Foundations in Faith I:
Foundations in Faith I:
Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb
Into a world dominated by the powers of darkness, God was born in human form. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the central events in all of human history.
In Jesus, God now offers the immeasurably precious gift of salvation — forgiveness of our sin, the enslaving power of sin broken off of our lives, restored communion with God and everlasting life in His presence. However, we can’t fully appreciate God’s saving work unless we understand our need for salvation.
Why do we need to be saved? Saved from what? To answer these questions we must examine the creation, temptation and fall of humanity.
The fall of humanity was a real historical event whereby sinful human beings became separated from God, from their own self, from one another and from creation. This separation or alienation produced the death, disintegration and violence which characterize human civilization.
The distance between God and fallen humanity is so great and the need for change in the human being is so radical, Jesus uses birth imagery to describe it: "Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again (or from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
God uses slave imagery: "Though you were slaves of sin" (Romans 6:17).
God uses death imagery: "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).
God uses creation imagery: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The reality of humanity’s fall impacts every aspect of life for every person in the world. God’s gift of salvation is the most important gift anyone will ever receive or refuse. Our life in this world and our eternity when this life is over will be entirely determined by our response to God’s redeeming work. It is essential that we understand our salvation.
Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb includes four lessons:
Creation, Temptation, Fall and Redemption.
Foundations in Faith I:
Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb
Before we look at the cataclysmic event known as the Fall, let’s examine the creation of humanity.
A. Humanity was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26,27).
What does that mean — in the image of God?
1. This means we are conscious of our existence and able to relate to other intelligent beings. Animals are conscious that they are alive, moving or not moving, hungry or satisfied but they are not conscious of their being. They relate to other animals according to instinct or training but humanity was created with the capacity to know ourselves and others in deep and meaningful ways. We were created for relationship. The ultimate relationship for which God formed us is with Himself — that we would know Him and enjoy Him forever.
2. We are able to make creative choices and exercise free will. We are not mere creatures of instinct — we entertain abstract ideas, formulate plans, design and create, choose between a variety of options. God gave us this freedom because that’s what it means to be in His image and if we were not free to reject Him, we would not be free to love and worship Him. True worship of God can only be the result of a choice by morally free creatures.
3. God created a spiritual dimension in humanity, symbolized by the breath of life imparted into Adam: “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7 neshamah: breath, spirit, soul, inspiration). Because we are spirit beings, we can relate to God.
B. Humanity was created with purpose (Gen. 1:26-28 2:15 Psalms 8:3-9)
1. To serve creation.
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). The word cultivate (abad) could be translated serve and carries a sense of stewardship. Adam was created to be a steward, a caretaker of God’s creation.
2. To know God, behold His glory, worship and enjoy Him.
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (Psalm 150:6). The primary reason for God’s creation of humanity, indeed, God’s ultimate purpose in creating the universe, is to display His glory so that we might behold His glory, give Him glory and enjoy His limitless attributes forever.
3. To show our love for God through obedience.
Humanity was created to experience God’s love and love Him in return. The primary demonstration of love for God is obedience. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Showing our love for God can only take place if we are free to refuse to love, free to disobey. If we were not free to fall, we would not be free to bow. Worshipful, loving obedience to God can only be the result of a free choice.
C. Humanity was created with limits.
“The Lord God commanded the man saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die’” (Genesis 2:16,17).
No reason is given for God’s prohibition of that tree. It was simply a test of obedience. We must add, though, that there was no reason to eat from it. The man and woman already enjoyed perfect good in their fellowship with God and there was no evil relevant to them. However, eating from the tree would be an act of rebellion which would introduce them to evil.
In rebelling against God’s clearly stated will, Adam and Eve would be replacing the will of God with self will. They would, in fact, be displacing God as Lord of their lives. Only God can be our true Source of life and wisdom, the perfectly wise Judge of good and evil.
Adam and Eve were created to live in close union with God, like branches on a tree but if that union were ever broken it would be as if the branches had fallen from the tree. Cut off from their Creator and Source of life, death would inevitably become part of creation.
In the beginning, the man and woman knew nothing of death. There was a tree of life in the garden (Gen. 2:9), the fruit of which must have had properties enabling long, healthy life but there was no death in this original creation. Indeed, “God saw all that He had made and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).
Created in the image of God, created to be stewards over creation, created to know, enjoy and obey God — the man and woman knew only the beauty of perfect design, planted in a garden reflecting God’s goodness and creative wisdom.
1. What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
2. For what purpose was humanity created?
3. What boundary or limit did God place on humanity in the garden?
Foundations in Faith I:
Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb
In this lesson we will examine the temptation of humanity (Genesis 3:1-5).
