Return to Paradise

By Lloyd Ellefson

Greetings in the name of the Lord! The word PARADISE means GARDEN. The garden of Eden was called paradise. (Gen. 2:8) In it was the tree of life. The curse and death did not belong in this garden; after Adam and Eve sinned they were no longer allowed to remain there. Cherubim were placed at the east of the garden to guard the entrance to the tree of life. We'll see some interesting things as we look at paradise in a spiritual sense.

Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. He is our tree of life, so we need to get a better understanding of how we are brought into Christ. "But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall." (Eph. 2:13-14) The two groups, the circumcision and the uncircumcision, include everybody in the inhabited earth, and it is all due to the work of Christ; they have been brought together by the blood of Christ. This does not refer to the natural blood that flowed out of the natural body of Jesus on the cross. The spiritual meaning gives us an understanding of the blood of Christ.

We are redeemed by the blood of Christ. The soul is in the blood. The blood does not typify life; it typifies the soul or sense of being of that life, for life is in God; life is in the Spirit. The blood typifies the consciousness and realization that was in Christ; it enabled Him to go through death on the cross. In the Old Testament, the high priest had to take the blood with him in order to enter the most holy place. The blood that was obtained through the death in the outer court of the temple, enabled him to receive the light of the first holy place (the baptism of the Holy Spirit), and then proceed into that greater light of the most holy place. No sacrifice, no water, no flesh, and no artificial lights were in this place! Here was a relationship which was established through the blood. Jesus Christ took His blood into the heavenlies. (Heb. 9:12) The sense of being which is in Christ, enables Him to take us into a relationship of divine participation with God.

He is our peace. "By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace." (Eph. 2:15) The correct translation reads that He has created "the two, in Himself, into one new humanity". He has broken down the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, and has made everybody one IN Christ Jesus - not BY Him.

"That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Eph. 4:22-24) The sense of being that was in Christ Jesus, gives us a new sense of being and a new image of God. It creates in us a new man; by a creative process it produces a new humanity. We often think about our true identity. When we learn to know who we are spiritually, a new sense of being is created in us. No longer are we believing who we are according to natural knowledge or psychology. A new creation has been CREATED in us! This is most important.

"For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation." (Gal. 6:15) New thoughts - thoughts that are in the mind of Christ - are created in us by His Word. This new creation does not pass away. Jesus is not doing something FOR us. He IS that new creation because He is actually the Messiah or the Word of God that came into this realm of darkness and ignorance.

Paul said, "But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal. 6:14) The cross is a type; it is an instrument of death to humanity's old conceptions - the Adamic ideas that were in man. These ruled him because of his ignorance, and they formed a world-system of rule. Christ's kingdom does not consist of that rule, for Christ said, "My kingdom is not of this world".

In Luke 23 we read about Jesus hanging on a cross between two criminals. "Now there was also an inscription above Him, `This is the King of the Jews'. And one of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, `Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!' But the other answered, and rebuking him said, `Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he was saying, `Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom'!" (vv. 38-42) We don't know how this man understood that Jesus had a kingdom; however, if Jesus was a King, as the inscription read, He must also have a kingdom. Jesus had been preaching that Israel was to repent and that the kingdom of God was at hand. The KINGDOM OF GOD IS THE RULE OF GOD. This rule was in Christ and it was ruling Him. When His voice, His rule or word comes to us, it creates in us a new realization of life. Since this realization does not come to natural man, he remains ignorant of it.

"And He said to him, `Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise'." (v.43) Jesus, rejected by Israel and hanging on the cross between two thieves, heard one of them say, "Remember me!" And Jesus said, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise." I believe this means Jesus was in Paradise at the time He was on the cross. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Since He never sinned, He was never cast out of the garden. He never left His relationship with God; He never left the union and the harmony with God; He never left the understanding and the spiritual realization of God. When Jesus said, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?", I believe He was speaking in His identification with the natural man, for Adam sinned and had to leave the garden.

Now Adam was a figure of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:14) In Christ Jesus we receive a new humanity, thereby being released from our old humanity. Adam represented the earthly humanity; he was not the reality of the true humanity - that is why he was only a figure. After the type has been fulfilled and the reality has come, the type is no longer needed. So we can forget about saving our old self-life, the old Adam. After God cast Adam out of the garden, He had no intention of bringing him back.

We are being put into Christ - the one who never left His relationship with God. In symbolism, the garden was reserved for those who never strayed from their relationship with God, so we can say that Christ never left the garden. We are being put into the consciousness of Christ who never strayed from God, never sinned and never had a bad conscience; He never worried. His understanding of birth, existence, mortality, etc. differed from our earthy Adamic ideas.

