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Tree of Life – Chapter 3 of “cosmic christ”

 

The amazing thing about Sacred Scripture is that throughout, from the book Genesis to the book of Revelation the central unifying theme is Christ Jesus. He is the common thread that ties the Word of God into one cohesive message that we, all of humanity, have a Father Who passionately loves us and has made a way for us to return to Him through His Son Jesus Christ.

1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2. He was in the beginning with God;
3. all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
4. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

St. John 1:1-5

Let us consider the events that took place in the Garden at the very beginning of biblical history. God created Adam and Eve, purely innocent of evil; they had absolutely no understanding of the death and corruption that would take place because of their disobedience. The serpent (snake), who we understand to be the devil, deceived Eve into believing that she could be like God if she ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He also convinced Eve that she would not “surely die” if she ate of the tree, as God told her would happen.

1. Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”
2. And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
3. but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
4. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die.
5. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
7. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:1-7

Did Adam and Eve die when they ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? The answer is yes. They died spiritually. Man is created for the purpose of living in perfect union with God. Adam and Eve were created to be loved by and to love God. There are two truths that we need to understand as we move along. First – Eve was, as we are aware, perfectly content in her relationship with God when the snake planted a seed of distrust within her mind. This is the way our adversary operates. He plants seeds of distrust and separation into the minds of the faithful; this is nothing new. We as believers have been given specific and very clear direction as to how we are to worship and approach God.

Throughout the Church age (Catholic, Protestant & Orthodox) there have been voices of deception drumming in the ears, hearts, and minds of the faithful making assertions such as – “There is more to spirituality than just being obedient to God”; “There is so much more, look at what the Hindus and Buddhists are doing”; “Did God really say that Jesus is the only way to Heaven?” We could ask the question – why wasn’t God enough for Adam and Eve? Likewise, we should ask the Church – why isn’t Jesus enough?

We as the Church have the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, a perfect plan for salvation laid out before us and for some reason many feel that it is not enough. Our mission that is very clearly communicated to us by the Head of His Church, Jesus, is very simple; share the gospel with those lost in darkness, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the prisoners, comfort the sick, care for the widows – you know! – To do the stuff!

When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they did die. They died immediately. We need to take a very close look at verse 6.

6. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6

“The tree was to be desired to make one wise.” The human desire for wisdom! We as humans have this very strong desire to know a little more than another. Most even take pride in knowing something more than one another. Look at the beginning of the verse – “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes.”

15. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
16. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.
17. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.

1 John 2:15-17

Eve, completely innocent, separated from Adam was exploring the Garden, and along comes the master of deception. Satan has had thousands of years to practice pretending to be something that he is not. Predators often hunt by separating their prey from the herd and quite often seek out the weakest (1 Peter 3:7). He has Eve right where he wants her. He entices her with a beautiful piece fruit and promises that if she eats of it that she will be as wise as God. He uses a partial truth, as deceivers do. They use part of a truth, or they twist what is right into something that looks very close to the real thing, but with close observation is nothing but a lie. We in our desire for what we want will jump right in with blinders, instead of being obedient to our Father because we think we know better.

The serpent told her in Genesis 3:5; “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He left out the part about not having the wisdom to understand good and evil. Knowing good and evil is not a bad thing, but they were to learn about good and evil in God’s perfect time. This is why the majority of us find trouble in this life – we jump ahead of God in His perfect timing.

We are called to obedience in this life, not to seek for wisdom or knowledge. I understand that this statement will not sit well with many, but just hang on and listen to what God is telling us through His word. If we cannot be trusted with the small things how can God trust us with the greater (St. Luke 16:10-13)? I understand that Jesus calls us to be “wise as serpents”, but let’s take a closer look at what He says in St. Mathew.

16. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
17. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues,
18. and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles.
19. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour;
20. for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

St. Matthew 10:16-20

Look at what Jesus is saying here. In verse 16 He tells the disciples that they are “as sheep.” What do we know about sheep? Yes – they are not very smart, nor are they known for their reasoning skills. Sheep need a Shepherd. He is not talking about wild mountain sheep here; He is talking about the type sheep that shepherds tend. Jesus is the Good Shepherd (St. John 10:11).

Simply understood, we are to be as sheep, not in seeking to outwit our advisory who is seeking to kill us like a wolf, but learn to listen to and follow our Shepherd in what He is doing. Jesus said of Himself; “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise.”(St. John 5:19) Jesus leads by example. In St. John 3:14-15 Jesus compares Himself to the serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness. He is telling us to be wise like He is, not as the world. Jesus has not called us to be super spiritual or even super smart, but He is calling us to be completely faithful.