A. The Tempter
The Bible does not specifically refer to Satan's origin, it simply presents us with the fact of his existence and opposition to the Lord God. However, many Bible scholars believe there are symbolic references to his origin in Ezekiel's lament over the king of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:11-19) and in Isaiah's oracle against the king of Babylon (Isaiah 14:12-16).
Some would object that God is addressing only the kings of Tyre and Babylon in those passages. But there are instances in the Bible where the Lord addresses Satan through another creature or person. (See for instance Genesius 3:15, in which God addresses the satanic power and presence operating through the serpent. Also Matthew 16:22-23, where Jesus is speaking to Peter but also to the satanic tempter operating through Peter.)
Let’s look at the passage in Ezekiel (28:11-19):
1. 28:12 Would God say of the king of Tyre that he was created with “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty?”
2. 28:13 Had the king of Tyre been living in Eden?
3. 28:13 Was the king of Tyre created with an inlay of jewels, tambourines and flutes?
4. 28:14 Would the king of Tyre be referred to as "an anointed cherub"? (Cherubs are angels who minister before the throne of God).
5. 28:15 Was the king of Tyre perfect / blameless from the day of his creation?
6. 28:16 Was the king of Tyre ever cast out from the mountain of God?
Conclusion: God is speaking a historical word against the king of Tyre having to do with the king's pride, his wickedness and God's impending judgement. But it appears also that the Lord is addressing someone else.
Characteristics of this "someone else":
1. Created full of wisdom and perfect in beauty (28:12)
2. Existed from ancient times (28:13)
3. Endowed with jewels, musical gifts and instruments (28:13)
(Note:“And the gold, the workmanship of your settings (toph) and sockets (neqeb) was in you, on the day that you were created they were prepared.” Toph is often translated tambourine or timbrel and neqeb may be translated flute.)
4. Created as a cherub to minister before the throne of God (28:14)
5. Created in perfection / blameless (28:15)
6. Became proud of his beauty and wisdom, which sin developed into corruption and violence which, in turn, brought about his expulsion from the presence of God (28:15-17)
In Isaiah we have this revelation (14:4,11-15):
1. 14:12 Did the king of Babylon fall from heaven? (Note: “Star of the Morning" can be translated "Lucifer")
2. 14:13 Had the king of Babylon really imagined that he could raise his throne above the stars?
3. 14:14 Did he imagine that he could make himself like the Most High?
Conclusion: God is speaking a historical word against the king of Babylon having to do with his arrogance and self-exaltation and God's coming judgement. But it also appears that the Lord is speaking to someone else.
Characteristics of this "someone else":
1. He fell from heaven (14:12).
2. He weakened / oppressed the nations (14:12).
3. He attempted to exalt his authority above God, trying to make himself like God in authority and glory.
4. Note his five-fold profession of pride:
"I will ascend to heaven." (14:13)
"I will raise my throne above the stars of God." (14:13)
"I will sit upon the mount of assembly." (14:13)
"I will ascend above the heights of the clouds." (14:14)
"I will make myself like the Most Hight." (14:14)
We conclude that Satan was created as an angelic being and given a ministry in the very presence of God, possibly a worship ministry. But he became proud of his wisdom and beauty, was corrupted by his pride and sought to overthrow God. This resulted in his expulsion from heaven.
How ironic that an angel, created to reflect the brilliance of God’s glory, separated himself from glory and became the Prince of Darkness. To this day, Satan, whose name means adversary, opponent, accuser, continues to seek worship, to instigate rebellion against God and to oppose God's people. An example of his program is found in the Garden of Eden. He possessed the body of a serpent (in its pre-fall form) and began a conversation with Eve, the woman God had created.
B. The Temptation: (Genesis 3:1-5)
1. Satan began by casting doubt on God's Word (3:1): "Indeed, has God said?"
Satan would have us believe the lie that truth is relative: truth is whatever they say, whatever you say, truth is relative to time and place, it changes. Satan would have us believe the lie that there is no truth that transcends our culture and our time because there is no transcendent Truth Giver. He would have us believe the lie that there is no God who speaks truth. Or maybe there is a God but whatever God said is not relevant for our lives and really, we can’t even be sure what God said. Satan asks Eve, “Did God really say that? And does God mean what He says?”
2. Eve began her fall from grace by listening to and conversing with temptation (3:2,3): “The woman said to the serpent.”
If we know what God said and we know it is the truth, we don’t need to hold a conversation with temptation. In particular, we do not need to converse with any false philosophy which denies the existence of a truth speaking God.
