Entry Level Theological Truth [25]


“…Lest you die.” Genesis 3:3

“There’s nothing certain except death and taxes” says the familiar adage, but why is that so? People of every race, nationality, socioeconomic and educational level die. One out of every one dies in our world today; these are easy statistics for the mathematically challenged (like this author.) How does one account for the ubiquity of death in our world? Genesis 3 gives the answer.


The First Funeral’s Roots


The unavoidable consequence of sin – which is disobedience to the Creator God – is death. The Scriptures affirm that “the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23), and “…sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15.) But, unlike what people often imagine, this extends beyond one’s mere physical decease. The Bible uses the term “death” in at least three ways: 1. Physical death (e.g. Genesis 5:5); 2. Spiritual death (e.g. Ephesians 2:1); 3. Eternal death (a.k.a. “the second death”; Revelation 20:14.) Each of these usages contains the root idea of separation.

Physical death separates the incorporeal part of humans – their soul and spirit – apart from the corporeal – their bodies. Spiritual death is the lot of all people outside of Christ, and describes the alienation that they experience from their Creator. We intuitively know that there is a God, but He seems distant from us; we have no relationship with Him in this state. As the Lord Jesus prescribed the solution: “You must be born again” (John 3:7.)


The Tragedy Of Perdition


Eternal death – or “the second death” as Revelation calls it – is the permanent confirmation of spiritual death; those who pass into eternity in the state of being dead in trespasses and sins are left in that state perpetually. They are separated from God forever, and so are in “outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12) – God who is light will not shine upon them. They suffer “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” (Matthew 8:12) because in their unregenerate and unreconstructed situation they lack the peace that the God of peace provides (Romans 5:1; Philippians 4:7, 9.)


A Pandemic Unlike Any Other


Romans 5:12 says “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Physical and spiritual death are realities in our world because of the first sin of our ancestors – one that we have re-committed over and over again. We inherit the scourge of indwelling sin from our first parents, but then show that we are no better than they, for we likewise sin countless times, each time declaring our independence of our Maker.

Of course, the Bible provides the antidote for this dreaded condition: salvation through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s holy Son. The Son of God died on the cross as a sacrifice for sin, so that the Almighty could judge sin fully and yet forgive and free sinners (Romans 3:21-26.)

Furthermore, having settled the sin question, Christ now gives the gift of eternal life which assures victory over physical, spiritual, and eternal death (1 Corinthians 15:50-58.) He has given the Holy Spirit to indwell believers; thereby giving them a resident helper and guide who empowers Christians to live differently and bring forth righteous fruit (Philippians 1:11; Galatians 5:16-26.) God’s program of salvation includes the transformation of our mortal bodies into glorified form for dwelling with the Lord in glory for all eternity (Romans 8:11; Philippians 3:20-21.)


Christ delivered us when bound


Christ delivered us when bound,
And, when wounded, healed our wound,
Sought us wandering, set us right,
Turned our darkness into light.

His is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above,
Deeper than the depths beneath,
Free and faithful, strong as death.

We shall see His glory soon,
When the work of grace is done,
Partners of His throne above;
Such to us His wondrous love!

-William Cowper1


1William Cowper, “Christ delivered us when bond,” found here: http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/49

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Photo credit: flickr/ariii


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