Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds the Genesis account of the Fall of Man and the essential role of man and his will in the story of God's plan of redemption.
[Prayer] Let us open our class with a word of prayer. Father we thank Thee for the privilege that is ours again. We thank Thee for the open Bible which has been given to us and the love of the triune God. We thank Thee for the way in which there is contained within it so plainly and clearly the message of the eternal God designed for those who have been created by him for a marvelous end. We thank Thee and praise Thee for the Holy Spirit who teaches us the word of God. We thank Thee for the Lord Jesus Christ who is the executor of the will of God. And we thank Thee Lord for the divine love that comes from the Father in heaven who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in identification with our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank Thee for this time together this evening. We pray Thy blessing upon our study of the Scriptures as we think about the divine plan of the ages and we give Thee thanks.
In Jesus’ name and for his sake. Amen.
[Message] Well this is the second in our series of studies of “The Divine Purpose, History and Prophecy.” Last week we looked at the creation, and tonight we are going to look at the next important event in the very next chapter of the Bible, the fall of man. What we are looking at essentially is the divine plan of the ages, God’s plan of the ages, and looking at it from the beginning as set forth in Holy Scripture on to its end in the new heavens and the new earth. So this is the second then of our series of studies of “The Divine Purpose and History and Prophecy.”
The Christian religion, it has often been said and correctly, is a historical religion setting forth historical events with their interpretations, interpretations given in Holy Scripture that center in Jesus Christ’s ministry past, present, and future. In other words the Christian religion proclaims the scheme of things in time. There is, of course, a looking forward beyond time and looking back to the past before time began. But, essentially, the scheme of things in time such as to mention some of the important things the incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, events that ultimately transcend all the apparatus of scientific historians. The reason that these events transcend the apparatus of scientific historians is because there are significances in the events that we refer to which are historic events that go far beyond history as practiced by scientific historians.
In other words they are limited by the means by which they investigate historical events. We have not only what they have, but in the Scriptures we have divine revelation which gives us often the sense, the send that transcends, the sense that historian may understand because it comes from God with the interpretation which only the Lord God is able to give infallibly. This divine purpose, we pointed out in our last study, that the Apostle Paul uses that very expression the purpose of the ages, this divine purpose includes divine election as we saw in Ephesians chapter 1 in verse 4 in the same book, it includes as a matter of fact all things that happened because God works all things according to the counsel of his own will. If we had only the Epistle to the Ephesians we could say that much. So the purpose begins then and concludes ultimately with the glorification of the triune God.
But so far as Scripture is concerned, Scripture begins with a great emphasis upon the creation, the creation of the universe, the creation of man, the creation of woman and we looked at that last week. We don’t really know how the creation took place, as a matter of fact, I’m not sure that it’s possible for us as human beings to know this. We seek to find out of course how God did what he did. We know chapters one and two, we know God spoke this universe into its existence. We know things like that but the precise means which he used in order to do it we don’t know. They are not revealed in Scripture. Whether the big bang could be an adequate description of ways in which God may have accomplished his creation or to put it in the terms of Calvin, the horrendous space kablooey, we don’t know. We simply know Scripture so far as we know sets forth what the mind of God would have us understand about creation but the details are beyond us. Just as how the resurrection took place, the way in which God accomplished that scientific fact, we don’t understand that.
Well tonight we move into our next stage in our story the fall of man. Now if we looked about us and looked at men, I think, we would come to an understanding if we thought long and hard about it that there must have been something that happened in the past that is responsible for the condition of man today. Sometime ago I read a quotation of John Henry Newman, a person who had very significant historical impact and spiritual impact on the Christina church some generations back.
Speaking of the profound mystery of the human being in his condition Newman said, “What shall be said to this heart piercing reason, bewildering fact.” He’s talking about the condition of man, “I can only answer that either there is no creator or this living society of man is in a true sense discarded from his presence. Did I see a boy of good make and mind with the tokens on him of a refined nature cast upon the world without provision, unable to say whence he came, his birthplace or his family connections? I should conclude that there was some mystery connected with his history and that he was one of whom from one cause or another his parents were ashamed. Thus only shall I be able to account for the contrast between the promise and the condition of his being. And so I argue about the world if there be a God. Since there is a God the human race is implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity. It is out of joint with the purposes of its creator. This is a fact, a fact as true as the fact of its existence and thus the doctrine of what is theologically called original sin becomes to be almost as certain as that the world exists and as the existence of God.” A very simple but a very pointed argument if we look at human history about us, its obvious that something has happened since the creator in heaven created the human race.
