QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 41
Romans 7:14ff is the subject of a huge controversy in the church. Many believe that Paul is describing the experience that every Christian has in his struggle against sin. Others believe that he is describing the experience that a person subject to the law has with sin. Whichever position is correct, Paul certainly is not providing an excuse for sin. He has already clearly stated that sin no longer has mastery over the Christian.
Romans 7:14-25 is one of the key passages of Scripture concerning the experience of those in Christ Jesus. As you well noted, there is not a past tense word in that passage. It describes the good fight of faith, set in motion when men are justified. In the circumcision of Christ, the "body of the sins of the flesh" (Rom 6:6 and Col 2:11) is separated, or circumcised, from our essential persons. In this Divine "operation" we are liberated from the dominion of sin. Those who imagine this means there is no more struggle within the believer, however, have missed the point of the passage. Our "old man" is crucified, but, like the impenitent thief, continues to harass us from the cross. This is the warfare decried in the passage of consideration.
Our salvation is in process, and the fullness of it is yet to be "revealed" (1 Pet 1:5). One of the immediate evidences of our partial condition is our bodies. They are not yet redeemed, but will be, praise the Lord. In fact, the resurrection of our bodies is termed "the adoption" (Rom 8:23). Until that time, we are engaged in a struggle with the part of us that is not yet regenerated.
There are three "It's" in Romans seven. One is the total "I"--the whole person--0 wretched man that I am. One is the regenerated "I"--"I allow, I hate, no more I, I would, I myself, etc.). There is also the "I" that represents the carnal nature, shackled to us, so to speak, but not an integral part of the real I--I am carnal, I do not, etc.
The warfare of reference is in the mind. There is an intrusion of unwanted thoughts--"that I would not." Paul traces it back to "another law," or principle, that is resident in his person. "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me," and "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (vs. 21,23). Those who say they have no such "law" within them, have simply not told the truth.
The glory of this passage is that it confirms our justification. That is why chapter eight begins as it does. "There is therefore (in view of 7:14-25) no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1). The struggle itself is evidence of justification, for alienated people do not have such thoughts.
Our freedom from sin is only according to our faith. We are to "reckon" ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, and alive to God (6:11). The enslavement of which Paul speaks in Romans seven is not the enslavement of Romans six. Rather, it is the bondage, or straitening effect, produced by having this treasure in an earthen vessel. It is not being able to stop the intrusion of corrupt and unwanted thoughts into our minds. The weapons of our warfare, we are told, are mighty through God, to the casting down of imaginations and strongholds of thought (2 Cor 10:4-5). of course, if there are none to cast down, there is no need for the weaponry.
As to the absence of the Spirit kin Romans seven, that is not the case at all. The desire to do righteousness, the love of and serving the law of God, and a discontent with sin, do not come from the flesh. All of those are wrought under the influence of the Spirit. Later, in chapter eight, we are reminded that the sinful nature is subdued under the direction of the Holy Spirit (8:13). Of course, if it does not exist, the whole passage is pointless. Further, this is the particular "suffering" and "groaning" of Romans eight--the incessant struggle against the unwanted intrusions of the flesh.
I detect from your note that your own heart has confirmed these realities to you. Paul is expressing a sensitivity to sin that is scarcely known among many professing believers. They can only think of the outbreak of sin, as described in James 1:21. But that is not what Paul is speaking of in Romans seven. His is a vivid picture of temptation, and how it causes great suffering within the heart of the believer. after all, even our blessed Lord "suffered, being tempted" (Heb 2:18).
Are there any references and thoughts you or anyone else could post that show that this is not a struggle that a sincere person under the Mosaic law would have had?
The warfare described in Romans seven is an aspect of faith. It is the result of the introduction of new life, which has set a struggle in motion like that of Jacob and Esau within the womb (Gen 25:22-23). This kind of struggle did not exist under the Mosaic Law, which had nothing whatsoever to do with faith. In fact, the Spirit makes this point in Galatians 3:12. "Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." The Law did not command people to believe, and all of its ceremonies could be fulfilled without faith. The whole point of the Law was doing, not believing. In fact, you can read the entire iteration of the law (Ex 20-40, and the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and you will find no requirement for faith or believing. The only references to believing are related to Israel's failure to believe the promised land could be possessed (Num 14:11; Deut 1:32; 9:23). God described them as a people in whom "is no faith" (Deut 32:20). One other time, Moses was judged for striking the rock because he and Aaron "believed not" (Num 20:12). Apart from these references (which had nothing to do with the Law itself), there is not a solitary reference to faith or believing in any form in Exodus 20-40, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Law simply was not an economy of faith.
