THE GREAT COMMISSION

BY:  CHARLES W. WELLER

 CHAPTERS 1-5

Chapters

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2

THE HUNTERS

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FARMERS

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WHO IS THE GARDEN OF GOD

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IN THE IMAGE OFGOD

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CHAPTER ONE

The Great Commission given by our Lord and Savior Jesus is as follows: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19) The first century efforts of the early Christian believers was a failure until God scattered the apostles out of Jerusalem. When the apostles finally learned that the Lord came to save the whole world, not just the Hebrew people, the message of salvation by grace rather than law spread like wildfire across the known Western world.

Why did the gospel (Greek meaning “good news”) of Jesus Christ spread? The Roman emperors were considered to be god’s emissary to the world and divine in nature. Failure to worship the Emperor was reason for decapitation. While the Christians were model citizens of the Empire in that they did not revolt against the Emperor they were considered a threat because of their failure to worship the Emperor. Persecution from the Roman Empire’s emperors fueled the growth of the church, that spiritual body of Christ. People in the coliseum were impressed by the sacrifice the Christians were willing to make for their faith in God. Even though the church went underground, it grew.

Finally, the state realized it would be beneficial to align itself with the Christian church, that spiritual body of believers. In approximately 312 AD Constantine conquered nations and made them become “Christians.” This religious political action began the fall into the dark ages for the church. People became Christians without knowing the Savior personally. The Western Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox Church used political alliances to effect the growth of Christianity. Many times the Eastern and Western catholic (catholic meaning universal) churches incorporated pagan customs into the service of the church.

Numerically, the church grew. Spiritually the church was stagnant in the sense of true evangelism. The concepts of the Christian faith however were incorporated in much of Western society in contrast to Eastern culture which was influenced more by Hinduism, Islam, etc. An in depth study of how evangelical theology influenced Western society is seen in the book: Calvinism in History by N.S.McFetridge, Still Waters Revival, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

It was the rebirth of the church, the movement begun by Luther to reform the Roman Catholic church that established one is justified by faith and not by works nor priesthood or indulgences etc. This evangelical move continued to grow in many areas. Each step led by the Spirit of God moved on men. God always uses vessels to establish His truths.

Water baptism, total immersion, was a step Luther could not accept, but others could. This truth was established by the “baptists” so to speak. Holiness as another experience was preached by Wesley and this “experience” caused some divisions within Christian ranks, but the scriptural basis is evident for those to see. The experience of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, denied by some evangelicals, did not stop God from re-establishing the truth of first century faith.

While truth was being re-established, divisions occurred with the brethren, which should not have, but perhaps fulfilled scripture: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.” (1 Cor. 1:10, 3:3, 11:18) Yet, with all these divisions, truth was so powerful that people were being saved.

The revivals in the USA of the 1730’s, 1830’s, 1900’s and 1948 were evidence that God was causing people to repent. Such great leaders as Whitfield, Edwards, Finney, Moody, Parsons, Hawtin, etc. held revivals across the country. Initially they started preaching in churches but the buildings could not hold all the people that came. So, evangelism moved out into the field, literally. This style of evangelism, a man preaching to a group of people, is to be one of many ways of evangelism. In the current era, Billy Graham, uses this method very well for the kingdom of God, as do many others – too many to be mentioned here.

But it is time that we recognize that as successful as that particular method is, evangelism is a failure in the Christian church. There are many reasons, but perhaps the most important are two:

First the people of God, those spiritual saints, that body of Christ, has refused as a whole to be personally responsible for evangelism. Sometimes it is easier to delegate responsibility to an evangelist than accept personal responsibility for evangelism.

Secondly, true evangelism has to change with the times to be relevant.

Christianity, as a whole, and Christians, individually, has not increased the percentage of the world that knows Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, even though mass media presentations on TV, satellites, radio, or in stadiums have worked. We cannot continue on with the same failing methods. The Christian church has failed in its mission given to it by Jesus Christ. We are to go into all the world and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to bring all creation to our Lord. Yet, through the conquering of nations by Constantine as a method of evangelism to the political power of the Roman Catholic Church, we have failed to convert the world. In fact, we are losing ground as a force to be reckoned with worldwide.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the USA. England which had a very active evangelical outreach now, according to my understanding has more Mosques in London than churches. The decline of Western Society morally has also led to a degenerate Christianity with it religious standards of holiness no different than the world’s. The desire by people for religion has led to a more structured legalistic approach in contrast to the premise of the Christian faith which is life by faith.

