Dr. S. Lewis Johnson comments on the promise of God to overcome man's fall in the Garden of Eden and its focus for his divine plan.
[Prayer] Heavenly Father, we thank Thee again for this privilege that we have to study Thy word. We thank Thee that it reveals to us a way of approach to Thee through Jesus Christ. We thank Thee that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father except through him. And we thank Thee, Lord, that when we come to Thee through Jesus Christ, we do come to know Thee and to love Thee, and we pray, Lord, that as a result of our meeting together tonight, we may come into a deeper relationship with Thee through the Lord Jesus. Guide our thinking. May the Holy Spirit who teaches the things of Christ, teach us tonight. For we ask it in his name. Amen.
[Message] Now tonight, we are looking at Genesis chapter 3 again. You will notice in the schedule of classes that I have set it up so that we have three Monday nights on Genesis chapter 3. Now this is not without purpose, for this is no doubt one of the most important chapters in all of the Old Testament. And I am sure we would not be exaggerating if we said that this was one of the most important chapters in the Bible. So to devote the three times to Genesis chapter 3 is a very important thing for us.
Let me briefly review what we said the last time. God’s revelation is an ordered revelation. It is structured with a claim and a purpose. Paul refers to this plan and purpose in Ephesians chapter 3, when he says in the 11th verse that God has a purpose or plan of the ages. In other words, he has revealed himself through a series of ages or dispensations. These ages are designed to present his whole plan and program for man.
Now we defined, very simply, an age or a dispensation, and I put the definition in the notes, which we are giving you. The definition was something like this that an age or dispensation is an administration. This is the meaning of the Greek word oikonomia. That, by the way, is the word by which we get our English word economy. The oikonomia is an administration of God during which man is tested with respect to obedience, to truth revealed by God in that age. So it is a time of probation, a time of testing. Certain revelation is given by God. Man is tested with respect to obedience to that. We saw, in summing it up, that in an age or dispensation, there were three characteristic things. There was the test. Then secondly, there was the response of man, which uniformly is in disobedience. And then, thirdly, there was a judgment pronounced by God, but with the judgment, generally speaking, there is a further revelation of God’s grace in providing a Redeemer who would bear the judgment of man, and make it possible for man, in grace, to escape the judgment and come to know God truly through Jesus Christ.
Now I have put on the board tonight a very simple plan of the ages, which seem to be most clearly revealed in Scripture. This is not holy Scripture. This is an attempt to put on the blackboard a chart of the major structures in the word of God. We are studying the age of innocence in which man was placed in the Garden of Eden and then fell. There follow, and we shall go through these in time, the age of conscience, the age of human government, the age of promise. And then, perhaps, the most important age in all of the Old Testament, and which covers most of the Old Testament, the age of law, which terminates in the cross of Jesus Christ. Then the age of the church, which begins with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and will conclude with the second coming of Christ for the church. The age of the church is the age in which we are living today. We are here in this particular age. There will follow the age of the kingdom in which the Lord Jesus will rule and reign upon the earth and ultimately eternity, future, the eternal state. So we begin in eternity past, move on the way to eternity in the future. This whole program of God designed to glorify him, to glorify himself, to reveal his marvelous grace toward men.
Now we, I say, are studying in the first age, the age of innocence, and we saw that man was placed in the Garden of Eden. Now may I ask you just a simple question? What was the test that man was given in the Garden of Eden?
[Comment from audience member]
[Johnson] Right, in Genesis chapter 2 and verse 16, “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.'” A very simple prohibition, but this was the probation of man, this was his test. And we, of course, noted from this that from this opening revelation of God of the test to which man would be exposed, we learn something of the nature of sin. Sin is not immorality though immorality is sin. Sin is ultimately unbelief, which issues in rebellion and, finally, results in immorality. But, immorality is an effect. It is a result. Rebellion is the issue of the basic character of sin, which is unbelief. Basically, we do not accept the testimony of God; hence, we are in rebellion against him. We disobey him, and as a result of that, our sin issues in acts of sin or immorality. So in this first test to which man was exposed, we see something of the character of sin for there was nothing basically immoral in the eating of the fruit of that tree, which was in the midst of the garden. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In itself, it was not immoral. The thing that this test is to reveal is man’s trust in the word of God, so that basically from this test we learn that sin is not immorality.
This agrees with the New Testament where the Apostle John says in 1 John chapter 3 and verse 4 that sin is lawlessness, the unwillingness of man to live according to the word of God. This is very important. It is very important for us to realize this because, you see, today we are inclined to think that because we have not been in prison, because we are good citizens, because we obey the laws of our community that we are not sinners in the sight of God. But this is to set up a standard which is a human standard. God’s standard is quite different and according to God’s standard of sin, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Now if all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God, then all of us abide under divine condemnation, and that is very important for us to realize. So this opening test in the garden of Eden was designed to show man not only that he must rely upon God, but to show him the basic character of sin, which is unbelief, disobedience of the word of God.
