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The Tree of Life, Communion, and the Virgin Birth

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Question #1: 

My question is, if Adam & Eve where immortal in the garden of Eden, and if Rev 2 -7 is a reference to resurrected believers who are also immortal, then why is the tree of life present in both of theses passages of scripture? Your insight into the above is as always greatly appreciated.

Response #1: 

By way of introduction, please see also the following link for the details of the tree of life in the garden of Eden: "The Temptation" in BB 3A. Here is something I have written specifically related to your question (from part 1 of the Satanic Rebellion series, "the seven Edens"):

f) The Millennial Jerusalem: When Christ returns at the 2nd Advent, He will establish His kingdom and rule entire world from Jerusalem (e.g., Zech.8:3; 9:9; 14:9). As the capital of the Messianic Kingdom, Jerusalem will be the preeminent city on earth, even in a geographic sense, on the supernaturally elevated Mt. Zion (Is.2:2-3; 24:21-23; 52:2; Ezek.40:2; Mic.4:1; Zech.14:10). The conditions that will obtain in the millennial Jerusalem will make it a veritable Eden restored:

The Lord will have compassion on Zion, and compassion on all her ruins, and He will make her desert like Eden, and her wilderness like the garden of the Lord.
Isaiah 51:3

In that blessed "favorable season" to come (Is.61:2), the curse on the earth will be removed (Gen.3:17-19; 5:29; cf. Rom.8:19-23) and conditions similar to the garden restored (Acts 3:21). Comparable to the tree of life of Gen.2:9, and to the "tree(s) of life" in the final New Jerusalem (Rev.22:2), the millennial, Edenic Jerusalem will also be provided with trees that share the same purpose of imparting spiritual as well as physical blessing (cf. Is.41:19; 55:12-13; Ezek.34:27; 36:8; Rev.22:2):

And on the bank of the river gorge on both sides will spring up every sort of food-producing tree. Their foliage will not wither, nor their produce fail, but every month they will yield a new crop, for they will be irrigated by the waters flowing from the sanctuary; their produce will serve as food and their foliage as medicine.
Ezekiel 47:12

In Romans 2:7, Paul tells us that, in contrast to the unrighteous, we believers who are "seeking glory, honor, and incorruption through persistence in doing what is good" will receive "eternal life". There was a time when this seemed "backwards" to me. I mean to say, should it not be that we who are seeking eternal life will receive "glory, honor, and incorruption"? The answer to my confusion lies in the fact that "eternal life" is much more than living forever; that wonderful phrase, the hope in which we stand, embodies all the wonders and glories of eternity, things beyond our wildest imaginings at present, and so much so that even "glory, honor, and incorruption" coming from God Himself doesn't begin to explain it (compare the similar summing up of all that the wonders to come in the same phrase by our Lord: Matt.19:29; Mk.10:30; Lk.18:30). What this means for your question in regard to the "tree of life" is that you are right! The tree of life is not necessary for our continued existence. Once we are resurrected, our bodies will be like that of our Lord Jesus – perfect and incorruptible (cf. Phil.3:20-21). But rather than being some shadow existence (the pagan picture of the afterlife), or some wispy ethereal way of life (clouds and harps), eternity will be more vivid in its experience than we can yet understand (let alone visualize), and far more so than we are presently experienced to an infinite degree. Part of our enjoyment of those things to come is our privilege to partake of the eternal tree of life. That ultimate tree of life in the New Jerusalem (see the link in CT 6)is described in Revelation 22:1-2:

And He showed me the river of the water of life, bright like crystal, coming forth from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of the [New Jerusalem's main] wide street and on both sides of [this] river [of the water of life] was the tree of life, producing twelve crops, offering its fruit every month, month by month. And the leaves of the tree are for the enjoyment (lit., "healing") of the nations.
Revelation 22:1-2

Comparing the above with Ezekiel 47:7, we find the parallel extremely close, and we can say therefore that the "tree" mentioned in Revelation 22:12, especially since it is "on both sides of the river" is an immense stand of trees (the word being used collectively here in Greek). And again, as you are completely correct that our perfect, resurrection bodies will have no need of maintenance or "healing", the translation "enjoyment" is to be preferred (the Greek therapeia from which we get "therapy"; cf. Hebrew raph'a in Ezek.47:12). This then is a glimpse of some the blessings and enjoyments that will be ours in the glorious perfection of the New Jerusalem. The tree of life at that time (and the right to enjoy it as mentioned in Rev.2:7), will be part of our eternal reward, a blessing, and a means of enjoyment, relaxation and recreation. On that blessed never-ending day of days, we will be fully provided for by our Lord with delights that will put "in the shade" anything this present world has to offer, even surpassing by an inestimable degree the blessings enjoyed by Adam and Eve. I look forward to partaking of the tree of life, but the greatest blessing of all will be the eternal fellowship will shall enjoy forevermore with the dear Lord who bought us, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Here are some more links on this:

The River of the Water of Life and the Tree of Life (in CT 6)

The Tree of Life (in SR 3)

The Temptation and the Tree of Life (in BB 3A)

In anticipation of that blessed day to come.

