Entry Level Theological Truth [37]

“To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.’ Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it”: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.’” Genesis 3:16-19

Rose ThornsThe fall of mankind brought radical consequences to Adam, Eve, and all of their descendents – in essence, every human being who ever existed was affected by it. Some of the reminders of Adam and Eve’s sin targeted their unique roles: the former as the provider and the latter as the mother. Their marital relationship – once meant for companionship and cooperation – now would be subject to strife, as competing desires between the spouses led to friction (Genesis 3:16, the last clause in particular.) Of course, the worst consequence of all was eventual physical and immediate spiritual death, ushered into the world by Adam’s sin (Romams 5:12.)

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Entry Level Theological Truth [36]

“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heelConflict is endemic in this fallen world. Famous feuds permeate history: the Greeks against the Persians, the Romans against the Carthaginians, Spain/France/Germany (depending on the century) against England, even down to the family level of the Hatfields and the McCoys.

But no struggle is more severe, protracted, and momentous than the age-long battle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Happily, the outcome is not in doubt: the chief representative of the latter group has already triumphed by dying on the cross, rising again three days later, and ascending to heaven where He sits in the position of authority (Hebrews 8:1; 1 Peter 3:22.)

 


God Is For Us


 

God is not an indifferent observer to this war; rather, He is actively leading His side – represented here by “the seed of the woman” – to overcome the serpent’s forces. Bonar cogently explains the Almighty’s role thus:

…Satan’s ruin and the sinner’s deliverance are bound up together. It was to ‘destroy the works of the devil’ that the Son of God was to come; nay, it was ‘to destroy him that had the power of death, even the devil.’…God Himself undertakes man‘s cause.—‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.’ It is not, ‘there shall be enmity;’ but ‘I will put it.’ God Himself will now proceed to work for man. The serpent’s malice and success have but drawn forth the deeper love and more direct interposition in man’s behalf.1

One commentator puts in perspective the Creator’s promise of Genesis 3:15:

…He blesses before He curses; He points out, afar off, the remedy, before He brings upon His guilty creature all the evils to which his crime will give birth; He causes a feeble light to shine forth in a dark futurity, that man may direct towards it his uncertain footsteps, amid the deep obscurity which surrounds him. Let us, then, with profound reverence, approach the tribunal erected in Eden, and, in the sentence of condemnation, let us endeavour to discern words of mercy and grace.2

 


The First Gospel Prophecy


 

The most outstanding member of this band of believing loyalists is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is “the seed of the woman” par excellence. A teacher notes:

Is not the seed of the woman here individualised and matched in deadly conflict with the individual tempter? Does not this phraseology point to some pre-eminent descendant of the woman, who is, with the bruising of his lower nature in the encounter, to gain a signal and final victory over the adversary of man? There is some reason to believe from the expression, ‘I have gotten a man from the Lord’ (Gen. 4:1.), that Eve herself had caught a glimpse of this meaning, though she applied it to the wrong party.3

Biologically one normally thinks of the seed of the man; yet in this singular description there is a hint of the virgin birth of the Messiah. Only when the Word became flesh would Genesis 3:15 become fully understood. As Kidner writes concerning the “seed of the woman” prophecy: “There is good New Testament authority for seeing here the protevangelium, the first glimmer of the gospel. Remarkably, it makes its début as a sentence passed on the enemy (cf. Colossians 2:15), not a direct promise to man, for redemption is about God’s rule as much as about man’s need…”4

 


The Union Of The Snake


 

The serpent’s seed (“offspring” ESV) are those who reject God’s authority in favor of the rebellious pathway of Satan and the fallen angels. Sailhamer elaborates:

As representatives, the snake and the woman embody the fate of their seed, and that fate is their fate as well. The author has brought about this ‘headship’ of the snake and the woman by means of a careful but consistent identification of the snake and his ‘seed.’ At first in v. 15 the ‘enmity’ is said to have been put between the snake and the woman and between the ‘seed’ of the snake and the ‘seed’ of the woman. The second half of v. 15, however, says that the ‘seed’ of the woman (‘he’) will crush the head of the snake (‘your head’). The woman’s ‘seed’ is certainly intended to be understood as a group (or individual) that lies the same temporal distance from the woman as the ‘seed’ of the snake does from the snake itself. Yet in this verse it is the ‘seed’ of the woman who crushes the head of the snake. Though the ‘enmity’ may lie between the two ‘seeds,’ the goal of the final crushing blow is not the ‘seed’ of the snake but rather the snake itself; his head will be crushed. In other words, it appears that the author seems intent on treating the snake and his ‘seed’ together, as one.5

 


Eternal Scars, Eternal Victory


 

The Lord Jesus came to earth to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8.) In order to accomplish this He must feel the serpent’s tormenting bite. As Hebrews 2:14 puts it: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”

Briscoe’s comments on the metaphorical language of Genesis 3:15 bear repeating: “The all too common experience of serpents biting men on the heel before being crushed underfoot takes on striking significance when applied to the wounding of Christ through Satan’s hostility and the crushing of Satan through Christ’s humility.”6 Christ crushed the serpent’s head: this is a mortal blow that also invalidates that lying murderer’s cleverness, annuls his authority, and devastates his arrogant pretensions.

