Can the Death of Jesus Be Explained?
Tom: Too often, I fear, when the gospel is presented to groups of people, it’s not always explained as well as it should be. While a pastor or evangelist may communicate that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He was sent to die for the sins of the world, the reason for His sacrificial death is many times not made clear. Questions must certainly arise in some nonbelievers’ minds, “Why?” “What’s the problem?” and “Why is Christ’s death a solution?”
So, Dave and I have been going through the first couple of chapters of Genesis, where the reasons for Christ’s death on the cross are found. Dave, can you give us a quick review leading up to chapter 3 verse 15. What have we covered so far, in a nutshell?
Dave: Well, “in a nutshell,” to make it very simple, man has rebelled against God. There are consequences for that. God is our Creator. He gave us life and being, and He put man in a beautiful garden. I mean, this world would still be a beautiful garden, were it not for sin. And man believed the lie of the serpent: “Hey, there are things that God’s withholding from you, and this fruit of this tree is the doorway to a new life, so assert yourself and take it!”
Tom: Which God said, “If you do, that’s disobedience…”
Dave: That’s right.
Tom: “…and death is the penalty.”
Dave: Well, death, meaning spiritual death. You’re cut off from God. You have cut yourself off from fellowship with God, and man died in his spirit. I believe that the Spirit of God indwelt Adam and Eve, and I believe that…can I put it, like, I remember Major Thomas, I think, put it many years ago. He said the human soul (I’m going to try to remember this, now—I don’t want to do damage to what he said, but…) “The human soul is a like a castle, and within that is the grand piano of personality. And when man was created, God, the Holy Spirit, sat at the grand piano of human personality, because man was made in the image of God. He was to express the love, the patience and goodness and purity of God, and only God himself could do that. But the devil said to Adam and Eve…well, he said to Eve, and I guess Adam went along with it—he said, ‘Wait a minute, you know—the Holy Spirit is sitting at that grand piano of human personality, but I mean there are a lot of other tunes. You could really boogey it up! Just get on that piano yourself.’
“And so, they showed God the door, and locked the door, and turned around to go to the grand piano of human personality. What do you know? It was a demon with the most crashing, bashing, smashing—I mean, the demon of self had gotten hold of it now. And Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames it (on the serpent), and it has gone.” I think Major Thomas said, “The whole problem is, how are we going to get that guy out of there and get the Holy Spirit back in?”
Well, man has to believe the gospel. This is a matter of justice. We have sinned. We have broken God’s laws. That’s serious! God can’t just make a bookkeeping entry. Man was thrown out of the Garden, and he has been alienated—separated from God—ever since. And Paul says the gospel is how man can be reconciled to God. And it’s not how we’re going to sit down and negotiate with God, you know: “Let’s make a 50/50 deal.” But God sets the terms, and that brings us to where we are today.
Tom: Right. I think I want to just back up a little bit, because some people think sin…that there are gradations of sin, and there are. You know, there’s the rapist, the murderer, there’s genocide…
Dave: “I’m not so bad…”
Tom: Right. But when you think about it, this was a very simple thing that Eve did. All she did was take this fruit and eat it! You know, some people say, as a former Catholic, when I’d go to confession, if I confess that, let’s say as a second or third grader, I confess that I took a cookie, which my mom told me not to before dinner, and I kind of snuck a cookie, and they’d say, “No, it’s just a venial sin. It’s not really a big item, a big deal.” But the sin that Eve committed, set the human race to…now we do have genocide, we do have sin that has just proliferated and become incredibly ugly and vile, depraved, the whole nine yards.
Dave: Well, Tom, let’s try to discuss that for a moment so we can all understand it. Why was it so important—eating of the fruit of that tree? In fact, we mentioned in an earlier program that this was the easiest command God could give. There was an abundance of fruit. I don’t think that this fruit was any special fruit. It could have been peach or pear or apple. I believe that there were many other trees that had exactly the same kind of fruit. There was nothing about this physical fruit that would kill you. It was that it was an act of disobedience, and God made it the simplest thing that He possibly could. So, this is why James says, “He who offends in one point is guilty of all.” You break one of the Ten Commandments, you have broken all of them, because each sin is rebellion against God, and that is what the whole thing is all about.