We are not born of the will of flesh, the will of man; we are not born of sin. We must remember that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin - of purity. His conceptions, ideas and realization of God were never adulterated by satan, evil, death or mortality. So when we receive revelation and understanding from God the Father, this understanding has to be born into something within us that is pure - and that is the mind of Christ. That mind, that ability to receive the word of God (call it female or virgin if you will), only births the Christ, the Son of God. He is not born in the corruptness of our human mind.

In His human body Jesus Christ identified with man. In this identification, He came down into our forsaken, degraded and ignorant humanity and lived under the law for 30 years. He did that so He could mediate between us and God. He was the Messiah, but no one can see the Messiah for He cannot be seen. He is the anointing; this gave Him the ability to hear the Father speak to Him!

"There is one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 2:5) The Adam man has the Adam consciousness, and therefore can never be a mediator between God and man; he can only mediate between man and man according to his own concepts and thoughts. Religion consists of man's ideas. Mediating by exchanging natural thoughts will never bring life to anyone! In order to receive Christ's mediation, Jesus Christ gives us a new mind that can receive understanding from God.

This garden was subjected to a God-appointed ruler. In Matthew 21:33-41 Jesus presented the parable of the landowner of a vineyard. Israel, the keeper of the vineyard, prevented the landowner (God) from receiving his produce; all Israel did was kill the prophets and then kill the son. Israel never received this true, virgin concept, because their minds were always filled with natural things.

The crucifixion of Jesus was not initiated by the Romans, for they were unconcerned about His teachings. They said there was nothing wrong with Jesus and they wondered why He had been brought to them for judgment. The Jews were told to deal with Him themselves. The law was in the hands of Israel but since they were in bondage to the Romans, crucifixion had to be carried out by the Roman government; and the Jews were not satisfied with anything less than the maximum penalty for Him. Israel wholeheartedly believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, yet they accused Him of blasphemy.

Israel had a wrong concept of God. They worshiped their own conceptions of God, but they did not worship the true God. There is only one true God, and He is much greater than man can conceive! Their god was a product of their own imagination and conceptions in the Adamic man. At that time all Israel was dead in the Adamic man. The crucifixion of Jesus was a manifestation of the thoughts and intents of the human heart toward God - as exemplified throughout man's history.

Jesus appeared as the long-awaited Messiah in Israel. Messiah means ANOINTING or the ANOINTED ONE. He received the anointing at the Jordan when the Holy Spirit came upon Him. This came in fulfillment of God's promise to give His people a Messiah - a man who was anointed by God. There was a big clash between the ideas expressed by Jesus and those expressed by the Jews. The Jews thought they believed Moses, but Jesus said, "You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent... For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe His writings, how will you believe My words?" (Jn. 5:38;46-47)

This conflict between Jesus Christ's revelation of God, and the Jews' idea of God revealed the fact that Israel was worshiping other gods, for Christ is the exact image of the invisible God. This brought an indictment upon Israel. They did not know the true God. They did not even know the purpose of the law. They had never accepted its teaching; they thought the purpose of the law was to give them righteousness, so they rebuked the Holy One of Israel whom God had sent.

Today, we see the so-called religious system with all its denominations, preserving its own ideas of God, just like the Jews and the pagan nations are doing. Many have the same conception of God that Israel had when Jesus came as the true Messiah. They use words like JESUS, CHRIST and SPIRIT, but their definition of them is according to their own desire. In the denominational churches there are only a few who desire truth and growth in the things of the Spirit. But as long as the wrong idea of God is retained, they will still be crucifying Christ afresh in themselves.

Jesus said, "I live by the Father." He always lived by the Father; He never left God. He did not live according to the fleshly ideas of mortal man. The various religions are forms of self-preservation. Trying to preserve our self-life means we are fighting God. In other words, anyone who is preserving his own ideas of God, and his own doctrines and behavior patterns, is against God. These doctrines are expressed in externals, such as big name pastors with all their trappings, ornate buildings called churches, etc. Signs such as "Our Savior's ____ Church" can often be seen. Our Savior does not have a denominational church; our Savior is the unseen Messiah, the Christ of God! When true understanding comes, it displaces the ignorance and darkness in man with the light and understanding of spiritual realities.

When organizations honor and pay an individual wages, this person becomes a hireling. Their organizations are identified by doctrines which emphasize their particular idea of God. By worshiping their own ideas of God, like Israel did, they are opposing the true Christ. They celebrate His birthday, yet Christ was never born. He is the same yesterday, today and forever! There was a constant spiritual manifestation of immortality in the physical Jesus!

