At the end of the Lord’s epistle to the church in Ephesus He calls for the overcomers, promising them to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God (Rev. 2:7); today we as believers in Christ need to maintain the eating of Christ as the tree of life in the church life, the paradise of God today.
There are two main things in the Lord’s word in this epistle to Ephesus: return to the first love (and thus do the first works) and eat the tree of life.
Many believers think that, as long as we do many things for the Lord and in His name, we are pleasing to Him and our zeal and work is acceptable to Him. But the Lord desires that we first love Him; He doesn’t need us to do a great work for Him, but He wants us to love Him with the first and best love.
The main cause of the degradation of the church is not false teachings or evil things: it is the losing of the first love. Actually this is what the Lord also told the people of Israel in Jeremiah, My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, and they hewn out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water (Jer. 2:13).
Just like the people of Israel and like the church in Ephesus, we tend to forsake the Lord, leave Him aside, and “live our life” – sometimes doing some works for Him and in His name, but not being intimately connected to Him.
What the Lord desires is that we would remember where we have fallen from and return to our first love for Him; we need to turn to the Lord, repent for doing many things apart from Him, and ask Him to rekindle our love for Him. Then, out of our love for the Lord, there will be the first works that issue out, and we will be the shining lampstand for the Lord to have a testimony on earth.
If we leave our first love for the Lord, He may come and remove the lampstand from its place; that is, if we don’t love the Lord with the first love, we will not have the capacity to bear the Lord’s testimony.
We may do a lot of things for the Lord, we may endure for His name, and we may even have some spiritual maturity, but if we don’t love the Lord with the first love, we will not bear His testimony on earth.
We need to Maintain the eating of Christ as the Tree of Life in the Church Life
The Lord’s epistle to the church in Ephesus in Rev. 2 is very exposing and touching, and it ends with the Lord’s call for the overcomers, those who hear His word and overcome: to him who overcomes, to him I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God (Rev. 2:7).
Loving the Lord and eating of the tree of life go hand in hand; when we love the Lord with the first love, we will take Him in as the tree of life to live because of Him and express Him. First, we need to love the Lord with the first love, and then, we will eat the tree of life.
The Lord’s promise to the overcomers in Rev. 2:7 is also for us today: today in the church life as the real paradise of God we need to maintain the eating of the tree of life. In such a good, orderly, and formal church life like the church in Ephesus, we need to maintain the eating of Christ as the tree of life.
We need to be the overcomers of today, those who overcome the loss of the first love and who overcome by eating Christ as the tree of life. May the Lord save us from being deceived by Satan, the subtle serpent; he comes to deceive us from the purity we have in Christ (2 Cor. 11:2-3) and thus run after other things and persons.
May the Lord save us from being deceived by Satan into our smartness, experience, or qualifications; may we remain pure and simple, just eating the tree of life.
Life is not a thing or a philosophy; life is a Person, the wonderful Person of the Lord Jesus whom we love. Only those who genuinely love the Lord know what love is, and they practice eating Christ as the tree of life.
But if we don’t give the Lord the preeminence and we don’t eat Him as the tree of life every day, we may not appreciate the church life so much; we may even find faults with the saints or problems in the meetings.
It all depends upon our being and attitude: when we simply give the Lord the first place in everything and enjoy Him as the tree of life throughout the day, the church – regardless of its condition – becomes a paradise to us.
The “paradise of God” referred to in Rev. 2:7 actually is the New Jerusalem in the thousand-year kingdom; those who overcome by eating Christ as the tree of life today will be rewarded with the full enjoyment of Christ as the tree of life in the coming age.
We need to continue and maintain the enjoyment of Christ as the tree of life in the church life today so that we can be rewarded with the enjoyment of Christ as the tree of life in the Paradise of God, the New Jerusalem, in the millennial kingdom. Today we need to maintain the eating of Christ as the tree of life in the church life as the paradise of God!
Lord Jesus, we want to give You the first place in all things and eat You as the tree of life in the church life as the paradise of God! Save us from leaving our first love and save us from not eating You as the tree of life! Make us Your overcomers, those who eat You as the tree of life and who give You the preeminence in all things! We want to maintain the eating of Christ as the tree of life daily today so that we may be rewarded with the full enjoyment of Christ as the tree of life in the coming age!
God Calls the Overcomers to His Original Intention: Eating the Tree of Life!
When God created man, He placed him in the garden of Eden where there were many trees pleasant to the sight and good for food; in this garden there was the tree of life (signifying God as life) and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (signifying the source of death) – see Gen. 2:9.
God’s original intention was that we would eat the tree of life, but man fell, and because of this fall, the way to the tree of life was closed to man (Gen. 3:22-24).
However, through the redemption of Christ, the way to the tree of life was opened again; now we have a new and living way for us to come forward to God and enjoy Him in Christ as the tree of life through the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:19-20).
All believers in Christ can come to God and eat Him as the tree of life in Christ; Christ is the vine tree (John 15:1) and He is the life (John 14:6) – He is the tree of life both today and for eternity for God’s people to partake, enjoy, and be constituted with, so that they may live because of Him – just as He lived because of the Father (John 6:57).
However, the church has entered into degradation, and one of the first things to be lost was the eating of the tree of life. Religion crept into the church and distracted the believers in Christ from enjoying Him as the tree of life.
Therefore, the Lord promised to grant His overcomers to eat of Himself as the tree of life in the Paradise of God as a reward. We need to leave religion with its knowledge and return to the enjoyment of Christ as the tree of life. This is God’s original intention, and He today is calling the overcomers to come back to eating God in Christ as the tree of life.
What the Lord wants the overcomers to do is what He actually wants the whole church to do – eat the tree of life. Therefore, today we as believers in Christ need to hear the Lord’s call and, on the one hand, give Him the first place and love Him with the first love, and on the other hand, eat Christ as the tree of life.
We overcome by eating Christ as the tree of life; we eat Christ in His word – which are Spirit and are life (John 6:63) – as we prayerfully consider them, muse over them, and read them.
Because of the church’s degradation, today the Lord is calling the overcomers to do what the church is supposed to do: accomplish God’s economy by eating Christ as the tree of life.
May we be those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit speaks to the churches, and may we return to and maintain the eating of Christ as the tree of life in our daily life, so that we may be produced as the overcomers the Lord needs in the age of the church’s degradation.
Lord Jesus, thank You for opening the way for us to come to the tree of life and enjoy God in Christ as life! Oh Lord, save us from any distraction from religion with its knowledge, and bring us into the enjoyment of the tree of life every day! Amen! We refuse mere knowledge about God and the Bible, and we choose to eat Christ as the tree of life in the word of God! Lord, You are our life. We want to eat You as the tree of life and thus live because of You!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother James L. for this week, and, The Overcomers, ch. 2 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 1 (week 1), The Church in Ephesus.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Eating is man’s destiny / And the Lord’s recovery; / This defeats the enemy— / Overcome! / Come enjoy the tree of life, / Leave the doctrines, leave the strife! / Overcome by eating Christ— / Overcome! (Hymns #1273)
# We are washing all our robes the tree of life to eat; / “O Lord, Amen, Hallelujah!”—Jesus is so sweet! / We our spirits exercise, and thus experience Christ. / What a Christ have we! (Hymns #1151)
# Would you choose to be a living overcomer, / Be a person not ashamed to be a Jesus lover, / One who eats the tree of life, / And drinks the living water? / Would you choose to be a living overcomer, / To leave the world and consecrate / To be today’s age-turner? / I give myself to You for Your return. (Song on, Being an Overcomer)
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