ECHOES from EDEN, PART 38
END-TIME PROPHECY – TRUTH REVEALED
BY: J. PRESTON EBY
KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
RETURN to PARADISE
Looking unto Jesus
Return to Paradise
Law of Circularity
“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.” (Gen. 2:8-9)
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the TREE OF LIFE WHICH IS IN THE MIDST OF THE PARADISE OF GOD.” (Rev. 2:7)
As we approach the conclusion of this series of articles in which the blessed Spirit of God has graciously opened a little way the veil, revealing before our wondering eyes some of the glorious mysteries of the Garden of Eden, my deep desire is that men may see the whole plan of God as celestial harmony, hymning its beautiful song from the heaven-kissed hills of Eden to the brilliant glory of the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. The book of Genesis is a most remarkable book, and I think all who comprehend even a minute portion of its mystical truths will agree when I say that all the other books of the Bible are messages from God progressively enlarging on the revelations from this wonderful book. The whole Bible shows the progression of the plan of God from Alpha to Omega, from beginning to end, from Eden to Eden, from Paradise lost to Paradise regained, from man in the image of God in the beginning to “God all-in-all” in the end.
LOOKING UNTO JESUS
In the state of New Mexico more than a hundred years ago a cowboy became curious concerning a certain gaping hole in the earth, out of which millions of bats emerged every evening at dusk. He secured equipment and supplies but tried in vain to persuade certain friends to accompany him and help on a proposed exploration venture into the inky blackness below. At last a Mexican boy was found who had sufficient courage to go with him. That venture resulted in the discovery of the wonders of the now-famous Carlsbad Caverns.
The extent of these caverns with their innumerable passages, and rooms, and blind alleys, and grottos, is not known. It is known, however, that they are of considerable extent, and that there are different levels or floors, some as deep as 1,100 feet below the surface have been explored, and deeper ones exist. According to the latest information available to this writer some thirty-five miles of passageways have been explored, of which only three miles are open to visitors. Although the known entrance to these caverns is Bat Cave, to the best of my knowledge, the real entrance and exit are not known. The existence of a main entrance and exit is certain, however, from the fact that there is a constant flow of fresh air which remains at the same temperature the year round. Through the years it has been thought that the entrance may be in the mountains of New Mexico and the exit in the state of Texas. Some day that entrance and exit will be known. And some day it may be possible for tourists and vacationers to travel the entire length and extent of those caverns. But, if ever that becomes a possibility, those who enter will emerge safely only because of their following a marked-out pathway. Anyone who should stray from the beaten path would very soon be hopelessly lost.
Following the path of man from his expulsion from Eden’s fragrant Garden into the incomprehensible darkness of sin, sorrow and death, and onward until that final day when every man is presented faultless before the throne of His glory, is comparable to entering a cave which has but one entrance and one exit. Only ONE! Between these two points there are innumerable passages and rooms and blind alleys with an entrance but no exit. Someone had to go before and explore to find a safe passageway. And only those who follow this plain path of the explorer can ever again see the light of day. All who deviate from this course become hopelessly lost.
“Let us make man in our image and after our likeness,” was the proclamation of the Lord, and having so proclaimed His intention, the Father set in motion a plan which included the lowering of man into this dark depth of sorrow and travail, for his learning, testing and proving. Thousands of years would pass before the first Son of man, the first begotten Son of God, would emerge from the inky darkness and be presented perfected and faultless as the Captain of our salvation and the redeemer of us all. Then, after perfecting the first Son, other thousands of years would roll by while “He who hath begun a good work in US” is performing it right up until the day of Christ. Ah, One has entered into this dark and treacherous realm of sin and death in which all mankind gropes, and has discovered the WAY OUT! He marked out before us the one safe passageway, the plain path of faith and obedience, and all those faithful ones who FOLLOW HIM will emerge at the one and only exit to stand again in the light of God’s eternal day, bright and blessed.
I think this understanding will give much greater meaning to the apostle’s inspired admonition in Heb. 12:1-2: “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” As Andrew Murray has written, LET US RUN – there we have the intense exertion, claiming all the emotion, will, and action of our beings. LOOKING UNTO JESUS – there we have the inner life of the spirit, a heart always fixed on Jesus in faith and worship, pursuing the Forerunner, who has entered within the veil for us, leaving behind His track and footsteps for us to walk in. This is the new and living way which leads to life and to God. Looking unto Jesus – the author and finisher of our faith. He leads in the way of faith, He walked in it Himself, He opened it for us, He draws and helps us in it. In Hebrews chapter eleven the roster of Old Testament saints, from righteous Abel onward to king David, gives us thrilling examples of faith, but Jesus is the Source and Leader and the Perfector of OUR FAITH, the faith that through death enters into resurrection life and the Holiest of All, that better and more perfect thing which God had opened up for us and for all mankind.
Yes, let us run, looking unto Jesus! Looking not to ourselves or our weaknesses, but to Him who strengtheneth us. Not to ourselves or to our faith, whether in its weakness or its strength, but to Him whose presence is the life of our faith. Not to the world or its temptations, but to Him who hath said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Not to Satan or his threats, but to Him who hath brought him to naught. Not to men, their fear or their favor, but to Jesus, the God-man, Immanuel, God with us, our Brother and King. Looking to Jesus and Jesus alone! Looking to Him always and in all. In trial and trouble, as in joy and prosperity; in solitude and repose, as in company and business; in praise and worship, as in the mundane activities of daily life; – always, only, looking to Jesus. Looking to Him, to see what He is, to hear what He speaks, to do what He says, to follow where He leads, to trust for all He waits to impart. Looking to Him to be changed into His likeness from glory to glory. Let us run the race with patience, LOOKING UNTO JESUS!
Do you know, dear friend, why the masses of Christians today have little or no revelation of the purpose of God, no hope of sonship, no going on to perfection, no putting on of the mind of Christ, and no conformation to His glorious image? It is because at every turn they have ceased to LOOK UNTO JESUS, having left the road He has marked out to wander in Stygian blackness. Here, there, and everywhere, one finds in tracts, books, magazines, on the radio and television, and from behind pulpits across the land some poor deluded traveler who is proclaiming his particular alley – his theory, his doctrine, his gift, his ministry, his sect, his baptism, his form, his tradition, his methods, or feeble little spiritual experience – to be the only passageway to a new and better day. But in all these we find no true dawn. Instead of bright sunlight and clear skies, all we find here is some poor soul groping hopelessly by the pathetic light of a flickering match which he himself holds.
I present to you, beloved brother, sister, a RISEN SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS in all His beauty, majesty, and incorruptibility, who bids us FOLLOW HIM to enter the glories of His new day of life and light and glory! There is but ONE TRUE WAY. ALL OTHERS ARE FALSE, AND CAN BUT LEAD TO SHAME AND FAILURE AND DISGRACE, in spite of the zeal of the preachers and people who recommend such a course. Looking unto JESUS! This then is God’s plan of the ages – first to perfect the Prince Redeemer, the first begotten Son, the apostle and priest of our confession, and the head of the body of Christ. Having completed this, He next must bring to perfection the sons of God who are the completeness and fullness of the body of Christ and, when their perfection is complete, then the Bride must make herself ready, and she, too, having come to the fullness of Christ, shall open her twelve gates that the nations may bring their glory and honor into her. Then it will be universally seen that God is in Christ, RECONCILING THE WORLD UNTO HIMSELF, not imputing their trespasses unto them, bringing every son of the first Adam into the image of the last Adam, which is the image of God.