Tom: So, and God said, in Genesis:2:16-17, “The day you eat thereof you will surely die.” Death. Separation from God forever. That’s what any sin brings, unless it’s… well, we’re going to get to the verse… God has a solution for this. And in chapter 3, verse…
Dave: He had the solution even before He created man, right?
Dave: And the scripture even says that Christ was a lamb, as it were slain for our sins before the foundation of the world. God wasn’t caught by surprise.
Tom: No. No, but the penalty is what I want to underscore here. The penalty is death. In Genesis chapter 3, verse 15, it says, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
Now, this is the gospel. This is the solution. We’re going to explain it. I know people are going to go, “Well, what does that have to do with anything?” But this is the solution to mankind’s…
Dave: Now, Tom, how are you going to explain it? You’re not going to explain it because you’re the “expert,” but you’re going to explain it on the basis of what the Bible says.
Dave: The Bible is its own commentary. So if I come to a verse… “Oh, wait a minute! I can’t quite understand that.” Maybe it’s deep. Maybe there’s a lot that’s in there that I don’t understand, how am I going to understand…? I go to other passages of the Bible, and the Bible tells me what it means. Okay? That’s why we search the Scriptures…
Tom: Right. So, what does this mean? “I will put enmity between…” Now, God here is speaking to Satan, the Adversary. And He’s saying, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman.” Who’s that?
Dave: Well, that was Eve at this point.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. But it’s talking about…
Dave: But she’s the mother of the human race.
Tom: Right. “…and between thy seed and her seed.” The seed of Lucifer, Satan, the Adversary.
Dave: That’s interesting, because Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews… They said, “Well, we have God as our Father.” A lot of people think that today. Jesus said, “You are of your father, the devil.” So, I would assume that this is the seed of the serpent that he’s talking about. That is, all of those who follow Satan in rebellion against God, and in a sense are the children of Satan.
Tom: Do they know they’re following Satan, or are we talking about Satanists, or people into witchcraft or something like it?
Dave: No. Well, some do, but very few.
Tom: They’re talking about those who continue the rebellion that began with Eve.
Dave: They’re living…
Tom: …and Adam.
Dave: They’re living for self in opposition to God. In fact, Tom, most of the world doesn't care. A lot of people who call themselves Christians don’t care. God said of the Jews that He chose: “My people have forgotten me days without number.” And it really speaks to my heart. How many times do I tell Jesus I love Him, that I’m grateful? How many times do I acknowledge that God created me, I owe my life and breath to Him? Everything that I do—it must be according to His will, but we forget that. The world forgets it. So the rebels aren’t necessarily thinking that they’re rebelling. They simply are living for self.
Tom: “Beween thy seed and her seed.” Who is “her seed”?
Dave: Well, Jesus Christ.
Dave: This is the virgin-born Son of God, who would destroy the works of the devil.
Tom: Dave, earlier we talked about prophecy. This is the first amazing prophecy that we alluded to earlier and gave all the reasons of the Messiah to come. This began it.
Dave: Right. Uh-huh.
Tom: “It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” What’s that mean?
Dave: Well, Jesus would deliver the deathblow to the serpent. But the serpent is going to bruise the heel. In other words, there’s going to be a ferocious opponent that is going to cause a lot of problems—pain, even, to the church. But the church will be triumphant through Christ alone, not on its own.
Tom: Right. This is prophecy. This is the gospel first presented in the Book of Genesis, chapter 3, verse 15. God brought the solution. Christ is the solution.
Dave: Mm-hmm. That’s the only hope that we have.
Tom: Dave, and that’s our hearts’ cry for those who are listening. We’re going over these things. We’re giving our views, our understanding of what the scriptures say.
Dave: But we’re taking it from the Bible, and they can check it out.
Tom: Right. And we want them to check it out. To be encouraged. If you’re going to walk by faith, it has to be the faith that you’re accountable for before God. Not through…
Dave: Based upon facts.
Dave: Based upon the Word of God.
Tom: And not because Dave Hunt says so, or T.A. McMahon or John MacArthur, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham—it doesn’t make any difference. We are to know what we believe, why we believe it, and have the Holy Spirit teach us, encourage us, bring us along in the truth.
Dave: From the Word of God itself.