MAKING TREES OF LIFE

(Trumpet Ministries,Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

MAKING TREES OF LIFE Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

The Christian fight is against spiritual death. We are in a never-ending (in this world) struggle against the spiritual death that is in our personality and our environment. The overcomer is given the right to eat of the Tree of Life, of Jesus Christ.

It is God’s will that we attain to the first resurrection from the dead, that is, the to fullness of eternal life in our inward nature and—at the coming of the Lord—in our body as well.

But there is a destiny beyond this. It is that we dwell for eternity in the midst of the Holy Fire and thus serve as a tree of life for God’s children.

MAKING TREES OF LIFE

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"  the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45—NIV)

Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2—NIV)

The Christian fight is against spiritual death. We are in a never-ending (in this world) struggle against the spiritual death that is in our personality and our environment. The overcomer is given the right to eat of the Tree of Life, of Jesus Christ.

It is God’s will that we attain to the first resurrection from the dead, that is, to the fullness of eternal life in our inward nature and—at the coming of the Lord—in our body as well.

But there is a destiny beyond this. It is that we dwell for eternity in the midst of the Holy Fire and thus serve as a tree of life for God’s children.

The present essay is a continuation of a previous essay, titled "Problems and Pain." In that writing we discussed the manner in which our tribulations in the present world:

Purify us from sin.

Teach us obedience to God.

Change our blood-life to resurrection-life.

Enable us to minister and bear fruit by resurrection-life.

The present essay continues the concept of our struggle to pass from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ. One of the chief agents that God employs to change us from living souls to life-giving spirits is tribulation—the fiery trials, the problems and pains we experience throughout our discipleship.

The last two effects of tribulation of the four just above, changing our blood-life to resurrection-life, and enabling us to minister and bear fruit by resurrection-life, come together in practice. As we pass from the adamic blood-life to the resurrection-life of Jesus Christ we minister eternal life to those around us.

This is God’s eternal purpose in Christ—to raise up sons who live by His Spirit to such an extent they are able to give eternal life to all of God’s children. God is making trees of life—all springing forth from the one great Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is God’s will that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ might not perish in their adamic corruption but receive eternal, incorruptible resurrection life.

In the following passage we see that God made certain the Apostle Paul was not living and ministering in his own conceit and strength but by the Lord’s Spirit.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so Christ’s power may rest on me. (II Corinthians 12:7-9—NIV)

The fruit borne from the ministry of Paul passes all reckoning. To the present hour Paul is ministering eternal life to us. But in order that Paul’s service might proceed from God’s grace and not Paul’s native ability and ambition, God allowed Satan to put affliction upon Paul. The result was the diminishing of Paul’s ability and the increase of the Presence of Jesus Christ.

The power of Paul’s life was changing from that of his flesh and blood personality to the energy coming from the power of Christ. The result has been an unsurpassed revelation of God’s Person and His will in Christ. In fact, Paul’s letters have become Holy Scripture.

Isaiah gives us a picture of the believer who continually is buffeted by the Lord until he is completely captured in God’s will, God’s rest.

So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there—so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. (Isaiah 28:13—NIV)

God’s Word is applied to us line upon line, rule upon rule, a little here, a little there, until we have been snared by the Lord. When we commence we do not realize this is what is going to happen to us. The Lord is very cunning as He draws us away from our self-life into the waters to swim in.

The theme of Paul’s continual death and resurrection appears throughout the Book of Second Corinthians. Of note is the following:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (II Corinthians 4:8-10—NIV)

Compare:

"So that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured."

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

Paul’s natural adamic life was constantly being knocked down that the Life of Jesus might come forth. Paul was suffering the death of Jesus, the humiliation, rejection by the Jews, persecution, treachery, perplexity (why have You forsaken me?), the insults, the denial of the ordinary comforts and pleasures that people enjoy, the physical pain.

The result of such suffering was twofold: first, Paul’s inward nature was growing in resurrection life; second, the Life of Jesus was being revealed in Paul’s body. He was becoming a tree of life. To the present day we are experiencing the life found in the epistles of Paul, the eternal life present in his writings because of the crucifying of his natural life.

All true ministry and fruit-bearing proceeds from the individual who is being crucified with Christ and in whom the resurrected Christ is living.

It is our opinion that Ezekiel’s Temple is a picture of the inward personality of the believer who has become a new creation in Christ. Whether or not such is the case, it is clear the river described in the forty-seventh chapter is the River of Life, the Holy Spirit that always and only flows from the Throne of Almighty God.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits  and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. (Ezekiel 47:3—NIV)

When we first receive Christ as our Savior, His righteousness is ascribed (imputed) to us and on this basis we are given a portion of the Spirit. The Spirit of God comes only where there is righteousness, ascribed, or manifested in our behavior. The "measuring line" speaks of the initial judgment that comes on us when we are first saved. God requires that we repent of our former worldly ways in order that we may receive His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.

