Tom: Our topic for today in this segment, as it has been for months, is the Gospel of Salvation. In particular, we’re attempting to explain specific aspects of the gospel. One thing I’ve noticed over the years, especially in Christian settings—you know, you have children in Christian school, and parents or neighbors or grandparents come, and these may not understand Christianity at all. Yet the gospel is given. But, Dave, it’s been my experience that rarely is the gospel explained. Even briefly. It’s usually a call to received Jesus as Savior, and with the “sinner’s prayer” added, but …
Dave: “Make a decision for Jesus,” whatever that might mean.
Tom: Right. And I’m not doubting that there may be some people there, whom God has already prepared their hearts. But there are other people there, and, you know, one of my favorite terms: they’re clueless. They were not brought up Christian. They, you know, as we mentioned last week, their parents may have said, “Well, you know, let them figure it out as they go along. We’re not going to impose our views on them.”
(If those parents indeed had Christian views.)
Dave: They’ve never heard the gospel, and now they’re still not getting it.
Tom: Right. So, Dave, I can imagine somebody sitting there, saying, “So, Christ died on the cross. Why? I don’t get it. What’s the problem?” And nobody (well, I won’t say “nobody”) but rarely is the problem ever presented so they can understand why they need to accept Christ. And that’s what we’re doing today. We started last week, we’re trying to explain what the problem is, and therefore, when people understand that, we can give them the solution. And we’re starting where the problem began. We’re starting in Genesis, actually we’re going to talk about chapter three. But the condition is laid out in this sense: I call it Good News, Bad News, Good News. And the good news is that when God created everything, He said, “It is good. It is good.” He said that “It is very good,” at the end of the sixth day.
Dave: And we have to accept His analysis—or, what’s the proper word? We have to accept His evaluation. When He says “It’s good,” it’s good. Only God could decide what is good.
Tom: Right. But then, for His creation, He presents a condition. And the condition is found in Genesis:2:17: “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.”
To me this is a condition of love, a test of love. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” So, obedience is a part of our love response.
Tom: So this was a test. But then there was a temptation, which is found in Genesis:3:1…starting with verse 1: “No, the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said ye shall not eat of every tree of the Garden?’”
Dave, this is subtle, as the scripture says. It’s starting off by undermining the truthfulness of God.
Dave: It’s the foundation of every cult. “You think God said that? No, let me tell you…” And so, Eve found a guru who could interpret God’s words in the way she wanted them to be interpreted.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And verse 2: “And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”
Now, I think Eve is kind of padding—really, adding to what God said. At least that seems to be the impression here. And it’s based on the challenge by the serpent.
Dave: Well, Tom, going back to verse 17 of chapter 2: “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.” I don’t believe that this fruit—this physical fruit—had some peculiar quality that would cause spiritual death. They didn’t die physically immediately, but they began to die physically because the Spirit of God had left them.
I don’t believe that this tree necessarily had a different kind of fruit from any other tree. There must have been, I don’t know, what… hundreds of varieties of wonderful, delicious fruit. Maybe it was an apple tree, maybe it was a pear, peach—I don’t know what it was. I think it was the easiest command God could give. In other words, God is not robbing them of something. That’s the idea people get: “Well, yeah, but God wants you to live this straight-laced, narrow-minded, sober and sad, self-denying Christian life, and if you do that, you’re going to miss out on all the fun.”
They aren’t going to miss out on anything. They had an abundance of fruit. And I think there probably were a lot of trees that had the same kind of fruit as this. It was just a test of their obedience and their trust in God. And it was just this tree. “Don’t eat of this tree.” It doesn’t say, “Don’t touch it,” but…
Tom: Right. Now, this has always been fascinating to me because Eve did not have the same bent I have. I have the bent of a sinner. She had yet to sin. The environment was perfect. Everything about her life was perfect. Yet, Satan introduces this thought, and she takes it!
Dave: She wanted what God told her she was not to have. And He gave her such an abundance of everything. So, as we said earlier in the program, she was deceived into thinking that this physical…well, it goes on. Let’s read it: “When the woman saw (v. 6 of chapter 3)…
Tom: Oh, you’re jumping ahead.
Tom: I want to take this verse by verse, because…
Dave: Well, now, just a minute, Tom. Now, I’m saying something that relates to that back here.
Tom: Okay, but you’ll let me back…
Dave: Oh, yes, I’ll let you back.
Dave: “She saw that it was a tree to be desired to make one wise.” She’s thinking that this physical fruit has some capability of making a person wise that none of the other trees have. In fact, it’s a physical fruit. It won’t make you wise—any wiser than any of the other trees. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and the wise thing would have been for her to obey God. So she is being deceived.
And in that act of disobedience, she comes to know good and evil. Now, she realizes that she has done something that is evil. Evil is…well, sin is defined as coming short of the glory of God. Man—Adam and Eve were made in the image of God, and now they have fallen from that image because they have rebelled against God and the Spirit of God departs from them, they begin to die physically.
Tom: Right. It began with Satan introducing doubt. But then in verse 4, here comes the hammer. She had to recognize that now there’s not a doubt here, this Adversary of God is saying, “Ye shall not surely die.” Now, she had to deal with that.
Dave: Well, in one sense—you know, Satan doesn’t often come out with outright lies. What he’s saying is, “You won’t really die.” And look! She ate of it, and she didn’t instantly die. She died spiritually. God was now separated from her and her physical body begins to die, and she doesn’t even know it. So, Satan is sort of halfway telling the truth: “Oh, well, you’re not going to die physically. Not immediately. You won’t really die.”
Tom: Verse 5: “For God hath known that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Now, he was right in one sense.
Dave: Mm-hmmm. Interestingly, Tom, referring back to something you alluded to a bit earlier, Satan is not tempting her with immorality. He’s not tempting her with evils that we have in the world around us, which have come as a result, like a snowball going downhill, as a result of this one sin. Satan is tempting her with a high self-image, self-esteem. He’s tempting her to become like the gods. He’s not dragging her into the gutter, into immorality, and, in fact, that is the great temptation—pride has been man’s problem ever since. We desire to be like God. And even when we were talking about prayer—we desire to get God to do what I want Him to do, you know. So, this is a…you said, “subtle”—this is a powerful delusion that Satan has introduced to the human race, and they have all accepted this ever since.
Tom: Yeah, now, Dave, I set up this segment by saying, “There is a problem.” Now, we’re introducing how the problem came about, but next week (we’re just about out of time), but next week we will deal with the problem itself—why Jesus had to die. Why He had to go to the cross. Because what Eve is about to do set the condition for man for eternity.
Dave: Set the condition for man for eternity—yes. We were separated from God: “The day you eat thereof, you will surely die.” We are dead in trespasses and in sins. And Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life.” So He came, not just to (in fact, we’ll find out next week, I guess)…not just to restore the life that Adam and Eve lost, but to give us something even better: a life that cannot be lost.