Now we looked last time at the test, at the temptation itself, and we studied particularly verses 1 through 6. We saw how the serpent, who was more subtil than any beast of the field, came and tested Adam and Eve. He first of all questioned the word of God. He came and he said, “Yea, hath God said, ‘Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'” And then, secondly, he contradicted the word in verse 4, “The serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die.'” And, finally, he maligned the character of God himself for he said that, “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.” In other words, he said, “God is not good. He is keeping something from you by this prohibition of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” And we saw that the woman looked at the tree after Satan had tested her, she saw that it was good for food, the lust of the flesh, that it was pleasant to the eyes, the lust of the eyes, and finally, that it was a tree to be desired to make one wise, the pride of life. And so, “She took of the fruit thereof. She ate, and she gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
We saw that then they were naked. The guilt of sin, disobedience, made itself felt in the fact that they recognized their nakedness before God. We also mentioned the fact that this comes all the way down to the cross of Calvary for when Jesus Christ hangs upon the cross, he not only hangs as the substitute for men. But, you will remember that the soldiers came, took off his garments, and cast lots for them, so that even in the minutest detail, Jesus Christ not only bore the sin of men, but bore the shame of the sin of men as well. He bore it all, completely, and that is why the Lord Jesus dies upon the cross naked.
Now we saw that when man sinned, Adam and Eve, when God came down to have fellowship them, and this has been true ever since, that Adam and Eve ran and hid themselves in the garden. They knew that they had disobeyed God and they felt their guilt. And so, they did not desire to come into the presence of God, and this, too, is something that all of us know and experience because it is a universal trait of human nature, for you see, we are sinners. It is a universal trait of human nature not to desire to come into the presence of God naturally. The last place we want to be, any of us, is where the word of God is being taught, especially if the word of God is being taught too directly. So we don’t like it. This is a testimony to the basic rebellion of human nature.
I have mentioned my own testimony to this effect so many times, I hesitate to do it again, but I think that you probably have felt something of the same thing, “There is no peace said my God to the wicked,” the Old Testament affirms, and I know something of this. At any rate, they went and hid, but we saw that God, in spite of the sin of Adam and Eve, God had not ceased loving Adam and Eve. And so, he came down to have fellowship with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and this, too, is designed to show us important truth about God. While we are busy running away from God, he does not cease to love us and to desire to bring us into fellowship with himself. And so, he came down into the garden and he said, “Where art thou?” Ever since then, God has been seeking men and, of course, the supreme search of God is through Jesus Christ who came to seek and to save that which was lost. He was God’s message to men. He was God seeking men to bring men into fellowship with himself.
Now then, after God had finally confronted the two, we read in verse 10, “And he said, (Adam did) I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And the Lord said, ‘Who told thee that thou wast naked? Did you eat of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?'” And then we saw that the man and the woman engaged in the little trick or game of passing the buck. So the man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
Now back in those days, men, we could get away with it by blaming our wives. Today, they won’t let us do it, but Adam tried it then and he was the first to try it. And the woman, what does she do? Now today the woman blames her husband, but then she was afraid to, so she blamed the serpent. She said, “The woman said, ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.'” And then we saw that God pronounced judgment first upon the serpent, then upon the woman and, finally, upon the man. Now I am going to skip the judgment because this is something that I want to take up next Monday night. I want to turn now to notice the grace of God revealed in the promise in Genesis chapter 14 and 15 particularly and what that really means. So let’s take our Bibles now and turn to Genesis 3 and verse 15. The prophet Habakkuk prays, “In wrath remember mercy.” And so, right in the midst of this judgment, which God pronounces upon men in the garden of Eden, we have a revelation of wonderful grace.
Now if you have your Bibles, and I want you to be sure and have your Bibles open to the passage always, because I don’t want you to go out of here and say, “Dr. Johnson said so and so, but I don’t see that myself.” I want you to look at it with your own eyes, so you can see that what I am saying to you is in the text. Now, I don’t want you to accept every word that I say as if it is the truth of God. I want you to be like the Bereans. I want you to go home and I want you to study the Bible. I want you to search the Scriptures to see if these things are so, but the first step is to read it for yourself, Genesis chapter 3 and verse 14 and 15 now.
Now let’s read, this is the Lord’s judgment upon the serpent, verse 14, “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, ‘Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.'” Now this was a physical judgment pronounced upon the serpent. We know that the serpent was a beast of the field and was more subtle than any beast of the field before the fall. We do not know how the serpent looked before the fall except that he was a beast of the field, apparently being the wisest of the beasts of the field, the cleverest. He must have been at least quite different from the serpent that we know today as the serpent, and here is the judgment that God pronounced upon the beast. It shall be now a rattle. It shall go upon its belly and it shall eat dust all the days of its life.