Although the roots of the devil’s defeat were accomplished through the Lord’s death and resurrection, his final crushing will take place after Christ’s Millennial reign (Revelation 20:10.) Thankfully, the saints will share in this victory as Romans 16:20 asserts: “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” Everlasting peace can only flow from total triumph over the Evil One and every form of wickedness that he encourages.

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Image accessed here: http://aardvarkalley.blogspot.com/2011/12/adam-and-eve-our-first-parents.html on 8/9/12.

1 Horatius Bonar, Earth’s Morning: Or, Thoughts on Genesis, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1875), pp. 165f. Italics original.

2 L. Bonnet, The Exile from Eden; Meditations on the Third Chapter of Genesis, With Exegetical Developments, trans. W. Hare, (London: James Nisbet and Co., 1839), pp. 130-31.

3 James G. Murphy, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Genesis, (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1863), p. 138.

4 Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries,Vol. 1. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 75.

5 John Sailhamer, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis. electronic ed. (Zondervan.)

6 D. Stuart Briscoe, Genesis, The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 1. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1987), p. 55.

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10 Reasons Why I believe Jesus Christ is God

“The very abundance and persuasiveness of the evidence of the deity of Christ greatly increases the difficulty of adequately stating it”1

 

3D 10Benjamin Warfield was right… the sheer volume of evidence that Jesus Christ is God makes it quite difficult to adequately state it. It can not be understated, nor could it be more clear: the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God.

Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence there are many who would deny this fact. In studying this topic I have compiled a list of 10 Biblical proofs as to why I believe that He is in fact God.

Disclaimer: this listing of 10 reasons is not exhaustive. Additional reasons could be added to the list, and additional scripture references could be added to many of the 10 reasons.

10 reasons why Jesus Christ is God:

 


1. The prophet Isaiah stated that the coming Messiah would be God


  • Isaiah 7:14          “…shall call His name Immanuel”
  • Matthew 1:23     tells us the name Immanuel means “God with us”
  • Isaiah 9:6-7        “His name will be called … Mighty God”
  • Isaiah 40:3 JND “Prepare ye the way of Jehovah”
  • Isaiah 40:3 JND “make straight in the desert a highway for our God”
  • Matthew 3:1-3    tells us Isaiah 40:3 is referring to the ministry of John the Baptist

 


2. The Lord Jesus Christ said that He is God


  • John 5:17 -18     His Jewish audience clearly understood His claim… in the following
    verses He explains, but never retracts His statement.
  • John 10:30-33   Again, His Jewish audience clearly understood His claim to be God
  • Revelation 1:8   He refers to Himself as “the Almighty.” This is the first of nine uses of this word in Revelation and is clearly a reference to deity.

 


3. God the Father proclaimed The Lord Jesus Christ to be God


  • Hebrews 1:6       The Father commands the angles to worship Him
  • Hebrews 1:8       The Father calls the Son God

 


4. His deity was and is attested to by the Angles


  • Hebrews 1:6       Angles commanded to worship Him
  • Revelation 5:11ff           Angles worship Him around the throne
  • Matthew 13:41   The angles obey Him and are called “His” (also see 16:27 & 24:31)

 


5. Demons worshipped and feared The Lord Jesus Christ


  • Mark 5:6             He was worshiped by demons
  • Mark 5:7             He was feared by demons

 


6. The saints confessed the deity of Jesus Christ


  • John 20:26-29   attested to by Thomas.
  • Romans 9:5       attested to by Paul.

 


7. His deity can be seen in His earthly miracles


  • Luke 1:22-23       His testimony to John the Baptist
  • John 5:36           His works bear a clear testimony of Him

 


8. The New Testament declares that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things


  • John 1:3             This fact is stated from the positive and negative point of view
  • John 1:10            The world was created by Him
  • Colossians 1:16  He is the creator and the object of His creation
  • Hebrews 1:10    Again, He is the creator

 


9. The Bible declares that the Lord Jesus Christ is the sustainer of all things


  • Hebrews 1:3       “upholding all things” He is the sustainer of His creation
  • Colossians 1:17     “…in Him all things consist” he is the basis of all things

 


10. Jesus has the authority to forgive sin


  • Acts 5:31             He can give “repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
  • Mark 2:1-12       His Jewish audience clearly understood that only God can forgive sin

 

As mentioned there are many more scriptures and reasons to believe in the deity of Christ. Feel free to list additional reasons in the comments.