The degeneration of Christianity in the United States creates a post-Christian era. There is a call, a need for a radical reevaluation of the fundamental methods of evangelism. Failure for the world’s coming to Christ is not the issue. The issue is the immaturity of the Christian faith in the believers and the concepts of evangelism.

A normal Christian according to Watchman Nee’s standards (The Normal Christian Life) would be abnormal in today’s world of 1996. True evangelism begins with a personal lifestyle. Evangelism does not begin with testifying to someone about Christ verbally, but by the revelation of our Savior’s life in the vessel of dedication (1 Corinthians 3:16) followed by a testimony.

It is interesting to note that the word “testimony” comes from the Latin “testes” which we have the word “testicle.” A testimony is to be a statement of life; a revelation of life; a producer of life.

The word “evangel” means a divine message of good news. In the KJV of the Bible, angels, apostles, evangelism all come from the same word. Apostles were sent messengers proclaiming the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Angels, divine messengers brought good news too.

Consequently, an evangelistic testimony means a message of divine good news revealed and produced in the believer. Recognizing that all believers are at different growth stages in the faith at any given time, the message of “good news” is “Christ being formed in you. (Galatians 4:19) This revelation is to be read of all men, since you are the living epistle. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Lifestyle evangelism is the cornerstone of success of the Christian faith. However, for the spiritual body of Christ to be recognized in the world today the holiness of Christ must be seen in the vessels. By holiness we do not mean outward whited sepulchers based upon clothes etc. What we do mean is people who so love God that commitment is total. The world thinks Christians should be committed and so does God!

Commitment means staying married and working things out through sickness and health, if at all possible. Commitment means being holy, that is pure and undefiled in all manner of speech and actions so that there is no reproach on Christ Jesus. Commitment to holiness is children and adults respecting each other in Christ and seeing differences as attributes that can add to life.

Long ago the church would help a family in financial, social or spiritual difficulty or assist in other ways. Now the state does it and our testimony wanes. Lifestyle evangelism does not have a chance to occur.

We have progressed from a society that read Life Magazine to People Magazine, to Us Magazine to Self Magazine. Evangelism has suffered because as a nation and within the church we have become self- centered and not Christ-centered. The vision of self is narrow. The ministry of Christ is broadening. The church, like the world it has imitated, focuses on personal growth in Christ for personal reasons. Personal consumption causes stagnation. Life has to be given not consumed for it to be any good.

It is time for the saint of Christ to stop wearing T-shirts that testify of Christ and reveal the life of Christ. It is time for lifestyle evangelism rather than car-bumper stickers. It is time for our Lord to rise up and take His rightful place in His house, which you are. It is time for us to be crucified, dedicated, yielded vessels unto His glory. That is lifestyle evangelism.

Satellite Christianity is not a good witness. We have some preaching salvation and denying the Pentecostal relevancy of the faith. Others preach the relevancy of Pentecostalism and decry those who do not believe in the rapture doctrine. All this goes to the world which sees a divisive church. What is right? What should they believe? Who would want to be a Christian who on one hand proclaims healing and on the other hand denies it? We have a schizophrenia church.

It is time we repent as a church and seek the face of Him who resides within us. It is time to put on the character, the very nature of God and remove the garments of doctrinal biases.

The changes are simple to do but a radical alteration of evangelical theology at this point in time, 1997. If we do no change our methods from using carnal mind methods and being led by the spirit, Christianity will become a religion instead of a vibrant faith. In fact, if we do not change our efforts, Christianity will become a minor religion in the twenty-first century.