The wonderful names of God were progressively revealed to Israel. The Old Testament names had meaning. The essence, or being of God, was revealed to them in names like Jahweh, Jeshua, Elohim, and Jehovah. There was God Almighty (the mighty one), El Shaddai (the breasted one or nourisher), Jehovah Rapha (our healer), Jehovah Jireh (our provider), Jehovah Nissi (our banner), etc. All these names told them aspects about God, yet they did not know God. The true revelation of God came in Christ. He knew that God was His life and that His relationship was with the Father. God had not given life to Him; GOD WAS HIS LIFE! He lived in God! This brought the Israelites face to face with the true expression of the Messiah. They thought they knew God but they were operating outside of God - they were operating in mortality. So they crucified their Messiah! Today, this is happening in the hearts of religious people.

We'll now turn our attention to another scripture, Matthew 16:13-28. It's rather interesting to note that Jesus asked the question, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They came up with many different ideas of Christ. Then Peter, inspired by God, said, "You are the Son of the living God." Jesus informed Him that flesh and blood had not revealed that to him. However, Peter was unable to receive God's revelation, for he did not yet have the Holy Spirit abiding in him.

This revelation did not change him, for not long after this, when Jesus was taken into custody and Peter was warming himself by the fire, Peter was accused of knowing Jesus. At that time, Peter actually swore that he did not know Him! Why? Because the revelation that comes to the natural man doesn't really make a new creation of him - it does not create a new sense of being in him. If Peter had already received the Holy Spirit and had experienced the accompanying changes of Pentecost, he would have laid down his life for Christ. But none of the disciples had as yet experienced this. Revelation stirs people, but they need the Holy Spirit within them to hear what God is saying. When Christ is in us as our life, His word will be received as a creative message; it will create something new in our lives which will not go away.

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, `If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me'." (Matt. 16:24) The word DENY actually has the meaning of DISOWNING, because you can deny yourself sleep or food or nice things, but if you are going to deny YOURSELF, you are disowning your very ego, your sense of life, your sense of being. Then He said, "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it." This is what many translations say, but it should read, "For whoever wishes to save his SOUL shall lose it; but whoever loses his SOUL for My sake shall find it." Jesus is talking about the soul because that is all we have to deal with - it is our sense of being or our realization. We can't destroy life, because life is God. There is only one God and only one life - His life. "In Him we live and move and have our being!"

Paul was not ignorant of God and His life, but the people to whom he preached on Mars Hill, were. In the natural, we think our life is dependent upon our body, and so we try to save our natural sense of life. This causes us to be afraid that old age or death will take it away from us. We will do everything in our power to preserve our physical life. Since the soul is our sense of being, we don't want to lose it. We want God to take it to heaven or to make it well; to make all things well so we can retain our own sense of ego (self) and identity. Jesus knew this was wrong thinking. Therefore He said that if you do not deny yourself and reject what you think you are, and what you think life is, you cannot keep it! All will be swallowed up by death.

On the other hand, if we are willing to start as a child in the new kingdom, as a new creation, and let these new creation thoughts form a new image of God and of self, we'll save it! Jesus Christ did not come to save our physical life; He came to give us spiritual life! He came to give a new sense of being to our soul - His sense of being.

Many people encourage others to give their life to God. So they pray and say, "I want to give my life to You." I suppose God would say, "I don't need it; I have my own. I'll tell you what, I'll give you mine." We ought to think about these things because we have been in ignorance and darkness, living in the carnal mind. If we want to retain our own sense of being (realization of self), we will lose it anyway. It will be taken away from us, for it did not come from God - it came from another source! That is very obvious when we look at Genesis. The death in Adam is an ignorance of God.

We have been put into Jesus Christ who never left Paradise - He never left His relationship with God. He demonstrated that life is stronger than death. Men thought they could take His life away but they were mistaken. Christ never died. Jesus identified with man's delusion and the death that existed in his mortal thinking and physical body, but hell and death could not hold Him! He was in resurrection even before He was crucified and raised from among the dead.

People are always resisting God in their lives and in their thinking. This was proven when Christ came. And people still resist Him because they want God on their terms. They want Him to bless them in a physical and financially abundant way. Those are the things they would count as blessings. To be blessed with repentance and spiritual understanding is beyond their perception. Spiritual realities are too mystical for them for they don't understand God. They cannot conceive of a God who loves them, and they cannot stop God from loving them - and neither can you nor I. This is somewhat like true mother love - no matter how bad that kid is, it can't extinguish that love!

