Many Christians in our day, whether liberal or evangelical, declare that there is hope of eternal life apart from explicit faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, according to one survey by George Barna, 35% of America’s evangelical seminary students agreed with the statement, “God will save all good people when they die, regardless of whether they’ve trusted in Christ.”
On this program the hosts will discuss our need to recover the clear theology of a text such as John 14:6 in which Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” Join us on this edition of White Horse Inn, as we continue our new series on “The Solas of the Reformation.”
“Why do we need a divine savior to rescue us if our situation is only that we kind of are losing our way? A lot of people think of it as, we need good directions and there are really good plans out there. There’s Oprah. There is yoga. There’s the Bible. There’s Christian Science. You have all these kinds of things out there and whatever you find that’s helpful for you is great. That assumes — first of all, you have absolutely no problem before God. Your problem is only with yourself. Not that God has a problem with you, but that you have issues that you need to work on. So, you don’t really need God to save you, first of all, from himself, from his own justice by being just and the justifier of the wicked. All you need is kind of a life coach. You need somebody who kind of has some good ideas. And that is where we are today as the church. But what we really need is Christ’s atoning work, his substitutionary, vicarious sacrifice.” – Michael Horton
Today’s spirituality is novel in the sense that it is based upon a person’s felt needs, as opposed to an authoritative person or text. Self-expression has become the new form of worship in both traditional and innovative religious practices, rather than a practice of self-denial. This spirituality adopts preference as a means of self-actualization (i.e. a way of becoming the fullest expression of yourself as a human being). The commitments to these preferences are deeply personal and subjective, which results in the expression, “Your own personal Jesus” who neither confronts with his transcendent ‘Otherness’ nor deals in categories of sin, hell, or judgment. Therapy as a model of spirituality has replaced traditional norms due to the secularization of culture (i.e., the cultural shift that has resulted in religious beliefs becoming wholly individualized and disassociated from the social sphere). Divine Providence over mankind has been replaced by the invisible hand of economic forces. Whereas the Almighty beneficent being was previously seen as integral to daily life and well-being, today, he is seen as a cosmic bellhop who comes at our beck and call.
With the loss of life’s ‘center’ by these competing visions of reality, faith has been left only with an interior and subjective expression which allows ‘believers’ to cope with the ‘real world’ science and technology have given them. In the face of this modern nihilism (i.e., the belief that there is no true reality beyond that which is apprehended through the senses), religion has often attempted to fill the vacuum through such therapeutic modes of expression. Even in traditional, conservative contexts orthodox worship and practice may succumb to this mode of spirituality, ultimately leaving little effect upon the practice of the worshipper or in the public square at large. Concrete, external liturgical practices (such as the reading of the law, corporate confession, a declaration of pardon, and corporate supplication) are often displaced by personalized small groups that help believers in their life journey. This is deemed as more ‘relevant’ to the therapeutic man, and an improvement upon the ‘dead rituals’ that don’t speak to the hearts of worshippers. Worship thus becomes a therapy ‘session’ something akin to Alcoholics Anonymous, a place where kindred spirits can hear one another’s stories and help one another cope with their weaknesses and failures, rather than a place of divine judgment and salvation where sinful people meet with a holy God, and through faith in their Savior, by the power of the Holy Spirit, are forgiven for their rebellion, and comforted by the assurance of their salvation. (Timothy W. Massaro, “Therapeutic Spirituality,” WHI [blog], August 10, 2014)
(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
Romans 4:5 says:
“To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”
Justification by faith alone is the gospel, the belief that we are forgiven our sins and made innocent before God by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the grave. You can do nothing to earn this. It is by the grace of God.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:23-25)
Whoever teaches that salvation is a combination of faith and works is teaching a different gospel.
“If anyone saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification… let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Canon 9)
“The sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist are decisive to salvation… What is the event at which salvation truly takes hold? Baptism!” (Fr. Theodore Stylianopoulos, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)
The Catholic and Orthodox churches both deny justification by faith alone. Salvation is by faith and the Eucharist, or by faith and baptism. That’s a different gospel.
Galatians 1:8-9 says that anyone who preaches a different gospel is accursed.
Galatians 2:16 says:
We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Now, when a person has been saved, they confirm their faith by obedience. If they do not obey the commands of Christ, they’re still dead in their sins. This is what James meant when he said faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:26).
“Whoever says ‘I know Him’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” (1 John 2:4-6)
Someone might say, “Well, what about faith. Isn’t that something that I do?” Nope. Because as you study the doctrine you will find that even faith itself is also a gift from God.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
As Romans 5:1-2 says:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God
…when we understand the text.
You know what I struggle with most? Well there’s a lot of things… my weight, my breath, being so good looking I cause others to stumble.
Seriously though, what I struggle with are moments that I can look around and think, “Seriously? Seriously! Do I deserve this?”
I don’t know about you but at times life is going so good, I am so blessed and I don’t think I deserve it. I have an amazing wife… that I don’t deserve. Amazing kids… that I don’t deserve. I have a great job, friends a house and I don’t know if I deserve what I have.
I think it’s a common feeling for guys. Even though we put up a confident front inside we feel undeserving or like we do I have what it takes.
This feeling comes from comparing ourselves with other men or manly standards that aren’t real. We think, “I’ve never done X and that guy has done X. I must not be a man.”
But here is the truth the “Stuff & Accomplishment’s” don’t make you men. Even though we can say that, think that and say we believe that – our lives show otherwise. So many of us want to do something to prove we are worthy of being a man.
Let me set this straight… Are you worthy? NO! Are you smart enough? NO! Are you strong enough? NO! You go ahead and fill in your own blank if you are BLANK enough and the answer will always be NO.
You might be thinking, “Man that’s bumming” but the truth is it should be freeing. Don’t allow the fact that you aren’t worthy be discouraging, in fact let it be encouraging.
Because God doesn’t see you by what you’ve done, He sees you as whose you are. God doesn’t see you be what you’ve accomplished, He sees you through the lens of what has been accomplished.
In Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
We can see that God has saved us by His grace not by anything we’ve done. We are not good enough we are broken and that’s why we need God. In our brokenness God can still save us. Knowing this allows us to say, “I am not good enough but Gods grace is strong enough, Gods love is powerful enough, and the work of the cross is –enough.”
You do not deserve it but you are worth it.
KEVIN HARRIS: Today you are going to hear apologetics in action in the New York Times. It is an interview with pastor Timothy Keller in the New York Times. We really think you are going to enjoy this article.
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Dr. Craig, we talked about Alvin Plantinga winning the Templeton Prize. He has commented on another prize winner, Timothy Keller, who won the Kuyper Prize, a similar prize, from Princeton. This prize was recently rescinded from Tim Keller because of his views on the ordination of women and issues like that. Alvin Plantinga released a statement that he disagreed with the removal of Tim Keller from this prize. What do you know about the Kuyper Prize? Is this something you heard of?
DR. WILLIAM LANE CRAIG: The award is named after the great Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper. Kuyper was a committed Reformed or Calvinist theologian – as conservative and orthodox as you would want. It is the heritage of Princeton Theological Seminary that it comes out of this Reformed movement. Indeed it is the denominational seminary of the Presbyterian Church in the USA. But unfortunately that denomination has moved far, far away from its moorings, and now this Abraham Kuyper award is something of an anomaly. Being awarded to Tim Keller who is perhaps the most important Reformed pastor in the United States and a conservative orthodox evangelical Christian is very appropriate. The Kuyper award ought to be given to a person like Tim Keller. That makes itsrescission especially ironic and disturbing – that a person like Tim Keller could not be given an award named after Abraham Kuyper by a Reformed seminary. It is just incredible. But unfortunately the Presbyterian Church (USA) conflicts with the Presbyterian Church in America over the ordination of women and the ordination of practicing homosexuals. So there were protests from Princeton Seminary alumni that Keller ought not to receive this award, and so they rescinded it under such pressure.
KEVIN HARRIS: Alvin Plantinga was one of those to protest among many. He said the reversal of this award “gives evidence of a policy unworthy of its history, of free academic debate, and diversity that characterizes this great institution.”
DR. CRAIG: Isn’t that odd that in the name of diversity, diversity is excluded. I find this so bizarre that in the name of diversity (like ordination of women or practicing homosexuals) one cuts out a person like Timothy Keller who represents the theology of Abraham Kuyper for whom the award is named. It is exclusivistic and a curtailment of diversity by doing this sort of thing.
KEVIN HARRIS: It really is. Diversity means every view but yours, apparently. [laughter] It has come to take a very weird contradictory definition. Even Nicholas Wolterstorff, who writes a lot for the New York Times, protested against the rescission of this. Nicholas Kristof did an interview in the New York Times with Timothy Keller. We ought to look at this because he asks him point-blank, “Am I a Christian, Pastor Tim Keller?” This is right in the New York Times from December 2016. Kristof begins:
What does it mean to be a Christian in the 21st century? Can one be a Christian and yet doubt the virgin birth or the Resurrection? I put these questions to the Rev. Timothy Keller, an evangelical Christian pastor and best-selling author who is among the most prominent evangelical thinkers today. Our conversation has been edited for space and clarity.
Tim, I deeply admire Jesus and his message, but am also skeptical of themes that have been integral to Christianity — the virgin birth, the Resurrection, the miracles and so on. Since this is the Christmas season, let’s start with the virgin birth. Is that an essential belief, or can I mix and match?
Bill, if you would, go over Keller’s response here.
DR. CRAIG: I don’t think Keller responds directly to this question in the interview. Instead what he does is enunciate a general principle that one is not at liberty to pick and choose among religious beliefs and still claim to be an adherent to that religion. He gives a nice analogy. If he were a member of Greenpeace and decided that he didn’t think global warming was true, he would be asked to resign from that organization. There are certain things that are essential to one’s commitment. He thinks similarly that to be a Christian involves being committed to certain doctrinal positions, and if you don’t adhere to those you should just have the honesty to say that you are not a Christian rather than think that you can morph Christianity to become whatever you want it to be.
KEVIN HARRIS: He is pretty smart to say, Let’s take some of your most liberal organizations – like Greenpeace – that are the darling of even the left. People of all persuasions can appreciate Greenpeace but they are definitely one that the left appreciates. So he uses them as an example.
DR. CRAIG: Right. Rhetorically it is clever, isn’t it?
KEVIN HARRIS: Yeah, it really is. Kristof says,
And the Resurrection? Must it really be taken literally?
Tim Keller gives a response.
DR. CRAIG: What he points out is that Jesus’ teaching is not the main point. Jesus wasn’t just an ethical teacher. Rather, he came to save people through his death and resurrection from sin. Jesus’ death was seen by him as a sacrificial offering for sin that inaugurated a new covenant between God and man. Therefore the resurrection is essential to the Christian faith. I think that is why Paul could say that if there is no resurrection then we are of all men most to be pitied – Christianity is vain. Keller is strong on affirming the indispensability of the historical resurrection of Jesus to Christian faith.
KEVIN HARRIS: In fact, Barnes writing in Christian Century (I was going to tell you in this other article here) is praising Timothy Keller and saying he is “among the most influential Reformed leaders in the United States. His defenders point out that he is known for his conciliatory tone, mission focus, and apologetics . . .” Timothy Keller is really known for his apologetics. He is using them here in the New York Times.
DR. CRAIG: Yes, Keller’s bookThe Reason for God is among the most popular defenses of the Christian faith available to laypeople today. He has made an impact upon popular Christian apologetics.
KEVIN HARRIS: Kristof then pushes back. He says:
But let me push back. As you know better than I, the Scriptures themselves indicate that the Resurrection wasn’t so clear cut. Mary Magdalene didn’t initially recognize the risen Jesus, nor did some disciples, and the gospels are fuzzy about Jesus’ literal presence — especially Mark, the first gospel to be written. So if you take these passages as meaning that Jesus literally rose from the dead, why the fuzziness?