First, we shall deal with the methodology of evangelism. The current system of mass evangelism does not work. YWAM has gone door to door with results. But what results? A door to door salesman does about as well. Spirit led action is 100% successful all the time, carnal action – that which is done by logic or man-made methods has a minimal percentage of success. We all rejoice when one comes to God, but God would that none would perish and is the savior of all men, especially those that believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)

CHAPTER TWO

THE HUNTER

The question is: Are we to be hunters or farmers in our evangelistical efforts? The answer is crucial for the success of the faith long term. It is my understanding that a hunter style of evangelism that has been used to seek out the lost is incorrect.

Before a hunter goes out to hunt. He decides which is the quarry that he wants to bag. Is the hunter going for a deer, if so he must decide the caliber of bullet to be used because that is different than what is used for a squirrel. Whatever the animal or fowl sought, the correct caliber weapon must be picked. As an evangelist, you must know where you hunt. The field of your efforts is the field of your interpersonal relationships.

The hunter must now recognize the terrain. You don’t hunt squirrels on the ocean beach. The wrong location precludes failure. A hunter must be successful or time and effort are wasted. The hunter determines that squirrels like trees but a pine forest is not as conducive to squirrel as much as an oak forest. So there is refinement of target area. If you have experience because of your life training in the Lord (i.e. you came from an alcoholic family), that is specialization evangelization.

Now, knowing the targeted animal, the proper location, the caliber of weapon to use, the hunter begins to camouflage himself. He does not want to be recognized by his quarry. He does everything he can in order to hide his scent, himself and his weapons. Then the hunter stalks his game by hiding in the trees until there is a time to shoot. His identification is with the person’s experience, non-condemning, empathetic, and having experienced a similar lifestyle, now can share the victorious work of Christ in themselves.

For a Christian hunter, he locates the section of town that is the location of people who fit into his past from which he was delivered for therein is credibility. Then with this understanding of the terrain, he makes sure he has the correct weapon to shoot the target with. Of course, certain scriptures are more “powerful” with a select targeted group. The correct weapon is essential to success and therefore a special tract or Bible might be used.

The ammunition is prepared, hand-crafted into the shells. The Christian hunter learns the prescribed scriptures so that he can present them, not in a personal way, but in a manner anyone can tell is memorized. Generally TNT is used. (Romans 10:9, 10) The hunted immediately could identify the hunter as not understanding the scriptures that are used because they have not been truly worked into his nature yet. The hunter’s bullets are within his being ready to be launched.

The hunter loads his gun with the proper ammunition and goes out into the field, the woods, etc. hunting the quarry. The Christian hunter is loaded up with Romans 10: 9 and 10, and John 3:16. Other verses are practiced also so that the saint is a virtual puppet void of the ability to communicate except to use these verses to harangue the prospective new church goer.

Knowing the right verses, speaking in a convincing way, placing guilt on the person (Christ never places guilt He comes not to condemn) for not attending church, even for the sake of the children, the hunter is ready. Then with his gun loaded, the saint is told to cruise a targeted area. It may be the bowery. It may be the library. It may be the local real estate development.

The hunter finds the suspect. The person is a suspect because the hunter does not yet know if the person is a Christian, but suspects that the person is not. Unfortunately the Christian hunter is not camouflaged to look like the people he is approaching. This is poor hunting technique because the people approached know who he is. One must have walked a mile in their shoes in order to relate properly to the suspects, but the hunter does not care, for he is to “bag” the prospect, not create a relationship.

As the hunter approaches the suspect, the suspect sees him and curses. There is a sigh of relief from the hunter because he has found a true prospect. He can tell because he heard the cuss words. Already the self-righteous attitude of the hunter subconsciously is influencing him and as a hunter he begins to present himself in the wrong light. No training has been given the hunter on how to identify with the sinner as Jesus did, rather the hunter proceeds with a “saintly” attitude against the poor “sinner.”

With the gun (a highly visible Bible or tract) in his hand the hunter proceeds to enter the interpersonal zone of the prospect to discuss a need that the prospect has been hiding from himself for a long time. If I were a salesman and knocked at your door and forced my way in to give you a presentation, how would you feel? Probably you would feel indignant, insulted and infuriated. You would probably ask me to leave rather forcibly. So, the prospect asks the hunter to leave.

