“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?

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The First “Bible Study”

Genesis 3:1-4

It’s interesting to me that the first “Bible study” in Scripture was initiated by Satan.  Granted, Adam and Eve didn’t have “Scripture” as we understand it, but they still had words God had given them – and I don’t suppose that we have a complete record of everything that was said.

Anyway, the tactics Satan used were so successful, as he thought, that he’s used them ever since in his attacks against the Word of God.

1.  Doubt.

“has God said,….”? (NKJV)  The NASB has it, “Indeed, has God said,…?”

So, we hear:

“The Bible was written long after the events it supposedly tells about.”
“The Bible was just written by a bunch of priests to oppress the people.”
“Jesus never existed.”
“A God of love would never do that.”
“That’s just Paul’s Rabbinic prejudice showing through.”
“Paul took the teachings of Jesus and turned them into something Jesus never intended.”
Etc., etc.

We might ask a question ourselves.  Why DID God give the restriction against the one tree?  There are several reasons.  The main one, I think, was to remind Adam, though he was, in effect, lord of all he surveyed, was to remind him that he was still just a creature, and as such, was to obey his Creator.  This was a very simple restriction, nevertheless.  Some will say that the most important reason was so that Adam could have a choice.  That is also true.  Adam and Eve were the only human beings who ever truly had anything approaching “free will.”  They knew nothing of evil.  They had no sin in themselves, and their wills hadn’t yet been corrupted by the Fall.  If anything, they were disposed toward good, that being all they knew.  Still, God didn’t create robots or puppets.  The final reason for the prohibition was what happened whey they did eat of that tree.

2.  Distortion.

Satan presented God command negatively:  …you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  That’s not at all what God said.  In 1:29, He said to them, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; for you it shall be for food.”  In 2:16, 17, we have more of the conversation, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat; for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

Adam and Eve were given a whole world as their pantry.  Everything was theirs for the enjoying, except one lone tree.  But Satan focused on that one tree, as if that prohibition were the whole conversation.

So, today, people have the idea of Christianity that it’s all about giving up fun and good times.  It’s all dreary church services and long faces.  As one man told me, “God forbids all the things we want to do.”

The Scripture says that God gives us all things richly to enjoy, 1 Timothy 6:17.  The Christian has found that to be so, and that all the things the world enjoys, those “good times”, just last for a while, cf. Hebrews 11:25.  When they are over, they leave in their place only heartache, headache, and life-ache, to say nothing of their eternal consequences.

3.  Deviation – although this was Eve.

She added “touching” to God’s command.  Here was the first legalism – the first “list” of “don’t”.  Some have suggested that this was Adam’s idea.  Who knows?  Perhaps it was just to “protect” God’s Word, to make it less likely to disobey.  Still, it was presumption, as if the Word itself weren’t enough.

4.  Denied.

“You shall not die,…”  A blatant denial of God’s plain statement.

But you can’t just deny God’s Word; you put something in its place, which leads us to

5.  Dismissed.

Satan gave a totally different meaning and message that what God had given.  He said that not only would they not die, but that they would become godlike themselves.  The idea is implicit that they wouldn’t need God, they could decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, what is good or evil.

He neglected to mention that they would become powerless to do good, at least as God defines it, and programmed, as it were, to do only evil – again, as God defines it.

Mankind today, even though it may deny any such being as a devil, has certainly bought into his lie.  Pornography, abortion, marriage equality, immorality of all kinds, violence, bloodshed, the list could go on and on.  Greed and injustice in business.  Political malfeasance on all levels.  Deceit, false advertising – “this product will make you look young and beautiful.”  Why don’t such advertisers use models who aren’t already “young and beautiful”?  Youngsters killing each other.  On and on.  The Bible has pretty much been thrown out, and the devil’s lie put into its place.  With pretty much the same result as the first time it happened.

Because

as much as man denies it,

The wages of sin is death, Romans 3:23.

Glimpses in Genesis: Creation and The Fall of Adam and Eve, Genesis 1-3.

This will by no means be an exhaustive look at Genesis.  That would take a whole library of books.  No, we’re just going to look at some interesting things along the way.  This study will take us up through the Fall of Adam and Eve.  Part 2, Lord willing, will cover the Flood and the Tower of Babel; part 3 will consider some things about the patriarchs, and maybe part 4.  I’m trying to make each post not too long.

Nor are we going to enter into the academic discussions about who wrote Genesis and the rest of the 5 books of the Pentateuch.  Our Lord accepted it and them from the hand of Moses, as did both Testaments in numerous references, Mark 12:26; Ezra 6:18; Romans 10:19.  That’s good enough for us!

As we come to the first chapters of Genesis, we find that it tells us where everything came from – not from some random cosmic explosion, but from the power and wisdom of God.  So Genesis is the book of origins.  It tells how the earth came to be, and where man came from.  It accounts for the entrance of sin into the world, and reveals that man is a moral being, different from all other earthly creatures, in contrast to evolution, which says that he came from them.  It gives us the beginning of the nation of Israel, as well as the origin and distribution of many of the rest of the nations of the world.

Genesis is also the foundational book of the Bible.  It tells of sin and redemption and forms the basis for most, if not all, the rest of divine revelation on these subjects.  It’s first redemptive prophecy contains in a single verse (3:15) the whole of prophecy given in the rest of Scripture.  It also gives a tremendous amount of vital information about the Abrahamic Promise, or Covenant, information which, it seems to me, is often overlooked in the interpretation of Scripture.

