ECHOES from EDEN, PART 39
END-TIME PROPHECY – TRUTH REVEALED
BY: J. PRESTON EBY
KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
RETURN to PARADISE, (continued)
The Way of the Cross Leads Home
Beyond the Borderland
“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.”
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the TREE OF LIFE WHICH IS IN THE MIDST OF THE PARADISE OF GOD.”
It is generally supposed by most professed Christians that the words “paradise” and “heaven” are essentially synonymous and that in the Bible they are both used to describe the “eternal home” of the “saved”.
The earnest prayer within my heart is that God’s apprehended ones may turn aside from all such carnal-minded traditions and fables of the Pharisees. Jesus warned His disciples:
All the important revelations in the Book of Revelation are taught by symbols. The symbols used in Revelation, in fact, throughout the entire Bible, are things and circumstances concerning which we, as humans, have at least some knowledge; otherwise the symbolic language of the Bible would have no meaning to us. There are things we know about the sun, the moon, the stars, and about sheep and goats, wheat and tares, rivers and trees, storms and earthquakes. So when the Bible uses these as symbols, certain lessons are conveyed to us.
Beloved, so should we understand the blessed promise given of eating of the tree of life in the midst of the Paradise of God. This does not mean that the overcoming sons of God will live in an earthly Paradise, any more than the other promises mean that they will wear literal crowns, eat manna from a golden bowl, or become marble pillars in a literal temple. This Paradise – let me state it again in this concluding article on the Garden of Eden – is far more than a piece of real estate somewhere over in the Middle East. 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 living above sin, sickness, fear, pain and death, man as master and lord over all things! It is in THIS PARADISE that the overcomer eats of the tree of life!
THE WAY OF THE CROSS LEADS HOME
We often ask earnestly, “How can I enter fully into this glorious life of Eden? How can I become a true and full overcomer – free from the self life, putting on the mind of Christ, filled with His love, joy, peace, righteousness, wisdom, knowledge and power, perfected in the image of God, incorruptible in spirit, soul and body, reigning over all things?” Ah – the answer lies in the pathway marked out for us by our Forerunner who has entered in! For fallen man the way to life is and can only be through death. The cross is the way to life – this is confessedly the truth revealed by Jesus. In the words of the old hymn,
But what is the cross? Does Christ’s death save us unless we die WITH HIM? Our Lord distinctly says,
Why is the way of life for us through the cross
A friend has shared this beautiful explanation of the fall of man in Eden:
“In FORM, then, the serpent had a truth. He had, in fact, drawn on the very word of God itself to tempt Adam and Eve, for the Lord had said,
“Man becomes a god in the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil – but he becomes a god in the wrong realm, for at the same time that God acknowledged man’s ‘deity’ He also CAST HIM FROM THE GARDEN – cast him from the heavenly realm – and set him in the earth
By disobedience and independence man was separated from God and died to God’s world. Can we not see by this that death is a PASSING OUT OF ONE WORLD INTO ANOTHER? Adam passed from God’s world into his OWN WORLD and by this death TO GOD man lost the place which God had given him in Paradise, fell into the kingdom of darkness; as
As Andrew Jukes put it, such was the fall of man, and it explains why death is needful for our return to God. Death is the only way out of any world in which we are. It was by death to God that we fell out of God’s world. And it is by death WITH CHRIST to sin and to this world that we are delivered from the power of sin and the toil and sorrows of this outward world. For we are, as the Word of God and our own hearts tell us, not only in the outward world bodily, but in our spirits we are living in a spiritual world, which surely is not heavenly, but hellish, and no soul of man is at rest or satisfied till quickened by the Spirit of God. And, may I say, you will never get out of this world alive! To get out of this dark world we must die: die to this physical sense-oriented nature, to get out of the seen world, and die to sin to get out of the power of darkness. We must die both to the bodily realm and the spiritual realm of darkness if we would be free to enter again through the portals of Eden. Christ died this double death for us, not only
But now we ask, “How can I die this death?” The answer is, “Get another life!” We often speak about the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, but I doubt if we fully realize that the Holy Spirit is a HEAVENLY LIFE come to expel the selfish, fleshy, corruptible, earthly life. Death alone, without ANOTHER LIFE is not and cannot of itself be 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! Just as without the life of this world we could not enter this world, so God’s life must again be quickened in man before he can live again in God’s Kingdom. In Christ the work has been accomplished! In Him God’s life has again been raised up in man, and in the power of this life Christ has died both to sin and to the world, and so, through death, resurrection, and ascension has come back out of darkness to God’s right hand. But whether in Christ, or in us, the work is only wrought through death.
