Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What? You Mean It Was True!!! (Part II)

When last we left our Hero, He had given specific instructions to the first man and woman to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. An intruder, however, has come into the garden to tempt sweet innocent Eve . . .

As any good husband would, Adam warned his wife about God's instructions. However, Eve got the story a little twisted. The Adversary (disguised as a serpent) asked her: "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'"? You see, this was a very loaded question. First of all, God never said that Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from "any tree in the garden". He only forbade the tree in the center of the garden; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Second, the Adversary was subtly bringing doubt on the Word of God. To this very day, God is being charged with things that He has never said in His Word and He is being misrepresented by distortions of what He has said in His Word. As we are about to see, loose lips certainly do sink ships.

Oblivious to the Adversary's ploy, Eve volunteers a distortion of her own. She stated that God said, " We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Notice the subtle addition that she made, "neither shall you touch it". God never said that. You might say "big deal, if they didn't touch it; they certainly couldn't eat from it". This is true, however, it gave the serpent more to work with in inducing doubt into Eve about her Creator.

Now the serpent lowers the boom, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”. The Adversary audaciously impugns the character of God. By this statement he accuses the triune God of lying, jealousy and insecurity. Assailing God's character, casting doubt on the veracity of His Word(s) and portraying Him as an evil dictator has been the serpents tactic since the garden and he continues it to this very day. As I previously stated, the adversary is powerless before the triune God; so his only hope is to distort Him to us or destroy us in order to get at Him.

So what was Adam doing during this dialogue between his wife and the talking snake? Well Scripture makes it clear that he was right there with Eve, yet he said nothing. I can't begin to explain this. As you might have guessed Eve, drawn by the beauty of the tree's fruit, eats and also gets silent Adam to join in. If I may come to ol' Adam's defense for just a moment, when a beautiful naked woman asks you to have some fruit . . . you have some fruit!

With this act all creation is cast into utter bondage. This act of disobedience to the clear command of God introduces that thing which severs man from his creator and deprives man of spiritual, volitional, and ultimately physical life. That thing is SIN. You might say, "is it really that deep"? Yes, it is. Wrapped up in that little piece of fruit was mankind's whole future. Had they obeyed and not eaten the fruit Adam and Eve and thereby all of their descendants would have lived forever in perfection with their triune God. By eating the fruit, they committed treason on the grandest scale against their triune God and ushered in all of the evil, sickness, war, famine, pestilence and death that you see overrunning our world today.

You are probably saying that that is much too great a penalty for such a simple transgression. It was just a piece of fruit. Consider who was transgressed against in this event. This triune God is the more than the supreme example of holiness, goodness, truth, justice, love, mercy, faithfulness, power or any other superlative you can think of. HE is the being who gives these words their meaning . . . and then some!!! Adam and Eve by their disobedience sided with and trusted a snake. Need I say more. The question that now might be asked is, is the triune God petty and vindictive in banning the first couple from His garden and declaring their death? ABSOLUTELY NOT! As I said, He already knew what was going to happen and He already planned the outcome. This outcome would be the most glorious outcome "inconceivable" . . .

Is it all over for Adam and Eve? Has the Adversary overthrown God's creation? Is God wringing His hands in despair? Is Obama really a muslim? The answer to these questions and more, next time when: The Umpire Strikes Back!

Be Like the Berans, Baby!!! (Acts 17:11)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What? You Mean It Was True!!! (Part I)

What I have in mind for the next few posts isn't for you. "You" being my readers who are my brothers and sisters in Jesus the Christ. Of course I still want you to read it; but it's really for the unbelievers out there. What are the chances that there are actually unbelievers who read this blog? Well, being a Christian I don't believe in chance. And being a reformed Christian, I believe that if it is God's will, He will providentially lead that unbeliever whom He wants to read it directly to this blog . . . even if the unbeliever thinks it's an accident.

I have recently been thinking about how this blog and many of my buddy-bloggers (see my blogroll) have been battling a lot of in-house (?) problems. We are usually sounding the alarm against the false teachers out there and decrying the unbiblical trends that are developing in the church. I realized that as far as my blog is concerned, I had never extensively addressed the unbelievers. I guess that's because I didn't think many would ever read this blog. Charge it to a lapse in my reformed thinking. So, Mr. or Ms. unbeliever . . . this one is for you!