Bill, you could answer all these, and you do time and time again in your lectures and our podcasts. But Keller’s answer is right in line.
DR. CRAIG: Yeah, Keller says,
I wouldn’t characterize the New Testament descriptions of the risen Jesus as fuzzy.
That is absolutely true. In the Gospel of Mark there is an empty tomb, Jesus is risen bodily and physically from the dead, and the resurrection appearances in Galilee are foreshadowed by Mark by saying that when they go to Galilee there they will see him. In the other Gospels they are noteworthy for their palpable, physical appearances of the risen Jesus. Keller has some things to say about this non-recognition motif that characterizes some of the resurrection appearance stories. I would be inclined to think that is a theological statement that is being made there. What the author is trying to communicate is that Jesus’ presence with the disciples is not going to be a return to the way in which they knew him during his earthly ministry and sojourn with them. Now Jesus is in a new mode of existence. He is risen from the dead, and they will not relate to him exactly as they use to when he was on Earth with them. I think that non-recognition motif probably serves to underline the “otherness,” so to speak, of the risen Lord. But there is nothing that would call into question the concreteness – the spatio-temporality – of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Keller then turns the tables. This is interesting again rhetorically. He goes from being on the defense to being on the offense by pointing out that the fact that the empty tomb narratives feature women as the principle discoverers and witnesses to the fact of the empty tomb is a mark in favor of their credibility and historicity because in a patriarchal culture like first century Palestine women would not have been invented as witnesses to the fact of the empty tomb. You would have had male disciples, like Peter and John, discover the empty tomb if these were not historical reports.
KEVIN HARRIS: He then mention N.T. Wright. I just want to tell you that I am reading The Resurrection of the Son of God right now. 800 pages by N. T. Wright. I am enjoying it immensely.
DR. CRAIG: What he points out here is that Wright’s book, again going on the offense, argues that it is very difficult to explain the origin of the Jesus movement in the middle of the first century apart from the facts of the empty tomb and the postmortem appearances of Jesus. If those are unhistorical – never happened – then where in the world did this Jesus movement come from? Wright argues, I think very convincingly, that apart from the empty tomb and the postmortem appearances there just isn’t any sufficient historical explanation for the origin of the Jesus movement in the middle of the first century.
KEVIN HARRIS: Kristof then asks:
So where does that leave people like me? Am I a Christian? A Jesus follower? A secular Christian? Can I be a Christian while doubting the Resurrection?
DR. CRAIG: This really is the bottom line, isn’t it? Here the interviewer is asking this very personal question, and Keller (to his credit) doesn’t back down. He says,
. . . if you don’t accept the Resurrection or other foundational beliefs as defined by the Apostles’ Creed, I’d say you are on the outside of the boundary.
Which is a nice way of saying, “You are not a Christian.” Keller is very bold here with this interviewer. I think this is a good example of speaking the truth in love. It would be unloving to try to assure this non-Christian interviewer that he is really all right with God and that he is OK if he just lives a good life and believes as he does. That would be an unloving thing to do. Keller is quite right in offering this kind of tough love in saying if you deny these fundamental Christian beliefs then, in fact, you are not a Christian.
KEVIN HARRIS: This is the way it is done, Bill. It really is. This is the New York Times. Millions will read this. Just the way he says it is like you said – with a lot of grace and a lot of truth. He says,
I wouldn’t draw any conclusion about an individual without talking to him or her at length. But, in general, if you don’t accept the Resurrection or other foundational beliefs as defined by the Apostles’ Creed, I’d say you are on the outside of the boundary.
I can just hear his very thoughtful, conciliatory tone here in saying, We need to talk individually, case by case, but Kristoff, no, you are not.
Kristof then says,
Tim, people sometimes say that the answer is faith. But, as a journalist, I’ve found skepticism useful. If I hear something that sounds superstitious, I want eyewitnesses and evidence. That’s the attitude we take toward Islam and Hinduism and Taoism, so why suspend skepticism in our own faith tradition?
DR. CRAIG: That is an odd question because nothing that Keller has said suggests that he does suspend skepticism in his own faith tradition. Not a skepticism that means you are not open to the evidence. I don’t think that kind of skepticism is justified and serves any useful purpose. That is just close-mindedness. But openness to follow the evidence where it leads, Keller would agree with that. It is odd that this interviewer would think that on Keller’s view the answer is some sort of criterionless faith. Nothing that Keller has said would suggest that. Again to his credit, Keller goes on to say,
We should require evidence and good reasoning . . . [for] our more familiar Jewish or Christian faith tradition.
And, by implication, so should you, Mr. Kristof, for your own religious views. Are you suitably skeptical about your own religious views? Have you explored the evidence for them?
DR. CRAIG: There you go again with him kind of going on the offense. Pastor Keller says,
But I don’t want to contrast faith with skepticism so sharply that they are seen to be opposites. They aren’t. I think we all base our lives on both reason and faith. For example, my faith is to some degree based on reasoning that the existence of God makes the most sense of what we see in nature, history and experience. Thomas Nagel recently wrote that the thoroughly materialistic view of nature can’t account for human consciousness, cognition and moral values.
DR. CRAIG: Keller is obviously a well-read man. He is quoting philosophers like Nagel and Alvin Plantinga in the course of this interview. He commendably represents, I think, the model of what a pastor ought to be and traditionally has been. In previous centuries, the pastor was usually the best educated man in the town and was one to whom you could go with your questions. He was well read and well educated. I think it has only been in the 20thcentury that we felt pastors need to be ignorant.
KEVIN HARRIS: Kristof says,
I’ll grudgingly concede your point: My belief in human rights and morality may be more about faith than logic. But is it really analogous to believe in things that seem consistent with science and modernity, like human rights, and those that seem inconsistent, like a virgin birth or resurrection?