Jim Packer in one of his books entitled “God’s Words” studies in key Bible themes said, “You cannot understand yourself or your fellow men or the world you live in or the Christian faith, and you will not be able to make head or tail of the Bible. For the Bible is an exposition of God’s answer to the problem sin and unless you have that problem clearly before you, you will keep missing the point of what it says apart from the first two chapters of Genesis which set the stage. The real subject of every chapter of the Bible is what God does about our sins. Lose sight of this theme and you lose your way in the Bible at once.” That’s really true. That’s the reason why so many people open up the Bible and find it hard to understand. They’ve not an understanding of human sin, they’ve not an understanding of their sin, there is not sense within them of a need that exist because of their sin and the bondage that it brings to sin and, consequently, the Bible is something that they turn away from and often say I don’t see how anyone can understand the Bible.
Well now, let’s turn to read a few passages. I’m going to talk for a few minutes about Adam and Eve’s probation in the Garden of Eden, then the fall itself, and spend most of our time on the results of the fall this evening. Chapter 2, verse 15 through 17 and Moses writes.
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man saying ‘Of every tree of the Garden you may freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”
Now let’s turn to chapter 3 beginning at verse 1.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman ‘Has God indeed said you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden God has said you shall not eat of it nor shall you touch it lest you die.’ Then the tempter said to the woman, ‘woman you will not surely die. For God knows from the day you eat of your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said ‘I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.’ And he said ‘Who told that you were naked, have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ Then the man said ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me she gave me of the tree and I ate.’ And the Lord God said to the woman ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said ‘The serpent deceived me and I ate.’
“So the Lord God said to the serpent ‘Because you have done this you are cursed more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field. On your belly you shall go and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed, ye shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel. To the woman he said I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception in pain you shall bring forth children, your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. Then to Adam he said because you have heeded the voice of your wife and eaten of the tree of which I commanded you saying you shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground for your sake in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you and you shall eat the herb of the field and the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground. For out of it you were taken for dust you are and to dust you shall return.’”
When man was created he was created in the image of God. We pointed that out rational, moral, and regal, given the command to rule over the earth. And so, consequently, he had a magnificent beginning, he had within the garden itself every advantage as far as obedience was concerned, beautiful of all of the things necessary for his needs, and only one thing that he was unable to do and that was to eat of the fruit of the tree which is in he midst of the garden. In other words, his provision was a model of parental care from the father in heaven. He was brought under a probationary command; we could call it a covenant because all of the aspects of a covenant are there.
Historically in theological literature it’s often been called the covenant of works, reference to the Garden of Eden. It’s called in the Scofield Bible, for example, the Edenic covenant. Strictly speaking the term covenant is used with reference in possibly one place in Hosea chapter 6, verse 7, but that’s a disputed text, I personally think it’s a valid thing there, but, nevertheless, it is a question that’s not important for us at this point. At least we could say it was probationary command that was given to Adam and to Eve. As I say, a gracious arrangement that laid the ground for another covenantal head, the last Adam, who is in the final analysis the only true, genuine, tree of life. So Adam and Eve are in the garden that God created that’s the probation and the probationary command given into 15 through 17.
The Fall of man is described in chapter 3. And here we have the entrance of evil into this world. Not the entrance of evil in the sense of its existence in the universe. We know from other places that evil have already existed in chapter 3, verse 1, how the serpent was more cunning that any beast of the field an illusion no doubt to the sin of Satan before the creation of the universe man and woman. So here is the entrance of evil into this world. And you learn, of course, right at the beginning that sin is an intruder. It’s not good in the making, but it is an intruder into this human situation. What follows and is described in Genesis chapter 3 in verse 1 through verse 5 is the most disastrous dialogue in human history initiated by Satan about God and in the third person. I think that is so interesting.