To understand how Jesus is referring to Himself as the serpent we need to take a look at the book of Numbers. The Children of Israel spoke against God and Moses, and against the Manna that God had provided for them as food (Numbers 21:5). God then sent “fiery serpents” to bite the Children of Israel as punishment for their sin of complaining against God. They then went to Moses and repented of their sins and God instructed Him to make a “bronze serpent” and lift it up upon a pole so that whoever looked upon the serpent would be saved from the death Numbers 7-9). The “bronze serpent” representing the sin of the Israelites was raised up, Just as Jesus became sin by taking upon Himself the sins of the world was lifted up upon the Cross taking the punishment for that sin of the world (2 Corinthians 2:21).

In chapter 3 of St. John’s Gospel, Jesus compares Himself to the serpent: “14. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15. that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Now let’s us take a look at what Jesus is communicating when He is telling the listeners to be as innocent as doves in verse 16 of chapter 10 of St. Matthews Gospel. To read this verse out of context would make this statement sound contradictory, but understanding that His statement about being as wise a serpent is an admonishment to be as He is, likewise so is He when He makes this statement. What do we know about doves? A dove, of course, is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. A dove is also very gentle. If a dove perched on a branch next to a person, that person would most likely have a good feeling. Some may even reach out in words or even physically with a hand to communicate their pleasure at being visited by such a beautiful and tender creature. This would be very unlike our response if a vulture or hawk landed next to us, we may be intrigued, but we would most likely proceed with caution, if not shrink back with uncertainty.

Essential to understanding what Jesus was trying to communicate as He spoke of being as “innocent as doves” is that, in the mind of a Jew, a turtle dove, according to Old Testament Law (Leviticus 5:7), is one of the creatures that could be offered up as a sin offering; the dove being completely innocent of the sin for which it is being sacrificed. Jesus gave of Himself as the perfect sin offering. His blood was given, poured out as payment for the sins of all humanity, He being completely innocent.

We are to be like Jesus when the Jewish leaders accused him. He was not concerned with defending Himself, but in only speaking the Father’s words.

Jesus is filled with the Spirit of His Father in Heaven and is concerned only with being obedient to His will. This is the purpose for which God placed Jesus upon the Earth.

1. Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;
3. a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.

Isaiah 42:1-4

Let’s look at this section of scripture below from Gospel account St. Matthew that is a reference to what Isaiah wrote in Isaiah chapter 42. This is a reference to Jesus. He had just healed a man on the Sabbath and knew that the Pharisees were taking counsel “against Him.” He did not stand and confront His accusers, but “withdrew” from the area. Matthew inserts the following verses into the text to explain the unnatural behavior of our Lord. Jesus’ concern was not in justifying Himself, but in the ultimate justification of others. Jesus focused on the Fathers will, not being distracted by the need to be right.

17. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
18. “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will any one hear his voice in the streets;
20. he will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick, till he brings justice to victory; 21 and in his name will the Gentiles hope.”

St. Matthew 12:17-20

Notice that in verse 18 that the profit, speaking in the voice of God, says, “I will put my spirit upon Him.” It is by the spirit of God that Jesus is walking. Jesus is not concerned with proving that He is right. He is not puffed up with religious pride, but filled with the Holy Spirit.

Consider Eve as she walked through the Garden. Do you think she was as “gentle as a dove?” Of course, she was. She, up until that point had been walking in pure love with the Father. She knew nothing of religious pride or the deception of the enemy, but she was not as wise as a serpent. She did not first consider what her Father, God, would want her to do. She, being caught up in the moment of deception disregarded what her Father had instructed her so that she could fulfill the desires of her own will.

Let’s look at this deception compared to the “cosmic christ” deception. Satan offered Eve the ability to be like God. Those who offer the “cosmic christ” will tell you that God is in everything, that all we need to do is unlock our inner “god,” and that we are all Christ. They say that all of Creation is Christ.

1. Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”
2. And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
3. but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
4. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die.
5. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:1-5

Take a hard, honest look here; the voice is the same as the voice that calls the faithful to believe in the “cosmic christ.” “Did God really say that Jesus was The Christ, or is He a ‘christ?’” Did God, through His Word, really say that Jesus was the only way to Heaven? The answers have not changed either. Yes, Jesus is the Only Christ, a title that we can only claim as our own if we as believers are seated in Him as our Lord. Yes, Jesus is the only way to Heaven. And, Yes, God did say that Eve would die if she ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

1. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
3. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
6. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

Colossians 3:1-6

Look at verse 4, the text plainly communicates that we who are in Christ will appear in Him. St. Paul communicates that this Christ “is our Life.” Who is “Him” in this verse? “Him” is Jesus, by whom all people are saved (Acts 4:12).