RETURN TO PARADISE
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7) Paradise! When people think of Paradise, they imagine a better world with cool breezes, white sandy beaches, green grass, blue sky, tall coconut trees, and a life of ease and pleasure in such an idyllic environment. Many of us dream of such a place because our lives are often filled with drudgery, problems, and trials. Our English word “paradise” comes to us from ancient Persian by way of the Greek language. Paradise is the transliteration of the koine Greek word PARADEISOS which, in turn transliterates the Old Persian term PARIDAEZA. The PARIDAEZA of the Avesta denoted an enclosed park, beautifully landscaped with floral and fruit trees planted along a spring-fed stream, belonging to the king and his nobles. It is so described to quite some extent in Xenophon who tells of the idyllic beauty of the orchards of the king’s forests, grazed by sheep, and guarded at the entrance by two soldiers whose task it was to see that intruders and spoilers were kept out. Only those who were friends of the Monarch were given the pleasant privilege of passing peacefully through its gates to enjoy the sweet waters of the stream and the delicious fruit of the trees. In fact, the Old Persian word PARIDAEZA gained such international popularity that it became a loan word in Aramaic and Hebrew as well as Greek.
It is astounding how the word paradise has been perverted through the fanciful teaching of men swayed by tradition and their sentiments rather than revelation. Seldom is a funeral sermon preached that the deceased is not put in Paradise! The Hebrew word for “paradise” is GAN, the word used in Genesis for the Garden of Eden. In the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint Version) the word PARADEISOS is used and Gen. 2:8 reads, “The Lord God planted a PARADISE eastward in Eden.” This Paradise, as we have stated repeatedly in these articles, is more than merely a piece of real estate somewhere over in Mesopotamia. The Paradise of God is not a physical place located on this or any other planet. It is a STATE OF BEING. It is the state of being man was in when first he was brought forth from the creative hand of God and placed in splendor here upon earth. It is man living in the presence of God, man with the incorruptible life of God accessible to him, man as master and lord over all things, man living above sin, sickness, sorrow, pain and death! It is in THIS PARADISE that the overcomer shall eat of the tree of life! In that lovely Eden the thief came to steal, to kill and to destroy. He stole their wisdom, their dominion, their life and their glory until the image of the heavenly was obliterated from them and only the image of the earthly remained, flooding them with sin, sorrow, limitation, pain, sickness and death. The waster brought them to desolation and all creation with them was reduced to sweat and tears. They would ever be at war within and without and return at last to the dust from whence they came. Though Paradise was lost in Adam, the blessed assurance abounds that Jesus, the last Adam, came to regain all that was lost in the first.
A most wonderful and significant event, completely passed over by the vast majority of Christians, occurred at the time of the crucifixion of our Lord. In the purposes of God extending from Paradise lost to Paradise regained, the time came when all three of the characters (God, Adam, the serpent involved in the ancient drama in Eden MUST meet again – this time AT THE CROSS! You will understand a great truth when you see how it is that Christ, Adam, and the serpent ALL MET AT THE CROSS. Let me unfold for you this deep and blessed mystery which transpired on the hill called Calvary. Yes, Christ, the manifestation of God in flesh, the consciousness of God in our spirit, was present there at Calvary. But Adam was also there in flesh, old Adam, the self-consciousness of man in the soul – he was not there in the flesh of Jesus (the last Adam), but represented in the flesh of one of the thieves crucified WITH HIM. Furthermore, the serpent was there, that ancient serpent, the power of the carnal mind, the law of sin and death in our members – this serpent was manifested in the flesh of the other thief crucified WITH CHRIST. Three and a half years prior to this event Jesus had encountered the serpent in the wilderness of Judea, the temptation came in these subtle words, “I-F THOU BE THE SON OF GOD, command that these stones be made bread.” (Mat. 4:3) And now, on mount Calvary, while drinking in obedience to the Father the last bitter dregs from the cup of suffering and death, the satanic voice is heard once more taunting Him through the lips of this jeering malefactor: “I-F THOU BE THE CHRIST, save Thyself and us!” (Lk. 23:39)
Do you imagine, my friend, that it was an accidental and inconsequential incident that Jesus was crucified between TWO THIEVES? No way! The truth of God is multi-faceted and the scriptures abound with many and varied representations of the redemptive plans, purposes, and processes of God. There are those unique passages which point to all that has been wrought and made blessed reality IN CHRIST. The prepositional phrase “in Christ”, appearing some thirty-five times in the New Testament, is filled with spiritual dynamite! Vital necessity, this reality of being IN CHRIST. This has much depth and preciousness in it when we remember that Christ is made up of many members, and that they ,are joined together as one, ONE MANY-MEMBERED CHRIST. There is a realm of fullness to come into, and it is IN CHRIST, until it is no longer “Christ and me” but just – CHRIST. God has chosen us IN HIM, and we are made alive IN HIM. We are new creatures IN HIM and are to walk IN HIM as we have received Him, rooted and builded up IN HIM and established in our faith. We become the righteousness of God IN HIM, we are established IN HIM, and can do all things IN HIM that strengthens us. God always leads us to triumph IN HIM, making our lives a sweet savor of Christ. IN HIM we have every spiritual blessing in heavenly places; as we abide IN HIM we are made complete IN HIM who is the head of all principality and power.
We should direct our thoughts to yet another consideration. Wonderful as is this troth of our identification IN CHRIST, let all who read these lines know and thoroughly understand that there is another and blessed aspect of’ truth to be embraced in the precious words “WITH CHRIST’. Now I believe that I am quite correct in this statement--I am certain that Paul never said that he was crucified IN CHRIST He did say that he was crucified WITH CHRIST. Paul gave us a remarkable clue to this great mystery when he explained, “I am crucified WITH CHRIST” (Gal. 2:20), and again “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified WITH HIM, that the body of sin might be destroyed.” (Rom.6:6) With these words in mind it should not be difficult to see that Paul never makes the statement or the inference that Christ DIED IN HIS STEAD. But Paul made it the sharing of a common death by saying that he was crucified W-I-T-H CHRIST. This may seem to be an insignificant and unimportant point, but it makes a whole universe of difference whether we were crucified IN CHRIST or WITH CHRIST. Every word of inspiration is meaningful and full of depth. Truly Christ died FOR US, not in our stead, precluding our dying, but on our behalf, thus enabling us to truly die and rise again WITH HIM.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” (Gal. 2:20) What is this that Paul says: “I am crucified with Christ”? What does the apostle really mean? In what sane and solid sense does he use these hitherto un-heard -of words? Saul of Tarsus, we have his own word for it, had never seen Christ in the flesh, nor His cross either. He had not been in Gethsemane with Christ like Peter, nor on Calvary with Him like John. The two thieves might have said, “We were crucified with Christ,” but how could Saul of Tarsus say it? For he was still at home in his own country; he was only as yet an aspirant to Gamaliel’s school when Christ was crucified; and the crucifixion of Christ was long past before Saul had set a foot in the city of the crucifixion. In what sense then can he say, and say it so often and so boldly, “I am crucified with Christ”?
