“The Kindness of God.” Part 7: “…the sin of the world.”

In the last two posts, we’ve looked at the death of Christ from the standpoint that it was a definite action, in agreement with the Father’s choice of some to be saved, a choice, just to emphasize what we wrote earlier, without which no one would be saved.  Christ died to pay for their sins, and theirs alone.  He died for “His sheep,” not for “goats.”

However, in spite of all we have said about the death of Christ and its particular, definite and successful purpose, there are those who will exclaim, “Well, I believe John 3:16!!”

We do, too.  In this post, therefore, we want to look at verses which refer to “the world,” “all,” and “every,” verses which are often used against what we’ve taught so far.  These verses are the reason many people who agree with what we’ve written otherwise simply cannot or will not agree with us on the death of Christ.  Do these verses contradict our view?  What does the Scripture say? 

C.  The Death of Christ with Reference to the World.

 1.  John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

Those who use this verse often put a heavy emphasis on “the world,” and define it as “every single person who ever lived, is living, or will live.”  Christ died for all of them, without exception.

In order to understand this verse Biblically, we need to look at to whom Jesus was talking.  Nicodemus was a Jew, a Pharisee, a member of a group which believed that it was responsible to keep Israel  from being corrupted by outside influences, and to keep Israel faithful in following the Mosaic Law.  To this end, they believed that when Messiah came, He would destroy all Gentiles, no matter how “good,” and He would save all Jews, no matter how “bad.”  All that was necessary was to be a descendant of Abraham, cf. John 8:39-41.

Our Lord was correcting this too-narrow view:  “Nicodemus, you’ve got it all wrong.  God’s love and grace extend far beyond Israel.  Whoever believes in Me will not perish.”  He had already told Nicodemus that physical birth and lineage didn’t count for anything.   One needed to be “born again,” that is, from above.  Men and women need something Mom and Dad can’t give them; something they can’t do for themselves; something only God can give them and do for them.

On the other side, there are those who claim that “the world” in John 3:16 is really only “the world of the elect.”  I think they make the same mistake Nicodemus did, only in a different sense.  Nicodemus limited God’s love nationally, that is, He loves only Jews.  Those who believe God only loves the elect limit His love spiritually.

I once held the second view, but, with further thought, it seems to me from Scripture that God does have a redemptive love for mankind, considered as a whole, as a race, that is, humanity in general.   The Scripture clearly says that God desires all men to be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4.  While this verse doesn’t teach what those who believe Christ died for everyone say it teaches, (that is, that God is doing all He can to save everyone, but they won’t let Him,) it is in agreement with Ezekiel 33:11, which says that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his evil way, and live.  Had He not loved the race, He would never have chosen any of its members to be saved.  Had He not intervened in this way, we would all have certainly perished because we would never come to Him on our own.  As a result, the race would have perished.

However, let us be clear.  Even though we believe there is in God a great redemptive love for mankind, a love which moved Him to do incredible things to save it, individually we only experience that love through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Timothy 1:14; Romans 8:38, 39.  Otherwise, there is only “wrath,” John 3:17, 18.  This is why the apostolic church never preached “the love of God,” as we saw in an earlier post.  Apart from the Lord Jesus, it will not and cannot be experienced.

2.  1 John 2:2, And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

As with John 3:16, emphasis is placed on the whole world.  And again, “world” is defined as every single person.

However, even John twice used the phrase elsewhere in his writings in such a way that it can’t mean “every single person.”  In 1 John 5:19b, he wrote, the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.  That is, it’s under his control and subject to him. cf. Ephesians 2:2.  In the first part of v. 19, John wrote, we know we are of God.  There is a comparison between believers, who are of God, and unbelievers, who lie under the sway of the wicked one.  I believe the word “and” which separates the two clauses could be translated, “but,” to show the distinction even more clearly.

Then, in Revelation 12:9, John refers to that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.  Though a different word is used of “world,” the thought is the same.  The Devil is the god of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:4, and the whole world lies under his sway.

Since believers have been delivered out of the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13, the term “the whole world,” doesn’t and can’t automatically mean “every single person,” and we don’t believe that it does in 1 John 2:2.

In order to Biblically understand what John is saying, I think the word “propitiation” is key.  He didn’t use a word meaning, “redemption,” or “salvation.”  The word means, “appeasement.”  A poor example might be the bouquet of flowers a husband brings home to soothe an offended wife.  The death of Christ was an appeasement to the offended justice and wrath of God.

We believe that it’s the death of Christ that is the basis for the Great Commission.  His death appeased that wrath of God which had withdrawn grace in general from mankind, Romans 1:18-32, and had channeled it through one man, Abraham.  Even though Israel was to be a witness to the nations, Isaiah 43:10-12 (which has nothing to do with that group calling themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses”), still there was no “Great Commission” in the OT.  Only in the NT after the death of Christ do we find such a thing.

3.  2 Peter 2:1, …there will be false teachers among you, …even denying the Lord that bought them.

This verse is often used  to teach that there are some whom the Lord “bought,” who will “deny” Him.

In the last verse of ch. 1, Peter wrote that holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, and continues in 2:1, BUT there were also false prophets among the people, EVEN AS there will be false teachers AMONG YOU….(emphasis added).  Peter is simply comparing the situation in OT Israel with the situation among the believers he’s writing.  There will be those who truly speak for God, but there will ALSO be false teachers present.  This is why John wrote in 1 John 4:1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into this world.

John wrote that the test of false prophets would be what they taught about the Person of Christ, who He was.  Peter’s emphasis is on the work of Christ, what He did.  Both are important.  If He isn’t God manifest in the flesh, then what He did on the Cross is of no benefit.

These “false teachers” are known as Christians.  Nevertheless, in teaching false doctrine, they deny Him, all the while professing to believe in Him.

4.  2 Corinthians 5:14, 19, …One died for all….  God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their sins to them.

Actually, the whole section from v. 9-21 should be carefully read.  It seems to me that these verses present more “problems” to those who believe that Christ died for everyone than they do for those who don’t.

For example. some place heavy emphasis on the word, “all.”  However, consider what Paul says in the verse, …if One died for all, then all died.  In other words, the “all” for whom Christ died, also died.  Whatever effect His death had on those for whom He died, that effect happened when He died, not at some later time, like when they “accept” Him.

As to v. 19, pay close attention to what Paul wrote:  God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.  Can it really be said of every single person that their sins aren’t imputed to them?  Leaving aside the question of whether hell actually exists or what it is, will an unbeliever who dies suffer in Hell for his sins?  If they’re not imputed to him, having been imputed to the Lord Jesus, how can he be condemned for them?  Why is he in Hell?

It won’t do to say that he’s in Hell for his sins because he didn’t “accept the Lord.”  Are his sins paid for, or not?  Were they “purged” on the Cross, Hebrews 1:3, or not?   We occasionally hear a story about a certain man who was pardoned for some crime or other, but refused to accept it.  The court ruled that he couldn’t be forced to accept it.  So, it is said, we can refuse the death of Christ, and there’s nothing God can do about it.  However, we’re not talking about American jurisprudence or what some human court has decreed.

We’re talking about the justice of God having been satisfied in full.  If God punished Jesus for a person’s sins, on what basis can He also punish the sinner for those sins?  Unless we’re willing to say that Jesus didn’t actually pay for salvation on the Cross, thus denying the Scriptures which say that He did, then the only alternative is to say that God demands payment twice for the same sin, once from the Lord Jesus and once from the sinner, something even true human justice wouldn’t do.  God’s justice under that view is really injustice.

5.  Romans 5:19, For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience shall many be made righteous. 

The whole section of vs. 12-21 should be carefully studied to see Paul’s judicious and inspired use of “all” and “many.”  This section is about “the federal headship of Adam,” that is, that when he fell, he represented his descendants, that is, the whole human race, as well.  Paul teaches that the Lord Jesus was also a representative, as we’ve studied, but of a redeemed race – believers, or the elect.

Many people lean heavily on the word “all,” but don’t pay any attention to “many,” believing that it, too, refers to “all.”  However, this section isn’t about mere numbers, it’s about effect.  The “effect” of being in Christ, “being made righteous,” is as certain as the “effect” of being in Adam, “being made sinners.”  If, as many insist, they both do refer to “all,” as in every single person, then, according to Paul, those who believe in universal salvation are right.

6.  Hebrews 2:9,  that He by the grace of God should taste death for everyone.

The KJV translates this as “every man,” however, there is no word for “man” in the original.  So, for every “who” or “what” did Christ taste death?  V. 10 refers to many sons.  V.11 mentions brethren.  V. 13 says, “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”  So we are justified in saying that Christ tasted death for every “son,” for every “brother,” for every “child,” not haphazardly, but in accord with the will and purpose of the Father.