Then in the 15th verse, the Lord moves beyond the serpent to the one who made the serpent his organ, Satan himself. Now to show you this from the standpoint of the teaching of the word of God, take your Bibles now and turn to the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. By the way, this book is not called Revelations. Do not call it Revelations. It is not Revelations. I know that the colored preacher said when he held up his Bible, “I believe this whole Bible from Genesis to Revolutions,” [Laughter] but this is not Revolutions or Revelations. It is the singular, Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is often called the Apocalypse. The reason that it is called the Apocalypse is because the Greek word, Apocalypses is the word which means revelation. So they are the same, one being the Greek transliterated, the other the English.
Now in verse 9 of Revelation chapter 12, we read these words. I am reading this to just give you the identification of the serpent, “And the great dragon was cast out, (Revelation 12:9) that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Notice that Satan is called “that old serpent.” Now Satan apparently made a serpent his organ, his instrument. And so, in the 15th verse of Genesis 3, and let’s turn back there now, in the 15th verse of Genesis 3, the Lord speaks to the serpent, but he moves beyond the serpent to the one who stood behind the serpent, Satan himself. So we read, verse 15, “And I (that is God) will put enmity between thee and the woman.” I will put enmity between thee, the serpent, ultimately Satan, and thee, Eve, the woman. Then he says, “and between thy seed and her seed.” Thy seed, that is the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, the progeny, the descendants of the serpent, and the descendants of the woman. And, he says, “It (we could translate this “he” or “it”) shall bruise thy head.” That is, the seed of the woman shall crush the head of the serpent. “And thou shalt crush or bruise his (that is, the seed of the woman) his heel.” This is the most comprehensive promise of redemption in all of the Bible. In this promise is contained all of the ministry of Jesus Christ. This is what we call the prote-evangelium. If you ever run across that word in your reading, the prote-evangelium, the word prote means first, the first gospel or the first promise of redemption, a promise that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent’s seed. This is basically, and fundamentally, and most comprehensively, the work of Jesus Christ.
Let’s take a look now at it a little more specifically. I say it’s the most comprehensive of the redemption promises. It refers to Satan and it refers to Christ. Now the reason that I say that this must refer to Satan and to Christ ultimately is based upon these facts. I have put these facts, generally, in the notes so you may go home and take a look at them, study them through a little more. Notice the text, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed. Her seed shall bruise your head.” Notice that the woman is said here to have a seed. Now we know from facts, medical facts, that the woman does not have a seed. The seed is the product of man and yet here we have stated, the woman’s seed. This is something which shows us that there must be a supernatural birth somewhere in the line of the woman so that she may have a seed. Now remember, this is a very, very broad and comprehensive promise, so we should not expect to find all of the minute details in this that we find in the New Testament.
Let me illustrate it in this way, let’s suppose that I were going down to buy a new car. Let’s suppose that I was very satisfied with the Plymouth that I have and that I want to buy a new Plymouth. And so, I go down to the Plymouth agency and I ask for the salesman whom I know, and he shows me the new Plymouth. Now I may take a first look at it, and he may say something to me like this, “Don’t you like the lines of this new Plymouth?” And so, I look at it comprehensively, but then if I am really interested in knowing something about the automobile, and this is usually of course not true. I don’t know enough about an automobile to be interested in that. He might open the hood, begin to show me some facts about the motor, about the cylinders, about the carburetor. He might open the back of the car, show me the luggage compartment. He might open the back seat of the car, show me the room that they have and so forth, and then deal with some of the minute details of that automobile. I give it first a general look, and then I look at the details.
Now this is what we have in the Old Testament, you see. God’s program through the Bible is given very generally in the beginning and then throughout the rest of the revelation of God, details are added. This is the overall general picture that we are looking at of redemption in Genesis 3:15. The rest of the Bible fills in details. Now I gave you a little question. I gave you an exercise to do at the end of the lesson for the last time. Now, by the way, I wish that I had you for an hour and a half. I would like to spend a half an hour on those questions, but we just do not have time to do it this year. Next year, perhaps when we have another class like this, I’m going to just tell them right in the beginning, “You will be here an hour and a half, and if you’re not happy then just don’t come [Laughter] because we want to have those who’re interested.” At any rate, I gave you a little assignment, and the assignment was something like this, read the following passages and set forth under each the additional fact that each reveals concerning the coming Redeemer. I put in parenthesis, they are all Messianic passages. That is passages that have to do with the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Now what I wanted you to do was this, I wanted you to turn to these passages and read them, and tell me what fact in these passages is given about the coming
Redeemer. I wanted you to see that various details are added through the Bible. For example, in this promise in Genesis 3:15, it is merely stated that the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, would come from the seed of the woman. Now the reference, of course, was first of all to Eve. Now Eve was the mother of the human race, so that this is a statement that the Redeemer will be a human being, that’s all, that’s all. He will be the seed of the woman, Eve, the woman, the head in that sense, of the human race.
