Book Review: The Tree of Life – by Witness Lee

*** This article is part of a blog series about what it means to live with Christ as our source. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***

For those of you who do not know Witness Lee, he was a co-worker of Watchmen Nee back in the early parts of the 20th century. They co-laboured in the raising up of local churches all over China, America and other parts of the world. Both of these men wrote a myriad of books. Witness Lee even managed to pen an entire commentary on the bible in his lifetime. Of the many books written by these men, the one’s written by Witness Lee are less well known. This little jewel of a book is amongst those hidden from the greater Christian community. And so, I am delighted to be creating a bit more awareness for it here on this blog.

The book was first published in 1987. Here is a description from the back cover:

When God created man, He placed him before two trees: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. In warning man to avoid the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God indicated His desire for man to eat of the tree of life, signifying that man should receive God as his life supply. Adam chose poorly, and was barred from the tree of life because of sin. Even today, Christians, those who have washed their robes that they may have right ot the tree of life (Rev. 22:14), often pursue good behaviour rather than receiving Christ, experiencing Christ, and enjoying Christ as their life supply.

In the Tree of Life, Witness Lee presents a view of God’s heart that is little understood and seldom experienced by believers today. God is not looking for well-behaved Christians; He is looking for those who will experience and enjoy Christ as the reality of the tree of life, fulfilling His eternal intention for man.

Contents

  1. The Way to Fulfill God’s purpose
  2. The Source and Consummation of the Two Trees
  3. The Tree of Life in the Gospel of John
  4. The Fatness of the Lord’s House
  5. The Fruit of the Tree of Life
  6. The Tree of Life for Transformation
  7. How the Last Adam Becomes the Tree of Life in Us
  8. How the Body, the Army, and the Dwelling Place of God Came into Being
  9. Christ Opens the Way to the Tree of Life
  10. God’s Purpose Fulfilled by the Growth of the Tree of Life within U
  11. How to Feast on the Tree of Life through the Word
  12. How to Feast on the Tree of Life through Prayer
  13. The Need to Be Poor in Spirit and Pure in Heart to Experience the Tree of Life
  14. God’s Intention Fulfilled in Transformation
  15. Living Letters of Christ by Beholding and Reflecting His Glory
  16. God’s Ultimate Intention Realized

I am personally reading this book at the moment. And believe me it is excellent. It takes the purpose of man right back to the garden of Eden and unveils what God’s original intent was, what went wrong, and most importantly, how Jesus Christ has redeemed God’s desire and recovered the reality of the tree of life in his own person. I strongly recommend it!

It is available from Amazon in both paperback and kindle for about R80: http://www.amazon.com/Tree-Life-Witness-Lee/dp/0870833006. If you are living in South Africa I can arrange a copy for you for about R100 (email me at dyl.crom@gmail.com).

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You have just finished reading a book review on The Tree of Life – by Witness Lee If you wish to leave a comment, please click on the Comment link below. Also, if you have enjoyed it, please consider sharing it by clicking on the relevant links below the post on the blog. And if you missed last weeks post, click on the link just above the comment box to check it out. Glad to have you aboard!

The Tree of Life (part 1): Zoe-Life

#3.1 of Living with Christ as our SOURCE

*** This article is part of a blog series about what it means to live with Christ as our source. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***

In section two, “in the beginning,” we observed a few things and asked many questions. Here is a summary of the main points we looked at:

  1. Childlike dependence on God: God made man to be dependent on something other than himself; an external source. And in the beginning man lived by the Word of God alone. He did only as God instructed him. He was living blissfully in pure untainted relationship with God as his all sufficient source for life.
  2. Curiosity killed humanity: But then, he was lured away from being connected to God as his only source by the craftiness of a different source, satan. His curiosity drove him to “listen” to the word of satan and consider what he had to say above what God had said.
  3. Taking Dominion, or Not…: This however, was confusing because God had explicitly instructed man to take dominion over the the creeping things (His enemy). So why didn’t he? Why did he just receive from the serpent instead of exercising God’s authority over him?

The answer: He COULDN’T!

For he did not yet possess the “Life of God.” 

In the beginning, God told man that he can eat from the fruit of any tree in the garden accept from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He also mentions the Tree of Life in the midst (center) of the garden. Even though he never specifically tells them to eat from the Tree of Life, it is assumed because it is in the garden and therefore falls in the category – “any tree in the garden.”

Now, to help us understand what exactly the Tree of Life is and why Genesis specifically mentions it, I will paraphrase an explanation that Watchmen Nee gives in a book he wrote called “The Spiritual Man.” He explains:

Some Bible scholars point out to us that three different words are employed in the Greek to designate “life”: (1) bios (2) psuche, and (3) zoe. They all describe life but convey very different meanings. Bios has reference to the means of life or living. People use this term to refer to “making a living,” or “earning a living.” Our Lord Jesus used this word when He commended the woman who cast into the temple treasury her whole living. Psuche refers to the animated life of man, his natural life or the life of the soul. The Bible employs this term when it describes the human lifeZoe is the highest life (or God’s life), the life of the Spirit. Whenever the Bible speaks of Eternal Life it uses this word.

Our English Bibles do not differentiate between the different types of “life” as does the Greek. And so the Tree of Life is not just the Tree of Normal-Life (or psuche life) as we know it, which is to live and breathe and walk and talk. No, it is the Tree of Zoe-Life. Which is God’s uncreated and eternal life. Or as Watchmen Nee calls it: the highest life.

From this we can gather something truly miraculous: God placed in the center of the Garden a tree that would bare fruit with His very life in it. A tree that would give those who ate of its fruit God’s own uncreated Zoe-Life. Isn’t that completely out of this world!