7.  John 12:47, “…for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”

We’ve already noted the Jews’ belief about the Messiah:  that He would destroy all Gentiles, or “the world.”  Jesus is refuting that belief.  Make no mistake, He said, there is coming a time of judgment, but now is the acceptable year of the Lord, Luke 4:19, or, as Paul put it, now is the day of salvation, 2 Corinthians 6:2.  Here, as well as in other places, Jesus emphasized that His mission extends to “the world,” that is, to men and women out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, Revelation 5:9.  This is the “world” for whom the Lord died.  See also John 4:42 and 6:63.

8.  John 1:29,  “…Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

This was John’s exclamation at the approach of Jesus after His baptism and testing in the wilderness.  Even he recognized the wider scope of the Lord’s ministry, something the Jews and the early church had difficulty accepting.

The question is, who is “the world”?  Is it every single person, as many believe?  Well, what is said of this world?  It is said that the Lord bears away their sin.   Can that be said of every single person?  That their sin has been taken away?  No, that can’t be said Scripturally, though many do say it.

Thus, a brief view of some of the verses used in contradiction to our view.  However, Scripture is never given merely to be academic or to defend one “school of thought” or another, so this brings us to our last section.

D.  Christ and the Individual.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will in no wise cast out,” John 6:37.

Actually, John 6:37-40 is a precious mingling of the truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.  The Lord never sought to “reconcile” these two truths, which to so many are irreconcilable, or to “explain” how they work together.  He just said they were both true.

Examples in multiplied instances of the divine will affecting and effecting the human will, the sovereignty of God in everything including salvation, and the activity of man in making and following his own thoughts and decisions, may be found in almost every book of the Bible without thought of contradiction, embarrassment or explanation.

As we said above, it’s never the intent of Scripture merely to be academic or to promote one school of thought over another.

Nor is Scripture preaching about the extent of the atonement, it’s always about the intent.  We’ve already seen that NT preachers never told people to believe on Jesus because He had died for them.  Our Lord Himself put it like this, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32.  NT preachers preached repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 20:21.  Never a word did they breath about God’s love.

On the other hand, there’s not a word about election in their preaching, either.  Some men can’t hardly preach without getting their doctrine in there, whether their text warrants it or not.

No, no.  NT preaching is about sin and a Savior of sinners.  After all, that’s how the elect become known – not because they believe the right doctrine, but because, by the grace of God they understand that, apart from the Lord Jesus, they stand condemned before God, and Jesus is the only One who can do anything about it.  They understand that they need to be saved from their sin and themselves.  They come to Christ, trust Christ, believe on Christ, to do this.  And to believe ON Christ is not the same thing as believing ABOUT Him.

When it comes right down to it, salvation is all about works.  Yours won’t get the job done and His can’t fail.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, Acts 16:31.

QUESTIONS

1.  Does the Scripture contradict itself?

2.  What was Jesus’ message to Nicodemus?

3.  What was Jesus’ message to the Jewish nation?

4.  Does “world” automatically or necessarily mean every single person?

5.  What is “propitiation”?

6.  Just because people belong to “church,” does that mean that Christ died for them?

7.  Did the death of Christ affect those for whom He died – at the time of His death?

8.  Can or will God punish the same sin twice, once in Christ and once in the sinner?

9.  What is the “effect” of being “in Adam”?  “…in Christ”?

10. What does the Lord Jesus mean to you?

Advertisements

“The Kindness of God.” Part 6: “…having obtained eternal redemption.”

In our last post, we began to look at the special responsibilities the Lord Jesus undertook on behalf of believers, or the elect.  We noted that He was their Representative and as such became their Substitute.  As their Substitute, satisfying all the requirements of God’s Law and justice by living a sinless life, and dying on a Roman cross, He also became their Redeemer.  We stopped last week after seeing that He satisfied the requirements for redemption

In this post, we want to look at the second aspect of His becoming Redeemer.

b.  He secured the reality of redemption.

I use the word “reality” deliberately.  Most Christians believe that He only secured the “possibility” of redemption, and that it’s up to us to make it “real”. It’s usually taught that Jesus only died to make men “salvable,” that is, able to be saved, but His death doesn’t actually “save” anyone until and unless they “accept” Him.  While we in no way deny man’s obligation to “repent and believe the Gospel,” the Scriptures teach that Jesus did far more on the Cross than the vague generalizations most people have of His death.

1).  Hebrews 1:3 says, …when he had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high….  Hebrews 10:12 repeats this:  …this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sin forever, sat down at the right hand of God….

“Purge” means “to cleanse.”  He sat down to demonstrate that redemption had been accomplished, not just “attempted.”  This is significant.  No Old Testament priest could ever sit down because his work was never done.

For years I heard it said, and believed it myself, that there was no seat in the tabernacle.  This isn’t strictly true.  What did the High Priest do when he went that one day a year into the Holy of Holies?  He sprinkled blood on the Mercy Seat.  He would never have dared to sit on that seat because he had no right to it.  His work wasn’t done.  However, the Lord completed the work of redemption. Nothing could be added to it, and nothing needed to be added to it.  I won’t be dogmatic about it, but I believe that when He sat down in Heaven, in the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man, Hebrews 8:2, He sat down on the Mercy Set.  Not only was there blood on the Mercy Seat, but the One whose blood it was is there, as well.  Sin has been cleansed, and the One who did it sits on the Mercy Seat as proof.

2).  Hebrews 9:12, not with blood of bulls and goats, but with His own blood, He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews says that He obtained eternal redemption, He didn’t just make it “possible” for us to obtain.  Throughout the book, the writer demonstrates the superiority of the Lord Jesus in the areas of revelation and redemption over several OT persons or ceremonies, in that He fulfilled or finished the things which they themselves did or typified.

The Law had a shadow of good things to come, but the Lord Jesus came as the High Priest of those things, Hebrews 9:11.  The OT sacrifices could never take away sin, Hebrews 10:11: He has…put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, Hebrews 9:26.  Because He died, sin has been paid for and “put away.”  The word translated “put away” means “to set aside,” “to annul,” “to reject.”  By His death, the Lord Jesus “set aside,” “rendered null and void,” “rejected” the sins of those for whom He died.  By “rejected” is meant that He got rid of them.  And in the words of Hebrews 1:3, He did this “by Himself.”  His payment for sin doesn’t require the “acceptance” of those for whom He died in order for it to be “effective.”  He…put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 

3). Romans 8:28-30, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He did foreknow, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son,…Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30 has been called, “The Golden Chain of Redemption.”  There used to be a TV show called, “The Weakest Link.”  There are no “weak links” in this chain.  It was planned in eternity past in the wisdom and purpose of God the Father; it was forged in the fires of Calvary by the grace and suffering of God the Son; it stretches from eternity past to eternity future , if we can refer to eternity like that, through the activity and power of God the Holy Spirit.  We’ve already looked at those who think that all this was simply the result of what God “foresaw” that we would do.  In contrast, the Bible talks about what God will do.

4). Romans 8:33, Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.

The words, “it is,” have been supplies by the translators.  I believe the verse could be framed as a question:  who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?  God who justifies [them]?  This verse ties together God’s election of some to be saved, as we saw in the last post, and Christ’s redemption of them in accordance with God’s will.  According to Paul, in His purpose, God has already “justified” His elect, Romans 8:30, but what does “justified” mean?  Basically, it means “to declare righteous.”  Sometimes a play on the word is used to say that it means, “just as if I’d never sinned.”  This is true as far as it goes, but there is so much more to it than that.  What it really means is, “just as if I’d always obeyed,” which to my mind is something far greater!  Since God has already, in His purpose, cleared us of wrong-doing, and credits us only with “right-doing,” who is successfully going to charge us with anything?  God has already accepted us as His righteous children in Christ.  Who is going to be able to nullify or question that decision?

5). Romans 8:34, Who is he who condemns?  It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Again, translators have supplied words.  We could read the verse, Who is he who condemns?  Christ who died…?  In John 5:22, 27, Jesus said, “the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son, …and has given Him authority to execute judgment also….”

Paul’s question is, “Will Jesus condemn ones for whom He died?”  Most modern Christians would say, “Yes, because they didn’t accept Him as their Savior.”  We’ll have more to say about the importance of faith in a later post.  For now, let’s just say that such an answer would have been the farthest thing from Paul’s mind.  Christ didn’t just “die.”  Listen as Paul piles evidence upon evidence that those for whom Christ died cannot and will not be condemned:  Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (emphases added).  Paul says four things about what Christ did and is doing for sinners.

a).  He died.  He did indeed die, but His death wasn’t random, or an accident or mistake, as some blasphemously assert.  It was a sacrifice, given as a ransom for many, Mark 10:35.  The idea of “ransom” implies a particular, personal transaction.  A “general ransom” is a contradiction in terms.

b).  He rose again.  Jesus was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification, Romans 4:25.

