when the fullness of the time was come God sent forth his Son" (Galatians 4:4). The consequence of Adam's sin was physical death because all men and women from then on were born outside the gates of Eden. But the provision made by Christ was to give life eternal and sweet communion with God which man lost in that place.

Did this mean that all men inherit Adam's sin? Not at all. It just meant that we are born into the world with frail bodies which would eventually die having no access to the Tree of Life. Through years and events on earth man has proved the Truth that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God " ( 1 Corinthlans 15:22).

The promise of God to mankind is that the Tree of Life may be regained by those who overcome sin and gain everlasting life. Revelation 2:7 says, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Again, Revelation 22:14, 15 "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."

It is foolish to sit around brooding over the fact that God created us with the capability to sin. His plan was to create beings able to be taught right from wrong, able to choose to serve Him or Satan. Evidently it was not God's will to create mindless robots which could do nothing but bow and submit to His will. He, instead, created "free moral agents" with the capacity to do wrong but also who could choose to do right, and in so choosing and serving God as He directs, THE LORD IS GLORIFIED!

Today, God's appointed way is to be a Christian, to serve him in the church of Christ-to believe that "Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God," become a member of His church (Matthew 16:16-18) and to worship and serve Him. This is the way men glorify God today. The Scripture says, "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen" (Ephesians 3:21). Christ's cleansing blood was shed for salvation of all who sought to serve God in time past as well as those of us living today (See Hebrews 9:15).

ADAM'S SIN CAUSED DEATH

Adam, as the head of the human family by his transgression, involved all men in natural death without any hope of resurrection. Christ, as the Son of God, redeemed all men from the conseguence of this natural death by His resurrection. Speaking of physical death, the Scripture says, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Adam's sin brought natural death upon all mankind but nothing more. We suffer spiritual death due to our own sins, not Adam's.

Human beings commit sins of their own choice. James 1:14 and 15 says, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." The choice to sin brings spiritual death.

SIN IS DECEPTIVE

A little child knows nothing about sin, or the will of God. But when the child grows older and finally reallzes that some thoughts and deeds are sinful and what the consequences of sin are, he dies spiritually. This is illustrated in Paul's description of his once ignorant state. He said, "For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me" (Romans 7:9-11).

Paul goes on to say that when he finally realized his sinful state he found himself powerless to overcome his own sin. And so it is with all men. His only solution was (and ours is)-"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.... There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 7:24; 8:1).

TODAY'S HONEST SOULS

When honest souls hear and believe the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ, they are brought to repentance-they feel sorrow in their hearts for their sins. Had they not heard God's truth they would never realize the seriousness of their sin (Romans 2:5; 7:7-9). When they see how awful their sins are in the sight of God, they want to turn away from wrong and do whatever the Lord expects of them to gain His forgiveness. When this Good News is preached to sincere souls who seek the truth it is believed and willingly obeyed.

When honest souls are brought to repentance by the preaching of the Gospel they willingly confess Jesus before men (Matthew lO:32), even as the Ethiopian in Acts 8 who said, "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." The record says, "And he commanded tne chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him" (Acts 8:36-38).

In the beginning of the Christian age, on Pentecost Day in A.D. 33, those who heard the preaching of the apostles were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (verse 38). Verse 42 tells us that "they that gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day, there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Their baptism was immediate; there was no hesitation. This, of course was the beginning of the church. That day there were added to the apostles about three thousand souls, but the church continued to grow for "the Lord added daily to their number those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47 RSV).

NO ARGUMENT

It is beyond reason to think that an honest soul would argue, "It doesn't matter what I confess." - "I don't think baptism saves anyone." - "I believe in God and Christ and I know I'm saved, no matter how many Scriptures you show me." Remember Jesus said "The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he bath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven 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" (Matthew 13:44-46). These men Jesus spoke of didn't set their own terms or name their own price on the prize they had found; they simply sold all they had and bought it.

Likewise, honest souls genuinely seeking forgiveness from God do not try to bargain with the Lord on "why they need salvation," "how much it will cost them," or "if they can set their own terms." No, all the honest soul needs to know is "how can I gain salvation and everlasting life," and when they hear it they rejoice, receive it and obey. There is no way to make "a seeker" out of a "stubborn disputer." If a person persistently refuses the Truth he will never be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12), but Jesus promised, " Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matthew 7:7).

THE DEAD COME TO LIFE

But how are the spiritually dead able to come to the Lord? Jesus addresses this by saying, "Verily , verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25) . The Christians in Ephesus were told, "And you hath he quickened [MADE ALIVE], who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:1,2).

This is precisely how the Gospel of Christ works today. Romans 10:17 tells us, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." The Gospel message is the "seed" of the Kingdom of Heaven. In Luke 8, Jesus pictures the message as seed being broadcast across different kinds of ground. For various reasons most of the seed was lost, nevertheless, that which fell on the good ground brought forth fruit. This final result pictures sincere souls whose hearts are receptive to the Gospel of Christ, they are saved and do God's will.

IN CHRIST

How does one get into Christ? One who believes and repents of his sins, confesses Christ before men and is baptized, is thus baptized into Christ. The Scriptures say, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized in to his death?" (Romans 6:3). We receive the benefit of Jesus' blood which was shed in His death when we are baptized. It is at the point of baptism that we are added to the body of Christ-"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). All those who are in the body of Christ and walk after the Spirit are saved.

All who obey the Gospel according to the will of God are in the church of Christ. They and they alone receive God's spiritual blessings. The Scripture says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13).

The Lord's church includes all the saved and therefore God has no need of many churches. Are you in the church of Christ? Have you overcome the sting of death which is sin? If you should die today, will you be lost? These are serious questions you must answer.


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