"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man,
but the end thereof are the ways of death."
(Proverbs 14:12 KJV)
The above verse succinctly encapsulates the issue. Outside of the written word of God, it is impossible for the mind of carnal man to find true illumination. Although we may think ourselves wise in pursuing truth through the devices of human intellect and enlightened objectivity, without the counsel of Divine wisdom (Isaiah 55:8-9) and the acknowledgment and acceptance of God’s truth, we end up questioning the very essence of truth (John 18:38).
In matters of ‘science’ (nothing more than another word for knowledge), and specifically in respect to the subject of origins, pursuit of knowledge through the ‘Scientific Method’ and reliance on intellect guided by subjective rules for validating observations, results in mere theories (i.e. ‘Evolution’) and more questions, not revealed truth. Without Revelation there can be no resolution. In matters of religion, perusing righteousness through the observance of laws and ceremonial traditions and moral objectivity, is equally unfruitful in obtaining the desired goal. In respect to both matters, the Holy Bible alone has the final say in the matter: The Lord Jesus Christ proclaims, I AM, the answer. Therefore, the message to the scientific researcher succinctly becomes, “He published so that YOU would not perish” and to the religious man, the admonishment of the wisdom of Romans 3:20-31.
If man is said to be created in the ‘Image’ of God (Genesis 1:26), how does one quantify the meaning of that Image? Without putting too finer of a point on the answer, man is a little ‘god’ (Psalms 82:6, John 10:34, 1 Samuel 28:13-14). Like the Trinity that has three distinct members (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), man too is a trinity of being with three distinct parts consisting of a ‘body’, 'soul' and ‘spirit’ (1 Thessalonians 5:23) and this applies to both saved or unsaved men. And in the differentiation between the ‘saved’ and the ‘unsaved’ there are qualifying characteristics.
Man is a living soul (Genesis 2:7). His flesh and his sentient being are synonymous (Genesis 27:25, Genesis 34:8, 1 Samuel 26:21). Only at the moment of death does the soul separate from the flesh (Genesis 35:18), the fleshly corpse returns to the dust of the Earth (Genesis 2:7, 3:19) and the immortal soul, which is spirit, passes into eternity. The nature of man’s spirit at the moment of death (holy or unholy) determines the soul’s final abode. That departed soul still retains a recognizable bodily form complete with members like eyes and a tongue and is cognizant of being and can experience sensations (Luke 16:23-24). This was ancient wisdom known to King David and others in Old Testament times (Psalms 16:10, Acts 2:31) through the word of God.
Man (Adam) was created for God’s glory. This simple statement is applicable on many levels. He made man as an example to the Angels (both the holy ones that were faithful and the unholy ones that fell in antiquity). And to add emphasis to their forthcoming object lesson of the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, He made man a little lower in power and office than the Angels (Psalms 8:5), but with a higher eternal purpose (Hebrews 2:5-9) and position of fellowship. As the Biblical story about man and God’s redemption unfolds across time, the Angels are to observe and learn (1 Corinthians 11:10, 1 Timothy 3:16) and witness God’s great glory. God created man for His own pleasure and glory. The man He formed from the mere dust of the regenerated Earth (2 Pet 3:5-7) was to assume the headship over all nature (Genesis 1:26). He was commanded to repopulate the Earth with his kind and replace the former inhabitants of the planet (Genesis 1:28). From man’s rib God created a woman as a companion for man, and man’s duty was to love and protect his wife (Genesis 2:24). Man was made to, and still is to, glorify God by obedience (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Adam failed on three out of four of those callings (Genesis 3:6). Failing to protect Eve was his first failure.
Eve was a part of Adam himself (Genesis 2:23) and part of his duty was to protect her as he would himself (Ephesians 5:28-29). He did not shield her from the serpent’s beguilement. It could be argued that, because of their state of innocence, they lacked awareness of the danger. But their fall was their own responsibility because of their failure to obey what God had told them. They broke both rules:
Rule 1: God is always right.
Rule 2: When God is wrong, refer to Rule 1.