Is it no wonder then that the hunter is rebuffed. His plan, sharper than any two edged sword, goes down in flames. He has fired two salvos from his canon, but the TNT does not work. A bigger better gun is not the answer. The approach has to be different. The methodology has to be different. The bullets have to be different. The garments have to be different. Everything has to be different!

We all have experienced both sides of this story. When an evangelical Christian pushed his religion on me while forcefully witnessing, I rebuffed him. His presentation implied that he was better off than me which also allowed me to infer that he was superior. It came off as a holier than thou approach. Yet, when I became a Christian years later, I too accepted the methodology of evangelism forgetting how it had insulted me. How soon after becoming a Christian we lose contact with reality. So excited about Christ, we fail to consider another.

But I see Jesus. He evangelized far differently than what the church system has taught us. A balanced approach is what is needed. Our Christian witness has been hypertrophied.

“Christians don’t go into bars” I was told. I guess Jesus wasn’t a Christian. He felllowshipped with winebibbers. He went where they were and did not condemn them over their drinking. No, Jesus sought to help them work through their personal problem that caused them to drink.

In the parable of the prodigal son, the Father welcomes back the son who squandered his inheritance in riotous living. The Father never condemned but gave life to his son – new clothes, a house over his head, food and his position returned. That is true evangelism. Only the self-righteous son complained, representative of the religious nature of some people. Jesus came to give life and evangelized accordingly.

The ministry of reconciliation given to Paul and thereby to us, is to recognize that Jesus’ death and resurrection has destroyed sin. If we give life, they will come. They followed Jesus because he gave life and did not condemn. Yet, Romans 10:9 and 10 is used as weapon to condemn the sin and when salvation is preached to some one it is in fear of hell and sin many a person gets saved. Jesus came not to condemn the world but that through Him the world would be saved. (John 3:17)

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk with out money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1) Life cost nothing. Sin cost everything. Jesus evangelized by giving of Himself. The hunter does not do that. The hunter seeks to consume its prize. Jesus gave life and let the people be free. Jesus paid the price so others could partake. The hunter shoots the quarry and makes the quarry pay the price. What would happen if the hunter made himself the quarry so that the prospect would come eat of him? Radical thought. A Jesus pattern.

A hunter is forceful, dominant, confident, armed, focused and positioned. Christ was open, vulnerable, loving, yielding, understanding. The woman came to Jesus at the well. He did not accuse her but asked “Where are your accusers?” (John 8:10) The life that He gave to the woman changed her. Oh, how we have missed the truth of evangelism. It is no wonder that the Christian faith is less in number than before the turn of the twentieth century.

The hunter seeks his trophy. The hunter seeks a return on his investment of time, effort. The hunter wants immediate results. But Jesus was different. He healed with expectation of return on investment. He even told men not to tell of what He did for them. Jesus fed the 5,000 unconditionally and more without concern. A hunter in contrasts seeks to gain from the effort extended.

Jesus called Zacchaeus down from the tree and became a friend to the man who had no friend. The Romans used Zacchaeus to collect taxes from his own people. His own people hated him for working for the Romans. Jesus seeing the plight of the man, moved with compassion, extended a hand of fellowship.

A hunter Christian is goal oriented and not necessarily compassion oriented. True evangelism is outreach based upon a love of God that is unconditionally expressed without condemnation, without force. True Jesus evangelism is allowing people to discern the body of Christ in you and partaking of Him in you by making yourself the bread broken for them. 

CHAPTER THREE

FARMERS

God has not called us to be hunters, but rather He has called us to be farmers from the beginning. It was given to Adam to dress and keep the garden. (Genesis 2:15) Adam was to be a farmer. A farmer is far different from a hunter. Consider the ways of the person who dresses and keeps the garden.

