Mark Alan Williams
Eternity in a Nutshell is 3 Crops, 2 Crosses, and 1 Choice
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS | Direct Download A biblical summary of eternity is found in these 3: 3 Crops, 2 Crosses, and 1 Choice. People wonder what God is doing with our lives, with all the evil in the world, and how does He bring meaning to suffering. If you understand these 3, you will understand it all.
Here are the 3 crops, 2 crosses and 1 choice that determine our eternal destiny:
Crop #1 from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
The Bible says that when God created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, He placed
them in a paradise called the Garden of Eden. There was no sickness, no pain, no sorrow,
no death, no fighting, and no war. And there was perfect fellowship with God and each
other. God created the paradise that we long to live in.
Some wonder why God doesn’t give us heaven on earth, and the answer is that He did, it
was called the Garden of Eden.
But a problem arose. When God created Adam and Eve, He created them “in his own
image” (Genesis 1:27). What does that mean? Do human beings look like God? Are we
as smart, powerful, or wise as God? No, not at all. It means that like God, human beings
Intellect, far superior to any animal or other part of creation.
Emotions, far more complex than animals.
Will or volition, which is the ability to choose, to decide, to make moral judgments and to act on them.
Why did God create people in His image? One reason is that He wanted to have a
relationship with us—that enjoyed mutual love. He wanted us to choose to love Him and
be with Him (see Genesis 3:8). And in order for us to choose to love God, required that we have not only a free will, but a choice to make—an opportunity to choose Him or
To give a concrete opportunity for us to exercise our freedom of choice, God created a
tree called “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and said,
You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)
The crop from this tree was death.
To “die” in this verse does not mean physical death, but the death of a relationship. If
they rejected God’s leadership and love, their fellowship with God would be severed.
But that is exactly what they did, they disobeyed (sinned). The greatest tragedy is that sin
brought eternal “death”—that is separation from God. “For the wages of sin is death.”
This account is also quite sad because as a result of this first sin, evil also came into the
world and paradise was lost. When Adam and Eve removed themselves from God’s
fellowship in the Garden of Eden they entered into a world of sin and suffering. We often
call this tragedy “the fall.”
God placed an angel to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden so Adam and Eve could
not return and perhaps eat from the “tree of life” that was also there and then live forever
in their cursed state separated from God (see Genesis 3:23–24).
Since that time, all human beings have suffered the terrible effects of sin in a fallen
world. And lest we think that it is not our fault and thus not fair, let’s consider that every
human being since then has personally confirmed that we also sin and we are therefore
We take God’s name in vain
And so on
If we lived in the Garden, we too would have chosen to eat the forbidden fruit of that tree. We are all sinners. “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
The Bible reveals that our sins separate us from our holy God and prevent us from
entering the paradise of heaven one day. Heaven is a perfect place and there must be
nothing impure in it. A little sin can be compared to a little AIDS virus. Would you
willingly receive a blood transfusion with just a little AIDS virus in it? Of course not, because any AIDS virus is enough to kill. Likewise, just a little sin would kill the perfection of heaven.
“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5b ESV)
Here is a summary of the story of this first tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and
Evil and the crop that comes from it:
God created a heaven on earth
God created human beings with the ability to decide
Human beings chose and keep choosing to sin
We therefore live in a fallen, sinful, painful and evil world
Sin separates us from God for eternity
God was and still is deeply saddened when all people, just like Adam and Eve, disobey, sin and reject Him.
Yahweh [the Lord God] saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Yahweh was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart. (Genesis 6:5-6 ESV)
Heartsick at sin and the resulting suffering, what could God do? He could certainly
forgive; however, His justice demanded a payment for wrongdoing. Someone had to pay
the price for sin. Thankfully God could also provide the payment for all sin. This fact is
well illustrated by the following historical account.
Fiorello LaGuardia was Mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945, during the Great
Depression. As mayor, he would sometimes preside in court as judge pro tem (temporary
judge). Once, while he was presiding, a beggar was taken to court because he had stolen a
loaf of bread to feed himself.
Mayor LaGuardia, as an honest and fair judge, looked at the evidence and was compelled
to pronounce the man “guilty as charged.” He also was obligated to assess a penalty for
the destitute man’s guilt. LaGuardia fined him $50, a sum the beggar clearly did not
But then the Mayor did something wonderful. He stepped down from the bench, took off
his judicial robes and paid the fine from his own resources. Why would LaGuardia do
such a thing? Because as a just and honest judge, he had to find the man guilty. But as a
caring mayor, he was willing to pay the price for the destitute beggar who could not pay
the penalty on his own.
Likewise, Almighty God is the just Judge of the universe. He must pronounce every
human being guilty of their wrongdoings. But as a loving heavenly Father, He is also
willing to pay the price of our judgment through God the Son, Jesus Christ, who died for
our sins on the Tree of Calvary.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13 WEB)
What is this Tree of Calvary? It is the tree described in the above verse; the cross on
which God the Son (Jesus Christ) died for our sins—the cross on Mount Calvary, in the
Historically, Jews would hang condemned criminals on trees to shame them. The Romans
however hung the condemned naked on crosses by the busiest roads for public
humiliation. The cross was called a “tree” because it was the Roman equivalent of the
Jewish curse of being hung on a tree (see Deuteronomy 21:23).