Nearly half a century ago Lloyd C. Douglas wrote a best selling religious novel called THE ROBE. Paul Rees, in reviewing the book, points out that its readers will remember that Marcellus Gallio was the Roman tribune who was supposed to have been the officer in charge of the actual crucifixion of Jesus. When Marcellus returned to his quarters after the crucifixion, he made a confession to his Greek slave Demetrius. He confessed that he felt dirty and ashamed. When Demetrius tried to console him by reminding him that he was only obeying orders given him by Pilate, Marcellus asked, “Were you out there? ... Were you there when He called on His God to forgive us?” And the rest of the story is concerned with the strangely persistent way in which this Roman noble was haunted by his sense of guilt for having crucified the Lord. He, who was supposed to be upholding the law by executing a guilty man, was somehow condemned by that man’s innocence and made to feel guilty himself. “WERE YOU OUT THERE,” he asked. It is a fair question that Marcellus put to Demetrius. And the answer is “Yes.” WE WERE ALL OUT THERE! Whether Roman or Greek, whether Israelite or Gentile, we WERE there when they crucified our lord.
Yes, the Christ was crucified “for us” – on our behalf – but Paul goes deeper into the mystery that is Christ and says that if we want to understand the deep meaning of the cross, we shall have to see, not just Christ dying for us, but also our identification with Him, we will have to see ourselves on that cross dying with Jesus. You see, IF JESUS MERELY DIED INSTEAD OF US, then Jesus will merely rise instead of us. Selah. Pause and think about that! The scripture declares that we are crucified with Christ so that we may rise with Christ. If there is no participation in the cross, there can be no participation in the resurrection. George Hawtin has given beautiful expression to this precious truth in his article, THE CHRIST LIFE. He writes: “Every man and every woman will have to face the cross. If there be no cross, neither will there be a crown. We will have to face it in our own lives and, if I am not mistaken, we will have to face it every day we live. ‘For to me to live is Christ, and to DIE is gain.’ (Phil. 1:21) Death to ourselves will be the greatest death we ever die. This death will never be accomplished by our vain struggling and trying, but it will be accomplished in that blessed hour when the Holy Spirit reveals to our hearts the truth that He revealed to Paul: ‘I AM CRUCIFIED with Christ.’ The world itself cannot contain the full truth of this precious statement, ‘I am crucified with Christ.’ We will never GET crucified nor will we ever have faith to crucify ourselves. We will never go to an altar and accomplish this act by faith. The lesson we must learn, my earnestly seeking friend, is simply this: Before ever there was a world or a sinner in it, God Himself by His almighty power placed ALL MEN IN HIS SON JESUS CHRIST and then, having done so, He crucified Him and, when He crucified HIM, He also crucified ME, because I was in Him. ‘When HE crucified His Son, He crucified YOU, because He had placed you in Him. All this took place before the foundation of the world. All men died IN ADAM and, because all men died in Adam, ALL MEN live IN CHRIST, because God has placed all men in Him. ‘For as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive.’ (I Cor. 15:22) ‘But,’ you ask, ‘why is it then that all men are not saved?’ The truth is that all men are saved, but all men have not yet believed, because God has not yet opened their eyes. All Christians are crucified with Him, but few, oh so few, have ever been told that crucifixion is an accomplished reality – accomplished by God Himself and left for us to accept and believe. Once the believer grasps this truth and seizes upon it by faith, then he understands that all of the old carnal realm with all its terrifying specters was a paper tiger, an alarming, petrifying panic, a phantom, a dead lion, no more real than a nightmare. My brother, my sister, in that good and glorious moment when you see God by His almighty power placing ALL MEN IN CHRIST, yea, even before the world began, and, having done so, He sent Him to the cross to be crucified, then you will know that, when Christ was crucified, YOU were crucified, for you were in Him. Then you will join with Paul and every participant of the revelation, saying, ‘I AM CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST.’ Then you will be able for the first time in your life to RECKON YOURSELF DEAD UNTO SIN, BUT ALIVE UNTO GOD” – end quote.
Now actually, Paul nor any of us, nor anyone else from Paul all the way down to us, was actually, physically, bodily crucified with Christ. I refer of course to that particular time of the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus the Christ was there at the crucifixion as the embodiment and manifestation of THE LIFE OF GOD IN THE SPIRIT, the pure, sinless, separate, divine, heavenly One pouring out His divine life for the world. So also did Adam, man in his self-consciousness in the soul, have a representative or a manifestation of himself there at the crucifixion. One man, a thief, was there as the representative of the living soul, of all humanity, or the representative of the first Adam, if you please. And the remaining thief, the jeering malefactor, was the representative of the serpent and his kingdom, the spirit of the carnal mind, the power of sin and death in our members. And ALL THREE DIED ON THE CROSS – TOGETHER! They all died the same natural death and not one of them was saved from it. The two thieves, above all who have ever lived, were truly and uniquely CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST.
Turn aside with me for a few moments and meditate upon these THREE CROSSES on Golgotha’s hill. We will find a very wide field of truth opened before us in these THREE CROSSES. There were THREE MEN met together there by the counsel of God that fateful day. Three, in the numerology of scripture, stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire. E.W. Bullinger, in his book, NUMBER IN SCRIPTURE, points out that “All things that are specially COMPLETE are stamped with this number three. God’s attributes are THREE: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. There are three great divisions completing time – PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE. Three persons, in grammar, express and include all relationships of mankind. Thought, word, and deed, complete the sum of human capability. The simplest proposition requires three things to complete it; viz., the SUBJECT, the PREDICATE, and the COPULA. Three kingdoms embrace our ideas of matter--MINERAL, VEGETABLE, and ANIMAL” To which I would add--man himself is a TRIPARTIITE being composed of SPIRIT, SOUL, and BODY. Those three parts comprise the whole man. The three crosses on that hill far away were there by neither accident nor coincidence. There is deep mystery and divine meaning in the scene!
It is interesting to note that two of the three men there that day were THIEVES. I must emphasize that any man, message, action, or entity that brings to mankind anything less than LIFE is a THIEF and a ROBBER! Man is spirit, soul, and body, and is it not a self-evident truth that TWO OF THESE THREE have no life of themselves and can transmit naught but corruption and death. Truly did Jesus say, “It is the SPIRIT that quickeneth (giveth life); the FLESH (soul and body) profiteth nothing.” (Jn. 6:63) The apostle Paul adds his testimony in these words, “For to be carnally (fleshly) minded IS DEATH; but to be spiritually minded IS LIFE and peace. And if Christ be in you the BODY IS DEAD because of sin; but the SPIRIT IS LIFE because of righteousness. If ye live after the FLESH, ye shall DIE; but if ye through the SPIRIT do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the BODY, ye shall LIVE.” (Rom. 8:6, 10, 13) Should one seek ever so earnestly for life and immortality in either soul or body, all such seeking will remain unfulfilled, for neither possesses one iota of divine life. They both, in very fact, DEPRIVE mankind of that most precious gift of all--LIFE! There is no life in the natural mind nor in the physical body, both fall dreadfully short, and should we trust in the flesh, exercise the flesh, or walk after the flesh IT WILL ROB US of the reality of the SPIRIT WHICH IS LIFE. The SPIRIT (Christ) alone possesses life, eternal life, incorruptible life, abundant life! The man or woman who lives out of any dimension other than SPIRIT will sooner or later discover to his or her chagrin that soul and body are indeed TWO THIEVES! And it was these three – spirit, soul, and body – the whole man in the totality of his reality that was crucified upon three crosses in that long ago!