A farmer develops his land but a hunter seeks out its quarry. A farmer knows that the land is his, but a hunter has to find out if the quarry is his by shooting it. A farmer only seeks to prepare the field for the seed, but a hunter prepares himself to seek out the quarry. A farmer weeds the garden but the hunter runs through the weeds seeking that which he hunts. A farmer seeks to improve what the land is by making it more fruitful but a hunter only seeks to take from the land without improvement. A farmer plants in order to feed himself and many others but a hunter seeks to feed himself and perhaps others. A farmer loves his land and works with the seasons (sovereignty of God) but a hunter does not love the animal shot and works in inclement weather. The hunter seeks to destroy or to remove the quarry from the land, but the farmer seeks to cultivate, that is the farmer seeks to remove that which hinders the crop already there. The farmer wants the maximum performance from the land and is therefore patient for the result. A hunter can do it right now.

In Hebrew “dress” would be said as `abad {aw-bad’} a primitive root; It has within it the meaning to “serve (translated that way 227 times), to do (translated as such 15 times). Was this a literal garden to farm? Perhaps. Was it an allegorical or symbolical garden? Perhaps. Assuming it was a spiritual garden, the farmer dresses the garden. This is done by removing the garments of it – the filthy rags of iniquity (Zech.3:3-4), unrighteousness. (Isaiah 64:6)

The word “keep” in Hebrew is ‘shamar’ {shaw-mar’} 283 times it is translated as keep, 46 times it is translated as observe. The farmer is responsible to keep the garden which means to preserve it, watch over it, ward off of it, all things that could enter into the garden that should not.

What evangelistic person, what hunter, sees the person as a saint rather than a sinner? God saw us as a saint even while we were yet sinners. Adam said he was naked and God said to Adam, “Who told you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11) The farmer sees the ground as good, but the hunter sees the ground as something to be conquered not cultivated. Cultivation evangelism is the preferred method over the con- quering evangelism method. God saw all creation as “good” but man sees it as “bad” which must be removed. The vessel is not bad, the earth is not bad, but the source of weeds must be removed.

God is looking for farmers who are willing to work with the seasons of the individual. Theses farmers are willing to water when necessary, willing to sow when necessary but not willingly to do it all. (1 Corinthians 3:6) These farmers know when to sow because they understand the season of the individual. Why try to harvest if it is a sowing season?

A farmer is willing to plant a seed, nothing more. A farmer is willing to let God give the increase. The hunter is more into his hunt and causing of a result – shooting the quarry. One rests in the sovereign work of God and the other fosters personal effort. God is looking for farmers who yield to Him. God prefers to work through people rather than work with them. A farmer is one who understands his oneness with the universe and God’s omnipresence and His personal involvement with it all.

Raised on a farm, I can appreciate the hard work from sunrise to sunset and even later. I have seen the love of the land, the understanding of the earth, even as God’s handiwork. The smell of fresh tilled earth is the most pleasing aroma on the planet. But those more removed from the basics, the earth and its crops, miss a blessing of the truth of God, although they will be blessed in another way.

A farmer cultivates, develops, fertilizes, waters, pesticides and harvests the crop of the land, all part of a year long process. There is no hurry because the farmer knows that the seed in due time will come forth with the fruit. A hunter is more urgently driven toward his goal of bagging an animal or fowl. A farmer takes time to develop relationships; whereas, a hunter sees each person brought into the kingdom as a trophy and proclaims: “I brought so and so to the Lord last night.” A farmer knows God gives the increase but not always so with a hunter “I did…” shows where the glory is given.

God’s eternal plan, the redemption of all mankind (Romans 5, 1Corinthians 12:22, 28-30) is a long process. A farmer understands the patience needed for results that are predetermined by the seed (Christ). It will not return void. (Isaiah 55:11) The firstfruits encourage the farmer for they are an indication of a total harvest. The farmer rejoices at the firstfruits because of the joy that will come shortly with the full harvest. God’s eternal plan is working for He was well pleased with His Son, a firstfruit, of creation’s full harvest. As by one man came death into the world so shall by one man, Christ Jesus, come life to all.

Creation began by a farmer – God, Himself. He has called us to be conformed to His image. (Romans 8:29,12:2) He created Adam to dress and tend the garden. Adam was to learn of God’s nature by being a farmer. God wants us to learn to be spiritual farmers, even as His natural creation is a spiritual creation in that it came out of the spiritual creative word and was spoken into existence. We are to spiritually birth and cultivate others into Christ. Let us follow the pattern of our Father and become farmers.