Jesus made certain claims while He was alive, most of which were rejected or ignored.   The Resurrection was God’s “Amen” to His Son.  It was also, if you will, the receipt for the payment Christ made on the Cross.  If He had not risen from the dead, we would have no way of knowing if His death did any good.  The Resurrection is our assurance that it did.

c.)  He was exalted.  Him God has exalted to His right hand to be a Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins, Acts 5:31.

Leaving aside the implications of the phrase, “to Israel,” note that the exaltation of Christ declared Him to be the Savior, Who gives repentance…and forgiveness of sins.  His death not only purchased the salvation of all for whom He died, but also the means of that salvation, namely, repentance and faith.

d).  He intercedes for us.

The only time in His earthly life that Jesus said, “I will,” to the Father was in regard to this very thing.  In John 17:24, He said, Father, I will that they, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am…[KJV].  It’s true that the NKJV and the ESV translate it, “I desire,” but it doesn’t matter.  Will the Father not give the Son the one thing He ever said He wanted?

Jesus finished His request by saying, “for you loved Me before the foundation of the world.”  The Father loved us “before the foundation of the world,” as well, gave us to His Son and sent Him to be our Redeemer and Savior.  That’s what He came to do, and that’s what He did.

Furthermore, in this very prayer, our Lord said, “I pray for them.  I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours,” John 17:9.  It’s strange that He would die for “the world,” as some insist, but He wouldn’t pray for it.  If it be argued that He was praying for His disciples, vs. 6-8, that’s true, but in v. 20, He said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.”   In v. 21, He clearly distinguishes between those for whom He is praying, and “the world.”

Someone might object, “Now, wait!  What about those verses which speak of Christ’s death for the world?”  Lord willing, we’ll look at them next time, and then finish up with a look at Christ and the individual.

Further references:  Matthew 1:21;  John 10:10, 11, 15-16: Acts 20:28; Romans 4:7, 8; 8:31-32; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:19, 20; 5:2, 25-27; Philippians 1:6, 29; Titus 1:2, 2:13, 14; Hebrews 2:17; 9:15; 10:10; 13:12.

Questions

1.  What is the first aspect of Christ as Redeemer?

2.  What is the second aspect of Christ as Redeemer?

3.  What is the significance of the phrase, “He sat down”?

4.  What kind of redemption did Jesus obtain by His death?

5.  What did Jesus do with sin?

6.  Does His death require the agreement of those for whom He died to be effective?

7.  What does “justification” mean?

8.  Can those for whom Christ died ultimately be condemned for their sin?

9.  What four things did Jesus do, or is He doing, for sinners?

10. Write out one of the verses in “further references.”  What does it say about the death of the Lord Jesus?

“The Kindness of God.” Part 5: “Christ Died for the Ungodly.”

In these next three posts, we’re going to look at the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Scripture has a great deal to say about it, yet I venture to say that what it says is hardly ever really looked at and taught.  I asked a fellow what the Lord did on the Cross, and beyond the fact that He died, the fellow had no idea what that death really involved.

III.  The Costliness of Grace.

Don’t mistake the title of this section.  It doesn’t mean that the grace of God is for sale!  In Matthew 16:26, our Lord asked, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”  Even the Old Testament recognized this.  The Psalmist declared, Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches, none of them by any means can redeem his brother, nor give God a ransom for him – for the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease forever – that he should continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit, Psalm 49:6-9.

The Bible teaches that salvation is free, and yet the Psalmist says that redemption is costly.  There is no contradiction.  Grace is free, but it is not “cheap”!

The Gospel is often summarized as “the death, burial and resurrection” of Christ.  This is true, yet, according to 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4, this summary is incomplete.  You see, the Gospel is indeed good news, but it isn’t simply good news about “history”:  the mere facts of our Lord’s death and resurrection.  It is about Christ’s death for our sins, and it is about Christ’s death for our sins according to the Scriptures.

In these posts, therefore, we want to see what the Bible has to say about that death.  What it says involves four things.

1.  The death of Christ with reference to the Father.
2.  The death of Christ with reference to believers, whom Scripture also calls” the elect”.
3.  The death of Christ with reference to the world.
4.  The death of Christ with reference to the individual.

A.  The Death of Christ With Reference to the Father.

In the New Testament, there are at least 30 references to the Father in connection with the ministry of the Son.  Most of these occur in the Gospel of John.  We’ll look at only two things about this “connection”:

1.  The will of the Father for the Son.
2.  The work that the Father gave to the Son.

1.  The will of the Father for the Son.

In John 4:34, Jesus said, My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me, and to finish His work.”

There are more references to this part of the study than to the other three areas combined.  These clearly show that the Lord Jesus wasn’t just merely acting on His own or acting in an impromptu manner.  He didn’t “improvise” as He went along.  Ephesians 3:11 refers to the eternal purpose that the Father accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Even that terrible hour of which it was said that Pilate delivered Jesus to their will, Luke 23:25, was included.  Our Lord said to Pilate, “You could have no power [“jurisdiction”] at all against Me unless it were given you from above,” John 19:11.  The no is emphatic, underlining the rest of the sentence that God was as involved in the events of the Crucifixion as any of the others in that whole grim episode.  The Lord Jesus came to do His Father’s will.

Further references:  Matthew 20:23; Luke 4:43; John 5:30; 6:38, 39, 44; 7:28, 29, 33; 8:16, 18, 28-29, 42; 10:18, 36; 11:42; 12:44, 45; 14:31; 16:5; 17:8, 18-21, 25; 18:11; 20:21; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Galatians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:2; 13:20; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 4:9-10; Revelation 13:8.

2.  The work that the Father gave to the Son.

In John 4:34, the Lord said, “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me, and to finish His work.”  In John 17:4, Jesus told the Father, “I have finished the work You gave Me to do.”

Throughout His life, our Lord was conscious of His Father.  Even as a mere lad of twelve, He must be about His Father’s business, Luke 2:49.  His mission included at least two things:

a.  John 1:18 says, No one has seen God at any time.  The only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.  The word translated “declared” is the word we get our word “exegesis” from.  An “exegesis” is a detailed explanation of a passage of Scripture.  The Greek word means, “to make known.”  So the Lord came to make God known, to “flesh out,” as it were, the God of the Bible, to reveal Him as a real Person, not just as some nebulous something or other floating “out there” somewhere.

This, however, isn’t the main reason our Lord came.

b.  In John 4:34, the Lord said that He had come to finish, that is, complete what the Father had begun when He chose sinners to be saved.  That “work” is the work of redemption.

For decades, “the love of God” has been so distorted in the churches that we have almost completely lost sight of what Paul called the severity of God in Romans 11:22.  A Bible class was studying the attributes of God.  Someone mentioned His “immeasurable love.”  The teacher wrote that down.  Someone else mentioned His “inflexible justice,” and the teacher immediately said, “Ooh, I don’t like that!”  He would only write “”justice” on the board.  In that teacher’s mind, who claimed to believe the doctrines in these posts, God’s justice is less severe than His love is great. The Scripture teaches otherwise.

In Numbers 15:32-36, we have the story of the man executed for picking up some sticks of the Sabbath.  Some find this unnecessarily harsh, forgetting that breaking even the least of God’s laws makes us guilty of breaking the whole thing, James 2:10.  God cannot and will not “overlook” sin.  After all, wasn’t it a relatively “minor” sin, as the world looks at it, that was committed in the Garden of Eden?  Sin must be, and will be, punished.

Further references:  Luke 4:43; John 4:34; 5:36; 6:39; 8:29; 9:4; 20:25, 37.

B.  The Death of Christ with Reference to Believers, or The Elect.

 A mother-daughter duet once sang a song in church to the effect that “when He died, He didn’t even know my name.” It was very lovely and well-sung. Beautiful harmony.  And absolutely wrong.  It may seem very wonderful and emotional that Jesus would die for people without knowing anything about them, but it isn’t Scriptural.  Cf Isaiah 53:11; John 18:4; 19:28.  If we’re ever privileged to join the blood-washed multitude of the redeemed in praise to Him Who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever, Revelation 5:11, 12, it won’t be because He died for us without knowing our names.  It will be because He knows EVERYTHING about us…, and He died for us, anyway.

The last post mentioned that the Lord Jesus undertook special responsibility for His sheep.  Though it will take eternity for God to explain it, Ephesians 2:7, what He did may be summarized in two statements.

1.  He was their REPRESENTATIVE, Isaiah 53:11, 12; John 10:15; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:7.

The preposition translated “for” in the NT verses above doesn’t mean “for the benefit of,” but “instead of.”  The Just suffered “instead of” the unjust.  All the verses at the beginning of this section refer to blessings given to or actions done on behalf of believers, hereafter simply called “the elect.”  Though it’s common for preachers to preach these things to a mixed assembly of believers and nonbelievers, or to apply to unbelievers verses which were written to believers, there is no Scriptural support for it.  For example, no unbeliever was ever told that Christ had died for him, paid the penalty for his sins, or that God loved him, or her.  We’ll have more to say about this, later.

