Well folks, the end has come for this blog. I appreciate all the people who have read it over the years but I honestly have nothing more to contribute. I probably didn’t contribute much anyways so my absence will hardly be felt. I don’t have any blog recommendations but I’m sure you all will find worthy reading material. Thanks again. See you on the flip side.
Lesson 11: The Work of Christ – Prophet, Priest, and King
We now come to the work of Christ. Traditionally this has been divided into the offices he fulfilled and the stages of his work. So we are answering the questions of what Jesus did and how he did it. This lesson will focus on the what.
In the Old Testament there are three main offices. You see prophets like Moses or Samuel, you see priests like Aaron or Eli, and you see kings like David or Solomon. Jesus fulfills all three of these offices in his work.
A prophet is one who proclaims the words of God to the people. In the Old Testament, God promised that there would one day be a prophet like Moses who would speak on God’s behalf (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). Jesus is that prophet (Hebrews 1:1-2). And while Jesus recognized the authority of the Mosaic law (Hebrews 5:18), Jesus also said his own words had eternal weight (Matthew 24:35).
Jesus’ words as prophet are superior to any other prophet because he is speaking the words of God as God himself. Jesus holds divine authority in all he says – he is the superior Son of God. And because of this we must obey his words without reservation. This is especially true if we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). We must faithfully represent the prophetic words of Jesus.
Jesus also fulfills the role of a high priest who stands between the people and God to offer sacrifice for sins. There are two main actions a high priest performs: atonement and intercession. Jesus does both.
First, Jesus dies for the sins of his people. Sin was an affront on God’s holiness and therefore needed to be dealt with decisively. Romans 3:25 declares that Jesus was the one “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Jesus pays for the sins of his people, a payment that is made to God to satisfy his holy anger. And we enjoy the benefits of what Christ has done through faith in him.
There are many metaphors and images that the Bible employs to describe the idea of atonement. We read of words like “blood,” “lamb” or “sacrifice” and we think of the fact that sin is deadly and demands blood payment. Or we see the word “redemption” and think of a payment being offered to God to stave his wrath. Or we see “reconciliation” and we imagine two enemies coming together because of a victorious work. This is what Jesus has done in his atoning work as priest.
Biblical Descriptions of the Atonement
Type of Language
Language of OT sacrifices
Blood, lamb, sacrifice
We are guilty
We are forgiven
Language of personal relationships
We are alienated from God
We are brought back into intimate fellowship with God
Language of righteous anger at wrongdoing
We are under God’s holy wrath
God’s wrath is satisfied/quenched
Language of the marketplace
We are enslaved
We are set free
Language of the law court
We are condemned
We are pardoned and counted as righteous
Language of the battlefield
Victory, deliverance, rescue
We are facing dreadful enemies
We are delivered and are triumphant in Christ
(from ESV Study Bible, 2,523)
Second, Jesus continues to intercede for his people. This is what Jesus does for us now (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). He is our advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1). He is our great high priest (Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10).
Jesus is the King of kings (Revelation 19:16). He is the ruler over everything (Colossians 1:15-20) and one day everyone will bow their knees to him (Philippians 2:9-10). And for his own people, this great King protects and provides. He is a good king.
Implications for Us
We also share in Christ’s work as prophet, priest, and king. As prophets we proclaim the words of our Great Prophet to the world around us. As priests we intercede on behalf of others, praying for them to our Great High Priest (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 5:9-10). As kings, we enjoy dominion and authority through the power of the gospel and one day we will reign with Jesus forever (2 Timothy 2:11-12).
“To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17)
From Ten Commandments.
You who have love to God, keep it flaming upon the altar of your heart. Love, like fire, is ever ready to go out. ‘Thou hast left thy first love.’ Rev 2: 4. Through neglect of duty, or too much love of the world, our love to God will cool. O preserve your love to him. As you would be careful to preserve the natural heat in your body, so be careful to preserve the heat of love to God in your soul. Love is like oil to the wheels, it quickens us in God’s service. When you find love abate and cool, use all means to quicken it. When the fire is going out, you throw on fuel; so when the flame of love is going out, make use of the ordinances as sacred fuel to keep the fire of your love burning.