CHAPTER FOUR

WHO IS THE GARDEN OF GOD?

Isaiah 61:3 states: “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified. The thought suggested here is that man is a garden, a place of cultivation, of seed, of plowing, of fruit, a planting of the Lord, etc. In this verse of Isaiah we see that a man(kind) is called a tree of righteousness, a planting of the Lord.

God created man and sowed into man certain qualities, a certain nature. The parable of the Sower (Matthew 13: 3-9, 18-23) refers to people and the differences of people in their ability to receive or grasp thoughts. The parable uses percentages of 30, 60 and 100 fold as a means to describe the receptivity of people to the seed, to the word of God (Luke 8:11), who is Jesus Christ. The Greek ‘logos’ used in John 1:1 to describe Jesus is the same word ‘logos’ used in connection with seed.

God sows a seed, Himself, into every man for He “…lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9) Part of the nature, the character of God is placed in the garden, each person. “Light shines in darkness and the darkness comprehends it not.” (John 1:5) The Adamic nature, that fallen nature does not know it has within it the nature of God. We know that a seed cannot produce unless its carcass is used as fertilizer. So it is here. Adamic nature is dead due to sin. It is the soil, the fertilizer for the seed to come forth in.

The garden in Genesis could be literal but no one can prove that. It could be allegorical and no one can prove that. Both could be correct and no one can disprove that. But we see that God breathed (Hebrew, ‘ruach’, meaning spirit) His nature into Adam. The word ‘Adam’ in the Hebrew is a word that means ‘mankind’. So, when God created mankind we find He placed His ‘seed’, His spirit, into every vessel which is confirmed in John 1:9.

Every person comes from the earth (1 Corinthians 15:47) and is to be changed into the heavenly. (1 Corinthians 15:48) Isaiah 60:21 states: “Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” 2 Thessalonians 1:10 states He will be glorified in His saints. So, that which is made of the earth will have the revelation of God in them. We are in the processing of the Lord being made, being conformed into His image. We note that Isaiah 60:21 states we are the branch of His planting. Jesus was of the shoot, the branch of Jesse. (Isaiah 11:1) We have been grafted into Him. Consequently, we are the branch of His planting for our life is hid with God in Christ.

All creation has Him within them but the darkness comprehends neither the life that sustains them nor the spiritual life that is available to them. To those whom the light has come, the day dawns and the sun (Son) helps the garden to grow. In the growing of the saint the fruit comes on them since they are trees of righteousness. The unsaved are to come a pluck the fruit off the tree. The tree doesn’t go to the unsaved. The Christian is to be a salad bowl, a cornucopia of fruitfulness, a garden in which the unsaved can walk, rest, and partake of blessings, as the birds of the field make their nest in us. The best-laid trap to catch a mouse is one which causes the mouse to hunger after the cheese. What scent does your garden produce? Is it the aroma, the fragrance of Christ?

Song of Solomon 4:12 states: “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” The story of Song of Solomon is a love story of Christ and the Church. The church is the spouse of Christ, His bride. At the same time the church is a sister of Christ because we are all of the same family due to the work of our elder Brother on the cross. So the verse has great depth of spirituality to it. Note that we are a garden of the Lord in which He will plant His seed. He calls His sister a garden. She is fruitful in that she is able to produce. She is shut up because she has never had a seed placed in her. She must be born again. The fountain must be opened so the spring of life within her can come forth. What life is in her? God must fertilize the egg. The spirit must unite with the soul.

Jesus offered his soul for sin. (Isaiah 53:10) For the soul that sins dies. (Ezekiel 18:4) Adam was a living soul until he died. So the spirit of God must unite with the person in a born again experience. The garden will bring forth fruit. Until the believers in Christ envision the total work of the cross, everyone in Christ through the work of the cross, there can be no germination. (See 1 Timothy 4:10, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 28.)

Jesus died for all. John 3:17 states that He came to save the world. The scriptures declare He is victorious over the devil. The church has failed in its ministry of reconciliation because it does not see everyone as a garden, a planting of the Lord that needs to spring forth.