It’s so interesting to me that when Satan comes on the scene the discussion takes place in the third person. One gets the impression, I don’t think I can prove this, but one gets the impression that God has already become someone with whom they don’t have the most personal relationships that they should have. They can talk about him in the third person. It’s almost as if Satan comes on the scene and suggests what we need to have is a weekend seminar on God. And so they discuss the question of God and the personal relationship that Adam and Eve should have had with him and should have had built up as a significant experience of theirs, apparently, has left them.
You know about the creation we don’t have time to deal with it. If you are interested in what I might have to say in more detail you can go the tapes on the Book of Genesis or some of the tapes in Systematic Theology in which we dealt with these same topics on a little different level. Satan questions the word of God, first of all, in verse1 and verse 2 and 3, “Has God indeed said you shall not eat of every tree of the garden.” Then he contradicts the word in verse 4, he says, “you will not surely die” in direct contradiction of the word of God.
That statement, incidentally, was aimed at genocide, but it is a statement that ultimately leads in its unraveling through the Old Testament and finally in the great act which will reverse what happened to theocide itself because the Lord Jesus will ultimately die on the cross in order to deliver us from the effects of Satan’s questioning and contradiction of the word and Adam and Eve’s fall. He then after having questioning the word, after having contradicted it in verse 5, maligns the author, “For God knows the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” In other words, God’s not really interested in the good things for you but he wants to preserve things for himself and keep them from you.
So he’s questioned the word, he’s contradicted the word of God, and now he has done a little bit of well poisoning which so many of us immediately take to ourselves by saying things that suggest that God’s really not for us. I think of the statement in Romans chapter 8, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The Scriptures speak plainly to the effect that God is for his people totally and completely and history has born it out. So Adam and Eve mesmerized by the serpent had listened to the creature rather than the creator, they followed impressions not instructions, they are seeking self fulfillment something that feel now perhaps that God has restricted from them, they are not seeking his glory, and so they incline to evil and finally sin. But notice this important thing, they are still religious. They haven’t abandoned religion. They are still religious. They believe in a God. They know about whom the person is talking. And so even though they still are religious, they have sinned and the first and most catastrophic sin of all, they are guilty of.
Our world thinks that if a person is religious everything is all right with them. Just be religious but how far that is from the truth of the word of God. As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us that everybody is religious. We may deny that we are, but every one of us has an ultimate which is the ultimate thing for which we are concerned. That’s our religion. There is one thing that modern theology has underlined in its liberalism; it is the fact that even though we do not have the religion of the Bible, we all have an ultimate concern. And that ultimate concern is our God. That’s what we’re interested in. That’s why the Bible speaks about things such as the love of money, the world as being idolatry. They’ve become our God.
So Adam and Eve have sinned, still religious. And in the fall there is a clue to the enigma of life. Look at our society, look at the society of any nation, look at the society of this world of which we are a part, and one will find that the clue to life is ultimately to what happened in the Garden of Eden many hundred’s of thousands of years ago. Read the front pages of your newspapers, read the analysis of the news, ultimately, it will come to this fundamental fact human sin. It’s amazing but, nevertheless, is true. Later on I’m going to quote Herbert Butterfield, who was a professor of modern history at the University of Cambridge, he wrote some significant literature that pertained to that and in which some of his volumes are some very striking statements that underline just precisely what I am saying.
So I want to turn now to the results of the fall. It’s difficult for modern man to recognize sin because as Jim Packer says “It’s uncomplimentary to him.” He turns away from it; he doesn’t like to discuss it. In fact, if you discuss it he’ll get angry with you and say all kinds of things about you. He might even call you a Puritan or something like that. That’s about the ultimate that the world can think of. They know the Puritans were bad because they talked about the word of God and they talked about sin and they talked about Jesus Christ. So it’s difficult for modern man to recognize sin. Sin is seen best in the context of God’s holiness. But there is a short supply of God’s holiness today. It’s very difficult to find it. You cannot find it in the presidential campaign, as a matter of fact that’s the one thing the presidential candidates wouldn’t like to talk about, holiness. In fact sin has become secularized. It’s an offense against decency not an offense against God but an offense against decency. An offense against an humanly elected standard, not an offense against the word of God, not an offense against the holy God, anything like that, but just an offense against the kind life and the patterns of life that we think are “good”.