Eve made two (2) fatal mistakes in her encounter with the beast of the field that left her open for a fall. First, she added something to God’s word: (God did not say, “Neither shall ye touch it”). Second, she omitted stating God’s original prospect: (“Thou shalt surely die”). Her negligence on both accounts opened the door for Satan to prevail.
Note: When, following His baptism by John, the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), and Satan attempted to beguile Him and exploit the weakness of the Lord’s human nature, the Lord responded with a concise and show-stopping response: “It is written, …” – an example that the Church today needs to be mindful of and constantly ready to employ. Altering the written word of God (the Bible), through well intended additions or omissions, is a recipe for disaster (Numbers 20:12, Luke 1:19-20, Revelation 22:18-19).
The judgment rendered by the Lord God upon all guilty parties involved was comprehensive, with both immediate physical and spiritual effect and prolonged ramifications, and pronounced upon the participants in the order of their culpability:
1. Upon the Serpent – (Genesis 3:13-15). First, the Beast of the field, within whom the spirit and presence of Satan dwelled, got his wings clipped and his appendages of upright mobility removed. In the context and similitudes of Revelation 12:9, it is likely that the ‘serpent’ in the garden at that time was a physical creature in the upright form of a winged-dragon, who was relegated on-the-spot into the form of a slithering snake.
This hypothesis is extrapolated from these abstract observations: Aside from mankind’s seemingly instinctive aversion to snakes (a condition especially pronounced in women), all the Earth’s cultures and myths are replete with references to dragons. This is beyond coincidental in statistical likelihood and most certainly could be attributed to oral transmission across the ages of mankind after Adam’s fall. The fact that ‘Flood’ events are replete in myth and legend lends credibility to the extra-scriptural existence of oral knowledge of such Biblical events. Further, since science has also proposed that snakes may have once had legs (indicated by formational bone abnormalities observed in the fossil evidence), a notion that is reinforced by the Bible's text clearly indicating that his mobility was relegated from something else to a form of belly crawling slithering, the preponderance of collective antidotal support is worthy of thoughtful consideration. Regardless, the sentence pronounced on the ‘kind’ of that serpent was without possibility of parole, even into the future time of the Lord’s earthly millennium Kingdom (see Isaiah 65:25).
2. Upon Satan – (Genesis 3:15). Second, in respect to Satan himself, who was manifest in the serpent, there was the pronouncement of predestined hatred and conflict between Satan and Christ in the prophecy of the “seeds” and protracted animosity that would continue past the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:7).
3. Upon the Woman – (Genesis 3:16). Third, a literal sentence to ‘hard labor’ and relegation to a servile role under the headship of the man, and an emotional dependence and vulnerability in her desires towards the man (1 Peter 3:7).
4. Upon the Man – (Genesis 3:17). Lastly, as the head of the body union and companion of the woman that came from his own rib, a seven-fold consignment of punishment precipitated by their disobedience: The three things they were already experiencing – shame, fear and discord. The sentence of physical and spiritual death, to be preceded by continuing sufferings, weariness and expulsion from paradise.
The gavel came down, justice was meted out and court was adjourned. The serpent slithered away, Satan stomped out of the courtroom in a huff, and the cherubim bailiffs escorted the man and woman co-defendants to the front steps of the courthouse and locked the doors behind them. There would be no appeals, the case was closed. But in the structure of the sentencing mandate, the Judge had a designed a mitigation plan to extend mercy to the co-defendants and their future offspring.
Since every man, woman and child that exists
today are direct, fleshly descendants of Adam and Eve, and their seminal
origin is from the very “seeds” that were within the bodies of the physical
Adam and Eve at the time of their transgression, the seven-fold sentence of
punishment pronounced upon Adam and Eve is also upon every man, woman and
child that is born into the human race. The nature of sin is inherited,
therefore the proclivity to commit sins is genetic. Consequently, the
natural man is spiritually depraved, and the Bible defines the extent of
this depravity (1 Corinthians 2:14). We are all sinners (Psalms 53:1-3,
Depravity does not mean that all unsaved men and women are murderous thieves and reprobates, whores, drunks, dopers or physical abusers. Depravity does not mean that a sinner has no sense of God, nor of good or evil. And depravity does not mean that the unsaved cannot admire the noble, or even perform noble and heroic acts. Depravity does not mean sinners can lack empathy towards the suffering of others or sense indignation at injustice or perversions of justice. No, depravity as Biblically defined has a very clear and concise definition: It means that all sinners are capable of any wicked thing (whether we do it, or not), and that no sinner has the power to please God (Romans 7:18). And it is because of this condition that it was necessary for God Himself (the Judge) to provide a judicial remedy (John 3:14-17).
