The Tree of Life
Dallas, Texas 1986
I believe that although these things are more than likely foreign to you, if you will listen and pray through them, they will change the course of your life. They will allow you to line your life up more fully with the purposes of God, that the gates of hell might truly be destroyed and the Bride might be prepared for the return of the Groom.
Before you start reading this, I want you to know that this is going to be challenging for you. If you read with a skeptical heart rather than a prayerful heart, then it will really be of no value to you at all and you might as well not even start reading. But if you will be open and pray through these things as you read, then I believe that you will find that your life will not be the same. I say that because my life certainly has not been the same as I have learned to walk in them. My life will never be the same. Please take a couple of minutes to pray before you begin reading.
The World Will See Jesus Again!
The purposes of God for an individual and the corporate body of Christ are that the Agape Kingdom of God would be spread to every nation and then the end would come. The agape of many would wax cold because of the increase of wickedness. But some despise the increase of wickedness and have made God’s enemies their enemies and God’s passionate love their passionate love (they can’t tolerate it in their bones as it says in Peter’s epistle about Lot). For those people who despise that wickedness, God’s kingdom is going to spread over all the earth and then the end will come. Something I would love to expand on is that it is fully God’s purpose to show the world Jesus Christ again.
Before the end shall come, the world will see Jesus Christ again, but in the body of Christ. It is going to happen; His CHURCH is going to be the precious, blameless, spotless Bride of Christ without any wrinkle. The Bride of Christ in all of her Glory is going to be a people that are living out the purposes of God just as Jesus did. The kingdom of this world is going to see the King lived out in the body of Christ. They are going to be accountable to that—they are going to have to answer to that. They are going to be in the valley of decision where they are going to have to decide what they are going to do with Jesus Christ. Are they going to crucify Him again? And in fact, as we know from reading Revelation, they will. Many will desire to crucify Him again.
Some will yawn and walk away apathetically, and others, because they have seen Jesus Christ again in the full expression of His character in the Body of Christ, will respond to that as they did in the first century. The way is still narrow, but the bushel basket will not hide the Light of the Glory of God. The city will be set on a hill where it cannot be hidden. That is God’s purpose. The mount of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains. The glory of this house will exceed the glory of the former house. The ever-increasing government of God—that was the purpose of Jesus Christ establishing His reign. It says, “The zeal of the Lord God Almighty will establish an ever-increasing government.” And for those who are looking for the Church to start off with a big bang in Acts 2, and then drift into obscurity and irrelevance and a pitiful weakness with no witness at all—that cannot be so! That cannot biblically be so. What we are seeing now is not the end of the story. God will have that Bride that has made herself ready.
The Elijah of God, the John the Baptist of God, will prepare the way for the Second Coming of the Lord also. The people of God will prepare the way for the Second Coming of the Lord. The people will see Jesus Christ on earth again. And our job then, especially in the light of being overcomers, is to join ourselves wholly to that purpose and not be distracted by anything—not be a double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways. To have an undivided heart and to go after that with all our energy, everything—all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind, and all of our strength—that’s the only definition of a Christian. I think you can see that this is what it is going to take to be that people that are ready for the return of Jesus, and have made the way ready for Him.
In order to be that people, there is something that is absolutely essential because these things will be done by the zeal of the Lord God Almighty. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” “Unless the Lord builds the house, it is built in vain.” So there is something that God is going to accomplish in His people as He makes a name for Himself by taking a people that were not a people. Do we qualify? It’s all prophetically there in the Old Testament. You were nobody. You were the smallest of nations. You had nothing going for you. You didn’t have anything to brag about or boast about. You weren’t so smart; not many of you were wise or noble by human standards. That’s not what the Kingdom of God is all about—to somehow be so big and tough and strong and have our methodology so precise and well-tuned that we can accomplish God’s purpose by fleshly effort! We are not going to build a tower of Babel and reach God. It is not going to happen, no matter how swift we think we are.
Here is the point: How are we going to accomplish that if we are not the ones who are going to accomplish it?! We have a choice of whether or not to be in on that. This is one of the mysteries of God that I want to share with you. We’ve talked about experiencing the Glory of God that we lost when we sinned and fell short of that Glory, and how to walk back into ever-increasing glory (2Cor. 3:18). You are not going to be able to do that out of the flesh. God gives the increase. Men plant seeds; they water, but God gives the increase. You are not going to be able to beat your way back into the Glory of God by some man-made way of doing it. Your zeal won’t do it, your Bible knowledge won’t do it, and your sincerity won’t do it. There have been sincere people for generations, for centuries. Are you any more sincere than anyone else? I don’t think so. But something about the nature of God is that there is ever-increasing revelation. It is like being in a funnel, and you look up and all you see is this little bit. But then as time moves on, you can see from Genesis to Revelation. As you move up and the circumference of the funnel gets a little bigger, you can see more of the universe, more of God’s precious truth—1 Corinthians 2 is a good example of how that is so and God said it is so!
As the apex of the ages, the fulfillment of the ages as it says in 1 Corinthians 10, comes upon us, we are moving higher and higher up into that funnel where we are seeing more and more of the Mind of God. We are building on those things that were before us. God over and over again said, “As I said to Isaac...” “As I said to Jacob...” “As I said...” “As I said....” God does not mean for us to criticize the past, He does not mean for us to criticize anything that ever was. What He means for us to do is build on that. “As I said unto Isaac...” “Listen, guys. Think back. Grow. Build on what you have already received, but don’t stop there. Do not let anything be your ceiling. Do not let your father or your mother be your ceiling. Do not let anyone ever be your ceiling. Go for all that I have for you, and don’t stop short because of any peer pressure, because of anything under the sun. Do not stop short. Promise? It’s not worth it to live in poverty for someone else’s sake. It can’t be!”
This is really risky, because I run the risk that you are not going to understand, or you are going to do the very thing that I am saying not to do, and that is to analyze it to death. I am afraid you are going to chew on it, then spit it out. And that will be the end of it because you will never really find what is in here if you try to analyze it intellectually. What I am asking you to do is not decide whether I am right or wrong. Don’t decide that. If you find yourself starting to sit in judgment about whether this is good or evil, whether this is right or wrong, then just stop right there. You can always put it aside, but don’t sit in judgment of it. Just listen and pray through it as we are going along, and you will see how important this is.
Which Tree Will You Eat From?
The crime in the Garden of Eden was not simple disobedience. It was falling into satan’s number one desire. His desire is that we eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than the tree of Life. I think Genesis 3:22 is the best place to see that.
“In the middle of the Garden there were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2).
There were two trees in the middle of the Garden in the initial creation. Then we see a little later in verse16: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you shall surely die.”
Of course, the first temptation that we are all familiar with is the serpent saying to Eve, “Do you know what God said?” She said, “Yes, I do know what God said.” Eve said, “God said if I eat from this tree, I will surely die.” Satan’s number two attack: “Well, God might have said that, but what He really meant was...” And satan started to twist and contort the Words of God and to deceive us with the very Word of God. He intended to take the very Word of God and deceive us into poverty with that Word. “Here’s what God meant. It’s not so. God fooled you. He is trying to cheat you.” Satan said, “I have a deal for you, but God is trying to cheat you.” The disobedience occurred when Eve took a bite of that fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then she passed it on to Adam and he started chomping on it, too.
“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. The Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever.’ So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 2:21).
I think it is easy to see that God took it a whole lot more seriously than, “They didn’t do what I told them to do. I said not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They did it anyway, so I’m going to throw them out of the garden.” It’s much more serious than that. He said, “They’ve become like one of us.” God acknowledged that satan was right. If we eat from that tree, we make ourselves to be God knowing good and evil in ourselves, no longer dependent on God minute by minute. Now we can function externally based on our knowledge of good and evil. And to that God said, “This can’t be! I can’t let anyone like that live forever. I have to get them out of the garden. I have to get them away from the tree of Life, because they have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” What I want to share with you is—that is the battle that is raging.
It’s not simply satan trying to tempt us to disobey God. That’s bad enough. But satan’s major focus, and I think you will see this as you pray through these things in the months to come, is to get us to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than the tree of Life. He knows that if we do that, we will surely die. Sooner or later we are going to shrivel up and die or at least be impoverished. We will not be able to be a witness for God. We will not be able to fulfill His purposes. We will just drag our way through life barely hanging on, if that, and it won’t be the Life that Jesus came to bring in abundance. It won’t be the Life that destroys the works of the devil. It won’t be the Life that turns cities upside down like the people that were in the first century church learned to do by eating from the tree of Life rather than the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Just stick it in your mind that satan’s major focus, major battle with you as an individual, is to get you to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than the tree of Life.
Let’s Look at Some Examples
This is kind of a bubble-popping session. What I want to do is really rattle your cages a little so I can show you something that you may not have thought too much about. If you don’t see the futility of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the rest of this isn’t going to mean too much to you because you are going to keep jumping right back into eating from the wrong tree over and over again. If you try to take your own intellect, your own study of the Bible, your own morality, your own anything and try to establish what is good and evil apart from a minute-by-minute communion with God, it will be futile and, ultimately, death!