The first words Moses penned that we know about are contained in a book we now know as “Genesis.” Composed sometime in the 14th century B.C., the book of Genesis contains the history of Israel before the Exodus from Egypt. It begins with the creation of the cosmos and concludes with the sons of Jacob moving to Egypt, escaping from a famine. Between these two book ends are stories about just where the wandering people of Israel came from and include tales of a subtle serpent, a devastating deluge, and fathers full of faith (though not without their flaws).
The title “Genesis” comes from the Septuagint, that Greek translation of the Old Testament from the 3rd century B.C. In Greek “Genesis” means “origin” or “source” and was so named because of Genesis 2:4 – “These are the generations [Greek, geneseos; Hebrew, toledot] of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” Interestingly, the book of Genesis is structured around ten toledots (“these are the generations”) and give us the lineages of Adam (5:1), Noah (6:9), Noah’s sons (10:1), Shem (11:10), Terah (11:27), Ishmael (25:12), Isaac (25:19), Esau (36:1, 9), and Jacob (37:2). So Genesis is a story of origins – not just of the universe but of the Jewish people.
Not a Science Book
Despite the attempts by many Christians to turn Genesis into a scientific treatise, Moses’ work is anything but that. It is written long before the discoveries of either Eratosthenes or Copernicus. But it is not the fact that Genesis lacks scientific language that leads us to believe this fact. Rather, it is what the text does say that leads us to believe it. Genesis is a theological work, promoting monotheism by showing readers a God who is wholly other than all that he created. While in many ancient cultures deities were tied to natural phenomenon like the Sun or the moon, in Genesis, God exists apart from any natural wonder. This explosive truth comes from the very first verse of Genesis.
The Origin of the Cosmos
“In the beginning,” wrote Moses, “God created the heavens and the earth.” Once there was nothing but God and then there was a universe! This is mind-blowing. Time, space, and matter came into sudden existence through the amazing power of God Almighty. This was truly creation ex nihilo.
Some have seen Genesis 1:1 not as the initial act of creation but as a summary of the rest of the chapter. That is, Genesis 1:1 is all six days and verses two through thirty-one are verse one expounded. However, this does not seem likely. To begin with, if Genesis 1:1 is a summary statement and not God’s initial act of creating then we have no way of explaining the origin of the unformed and unfilled earth in verse two. Either the earth is co-eternal with God or there is some other accounting for the origin of the earth not explained in Genesis. It is simpler to accept that verse one is not a summary of the whole first chapter but a statement of God’s initial act of creation.
Next time we will look at Genesis 1:2 and briefly discuss a major theme of the book of Genesis: the land.
For further reading:
John Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992.
John Sailhamer, Genesis Unbound. Colorado Springs, CO: Dawson Media, 2011.
Lesson 10: “He” or “It?” – The Holy Spirit
As we discussed in a previous lesson, the Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity and is equal to the Father and the Son. In this lesson we will seek to prove that with Scripture as well as see that the Holy Spirit is not a “thing” or an “it,” but a person with emotions and abilities.
“He,” “She,” or “It?”
The New Testament was originally written in Greek. Greek nouns have genders. The word “book” in Greek is masculine and the word “day” is feminine. The word for “spirit” is neuter. Because of this fact some have tried to turn the “Holy Spirit” into a neuter, impersonal force. They would see the Holy Spirit more like the mysterious “Force” of Star Wars rather than a living, personal member of the Godhead. For example, the Watch Tower, also known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, says that “the holy spirit is not a person; it is God’s active force.”
There are serious problems with this belief. To begin with, throughout the Bible the Holy Spirit is said to do very personal things, things that an impersonal force simply cannot do. The Holy Spirit comforts (John 12:26; 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7), teaches (John 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:13), speaks (Acts 8:29; 13:2), makes decisions (Acts 15:28), grieves over sin (Eph. 4:30), overrules human actions (Acts 16:6-7), searches the deep things of God and knows His thoughts (1 Cor. 2:10-11), distributes gifts (1 Cor. 12:11), interprets our prayers before the Father (Romans 8:26-27), assures believers of their adoption into God’s family (Romans 8:16), and bears witness to and glorifies Jesus (John 15:26; 16:14).
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit possesses the same “name” as the Father and Son do. Recall the words of Jesus when he commands his disciples to baptize people in “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Names denote personality and the Holy Spirit’s name is the same as the Father and the Son – Yahweh. Therefore, if any gender were to be attributed to the Holy Spirit it would be masculine.
