Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:7-9; John 1:4; 6:35, 57; 4:14, 24; 6:63
God’s economy and God’s building both depend on the Tree of Life. In Genesis Chapter 1 there is a full record of God’s creation. On the sixth day God created a man in His own image and then committed man with His own authority (v. 26). Image means “expression.” Something in your image is the expression of yourself. God created man in His own image for the purpose of having man as His very expression in this universe and on this earth. God is hidden and invisible, yet God has a heart’s desire to express Himself through man. God did not create a thousand men at one time, but He created just one man. All the descendants of that one man were included in that one man. God created a corporate man in His image to express Himself, so man is the very image, the very expression, of God.
Why did God also commit man with His authority? God’s purpose is to express Himself, but this purpose of God was greatly frustrated by His enemy. God has an enemy in this universe and on this earth, and this earth has been usurped from the hand of God, robbed away from God. Thus, God had to create a man to deal with His enemy. It is for this purpose that God committed His authority to man, that man may be not only His expression but also His representative, representing Him on this earth as the very authority to deal with His enemy.
God gave authority to Adam for the purpose that he might rule over the earth, and especially that he might rule “over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth” (v. 26). The implication here is that God’s enemy is embodied in the creeping things. In Genesis Chapter 3 the head of the creeping things came in, that is, the serpent, the enemy of God. The serpent in Genesis Chapter 3 and the scorpions in Luke Chapter 10, representing the sinful and unclean evil spirits, are creeping things. God committed His authority to man that man might have not only the power but also the authority to rule the whole earth and to subdue it. That meant that the earth had been in rebellion and that the rebellious earth had to be subdued. Throughout the sixty-six books of the Bible, there are always these two aspects. God’s intention positively is to express Himself through a corporate man, and negatively to deal with His enemy, Satan, through this corporate man. At the end of the Scriptures there is a City called the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2). God’s image is expressed through that City (v. 11; 4:3), and God’s authority is exercised through that City (22:5; 21:24-26). That City is the very expression and representation of God!
In Genesis Chapter 1 there is the purpose, the intention, of God, but there is not the way to fulfill God’s purpose, the way to attain God’s intention. The way is not in Genesis Chapter 1 but in Genesis Chapter 2, and what is the way? The way is the Tree of Life (v. 9). After the revelation of the words image and dominion (authority), there is the word life in Genesis Chapter 2. How could we created human beings express God if we did not have the life of God? You can take a picture of me, but that picture only has a certain image without life. If God is life within you and lives in you, it is possible for you to live God out, to express God in a full way. The way to fulfill God’s purpose is seen in the Tree of Life! Even the matter of authority to represent God depends on the Tree of Life. If you do not have the Tree of Life, God within you as your life, how can you exercise His authority? For these two aspects of God’s purpose, God’s expression and God’s representation, we need God to be life to us! We need God to live within us that we may be His very expression and His very representation!
Throughout world history there have been many religions with many natural concepts. With nearly all the religions there is the same one thought that God is the Creator and that we are the creatures. As the Creator, God is so great, so high, and so far away from us, and we are so little, so low. We have to humble ourselves and even to prostrate ourselves to worship this Creator God. I would not say that this is wrong, but I would ask you to consider what God asked man to do after He had created him. After God created man, He did not say, “Adam, you have to realize you are a little creature, and I am your great Creator. I am always on the Throne, and you always have to prostrate yourself to worship Me.” There is not such a record in Genesis!
Genesis tells us that after God created man, He put man in front of the Tree of Life. God did not give man a list of commandments. That was the work of Moses after the fall, not the work of God according to His eternal intention. The law is in Exodus Chapter 20, not in Genesis Chapter 2. In Genesis Chapter 2 is the first picture regarding God’s dealing with His created man. There is such a basic principle of the first mentioning in the Bible. Whenever you have the first mentioning, a principle is always laid. The first mentioning of God’s dealing with man is that God put Adam in front of the Tree of Life, charging him to be careful about his eating (vv. 16-17). God’s intention for man is not a matter of doing but a matter of eating. If man eats well and eats rightly, then he will be right.
This Tree of Life is God in Christ as the Spirit to be life to us! It is the Triune God, the Father in the Son, and the Son as the Spirit. Before we received the Lord, we may not have thought anything about God. But when we got saved or revived, we might have immediately made up our mind to serve the Lord, to do our best to do good deeds to please Him, and to “go to church” to worship Him. These thoughts, which are according to our natural concept, are wrong! God’s intention is not that we serve Him, do good to please Him, or that we worship Him in a religious, ritualistic way. But God’s intention is that we eat Him! We have to eat Him! The first picture of God’s dealing with man is not a picture of doing but a picture of eating!