This is a beginning righteousness and a beginning deposit on the fullness of life that will be ours if we remain faithful to God. It is water that is ankle-deep.

Many Christians never get past this beginning stage of salvation. They are in the water of life at one moment and back into the flesh the next.

He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. (Ezekiel 47:4—NIV)

I like to think of the water to the knees as the Pentecostal experience. We have moved further into resurrection life. It is becoming increasingly easy to remain in the Spirit of God. Yet we can, if we choose, churn our way back to life in the often sinful passions and appetites of the flesh. The measuring line now begins to reveal the sin that is in our personality. The Holy Spirit leads us and enables us to put to death the deeds of our body that we may attain resurrection life.

"Water that was up to the waist" symbolizes our willingness to enter the sufferings of Christ; to forsake our own will in favor of making God’s will the main consideration of all we think, do, and say.

The issue facing the Charismatic move of today is that of the water to the waist. Are we willing to give our gifts back to Christ and seek His will in all we do? Or are we going to save our life and attempt to use the things of Christ to accomplish what we desire?

The recent "prosperity message" reveals the readiness of Charismatic people to attempt to make Christ their servant. They think they are building His kingdom. The truth is, they are seeking to use Christ to build their own kingdom.

If we have been as far as Pentecost we need to recognize that we have not as yet died to our self-will. We have been saved, and in some cases have made progress in deliverance from moral sin. But the big issue is self-will.

God gets at our self-will by putting us in various kinds of prisons, as Paul indicated when he mentioned his tribulations. Every kind of denial and suffering is sent our way in order that our self-will may be struck down and God’s will revealed.

There is much talk today about power and about worldwide fruitfulness in the things of God. Power and fruitfulness will be given only to those who are willing to lose their own strength and wisdom that Christ may become the power of their life.

This is water to the waist. First we die to the world. Then we die to the lusts of our flesh. But the third death is by far the most important in terms of entering our land of promise. It is death to our self-will, to our right to be ourselves, in order that we may become part of God.

God will not give His glory to another. As long as we insist on rushing about according to our own understanding of what God wants we will have to be content with mercy drops. The fullness of the torrent of glory and power designated for the closing days of the Church Age will be given only to those who have returned to Christ, have picked up their cross of self-denial, and are following patiently after Him. The seven thunders of power will not speak until there are saints who forsake their own ways and look to Jesus alone.

There is a fourth area of judgment followed by the fullness of eternal life.

He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. (Ezekiel 47:5—NIV)

After we have died to the world, to sin, and to self-will, we are to move forward with God to the place where we no longer are conscious of what we are receiving. It is the area of total immersion in God, in His Person, in His will. This is the way Jesus lives. He does not have the Spirit by measure. Jesus does not see through a glass darkly, operating by gifts of the Spirit. He has the fullness of the Spirit, waters to swim in, a river that cannot be crossed. The same shall be true of us one day if we remain faithful to God.

This is that which is perfect. It is God’s love brought to the full in us until we have become a source of God’s Presence for His creatures.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (I Corinthians 13:12—NIV)

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:9—NIV)

Now that we have passed through all four levels we are ready to return to the bank of the river.

When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. (Ezekiel 47:7—NIV)

The "trees on each side of the river" are the believers who have proceeded as far as the waters to swim in. They all are growing from the common root of Christ. They are ready to bring the Spirit of God to the nations of the earth. They are trees of life.

He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah,  where it enters the Sea.  When it empties into the Sea,  the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live." (Ezekiel 47:8,9—NIV)

The above passage is telling us that when the sons of God appear with the Lord Jesus, at His coming, they will bring eternal life to all who will come to them. The invitation will be given: The Spirit and the Bride will say, "Come to the living water and drink freely. It is given to you without cost."

Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. (Isaiah 60:5—NIV)

This is the revealing of the sons of God—that which will release the material creation from the bondage imposed on them, that is, the corruptible, frustrating life of flesh and blood.

That  the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:21—NIV)

The promise God made to Abraham that the nations would be blessed through his Seed was referring to the Holy Spirit that would be given through Christ—Head and Body.

You and I have the firstfruits of what one day will fill the earth. All people who are saved will receive the Life of the Spirit of God.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23—NIV)

There is no joy that can be compared to that of being used of God to bring eternal life to other people. The Lord Jesus, speaking during the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles, declared that those who believe in Him will bring up the water of eternal life from within themselves.