And like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit has the same divine attributes. He is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10), omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10-11), omnipotent (Luke 1:35-37), and holy (Romans 1:4).
The Spirit’s Work
Though equal in nature with the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit has a different role within the Trinity. His work is seen in Jesus’ ministry, the people of God, and his magnification of Jesus.
The Ministry of Jesus
To begin with it, it is the Holy Spirit who brings about the “incarnation,” or human life of Jesus (Luke 1:35). He is also present at the baptism of Jesus which begins his three year ministry (Matthew 3:16). The Spirit empowers Jesus throughout his life (Luke 4:14, 18) and the Spirit is the active agent by which Jesus rose from the dead (Romans 8:14). Furthermore, Hebrews 9:14 makes it clear that the Spirit played an active role in what Jesus accomplished on the cross.
The Spirit in God’s People
God’s Spirit is poured out on his people (Ezekiel 39:29) at Pentecost (Acts 2). He is also the “seal” or marker of true Christian conversion (Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Throughout the book of Acts it is the Holy Spirit who brings about miraculous signs like the gift of tongues or prophesying. However, this is not the normal working of the Spirit. Typically the Spirit produces fruit within us that displays our Christian conversion and love for God (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Spirit Glorifies Christ
In what ways does the Spirit glorify Christ? First, he illumines the Bible by showing Christ is at the center (Luke 24:27, 44-48). Second, he empowers gospel preaching which focuses on Christ (Acts 1:8). Third he brings about regeneration or the new birth (John 3:5-8). Finally, the Spirit sanctifies the believers and conforms them the image of Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2).
The Importance of the Spirit’s Work
Without God’s Holy Spirit no believer would be able to either be a believer or continue as one. It is God, working in us by his Spirit, who enables us to live this new life we are called to live. The Spirit’s work enables us to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). We must depend on the Holy Spirit daily.
Never forget that if we have the Spirit then we are God’s. So if you are trying to make it to heaven in your own strength and not in the Spirit’s, you won’t make it! “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9). Repent and trust in Christ and you will receive the Holy Spirit.
 What Does God Require of Us? (NY: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1996), 22.
Lesson 9: 100 % Man; 100% God
Last time we talked about how Jesus’ was/is a human being. Before that we talked about how Jesus was/is completely God. Today we are going to look at the two natures of Jesus and how they relate.
Scripture Bears Witness
First, the fact that Jesus is both God and man is emphasized over and again by the Bible. Numerous passages bear witness to this like Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:11, John 1:14, Romans 1:3-4, 1 Corinthians 2:8, and Galatians 4:4-5. It is a mystery, to be sure, how Jesus can be both fully God and fully man, but it is what the Bible teaches.
What Does it Mean for Us?
The implications for this truth are enormous for us. That Jesus is one person with two natures, human and divine, gives us the great hope for our own fallen humanity. Because Christ is God and man he is able to mediate between the two. Three biblical passages bring this out for us: Colossians 1:19-20, 1 Timothy 2:5, and Hebrews 2:17.
One 11th century Christian, Anselm, wrote in his book Why God Became Man, “It is necessary that the self-same Person who is to make this satisfaction [for humanity’s sins] be perfect God and perfect man, since He cannot make it unless he be really God, and He ought not to make it unless He be really man” (2.7). By becoming man, the eternal Son of God was able to sympathize with us and, in his body, be condemned in our place.
Two Natures in One Person
In the fifth century, in a city called Chalcedon, a group of Christians came together to combat wrong ideas that had sprung forth concerning Jesus’ humanity and divinity. They formulated a creed which affirms Jesus’ full deity and full humanity in the one person of Jesus. Here is what they wrote:
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with us according to the manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the virgin Mary, the mother of God, according to the manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.
This creed teaches Christians to affirm five things:
1. That one nature of Christ is sometimes seen doing things in which his other nature does not share.
2. That anything that either nature does, the person of Christ does. He, God incarnate, is the active agent every time.
3. The incarnation is a matter of Christ’s gaining human attributes, not of his giving up divine attributes. He gave up the glory of divine life (2 Cor. 8:9; Philippians 2:6), but not the possession of divine powers.
4. We must look first to the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ’s ministry in order to see the incarnation actualized, rather than follow fanciful speculations shaped by erroneous human assumptions.