DR. CRAIG: Did it strike you as odd about this question that he thinks that things like human rights and morality are consistent with science and modernity? I thought that was very odd. If you take a scientific naturalistic view of the world, you are not going to have a belief in human rights and morality. Ethical values can’t be found in a test tube. If you believe in human rights and morality you have immediately transcended the limits of science and have admitted that there are sources of truth and kinds of truth that are not scientifically accessible. To me it is stunning that this secular interviewer can think that his beliefs in human rights and morality are consistent with science but that Christian beliefs are not. Keller then goes on to say that there is nothing that is illogical or incompatible with science about belief in God or even belief in miracles. If God exists then it is trivial to say that miracles are possible because a God who has created and designed the entire universe could obviously intervene in the world to bring about things that the laws of nature operating on their own would be incapable of bringing about.
KEVIN HARRIS: Then Pastor Keller quotes Alvin Plantinga. You want to read that for us?
DR. CRAIG: Sure. He is talking here about how science may not be able to prove miracles because science only deals with repeatable, natural events. But he says, so what? He says,
Alvin Plantinga argued that to say that there must be a scientific cause for any apparently miraculous phenomenon is like insisting that your lost keys must be under the streetlight because that’s the only place you can see.
That is very well put. Just because science illumines a certain area of the world where we can see things by natural investigation doesn’t mean that there aren’t other areas of reality that are not illuminated by the scientific method. Ironically, again, the interviewer’s own worldview supports that because he believes in human rights and morality which will not be found within the spotlight illuminated by the scientific method.
KEVIN HARRIS: Tim Keller had just pointed this out earlier. He said,
Nietzsche argued that the humanistic values of most secular people, such as the importance of the individual, human rights and responsibility for the poor, have no place in a completely materialistic universe. He even accused people holding humanistic values as being “covert Christians” because it required a leap of faith to hold to them.
DR. CRAIG: Yeah. The interviewer just doesn’t seem to get the point, does he?
KEVIN HARRIS: Kristof says,
Can I ask: Do you ever have doubts? Do most people of faith struggle at times over these kinds of questions?
DR. CRAIG: Yes. And Keller says,Yes, I do, and yes, they do. He quotes the book of Jude in verse 22 exhorts Christians to “be merciful to those who doubt.” Keller is not condemnatory of those who doubt. Then Keller goes on once again (he is so effective at this rhetorically) to turn the tables and say,
I would hope that secular skeptics would also question their own [faith].
He’s asking the interviewer, Are you doubting your own skeptical secular point of view? That is so well put and so appropriate. He says,
Secular people should be as open to questions and doubts about their positions as religious people.
KEVIN HARRIS: They end this with Kristof saying that he admires Christianity and its
amazing good work it inspires people to do around the world. But I’m troubled by the evangelical notion that people go to heaven only if they have a direct relationship with Jesus. Doesn’t that imply that billions of people — Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus — are consigned to hell because they grew up in non-Christian families around the world? That Gandhi is in hell?
DR. CRAIG: This is so typical of cultural Christianity. He admires the good works that Christians do in improving the social and economic lot of people in the world, but let’s not take too seriously these doctrinal issues about sin and forgiveness, heaven and hell. Again, Keller just will not back down. He repudiates the idea that Christianity is just about redeeming culture or improving the lot of human society. He says people are not saved by being good. He says that is not Christianity. You don’t come to know God by being good. It is bad people who are saved, but who come to admit their badness and to repent of it and receive Christ’s forgiveness and provision for their sins. He emphasizes that this is available to everyone that whosoever will may come, so it is up to us to find salvation through our own free decisions.
KEVIN HARRIS: I really like what he says here. He says,
You imply that really good people (e.g., Gandhi) should also be saved, not just Christians. The problem is that Christians do not believe anyone can be saved by being good. If you don’t come to God through faith in what Christ has done, you would be approaching on the basis of your own goodness. This would, ironically, actually be more exclusive and unfair, since so often those that we tend to think of as “bad” — the abusers, the haters, the feckless and selfish — have themselves often had abusive and brutal backgrounds. Christians believe that it is those who admit their weakness and need for a savior who get salvation.
Once again he is showing a contradiction in the view – in an attempt to be inclusive you are actually being exclusive.
DR. CRAIG: Yes, he is, isn’t he? Because he is saying that those who are good and who live good lives and upstanding lives may have advantaged upbringings that people who are rotten and bad haven’t had because they’ve been victims of poverty, abuse, oppression, and so forth. So these bad people get excluded by these cultural Christians like Kristof. Grace is open to everyone, good and bad alike.
KEVIN HARRIS: Jesus is for everyone. As we end up the podcast today, do you think Pastor Keller did a good job here?
DR. CRAIG: I do. I admire the man. I think he is well-informed, and he is very dialogical in directing a conversation so as to not be on the defensive but to gently turn the tables and to go on the offensive with his partner in conversation.
(This podcast is by Reasonable Faith / William Lane Craig. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
As we saw in last week’s program, the Bible traces the story of God’s promise to rescue the world from the consequences of the Fall. Yet as we follow the lives of characters such as Abraham, Moses, and David, we find not only sinners but also those who sin in spectacular ways that remind us of Adam’s original sin. In other words, it quickly becomes clear in these stories that the new Adam has not yet arrived, and that the new creation is still on hold.
On this program, the hosts continue to unpack this way of reading Scripture as they make their way through the Old Testament prophets and finally point to Jesus Christ as the true “Son of Man.” Join us as we begin this new series on the White Horse Inn.
