A most fruitful four-day visit to Johannesburg and Cape Town climaxed one evening in a dinner and social occasion at the home of Dr. Roy McCarthy, our regional director for South Africa. Present were the ministers of the Worldwide Church of God for the area, and their wives. As I sat, at the table after dinner, the various ministers and wives gathered around me. They asked many questions, especially concerning the kingdom of God, world conditions leading to it and other biblical subjects. Somehow, it seemed to me something like times described in the New Testament when Jesus sat with a group of people, answering their questions and expounding about the kingdom of God. One sensed the presence of the Spirit of God a spirit of love and peace, one of harmony and unity.
Special interest came when one asked,."What would have happened to the world if the first human, Adam, had taken of the tree of Life?" That is a question I've never heard or read of being answered. But elsewhere than in Genesis the Bible does at least imply the answer, partially. It seems almost no one ever thought to ask that question. Would we not have lived in a different world? You now live in a world of awesome progress, development and accomplishment. Yet this same world is filled with, appalling evils, Crime, violence, immorality multiply, Discontent, unhappiness, frustration fill human minds. Why this astounding paradox? Amid 20th century scientific and technological advances approaching the miraculous — amid tremendous advances in production of increasing knowledge and its dissemination, we live in a world half literate, and half in abject poverty, living in filth and squalor. Why? Why cannot mankind solve his problems and eradicate his evils? The die was cast at the very foundation of the world. Late 19th and 20th century intellectual progress has turned to and accepted the theory of evolution as the basic premise on which knowledge production and advancement is based. But knowledge development has been paralleled with escalating evils. Evolutionary ideas have not led to the increasing of, but the rapid elimination of well-being. Evolution cannot give us the answer to this mysterious paradox. It gives humanity no hope for the future. The only answer lies in the incident of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. The only explanation of this world's paradox, and the meaning of the purpose of human existence, lies in understanding of that incident, which in fact was the foundation of this world. Yes, what if the first man Adam had taken of — the tree of life, instead of the forbidden fruit. Adam was required to make a choice. In that choice the die was cast on the whole 6,000-year human society up to this time. The cause of every evil experienced by the billions of human lives during these 6,000 years lies in the decision made by the human father of all mankind. Yes, what IF he had taken of the tree of life? Look at that pivotal incident of all human existence. The forbidden tree was to result in Death. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. On mans taking to himself that knowledge,. God closed off the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24) from all mankind until Christ, the second Adam, came. The exception to this were the prophets of ancient Israel for the writing of the Bible. What did the forbidden tree really mean? That knowledge has no connection with material knowledge. Man was created with a mind capable of acquiring knowledge concerning matter—dealing with wood, metals, agriculture—the sciences and technology. Good and evil are concerned with relationships with other minds. Man was made to have and need a relationship with his Maker—the supreme mind. He was made to engage in relationships with fellow humans—who have minds. Good and evil concerns mind in relationships with other minds, But man's mind was not a finished creation. It contains a spiritual content, not present in the brains of nonhuman vertebrates. Animals are equipped with instinct, but not thinking, reasoning, knowing minds. The human mind not only can receive knowledge of the material and its use, but also attitudes in relation to other-minds. That is, attitudes of love or of hate. Attitudes of self-centeredness and vanity; attitudes of envy, jealousy, animosity, competition, strife and violence; attitudes of rebellion or on the other hand, attitudes of outflowing love, humility, reverence for God, obedience, cooperation, helping, serving, sharing concern for the welfare and good of others.
God Lives and Works
God the Creator from eternity has existed as God a supreme spirit Personage and the Word- also a supreme spirit Personage, willingly and by nature subservient to God in love. Constituting the God. family, these two exist eternally (John 1:1-5, 14) They lived! How did they live, by what relationship? God loved the Word who 1,986 years ago became Jesus Christ. The Word loved .God. Two can't walk together except they be Agreed. They were in perfect harmony. Neither can two continue happily together except one is leader or head. God has always been head over all. Living, they were doing. What have they been doing? They have been creating, planning, designing, bringing into existence positive constructing, not destroying. They worked thus together in love, peace harmony. God created all things by the Word who became Jesus Christ.(Eph. 3:9). This way of love, peace, cooperation always was, their way of life. That way of life became The supreme law of the universe—for law is merely the way of life. People make laws to regulate their lives. There is a basic law or constitution on which every government is based. Even games in Sports have rules. So outflowing love is the foundational law of the government of God. Sin is the transgression of that law. Adam transgressed that law—he sinned—when he rejected the tree of life and continuing contact with God and chose,.instead, to take to himself the knowledge of good and evil, the knowledge of How to live. in relationship with other minds — both God and human. Thus he rejected the law of God. Now what if he had taken of the tree of life? God closed off the tree of life until Christ the second Adam came to redeem mankind. Jesus said, I will build my Church. He chose 12 disciples. (The word disciple means student, one being taught.) Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God. He promised them they would receive the Holy Spirit. On the day. of Pentecost. A.D. 31, the Holy Spirit came with a supernatural display (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit is the divine spiritual sperm, which impregnates with eternal life (Rom. 8:11). Also it is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).
What Did the Tree of Life Symbolize?