5. The initiative for the incarnation came from God, not from man.
This all may seem confusing and it probably should. This is all a great mystery. Our existence is nothing like Jesus’. We do not have two natures. We have a human nature and that’s it. But Jesus did not. Jesus had both a human and divine nature.
But we can take away from all this a great and glorious truth: God can do the miraculous and impossible to save us. He loves us and sent forth his Son, born of a woman, to redeem us. Praise be to God!
 Nowhere in the Bible is Mary called “the mother of God.” This title, then, should be rejected. God cannot have a mother.
 ESVSB, 2519.
Lesson 8: God Appeared in the Flesh
Long before the birth of Jesus the prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The disciple Matthew cited this passage and defined “Immanuel” for his readers: “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). For Matthew, the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words were in Jesus (Matthew 1:25).
As we saw in our previous lesson, Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. As such, he is equal with God the Father in all the divine attributes including eternality, power, authority, majesty, glory, and holiness. But Jesus became human and had a human birth, a human genealogy, a human body, a human mind, and experienced human temptation.
A Human Birth
To begin with, Jesus was born. Not only do both the gospels of Matthew (1:18-25) and Luke (2:1-21) attest to this, but even Paul believed Jesus had a human birth (Galatians 4:4-5).
A Human Genealogy
Matthew and Luke also give us a genealogy for Jesus. Matthew traces the line from Abraham forward (Matthew 1:1-17) while Luke traces it from Jesus back to Adam (Luke 3:23-38). The point of any genealogy is to demonstrate that the main heir, in this case Jesus, legitimately belongs to the line. Both from Joseph’s side (Matthew’s genealogy) and Mary’s side (Luke’s genealogy), Jesus is established as a legitimate son of Abraham and son of David and therefore the rightful king of Israel.
A Human Body
While on earth, Jesus grew (Luke 2:40, 52), he was hungry (Matthew 4:2), he was thirsty (John 19:28), he was tired (John 4:6), and he died (Luke 23:46). And these were not illusions, as the ancient heretical group the Docetists taught. The apostle John reflected on Jesus’ life sixty years later and wrote in 1 John 1:1-3 that he had heard Jesus, saw him, and touched him.
Following his resurrection, Jesus still had a physical body. When he appears to the disciples he tells them, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). Therefore Jesus does not cease to have a body after he rises from the dead. He is no mere spirit. He is flesh and bone.
A Human Mind
Jesus had a human mind. It grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52) and Jesus even learned obedience (Hebrew 5:8-9). His human mind was even restrained from knowing when he would return to earth (Mark 13:32).
The author of Hebrews says that Jesus was “in every respect tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). In the desert he was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11) and throughout his life he experienced trying circumstances but he never sinned. In fact, Jesus had spiritual disciplines to combat sin including prayer (Mark 14:36), worship (Luke 4:16), solitude (Mark 1:35), and Scripture memorization (Matthew 4:4-10).
Is Jesus Still Human?
But is he still in human form? When he ascended to the Father did he lose his humanity altogether?
The Bible’s answer is a resounding, “No!” For example, Paul writes that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The author of Hebrews writes that Jesus is still a priest even after his ascension and that he “always lives to make intercession” for his people. In fact, Jesus “will be a man forever as he represents redeemed humanity for all of eternity.”
In our next lesson we will look at how the divine and human nature of Jesus come together. How are the distinct? How are they united?
“[Jesus] willingly humbled himself in order that he might make a righteous peace between God the Judge and man the sinner.”
John Owen, The Glory of Christ, 39.
 ESVSB, 2517.
Lesson 7: God in Three Persons
God is not lonely. When people ask the question, “What was God doing before he made the universe?” the answer is not that he was bored or felt isolated. God is a being in relationship, meaning that he has eternal love and fellowship among the members of the Trinity. This teaching, which is unique to Christianity, is a very difficult one to grasp and is also one that we will never fully comprehend. So as we briefly look at it in this lesson, be aware that it may be confusing or seemingly contradictory.
There are four main affirmations that we make with regards to the Trinity. Each one is essential to our faith and to deny any of them is to deny what the Bible teaches.
There Is One God
The first affirmation is foundational. There is only one God. This was the belief of the Old Testament Jews (Deuteronomy 6:4), the Lord Jesus (John 17:3), and the apostles (Ephesians 4:6; James 2:19). And because there is but one God, worship of anything but God is a serious sin because God is, by definition, a maximally great being. He deserves praise and adoration because he is the greatest treasure in the entire universe.