There were some few souls, David in particular, who evidenced discontent with sin. Most of his expressions had to do with repentance from overt sin (Psa 51), or a desire for the Lord to point out any wicked way within him (Psa 139:22-23). Confessions of sinfulness were more expansive than those of Romans seven (Psa 51:5). So far as I know, there are no expressions like those found in Romans seven uttered by those under the Old Covenant, i.e., "It is no more I that do it . . . when I would do good, evil is present with me . . . I see another law in my members . . . "
The reasoning of Paul on these matters does not conclude with the anticipation of being delivered from sin, or from guilt, but from "this body of death" (7:25), which is the cause of the conflict. We have a regenerated spirit within an unregenerate body. That condition has sparked the war of good and evil within. Once we leave this tabernacle behind, there will be no more struggle.
Galatians 5:17 is a parallel passage. I believe you already referred to it. "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." James 4:5 also alludes to this conflict, portraying the Spirit as yearning over the believer. The cause of the condition are the competing desires resident in the flesh.
Any saints under the Mosaic law that were discontent with sin did not realize that condition because of the Law, but because of their faith. In this regard, they rose above the masses who were under the Law.
I'm understanding you to say that in your viewpoint it would be very unlikely for Paul to be talking about a pre-Christian experience . . .
I am saying it is not possible. Paul referred to his time under the law as one of utter futility, not one of struggle. The Law "held" one in a state of spiritual death (7:6). Rather than the Law setting a warfare in motion, it "produced in me coveting of every kind" (7:8), fanning the floor of the sinful nature and raising a dust storm of rebellion. Without the law, or specially before Paul had a consciousness of the Law, he was "alive," or unconvinced of sin. But when his understanding of the law came home to him, sin became alive and he died (7:9). The law which promised life to the DOER, in the end, produced death--not struggle (7:10). Rather than fortifying him for a struggle with sin, it killed him, alienating him even further from God (7:11).
All of this was not owing to any deficiency in the Law. It was holy, just, and good, and was not the cause of his sin (7:12-13). What the law did point out was the extent to which sin had polluted human nature, thereby setting the stage for an awareness of the need for a Savior (7:13).
To view verses 14-25 as an elaboration of man's condition under the Law is an absurdity (I mean no insult by that expression). There is hope in the latter part of Romans seven, and none in the former part. Struggle is an evidence of life, which law could not produce.
Other Scriptures do make it clear that we have a very real struggle against sin, but Romans 6 and others seem to make it very clear that we have power through Christ and the Spirit to win the battles more and more as we grow in the Lord. Could it be that this is Paul's pre-Christian struggle under the law and he brings it up to point out that we had no power over sin until Christ gave us the power or is there a reason why this is inconceivable?
It is certainly true that those in Christ have been liberated from the power of sin. They are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to its corrupt desires. But new life in Christ did not get rid of their flesh. Rather, it made them superior to it. If there were no flesh, there could be no temptation. What is more, believers are admonished to put to death THEIR members that are upon the earth, "fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col 3:5). The capacity for these expressions remain in us, yet can be subdued in the power of the Spirit (Rom 8:13). Romans six does not teach there is no struggle, but that there is power to confront it. Titus speaks of the same power, tracing it back to the grace of God. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Tit 2:11-12). Grace did not get rid of the "ungodliness and worldly lusts," but empowers us to say "NO!" to their intrusions into our thoughts. These lusts are, in fact, the "fiery darts," or flaming arrows, hurled at us by our adversary (Eph 6:16). Faith is able to diffuse them, but not without struggle.
The degree of sensitivity evidenced in Romans seven is scarcely known among professed believers. The intrusion of wicked and unwanted thoughts can occur at the most inopportune times--even in prayer. Unless a person realizes their source (temptation, "another law in my members," etc.), they can lead to despair. Often, they are not taken seriously, and thus the person becomes more vulnerable to the devil.
Is it possible that the description could describe both a non-Christian's experience as well as the experience of a Christian who is not allowing himself to be led by the Spirit at any given moment and/or one who is trying to do it all on his own.
Not at all. We must be careful not to confuse the conviction of the Holy Spirit with the discontent with unwanted thoughts. Conviction (which was the subject under the Old Covenant) is because sin has already been committed, not because a person is struggling with temptation.
