Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in! In today’s program, we begin a series of classics from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives with the late founder of The Berean Call Dave Hunt and TBC executive director Tom McMahon. This week, they address the question: Has Your Love Been Put to the Test? And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re tuned in to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. Our topic for today in this first segment of Search the Scriptures Daily is Dave Hunt’s book Seeking and Finding God: In Search of the True Faith. We’re beginning chapter 9, titled: “What is the Gospel?”
And, Dave, I believe it’s the most important chapter in your book, and in it you explain the gospel of salvation. And even though the gospel, as you know, is the heart of Christianity, rarely is it ever explained. And I can only think of a couple of times in my own experience, you know – 30 years of, you know, attending church and so on – but only a couple of times have I had the gospel explained from the pulpit. So by explaining what I’m really talking about is being given information to help me understand what man did that separated him from God, and…well, really separated from God forever, and what God did, and only He could do to reconcile mankind to Himself. So we’re going to camp out – we’re going to camp out on chapter 9 for a couple of weeks.
Now, Dave, let’s start with what went wrong in God’s perfect creation. Throughout the first chapter of Genesis, as you know, God says over and over again, “It is good, It is good.” And then [Gen.] 1:31, He says, “It is very good.” So things are hardly very good today, so what happened?
Dave: God gave man the easiest test he could give him. He just pointed to one tree in the garden – there must have been thousands, maybe a million, I don’t know – and God said, “Don’t eat of that tree.” Now, you couldn’t ask for an easier command. This was a test to see if man would obey. You’ve got all these other trees, and some people think it was a special tree. No, I don’t believe it was a special tree. I t could have been an apple, peach, pear, I don’t know, but I’m sure that there were many other trees of the same kind of fruit. It wasn’t the fruit. That’s materialism. Matter does not create spiritual problems. So it was that they had been commanded not to eat of this particular tree, and they disobeyed. So they rebelled. This is rebellion. Now, the Creator of the universe can’t have rebellion in His universe. I mean, that’s obvious! He can’t have – well, it’s happening now, rebellion, but that was a poor start for Adam and Eve, and because of that they were cast out of the garden.
Tom: And, Dave, just go back to this test: people say, “Well, what was the point of the test?” The point is really simple.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” He wasn’t talking about the Ten Commandments, He was talking about everything that He taught, everything that He said, and isn’t that a demonstration of love? If I love somebody, if I’m a child and I love my parents, shouldn’t I obey them? Wouldn’t that be a demonstration of my love for them: obedience?
Dave: Yeah, it would be, but I don’t know that love even entered into this, because it was just simply, “Don’t eat of that tree.” That’s a command, and there’s nothing about loving God, and so forth, although that would come later. But He couldn’t have had an easier command. One tree, thousands of trees, could have been hundreds just like it – same fruit! This particular tree right here: “Do not eat of that tree.”
Tom: Well, let me read the verse. This is Genesis:2:16,17, since we’re going to go through this, since we’re going to camp out on not only the gospel, but explaining the gospel, as I mentioned – Genesis:2:16,17: “And 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.” So we have the command and the consequence.
Dave: Yeah. But they disobeyed. So, “In the day you eat thereof, you will die.” They didn’t even know what death was. They had never experienced that, they had never seen it. No animals had died, because the Scripture says – Romans:5:12: “By one man sin entered into this world, (that was Adam) and death by sin.” So that simple command, and that statement in Romans, has some very serious consequences, and some interesting repercussions.
There are people, for example, today who don’t believe in the Genesis account of creation; they are what we call “theistic evolutionists.” These people may be real Christians. They say, “Oh yeah, we believe that God created Adam and Eve, but they weren’t the first creatures.”