God in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Spirit
The next affirmation is that God eternally exists as three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each member is either described as having God’s attributes or is directly called God in the Bible. The Father is described as God (1 Peter 1:2), the Son, Jesus, is described as God (John 1:1, 18), and the Spirit is described as God (Acts 5:3-4).
Equality in the Trinity
The next affirmation is that with regards to their divinity and attributes all members of the Trinity are equal. They all partake of the same essence and therefore are all equally divine. Therefore, the Father is as much God as the Son and Spirit. The Son is as much God as the Father and Spirit. And the Spirit is as much God as the Father and Son. Furthermore, we should not think of any member of the Trinity as being one third divine. Each member is fully God.
The Persons are not Identical
The final affirmation is that while each person in the Trinity is fully and completely God, they are still distinct persons. The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Spirit. The Spirit is not the Father. Each member of the Trinity has a distinct role especially with regards to the saving of sinners.
Why It Matters
But now we must ask the question, “So what?” Why is the fact that God is a Trinity important? Besides the obvious fact that it’s what the Bible teaches, here are some practical implications for this wonderful teaching.
First, the doctrine of the Trinity makes revelation of God possible. Jesus, the Son of God, has made the God who could not be seen visible (John 1:18; Exodus 33:20).
Second, the Triune God set out to save sinners. Hebrews 9:14 describes this fact: “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purity our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
Third, the fact that God, as a Trinity, is a being in relationship means he has no needs that can be met by anyone else. God did not create humanity because he needed to. He is self sufficient (Acts 17:25).
Fourth, the Trinity gives us a model for relationships within the body of Christ, the Church, as well as a model for marriage (1 Corinthians 11:3; 12:4-6; Ephesians 4:4-7).
The Trinity is God’s highest revelation of himself. It is a glimpse into the inner workings of his nature and his mind. The more we think about this teaching the more we see a God who is unfathomably glorious.
Let it sink in.
Lesson 6: God and the Gospel
Nancy Pearcey notes in her book Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity that a good worldview addresses three issues: how the world began, how it all went wrong, and how it can be fixed. So far we have looked at how the world began (lesson 3-4) and how it all went wrong (lesson 5). Now we must answer the question of how what has been ruined by the Fall has been restored.
Promises Made and Kept
In Genesis 3:15 we read the promise of one who would crush the head of the serpent by having his own heel crushed. This is known as the protoevangelium or “first gospel.” This verse makes it known that God’s will for humanity was not to keep them in their sinful condition but to defeat the Evil One once and for all through a sacrificial death, a crushing. It is the death of the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ, who fulfills the promise of Genesis 3:15. The author of Hebrews declares that Jesus “himself…partook of [flesh and blood], that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:15). It was Jesus’ death that destroyed the devil and saved us from our sins.
These promises continue throughout the Old Testament. The promises made to Abraham, that he would have offspring through which all peoples would be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3), is ultimately fulfilled by Jesus (Galatians 3:16). The word to Moses that Israel would receive a prophet greater than himself (Deuteronomy 18:15-18) is fulfilled in none other than Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 3:19-22). The One who would forever sit on David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:16) is King Jesus who rules the universe (Revelation 5:6-14).
We must keep one thing in mind as we look into the gospel. God was and is under no obligation to save anyone. God had the right to immediately destroy Adam and Eve for their sins. He also had the right to let them live out their lives, produce countless generations of children, and see to it that each and every one of them were punished for their sins forever in hell. God’s grace is not earned nor is it deserved or else it would cease to be grace. Therefore we should be amazed that God has made any steps towards rescuing humanity.
So the gospel really is good news. We are not left to ourselves. We are being passionately pursued by a relentless God. We are like a lost sheep or a missing coin or a wayward son but he is like a faithful shepherd and a diligent woman and a joyful father (Luke 15). What was lost will be found and sin will be defeated.
Christ Died for Our Sins
Paul defines the gospel this way: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Therefore the facts of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection are important for if those things didn’t happen then there is no gospel. But since we can put our confidence in the fact that God does not lie, we can trust the Bible’s record regarding Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection on our behalf.