You remember that the thieves began to rail on Jesus, but one of them said, “Lord, help me!” The rulers, and the soldiers, and the people standing there derided and mocked Him, but this one malefactor asked that Jesus have mercy upon him. How foolish it seems to the natural mind for this one to ask Jesus to help him or have mercy upon him, for here are two men, both dying upon a cross, yet one requests help of another who is in no better position to help him than he is himself. Such a thing appears utterly ridiculous and because it was so absurd in the natural there MUST BE A MYSTERY HIDDEN IN THESE THINGS. All three of these died at approximately the same time, on the same day. When the soldiers came to Jesus, He was already dead and they broke the legs of the two thieves so that by shock, as we know it today, their deaths might be hastened. All were dead by sundown. So the manifestation of God in the flesh (spirit) died. The manifestation of humanity (Adam) in the flesh also died. And the manifestation of the serpent (sin, carnal mind) died. They all entered the realm of death.
Listen now with infinite care as the drama of Calvary is enacted in that solemn hour. The thief who represents the living soul, man’s self-consciousness, or Adam, turns to the thief representing the serpent, the carnal mind, the law of sin and death in us, and says, “Dost thou not fear God, seeing that thou thyself art under the same sentence of condemnation and suffering the same penalty? And we indeed suffer it justly, receiving the due reward of our actions; but this Man hath done nothing out of the way – nothing strange, or perverse or unreasonable.” (Lk. 23:40-41) He then turns to Jesus, crying out, “Lord! REMEMBER ME when you COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM!” (Lk.23-42)
With these poignant words he confessed a wonderful faith in the almighty power of Christ. It has no parallel in the Bible. There hangs the cursed malefactor with Jesus of Nazareth, and he dares speak and say, “I am dying here under the just curse of my sins, but I believe Thou canst take me into Thy heart and remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.” The word “remember” means to recollect and both of these words can be broken down into two words: re-member and re-collect. The prefix “re” before them means to REPEAT OR TO DO SOMETHING AGAIN. So the malefactor was asking that when Jesus came into His Kingdom, He would remember him, or make him a member again. He was saying, “RE-COLLECT or collect me again into that Kingdom and give back to me my original place.” This is re-storation, re-newing, re-demption, re-conciliation, re-freshing, and re-surection he was asking for! This was man, Adam, the living soul seeking the restoration of life, fellowship, authority and glory that he first had – in Christ! This is the soul crying out to the spirit for salvation!
Oh, that we might learn to believe in the almighty power of the CHRIST WITHIN! The penitent thief believed that Christ was a King and had a Kingdom, and that on the other side of the cross He would take him up in His arms and in His heart and remember him, make him a part again, when He came into His Kingdom. He believed that, and believing that, he died. Dear brother, sister, you and I need to take the time to come into a much larger and deeper faith in the power of Christ, that the almighty Christ will indeed take us in His arms and carry us through this death process, revealing the power of His death in us. Christ must do it. Christ CAN do it! Now that Christ is upon the throne, now that the revelation has dawned that HE has all power and authority in heaven and in earth, would you be afraid to do what the malefactor did when Christ was upon the cross, and entrust yourself to Him to die His death and to live His life? Christ, the very Christ of God within your spirit, will carry you through the very process He went through. He will make the process of death work in you until it is complete and your soul is swallowed up into the reality of HIS SPIRIT.
We have seen the faith of this man. Now let us consider the response of Christ to his cry. First, the Lord met him with that wonderful promise, “Today shall thou be with Me in Paradise.” It was a promise of fellowship, relationship, and participation with Christ--”Thou shall be WITH ME.” Further, it was the revelation of the amazing and glorious and triumphant OPENING OF EDEN AGAIN, a promise of entrance back into Paradise from which walking after the flesh had cast man out – “With Me IN PARADISE.” Finally, it was the heralding of a change, of the dawning of something new for all mankind, a NEW DAY, a new age, a new Kingdom, a new order, a new realm, a new glory, a new covenant, a new reality, a new identity, a new nature, a new spirit, a new heart, a new mind, a new life, a new dominion – “TODAY THOU SHALT BE WITH ME IN PARADISE!”
Such truth as this requires deep spiritual thought and meditation. What do you think, beloved, Jesus meant when He announced the glad tidings to this poor thief dying WITH HIM, “Verily, I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be WITH ME IN PARADISE.” Today--in Paradise! Do you imagine that He meant that the thief would, that very twenty-four hour day, walk with Him up and down streets of gold, strumming a harp, in some far-off heaven somewhere? Or do you suppose Jesus was telling this man that within a few short hours he would find himself in some “compartment of departed spirits” deep in the heart of the earth? Ah, I do not hesitate to tell you that the Christ spoke of things infinitely higher and grander than such time-worn traditions of men, for the blessed Son of God, the all-conquering last Adam, spoke of the amazing and wonderful and triumphant OPENING OF EDEN AGAIN. By death and resurrection Christ triumphed gloriously over the whole kingdom of sin and death; He strode boldly and fearlessly back into the Paradise of God from which man had been banished; He opened up for us all a NEW and LIVING WAY: He passed through the dominion of the Cherubim and the flaming sword keeping the way to the Tree of Life; He claimed again the dominion and the eminence and the glory which once belonged to the first Adam.
Consider the scene! “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.” (Gen. 2:8-9) “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the TREE OF LIFE WHICH IS IN THE MIDST OF THE PARADISE OF GOD” (Rev. 2:7) Paradise today! That is what Jesus opened up for us. Truly, yesterday no longer exists, and neither does tomorrow; the only thing that exists is the Present. Paradise must be found in the Present; it is not some futuristic pie in the sky, but a present reality of life full and abundant in the Kingdom of God. Through His cruel passion and bloody sweat, the stripes He bore, the thorns He wore and the shedding of the blood of eternal life Jesus delivered that thief and the whole creation from the curse, and, rising triumphant from the dead, a victor over the flesh, sin and death, He offers life and the image of God to all mankind, in the beginning the thief came to kill and destroy, but “I am come,” saith Jesus, “that ye might have life, and have it more abundantly.” (Jn. 10:10)
Beloved, these are but symbols, shadows, word pictures of grand and glorious SPIRITUAL REALITIES. Great and precious promises are given to the “overcomer” – the overcoming one is promised a crown, a throne, a white stone, a new name, a feast of manna from a golden bowl, the fruit from the tree of life, and the privilege of becoming a pillar in the temple of God! He is, furthermore, promised entrance into the PARADISE OF GOD. But this does not mean that the overcoming sons of God will live in an earthly Paradise, nor does it signify a mansion just over the hill-top in some bright glory world above. This Paradise is far more than a piece of real estate somewhere over in the Middle East. The Paradise of God which is promised the saints of God is not a physical place or geographical location on this or any other planet. It is a STATE OF BEING. It is the state of being man was in when first he was brought forth from the creative hand of God and placed in splendor and infinite dominion here upon earth. The Paradise of God was the place where heaven and earth met together in the very person of Adam, the son of God. It is man living in the presence of God, walking in the mind of God, clothed with the glory of the incorruptible life of God, man living above sin, sickness, fear, pain sorrow and death, man as master and lord over all things! It is in THIS PARADISE OF THE SPIRIT that the overcomer eats of the tree of life!