3. Now that Satan has engaged Eve in conversation, he moves from questioning God’s word to lying, directly contradicting God’s word (3:4,5): “You will not die.” The subtle suggestion is that God doesn’t love you enough to tell you the truth.
4. Satan questions God’s character (3:4,5): If God is not telling you the truth, then God is a lier. If God is a lier then His integrity is called into question. You can’t really trust Him.
5. Temptation is internalized, now it comes from within (3:6).
a. Eve looks at the fruit with a new way of seeing: “The woman saw ... it was a delight to the eyes ...” (3:6).
b. Desire rises up from within: “The tree was desirable” (3:6).
c. She acts on her desire — she eats and shares with Adam who does not check his desire with the word of God: “She took from its fruit and ate … and he ate” (3:6).
C. How does temptation become sin?
“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lusts (strong desire). Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14,15).
1. Sin begins with the conception of desire within us for something.
Desire is often initiated by some outer sensory stimuli, something we see or hear or smell. In Eve’s life, it was the sight of the fruit. Looking at the fruit, it became a part of her imagination. “When the woman saw that the tree was good ... and that the tree was desirable ... (3:6).
2. Desire conceives reasons to satisfy the desire.
Eve began to reason, to explain to herself, to justify, to rationalize why it would be good to eat the fruit: “I’ll be like God. I’ll be really wise.” Any prohibitions are being pushed aside by her desire. She justifies eating the fruit no matter what it may cost or how it might harm her. Never mind that she was created in the image of God. She wants to be God and she believes that eating this fruit is the means to achieve this desire.
3. Rationalized desire begins to conceive an action.
Eve begins to formulate a plan to act on what she has desired and rationalized. Her will is involved now. She does not merely desire the fruit. She does not simply rationalize having it. Because she has justified having it, she now wills to have it. It is no longer a matter of being tempted by the sight or thought of it. She is now drawn to it by her own will. She wills to reach out, hold it and eat it.
4. Finally, she exercises her will.
Eve takes the fruit and eats it. The fact that it is illegal and harmful means that she has violated the law of God and her own personhood. She has sinned. Adam also took and ate and shared in the sin.
5. Sin always results in the death of something.
When Adam and Eve sinned, death immediately entered their relationship with God, with each other, with creation and death began to impact their own emotional and physical being. Sin always conceives and gives birth to death.
Consider again the words of James: “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lusts (strong desire). Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14,15).
In the next lesson, The Fall, we will consider the far ranging impact of death.
D. How do we resist temptation?
By the time we purchase the fruit and are holding it in our hands, it is virtually impossible to resist the temptation of eating it. It would be somewhat easier to resist while we are formulating a plan to purchase it; easier still during the process of rationalization. But the best place to resist sin is when the desire first occurs.
The earlier we begin to resist temptation, the easier it is to overcome it. The longer we allow the process to continue in our mind, the less likely we will be to overcome it.
Better to avoid the neighborhood where we smell or see illegal fruit. If the battleground of sin is in our mind, then what is more important than controlling the gates that lead to the mind? Don’t go where the fruit will impact your senses. There are a thousand baited hooks that will not entice you but there are a few that will. Guard the gates that lead to the mind.
If illegal fruit is your problem, don’t watch movies about illegal fruit. Don’t read the book. Don’t stand under the tree. Don’t go to the neighborhood where the scent of that fruit fills the air. Don’t position your life in ways that expose your particular vulnerability to that temptation.
Instead, we must saturate our minds with the life and truth and light of Jesus. How valuable the exhortation, “Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23). God had given a clear word to Adam and Eve but they chose to ignore that word.
E. What is sin?
At its heart, all sin is simply rebellion against God. Rebellion is an attempt to dethrone God, declaring our own will to be lord and king.
God created Adam and Eve in His image so that they could know Him, love and worship Him. He placed them in a perfect garden and poured out every good and perfect blessing upon them. The only prohibition was that they not eat of one tree.
It is not that there was anything evil about the tree. Rather, it was a test of obedience. In violating God’s command, humanity was saying, “I will be my own god and I will make my own laws.”
How ironic that Adam and Eve, created in the image of God, sought to be God. How tragic, that in seeking to be God, they became less than human.
F. Failure of Priesthood:
Both Adam and Eve were priests before God but Adam failed because:
1. He failed to adequately communicate God’s commands to Eve.
2. He was too busy to notice her conversation with temptation.
3. He failed to break the unholy relationship with seduction.
4. He failed to intercede when she fell, instead joining her in sin.
Of all his failures, Adam’s greatest was this: he did not fall down on his knees and pray for his fallen wife. Rather than eat of the fruit, he could have interceded for her. What might that prayer have sounded like?