Now to summarize these consequences, I want to be a little theological and I hope you will follow me along because these are very important for the rest of the Bible and if we get these things we’ll understand the Bible a whole lot better. I’d like to suggest to you that in the first place sin is disobedience of God, it’s unbelief, disobedience of God that leads to immorality. For immorality, while sin is not the cause, unbelief is the cause, and finally manifests itself or I should say rebellion, and then manifests itself in immorality. The chain is unbelief, rebellion, immorality. We’ll see that we’re not going to look at this in this short series of studies, ten or twelve or so, but we see it in Genesis chapter 4. It’s not long before the fall has taken place, rebellion follows, and then the immorality of murder. That’s the pattern always.
But the reason for sin is not selfishness, it’s often said selfishness, there is a sense in which, of course, that’s sin and we lay stress on it, it surely is rebellion against God. But the fundamental reason is lack of trust in the divine revelation. So its unbelief, rebellion, immorality, that’s the pattern. If you bear that in mind I think you will understand what happens in our society. We have fundamentally the denial of the first of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shall have no other God before me” and then, of course, the second and that is “We should not make any graven image,” the same thing. So, now, first of all then as a result of the fall, there is the imputation of Adam’s sin to the race.
Let’s turn over to 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 21 and 22, and then we will also read Romans 5 in verse 21, verse 12, 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 21-22. The apostle writes, “For since by man came death, by man also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive?” In Adam all die. Now Romans chapter 5 in verse 12, what a great text the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore,’ he says, Romans 5:12, “Just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin and thus death spread to all men because all sinned.” How did all sin? We don’t have time to discuss it, but I just suggest you this happens to be my interpretation, that all sinned in Adam in the sense that Adam was our covenantal head and stood for us. And so when our covenantal heads sinned in whom we have stood in the mind of God, we have sinned. So by the gracious plan of federal headship, God works. We learn right there that the plan by which God is going to carry out his work of salvation is grounded in federal headship. What do we mean by federal headship? Federal might even through you off these days because we lose confidence in the use of the term federal today because our federal government has not been always true to its principles. Federal is a term derived from the Latin term foedus.” Foedus is the Latin term for covenant. So a federal government is a covenantal government. In other words, there are things that the government covenants to do and there are things that men as citizens covenant to do. We have a federal government. It’s a raging argument among both liberals and conservatives over the extent of the federalness of our government in our day, but that’s the meaning.
Now, when we talk about the sin of Adam, we are talking about Adam as a federal head, that is a covenantal head, he stands for the people of God. The Lord Jesus is a covenantal head. He stands, let me go back, sometimes I get a little excited over some of these points, but Adam stands as a covenantal head for the race. Our Lord stands as a covenantal head of the people of God. And so what we are taught then as a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden is that the sin of Adam is imputed, is reckoned to those for whom Adams stands. Those two chapters that we referred to 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans chapter 5, spell out the details. If you want to know more about it go back and read Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15-21 and following. So by the gracious plan of a federal headship God works. Without representation the race might have perished forever. As a matter of fact, the race deserved to have perished forever there but fortunately God had in his infinite wisdom a federal head who was the covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, again, I say if you are interested in more detail there are six or eight tapes in the series on anthropology that deal with these points in, I think, fairly good detail. But we have to assume this in this brief kind of study that we are doing know. The point I want to make is that God has let us know right here that he deals with men covenantally. If we cannot sin in another, then we cannot be redeemed by another, unless we have a different way by which God deals with men. When Adam sinned men sinned. When Christ dies on Calvary’s cross those who are in him benefit by what he has done. So if we object to the covenantal relationship of Adam, our objection may be lodged against the covenantal relationship of the Lord Jesus Christ if we do not think it is proper for God to deal this way.