Another word for this is “substitute.”  Christ came to be the substitute for the elect.  This was taught even in the OT sacrifices.  When an Israelite brought an animal to the priest, he would lay his hand on the head of that animal, Leviticus 1:4, and it shall be accepted in behalf of him.  It became his substitute.  The animal died so that the Israelite could continue to live.  In the NT, however, it is God who brought the sacrifice, not the individual sinner.  This in spite of what a noted NT scholar claimed:  [Jesus] “was the lamb without blemish which humanity had chosen to offer to God.” (George M. Lamsa, “Gospel Light,” p. 313.)  Lamsa was known for his knowledge of Aramaic, the language of NT times.  In this, though, he was dead wrong.  As we saw in previous posts, humanity had nothing to do with it!  Wanted nothing to do with it.  Rejected the Lamb when He came.  Had God not intervened, we would have had no hope, no Savior and no salvation, as much as sinful men would like to believe otherwise.

I’ve already referred to the fellow who had no idea what Christ did on the Cross.  This brings us to our next section:  what DID Jesus do on the Cross?

2.  He was their REDEEMER.

a.  He satisfied the requirements for redemption.

 We’ve already seen that the elect are by nature the children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3. Therefore, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, Galatians 3:13.  For Him to do this, three things were necessary.

1).  He obeyed the precepts of the Law.

He is the only one who could ever truly say, “I always do those things which please Him” [the Father], John  8:29.  Most people only seem to be aware of the “thou shalt nots” of the Law.  However, there are positive commands in there, as well.  It isn’t enough not to do the “nots,” we must also “do” the “does.”  We must not murder, for example, but we must also love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, Deuteronomy 6:5.  Only the Lord Jesus ever did that.

But, why was it necessary for Jesus to keep the Law?  Three reasons, at least.

a.)  According to Galatians 4:4, He was born of a woman, born under the Law.  That is, He was human, and He was a Jew.  On both counts, He Himself was accountable to God.  When the Scripture says that Jesus was tempted [or tested] in all points like we are, one area of testing was obedience.  In Heaven, He was equal with the Father; on earth, He laid aside that equality and came in the form of a bondservant, Philippians 2:7, a servant who was submissive to the will of the Father.

Hebrews 5:8 says, …though He were a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.  Just in passing, if the Word, John 1:1, were only a created being, as certain cults claim, wouldn’t He have “learned obedience” before His incarnation?

b).  He must obey the Law so He wouldn’t incur its penalty and come under the wrath of God Himself.  Scripture is plain:  the soul that sins shall die, Ezekiel 18:20; the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23.

c.)  He must obey the Law so as to secure its righteousness.

What does this mean?  First of all, what is “righteousness”?  Simply put, it’s a right standing before God.   To “secure” means to “obtain, to get.”

Israel never kept the Law so as to do this, Romans 10:2, 3; Deuteronomy 6:25.  Now, they thought they had.  Like Paul before his conversion, they thought that concerning the law, they were blameless, Philippians 3:6.  After his conversion, Paul considered all such efforts as detestable and worthless, v. 8.  Paul had learned that the only righteousness God will accept is one that he couldn’t work out or earn and didn’t deserve, and it was only to be obtained by faith in the One whose righteousness it is.  It’s noteworthy that our Lord is called Jesus Christ the righteous in 1 John 2:2.  That’s because we have no righteousness of our own.  Only with His righteousness imputed to us by faith will we ever stand before God uncondemned.

In keeping the Law, Jesus “secured” a righteousness He didn’t need because He already was, and is, holy, harmless, undefiled [and] separate from sinners, Hebrews 7:26.  So it became “available” for others to use.  Multitudes look to the supposed “merits” of man-made saints to help them get to Heaven.  Beloved, there is only one Person who ever had any “merit” to begin with, let alone have some “left over” for others!

2).  He suffered the punishment due to breaking the Law.

Though sinless Himself, He was numbered with the transgressors, Isaiah 53:12.  He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, Hebrews 9:26.  Though innocent, He was treated as guilty – even by the Father.  Though some question how Jesus could suffer an eternity of punishment in just a few hours, the truth is that He did.  The sufficiency of His death doesn’t depend on long [in time] He suffered, or even how many He died for.  The sufficiency of His death comes from the fact that HE died – God manifest in the flesh!  Everything about His death depended on that one fact – that God manifested in the flesh died on a Roman cross.  And He did die.  The soldiers, the centurion, even Pilate, gave witness to that fact.  He didn’t just “swoon” or some other Devil’s lie from hell.  Though fully God, He laid aside His power, position and prerogative as God and, though still God, He became fully human, apart from sin (which is not an essential to being human), and lived and died as every human being must.

However, unlike every other human death, His death actually took care of the reason why men all die:  all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Questions

1.  Write out Psalm 49:6-9.

2.  What does this Psalm say about the “costliness” of redemption?

3.  What did the Father have to do with what the Son did?

4.  What was Jesus’ “exegesis” of the Father?

5.  Is God’s love greater than His justice?

6.  Did Jesus know for whom He was dying?

7.  How, or why?

8.  What was Jesus’ first responsibility as far as His sheep were concerned?

9.  What does the preposition, “for,” mean?

10. What did Jesus do to satisfy God’s Law?

11. Can anyone else do that?  Why, or why not?

“The Kindness of God.” Part 4: “…whom He foreknew”

In our last post, we considered some misconceptions about the doctrine of election and then looked at what the Bible says about that much-controverted doctrine.  In this post, we want to look at the widely-held view that God chose those whom He knew would choose Him.  We’ll also study verses which are said to oppose our view and then, finally, some objections against the doctrine.

C.  Election and the Foreknowledge of God.

Sooner or later, in reading the Bible, one will come across verses which refer to election.  This may cause questions, especially among new believers.  Usually, an older Christian or a preacher or a book will point them to verses like Romans 8:29, which says, in part, whom He foreknew, He predestined…. (NKJV).  The one asking the question is assured that “…it’s really quite simple.  God looked down through the corridors of time and foresaw some who would choose to believe in Jesus.  These are the ones whom God chose to be His elect.”  I’ve heard it myself.  See also 1 Peter 1:2.  This explanation sounds plausible, it appeals to Scripture and it’s the almost universally accepted teaching about election.  Is it true?  Did God just choose those whom He knew would choose Him?

There are several things to say about this “choice” of God’s, which really isn’t HIS choice at all.

 1.  The Bible itself uses the picture of God looking down from heaven in Psalm 14:2 and 53:2.  Psalm 14:2 says, the LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. If the “looking down through history” view is correct, it seems to me that David would have made some comment which would support it.  However, he wrote in v. 3, They are all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.  Instead of seeing some who will “accept” Him, God sees only wholesale and total rejection of Himself.  Not even one person will turn to Him.  No, not one.  Paul refers to this verse in Romans 3:10, 11 in his teaching about the universal sinfulness of mankind.

2.  The Bible sometimes links together God’s purpose and His foreknowledge, and when it does, God’s purpose is mentioned first.  In Acts 2:23, Peter declared that the Lord Jesus was delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of  God. Surely, surely, no one would be so foolish as to believe that Christ’s death on the Cross was included in God’s purpose simply because God “foresaw” that it would happen!  Acts 4:28 clearly indicates otherwise:  to do whatever YOUR hand and YOUR PURPOSE determined before to be done (emphasis added).  God’s “foreknowledge” is based on His knowledge beforehand about what HE plans to do, and not at all on what He simply sees that others are going to do.

3.  Those who believe in conditional election, that is, that God only foresaw those who would believe, sometimes argue from the omniscience of God, that is, that He knows everything.  This is true.  God does know everything.  He knows everything intuitively, that is, He doesn’t learn by observation and experience, like we do.  Furthermore, He knows everything immediately.  He doesn’t have to search His memory for some fact or thought.  He knows everything all the time.  In addition, He knows what could happen, but won’t, Isaiah 48:18, 19, as well as what will actually come to pass.

The thing is, what makes the difference between an actual event and a possible event?  If we say that God knows something will come to pass simply as a matter of knowing it beforehand and not because He purposed it, aren’t we saying that there is something outside of God by which He is affected and to which He responds?  Does the Almighty God of Scripture just react to what is going on?  Though they may not realize it, this seems to me to be the actual view of most professing Christians.  In contrast, the Scripture teaches that God is proactive, Daniel 4:35; Ephesians 1:11.

Our conclusion is that the Bible does not teach that God merely chose or elected those whom He foresaw would choose Him.  This unBiblical teaching strikes at the very heart of Christianity and denies or distorts its major teaching of salvation by grace through faith.