Fallen man is still excluded from Paradise. Old Adam, the flesh, the carnal mind, will never pass through the gate of Eden. Old Adam is shut out, but the SEED can enter! The NEW CREATION MAN is he who enters, the Head passed first, and now the members. The first Adam, the flesh, may not enter into that from whence God has excluded him, but the second Adam, the New Man is invited to
Crucified WITH HIM! How can I enter into this fellowship of the cross? We find an illustration in the story of the penitent thief. The immature and self-assured disciples made all kinds of brash statements prior to Christ’s death. Thomas said,
Let us consider with care the drama of Calvary enacted in that solemn hour. The penitent thief, who represents fallen humanity in the first Adam, confessed his sin and that he deserved death. Then next, 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,
During those moments of agony upon the cross, God ordained that one solitary firstfruit 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
Thank God, the Jesus of the penitent thief is my Jesus! Thank God, the cross of the penitent thief is my cross! During the thirty-three years of Christ’s life there was not a man upon earth that had such wonderful fellowship with the Son of God as the penitent thief, for with the Son of God he entered glory. What made him so separate from others? He was on the cross WITH JESUS and entered Paradise WITH HIM. And if I live upon the cross with Jesus, the Paradise life shall be mine every day!
As another has so wisely exhorted:
BEYOND THE BORDERLAND
Few men have been caught away by the spirit of inspiration as was the wise king Solomon when he penned the beautiful Song of Solomon. God dropped one thousand and five songs down into the heart of Solomon, but of these, only five, comprising the Song of Solomon, have been preserved and have found a place in Holy Scripture. Inspiration named it “The Song of songs.” Just as the “Holy of holies” was the Holiest place of all, just as the “Heaven of the heavens” is the highest Heaven of all, just as the “King of kings” is the greatest King of all, so the “Song of songs” is above and beyond all the songs that have ever come from human heart and human lips.
God’s meaning of a “song” is “message, revelation”.
The lion is the symbol of the enemy as a roaring, open foe, going about seeking whom he may devour; strong, courageous, but bitter and full of open hatred toward God and man. The leopard is the symbol of the enemy, as a subtle, fierce, swift foe, moving against the spiritual life of God’s people. In Revelation 13:2,
He never pursues and attacks those who are in the world and have no desire to escape; neither can he follow those who hasten beyond the borderlands and border mountains to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, to which God is calling his chosen ones. It is against those who linger between the world and the Kingdom of God, that the enemy as the lion and leopard, directs his efforts. The enemy always attacks the weak child of God who is bewildered and distressed and does not have a deep and abiding relationship with Christ, and who is easily unsettled. Have you noticed that the enemy never comes and tries to unsettle you along the lines of Truth where you are firmly established, and the areas of living where you have victory? Ah – there is a realm where the lion and the leopard have not trodden! If you will examine the places in your life where you do not live triumphantly, and where you are the most beset by the enemy concerning the Truth of God, you will find you are still in the borderland and have not gone on in the knowledge of God and His great plan and purposes. You have not gone over upon God’s ground and, by faith, planted your feet there, with the determination to hold all you tread upon. As you do this, you will find the enemy has retreated from that place, and has begun an attack at some other point.