Incidentally, there is a message in the series on “Eight Greatest Things in the Word of God,” or “The Eight Greatest Truths in the Word of God” in which I devoted one Sunday morning here an hour to the subject of representation and why it’s the greatest way in which God could ever possibly deal with men. And if you have some questions about what I’m saying you can go read that.
The second thing that is a result of the fall is the inheritance then of original sin. In Ephesians chapter 2 in verse 3 the Apostle Paul refers to that. Ephesians chapter 2 in verse 3 the apostle writes “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature children of wrath just as others.”
So the inheritance of original sin. What does original sin involve? Well it involves guilt, liability to punishment. It involves pollution because that’s one of the effects of it. That’s suggested, I think, or at least referred to in Psalm 10 in verse 4, where the psalmist says, a fairly familiar verse I’m sure it’s made an impression upon you. That’s interesting because I may have put the wrong, well I thought maybe, maybe, maybe I was talking about Proverbs. Are you all enjoying the respite? That’s interesting. I didn’t think I could ever have a mistake in my notes. Well I’m going to read it anyway. Psalm 10 in verse 4, well I didn’t read the whole verse. My notes are not wrong they are inspired. “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.” So not only is guilt involved in sin but also pollution and what we like to call total depravity, which refers to the pervasiveness of sin.
John Gerstner has pointed out that total depravity refers to the corruption of the total human nature not the total corruption of human nature. In other words, when the Bible speaks about total depravity, it doesn’t mean that we are as bad as we possibly can be, but it does mean that all of our faculties are touched by sin. As Dr Gerstner has said “Total depravity refers to the corruption of the total human nature, our mind, our will, our emotions, not the total corruption of our mind, our will, our emotions.
Total depravity, C.S. Lewis didn’t like the term. C.S. Lewis said in one of his books, he said “I don’t believe in total depravity and the reason I don’t believe in total depravity is because if I were totally depraved then I wouldn’t understand my depravity. But the fact that these individuals speak about understanding their depravity means they are not totally depraved.” Well that was a clever remark as you might expect coming from C.S. Lewis, it only indicated that he hadn’t taken much systematic theology because the point of the doctrine of total depravity is not that we are as bad as we can be there are many things we do understand, but sin has touched our mind has touched our will has touched our emotions. So in spite of the clever remarks it’s just simply not true.
H. A. Ironside, who was well known Bible teacher of the last generation, used to refer in explaining total depravity to Joseph Cooke, the great Boston lecturer of late half of the nineteen century, who gave this illustration of total depravity. He said he had in his home a very beautiful and valuable clock. It had an exceedingly handsome case a very fine set of works a nice appearing dial and elegantly finished hands. It was altogether a good clock to look upon but it had one fault. It simply would not or could not keep time. It had been gone over by many different clock makers but no one had been able to correct this fault. Dr. Ironside used to say “As a timepiece it was totally depraved.” There were many beautiful things about it but just didn’t keep time. And when we say we are totally depraved, we’re not as bad as we can be, but all of our being is affected by the sin that is ours.
Now, thirdly, the third thing that happened in the Garden of Eden was that man became exposed to spiritual inability. To put it in the language of the apostle, well to put it in the language of the Lord Jesus first in John, chapter 6 in verse 44 the Lord Jesus makes a statement that is so important when we talk about spiritual inability. This is John chapter 6 in verse 44, the Lord Jesus says, “No one can come to me except the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.” Romans chapter 8, verse 7 and 8, that also is said in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 in verse14 in it is said with reference to the mind. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God their foolishness to him neither can he know them for their spiritually discerned.” So “No man,” Jesus said, “Can come to me except the father which has sent me draw him.”
The problem with our wills is that while our wills are free, we are not. I like to use a different terminology but I use that for the benefit of some who still like to retain the term “free will”. If free will means simply that you have a will. Augustine used free will in that term. He would say we have a free will. But when he said we have a free will, he meant simply we have faculty of the will.