D. Scriptures Used to Contradict Our View.

1.  2 Peter 3:9, God is not willing that any should perish. 

Though that’s how it’s usually quoted, the whole verse actually says, The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us [some versions read, “you”], not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 

First, what is the “promise” to which Peter refers?  It’s the promise of His coming, 3:4.  Because it has been such a long time [in our thinking] since the promise was made, almost 2000 years now, many will scoff at and ridicule the idea of Christ’s return at all. This skeptical attitude brings out the question, “Why hasn’t He returned?”

Peter answers the question in v. 9: there are still some people to be saved.

Who are these people?  Are they, as modern Christians believe, people whom God is trying His best to save, but they won’t let Him?

Of, or to whom, is it said that God is longsuffering?  Well, who are the “us” or “you” to whom or about Peter is writing.  1 Peter was written to “the elect,” 1:2.  2 Peter was written to those whom Peter exhorts to make their calling and election sure, or certain, 1:10.  In other words, Peter himself defines what he means in 2 Peter 3:9:  God is longsuffering toward us – the elect.  A few verses later, he tells us to account that the longsuffering of the Lord is salvation, v. 15.

Perhaps Peter remembered what our Lord said in John 10:16, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring and there will be one flock and one shepherd.  The Lord hasn’t come back yet because all His sheep aren’t in the fold. In this year of our Lord, 2015, some of them may not even be born yet, though I don’t know that.  He may come back today.  If He had already come back, some of His sheep would be lost, because they are by nature the children of wrath, just as the others, Ephesians 2:3.

2.  1 Timothy 2:4, [God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

According to some, this verse means that God wants everyone to be saved.  Those who know the older KJV say, “It’s God’s will for everyone to be saved.”

In the language of the New Testament, there are two words translated “will”.  Though there is some discussion about this, one word is much stronger than the other.  It refers to something deliberate and settled, which will lead to action.  The second word refers more to an inclination or wish, which may or may not lead to action.

It is this second word that Paul used in writing to Timothy.  We might paraphrase the verse like this:  “God would not mind if all men were saved….”

Paul couldn’t have used the first word because, as we saw in Matthew 13:11, there are some men from whom the truth is hidden, and so they are unable to come to the knowledge of the truth, without which they can’t be saved.  And there are many who would have embraced the truth, but it was never sent to them.

Some try to say that the text refers to “all kinds of men,” but I see no reason for that.  God Himself says that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, Ezekiel 18:32; 33:11.  God doesn’t rub His hands in glee at the prospect of the damnation of sinners, even though He is under no obligation to prevent it.

3.  1 John 4:8, God is love.

There are those who agree that there is nothing in us to draw God to us, and that we don’t deserve to be saved.  There is, however, according to them, something in God which draws Him to us.  That “something” is His love, which, they say, is His basic attribute.  They argue that because of this basic attribute, God must love every individual and cannot, therefore, choose to bless one and bypass another.

If this is so, then isn’t it interesting that the Lord Jesus never publicly proclaimed the love of God.  John 3 records a private conversation.  Furthermore, the early church never even mentioned it.  In the entire book of Acts, there is only one occurrence of any form of the various words translated, “love.”  It’s found in Acts 28:2, where, after the shipwreck of Paul and his companions and they were able to make it to shore, the natives showed them no little kindness.  Our word “philanthropy” comes from the Greek word translated “kindness.”

After His resurrection, our Lord clearly told the disciples what they were to preach.  It would be good exercise for you to read those six chapters – there are only six.  When you do, you’ll find that the disciples understood the command and preached only those things the Lord told them to.  The “love of God” wasn’t one of them.  Incidentally, “the love of God” isn’t “the message” in 1 John, either.

E.  Some Objections to the Doctrine of Election.

1.  “God is no respecter of persons.”

This is true.  However, without exception, when this impartiality of God is mentioned in Scripture, it’s always in connection with His justice, never His grace.  In the judgment of unbelievers, there is and will be no favoritism based on economic condition or ethnicity or political connection or anything else that is often the basis of human decision or action.  No one will be treated less fairly that anyone else.

The world has the cynical saying, “All people are equal.  Some are just more ‘equal’ than others.”  We all understand what that means:  the recognition that among men there is seldom the true impartiality there ought to be in matters requiring fairness or equity.  That is not the case with God, nor will it ever be.  No one will be judged less strictly or more severely that his or her sins warrant.  No one who stands before Him will have any cause to complain at His judgment.  Every unbeliever will get what they deserve, no more and no less.

2.  It makes God a hypocrite or liar.

After all, “whosoever will may come.”  If God has chosen some to be saved, this invitation isn’t true and God is making promises to people He hasn’t chosen to respond to them.

There are some things wrong with this objection.

a.  “Whosoever will may come.”  This is indisputably true.  There is nothing in Scripture that prevents or forbids anyone from coming to Christ.  What many deny or fail to realize is that, apart from the sovereign grace of God, we’re all “whosoever ‘won’ts’.”

b.  It ignores the crucial difference between “may” and “can.”  “May” gives permission; “can” assumes ability.  The Scriptures do not say, “Whosoever will can come.”  In fact. it was the Lord Himself who said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him,” John 6:44 (emphasis added).

c.  This objection goes just as much against the “foresight” argument, which admits that God knows just as infallibly who will and will not receive the Gospel.  Yet the proponents of this argument do not believe that God is hypocritically offering the Gospel to those He infallibly knows will reject it.

3.  Election is a divisive doctrine.

So it is, but that’s not the doctrine’s fault.  The reason it is “divisive” and calls forth such bitterness and anger is because of man.  The fact that God has sovereignly and graciously intervened to prevent the destruction of some sinners and not others calls forth the hostility and rebellion that lies at the root of all sin.  That God is sovereign in salvation, men hate because they wish to be God.  They want to call the shots, to make the rules.  That God is gracious in salvation, choosing some sinners to be saved for no reason to be found in themselves, sinful men hate because they will not let go of their hope of meriting or receiving the grace of God through some act or worthiness of their own.  They believe God somehow to be in their debt, instead of realizing or admitting their own spiritual bankruptcy, depravity and guilt.

 4.  Election is fatalism.

There is a huge difference between this doctrine and fatalism.  In fatalism, things happen without rhyme or reason, simply because they must happen.  There is no wise God to plan it, no omnipotence to bring it about, no love to temper it, no justice to make it fair.  It simply must happen.  The difference might be illustrated by the following story: a ship carrying both Muslims and Christians encountered a severe storm.  One of the sailors was swept overboard.  The Muslims said, “If it is written that he be saved, he will be saved.”  The Christians replied, “Perhaps it is written that we should save him,” and threw a rope and life-preserver to the struggling sailor.  The doctrine of election doesn’t deny or negate the use of means, but rather, it is through these means that election is fulfilled.  The only thing that “just happens” is “nothing.”

5.  Election discourages evangelism.

The only kind of evangelism that understanding the truth about election discourages is the kind that says, “God has done all He can do, and now it’s up to you.”

I spent my first several years as a believer among fundamentalists who were very much into “soul-winning.”  But it was all about “method:” go through these four steps with a person and if he does these things, he’ll be saved.  In preaching, I don’t know how many times I heard a preacher say, after the message, “Now we come to the most important part of the service,” in which verse after verse after verse of “Just As I Am” was sung and the preacher would urge people to come forward to “the altar.”

Beloved, God only has one altar, and that’s the only place we’ll ever find salvation:  at the foot of that Cross stained by the blood of the Son of God, who died that sinners might be saved – not by or because of what they do, but because of who He is and what He did for such as us.  It’s not in the front of some building.  Or a piece of furniture which is part of some liturgy.  These are the invention of men.

I did an earlier post on “The Roman’s Road,” which explains a little more about this and my experiences as a Fundamentalist.  Just let me finish with this.  We’re all sinners and there’s only one way to be delivered from sin and only one Person who can do anything about it:  the Lord Jesus Christ.  Only in Him is there salvation.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

Questions

1.  Did God just “look down the corridors of time” to see who would “accept” Him?

2.  According to Scripture, which comes first:  God’s foreknowledge or His purpose?

3.  How does God know all things that will happen?

4.  Does it really matter what one believes about God’s “foreknowledge”?

5.  Why hasn’t Jesus returned to this earth yet?

6.  Did God plan salvation so everyone could be saved?

7.  How could God NOT plan the salvation of everyone?

8.  What four things did the early church preach?  (Note: you’ll have to read the six chapters about the post-resurrection ministry of the Lord.  You could perhaps say there were only two things He told them to preach.  Nevertheless, what did He say?)

9.  Doesn’t this view make God a respecter of persons?

10. Doesn’t it make Him a hypocrite?

11. Isn’t it fatalism?

12. How are people saved?

“The Kindness of God.” Part 3: “But God….”

