Back to The Garden Part One B
By Fred Pruitt
This brings me to the point of what I am saying about the Garden. Is there something in the garden story that points to the meaning of our lives? Is there a validity to wanting as the song says, to “get back to the garden?”
As the Bible begins with our being cast out of the Garden, with reentry blocked by Cherubim with flaming swords, it ends with our coming back to the Garden which has become not just a Garden in a small hidden corner of the earth, but a vast City. The last chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22, talks of the “Tree of Life” in the midst of the City which spiritually encompasses the whole new earth, with the leaves thereof “for the healing of the nations.”
Does this hold any meaning for us, or is this for some future “time” in a heavenly realm? Both, I am sure, but let’s begin to look at the meaning it might hold for us now.
We can first look at the obvious meaning of the “Tree of Life,” especially to those of us who have come to see our union reality. This “Tree” is the Lord Jesus Christ, Who in His Spirit comes to live in the midst of our beings, our “gardens,” and is Life to us. In the original Garden of Eden, this tree represented eternal life, and we know that eternal life is not simply an unending existence, but a person, The Person, in Whom and from Whom is all life. Paul described Him thus: “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph 4:6).
The second thing mentioned about the tree in the Revelation passage concerns the leaves, which are for the healing of the nations. What could that be? Again, it seems obvious that we are the leaves, the redeemed, who know our sonship, the ones for whom the “whole creation groans and travails” waiting for our manifestation. WE are for the healing of the nations!
WE are the branches of Him Who is the True Vine, and by our ambassadorship to men, (2 Cor 5:18-21). He sends us out to say to all humanity, “There are no more impediments between you and the Lord God. When Jesus died the veil of the Temple, which signified the separation between God and His people, was torn asunder. From that point, through Jesus Christ all humanity has full access to God in His Highest Heavens directly, with no intermediary between God and humanity, neither priest nor preacher nor self-appointed apostles nor accusations of the Law. Through the Cross we bypass all that and go straight to the Throne of Grace!
“And further, no matter what our trespasses or sins, whether toward God or others or perpetrated upon ourselves, He is not charging to our account! Everyone on earth’s “sin account,” since the death and resurrection of Jesus, has been wiped clean! We have ALL been reconciled from God’s side of things. Our taking advantage of it by our word or assent of faith is merely the reception part of gift-giving. Let us not make light of it, though. It is this reception of the gift which fully completes it. It is complete when the gift is received, the package opened, and then tried on.”
If this idea that everyone is already forgiven and reconciled in God’s eyes is unfamiliar or “sounds wrong,” please please read the passage I have cited above, and here also, because it is so important — 2 Cor 5:18-21!
It is the same as James’ famous phrase, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). James seems directly contradictory to Paul’s justification by faith alone, and lots of people have read him that way. But he is not contradicting Paul nor attempting to undermine what Paul has written. James is coming to the same thing from a different vantage point. He is saying the same thing as the meaning of John 1:14: “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us …” Faith has its completion when we know we have been taken by what we took. We “took” Jesus, and He confirms it by the Spirit’s witness within us thereby making us expressions of Himself while living in our still-mortal bodies. The meaning of “Faith without works is dead,” is not in opposition to Paul, but the completion of it.
Look at what James says in the rest of the verse, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Consider for a moment. What IS the body? It “houses” the spirit (Heb 3:6). Our “spirit” sets the tone for whoever we are, from the inside out. The body exists in order to manifest the life within us, whether darkness or light. Simply said, the “body,” which is the manifestation of the life we are inwardly, is the house and expression of spirit. That is what James is meaning regarding faith and works. The “works” are the “body” of faith. We don’t “do works” in order to have faith. We have faith and the “works” are a product of our faith. True faith, the faith of God, bears fruit in us in its time and will accomplish the purposes of God to His glory and in Him our glory also.