As sinners, we are not only deserving of the penalty of death, we are also deserving
of shame for our sins. But when Jesus (God the Son) died on the cross, he bore both. He
The judicial payment for our sins
The personal shame of our sins.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV)
The crop from the Tree of Calvary is salvation from our sins!
God the Son (Jesus Christ) provided a solution for sin, suffering and death by dying on
the cross and rising to life again. He is eager to save those who will receive Him as
Savior from sins and the Lord of their lives.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. (1 Peter 3:18 ESV)
Each person must personally choose to receive this gift of forgiveness and salvation.
Would you like to receive this ultimate spiritual healing right now? If so, here is a prayer
you can pray to express your desire to receive God’s gift of salvation: “Thank you God that you are a loving God who provided the answer to the
suffering we brought into the world through sin. Thank you, Jesus, for dying on
the cross for my sins and rising from death to conquer sin and death. Come into
my life and save me. Help me to live for you and know that I am yours. Thank
you that heaven will be my eternal home. In Jesus name I pray, amen.”
Here is a summary of the story of the second tree, the Tree of Calvary:
God is saddened by sin, evil, pain and suffering
God’s justice demanded a payment for our wrongdoings
God’s love provided the payment: God the Son, Jesus Christ
This solution is available to all who by faith receive it
This third tree is found in Revelation 22 which describes the New Jerusalem, or heaven. Jesus says:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. (Revelation 22:13-14 ESV)
“Those who wash their robes” are people who have trusted in Jesus for their salvation
and have become clean from their sins that separated them from God. If anyone has done
so, this passage says they have access to the “Tree of Life.”
What is the Tree of Life? You might remember that in the Garden of Eden (God’s
original creation) there were two special trees:
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
The Tree of Life
“The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil.” (Genesis 2:9b ESV)
Adam and Eve could eat from the “Tree of Life” as long as they remained sinless, but
once they sinned, they lost access to it (see Genesis 3:22-23). The Tree of Life
symbolizes eternal life. It has been “transplanted” into the heavenly city:
Between the street of the city and the river there was a tree of life visible from both sides. It produced 12 kinds of fruit. Each month had its own fruit. The leaves of the tree will heal the nations. (Revelation 22:2 GW)
Note two things the tree produces:
It produces 12 kinds of fruit, one kind for each month. This year-round, unending fruit symbolizes eternal life.
This verse also says, “the leaves of the tree will heal the nations.”
This symbolizes healing of all kinds. In the heavenly paradise, there will be no more
diseases, natural disasters, human cruelty, etc. Paradise will be restored! The Bible
describes heaven this way:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:4-5 NIV)
Thanks to the second tree (the Tree of Calvary), in heaven we will have a restored
paradise like what existed before the fall!
The crop of this third tree is eternal life!
Thinking about heaven often brings a question: Since heaven is so great, what is God
waiting for—why not bring heaven to us right now? Why does God seem to be so slow to
eliminate suffering and bring paradise again?
2 Peter 3:9 answers this question:
The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost. (CEV)
So why is God waiting to end suffering and bring back paradise? Because He is waiting
for YOU if you have not yet received salvation!
This brings us to the second summary of eternity and the story of the Bible, which we see
in the account of 2 Crosses.
Usually we think only of the cross of Christ, however, let’s remember that there were 3
crosses on Calvary. The other two represent two responses to Jesus. Luke 23 describes
the scene in this way:
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Wow, the thieves on these 2 crosses represent two very different responses to Jesus.
Cross #1 Represents Rejecting Jesus
This thief was unrepentant and unbelieving. He “railed” against Jesus or literally, “blasphemed” Jesus. Other versions say that he
All he wanted was a “free pass” or a “get out of jail free card.” He demanded it
immediately! But he didn’t want any part of Jesus Himself.
Many people fall into this category, whether they verbalize their rejection or not. Even if
they simply ignore Jesus, they are rejecting Him.
“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” (Matthew 12:30 NLT)
Cross #2 Represents Receiving Jesus
The other thief “rebuked” the insulting thief. “Do you not fear God?” he asked. He was
repentant, freely confessing his sin and saying, “We are receiving the due reward for our
He was respectful of the Savior saying, “this man has done nothing wrong.” Indeed,
Jesus was the sinless God-man.
He asked for salvation and he received it. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will
be with me in paradise.”
No sweeter words have ever been uttered.
Making this personal, which thief do you choose to be like? Will you reject His sacrifice
for your sins on Calvary? Or will you receive His gift of eternal life.
To reject Him is to choose an eternity separated from God and the suffering that goes with that choice.
To receive Him is to be with Him in paradise from the time you pass from this world and through all eternity.
God wants you to know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13 says “I write these things
to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have
Titus 3:4-5 says, “But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved
us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed
away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” (NLT)
Eternal life is not predicated on our “righteous” deeds. We cannot be good enough. We
must have Jesus wash away our sins and give us a “new birth.”
To learn how to do that, please click HERE.
To help you in this new life in Christ, we have created a series of lessons called
“Discipleship Journeys with Jesus.” Please use these free lessons to discover the joys of
your new life. They are available online without cost at djjministry.org.
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Additional resources about related subjects on this site:
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Podcast: Is it okay to be angry with God?
Podcast: How should I pray when suffering?
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