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June Newsletter- Two Trees

These are interesting times for sure. Stressful times? For sure. Unusual? For sure. Frightening? Can be. As a society, here we challenge our country’s slogan: In God We Trust. We challenge biology/science and the Word of God defining male and female. So much of what is good gets painted as evil and many evil things are sold as good. Marriage becomes un-definable. Parenting becomes unwanted; politically, some describe parents as terrorists. Wisdom gets thrown out and is replaced by what the Bible colors as foolishness. God is dead is today’s whisper; it’s the quiet but intended motive heard in many of our movies, books, newscasts, political actions. That’s a lot on the table to deal with. Let me add one more concern. It’s something that’s caught my attention for awhile; in fact, I first wrote about it in a letter in 1996. Simply put, it might be questioned as ‘where’s the Gospel’, more directly where is Jesus in the Gospel. We have many persuasions simplifying that just doing good is the Gospel. All religions have that equation in some form or another. In our faith, the Gospel is not just about what is right, but Who is right. Jesus is the deal! He didn’t come just to create a good religion or a new culture– he came to save, deliver, redeem.

Let’s step back to the Garden of Eden. ‘…of every tree of the Garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you may not eat of it, for in that day you eat it, you will surely die.’ That was not prophesying a physical death but a spiritual one. Eve’s reasoning was, ‘the tree was good for food and it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to be desired to make one wise.’ Sounds a lot like the world’s thinking today. (Gen. 3:6)) (Thinking themselves wise they became fools.) There were two trees in the Garden: the tree of Life and the tree of Good and Evil. The tree of good and evil was actually just one tree. Adam and Eve were instructed to choose from one of those trees but not both. After the fall, God removed the Tree of Life so that they could not eat of it and live forever perpetuating their fallen state. Today, it seems so much of what ends up hurting us is clothed in the wrap of ‘good’. So much of the things opposed to God are couched in man’s own definitions of Right and Good words and deeds. Today we can make that same choice they did, separating ourselves from the Tree of Life, (Jesus is that tree. It was ‘planted’ in the Garden of Gethsemane so that we might have access to Life again.) The anti-Christ spirit is a happy camper when either our good or evil efforts keep us alienated from dependency upon the Father, Son and Spirit. And, just as in the past, the spirit of anti-Christ can whisper of doing good things, separating ourselves from Christ by depending upon what we call right in our own eyes to hold us up rather than the Trinity to sustain us. The finished product of that is self-righteousness matured. A rightness obtained by our definitions and effort, something Isaiah 64:6 (a post crucifixion scripture) prophesied was as filthy rags when laid up next to Christ’s gift of Righteousness. Our Righteousness, as with Abraham, comes from not being like God but being in awe of what God has done for us.

If we’re tempted to hand down a ‘social gospel’, where right and wrong are the definitive language of our Gospel, what tree is that? As believers, ours is not to live a life characterized by saying we are right and good, but a life that says He is Right and Good. Jesus said there was none Good but the Father. (Mark 10:18) The apostle Paul left little doubt: ‘being justified freely by His Grace…propitiation through His blood to declare His Righteousness for the remission of our sin…we conclude then that a man is justified by Faith without the deeds of the Law.’ (Romans 3:20) Trusting in Him will lead us to a more ethical and moral life than the culture’s definitions of right and wrong. Father, Son and Spirit are Good and their Spirit lives inside us; that Spirit can guide and lead us into what is good, by revealing what’s been placed in our hearts. What we will find there is defined in 1Cor. Chapter 13, ‘Love is…’ When we hear Their Voice, Love can be discovered and experienced, and it can pour out into other’s lives.

The Wisdom of God declares that there’s a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof is destruction. (Proverbs 14:12) If we turn to only the tree of good and evil, or right and wrong, we will ourselves (and we will teach our children), to rely on the wrong source for real life. One tree gives us knowledge of right and wrong but the Tree of Life gives us a Life only the Father can give, unique only to Him.