Like, I think I have quoted him often, Cardinal O’Connor at St. Patrick’s in New York (he was the Cardinal of New York), he said that Adam and Eve were a couple of anthropoid apes, ape-like creatures, and that evolution – because the Catholic church teaches evolution; they believe in it – that, well, he followed this evolution, you know, and by the time they got close enough to what man would look like, then He put a human soul and spirit in them. And Pope John Paul II said, “We will not compromise on that. That’s where God got involved in this thing.” Well, you’ve got a problem, because you’ve got Adam and Eve standing on a pile of fossils, dead creatures. Death has happened before Adam sinned. That is absolutely contrary to the Word of God. So death came by sin, and Adam and Eve – I don’t think God explained it to them – the day you eat thereof you will die. Maybe they knew, but they couldn’t possibly know because they had never seen it. If they had seen animals dying, then they would have known.
Tom: At the beginning I said I believe that this test was a demonstration of their love for God or not love, because, look, Eve had a choice here: she could either do what God said, or go lean toward her own self. We’re going to get into that in a bit, you know, the seduction here. So to me it makes sense that it was God testing to see whether they would do what He wanted, and I don’t know how you can do something that somebody else wants unless you’re either in fear of them or you love them and you want to please them, so…
Dave: Okay, Tom, I won’t argue with you on that, but I don’t know that the concept of love would even enter. I don’t know; it’s possible.
Tom: You don’t think they had a real personal relationship?
Dave: Oh, yeah, they surely did.
Tom: Well, anyway, let me move on from that. Dave, Acts:8:30 – what we’re trying to do, if you’ve just joined us, we want to explain the gospel. And as I was looking through Acts, here’s, I think, a very good example of the teachings of the Lord being explained. So here we have Philip – I’ll just pick up with verse 30: “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”
Dave: Well, Tom, it’s an amazing prophecy. It tells us of the sufferings of Christ, and well, He’s led as a lamb to the slaughter. They hadn’t even seen that. They are going to be clothed, I think, in sheep skins probably…
Tom: You’re talking about Adam and Eve.
Dave: Adam and Eve, after they have sinned and they are cast out of the garden, and they realize they’re naked. I don’t think it was a matter of clothes, as we have already mentioned. I believe they were clothed in the glory of God, and suddenly it’s gone, and they are just creatures. So He is led like a lamb to the slaughter. Well, they were going to have to slaughter a lamb. And when we get a little farther in the next chapter in Genesis, we find that there’s a little problem between Cain and Abel. Cain, he wants to bring an offering of the vegetables. He’s working…he’s a gardener, but that is not a picture of Christ who will come to die for the sins of the world. So his offering was not accepted, but Abel offered from the flock, and this is where they were introduced to death, and a substitute would die for them.
Tom: Well, Dave, that’s why you said there are people who reject Genesis, but with a little diligence it’s all laid out for us. We started off by my asking you the question, “What went wrong?” Obviously sin entered in, disobedience, and it changed everything, absolutely changed everything. And so what have we got today? We have the results, the consequences of their sin, and then everyone who followed after them. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
But, Dave, going back to the test: in Genesis chapter 2:16,17, which we read, God lays out the command for them and they disobey. Let’s talk about the disobedience here, failing the test. The serpent…now, to take us back a little bit with regard to this, we have this serpent that really is Satan, so we know that sin really didn’t start with Adam and Eve. We have sin in heaven, don’t we?
Dave: Yeah, in Revelation 12, it’s very clear this is that old serpent called the devil, who deceives the whole world. And Satan (it’s rather interesting), he doesn’t shy away from being called the serpent, but he kind of likes it apparently, because you’ve got serpent worship all over this world.
Tom: And dragons. He is also called the dragon.
