Thee and Two Gardens #5

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 KJV).

Wilt thou choose to “live” in the Garden of Eden, or in the Garden of Calvary?

To defeat one’s enemy, one only needs to get into the enemy’s mind. Satan knows this good and well, so at every opportunity, he uses false teaching to distract God’s people. It is exactly how he manipulated Eve in the context of today’s Scripture. Satan first questioned God’s Word (“Yea, hath God said…?,” verse 1), Eve then misquoted God’s Word (subtracting from it, adding to it, watering it down; verses 2,3), and Satan finally denied God’s Word (verse 4,5). In just a few moments, Satan had Eve exactly where he wanted… she did not have one whit of sound Bible doctrine to uphold her, so her mind was corrupted. Adam, aware of the deception, just gave in. They lost paradise because of it.

The Bible warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:3: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Just as Satan confused Eve regarding God’s simple instructions, he feeds the Body of Christ false information so they do not know what God is doing today. Satan encourages us to take parts of the Bible not written to us and make them apply to us, as well as encourages us to throw away the Bible completely and put a denominational handbook in its place.

So, just as Satan messed up the lives of Adam and Eve with false doctrine, and made them unusable to God (today’s Scripture), Satan uses false doctrine to make us unusable to God. Dear friends, we must be on guard. We must never let our minds wander far from Christ’s finished crosswork, and the Garden of Calvary when it was completed with the resurrection, for Satan will surely weaken and destroy our Christian lives….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Paul tell the Corinthians to be ‘reconciled to God?’

Thee and Two Gardens #4

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 KJV).

Wilt thou choose to “live” in the Garden of Eden, or in the Garden of Calvary?

Once Adam and Eve recognized their sin problem, they “sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (verse 7). Rather than seek God’s help, they attempted to cover up their problem by themselves. This was religion’s first appearance—sinful man trying to bind himself back to the holy God he offended. Their efforts failed, and they thus hid from God (today’s Scripture).

Even today, the average person ignores God’s solution to our sin problem (Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork). He or she tries everything else to deal with their sin—water baptism, prayer, alms, confession, commandment keeping, apathy, denial, et cetera. Religion failed Adam and Eve, and Israel. Dear friends, religion will profit us nothing either. If religion were useful, Jesus Christ would have stayed in heaven! Because Jesus came and died, we know religion is literally fruitless concerning the righteous fruit God demands. Religion brings nothing but irritation and heartache, just as the itchy fig leaves bothered Adam and Eve. Again, even while wearing prickly fig-leaf coverings, they knew they were naked spiritually, and hid amongst the trees as soon as they heard righteous JEHOVAH Elohim coming their way (today’s Scripture)!

To have the righteous works God demands, we must die, which is where Calvary’s cross enters the picture: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). By simple faith in Calvary’s finished crosswork, God kills us. He can do nothing with our flesh, our identity in Adam, so He gives us a new identity in Christ! Oh, what joy, what peace, what liberty, what holiness we now have. Strangely, our life begins in a tomb, the tomb of the Garden of Calvary….

Thee and Two Gardens #3

Monday, January 26, 2015

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 KJV).

Wilt thou choose to “live” in the Garden of Eden, or in the Garden of Calvary?

Today’s Scripture shows us what living in the Garden of Eden is like. After sin entered into the world by Adam’s disobedience (Romans 5:12), the Garden was a place of misery, fear, and hiding. What God had designed to be paradise was now in shambles. Many of us today find the Christian life to be equally frustrating and glum—what God intended to be a blessing is such a heartache!

How could something God have made, be so unpleasant? It is miserable because we make it! As Adam ruined the Garden of Eden with his performance, so we wreck the Christian life when we try in our strength to live righteously. We add church rules, denominational burdens, to try to make God happy with us when He has already accepted us in Jesus Christ forever (Ephesians 1:6). What a shame that most Christians live like spiritual paupers when they are spiritually rich in Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9)! They beg God for forgiveness when they already have it in Christ (Colossians 1:14)! They beg God for blessings when they already have them all in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)! They beg God for strength and victory when they already have it in Christ (Philippians 4:13)! Religion is indeed “weak and beggarly” (Galatians 4:9)!

Dear readers, mentally, we need to leave the Garden of Eden. Our identity does not go back to Adam. We are no longer in Adam, but are forever “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our identity goes back to Jesus Christ’s garden tomb at Calvary. In that garden, not Eden, do we find the fruits of our (Christ’s) resurrection life! Our life should abound with good works, not to make God happy with us, but because He is working inside of us, because we are simply living in accordance with our identity in Jesus Christ. That mindset will surely change our lifestyle….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Was God unfair in striking Uzzah dead?

Thee and Two Gardens #2

Sunday, January 25, 2015

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 KJV).

Wilt thou choose to “live” in the Garden of Eden, or in the Garden of Calvary?

Dear friends, we act according to our identity. If we are in Adam, we will act just like Adam did; our sin nature will dominate us and we will live in sin. In Adam, we have no freedom and no power not to sin. That was before we trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. Now, we are “new creature[s] in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17)—we have a new identity in Christ.

If we “mind the things of the flesh,” we will act fleshly, but if we “mind the things of the Spirit,” we will act spiritual (Romans 8:1-15). We can think like lost people, and thus act like lost people, or we can think like Christians and thus act like Christians. To think like the Holy Spirit, we must have faith in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to us.