As to an outline, here are some ways Genesis might be outlined:

1.  The Beginning of Human History, chs. 1-12
2.  The Beginning of Hebrew History, chs. 12-50.

or

1.  The Beginning of Man’s Residence on the Earth, chs. 1, 2.
2.  The Beginning of Man’s Rebellion on the Earth, chs. 3-11.
3.  The Beginning of Man’s Redemption on the Earth, chs. 12-50.

or the more familiar:

1.  Creation, chs. 1, 2: Preparation for Man.
2.  The Fall, chs. 3-5: Presumption of Man.
3.  The Flood, chs. 6-9: Punishment of Man.
4.  The Tower of Babel, chs. 10, 11: Perversity of Man.
5.  The Patriarchs, chs. 12-50: Preference among Men.

As we look more closely at Genesis through this last outline, we note the following:

Creation, chs. 1, 2: Preparation for Man.

A. It refutes many errors, including:

1. Atheism.  “In the beginning, God….”  Note:  the Bible was written to people who believed in God, in many cases, had had personal dealings with Him.  The Bible never attempts to “prove” the existence of God, although there are “proofs” for those who will see them, Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:18-20.

2.  Pantheism, that is, God is everything, and everything is God.  Scripture shows that while God is indeed the Creator and Sustainer of everything, He is separate and distinct from everything.  He IS everywhere, not every thing.

3.  Materialism, that is, matter is eternal and has always existed.  This still doesn’t answer the question, “Where did ‘matter’ come from in the first place?”

4.  That everything came unintentionally and spontaneously into existence, i.e., “the big bang.”

B.  Genesis reveals the origin of the universe and the earth, 1:1.  It doesn’t particularly tell how or why.  Theistic evolution, in a sincere but misguided attempt to align materialistic science with Scripture, doesn’t seem to see what Scripture says about the origin of this earth.  I have no difficulty believing that the earth is older than 6,000 years.  I just have trouble with the idea, as we shall see in a moment, that it’s billions of years old.

Herbert Spencer, a scientist who died in 1903, taught that everything exists in one of five categories: time, force, action, space or matter.  Moses knew that millennia before Spencer:

1.  time – “in the beginning”
2.  force – “God”
3.  action – “created”
4.  space – “the heavens”
5.  matter – “and the earth”

C. Genesis has many features which do not agree with “evolution”.  We’ve seen some.  Some more are:

1.  It has an intelligent Creator, not a mindless, cosmic catastrophe, followed by aimless and random development.

2.  The earth was created before the stars!  They were made on the fourth day.  Earth was already in existence.

3.  Plants were created before the Sun.  If the “days” are geologic ages, then how did the plants survive without the Sun to nourish them?

4.  On the first day, God created “light” as something apart from Himself, Who is light, 1 John 1:5.  On the fourth day, creating the Sun, He created “time.”  Our “time” would have no relevance anywhere else in the universe.

5.  Each kind of animal was created fully developed as it came from the hand of God.  It had no need for further “development,” other than adaptation to an environment that changed.  There are many instances of such development within species; there are none between species.

6.  Each creature was made with the ability to reproduce according to its kind, 1:11, 21, 24, not mutate into another kind.

7.  Sea creatures and birds were created on the same day.  Birds did not somehow evolve after or from dinosaurs or amphibians.

8.  In a separate act, man was created from the dust of the ground, 2:8.  He did not “evolve” from “lower” life forms, nor did God simply choose one or two from a number of already existing hominids with which to develop a “special relationship.”

The Fall, chs. 3-5: Presumption of Man.

1.  Note that man fell because of a discussion over whether God’s Word was to be understood “literally”.  That discussion is still alive and well, especially in the area of prophecy.

2.  Note that man fell because he decided to replace God as the moral authority as to what was “good” or “evil”.  The essence of sin is the disagreement with God over jurisdiction: who decides what is “good” or “evil”?

3.  Because of his sin, man fled from God.  We are still fleeing, left to ourselves.  Man may be “religious”; witness the number of religions in the world, but how many of them, even those who claim to believe the Bible, actually follow the Bible, or believe it’s authoritative, or  even read it and have any real idea of what it says?  God must seek us, if we are to “find” Him, Isaiah 65:1.

4.  Man was taught that because of his sin the only way he could continue to live physically was through the substitution and death of an innocent sacrifice.  All religion revolves around this central issue:  how can a man or woman live before God, regardless of how “live” is defined, and whomever or whatever “God” is believed to be.

5.  Because of man’s sinfulness and God’s holiness, God’s justice bars the way to the tree of life, Genesis 3:24.  All religion seeks to answer the questions posed very early in human history, “how can man be righteous before God?”  “…Or how can he be pure who is born of woman?” Job 9:2; 25:4.

To put it another way, how can I satisfy God’s justice and the obedience His Word requires, or endure the penalty for disobedience that is required (which, by the way, is infinitely more than the mere rote repetition of some form prayer!)?  It is only Biblical Christianity (for there is a great deal in “Christianity” which has nothing to do with the Bible) that proclaims the answer foreshadowed and typified by the slain animals and coats of skin.  The only way God’s justice has ever been and ever will be satisfied is through the sinless life and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  By His death He paid forever the penalty demanded by a broken Law, and by His sinless life He obtained that righteousness imputed to believing sinners, by which and only by which we and they are able to stand before God uncondemned.

Friends, if we have ever committed even one sin, and who among us would not admit to that, though our sins are without number, we are lost and undone without the Lord Jesus!  O blessed life, that did what we could not, and blessed death, that did what we dare not!