Thoughts On Eternity By Jack Kelley Whenever it seems like the whole world is about…
By Jack Kelley
I’ve been asked to write an introduction to this series of studies on “What Does The Bible Say” to explain why people need to be saved in the first place. I’ve been told this would be a good evangelism tool for use with those who may not understand this critical requirement, such as curious unbelievers or children who have become intellectually mature enough to comprehend it and are now accountable for their lives.
To do this right we must begin at the beginning, and that means the book of Genesis. When God created mankind as the crowning achievement of His creation, He used His own image as the model (Genesis 1:27). And when He was finished He looked at everything He had made and saw that it was very good (Genesis 1:31), so He rested from all His work (Genesis 2:2).
The Creation was perfect. As far as the eye could see, it was a beautiful garden with all kinds of plants and trees, bodies of water teeming with fish, birds flying through the air, and many varieties of animals roaming around. At the head of it all God placed the man and woman He had created and told them to rule over His creation and to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28).
Everything in the creation cooperated to accomplish God’s will. From Genesis 1:29-30 we learn that Adam and Eve and all the animals were vegetarian. There were many kinds of trees and plants from which they could pick what ever kind of food they wanted whenever they wanted it. There was peace among all the animals, peace between the animals and mankind, and peace between all of them and their Creator. In fact, peace was the most prominent characteristic of their existence. The only rule God gave Adam was to not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. He said if they ate it they would die (Genesis 2:16-17).
In reading the Creation story it can sound like Adam and Eve immediately broke their only rule and were expelled from the Garden as a consequence. But it wasn’t necessarily that way. We have no way of knowing how much time passed, but we do know that eventually they did break the rule and when they did everything changed. By the way, a case can be made that Eve was deceived. But God had made both the rule and the consequences for breaking it clear, and that’s why He held Adam and Eve responsible. Mankind’s first mistake was to believe something other than God’s word. Sadly, that mistake has been repeated endlessly throughout history.
The Consequences Of Sin
One definition of sin is to break God’s rules. Adam and Eve only had one rule, but when they broke it, sin came into the creation. When it did death followed, just like God said it would. They didn’t die immediately, but they did die eventually. From this we can tell that Adam and Eve were originally immortal. If they were mortal God’s warning that eating the forbidden fruit would cause their deaths would have had no meaning unless they died immediately. Therefore one consequence of their sin was that having been immortal, they became mortal and were subject to death.
Another consequence of their sin was that a hereditary change was introduced into humanity. Henceforth everyone would be born with a built in flaw that would make it impossible for us to keep ourselves from sinning. This flaw is sometimes called our sin nature.
The first hint we get of this is although Adam was created in the image of God, his children would be born in his image, not God’s (Genesis 5:1-3). Not only had Adam and Eve lost their immortality, but all their descendants would also be mortal.
Paul confirmed this in Romans 5:12-13 saying, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned, for before the Law was given sin was in the world.”
A third consequence was that the creation would no longer fully cooperate with mankind in fulfilling God’s will. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve had only to pick what ever they wanted to eat whenever they wanted it, now they would have to labor for their food, and the creation would produce thorns and thistles in opposition to their efforts (Genesis 3:17-19).
But by far the most devastating consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin was that henceforth they and their descendants would no longer automatically be God’s children. As soon as they were old enough to understand the consequences of their behavior, they would become accountable to God for their sins. Instead of the intimacy He once shared with Adam and Eve, God would now have to keep His distance from them and treat them like the rebellious subjects they had become. Their newly acquired sin nature would make it impossible for them to be in His presence.
This is the point at which I believe sickness, disease, and all the negative emotions like envy, jealousy, pride, anger, etc, also came into the human experience.
I say this because as an indication of God’s grace even in judgment, the very thorns, thistles and plants of the field that came as a result of Adam’s sin were later found to contain the remedies for the sickness and disease that mankind had begun to suffer. These remedies have served as man’s medicine throughout our existence. Some can actually help prevent sickness while others aid in the recovery process.