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1 B B Warfield, (Reprint 1993) The Fundamentals, Vol. II – The Deity of Christ Grand Rapids: Baker Books, p. 241.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [35]

“The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.’” Genesis 3:14

gavelEvil appears to prevail in the modern world. Murders, immorality, cruelty, and greed fill the headlines so frequently that wickedness fails to astonish contemporary people anymore. Since the day sin entered the world through man’s disobedience, it has established a foothold in every corner of the globe. In spite of the apparent hegemony of the current, malevolent “ruler of this world” – as the Lord Jesus dubbed Satan (John 14:30) – evil and the evil one will be banished from the world in a coming day. The scene of the first judgment against human sin is a preview of the more extensive judgment to come against everything ungodly and evil.

 


Condemning Evil At Its Source



 

There is no need for the serpent to have his day in court to present an excuse or a defence: he was patently guilty. In a sweeping judgment that includes the animal agent and the insidious devil working through him, the Lord condemns both Satan and his tool at one stroke. In order for salvation to extend to mankind, evil must be dealt with at its source. As Bonar says: “Grace cannot come forth to the sinner, save in connection with the utter condemnation of the sin. There can be no true love to the sinner, which does not extirpate and utterly make away with the sin. Sin was the real enemy, and love to the sinner must proceed at once against this enemy, not resting till it is utterly destroyed.”1

 


Learning To Crawl



 

The punishment fits the crime: sin’s essence is self-exaltation; therefore, the serpent was cast down to the ground in abasement. In the words of a nineteenth-century commentator: “To lick the dust, is a scripture expression of ignominy and reproach. Psalms 44:25, 72:9, Isaiah 49:23, Lamentations 3:29. Micah 7:17. Pride is supposed to have been the first sin of the fallen angels, and here God lays them low enough.”2

Another concurs by saying: “Prostrate, no longer erect, and feeding on the dust which man shakes off from his foot, the serpent-race typified the insidious character of the power of evil, to which the upright walk of man was the typical contrast.”3 The point is clear: those who raise themselves in defiance against God’s authority will be put down. In Scriptural terms: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18.)

Of course the humiliation of the terrestrial serpent prefigured the utter defeat of that ancient serpent the Devil (Revelation 12:9.) Observing a serpent crawling reminds one that divine justice is certain and shall prevail. He who humbled the serpent in the dust will eventually cast Satan down to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10.)

A contemporary writer refers to this abiding picture of God’s judgment in this way: “The curse of the snake, then, as a result of his part in the Fall, is to be the perennial reminder of the ultimate defeat of the rebellious ‘seed.’ So strongly was this imagery of the snake’s defeat felt by later biblical writers that in their description of the ultimate victory and reign of the righteous ‘seed,’ when peace and harmony are restored to creation, the serpent remains under the curse: ‘dust will [still] be the serpent’s food’ (Isaiah 65:25).”4

 


“Oh How Vile My Low Estate, Since My Ransom Was So Great”



 

Satan is doomed to fall irrevocably and eternally. God hates sin and will judge it thoroughly and finally. He deplores every atrocity – every infraction large or small – every lustful look and thought; consequently, He will vanquish and judge all evil. Indeed, in the sacrificial death of His Son He has already demonstrated what He thinks of sin: it is so bad that its condemnation produced Christ’s horrible sufferings that wrung out of Him the cry: “My God, my God why have You forsaken Me?” The answer is provided by a later portion of the New Testament: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21.) Sin is so hideous that it necessitated God’s total, unmitigated anger poured out on it at Golgotha. Such is the Lord’s unwavering and righteous hatred against evil. He will banish every trace of it from the universe in the new heavens and earth.

 

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Image from: http://propertydrum.briefyourmarket.com/Images/JD94/JD94_12_B2.gif Accessed on 8/9/12.

1 Horatius Bonar, Earth’s Morning: Or, Thoughts on Genesis, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1875), p. 165.

2 Philip Henry, Exposition of the First Eleven Chapters of Genesis, (London: J. Nisbet and Co., 1839), p. 81.

3 Herbert E. Ryle, The Book of Genesis in the Revised Version With Introduction and Notes, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921), p. 54.

4 John Sailhamer, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis. electronic ed. (Zondervan.) Emphasis mine.

Quote in the 3rd section header: Robert Cleaver Chapman, “Oh, my Savior crucified”; Spiritual Songs, Hymn #71; accessed on 8/9/12 here: http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/71

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Entry Level Theological Truth [34]

“Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ So the Lord God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life.” Genesis 3:12-14

Husband and wife fightingThe present era ought to be branded the “No-Fault Age,” for the amount of ceding of personal responsibility that one sees at every level of society. “Passing the buck” is a lifestyle for many people. Accused criminals so frequently defend themselves by arguing that they are a product of their environment that it has become a cliche. The thinking seems to be: “I couldn’t help robbing that bank, I was from a poor neighborhood,” or “I was abused by parents/teachers/coaches, etc. therefore I committed this crime.”