Now the next promise in Genesis chapter 9, verses 24 and 27 was a promise that related to Shem, and the statement was made that Japheth would dwell in the tents with Shem. Now Shem is the head of the Semitic division of mankind, so that we have in the first promise the statement made that the Redeemer would be a human being, just a human being. But, in the promise in Genesis 9:24-27, we have a narrowing down of the promise of the Redeemer to the Semitic division of mankind. Now some of you in this audience are old enough to remember the kind of quizzes or programs they used to have on radio many years ago. A great prize was to be given away and then in the course of the 30 minute program or hour program, the winner was finally narrowed down by a series of limiting choices. For example, they might have turned the wheel and the winner will come from the north, east, south, or west, and perhaps a southerner is to be the winner, that would narrow it down to the south. And then from the state of Texas, and then from the city of Dallas in the state of Texas and, finally, the telephone book of Dallas, you know, would be used and then ultimately some one person in the telephone book in the city of Dallas, in the state of Texas, in the southern part of the United States of America would be the winner. This is what we have here, you see. He is to come from the Semitic division.
Now in Genesis chapter 12, verses 1 through 3, it is stated to Abraham that, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” In Abraham’s seed, so that from that part of the human race represented by Abraham, who was within the Semitic division of mankind, from Abraham’s line would come the Redeemer, a narrowing down from the human race to the Semitic division to the Abrahamic line. In Genesis 49, verses 8 through 12, it is stated that the tribe of Judah, “The sceptre shall not depart from the tribe of Judah,” so that within the Abrahamic line, the promise is narrowed down to the tribe of Judah. This particular tribe of the twelve is to be the home of the Redeemer. In 2 Samuel chapter 7, verses 1 through 17, it is stated that the Redeemer, the Son who would come, would be of David’s family. David’s family, now David was a member of the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Judah was in Abraham’s line, and Abraham’s line was in the Semitic division, and the Semites were within the human race; although some would like to rule them out [Laughter].
Now the next promise, in Micah chapter 5, in Micah chapter 5, it is stated that the Redeemer would be born in Bethlehem, “Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be least among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me who shall be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” So he is narrowed down to the city or village, the village of Bethlehem. This will be the place of his birth and, finally, Daniel chapter 9, verses 24 through 27, there Daniel gives the exact time when we may expect the Redeemer to appear on the scene. And Daniel with his prophecy of the seventy weeks tells us that the time will be the time when, as we know, Jesus Christ did appear. So when we look at this promise in Genesis 3:15, we are looking at the most comprehensive promise of redemption. In this promise, it is simply stated that the Redeemer shall come from the human race, so the seed of the woman.
Now I said that this shows us that ultimately the seed must be found in an individual. It must culminate in a person who is born supernaturally. Now in the Old Testament, I did not give you Isaiah chapter 7, but in Isaiah chapter 7 and verse 14, it is stated that the Redeemer would be born of a virgin. And when we turn to the New Testament, we notice that Jesus Christ is said to have been born of a virgin. He was not the seed of Joseph. He was born of a woman, Paul says in Galatians 4 and verse 4. That’s a remarkable statement, you know, because a Jew as Paul was, in giving the genealogy of an individual, who was a Jew also, should have given his genealogy by his father, by his father. The genealogy by his mother did not make any difference among the Jews, but Paul when he talks about Jesus Christ and locates him under the law, born under the law, says, “Born of a woman.” Why? Because he was not born of man, that’s why. So he is seed of woman, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee. The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee (it was said to Mary): that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” So Genesis chapter 3, verse 15, the seed of the woman ultimately issues in a person, Jesus Christ.
Notice also in this verse 15 that the seed is made personal by these words, “It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” He first prophesies enmity between the serpent and the woman, then between the serpent’s descendants and the woman’s descendants, but then makes it personal. And also, will you notice that he talks about the head of the serpent’s line and the heel in connection with the woman’s line. So head and heel individualize this promise of seed, so that they are to be centered in two individuals who come into conflict with one another for he says, “It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
What he means when he says, “He shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel” is ultimately the cross at Calvary, for you see at the cross at Calvary, Satan did bruise our Lord’s heel. Now when we bruise someone’s heel, it is not a mortal wound, but when you crush someone’s head, it is, and that is involved in this promise. The seed of the serpent shall crush the heel of the woman’s seed, and the cross at Calvary was endured by Jesus Christ. There he bore the sins of the human race. There he bore your sin and there he bore my sin. There he died. He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” They took his body and they placed it in a grave. His spirit had gone to be with the Lord. On the third day, the Sunday morning, the body of Jesus Christ was resurrected for Peter says, “It was impossible that he should be holden of death for he was the holy, harmless, spotless Son of God.” So death could not hold him. Satan may crush his heel, but Satan cannot crush the head of Jesus Christ. But, when Jesus Christ died on the cross, he died for sins, and sins make up the claim and the hold that Satan has upon the human race. And when Jesus Christ bore the punishment for all sin, the prison doors were thrown open for the human race, and every single individual who wants to know God through Jesus Christ may go forth free. Satan, you see, has been crushed and defeated in the cross and his hold, his claim over men, is no more. John said, some of these texts are in the notes so you may look them up, John said, “The Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil.” And this is what took place on Calvary’s cross, so this is a wonderful promise, you see. It is the prote-evangelium. It is the most comprehensive of the promises of redemption. It individualizes in the conflict between Satan and the Lord Jesus on the cross at Calvary.