During those moments of agony upon the cross, God ordained that one solitary first-fruit of Adam’s race should be gathered from the world of sin and death and restored to the Paradise of God as wonderful proof that THE WAY WAS OPENED UP. It was the Spirit of God that moved upon the heart of this dying thief, causing him to turn his eyes upon the crucified Lord. There was a quickening, a rending of the veil of the carnal mind, and opening of the heavens above him, and in an instant his vision became clearer than that of all the multitude, and the soldiers, and the priests, and even the disciples. He saw in the Man hanging between him and his fellow thief, the Messiah, the Son of God, the last Adam, come to OPEN ANEW THE GATE OF THE PARADISE OF GOD.
That is why Jesus came – to open again to man the Paradise of God. He lived and moved and ministered from that Paradise all the years of His sojourn on earth. The pure river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb is again accessible as Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto ME, and drink. He that believeth on Me...out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (Jn. 7:37) The tree of life is now within constant reach as it is written, “This is the record, that God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is IN HIS SON” (I Jn. 5:11), and again, “He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and he that liveth and believeth in Me SHALL NEVER DIE.” (Jn.11:25-26) This tree is vibrantly and continuously bearing the fruit of His divine life in all who partake of it. The leaves of this wonderful tree are for the healing, the restoration of THE NATIONS. In this blest realm of Paradise, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the curse is removed, as it shall finally be in all the earth, for there shall be NO MORE CURSE. The throne of God and of the Lamb is with men – heaven and earth are united again. The river that flows from the throne of God flows from out of our innermost being, the Kingdom of God IN MAN. In this Paradise His servants serve Him, for they behold His face in the light that the Spirit brings. His name shall forever be in their foreheads, His nature reigning in their minds and hearts – only His will forever and ever. There is no night here in this city of living stones, for the never-ending day of the Lord has come. No need for the light of candies, or lamps, nor for the light of the sun or the moon, no external light of any kind is needed, for the glory of the Lord, the light of the SPIRIT floods the length and breadth of the city of God. God Himself has reconciled all unto Himself and HE GIVETH THEM LIGHT
TODAY! Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise, Jesus assured the thief. Oh, the wonder of it. “Today” did not signify a particular date on the calendar two thousand years ago. The word heralded the bringing in of a NEW DAY, a NEW DISPENSATION, a NEW PROVISION, a NEW ORDER, a NEW REALM OF LIFE AND VICTORY, GLORY AND POWER! Ah, today! Paradise! In this one notable statement Jesus reveals that the Garden of Eden, the Paradise of God, the high and holy estate from which man fell, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth was at last OPENED ANEW. Thank God – we can now enter! Today is THE DAY!
And yet, the mystery would not be complete apart from the knowledge that there is within us that which must die upon the cross NEVER TO LIVE AGAIN. The second thief died – and for him there was no repentance, no hope, no today or tomorrow, no offer of life, no promise of Paradise. He died to pass out of existence forevermore. Only by the spirit of revelation and understanding from above can we see that this bespeaks of the death of the carnal mind and of the law of sin and death in our members. The carnal mind is hopelessly blind to eternal things, pitifully helpless, and dreadfully full of death. The heart of the natural man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, NEITHER INDEED CAN BE. This explains why DEATH is necessary for our return to God. Death is the only way out of the world in which we are. It was by death to God that we fell out of God’s world. And it is by death TO SIN AND THIS WORLD that we are delivered from the power of sin and death and the folly of the outer world. So – may I say – you will never get out of this world alive!
Can we not see by this that there is that which must die to live and there is that which must die never to live again. Christ died to give us His life. The repentant thief represents that in man which must die to receive of HIS LIFE that it may live. Death alone, without ANOTHER LIFE, is not enough to bring us back to God’s world. We need death to get out of this world, but we also must have the life of God to live in God’s world! The soul of man is the receptacle of His life in the Spirit--in which union man’s soul is redeemed, restored to the Paradise of God. This is the first thief. This thief dies to live by receiving the life of the Christ upon the cross in the midst. But the second thief represents that serpent in us which must forever be done away, whose head must be thoroughly crushed once and for all, the BODY OF SIN which is DESTROYED. “Knowing this, that our old man IS CRUCIFIED WITH HIM, that the body of sin might be DESTROYED, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is DEAD is freed from sin.” (Rom. 6:6-7) Three crosses, three men, and three deaths. Oh, the mystery of it!
If you can see it, my beloved, the second thief is that work of the cross the apostle sets forth in Gal. 6:14, wherein he says, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” There are vast multitudes of believers in the church systems today who may have grasped the concept of the death of Christ for them, and go about glibly declaring that Jesus died for them, and yet they do not even faintly perceive the fact that this also means that THE WORLD IS CRUCIFIED UNTO THEM. When the Bible speaks of the world in the New Testament, it is not referring to planet earth nor to the created universe, not to the stars and clouds and mountains and flowers, but most always to the WORLD SYSTEM – to the corrupt system of this world order with all its evil devices, with all its vain and false and selfish and corrupt desires, its aims and goals and purposes, its self-centeredness and egotism. The “world” in scripture is this whole fleshly and carnal system that passes from father to child down through the centuries. The result of man’s rebellion against the Spirit has been the establishment of a whole world system which the Spirit testifies is PASSING AWAY.
If we are God’s elect the world has been crucified to us; it is dead. It is somewhat like a man who loves a woman. He greatly loves her but one day she dies, perhaps even in his arms. He looks down at her body which just a moment ago was warm and moving. Now all is still and silent. The light has gone from the eyes. Perhaps, if he really loved her, he might even yet smother her face with his kisses. Wait but an hour or so and that body will grow cold and a little longer and it will no longer be soft, but now stiff and cold. Wait but a few days and it will begin to rot and stink. A week later one would not be able to stand to go into the room with it. That is what the Lord says should be happening in every believer’s life concerning this whole world system, with all its vaunted success, all of its goals, with all of its economics, politics and religion. The world has already received at the cross, its death blow. Even its king, the devil, has received a wound in his forehead from which he will utterly perish. So this system is crumbling into oblivion. Even now you can smell the putrefaction of it. For the sons and daughters of the Most High it has lost its allurement with all its baubles and successes which men in the world count of great value and of high esteem.
