The Tree of Life
Reach for the Stars Chapter 9
The prophet Joel saw in a vision the stripping and then the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. He describes in detail some of the things that take place during the process.
In chapter one of Joel we see how the vine is laid waste, the fig tree is barked and the branches thereof made white. It is a desolate scene, all creation is groaning, even the beasts of the field. Joel calls upon the ministers to weep and repent.
Then in chapter two we see the Day of the Lord approaching, and a trumpet being blown in Zion. The great army of the Lord goes to battle against the corrupt systems of this world, and in the last part of this chapter we find a glorious restoration taking place in Zion. It identifies the time of this restoration as being the “last days”. Some tremendous prophecies are made concerning the outpouring of the Spirit in these times.
Matthew’s Tree of Life
In chapter 13 of Matthew we find a record of seven of the parables of Jesus. Looking closely we find a progressive picture of the stripping and restoration of the Church. Error! Bookmark not defined.. Let us quickly and briefly look at these parables.
Parable #1…… The Hundredfold
The chapter begins with a parable on the sowing of good seed. The climax of this parable is brought out in verse 23: “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty”.
Here in its most glorious aspect, we see good seed being sown into good ground, and bringeth forth good fruit an hundredfold. This is a picture of the Christ, God’s Body and representative in the earth, the Perfect Man. He moves about the earth, dwelling among those who are burdened with the cares of life, or cursed with unbelief or shallowness of heart. But in the midst of the barrenness of others who cannot or will not receive the word of God, He receives the word, understands it, and brings forth fruit an hundredfold. His fruitful life becomes an oasis of life to those who are hungry for God, and the multitudes flock to Him for teaching, healing, and comfort. He is God’s Tree of Life.
Notice that there are others who receive the seed and bring forth fruit in varying degrees of fruitfulness. They have not reached the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, yet their lives are fruitful. We find this in the lives of His disciples.
But the Tree of Life, the pattern of all fruitfulness, is found in the life of our Lord Jesus. He is the firstborn of all those who shall come forth in His image. He is the example we are to follow, the beauty of perfectness toward which we should aim, and His elect cannot and will not settle for any less.
Parable #2…… Tares in the Wheat
We find the second parable in verses 24-30, and it deals with a man who sows good wheat in his field, but under cover of darkness an enemy sowed tares among the wheat. For awhile, no one knew about the tares, but when the rains came and the wheat began to grow, the tares also showed themselves.
“An enemy hath done this”. This is not the result of the good seed. Tares come from an outside source. But they find their way right into the midst of the good wheat. But the Lord said: “Leave them alone”. Their end is to be burned. They will not escape the judgments of God. But for now, let them grow as one crop, for when wheat and tares are both fully ripe, then shall the difference be manifest, and it shall be easy to separate them.
This is a picture of the Early Church, the first pentecostal church. It was a mixture of wheat and tares. See it in Acts chapter 5, with Ananias and Sapphira. And in Acts 11:12 we see how there were those in the church who “contended” with Peter because he ate with uncircumcised men. Notice how that even after the disciples at Antioch had sent liberal offerings (Acts 11:29) to the brethren in Judea by the hands of Paul and Barnabas during a time of famine, yet those same Judean brethren came to Antioch (Acts 15:1-2) and had a lot of “dissension and disputation” with Paul and Barnabas, trying to bring the people into bondage over circumcision. And even with Paul and Barnabas, notice in Acts 15:39 that “the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other.” In Galatians 2:11, Paul says: “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” And in chapter 3 of that book he says: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” And again he says to this (New Testament) church: “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain”. And to another church Paul writes: “It hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, that there are contentions among you.” (1 Cor. 1:11). Also, to that same church he writes: “Ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye yet carnal, and walk as men?” (3:3) Lest you think that the Jerusalem church was perfect, I point you to Hebrews 5:11-12 where it says that the church there was “dull of hearing”, needed to be taught again the first principles, had need of milk and not strong meat.
