The Tree of Life

Today, I am hosting a guest post for Phil Watson, a dear brother in the Lord, fellow pursuer of the truth, and new blogger with the same desire to “Hold to Truth in Love.” So let’s enjoy what Phil has to share with us concerning “The Tree of Life:”

This post is part of a review of a conference recently held in the Baarlo, The Netherlands. The title of the conference was: “The Four Pillars of the Lord’s Recovery: Truth, Life, the Church, and the Gospel.”

The subject of this 4th message is the second pillar, life, specifically—”The Tree of Life.”

Why are we talking about the tree of life, you may ask? Isn’t that just mentioned in first few chapters of Genesis and then nevermore? No, it appears again at least in the the book of Revelation, in two places. Once, as a promise to the overcomers, to eat of it (Rev 2:7), and again in Revelation 22 in the New Jerusalem.

So in the beginning, God intended man to partake of the tree of life, charging him to eat of every tree, but due to man’s fall he was cut off from the tree of life. But this was not forevermore; no, in fact, it is still God’s intention that man partake of the tree of life, and in eternity future that will be our portion forever. So are we just in a big waiting game, waiting for that day? No, for

Christ is the Tree of Life

How can we say this? If we assemble a few verses it becomes clear. Christ Himself declared “I am the life” in John 11:25. Then in 15:5 He declared that “I am the vine”. According to Rev. 22:2, the tree of life must be a vine tree, because only a vine tree can be “on this side and on that side of the river”. So Christ is the vine tree, and Christ is life; hence, He is the vine tree of life, or more precisely, Christ is the fulfillment of the figure of the tree of life.

What does this mean to us today? This must become more than a doctrine to us. Christ came that we may have life (John 10:10), and according to His speaking (John 5:39-406:547:3820:31) He intends for us to take Him as life today, not in the next age. Consider these verses prayerfully, and you will become clear. Continue reading

Genesis 2, 1 Corinthians 3 and Revelation 21-22—Enjoying God to Build with Precious Materials

In my previous post I  addressed the mistaken concept among many people that the eternal destiny of the people of God is to go to a physical heavenly mansion. Such a misconception results in a serious misaiming in our living today.

In this post, I will focus on three passages—Genesis 2, 1 Corinthians 3 and Revelation 21-22, that reveal the crucial importance of enjoying God today to become the precious materials with which to build the church, consummating in the New Jerusalem.

Genesis 2—the Flow of the River Issuing in Precious Materials

Genesis 2:10-12 And a river went forth from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided and became four branches. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that goes around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.

In Genesis two we can see that issue of the flow of the river from the garden were three kinds of precious materials—gold, bdellium (a kind of resinous pearl) and onyx stone (a kind of precious stone). Such a type is for our experience today. The river from Eden signifies the river of water of life (Rev. 22:1; John 7:37-39). It is by enjoying this river as our spiritual drink today( 1 Cor. 10:4; 12:13), that we can be transformed into precious materials for the building of God. May we remain in this flow so that the Lord as the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18) can transform us continually from one degree of glory to another.

Genesis 2 is the stage of the raw materials for the building of God. Gold, pearl and precious stones are related to the three of the Triune God. Gold signifies God the Father with His divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Bdellium, a pearl-like resin, signifies God the Son in His redeeming and life-releasing death (John 19:34) and His life-dispensing resurrection (John 12:24). Onyx stone, a kind of precious stone, signifies God the Spirit with His transforming work (2 Cor. 3:18). The building materials for God’s house are nothing less than the Triune God experienced and enjoyed by us. Continue reading

Is Christ in Heaven Building Our Mansions?

“In my Father’s house are many abodes (KJV, mansions)¸ if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)

This week a  subscriber, commenting on my most recent post, “Heaven or the New Jerusalem is there a difference?” asked “Is Jesus not the Carpenter? I heard that He is in heaven building our mansions.”

“Mansions” or “Abodes” in the Father’s House?

In response to his question, I can say that our dear Lord Jesus is surely a builder, for in Matthew 16:18, He promised to build His church. But the thought that He is “in heaven building our mansions,” though comforting as it may seem, is a misunderstanding due to an archaic translation of John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you”(KJV).  The Greek word translated “mansions” in this verse is actually the word for “abodes” (µονή, pronounced “monee”) and is the same word as in John 14:23 where the Lord Jesus said,

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.”

An “abode” with the Father and the Son is not something we have to wait for until we die. Rather, it is a mutual abode that we can enjoy today in the resurrection life of Christ.

Physically, what can abide in you and at the same time you abide in it? The most simple response is “air.” You are in the air and the air is in you. Well, our wonderful Christ, after making the promise of John 14:2,  passed through the process of death and resurrection to become a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45).

“So also it is written, “The first man Adam, became a living soul;” the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.”(1 Cor. 15:45)

Since Christ is now the life-giving Spirit in resurrection, we can be in Him and He also can be in us, like the air. This is the base for the mutual abiding referred to by the Lord Jesus in John 15:4,

“Abide in Me and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4) Continue reading

Heaven or the New Jerusalem—Is there a Difference?

“And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev. 21:2)

 Fundamentally Different, Not Just a Matter of Semantics

Many people unintentionally, mistake the New Jerusalem for heaven. When I was a child, I remember singing a song that says:

“I’ve got a mansion just over the hill top
 in that bright land where we’ll never grow old
and some day yonder, we’ll never more wander,
but walk those streets that are paved with gold.”

 I may have gotten a few words wrong, but the gist of the song is pretty clear.  That is, that we’re going to heaven—“to that bright land where we’ll never grow old” and “walk those streets that are paved with gold.” However, in aspiring to heaven,  the writer was, in referring to golden streets,  addressing an attribute of the holy city, New Jerusalem.

In the many years since my childhood days of singing that song, I’ve never once read in the Bible where it says that heaven has golden streets. However,  Revelation  21:21, in speaking of the New Jerusalem, does say “the  street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” You can see from this illustration, the thought of heaven having golden streets,  is just one example of the confusion of heaven and the New Jerusalem.

Well, someone may say, “Aren’t they one and the same—heaven and the New Jerusalem? I say heaven. You say New Jerusalem. It’s all about the same.” However, the opening verse I referenced points to a distinction. In Revelation 21:2 it says that the holy city, New Jerusalem is coming down out of heaven. This verse directly indicates a difference, for the New Jerusalem to come down out of heaven indicates that the two expressions are not synonymous.

Then what is the distinction?

Heaven, God’s dwelling (1 Kings 8:50), the place of His throne (Isa. 66:1), and the place where Christ ascended physically after His resurrection (Acts 1:9-11)  is no doubt a physical place. However, the New Jerusalem is not a physical place “to which we go” but the greatest sign in the entire Bible (see Rev. 1:1) signifying, God’s spiritual, eternal building of divinity and humanity.  It is the eternal, consummation of all God’s work in humanity throughout the ages, a mingling of God and man to be the mutual dwelling place for both God and all His redeemed people for eternity. Continue reading