It is rare to hear someone publicly or privately say: “I have no one but myself to blame; it’s my fault”; and to hear public figures openly say: “I’ve sinned” is virtually unheard of (far be it from anyone to use the “S” word – i.e. SIN; that would be bad form and might irrevocably damage someone’s self-esteem!)

In light of the ubiquitous human tendency towards self-justification and denial, this article will not argue that our problems are all the fault of our first parents. Responding to the question “what is wrong with the world?”, Chesterton famously retorted: “Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton.”1 While I heartily disagree with Chesterton’s theology otherwise, I concur here, agreeing: “Yes, I am part of the problem; I am a sinner whose sins put the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.”

Having said that, the age-old technique of excusing oneself at the expense of others goes all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden.

 


The Blame Game



 

When God confronted the first human couple regarding their disobedience through incisive questioning, Adam immediately cast the blame upon his beloved mate (oh, that he were the last husband to have done such a thing!) Bonar describes the root idea of this action:

He accuses others to screen himself. He does not hesitate to inculpate the dearest; he spares not the wife of his bosom. Rather than bear the blame, he will fling it anywhere, whoever may suffer. And all this in a moment! How instantaneous are the results of sin! Already it has rooted out affection, and broken the nearest tie, and made man a being of dark selfishness. He has ceased to ‘love his neighbour as himself.’ Self has now risen uppermost within him. He is steeled against his dearest of kin. He does not hesitate to expose them to the wrath of God; he cares not what their doom may be, provided he escape! ‘Hateful, and hating one another,’ is the inscription on the forehead of our fallen race. It is this that we here read upon the brow of Adam.2

Another commentator agrees, saying: “My brethren, behold sin, corrupting the most intimate and the purest affections. See that monstrous selfishness, which withers in the root the most generous feelings of the heart, brought into existence, and become the moving principle of human life! Let all around me be humbled and confounded, so that my pride be satisfied! Let even that which I most love be stricken before my eyes, so that I escape! Let all perish, so that I live!”3 Rather than take personal responsibility, Adam blames Eve, and leaves her exposed to the wrath of the Judge. Thankfully, the Lord knows all and is able to mete out just punishment to all parties concerned (Genesis 3:14-17); He is not mislead when humans absolve themselves at others expense.

 


God In The Dock



 

By blaming Eve, Adam indirectly indicted the Almighty as an accomplice in the crime. The inference is: “If you had given me a better wife – or perhaps no wife at all – I would not have eaten of the fruit.” Bonnet’s thinly-veiled incredulity pours forth in these words:

What! the companion whom God had given him to complete his happiness, saying, ‘It is not good that man should be alone;’ the being who was destined to unite with him in loving, adoring, and worshipping the same God—that God who had surrounded him with so much felicity; Eve is now, in the mouth of guilty man, a subject of reproach to his God! If we have seen, that from selfishness to hatred, there is but one step, we now see that hatred, pushed on by pride, never fails to pour forth blasphemy! What an awful fall! What deplorable effects of sin!4

In like manner, another teacher paints this sinful strategy paraphrasing Adam’s absurd suggestion: “‘Thou saidst it was not good for me to be alone; but it seems now it had been better for me to have been alone; for if thou hadst either left me without a wife, or given me a better, I should have done well enough.’ Thus doth one sin beget another. The foolishness of man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord. Proverbs 19:3.”5 It is hubris indeed to convert God’s goodness into an excuse for sin, yet many people still blame their Creator for their problems and personal errors.

 


Denying The Obvious



 

Listening to her spiritual leader evade blame, the woman demonstrated herself to be a quick learner by likewise throwing the culpability on someone else: the serpent. As Henry summarizes it: “He followed her example in sinning, and she followed his example in excusing it.” The serpent is given no chance to reply, or else he doubtless would have denied responsibility as well. Modern readers have no room to point the finger, for who among them has not blamed someone else for their own sins?

Many people deny that they sin at all, but God is not fooled by such outrageous claims (1 John 1:8, 10.) In light of God’s omniscience and the inevitability of His righteous judgment (Hebrews 9:27), the only reasonable course for individuals is to confess their sin, refrain from blaming others, and receive the divine mercy that flows from receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. Only the One who died as a sacrifice for sin and rose again in victory may free people from guilt and eternal punishment (Jnohn 3:36; 5:24; Romans 8:1.)

 

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Image from http://blog.hillsbiblechurch.org/2011/01/24/stop-pointing-the-finger-at-others-look-in-the-mirror/ Accessed on 8/3/12.