God wanted to impart His life into man. And so He provided this for him in a means that was accessible to him. In the form of Fruit. Man would essentially live and grow by God’s life in the same way we we live and grow today: by Eating.

Let me tell you, since receiving this revelation, I have been seeing things a whole lot differently. It has really changed the way I look at life, the bible, and my spiritual walk with Christ. And I would like to share it with all of you. So I would like to make available an audio message that brings this revelation to life in an awesome way.

It is one of the first and fundamental lessons Frank Viola teaches every one of the churches he plants or works with. He sees it as one of the most integral elements in being a church that lives by the Indwelling Life of Christ together. It will rock your world and revolutionise the way you understand your purpose and God’s initial and ultimate desire in creating you, as well as give you a few glimpses of how you can begin to live out that eternal purpose practically. It really is going to blow your socks off!

You can listen to it online or download it by clicking on the “download” button and then right clicking and selecting “save link as” on the next page. Also, check out a few comments of people that have listened to it before by scrolling down (they are very encouraging). Go to the message now by clicking here. Enjoy!

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You have just finished reading article number 3.1 of Living with Christ as our SOURCE – The Tree of Life (part 1): Zoe-Life  If you wish to leave a comment, please click on the Comment link below. Also, if you have enjoyed it, please consider sharing it by clicking on the relevant links below the post on the blog. And if you missed last weeks post, click on the link just above the comment box to check it out. Glad to have you aboard!

In the beginning… (part 3): Taking Dominion, or Not…

#2.3 of Living with Christ as our Source

*** This article is part of a blog series about what it means to live with Christ as our source. You can check out the Introduction to the series by clicking here. ***

Over the last two weeks we have looked briefly at the events leading up to humanity choosing to live from a source other than God. We saw that in the beginning man did not know the difference between right and wrong, only the difference between what God had “said” and “not said.” It was a simple childlike lifestyle that flowed directly from God Himself. We also saw that man has been built not as a self-sustaining being, but rather as a “conduit”, built to live (not independently) but in dependence on an external source. Effectively, Man was designed to live by God’s divine life and so express His nature and character (bear His Image), while at the same time, represent His authority and rule (take dominion).

Now, to understand the significance of this, there is some additional information needed that is not completely plain in the Genesis text. And it has to do with Man’s purpose as expressed in Genesis 1. I will borrow the explanation of this from Milt Rodriguez, an extra-local worker (church planter) that I respect very much. He wrote a blog post called Some thoughts on the Purpose, in which he clearly emphasises a very important part of man’s purpose on the earth.

Dominion

The second part of the Purpose was for man to have dominion over the earth.  This has to do with God’s enemy, satan.  The reason we know this is that the scripture specifically mentions “the creeping things” at the end of verse 26.  And we see in chapter 3 that the enemy comes to Eve as a serpent.  So, man is to have authority (dominion) over all the earth and especially the creeping things.

So we can say that God created man for two reasons; to express and represent.  The image speaks of His expression.  The dominion speaks of His representation.  God wanted man to express His nature and character.  And He also wanted man to represent His authority on the earth, especially over the creeping things (God’s enemy).

In the light of this, can you see the significance of the Woman’s actions? At a time when she is supposed to be “taking authority” over the serpent (a creeping thing), she is having a conversation with it. And not just a conversation, but actually asking it questions and considering what it has to say. That does not seem like “taking Dominion” to me. [We see Jesus treating demons (creeping things) a lot differently. In fact, he never even gave them a chance to speak…(Luke 4:35)]

In this we come to a paradox. Why did the Woman act so unwisely and immaturely in a moment when she should have taken authority? Why did she not take dominion over the creeping thing, God’s enemy, the very thing she had been made to do?

Well, over the last while I have been doing some research on this topic. And I have found some awesome material explaining the whole situation.

  1. The one, is a spoken message by Frank Viola, an extra-local worker (church planter) I have come to love and respect very much over the last year (also a co-worker of Milt Rodriquez).  I will be making it available for download soon…
  2. And the other is a book called The Tree of Life, which is a collection of spoken messages given by a man called Witness Lee (a co-worker of Watchmen Nee). I will be doing an in-depth review on this book in the near future. So be sure to keep an eye out for it.

Taking dominion is something that God designed man to do. But not with his own human authority, but with God’s divine authority. To rule with God’s power over all the creatures of the earth and so represent God as Ruler, King, and Sovereign over everything.

We see this with ambassadors. A South African ambassador living in America carries with him the authority of the South African government and constitution. He has the authority to sign on South Africa’s behalf in all matters of state relating to her. He himself does not have that authority, but he has been chosen as a “vessel” to carry that authority. The authority itself resides in South Africa in the constitutional court and government office, not with him. He is just a “conduit” of that authority in another land.

And it is the same with divine authority, as can be seen in Genesis. Man has no natural authority of his own, hence the ease with which the serpent tricked the Woman. Man must get his “power” and “authority” from somewhere other than himself. And there are only two sources. God, expressed as the Tree of Life, and satan, expressed as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

From the one comes divine authority that empowers man to take dominion and be an ambassador for God. From the other comes satanic authority that empowers man to “do his own thing” (sin), and be an ambassador for satan (doing ones own thing and yielding to ones own will – the very thing satan was the first to do).

It would be good for us to consider from where we source our authority to think, act, and live every day. Because that will ultimately determine whom we are being an ambassador for and if we are taking dominion, or not…

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You have just finished reading article number 2.3 Living with Christ as our SOURCEIn the beginning… (part 3): Taking Dominion, or Not…  If you wish to leave a comment, please click on the Comment link below. Also, if you have enjoyed it, please consider sharing it by clicking on the relevant links below the post on the blog. And if you missed last weeks post, click on the link just above the comment box below to check it out. Glad to have you aboard!