Bob L.

Question #2: 

In your BB part 3B Hamartiology:  The Biblical Study of Sin, you refer to the confession of sin before partaking of the Lords super

Q1. What is the Lords supper in layman's terms; Also in this BB 3B study you state, God is holy and because of his perfect righteous holiness sinful man is separated from Gods physical presence, which is why He now resides in the 3rd Heaven.

Q2. How is then that Satan is allowed to appear before God, and condemn humans (i.e. Job) When he Satan is the total sum of sin, is sin not sin, being angel or human that is sinning. You may want to add a footnote, or note in your current series on this point, needs clarification, almost contradictory, at least to me.

Q3. And finally... Rev 12, 7 is this war future, or is this dual prophecy in the sense of meaning future as well as present. Rev 12, 8 what heaven is this referring to. Rev 12, 9 is this future or again dual in prophecy. Is there mention of the Angel (not sure of rank) Raphael in scripture?

Response #2: 

Thanks for your questions. I'll take them seriatim. First, the Lord's supper is otherwise known as communion, the one ritual in which believers of the Church Age are commanded to partake "in remembrance" of our Lord, His Person (represented by the bread) and His work on the cross in dying for our sins (represented by the cup). Since this is the one ritual in which we approach God in His holiness during the Church Age, the importance of us being sanctified when we do so cannot be underestimated (hence the necessity of prior confession as outlined in 1Cor.11). This subject is slated to be included in BB 6B "Ecclesiology", but here are some other basic comments from another study explaining the "New Covenant in my blood" as our Lord calls it, which is celebrated during communion:

Covenants in general in the ancient Middle East required two parties and a formal blood-sacrifice for ratification wherein both sides agree to abide by the terms specified. A biblical covenant is an agreement made by God on mankind's behalf, wherein God undertakes to bless all those who faithfully follow Him. God's part is two-fold: He supplies blessing (culminating in resurrection and eternal life), and He provides the blood-sacrifice (the gift of His Son, necessary to redeem us from sin so that we may be blessed). Our part is to keep faith with Him (i.e., accepting Christ and continuing to trust Him, believe Him, obey Him, follow Him: cf. Gen.15:6). God's covenants are formalized promises that provide those who have set their hearts on following Him with a strong basis for confident hope, because God has not only promised the eternal life and concomitant blessings we eagerly await, but has irrevocably bound Himself to fulfill them. Therefore although part of these covenants' fulfillment is still yet future (requiring those who accept God's gracious offer of salvation which is at the heart of both covenants to trust Him while waiting patiently for fulfillment after the pattern of Abraham's faith and patience), fulfillment is absolutely certain for all who embrace the promises and persevere in faith. Both Old and New Covenants are ratified by blood: the Old through the shadow of animal blood, the New through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross (where the reality of His death on our behalf and in our place [and wherein He did not bleed to death: Jn.19:30-37] is symbolized by the phrase "the blood of Christ": Heb.9:16-22). God promises, formalizes the promises, and pays the most severe price to fulfill the covenants He has established – the price being the sacrifice of His only beloved Son. We benefit from His unconditional and glorious act of grace, if we but trust in Jesus and stay faithful to Him. Whether it be present day believers who partake of the communion which proclaims the completed reality of salvation through the blood of Christ (Matt.26:26-29), or believers of the past who partook of sacrificial meals "of covenant" that foreshadowed the future reality of salvation (Ex.12:1-12; cf. Gen.31:51-54), our participation "proclaims the death of Jesus until He comes" (1Cor.11:26) and so pledges our continuing faith and faithfulness. The old, shadow covenant(s) (cf. Ezek.16:60 "covenant of youth") and the memorial, "New" covenant (cf. Ezek.16:60 "everlasting covenant) thus both proclaim the salvation to which we are heirs and partakers by the work of God through our continuing faith in Jesus Christ [from "Covenants" in Part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series].

See also the links:

          "Communion and the Blood of Christ"

          "The communion ceremony outside of the local church"

          "The Leftover Baskets of Bread and Fish in John 6."