1 G.K. Chesterton, quoted here: http://www.booksshouldbefree.com/book/whats-wrong-with-the-world-by-gk-chesterton Accessed on 8/3/12.

2 Horatius Bonar, Earth’s Morning: Or, Thoughts on Genesis, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1875), pp. 147f.

3 L. Bonnet, The Exile from Eden; Meditations on the Third Chapter of Genesis, With Exegetical Developments, trans. W. Hare, (London: James Nisbet and Co., 1839), pp. 121-22.

4 Ibid, p. 122.

5 Philip Henry, Exposition of the First Eleven Chapters of Genesis, (London: J. Nisbet and Co., 1839), pp. 77-78.

6 Ibid, p. 78.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [33]

“So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’” Genesis 3:10-11

Asking the right questions is a time-honored teaching tool. Socrates, the Talmudic sages, and the Lord Jesus – the Master Teacher Himself – all used razor-sharp interrogatives to lead their listeners in directions that they previously selected.

Of course, God was the first to employ this pedagogical methodology as demonstrated in Genesis 3:10-13. More than merely instructing, however, the Almighty also reveals His heart while interrogating Adam and Eve. In His pointed questions one sees the Creator’s saving and loving nature. This conversation leads humanity’s ancestral parents to confront themselves and discover God’s abundant and pardoning mercy.

 


You Only Hurt The Ones You Love



 

During their previous state of innocence, God calling “Adam, where are you?” would have been a welcoming sound to their ears. On this occasion it drove the man and his wife into hiding. Rather than command them to instantly appear, the Lord began drawing them out through questions. In His omniscience, He knew exactly where they were cowering in guilty fear. Yet He wanted them to reveal themselves to Him – physically and spiritually. This was not some sadistic stratagem to shame them; instead, it was His opening move in the skillful pursuit of their souls. As Mackintosh classically describes the Creator’s actions:

God, at the first, came down to create; and then, when the serpent presumed to meddle with creation, God came down to save. This is brought out in the first words uttered by the Lord God after man’s fall. ‘And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, “Where art thou?”’ This question proved two things,—it proved that man was lost, and that God had come to seek,—it proved man’s sin and God’s grace. ‘Where art thou?’ Amazing faithfulness! Amazing grace! Faithfulness, to disclose, in the very question itself, the truth as to man’s condition: grace, to bring out, in the very fact of God’s asking such a question, the truth as to His character and attitude in reference to fallen man. Man was lost; but God had come down to look for him—to bring him out of his hiding-place behind the trees of the garden, in order that, in the happy confidence of faith, he might find a hiding-place in Himself. This was grace. To create man out of the dust of the ground was power; but to seek man in his lost estate was grace.1

 


Exposing The Wound So That Healing May Begin



 

In order to save mankind from their sin, the Lord must tear away the masks that sinners craft for themselves. Adam and Eve needed to learn the principle that forgiveness must be preceded by the acknowledgement of one’s sin. His questions are aimed at leading them to the confession of their sin. Sadly, at first Adam merely declares his negatively altered condition of being naked and ashamed. Then he proceeds to blame Eve for his crime (unfortunately, he is not the last husband to do that!)

Given that this was the first instance of human sin, the first humans had no case-law upon which to base their reaction. In grace, God teaches them the heinousness of their sin by pronouncing judgment, but then provides a covering of their guilt (Genesis 3:21.) Along with the divinely provided animal skins, the Lord also gave them the promise of “the seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) – a future deliverer who would achieve lasting victory over Satan and evil itself. Clearly, this prophecy points forward to the cross of Christ.

 


No More Hide & Seek



 

Ever since the fall of mankind, God has extended pardon based upon the redemptive death of Christ on the cross and the subsequent resurrection. Those who desire to be forgiven and legally declared righteous need only come to the risen and glorified Christ for this desired state of blessedness. Instead of hiding from their Creator, people should flee to him, avowing their guilt and asking for the love and forgiveness that He freely offers. As Grant puts it: “Confidence in…[His] goodness enables us to take true ground before God, and enables Him thus, according to the principles of holy government, to show us His mercy. Not in self-righteous efforts to excuse ourselves, nor yet in self-sufficient promises for the future, but ‘if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’”2

 

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1C. H. Mackintosh, Genesis to Deuteronomy: Notes on the Pentateuch., Originally published in six volumes under the titles: Notes on Genesis, 1880; Notes on Exodus, 1881; Notes on Leviticus, 1881; Notes on Numbers, 1882; Notes on Deuteronomy I, 1881; Notes on Deuteronomy II, 1882., (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1972), p. 33. Italics original.

2F. W. Grant, Genesis: In Light of the New Testament, (Galaxie Software, 2004), pp. 45-46. Brackets & bold-face mine.

