THE STORY OF THE FALL:
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).
The serpent who appeared to Eve in the Garden of Eden was none other than Satan himself. Revelation 12:9 says, “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” The devil had taken on the form of one of the animals in the garden, a serpent, and he began speaking to Eve.
“And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:2-5).
Many people give Charles Darwin credit for coming up with the theory of evolution, the idea that we started out as a simple life form, swam through the water, grew legs and walked on the land, evolving from a common ancestor to the chimpanzee, and here we are today the acme of evolution. The thought is that we’ll just keep getting better and better until one day we become god-like, having super-evolved brains and supernatural abilities. This lie actually originated in the Garden of Eden. The devil said to Eve, “Eat this fruit, and you will become god-like. You won’t die, in fact, you’ll get better. You don’t need God to tell you what to do. Eat the fruit, and you can become your own god!” The devil’s been telling the same lie for thousands of years, casting doubts on the Word of God.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:6-10).
Before this story, Adam and Eve were living in a garden paradise, and there was no death or suffering in the world. Enter the serpent, the devil, the deceiver: He came and he lied to them. When they ate the fruit, they didn’t physically die right away, but there was a spiritual death that took place on the inside of them. The fellowship that they had enjoyed with God from the time He had created them – knowing that they were dearly loved children of God – was broken. The peace that they had known their entire lives was now shattered. For the first time ever, they experienced guilt and shame because of their rebellion, and so they went and hid from God.
Isn’t that what happens today when people sin and rebel against God’s commandments? They feel guilty (they know what they did was wrong); then they feel ashamed (they feel bad about themselves); and then they hide. Instead of looking for help and confessing their sins to someone else, because of a fear of what people will think about them, they hide. Or they put on masks because they don’t want people to see the darkness or the brokenness inside of them.
But even though Adam and Eve sinned and disobeyed God, I love His response to them. In the cool of the day, God came down to the garden looking for them, He said, “Where are you?” I love those grace-filled words! The very first thing He spoke to them after they sinned was not, “Oh man, I knew you were going to mess up. Shame on you!” No – God’s first words to them were, “Where are you?” He came looking for them. That’s the heart of God. When we sin and mess up, and our lives are broken, we should run to God, not away from God. God comes looking for us not to chastise us, but because He wants that relationship to be restored.
The story Jesus told about the prodigal son gives us a great picture of God’s unconditional love for us. In the story, the younger son told his father he wanted his share of the family inheritance, and went out and wasted all of his money on sinful living. After he came to his senses, he decided to return home to his dad. How did the father respond when the son returned home? “And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20). This is the heart of our Heavenly Father towards every one of us! The father said, “We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” (Luke 15:23b-24a). Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. God doesn’t like our sin or rebellion, because He knows how it hurts us, but His heart’s desire is restoration. He wants us to be restored to a right relationship with Him.
WHY IS THERE DEATH AND SUFFERING?
When we look at the mess the world is in today, it’s not God’s fault. God didn’t create the death and suffering! God created paradise and perfection. He gave mankind only one rule: don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But God had also given mankind dominion over all of life on planet Earth (see Genesis 1:26). So when Adam and Eve listened to the devil and gave in to his temptation, they essentially took the keys of the kingdom (dominion and authority), and handed them to Satan. The devil then became “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2b). So when we look at this story of rebellion, we now understand why we are living in a sin-cursed earth.
If you were to walk down the street and you were to see a nice car that had been smashed up in an accident, would you get mad at the car manufacturing company and say, “Why did you make a car that’s all smashed up and wrecked?” Of course you wouldn’t. When the car was first created, it was very good. It worked right and it looked nice. It was the driver’s fault that the car crashed and doesn’t run anymore. I would like to propose to you that this is what happened on planet Earth. Mankind had dominion, but through sin and rebellion, brought death and suffering into the world.
After Adam’s sin, God pronounced this curse upon him: “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19). The world we’re living in now is accurately described by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:22: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”
TWO HISTORIES OF DEATH:5
#1: God’s Word: The history of death as the Bible teaches it.
In the beginning, there was a perfect world that God made, and everything was very good. There was no death, bloodshed, disease, and suffering for man or animals. But everything changed when man sinned, and death entered into the world. The Bible says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.” (Romans 5:12). Why is there death and suffering in the world? It is a consequence of Adam’s sin. The wages of sin is death. But God’s Word teaches that death is only a temporary part of history. When Jesus came into the world and died on the Cross, He came to defeat death. The Christian view of death sees it as an enemy, an intrusion into God’s perfect order, which will one day be no more.