Now I’m sure that Adam did not understand all that you and I understand now, for you see, we have had revelation down through the years, God adding this bit and that bit to the story of the Redeemer to come. We have what we call progress in Revelation. Not abandonment of old revelation, but the giving of new clarifying, explaining, completing revelation down until the completion of the New Testament. So here is the most comprehensive of the redeeming or redemption promises. Now I say I’m sure that Adam and Eve did not fully understand this, but it seems evident that they understood enough to act on it.
I want to skip down to verse 20 and verse 21, for here we find the human response to the promise of redemption. Now notice in verse 20 we read, “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve.” Now why did he give that name? The Hebrew word, which is translated Eve here, is a word that comes from the Hebrew word chai. Now chai is a word that means to live. It is very close to the verb to be which is khaiya, this just simply being a slightly different word, chai. This word means to live, so Eve’s name is life or life giver. Now it seems clear from this, you see, that Adam gave his wife the name Eve because he had what, he had believed the promise that God gave. That through the seed of the woman there would come life for the human race for those who would put their trust in the God of this redeeming promise. So he called his wife’s name Eve out of faith, faith. He exercised faith in the promise of God. This is very, very important. Adam believed the promise of God.
Now, as they disobeyed the first command in the garden and, thus, they fell into sin. So Adam here believes the promise of God and then enters the company of the redeemed. Now to show this its true, we turn to the 21st verse and we read immediately, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” This is very important, you see, all of these are just pageants. This is the way taught man in the Old Testament days. He gave them great pictures. We have child evangelism kind of teaching today by means of visual aids and we put on blackboards pictures in order to teach children. I’m sure that most of us have a deep desire down within our hearts when we are old and we get finally to the study of God’s word, we wish we could go back in those classes and just be taught by means of pictures because we have to have the truth made very simple to us, but we are so proud, we are afraid we don’t want to do that. We had a professor once in our Theological Seminary who decided that the students ought to learn Genesis in that way. He said it was the simplest way for them to learn it. And so, one day these college graduates, he brought into the classroom his flannel graph, he started to teach the Book of Genesis by pictures, and even the boys at the seminary were so incensed and disturbed over it that they appealed to the administration and had him take it out. You see, deep down within we know we need to be taught real simply, but we’re ashamed that we have to be.
Well now this is God’s object lesson. When Adam believed the promise, we read, “The Lord God made them coats of skins and clothed them.” Adam’s faith produces a covering for them. What had they done when they sinned? Well, they had made themselves a covering of fig leaves had they not? Now this fig leaf garment that they had made for themselves, I wonder what that looked like, garments of fig leaves. At any rate, apparently was satisfactory to them, but it was not satisfactory to God. Now isn’t that interesting. Why did not God say, “I don’t really particularly like that fig leaf garment. Park, Shapner, and Marks [ph42:59] would not approve no doubt, but after all, if you like it, it’s all right with me.” Why didn’t God say something like that? There is a deep lesson in the fact that God rejected the covering of fig leaves and gave them a covering of coats of skins, a very deep lesson. I say this is picture teaching, but we ought to be able to understand it. The first place, there was nothing wrong with fig leaves per se. In fact, may I say this, there’s nothing really better about coats of skins than fig leaves. So far as I know, if one covered, that was sufficient. Why? Well, in the first place, the garment of fig leaves was man’s covering of himself. The work was altogether man’s, but in the covering of the coats of skins, it was altogether the work of God. Now, that ought to tell us something. That tells us this, that God rejects the coverings that men desire to make to cover their sin.
Now let me stop. It is thirteen till according to my watch and I don’t want to waste any time, but I want to say some very pertinent words to you. Men have been trying to fashion garments of fig leaves down through the centuries, and they have invented some very beautiful garments. In the Old Testament days, even in Israel, men invented garments of fig leaves. Do you know what their garments were? We shall keep the Ten Commandments, and if we keep the Ten Commandments, we shall live. And so, they thought that the law, this wonderful revelation of Ten Commandments was a means to salvation. And so, they tried to cover themselves with the Law of Moses. Others among the heathen tried religion. They tried to cover themselves. Down through the centuries, men have tried to cover themselves with various things. Religion is one of the most stylish of the garments of men. Hinduism, Darwinism, Confucianism, even Christianity, apart from the sacrifice of Christ, a religion. And so, we try to cover ourselves with our church membership, our baptism, our confirmation, our good works, our education, our culture, our praying through, our zeal, our earnestness, our sincerity. All of these things God rejects out of hand. Paul says, “For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves.” Do you hear that? “And that not of yourselves,” did you hear it? “And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.” So every since the time of the garden of Eden, men have attempted to cover themselves with their good works, their religion, and so on. God rejects that. And so, he stripped Adam and Eve of the fig leaves, and he gave them coats of skin.