In our first two posts, we looked at the fact and effects of the Fall of Adam and Eve, both for them and for us, their descendants.  We saw that Man was not just “bruised by the Fall,” as the old gospel song put it, but was killed by it.  Adam, and through him, us, lost spiritual life and we remain in the tomb of spiritual death.  How, then, shall we live?

The answer to that question is also seen in Genesis.  God came to the guilty couple and, paying no attention to their efforts to undo or cover up what they had done, did something about it Himself .  Observe, also, that He didn’t merely “provide” the coats, or tunics, of skin and then leave it up to them whether or not they would put them on.  No, no, He came to them and clothed them.  He didn’t ask for their input, cooperation or permission.  He just did it….

II.  The Kindness of Grace. 

In our first post, we referred to 2 Samuel 9:3 and Ephesians 2:7.  It is from these verses that we get the idea of “kindness.”  We’ll not consider 2 Samuel 9:3 further, but leave you with the idea that this act of David toward Mephibosheth was undeserved, unearned, unexpected and unsought and it was because of another.  These words are a good description of what is one of the most misunderstood and vilified teachings in Scripture:  the doctrine of election.

This post and the next one will briefly cover five general areas:  1). Some misconceptions about the teaching.  2)  What the Bible says about it.  3).  Election and the foreknowledge of God.  4).  Some verses used to oppose this teaching.  5).  Some objections to the teaching.

A. Misconceptions about the Doctrine of Election.

1. Election means the condemnation of some who otherwise would be saved.

The cover of a popular booklet several years ago showed a man with his hands tied behind his back, head bowed, being prodded toward the flames of Hell by a sword held in a hand extending from Heaven.  This is absolutely false!!  The Biblical doctrine is that, because of election, there are many going to Heaven who would otherwise, without exception, have gone to Hell!

Hear what the Scripture says:  Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah, Romans 9:29.

As much as we hate to admit it, except by the grace and purpose of God, we’d all be out there right in the middle of all the world’s corruption.  We want nothing to do with God as He is.  It’s only because of His unbelievable mercy and grace that He wants anything to do with us!

2.  Election is merely God’s choice of those whom He knew would choose Him.

We’ll have more to say about this later.

3.  Election is God choosing between His children.

I had a lady tell me this.  It’s based on the popular and false idea that we’re all already the children of God.  But we’re not just wayward children wandering from the care of a loving Father.  We’re rebels against the God of Heaven and traitors to everything He holds dear.  On the contrary, it is God choosing some of those rebels and traitors to become His children!

4.  Sinners are worse off because of election.

This would be true only if the Scripture teaches the election of sinners to damnation in the same way that it teaches the election of sinners to salvation.  Granted, there are some who believe that.  I do not!  Sinners are condemned because of their sin, not because of some decree of God.  The Biblical view is that, because of election, sinners are much better off.  Without election, there would be no salvation at all.

B. The Biblical Doctrine of Election.

 1.  Election is from eternity past, Ephesians 1:4, Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.

See also Ephesians 3:22; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8; 17:8.

Granted, not all of these verses refer specifically to election, but they do clearly show that salvation isn’t some sort of “Plan B” God had to scramble to improvise in a “hastily-called meeting of the Eternal Council,” as one writer put it about the aftermath of the Fall.

The teaching is common that believers become “elect” when they believe, not before.  This is not true.  The Bible places election before time began, 2 Timothy 1:9.  …before time began, God had thoughts of love toward His people, determining that they would be His people, and including everything that would be involved in bringing them from a state of being “sinners” to a state of being “saints.”

2.  Election is “unto salvation,” 2 Thessalonians 2:13, …God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation….

There are Scriptures which refer to an election to national privilege, such as Deuteronomy 7:7, or to “service,” as John 15:16, but these are not the only such “elections.”  We’ve quoted 2 Thessalonians 2:13 above, but when Paul wrote that God chose us in order that we should be holy and without blame before Him, Ephesians 1:4, what was He talking about, if not salvation?

3.  Election is personal, Revelation 17:8, …whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world. 

See also Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 13:8.

Some try to soften the Biblical doctrine of election by making it impersonal.  They say that God only chose the number who would be saved, or that He chose the plan by which they would be saved, or that He chose “in Christ,” but one’s inclusion in “the number” or “the plan” or “in Christ” is an individual matter.  It’s still up to the person to make his decision to go along with God’s choice of the impersonal means of salvation.

Certainly God knows how many elect there are, as well as who they are.  And Christ Himself is referred to as chosen, Luke 23:35, 1 Peter 2:4, but election is so much more than this.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians that God chose us.  To the Thessalonians, he wrote that God has chosen you.  Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 tell us that the names of the elect were written down before the foundation of the world.

Election is personal.

4.  Election is unconditional, Ephesians 1:5, …having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

See also Romans 9:16; Ephesians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; James 1:18.

By “unconditional,” we mean that there is nothing in the sinner that is the basis for God’s choice of that sinner.  This is pretty much the opposite of what is generally believed about the doctrine, namely, that there is something foreseen in the elect that is the basis for their election.  However, Scripture teaches that it’s according to His will, to His good pleasure, that the elect are chosen, and not according to their will or their good pleasure.  We’ll leave further comments on this until the section on God’s foreknowledge, although the next segment of this post continues the thought that election is “unconditional.”

5.  Election is the sovereign choice of God, Matthew 11:20-26,

Then [Jesus] began to upbraid the cities in which most of His mighty works began to be done, because they did not repent:   “Woe to you, Chorazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sodom, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.  And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”
At that time, Jesus answered and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.  Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.”  
(emphasis added.)

These verses, and others like them, trouble people who have only been taught a humanistic and unScriptural view of the “love” of God.  But, remember, these words are not the words of some “wicked theologian imposing his views on Scripture.”  They are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, saying that there were some whom God knew would repent if given the opportunity, but they were never given the opportunity!  Instead, the Bible teaches that Sodom was set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire, Jude 7.

We’ll not look at them, but you might also consider the choice of Israel as God’s chosen nation, passing by every other nation.  Also, God’s instruction to Ezekiel at the beginning of his ministry:  Ezekiel 3:5, 6.

The truth is, the Bible teaches, almost in every chapter, that God is sovereign, even in matters of salvation.  However, it neither apologizes for, nor seeks to make this teaching “reasonable” or “acceptable” to fallen mankind.  It simply says that it is so.

6.  Election comes because of the grace of God, Ephesians 1:4-6, Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…to the praise of the glory of His grace. 

“Wait a minute!” I can hear someone say.  “Doesn’t this contradict what you just said about the ‘sovereign choice of God’?”

Not at all.  After all, what is grace?

Simply defined, grace is “God’s unmerited favor in spite of our merited disfavor.”  In other words, we don’t merit, or deserve, God’s favor.  We do deserve, or merit, His disfavor:  His wrath and judgment.  In fact, Paul wrote that the elect are by nature the children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3.  That God chose to save even one sinner is more than we could rightfully expect.  That He has chosen to save the innumerable multitudes that He has saved, and will yet save, is beyond comprehension.

Many people who might accept our definition of grace really don’t believe it, or perhaps they just haven’t thought it through.  There’s more to this idea that we don’t deserve God’s grace than meets the eye.  If we’re upset by the idea that God might choose one and not another, simply because He wants to, saying that such an action is “unjust” or “unfair,” then we are really saying, after all, that man does deserve to be saved.  If that is so, salvation is not by grace at all; it is by reward or debt.  God owes it to us.

7.  Election is in connection to Christ, Ephesians 1:4, 6.

As we said earlier, this doesn’t mean that God simply chose us “in Christ,” leaving everything else up to us.

a.  When my firstborn son was just an infant, I was somewhere where there was a crying baby.  He was having a fit about something, as babies know how to do!  I had never liked crying babies, but as I looked at this red-faced little fellow, somehow I saw my own son, and it was alright.

What I’m saying is that our condition before God is so offensive to Him that the only way He will even think about being gracious toward us is through His Son.  The only way you and I will ever stand uncondemned before God is “in Christ.”  The only reason you and I aren’t in hell right now is because God loved His only-begotten Son (NKJV) so much that He decided to have a whole bunch of adopted sons and daughters just like Him!

b.  Not only did God give His Son for us, John 3:16, but it is clear from Scripture that there were people given to the Son and for whom He assumed special responsibility.  Scripture describes these people in various ways:  a gift, John 6:37, 39; 17:2, 6;  sheep, John 10:14-16, 26-28.  Other descriptions are found in Romans 8:29; Galatians 4:28; Hebrews 2:10-14, and many others.

We’ll conclude our thoughts on election in the next post.