“You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). “Thou shalt not kill,” as some of the translations say.
“Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand. They were inscribed on both sides front and back. The tablets were the work of God. The writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets” (Exodus 32:15,16).
So Moses received these ten commandments on the stone tablets. God wrote them out and one of them was, “Thou shalt not kill.” That’s scriptural, right? Would you agree that is very scriptural? That was in the law of God, “Thou shall not kill.” Notice what happens next though.
“Then Moses said to them, ‘This is what the Lord the God of Israel says: Each man will strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” (Exodus 32:27).
He has just come down from the mountains with these tablets that say, “Thou shalt not kill.” They had the Scriptures right in front of them (except they are in little pieces now), and then the Lord says apart from the Scriptures, “Go kill your brothers and your friends.” I don’t know whether you have thought about that, but some of those things are hard to understand. And if you are busy eating from the wrong tree you are going to choke on something like that!
In Genesis 22:2, Abraham was told to go kill his only son, Isaac. Written in the heart of God was “Thou shalt not kill.” And now God commands Abraham to go kill his beloved son, Isaac. And guess what? Abraham went to do that. He had full intentions of killing his only son Isaac. And, yet, written in the heart of God was, “Thou shalt not kill,” and yet God commanded that Abraham kill. Do you see a discrepancy there? Does that offer any source of confusion?
Revelation 11:5 “If anyone tries to harm the two witnesses, the lampstands (the people of God as represented by the lampstands in Revelation 2), fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die.” This is something that, with a careful study I think you will find, has yet to be seen on the face of this earth. There is apparently something still out there where the enemies of God will be devoured by the people of God and that’s how anyone who opposes the people of God must die. “Thou shalt not kill.” The people of God are commanded and would be disobedient if they didn’t kill the enemies of God in this case, or if you prefer, back in Exodus 32. You basically have a problem on your hands, I think you would say.
Exodus 20:4 is the passage that says, “Make no graven image.” To prove that is a valid commandment, when Moses came down with the tablets that said, “Make no graven image,” what did he find down there? He found a graven image, a golden calf, right? So Moses took this golden calf and ground it up into powder and made the Israelites drink it! So, now they are drinking a golden calf cocktail and they are going to remember that for a long time because the Scriptures say, “Thou shalt make no graven image.” Experience says it’s not a good idea to make a graven image when Moses is around. You end up drinking it!
In Numbers 21:6, 9 “The Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at the snake, the graven image, the brass snake and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, the graven image, he lived.” Scripturally, the Lord said, make no graven image. But the Lord also said, “Make a graven image, and if you refuse to look at this graven image you will die of the venomous snakes.”
You now have a problem on your hands. How do we understand this? They had the Scriptures. They had the tablets that said, “No graven images.” They got a preacher named Moses who has already messed up; he already smacked the rock and he has already been prohibited from going into the Promised Land. He is getting a little senile. Moses comes back and says, “The Lord told me to make a graven image.” And they looked down, looked at the Scriptures, and they listened to Moses about making a graven image and they say, “We’ve got a problem on our hands here.” Yet amazingly enough, they looked at the graven image and lived! Now if you go about 750 years later, you would find in 2 Kings 18, that they are worshipping this brass snake and Hezekiah has to break it into little pieces to restore the Lord’s favor. So, they are still hanging onto this thing 750 years later and, in fact, by that time they are worshipping it and then the point is “make no graven images.”
1 Corinthians 6:7 says that it would be much better to be cheated than to take somebody to court. Don’t do that—don’t mess with courts. Then you see in Acts 25:11, Paul says, “I appeal to Caesar.” Paul writes don’t take people to court, stay out of the judicial system—stay away from heathens sitting in judgment on your problems. And, yet, Agrippa says, “Hey, we could have let you go except you appealed to Caesar. You purposely got yourself into the judicial system.” A minor example, but Paul seems to be messing with his own commandment, his own scripture.
1 Corinthians 11:14 says that the long hair of a man is a disgrace, that the very nature of things tells you that long hair on a man is a disgrace. Yet, the greatest man ever born to woman had hair, never cut, perhaps down to his knees, and ate bugs. Yet again, “the very nature of things,” says the Scriptures, is that long hair is a disgrace to a man. So once again, you’ve got a problem.
In Luke 7:29, all the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John. Read these other verses: Mark 11:28-30, John 1:25, and John 1:33. What you read in those passages is that they questioned John’s authority. They said, “Who gives you the authority for that?” They said, “By what authority do you do this?” And He said, “By what authority did John baptize? By heaven’s authority or by man’s authority?” And they scratched their heads and said, “We better not answer this.” And He said, “Neither do I answer you.” But that was a very valid question. What authority did John have to baptize? That was a valid question because.... guess what? It was unscriptural. There was absolutely no hint of any scripture that said John had the right to be baptizing anybody, or even that there would be a man baptizing people. There was nothing in the Scriptures, and yet guess what it says in Luke 7:30. It says that they rejected God’s purpose for themselves by refusing John’s baptism. They were disobedient to God even though it was unscriptural (as we determine unscriptural) for John to be baptizing anyone. “Why should they have to do that? Prove it to me. Where is the scripture, John?” And yet the Holy Spirit said that they were disobedient to God because they refused to be baptized by John. There’s something weird going on here.
Luke 6:29-30 says to always share. “Lend to everyone. Don’t expect repayment.” Matthew 25:7-9 is the parable of the ten virgins. Have you ever thought about that? The five without oil said, “Share your oil with us.” The other five said, “No. Uh-uh.” Were they right or wrong in not sharing? They were right. They got to go into the banquet. The other ones didn’t. That’s why Jesus taught the parable. You see, no one’s going to share his or her oil with you and you can’t ride on anyone’s coattail into the kingdom. You have to have your own oil. But the point is that Jesus Himself taught sharing—“Don’t ever refuse anyone who asks you to lend.” And now we see Jesus condoning a people who refused to lend, and rightly so. Seemingly, you have a scriptural incompatibility.
In Matthew 5:43-48 it talks about always forgiving and not holding anything against your enemies—be sure to be really free about that kind of thing so that you will also be forgiven. In Genesis 7:1-10, there is Noah with the seven members of his family, and these other people are banging on the door of the ark saying, “Let me in. I repent.” And Noah would have been sinful to let them in. What an unChristian thing to do! What an unChristian thing to not share your oil! What an unChristian thing to not let those guys in! What an unChristian thing to murder your son! That’s terribly unChristian!
So we have a whole series of scriptural discrepancies, and I could give you many more. These discrepancies provide a serious problem for us if we have a mentality of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That’s where I am going with this. If we eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil based on our understanding of the Scriptures, we will often disobey God and be accountable for disobeying God. I realize that what I am saying may be foreign to your thinking. So I’m asking you to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil now by sitting in judgment on what I am saying. What I am asking you to do is ask the Lord if these things are so. I am asking you to pray through these things—to read them, pray through them, and try to understand what is happening here.
My purpose for doing this is just to rattle your cage a little. I just want you to see that if you function out of your intellect, you are in big trouble. In fact, you don’t have anything to offer a non-Christian either, because any halfway intelligent non-Christian is going to have big problems with some of this stuff. Murdering people in the Old Testament—“What’s the matter with God, anyway?” We have all heard that at some time or another from a non-Christian.
His Ways and Thoughts are HIGHER
This is one choice excerpt from Job 38-42:6: “You ask, O God, who is this that obscures my counsel with words without knowledge. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job saw something that everyone needs to see very clearly and repent of in ashes. God’s ways are higher than your ways; His thoughts are higher than your thoughts. Job finally came to the realization that God spoke things that he didn’t understand and things that were too wonderful for him to know. “Where were you, Job, when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who do you think you are, anyway?” That’s what God said. “You have made yourself like one of us.” That’s what satan said. “You can be like God, knowing good and evil.” When you think you know good and evil based on your scriptural knowledge, you have made yourself to be a god. And it’s time to repent in ashes because these things are too wonderful for us to know. These discrepancies that you have just read ... you don’t know the mind of God and you never will. “How unsearchable are His riches,” were the words from a man that was caught up into the third heaven, the apostle Paul. Unsearchable. I don’t understand. The mystery of incarnation. The mystery of godliness. The mystery.... Paul couldn’t even figure out half the stuff that he was teaching. He didn’t quite have a handle on it. The angels longed to look into these things.
It was God’s purpose through the church to make known his manifold wisdom to principalities and powers. We don’t have a handle on the ways of God, the thoughts of God. And as soon as you think you do, you are in big trouble. When you can take your knowledge, whether it is experiential or whether it is something you have studied and crammed into your little brain, and think you have got it all figured out, then you are hurting spiritually. You say, “Now I know what is good, and now I know what is evil. It’s obviously evil to kill your only son. It’s obviously evil to keep these people out of the ark. They said they repent. Who am I to judge? It’s obviously evil to not share my oil with this other person. It is obviously evil to let my hair grow down to my knees. It is obviously evil to be naked, therefore, I will hide myself and I will make a fig leaf.” “Who told you you were naked?” It is obviously good to offer a grain sacrifice,” and God said, “Cain, sin is crouching at the door. You messed up. You decided you were a source of knowledge of good and evil. Now, sin is crouching at your door.”