On your second question, this is certainly a good observation. I do believe that the language used in 3B Harmartiology under III.1 "The Holy Character of God" is careful, though perhaps it is not sufficiently so. Clearly, God's "change of H.Q." to the third heaven is primarily symbolic. For, after all, being God He is both immanent and transcendent as far as the physical universe is concerned. And, clearly also, in spite of our sinfulness He has always had contact with those who love Him and choose for Him, doing so through His Word, through dreams and visions and direct communications, through epiphanies, theophanies and Christophanies, through – beyond everything else – the advent of His Son who is the very Word of God incarnate. It also bears remembering in this regard that we who believe in this age have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and, for those of us who are pursuing a relationship with Him, the indwelling of the Father and the Son as well (Jn.14:23). Therefore the contact we have with Him is great and significant, and yet it is not obvious or evident – and that seems to be the point, namely, that the symbolic distance remains great until such time as we leave this sin nature behind on the individual level, and, on the collective level, when the world is purged of all sin at the end of time and the Father returns – symbolically and literally – in the New Jerusalem. As to the devil and his angels, this is their realm of operation and their privileges in the third heaven are soon to come to an end (in the middle of the Tribulation; Rev.12). I suppose one can see a contradiction here, but angels, so far as we can tell, do not have sin natures any more than they have tangible material bodies like we do (for want of a better term). Furthermore, from what we can glean from scripture, Satan and his minions do not abide in the presence of God (as is clear from all of the passages where the glories of heaven are described). Rather, they are required (or perhaps allowed) to present themselves on the occasions of angelic assemblies as part of the on-going "heavenly truce" soon to be abrogated in the midst of the Tribulation (see the link: "The current heavenly truce"). So even here the idea of separation is symbolically maintained. Satan does not enjoy the fellowship of God, even if he is required (or allowed) to acknowledge God's dominion in heaven from time to time. Still, you make a good point. This is one of those areas where one has to make a judgment call as to whether explaining what scripture teaches is enough, and whether a further explanation is context would be helpful or, potentially, cause more confusion than clarification. But as you were clearly concerned by the apparent contradiction, I will definitely take the matter under consideration.

Question #3 is certainly not unrelated to the above. I take Revelation 12:7 to be future, the complete fulfillment of Satan's "fall" described in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 in a very tangible and literal sense. This event is part of what makes the Great Tribulation, the second 3 and 1/2 years, so terrible. For, as it says in verse 12, "Woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come down to you!" Your second part of this question is particularly trenchant – I would take this to mean "heaven as a whole in its three parts" (it is in the singular in Greek), and further to mean that the devil and his angels have now been completed restricted to the earth until the day of Armageddon when they will be confined to the Abyss until the end of the Millennium. Finally, the only two archangels mentioned by name in scripture are Michael and Gabriel. Raphael and Uriel are extra-biblical inventions.

In our holy Lord who brought us near through the blood of His cross, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Dr. Luginbill,

This may seem like a very stupid question, my friends think I sometimes, most times, want answers to things they feel are not important, and in reality they are probably right, but if Christ was born of Mary in the only Virgin birth of the Holy Spirit, did she have anything to play in this birth other then being a womb to nurture and birth our Savior? After all she was too, like us, born with sin, then our Lord would have her sin nature, and I know He was born without sin!! If we were to do a DNA test on Jesus' blood would we find 48 chromosomes or none or what? Maybe you understand why they say, just let it be! When I became a Christian I found some answers in three wonderful books Who Moved the Stone, More Than A Carpenter and Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. Though my faith has growth and continues to grow and strengthen I always feel I need to seek out answers and I find you a wonderful source. I'm very thankful for your ministry, may you continue to be blessed.

Response #3:

It's very important indeed. Jesus is the Son of David in every sense of the word, something He could not be if He was not born in Mary's line in the normal sense. What is unique is that the conception was accomplished without any male contribution – but the female contribution was normal in every other sense. Mary did indeed have a sin nature, but the sin nature is passed down through the male side, not the female side.

So it's a very good and a somewhat complicated question. I resist answering the specifics in terms of what science currently understands about biology since that understanding is fluid and entirely secular, but the truth of the Bible and of the virgin birth is the truth, whether we understand it in terms of our present bio-paradigm or not. As close as I am willing to come to engaging on that ground is to report what the Bible teaches: Mary did have a sin nature, but she did not pass it on to Jesus' humanity because the male seed passes on the sin nature, not the female egg.