Questions

1.  Does the doctrine of election harm sinners?

2.  Did God simply choose those whom He knew would choose Him?

3.  When did God make His choice?

4.  What are the different “kinds” of election?

5.  Didn’t God just choose the “means” or “plan” of salvation?

6.  Were there any “conditions” in the sinner which influenced God’s choice?

7.  Define “grace.”

8.  The world defines “grace” as God simply making salvation available.  Is this true?

9.  Do we deserve grace?  Why or why not?

10. Can we earn it?  Why or why not?

11. What do the Scriptures call the elect beside a “gift” and “sheep”?

“The Kindness of God.” Part 2: “Sin Entered.”

We began our post last time using the question in Psalm 8:4 as a starting point, what is man, that you are mindful of him?   We looked at the creation of Adam and Eve and their subsequent disobedience to a simple command of God: a single tree in the Garden is out of bounds.  And He told them why, they would die.  We discussed what that meant to them.

In this lesson, we want to look at what that means to us.

The Scripture speaks of man being created “in the image of God,” as we’ll see below, and so there are those who talk of  “the divinity of man,” and the “divine spark” in his heart that only needs to be fanned a little for man to show what a wonderful person he really is deep down inside.  This isn’t what the Scripture means.  God did not create another “god.”

B. The Condition of the Family of Adam and Eve.

In Romans 5, Paul built upon the historical fact of the Fall of our first parents in his development of its effects.  Scripture from Genesis to Revelation shows us the condition of the human family.

1.  Man is fallen naturally, Genesis 5:3.

More attention should be paid to this verse.  Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him. However, Genesis 5:3 says that Adam…fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth (emphasis added).  There are those who believe that every infant is born “in the Garden,” that is, innocent and without sin.  Innocent they may indeed be of actual transgression, but, as there was never an infant born in the actual Garden, so there is no infant born without a sin nature.  It doesn’t take very long in real life for an infant to demonstrate that he is indeed a sinner, “born and bred.”  No parent ever has to teach his child to be selfish, be dishonest, to lie or to cheat.  They go astray as soon as they are born, Psalm 58:3.  There is no “divinity” in man; there is only, if I may coin a phrase, “devility.”

2.  Man is dead spiritually, Ephesians 2:1-3.

Paul described the unsaved as dead in trespasses and sins.  Clearly, this doesn’t mean non-existence or unconsciousness, as some erroneously teach about physical death.  However, spiritual death cannot be compared exactly to physical death.  A corpse is totally passive and unresponsive, seeing nothing, feeling nothing, knowing nothing and doing nothing.  It is completely indifferent to its surroundings.  It is dead.  However, according to Paul, spiritual death is a condition of separation from, rebellion against and resistance to God.

“Death” refers to both an event and to a condition.  We say, “So-and-so died,” referring to the event that ends physical life.  We say, “So-and-so is dead,” referring to the condition that results from the event.  For mankind spiritually, the event took place when Adam disobeyed God.  From that time forward, beginning with Cain and continuing down to us and our children and grandchildren, every single one of us has been born into the condition of spiritual death.  We are “born dead” spiritually as surely as we are “born alive” physically.  This condition has two elements:

a.  separation.

Physical death separates us from our family and friends; spiritual death separates us from God.  To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote of their pre-conversion life in part as being separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, having no hope and without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12, (emphasis added).  In spite of all the religion in the world, without the Lord Jesus Christ we are all afar off from God, Ephesians 2:13.  We are dead to God.  But there is also –

b.  alienation.

Paul wrote to the church at Colosse that they once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, Colossians 1:21.  In our natural state, so far from our being His children and He the Father of all mankind, as many believe, – so far from our struggling toward Him in some dim and obscure fashion, – so far from our being on one of the many roads which lead to heaven, – we are His enemies, Romans 5:10.  We have turned every one to his own way, Isaiah 53:6.  We are dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1 (emphasis added).

3.  Man is dysfunctional personally. 

Another term for this is “total depravity,” which conveys an inaccurate picture.  When we think of someone who is depraved, we think of a Hitler or some vile criminal.  However, that’s not really the meaning of the word.  Even Hitler did “good” on occasion.  The word itself comes from the Latin.  “Pravus” means “bent” or “crooked,” and “de” is a particle emphasizing the meaning of the word.  So then, being “totally depraved” means that we are “thoroughly bent.”  We are dysfunctional; nothing works right.

As to his personality, man may be considered in three aspects:  mind, emotions and will.  With his mind, man thinks, reasons, understands.  With his emotions, he has feelings and desires.  With his will, he makes choices and decisions.  The Fall has affected all three of these areas, even the will.

a. the mind.

Part of our difficulty lies in the fact that we are finite, that is, mere creatures, trying to understand the works and ways of One who is infinite.  As well might an amoeba try to understand physics as for us to “understand” God.  Still, our main difficulty lies in the fact that we are fallen, sinful creatures.  Even what little we do know is messed up.  Jude wrote, whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these they corrupt themselves, Jude 10.  No part of our lives or being has escaped being “messed up” by the fallenness, the sinfulness, of man.

However, the fatal flaw lies in our lack of “spiritual” understanding.  In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul taught that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Two things are in this verse:  1). We won’t receive the things of God because we think they’re foolish.  This refers to our attitude toward them.  2).  We can’t received the things of God because we don’t have the ability to receive them.  We are dead in regard to them.  In Romans 8:7, Paul wrote, the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot (emphasis added).  “The mind set on the flesh” is another way to describe “the natural man:”  us as we’re born physically.

b.  the emotions.

Our Lord taught that men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil, John 3:19.  For the most part, man loves his sin and is quite content to remain in “darkness.”  As long as the gospel “invitation” centers on his escaping the consequences of his sin, man will listen.  “Do you want to be saved from hell?”  Of course, he does, even if he doesn’t believe such a place exists.  Folks may joke about it or use it as a swear word, but no one in their right mind wants to go there.  However, if the question is, “Do you want to be saved from your sins?” the response is usually quite different.

c.  the will.

Here’s where the controversy lies.  Many who say they believe in “total depravity” believe as well, contrary to Scripture, man is able to understand and to receive the things of God, especially salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, without or perhaps with a little grace that leaves the final choice up to man.  After all, “whosoever will.”  However, Revelation 22:17 says, And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely (KJV).  How many people out there in the world, or even in “church” for that matter, are “athirst” for the water of life?

At the same time, let us agree that man does indeed have a will.  When I say the will been affected by the Fall, I don’t mean that it has been destroyed, as some claim the doctrines of grace teach.  We make choices all the time, even about spiritual matters and about God and His Word.  Indeed, it is the choices we make that determine the kind of life we lead and the kind of person we are.  Man has a will.

The question is not whether or not we have a will, but how does it work?  In other words, how does a man or woman, boy or girl, decide something at any particular moment and in any given situation?  What “decides” the deciding?

Further, let us agree that the man or woman, girl or boy, actually makes the choice and does the acting.  We’re neither puppets or robots.  On the one hand, it’s possible to take a belief in the sovereignty of God to the point where that is what is really being said.  For example, I used to know a brother who would always say, “I was caused to believe.”  He would never say, “I believe.”  Cf. 2 Timothy 1:12.  The sovereignty of God does not negate, diminish or undermine the will of man.  On the other hand, it’s possible so to emphasize man’s will that a “No Trespassing” sign is, in effect, put up, and God can’t do anything in our lives without our permission.  Though much more prevalent, this view is as wrong as the other.

In order to understand how the will functions, look at two examples of its working:  one before the Fall, and one after.

Genesis 3:6 says, …when the woman saw that the tree was food for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…. Her mind and her emotions were both involved.  The fruit of the tree was good for food and could make one “wise.”   These appealed to her thought, her mind.  The tree was a delight to the eyes, and its fruit desired.  These appealed to her feelings, her emotions.  Based on these factors, Eve “willed,” deciding to take and eat the fruit.  Her choice did not happen by itself.  Neither do ours.

We see the other example, after the Fall, in Joshua 7, especially v. 21.  Compare the two incidents.  They are identical.

If a person is hostile toward God, thinks His Word is foolish and wants no part of righteousness, it’s unreasonable to assume that his will, his choice, is not affected and determined by these things.  As much as modern man might want it, the will is not isolated and insulated from what we are.  It’s in the same boat we are, and goes along for the ride quite “willingly.”

Beside the will does “decide,” but follow through isn’t always successful.  How many of you have decided to lose weight, or quit smoking or some other bad habit?  How about starting some good habit, like exercising or reading Scripture more faithfully or more regular prayer?  Paul knew this:  to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good, I find not, Romans 7:18.

4.  Man is declared guilty judicially, John 3:18. 

In Ephesians 2:3, Paul wrote that even believers, though elect from the foundation of the world, 1:4, are by nature children of wrath, just as the others.  See also John 3:36; Romans 3:19.  There is a mistaken notion that everybody is headed for “a better place,” regardless of what kind of life was lived by the person going there, or what kind of person they were.  However, John 3:18 says of those who do not believe in Christ that they are condemned already.  We may not want to believe it, but Scripture reveals that it is already too late.  It’s too late for good works, for reformation, for turning over a new leaf!  Apart from the Lord Jesus, we’re condemned already!  It’s too late for religion, for ceremony, for good intentions.  The verdict has already been reached:  we are guilty before God and sentenced for execution.  Apart from the Lord Jesus, this life is little more than a cell on death row, and life is simply a waiting for the executioner to come and carry out the sentence.   He who does not believe is condemned already, John 3:18.