“One of the things that plagues much of American Christianity is the tendencies to read Old Testament texts moralistically and a couple of examples are Ezra and Nehemiah. It gets pretty boring reading about the Jews rebuilding the walls on a political entry unless you turn it into principles to help me become a better insurance salesman. Even in Nehemiah and Ezra, even those books are showing the sinfulness of their own potential messiahs and the figures in these books even as they are preparing the way for Israel to be back in the land and for the temple to be rebuilt.”– Rod Rosenbladt
“Old Testament Types and Shadows”
Old Testament events, offices, and institutions (hereafter OTEOI) are invested by God with spiritual significance as integral steps in his history-long project to reverse sin and its effects… these OTEOI point beyond themselves, symbolizing the comprehensive, eschatological salvation that is God’s purpose for history and that has been inaugurated by Christ in his first coming and that will be consummated by Christ in his second coming. To understand how any OTEOI preaches Christ and finds its fulfillment in him, we first must grasp its symbolic depth in its own place in redemptive history. Then we need to consider how the OTEOI’s original symbolic depth (the aspect of redemption to which it pointed in shadow-form) finds final and complete fulfillment in Christ. Finally, we must identify and articulate how its message applies to ourselves and our listeners. The apostles’ proclamation of Christ as the fulfillment of all God’s promises provides abundant direction for the grateful outworking of this good news in personal discipline, family life, church life, and public life in the marketplace—and, if necessary, in a prison, like Paul. (Adapted from Dennis Johnson, Him We Proclaim, pp.234–237)
(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
Solomon, king of Israel, is considered to be the wisest king who ever lived. Many of his proverbs, chronicled in the pages of Scripture, have been repeated by the world’s thinkers for almost three thousand years. But, despite his wisdom and wealth, Solomon still made some very poor choices.
Deuteronomy 17 says that a king must not acquire too many horses, have a heart that goes after Egypt where Israel was once enslaved, marry too many wives, or accumulate for himself too much silver or gold.
When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it and then say, “I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,” you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, “You shall never return that way again.” He shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. (Deuteronomy 17:14-17)
All of these things Solomon did.
The Bible says:
As a result, Solomon became apostate and his heart turned away from God. (1 Kings 11:4-5)
He worshiped the false gods of his many wives instead of the true God of his father David.
Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So, the Lord took his empire from him.
Many have wondered what ever happened to Solomon when he died. Did he go to heaven or not?
God only knows, for the Bible doesn’t say.
But, in Ecclesiastes, which Solomon wrote at the end of his life, we get the impression that he may have repented. In the last two verses we read:
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
Words of wisdom…
…when we understand the text.
In many ways, the Bible is the unpacking of God’s initial promise recorded in Genesis 3:15, that though death entered the world through man’s fall, one day a child would be born who would restore all things and crush the serpent’s head. Therefore, the primary question that we should ask as we make our way through the pages of Scripture is whether any new character that emerges might actually be this child of promise.
What we see again and again, however, is that all of these potential messiahs end up not being anything new at all, but actually end up being mirror images of the old Adam. Join us as we begin this new series on the White Horse Inn.
“We just don’t want to look at how far East of Eden we actually are… I remember years ago, I was walking along the path of the college with our universal genius, Professor of Math, Robert Marion. He said, ‘What do you think is the greatest doctrine that came from the 16th century?’ I said, ‘Well, that salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith in Christ alone on the basis of his merits alone.’ He said, ‘I used to think that, too.’ I said, ‘What in the world do you think now?’ He said, ‘I think it’s a doctrine of a real Fall, because without it, you don’t even look.’ He had a point. We have a whole western civilization of theologians who have just not wanted to talk very much about the Fall of man. Where are we? We’re East of Eden.” – Rod Rosenbladt
6.2 Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
6.3 They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.
6.4 From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions. (1689 London Baptist Confession, chap. 6, Sections 2–4)
(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
This is not a story that has yet reached much of the attention of the mainstream media, or perhaps putting it differently, the mainstream media doesn’t appear too interested yet in the story. But The Federalist is, and Mary Hasson of The Federalist offers us a story with the headline,
“Illinois Purges Social Workers And Foster Families Who Don’t ‘Facilitate’ Transgenderism.”
“Facilitate” is put in scare quotes. Now the story is really interesting because as Hasson reports, Illinois has now adopted regulations that would in effect make it impossible for anyone to be a foster parent in that state, much less to be employed even as a volunteer in the system, without entirely affirming the entire LGBTQ agenda and most particularly facilitating—that’s the word that’s used in the document—the transition of children and teenagers in terms of their gender identity. Anyone who would hold to any positions that would to any degree not endorse the idea of transgenderism, well, that individual is simply out in terms of foster parenting or volunteering, much less working within the state’s system.
“The science-deniers are running the LGBTQ show over at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and dissenters will not be tolerated. The department’s new ‘enhanced,’”—that again is in scare quotes—“policies promoting the “well-being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) children and youth in the Department’s care”—all that’s a quotation—“ratchet in one direction only: encouraging children towards LGBTQ identities. DCFS has drawn a rainbow-colored line in the sand, announcing it “will not tolerate exposing LGBTQ children and youth to staff/providers who are not supportive of children and youths’ right to self-determination of sexual/gender identity.”
It turns out this is all traceable to what the department calls its newly enhanced standards and policies referring to child welfare and in particular to the foster care system. Hasson gets it exactly right when she tells us,
“The new DCFS policies are less about safety and wellbeing and more about using state power to “overrule” basic, empirical (and common sense) truths about human beings and to replace them with ideological assertions that validate adult feelings rather than benefit children.”
I would actually put it a bit more strongly. This is actually a set of policies that rules out all believing, convictional Christians from participation in the foster care system there in the state of Illinois. Now keep in mind also that state-by-state there are recurring patterns in which it is Christian churches and Christian parents who are particularly given to offering these kinds of services to children. This goes well back in terms of the nation’s history where most of the childcare systems and orphanages that existed before the state began taking over these services in the 20th century were explicitly Christian. The new regulations in Illinois will require all adults, whether volunteers or employees, to simply “facilitate exploration of any LGBTQ matters through an affirming approach.”
Notice the phrase “affirming approach” is stipulated required in the policy. It also says that these volunteers must be open, nonjudgmental, and they must express empathy. Looking to the policy myself in terms of what’s available on the website there in Illinois, section 302, appendix K is entitled,
“Support and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Children and Youth.”
Again LGBTQ. Reading from the policy the state demands,
“Children and youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning are protected by the Illinois Human Rights Act. Children and youth have many legal rights while in care, including the right to be free from verbal, emotional and physical harassment in their placements, schools, and communities. The adults involved in their care have a legal and ethical obligation to ensure that they are safe and protected. These children and youth also have the right to be treated equally, to express their gender identity, and to have the choice to be open or private about their sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity.”
