In the first dispensation, Adam and Eve were told that they should not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If they ate from that tree, the result (effect) of that action would be death. While the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil gets most of the attention in the Eden narrative, its very important to remember that there was a second titular tree in the garden – The Tree of Life
And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. – Genesis 2:9
Adam and Eve were told that they could freely eat of all the trees except for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Presumable that would mean that the fruit of the Tree of Life was a part of the acceptable diet plan. So eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would result in death, but eating from the Tree of Life would sustain life.
How do you know you’re alive?
But what exactly is “Life”? – other than a rather bland breakfast cereal that my mother made me eat while cruelly ignoring my desire for Cap’n Crunch! (Hmmm, looks like it my be time to visit my therapist again…)
From a purely scientific standpoint, an organism is considered “alive” if it has self-sustaining biological functionality; if it has the ability to ingest and metabolize nutrients, grow, respond to stimuli, reproduce, and adapt to its environment. Organisms have many complex organs and systems that work in a synchronistic fashion to accomplish this, but on a cellular level, the key to maintaining life is the ability of our cells to continually reproduce themselves.
As we’ve seen before, matter cannot be created or destroyed. Technically, there is no scientific reason for death. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells. As our cells wear down, an exact copy replaces them. From birth until death, all of our cells constantly reproduce themselves. Some do it every few hours, some take several days. It actually takes about 28 days for every cell in your body to reproduce itself – so technically; you get a new body every month (unfortunately for some, it’s a copy of the same body they had before).
Our bodies are designed for perpetual life. With enough fuel from food, there is no reason why we should die . . .yet we do. As we age our cells become less and less efficient at reproduction. Genetic defects and disease impair the cells ability to repair damage. When the cells of a vital organ like the heart, lungs, liver, or brain lose the ability to repair, the systems that rely on them to remain functional fail, and we die.
What is the difference between a dead body and a living one (other than the smell)? The living body maintains the ability to repair damage to enough of a degree to maintain functionality.
The real body shop
Life is the ability to self-repair. If you somehow had the ability to repair any damage that was done to you, you would live forever.
In biological terms, the Bible states that life is in the blood of an organism, and that blood sustains life (Leviticus 17:11, Leviticus 17:14 ). This makes sense since blood transports the essential nutrients, building blocks, and organic information necessary for cells to reproduce, function, and repair.
But we know that we are not just physical beings. We are also spirit. What does the Bible say about spiritual life? Lets take a sneak peak into the 5th dispensation where Jesus speaks about life:
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life… – John 6:53-54
No, this is not an endorsement of cannibalism, He is speaking symbolically. Keep reading.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. – John 6:63
Jesus was speaking metaphorically and using a revelatory pun by associating blood (physical life) with spiritual life. So what leads to spiritual life? Words!
Speaking of life
This idea is in total agreement with what we learned about spirit in an earlier post on this blog. That post showed that the content of spirit is information, and words are the conduits of information. Just as blood is the key to physical life because it is the transportation medium of the essence of physical life, words are the key to spiritual life because words are the transportation medium of information.
The verse states that words are life. Not just any words, but the words that constitute one of Christ’s primary messages on earth – repentance. Words of repentance are the words that lead to life.
When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” – Acts 11:18
Repentance for our wrongs leads to spiritual life because repentance is the process of turning from our wrongs and embracing right. Words of repentance cause us to repair spiritually! And what precedes repentance? Contrastive thinking!
So if we look at it from a cause/effect standpoint: contrastive thinking leads to repentance, which leads to repair, which leads to life.
So it all comes back to contrastive thinking. Contrastive thinking leads to righteousness and life. And righteousness is what it takes to be like God and live eternally in Heaven.
Moreover, life is not a static quantity. There are qualitative levels of life. When we asked “What’s the Point?”, the problem we were addressing was really “living” versus just “being alive”.
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). – John 10:10 Amplified Bible
The good life
Jesus states that we can have more life; better life; an abundance of life. This is not possible if life is just a binary measurement of being alive or not alive. But it is possible if life is the ability to repair. Having more and/or better life would mean the ability to repair physical and spiritual damage faster and more efficiently. The ultimate or perfect life would be the ability to repair instantaneously. This would constitute immortality, and eternal life.
Perfect blood would be the cause of eternal physical life, and perfect thinking would be the cause of eternal physical life. But how could we get access to someone with perfect blood and perfect thinking? That answer will have to wait until the 5th dispensation . . .
So if life is the ability to repair, what is death? How did it come about, and what are the implications of spiritual death? Death isn’t all bad. It depends on which part of you dies . . . and how many times you die. Stay tuned . . .
Alive and Well, or Dead and Dying
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