5.  Man is disapproved individually, Romans 3:10, 11. 

 It’s human nature to believe that we’re better than Scripture says we are.  After all, look at so-and-so!  The trouble is, with Scripture, we are the “so-and-so” – there is no difference…, Romans 3:22.  In the verses at the heading of this section, Paul tells us:

a.  there is none righteous.  

This means that none of us measure up to God’s holy standard, as revealed in His Word and demonstrated by the Lord Jesus.  Our very best, our “acts of righteousness,” are nothing more than filthy rags in the sight of God, Isaiah 64:6.  What must our unrighteousness be in His sight?  The term “filthy rags” refers to a menstrual cloth, or a rag that a leper might use to wipe his sores.  Not very pretty, but a graphic description of our natural state before God.

b.  there is none who understands.

“Understands” what?  Our condition before God, in contrast to His perfect holiness and righteousness.  Man can and does understand much of the world he lives in, but forgets he must answer to the One who created, sustains and governs it.

c.  there is none who seeks after God.

Because of our innate belief that “loincloths” are sufficient to cover whatever deficiencies we might have, we don’t realize that God is the only One who can do that. We don’t understand that our “answers” are all wrong!  And too often, we don’t care.  In our sinfulness, we refuse to come to God, yet He is the only One with the answer to our sin problem.

In our next post, we’ll begin to look at how He has answered it.

Questions

 1.  Whose image did Adam pass along to his children?

 2.  What is the effect of this?

 3.  What does “spiritually dead” mean?

 4.  What are the two elements of spiritual death?

 5.  What does “total depravity” mean?

 6.  How does total depravity affect our mind?

 7.  Our emotions?

 8.  Our wills?

 9.  What is our standing before God judicially?

10. What is our standing before God individually?

11. What is “righteousness”?

“The Kindness of God.” Part 1: “What is Man?”

Why “kindness”?  We’ll take a closer look at this later.  For now, consider 2 Samuel 9:3 and Ephesians 2:7.

I.  The Necessity of Grace.

Before the Renaissance, it was believed that the proper study of mankind was God.  With the Renaissance and the rise of humanism came the belief that the proper study of mankind is man.  This is alright up to a point; we should know as much about ourselves as possible, but as it has developed, too many believe that when you are studying man, you are studying God!

What does the Bible say about Man?  Why is grace necessary?  Is it necessary?  We start at the beginning.

A. The Creation and Fall of Adam and Eve, Genesis 1-3.

 Our Lord accepted the Genesis accounts of creation and the Fall as historical events.  So did Paul.  So do we.

1.   The creation of Adam and Eve, Genesis 1:26-31; 2:8-25.

We can in these lessons do little more than touch the surface.

a.  their responsibility, 1:26, 28.

They were to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; …have dominion over…every living thing that moves on the earth.  In other words, they were to explore their new home and put it to good use.  In a sinless context like the Garden, the word “dominion” carries the idea of stewardship, not “domination,” as it so often does in a sinful context, like ours.  Adam was to till the ground, not just lie around in idleness.  Even in “paradise,” there was work to do.

b. their resources, 1:29; 2:16.

They were given to eat freely of every tree in the Garden except one.  There was no miserly rationing of things they might need, but all was freely given, even access to the Tree of Life.  If they’d’ve been smart, they would have rushed right over and eaten of it.  It should have been their first meal!  Of course, they had no way of knowing the future, or what was at stake.

c.  their restriction, 2:17.

There was only one tree which they were forbidden to eat from, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  This restriction served a two-fold purpose:  1).  Even though, in a sense, Adam was lord of all he surveyed, yet he was still just a creature and, as such, subject to the will of the Creator.  2).  Adam and Eve didn’t need to know about “good and evil.”  They had full access to God.  He determines what is “good,” and what is “evil.”  In their lives just now, there was no “evil.”  If there were any questions, they had only to ask Him.

2.  The conduct of Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:1-6. 

a.  they listened, vs. 1-5.

Even in the Garden, they made bad choices:  Eve to listen to the serpent, and Adam to listen to his wife.  Though perhaps humorous, this last really isn’t funny, because from these few minutes in the Garden have come millennia, indeed, even an eternity, of sin and suffering.  Notice how Satan turned the generosity of God into an intolerable restraint, implying that He was keeping something good from them.  Furthermore, he said, they wouldn’t “die” if they ate the fruit.  To the contrary, they would become like God, and by this, he implied, they wouldn’t need Him to be their moral and spiritual compass.  They could decide for themselves.

b.  they looked, v. 6.

We say, “They,” because the verse says that Adam was “with her.”  We believe he was there all the time.  She didn’t have to go looking for him.  Now, the tree looked beautiful and its fruit, she was told, was beneficial.  In her defense, Eve had no experience with deceit, it not having become part of the daily fabric of life.  So she picked a delicious-looking fruit – probably not an apple, and ate it.  Then she “shared” with Adam.

3.  The consequences to Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:7-24. 

a.  they died, (Genesis 2:17).

What does they “died” mean, since Adam lived well over 900 years outside the Garden?  Seeing this, some have looked at Psalm 90:4 and its repetition in 2 Peter 3:8, and misreading it as if it said 1000 years is one day to the Lord, have said that this is what God meant.  However, the only “day” Adam likely knew, never having read Psalm 90:4, was the “day” of 24 hours.  Besides, there is a certain immediacy in God’s warning – in the day you eat of it [the fruit], you shall surely die” that is lost if all God meant was that Adam would live less than a thousand years.

Before the Sun went down on that fateful day when they disobeyed God, Adam and Eve had died.  As we’ll see shortly, the primary effect of death is separation, and we read no more of any fellowship Adam and Eve had with God.  They were now afraid of Him and tried to hide.

b. they tried to do something about it, Genesis 3:7.

The world with its warped thought jokes about “the oldest profession in the world,” but they’re wrong.  The oldest “profession” is that of tailor.  Mankind still has no understanding of its condition before God, Romans 3:11, yet knows something is “wrong,” and so is still making “loincloths.”

c.  they shifted the blame, Genesis 3:12, 13.

Ultimately, Adam blamed God:  “the woman You gave me….”  Eve blamed the serpent. Yet the responsibility had been given to Adam to keep the Garden.  He failed in his primary responsibilities to God and to protect (another meaning of the word translated, “keep”) Eve.  After all, she was part of what God had entrusted into his keeping.

d.  their relationship were disrupted.

Their primary relationship was with God.  Before the Fall, and we don’t know how long that took, they had enjoyed fellowship with God, Genesis 3:8.  I’m sure, for example, that it was a festive occasion when God brought Eve to Adam.  However, after the Fall, there is no record that they ever again had such fellowship with God.  They were thrown out of the Garden.  They had died spiritually.

Their relationship with each other deteriorated, as well.  Gone forever was the innocence with which they had reveled in each other’s company.  I use the word “revel” deliberately.  There was no sin to cloud their happiness together; everything was perfect and holy.  We cannot imagine what it must have been like, although those who are blessed with a happy marriage have a small taste of it.  But now their memory was of what had happened – how they had failed God and each other, to say nothing of the curse under which they now lived:  evicted together from paradise, multiplied and painful child-bearing for Eve, as well as subordination to her husband, and, for Adam, increased and frustrating toil.

Paradise had truly been lost.

e.  they lost the right to eternal life, and their ability to obtain it.

Being evicted from the Garden barred them from the Tree of Life.  To make certain of that, God placed cherubim and a flaming sword in the way to prevent access to it, Genesis 3:22-24.  The lesson for them, and for us, is that if you want eternal life, you have to do something about your sin and the justice of God.  What they could have freely taken at any time before their sin was completely denied to them after it.

f.  their descendants were affected.

Though we see this relatively soon in the murder of Abel by his jealous brother Cain, we’re more concerned about descendants further along the line, like us.  What effect, if any, did the Fall have on us and our children and grandchildren?  We’ll explore the answer to this, Lord willing, in the next lesson.

Questions.

 1.  What bars man from eternal life?

 2.  Why is grace necessary?

 3.  What does “kindness” have to do with it?

 4.  Are the Biblical accounts of Creation and the Fall reliable.  Why?

 5.  What responsibility did Adam and Eve have in the Garden?

 6.  What resources?

 7.  Were there any restrictions?  Why?

 8.  What did Adam and Eve do?

 9.  What does it mean:  “they died”?

10. What other results were there from their eating the fruit?