Friday, May 25, 2018

Tree of Life (part 2 of 2)

By Douglas D. Stauffer
& Andrew B. Ray

The Tree of Life (Part 2 of 2) Appendix 1One Book Rightly Divided (June 2018 Unpublished)

Be sure to read PART 1 of this article on the Tree of Life first in order to understand the context of what continues here. 


The Book of Proverbs
Once a man understands the true significance and purpose of the Tree of Life in Genesis, Revelation, and Ezekiel (discussed in PART 1 , the references in Proverbs take on further significance. The Tree of Life offered a lengthening of one’s physical life. In similar fashion, Solomon identified four things that lengthened the physical life of man and, therefore, function as trees of life. They are: (1) wisdom, (2) the fruit of the righteous, (3) the fulfillment of desire, and (4) a wholesome tongue.
  • Wisdom

Proverbs 3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. … 18 She (wisdom) is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
  • Fruit of Righteousness

Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
  • Desire (of the Righteous—see below) Fulfilled

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Proverbs 11:23 The desire of the righteous is only good:

Proverbs 10:24
  the desire of the righteous shall be granted.
  • Wholesome Tongue

Proverbs 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
Living right does not bring eternal life but can certainly prolong one’s physical life. In fact, this was identified as one of the primary purposes of the Law (Deuteronomy 30:14-20). As it pertained to the Law, man’s choice was simple—choose between “life and death.”

Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

The man who chose disobedience faced premature death unless the mercy of God intervened. To clarify, death in such cases did not confirm eternal damnation—consider Samson, king Saul, Moses, etc., who all had a life shortened because of disobedience.
The Right to the Tree of Life: Overcome
The passages in Revelation repudiated the false teaching concerning the purpose of the Tree of Life—the offering of physical life versus eternal life. Yet, these same verses, when misconstrued, pose another potentially dangerous teaching. Those who fail to consider the totality of the teaching concerning the Tree of Life generally find themselves unable to reconcile their perception with the Bible’s true teachings. According to Revelation, the Tree of Life presents two preconditions for those blessed to be able to partake of the Tree of Life: (1) overcoming and (2) doing His [Christ’s] commandments.

Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.


Without sufficiently understanding the depths of the teaching, one might see the word overcometh and assume that the Tree of Life is available only to those who earn access through their works. However, to comprehend God’s intended meaning, one must gain a sufficient understanding by studying the other passages that refer to a saint overcoming.
John wrote and focused upon this doctrine more than any other writer. In fact, John covered four crucial and foundational truths concerning overcoming:

(1) A saint was an overcomer prior to the completion of his life and possibly during his youth (1 John 2:13-14; 1 John 4:4)

1 John 2:13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

1 John 4:4
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.


(2) That which was born of God overcometh the world (1 John 5:4);

(3) The victory that overcomes is found through a man’s faith (1 John 5:4); and

(4) The specific faith that allows one to overcome is possessed by “he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5).

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. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Far too many teachers allow their assumptions to interfere with the reality of God’s intended truths. Overcoming has been taught as a work of man or a demand for man to work, yet the totality of scripture indisputably proves that overcoming is based solely upon the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Overcoming is a God-given benefit granted to those who trust the Lord. In fact, all who are in Christ overcome in Him, by Him, and through Him. According to John, we who are “of God” overcome BECAUSE we are indwelt by One who is greater than he who serves as the god of this world.  

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Overcoming was not the result of the long battle-tested life of one who earned merit and favor with God. Instead, it could be gifted to “young men” and “little children” who “have known the Father” (1 John 2:13), had the indwelling word (1 John 2:14), and the indwelling God (1 John 4:4). In other words, men overcome, not by works of righteousness, but by knowledge of the Righteous One through believing “that Jesus is the Son of God.”

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. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Those who want to discount these truths based upon some sort of a dispensational distinctive involved with the writings of John should consider that John wrote later than Paul and built upon a premise begun in Paul’s epistles.

Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Men confuse the issue of salvation and rewards when they fail to understand that those who ADD faithful obedience to overcoming gain special rewards from the Almighty.  This is the truth taught in Revelation 2:26 where it states, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” The honest Bible student readily admits that this truth matches the teaching set forth by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2:12 which states, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” While our salvation is based solely upon faith in the finished work of Christ, our rewards are based upon our faithful obedience to Christ.