There’s something else of the coats of skins. How do you gain a garment of coats of skins? Well, in order to have a garment of coats and skins, you must have the sleighing of an animal. You must have a sacrifice. And so, here in the beginning is the origin of approach to God by way of sacrifice, by way of sacrifice. There must be a death before you are properly clothed. Furthermore, there is in this text, the truth not only of sacrifice, but the truth of substitution. For you see, the animal clothing is taken and given to the man, so that instead of the man dying, the animal must die. So the animal bears the judgment of death, which remember God had pronounced upon Adam, “Dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.” So the animal dies in judgment and the clothing of the animal becomes the clothing of Adam and Eve. So we are taught sacrifice is the way of approach to God. Sacrifice by way of substitution is the means for clothing, and the third wonderful truth that comes out of this, is the truth of salvation itself. They were covered. They were given a covering, which was acceptable to God. They were given that which answers in the New Testament to a righteous place before God.
Now I want you take your Bibles and turn with me to Isaiah chapter 61, for this figure of covering is a figure that the Prophet Isaiah uses to refer to the salvation which God gives, Isaiah chapter 61. Now this is page seven sixty-six in the Scofield Edition of the King James Version. This is about halfway through the Bible, the Book of Isaiah. Some of you are looking very proudly at Isaiah because you know where it is. [Laughter] Beware of pride even in your knowledge of the order of the Books of the Bible. [Laughter] Isaiah chapter 61 and verse 10. Now the prophet is rejoicing in that which God does for him and he says, verse 10, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, (He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness) as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments.” Now notice, Isaiah the prophet says that God has covered him with a robe of righteousness. God has clothed him with the garments of salvation. For Isaiah knew that there can be no clothing, there can be no garments of salvation, which are acceptable to God which he has not provided for we abide under divine judgment.
Now let’s turn on to the New Testament, and I want you to turn to Romans chapter 3. Romans chapter 3, that’s just after the Book of Acts. This is the first of the Pauline Epistles in the New Testament, Romans chapter 3. Now Paul is talking about righteousness here. This is one of his great passages. I just want you to notice these truths of sacrifice, substitution, and then salvation. Verse 21, “But now the righteousness of God (This is page eleven ninety-four in the Scofield Edition of the King James Version. Verse 21, Romans chapter 3, do we all have it? But now, the righteousness of God) without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ (by faith in Jesus Christ the righteousness comes. Not by what we do, but by faith in Jesus Christ) unto all and upon all them that (Do good works. Is that what it says? Unto all and all them that join the church. Is that what it says? Why, I thought this was what it was supposed to say. Isn’t that the way you get saved? Isn’t that the way that you join the church and that means that you’re a Christian? Is that it?
Of course it’s not it. Some of us were in the church for twenty-five years. Didn’t do us a bit of good. Paul says, “By faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that are good.” [Laughter] Roland is handing me his Bible. [Laughter] But, now I want you to notice this because you see, lots of people read the Bible that way, “But all them that join the church, do good, do good works, all those that are university graduates, all that are good citizens in the community,” no sir. Paul says, “Upon all them that believe,” believe. Believe is something that even a sinner can do. You see, that’s why the gospel is on the basis of faith because this is something that sinners can do. “For there is no difference,” he says, “for all have sinned.” Men, and women, children, and adults, wise and unwise, religious and irreligious, small, great, those who keep the law, those who disobey the law, all have sinned, all have sinned. Some of the greatest sinners are those who show it the least from the outward. They’re so proud that they have never fallen into the sin of those who are guilty of some outbreaking sin, proud or even of their sinfulness. “For there is no difference,” Paul says, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Do you know what that means? That means that not one of us in ourselves may possess eternal life by what we do. Not one of us, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” There may be a great difference between us. You may be much more righteous than I am. You may be doing a much better job of attaining to what you think you ought to attain to, but all come short. For, you see, the standard, the standard is not 50 percent or 40 percent, the standard is perfection. This is the standard, 100 percent. Some of you may arise to 50 percent morality, some 40, some maybe 60, but all come short of the glory of God, all come short. Now if all come short, all are guilty, but it’s the glory of the gospel of Christ that it is for the guilty,
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely (freely) by his grace (grace, grace) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (a satisfaction) through faith in his blood, (There’s the truth of sacrifice, faith in his blood. He is a satisfaction for a God in his blood. Jesus Christ died as a sacrifice, and since he died as a sacrifice for us, it is a substitution for us. He had no sin, did he? He had no sin, but he died as a satisfaction for us. He died as our substitute for the remission of sins,) to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he (God) might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
