"Out of the ground the Lord God caused every tree to grow that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." (Genesis 2:9)
"The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who overcomes, I will grant to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God." (Revelation 2:7)
This lesson explains the original purpose of the tree of life, where the tree of life is now, that we overcome the world through faith in Christ, and that Jesus will grant to eat from the tree of life.
Consider. What was the original purpose of the tree of life in the garden of Eden? Why did God later prevent Adam from eating of the tree of life?
1. The Original Purpose of the Tree of Life
The original purpose of the tree of life was to preserve life. The tree of life was a special tree in the garden of Eden that God provided for the purpose of preserving life. Genesis 3:22 tells us if Adam had stretched out his hand and taken from the tree of life and eaten its fruit that he would have lived forever.
However, Adam lost access to the life-giving tree of life. Why? Adam sinned against God by disobeying God's command not to eat from the other special tree in the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9, Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3:6-7). After Adam had sinned, God drove him out of the garden of Eden. God stationed cherubim [angelic beings, Ref. 1] to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24).
God is merciful in that he prevented Adam (and prevents us as Adam's descendants) from living forever in a state of disobedience and sin.
2. Where the Tree of Life is Now
The tree of life now is in the Paradise of God (Revelation 2:7). Paradise is where believers will be with Jesus after death. This is the same Paradise that Jesus spoke about to the penitent thief on the cross. "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43; "Paradise, Jesus, and the Penitent Thief" -- Ref. 2).
In the future heavenly holy city, new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-2, Revelation 21:10), the tree of life will be on both sides of the river of the water of life (Revelation 22:1-2, Ezekiel 47:12).
3. We Overcome the World through Faith in Christ
In Revelation 2:7, Jesus said, "The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who overcomes, I will grant to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God."
Jesus promises he will grant to eat from the tree of life to the one who overcomes. To overcome means to conquer and to come off victorious (HELPS Word-studies, Ref. 3).
We overcome through faith in Jesus, faith in the One who has already overcome. Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
The apostle John confirms that we overcome by faith in God's Son, Jesus Christ. "For whoever has been born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:4-5). Faith in Christ means believing in, trusting in, and having confidence in Christ (Ref. 4).
4. Jesus Will Grant to Eat from the Tree of Life
To the one who overcomes through faith in Christ, Jesus promises to grant (give, Ref. 5) to eat from the tree of life (Revelation 2:7). To eat from the tree of life is a gracious gift from God. Compare Revelation 2:7 with Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Adam, through disobedience to God, lost access to the tree of life. As Adam's descendants, we overcome the world through faith in Jesus, and he will grant us to eat from the tree of life.
Apply. Put your faith in God's Son, Jesus Christ. Believe in, trust in, and have confidence in him.
"What is Eternal Life?"(John 17:3)
"Paradise, Jesus, and the Penitent Thief"(Luke 23:43)
"Biblical Definition of 'The World'" (John 1:10)
1. https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3742.htm - Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)
God has made believers in Christ alive together with Christ. We identify with the resurrection of Christ, and God gives us a new quality of life -- eternal life.
Consider. If you are a believer in Christ, how would you describe to an inquisitive unbeliever or a new believer what it means to be "made alive together with Christ"?
1. Who is Paul writing to?
Paul begins his letter, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:" (Ephesians 1:1). The Greek word for saints is hagios (hag'-ee-os) which means different or holy. Christians are different from the world because we are like the Lord (Ref. 1). Clearly, Paul is writing to believers in Jesus Christ.
2. What was the former spiritual condition of the Ephesian believers before God made them alive together with Christ?
Paul writes, "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world ..." (Ephesians 2:1-2). In the same way, without Christ, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We inherited our spiritual "deadness" from Adam (Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3:6). Romans 5:12 says, "When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned" (Romans 5:12 NLT).
Trespasses are a lapse or deviation from the truth, a slip-up, or an error that can be unintentional or willful (Ref. 2). Sins are thoughts, words, or deeds where we miss the mark or target (Ref. 3).
3. Even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, before we were in Christ, God loved us.
God's divine attributes of mercy and love moved God to plan for and provide for our salvation (Ephesians 1:3-5, Ephesians 2:4-5, Colossians 2:13-14). Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus said about himself, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:16-17).