A person who is not allowing himself to be led by the Spirit is in the act of rebellion--quenching, grieving, and resisting the Spirit. The person led by the Spirit is "putting to death the deeds of the body" (Rom 8:13). That is precisely what is described in Romans 7:14-25. Thoughts that are produced by the flesh are refused expression, being subdued in preference for the will of the Lord. The child of God, however, laments that he must contend with such thoughts. They are intrusions, not an expression of his true person.
From the account in Exodus 34; the Two Tablets replaced. In verse 27; where did Moses write down the words of the of the renewed covenant God made with him and Israel? . . . I know that verse 28 says Moses wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, The Ten Commandments (words). Does this mean Moses wrote the Ten Commandments or the words of the renewed covenant?
The words written by Moses were to be "according to the tenor" (NKJV), or "in accordance with these words" (NIV) written on the tables of stone. These were the details of the covenant (as compared to the ten commandments themselves), as originally read before the people in Exodus 24:4-8. This was necessary to confirm every detail of the covenant had been fully restored.
On the surface, it appears from verse 27 that Moses himself wrote the words of the covenant on the tablets of stone. Indeed, we would be free to think that, if nothing more was said on the subject. However, 34:1 clearly says God himself would write the words. Deuteronomy 10:1-2 reaffirms that it was God who wrote on the tables. The wording of verse 27 fully allows for the words "he wrote" to apply to God rather than Moses, referring back to the first part of the verse. Note, the "words of the covenant" are specifically called "the Ten Commandments" in verse 28. What Moses wrote was the Divine elaboration of those words--or all of the details, or commandments and ordinances, that accompanied them.
Is there more than just receiving the Holy Spirit at baptism? I notice that in Acts it talks about being filled with the spirit? And here people talk about being baptized in the Spirit?
Baptism, and all that accompanies it, including the reception of the Holy Spirit, is a beginning, and not a consummate experience. Being "filled with the Spirit"
is viewed in two ways in Scripture. First, those who spoke for the Lord under Divine influence are said to have been "filled with the Spirit" (Acts 2:4; 4:8,31; 7:55; 13:9). Second, those who lived close to the Lord, and were strong in faith, were said to be "full" of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3,5; 11:24). In the latter way, all believers are to "BE filled with the Holy Spirit" (Eph 5:18). This is a state where the individual is dominated by the Holy Spirit, given understanding by Him, and led by him into a life of holiness and spiritual productivity.
All of the writings of the Apostles to believers emphasize growing up into Christ, becoming mature, and living by faith. None of them make mention of a particular experience at a point in time that will make these things happen instantly--such as the way in which "being baptized in the Spirit" is commonly referred to. In the Scriptural sense, being "filled with the Spirit" is something that results in bringing great benefit to our brothers and sisters in Christ. "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God" (Eph 5:18-21). Rarely, if ever, is that what many mean when they refer to GETTING (not BEING) filled with the Spirit.
There is certainly much more to spiritual life than a start, as you already know. We are being transformed into the image of Christ, from one stage of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18). We are being strengthened with might by God's Spirit in the inner man, so Christ can dwell in our hearts by faith, and we can be rooted and grounded (Eph 3:16-20). We are to give diligent attention to the Word of God until "the day dawn and the Day Star rises in our hearts"--the time when the things of God become more clear to us, and everything begins to make sense (2 Pet 1:19). We are to increase in the subduing and crucifixion of the flesh, or our sinful nature, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:13). Being filled with the Spirit is occurring when those things are happening.
Receiving the Spirit and allowing Him to fill every aspect of our lives are two different things. The first is a beginning, and the second is a filling.
As a matter of passing interest, the great occasions of Pentecost are never mentioned or alluded to in any letter to the churches. The only exception of Peter's report of the conversion of the house of Cornelius (Acts 11:15). No one was ever challenged to duplicate Pentecost, nor did any Apostle ever refer back to what occurred at that time. This does not mean that glorious day had no significance, or that it has no application to us. It DOES mean that if people do not get higher than that, they are not experiencing the fullness of their salvation. That was the beginning of the church, inaugurated under the powerful administration of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, however, is continuing the work, bringing it to a God-glorifying completion.
With remarkable consistency, the Spirit holds before us the finishing line of spiritual life, not the starting line. That way, we can benefit from everything God has given, yet be content with nothing short of being forever with the Lord.
What does Jesus mean when he states, " I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one can come to the Father, except by me?"
