"And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Rev. 22:1-2
Our views have been requested regarding the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and we have quoted the first two verses of the twenty-second chapter of this wonderful and mysterious book called Revelation as a background for our remarks. In the first verse John says "He shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." We wish to emphasize in the very beginning that none of God's servants have ever been able to give a true interpretation of any Scripture except it first be shewed to them. This book begins by saying, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must !shortly come to pass." No man, of himself, therefore, can search out and bring forth these things. The twenty-first chapter of this book contains a description of the heavenly or "holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God." Rev. 21:10. Like all cities, a ruler is, necessary to direct and supply the needs of living people, and in this new Jerusalem, Jesus is King of kings, and Lord of lords, and in the wisdom of God it had been determined before hand that the water for this city should (1) be pure, (2) clear as crystal and (3) it should proceed out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. The health of a people demands that the water be pure, and since this water was clear as crystal, it could be seen that there were no foreign substances or impurities in it; and in order that there be no failure of any kind whatsoever it proceeded out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. To us, this means that it came forth as the joint work of God the Father and God the Son in making a covenant, before time began, which was ordered in all things, and sure. Not only must the quality of the water be pure, and clear as crystal, but the quantity must be sufficient for all the needs of all His people in all ages of the world, hence the decree that there was to be "a pure river of water of life," indicating an abundance, so that no single need of any individual child would ever go unsupplied. David said, "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early." Psalm 46:4-5. The fact that this river of water of life proceed forth from the throne of God and of the Lamb is an absolute guarantee that the thirst of every inhabitant of Zion will be assuaged. When Christ and him crucified is preached as the only way of salvation from sin, there is no confusion among those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, but when something else is preached, the water becomes muddy and confusion or trouble is sure to follow. The wedge of creature works, however cunningly the perpetrator may devise, cannot successfully be hidden indefinitely, and wherever it is found in the camp of Israel there is certain to be trouble, and we may rest assured that God will search Jerusalem as with candles. When we look upon the solemnities of Zion, Isaiah says, "Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us." This declares plainly to us that salvation by works of righteousness which we can do is utterly impossible, and that nothing wherein the creature, as such, can glory in of himself shall ever enter there. All that pertains to the natural man is altogether unclean in the sight of a just and holy God and no flesh shall ever be able to glory in his presence, save only in the Lord.
In the second verse of the text it says, "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Before attempting to explain this verse we wish to draw the attention of our readers to the great contrast to this which is found in the third chapter of Genesis. There God is dealing with the natural man, for Adam as he was first created was only a natural man after he had fallen by transgression of God's law from his state of innocence and was able to know good from evil. "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." Gen. 3:22-24. We see from this (which is directly opposite to what men are saying to-day) that God determined that fallen man would under no circumstances be able "to put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." To prevent every possibility of such a thing, after driving man out of the garden of Eden, God placed a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the tree of life. To say that in man in his depraved state of nature can lay hold upon eternal life, or the tree of life, is to say the exact opposite of what God's word teaches, and we prefer to "Let God be true, but every man a liar."
Coming over from Genesis to Revelation, where we find God is dealing with the new creature, one that has been begotten again unto a lively, or living hope, by being born of the Spirit, we find an entirely different situation. In fact, it is just exactly the reverse of that which pertains to the natural man. Here we have the Spirit and the bride slaying, Come. And he that heareth says, Come. And he that is athirst comes. And whosoever wills, or hath the will, is commanded to take the water of life freely. This is the new or heavenly Jerusalem and "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river" is the tree of life. Here the tree of life is all and in all. He is not only in the midst of the street of it, but on both sides of the river is the tree of life. Before Jesus came to actually suffer in the flesh, he was with national Israel under the law, in type and shadow. How very peal he was to them in the Legal Dispensation can only be surmised by those who are given to see the beauty and fulness portrayed in some of the types and shadows, but when the fulness of the times had come and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, John says, "we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Since his death and resurrection, land the glory which followed in the establishment of his kingdom here in the world, in this gospel dispensation he is known, by faith, in power and great glory on this side of the river. Zechariah, prophesying of the coming of Christ, and the grace of, his kingdom, said, "And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be." Zech. 14:8 In other words, only by the virtue of Jesus' atoning blood could any be saved, and by this same virtue there would be salvation for all of the elect of God, not only those who lived before Christ came into the world but those who should