What is it to be spiritually dead? Do our spirits die? No – our spirits do not die, they live on forever. God created us as eternal beings as He is eternal. To live is to be with God in eternity – to enter into Glory which is the Father’s habitation. To die spiritually is to be separated from God.

Let’s take a look at the way that this separation is communicated in Scripture:

7. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
8. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:7-8

They were naked, and once the eyes of their understanding of what they had done they became ashamed of themselves and hid from God.

We are created for espousal – to be married. When we are espoused to someone, we become one flesh. As the Church, we believe that there are only two vocations. One is a religious vocation in which a person is unmarried to another person, but is considered to be married to God In Christ. We live a “martyred” life, dead to the world but alive in Christ Jesus. Our other vocation is to be married to another person. When we are married to someone, we are considered to be one flesh in Christ (St. Mark 10:8). When married and in Christ, we are also considered to be dead to this life and espoused to God, but as one flesh.

We are at complete liberty to be naked before our wives or husbands, but we are not at liberty to be naked before any other of the opposite sex. Contrary to the understanding of the world we are to be modestly dressed in the presence of the opposite sex. After Adam and Eve sinned they were no longer espoused to God, therefore, having eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, understood the shame of their actions. Their espousal was broken, and they were separated spiritually from God.

Sin always separates us from God. When we are walking in sin, we do not turn our eyes towards God in confident obedience.

17. Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:17

When we are alive in Christ, figuratively speaking, we are looking straight at God, heads lifted towards Heaven bathing in the light of His Love. When we are walking in sin, our eyes are diverted from Heaven, and our heads are “turned” from His gaze as our faces are cast in “shadow.”

God had mercy on their shame and made them skins from animals to cover their nakedness. Sin and death entered into the world. An animal was killed to cover the nakedness and shame of their sin.

21. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.

Genesis 3:21

St. Paul clearly ties Adam and Jesus together. Adam being the first physical son of God, and Jesus being the first spiritual (begotten – St. John 3:16)) Son of God.

45. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam (Jesus) became a life-giving spirit.
46. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual.
47. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:45-46

Lets take a few minutes to look into the way the scripture ties together Adam & Eve, and Jesus & Mary:

Disobedience & Obedience:

Eve was deceived by the serpent and gave Adam the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Mary was obedient to God and gave to the world the Fruit of the Tree of Life.

Nakedness:

Adam was naked in the Garden when he sinned and ate of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Jesus was naked upon a Cross and took upon Himself the sin of the world.

God Clothes Humanity:

God clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of animals to cover their nakedness. Blood was shed to cover the shame of their sin.

Jesus was sacrificed on a Cross so we could be cleansed by his blood and clothed in the spiritual garments of righteousness.

Access to the Tree of Life:

When Adam and Eve through disobedience ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they were cut from access to the Garden of Eden where within grew the Tree of Life.

24. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3:24

Jesus through obedience poured out his blood so we could freely eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life.

13. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
14. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

Revelation 22:13-14

Notice that God brings us back to the Tree of Life in the very last chapter of his inerrant word. This is where we find the truth that dispels one of the biggest lies of the “cosmic christ” teaching. The folks who push this belief will tell you that the crucifixion of Jesus was unnecessary and that God would never have required that His Son be killed. They will go on to say that only a mean, hateful God would require death as payment for sin. Another way they will try to spin the argument is that they will say that Jesus gave His life out of love, but that God did not require His sacrifice.

16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

St. John 3:16

The verse above is without question the most quoted verse by Christians in all of Scripture. God very clearly through the pen of St. John states that “He gave His only Son.” Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing (St. John 5:19).

Jesus was completely obedient to the will of His Father in Heaven.

 

41. And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,
42. “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
43. And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.
44. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling upon the ground.

St. Luke 22:41-44

Do not ever let anyone minimize the pain and agony that Jesus went through for us through His obedience to our Father. Jesus was in agony at the thought of what He was about to go through on the Cross. He even asked the Father if there was any other way (St. Matthew 26:39). God sent Him an angel to strengthen Him (St. Luke 22:43). His sweat became “like great drops of blood (St. Luke 22:44).” Be very clear in your understanding that what Jesus went through was real, it was painful beyond comprehension, and it was only accomplished out of obedience.

Don’t let anybody tell you that the Blood of Jesus is not necessary for our salvation.

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