Faithful saints receive additional benefits due to their faithful service to the Saviour. However, all that overcome are promised at least twelve basic rewards from the Lord. According to the testimony of scripture, the overcomer shall

  • Eat of the Tree of Life (Revelation 2:7),
  • Not be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:11),
  • Eat of the hidden manna (Revelation 2:17),
  • Receive a white stone in which his name is written (Revelation 2:17),
  • Be clothed in white raiment (Revelation 3:5),
  • Not be blotted out of the book of life (Revelation 3:5),
  • Be confessed before the Father and the angels (Revelation 3:5),
  • Be made a pillar in the temple of God (Revelation 3:12),
  • Have the name of God written upon him (Revelation 3:12),
  • Have the Son’s new name written upon him (Revelation 3:12),
  • Sit in the throne with the Son of God (Revelation 3:21), and
  • Inherit all things as a son of God (Revelation 21:7). 

The Right to the Tree of Life: Do His Commandments
The second characteristic—“they that do his commandments” (Revelation 22:14) seems a bit more problematic until one considers what the verse actually says and means. A good Bible student knows that true Bible study involves three pertinent questions answered in their proper order:

  • What does the Bible say?
  • What does the Bible mean?
  • What does the Bible mean for me? 

In the simplest sense, a look at Revelation 22:14 shows that those who do Christ’s commandments are blessed. Furthermore, contrary to common thought, the passage DOES NOT SAY men do Christ’s commandments IN ORDER TO have a right to the Tree of Life, but that one of the blessings obedient men receive is “that they may have right to the tree of life.” A careful reading of John’s epistles will prove that God led John to record two great truths concerning obedience:
  • Obedience is a manifestation of one’s love and the love preceded the obedience (John 14:15, 21, 23, 24; 1 John 5:3), and
  • Obedience to the commandments of God was the evidence and manifestation of one’s salvation, not the driving force that brought it about (John 8:51; 1 John 2:3-5).

Another great principle to always consider and follow: God never intended for obscure passages to overrule truths learned from the clear, simple, straightforward passages. Much of the divisiveness within the body of Christ finds its roots in the doctrines derived from over-prioritizing hard to understand passages. Regardless of the principles applied, at the end, truth is the same—the Tree of Life will be available to all who know the Lord but serves as ONE of the special blessings given to “they that do his commandments.”
What Is in It for Us?
Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

All the puzzle pieces fit when one merely believes THE BOOK. Yet, one piece remains a bit curious and that is the promise given to the church at Ephesus—“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life.” Would saints with glorified bodies likened to Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 15:51; Philippians 3:20-21) have need of the Tree of Life in the midst of the paradise of God (2 Corinthians 12:4)? No! Yet, the key to be considered is that the redeemed in Heaven have no NEED for the Tree of Life like other elements found in Heaven.

One might assume a lack of NEED would mean there would be no OFFER of the Tree of Life. Yet, the paradise of God contains a great number of things that are not NECESSARY but certainly serve as blessings for God’s people. God’s gracious nature provides them for man’s enjoyment. The Tree of Life was part of God’s loving and gracious plan for the first couple (Adam and Eve) as God described it as pleasant to the sight, and good for food” (Genesis 2:9). The fruit of the Tree was free from corruption with no curse attached to it.

No doubt God intended for the fruit of the Tree to satisfy man’s God-given appetite. Additionally, Genesis described how pleasant it was to look upon. Man cannot imagine the state of the first couple before the fall—an environment that blessed the senses beyond comprehension. In the future, God will allow the redeemed to taste and visually feast upon that which Adam lost.


The future home of the saints is a city decked with precious stones, pearls, and gold—none necessary in man’s future abode. The delightful city has gates, a street, walls, and mansions—none of which is necessary for man’s subsistence. God also promised a river (clear as crystal) and a Tree of Life; all provided for man’s pleasure—none of which is essential. Our Heavenly Father designed our future home to manifest His beauty and personality forever. What a blessed day when we taste that blessed Tree!

This is an excerpt from Appendix 1 from the yet-to-be-published update of One Book Rightly Divided available for pre-publication order at www.BibleDoug.com 




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