Now of course, every morally sensitive adult and certainly everyone who’s involved in the adoption or foster care enterprise must be absolutely committed to the well-being of children and youth. But the question is, who defines that well-being? It’s clear that in the state of Illinoi it is the sexual revolutionaries who alone have the power and authority to define the well-being of young people and children. But also note this: there’s the use of the word hurt or harm, which is expressed even to giving something less than full enthusiastic support in terms of the transgender revolution.
Insofar as those who by Christian conviction cannot give such enthusiastic approval of this new sexual ideology, the statement says,
“DCFS will not accept the services of volunteers who fail to abide by Appendix K, and will not contract with private agencies who fail to adopt LGBTQ policies that are at least as extensive as Appendix K (including, without limitation, policies providing for employee discipline, up to and including termination, for conduct in violation of the non-discrimination policy.”
Now that’s something that I didn’t expect to see even in this kind of draconian policy completely given over to the new ideology of the sexual revolutionaries. It’s here demanded that any agency with whom the state of Illinois might partner must have policies that are at least as extreme as the Department of Children and Family Services there, and if they’re not exactly the same, they must actually goe further in terms of compliance with the demands of the sexual revolutionaries. Also made very clear in the detailed Appendix K is the requirement that all the adults who are involved in the system must be willing to use the preferred gender pronoun for the minors who are addressed to their care.
And furthermore, it is also very clear in terms of the details of Appendix case that the sexual revolutionaries are continuing to push the boundaries. For example, there is a new expression that is found here,
“Gender Expansive: Having or being perceived to have gender expression and/or behaviors that do not conform to traditional or societal expectations.”
The next sentence,
“Gender-expansive individuals may or may not identify as LGBTQ.”
Taking all of these policies in their details seriously word by word, it becomes apparent that all the adults in the foster care system there in Illinois are basically going to have to treat every single child as somewhere on the LGBTQ continuum, if not actually then potentially, and if not now then perhaps in the future. So let’s take the measure of what we’re facing here. At the very time that we face an unprecedented number of young persons and children who need care, at the very time that states are reaching out saying they need more parents to participate in the system, more adults to volunteer in the foster care system, at the very time they are trying to reach out to the community saying we need help, they’re making very clear that help is not going to be welcomed from anyone who holds to his worldview anything close to biblical Christianity.
We’re not just looking here at the ominous pattern of government using its coercive power in order to further of the moral revolutionaries. We’re looking at the fact that they are quite willing to sacrifice children and the well-being of children to that very revolution. This development in Illinois also serves as a very brutal reminder of the fact that there is no way to escape the impact of this tremendous moral divide in the United States. We’re looking at a divide over the very definition of what it means to be human, what it means to be male and female, and what it means to care for rather than to harm children. This story is a very tragic way to underline the fact that there is nowhere to hide.
Next, as I said, that story really isn’t yet headline news. The secular media seemed to be avoiding it entirely, but they’re not avoiding other stories. A recent edition of the New York Times actually came with a headline story. Here’s the headline,
“Story Hour at the Library, Presented in Drag.”
No this is not satire. This is a straightforward news reports in none other than the New York Times. Una LaMarche writes,
“Story hour, long a mommy-and-me staple, had never looked so colorful. She stood well over six feet tall, the reader at the Hudson Park branch of the New York Public Library in Greenwich Village, her height aided by six-inch heels on purple patent leather boots. Her outfit was an oxymoronic neon camouflage bodysuit and a purple tutu. A tuft of fuchsia hair curled from under a spandex headdress with fabric-covered cylinders lined up in a row, like a Keith Haring-inspired Mohawk. As she entered,”
We are told,
“The adults clapped politely, but the preschool- and kindergarten-age children huddled on a rug went wild. With the elation typically reserved for a ‘Frozen’ character, one toddler screamed ‘Yay!’ and clapped furiously, squirming in his mother’s lap. ‘My name,’” said the reader, “‘is Harmonica Sunbeam,’ the reader said, in a voice used to loud rooms. As a warm-up, she had the children sing ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and then march vigorously in place. ‘I’m getting you ready for Zumba’…. She sat down and read aloud from ‘Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress’ by Christine Baldacchino. The book,” we are told, “is about a boy who wore a beloved dress to school every day. At one point, Morris’s friends inform him that he isn’t allowed to play on their imaginary spaceship, because ‘astronauts can’t wear dresses.’ ‘Yes, they can!’ one child cried out. ‘No, they can’t,’ said another. ‘Boys can’t wear dresses,’ a third added.”
We are then told,
“The debate continued as Harmonica Sunbeam listened. Then she leaned down, addressing the children in a conspiratorial stage whisper.”
Now at this point, just remind yourselves that this is a public library in the United States of America. LaMarche then tells us,
“This is Drag Queen Story Hour. The brainchild of the writer Michelle Tea and Radar Productions, it is exactly what it sounds like: drag queens reading stories to children. It began in San Francisco in December 2015 and spread to Brooklyn last summer, thanks to social media attention.”
The New York Times then excitedly reports,
“Later this spring and summer, the Drag Queen Story Hour will expand to Harlem, and inwood to Manhattan and to the Bronx.”
Eva Shapiro, the early literacy coordinator for the New York Public Library, said,
“At first we identified branches that we thought would be excited by it. We didn’t want any surprises. Some neighborhoods are less familiar with the concept. But so far everyone has been thrilled.”
LaMarche then tells us,
“After reading a few more books from the library’s preapproved list”—notice I’ll simply insert here “the library’s preapproved list”—“some, like ‘Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress’ or “It’s Okay to be Different’ by Todd Parr, address themes of diversity and gender expression, while others are simply story time favorites — Ms. Sunbeam distributed scarves and asked the children to shout out their favorite ice cream flavors, an exercise that inspired a more contentious debate than that over the astronaut’s dress. Then they broke for a paper crown decorating session.”