Dave: Right. You go to India, China, places like this where the gospel of Jesus Christ has not penetrated, or hardly has – they worship serpents. You’ve got the Hopi Indians: they have their annual snake dance right here in Arizona to bring rain and so forth. You’ve got Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent of the Mayans. And Aztecs – well, you have the cosmic egg, for example. It was a symbol of the cosmos, and wound around it was a serpent. Or you had the Oracle at Delphi, and on three on a tripod, and every one of those had a serpent wound around it. And the Oracle at Delphi, believe it or not, was consulted from – I don’t know how far they could walk in those days and how far they could get – but many, many miles away. They came from everywhere to consult this, and it was, of course, demonic. And to think of the serpent, people say, “Well, the serpent, I mean, talking in the garden, you’ve got a talking serpent?” Well, we had serious scientists who were trying to teach the alphabet to chimpanzees, or even to porpoises, because if you want to pay any attention to what Richard Dawkins, the leading atheist in the world, says – he says there is no difference. There is nothing that distinguishes man from a fungus, or from an ape, or from a microbe, because we all have the same DNA in us. And he says, “Oh, yes, sometimes they say we act like animals. No,” says Dawkins, “we are animals!” So there is a rejection of the book of Genesis, I mean, the beginning chapters. And, Tom, I’m going on here a little bit, but you have a Bible out there called The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible. It is – supposedly it has commentaries by 50 Bible experts. Some of them are, supposedly, evangelical Christians, and what does it say about the first 11 chapters of Genesis? It says these came from pagan myths that were passed down and they were kind of revised and given a monotheistic expression.
Tom: Right, when in actuality, you talking about the serpents and so on, we have the story, the fact, the history of Genesis being corrupted here to the extent that now the serpent has become the healer, the savior. And as you pointed out, Dave, we find that in all religions. We have the reverse…outside of biblical Christianity we have the serpent as the savior. It’s incredible! Voodoo, it’s called, Vodun, by some. That’s really the healer within Vodun.
Dave: Yeah, well, we could get a little closer to home on that. We have the Caduceus, the symbol of modern medicine. That comes from the temple of Asclepius, a Greek or Roman god. There were temples for him. He was worshipped with serpents. Why was he worshipped with serpents? Because of an ancient story that said Asclepius the god had received, as you were intimating, Tom, a healing herb from the mouth of a serpent. So a serpent is the healer instead of the destroyer in the Bible.
Tom: Well, let’s get to the Scriptures on this. Genesis:3:1, and we’ll go on from there, Dave: “Now 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?” If people want to know, this is the grand scheme of the adversary Satan to undermine what God has said, right from the beginning, his first words to humanity. But, Dave, I don’t think we answered the question about Satan and sin taking place in heaven. Can you address that, just briefly?
Dave: Well, if you go to Isaiah 14: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning?” And the Bible explains that Lucifer, which is Satan, conceived in his heart, he exalted himself. He said, “I will be like the Most High.”
Now, you notice Satan was not so stupid as to say, “I will be the Most High,” because you can only have one Most High, and the Most High already existed. But Satan said, “I will be like Him. I will have His power.” And if we read Genesis 3 more carefully, we see that Satan didn’t promise Eve that she could become a god. He promised her, “You can become as the gods.” So…
Tom: Well, let me read that. This is picking up with verse 2: “And the woman said unto 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 hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
Dave: Yeah, so already we’ve gone from one most High, we’ve gone from monotheism one true God, and now we have polytheism. It was Satan who introduced polytheism. And yeah, “Oh, there’s a lot of gods now. I’m one of them. You can be one of them too. Just join my side.”
Tom: Yeah, so the lie that began in heaven in Satan’s rebellion, Lucifer’s rebellion against God, he brings to earth and introduced to mankind.
Dave: Absolutely, and that was the fall of man. Man chose – there was a choice – “Don’t eat of this tree.” Well, you have to be able to choose, and man has the power of free will, and he chose to disobey God. It’s right there in the very beginning, Tom. Those who say, “No, God determines everything.” Well, no, we have the power to choose.
Tom: Dave, I want to read one other point, and we are just about out of time, but when Eve says, “Neither shall ye touch it,” I don’t remember that being in God’s command. But what’s interesting here: when we get into dialogue…okay, see, Satan began: “Yea, hath God said,” with the idea being that, “Let’s get into conversation, let’s dialogue about this.” So you immediately know that we’re going to either add something or take away something from God’s Word, and that’s what happens – that’s what happened here.
Dave: Well, you take away or add. There’s a penalty for it. This is God’s Word and we don’t change it.
Tom: And we don’t dialogue about it.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. The complete radio discussion of Dave’s Seeking and Finding God is available from The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon, 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can be here again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.