After Jesus returns to the Earth and takes us to Heaven, there will be no more death, pain, sorrow, sickness or suffering of any kind. See the Bible’s own description of what life will be like in Heaven: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4). Once we get to Heaven, and begin living in eternity, we will look back at our days of sorrow on Earth and they will have seemed so short. “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14).
#2: Man’s Opinion: The history of death for those who believe in evolution.
If evolution is true, then life and death have always been together, and death is a permanent part of history. As long as there is life, there will be death. If evolution is true, then death, bloodshed, disease, and suffering have always been here, just as we see today, and will continue into the future. Death is not an enemy. Death is a part of the process of life. And the worst part is, when we die, that’s the end – we will become worm food in the grave, for there is no life after death.
GOD’S SACRIFICE FOR SIN:
“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21). Before Adam and Eve had sinned, they were naked and unashamed. But after they sinned, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” (Genesis 3:7). What they were trying to do is what people try to do every day. They tried to fix the sin problem themselves, and they tried to cover up their mistake. What they didn’t realize though was that they had a bigger problem than the fact that they didn’t have any clothes. The bigger problem was that they had sinned – rebelled against God – and because of that, their fellowship with God was broken. Hebrews 9:22 declares, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” So when God killed the animal and make clothes for Adam and Eve out of its skin, the deeper prophetic picture of that act was the animal’s death as a covering for their sin. This animal is a type and a shadow of Jesus, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). That animal was the very first creature actually to suffer death after Adam’s sin “illustrating the basic Biblical principle of substitutionary atonement or “covering” which required the shedding of innocent blood as a condition of forgiveness for the sinner.”6
JESUS IS THE ANSWER!
Even though Adam and Eve sinned, and their rebellion caused death and suffering to come into the world, God had a plan for restoration. Two thousand years ago, God sent His son Jesus into the world, born of a virgin and conceived by the Holy Spirit, so He was an innocent man with no inherent sin nature. After living a perfect, sinless life, He died on the Cross as our substitute, paying the price for our sins to be forgiven. In the following passage of Scripture, we see a beautiful description of how God dealt with the problem of sin, death and suffering in our world.
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us… When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God — all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.
“When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. And though there was no law to break, since it had not yet been given, they all died anyway — even though they did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. What a contrast between Adam and Christ, who was yet to come! And what a difference between our sin and God’s generous gift of forgiveness. For this one man, Adam, brought death to many through his sin. But this other man, Jesus Christ, brought forgiveness to many through God’s bountiful gift. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but we have the free gift of being accepted by God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life. Because one person disobeyed God, many people became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many people will be made right in God’s sight.” (Romans 5:1,6-19, nlt).
Here was God’s wonderful answer to the problem of sin, death and suffering! Because of Adam’s disobedience, that sin-nature was passed on to all of mankind. But through Jesus’ death on the Cross, our sins are forgiven, and death is no longer something that Christians need to fear. Death is not the end; rather it is a transition from this imperfect life on a sin-cursed life into the paradise of Heaven.
THE FIRST GOSPEL:
After the devil tempted Adam and Eve and caused them to sin, “the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15).
Who is the Seed who will bruise Satan’s head? It is Jesus! This Bible verse, way back in the third chapter of the first book of the Bible, is the first time the Gospel was preached. God prophesied that One was coming who would defeat death, hell and the devil once and for all. All throughout the Old Testament, the prophets echoed this proclamation: “He is coming! The Messiah is coming! And he will defeat the devil!” The New Testament is the record of the Advent of Christ – Jesus has come! “But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8).
What does this truth speak to us today? As Christians, the body of Jesus Christ in the Earth today, we are here to advance theKingdomofGod. We too are called to destroy the works of the devil, which include sin, sickness, suffering, poverty and injustice. God is calling us to be a light, a comfort, and a help to the lost, hurting and broken people in the world. When people ask why the world is a mess, and why God isn’t doing anything about it, what should our response be? God did do something about it! He sent Jesus to defeat the works of the devil, and after Jesus died on the Cross, rose from the dead, and ascended to Heaven, He gave the keys to the kingdom to the Church. Jesus is saying to us, ‘You’re my hands and feet on the Earth! Now go into the world and make a difference.”
Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to prosper is that enough good men do nothing.” It’s time for the Church to arise and shine for the glory of the Lord has risen upon us! “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1). Amen.
- 5. The section “Two Histories of Death” was inspired by the teaching in Why is there Death and Suffering? by Ken Ham and Dr. Jonathan Sarfati.
- 6. Henry Morris, The Defender’s Study Bible.
Pastor Chris Jordan
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