"Whoever believes in me, as  the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:38—NIV)

That this pronouncement was made on the eighth day, the high Sabbath of the feast of Tabernacles, not on the feast of Pentecost, is of the greatest significance to us today.

Many of the Christian churches have been at Pentecost, so to speak, throughout the twentieth century. But Pentecost is not the last feast of the Lord, it is the fourth of seven celebrations.

The greatest of the feasts, the feast of Tabernacles, has not been fulfilled in us as yet, but we are moving toward it.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost symbolizes the rain of the Spirit from Heaven.

The Jewish feast of Tabernacles symbolizes the creating of the Throne of God and Christ within the believer so the water of eternal life flows from the inward personality of the believer rather than coming down as rain.

In order to pass from Pentecost to Tabernacles, thus becoming a tree of life capable of bringing eternal life to the saved nations of the earth, we must have the Throne of God and Christ created within us. God will create His throne in us but it requires that we surrender all aspects of our personality to God.

If we do not give the Lord the key to every room in our heart He will not accept the key to any room. He is God and He will be worshiped. He will not share His Glory with another person. If we are to receive the fullness of the Glory of God we must give up our right to be an independent person. As long as we remain separate from God, retaining our right to exercise our own will, we are another god in the universe, a competitor of the only true God.

There is only one legitimate will in the universe, and that is the will of the Father. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven.

We have known the Glory of Christ in salvation.

We have known the holiness and fellowship of the Spirit in Pentecost.

Now we are approaching the level of stern obedience to God. For the past twenty or so years in America we have been trying to make Christ our servant. He is not our servant. He is the King and we are His servants. If we wishes to call us up higher, that is fine. But He has purchased us with His blood; therefore by right we are His bond-servants.

I think most sincere Christians would like to bring salvation and release to the peoples of the nations. God intends for us to do just that. While we may have opportunity to minister to people in the present age, God is preparing us for a future age, for a worldwide ministry of bringing eternal life to the prisoners of the earth, to those condemned to the frustrating, corruptible life of flesh and blood.

Let us take a look at the twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. This is what was chanted during the feast of Tabernacles, according to Jewish tradition. This is what we will experience as we pass from the Pentecostal experience to the Tabernacles experience.

In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me." (Isaiah 12:1—NIV)

"In that day." That "day" is the Day of the Lord, the day in which the flesh is cast down and the Lord alone is exalted in our life.

As we commence our Christian journey we experience many tribulations. This is because God is angry with the sin and rebellion in our personality. If we do not quit but remain faithful to God, the time comes when God comforts us. He consoles us for the problems and pain we have experienced, problems and pain that have come from His hand.

After we thus are brought low, having humbled ourselves under the hand of God, receiving His chastening with a good spirit, He raises us up. Then we cease attempting to exalt ourselves and begin to praise the Lord. The Lord becomes our focus, instead of ourselves and what we are going to get from the Lord.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2—NIV)

In the Tabernacles experience, God becomes our salvation. He makes us part of Himself. Instead of giving us power, joy, life, righteousness, He Himself becomes our Power, our Joy, our Life, our Righteousness. No longer are we seeking just gifts, although there is a time to desire fervently the gifts of the Spirit, and they are needed in these days that the Body of Christ may come to maturity.

But beyond the gifts there is the Presence of God Himself. This is the highest and best, the rest of God, the eternal Sabbath—the fulfillment of all God intends the Sabbath to be.

Because we no longer are trying to "get" salvation from God, we learn to trust, to lean on the Lord. The life of trust in the Lord is characteristic of the Tabernacles experience.

Fear and dread are a major part of life on the earth. The only complete relief from fear and dread occurs as we become part of God, continually resting in His Presence. It is not easy to get rid of all fear, but is possible as we keep pressing into Him and learn by experience that He always is faithful to keep us when we are trusting in Him.

The Lord becomes our Strength—not just gives us strength, He Himself becomes our Strength. And why not? He has brought us down and raised us up a number of times until we now have no strength of our own. Unless He gives us strength and wisdom we cannot function! What a wonderful place to be, and yet terrible. Wonderful to our spiritual nature. Terrible to our human nature as we realize we have been crucified with Christ and our life now is Christ. Only then can we serve as a tree of life for other people.

The Lord is my Song. We stand with our harp, our song of praise, upon the sea of glass mixed with fire. We sing the song of both Moses and of the Lamb, for the plan of redemption is one plan. It is not broken into dispensations. There is a song that can be sung only by those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. God grant we may be able to sing that song.