And the next thing that happened? Cain murdered his brother. Ever-increasing wickedness (Rom. 6). That’s what happens when, based on your intellect, you start eating from the wrong tree. We have all been well trained to do that. We have learned it in school. It’s up on the chalkboard. We learned it in seminary. It’s just the world’s system. Everything is like that. The business world, everything. The whole world system, the whole Babylonian system that we are living in right now is set up to train us to eat from the wrong tree.
And if we approach religion the same way—guess what? We are going to be impoverished until the day we die. But, God is going to have a people that don’t live like that anymore. A people that dare to eat from the tree of the Life instead of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, will be the people who will be the Christ-life over the face of the earth. Only those people. And that’s why I need to bring this up, because this is the foundation that will make it possible to live in the glory of God—to live in the pillar of fire.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
Obviously our intellect, our knowledge, cannot lead us into God’s ways. We saw several examples of that. 1 Corinthians 8:1 talks about knowledge puffing up. Whatever you think is knowledge is just going to make you arrogant. We will see that in James also.
James 3:13-18 says there are two kinds of knowledge, two kinds of wisdom. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.”
Whatever is earthly wisdom is of the devil. Don’t kid yourself into thinking it is neutral. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. The opposite kind of wisdom, the wisdom that comes from heaven, is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit. Impartial and sincere. “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
There are two kinds of wisdom, two kinds of knowledge. The one that is of this earth and of the devil is one that, when you start to live in that kind of wisdom and that kind of knowledge, is going to create disorder. That wisdom of the earth is going to create factions and competitiveness. “I know more than you know. You misunderstand that. I understand it. You don’t understand it. You are not as smart as I am. I have been studying it longer. I understand this and you don’t. If you understood this verse, then you obviously wouldn’t believe that anymore.” It creates division among us. It creates factions and hatred and envy. “This guy knows his Bible better than I do. I’m envious.” That kind of wisdom creates disorder and every evil practice.
But there is a wisdom from above! There is a knowledge that is from the Kingdom of God that comes from the Throne of God that is peace-loving and considerate. And when you are living and breathing in that kind of knowledge, there is peace, joy, and prosperity to the soul. And if there is disagreement, it does not break us. It does not divide us. It doesn’t somehow break us into little pieces. What it does is joins us up into a common purpose. If everyone is functioning in that kind of knowledge, that kind of wisdom, we don’t have any problems anymore. Like Paul said, “Everyone who is mature ought to think the same way I do, but if you don’t that’s okay. Because God will make this clear to you.” Didn’t he say that? Philippians 3 says, “This, too, God will make clear to you.” He also told that to Timothy.
What I’m saying is, if you don’t think the same way someone else does, it doesn’t have to cause a rift between you. And the only time it will is if you are eating from the wrong tree. If you are both eating from the tree of Life, you are going to grow closer and closer. You will work these things out with peace and joy and inner strength and prosperity in your soul, rather than division and hatred and envy and factions and divisiveness as happened in the tower of Babel when they all started to hate each other and go their different directions. The result of eating from the wrong tree is pain, frustration, broken relationships, and the insanity of sin. This is what happened to Cain. He became a judge of what would be good as a sacrifice, and sin crouched at his door from then on.
Read 1 Corinthians 2:3-16 with special focus on verse 4—“I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” If you were to really look at that carefully, I think what you would find is that Paul is saying, “I was scared that I might persuade you by my human wisdom. It’s not meant to be that way. It’s meant to be a gift from God and not by my persuasion, not by my logic, not by reason.”
John 1 says that man is not born again by human decision, a husband’s will or natural descent. It is not an intellectual process, coming into the Kingdom of God. We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. It is a different kind of wisdom, a different way of approaching this idea of knowledge or wisdom. We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory.
Notice this idea—“For our glory...” He wants to bring us back into glory. He destined a secret kind of wisdom for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Only the Spiritual Man
“However, as it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him; but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:9). Then he goes on to give an example: “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? You can’t read another man’s mind. In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” The example is, “Who knows the mind of God, His thoughts, except His own Spirit?” “We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand what God has freely given to us.” He said we have the Spirit of God that allows us to know the mind of God. “This is what we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit.”
Amazing! Expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes discernment about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s discernment. No one can figure him out. “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” “What kind of thing is this that cannot be learned by studying?” That’s exactly what he said. He said, “Using the wisdom of this world, using logic, using the scientific method of approaching subjects—by taking all these facts and accruing them and building them and making a framework of these things—there is no way in the world that you can understand the mind of God approaching it that way. He said, “In fact, the unspiritual man cannot understand these things.”
That is a pretty amazing thought, because what is being said is that no amount of studying by an unspiritual man can ever allow him to understand. There is no way anyone can explain it to him, there is no amount of verses he could ever read, and there is no Greek text that would ever help him to understand it if it is God’s wisdom. If it is man’s wisdom, yes, he can figure it out. He can work his way through it. Any heathen, any atheist can get out his concordance and study a bunch of principles. Any person with a brain can study it the way we have been taught to study it. And they can reach the same conclusions we would. Right?
If that is so, then that means we are doing something wrong because if it is God’s wisdom, a person that is unspiritual cannot understand it. Impossible. God said so. It is impossible that he could ever understand it no matter how much he studied. That tells us something about how our life has to be. If we are eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than the tree of Life, what that means is that we are not going to be able to understand these things, because we are approaching it on the wrong level. We are on the wrong channel. We are on Channel 5 and God is on Channel 8. You can watch Channel 5 all day long, and you are never going to learn anything that is on Channel 8.
You can study it in great detail, but it isn’t going to help any. You cannot understand it without the mind of the Spirit of God. I hope you realize the full impact of that because it discredits most of our study methods. That’s just not the way to grow in the knowledge of God. It is clear. The wisdom of the world, the way man approaches knowledge, will not work in approaching God.
Matthew 11:25 says, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, and revealed them to little children.” Who does the revealing? God does the revealing. Who does He hide it from? The wise and the learned. The smart guys don’t get any of this stuff. The people that approach it with God’s methodology, the little children, they receive it. Those who are wise and learned, the smart ones who approach it intellectually, never get any of it. “Yes, Father for this was your good pleasure.” “God, You got a kick out of that, didn’t You? Making Your knowledge supernatural in such a way that You can’t be received by being wise and learned. You can’t be received by being really smart.”
This is going to help some of you a lot, especially if you don’t consider yourself a tremendous Bible student and if you don’t consider your memory or your knowledge of the Scriptures to be so great so as to be able to understand everything. Have you ever felt like you couldn’t figure it all out? Guess what? You don’t have to. That’s not the point. The wise and the learned don’t get any of the real stuff. All they get is a bunch of words in their head. “It was your good pleasure, Father. You had a lot of fun doing it that way! That way man couldn’t touch it with his own intellect.”
To Whom the Son Chooses
He goes on to say, “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except his Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” It’s the Son’s choice. I chose you—you didn’t choose me (Jn. 15). There is this relationship with God where we cannot build a tower of Babel and reach God. Ol’ Nimrod was a very religious man. He wanted to reach God. But he was going to do it his way using the world’s system. He wasn’t going to use stone; he was going to use bricks. He wasn’t going to use mortar; he was going to use lime. He had his own way of doing things and he was going to reach God, and it didn’t work out. He lost. The tower of Babel turned into Babylon—which was the enemy of God. That’s the Babylonian system.
“Blessed are you, Simon Son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven” (Mat. 16:17). So you have another problem here. It was not revealed to you by man, by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. We once knew Christ according to the flesh, Paul said—by what we could read, by what we could study, by what we could see, by what we could hear. We once knew him after the flesh, but no longer do we know him after the flesh. No longer is it something that happens by flesh and blood. It is something that happens by revelation from the Father, the same thing Jesus said a little earlier.
So you may be a good Bible student and respect the authority of the word of God, but do you believe what we just read? Because that’s what the Bible says. I’m not making that up. Jesus said that. I didn’t say that. These other things—the Holy Spirit wrote all of 1 Corinthians 2. I didn’t write that; I’m not making it up. Ponder these things.
To those who are religious, moral, know the Scriptures backwards and forwards, Jesus said in Matthew 22:29, “You are in error, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God.” And they said, “I beg your pardon. I know my scriptures. I have them memorized. I couldn’t have graduated from Sanhedrin school if I didn’t know my scriptures.” And Jesus said, “Nope. You don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.” You can know the Scriptures backwards and forwards and not know the Scriptures, according to Jesus.