One of the greatest pictures of union living is given in the Garden of Eden story. There are some obvious differences between innocent Adam and Eve and us, but those are not for us to consider just here. What I want to look at is the Life they lived, not their consciousness of it.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” This is the act of heavenly creation, the consummation of the eternal plan of the Father, Son and Spirit, who in eternity said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion…”
Life from Heaven
Something entirely new is done here, a miracle, an unfathomable mystery, for God has made Life out of dust! But more than just existence, He breathed Himself into that dust, so that it was diffused with His own life, His own character, His own mind. And yet to even further deepen the miracle and the mystery, the “dust” knew life in himself — “in our image” — and possessed that God-derived awesome freedom.
Now it appears in the story that Adam and Eve didn’t know themselves beyond perhaps infant-like self-knowledge. They just lived in who they were, and had no real consciousness of it. But it was a union life, God in them, and what a life it was!
Before I go on, I want to comment about Adam a little more. I think it is easy to be dismissive of Adam and Eve. For one thing, it is easy to see them as little more than children, and perhaps they were, who knows? And then there is the issue of blame. Lots of folks blame Adam and Eve for the world we live in today. But I have never made Adam and Eve my scapegoat. That is why I said above, “The Bible begins with ‘our’ being cast out of the Garden.” I was there, in Adam’s loins, and was cast out with him. If that is not the case then I would say, “If it had been ‘me” instead of Adam, (but Fred and Eve wouldn’t sound right, would it!?), the outcome would have still been the same!
The first thing we are told about “the man” is that he was to dress the garden and to till it. What does this mean? There was development. There was labor. Not the type of labor we know, certainly, but labor nevertheless. At this point I’m not particularly interested in what needed to be done to the Garden itself, but the point of it for us. How was Adam to know what to do? Where to put his efforts? How to till or dress the Garden?
Other than the commandments about the two trees, there is no record of God instructing Adam on what to do, nor do we know of any manuals or books available to him. And this is the exciting part. Adam knew what to do!
How? He was One with the God-life in himself, and other than the one “no-no,” all was open for him. He lived his life like the word given to Saul, “Thou do as occasion serves thee, for God is with thee,” (1 Sam 10:7). Every breath he took, every thought he had, every desire he felt pressing within him, every task he undertook to do was the Life of the Spirit pressing forth within Him to manifest the kingdom of God: to reconcile, develop, and manage (“have dominion over”) God’s creation which had been given to him. Yet again, what life was it in Adam, perhaps without Adam’s awareness of it, that was doing these things? It was God Himself seeking by uniting Himself with man — Immanuel — to increasingly manifest in visible form the infinite wonders of His own wondrous Being.
The Manifest Word
After a time, God looked at the man and decided he should not be alone. So again out of the dust God brought forth other creatures, the animals. Then what happened? God brought the animals to Adam, and, “Whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” (Gen 2:18-20). Here the man is doing something more than just developing that which is already there. He is speaking! Speaking is an act of, of identification, of making things concrete.
There is something of a deep mystery here, much more than our usual picture of Adam just saying, “I think I’ll call you a cow and you a gopher.” For language is more than just a convenient medium of human communication, but in some lower measure it is a manifestation of The Word. The power of speech given to Adam, and to us, is not just our method of communication; it is our power of creation.
[This is an aside. This is why Jesus in the Gospels says we shall be judged* for every idle word we speak. Speaking (with intent) is spirit, whether truth or error. Though it is a physical thing we do with our throats and vocal cords, still it is a spirit reality. (Matt 12:33-37). At this point in the Genesis story, Adam didn’t have to, as we do, say the truth about who he was. He was simply living the life and had no need to do that. But we can see from this picture how serious words are and that it is no light thing for us to enter into God’s reality by our words.
*He isn’t talking about the “Judgment seat of Christ” or the “Great White Throne” judgment, but simply saying that the outcome of our words is that they come to pass in one way or another. They may sow discord, and we reap discord. They may sow fleshly accusations, and we reap fleshly accusations. When we sow love, we reap love. When we sow peace, we reap peace. That’s what He means by “judged.”]