Just because, you see, on the cross of Christ, Jesus Christ did suffer the penalty for the sins of the whole human race, so God was just here. He was just, righteous. He did not overlook one sin. He is a holy God. He will not overlook one sin of a human being. God is just because he meted out upon Jesus Christ the punishment that was due you and me. He was just. He satisfied his law. Every sin was paid for, but since he provided the sacrifice, just as he provided the animals for the coats of skins for Adam and Eve, since he provided the sacrifice, he is not only just, but he is the justifier. He is the one who declares righteous those who simply believe that here God punishes Jesus Christ for me. If in my heart I accept this that’s faith. To say to God, “Thank you for giving Jesus Christ to die for me,” that’s faith. And to move according by an act of the will, “I thank Thee, Lord, that Jesus Christ died for me.” The moment you say that in your heart, that moment God declares you righteous because now you are good? No. Because now you’re holy? No. Because there’s any difference in you now? No. He has clothed you with the garment of righteousness which he provided. He gives you the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Now I have one final illustration. Suppose that I were the king of a great domain. Suppose that you should break the law in my domain and the penalty should be death. Suppose that you should stand before me, and I should say to you, “You are guilty of the law, you must die unless one thing takes place. Do you see this fountain pen?” Do you remember the days that you could take a fountain pen put it under a machine and sign your signature, and as you signed a signature by electrical impulses there was written on your fountain pen your exact signature? You’ve seen pen likes this. Let’s suppose that I pull out a pen like this and I say to the man, “You are condemned to die if you do not place in my hand a fountain pen with my signature upon it just like this fountain pen.” Well, of course, that’s a hopeless condition. You could not possibly meet that condition, because in the final analysis everybody else’s signature could be a judge to counterfeit. But, if while I said to you, “You must put this fountain pen in my right hand with my left hand, I should give you the fountain pen.” What would be necessary? Well, you just have to acknowledge, I cannot do it for myself, but I can take the fountain pen and put it in this hand. And so, I provide what I require of you. My law is satisfied. You have provided me with this. At the same time, my love for you is also satisfied and you meet the condition through my provision. Jesus Christ has done just that for us. He died, the just for the unjust. God is just in meting out his punishment upon Christ, but since he has done it, he has simply said to you, “This is the way of approach. Will you take the coat of skin, which I have provided in Jesus Christ, the righteousness, and put it on by an act of faith? That’s all that’s necessary.” See this is why true Christians are genuinely grateful to the Lord Jesus for what he has done. Let’s close in a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Heavenly Father, we are grateful to Thee for the lessons that we have learned from this simple story in the Old Testament. So important, so true, so meaningful, so deep in the ultimate significance. We pray, Lord, that like Adam, we may believe the promise of salvation in Christ and be covered with the garments of salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now do you have a question or two? We have a few minutes for questions. You may ask a question about anything you like. It does not have to be about the lesson.
[Question from audience member]
[Johnson] Just what do you mean by that?
[Comment from same audience member]
[Johnson] Well, now we do tapes of these? Yes.
[Comment from same audience member]
[Johnson] Of course, we do not have. I did not start summarize the lesson briefly until the third lesson. Perhaps some time if I get a chance during the holidays, I can do that and maybe we can fill up the series in that way too, but the tapes are available.
[Comment from audience member]
[Johnson] Any other questions?
[Comment from audience member]
[Johnson] Any other questions? If you have any questions, now go ahead and ask them. Don’t think because it’s a silly question you should not ask it, because these are the questions that ought to be asked. Yes ma’am.
[Question from audience member]
[Johnson] Well, now that’s a good question, because the question naturally arises in connection with Genesis chapter 3 and verse 9, “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” and many have felt that this is just simply an anthropomorphism. Now that’s a big word, but what that means is a spiritual truth is put in human terms. Anthropos means man, so anthropomorphism is a truth about God that is put in man, in human form, but is not to be literally taken, you know, as spoken. For example, we may speak about God having wrath in his nostrils. Well we know God does not have a body. That would be an anthropomorphism, you see. But that is not entirely satisfactory in explaining this. Apparently, in the garden of Eden, there was a definite unique form of fellowship between God and Adam and Eve, and in the light of the fact that Jesus Christ, the true God, became man, that is took to himself human nature, in the incarnation, it is most likely that this was God in some form appearing to Adam and Eve. And, thus, they had fellowship with God and it may well have been since in the Old Testament Jesus Christ does appear as the angel of Jehovah at times that this was our Lord Jesus in his pre-incarnate state appearing and fellowshipping with the man and the woman. In fact, I would be inclined to that; although, as I say, we could not prove it, but there certainly seems to be more than just anthropomorphism type language. There was real fellowship and apparently a fellowship with a person whom they could talk to and whom they could see because they hid from him, you know.