Now I realize that God worked mightily in the Early Church. I point these shortcomings out only to show you that it was far from a perfect church. Even Lev. 23:17 shows us that in the Feast of Pentecost (typical of the formation of that Early Church) the two wave loaves were to be baken with leaven (a type of sin and imperfection). For it says: “they are the firstfruits unto the Lord”. Yes, this New Testament tree had some fine foliage on it. It looked a lot like the Christ. They had some individuals in that Early Church that bore much fruit, and gave their lives for the Truth. But as a Body, this tree had not the perfectness of that original Tree of Life. And God’s plan always has been involved in the formation of a Body of people, not individuals. If you don’t believe this, look at Abraham, seemingly a great individualist. But notice that God’s promise was not for something great for him personally, but rather that he might be the instrument for bringing forth a nation or body of people through which God would be glorified.
All of God’s great “individualists” were used of God only that they might minister to the “Body” of people, or to the “church” of their day. Even Noah prepared the ark, not for himself alone, but to the “saving of his house”. Now you preachers who are preaching “individualism” to the exclusion of the formation and perfection of this End-time Church, let me warn you that you will find yourself outside of God’s plan for this end of the age. You had better lay down your life of individualism, and urge God’s people to assemble themselves together under God-anointed ministries for the perfecting of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Parable #3…… Birds in the Branches
Now we see the organized church, man’s order come to God’s house. The fruit is withered, the foliage is gone, branches are exposed and we see that they are full of birds. Now birds are symbolic of devils that steal away the Word of God (vs. 4, 19).
This new church began to form after the passing of the New Testament apostles, as there began within the church a struggle for power. Men began to organize churches, districts, countries, into ecclesiastical orders, with themselves as the head. The framework was still there. Men were still dying as martyrs, converts were still being made. But gradually the church was losing that which made it obnoxious and unacceptable to the world. Soon it became the state church of Rome, the most prominent and strongest religion in the world. It became the greatest among herbs. Its limbs stretched skyward. But the birds were coming home to roost. Heathen priests changed their robes, but not their hearts, and moved in to take over the altars of Christianity.
Parable #4…… Whole Loaf Leavened
Now we see a desolate church. Corrupt, no apparent life to be seen. Matt. 13:33 tells how a woman hid leaven in the meal until all the meal was leavened. That is, every bit of the meal became so leavened that it could be used also as leaven.
This is a picture of the church during the dark ages, under the corrupt and devilish popes and their harlot mistresses. No fruit, no testimony to the world, rotten within and without. Held together only by cruel persecution and torture. No doubt there were individuals during this time who loved God and had the reality of the Spirit. But the Body was dead, the meal was leavened, the tree was corrupt. It looked as if there was no hope.
But Job 14:7-9 declares “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground: Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant”. So, praise God, there is hope for this church, and now we look at the next picture in Matthew 13.
Parable #5…… Treasure Hid in a Field
Here in verse 44 is what looks like only an old field, full of cockle-burrs, stumps, dead trees, weeds and stones. Not much to desire here, seemingly. But we find a man selling all that he has and buying that field. Why? Beloved, he has learned a secret. There is a treasure hid in that field. With the field goes the treasure. He does not hesitate nor consider the cost, for that treasure is precious to him. It must come forth!
This is the church of the Reformation. It is not yet bearing fruit as in the beginning. It does not look like much. Its treasure is still hid. But the treasure is there. And the branches of this tree are reaching up and out, stretching forth into every nation of the world. God is again moving by His Spirit, bringing about a restoration to His Tree of Life, as prophesied by Joel. Men will die for this treasure, suffer torture, for they feel in their spirits a glorious life once again flowing up into branches. Nothing can stop this move of the Spirit. It will continue on until God again pours out the New Testament power of pentecost and floods the earth with the glory of this life. Many men are a part of this part of the restoration, Luther, Calvin, Know, Whitefield, Wesley, Spurgeon, Finney, Moody, etc. They lead us up to a new realm in the Spirit and a new parable.
Parable #6…… Pearl of Great Price
While we find the man in verse 44 found a treasure hid in a field, he was not seeking the treasure. He simply “found” it. But in verse 45 we see a man seeking goodly pearls. He knows they are to be found. So he is seeking. But he does not expect what he finds. It is far greater than he anticipated. It was “of great price”. He “sold out” to obtain this Pearl.
