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The Garden and the Gospel

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“…the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Cor 11:3


Just as John 3:16 might be called the Gospel in a nutshell, so might these following verses be called the Christian life in a nutshell. Just as meditating on John 3:16 could show us the way to Christ for salvation, so if we meditated on these two verses, we could come to know the simplicity of our life in Christ. Although there are many other verses that will aide us in our understanding, and we will use them as needed, let us, for the time being, concentrate on these two.

2 Cor 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

The simple Gospel of salvation:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The simplicity of the Christ life:

Gal 2:20: I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Col 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

Beginning with the verse in Galatians, the Apostle Paul, in speaking personally about his experience in Christ, uses the personal pronoun “I” in referring to himself; but, each one of us must also identify ourselves as the “I” in this verse. The first thing we see is the truth of our identification with Christ and His death upon the cross—“I am crucified with Christ.” We must say here, before going on, that one is not even a real child of God who has not been identified with Jesus dying for their sins upon the cross. This we emphasis, it is not believing that Jesus died for the sins of the world that brings salvation, it was for each one of us individually, and it is personal for each one of us—“ I am crucified with Christ.” Secondly, we must see that all we are in ourselves has been crucified with Him, put to death in our identification with Him, and that we have no existence of our own remaining. These truths we have already studied, but they are necessary to review for our continued understanding. The Apostle Paul now says, in spite of the fact that he died with Christ, that, “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Although he truly accounts his own life to be dead, he has found that “nevertheless I live.” However, it is not the life which he once knew, which was after the flesh, for he adds, “yet not I.” What he has come to recognize is that this new life, which he now has, is from Christ living in him, who has come into his being in the Person of the Holy Spirit, and has resurrected him to this new life—“but Christ liveth in me.” Now, just the understanding, or the acknowledging of these truths is not enough, for he also says, “and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” There is one more ingredient, Paul said, that must be added for this life to be realized—“I live by the faith of the Son of God.”

Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Gal 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

2 Cor 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

There are many genuine believers for whom Christ died, and they died with Him. His Spirit has come into their hearts giving them life, and they are truly children of God; but they are not living the Christ-life because they are not living “by the faith of the Son of God.” Like the children of Israel, who wandered for forty years in the wilderness, they have not entered into their Promised Land and the rest that God has for them in Christ.

Heb 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Now, for those who do not comprehend, or for those who have had the true meaning of faith distorted, what does it means to live “by the faith of the Son of God?” Our verse from Colossians helps us to know the true meaning of faith as we find it used here. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” As we can see, the first half of our verse, “As ye have therefore received,” gives us insight into the second half, “so walk ye in him.” The Apostle Paul takes for granted that all but the most unlearned saints of God knows that we received Christ by faith. Every true child of God knows that Jesus saved them when they came to trust in Him. Again, faith has the same meaning as the Old Testament word for trust. We trusted Christ to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. We were lost, blind, dead, without strength, aliens from God, without hope, under the judgment and wrath of God, and there was nothing we could do to change our situation by our own efforts. We could not in anyway save ourselves, but God brought us to the place where we looked to the only one who could save us, and that was Jesus.

Matt 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

Eph 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

We will not again go into all of what is involved in salvation as far as “repentance toward God,” even though that is still a part of the Christ-life; but we need to see again how the look of “faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” saves us. God again, in using the people of Israel as our example, provides us through His Word with an unmistakable picture of what is meant by this look of faith. Just as the children of Israel were bitten by the deadly serpents in the wilderness, and were dying, so we have been bitten by sin through the temptation of that Old Serpent, the Devil. We have the deadly venom of sin flowing in our veins; we are condemned to die, and are even now under God’s judgment. When the people of Israel cried to Moses for mercy, God had him fashion a serpent of brass (the metal which symbolizes judgment), hang it upon a wooden pole (the cross), and whosoever looked by faith upon that serpent was healed. Even so we, having been made to realize our fatal condition, cry out to God for mercy. God, in an act of His wondrous grace, having already provided our serpent of brass—the Lord Jesus Christ (who was made sin for us upon the cross)—brings us to look upon Jesus (by faith), and we are saved.

Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Num 21:6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

2 Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

1 Pet 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Isa 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

So we see that true believers receive Christ by faith—meaning they trust in all that God has done for them (through Jesus) to save them. Faith means to trust in the provision that God has made for us in Christ, which provision God brings us to see, or to look upon, or to comprehend. When we see Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, we are saved; and it is God that brings us to look, for it is by grace alone. Through faith we appropriate Christ’s sacrifice as our own, and we are now united with Him “in the Spirit.” The Spirit of Christ has come into our hearts to unite with our spirit, and to bring us the life of Christ. We are now the temple of the Holy Spirit, which temple has been cleansed by the blood of Christ.

1 Cor 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

Heb 9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

However, if we have no evidence of the Holy Spirit living within us, we are not a true believer—we have never really trusted in the sacrificial death of Christ. But how do we know that we have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts?  We know because He testifies to our spirit that we are a child of God, and we know from understanding Biblical truth that it is so.

Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

1 John 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Having now re-examined that one becomes a child of God through faith, let us apply that to our subject. Paul says in Galatians, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” This verse indicates that there is more to living as a Christian than just being saved, or having the Spirit of Christ living within us; because we are also told to “walk in the Spirit.” That has the same meaning as our focus text in Colossians—“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” To walk implies that a person begins to move about, to exhibit some evidence that they are alive. Walking requires energy from a life source. It also indicates that we are moving in a certain direction for some purpose—that we are expending this energy to do something profitable. Most people do not just walk about aimlessly for no reason, even if we are only exercising—that itself is a reason for doing so. God did not save us just to take us to heaven; He saved us to be a part of His eternal plan and work. When we walked after the flesh, it was in the energy of the flesh, and for the purpose of satisfying our fleshly desires. Now we are to “walk ye in him”—in the power of the Spirit, and for the purpose of glorifying God and doing His will.

