You Are Not Alone In Your Sin

(Today’s post by Chris Queen)

Observations From The Fall – Genesis 3

apple_biteLet’s face it – the story of Adam and Eve is pretty universal. Even people who haven’t opened a Bible in their lives have heard the account. I even recently read a book where an atheist used the example of Adam and Eve to make a serious point (one that I’m getting ready to make).

I wanted to find a fresh angle on such a familiar passage – which isn’t always easy. But I noticed three distinct observations from this chapter. Here we go…

  1. Some (…well, most…) temptations look appealing and beneficial on the surface…

There are no neon signs that advertise that you’re about to sin. It’s rare for a temptation to start out looking bad, or why else would we give in? That’s what Eve discovered when the serpent went after her first…and what Adam learned when she turned to him to join in with her.

6 Now the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a thing of lust for the eyes, and that the tree was desirable for imparting wisdom. So she took of its fruit and she ate. She also gave to her husband who was with her and he ate.

Guess what? They both learned pretty quickly about observation number 2.

  1. …but the consequences of sin far outweigh the pleasure of giving in to temptation.

Of course, Adam and Eve’s sin had a ripple effect that has plagued everyone on earth since them.

16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly increase your pain from conception to labor. In pain will you give birth to children. Your desire will be toward your husband, yet he must rule over you.”17 Then to the man He said, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate of the tree which I commanded you, saying, ‘You must not eat of it’: Cursed is the ground because of you— with pain will you eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Thorns and thistles will sprout for you. You will eat the plants of the field, 19 By the sweat of your brow will you eat food, until you return to the ground, since from it were you taken. For you are dust, and to dust will you return.”

Yep, that’s right. Because Adam and Eve took the plunge in disobeying God, we’re saddled with the curse of death. I bet after their little talk with God, they regretted the taste of the fruit they were told not to eat.

But God provided a way out from sin, which leads us to number 3.

  1. God set his plan of redemption in motion at the Fall.

Right in the middle of the chapter is an interesting statement God made to the serpent (who is Satan, of course).

15 I will put animosity between you and the woman— between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will crush his heel.

Who is this “he” God is talking about? The Messiah, of course. Three chapters into the Old Testament, and we get our first Jesus teaser. But don’t just take my word for it; here’s what Matthew Henry had to say about it:

A gracious promise is here made of Christ, as the deliverer of fallen man from the power of Satan. Though what was said was addressed to the serpent, yet it was said in the hearing of our first parents, who, doubtless, took the hints of grace here given them, and saw a door of hope opened to them, else the following sentence upon themselves would have overwhelmed them. Here was the dawning of the gospel day.

As weird as it may sound, I love the account of Adam and Eve’s sin. I love it because it sets up God’s great, astounding redemption narrative. I love it because it reminds me that I’m not alone in sinning and that I’m not alone in receiving grace. How about you?

In the Beginning God..

(Today’s post by Joshua Jones)

Genesis 1 & 2

in the beginningMan, those words come chock full of meaning. Have you ever stopped to think about why the Bible starts off with those four words? It’s not a “Once upon a time…” tale, but a concrete, “before anything, before time itself began” premise. Honestly, I can’t wrap my mind around that. I have a finite view of time, like most of us. For me, my set beginning was the day I was born. Well, you can say it was before that around nine months or so, but thinking about that set point in time is kinda awkward. But I had a “start point” if you will. So did you. So did everyone around us. No one on earth can say they have just always “been”. But God existed before time began. Whoa. Still can’t wrap my mind around that.

So here in verse 1 of Genesis, we see God, who existed before time began, creating what we know today, initially kick-starting time itself. But in verse 2, we see something just as interesting.

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

Whoa. The Spirit of God? Enter character #2 in the story. But wait, there is more!

Fast forward to the book of John, chapter 1.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made”

Enter character #3 in our story. So far we have God, the Spirit of God, and the Word. But wait – John explains a little more about this Word character.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Word is the Son sent from the Father, Jesus Christ himself.

So before time ever was there was God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Three in one. Trinity. All three characters of this story, unified in one purpose.

And God created.

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (vs 3)

When God spoke, there was. Have you ever tried to will something into existence? Maybe tried speaking a bacon-wrapped filet into existence out of thin air? How’d that go for you? I’m willing to bet that if you got that bacon-wrapped filet, someone had to kill the pig, and kill the cow, cut the meat, package it, ship it to the store where someone had to pick it up, pay for it, and prepare it for consumption. But God spoke. And it was. Genesis 1 gives us an account of God speaking things into existence- we call this Creation:

  1. Day 1- light; light became day, darkness became night.
  2. Day 2- an expanse above the waters; called it Heaven.
  3. Day 3- dry land; called it earth. Waters gathered together; called it sea.
  4. Day 4- created lights in the heavens; two great lights- one for the day, one for the night.
  5. Day 5- created fishes of the sea, birds of the air.
  6. Day 6- created livestock, creeping things, beasts of the earth.

On Day 6, after the animals had been created, we see the fourth character of this story introduced- man. And we thought it was all about us, didn’t we?

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

In Genesis 2, we see a more detailed account of God’s creation of man during the sixth day.

“The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.”

God created man, placed him in Eden, and commanded him to work it and keep it. However, he told the man that he could eat of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; everything else was his domain and could be consumed.

Additionally, God created this first man, Adam, a helper. Out of Adam’s rib, God created woman, Eve. And they were in the garden together, naked and unashamed.