God Himself has become our salvation. It is not just that He saves us, He has become our Salvation. This is the end result of pressing forward into Christ all the days of our pilgrimage.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3—NIV)

I feel certain these were the words being chanted when the Lord spoke of living water coming from the inward nature of those who believe in Him. No greater joy will ever be ours than that of serving as a tree of life for those who have been bound with corruption. The wells of salvation are created in us as we are willing to remain in the prison where we are placed and patiently wait for the Lord to deliver us.

In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted." (Isaiah 12:4—NIV)

The end result of pressing forward in Christ each day is that our attention is turned away from ourselves, how we are going to benefit, to Christ and how He is going to benefit. We then are prone to be thankful for all our blessings; we find ourselves calling on the Lord throughout the day and night.

When we thus are lost in God we always are making known among the nations what God has done. We always are declaring that His name is exalted.

How wise God is that He is able to bring us all the way from a worldly, sinful, self-centered individual to a new creation fashioned in the moral image of Christ and dwelling in untroubled rest in the Center of God’s Person. This is the program and process of salvation.

For eternity we shall be an integral part of God and Christ, living in the glorious Holy Fire, serving as a tree of life to those who are weak and despondent. This will be our life and greatest joy.

What is the spiritual fulfillment of the physical Canaan?

It is, first of all, life lived in the fullness of the Spirit of God rather than in the frailties and corruption of flesh and blood.

Our inheritance is God Himself. After that, our inheritance is the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.

Eternal, incorruptible resurrection life; the fullness of God; the nations to love; the farthest reaches of the earth to enjoy—an earth from which the curse has been totally lifted. Finally a new sky and new earth.

This is our Canaan, our inheritance through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. (Isaiah 12:5—NIV)

God has done glorious things. This is our song, our joy, our reason for boasting.

Sometimes, it seems, Christian ministry becomes a chore, a business, an endless labor to persuade people to join our religion and grow in it. Such work appears to be necessary in the present hour.

However, there is coming a better way.

The highest witness is a song of praise. It is to inform the whole world of the glorious things God has done. Perhaps when the nations hear that song and see that glory they will receive Christ and eternal life without studying our catechism or taking "the four steps of salvation."

The glory of the latter house shall be greater than the former. He has kept the best wine until now. The knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you. (Isaiah 12:6—NIV)

We who believe in the Lord Jesus are members of the Church of the Firstborn, the heavenly Jerusalem. God is dwelling in us. The Holy One is great among us.

Our present life is that of the animal. We are bound to the earth in our flesh and blood existence. If this is all we were to be given we would perish in our corruption.

But the Tree of Life, Jesus Christ, has come so whoever believes in Him should not perish in the corruption of flesh and blood but have eternal, incorruptible resurrection life—the Life of God.

Such life was lost to us because of the rebellion that occurred in Eden. For six thousand years mankind has groaned in the chains of futility, frustration, corruption.

Now God is preparing trees of life who will serve to release the creation from the bondage of decay.

Each of us is called to be a tree of life. God will make us a tree of life if we will permit Him to have His unhindered way with us.

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"  the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45—NIV)

If our first personality is that of the living soul, and our second personality is to be that of the life-giving spirit, then we can understand why God deals with us constantly, night and day, requiring that we forsake the spirit of the world, gain victory over the appetites and passions of our flesh, and die to our self-will, our personal ambition.

Only the Lord Jesus Christ is of the eternal, incorruptible Life of God. We of the adamic race were fashioned from the dust of the ground. We do not have the Divine Life within ourselves to give to other people. It is only as we are crucified with Christ and Christ lives and speaks in us that eternal life is brought to other people.

We have made Christianity a religion as we have sought to adapt the words of the New Testament to daily life in the world. But strictly speaking, Christianity is not a religion in the ordinary usage of the term. Christianity is a personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ. When we are deeply involved in church work it is easy to forget this fact.

It is well that we bring to other people the knowledge of the facts concerning Jesus Christ. They can learn these things and choose to believe them.

But the plan of God is that we ourselves, because Christ has been formed in us, become trees of life so that people can "eat" from us, so to speak, and receive into themselves the Life of God that sets us free from the life of flesh and blood.

Because of what it will mean to God, to other people, and to us to become a tree of life, let us lay aside every hindrance as the Holy Spirit brings us through the appropriate experiences of Divine Glory and fiery trials that our inward nature may be filled with eternal life.

If we keep on pressing forward to the attaining of resurrection life in our inward nature, then, at the coming of the Lord, our flesh and bones will be brought forth from the grave and clothed with our body from Heaven, a body of incorruptible eternal life.

This transformation having been accomplished, we now will be ready to descend with the Lord Jesus and install the incorruptible, imperishable Kingdom of God on the earth, serving for eternity as trees of eternal life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22:1-3—NIV)