“Lord God, I know you to be holy and just and yet full of mercy. My beloved wife has fallen into deadly temptation and sin but I share in her failure for I did not notice the conversation, did not break the seduction and now death has entered your perfect and beautiful garden. My God, I humbly ask that in your mercy you pardon her sin for surely I have known you to be a gracious God, abounding in kindness. But if not, I ask that you place her death upon me, for she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Let me bear the penalty, O my God, and may she live before you in childlike innocence and may her years be many and full of wonder.”
How might our gracious God, whom we know to be slow to anger and quick to forgive, abounding in mercy to all who call upon him in truth, how might He have responded to that prayer? But Adam did not pray. He ate of the fruit.
1. Based on the prophecies found in Ezekiel 28:11-19 and Isaiah 14:4,11-15, how would you describe Satan’s origin and character?
2. What was Satan’s first question to Eve? (3:1)
3. What strategy is behind that question?
4. What was the second step in Satan’s strategy? (3:4,5)
5. What do I mean by this statement, “Temptation is internalized, now it comes from within”? ( based on 3:6).
6. What are the stages of sin according to James 1:14,15?
7. What is the final result of sin?
8. What is the significance of Proverbs 4:23?
Foundations in Faith I:
Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb
God had warned Adam (and Adam told Eve), that if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would “surely die.” But they did not die physically on that day. Then in what way did they die?
Adam and Eve were created to live in intimate communion with God like branches on a vine — God being the vine, they were the branches, drawing from God the life which continually pulses through Him into His creation. When they sinned, they were instantly separated from the creative wisdom, perfect love and inexhaustible vitality which flow from the Creator.
The result of their fall was the breakdown, the disintegration of every aspect of their lives. They not only experienced separation from God but also from their own being, from one another and from creation. Hundreds of years later, death had its final impact on their physical being. But long before their bodies died, they experienced the reality of death.
In this lesson we will examine the deadly result of the Fall.
A. They are immediately separated from God: Genesis 3:8-10
For the first time in history, God asks humanity, “Where are you?” God knew where Adam and Eve were — they were hiding. And God knew why — because they had sinned. God asks questions of us, not because He needs answers but so that we may be accountable to the truth. God created us for relationship with Himself and true communion exists only in a context of truth.
Here is the first picture of evangelism: humanity sinning and hiding — God seeking and calling. Centuries later Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The seeking heart of God reveals such a wonder of mercy.
The greatest mystery of Eden is not that humanity sinned. It is that God sought them and called to them. Why does God love fallen sinners so deeply? The answer to the mystery of God’s love is hidden in the heart of God, but we know this about His heart:
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness” (Psalm 103:8).
Why were Adam and Eve hiding from God? Obviously, because they had sinned and sin creates a barrier of separation between sinners and a holy God. They instinctively understood that their sin offended the perfect holiness of God and their impurity grieved the perfect purity of God. But rather than run to the God whose unmeasured love they had experienced, their response was to hide. Perfect fellowship with God was broken.
They were right to fear God for an offended God must judge sin but wrong to run from Him, for only God can save us from our sin. Do you see how sin warped their perception of God? They perceive God differently now, even though God is unchanging in His being. God did not change. Their perception of God changed — they are running from the only God who can save them.
Prior to their sin, they had experienced perfect communion with God, enjoyed God’s perfect love and had, no doubt, experienced many other marvelous attributes of God’s infinite being. God’s unlimited creativity and wisdom enabled them to be wise stewards of the garden. God’s infinite wellspring of joy flowed through their hearts like a river, causing every moment of time to be a joyful celebration of wonder.
In response to God’s Self-revelation, they had loved, worshipped and enjoyed God. Now they perceive God as Someone to fear — and rightly so — but not Someone from whom they must hide. Their response to sin should have been, “Fear God and run to Him.”
Nothing about God had changed. Whatever they had experienced of God in the past was still true but sin separates people from God and if we die in this state of separation, we will be eternally separated from Him.
Why is this?
1. God is holy and cannot look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13 Psalms 5:4). Sin grieves God, arouses His anger. We cannot enter eternity with a holy God if we are filled, covered and defined by that which grieves and angers Him.
2. God is just and cannot ignore broken law (Psalm 97:2 96:13). Even a human judge, if he is honest, cannot ignore law which has been broken. How much more must God, the perfectly righteous Judge, judge the sin which violates His holy justice.
3. Sin, at its heart, is rejection of God and if we have refused to love, honor and worship God, how could we be with Him in a heaven where He is loved, honored and worshipped?
4. God has set a day for judgment and all will be judged according to their works. If our works include sin which has not been dealt with by a Redeemer, then we will have no hope of avoiding judgment (Romans 2:5-11).