[Question from audience member]
[Johnson] Right. He’s says, in fact, in the New Testament too, we have, “No man hath seen God at any time,” but then John says, “The only begotten,” and the Greek text, many of the best Greek manuscripts have, “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father. He hath laid it forth in the full revelation.” No man has seen God in his essence. God is spirit, but when we see Jesus Christ, we see God for he is God, but not God the Father.
[Question from audience member]
[Johnson] Well, I think that he asks, “Where are thou?” in order to elicit the response from them. Of course, he knew where they were, but in eliciting this response from them, he is able to lead them on into the judgment and to the promise that follows. This is not a picture of Jesus Christ or God searching about a garden for Adam and Eve. That, of course, would be obviously ridiculous in light of the preceding statements in Genesis that he was the Creator of them, so I think that is the reason myself.
[Question from audience member]
[Johnson] Yes, that’s right. James made reference to it before.
[Comment from same audience member]
[Johnson] Well, the explanation of that, by the way, that was one thing I said in the sermon. Most of you were not there, but in the sermon, I did say that there were two things that came out of this decision and I gave the first and twelve o’clock came on me so fast, I omitted the second. But, I must confess, it was also somewhat I forgot to do it too. I’m going to say something about it next Sunday, by the way, bring everybody else up-to-date because [Laughter] three people came up to me and said, “What is that second thing?” Well, anyway, to explain it to you simply is this, that you will notice that while James says that they are not going to lay upon them the requirement of circumcision in order to be saved, he does say that, “I want you to observe these particular things.” There are four things there that he says they are to observe.
Now these are things that are not essential for salvation, but they were essential for Christians to observe in their fellowship with Jews because they would cause Jews to be offended if they used the freedom that they had. So this is explained by Paul’s statement, “He became as under the law to those under law that he might by all means gain some.” And so, since Jews had a great animosity to anyone who would eat things strangled and so on, this frequently would set up such a barrier between Jew and Gentile at that time that there could be no fellowship at all. And so, he lays upon Christians the duty of observing these in their intercourse with Jews in order to keep them from having a stumbling block. Now 1 Corinthians 8 through 10 and Romans chapter 14 talk about the same type of thing about eating meat sacrifice to idols, remember, the same thing. There are some things we are not saved by keeping these things. He does not say that, but he says, “You shall do well if you observe these, so that you will not offend Jews.” Now that’s the reason why.
[Question from audience member]
[Johnson] I don’t know whether there’s any connection between them or not, Gideon.
[Comment from the same audience member]
[Johnson] There may well be, but if it is, I don’t know what it is.
[Comment from the same audience member]
[Johnson] It’s possible, of course. Of course, the fig tree was a very common tree in Palestine and in the East. And so, it may have no real significance to do with it.
[Comment from the same audience member]
[Johnson] Frankly, I don’t know the answer to that.
[Comment from the same audience member]
[Johnson] Well, appreciate that comment. [Laughter] There may not be any connection. Certainly there is no connection as far as the Bible is concerned, but I’m not an expert in that. Any other questions? We have just a few more, I’m letting you stay until 9:15 to add questions so we have about 10 seconds. [Laughter]
[Question from audience member]
[Johnson] Well, there may be, there may be. Now I set forth here, and we will discuss that in time in a little more detail, but I set forth the various ages of dispensations and at the end of the present age of the church, I have a little space here, which I left without any name, because this is a brief period of time known at the tribulation period according to the Bible, and then the age of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. And during the time of that tribulation period, which is just before our Lord’s second coming, there is definite evidence that the alignment of nations that was in effect at the time of our Lord’s first coming shall, in general, be true again. And it may well be, in the light of the fact that the alignment of nations in the common market bears some relationship to this, that this might be a beginning stage of that or something along that line.
In Bible prophecy, we must be careful of setting dates and saying, “This is that.” There were many men who said that Mussolini was the anti-Christ because he was a Roman and because he looked like he might well just from his actions, you know, and they are very embarrassed today because, of course, he was not. So we must be very careful. At the same time, the Bible says we are to observe the signs of the times and to keep our eyes open and not be surprised. So since that alignment in general must be true again, that is, the shift of power must move to the East, then it might be that we’re seeing the beginnings of this. And such a thing as the alignment of the common market and ultimately perhaps a United States of Europe, which might develop and beyond that something else might lead right on into. One thing we do know, there is a nation Palestine of Israel in Palestine today for the first time, well since nineteen forty-eight many, many hundreds of years and we know from biblical prophecy that that was an essential for the fulfillment of prophesies of the last days. And so, that barrier has been eliminated. We do have such…
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