The sense of this verse is seen when you read it like this, "No man comes to the Father unless I bring Him." That is what "by Me" means--something like a father would bring his little child to the president. First Peter 3:18 reminds us that this is what Jesus does: brings us to God. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." He does this through our faith. As we believe in Him, receiving Him as the Savior that He is declared to be, He will bring us to God, free from sin, and fully accepted by Him. It begins now, in this world, as we start to enjoy the blessing of the Lord, and it will be consummated when Jesus brings us into heaven itself, there to be forever with Him.
The word "Way" emphasizes the means through which we come to God--like a highway, or pathway to God. "Truth" underscores that Jesus shows us the real God, and brings us to Him on the real way. It is not an imaginary trip. "Life" reveals how we are made sensitive to God, willing to be in His presence, and able to receive from Him. Thus, Jesus is the "Way," or means of access to God. He is the "Truth," or way we come to see or understand God as He really is. And, he is the "Life," or way we become sensitive to God.
Without Jesus, there is no way to come to God. Without Him, there is no way of understanding God. Without Him, there is no way of being alive spiritually--able to exist in the presence of God.
Why do they say Christ is on the order of Melchisedec. Was Melchisedec Christ or thought of that way. Or Who was he?
First, the Word of God says Jesus is a high priest "after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:11,17,21). The Scriptures do not tell us a lot about Melchizedek, and that for a reason. He was a special person, raised up by God to introduce us to the kind of King and High Priest Jesus would be. He was a very real person. He confronted Abraham when he returned from a victory over kings who had taken Lot, his nephew, captive, and fed and blessed him (Genesis 14:1-18).
Melchizedek was unique in that he was both a king and a priest--something said of no one else but Jesus. David, for example, was a great king, but was not a high priest. Aaron was a great high priest, but was not a king. Also, although Abraham was the "friend of God" James 2:23; 2 Chron 20:7), Melchizedek blessed him, showing he was even greater than Abraham (Gen 14:19; Heb 7:6-7).
Melchizedek was not Jesus in a preincarnate form, as some suppose, but a type of Jesus. God saw to it that no record of his birth or death is recorded. He did this to show that an effective Savior could not have a beginning or ending of days, but must come forth from eternity, as Jesus did (Micah 5:2; Heb 7:3).
Melchizedek was also a king and a High Priest BEFORE the giving of the law, and the Divine regulations concerning a high priest (Lev 21:10-24). This particular aspect is the focus of the seventh chapter of Hebrews. There the contrast is made between Melchizedek and Aaron, who was the first high priest under the Law of Moses. Jesus is like Aaron in the sense of being chosen by God, not men (Heb 5:4). He is like Melchizedek in that He a King, has the power to bless the people, and has an unending ministry.
The "order of Melchizedek" refers to a different kind of high priest--one that is separate from the Law of Moses, and whose ministry, like Himself, has no end.
My mother believes in getting answers from psychics and argues that they are also prophets. I know that prophesy is of the Lord and psychic powers are from Satan. Please give me more verses in the bible to explain the differences to my mother. Thank you very much.
The Bible refers to "psychic powers" as "divination." This is an ability given by Satan, not God, and is strictly forbidden by God. When a person "divines," they supernaturally speak about things they have not learned intellectually. An example of divination is found in Acts 16:16-18). There, a woman with a spirit of divination supernaturally knew Paul and those with him were "servants of the Most High God, and that they were showing people "the way of salvation." However, because this information came from Satan's hosts, Paul did not allow her to continue speaking these words. He was grieved with her words, because they were coming from a devilish source instead of from God. He therefore cast the evil spirit out of her. Other words referring Scriptures concerning divination are as follows. Deut 18:10; 2 Kgs 17;17; Jer 14;14; Ezek 13:6-7; Ezek 21:21-23). In these passages the words "lying divination" are sometimes used.
Psychics can be prophets, but not from God. God speaks about such people in Deuteronomy 13:1-3. In that text, the impostor declared a sign or a wonder that actually came to pass, just as he said. However, he did not call people to the true God. In the end, such impostors do not lead people to God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit of God.
Other words referring to a supernatural, yet evil, way of knowing about things are "witchcraft," "soothsaying," "enchanter," "sorcerer," "wizard," "necromancer," and "consulter with familiar spirits" (Deut 18:10-11; 1 Sam 15:23; 2 Chron 33:6; Gal 5:20; Josh 13:22; Acts 16:16; Lev 19:26; Acts 8:9).