The words of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 make it plain that the reason Jesus died and was resurrected was “for our sins.” Since we can never deal with our sins on our own, Jesus dealt with them on our behalf. The payment for sin is death (Romans 6:23) and Jesus died the death we deserved – the death of the furious wrath of the living God.
How Do We Benefit from the Gospel?
But how do we benefit from this good news? The Bible is clear: we must repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). To repent means we turn from our sin to God. To believe means we trust and treasure the object in front of us, God. Therefore, to lay hold upon what God has for us in the gospel we must forsake our sin and treasure him. When we do this we find ourselves in right standing with God, having been justified through his grace.
Justification is not the only benefit of the gospel. We may start with the gospel but we do not move on from it. It permeates everything. We forgive others because we were forgiven – a benefit of the gospel. We love others because we have been loved – a benefit of the gospel. We go across the world and live and die for others – a benefit of the gospel. We give from what little or much we have to others – a benefit of the gospel. So we do not move away from the gospel ever. Rather, the gospel is in and above and through everything we do as Christians.
So be encouraged. Your sin deserves death but if you will turn from it and treasure Jesus as the wrath-satisfying Savior he is, you will enjoy him forever and ever.
 Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Publishers, 2004), 25.
Lesson 5: God and Human Sin
Humanity’s ideal condition in the beginning didn’t last. Adam and Eve were given the capacity to freely choose between obeying God and disobeying God. This explains why the world is in the condition it is in today: sin.
Adam and the woman were given one command in the garden. “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 you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). While it is unclear what is meant by “the knowledge of good and evil,” God is quite clear – Adam and the woman would die if they ate the tree’s fruit. This command, then, was for their good and for their joy.
In Genesis 3, a serpent, a “beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1; see Genesis 1:26), deceives the woman into eating the fruit of the tree and giving that fruit to her husband. The serpent does this by calling into question what God said – “Did God actually say…” (Genesis 3:1). This crafty creature causes the woman to doubt God’s goodness. “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” says the serpent (Genesis 3:5).
When they eat of the fruit the Bible says that “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). There is great irony in all of this. The serpent says that Adam and the woman could be “like God” despite the fact that they already were (Genesis 1:26-27). And then, when the man and the woman eat the fruit, the serpent’s promise to be like God falls flat – they experience shame, an emotion God cannot experience. The word translated “naked” is the Hebrew word arum and is used in the Old Testament to describe people who are stripped of defensive clothing and therefore has a connotative meaning of weakness or humiliation. The man and the woman were without defense before a holy God.
Though the man blames the woman, and the woman blames the serpent, all three are accountable to God for their actions. This illustrates that you cannot blame someone else for your sin – God will hold you accountable. In the Genesis story, these punishments are prophetic and explanative of the rest of the Bible and of human experience.
The serpent is told he will eat dirt all his days and that one day there would be a hero from the woman who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). The woman is told that her pain childbearing will be multiplied and that she will want to rule over her husband (Genesis 3:16). The man is told that the ground would be cursed because of his sin and that he would die (Genesis 3:17-19).
But this isn’t the only punishment. In Genesis 3:22-24 God decides that man cannot live forever in his sinful condition and therefore banishes him and the woman from the garden. To guarantee that the man won’t return he places cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the entrance. The garden, God’s temple, could no longer be profaned by the unholy couple.
What About Us?
Did Adam’s sin have any effect on us today? The Bible says it did. In Romans 5:12-20 Paul says that through the one man “sin came into the world…and death through sin” (v. 12). Adam’s one trespass led to death for many (v. 15) and condemnation (v. 16). Adam’s sin let death reign (v. 17) and all people stand condemned because of it (v. 18). Adam’s disobedience in the garden led to you and I becoming sinners (v. 19). In other words, we are born into the world condemned because we are Adamites. Puritan Thomas Watson wrote,
Adam being a representative person, while he stood, we stood; when he fell, we fell, We sinned in Adam; so it is in the text, ‘In whom all have sinned.’
Adam was the head of mankind, and being guilty, we are guilty as the children of a traitor have their blood stained…. ‘All of us,’ says Augustine, ‘sinned in Adam, because we were part of Adam.’
The tragedy of Eden is our own. A holy God will not tolerate our treachery and therefore we should be terrified of what he will do to us because of our sin.
And that truth will lead us to the gospel.
 Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, originally published 1692), 142.