The most telling sentence in the entire article comes at the end where the person identified as Ms. Sunbeam says,
“We all learn every day in life. And there’s a lesson in everything you do. Sometimes we just have to sneak it in.”
Well that’s exactly what’s going on here—sort of. This is sort of sneaking in the message. But if you’re actually sponsoring a program at public libraries on both coasts in several locations and you’re calling it the Drag Queen Story Hour, maybe it’s not so much that you are trying to sneak in a message as you are barging in with the message. Now looking at a headline story like this one from the New York Times, it’s all too easy to say the obvious this is where the moral revolution leads. But there’s more to it or I wouldn’t be talking about it.
The more to it is this: at this point, many Christian parents or informed Christians even looking at this story will say, well, we are talking about Greenwich Village, we’re talking about San Francisco, but you have to go on to notice that they are introducing this program neighborhood by neighborhood. And furthermore, if you’re in a city like Dallas or Houston or Phoenix or Atlanta, maybe Charlotte, North Carolina, it’s easy to say this isn’t New York City. But when it comes to the agenda we’re looking at here and when it comes to the kinds of programs that are being presented as what the public library wherever it is located should do, well, then don’t be surprised if the Drag Queen Story Hour actually does show up in Tampa or Atlanta, or for that matter, Birmingham or Nashville or just about anywhere else. Just as the new norms in terms of childcare and foster care are expanding coast-to-coast—remember that first story was from Illinois—in the same way the agenda that you see in this story coming from New York City certainly isn’t limited to New York City. The ideology that has infected just about every dimension of public life, including the public libraries, it spreads like a virus, and it will not be contained.
Next in terms of tracing the cultural and moral change in the United States, sometimes it shows up on the business and financial pages of the newspaper, such as recently in the Wall Street Journal. The headline story,
“Caesars Rolls With Changes in Casino Scene.”
This has to do with Caesars International emerging after struggles including bankruptcy trying to find its way in modern America. The business issues behind this story have to do with a lot of things, most importantly, the changed business and financial landscape of organized gambling in America today, an America in which organized gambling remains a very big industry. But this is an industry that is having to face new realities. It’s having to squeeze more profit from things like hotel rooms and from meals and alcoholic beverages and entertainment, but what’s really interesting is what’s simply mentioned in the story as if we should all know this and move on. In the second paragraph of the story by Chris Kirkham we read this,
“Now it,” meaning the gambling industry, “faces a new challenge: How to grow when gambling is within driving distance of virtually every American, and even international opportunities have diminished.”
Let’s go back over that sentence. What we’re told here is that gambling is facing a new challenge because now gambling “is within driving distance of virtually every American.”
We can pass over that pretty quickly without pausing to reflect what a massive change in American life that actually represents. As recently as 20 years ago, that was hardly the case. Going back even to the last decades of the 20th century, organized gambling in the United States, the casino industry in particular, was found only in two major locations outside of Native American reservations. Those were Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. But over the course of the last half of the 20 century, state-by-state accelerating in the 1980s and 90s began to adopt certain forms of gambling, including one of the forms most pernicious to their own citizens, which is the form of a state-sponsored lottery.
But after that the expansion in terms of gambling income, both for the industry and for the states looking for revenue, it turned increasingly to other forms of gambling that the states had avoided steadfastly. The very idea that most of these states would allow casino gambling would’ve been unthinkable just a matter of a quarter-century ago. Now the big problem is gambling, as the Wall Street Journal tells us, is now accessible within a half day’s drive to virtually every single American. It’s at least worth the observation that that sentence alone in a matter of just a few years ago would not have been buried on the business page as something we’re all supposed know and factor into the business equation. It would have run on the front page because it would’ve been front-page news. It would have been understood then that this would represent an entirely different America, morally speaking, than that which was then known. At the very least, we ought not to let a story like that pass without any attention whatsoever. This might not be big news in any sense to those who are writing the business pages of the Wall Street Journal. But morally speaking, it’s huge news if indeed it really is news.
Next, we live in a world that is increasingly distant from the Christian biblical worldview but is still in an odd way haunted by it. Saturday’s edition of the New York Times included an obituary notice for one of America’s most famous writers and poets, Denis Johnson, who died last Wednesday at age 67. Of great interest to the New York Times in terms of this obituary about Denis Johnson is the fact that this writer had directed so much of his attention to the moral boundaries in the United States, often writing very openly about moral outcasts and all of their moral complexities. As Michiko Kakutani writes in that front-page story for the New York Times, Denis Johnson wrote about “the lost, the dispossessed, the damned — with empathy and unsparing candor.”
Kakutani later in the article writes,
“Mr. Johnson’s America, past or present, is uncannily resonant today. It’s a troubled land, staggering from wretched excess and aching losses, a country where dreams have often slipped into out-and-out delusions, and people hunger for deliverance, if only in the person of a half-baked messiah. Reason is in short supply here, and grifters and con men peddling conspiracy thinking and fake news abound; families are often fragmented or nonexistent; and primal, Darwinian urges have replaced the rule of law. And yet, and yet, amid the bewilderment and despair, there are lightning flashes of wonder and hope — glimpses of the possibility of redemption.”
Now wait just a minute, the word redemption almost cries out from the page here. This is the New York Times, but there’s another word that leaps out at us from even earlier in the story. Kakutani writes of Johnson’s stories that they “depict people living on the edge, addicted to drugs or adrenaline or fantasy, reeling from the idiocies and exigencies of modern life, and longing for salvation.”
Longing for salvation? That’s earlier in the article. Hoping for glimpses of the possibility of redemption, that’s later in the article. But here’s the headline of the article,
“Denis Johnson’s Poetic Visions of a Fallen World.”