From the death of the first man to walk the Earth (Abel – Genesis 4:8) to the death of any man today, their final destiny has a single, common determining factor: The Lord Jesus Christ. Single and common, because He is the ONLY means of salvation (John 14:6). What is not common, or single, is when men have died (i.e. before or after the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ) and the methodologies God employed, is employing or will employ to save sinners, both before and after the time of the cross.
Before the Cross: Prior to Calvary, the souls of the dead descended into an abode under the Earth known in the Old Testament as Sheol and in the New Testament Hades. These Hebrew and Greek place-names have been translated into the common English name HELL in the King James Version of the Bible, as have the Greek words Gehenna (pronounced; gheh’en-nah), which connotes a garbage dump or place where refuse is collected, and Tartarus (pronounced tar-tar-os) which is the deepest place in Hades where the worst-of-the-worst evil Angels are kept under wraps. So, the KJV English word “Hell” denotes correctly, in all Bible references in both the Old and New Testaments, a place of confinement. The meaningful difference are differing compartments and purposes, and the specific conditions within those compartments. (Injecting a little levity here, compare it to being in Economy or First Class on a 14-hour flight.)
Our Bible reveals that, before the cross, there were two distinct sections in “Hell” with one reserved for the saved and another for the lost souls (Psalms 16:10). The saved section is called ‘paradise’ (Luke 23:43) or referred to as ‘Abraham’s bosom’ (Luke 16:22). There is no specific name given for the unsaved section, other than the description of it being a ‘place of torment’ (Luke 16:28) and woefully much, much, worse than anyone’s worse Economy Class experience, and will last for an eternity, not just a few miserable hours. This ‘place of torment’ is the Hell of classical descriptions, it is real, and it exists.
The beggar named Lazarus in the Gospel of Luke was not in that 'place of torment' but was in the compartment of Hell that is called paradise and Abraham’s bosom. There he was comforted (Luke 16:25). He was resting in the company of the departed souls like Abel, Noah, Solomon and King David, John the Baptist, Adam, Eve, Ruth, Ester, Samuel and others as numerous as the sands of the seashore who were righteous in their life and awaited in faith the promise of their redeemer, the Holy One (Acts 2:27, 3:14, 1 John 2:20).
After the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, he brought all those captive righteous souls out with Him from that place (paradise, Abraham’s bosom) and emptied it completely (Psalm 68,18, Ephesians 4:8). But the ‘rich man’ in the story of Luke’s Gospel remained in that other 'place of torment', he is still there. He is in the company of evil men like Cain, Haman, Saul, Belshazzar and innumerable others who works were evil.
After the cross: With the Lord Jesus Christ’s eternal atonement for man’s sin completed (Romans 5:11), the souls of those that had died in faith, before the cross, were taken from the captivity of Hades into heaven. The departed souls of men and women saved after the cross now go directly to heaven. It is spoken of in the Bible as falling asleep in the Lord (see Acts 7:55-60, Philippians 1:21-23, 2 Corinthians 5:8). The souls of the unsaved dead still descend into that 'place of torment' where the rich man from Luke’s Gospel remains, and has since been joined by the likes of Herod, Nero, Hitler and an innumerable company of unsaved dead from this side of the cross.
Nobody wants to go to hell. People go to hell because it is deserved (Romans 3:23). There is only ONE WAY to avoid going there. It is the Gift of God.
Salvation from sin cannot be earned by good works, it is not obtained by being baptized in water or partaking in sacraments nor by becoming a member of a Church. It requires the price of blood, and your blood is unworthy to pay it.
Believe, Ask and Receive: "That
if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in
thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
(Romans 10:9 KJV)
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