Gal 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

1 Cor 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

Rom 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

But how do we walk, or how do we live the Christ life? As our text plainly teaches, we live exactly the same way we received Jesus Christ in the first place—by faith. Just as we were helpless, lost sinners, who could do nothing to save ourselves, we trusted Christ’s work upon Calvary’s cross to redeem us; even so now, as a believer (because we are still helpless without Him), we must continue to trust His power and presence within us to give us life and to enable us to walk. Walking by faith is as simple to understand as salvation, and just as effective. The only requirement is, that as a little child  (just as we did in salvation), we believe and receive the truth of God’s provision in Christ.

John 15:3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:
for without me ye can do nothing

Matt 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

By faith we also perceive the Spirit’s witness, that this is how a child of God is to experience life. Just as the Holy Spirit made effectual, and witnessed to us that we had become a child of God when we received Christ as Saviour, so He now makes effectual, and witnesses to us in our daily lives, that we are walking in Christ.

2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Heb 2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

What may we say, from the Scripture, is the Spirit’s evidence that we are walking by faith? First of all, we find ourselves free from all the rigor and demands of the law which we could not satisfy. We no longer serve God with a slavish kind of fear, constantly trying to do things that might earn His favor and blessing, while trying to escape His condemnation—that is the mindset of the flesh.

Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Second, we find the will of God a delight to our souls and not drudgery. Whereas before, we forced ourselves to pray and read the Bible, to witness and to attend church, we now find a rekindled desire within us that motivates us to do these things.

Phil 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Jer 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Isa 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

Thirdly, we find that we are winning more of the battles against “the sin that so easily besets us.” The power of sin has been broken because we are no longer under the law of sin and death. We are free from the law that drove us to rebellion in the first place, and to deeper and more ungodly acts of sin. Spirit lead believers experience life on a higher plane, above the filth of the flesh and the contaminants of the world.

Rom 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Rom 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid.
But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Lastly, but most importantly, we have come to experience the love of God in our hearts. When we walk in the new man one of the fruits of this spiritual walk is love; and love will not motivate us to sin against another person or God. Whereas before, we despised, and even hated this God we could not please, now we find a new affection for Him and for His children. We no longer have to fake our love, concern, sympathy, and empathy for others, but find that they are real emotions within us, that break forth into genuine acts of love and kindness. I have met many a believer, and attended many churches who have a genuine zeal for the things of God—they read and study their Bibles, give tithes, have a long list of things a Christian should do and should not do; but they are lacking in the most important thing—they do not have any real love and concern for one another, for strangers, or the lost. Jesus condemned the church at Ephesus even though they had great zeal, and were busy serving their Lord in doing many things; but why?—because they had left their first love, who is Christ. They got their eyes off of Him, ceased to walk in the Spirit, and lost the greatest evidence of that walk—they fell out of love with Christ and one another.

Gal 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Rom 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Rev 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

If I might again add another experience of my own to illustrate what has just been said, it might reinforce this point. Years ago, when my children were still young, we were doing some traveling, and happened to go through a particular city on a Sunday morning. I was aware of a prominent church being in that city that I had read about, and thought that it might be good to try and attend there. Now, we were vacationing, and did not have our usual Sunday go to meeting clothes, but what we had was clean and modest by any standard, and that is what we wore. This church, as it happened, was one that would be called hyper-fundamental, and believed in a strict dress code. I don’t think I saw a man without a suit or another women or girl without a dress in the whole church—which was of some great size. Now, we were not there to offend anyone by how we looked, but wanted simply to worship the Lord and be in attendance at a service that honored Him. There was also in this church something I had never seen before, it was a large electronic board that displayed how many people were dying every second of the day around the world and going to a Christ-less eternity (I’m sure this was done to impress upon people’s minds the need to witness to the lost). However, what struck me as very strange, was that from the time we pulled into the parking lot until the time we left, not one person had shown any concern for us in any way. We were not greeted, talked to, or made to feel the least bit welcome. As we left, I wondered of which of those countless souls around the world, who died during the service, were these people concerned about. Here we were, a family of strangers, in their church, and because we did not dress as they did, or for whatever reason, we were unimportant to them.

James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
5 Hearken, my beloved brethren,
Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Let us now, at this point, also interject the importance of repentance in living the Christian life. We know that we must repent as part of our salvation, or we will perish in our sins. However, true repentance is not—as some would preach in what we call revival meetings—our determination to quit doing certain things that may or may not be sin, or to start doing things that may or may not be the will of God for us to do. This kind of repentance leads us directly back under the law, and becomes nothing more than a work of the flesh. That is why decisions that are made in so-called revival meetings are doomed to failure. Most Christians will make a sincere attempt to change their lives after the emotional appeals of such meetings; but they soon become discouraged as they fail time and again to follow through on such decisions, or fail to see any evidence that indicates God’s approval and blessing. After a time, such meetings have almost no effect upon those who have tried and failed to find victory through the misguided teachings and appeals of most preachers and evangelists. The repentance that turns us to faith is the ceasing of trying to do things after the flesh. What is really needed in the lives of Christians is “repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.” We need to be freed from these “dead works” so that we may “serve the living God.” The saints at Ephesus needed to repent, not because they were living wickedly, or because they were not serving God, but because they had taken their eyes off Christ.

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?


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