We will see later that God promised a Redeemer before Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden. Yes, fear the holy God who judges sin. But run to this God of mercy and grace who saves, redeems and restores every sinner who comes to him with a humble heart.
Continuing our discussion of the deadly result of the Fall, they were not only separated from God.
B. They are separated from their own being: Genesis 3:7-10
They now perceive their own selves differently, experiencing for the first time in history guilt and shame — destructive forces which initiate the breakdown of human personality. Before they sinned, they were conscious of self without any disintegrating factors. Now, they are no longer living in a perfect unity of being. Human personality begins to disintegrate.
C. They are separated from one another: Genesis 3:12,13
They now perceive one another differently. Notice how Adam accuses Eve, “The woman whom you gave to be with me.” (By the way, do you hear Adam’s subtle accusation of God? “The woman whom you gave to be with me.” It’s your fault God — everything was fine until you created her. We see separation on every level).
Before sin, the communion of Adam and Eve was perfect, she was “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (2:23). Joined in sin, they have now lost their perfect union. Now their relationship is characterized by distrust and separation on a deep level. Even in their closest moments, there will always be the echo of their fall from grace.
The brokenness of their relationship is further described with these words: “To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children’” (Gen. 3:16).
Increased pain may refer to the reality that a baby born into a fallen world will require a longer period of fetal development, resulting in greater pain in childbirth. But more likely, it refers to the instinctive love which most mothers feel for their babies and the painful experience of watching that beloved child grow up in a violent, depraved world, knowing that the child will not only share in the sin of the world but will someday succumb to the penalty of sin — death.
The brokenness of their relationship is also described with these words: “Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). Eve was created to be Adam’s helper and no doubt God built that desire into her soul, even as the Lord planted in Adam the qualities of leadership. That does not imply any inequality between the man the woman. Both were created in the image of God with all the qualities of life and being implied by that creation. They stood equally blessed and gifted before God.
Their lives were mutually fulfilling, a harmony of wills and communion of souls delighting in God and each other. In the beginning there was nothing to divide or mar their union. But now Adam’s leadership will be marred by a sinful desire to dominate and control and Eve’s former submission will be marred by a sinful desire to seek fulfillment apart from Adam and in competition with him.
From this point on, the breakdown of human society is inevitable. Community is formed by people in relationship with each other. People separated from their own being and from one another build communities of alienated, separated people. Fallen people build fallen cities. Disintegrating personalities build disintegrating societies.
While Adam and Eve lived in union with God, they accessed God’s creative wisdom and perfect knowledge. Gardened by God, they were wise gardeners of creation. Separated from God, they were cast upon their own disintegrating being with its imperfection, limitation and corruption. They will go on to build the primary social unit, the family, and later build more complex units such as cities. But separated from the life-giving Spirit of God, what they build will only reflect their own disorder. Broken hearts build broken unions.
The first city will soon be built by the first murderer (Genesis 4:17). Within a few generations, God will characterize human society as wicked, evil, violent and corrupt (Gen. 6:5,11).
D. They are separated from creation: Gen. 3:17,18
“Cursed is the ground because of you” God says to Adam (Gen. 3:17). Originally created to be the caretaker of a blessed garden, humanity becomes the hard-scrabble farmer of a cursed land. Creation feels the destructive impact of humanity’s sin as it begins to break down. When a garden loses its gardener, it goes to weeds.
Ground that once yielded fruit as a blessing from God, now yields thorns and thistles and harvest is gained only by the sweat of man’s labor. This curse is not only a judicial sentence which the righteous God pronounced over sinful man but also a revelation from God. Thorns and hard labor remind us that we are separated from God our Creator, separated from His original purpose, exiles from the garden of our beginnings.
Thorns and thistles whisper, “This is not your home; you’re a refugee in an alien land.” An ancient instinct imbedded in our soul knows that only God can make a way to regain what has been lost. The curse reminds us of this.
Adam and Eve are driven from the garden lest they, “Take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever” (3:22). How merciful of God! What would be worse than to eat of this tree and live forever separated from God, in a cursed world as an eternally disintegrating being?
Life itself begins to break down — death enters creation, “For you are dust and to dust you shall return” (3:19). The entrance of death is by human choice, not an act of God. Separated from the Giver of all life, humanity began to experience death, just as a branch begins to die when separated from the tree.
The problem on earth is not that God is cruel, uninvolved or unloving but that the caretaker fell from relationship with God. The disasters in nature, the plagues and famines, the assault upon the human body and mind of disease and breakdown, all this is the result of the intended ruler of creation falling from relationship with Creator God and therefore from the place of stewardship over creation. This world would never have come to such a point of disintegration except for the displacement of humanity through sin.