Now let’s just think about this for a moment. Here you have the words salvation and redemption following in a headline story that speaks of a fallen world, but what’s so heartbreaking in this is that there’s no theological definition of what it means to live in a fallen world. No one seems to be asking the question, fallen from what or from whom? But why, we have to ask, would an increasingly secularizing society find stories such as these so absolutely compelling, so endlessly fascinating? Why are we drawn even as a secular culture to so many of these themes that all of a sudden show up as if shouting out loud from the text of the New York Times using words like salvation and redemption and tying that to hope?
And what about that front-page headline speaking of Denis Johnson’s stories, his poetic visions of a fallen world? Well it tells us something. It tells us that even in this very confused age there is still an understanding that this is a civilization and that we are a species fallen. A secular society apparently is not ready to ask the question from what state are we fallen, against whom have we sinned, but there is a clear understanding that the world is not right. And this comes with a reminiscence somewhere in terms of a haunting memory that it must have been otherwise in the beginning. This article certainly doesn’t speak of sin. The word is nowhere in the article. But notice how even sin comes through with references to the lost, the dispossessed, and the damned, “people living on the edge, addicted to drugs or adrenaline or fantasy, reeling from the idiocies and exigencies of modern life,”
What binds them all together? Her very next words are: “longing for salvation.”
Some of the most powerful literature of the modern age addresses very directly the fact that we are still in a Christ-haunted culture. Much of that literature goes back to that second half of the 20th century, but here’s an obituary dated in the month of May in the year 2017 with “a fallen world” in the headline and hopes and glimpses of salvation and redemption in the body of the story. Christians looking at this kind of article need to remember that this is why the Bible itself calls the Gospel good news, the evangelium. And in this article tells us that in, yes, this fallen world, people, even people in today’s very complex postmodern, post-Christian America, desperately are hungry to hear the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing. For more information, go to my website AlbertMohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to @albertmohler.For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College just go to boycecollege.com.
(This podcast is by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
John Calvin’s sermons on Ephesians are a wonderful text. In the introduction to the Banner of Truth Trust’s edition of these sermons, the editors note that as we think about Calvin’s writings, we have his sermons, his commentaries, and his Institutes of the Christian Religion, but:
“In these pages, we hear Calvin. Not as we do in his Institutes, which were so carefully written and reworked, nor as in his Commentaries, which he also revised, but we hear him just as he spoke from the pulpit of St. Peter’s.”
Calvin began his series on Ephesians on May 1, 1558. He preached forty-eight sermons, finishing in March 1559. When Calvin started preaching this series, he was forty-eight years old. He was beginning to enter into a period of his life where he would have significant health issues, including pain would rack his body until his death. It was also during this series that, at one point, Calvin was preaching so strenuously that he burst a blood vessel.
When Calvin preached, he used no notes, he had no manuscript, and he did not have any mechanisms set up to have those sermons recorded. About a decade before he started preaching this series, a group of French refugees in Geneva started recording Calvin’s sermons. There would be a number of them sitting there taking notes. At one point, they realized that they needed more than one note taker because at times they would get caught up in the warmth of the sermon. Thanks to those French refugees, we now have a taste of what it would have been like to hear Calvin preach.
Let’s look at a few lines from his sermon on Ephesians 1:3–4. Calvin says,
“For we know that our wisdom ought always to begin with humility and this humility imports that we must not come weighing God’s judgments in our own balance or take it upon ourselves to be judges and arbiters of them.”
Why is Calvin telling us that we have to be humble and that we have to recognize that we don’t weigh God’s judgments, we submit to them? It’s because he is going to talk about, in this sermon, the doctrine of predestination. And when he introduces the doctrine of predestination, Calvin says this:
“There are two more reasons,” on top of those he had already given, “as to why this doctrine must, of necessity be preached. The one is the magnifying of God as He deserves. A doctrine of salvation that starts and ends and has, everywhere in the middle, God is the only doctrine that is going to give the glory worthy to God. This doctrine of predestination is one of magnifying of God that He deserves. And the other is the assurance of our salvation. If salvation is by God and from God then we are kept by God.”
And so, Calvin in these sermons on Ephesians is treating doctrinal subjects, but he is treating them in such a way as to serve the people of God. And that’s Calvin on Ephesians just as he spoke from the pulpit.
(This podcast is by Ligonier Ministries. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
When God created Adam and Eve, He put them in the Garden of Eden and told them they could eat from any tree they wanted, except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The day they ate of it, they would die.
“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
And you know how the story went…
Eve was tempted by the serpent, ate the fruit, gave some to Adam, and because they sinned, they were separated from God, kicked out of paradise, death entered into the picture, all creation was sent into upheaval. And everyone born of the seed of Adam – that’s us – are under the same curse, born into sin, and fallen from grace.
Way to go, Adam!
But wait a second…
God knows everything (1 John 3:20)
His understanding is beyond measure. (Psalm 147:5)
Will any teach God knowledge? (Job 21:22)
Why, even the hairs on your head are numbered! (Luke 12:7)
If God is all-knowing and He knew that eating the fruit would result in the fall of mankind, why did He even put the tree there in the first place? Isn’t this His fault?
Well, you know, Adam tried blaming God too…
“The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate…” (Genesis 3:12)
Yeah… guess how that went for him.
In Psalm 119, David said,
Oh how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day…
I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep Your word…
How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:97, 101, 103)
In other words, there is great joy in obeying God.
Adam and Eve lived in perfection and God showed His goodness all the more by giving them a command to obey. And by obeying it, they would experience the greatest joy possible, needing nothing else but God.
Then the devil came along, and convinced them that God and all His blessings weren’t enough. “God is selfish and is keeping something from you,” he said. So they ate the fruit, believing they needed something other than God to be satisfied.
Such is the case with our sin, too. We are all willing participants in Adam’s sin.
But, God so loved us that He sent HIs Son, Jesus, to destroy the work of the devil.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3:8)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever will believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
All who believe in Jesus have their sins forgiven and will be restored to eternal paradise with God… when we understand the text.
(Many of the Bible stories and verses we think we know, we don’t! When We Understand the Text is an internet-based video ministry committed to righting some of the wrong understanding of scripture, all while advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Check out more at WWUTT.com!)