Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

83 Clarence Street, Ballymena BT43 5DR
Rev. Angus Stewart
Lord’s Day, 29 April, 2012

"Those that be planted in the house of the Lord
shall flourish in the courts of our God" (Ps. 92:13)


Morning Service - 11:00 AM

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil   [download]  [youtube]
Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:8-17; 3:1-24
Text: Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 34
I. Experiencing Good and Evil
II. Determining Good and Evil
Psalms: 11:1-7; 133:1-3; 12:1-8; 119:1-8

Evening Service - 6:00 PM

The Tree of Life      [download]  [youtube]
Scripture Reading: Revelation 22
Text: Genesis 2:9

I. In Eden
II. Now
III. In the World to Come
Psalms: 23:1-6; 134:1-3; 36:5-11; 63:1-8

For CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services, contact Stephen Murray
If you desire a pastoral visit, please contact Rev. Stewart

CPRC website:
CPRC YouTube:
CPRC Facebook:

Quote to Consider:

Homer C. Hoeksema: "This is precisely what man had done: while it is God’s prerogative alone to determine for the creature what is good and what is evil, man had presumed, in defiance of God, to determine this for himself. While God had said that it was sin to eat of the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve decided for themselves that it was good and desirable to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is exactly the pride and the arrogance of sin. Man exalts himself to be God ... I would add, however, not only is there an act of judgment in man’s expulsion from paradise. But in the light of the promise, we must view this as an act of salvation. Eating of the tree would have resulted in a perpetuation of the state of death. Hence, God expels Adam and Eve from the garden and from access to the tree of life. In Christ, however, Who is the resurrection and the life, temporal death is become the servant of the elect, to open for them a passage into eternal life and glory, and to the heavenly tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God" (Standard Bearer, vol. 48, issue 13).

George M. Ophoff: "Now the garden of Eden, and in particular the trees of life, constituted the sanctuary of Paradise. There God dwelt. Hence, if man would live, he must abide in the garden. He must dwell in the presence of God, for to live apart from God is death. Man must eat of the fruit of the garden, and in particular of the fruit of the trees of life. Eating of these trees was at once an act of faith. The act indicated that man recognized and desired God as the true bread of life. As often as man entered the garden, so often did he enter the sanctuary of the Lord God, where the beauties of the Lord were exhibited to him. And, pressing on to the center of the garden, he stood in the presence of his God. As often as he ate of the fruit of its trees he said, ‘Thou art my God’" (Standard Bearer, vol. 81, issue 9).

Announcements (subject to God’s will)

Standard Bearers, the CR News, a PRTJ and devotional reading for May are all on the back table today.

Our Tuesday morning Bible study meets at 11 AM on "Eschatology and Time." We will discuss more NT texts on sin in the last days.

Belgic Confession Class meets Wednesday at 7:45 PM to study Article 15 on original sin.

The Reformed Witness Hour broadcast next Lord’s Day (Gospel 846MW at 8:30 AM) will be "When I Heard, I Wept and Prayed" (Neh. 1) by Rev. Haak.

Plan to stay for tea after the evening service next Lord’s Day.

Offerings: General Fund: £454.62. Donations: £150 (CR News), £10 (books).

PRC News: Rev. Eriks declined Hope PRC. Rev. Koole is currently in Singapore to provide pulpit supply for three Sundays for the vacant CERC. Second-year Seminarian Joshua Engelsma has been licensed to speak a word of edification.

The Tree of Life

Prof. H. C. Hoeksema (Standard Bearer, vol. 72, issue 8)

Paradise the First was the earthly tabernacle of God with man. It was a real garden, the particular dwelling place of man, God’s covenant friend, in the state of righteousness. In the midst of the garden God dwelt with man. Moreover, man was at home in the garden. Twice we read that God "put" man in Paradise (Gen. 2:8, 15). This refers to an act of God whereby He so established Adam in the garden that he understood his position and calling and was able to perform it. He was not a stranger in his environment, but the proper relation was established between him and his surroundings.

In the midst of the garden was the tree of life. Thus we are informed very briefly in Genesis 2:9: "And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." Of this tree of life man might freely eat. For the Lord God commanded him, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat." The only exception to this was the other special tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of which man was specifically forbidden to eat (Gen. 2:16-17). This is also plain from the fact that after man’s fall into sin he was barred from the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24).

The question is: What was the significance of this special tree, the tree of life? ...