After all of this creating, we come to Day 7. On the seventh day, God rested. He blessed the seventh day, and made it holy. Now, did God have to rest? Was he tired from all of that creating? No! God does not grow tired or weary. (Isaiah 40:28). Here, God sets the seventh day apart as a day of rest for his creation. Rest is a part of the natural order of things.

Now, what can we learn from the account of Creation?

  1. God exists in community. The Trinity, (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) existed together as one before time began. One does not exist without the others.
  2. Man was created in the image of God. This has numerous implications. One of the most important is that being made in God’s image means that we exist best in community. In community with God, and in community with others, we are the most fulfilled because we come closest to what we were created as. Are you invested in a community with others and with God?
  3. We are carriers of God’s glory. In the creation account, nothing else was created in the image of God except mankind. Being made in that image, we all reflect our Creator. Look in a mirror. Go for a walk. Watch the news. Every person on this earth reflects the Creator and His Glory. No one race is “higher” than the other. God’s kingdom represents every color, every race and every tongue of his creation. Do you treat others that way?
  4. Lastly, God is creator. He is powerful. Again, God spoke, and things popped into existence. Whether you believe that the seven days of creation were seven literal 24 hour days, or you believe that these days were actually longer periods of time spanning over thousands of years, one thing is ultimately the same: God spoke; stuff happened. Everything we know is here because God spoke. Our universe is not random. God spoke; it came to be. And he said that it was good.

You Gotta Have Faith

(Today’s post by Adam Cooper)

Luke 9:37-56

faithToday we say good-bye to our friend Dr. Luke for a while. Depending on the translation you read this portion of the book of Luke could be divided into as many as three small sub-headings. These sub-headings we have to remember were not added by Luke when he wrote, but were instead placed into the text by the group translating the Bible for modern reading. Although, not Biblically inspired these sub-headings help us break the text into manageable and digestible pieces based on the topic of the text. The three small stories included within these sub-headings are the healing of a boy with an evil spirit, who will be the greatest, and a discussion about Samaritan opposition to Christ.

So the Biblical translators sub-divided the text and we, or at least our reading plan, have again subdivided the text. So why are these three stories lumped together the way they are? Seemingly they have very little in common, so why are they here together? You have to understand that Luke was a doctor and probably one of the most likely of the disciples to state fact with little or no embellishment. He was not a very verbose writer and so I believe it is a safe assumption that he packs as much into a few verses as he possibly can. As a matter of fact, when I look at this book, especially with the modern delineations placed upon the text, it appears like a well assembled bullet list of Christ’s miracles and journeys.

The first of the three subdivisions the NIV places within this portion of the text addresses one of Jesus’ miracles: freeing a boy from an evil spirit that was causing him to have seizures. During the exchange between Jesus and the townspeople Jesus comes off as short and almost agitated by the request, “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here. (Luke 9:41, NIV).” I believe Jesus is agitated by the refusal of the townspeople to have faith in anyone who came in His name. With all of the miracles Jesus has performed in the book of Luke up to this point people still do not have faith in the power of God but they have faith in Him as a healer. This is evident by the man’s initial statement about the disciples not being able to cast the evil spirit out themselves. We see this throughout the gospel: people believing in Christ only because they have witnessed His deeds, not because they have faith in Him as God. We also see here a brief foreshadowing of Christ’s departure and the necessity to believe beyond His physical presence.

The second of these subdivisions shows a bit of the power struggle that was occurring among the disciples as they jockeyed for position within Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus makes an example here using a child and explaining that anyone who welcomes the least of us (herein represented by the child) in Christ’s name welcomes God Himself. Almost immediately the text transitions to the disciples telling of a man, obviously not one of the disciples, casting out demons in the name of Christ. Jesus then tells them that they should let the man be because the man is trying to accomplish the same thing they are. He uses the phrase here, “whoever is not against you is for you (Luke 9:50, NIV).” This other healer has strong faith in Christ and he is not in the inner circle.

The third and final subdivision in today’s text speaks of Samaritan opposition to welcoming Jesus because He is on His way to Jerusalem. We see Jesus journeying through Samaria in other instances so this seems to point to an anomaly that is left unexplained. However, if you refer back to the previous subdivision and see the statement about those who welcome the least in His name the placement of this story seems to cast aspersions on the Samaritan people.

So what connection and lesson can we draw from these seemingly unrelated stories? A lack of faith in Christ, a faith based on something other than witnessed deeds, a faith based on belief in Him as God and as the savior of mankind, is not sufficient. The townspeople only believed in Him as a healer. They did not have faith in Him as the Messiah. On another level His own followers had a bit more faith in Him because they were trying to establish themselves position within His kingdom. However, their faith in Him did not seem to transcend their own personal relationship with Him as evidenced through the discussion about the other healer. Lastly, faith in Christ that transcends human division. The Samaritans were unable to look past their hatred of the Jews to accept Christ on His journey.

How many times do we find ourselves facing a lack of faith? If we examine our own faith can we honestly say our faith transcends what we have seen God do in our own lives? Can we honestly say our faith transcends our own personal relationship with Him to where we are accepting of those who we may dislike, or even hate? Can our faith transcend differences in denomination or even secondary and tertiary doctrine because we know that we are all in the same game? I know I find myself challenged at times with each of these. I hear of a theologian that may think a little differently than I do, or a church that does church differently than we do, and I initially want to question their faith or their Christianity. Jesus is telling us in these three small subdivisions of verses today that we are to overlook status, hatred, and differences and work together in His name, going forth in the confident belief that He is Christ, the Son of God, and espouse His message, His Gospel, His “good news” to everyone.

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