I realize that there are many different kinds of unbelievers out there. You have your Richard Dawkins/Michael Hitchens/Bill Maher-types who nothing short of a slap in the face by Jesus Himself will convince. You also have the "I believe in God, just not the God of Christianity"-types. And then there's the type I really want to engage: the "I'll listen to what you have to say and I'll give it some serious thought"-types. I pray that at least these last two groups will hear me out.

Humor me for the next few posts and assume that there exists an infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing, loving and just God. This God is the source of all goodness righteousness and justice. And as incomprehensible as it may be; this one God subsists in three distinct persons. I know I'm asking you to go quite far with me; but just hang in there. This God's goodness and glory is of such magnitude that it simply must be displayed. This unbounded goodness cannot be subdued. So in order to give full expression to this glory, this one God takes counsel among His persons. The outcome of this counsel is that this one God will create a universe upon which to display His infinite glory.

The pinnacle of this created universe was man. I say he was the pinnacle of God's creation because it was in man alone that the triune God decided to place His own image. Trust me, that's no small deal. As with all finite creatures mankind had to start with the first man; let's call him "Adam". The triune God (one God who subsists in three distinct persons)created a planet, Earth, and on that planet created a garden and gave it to Adam to live in. After an undetermined amount of time God observed that Adam needed a mate; so He removed one of Adam's ribs and created "Eve", the first woman. As was His prerogative, the triune God laid down some regulations for Adam and Eve. These were no mere suggestions; but the very grounds on which their continued existence in the garden were based. Little did Adam and Eve realize that God already knew that they would fail to obey the regulations. You see, God had plans that were much larger than just giving the first couple a nice place to live. As I said, this triune God's goodness and unbounded glory simply must be displayed. So God had already prepared a plan that would display that glory in the most significant way conceivable.

What were these regulations? Well, there were a few but the most important one had to do with the first couple's diet. Basically, they could eat anything the land produced except the fruit of one particular tree. This tree was in the center of the garden and God had enriched the fruit of this particular tree with the ability to give its eater the God-like knowledge of good and evil. God warned Adam that this tree was off limits. They could eat from any other tree; but eating of this tree was strictly forbidden. In fact, He made it clear to Adam that should he or Eve eat the fruit of this tree; they would surely die! This regulation served as a test of the first couple's trust and willingness to obey their Creator. Their decision in regard to this regulation would also have enduring consequences for their progeny; for the triune God had determined that Adam would represent all of mankind in this test. The blessings of his obedience would be imputed to all of his descendants. The curse of his disobedience would also be imputed to all of his descendants. The theological big-brains call this the Covenant of Works.

Among the triune God's other creations were the angels. No long lesson on angels here; let's just say they all didn't remain true to their Creator. One in particular got really full of himself and tried to lead a coup. Well, God laid the smackdown on him and he never got over it. We'll call this erstwhile angel, "the Adversary". This is a very apt name because he is stridently against anything the triune God is in favor of or is favorable toward. One thing that it is very important to understand about the Adversary is that he is a creature. He is not some evil doppelganger of the triune God. Although as a former angelic being he has much greater than human strengths and abilities; he is a mere flea before the might of the triune God. Nonetheless, he does come in handy to God in the ultimate display of His unbounded goodness and glory.

Meanwhile back in the garden . . . Adam and Eve are walking through when Eve's attention is attracted by a talking snake (go figure!). By means way to complicated to explain here, the Adversary is allowed to spiritually in habit a serpent. Somehow Eve is not startled by the discovery of this loquacious reptile. And as is his penchant, the Adversary begins to cast aspersions on the character of the triune God. He asked Eve whether God said that she could eat from the tree in the center of the garden (the one with the fruit that would make them know good and evil). . .

Will Eve hold a conversation with a snake? Or will she realize that the snake speaketh with a forked-tongue? Will Adam intervene and defend his wife? Or will they take the snake's bait? For the answer to these questions and more be sure to tune in next week for: The Fall of Man!

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!! (Acts 17:11)