The Triune God as Our Portion, Enjoyment, and Experience, Life-Study of Jude, Message Five, pp. 35-38
There are only two sources in this universe—God and Satan. After God created man, He placed him in front of two trees signifying these two sources. God is signified by the tree of life, and Satan is signified by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God is the source of life. If we contact Him, we contact life. Satan is the source of death. If we contact him, we contact death. Therefore, God clearly told Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for the result of eating that tree is death. God's intention was that man would contact Him in order to receive life. If we contact the tree of knowledge instead of the tree of life, we shall contact death. God's intention is that man would contact Him to receive life. But in the fall Adam turned to Satan, the other source.
Satan is not honest or straightforward. Rather, Satan wears a cloak and pretends to be something he is not. For example, when he first appeared to Adam, he appeared in the form of a serpent. Satan lurks behind the knowledge of good and evil. The result of the knowledge of either good or evil is death.
Today unbelievers and many times believers as well are under death because they daily contact the good aspect of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In religion, people are taught to know what is good and what is evil, and to do good and stay away from evil. This kind of teaching is common among Christians today. However, this teaching is natural and religious, and according to our fallen nature.
In the Bible we have two sources, two lines, and two results. First we have the tree of life, the line of life, and the New Jerusalem. The tree of life will be found in the New Jerusalem. Without the tree of life, the New Jerusalem would not have any enjoyment. The unique enjoyment in the New Jerusalem will be the tree of life.
Then in the Bible we have the second source and the second line: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the line of death. The result of this source and line is the lake of fire.
We need to have our eyes opened to see the tree of life in the Bible. Many Christians read the Bible, but they cannot see the tree of life. Because this is mysterious, unless our eyes are opened we shall not be able to see it.
The crucial point in what we have been saying concerning the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is that the structure of the Christian life as revealed in chapter one of 1 Peter is very different from our natural concept, which is according to the knowledge of good and evil. I am very happy to see that, according to 1 Peter 1, the basic structure of this Epistle, and of the entire Christian life, is the Triune God.
THE ENJOYMENT AND INCREASE OF ETERNAL LIFE
In verses 20 and 21 Jude says, "But you, beloved, building up yourselves in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." In these verses we have the Triune God for our experience with a view to eternal life. First, Jude charges us to pray in the Holy Spirit. Then he tells us to keep ourselves in the love of God as we await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is "unto eternal life," that is, unto the enjoyment and increase of eternal life.
When I was young, I could not understand what Jude meant by the words "unto eternal life." Someone might say that this means to go to heaven and enjoy everlasting blessing. However, this interpretation does not satisfy us. Apparently these words indicate that we do not yet have eternal life, that eternal life is something that we shall have in the future. But this is not the meaning. John 3:16 tells us that whoever believes in the Son of God has eternal life. When we believe in Christ, we receive eternal life. Since we already have eternal life, what does it mean to say that we are awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life? Yes, we already have eternal life within us, but we may not enjoy this life very much. Some Christians enjoy eternal life hardly at all. They do not even know that it is possible to have the enjoyment of eternal life. Furthermore, we may not have the increase of eternal life. God has given us eternal life with the intention that we would enjoy this life and that it would increase within us forever. Therefore, the words "unto eternal life" mean unto the enjoyment and increase of eternal life now and in eternity.
THE TRIUNE, GOD AS OUR PORTION,
ENJOYMENT, AND EXPERIENCE
According to Jude 20 and 21, we need to pray in the Holy Spirit, keep ourselves in the love of God, and wait for the mercy of Jesus Christ so that we may have the enjoyment and increase of eternal life forever. This is a description of the experience of the Triune God.
Chapter one of 1 Peter and the Epistle of Jude both speak concerning the Triune God. Peter's word concerning the Triune God is profound, and Jude's word is somewhat simple. We may say that Jude gives a word to "elementary students," and Peter gives a word to "graduate students." However, many Christians are not even able to understand Jude's elementary word concerning the experience of the Triune God. We thank the Lord that He has enlightened us to see the meaning both of Peter's word in chapter one of his first Epistle and Jude's word toward the end of his Epistle. In both I Peter and Jude we see that the Triune God is to be our portion, enjoyment, and experience.