What did Adam do with this manifestation of God working in him? He gave specificity to the animals. The mind of God in Adam was not content that the animals should just be nameless masses of flesh frolicking to and fro in the Garden. He desired that they be identified and given a specific life and place in Adam’s consciousness through his speaking of their names.
Again, where did Adam get their names, so that God was content that whatever Adam called them would be their names? They came from the deep mind of God operating within Adam. Where else could they have come from? What other language did Adam and Eve know, except the language of God that they knew in their beginning? The names of those animals were God’s names for the animals, spoken through the man, Adam, from Adam’s mind. It was that infinite Life of God, the mind of the Father within Adam, that only finds manifestation through the Son (the Word) speaking them into manifestation. This was more than just Adam giving some names to some animals, but the Trinity in action, doing that which God desires to do eternally — manifest His own Love-life in an infinite variety of form.
What does that mean to us? This activity of the Trinity is our heritage. We are to be the speakers, the identifiers, The Word in our individual worlds. God calls us to specify the realities in our own lives (by His Spirit in us as us) and to speak the necessary Word in each specific thing as led, whether it is a need for ourselves, or for the needs of others. This is the purpose of His life in us and God’s means of further creation and development.
This has taken a long time for me to learn. Life can often appear to us like the “giants” appeared to the children of Israel. If we don’t believe who we are, the problems and issues of life seem like they are going to squash us. We seem hardly to be able to lift our own heads, much less consider the needs of others. And often, rather than face these “giants” and speak the truth about them, we flee even identifying them, hoping they’ll go away.
However, we can see from this story that growing up means first of all naming them and identifying them. Because we are who we are, we can then speak the Father’s word in every situation and problem, being ourselves the source of the solution by virtue of Who we are, rather than hiding in fear while watching the “giants” grow bigger.
“Bone of My Bone”
We see the crowning glory of the first speech of man in God’s next action in the Garden. We see that God is not content with just the animals for Adam, so he creates Eve out of the side of Adam. The first recorded words of man are not actually spoken to Eve, but are a sort of Shakespearian soliloquy: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh…” (Gen 2:23-25). What does this mean?
Again, this is something of the deep mystery of God. Adam is saying that this other person, who stands over against him, who is “other than” himself, is actually another part or aspect of himself!
“She is just like me,” he says. But she isn’t him, but “woman, because she was taken out of man.” So, she is him, but she is not him. “O, how great the wisdom of God.” They complete each other. The consummation of marriage is sexual union. Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 5. Adam and Eve come together and become “one flesh.” Then Paul says, in verse 32: “This is a great mystery, but I speak of Christ and the Church.” It is a different way to express the same truth found in 1 Cor 6:17 – “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” Do we see it? Physical marriage is a parable of our spiritual “marriage” with the Lord, and because of that, we are all “one spirit” (all out of that same One Person we have found through Jesus Christ.)
Here we begin to see the ultimate purpose and final meaning of life in God. In a sense, union is a “given.” It is in this story. And though we find ourselves constantly tempted to disbelieve who we are, union for us is our reality; it is our “given.” He is the Solid Rock under our feet! By that I mean this well never runs dry and is always flowing. Union is coming home, coming to our rest, where we know our life in God is secure, and He is now living our lives and yet it is us. Now, what do we do with it?
LIFE IS OTHERS! This is what Norman Grubb means when he says we just forget God and live. Obviously he doesn’t mean some sort of fleshly living, but the right fulfilling of our true purpose in life: to be the expressers of God’s other-love nature to those God gives us. Life is found in giving it in fullness to others. This is the fulfillment of God’s life in us – not a continual looking within and checking ourselves to see if we are okay in God, though we do that if it is necessary, but a continual looking outward from ourselves in blessing and life-giving to others.
END PART ONE