Now when Augustine went on to talk about the effect of our nature on the decisions of life he said our nature is such is that we always will that which is evil. Modern man likes to think of free will as the will which has the power to decide to either pro or con God of itself. And so free will is used in that sense and that’s why I often deny the existence of free will thinking about that and is the definition. Strictly speaking our wills are free but we are not. The will is moved by motives, it’s a secondary power. And so our nature determines the way in which we will. Our nature is such, I like to play Golf, and so I will upon occasion to play Golf. That’s the product of our desire. And then also I may have some intellectual desires too. Because I like certain things intellectually, my desires are translated in acts of will. The will is the secondary disposition not the primary. And, unfortunately, the primary disposition is that which is touched by evil. The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, their foolishness to him neither can he know them for there spiritually discerned. The will is moved by motives as the church has always said.
We think of things, you know, because we are so exposed to a society in which free will is glamorized and claimed that the Christian church must be a body of people who also accept that and individuals who go around like Johnson does are out of touch with the doctrines of the Christian church. So let me read you a few of the pronouncements of the Christian Church. These are historic pronouncements that go back to Luther. Luther said “If any man doth ascribe aught of salvation, even the very least of the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.” The great church confessions, listen to them. The 39 Articles of the Anglican Church say “The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith and calling upon God.” That’s the Anglican Church and their creed.
The Book of Common Prayer, “Oh Almighty God who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful man.” The Westminster Confession of Presbyterianism, “Man by his falling to sin hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation. so as a natural man being altogether adverse from the good and dead in sin is not able of his own strength to convert himself or to prepare himself thereto.” The London Confession of the Baptists reads precisely the same, those same words. The Reformed Belgic Confession, are you getting the point that when a person says I don’t believe in free will he is following in the train of historic orthodoxy. Listen to the Belgic Confession, a reformed confession, “Therefore we reject all that is taught repugnant concerning the free will of man since man is but a slave to sin and can receive nothing except it had been given him from heaven. For who may presume to boast that he of himself can do any good since Christ says,” well what do you know they know John 6:44, “No man can come unto me except the Father that sent me draw him.” Do you want to read George Whitefield what he said, well it’s the same thing. They all say the same thing, all of those in the tradition of the reformation of the sixteenth century and all the way back to Augustine who says essentially the same thing. The person who talks about free will, as if it’s a Christian doctrine, has not understood what the Bible teaches or what the Christian church has historically taught. I won’t belabor it anymore for the sake of time.
The fourth thing that took place as a result of Adam’s sin was that man has been subjected to the penalty of physical and eternal death if he does not believe in Jesus Christ but physical death and eternal death as a distinct future for man. Second Thessalonians chapter 1in verse 9 is one of the many passages that contains a text that bears on the point the apostle is talking about the coming of our Lord Jesus and he talks about those who do no obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And in 2 Thessalonians chapter l in verse 9 he says, “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.” So as a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden, man has had Adam’s sin imputed to him. We are born under the judgment of the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden. We have original sin, a sin nature which we have inherited because of our status as those who had Adam’s sin imputed to us. We have spiritual inability. We are unable of ourselves to turn to the Lord and we are headed toward the experience of eternal wrath if the Lord Jesus and his salvation do not become ours.
Does a loving God send men to hell? The answer of Scripture is strongly yes. A loving God does send sinners to hell. Hell is not a very pleasant place. Death itself is not a very pleasant place. Aristotle said, “Death is a dreadful thing for it’s the end.” Samuel Johnson says, a greater Samuel Johnson than the one you look at, Samuel Johnson says, “No rational man can die without uneasy apprehension”. John Donne, Christian poet, man of literature and Christian, said, “Death is a bloody conflict and no victory at last, a tempestuous sea and no harbor at last, a slippery height and no footing, a desperate fall and no bottom.”
We live in the day in which it is popular to deny eternal judgment. Julius Muller, who lived in the nineteenth century, he was nicknamed Sunde Muller, which means “Sins’ Muller because he wrote a great big book on the Christian teaching of sin, Die christliche Lehre der Sünde. He once wrote “No one is surer of applause than the man who discovers some new method of evading justice under the pretext of humanity.” And we have this happening in Christian evangelical circles today. You know, I’ve lectured on John Stott and his attachment to conditional immortality. But he’s not the only one, Clark Pennick, and others. And in England and Britain, conditional immortality is the doctrine of a number of men who are evangelicals, who for a long time have not spoken of what they believe, but it has been hidden because it’s still not popular with simple evangelicals who read the Bible. So death, eternal death, one of the reasons, of course, that we did is simply that Adam and Eve took of the fruit specifically Adam because he was the federal head and man fell in sin.