The following is from "Hamartiology, the Biblical Study of Sin" and discusses this very issue:

3. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ: The physical birth of our Savior presents a unique case. Unlike any other human being before or since, the engendering of our Lord's human body came about not through the agency of any created thing, not through any man or any angel, but through the Creator Himself, specifically, the Holy Spirit.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened in this way. While His mother, Mary, was engaged to Joseph, [and] before the two of them had come together [as man and wife], she was found to be pregnant from the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18

The reason given in Matthew for this miraculous pregnancy which would result in the only virgin birth in human history is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy of Immanuel (Matt.1:23; cf. Is.7:14). The miraculous sign that Jesus' unquestionably divine conception and birth provided and continues to provide is an important part of the reason for the virgin birth, but there is another highly significant aspect to this ineffably momentous event that brought the Savior of the world into the world: only a pure and sinless Jesus Christ would be qualified to bear our sins and so atone for them on the cross (2Cor.5:21; 1Pet.2:22-24; Heb.2:14-18; 4:15; 7:26; 1Jn.3:5; cf. Is.53:9). Without a human or angelic father (Heb.1-2; cf. Jn.19:34-35; 1Jn.5:6-8), the potential problem of the passing down of the sin nature through the line of Adam could be and was thus avoided. Indeed, since the sin nature is universally passed down from Adam through the male line, a virgin birth was the only way in which our Lord could be at the same time truly and completely human, and yet be born without a sin nature. For it was Adam who "brought sin into the world", even though Eve too had sinned, and it was Adam who caused "death to spread to all mankind", not Eve:

So just as through one man sin came into the world and, through sin, death, and thus (i.e., Adam physically passing on his sin nature resulting in universal spiritual death) death spread to all mankind – for [obviously] everyone sins, ...
Romans 5:12

The key phrase "and thus" above provides a critical qualification to the later words "all mankind". Jesus, in addition to being God, is indeed truly and completely human, but unlike every other truly human member of the human race since Adam and Eve was born without a sin nature, because corruption is passed down through the male, not the female. We find a hint of the reason why it is the male who passes on sin in Paul's explanation of male authority in 1st Timothy:

For Adam was molded first, then Eve. And while Adam was not deceived [when he sinned], Eve found herself in violation [of God's command] because she had been deceived.
1st Timothy 2:13-14

In the divine judgment of Genesis 3:13-19, each of the principles, Adam, Eve, and the serpent, receive additional punishments that are appropriate to their actions. The serpent was used by Satan, and suffers a symbolic penalty (crawling on his belly and eating dirt). Eve, though guilty, was deceived, and suffers the curse of pain in childbirth along with that of desiring a husband. Adam, on the other hand, knew what he was doing. Being thus fully responsible and culpable, it is upon the man that God laid the responsibility for passing down the sin nature (1Tim.2:11-14):

(13) Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And she replied, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate". (14) So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, you are accursed, more than any beast or wild animal. You shall go on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. (15) And I shall place hostility between you and the woman, that is, between your seed and her Seed. He will attack you head-on, but you will attack Him from behind".
Genesis 3:13-15

The Seed of the woman who will vanquish Satan and his antichrist is our Lord, Jesus Christ, and it is important for this part of the discussion to understand that Jesus is the only "Seed of the woman" (Gal.3:16). The rest of us have our "position" in Adam, sharing in his sin nature passed down through the male line, and are only transferred from this sinful natural state through faith in the One Seed who died for us:

For just as all die in Adam, so also shall all be made alive in Christ.
1st Corinthians 15:22

Scripture leaves us in absolutely no doubt about the fact that our Lord Jesus, while truly and completely God, is also truly and completely human (Rom.1:3-4; Phil.2:7). Yet scripture also makes clear beyond any dispute that our Lord was without sin in any way (2Cor.5:21; 1Pet.2:22-24; Heb.2:14-18; 4:15; 7:26; 1Jn.3:5; cf. Is.53:9), having no sin nature (as the rest of us universally have), and committing no personal sins (as the rest of us universally do). Our Lord Jesus lived a life of perfect, disciplined sanctification and total obedience to God the Father. But, without the virgin birth, this would have done you and I no good by itself. For our Lord had to be sinlessly perfect in every way in order to be qualified as our sin bearer (compare the flawlessness necessary for sacrificial animals under the Mosaic Law: Lev.22:18-25). Jesus is our Passover "lamb without spot or blemish" (1Pet.1:19; cf. Ex.12:5; 1Cor.5:7; Heb.9:14), a sacrifice acceptable to the Father because of His complete sinlessness. Only by being virgin born was our Lord spared the internal corruption of His earthly flesh which is otherwise universal in the human race – but this was so that He could die for us in order that we might be spared unto life eternal through faith in His sacrificial death for our sins on the cross.

Please let me know if the above doesn't answer your question.

Thanks for your kind words of encouragement.

In our Lord.

Bob L.

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