“You have taken away the key to knowledge,” He said to the Pharisees. “You don’t have it, and you won’t let anyone else have it, either.” And those were the guys who knew their Bibles the best. They didn’t know the Scriptures, but they knew the scriptures. And that is entirely possible to this day.
Jesus speaking to the Jews said, “You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about me. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (Jn. 5:39). Do you notice the word “life”? The “tree of life”? Diligently studying the scriptures does not mean we have life. Knowing the Bible doesn’t really mean very much because what God is after is for us to have a relationship with Him.
“This is eternal life that they might know you, have intimacy with you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you sent” (Jn. 17:3). There isn’t any other eternal life. I don’t know what eternal life you are after, but the only kind of eternal life that exists is having intimacy with the Father and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. That’s the only kind of eternal life there is. And you can go through all the rules and regulations and rituals and acts of obedience that you want to, but if you don’t have a fellowship, sharing all things in common with Jesus Christ and His Father, you don’t have eternal life. Diligently studying the scriptures isn’t going to cut it! It didn’t then, and it’s not going to now either!
The Tree of Life—Come to HIM
What I want to share with you is the fact that these guys were approaching life by eating from the wrong tree. What’s available to us is to eat from the right tree. God is raising up a people that will do that. There are going to be people that will do that. There has to be in order to fulfill all the other things that He said are going to happen. And He has never lied before!
Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, studying to get knowledge and then making our own decision based on our reasoning about the scriptures—that’s the problem. The problem comes when we study to get knowledge and then base our decision, our act of morality or immorality on what we understand rather than on a fellowship with God. That’s why the people stayed outside the ark... because Noah knew what he was doing. That’s why Isaac was going to be murdered... because Abraham knew how to walk with God.
How does one receive wisdom? “If anyone lacks wisdom ask the Father?!” (Jas. 1:5).
Do you do that? Or do you have another method of getting wisdom, another method of diligently searching for wisdom? That passage about doubting isn’t out of context. It has to do with the search for wisdom. That’s not some verse that is thrown off by itself. God doesn’t think in sporadic terms. That doubting has to do with the search for wisdom… If you doubt when God has given you that wisdom, you are double-minded and unstable in all your ways. You are disobedient. Why should the Lord invest in someone that doubts after asking for wisdom and then wonders, “Wait a minute.” He asks but then goes back to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—“Wait a minute. Seems like if...”—and starts to rationalize through the whole process and that is what causes the doubt.
“And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Php. 1:9-11). How did Paul say that Christians would receive knowledge and depth of insight? How does one go about securing knowledge and depth of insight based on verse 9? Looks like prayer to me. He said, “I pray that God will give you knowledge and depth of insight.” That’s not all that different than “if any man lacks wisdom let him ask God.” He said, “I’m praying that God will give you knowledge and depth of insight,” and he goes on to say, “so that you will be able to discern what is best.” It’s God’s knowledge and the depth of insight that He gives us that allows us to discern what is best. It’s not basing it on our knowledge from the concordance of our brain and studying in a way that is “diligently studying” but refusing to come to Him.
Refusing to come to HIM for that life is going to create some problems. Did Paul say, “Read this letter over and over again. Dissect, outline, and talk about this letter one sentence and one word at a time. Conjugate and parse my verbs and you will soon have knowledge and depth of insight”? Isn’t that what we do with it, though? Paul did not say, “Please read my letter over and over again and you will have knowledge and depth of insight. Please tear this into little bitty sentence fragments and refer to the ancient history of the day and get it all in context and beat it up into little pieces and words and give me five definitions for the word ‘the’ in the original language.” Paul did not say if you want knowledge and depth of insight then read his letter over and over. He said, “I pray that God will give you knowledge and depth of insight so that you might be able to discern what is best.” That sounds just like “if any man lacks wisdom let him ask God.”
It also sounds a lot like Colossians 1:9. This is to a different group of people, but Paul is not changing what he has discerned to be the Christian life. “For this reason, since the day we heard about you we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. We pray this in order that you might live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every good way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you might have great endurance and patience and joyfully giving thanks to the Father....” We talked about fulfilling God’s purposes on earth, and that this “bearing fruit in every good work” is dependent upon growing in the knowledge of His will—asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will and all spiritual wisdom and understanding. How does one receive the knowledge of His will, all spiritual wisdom and understanding, growth in the knowledge of God? What is the source? God is the source. All you have to do is read the Scriptures that God wrote to come up with that conclusion. He did not say to read this letter over and over again, to write tiny numbers between the sentences of his letter, and impress and compete with one another over being able to quote his letter and remember the little numbers.
That’s not God’s way. That’s not what Paul said to do. He wrote his brothers in Christ a letter and he said, “I am praying that you will be filled with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge, with depth of insight, because if you don’t do that, you won’t be able to live a life worthy of the calling. You won’t be able to bear fruit in every good work. You must have a knowledge of God’s will and I am praying that God will open your heart and eyes to be able to understand His will and discern what is best.”
Let’s see if Paul changed his mind with the brothers in Ephesus: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:17).
He goes on to say that the same power that rose Jesus from the dead (it’s pretty powerful power, right?) dwells in us. “I keep asking God to give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” Prayer. Prayer. God. Prayer. Prayer. God. I hope this message is getting through, because this is the message that was spread all over the ancient world. This is the message that was spread all over that first century church that changed the course of the world. And you wonder why we are not bearing fruit in every good work? You wonder why we are not living lives worthy of the calling? You wonder why the glory of God is not established with ever-increasing glory and the glory of the latter house is not exceeding the glory of the former house as God said it is supposed to? You wonder why that is? It’s because we are not living the life as they did. We are living it eating from the wrong tree. We are living it intellectually—reading the letter over and over again, breaking it into little pieces and using our intellects to decide what God’s will is. And if we do that we would not have been able to stick that knife in Isaac. We couldn’t have brought ourselves to do that.
One time I thought—If God asked me to sacrifice a groundhog I would have a hard time doing that because I don’t see the point. My mind, the knowledge of good and evil says, “I don’t get it. I don’t understand it.” Naaman was the same way. The knowledge of good and evil said, “I have better rivers than this at home.” And the servant said, “Don’t worry about that. You just be obedient. You obey God. You don’t have to worry about what is going on here. Don’t doubt. When you receive wisdom, don’t doubt. The double-minded man won’t receive anything from the Lord.” That principle goes all the way back to Naaman.
If we want to live a life worthy of the calling, if we want to grow in revelation and wisdom and knowledge and depth of insight, if we want to bear fruit in every good work, if we want the eyes of our heart enlightened—then it is going to happen because of a fellowship with God. It is not going to come from breaking a letter down into the original language and parsing and conjugating and beating it up with our minds. That is not going to restore the glory of God to planet earth. It didn’t have a thing in the world to do with what they did in the first century, and it doesn’t have a thing in the world to do with how God’s people are going to tear down the gates of hell now.
The message that Paul wrote to all those churches that he established was, “I’m praying for you that God would give you wisdom from above, not an intellectual thing.” You are not going to achieve this. You can position yourself for wisdom, but it isn’t something you can achieve. Because if it is something you can just achieve, then any atheist can do it too, which means it’s the wrong kingdom. Just ponder this thought for awhile.
Romans 12:1-2 talks about offering your bodies as a living sacrifice, not conforming any longer to the patterns of this world. Then it goes on to say, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.” How do you know what the good, perfect and pleasing will of God is according to Romans 12:1-2? The word “then,” for all those that are acquainted with exegetical principals, is in there for a reason—“Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s perfect will is, the good, perfect and pleasing will of God.” How do you know what God’s will is according to that? What does “then” refer to? Although we are not going to fully arrive until we see Him face to face, we are being transfigured and restored to Glory with ever-increasing Glory. How? By the renewing of our minds, the crucifying of our flesh, not being conformed to the patterns of this world, offering our bodies as living sacrifices, climbing up on the altar with all our future plans and possessions and ambitions—when we are ALL ALONE in the sight of God—THEN WE WILL KNOW THE WILL OF GOD.
Again, Paul did not say, “Please read this letter over and over and beat it to pieces with your brain, and then you will know the good, perfect and pleasing will of God.” He said, “Be one with God. Be renewed, be restored to God’s purpose for you. Be transfigured by the renewing of your mind. Don’t conform to the patterns of this world. Then you will know the good, perfect and pleasing will of God. You will be able to test it and taste it. You will be able to walk in the purposes of God if you stop feeding your flesh, if you stop conforming to the way everyone else does things, and if you get yourself out of the Babylonian system and “scientia.” Scientia is the word for knowledge in Latin, the scientific method. Get yourself out of that and into the ways of God and then you will be able to know the Will of God.”
If you won’t do this, then you won’t know whether to open the door of the ark and let in everyone else because they are repenting, or whether to keep the door slammed shut. You won’t know whether to kill Isaac or not. You won’t know whether to murder with a sword or not because the scripture says, “Do not kill.” You won’t know whether to look at the bronze serpent or not. You won’t understand the things of God unless you learn how to walk in these things.