God presented Himself to man in the form of food. This can be clearly seen in the Gospel of John. John tells us that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was God, and in Him was life (1:1, 4). One day He performed a miracle by feeding five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish (6:9-13). Then the people wanted to make Him King. But He did not take that offer (v. 15). He later told them that He came not to be a king to rule others outwardly but to be the Bread of Life to be eaten (vv. 35, 57). He came that we may eat Him! The Lord does not want us to consider how to serve Him, how to worship Him, or how to glorify Him, but He wants us to consider Him as our food! He came to present Himself to us as life in the form of food! We have to take Him as food by feeding on Him and eating Him! “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (v. 57b).
We have to believe in the Lord Jesus because we need Him as our life (3:16, 36). To believe in Him is to receive Him into us as life (1:12-13). He is not only our objective Savior but also our subjective life! We need such a life! After receiving Him, the problem with us is not related to work, to service, or to worship, but to eating. How do you eat, what do you eat, and how much do you eat? Immediately after the creation of man, God put man in front of the Tree of Life that man may take the Tree of Life as his food. This simply means that God presented Himself to man as life in the form of food! God had no intention to ask man to do things for Him. God’s intention is that man would simply take God Himself as his food, that man would feed on God!
I hope that the Lord would change your concept from doing to eating! If you would become not merely a doing Christian but an eating Christian, that would be wonderful. In today’s Christianity the emphasis is on doing and working. Christianity has been degraded into a doing religion, a working religion, a toiling religion. But God’s first intention is not to have man toiling but to have man feasting and feeding on Him, to have man enjoying God Himself! John 4:24 tells us that we must worship God, but we must ask what the word worship means. According to the full context of John Chapter 4, the Lord’s meaning is that to drink of Him as the living water in verse 14 is to worship Him in verse 24. When you drink of Him as the living water, that means that you worship Him. The more you drink of Him, the more you will be filled with Him, and the more He will be worshipped by you. The best way to worship the Lord is to drink of Him, to feed on Him, to enjoy Him, to take Him in!
To say that we should not be doing Christians anymore but eating Christians may be easy. You may say this, but your prayers to the Lord may remain the same. You may still pray, “Lord, help me today to do the right thing. Lord, You know my weakness; You know how easily I lose my temper. Lord, help me today not to lose my temper.” This prayer shows that you are still in the concept of doing. If you would be willing to be delivered from this matter of doing, that would be a “real miracle.” You have to see the vision. Once the Lord enlightens you, you will say, “Lord, I want nothing to do with doing, so I will not ask You to help me do anything. But help me to feed on You, to eat You.” I have been learning this lesson for more than fifty years. At times I drifted back. Whenever I began to ask the Lord to help me, I immediately had to stop myself and have a turn to tell the Lord, “O Lord, I open myself to You. You are my enjoyment.”
We may realize that we need to forget about doing, but it is not so easy for us to forget. This matter of doing is in our blood. It is very hard for us to get rid of this. We must see that right after the Lord’s creation of man, He put man before Himself and presented Himself as the Tree of Life in the form of food. We all have to learn how to feed on the Lord, how to eat of Him! In China it is very hard for people who believe in the teachings of Confucius to forget about doing. We all have to first realize that the Lord has no intention that we do something for Him. The Lord’s intention is to present Himself as food to us day by day. In the Gospel of John the Lord is first seen as life (1:4), as the Bread of Life (6:35), as the Water of Life (4:14), and as the Breath of Life, the air (20:22). He is life, food, drink, and air. All this is not for you to be a doing Christian but to be an enjoying Christian. You have to enjoy the Lord as life, as food, as water, and as air. You have to breathe Him in, to drink of Him, and to feed on Him in order to live by Him and in Him!
We also have to learn how to enjoy Him. He is life, food, water, and air to us, but how can we enjoy Him? If we are going to enjoy the Lord, we have to open ourselves, not superficially but in a deep way. We should not only open our mind, or even our heart, but we also have to open our spirit! You may say that you are so open to the Lord. But how open are you, and how deeply do you open to the Lord? A brother may seem to be open to everybody, but he may only be open superficially. He is not open deeply. Many times when we come to the Lord, we just open our mind but not our whole heart. Sometimes we may open our heart, but some deep part within us may still be closed. We have to open ourselves from the depths of our being. If we would learn to enjoy the Lord, we have to learn this one lesson—how to open ourselves. We have to open ourselves by opening our mind, our heart, and eventually by opening our spirit. We have to open the depths of our entire being to the Lord!
I once thought that to drink of the Lord meant that the Lord was outside of me. But later on from experience and from the reading of the Word, especially John Chapter 4, I found that to drink of the Lord is not in this way. Since the time we received the Lord, the Lord as the very fountain of living water is within us! Do not consider that the fountain is in the heavens or that it is something outside of you. You have to realize that the Lord as the living water is within you as the living fountain in the deepest part of your being! He is in your spirit! John 4:14 says, “The water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life.” In this verse we should underline the words in him. This fountain is “in him,” in us. In what part of us? John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit.” If you read the whole context of John Chapter 4, you will realize that this living water, the fountain within us, is in our spirit! If you are going to drink of the Lord, do not think that the Lord as someone outside of you will come into you. The Lord is within you already in your spirit! Now you have to learn to open yourself! Open your mind, your heart, and your spirit to the Lord! Then the fountain will spring up. When this fountain wells up and springs up, it will water you, and you will drink of Him!