We would explain the significance of the tree of life as follows:

1. That tree and its fruit had the power of giving perpetual, earthly life to man in as far as he had been taken from the ground. This is very plain from Genesis 3:22-24, the passage already quoted above. That tree had this power to supply man with perpetual, earthly life even after he had sinned, so that it was necessary to bar the way to the tree of life. In this connection, it seems evident also that this eating of the tree of life was not simply a once-for-all matter, but that it would be necessary to eat of this tree continually and repeatedly. You must remember that man had not been created so that he could not die and return to the dust. To be sure, there was no death in the state of rectitude. Death is not a natural process, but it is the visitation of the wrath and curse of God. But this does not mean that the first man, Adam, was immortal. Man was created fallible and mortal. He was taken from the dust of the ground, and as such he was mortal. It was possible for him to become subject to death. He was, indeed, not subject to death; but he was, so to speak, "die-able." For that mortal man, it was his connection with the tree which, in the positive sense of the word, invigorated his earthly life with that strength which made him victorious over all possibility of decay and death. Such was the significance, first of all, of the tree of life.

2. As such, the tree of life was a symbol to Adam of the gift of life: perpetual, earthly life. We must remember the nature of the tree in general. The tree transforms the earth into living and life-yielding fruit for the living soul. Man is of the earth, earthy. As such, he is dependent upon the ground from whence he was taken for his life. But he cannot live directly from that ground. The tree forms the connection between man and the ground, transforming, as it does, the substance of the ground into food for man. In the fruit trees, therefore, God opened His hand to give life to man and beast. Among all those trees there was one tree that was set aside: it was the tree of life, which was distinct in this, that he who ate of it would never lose his earthly life. That tree of life, therefore, was the symbolic representation of God opening His hand to give life unending, that is, perpetual earthy life, to Adam.

3. It is in this connection that we may discern something of a sacramental character in the tree of life, even though it cannot be called a sacrament in the full sense. It was an emblem, a sign, of God’s covenant. It was a kind of visible and tangible sign of God’s favour and of that higher aspect of Adam’s life which consisted in the knowledge of and fellowship of God. This is suggested by several scriptural facts. In the first place, it is suggested by the very name "tree of life." In the second place, it is suggested by the antithesis of the tree of life in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which also had special significance, as we shall see. In the third place, it is suggested by the fact that Adam might eat of this tree only in the way of obedience, so that when he sinned, the way to the tree of life was closed. Finally, it is suggested by the fact that Scripture speaks in connection with the heavenly tree of life of "the right to eat of the tree of life" (Rev. 22:14).We must remember that the tree of life was more than a mere physical means for the extension of man’s physical existence. It was the tree of life. Even though Adam’s life was earthy, nevertheless life also for Adam implied the favour and fellowship of God, his Creator-Lord. Now, if in this connection we remember that the tree of life was in the midst of the garden, in the very heart of Paradise, we might say that according to the analogy of the temple, the tree of life was in the holy of holies. There, in the midst of the garden, where the tree of life was, dwelt God. There He met man in the wind of the day. To approach the tree of life, therefore, before the Fall was to approach God. As long as Adam could draw near to God, in order to enjoy His fellowship and communion, he could have life. That tree preached this to Adam: "To live apart from God is death; ‘tis good His face to seek."

Such, briefly, was the significance of the tree of life in Paradise the First.

But that tree of life is no more. We must remember that it never was destined to remain, but only to serve for a moment at the dawn of history, and that, too, in connection with the whole of God’s purpose in Christ which was to be achieved through the course of history.

First Adam, and we all in him, became separated from that tree of life. Adam was sent forth from the garden, and cherubim were stationed at the east (the entrance) of the garden, and a flaming sword turning every way, so that the way to the tree of life was closed, barred, absolutely.

... For a time that first Paradise and its tree of life remained on the scene of history. But it remained only as a silent, yet highly vocal testimony. It remained as gospel-preaching. God did not remove it immediately. We must remember that at that early stage in history God’s people were without the full and clear light of the gospel. God spoke to His people in sundry ways. One of those ways was through Paradise and its tree of life, the way to which was closed. That tree of life preached: "You must die. And yet there is hope. For in connection with the promise, I, the earthly tree of life, to which you can never return and to which you must not desire to return, point forward to a better tree of life which is to come."

For we must not forget: God had better things in store for us. It was His purpose to unite all things in heaven and on earth in Christ, in the glorious and heavenly new creation. With a view to that purpose all things were adapted from the beginning with a view to the end. Thus the earthly creation is an image of the heavenly. In the things earthly are so many parables, so to speak, of heavenly things ...