When you read the tales of Adam and Eve in Genesis, no indication is given that there is a separation of heaven and earth as far as God’s interaction with them. The separation that did incur was never intended. Jesus came to remove this separation and restore the relationship of heaven and earth.
All through Scripture there is the revelation of the kingdom of heaven filling the earth. Here a couple of views in consideration of the realization of this for our lives and our generation.
In this article I have compiled two post from Fire Press Magazine, which I wrote on this matter. The first section reveals the true nature of the ministry of John the Baptist and the second shows how through living from the tree of life, we no longer relate to God through such a chasm as good and evil, or how well we did or did not perform.
The Ministry of John the Baptist
At the most cataclysmic moment in all of history, time, and eternity, John the Baptist appeared on the scene. His was the arrival of a voice in a barren landscape starved for a transmission from heaven. His emerging was monumental and astronomical.
Why? Who was he anyway?
Is he this crazy guy we always imagine when someone rattles off dictations about him from pulpits? What was the force of his ministry? Why would Jesus need someone to precede Him?
John’s ministry was marked by repentance. Often, when reading the passages in Scripture that describe these events, we picture modern day altar calls with people dressed in desert gear weeping over their sins. Repentance is a state in which your mind has changed. John’s preaching was the announcement of a new era, a new age, and a new beginning!
D you want to start a revolution? Change the mind of the people. This is why his preaching invoked fear and wonder in the hearts of the religious leaders. Everything they knew and everything they were would be destroyed or overtaken by this new move, this new thought, this new “way.” The only option for them was to resist, to champion the old movement, and to slay the source of water infiltrating the age.
A spiritual father of mine often speaks of how John’s head was cut off because it was a prophetic picture of the removal of the previous way of thinking. And what does it say of Christ? He is the head.
What I am trying to articulate is that to understand John is to understand the prophetic statement of his life. His was the voice that called to the gates to open for the King of Glory to come in.
He must Increase!
One of the most famous quotes of his life is this:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” ESV
“He must increase in importance, while I must decrease in importance.” God’s Word
“He must grow greater, but I must grow less.” Weymouth New Testament
“He must become greater; I must become less.” NIV
“Him it behoveth to increase, and me to become less.” Young’s Literal Translation
This is about every way I could find it translated. Most of us read this and think we can apply it to us dying to ourselves and Him increasing in us. Is this correct? I was challenged on it recently because I always viewed it this way. One of my favorite worship songs also reflected on it:
“More of you and less of me, More of You and less of me, More of You and less of me, Jesus.”
So when I first heard a teacher at my church’s view on it I was “taken aback.” He stated that this was not meant for us to model our lives after. We aren’t supposed to think this way.
This was new. Most who read this now probably feel the way I did when I heard it. And what I wrote here was actually toned down from the way he taught it. So instead of responding like I would’ve in the past when I heard something that I disagreed with, and getting angry, I allowed it to challenged my perspective. Responding this way either solidifies our beliefs or changes our paradigms.
I meditated on what he said and took a closer look at the passage and a broader look at John’s life and the implications of what he was saying.
John wasn’t giving us a pastoral way of cleansing ourselves from worldly desires and sins. In fact, if we were to truly grasp the enormity of what he was prophetically decreeing, then we wouldn’t even have to. He closed out an era by decreasing into the “revelation and increase” of Jesus! In fact you could say that he was the watchmen signaling the dawn of the new age of Jesus in which heaven fills the earth. Through the One coming after him, sin would be destroyed and the heaven that a whole nation sought for would now come to the earth.
The In-Between World
Oh that we could capture this! Many fail to realize the significance of the New Covenant. They aren’t completely Old Testament either. Even though Jesus has come, many in the church are still living in the baptism of John. They try to daily decrease and increase the Jesus-ness in their lives. This is an in-between world.
“What baptism have we received?” as Paul asked the Ephesians. We would respond with the baptism of Jesus. Then why does most of the ministry to church does resemble the baptism of John? John’s heart would break at the notion. He stated clearly and irrevocably that he was not the Messiah. I know we don’t believe this in theory but in practice, it has become our theology.
Jesus baptizes with fire! Our main emphasis is with water. The water is a shadow of the coming fire. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it. But I tell you this, I’d rather be filled with God on the inside than splashed with water on the outside. The natural baptism is a prophetic demonstration of the spiritual one.
The Inauguration of a New Era
Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest prophet. Why? Because all the prophets before him said “The Messiah is Coming! The Messiah is Coming!” John was able to say in one atomic bomb of an earth-shattering declaration, “HERE HE IS!”
This is the moment when the car turns into and airplane. When the water turns into wine. When death decreases into the increase of life. BAMB! Like a sledgehammer striking the cords of matter. This is where the sun rises for the first time. This where creation perks its ears like the doe in the woods. This is where we find we have been living in a cave when there is an entire world above the surface.
This was the reason for his being. He lived his life for this announcement. Like a speaker at a concert announcing the performer, like the moon announcing that his light is actually a reflection of the sun. This was the explosion that pronounced the new Jesus Age!