Having an allegiance to something we think is true doesn’t guarantee it is The Truth. Jesus said he was the Truth, the Way and the Life. That’s the tree we’re to access and depend upon. He’s the One that provides all things pertaining to Life and Godliness. Today’s temptation is similar to the first temptation in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were not tempted away from God to do drugs or to immorality; they were lured away by the temptation of living lives independent of the Father, not trusting Him to meet their needs. They would be their own source of leading good lives. Simplified, theirs was a choice of living in His Kingdom or one they themselves created. The ability to define, to separate, between the two trees requires the partnership with The Spirit. There is no other way to distinguish and rightly divide one from the other without that Wisdom of God.

The Gospel is not simply a journey to find out what is right or wrong, good or evil. It’s not simply legislating good things. I remember years ago reading a quote from Chuck Colson given at a Promise Keepers meeting back in the 1990’s: ‘We think we’re going to win this culture back by our political movements. Now, political movements are important, we should all be involved in politics, fighting for the rights of the unborn and for justice in our country, and against some of the ridiculous, absurd things that are trying to be done in this country. We’ve got to be fighting for these politically. But, ultimately, nothing we do will make any difference unless it flows out of the Body of Christ. Men and women committed to one another…being precedes doing. We’ll never be able to accomplish anything in America until we are the people of God, then He will use us to the work because we will be the people of God.’ Colson’s simple advice was a life dependent upon Christ will make a difference in our home, our community, our state and our country. We do the things mentioned in that quote because we trust in Jesus’ sacrifice more than just our being right and wrong. Generally, people don’t always make a conscious decision to be independent of Him, yet we’re subtly moved toward a life that depends more upon our efforts than to trust in the sufficiency of His.

We need to be active in the political and cultural directions this country is taking. Being vocal and active is appropriate, vital. That said, my heart, my attitude, my hope, isn’t measured by simply the success of those efforts. My confidence is anchored in a trust that the Gospel is True. WBVN is a ministry of Grace, has been all of the 32 years of broadcasting. There are other focuses and concentrations in ministry that others are anointed to do, but for our ministry purposes in the Church, we point to Jesus’ works as our emphasis. Hopefully we present the Gospel of Reconciliation described in 2 Cor. 5:18. That’s why we quote: the power of God, the Life of God, is not to be found from the good or evil tree, it’s found in the Life of Christ. (Gal. 3:11) That God kind of Life is found in the knowledge of His Grace and Mercy, not only what is good or evil. In our present world, good can be evil and evil can be good. Saul, who became Paul, had a name change because of his revelation of the Gospel. As Saul he was the overseer, the authority, to enforce traditional Jewish good and evil in Jerusalem. On the road to Damascus, he discovered he was the chief sinner. (See Paul’s description in Phil. 3:6-9) Paul goes so far as to declare that if our righteousness came by the Law, Christ died in vain. (Gal. 2:19-21)

The spirit that persuades so much of the world now is one that does not believe there is evil, convincing the world generally that what is true in our own eyes is true. It doesn’t believe that anyone is evil-they just think differently….I have a set of porcelain monkeys that my grandfather gave me when I was a young boy. They were from his birthplace, England. They are named hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil. Today, they would be gods in many of the cultures of men.

For me, one of the most crushing things I see are people in positions of trust taking away childhood and peace from children, purposely doing so to meet the adult’s world view. Parenting is about giving our children the best chance to discover, not only the Gospel, but providing them to grow up in an environment of peace, happiness; becoming what God intended them to be from the foundation of the cosmos. Today, we think nothing of destroying children’s lives at age 10 on some selfish purpose, torching children’s futures. What would have been considered criminal just a few years ago is now considered by some as education. I have confidence that in the end, people who sting children’s lives, push catastrophe, will answer for that aggressive attitude.

We need a powerful Gospel in order to live peacefully in this present culture, actually it’s needed in every culture, all histories. That Peace is only associated with the Tree of Life: Christ Jesus. The Tree of Life was removed from the Garden of Eden and re-planted in the Garden of Gethsemane to be accessed once again from then until Jesus comes again.

Posted on by Laura Posted in Uncategorized

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