A Flowing River and a Tree

A Flowing River and a Tree, this is the first line of a classic hymn. These two represent a certain way that God takes to carry out His eternal purpose. In Genesis chapter 2, we can find the tree of life in the garden of Eden. We also see that a river flows from there. Look at Revelation 22; you can also see a river that flows from God’s throne and with it is the tree of life. These bookends of the Bible are pointing to something about God’s relationship with man, something deep, sweet, and refreshing.

Image and Dominion pointing to God’s Two-fold Need

As seen in Genesis 1:26, God’s eternal purpose is to gain His corporate expression and representation in the universe through man. God is invisible, but He is looking to be seen; that is, He desires an expression. God also has an enemy, Satan, who rebels against God’s authority and drags others with him.

Thus, you might say that God created man to fulfill two needs, expression, and representation. Expression means that man can express God. Through man, God can be expressed in the universe. Representation means that man represents God to subdue the enemy of God. To gain His expression and representation, God created man with His image to express Him and with His dominion to represent Him.

Do you ever feel like Satan is dragging you into sinful things that you don’t want to be in?

I Just Want to be Filled up with the Lord

Regarding expression, how can anyone express someone else without having that one’s life? God created man in His image, as a tripartite vessel, ready to receive God’s life. God then dispenses His own life into man. Ultimately, it is the man who is filled with God’s life, who spontaneously expresses God. To express God is to glorify God. When we talk about God giving life to man, we are not referring to the human life that everyone already has, but we are referring to the uncreated eternal life of God that is freely available to all who believe in His Son Jesus Christ (see John 3:16).

What comes to mind when you hear the word, Life?

For the dispensing to take place, God created man and specifically put Him in a garden. The tree of life in the middle of the garden is symbolic. Furthermore, from Eden flowed a river and this also is symbolic. The tree of life signifies God presenting Himself to man in the form of food. The river signifies the Spirit of God reaching man as living water to satisfy man. Both of these, the tree of life and the flowing river reveal to us God’s dispensing for the fulfilment of His purpose.

The line of life in the Bible

The Bible is comprised of the Old Testament and the New Testament. These two books are not independent but highly related to each other. If you read through the whole Bible, you will see a line, which goes from Genesis to Revelation. This line is the line of life. Let’s begin with two verses in Genesis.

Genesis 2:9-10 And out of the ground Jehovah God caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, as well as the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And a river went forth from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided and became four branches.

Here we see a picture. In the garden of Eden God planted many trees and these were pleasant to the sight and good for food. Among all these trees, in the center of the garden, there was one called the tree of life. Along with this tree there was a river.  After God created man, He put man in front of the tree of life. We know this because God put man in a garden and God put the tree of life in the middle of that garden. Thus, God was pointing man to the tree of life. What a beautiful picture!

Why did God put man in front of the tree of life? He did this with the intention that man eat of the tree of life. This intention comes out from God’s heart’s desire and His purpose. God never expected man to do anything, except to simply eat the tree of life, which signifies God as life to man. The way for man to take God as life is to eat Him.

In the New Testament we can see that this tree of life signifies God incarnated in Christ.

John 1:4 In Him was life and the life was the light of man.

John 14:6 Jesus said to Thomas, I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly.

Hallelujah! We thus know that the life of God that is for us is in Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ came to give life so that we may have life and have it abundantly!

In John 6:57 Jesus then told us to eat Him.

John 6:57 As the living Father has sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.

Did you know that it was Christ Himself who first said that we should eat Him? What other verses show this?

The tree of life is also mentioned in Revelation 22:2 “And on this side and on that side of the river was the tree of life, producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” These verses point out that Jesus Christ Himself is the life for man, as portrayed by the tree of life, which is seen throughout the entire Bible.

If you read the verses in Genesis again, you will find that in the garden there was not only a tree, but also a river. This river which begins in Genesis ends up in Revelation where it is referred to as “a river of water of life”.

Revelation 22:1 And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the middle of its street.

Just as we see the tree of life throughout the entire Bible, so also we see the river running throughout the entire Bible. The river signifies God as the Spirit reaching us as life and quenching our thirst.

John 7:37-38 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.

Jesus came to satisfy us with His life in the same way that a drink of water quenches our thirst. Today Jesus is still offering Himself as food and as water to be our life. The way for us to receive Him is to eat Him and drink Him.

When someone says, Eat Jesus, how does that make you feel?

God made us with a spirit to receive Him and contain Him. Jesus reminded us to use our spirit when contacting Him. In John 4:24 He said, “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.” In John 6:63 He said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” To worship God is actually to eat and drink Him. The way to eat and drink Jesus is to exercise our spirit!

Expression First, Then Representation

When Christians get filled up with the Lord within them, they express God in their daily life. It is this type of Christian that then represents God, subduing Satan and kicking him out of their life and their surroundings. Always, in pursuing the Lord, pay attention to the life of God. His life will fill you and then take care of so many things. God’s way to fulfill His purpose, His two-fold need, is life.

Come forward now to get the life

There is a hymn that starts with the words: “Sing praise to Christ who lives in us”. Here is Stanza 7 of this glorious hymn.

Come forward now to God through Him,
Ne’er shrink back to destruction;
Come forward now to get the life,
Which brings the proper function;
Come forward now the life to take,
By life His people us He’ll make,
And swallow death forever.

2021 Spring College Conference

Spring 2021 College Conference - Feature

March 26-28, 2021

You are warmly invited to join us for our Spring Mountain States College Conference. Register today by contacting any of the local coordinators.