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Audio: A False Gospel

Rob Bell Love Wins Back Cover

Back Cover of Love Wins

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-10 NKJV emphasis mine.

About a year and a half ago Rob Bell, who at that time was the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, published a book titled “Love Wins”. The book instantaneously became a New York Times bestseller and caused a considerable amount of controversy in the evangelical church and beyond. The book even made the cover of the April 25, 2011 issue of Time Magazine.

As the controversy raged I found myself reading blog posts by both the supporters and detractors of the book. What I read shocked me… the detractors of the book claimed that Rob Bell denied the very existence of a literal hell and that in the end love will “win” — meaning everyone will spend eternity in everlasting bliss.

Could such accusations be true? Could a pastor of an “evangelical” church teach such things? To find out I purchased a copy of the book and read it. What I read in Rob Bell’s book Love Wins astounded me. From my reading of the book it seemed that the book’s detractors had actually understated the severity of doctrinal error!

After studying Love Wins in the light of God’s Word I had the opportunity to speak about it.

Recorded: Sunday April 17, 2011 at the North York Gospel Chapel, York, PA

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Entry Level Theological Truth [32]

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:8.

To many people God seems distant and removed from their everyday lives. Much of this situation is self-imposed, for humans have a tendency to hide from their Creator. This behavior first transpired in the garden moments after the fall of Adam and Eve; upon hearing the sound of the Lord’s approach their intuitive response was to hide.

Their modern descendents are no different. Troubled by accusing consciences, contemporary people run and hide from the searching, inescapable gaze of the all-knowing God. As the Scriptures say: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20.) Rather than expose themselves for what they are, people hide from God’s light. This denial of reality leads to chronic self-deception and alienation from the Lord (Ephesians 4:17-18.)

 


Hiding In Plain Sight



 

A nineteenth century writer evokes the atmosphere:

A sense of guilt upon the conscience invariably occasions distant views of God. The moment Adam became conscious of having sinned, He hid himself from God’s eye. He sought concealment from the endearing presence of Him who had been used to walk in the cool of the evening through the bowers of Paradise, in sweet and confiding communion. It is so now! Guilt upon the conscience, sin unconfessed, imparts misty, gloomy, distorted views of God. We lose that clear endearing view of His character which we once had. We dare not look up with holy, humble boldness. We misinterpret His dealings; think harshly of His ways; and if providences are dark, and afflictions come, in a moment we exclaim, ‘I have sinned, and God is angry.’ And so we seek concealment from God. We sink the Father in the Judge, and the child in the slave.1

One of his contemporaries points out the absurdity of hiding from the Almighty: “What madness was this, to think to hide themselves from Him from whom they could not hide themselves, all things being naked and open before him. Hebrews 4:13. What folly was it to fly from him whom they should have flown to; he being the God of all comfort and consolation. Romams 15:5. Did ever any hide himself from God and prosper? (Job 34:22. Amos 9:3. Jeremiah 23:24.) No, never.”2

 


Strategies For Evading Reality



 

Some people hide in pleasures – some of them ordinary and some of them illicit. They try to put God out of their thoughts in a continual round of amusing diversions. Others camouflage their guilt and terror behind a cloak of pseudo-piety. They reason that a facade of good deeds and religiosity may obscure their guilt. Others deny the obvious truth of God Himself, thinking that they can disinvent the Judge of the universe through an act of their wills; they seek to do this by replacing Him with intricate but shallow fables about the origin of the cosmos.

All of these efforts are in vain, however, for God seeks His fallen creatures, poignantly calling out “Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9.) Drawing on Mackintosh’s classic Notes On The Pentateuch, MacDonald notes: “This question proved two things—that man was lost and that God had come to seek. It proved man’s sin and God’s grace. God takes the initiative in salvation, demonstrating the very thing Satan got Eve to doubt—His love.”3

This pursuit of sinful men and women culminates in the coming into the world of the Lord Jesus Christ – “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16) – the one who describes His own mission thus: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10.)

The Lord repeatedly exposes people to the light. If they hide and run, he pursues. As the poet Thompson memorably depicted it:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbéd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.4

At the end of this life, everyone must meet Him. To those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior now, they will see their most cherished loved One face-to-face (1 John 3:1-2.) To those who do not have a relationship with Christ, He will be their judge (Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:11-15.) The eloquent Scottish preacher-poet Horatius Bonar well articulates this somber reality, bringing the past and the future together:

In the day of wrath this scene of Eden will be repeated,—man fleeing from the presence of God. In the absence of thickets he will betake himself to the rocks and hills (Hosea 10:8; Revelation 6:15, 16). But what will these do? Can His eye not pierce these? Can His hand not pluck them thence? For thus the Lord has spoken, ‘Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down; and though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence’ (Amos 9:2, 3).5