Question: But what about the Bereans? Weren’t they commended for their eagerness to search the Scriptures?
The Bereans’ purpose was that they not be ignorant. They were more noble than the Thessalonians because they dug into the Scriptures to see whether what Paul was saying was so. That is different than digging into the Scriptures to establish our own righteousness, to make ourselves to be gods, knowing good and evil. These things that I am saying now, I dare say you can find them in the Scriptures, and I dare say you best see it if this is what is in the Scriptures.
You will not establish whether this is truth or not by analyzing it and picking it apart, but by breathing it! Jesus said, “If you don’t eat my body and drink my blood you have no life in me.” “Eat the scrolls, Ezekiel.” There is a difference between intellectually analyzing to accomplish something (we will look at that in John 7 and also in 1 Peter). The prophets diligently studied the Scriptures to see what the Spirit of God within them was testifying towards. That is such an amazing passage because it pulls all of these things together for us. There is a diligence that the Bereans had that the Thessalonians did not have; although the Thessalonians were the model church for Achaia and Macedonia, so they must have pulled it together at some point. The point is that all this has to do with how you approach these things. This is not about encouraging anyone to be ignorant; it’s about how you approach it.
“(There is) a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it” (Amos 8:11-12). There is a famine in the land. They all had Bibles. That wasn’t the problem, but there was still a famine. Therefore hearing the words of the Lord, the same word that is in 1 Chronicles 17:1-3,”And the word of God came unto....” It’s the word that is used over and over again. “Debar”—the utterance of the living word of the Lord was what they didn’t have that left them desolate, even though they had Bibles. It’s possible to be in a famine even though you know your Bible. Jesus talked about that over and over again. The Pharisees are a perfect example; they knew the Scriptures but they didn’t know the Scriptures or the power of God!
“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God, For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2). That is really, really rich. How do you achieve knowledge and understanding? Cry out. Also, you have to accept His words, grab hold of them.
“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). The very next verse is: “Have they not heard?” Of course they heard, but they were disobedient and obstinate so they had no life in them. They heard the Word of God, but they didn’t have any faith because they were disobedient and obstinate. They cast off restraint (Rom. 10). We always stop at the “faith comes by hearing.” Hearing the Word of God isn’t the end of the matter. You have to accept it and combine it with faith, as the Hebrews letter said. Store up commands within you. Let the word dwell in you richly. Turn your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding. It has to be your passion. You have to desire these things, seek the Kingdom of God, and hunger and thirst for righteousness. If you are not hungering for these things, they won’t do you a bit of good. It has to be your passion. It has to be your heart.
“If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, you look for it as for silver and search for it as hidden treasures.” Psalm 119 is so rich. “I long to look into the law. I love Leviticus. I eat it up.” Leviticus was “the Bible” he was talking about when he said, “I just love to meditate on the word. I love your word, O Lord. I look for it as silver.”
Lean Not on Your Own Understanding
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (And those things do come together). “For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Wisdom comes from God. It doesn’t come from your intellect. You apply your heart to it, you seek it as you would seek silver, and you call on the name of the Lord. If that’s not what you are doing, but you are just applying your mind to understanding, then you are eating from the wrong tree because wisdom comes from the Lord. True understanding comes from the Lord. Pray for those things! “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” “I pray that you will have knowledge and depth of insight and wisdom.” In Proverbs, it’s the same message.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5). Do not trust in your scriptural understanding. That is so vital. What you think you know, you are probably wrong about. But that is not the point. You tell me what you believe in—predestination or no predestination and I will logically prove to you the opposite. You tell me if you believe in a thousand-year reign or not, in post-millennial or a-millennial or pre-millennial, and I will prove the other two to you. Everything is like that. You prove to me baptism is necessary for salvation, and I will prove to you it’s not. Or, take your pick. Go the other way, and I will prove to you that it is necessary! The nature of God is not to be found in leaning on our own understanding. That is not the nature of God. What that does is create wars, rifts, bitterness, competitiveness, envy, faultfinding, arrogance, and fear. If I have a 42 IQ and you have 120 IQ, I am in big trouble if we are going to try to find God together because you are going to intimidate me to death with your scriptural knowledge. I’m not going to know what to do with that. BUT, that’s not God’s way.
1 Corinthians 1 says, “I have hidden these things. Not many of you were wise. Not many of you were learned, not many of you were noble.” It pleased God to do that. It pleased God to shame the wise by bringing his wisdom to those with the 42 IQ. That’s God’s way. If we trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding, if we acknowledge Him in all our ways, then He will make our paths straight. Whatever you think you know, do not trust in your own understanding of that, if indeed you really want to eat from the tree of Life and find the glory of God in your soul. You are not going to be able to lean on your own understanding. Whether you are “smart,” whether you are “dumb,” whether you know something or don’t know anything, do not lean on your own understanding. He will not make your paths straight if you are leaning on your understanding and on your accumulation of knowledge.
“But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding” (Job 32:8).
“Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, Simon Peter. That’s not how you came to understand this. My Father in heaven revealed this to you.” The breath of the Almighty is what gives us understanding. That’s exactly the same thing Paul said to every church—they were new Christians. He only spent a few months in each of these places. They were coming out of these heathen, pagan, idolatrous situations and knew nothing of the living God. In many of the places Paul went they didn’t even have a Jewish background, so they couldn’t draw on the Old Testament Scriptures and they didn’t have much to go on. And, yet, Paul, in his attempt to nurture these new baby Christians said, “Lean not on your own understanding. You don’t have to read this letter 10,000 times to accumulate wisdom and knowledge and depth of insight. Don’t lean on your own understanding. It’s the breath of the Almighty that gives understanding. It’s God’s way. He hides it from the wise and the learned. He does not reveal it to those that are just super-duper Bible students.”
You can be a super-duper Bible student like Paul was and still have the breath of the Almighty, but you can also diligently study the Scriptures and never go to him to have that LIFE. I’m not talking about refusing Jesus. What I am talking about is not fellowshipping with Jesus. That’s the problem. This is eternal life, that you might have intimacy with the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent. That’s the only eternal life there is—intimacy with HIM. There is not another brand of eternal life. You are not going to have another way of finding eternal life other than intimacy with the Father and His Son, Jesus. Intimacy has to be there.
Is the bubble sufficiently popped? The bubble of man-made christianity that builds a tower of Babel made of scriptural knowledge to reach God? Then when we get up high enough in that tower, we get confused about it and split. That’s exactly what has happened to the religious world today. You say the reason it’s split is because I’m right and they’re wrong. Right? Well, you are eating from the wrong tree. You are never going to be able to do others any good. You might be right, but you are robbing your own soul of the vitality of God when you eat from that tree. That’s not your place to judge. It’s not your place to make that kind of decision to lean on your own understanding. If you eat from that tree you are going to find out you are wrong about a lot of things. You’ll have to “eat crow,” and if you then refuse to “eat crow,” then you will be in even worse shape. I’m saying as clearly as I know how—Lean not on your own understanding, no matter how much you know or don’t know.
We Must Walk as Jesus Walked
There is only one kind of Christian life. “Whoever claims to live in Christ must walk as he walked.” How did Jesus walk? What characterized his life here in stark contrast to the religious people of his day? We must walk as Jesus walked. How did Jesus walk? That’s a big question. That’s the bottom line. There is only one kind of Christian life and that’s the walk that Jesus walked. It’s really easy to think of that in terms of morality. But there are a lot of moral Buddhists, yet there is only one Christian life. There is only one Christ-life!
Please ponder this in John 7:15, “The Jews were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’ Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent me.’’’ Anyone that claims to be in Him must walk as Jesus walked. There is only one kind of Christian life. There are no substitutes, and that’s exactly what all these other verses we have been reading say... “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” and Jesus said, “Here’s how. My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” There’s a dichotomy. Does it come from God or is it man-made? He who speaks on his own, which in other words is man-made, does so to gain honor for himself. But he who works for the honor of the One who sent him, which is the man who speaks from God, Jesus says that man is a man of truth and there is nothing false in him.
Jesus’ way is eating from the tree of Life. “Their” way is eating from the tree of knowledge of right and wrong. “This is right, this is wrong. This is scriptural, this is unscriptural.” In contrast to that, Jesus’ way, eating from the tree of life, is not knowledge accumulation. In “their” way, knowledge can only be what they have compiled, analyzed and researched. But we know that the Christ-life is impossible, trying to achieve it the way the Pharisees did. They didn’t have any knowledge that they didn’t analyze, compile and research. That’s the total depth of their knowledge—what they themselves studied. But Jesus said, “I didn’t study these things. I didn’t grind these things and analyze them, but I ate from the tree of Life!”
The second thing is that Jesus didn’t speak from His own head, but, in contrast, He said what “they” do is speak on their own. They are speaking out of their own mind, their own knowledge accumulation, and what they get out of their concordances or commentaries. Jesus said that men of aletheia, men of reality, of truth, have no self-motives, no deception; it’s for His Father’s Glory!