In the natural, mountains once crossed do not face us again; but spiritually, these mountains of decision, which lie between God’s best and compromise, are continually facing us in realm after realm. At every step and point of decision, in every experience and circumstance, the call of God to come away with Him, is as urgent as it was the first time He called us. Even after we leave the high peaks and ranges of the border mountains, it is surprising how many foothills there are before we are clear of the borderland; and we are not safe until we have left even the foothills. Many times the enemy makes sudden sallies and carries a belated traveler back to the highest peak of bewilderment and indecision.
The Bridegroom would not have His beloved loiter in these mountains; He calls her to come with Him that she may possess ALL OF THAT WHICH HE HAS PREPARED FOR HER. He has translated her out of darkness into His marvelous light, out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light; and He would not have her lingering in the questionable region that separates light from darkness. He woos her to hasten in the race, by inviting her to look from these high passes and behold the glorious Paradise of God shining bright before her, the land of the fullness of the glory of the Lord where man walks in the image of God.
It is not enough to have visions of the High Calling of God in Christ. It is not enough to have visions of the life of sonship to God. It is not enough to have visions of a realm of perfection and glory where the carnal mind is exchanged for the mind of Christ and death is swallowed up of His life. Visions are not possession; and though they may be from God, they are only given to encourage us to hasten our footsteps that we may enter in. It is not enough for us to leave the world and religious Babylon and begin the journey; we must hasten on to the end and finish our course even to the last step.
How many who start on the journey, settle down in these border mountains! How many settle for something better than what God called them out of, but LESS THAN WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN CALLED TO! Ah, yes, this borderland is an alluring place, a subtle experience, a crafty and cunning temptation. It is the territory between Babylon and Mount Zion where are felt the powers of both, but in the mixture neither are fully experienced. Those who abide here settle down comfortably in some “New Testament Church” order, with shepherds, gifts, and forms of worship – and fail to GO ON! These concern themselves with the “first principles” of doctrines, baptisms, laying on of hands, etc. and lay these foundations over and over, refusing to LEAVE THEM in order to GO ON TO PERFECTION.
The borderlands are a dangerous place for all who SETTLE THERE. If they are not devoured by the enemy that lurks there, they eventually retrace their steps and are found in the world from whence they came. Ah, we praise God for these borderlands, for it is needful that we PASS THROUGH them, but pass through we must! The mountain vision of a distant land of beauty and sunshine does not feed nor warm the one who sees it. Moses did not go over into Canaan, though for forty years he bore the children of Israel as a nursing mother
Though the vineyards were ever so green and fruitful, what joy could they bring to him who would never enjoy their fruits or drink of their vintage? Though the pomegranates were large and luscious, though the olive trees were green and loaded with fruit, he would never eat of this perfect fruit nor be anointed with the pure, abundant oil. Though the sun shone brighter than he had ever seen it in Egypt, or during those forty years in the desert, where he was taught in God’s school of solitude, how did it profit him? He would never be warmed by its gracious rays! And what shall it profit us, beloved, if we settle down in the borderland, in the “in part” realm of spiritual experience, in the glory of that which falls short of the promised fullness, in a “church order” rather than the Kingdom Order, in satisfaction with gaining an occasional victory rather than overcoming ALL THINGS, in contentment with the “indwelling” of His Spirit instead of a total TRANSFORMATION INTO HIS IMAGE.
There were some among the disciples, who were privileged to behold the glory of the heavenly Garden of God, and the glorious One who is Lord of it. Shortly before Jesus accomplished His decease, He took Peter, James and John up into a mountain apart from the others:
Though Peter, James and John beheld the glory of Christ’s Sonship and heard the voice of the Father witnessing to Him, they could not go with Him at this time. Before they could go in to the glory of sonship to God they had a course to run, they had a ministry to fulfill, they had a fight to fight, and they had a faith to keep even unto death. Only when they had done these things, could they enter into this glory, which they beheld in a measure upon the Mount of Transfiguration. So it is with us. How beautiful is that land of far distances! Our souls are ravished by the revelations of our high calling, which we see while upon this high elevation, caught up in the Spirit. But we must come down and hasten over the path that leads to the possession of all we have seen, and all that God has offered us. There is no working of the enemy so treacherous as the working of deception that would make us mistake for POSSESSION the great REVELATIONS God gives of sonship and the Kingdom of God and our High Calling in Him.