Ray Prinzing commented on this passage: “While experimentally the world becomes crucified unto me – so that we no longer have any desire for the things of the world, no lusting for friendship with the world, no latent feelings that can be awakened and stirred up by the world; to make it even more complete, ‘I am crucified to the world.’ Thus, as far as the world is concerned, you become dead to them also. They have no more desire for you – there is nothing in you that appeals to them, you are as useless to them as a corpse. You cease to exist in their realm. Don’t be amazed, then, if they no longer seek you out or try to fellowship with you. Only those who are quickened to the same new life which you are receiving, can fellowship with you in that life. To all others you are a stranger and a foreigner.”
In the Song of Solomon the King, beautiful type of God’s corporate Son, Head and body, exclaims, “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me up to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.” (S. of S. 4:6) Myrrh in the scriptures is a figure of death, while frankincense is a figure of life, and was uniquely the fragrance of the Most Holy Place, the incorruptible realm of God. Beloved, THE CROSS IS THE MOUNTAIN OF MYRRH. It is not just a small amount of myrrh, but a great and eternal MOUNTAIN of this costly perfume. How many times we go up to the cross with our self-life as if it were mountains of grief and regret, of suffering and sighing, of rain and loss, and not a sweet and priceless fragrance unto God. How often when we take up our cross to go after Jesus, we follow Him moaning and repining at every step. All the fragrance of this precious mountain is lost when we go up reluctantly and grudgingly, or withholding something from death. Oh! let us go up with joy unspeakable and full of glory, exulting that we have been counted worthy to suffer and to follow in His footsteps, and that to us it has been granted to die to the vain spirit of this world, to the carnality, childishness and abomination of the wretched religious systems, and to have our own fleshly minds, ambitions, desires and ways firmly nailed to the cross, to be gloriously alive unto God and exquisitely conformed to the image of God’s beloved Son.
It is not enough to make an occasional trip up to the cross, for death must become a mountain to us, we must go there to stay until the day breaks and the shadows all flee away. It bespeaks of a STATE OF BEING. To BE DEAD is a STATE OF BEING. We must abide in the Lord’s death. Today, many zealous christians have the wrong concept. They believe they must fast, weep, pray, and wait on the Lord in order to die. That is all good, but it is not death. To tarry at an altar is easy; to pray for a week is easy; even to fast for a month is easy; but to stay at the Mountain of Myrrh for a lifetime is not easy. We could all fast and pray for a long time without any sleep, but to stay in the Lord’s death means that we so absolutely DIE to the flesh, the world, and the devil that we simply ARE DEAD. It is only then that the day breaks eternal and shadows of this earthy realm forever flee away. Let us open ourselves before the Lord. I do believe that we all have the sense that our Day is not yet fully broken. We all realize that there are still some haunting shadows of limitation, fear, lack of understanding and fleshliness about us. Even in our bodies, the lines, the gray hairs, the weakness, reveal that our bodies have not yet caught up to our spirit. No matter how much we say that we are the elect sons of God, sons of Light, sons of the Day, kings and priests of the Most High, living in the Holiest of all and feasting at the feast of Tabernacles, there is still the sense that we are not clearly in the Day. As long as we have such a realization we will spontaneously say, “UNTIL the day break, and the shadows flee away, I WILL GET ME UP TO THE MOUNTAIN OF MYRRH, AND TO THE HILL OF FRANKINCENSE.” But, praise God, the Day is at hand!
THE LAW OF CIRCULARITY
Nothing is more evident in the Word of God than the fact that man had his beginning IN GOD. Every son of Adam, born as he is in trespasses and sins, enters into this world shrouded by the darkness of the carnal mind and imprisoned by the power of the carnal nature. But it was not always so! Everything everywhere OUTSIDE OF CHRIST belongs to the realm of death, and because it belongs to the realm of death, it likewise belongs to the realm of darkness. Before ever man touched this dreadful realm the record states: “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) WAS! It is a wonderful fact that in Him IS life, and His life IS the light of every man who believes, but, wonder of wonders, in that long ago beginning Christ WAS THEN THE LIFE and His life WAS THEN THE LIGHT OF MEN. It was into this realm OUTSIDE OF CHRIST, the realm of OUTER DARKNESS, that Adam was banished when he partook of that strange tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There he died, as God had warned, and we all died in him. Thus death passed upon all men, for all have sinned. Has mankind not fully proved throughout the centuries that he is in truth the son of Adam? Which of all God’s commandments have we not broken, justifying ourselves in having done so even as Adam seemed to do.
Oh, sweet mystery of the ages, that a second Adam should stand upon the earth and declare, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE LIFE, and that they might have it more abundantly. For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. I am that bread of life. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (Jn. 10:10; 6:33, 48, 51) No greater revelation can break upon any man’s consciousness than this simple truth that there is ONLY ONE LIFE in the universe, and that one life is JESUS CHRIST. May God make this truth real to your hearts! When a man comes to Christ the life, he comes not only to the life that IS the light of men, but to the same life that in the beginning WAS the light of men. What we have received in Christ’s opening again of Paradise is a re-turn, a re-storation, a re-newing, a re-demption, a re-conciliation, a re-surrection. The prefix “re” means BACK, AGAIN, ANEW – and all words with this prefix speak of something that LEFT ITS PLACE AND HAS NOW MADE ITS CIRCUIT AND COME BACK TO THE POINT OF ITS BEGINNING.
Let me give you now a scripture that shows the hand of God in this and the extensive scope of both the departure from, and the returning unto, God. I quote from Ps. 90:1-3. “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. THOU TURNEST MAN TO DESTRUCTION; and sayest, RETURN, YE CHILDREN OF MEN.” You could never read this word “return” here, if you had not first read that man had been “turned” away to destruction. In this passage the word “destruction” has this meaning in the original: A COMPLETE COLLAPSE, crumbling man to a contrite condition.
Here is the picture: For the magnificent purpose God had in mind He made all the provision necessary before the foundation of the world. He made provision for a Lamb to be slain (Rev. 13:8). He made provision for a company of people to be chosen in Christ, to be Holy and without blame before Him in love, as a firstfruit of His redemption in the earth (Eph. 1:4-5,10). Then He brought into Eden a poisonous serpent, a murderer, a MANSLAYER (Gen. 3:1). Having prepared all this HE THEN BROUGHT MAN INTO THE GARDEN. Having brought man into the Garden, GOD PUT HIM INTO THE PATHWAY OF A COMPLETE COLLAPSE. It was GOD who turned man to destruction, set him on this downward course, sent him into outer darkness, and made him subject to vanity. God our Father has never once blamed man for the fall, but takes the responsibility for it Himself when He says, “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 HOPE that creation itself WILL BE SET FREE from its bondage to decay and corruption and gain an entrance into the glorious freedom of God’s children.” (Rom. 8:20-21, Amplified) Man did not volunteer for this time of travail, but the plan of God included this process, so God turned man into this route, this experience, and it will also be the sovereign work of a sovereign God who shall BRING BACK INTO HIMSELF the whole of His creation.