On the other hand, the man that studies to accumulate knowledge does so for his own glory—hidden motives, shadows, and words instead of reality. He may not be living in it, but for some reason he feels very free to teach something he is not living in. The person who is walking with God—fellowshipping with the Father, asking God if he lacks wisdom—that person is eating from the tree of Life. A person with a low IQ and poor memory, an unlearned and ignorant man, can penetrate into the mysteries of the Word the way Jesus did. (Anyone ever heard the term “unlearned and ignorant men”? That was used to describe Peter and John.) But the way “they” want to do it is with a good memory and intelligence where study methods and aides determine how much “they” can grow. They can never grow in their knowledge beyond that which their Greek lexicon and their commentary and their own intellect can take them. They can never grow beyond what they heard from flesh and blood, from another man. Their knowledge is limited to their five senses or their own intelligence.
Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus walked. The primary characteristic of Jesus’ life was—He walked with the Father. “How does this man have such phenomenal learning without having studied, without having accumulated knowledge out of his own intellect and building a framework of truth based on his own study?” “I do nothing on my own, but speak just what the Father has taught me” (Jn. 8:28). “The words I tell you are not just my own, rather it’s the Father who is living in me who is doing his work” (Jn. 14:10). Anyone who claims to be in Jesus must walk as Jesus walked. This is the only way to live in the fullness of God’s purpose for you. Everything, other than walking as Jesus walked, is religious philosophy and religious behavior modification and religious natural ability. That’s the way of man, not the Way of God.
“As many as are led by the Spirit are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). I suspect we haven’t given that verse as much thought as it is due in light of it being a salvation verse. Does it sound like a salvation verse to you? I strongly advise that we learn how to be led by the Spirit. Are you confident that is how you live your life? Do you walk as Jesus walked, being led by the Spirit of God? Do you feel really secure in the fact that this is how you live and move and have your being, as Paul said? Are you confident that you don’t say anything that you don’t first hear the Father saying, and that the words you say are not your own, but rather it is the Father who is living in you to do His work? I have been crucified with Christ. I don’t live any longer. He lives in me. That’s the Christian norm. That’s not some phenomenal, super-special thing-a-ma-bob reserved for the first century. Anyone that claims to be in Him must walk as He walked. That’s how He walked. You must be a person that has learned to be led by the Spirit if you are a Son of God.
CHRIST IN YOU—the Hope of GLORY!
“If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” That’s in the same context in Romans 8. If you don’t have the Spirit of Christ, you don’t belong to Christ at all. “The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations God has chosen—to make known among the Gentiles (that’s us) the glorious riches of this mystery, which is—Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That same Christ who lived in that intimate fellowship with the Father, eating from the tree of Life and not eating from that tree of right and wrong that comes by applying mere intellect, lives in those who are born a second time. The gloriously rich mystery revealed in us is that Christ lives in us, that we may walk as Jesus walked. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1Cor. 6:19). “Christ lives in your hearts by faith” (Eph. 3:17). “The mystery that was withheld from the Gentiles for generations has now been revealed to us—Christ in us the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). “But you have the mind of Christ” (1Cor. 2). “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus” (Php. 2: 5). You can see that it is God’s purpose, under the full measure of the stature of Christ (Eph. 4), that we be conformed to the family likeness of Christ (Rom. 8). God’s purpose is that we learn to walk the same way Jesus did.
God wants us to live that same kind of life that is not subject to man’s intellect. We can live a life that is led by the Spirit—just the same way Jesus did. We can live that same kind of life that allowed Jesus to just sit there for four days while His best friend Lazarus was dying, and to not go heal him like He had healed everyone else. How did Jesus do that? I think we touched on that. “Jesus, your friend Lazarus is dying.” “Okay.” And Jesus sat back down again. The next day, he got up in the morning and someone said, “Well, Jesus, let’s go. Lazarus is dying. He’s going to die.” And Jesus stood up and said, “Can’t do it.” “Jesus, you are crazy. He’s going to die.” Jesus says, “What can I say? As many as are led by the Spirit are sons of God.” “By the Lord who is the Spirit...” (2Cor. 3:18). Jesus didn’t have a choice. The Lord who is the Spirit—the Lord who is The Decision-Maker. We don’t make decisions. That is eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If Jesus had decided it would be a good thing to go heal Lazarus, He would have been disobedient. After Jesus healed that one man at the pool, if He had decided to heal all those other bodies that He stepped over on the way out, He would have been disobedient. He didn’t have the right to do that. If He had decided to heal the man at the Gate Beautiful rather than letting Peter and John do it a couple of years later, then He would have been disobedient. He didn’t have the right to do that.
That’s the kind of life that God is showing us how to live. And the same Christ that lived the kind of life that didn’t say one thing He didn’t hear the Father saying and didn’t do anything He didn’t see the Father doing, is living inside of you. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s not some external thing. All that is required to walk as Jesus walked is already living inside of you—if you are born a second time. Is that good news? We don’t have to achieve it. It’s a gift from God that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh.
“You have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Think about that first sin. The primary objective of satan then and now, the thing that makes us fall short of the glory of God, which we were created for, is to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil instead of the tree of life. The result of this is a life of shallowness and spiritual poverty. No glory, no tasting the powers of the coming age—which is supposed to be a Christian norm. No rivers of living water gushing from your belly—which is supposed to be the Christian norm! No power of an indestructible life—which is to be our Life! But none of that will happen when we are eating from the wrong tree. You have to eat from the tree of life, like Jesus did, in order to find that kind of Glory.
“We speak of God’s wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden...” a wisdom not dependent on IQ or study materials or externals, “a wisdom that God destined for our glory before time began.” God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. We speak not in words taught us by human wisdom but the words taught by the Spirit. A man without the Spirit cannot understand them” regardless of his intelligence or amount of study. Apparently, it is not the kind of knowledge that can be received by human study. We have that mind of Christ.
On Our Minds and In Our Hearts
The nature of the New Covenant itself is no longer on stone tablets. No longer will a man teach his neighbor saying, “Know the Lord,” for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest. I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them on their hearts—not on leather bindings. That method is obsolete (Heb. 8:13). Read the passages in Hebrews 8:7-13 and Jeremiah 31:31-34. What it says is the old method was a man teaching his neighbor saying, “Know the Lord, Know the Lord.” And God said, “That won’t be my way anymore. It won’t be written in an external method where you crank it out.” He said, “I will put my Spirit in them. They will all know me from the least to the greatest.” From the 42 IQ to the 142 IQ. It won’t make a difference. The wise and the learned don’t have access to it anyway.
The nature of the Kingdom of God is that it is not dependent on your intellect and your study materials and how hard you labor and struggle to be able to achieve some framework of biblical theology. That’s not what the Kingdom of God is all about. He said clearly, “I will make a new covenant with them,” saith the Lord. “I will put my laws in their minds and write it on their hearts.” The old method is obsolete.
The only kind of Christian life is walking as Jesus walked, led by the Spirit, not eating from the tree of knowledge. Thus “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). Do you know what we say to that? “Who says I can’t? Anybody can do anything they want apart from Jesus, right? I can build a company, I can build a church, I can do anything I want apart from Jesus. I can teach “bible study”—all I have to do is study it. I can be a total heathen, and if you want me to teach a lesson on prayer, I can pick up my concordance, look up prayer and tell you everything you ever wanted to know about prayer.” That’s not God’s wisdom. That’s wrong. That will not bring life to anyone’s soul. It’s wrong because apart from Him you can do nothing if you are not in intimacy with Jesus Christ.
There is nothing you can do in the eternal realm—at least nothing of value to God. “Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.” “I praise you Father because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and you reveal them to little children.” “Yes, Father, this was your good pleasure.” It’s not revealed to those who talk to the right professors, study the hardest, and have the best memories. That’s not what the Kingdom of God is about, it’s about walking as Jesus walked. “As many as are led by the Spirit are sons of God.”
“How did this man get such learning without having studied?” What Jesus instructed the disciples to do when they needed to speak out for Him before the kings was, “Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Bear in mind that He lived with them for a couple of years before he said that. They had it stored in their life. They let the Word dwell in them richly. The Holy Spirit would bring them into remembrance of all things. It has to be there first before you can forget it so the Holy Spirit can bring you into remembrance of it. : ) It’s really essential that you bury your life in Jesus, but there is a big difference between eating the scrolls and memorizing them—eating Jesus instead of establishing a framework of knowledge and sitting in judgment of the rest of the world because they don’t know what you know.
“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus walked” (1 John 2:6).
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16-26). Live by the Spirit—be led by the Spirit.
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and the circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even the angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:10-12).
Here’s a lesson in how to study the Bible. It’s a comment Jesus made when He gave them a very brief and somewhat difficult statement to understand—the Spirit of Christ in them pointed towards something, and they studied and searched intently with the greatest care to discover what God was saying in them. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told to you by those who have preached the gospel by the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven.” Not preached by intellect, not by human wisdom, not by three points and an illustration, but preached to you by the Holy Spirit who is from heaven. If you just took those three verses and made that your method of studying the Bible, you would learn rather quickly how to eat from the tree of Life.