This was also the moment that John became less. The moment his voice began to fade. This was the moment of his decrease. He was the spark that lit the rocket, but now that it has blasted off there was no need for his flame.
This is both why he is the greatest prophet and the least in the kingdom. Everyone in the kingdom is on board the ship, but John is now at a distance waving goodbye as we fire into the atmosphere.
What did we leave behind in his world? Sin, death, sickness, diseases. Do they still exist? Yes. Are they supposed to? No. They are not meant to survive in this climate. In fact, they will not. They only survive off the nourishment given to them by creation that still believes in its bondage to the law of sin and death. But truly and eternally Jesus has overcome it! The sun has set on an era. John both closed the door to that one and opened the door to a new one.
With this being established, the next section will take a view at our approach and interaction with God within His intentions in this era.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
All too often I feel that as Christians, we base our relationship with God on weather or not we were able to follow what we perceive to be His commandments. I know one of the things I used to do was to ask forgiveness of any sins that I may have committed, both knowingly or unknowingly, before I would proceed into my other “prayers.” It was a real difficult time because I knew I was saved but felt so inadequate in my relationship with God when I fell, but I would feel awesome when I did not. Does His love change based on how well we performed that day? Should we related to Him this way at all?
I haven’t lived that way in a while but I was considering it lately. I often see post and hear comments by people who either relate to God in this way, or they’re trying to set others free from this mindset. Where does this pattern come from? Why is it such a struggle? Many call this ‘the cost’. But, that always seems to end if someone who is good has an evil struggle exposed, then they are of course called heretics by the church–which by the way has its origins in a system of religion and not in the heart of God.
The Tree Gate
I think it comes down to the way sin entered the world; it was through a tree. Remember in the garden, Adam was commanded not to eat of the tree in the middle of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? What was so bad about eating of it? Obviously, it was disobeying the direct word of God. God didn’t want us to eat of it because that knowledge would skew our relationship with Him. Once it was eaten, they could no longer come to God freely in the life that He had given them. They now had to come to God through the lives of some other living thing, which was sacrificed. The relationship with God was based on a system of “Do good, get to God,” and “Do bad, be removed from His presence.” Their life was now bearing the fruit of that which they had eaten.
Relating to God through the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means we base our relationship with Him on weather we did “good” or “bad.” Why? What did Jesus do? Jesus was crucified on a tree, breaking its curse over us by becoming a curse for us. Sin entered the world through a tree and exited the world through a tree as well. What was that tree? The cross.
Here’s a thought: the cross is two pieces of wood. Could it represent two trees? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life? Sin left through the cross and eternal life came through it as well. Through Jesus, we have eternal life, like eating from the tree of life. We should be bearing the fruit of this tree in our relating to Jesus.
When Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden of Eden an angel with a flaming sword was there to guard them from eating of the tree of life, so that they would not be eternally stuck in a state of relating to God based on good and evil and performance.
Relation Based on Life
Now we relate to God from the tree of life. Before Adam and Eve fell, there was not a worrying about sinning, they did not know it even existed. Have we not been restored to this state? I would say so, I mean if we have Jesus, who came to restore all things, right? Are we not restored?
I think Paul challenged this way of thinking in Romans chapters 6 through 9. He was trying to say that we aren’t who we used to be, we have grace. There should be total freedom in our lives.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2 ESV)
Remember that the word “repentance” means to change the way that we think. Jesus changed the way that we think about relating to God. The way of relating to God through what we’ve done is now changed to relating to God through what He has done in us. That’s the only way to truly overcome sin anyway. We are set free from “sin” and “death,” from “good” and “evil” as it pertains to our relationship or right standing (righteousness) with God.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. ‘By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.(Rom. 8:3-4)
We are made righteous. We walk in the Spirit. Sin has been condemned by Jesus who became the eternal sacrifice. There is now no need for the life of another to be given on behalf of our sins. If our sin remained, then there would still remain the need for a sacrifice. But as it is we have been restored.
Does this mean we never sin? I am not saying that. It means that our sin is no longer a positional barrier in our relationship with God. We are in life. Our sin is destroyed be the ever-present testimony of Jesus. Jesus! What he has done in us, for us, and what He is now doing through us!
Live from the Tree of Life
We are eternally His through grace. We are on the ship built from the wood of the tree of life. The ship built from the wood of the tree of knowledge, He has sunken. Why would we jump off the Life ship and try to cling to the remains of the death ship? Why would we try to relate to God in this manner ever again. WE ARE FREE!
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 ESV
The cloak of bondage and separation has been ripped from our lives. The presence and manifestation of God responds to those who love Him (see John 14). To enter His presence, all we have to do is believe what He did and said about us.
It’s not an “earn me system.” It’s a “love me family.” We’re positionally and relationally in “Life.” The faith that we have in Jesus has “indeed” done this. He rescued us and brought us aboard His ship. Once you eat of the tree of life, you’re in life forever. Don’t undermind your position in Christ by jumping overboard. Relax and relate to God from life and not from how good or bad you’ve been.
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