We mention almost weekly the significance of Adam and Eve’s fateful decision to eat the fruit of the TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL in the Garden of Eden. There mankind plummeted into the abyss of addiction, condemning us to always, unconsciously, think in terms of performance, from that day forward. This event is called “The Fall.”
This is also the first tree mentioned specifically in the Bible. Because we have eaten of its fruit in Adam, we can study, learn, and master vast amounts of information, i.e., “what” we think about it, but we can never change “how” we think about it—naturally always striving in our minds to be “better,” “well-informed,” “productive,” or “righteous” as we learn this information. We are all unconsciously addicted to this “bad-good” dichotomy, even if we are not consciously trying to be good at all, and, frankly, could care less!
There was a second tree in the Garden that is specifically mentioned (Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 24)—THE TREE OF LIFE. Its fruit was God’s very life, and it was fully available to Adam and Eve before they fell, but they never partook of it. God completely eliminated their access to the fruit of this tree after they did fall. They had moved from trusting God (by faith) alone as a way to live when they were created, to independent self-sufficiency, without needing God, whatsoever, after the Fall.
However, being the sovereign God that He is, “who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11), and who created all things, even sin (Isaiah 45:6, 7), His plan was right on schedule: “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4).
At just the right time, God presented to the world His long-planned third tree, THE CROSS (“…the Lamb slain (on this ‘third tree’) from the foundation of the world” – Revelation 13:8). This eternally-planned event introduced God’s way that man was created to live—“bass-ackward,” upside-down, and inside-out—die to live, serve to lead and be a sinner to be righteous!
God Himself lives this way, as Jesus demonstrated for us; Jesus served to lead, died to live, and became a sinner by carrying all my sin to the cross. As we “bear His image” to rule the earth and reproduce others to do so, it is important that we learn to live this same way as well, right now, in this world!
And we can, ONLY because the third tree, The Cross, makes the fruit of the second tree, The Tree of Life, previously barred to fallen mankind, available to us! This enables us, right now, to live God’s way, by faith and not the law. The Cross of Jesus Christ is the climax of human history. Here is a brief summary of some of what happened there:
1.“It is finished” at the cross, just as Jesus claimed as He died there. Salvation has come to mankind at the cross, the third tree; there is nothing left for us to do, whatsoever.
2. Thus, God is no longer a God of judgment, as it was all poured out on Jesus on that cross. There is none left.
3. He is now only a God of love, an unconditional love that never changes no matter what we do or fail to do.
4. Hell, as described in the Bible, is very real, and it is just as the Bible says it is—excruciatingly agonizing! But it is redemptive (to teach us – God’s “woodshed”) not punitive (to punish us), because Jesus took all that punishment for every sin ever committed by mankind. Every knee will eventually bow and every tongue will eventually confess Jesus Christ as Lord!
5. We now have the Holy Spirit to lead us, whom Adam and Eve never had. We no longer choose between good and evil. He now lives within us, leading us from within to follow God’s law by simply doing what we “want to do,” because our desires are changed. We no longer keep that law because we “ought to, need to, and should.”
6. Once we understand this cross, experientially, we are ready to join our Father in ruling over the world. We are now dangerous!
The scriptural basis for all these mind-blowing statements, that flies in the face of thinking and living according to our addiction, is in my book, Limitless Grace, available per request, free, via eBook (PDF), or in book form on my website.
I want to conclude with my favorite hymn. It is about this third tree, entitled “O Mighty Cross.” Read it for a tremendous blessing and a perfect summary of what I have shared today.
O mighty cross, love lifted high, the Lord of Life, raised there to die. His sacrifice on Calvary, has made the mighty cross a tree of life to me.
O mighty cross, what throne of grace, He knew no sin, yet took my place. His sacrifice on Calvary, has made the mighty cross a tree of life to me.
O mighty cross, O Christ so pure, love held Him there, such shame endured. His sacrifice on Calvary, has mas the mighty cross a tree of life to me.
O mighty cross, my soul’s release, The stripes He bore, have brought me peace. His sacrifice on Calvary have made the mighty cross a tree of life to me.