Deep or Elementary?
All that is required to live this Life—restore the glory, eating only from the tree of Life—is living within you already if you are a disciple. Christ in you, the hope of glory. Does this sound like deep, heavy stuff? Is this really simple? This was kind of a shocker to me. I was playing around with a thought in my mind and all of a sudden it clicked. This is elementary teaching that everyone should be walking in.
How do I know? I’ll tell you. The native folks in Galatia and vicinity were notably 90% illiterate and uneducated. The masses there were UNABLE to parse and conjugate, even in their own language. They COULD NOT utilize the scientific method to ascertain the “Will of God” by dissecting sentence structure and running word studies (of scrolls and parchments that either hadn’t even been written yet, or did not apply to them per se, as non-Jews, anyway). So, they would then be, sadly, unable to know God, right? And yet, Paul spent perhaps four months in Galatia, planting the church and opening God’s Heart to his new brothers and sisters there.
In a mere four months, he was so assured of their understanding of what it means to be “led by the Spirit,” “Christ formed within,” “beginning in the Spirit and now trying to obtain their goal by mere human effort,” and other such Matters, that he spoke freely of these Lofty things, without qualification or footnote. He just refers to them in passing. He said, “Keep in step with the Spirit—be led by the Spirit. I am in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you. You began in the Spirit, and now you are trying to obtain your goal by mere human effort. You have gone back to the Babylonian, carnal tree of knowledge kind of system.”
Paul wrote to these illiterate, uneducated people as if they understood all of that. He did not go into great detail to explain those things in that letter, because he didn’t need to. In four months they were already walking in it. In fact, they walked in it so well that they were even drifting away from it. He assumed that they began in it and then walked away from it.
This is very elementary teaching. This is the nature of Christianity. This is the Christ-life. This is walking as He walked. This is a bare-boned basic of living as He lived. This is the new covenant, no longer written on stone tablets. “I will cause my spirit to live within them, and I will write my law on their hearts and in their minds. I will cause my spirit to rise up within them and they will be my people and I will be their God.” That’s the definition of the New Covenant. I’m telling you that as many as are led by the Spirit are sons of God. Well, our four months are up! We need to be a people that rise up and take hold of what God has established as a Christian norm. How many times are we going to read those passages about the rivers of living water gushing out of our bellies and peace that transcends understanding and joy inexpressible and full of glory and all of these glorious things? We have the mind of Christ. Who knows the mind of God? The Spirit of God does, and we have that spirit in us! And we discern all things and the unspiritual man judges nothing, discerns nothing.
How many times are we going to read all that stuff and stay in poverty? There is only one Christian life, and that is to walk the way he did. How did he walk? “I don’t do anything I don’t see the Father doing.” “My teaching is not my own.” I didn’t study. I didn’t intellectually arrive at these things. There is only one kind of Christian life, and that is to be led by the Spirit, to eat from the tree of Life, not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
At the Lord’s Command
“From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; whenever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. (Do you notice it was the LORD’S command, not Moses’?) As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at His command they would set out. Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening until morning and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in the camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with His command through Moses” (Numbers 9:15-18).
I don’t know of any other way to say that, but that to me is just awesome because what happened was that they were willing to set up their whole lives and in one day, move it! That is what it means to be led by the Spirit. “By the Lord who is the Spirit.” Do you know what lordship means? Got any idea what that means? 2 Corinthians 3 says the Lord is the Spirit of God. And if you won’t follow that pillar of fire, then you don’t know what Lordship means. “As many as are led by the Spirit are sons of God.” If we are going to stay a year, so be it, by the Lord’s command we will stay. If we are going to pick up and move every two days, by the Lord’s command we will move. Don’t think God is so different today. The same yesterday, today and forever! And just because you don’t see anybody else living like that, don’t think that is not the Lord’s way. If God said it is so, it is so. Paul got up in the middle of the night and had a dream. He said, “I guess we ought to go.” So they packed their bags in the middle of the night and off they went. That’s the nature of a pilgrim people, of aliens and strangers in this world. As many as are led by the Spirit are Sons of God. By the Lord’s command we go, by the Lord’s command we stay.
And guess what? If we don’t stay under the pillar of fire, we don’t get any manna. You decide you want to stay on the oasis when the pillar of fire moves on? “Hey, I kind of like it here, I have made a lot of friends and this is a nice plush land and all I see out there is wilderness. It doesn’t look too exciting out there to me. I’ll stay on the oasis.” Well, the oasis will dry up sooner or later and you will wish you moved on with the Lord, because you’ll be poverty-stricken in your soul. As many as are led by the Spirit are Sons of God.
Now, if you think this is something that’s for those particular people—Isaiah 4:3-6, which is almost 750 years later after the wilderness, says, “Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; He will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and a shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.”
Seven hundred and fifty years later, Isaiah is prophetically speaking of the Kingdom of God, and he said there will be a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. And if you stay under the pillar of fire, it says you will find a refuge—the shade from the heat, a hiding place from the storm and the rain. There’s a hiding place under that pillar of fire. Being led by the Spirit is hiding in the shadow of the Almighty. That’s the nature of walking with God. “Come to me, you that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest for your souls.” “I’ll be a hiding place. I’ll give you a vacation, literally, for your soul. I’ll give you a break; I’ll give you a rest. I’ll give you a hiding place. My yoke is easy, my burden is light.” Is that true or not? Experientially, no? Scripturally, yes!
We’ve got a problem here. Okay, here is the problem. If we won’t be led by the Spirit, we won’t go with Him into the glory. There will be no manna if we stay on the oasis. If we are not willing to “get up and go” the next day, or the year after, or stay for twenty-three years like Jeremiah, we won’t go with Him into glory. Jeremiah had it rough—thrown in a well, beat up, abused, and, yet, he said, “Twenty-three years now I have been saying the same things to you all and you never have listened.” The pillar of fire stayed there for him for twenty-three years! It wasn’t because he was successful either. It was because that’s where God wanted him to be, so he stayed. That’s the pillar of fire that is a foreshadowing for us. Man’s carnal nature always wants to go back to the slavery and the security and the predictability of Egypt rather than follow the pillar of fire. But the manna from heaven is only for those under the pillar, ready to move with no notice whatsoever.
Remember what happened as soon as they got through the Red Sea and they started having to play this pillar of fire game? They said, “Appoint for us a leader. Let’s stone Moses. Let’s go back to Egypt. It may not have been much fun back there, but at least we had three square meals. It was predictable. We knew what was going to happen. We knew we would always be there. We knew how everything was going to go.” And it is written into your genetic code, into your sinful nature, to hate following a pillar of fire, to want to stone Moses and go back to Egypt. Just as soon as you are set free to follow a pillar of fire you want to have your cake and eat it too. We don’t want to be led by the Spirit. The sinful nature fights against that. The war is between the Spirit and the flesh, it says in Galatians 5. In the context of being led by the Spirit Paul said there is a war there with the flesh. Our flesh doesn’t want us to live this way. Some of us will bail out and go back to Egypt because it is safer there, to not have to be led by a pillar of fire.
The Urim and Thummim
Have you heard of the Urim and Thummim?—“Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord. Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord” (Ex. 28:29-30). The Urim and Thummim was possibly a rock or a stone or a gem that, when the priest was making the right decision, would get warm and glow. We are not sure exactly what it was and there is more indication of what it is in different places, but this was something that the priest was supposed to store close to his heart. When he was in the presence of the Lord, it would be the means of making decisions, of knowing good from evil, by discerning the Lord’s will, not by using his intellect.
“The Thummim and Urim belong to the man you favored. You tested him in Massah, you contended with him at the waters of Meribah. He said of his father and his mother, ‘I have no regard for them..’ He did not recognize his brothers or acknowledge his own children, but he watched over your word and guarded your covenant. He teaches your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel. He offers incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar. Bless all his skills, O Lord, and be pleased with the work of his hands. Smite the loins of those who rise up against him; strike his foes till they rise no more” (Deuteronomy 33:8-11).
That’s powerful. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices. Don’t conform to the patterns of this world. Then you will know the good, perfect, and pleasing will of God. The Urim and Thummim would allow them, in the presence of God, to make decisions, to know good from evil from God’s mind, not from their own mind. The man that is tested and favored by God, that has the Urim and Thummim working in his life, is a person that doesn’t recognize his brothers or acknowledge his own children. But, he watches over the Word of God, guards the Covenant of God, teaches the precepts to the people of God, and offers incense and burnt offering before God. He is offering his body as a living sacrifice. He is weeding out all of the things that would distract him and offering his life as a holy and living sacrifice before God.