Christ came to do the will of God. It was God's will that Jesus Christ should identify with our humanity, with man's idea of his own will. Man thinks he can perform his own will, but he can't, so he is operating in a delusion. He might as well give it up, for eventually it will come to naught. His will to acquire possessions, achieve great things, and to live and exist beyond the grave will not materialize.

At the grave site of Lazarus, Jesus wept because of the ignorance in man. In His identification with humanity, He wept, because its identity was so far removed from God. The people did not know about God's ability to save and that Jesus was the resurrection. This ignorance in humanity caused Him to weep. Ignorance also caused all those people at the pool of Bethesda to look to the moving of the waters instead of to Christ.

We have been majoring in minors - we have always been resisting things other than the basic problem; we've been unsuccessfully resisting disease and evil because the actual problem is ignorance. It allows disease and evil to come into our belief system. Christ came to redeem us from our ignorance. He knew that the sick man's basic problem lay beyond the surface; this also applies to all the people who oppose Him!

On the cross Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." The people did not know they were resisting God and obeying the devil. They resisted Christ because they were in deception; deception had become their truth, but they did not know that. They thought their idea of truth was reality because the adversary had instilled that thought in them. Satan causes people to think they are acting in truth when they resist Christ. Those who put Jesus on the cross thought they were pleasing God, but actually they were resisting Him.

Hearing the voice of God in the spirit begins a creative process within us. We are being created a new man or a new image of God, not in the physical realm, but in a new realization, thus bringing a new harmony and oneness with God who is life and spirit. This new man is not one which has been received and formulated by the natural mind, nor is he produced by the things we do; neither is he our hope for the future. If we still cling to our own idea of God and build on what He is going to do for us, we have not yet bridged the gap nor crossed the gulf; we haven't denied ourselves. Even a true concept, like God is love, can be formulated in the human mind. When this happens, people have to keep reassuring themselves of it, even though they have received this statement of truth. However it is not truth itself because it was processed by the carnal mind. Truth received in our spirit is creative; it creates love, righteousness and a new sense of being in us.

As I have mentioned, I don't believe Adam will ever go back into that garden, because he is only a type or figure, and types are not the reality. We can do away with the thought that the old Adam can be salvaged, and begin to build on truth. The truth of the gospel is the fact that we are in Christ. Christ never was a sinner; He never left the garden; He never was a type; He never was divided into man and woman; He never was estranged from God. He is always the same, yesterday, today and forever!

To bring this into a better perspective, we notice that the Bible only mentions two minds, not a multiple of minds. It speaks of the carnal mind (the mind of the flesh) and the mind of Christ. The mind of the flesh is basically a mind that is not of God - it is not Christ's mind. Neither do I think that it refers to our physical brain. I think it is the mind that has been fathered by satan; this is what is called the carnal mind; it is the one that is contrary to Christ! That is why satan is called the adversary and the antichrist. There is one mind of flesh and death, and one mind of spirit and life.

Receiving revelation and understanding of the scriptures in the carnal mind, does not bring about an inward change. Flesh and blood does not bring revelation. This is illustrated in Matt. 16 where Jesus tells Peter that the revelation that Christ is the Son of the living God, did not come from flesh and blood (his carnal mind). He had received this spiritual word from "My Father which is in heaven". However, it was not long before Peter swore and said, "I never knew the man." John the Baptist had the same problem. He was told by the Spirit, "He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit." This was the One he was testifying to. Yet later, after he was put in jail, he sent some men over to Jesus and asked Him, "Are You the One or not?" The revelation from God that comes to the natural mind cannot be retained by it, for the flesh is against the Spirit.

Peter had an unusual experience when he saw a sheet filled with unclean animals, crawling creatures and birds, let down from heaven. Then hearing God tell him to kill and eat went beyond his comprehension. Later on he said to Cornelius, "God showed me that I should never call any man common or unclean." However when he was with Paul in Galatia and under pressure from Jersualem, he ceased to live according the revelation he had received. The men from James preached that circumcision was necessary to fulfill the law, so Peter withdrew from the Gentile Christians. That is why Paul called Peter a hypocrite.

Having the mind of Christ does not mean a new dimension of understanding in the old man. Peter and John the Baptist had not received the Holy Spirit when God gave them revelation knowledge, so they could not receive it spiritually. When Peter withdrew from the Gentile Christians, he had heard spiritually, but he desired honor from James. He acted against better knowledge; that is why he was a hypocrite. It is easy to fall into this other type of thinking.