Song of Solomon declares in 4:16 “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” This verse follows along the same thought as the previous. The Lord seeks to come into union with the soul. Then the new creation man can come forth in the image of Christ. Just as a husband and wife produce a creation in their image, so Christ seeks to come into union with the church so that the church can produce offspring. Who are the offspring? The ones led to the Lord by the gardens fruit.

Some gardens have yet to be developed because of the briars, thorns and thistles (the old Adamic nature). The soulishness of Adam must be removed. These gardens need to be plucked of such and plowed for planting (Jeremiah 1:10) We must remember the Old Testament right of redemption of the land for this is what Christ is doing for us, yea even the world. He died for us to redeem us, for we are the land, the earth of which Adam was made.

Isaiah 51:3 states: “For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” We were the Garden of Eden in which the spirit (man) and the soul (woman) existed until sin was found. And then we entered the realm of the flesh, the outer man. We were desolate until the fountain sprang forth in the desert. (Isaiah 35:6-7) We were a wasteland, a wilderness until He came in unto His field. For wherever He is, is life. The Lord is going to comfort Zion that she will appear as a fruitful bow. She, the church, will appear as blessed of the Lord and the nations, the unsaved, will come because of the life she reveals.

Isaiah 58:11 states: “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” When the life of the Lord begins to flow through the individual, they become a wellspring of life to others, their community, etc. Those sold out to Him will be changed from their corrupted earth to a whole new earth. When they enter into Him, they return to the garden within and leave their existence in the outer man. The waters fail not because the water is Him.

The Message of the Cross is found in Song of Solomon 5:1. “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” Myrrh and spices as well as aloe were used for preparation for burial, suggesting crucifixion. Our identification with Christ will lead us to the cross. For as a spouse marries her husband and assumes his name and nature, which is to say that she leaves her identity and all she was in one sense, we too shall assume Christ’s. As He was slain for our salvation, we bear about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus so that the Life of Christ might be seen. We are being prepared to die.

A farmer lives and dies at the hand of the weather. It falls on the just and the unjust. God is our farmer, we are the land and He places the seed within us. He causes the increase in His time. One plants by the spirit of God another waters, but God gives the increase. His creation is totally in His control.

CHAPTER FIVE

IN THE IMAGE OF GOD

Man was made in the image of God. Andrew Jukes states in his book Types in Genesis: “This image is the mind of God in us. When this is come the ‘man’ is formed, erect in walk, and looking upward, able to recognize the mind and will of One above him, with an understanding to know, and a will to love, God. This it is which marks a man: a mind able to understand and bow to a superior….The church of Corinth is a proof, enriched with knowledge, but carrnal, for the ‘man’ had not yet come.” (pg. 38, 39)

The seed within begins to grow. It is an incorruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23. Nothing can change its nature nor alter its course because God loves us so. Jukes, a well respected theologian of the early 1900’s, expresses the thought that paradise was not a literal physical location as most churches teach but rather the mind of the person. As one reads the quote again and again, a depth of mystical truth begins to unfurl within the believer. Is it important that Genesis is literal? I think not. For it is the natural understanding that separates us from God. Paradise is a realm, a spiritual habitation, a level of relationship with God.

Adam, the fallen one who is also known as Lucifer (not Satan as the church teaches erroneously), was perfect until iniquity was found in him in the garden. (Ezekiel 28:15) The statement about Eden shows the beauty of the creation (Adam). Ezekiel 28:13 states: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” The garden is our mind, beautifully crafted by God who places a seed (the Logos) His Son in us from the beginning. (John 1:9)

Yet, the very commandment of the Lord is not grasped by Eve who in Genesis 2:2-3 remembers it differently: “And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree [there are two; she only speaks of one] which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said ‘Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”

What is the essence of Eve’s spiritual condition here? It is simply this: her knowledge of God, and therefore of God’s will, was second-hand. God had instructed Adam directly, but Eve wasn’t around and relying on second-hand knowledge, she was deceived, even before she had sinned! She was relying on what she remembered about what God had said to someone else, apart from her own experience. The carnal mind will always be the weed around the mind of Christ, the Logos, who was placed in darkness in us.