As 2 Corinthians 5:14,15 says: “[14] For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: [15] And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” Christian living is based on a thinking process. You have to “judge” (conclude, reckon as true, count it as reality) that your life should bring glory to the Person who died and rose again in order to give you that new life!

If we believe our identity in Christ to be reality, we will act just like Jesus Christ did: our new identity will bear fruit (righteousness) as our old identity produced fruit (sins). The “fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:9-11), the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22,23), will result. It is in the Garden of Calvary that we find fruit pleasing to God….

Thee and Two Gardens #1

Saturday, January 24, 2015

“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus…” (John 19:41,42a KJV).

Wilt thou choose to “live” in the Garden of Eden, or in the Garden of Calvary?

Long ago, in the Middle East, specifically the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, our parents, died spiritually. Their spirits, once alive with God’s life, now dead, unable to function as He created them, now operating apart from His purpose. Their souls, formerly enlightened with God’s Word, now darkened, unable to function as He created them, now operating without any purpose. Their physical bodies, once able to do God’s will, now depraved, unable to live forever as He created them, working slower and eventually ceasing activity altogether. How it broke God’s heart to see mankind go the way of Satan!

Long ago, in the Middle East, near the Garden of Calvary, our Saviour died physically. His Spirit went back to Father God in heaven (Luke 23:46). His soul descended into the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40). His physical body was removed from the cross and prepared for burial. In today’s Scripture, His broken-hearted disciples brought His lifeless body to a nearby garden tomb, a new tomb that wealthy Joseph of Arimathaea had purchased for himself. They sealed the grave with a great stone (Matthew 27:57-60). On the third day, Jesus Christ burst from that tomb in resurrection power—alive forevermore, victorious over death, sin, Satan, and hell!

Those who witnessed these events thousands of years ago, they did not realize that God, for special reasons now known to us, had them included in His Word and plan for mankind. With the completed canon of Scripture in hand, we can see what He was doing. Saints, by considering these two great events in Scripture, we can actually see the difference between flesh-living and grace-living. One lifestyle is exclusive to the Garden of Eden while the other is limited to the Garden of Calvary. It is our faith in these verses that determines what lifestyle we experience on planet Earth….

Roasted with Fire

Friday, January 23, 2015

“And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof” (Exodus 12:8,9 KJV).

Israel will learn 15 centuries later why JEHOVAH told them to roast the Passover lamb.

Throughout Moses’ five books—the “Torah,” “Pentateuch,” Genesis through Deuteronomy—we see glimpses of Jesus Christ’s life and ministry, some 1,500 years beforehand. Today’s Scripture is a graphic portrait, Him not simply being nailed to a cross and suffering immense physical pain, but a crushing force inside, His soul experiencing such a radical transformation that it is just as horrific as the sight of His disfigured body. Oh, what Israel has done to Him! Oh, what Rome has done to Him! Oh, what we have done to Him! Oh, what Father God is now doing to Him!

Today’s Scripture says that, after the Passover lamb was killed and bled, its entire body was to be roasted with fire, and finally eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Every Passover, every year, JEHOVAH God was rehearsing for Israel what would happen to His only begotten Son in their land on a cruel cross. He never told them exactly what Passover meant until after Calvary happened, but we can look back and see the blueprints were all there.

Messiah Jesus cried out from Calvary’s cross in Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Quoting Psalm 22:1, Jesus signifies this psalm is Messianic, descriptive of what was going through His mind and heart as He hung there. “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people” (Psalm 22:6). What lost people experience in hell (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:44,46,48), Jesus literally felt it in His soul while on Calvary’s cross. Our sin was placed on His soul, and then God’s righteous fury was poured out on it: “[Father God] made [Jesus’] soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10). His soul was completely heated in God’s judgment, as the Passover lamb was thoroughly roasted.

Oh, what a great sacrifice! Oh, what a great Saviour!

Singing for the Devil

Thursday, January 22, 2015

“And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear” (Exodus 32:17,18 KJV).

Moses and Joshua are coming down from Mount Sinai after receiving JEHOVAH’S Ten Commandments, and what a “praise and worship” session Israel is seen to have!

It is common to hear of people attending church services at a particular location simply because they “love” the “praise and worship” team. When they talk to you about “church time,” they rarely evaluate the sermon’s theology. What mattered is, “Church was awesome today because a visitor came and showed us some new dance moves!!!” (A social media posting I saw.) Or, “I do not like that preacher’s doctrine but I watch his television program because he is a terrific musician and singer!” (What someone told me recently.) Dear friends, we should be mindful not to expose ourselves to such spiritual dangers, that which appears or sounds good but is actually injurious to our spiritual health.

“And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount” (verse 19). “And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies: ),…” (verse 25). The Levites, instructed by Moses, killed 3,000 naked Jewish revelers (verses 26-28)!

Singing and dancing about spiritual matters is not always good. Remember, the same vain religious system that infiltrated ancient Israel has also infected the Body of Christ. Dancing around worthless idols, singing about vain denominational traditions, and so on, it is not pleasing to our Lord Jesus Christ. Beloved, let us strive for a pure local church, one that upholds God’s Word rightly divided, and let us cast off a local church that upholds the flesh! :)