This fountain is not something from outside but something from within the depths of your being, your spirit! You have this living fountain within you, but this living fountain may be shut up, concealed, confined, and closed deep within you. There is no need for Him to come in, but there is a need for you to open yourself that He may spring up. When He springs up within you, you will be watered! The problem today is that we Christians do not have this vision! We merely think that the Lord is the Creator, the very God, whom we have to fear, love, and serve; we have to do something to please Him, and we have to worship Him. We do not realize that He is everything to us. He is our life, our life supply, our food, our drink, and our air for our enjoyment. Today the Tree of Life is not outside of us but within us! We have such a living supply within us, so now we have to learn how to open ourselves to the Lord as our living, inward life supply!
We should pray, “Lord, help me to open myself to You.” To open yourself is not so easy. If you try to do this, you will find out where you are. You may only open to a certain degree. You may not open deeply. You have to learn the lesson to try to open yourself. For a person to be saved by the Lord in a strong way depends upon how much he repents. This means it depends upon how deeply this person opens himself to the Lord. We may have been saved for many years, and we may have learned many lessons with the Lord, but even today we still need to learn one lesson—to open ourselves from the depths of our being. If you will go to the Lord and pray, “Lord, help me to open myself to You,” then you will see that the living water will spring up within you and flow out! This flow of the living water brings you the supply of life. Do not try to do the right thing, but you have to try to open yourself to the Lord from deep within!
We must learn to come to the Lord in a new way. We must learn how to contact the Lord by opening ourselves from within! You have to say, “Lord, help me to open my mind, to open my heart, and even to open my spirit, to open my entire being, the depths of my being, to You. Lord, reveal Your riches to me and impart Yourself into me that I may enjoy You.” If you will open yourself to the Lord in such a way, you will see how real, available, and precious the Lord is! You will sense His presence within, and you will be filled with Him! He is not only the life to you, but He is also the food (the Bread of Life), the drink (the Water of Life), and the air (the Breath of Life) to you. All these things are related to the Lord as the Tree of Life. You have to learn how to take Him in, how to enjoy Him, how to feed on Him, how to drink of Him, and even how to breathe Him in! There is only one way for you to do this—learn to open yourself!
Open yourself to the Lord and learn to stay with Him for some time. During this time, forget about your needs, your business, your family, your home affairs, your work, and everything else. Just open yourself to the Lord and enjoy Him for a length of time. Feed on Him, drink of Him, and breathe Him in! Regardless of how busy we are, we have to spend three times a day to sit down to eat something. The most healthy practice is to pay full attention to what you are eating and not to anything else. If you try to take care of other things while you are eating, your enjoyment of the food will be limited, and you may not digest it so well. Sometimes I do not like to receive phone calls while I am eating. Likewise, while I am praying and having a time with the Lord, I do not like to receive phone calls. We all need to set apart a time, free from all outside disturbances, in which we open our entire being to the Lord just to enjoy Him!
Learn to contact the Lord by realizing that He is your food, your drink, and your air. You have to enjoy Him. You have to feed on Him, drink of Him, and breathe Him in! Then your Christian life will be healthy, and you will be normal. We are somewhat abnormal because we are too active in doing, too active in working, but very passive in eating and enjoying the Lord. We do not enjoy the Lord so much, so we have a very poor expression of the Lord and a very weak representation of the Lord. If we will feed on the Lord properly and adequately, drink of the Lord richly and deeply, and breathe the Lord all the time from the depths of our being, we will be so strong in the expression of the Lord and in the representation of the Lord!
We need to retire and resign from doing, from working, from toiling, from laboring. We have to be retired to Him and resigned to Him. Learn to go to Him to spend some time. Retire from your job for the Lord, from all your activities for the Lord. I found the secret that if you are going to retire yourself from all things to the Lord, you have to learn how to open yourself, the deeper the better. You have to open yourself from the depths of your being. Learn to do this one thing. Then the Lord’s image and authority will be with you by the way of life! The living water will have a way to spring up within you by your opening yourself. You are the barrier, you are the hindrance, and you are the dirt. You have to dig away so that the fountain of living water can spring up within you!
Learn to open yourself! Then you will enjoy the Lord as the Tree of Life! With the Tree of Life is the flow of living water and the fresh air as the Breath of Life. If you open yourself to the Lord, the Lord will spring up from within you! Then you will be nourished, watered, refreshed, and strengthened from within! You will be right in your person, in your being, in what you are, not just in what you do. May the Lord bring us into His intention, that is, into the enjoyment of Himself as our life and life supply that we may express Him in His image and represent Him with His authority on the earth!
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To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.
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