Contrast that now to what Jeremiah says about the people of the New Covenant (Jeremiah. 31:33-34): “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’ for they shall all know Me, from the least unto the greatest.'” Notice that in the old covenant, God was a husband to the people of Israel. The law written on tablets of stone was second-hand information, transmitted by human agency, and their understanding was therefore imperfect, as was their obedience. But in the new covenant, God doesn’t say He will be their husband; He says He will be their God. Here everyone is in the position of Adam, having first-hand knowledge, a personal relationship not mediated through information imperfectly transmitted by memory, but based on a new spiritual reality, His law written on the heart.

“So the Lord teaches, – ‘From within, out of the heart, proceed evil thoughts,’ and every form of evil living; and out of the affections grows that life which is life and is eternal. And yet the man, and woman too, though she is the mother of all living, are shut out of paradise. The fallen mind in mercy is shut out because it is unfit to deal with heavenly things” (pg. 68 Types in Genesis).

The fallen mind, that carnal mind is where the soul did live. But the soul that sins (Ezekiel 18:4) shall die. Praise be to God that He offered His Son as a soul for our sin. (Isaiah 53:10) The carnal mind is at enmity with God the book of Romans declares. It is a garden that does not need to be tended, but rather must have the thorns and thistles removed. It must be plowed, cultivated, nurtured, fertilized, hoed, and then planted.

We see Jesus as the prefect example of the paradise of God. God reigned totally through Jesus. The Kingdom of God ruled completely through Jesus. Paradise was regained, since Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb offered for us so that we could come boldly into the presence of God. My what fruit that the Lord did reveal in is life. Our Savior revealed a temperament that was godly. He revealed a love that was godly – not based on feeling or emotion (perhaps embellished by it) but on commitment. He revealed honor, pure judgment, praise and glory for God. These fruits come from the tree of life in the garden who is Christ. Now, we can remove ourselves, because of Him, from eating the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I might add that anytime we compare something or someone or ourselves with others, we are eating of the wrong tree.

“God wishes also that we cultivate this delicious paradise of our interior. And what is this cultivation? Our Divine Master will teach us: ‘Deny yourselves (He says) and take up your cross daily.’ To deny ourselves unceasingly in all that…desire contrary to God, and resign ourselves correspondingly, so as to bear equally the many crosses…that God permits to happen to us…God permits man to taste of all those delights represented by the fruits – that is to say, all the virtues-but He forbids him that of the knowledge of good and evil, which is the usurpation of our own conduct to the prejudice of the reign of Jesus Christ over us.” (pg. 249 Madame Guyon’s Commentary on the Bible)

Murdered by the Roman Catholic Church as a heretic in the late Middle Ages because she was a mystic, Madame Guyon nevertheless had tremendous spiritual insight. God wants us to eat of the fruit of the garden that has life and forbidden us to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil because it usurps the place of Christ in us. In fact, it will prejudice us against the way, the highway of the Lord. The garden of God is Him who is within.

SUMMARY

Let us repent of the way of the flesh and lean on the everlasting arms of God. Let us become farmers of the world. Let us plant and water, which will cause earthquakes in the flesh of each individual so that spiritual man, that spiritual seed of 1 Peter 1:23, can come forth. Farming brings greater results than hunting.

A new millennium is upon us. A new day dawns with the auspicious advent of a new opportunity for the body of Christ to establish Christianity as a tremendous vibrant way of life. We cannot do what we have done in the past because it has not brought the world to Christ. It is time for the body of Christ to recognize who they are in Christ and lead rather than let the ministers “do it.”

The motivation to follow on to be a fruitful garden of the Lord comes from the love of God. Let us give of the fruit of His life in us to those who need His love. Let us be the tree in the middle of the river giving forth fruit for all twelve months (symbolically meaning fruitful in and out of season, giving life) Revelation 22:1-3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GREAT COMMISSION, THE, Chapters 1-5, 21st CENTURY EVANGELISM [Charles W. Weller]          1

 

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