Shedding Innocent Blood
The first mention of the shedding of innocent blood in the Bible is when God made clothes for Adam and Eve from the skins of animals (Genesis 3:21) to replace the clothing they had made for themselves out of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). By this He was showing them (and us) that it was by the shedding of innocent blood that they would be “covered” before God, not by the works of their hands. It was a foreshadowing of the Lord’s death on our behalf.
Sometime after the fall Adam and Eve began having children. The first two were sons, Cain and Abel, and an event in their lives led to the first mention of sin in the Bible. It happened when Cain brought the wrong offering to the Lord and it was rejected. His brother Abel had brought the correct offering, which the Lord accepted. It was another model of the “innocent blood” offering being acceptable and the works of our hands being rejected (Genesis 4:1-7).
Cain was upset over this, but the Lord said, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7). This tells us that long before the time of Moses the Lord had instructed mankind on the correct offering for sin.
The point of this introduction is is to show that we all sin (Romans 3:23), sin brings death (Romans 6:23), and the only remedy for our sins is the shedding of innocent blood (Hebrews 9:22).
Well, you say, I’m going to die anyway so what’s the big deal? The big deal is that it’s not our physical death we’re talking about about. It’s our spiritual death. Each of us is made up of three parts; body, soul and spirit. Physical death is the death of our body and happens to everyone. But that’s not the end of us, because our spirit and soul exist forever. Spiritual death is the penalty we all have to pay for our sins. This penalty comes due and has to be paid when our body dies.
There are two ways to pay this penalty. One is to pay it ourselves. Remember, the penalty for sin is the shedding of innocent blood. The problem is we’re all sinners and are not innocent, so we can’t pay the penalty with our own blood. If we claim to be without sins, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). Those who choose to pay this way and fail will spend eternity in Hell.
The other way is to find someone who is both qualified and willing to pay it for us. In all of human existence there has only been one man who has not sinned and is therefore innocent. His name is Jesus. He’s the Son of God and He was qualified. He was also willing, and agreed to pay the penalty for all mankind. About 2,000 years ago He was crucified on a cross outside of Jerusalem in Israel, so His innocent blood was shed for the remission of our sins. I Peter 3:18 tells us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
Three days later He rose from the dead to prove that the penalty for our sins had been paid in full.
In Acts 4:12 Peter also said this is the only acceptable remedy for our sins. “Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
In its simplest terms, being saved means we are saved from the penalty due us for our sins. But although Jesus paid the penalty for all the sins of mankind, God has ordained that only those who believe He died for them will benefit from this (John 3:16).
One Life To Live
The Bible says we have to believe three things to be saved, and these three things are called the Gospel, or good news. First, we have to believe that we are sinners, unable to save ourselves. Second we have to believe that Jesus died for our sins, and third we have to believe that He was buried and rose again on the third day. Believing these three things will save us from the penalty due us for the sins we have and will commit during our lifetime (1 Cor. 15:1-4). But the Bible says we have to do this before our body dies (Hebrews 9:27).
God wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:9) and has given us an entire lifetime to learn what it takes. He has written it all down in His book along with enough evidence to prove that He is who He claims to be beyond any doubt. And He promised that if we seek Him with all our heart we will find Him.
For this is what the Lord says ‘he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited’ he says:
“I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right” (Isaiah 45:18-19).
Later, Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened” (Matt. 7:7).
These promises from God assure us that if we look for God in His word we will find Him, and if we ask Him to save us He will do it.
There you have it. We all sin (Romans 3:23), sin brings death (Romans 6:23), and the only remedy for our sins is the shedding of innocent blood (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus provided the remedy (1 Peter 3:18) but we have to apply it during our lifetime. After we die, it’s too late (Hebrews 9:27).
So let us not repeat mankind’s first mistake by believing something other than God’s word. Here’s what the Bible says, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the Earth, for I am God and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22) Selah 02-08-14