Topic: The Gospel of John (Part 3)

Session 1 Friday, March 26 7:30 pm
Session 2 Saturday, March 27 10:45 am
Special Topic Saturday, March 27 5:00 pm
Session 3 Saturday, March 27 7:30 pm
Session 4 Sunday, March 28 10:45 am

The meetings will be conducted via live Zoom webinar and group discussions. There is no cost for this conference.

May the Lord bless us all during this time.

Finding Out What We Are From the Bible

Finding-out-what-we-are-from-the-Bible

The title of this Bible study may surprise you or intrigue you. We will consider the importance of knowing what we are, how man is a vessel to contain God, and what the three parts of man are. All along, we will use illustrations to help us understand. We hope that you open yourself to the Lord and pray and fellowship with others over this material. May God reveal to us more from His word, what we are.

Download the MP3 of this post or play it below.

Importance

When we find out what we are, we see ourselves as if for the first time and know why we are made the way we are made. This affects how we feel from day to day, how we think, and it greatly affects our future. The Bible is God’s word and one function of the word of God is that it is like a mirror, showing us — us. Let us explore a couple of the amazing revelations in the Bible about what we are.

Having the Image of God Showing that we are Vessels to Contain God

Genesis 1:26a And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness

The Bible says that we are made in the image of God and with His likeness. What does it mean for something to be made in the image and according to the likeness of something else? It is worthwhile to consider. An illustration may help. A glove is made in the image of a hand. This makes it so that a hand can slide easily into the glove and occupy the glove. A glove on the table without a hand in it, no matter how beautiful it might be, is useless. Furthermore, if you wanted to show somebody a hand, you might show them a glove. This would be good for describing the hand to some extent. However, only the hand is the reality. Without the hand, the purpose of the glove is meaningless. The glove made in the image of the hand is the container, the vessel for the hand.

In this illustration of the glove, which one are we, the glove or the hand? Which one is God?

Let us read a passage from the book of Romans in the Bible, Romans Chapter 9:

21 Or does not the potter have authority over the clay to make out of the same lump one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor? 22 And what if God, wishing to demonstrate His wrath and make His power known, endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, 23 In order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom He has also called, not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles? – Romans 9:21-24 

To fulfill His eternal plan, God made man as a vessel. A vessel is a container, like a bottle, to carry some content. The beverages at a grocery store come in bottles. We are God’s bottles. We are God’s vessels!

What is your favorite drink?
What do you feel like when you see a bottle of that drink, but the bottle is empty?
What requirements must be met for a bottle to receive and contain your favorite drink?

Man – a “tripartite” vessel

God created us as vessels to contain Him. However, we are not simple vessels, but vessels of three parts. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, “And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Can you find the three parts in this verse? They are spirit, soul and body. So, we call man a “tripartite” vessel or being.

Christians-on-Campus-God-coming-into-our-spirit

The Body

The first part of man is the body, the physical part. The body contacts and receives the things of the physical realm. We read using our eyes and listen to music using our ears, etc. Through our physical body, we can live on the earth.

The Soul

The second part of man is the soul. The soul contacts and receives the things of the psychological realm. It has three parts or organs: your mind, your emotion and your will. As you are trying to understand the lectures and do your homework, you are using the organ of your mind. You love your families and your friends. You may get excited about passing an exam. This is your emotion being stirred up. And as you determine to join this bible study to find out more about God and man, you are using your will to make a decision. In addition to those daily experiences, God has His purpose in creating the soul.

The following short quotation summarizes the usefulness of our soul: “The soul is the part of man created by God for us to know Him, love Him and turn to Him so we can be saturated with God and express Him.” (Lesson Book, Level 1: Salvation—God’s Full Salvation, published by Living Stream Ministry) 

The Spirit

The third part of man is the spirit. It is the deepest part of man. In the Bible, the spirit was called by different names. Ephesians 3:16 says “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man.” Here the human spirit is referred to as “the inner man”. 1 Peter 3:4 says “But the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptible adornment of a meek and quiet spirit, which is very costly in the sight of God.” In this verse, the spirit is called “the hidden man of the heart”.

Did you realize that in addition to the body and soul, we have this part in us called the spirit? It is one of the most important revelations in the entire Bible. Why is the human spirit so important? Man was created because of the desire of God’s heart and for His eternal purpose. Furthermore, God wants to contact man and would like man to contact Him and to receive Him. In other words, God wants to impart His life into man.

Ephesians 5:18 says “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissoluteness, but be filled in spirit”. We contact the physical world through our body and the psychological world through our soul. The spirit is the organ we use to contact God and to receive God’s life into us! Hallelujah! Because we have a human spirit, we do not have to be independent or isolated from God. This spirit is in each one of us, so we can all contact God and receive God into us.

As you exercise your body to keep it healthy and as you are in college to train your mind with a lot of knowledge, you have to always remember: In order to fulfill God’s purpose, the spirit needs to be exercised regularly to contact God, to receive God and to contain God.

How about you? What is your experience? Take some time to share with one another how you exercise your spirit to contact God.

Finally, can you answer this question: What does the Bible reveal concerning what we are?

If you have the time, we encourage you to read another post that has a razor sharp focus on the human spirit: The Tripartite Man and the Exercise of our Spirit

March 2021 – Gospel of John Bible Reading Challenge

Christians-on-Campus-2021-March-Gospel-of-John-Bible-Reading-Challenge

We challenge you to read the Gospel of John in the month of March.

  • This activity is meant to strengthen our Christian walk.
  • The club will start Wednesday, March 10, 2021, and go for 21 days, one chapter per day.
  • This is a great opportunity for you to tell someone about this activity and introduce them to the Bible!
  • See you in God’s word!