After turning man to destruction God then says, “RETURN TO ME, ye children of men.” In verse four of Psalm ninety, the writer makes the statement that in God’s sight a thousand years is as a day when it is passed. But in verse thirteen the Psalmist exclaims, “Return, O LORD, HOW LONG?” In the beginning of the Psalm the writer is joyful in the knowledge that though the Lord has turned man to destruction, yet God has also given the command to return, and what if it does take a thousand years or more, it is but a day in God’s sight. But by the time the writer reaches the position of the thirteenth verse, he begins to cry out, saying, “O Lord, HOW LONG is all this going to take? HOW LONG before our full return to You?” A thousand years had become an unbearably long time. Surely this is the cry from the hearts of men today! This is the crying, groaning, and travailing we find the creation passing through in the 8th chapter of Romans, waiting for the manifestation of the Sons of God.
There was a day when Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus (Mars Hill Auditorium) declared to the philosophers of Athens, “The God Who produced and formed the world and all things in it, made from one common origin, one source all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined their allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation - their settlements, lands, abodes; SO THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK GOD, IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MIGHT FEEL AFTER HIM AND FIND HIM, although He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, FOR WE ARE ALSO HIS OFFSPRING.” (Acts 17:24-28, Amplified)
Oh, yes, He turned us to destruction, but planted deep in the sub consciousness of every man the SECRET COMMAND to RETURN, which has become that inner desire, yearning, craving, seeking, feeling, compulsion which is never satisfied until man does find himself home in God once more. All the religiousness of men, from the witch doctor in the jungle to the modernist in the pulpit in America, is the manifestation of this FEELING AFTER GOD, IF HAPLY THEY MIGHT FIND HIM. While mankind in general is still lost in the hellish darkness of sin and death, yet there is a firstfruit company whose hearts have been charged by the inward call to return, and with the Shulamite maiden in the Song of Solomon share this blessed experience: “By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loveth; I sought Him, but I found Him not. I will arise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loveth: I sought Him but I found Him not. The watch-men that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I FOUND HIM WHOM MY SOUL LOVETH: I HELD HIM, AND WOULD NOT LET HIM GO.” (S. of S. 3:1-4) As the Spirit has witnessed through the prophet, “And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)
Mankind is yet groping about in the dense darkness of the carnal mind, knowing not that HE is standing right there in the shadows, were their eyes opened to see. Yet He hath appointed a day – Oh glorious day! – when His light shall shine forth and the plan shall be completed as the apostle saith, “For God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan, and it is this: He purposed long ago in His sovereign will that all human history should be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth should find its perfection and fulfillment in Him. In Christ we have been given an inheritance, since we were destined for this, by the One who works out all His purposes according to the design of His own will.” (Eph. 1:9-11, Phillips)
The very laws of physics and mathematics establish with indisputable certainty the absolute inevitability of the creation’s return back into God. Psalm nineteen was long a source of amusement to Bible critics. In speaking of the sun, the Psalmist says: “His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Ps. 19:6) It was claimed that the writer of this verse obviously believed in the ancient notion of the sun’s revolving about the earth. This charge is most unjust, since we still use words and phrases of the same sort, simply because from our natural viewpoint the sun does rise in the morning, move across the sky, and set in the evening. The whole science of nautical and engineering astronomy is based on the assumption, made purely for convenience, that the earth is the center of a great celestial sphere, moving along the surface of which in ordered paths are the sun, moon, planets and stars. And as far as any practical usage is concerned, this is so. On this assumption, courses can be plotted, positions determined, and scores of other applications made.
But the words of the Psalmist have a deeper, more scientific meaning than that. It is now concluded by the leading astronomers that the sun, with the entire solar system, actually does move through space at the tremendous speed of 600,000 miles per hour in such a gigantic orbit that it requires over two million centuries to complete it, but complete it it shall, returning again and again, as the ages roll onward, to the point of its beginning. Furthermore, it is believed that our galaxy is also moving with respect to other galaxies. The sun’s circuit IS from one end of the heavens to the other! Who can accuse the Holy Spirit of ignorance of modern astronomy?
The entire universe is an infinite sphere and each galaxy, solar system, star and planet within it moves continuously and harmoniously in circular motion; thus, all worlds and suns have circles for their pathway. This principle has been referred to by scientists as the “law of circularity”. Science is beginning to tell us that in the highest development of physics and mathematics the old theory of straight lines of infinite length has to be changed and modified to satisfy all the data of electro-dynamics, light, and some of the new electrical phenomena. There is no such thing in the universe as an absolutely straight line of infinite length. All straight lines will be found to be portions of immense circles. This law of circularity runs through all nature. If you were to leave planet earth traveling steadily in one direction, the day would surely come, be it in some distant age millions or billions of years hence, when you would arrive back at the precise point of departure, having completed the circuit – home again! Someone (a scientist) has said that if we were to build a telescope that would see into infinity, we would one day be looking at the back of our heads!
This great law of circularity by which all things in God’s creation are seen to RETURN to the place of their BEGINNING, in its spiritual significance, is expressed in Rom. 11:36: “For FROM HIM and THROUGH HIM and TO HIM are all things – for all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to CONSUMMATE AND TO END IN HIM. To Him be glory forever! Amen.” (Amplified) All manifestations of nature discernible to the senses confirm this law of circularity. “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” (Eccle 1:5-7)
The King James version of Rom. 11:36 begins, “For of Him...” This word “of” comes from the Greek word ek literally meaning OUT OF. This clearly places God as the Source of all things, and hence the Amplified’s beautiful translation, “For all things originate with Him and come from Him.” Col. 1:16 says, “For it was IN HIM that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers or authorities.” (Amplified)
The law of circularity requires that EVEN AS ALL THINGS BEGAN IN CHRIST, ALL SHALL END IN CHRIST. “I am ALPHA and OMEGA, the beginning and the end, the first and the last,” saith the Lord.” (Rev. 22:13) Only the glorious mind of Christ can reveal to our hearts what that means! Through a glass darkly I can see that He was the FIRST – “before all things.” Can I also believe that HE IS THE LAST? If He is the BEGINNING, can my feeble mind dare to comprehend what it signifies when He says that He is also the END? All that existed IN CHRIST before the ages began, shall RETURN INTO HIM AGAIN that He may be the FIRST and the LAST, the BEGINNING and the END. All that came out of Him, lowered into the realm of vanity, completes its circuit and returns once more to its former estate – RETURN TO PARADISE!