Sin resulted in more than just a severing of relationship with God. By that severing of relationship, humanity not only was disconnected from our only Source of eternal life and light, but we also lost the flow of wisdom, power and creative imagination that would have enabled us to be stewards over the earth. Separation from God resulted in separation from the resources that enabled stewardship, which resulted in separation from the task of stewardship.
Fallen humanity tries to manage life, direct the affairs of the world, develop the potential of the planet while separated from God. The result is ignorance and knowledge misused. For centuries humanity was ignorant of the secrets of steam power, electrical power, atomic power and the world suffered for lack of the benefits which these discoveries have provided. But how much greater our suffering when discoveries are made and misused due to the impact of sin and the lust for dominance.
We don't know what it would be like to live on a planet where discoveries are the result of God’s wisdom flowing into a mind untainted by sin. We can only imagine.
E. In summary, sin created the reality of death:
“The Lord commanded the man saying, ‘From the trees of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you will surely die’” (Gen. 2:16,17).
In the opening lesson, Creation, we said that there was nothing evil about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s prohibition was simply a test of obedience and there was no reason to eat from it. Adam and Eve enjoyed perfect good in this perfect garden and there was no evil that applied to them. However, eating from the tree was an act of rebellion which introduced them to evil.
In rebelling against God’s clearly stated will, man and woman were replacing the will of God with self will. They displaced God as Lord of their lives. Only God can be our Source of life and wisdom, the truly wise Judge of good and evil.
Adam and Eve were created to live in union with God, like branches on a tree but when that union was broken it was as if the branches had fallen from the tree. The result of sin is death because sin separates us from the Giver of life and destroys everything it touches. The ultimate penalty is eternal separation from God and therefore, everlasting death.
F. In the face of death, God promises a life-giving Deliverer: Genesis 3:15
On that day of sin and separation, death entered every aspect of life and God could have taken the lives of Adam and Eve. But how gracious and merciful of our kind God — before Adam and Eve left the garden, God promised a Redeemer / Deliverer who would someday come to earth, carry their sin and take their death upon Himself. How unexpectedly wonderful — the God of all grace promised to deliver humanity from the death which we had imposed upon ourselves and upon all of creation.
Contained in these enigmatic words addressed to Satan is the promise of that Man:
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen. 3:15).
G. In a final act of mercy, God covered the man and the woman.
“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” (3:21).
When Adam and Eve sinned, their immediate response was to cover themselves in fig leaves. This is the first act of works-righteousness in world history — attempting to come before God covering their sin with their own works, in this case fig leaves. In the centuries since, their sons and daughters have been attempting to cover their sin with their own version of fig leaves — religious ritual, charitable donations — or a thousand other coverings.
This is the history of human religion, fallen men and women attempting to cover their sin with the fig leaves of religion and good works and thereby justify themselves before God. But we cannot cover our sin, atone for it or make ourselves righteous in the sight of a holy God. Only God can cleanse us of our sin and restore us to a righteous relationship with Himself.
Because the fig leaves were insufficient, the Lord God met them, not to restore innocence — that was gone. God met them to cover them, making garments of skin for them, covering them until such a time as a Redeemer would come and cleanse them.
Where did God get those skins? He killed something. Was it a lamb? God was demonstrating the truth that sin is covered through the shedding of blood — sin must be dealt with by sacrifice. Whatever animal God killed, the sacrifice points across the centuries to Jesus, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Adam and Eve may have been expecting death to come upon them immediately. Instead, an innocent animal died in their place. Did they watch as the lamb was slaughtered? Did they have any premonition as to the momentous significance of that lamb?
Surely the Second Person of the Trinity saw and looked ahead to a hill called Calvary, just outside Jerusalem. God knew that creatures with a free moral will would sin and would perish in their sin unless the Lord redeemed them. Somewhere in the ancient councils of eternity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit determined and decreed that Jesus would be that Redeemer, “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).
Later, the Lord instituted a system whereby bulls and lambs were sacrificed for the sins of the people. It is not that their blood could cleanse anyone of sin any more than the skin of this animal could remove the sin of fallen man and woman. But those later sacrifices would represent the one great sacrifice of Jesus which reached back in time to Eden and forward in time to your life and mine, washing and cleansing every repentant sinner.
1. What was the first impact of the fall? (3:8-10)
2. What began to happen within Adam and Eve? (3:7-10)
3. How did sin impact the relationship between Adam and Eve? (Genesis 3:12,13)
4. How did sin impact creation? (3:17,18)
5. What is a key word that you would use to describe the impact of sin?
Foundations in Faith I:
Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen. 3:15).