Truly, this is the enemy as a treacherous leopard, deceiving the unwary soul. If the deception is not perceived in time, that soul becomes puffed-up with a lot of HEAD-KNOWLEDGE and SELF-SATISFACTION, which is fatal to receiving that which has been revealed. Better would it be to not have any revelations, than to mistake them for land possessed; for some who steadily obey the Lord and follow Him without such revelations, will reach the goal; while the others may not.
Though my natural eyes have not beheld the sacred glories of Eden, I can think of nothing more wonderful than to have my spiritual eyes opened, and I now attest that the eyes of my understanding have been transfixed as they have caught glimpses of the effulgent glory of that realm of INCORRUPTIBLE LIFE. Though my natural feet have not trod upon the sacred ground of the heavenly land, I bear witness that in spirit I have entered and now stand enraptured upon its hills of splendor, beauty, glory and power. Only soul and body remain without, now to be transformed as by the purifying wind of His Holy Spirit He sweeps away as clouds of useless dust the earthiness of this carnal realm to which they have so long been bound. Arise, oh man! and enter in; for an entrance has been opened by our blessed Lord for the WHOLE MAN. Arise, oh sons of God, shake off the clinging dust of this low realm, and let us RETURN TO PARADISE!
Old Adam, the flesh, the carnal mind will never pass through the portals of Eden. The New Creation Man is he who enters and he enters with no dread of the Cherubim and the flaming sword upon him, for he is fully JUSTIFIED. There can be NO OBJECTION to his entrance, for justification is being DECLARED RIGHTEOUS.
Justification is neither forgiveness nor pardon. Forgiveness, of necessity, is a recognition of guilt – but covered by mercy. To forgive means to overlook an offence and to give up the desire to punish. Without guilt THERE CAN BE NO FORGIVENESS! Nor does justification mean to make righteous; this, too, would be a recognition of guilt, unrighteousness, and thus justification would be a correcting of an unrighteous state, not a declaration of righteousness. No one is justified by the law for the law CONDEMNS, and condemnation is antithesis of justification.
It may be shown by contrasting CONDEMNATION with JUSTIFICATION that both acts are judicial and not executive. The act of granting “pardon” is an executive act, the act of a ruler – president, king, governor etc. – who grants reprieve to one pronounced “guilty” by a judge or jury simply because it pleases him to do so. He thereby restores to society one who is still JUDICIALLY GUILTY, yet free to resume his place in society as a normal citizen. “Justification,” on the other hand, is the act of a judge, a forensic act, in which a judge pronounces the person arraigned as FREE FROM GUILT and entitled to be treated as righteous according to the law. If “to condemn” does not mean “to make evil” then “to justify” does not mean “to make good”. Therefore, since condemnation is judicial, so, also, justification. When the Bible says,
Justification must not be confused with sanctification. Justification does not bring about reformation, or a change of character, causing those who were “bad” to become “good”. It is a declarative act on the part of God in His judicial role as Judge, and not in His executive role as Sovereign. It is a forensic act in which the Lord declares that the accused is NOT GUILTY, and the accused cannot be condemned but must be granted an acquittal, declaring the one arraigned to be entitled to all the blessings, benefits and rights of the Kingdom of God!
Ah – to be justified means to be ACQUITTED. Acquitted means to be declared by a court of law NOT GUILTY – EXONERATED! Justification means that you really DIDN’T DO IT!
Yes, old Adam was pronounced GUILTY and banished from Eden’s fair Garden. But new Adam is declared RIGHTEOUS and may, therefore, stride boldly back into Paradise! We are now JUSTIFIED to RETURN TO PARADISE...