4. Together with Christ, God has made us alive.
Ephesians 2:5 tells us (believers) that God has made us alive together with Christ. In the Greek, the verb does not just say "made alive." It says, "made alive together with" (Ref. 4). Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines this verb, suzóopoieó (sood-zo-op-oy-eh'-o), as "to reanimate conjointly with, (figuratively) -- quicken together with." As believers in Christ, we identify with and are co-joined with Christ in his resurrection. Paul writes, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
5. When God makes us alive together with Christ, God gives us a new quality of life -- eternal life.
When we believe in Jesus Christ and in his resurrection, God makes us alive together with Christ. God gives us a new quality of life -- eternal life (Romans 6:23). Eternal life begins for the believer when they put their faith and trust in Christ, and continues after their physical death (John 11:25-26, Ref. 6).
Being made alive in Christ results in a new quality of life. The Greek word for eternal in eternal life is aiónios, which means perpetual, unending, age-long (Strong's Concordance, Ref. 5, Ref. 6). Aiónios includes the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting (Ref. 5, Ref. 6). "Aiónios does not focus on the future per se, but rather on the quality of the age it relates to. People who are alive spiritually in Christ live in eternal life right now, experiencing this quality of God's life now as a present possession" (Helps Word-studies, Ref. 5, Ref. 6).
Apply. If you already are a believer in Jesus Christ, praise God that God has made you spiritually alive together with Christ. Thank God for the quality of new life that he has given you in Christ. If you are not yet a believer in Jesus Christ, put your faith and trust in him today. He will forgive your trespasses and sins. He will make you spiritually alive together with himself, and he will give you a new quality of life -- eternal life.
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)
"Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life (Job's Question, Jesus' Answer)" (Job 14:14, John 11:25-26)
"Jesus Christ is the Life - John 14:6"
"Jesus is the Way to Heaven" (John 14:6)
Image: GoodSalt.com - used under license
"And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!' 43 And He said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'" (Luke 23:42-43)
Read: Luke 23:33-43
Consider. For the person who puts their faith in Jesus, upon the death of their body, their soul goes immediately to be with Jesus in Paradise.
Two thieves were crucified with Jesus that day - one on the right and the other on the left (Luke 23:33). Both thieves were next to the One who could save them. Yet, one thief hurled abuse (literally, blasphemed) at Jesus (Luke 23:39, Ref. 1). The other, penitent thief recognized that he himself was guilty yet Jesus was innocent. The penitent thief said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!" (Luke 23:40-42). To this thief, the penitent thief, Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Jesus' promise to the penitent thief has brought hope to millions of believers over the centuries since Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus' promise to the penitent thief brings believers hope today as we consider the destination of our souls upon our death and the destination of the souls of our loved ones.
In the next two sections, I would like to focus on two important points, or "take aways" from Jesus' promise to the penitent thief.
Paradise is Where Believers Will Be with Jesus After Death
Jesus could have told the penitent thief, "Today you will be in Paradise." But Jesus did not say that. Jesus said, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43, underline added).
Paradise in Greek is paradeisos (par-ad'-i-sos), which is "an ancient Persian word meaning 'enclosure, garden, park'" (Ref. 2). Paradise is mentioned in the New Testament only three times - in Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4, and Revelation 2:7.
The Apostle Paul expressed his desire (his passionate longing) to be with Jesus after his death when he wrote, "But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better" (Philippians 1:22-23, Ref. 3). Likewise, the early Christians were encouraged, that when they were absent from their body, they would be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8, Ref. 4).
Note that Jesus' promise to the penitent thief, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise," did not apply to the unrepentant thief who verbally abused Jesus and did not believe in him. Scripture teaches that the souls of the unrighteous go to the place of torment Jesus described in Luke 16:22-26 . There they await judgment and the second death (Revelation 20:11-15). It is far better to believe in Jesus during our earthly lifetime and to have his assurance that upon the death of our body our soul will be in Paradise with him.
The Souls of Believers Immediately Enter Paradise to be with Jesus After Death
Jesus told the penitent thief, "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43, underline added). Not tomorrow. Not some time in the future. Today. Jesus spoke to the penitent thief in language that he would understand. Even though their dead bodies would be on the cross or in the grave (Luke 23:50-53), the souls of the Savior and the penitent thief would be alive and in Paradise together that day (Ref. 5).
Another biblical example illustrates a believer's expectation of going immediately to be Jesus upon his death. At the time of his death from stoning, Stephen the martyr said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!," and then he died (Acts 7:57-60).
Apply. Let the words of Jesus to the penitent thief comfort you as you consider the destination of your soul upon your death. "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
Put your faith and trust in Jesus who is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. You will receive God's gracious gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23), and upon the death of your body, your soul will go to Paradise to be with Jesus.
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)
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Mr. Whitney V. Myers. Christian. For more information, please visit the Author Page.
I plan to provide new postings about once a month.
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25Aug19 - "Characteristics of a Child of God - Part 1" (Matthew 7:16)
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