God created Adam and Eve in His image and placed them in a garden which perfectly reflected His infinite creativity and kindness. Humanity was created to know and enjoy God but through sin, fell into separation from God, from their own being, from one another and from creation. Yet God in His marvelous grace promised a Redeemer who would someday bring sinners back to Himself.
In this section, we will examine the theme that will inspire our praise through eternity:
Redeemed By the Blood of the Lamb.
A. God’s Gracious Promise to Sinners:
Before Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden, God revealed that Someone born of the seed of the woman would someday bruise the head of the serpent, though He would be bruised on the heel (Genesis 3:15). It’s not biologically correct to speak of the seed of a woman but this would be a special birth not involving the seed of a man. This uniquely conceived Man will crush the head of the serpent (a mortal wound) though He would be bruised on the heel, that is, He would be wounded yet not destroyed.
Interpreting that passage from our perspective we see Jesus, conceived, not by the seed of a man but by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. Though Jesus was bruised, beaten and crucified, He broke the power of Satan.
B. God’s Holy Response To Sin:
1. God is holy and sin is an offense to a holy God. God cannot look upon sin, cannot fellowship with sin and must judge sin.
2. God is loving and opposes anything that would threaten to destroy the objects of His love. Sin destroys, therefore God hates and opposes all sin.
C. God’s Gracious Desire for Sinners:
1. Though God is offended by sin, He does not desire that we perish in our sin.
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
2. Because God is merciful, He desires that all people would be saved.
“Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4)
“For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13)
God must be consistent with His holy nature and judge sin. Sin separates people from God, Creator and Sustainer of all life. Therefore, the penalty and result of sin is death. But God desires that none perish. What did God do?
D. God’s Gracious Response to Sin:
God was born in human form, took our sin upon Himself and died our death. Somewhere in the ancient councils of eternity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit agreed to this (see I Peter 1:20 Rev. 13:8). So with a simple economy of words we read:
“For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The greatest expression of love in the history of the universe is this — not only did God provide the sacrifice for our sin but God Himself became that sacrifice.
Why did there have to be a sacrifice? Why did Jesus have to die for our sin? Because sin results in death. The sacrificial system of the Old Testament, in which animals were sacrificed as an atonement for sin, pointed ahead to the someday death of Jesus, the Lamb who took upon Himself the sin and death of sinners.
D. God’s Gracious Gift to Sinners:
1. Jesus Christ is the innocent Lamb of God who on the cross made Himself an offering for sin.
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (I Peter 1:18,19)
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 also Hebrews 9:11-14, 24-28).
2. Jesus became our Substitute: bore our sins, died our death.
“And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed” (I Peter 2:24 also Isaiah 53:4,5,12)
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
3. Jesus became our ransom. Sin enslaves — all of humanity became enslaved to sin and death. Jesus paid the price of rebellion and broken law, ransoming us, purchasing us from the power of death and redeeming us to God.
Jesus said that He “did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 also I Peter 1:18,19 Hebrews 9:11-14)
“Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals for you were slain and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9)
4. Jesus took not only our sins upon Himself but also the wrath (the judgmental anger) of God released against sin.
“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:9).
5. He became our Reconciler: we who were separated from God by sin are now reconciled, brought into eternal fellowship with God.
“Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:18,19 also Romans 5:10,11).
6. Jesus became our risen Savior, God demonstrating Christ’s victory over sin by raising Him from the dead.
“But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:24).
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (I Cor. 15:20).
E. The Result of God’s Gracious Gift:
1. All who repent of sin and place their faith in Jesus as the Sacrifice for sin and risen Lord, are forgiven of sin — our sins are washed away.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 also Colossians 1:13,14)
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:7,8)
2. The believer is declared just, righteous in the eyes of God.
“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1)
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation (acceptable sacrifice) in His blood through faith ... so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:23-26).
3. We are redeemed / ransomed from the useless slaveries of our former life.
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (I Peter 1:18,19 also Revelation 5:9)
4. We are reconciled to God from whom we were separated, brought into everlasting fellowship with God.
“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19,20 also 2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8-10)
5. We are reborn, regenerated, given new life. This rebirth takes place in our spirit.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12,13 also 3:3).
“For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (I Peter 1:23).
6. As reborn creatures of God’s grace, we are new creations.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
7. We are delivered from the power of sin — not only forgiven of sin but set free from sin’s power to destroy, deceive and enslave.
“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17,18 see also 6:14-19 8:2 and Galatians 5:1).
“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin ... so if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed’” (John 8:34).
8. We are set free from death into abundant, victorious life and eternal fellowship with God.
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins ... But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with Him ... so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:1-7 see also Romans 8:1,2 I Corinthians 15:56,57).