As Paul was travelling to Damascus, he was surrounded by a bright light, and he heard Jesus speaking to him in a way that he could understand. Those who were traveling with him saw the light and heard the voice, but did not understand what was being said. Only Paul understood! This shows that God has to be heard individually. In the natural, when a message is given in a language common to all, all can hear, but not all can understand. The voice of God comes to the individual. It was that way when Jesus walked in Galilee; He heard when nobody else heard.

The initial message Paul received from Jesus, did not produce a sufficient union with Christ to bring about Paul's ministry. He had to go to Ananias to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and be baptized; this produced a new understanding in his consciousness and brought him into a union with what Christ had said to him. Jesus did not try to differentiate between good and evil and then choose the good. He listened to the Father and obeyed Him; He let God be His consciousness! This difference may not be visible to us at first, but as we grow it will become plain.

Christ is more than knowledge; He is life! His knowledge gave testimony to someone greater. He said, "If you hear the voice of the Son of God, you will live." If we hear God Himself speaking through the spiritual Christ, the Son of God, we will live. This is life; it is not merely knowledge! God's Word is creative and it produces life in us. It creates life - not only a knowledge of life or about life. Those who are following the Lord in regeneration are going to be generated into life. He brings us into a conscious knowing that we are hearing a creative word; we become a new creation and receive a new sense of being.

We have already established that Adam is a type, so we know Eve must also be a type. That which happened in the garden must be symbolic as wll. The real thing we need to understand is what was going on spiritually, and what was not going on spiritually in man.

Since the Bible speaks of only two corporate men, man's sense of being is formed either in the consciousness of Adam or of Christ. Adam and Eve believed satan, ate of the fruit, and thus the consciousness of satan became their consciousness. Man and woman were guilty of unbelief and disobedience, and a separation from God occurred in their thinking. They hid, covered themselves with leaves, and must have thought that God did not love them, for they were trying to keep out of God's sight. This consciousness, born of satan and now in Adam, was cast out of the garden.

Christ never sinned and never felt guilty. He is not estranged from God, nor is He hiding from God. The mind of Christ within us restores our sense of being and our relationship with God. This ushers out the mind that was in Adam. So when we think of Jesus we see Him as the Christ, the Son of God; we have the manifestation of His life in the earth. We see what God was doing in Him and how the fulness of God was in Him bodily. God sent His Son into the world; He took on flesh and was anointed the Christ. So we have the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit who is the anointing.

Our old man was crucified with Christ! We were crucified together with Him, buried with Him, raised with Him, and we are coming with Him. What do we understand by the old man being crucified with Christ? Is it the human form that comes to our limited bodily senses? When we talk about the Adamic consciousness in the natural man, we are not referring to the physical body. We know that when we were crucified together with Christ, it wasn't our FLESH that died; no fleshly body was buried with Him; no fleshly body was raised again, and no fleshly body is coming back. So we know that something else must have been put to death or crucified. The old man must pertain to the Adamic consciousness; this was put out of the garden and could not return, for it did not belong there. It had to be put to death!

The deception that is in our fleshly sense of being, dies in Christ. The deceptions we entertained and thought were truth, were not reality because reality remains. The reality of God, life, and self is received in our consciousness of being. The natural man's consciousness is produced by the senses of the physical body in its union with creation. If that consciousness is taken away, nothing produced by the body is left - for basically, that is all the natural man has.

Our new consciousness in Christ is not drawn from the flesh; it is not one of death and mortality. It is simply a new realm of understanding that originates in the nature of God - in Him who is eternal, immortal and unseen! It is a new creative sense of being. Right now we are operating in both senses of consciousness. Obviously, as long as we are in this physical body, the sense of being that comes from it does not go away; it is not annihilated. But it is overcome by faith, because the creative word Christ speaks to us creates a new consciousness or a new sense of being in us. It becomes our dwelling place, our tabernacle! This is where we live and where we will continue to live! It is ours and it has to remain with us. As we are regenerated in this, it totally overcomes the old. This is what we are testifying to.

In summarizing this, we see that the work Jesus Christ did on the cross was to restore to us a sense of the new man who is a true image of God. This man is not limited to the physical body or the fleshly mind. He is an image of God, recreated or made new in a spiritual sense. This new sense of being is the Christ. I don't think any man has ever seen Him and I don't think any man ever will. Christ is expressed and manifested in the believer's change of lifestyle, belief and works. This change is the testimony and evidence that makes us mediators between the consciousness we have in Christ and the consciousness that has been in man. We are involved in the battle between these two consciousnesses; this is the battle of Armageddon. By the grace of God we are going to walk in victory! So consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding. Amen.

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