If Jesus Is Our Savior, What Is He Saving Us From?
Tom: If you’ve been following the program, you know that this segment we deal with major doctrines of biblical Christianity. And the most significant of all doctrines, I believe, is the doctrine of salvation, the gospel, which on the one hand is so simple a child can understand and accept it while on the other hand, it’s so profound that not even an eternity will be long enough to plumb its richness.
So, what is the biblical doctrine of salvation? Well, it covers all that God has done to reconcile mankind to himself as well as what man must do to spend eternity with God. Dave, often in Christian settings where unsaved people are present, the gospel is given, but it’s been my experience that rarely is the gospel explained. It’s usually a call to receive Jesus as Savior, and with a sinner’s prayer added, but I don’t ever remember an explanation that might make sense to someone who has little understanding of biblical Christianity.
What I’d like to do today is begin with 1 Peter:3:18: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.” Now, I’d like to consider that from the perspective of someone who might say, “Okay, so Christ supposedly did all this. But why? What’s the problem?” I think we have to go to Genesis to get right to the problem.
Dave: Well, of course the first question a person would ask, apropos to what you’re saying, is, “Saved? Saved from what? Saved from drowning? Or saved from a stock market crash?”
Tom: People may think this is a little ludicrous, but honestly there are un-churched people—people who have no foundation. Remember, we have a generation where parents said, “Oh, I’m not going to impose anything on my children. Let them just kind of figure it out as they go along.” So they’re clueless to a lot of this.
Dave: Hebrews raises this question, chapter 2: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation.” Escape from what? I think every person knows in their conscience that they have violated God’s laws. There is a penalty to be paid. That’s what we’re talking about.
The Bible talks about “the wrath of God,” Romans 1: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man.” God is holy. The Bible says “He is angry with the sinners every day.” He doesn’t hate sinners. He loves them. But He doesn’t like their sin, and if they persist in it, there are consequences. It’s like…Tom, you have to have rules for anything, even to play a game. And the idea that God can’t have any rules for mankind—moral, ethical—I think we all recognize that He does.
So, this is what we’re being saved from—from God’s judgment.
Tom: Yeah, but let’s go back—rules. Let’s go with the first rule: We know from Genesis, going to God creating the world, we have Him saying, “It is good. It is good.” And in Genesis:1:31, the scripture says, “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” No problem, up to that point.
Dave: Well, who decided it was good? One thing we learn from that is that only God can decide what’s good.
Tom: Right. But it is good. Everything that He made was perfect. In other words, there was no problem yet.
Tom: But now, for the rule: I think we’re looking for a rule. Genesis:2:17: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it, for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”
Now, here was a rule, there was a condition. Why would God even impose that?
Dave: If the world, the universe, is going to continue to “be good,” and Jesus said only God is good, then we’re going to have to be line with God’s purpose. He created the universe. He must have some idea—you know, He must have some purpose and meaning for this, and there must be some parameters within which this thing will function. Just…gravity and so forth, holds…and, you know, the atom must be held together. So man, now, has the power of choice. Whatever man does, it must be in line with God’s will. That makes sense. After all, He’s the Creator, okay? And…
Tom: Do we call this the Law of Love, in effect? If love is really going to be love, there has to be volition; there has to be free will; there has to be a condition to see—certainly not in God’s mind, but in the mind of those whom He loves—that they are responding to His love.
Dave: And love does impose regulations. Unfortunately, we see in a lot of families where they claim to love their children by letting them run wild. That’s not love, because they’re going to get in trouble. So God knows that the creatures that He has made are going to be in real trouble if they try to be egomaniacs and do their own thing! And so, He’s trying to bring man—Adam and Eve—into line with His will because He loves them, because He wants them close to Him, and He wants what is best for them. If you love someone, you want what’s best for them.
Now, He gives them the easiest command that He could possibly give—and we’ve probably talked about this before—but there must have been not just thousands, maybe millions, of trees in the Garden with every kind of fruit. And I don’t believe the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was some special fruit. It could have been apples, pears, whatever. What was wrong with eating it was not the quality of the fruit or some power the fruit had within itself. It was an act of disobedience.
So, God gives man the easiest command He possibly could, just to see—it’s like putting reins on a horse, and when you give the signal or whatever, is the horse going to obey or is it not? If it doesn't, then you’re going to have to put a bit in its mouth, you know, and so forth. So, the easiest command: “Just don’t eat of that tree. You can have any other tree in the Garden, but don’t eat of that tree.”
But when they did, that was rebellion against God.
Tom: Before we get to that, because there’s a seduction involved here—but still, up to that point, there’s no problem. They are walking in fellowship with God, paradise is perfect, still, in every way.
Tom: So there’s no problem yet. But then there is a test. The test is in Genesis 3, beginning with verse 1, and we’ll go through these verses because there’s a lot here, 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?’”
Now, it’s posed as a question, but let’s back up to that. I mean, here we had a talking serpent. Does that seem reasonable?
Dave: It’s amazing that Satan really likes to be known as a serpent; that pagans worship serpents. That’s astonishing to me. You would think that Satan would have come in some other form. I don’t like serpents. They’re very frightening, they’re poisonous, they’re deadly, they’re sneaky. But that is the way Satan chose. Now, of course, people today—they’re trying to communicate with porpoises, they’re trying to teach the alphabet to chimpanzees, they say that “all is one.” Some of them even hug trees or try to talk to trees.
Tom: Hug gorillas.
Dave: Yeah, so the idea that a serpent can talk—well, shamans, witchdoctors, they have as their spirit guide, it could be a coyote, it could be a jaguar—so this is…I mean you can see the consistency of this, that mankind is still trying to get in touch with the spirit world through such creatures. And here’s where it began.
Tom: Yeah. Now, Dave, couldn’t it also be that…we know that after the Fall, men—mankind—was separated from the animals. There was a fear. It was no longer the same relationship.
Tom: So we really don’t know whether there could have been communication, or whether this was something very unique and very special.
Dave: No, Tom, I'm going to disagree with you on that one. We didn’t rehearse this program, but…
Tom: You think this too much of Doctor Doolittle in me?
Dave: Yeah. No, animals do not have the capacity to speak. Man alone has the capacity to come up with conceptual ideas and express them in words. I don’t believe that animals lost that capacity during the Fall. It does say that maybe the serpent, like a cobra, could walk on its tail, you know, sort of. And now “on your belly you will walk.” But, you know, Satan is known as the Serpent, even in Revelation: “That old serpent, the devil, the dragon.” And you go to the East, as you know, you’ve got dragons on the temples, you’ve got serpents, and so forth.
So this is not a myth. This is history. And we can verify it from that standpoint.
Tom: Dave, we’re about out of time for today, but we have the problem here—the problem of man’s sin, which is about to take place, the first sin known, at least, on earth, and…
Tom: Rebellion. And we have—this is important, because this is the reason Christ had to become a man to pay the full penalty for our sins. So next week we’ll pick up with the Serpent in the Garden, Genesis 3, starting with verse 1, and we’ll see what happens.