come after him as well. In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Here in this gospel dispensation, we are enjoying, at least in part, the fruits from this tree of life, of which we shall partake to the full in that world which is beyond this vale of tears. This tree of life is said to bare twelve manner of fruits. Our inquirer referred to the quotation as "twelve kinds, of fruits." The translators have given us the supplied word manner instead of kinds and we prefer it. We are persuaded that all the fruit borne by the tree of life was good, immensely good and perfect in every sense of the word, There is, no such thing as kinds of fruits in the sense that some were good and some were not so good, or bad and imperfect. Under the law there were twelve tribes or the children of Israel, and under the gospel or grace dispensation, there were the twelve apostles, so the gospel is suited to the needs of the children of God, however varied they may be. There is but one Spirit, but there is a great diversity of its operations. Various kinds of gifts were given to the church by her glorious Head, but they were all for the edifying of the body of Christ, which is his church, and for the lifting of the name of Jesus on high. There were no two prophets alike, no two apostles alike, and neither are there two gifts alike to-day, or even two lay members alike, for each one has his own individuality, or peculiar manner of presenting or receiving the truth, but there is only one truth - not many as the world might have us believe. Jesus is both the sum and substance of it all and, therefore, regardless of who the preacher is or what his manner of preaching may be, when Christ and him crucified is preached as the way, the truth, and the life, it will be food to some poor, hungry and famishing soul. There is no such thing as failure in the kingdom of God, for he works in his people both to, will and to do of his good pleasure, and fruit is yielded every month, or for the entire year. There is no time when the tree of life is barren. In John 15:5 we read where Jesus said, "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." By virtue of the indwelling of the life of the vine in the branch, the branch is made to, bring forth fruit. The Lord who spake by the prophet Isaiah saying, "Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, land eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price," declared by the same prophet in the very same chapter that "as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isa. 55:10-11. We have always liked the word maketh in the tenth verse, for it assures us that God will do all his pleasure and neither men nor devils will ever be able to hinder him in his work or thwart any of his plans and purposes. How good to feel that it is in Him that we live and move and have our continual being. When we by the workings of the Holy Spirit can lay hold upon and appropriate unto ourselves the various phases of the doctrine of God our Savior as set forth by Jesus, by the apostles and by his servants who are called to go forth preaching the word in demonstration of the Spirit and with power sent down from heaven, does it not soothe our sorrows, heal our wounds and drive away our fears. Surely, therefore the words of Jesus, whether spoken by him or others, when applied by the Holy Spirit, comes with great healing power and comforting assurances to our broken hearts, and our contrite spirits. This wonderful balm from our spiritual Gilead is sufficient to heal every sinsick soul, whatever its ailment or malady may be, for both Jew and Gentile, among God's people, or his elect in every nation, kindred, tribe and tongue. The gospel church has an experimental knowledge of these things, and such types as the true vine and the branches and the tree of life yielding her fruit every month, reveals unto us the wonder and beauty of the eternal vital union between God and his people. The things which .John saw were shown to him by the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last; therefore they could not fail of fulfillment. When these things were shown to .John he was in this life, and we are persuaded that it is in this life that we are given a foretaste of these heavenly things; it is here in this life that we need to drink of the pure water of life; it is here in this life that we need to feed upon the twelve manner of fruits of the tree of life, which we continually stand in need of, or for every month in the year. It is here that the nations, those who fear God and keep his commandments, need to be healed by the doctrines of God's matchless grace, ceaseless mercy and eternal Love, which changeth not. How soothing, indeed, they are when they drop sovereignly into our wounded and bleeding hearts; they mollify as the choicest ointments, and we are revived like the parched grass beneath the gentle summer showers. We cannot believe that in that world of heavenly bliss above there will be any such thing as hunger and thirst, or broken and bleeding hearts. Sorrow, suffering, sickness and death belong only to this world and life and they will be left behind when we are called to our eternal and heavenly home on high.
The same inquirer asked that we explain atonement. We have written at some length already, and we are convinced that those who know something of the things we have presented will also understand what atonement means. In brief, it means an at-one-ment with God by the finished work of our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. In Adam's transgression the elect family by reason of sin were separated from God, but by the righteousness of Christ they are presented unto God without spot, wrinkle or any such thing. Those who by nature were aliens from the common-wealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world, were brought nigh by the blood of Christ and are reconciled unto God; therefore they are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God, "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit"
Dear reader, if the things which we have here written are of the Lord, and we are made to, hope that they are, and you can bear witness to them, it is quite evident that the Lord has shewn them unto both you and ourself, and we can rejoice together and give praise unto his great and. holy name. Amen.
Signs of the Times
Volume 115, No. 6