1Octavius Winslow, from the blog: http://octaviuswinslow.org/2010/08/22/august-22/ Accessed on 8/23/10.
2Philip Henry, Exposition of the First Eleven Chapters of Genesis, (London: J. Nisbet and Co., 1839), pp. 74-75.
3Alluding to C. H. Mackintosh, Notes On The Pentateuch: Genesis to Deuteronomy, p. 33; William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad, Ge 3:7–13 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995).
4Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven. Lines 1-13. Accessed on 7/20/12 here: http://poetry.elcore.net/HoundOfHeavenInRtT.html
5Horatius Bonar, Earth’s Morning: Or, Thoughts on Genesis, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1875), p. 140.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [31]

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:7

An old saying affirms: “Be careful what you wish for – you may get it.” The serpent promised Adam and Eve new and illicit knowledge. After a fashion his promise came true, but not in the manner that our first parents desired. As good as his word, the first humans did gain a new perspective on the world, but with tragic consequences for their progeny and themselves. Similarly, modern people often think that sin will lead to personal fulfilment; in reality it only leads to shame and fear.

 


Knowledge Tainted By Failure



 

Adam and Eve’s newly found insight did not produce the results for which they were hoping. As one commentator says: “The knowledge to which they have attained is neither that of happiness, wisdom, nor power, but that of the consciousness of sin and of its conflict with the Will of God.”1 Echoing the historian Kurtz, Groves makes the same point: “It actually happened as the seducer promised, though in malice and in an evil sense. Their eyes were opened, but they only saw their nakedness, and were ashamed; they knew good and evil, yet only by their sad loss of what was good, and by their disastrous experience of what was evil…”2 Kidner confirms it in these words:

The serpent’s promise of eyes … opened came true in its fashion (and cf. 22), but it was a grotesque anticlimax to the dream of enlightenment. Man saw the familiar world and spoilt it now in the seeing, projecting evil on to innocence (cf. Titus 1:15) and reacting to good with shame and flight. His new consciousness of good and evil was both like and unlike the divine knowledge (3:22), differing from it and from innocence as a sick man’s aching awareness of his body differs both from the insight of the physician and the unconcern of the man in health.3

 


The End Of The Innocence



 

Nakedness is a picture of innocence. Infants and toddlers are unashamed when they are unclothed. But Adam and Eve passed from their spiritually juvenile state of innocence to an unwanted position of guilt brought on by their sin. Rather than exhilaration and enlightenment, they experienced shame for the first time. This was part of the penalty for disobeying God – one element of the death that they had been promised. As Candlish notes: “Their shame, therefore, and their fear, prove that they really died; that having sinned, they in that very day came under the guilt and the curse of sin,—the guilt of sin, causing shame,—the curse of sin, causing fear. Such is their instant knowledge of evil.” Henry eloquently explains: “What a dishonour and disquietment sin is; it makes mischief wherever it is admitted, sets men against themselves disturbs their peace, and destroys all their comforts. Sooner or later, it will have shame, either the shame of true repentance, which ends in glory, or that shame and everlasting contempt to which the wicked shall rise at the great day. Sin is a reproach to any people.”5

Accordingly, Adam and Eve’s first impulse was to cover themselves with homemade garments fashioned from fig leaves (Gen. 3:7.) This primitive attempt at self-deception was the prototypical human effort to mask personal wrongdoing – the first act of self-deception in a long line of works that are intended to hide the true moral and spiritual condition of fallen mankind. Toplady poetically refutes this common conceit in these famous stanzas:

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.6

Fellow hymn writer and preacher, Horatius Bonar reminds us why man’s efforts are futile in this regard: “He forgets the eye above, that can look through every human covering; and hence, as Adam tried his fig-leaves, so he tries his good deeds, his prayers, and his repentance; forgetful that the eye of flame (Rev. 2:18) can look through them. The covering he needs is one which will hide his shame from the eye that is divine.”7 Human works can no more cover sin, than could our first parents’ jungle aprons could deceive the all-seeing God. A sacrifice that satisfies the Almighty’s righteous demands must be offered in place of guilty human beings. The sentence of death must be carried out; only through God’s gracious provision in Christ can people be rescued from the penalty for their sin: eternal separation from the Creator. This sacrifice is foreshadowed in the covers of skins that the Lord uses to replace Adam and Eve’s inadequate garb (Gen. 3:21.)