From the earliest years of my memory there stirred deep within my bosom an insatiable longing after Christ. Though only a child, I wanted to know Him who once was spat upon for me, who was crowned with thorns for me, who died and rose again and ascended to the highest heaven for me. I wanted to intimately KNOW the Christ, the great and good Friend who was compassionate to all men, who forgave the thieves and harlots and drunkards, and healed the sick and gladdened the sorrowful, who brought the dead to life again, and loved and blessed the children. Oh! how I wanted to KNOW HIM! Sometime after my twelfth birthday, the Lord came to me in a remarkable visitation, flooding my life with billows of His presence, power and glory. From that moment Christ became a living Reality. He filled the skies. He filled the earth. He filled my life and flooded my heart with unspeakable love for His creation. He whispered in my ear and unfolded within the depths of my spirit the precious knowledge that He is the Good Shepherd who will seek until the last lost sheep is in His fold. He proclaimed the omnipotence of His love in the sweetest of tones. The Good Shepherd who came from heaven, and gave His life, will seek, and seek, and seek, and save, and save, and save, until He has brought all men back to God. This is the work of the Redeemer and the redeemed. I remember sitting, some time after this experience, in the auditorium of the public school in the rural community where we lived in south Alabama, looking at the several hundred students assembled there, as the Spirit mused in my heart, “Some day, some way, somewhere, CHRIST WILL SAVE THEM ALL!” The revelation was real to me, Christ was there bursting forth in my spirit, and I rose and departed with gladness that Christ is indeed Victor!
They told me as I went on in my Christian life that Christ did not die for everyone. “How is that,” I would ask, “the scripture says that He tasted death for EVERY MAN” (Heb. 2:9) “But, Preston,” they would say, “it only means every man who believes.” “Well,” I said, “it does not say that. Paul said, ‘We thus judge, that if ONE DIED FOR ALL, then were all dead: and He DIED FOR ALL, that they which live (those who were dead till He died for them) should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.’ (II Cor. 5:14-15) God is not ignorant, stupid, or incapable of correct calculating. And He did not die in vain! If He DIED FOR A-L-L, then, not only were ALL DEAD, but ALL HE DIED FOR SHALL BE MADE ALIVE. If all are not made alive, then He who died for all DIED IN VAIN!” “But it does not mean that,” they replied.
“Ah, but,” I said, “here is another scripture which says, ‘For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. THESE THINGS COMMAND AND TEACH.’ (I Tim. 4:10-11) It says, ‘ALL men’” “But it does not mean that,” they contended, “And you will be a heretic if you say that!” “But,” I said, “Peter wrote in his epistle that GOD IS NOT WILLING that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance, and Paul wrote to Timothy that God WILL HAVE ALL MEN to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. If God wills all men to be saved, and men will not to be saved, whose will is stronger, the will of God, or the will of men? Many try to absolve God from the responsibility for His creation by saying that MAN’S WILL is more powerful than GOD’S WILL, that God cannot, or will not CHANGE men’s wills, that men will to be sinful and hostile to God, therefore God cannot save them. But all such forget that nor only did God create man, HE CREATED MAN’S WILL WITH ALL ITS CAPABILITIES AND PROPENSITIES! It is my deep conviction that in the end it is GOD’S WILL that shall be done!” “But, Preston,” they said, “God made man a free-moral-agent, and if man wills to be lost God will not override his will.” “Well,” I said, “that is what you say, but that is not what the Bible says.”
“And,” I said, “Paul states these unmistakable words in Rom. 5:15-19, ‘But God’s free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass – His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man. For if many died through one man’s falling away – much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift that comes through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ, abound and overflow to and for the benefit of many. Well then, as one man’s trespass – one man’s false step and falling away – led to condemnation for A-L-L M-E-N, SO one Man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and right standing with God, and life for A-L-L M-E-N. For just as by one man’s disobedience THE MANY (the mass, all) were constituted sinners, SO by one Man’s obedience THE MANY (the mass, all) WILL BE CONSTITUTED RIGHTEOUS – made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him’ (Amplified Bible)” “Oh,” they would say, “it cannot mean that by one Man’s act all will be saved, for man is a free-moral-agent and he must make up his own mind, and if he rejects the offer of life during this life it will never be offered again.” “Ah, my good friend,” I reply, “it does not say that. You are putting words into God’s mouth.”
“And here,” I said, “Jesus says, ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth WILL DRAW A-L-L M-E-N unto Me.’ (Jn. 12:32)” “It does not mean that,” they argued, “it means He will draw all men who believe.” “But how many does it say He will draw?” “All men.” To which I answer, “If that proclamation is not true, if He is not strong enough, and purposeful enough, and loving enough to draw every spirit on earth and in hell, and throughout the universe, to Himself, then He has told a lie. If He can, but won’t, then He is a mean, hard, vindictive tyrant. And if He can’t, then He’s not God.” “Oh, Preston!” they cry, “that is heresy!” “But,” I said, “that is Jesus. Was He a heretic?” “Oh, no; you do not understand, we can explain all that away, and you must not talk until you know better.”
It came with such power one day. I said, “Oh Master! let me have a word that covers it with certainty.” As I began to pray, my thoughts went to what Christ had prayed, recorded in Jn. 17:1-3, as He opened His lips and prayed to the Father, saying, “Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee: as Thou hast given Him POWER OVER ALL FLESH, that He should give eternal life to AS MANY AS THOU HAST GIVEN HIM. And this is eternal life that THEY might KNOW THEE the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” I have always been fond of a plain, straight logic. As I read those beautiful verses, I saw that Jesus WAS GIVEN POWER OVER ALL FLESH, making All Flesh His, that He might give eternal life to as many as God had given Him power over; therefore, as God had given Him power over ALL FLESH, and He had authority to give eternal life to all that had been given Him, to all flesh, it was perfectly clear that eventually all flesh, all spirits born into human flesh should be redeemed, and brought back to God.
I do not hesitate to preach it. I do not hesitate to tell it. At the same time I have warned the sinner that if he sins, the face of God is against him; that if he sins, hell is in front of him; the way of the transgressor is hard, for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience. But let us not falsely say that such men will never be saved.
Long millenniums ago Adam was banished from the Paradise of God and its life-giving tree. But God has provided a way by which His banished may return! Some glad morning, when the unfolding plan of God is complete, all who once stood “in Adam” in the Garden will again be gathered together and their eyes will behold with endless joy that heaven blest Eden in which walked Adam, the son of God. But even now there is a remnant, the election of grace, the firstfruits WHO IN SPIRIT HAVE ENTERED THOSE ONCE – CLOSED PORTALS AND HAVE PARTAKEN OF THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF LIFE! Though the Cherubim and the flaming sword once blocked the way into Paradise, thanks be to God! the Lord Jesus Christ has opened “a NEW and LIVING way” into the Holiest of All. The Cherubim stood with their flaming sword to block the gate at the east, the entrance into the Paradise of God. The eastern gate speaks to us of the rising of the sun, the dawning of a new day. Jesus rose from the dead very early in the morning, at the rising of the sun. His triumph over death brought a new day of life and hope and victory! The east, the place of the rising sun, represents Christ – the entrance back into the place in the Garden where Adam was, is opened for us through Christ. It is not through the Cherubim or the flaming sword that we must pass – but IN CHRIST we are given an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God!
In the typology of scripture the Garden of Eden is synonymous with the Holiest of All. In the power of Christ, though the firstfruits of Christ’s redemption still move about in a world which is under the curse, where the traces of sin are visible on all hands, they have found their way, by faith, to the bosom of the Father, and are NOW AT HOME AGAIN IN GOD! The mighty transformation that has come and is coming to our lives shall be experienced ultimately by ALL MEN, God’s own law of circularity secures it, and none can resist it, praise His glorious name!