Let me conclude with a few comments. The deepest division among men is that between those who know their sin and those who do not. It’s a gift of divine grace to know this and the Bible and spirit are the means to open our eyes. Sunday night in the Lord’s Supper I tried to say a few things about that pointing out the external testimony of the word of God to the truth of God. Anyone who reads the Bible and is open to divine truth will come to understand that the Bible is an authority, it communicates the note of authority, it communicates also the note of advocacy or adequacy for our needs. But internally, it is the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit that gives light so that we are able by God’s grace to turn from our sins to the knowledge of salvation.
I mentioned Herbert Butterfield earlier and I’d like to read just a few things that Mr. Butterfield has written. How to regard this man as I said he was a professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge for a long time, wrote a number of books, wrote specifically in the light of World War II and wrote his books after World War II. And many of the things that he described in Christianity and history are things that arose out of the experience of World War II.
Speaking of the sin of self righteousness Butterfield writes, “In one fundamental sense, however, it seems to me that Christianity alone attacks the seed of evil in the kind of world we have been considering and has a solvent for the intellectual predicaments which arise in such a world. It addresses itself precisely to that crust of self righteousness which by the nature of its teaching it has to dissolve before it can do anything else with man.” How true that is. All of us are born in sin and we live and it’s not long before we develop to the full this crust of self righteousness in which we are not willing to look at ourselves in the light of God and his word. That’s what Mr. Butterfield is talking about. He also says some other things that I think are extremely good. He says, “To me, therefore, nothing can be more exact perhaps for any man than the statement that all men are sinners and I the chief of them or the thesis ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ and I do not know why we ourselves should not be able to pray sometimes ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’ All this seems to be the final affect of the reading of history upon me.” This is a man who taught modern history in the highest circles of scholarly world. This seems to be the final affect of the reading of history upon me. “And if anybody answers me,” I think this is a marvelous statement here, “If anybody answers me that, of course, there must have been great saints whom I’m slandering when I say they are all sinners, I accept the correction but still note the fact that these always, these great saints always, seem to me the people who are most emphatically in agreement with me on the point I’m making. It’s the great saints who talk about the fact that they are sinners. The historian cannot give a judgment on particular human beings that can be admitted as a final moral judgment on their personalities save in the sense that he can say all men are sinners.”
The goal of Satan then in the Garden of Eden was to set up barriers to life. That’s what he did in his little conversation that he had with Eve and then in his activities in connection with Adam. And after the fall, he has sought to set up barriers to repentance in faith in Jesus Christ. Now the rest of the story of the Bible, of course, is how Satan has a great deal of success but ultimately fails in the end.
In our next study we are going to take up the flood, the Tower of Babble, and then come to the fundamental promises of the Bible, the promises of Abraham. So if you want to follow along and I think you can get a whole lot more out of what I’m saying, if you will do that begin reading at Genesis chapter 4 and read on through Genesis chapter 12 and I think that next week in our study you will perceive that I’ve become a great deal better teacher as a result of your having read the text.
[Prayer] Let’s bow together in a word of prayer. Father we are grateful to Thee for unfolding the reason why the world is as it is. How the fall touches all aspects of our life personal, political, the intellectual life, the business life, all the life on the face of this globe affected by those events that are described in Genesis chapter 2 and 3.
Oh what an insight Thou has given us into the nature of man, the nature of God, and the nature of the appeal that the Godhead has made to us to turn to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for deliverance from the judgments that lie upon us, imputed sin, original sin, spiritual inability, spiritual death, at the present before we believe in Christ all born into that state and then if there is no turning to Him, ultimately physical and eternal death. We thank Thee for the grace shown to us. We thank Thee for telling us, Lord, so plainly what we are naturally. And help us, Lord, also to be evangelists of the truth that Thou hast made known to us. We know our responsibility. Help us to fulfill a measure of it for Thy glory.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.