 


Sham Religion Versus Salvation By Faith



 

Sacraments, ceremonies, philanthropy, church membership, civic mindedness are all good things, but when they are employed as a means of gaining merit before God, they are no better than fig leaf clothes. Billions of people continue to labor to cover their sin and fashion facades of pretended piety under the guise of religion and human altruism. Nevertheless, manmade spirituality is an exercise in futility. C.H. Mackintosh accurately summarizes the dissimilarity between human-devised religion and the divinely ordained way of salvation in this way:

…the difference between true Christianity and human religiousness. The former is founded upon the fact of a man’s being clothed; the latter, upon the fact of his being naked. The former has for its starting-post what the latter has for its goal. All that a true Christian does, is because he is clothed—perfectly clothed; all that a mere religionist does, is in order that he may be clothed. This makes a vast difference. The more we examine the genius of man’s religion, in all its phases, the more we shall see its thorough insufficiency to remedy his state, or even to meet his own sense thereof. It may do very well for a time, it may avail so long as death, judgment and the wrath of God are looked at from a distance, if looked at at all; but when a man comes to look these terrible realities straight in the face, he will find, in good truth, that his religion is a bed too short for him to stretch himself upon, and a covering too narrow for him to wrap himself in.8

1 Herbert E. Ryle, The Book of Genesis in the Revised Version With Introduction and Notes, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921), pp. 51-52.
2 Henry Charles Groves, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, (Cambridge: Macmillan and Co., 1861), p. 52. Italics original.
3 Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, vol. 1. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 74. Italics original.
4 Robert S. Candlish, The Book of Genesis, Vol. 1. (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1868), p. 73.
5 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Ge 3:6–8 (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994); electronic ed. (Logos.)
6 Augustus Toplady, “Rock of Ages cleft for me,” found here: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/r/o/rockages.htm Accessed on 7/6/12.
7 Horatius Bonar, Earth’s Morning: Or, Thoughts on Genesis, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1875), pp. 130-31. Italics original
8 C. H. Mackintosh, Genesis to Deuteronomy: Notes on the Pentateuch. (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1880, reprint 1972), p. 32.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [30]

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6

“For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” 1 Timothy 2:13-14

The modern confusion over gender issues stems from humanity’s first parents’ ancient failure. Adam and Eve did not maintain their proper roles, which led to their disobedience to God’s Word. The Man failed to lead and thereby opened the pathway for his wife’s deception and the ensuing sin that snared each of them. By ignoring their divinely-ordained roles they brought terrible consequences upon their world and themselves.

 

 


The Danger Of A Leader’s Silence



 

Adam was created to lead. Eve was meant to help in the great work of subduing the earth (Genesis 2:20-24.) Unfortunately, it appears from the statement “She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6) that the man was present throughout at least a portion of his wife’s conversation with the tempter. This implies that he stood by and was silent, allowing Eve to do the talking and the serpent to dictate the direction of the discussion. Instead of silencing the adversary’s blasphemy, Adam remained quiet, and watched Eve disobey. He then followed suit by knowingly eating of the prohibited tree. Effectively he chose Eve over God. For his behavior, Adam is given chief culpability in the fall among humans (Genesis 3:17-19; see also Romans 5:12-19.)

 


The Danger Of Stepping Out Of Submission



 

When Eve stepped into the leadership vacuum left by Adam’s inaction, she placed herself upon dangerous ground that led to tragedy. She did not closely adhere to God’s Word and thus fell prey to deception. This resulted in her spiritual death before God, as well as the beginning of physical death in her body (a process which would not be finished for many a year, but which led inexorably to the separation of her soul from her body.) Further she put Adam in the difficult position of having to choose between their Creator and her. The guilt for his sin rests upon the man’s shoulders; nonetheless, Eve did not prove to be a fitting helper for Adam in Genesis 3.

 


It’s Deja Vu All Over Again!



 

Similarly today there is a dearth of men who are willing to develop their God-given mandate to lead in the world, the home, and the church. Too often men selfishly shirk their responsibilities in favor of an easier life or the gratification of their lusts. This in turn opens the door for women to usurp the authority of the man – willingly or unwillingly – in hopes of doing what needs to be done.

The failure of men to be leaders like Christ is at the root of the problems facing society, the family, and the church. Of course, they can only exercise this kind of loving servant leadership in the power of the Holy Spirit, and one can only receive Him by being born again through faith in the Lord Jesus who died on the cross as a sacrifice and then rose in victory. Likewise, in order to be submissive, godly helpers, women must have the power of the Holy Spirit enabling them to obey God’s Word. Only by being saved through faith in the Lord Jesus may they achieve their purpose in God’s program.

The church should serve as a microcosm of the new order of redemption in Christ. Accordingly, men ought to lead in the government of the local assembly as overseers (1 Timothy 3:1.) More basically they are given the privileged responsibility of vocally leading in the assembly in worship, praise, and teaching. The sisters are to remain silent, not teach, and not usurp authority over the brothers (1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-15.) The men are to be uncovered and the women are to cover, so that the headship of Christ and glory of God may be seen among the angels (1 Corinthians 11:2-16.) In this way, the original creation order is restored: man offers godly leadership and the woman offers godly submission – all to the glory of God.

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