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth … And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men and He will dwell among them ... and there will no longer be any death ...” (Revelation 21:1-4 see also 22:1-5)
9. We are delivered out of the dominion / rule of darkness and into the loving rule of Jesus.
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13,14 see also I Peter 2:9, “called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”).
10. We are adopted into the family of God as children of God and included in the inheritance of God’s family.
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are ... Beloved, now we are children of God and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him ...” (I John 3:1,2 see also John 1:12,13).
“So that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:5-7).
“‘And I will be a father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to me’ says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).
11. The Spirit of God comes to indwell the believer.
“I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6).
“I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:16,17 see also Acts 2:1-4).
“For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them and I will be their God and they shall be my people’” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
12. Because the eternal Spirit of God lives in every believer, eternal life is a present possession and future promise.
“For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“He who believes in me has eternal life” (John 3:36).
“Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and does not come into judgment but has passed out of death into life” (5:24 see also I John 5:13).
“For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
All these blessings are contained in the new covenant established by God with humanity. God is a covenant making, covenant keeping God. As Jesus ate one final meal with His disciples, He took the cup of wine and said, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28).
According to this new covenant, God agrees to pour out upon us all the blessings previously mentioned. The price for the establishment of this new covenant was paid through the sacrifice of Jesus. All who repent of sin and place their faith in Jesus experience these blessings.
A covenant is a contract but also, as it is used in the Bible, it is somewhat like a will. As you know, a will does not take effect until the one who made it dies. The heirs do not receive the blessings or inheritance of that will until the one who made it is deceased. This is why the writer to the Hebrews said, “For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it” (Hebrews 9:16).
So it is that Jesus, in His sacrificial death on our behalf, inaugurated this new covenant between God and humanity, releasing to all who will receive Him in faith all the blessings of salvation.
It cost us nothing. It cost God everything. What an amazing work of grace!
F. Our Response To Grace
1. Repent of sin
In Acts chapter two, after Peter preached, the people were pierced to the heart and cried out, “What shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent” (Acts 2:38,39).
When we truly hear the message of God’s holy anger toward sin and His offer of mercy and grace to sinners, the Holy Spirit pierces our heart with this truth and brings us to repentance. Repentance is a true, Godly sorrow for our sin and a willingness to turn from it. Repentance is a change of mind leading to a change of life.
2. Believe in our heart that Jesus is the holy Lamb and Risen Lord.
A man cried out to Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30,31).
Believe what? That Jesus is who He says He is: the holy Lamb of God who took our sins upon Himself, bore God’s judgment against sin, died our death and rose from the dead. Faith to believe that Jesus is the crucified Savior and risen Lord is a gift which God plants in the heart of all who turn to Him in sincere repentance.
3. Confess our faith in Jesus
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 see also verses 10-13). Salvation is God’s gift to those who repent of sin, believe in their heart and confess with their mouth the Lordship of Jesus.
4. Be baptized
Baptism is an outward, visible sign of God’s work of forgiveness and the washing away of sin (Romans 6:3,4). We are not saved by the ritual. There is nothing saving about water or words. Baptism is an outward sign of the inner work which God has performed in our heart and an act of obedience to Christ’s command. (Of course, there are times when a person does not have the opportunity to be baptized — for instance, when death is imminent. This in no way cancels any aspect of their salvation).
G. What does it mean to be saved?
1. We are not who we were:
We who were unjust sinners are declared justified by a holy God.
We who were guilty are forgiven.
We who were separated from God by sin are now reconciled to Him.
We who were slaves of darkness are new creations abiding in the kingdom of light.
We who were destined to die forever are given the gift of eternal life with God:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
2. We are a people of praise:
There is only one possible response for this wonderful blessing of salvation:
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
3. We are a living testimony of the saving power of God.
How do we know if we are truly saved? By the way we live.
Christianity is not a one-time prayer. It’s a lifestyle.
Not a religion but a relationship with the living God.
In relationship with Jesus Christ, we are progressively transformed into His likeness. That is a gradual process with many challenges along the way. But God did not save us by His grace to then abandon us. He who came seeking us, who awakened us, who forgave us and reconciled us to Himself will also keep us from here to eternity.
1. What is God’s response to sin?
2. What is God’s desire for sinners?
3. What did Jesus do on the cross?
4. What does it mean to be declared just or righteous?
5. How can God declare a sinner to be righteous?
6. Sin separates the sinner from God. How is our separation from God canceled by the cross?
7. Is there a necessary human response to the work of the cross? If so, what is it?
8. Briefly, what does it mean to be saved?
9. How do we know we are saved?