Therefore, the tree of life in Eden symbolized the Spirit of God, which imparts eternal life. Adam was not created with eternal life In that respect, his creation was not yet complete. Human creation is still going on? If Adam had taken of the tree of life, he would have received that life just as the Christian may today, by receiving the Holy Spirit, only, Adam had not yet sinned until he disobeyed., He would.have needed no repentance as we do today. But he would have believed God He would have received the Holy Spirit — the love of God, which divine love fulfills God's law. What more? Like Christians today, he, would have become an heir of God..He would have been begotten to become a child of. God, not yet born. In I Corinthians 2:9, we read that, the knowledge' of spiritual truths, attitudes and purposes of God cannot-be seen by the eye nor, heard through the ear. All knowledge receivable by humans enters the mind through the five senses. But (verse 10) God reveals spiritual knowledge through his Spirit. Without the Spirit of God in combination with our human spirit, no human can comprehend spiritual knowledge. That is the reason the greatest, most intellectual, most highly educated minds cannot UNDERSTAND the Bible—which imparts spiritual knowledge, therefore, as the forbidden tree was one of knowledge leading to death, so the tree of life was one of spiritual knowledge leading to immortal life. What Adam took to himself was spiritual knowledge, which his mind, without the Holy Spirit of God, was not capable of comprehending. He decided for himself what, is right and wrong. But Satan influenced him, through Eve. to decide selfishly. Consequently, he decided what he thought was right or wrong in relation to others from an attitude of self-centeredness—not from that of outflowing love toward others. The tree of LIFE—symbolic of God's .Holy Spirit- was shut off and closed to humans until Christ. Thus the foundation of this world—this civilization was laid. Man has acquired material know how to produce awesome progress, especially in this 20th century. But his progress is 'materialistic and physical. The uncompleted human mind has been capable of that. But the human mind has been only HALF there! In relationship to God, what little mankind knows has been perverted by Satan. Man has.been selfish in his relationship with people. He has lived the way of getting. not giving. He has been filled with greed, animosity, competition, violence, destruction. He has destroyed all of God's earth his hands could touch or change—polluted the air and the water, worn out the soil. But what IF Adam had taken of the tree of life which God freely offered him?
"He Would Have... "
He would have received the Holy Spirit of God. He would thus have been given a spiritually comprehending mind. He would have continued in close relationship with God, especially in the Person of the Word, later designated as Yahweh, who would have revealed knowledge and truth progressively to Adam as he was able to absorb and understand it. He would have received the LOVE God. God's divine love for fulfilling the law. He would have received the faith of God, and even spiritual power to resist evil, and for self-control. But, would Satan have been banished from the earth at the time? From here on many questions may arise that God has not as yet revealed to us in the Bible. But some answers are evident, and-others indicated b.y what is revealed. Christ, the second Adam, resisted and rejected Satan in the great temptation (Matt. 4). But he did not take over the throne, of the earth,from Satan, at that time, although he had qualified to take it over. We, who do receive the Holy Spirit, are not made immortal at once nor even, in this, mortal life. We must continue to overcome, to grow in grace and spiritual knowledge and we must endure to the end of this mortal existence before we shall be made immortal. So it is indicated surely that Adam would have continued as a mortal, having God's Spirit, until God's righteous character had been developed in him. Eventually he would have been made immortal, Satan would have, been deposed and Adam would have sat on the throne of the earth. He would have been taught by God continually. He surely would have learned to teach Cain, Abel, Seth and other children, from the cradle, in God's way of life, and in resisting Satan. God has not revealed it all. But we may know it would have been a far different world than that which Satan has deceived.
What DID and WILL Happen
But the first human, Adam, did not take of the freely offered tree of life. So what is important to us is what did, and will happen. God's purpose in creating and putting on earth the human family was and is to reproduce, himself — to create in and through the human family His own God family with perfect spiritual character, to have the human family born into the God family. God's purpose stands. It shall be accomplished. But how? God's own perfect character can only be created in us by him, but with our own individual free choice, decision and will. The first Adam did not then acquiesce in that decision and free will. He yielded to Satan and opposite character through his wife, Eve. Thereupon God moved swiftly to do certain things. First, He shut off access by humans to the tree of life—to immortality. God was not willing that humans should live eternally in the unhappy torture, of perverted minds and the consequences of sin. At the same time, so that sinning man be not lost from God-like happiness and the possibility of being born into the God family, it was thereupon necessary—at the very foundation of the human world — that Christ should come, be born human, and through death pay the penalty for the sins of all humans who repent and turn to God's way of life. Simultaneously, it was appointed that all humans should die, but after this, through a resurrection, come to judgment (Heb. 9:27) in which, the book of life could be opened (Rev. 20:12)—and, that as in Adam, all should once die, so in, Christ should all be made alive (I Cor. 15:22) and then judged. In due time, nearly 4,000 years from the foundation of this world, Christ came. He said, "I will build my Church." As a foundation (with the prophets), he called and taught his 12 disciples. He commissioned them, as apostles, to teach all whom God would call. To them, upon repentance and belief, the Holy Spirit would be given, begetting them as sons of God. Even then, the Holy Spirit was still closed off to all except those chosen and drawn by God. At the end of the Church age and 6,000 years from Adam, Christ would return to earth as King of kings and Lord of Lords, ruling all nations, with the saints, for one millennium. After this shall, come the Great White Throne Judgment, when all not called previously shall be resurrected in the judgment and come to understand what only a privileged few who are called now, already understand. Undoubtedly, billions of humans finally shall be born into the God family.