This is the Holy Ghost anointed church of the Twentieth Century. At the turn of this century there were men who knew that God had something more than was visible. They were seeking for “goodly pearls”. But what they found was so great, it changed their entire lives.
And with the coming of the Holy Ghost anointing, the power of healing, gifts of the Spirit, and the restoration of the ministries of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers, the Church began to move quickly toward perfection and the completion of the Restoration. As in the Early Church (to which it is comparable), it was endowed with the Divine government and ministries of Eph. 4:11. Tho there are still visible upon the earth the stumps and trunks of the desolation of the past, yet now there comes into being a Body of people called out of man’s organized ways, anointed by the Spirit, moving toward the green foliage state that was evident in the Early Church. And more than that, there is appearing the tiny buds that signify the coming of a fruit similar to that in the life of that first perfect Tree of Life, our Lord Jesus Christ. Some who once had the anointing have fallen back to the organized deadness of man’s ways, but not all.
Now we come to the last stage of the restoration of this Tree of Life. In this seventh parable of Matt. 13, we find the net is full. The net is finally brought to shore, and there is a divine and final separation. The bad are cast away. The good are gathered into vessels. Into vessels. Here we see a glorious manifestation of the Divine life of Christ coming forth in local churches. For those who have been chosen and ordained by the Divine purpose of God to be conformed to the image of the Son of God are now gathered together. So that covering the earth like the waters cover the sea, each locale has a body of people that assemble themselves together and worship God in the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit as Jesus bore it in that first tree.
Many will fight this, many others will simply not believe. Because of their unbelief they will miss the glory of God’s great end time plan, but they will not hinder it from coming to pass. Some do not want to be in the net because there are bad fish there also. I realize that our efforts to bring about divine order in the church today are not perfect. There are bad fish in the net. It looks at times as tho we had more confusion than unity. But it is God who shall send His angels to cast away the bad.
This is Sonship
The term “Sonship” confuses some who are familiar with only their own particular brand of churchianity. When I speak of “Sons of God”, I am referring to those mature ones who have come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. I have sons of my own who once were little darlings of diaper-age. But they grew past that stage, kept growing, until now they are almost as big as their daddy. And my father-heart glows with every new accomplishment, every additional inch of stature. It is a natural thing that I should want to see them come to full and complete stature of a man.
So it is with out God. He desires that His sons grow up into Christ in all things. Mature saints of God, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, having the authority of His Name, shining forth with the brightness of His glory, manifesting the express image of His person. He shall have all this, and more, to the exalting of His great Name before the nations, and to the praise of His glory! Too long has the Name of Jesus Christ been a by-word to be cast down in disgrace. Every tongue shall confess Him to be Lord!
Christ the Head
Everyone will agree that many times the Bible speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ as being Head of the Church, the Body of Christ. But many seem to disagree as to whether that Head should have a weak, confused, fearful, divided body, or whether that body should be strong, united, and perfect and glorious to go with that perfect Head. Some teach that He will somehow take a weak and divided body here on this earth and take it off to heaven and suddenly do something magical to it up there to make it a glorious body without spot or wrinkle.
But I am going to declare to you today, whether you believe it or not, that Christ will not settle for a corrupt, divided, emaciated body here on this earth. Eph. 3:10 says that “NOW unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known BY THE CHURCH the manifold wisdom of God.”
Here and now, in the realm of time, God will have a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. And this will not be just in theory, a mystical hazy abstract far-off dream or something. It will be a visible operation, made up of human beings anointed with the fulness of the Holy Ghost and walking in the resurrection life and power of their risen Lord.
This will be God’s Tree of Life, the seventh tree in the illustration, the tree made after the pattern of the Son. It will be equipped with spiritual armour enough to put all the devil’s forces to flight. It will shine forth with all the glory of the Father, for the Son himself shall be part of this great Company, in fact, He is the Captain, the Author, the Finisher, and the Head.
What about you? Will you be part of this last great Tree of Life on the earth? Don’t cast it aside in disbelief. This will not help your position at all. It is coming forth in glorious manifestation. Nothing can stop it. God’s Word in final on that. So dear ones, make your calling and election sure, that you might be found faithful in that hour.
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