Then the Urim and Thummim work and bless the skills of his hands, O Lord. Bless his life. Give him the fullness of prosperity in Your sight. He is not distracted by the world. He is crucifying the fleshly distractions, and, therefore, the Urim and Thummim is useful to him. This is just a picture of things you can hang your hat on. These were written for our learning, the New Testament says so in at least a half a dozen places.
The Tree of Life Versus The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
Man craves the knowledge of good and evil. Satan longs for us to live that way, making our own scriptural decisions apart from calling on the Name of the Lord. The “old man” desperately wants to do good for God, to build for God, but he doesn’t want to inquire of the Lord or ask for wisdom and not doubt when he receives it. It is critical that he be willing to live this way in order to accomplish God’s purposes and live in victory.
NOTE: “‘Bible studies’ are dangerous things.” I will let you take that as you please and just think about it. But I have found that to be true, when you function in a chalkboard mentality and you train people to answer questions and be graded on how they answer your questions. What in the world are we doing? Are we training people to fellowship with God, or are we training people to think like we think? Are they right because they fill in the blank the way that we told them, because they believe what we said is right, or are we training them to fellowship with God?
I hope you will appreciate that when you spend time with other brothers and sisters that you are helping to nurture in the faith, because the only thing you are ever trying to accomplish in them and for them is that they learn how to fellowship with God. You are not trying to teach them right from wrong. You are not God. You are not capable of leading men into all truth. I have news for you, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job, the way I read my Bible. Your job is to teach them how to fellowship with God, the Father, and Jesus Christ His Son, to draw on Them. You are not to give the brothers and sisters that you are trying to nurture all your answers, because your answers are likely to change. Your answers are not the same as they were five years ago, and they won’t be the same five years from now either. Don’t lean on your own understanding. You are going to be very embarrassed if you do that. God’s way is to walk in humility and grow in fellowship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Fellowship, “koinonia,” means to share life, hopes, dreams, fears, and purposes. It means to have a common mind, a common purpose, to have all things in common. That is God’s will—that we have fellowship with Jesus Christ (1Jn. 1), and that we have fellowship in the Holy Spirit (Php. 2 and 2Cor. 13). We have all things in common with him; we are breathing Him, not our own intellect.
To obey the first command is to say, “I will not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, I will eat from the tree of Life.” Don’t search for good and evil. Just ponder this thought. This is something that takes probably four months to learn. Don’t search for good and evil from your knowledge. Call on the Name of the Lord, ask and then don’t doubt. Search in the Urim and Thummim. Search in the pillar of fire. Search in the fruit that you are eating for life and grace and truth and reality and liberty and nourishment.
This sounds strange, I know, but think about John 4, just to take nourishment as an example. John 4:31-34 Jesus sent his disciples off to get some lunch and they came back and said, “Here’s your Big Mac, Jesus,” and He said, “I have food that you know not of.” They said, “You are kidding! We walked ten miles round trip to the nearest town to get you food and now you are telling us you ate food while we were gone!” Jesus said, “You are misunderstanding me. I have food that you know not of. My food is to do the will of the Father.” There was nourishment in serving His Father. This nourishment was something that allowed Him to grow and He fed on it. It was something that nourished His soul. If you are doing the Father’s will, it’s food; it’s meat for your soul. You get stronger, not weaker, when you are doing the will of the Father.
In John 6:53-57, Jesus said, “Unless you eat My body and drink My blood you have no life in you. But if you’ll eat Me, consume Me, digest Me into your very being—not study Me, not analyze Me under a microscope—but let the word become flesh within you. If you’ll do that, there will be life in you. “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (Jn. 6:63). In Ephesians 5:29, it says Jesus cares for and nourishes His sheep. “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that continually proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4). Bread from heaven is the continuing Word from the mouth of God. In the Greek, that’s absolutely, totally, 100% accurate. I dare you to look it up. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that continually proceeds from the mouth of God.” It’s bread from heaven. If we are eating from the tree of Life, there’s going to be sustenance provided. There’s going to be Glory, Peace, and Liberty in it. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Truth, reality, grace, life—all of those things are going to be present. The only time you’ll get manna and receive its nourishment is when you are under the pillar of fire.
Let me give you a couple of examples. There was a man who was a preacher who was going to spend a week with us. I wrote to him about a month before his scheduled arrival and asked him not to come. He had been with us before and said a lot of good things; I didn’t have any reason, intellectually, to withdraw my invitation. But I started really praying about that and eating from the tree of Life, not using my intellect to make a simple decision like that. As I prayed about it, there was a dark cloud settling over it. There wasn’t life in it. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. There wasn’t nourishment in that—there wasn’t liberty. I didn’t know why. I couldn’t figure out why.
If I were eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it would have been a simple matter. I would have had him come. It was already set up, so why mess it up. We had a great time last time. A couple of days later, I got a package of stuff in the mail from him. Maybe it crossed in the mail with my letter. Maybe he got mine and sent the package then. As it turned out, this man was breaking off from what he was a part of and starting a denomination, and he wanted me to join his denomination! If this man had shown up on my doorstep for a week and spent all this time teaching the whole church, I wonder what he would have done. What a difficult thing that would have been if he had spent that week with us. He had everything in the package about how his denomination was going to be set up administratively—there would be a board of this and that, etc..... I had lunch with him when he was in the area and found out what it was all about. It was really a bad scene. But my point really is that I was thrilled that God was faithful to make the whole thing clear on the front end and that He will nourish us when we stay under the pillar of fire. But if we start using our intellect... trouble comes.
I could give you more examples, but the point is that you must walk as Jesus walked. There is only one way to live a Christian life. There is only one kind of Christian life—as many as are led by the Spirit are Sons of God. The way Jesus walked was—in fellowship with the Father. He knew to wait four days for Lazarus. Would you have known that? You should be able to know. Christ in you, the hope of glory. RIGHT? As many as are led by the Spirit are Sons of God. You should be able to know. That’s His purpose. If you think about Christ’s physical body when He was on the earth—the Son of God was manifest that He might destroy the works of the devil. He did that. He publicly humiliated satan—made an open show, a spectacle of him.
It is God’s purpose that this happens in us. The only way it will happen is if His Body on earth now is joined to the Head of the Church, which is Jesus. If we don’t respond to the Head as readily as His physical body responded to His head when He was here on earth, then we won’t accomplish what He set out for us to accomplish. We have to be so one with the Head of the Church that we are functioning just exactly as He wants us to. Anything less than that is epilepsy. If your body starts dancing a jig and your head doesn’t tell it to, you are sick. You need to see a doctor.
That’s been the problem, in my observation (again, test everything and hold onto the good). The Church has been robbed of the glory that She was destined for because She is running Her own meetings. Jesus said, “I will be where two or three are gathered in my name.” If the Head of the Church is in this room, I dare say He had better be running the meeting. I’ll say another thing... if Jesus were not part of the meetings that you have, whether Sunday morning, Friday nights or whenever, if Jesus were dead, how would that affect your meeting? Would you all sit there and wonder what to do if the head of the meeting wasn’t there? That should be the case. If your meeting could go on as if Jesus didn’t exist, then you are busy doing it all for Him. You are not functioning in the headship of Jesus. If “two or three are gathered in my name and there I am in their midst.” If the Head of the universal Church of the Living God is in this room, we had better be responding to Him. We had better be functioning with Him. That’s true individually and corporately. There can be no epilepsy in the Body of Christ. We must respond instantly to the Head, just as His physical body did, to accomplish His purposes and kick down the gates of hell.
I am fully aware that this stuff may confuse you, intrigue you, depress you, anger you—I don’t know what it will do to you. But all I know is that a church that Paul spent four months with and wrote a letter to a year later (the Galatians) knew all this stuff backwards and forwards. They knew how to be led by the Spirit. They knew how to walk in God. They knew how to keep step with the Spirit. And if we don’t learn how to do that, we are going to be another generation that is impoverished. We are going to be another generation that disappears back into the dust where we are a totally irrelevant, irresponsible, boring church—and that’s NOT the bride that Jesus is coming back for. Jesus Christ is not coming back for a cross-eyed, buck-toothed church. He is coming back for a glorious radiant Bride, without spot or wrinkle or blemish. Holy. Blameless. That’s the Church He is coming for—a Bride that has made herself ready. A Bride prepared for the return of the Groom. That’s Her nature. That’s what was in the mind of the Father when He took the Church out of Christ’s rib on the day of Pentecost and planted Her here on this earth. His intentions were that this Bride would be ready when Jesus came back for Her.
Though I readily admit that these things are not something that you hear everyday, I hope you will at least give them the benefit of a doubt. Actually, I hope you will just pursue these things. Jesus, who could have explained it much better than He did, said to go out and find the meaning of these things. And that is your job, too. Find out what it means to be led by the Spirit. Find out what it means to keep in step with the Spirit, to walk under the pillar of fire, to eat the manna of God, to share in the life with God and the tree of Life. That’s what we were created for. Don’t let satan dupe you into eating from that tree of great death anymore. God is going to have a people that walk as Jesus walked.
Come Along and See!