Witchcraft, like divination, refers to speaking a supernatural word on a matter. Soothsaying refers to prophesying and casting spells. An enchanter is also one that speaks supernaturally by going through a special routine. A charmer can cast a spell on someone. A consulter with familiar spirits obtains information from wicked spirits instead of God. A wizard is one that knows things supernaturally from the devil. A necromancer is one that obtains information through supernatural, yet unlawful, means.
The Word of God declares of these things, "Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD" (Deut 18:10-12). Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord tells us exactly why these things are unlawful--why it is wrong to seek direction from anyone but Him personally. "When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?" (Isa 8:19).
One thing all psychics have in common: they do not proclaim Jesus, and they do not declare forgiveness for sins and a hope in heaven. In fact, ALL of their words have to do with this world, not "the world to come" (Heb 2:5), or life AFTER heaven and earth have passed away. Also, the Scriptures are not foundational to them. Either they claim their powers are naturally intuitive, or they receive their information from sources other than Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit. Like all false prophets, "They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them" (1 John 4:5).
Those who make psychics their source of information and direction NEVER conclude they need a Savior, or deliverance from sin. They are not led to think about the end of the world and the judgment to come. All of that, and more, reveals their real source of information is not from God.
Do feel that a Christian can ever claim he is in Gods perfect will at one moment in time here on earth doing a work or action? Can we really say we understand God that well to know what his perfect will is at even given moment? Is there a place in the Bible that will shed some light on this question?
I do not believe perfectly doing the will of God is ever mentioned in Scripture. The will of God itself is "perfect" (Rom 12:2), but neither the knowing of or doing of it is ever said to be perfect (apart from Jesus' life). If that were the case, Jesus would not be required for it to be accepted. Whatever we do is made acceptable by Jesus, not by the perfect doing of it (1 Pet 2:5). The very need for Jesus confirms imperfection on our part.
Paul spoke to this very subject when he acknowledged he was not yet perfect, and had not yet attained (Phil 3:12). No matter when we do good, there is the mitigating factor of the flesh, or sinful nature, with which grapple. It is described in Galatians 5:17.
Our obedience and works are accepted on the basis of our faith, not perfect execution. When your friend says he is "in the perfect will of God," he is using language God does not use, and he will have to take the personal responsibility for his own statement. He should explain what he means as well, for no one in scripture spoke that way. To my knowledge, Jesus is the only one who was perfectly in God's will. The rest of us must confess with Paul, "I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good" (Rom 7:21).
We want to know, when you're baptized, do you receive the Holy Spirit in whole or in part?
We receive the Spirit as a Person. I do not think it is possible to receive part of a person. That would be like marrying half or one-fourth of a woman. We are told to "be filled with the Spirit" (Eph 5:19), indicating we are to allow Him to permeate our whole lives. But no man has only part of the Spirit. He is either possessed or not posses, as indicated by Romans 8:14. This is also shown by an expression in "Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you HIS HOLY SPIRIT" (1 Thess 4;8). Similar expressions are found in 1 John 3:14; 4:13.
Our other question is, was the laying the hands of the apostles the way to receive the gift of speaking in tongues and other such gifts?
There is only one example in all the Bible of an Apostle laying hands on someone and them speaking in tongues. It is found in Acts 19;6, where Paul laid his hands on the Ephesian disciples who were baptized with John's baptism, and were rebaptized in the name of Jesus. That was an epoch--a most unusual occasion--that brought an end to the validity of John's baptism. It was by no means a standard for the rest of time, and is no where referred to in any letters to the churches.
The household of Cornelius received the Spirit and spoke in tongues without any one laying their hands on them (Acts 10:44-46). The only other recorded occasion where people spoke in tongues occurred on the day of Pentecost, and no one laid hands on any one at that time (Acts 2:3-4,11).
As to spiritual gifts being conferred by the hands of the Apostles, there is no Scriptural text that says this. Timothy received a gift by the laying on hands of the eldership (1 Tim 4:14). The church at Rome had numerous spiritual gifts (Rom 12:6-8), and no Apostle had even been there. Spiritual gifts are mentioned in Romans 12:6-7, 1 Corinthians 12:1-28, Ephesians 4:8-11, and 1 Peter 4:10. There is not a syllable in any of those texts about the laying on of hands. In fact, First Corinthians traces spiritual gifts back to the Holy Spirit and our placement in the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:5-7).
When you talk about this subject, you will hear a lot of religious folklore, based on church tradition, and not Scripture. Whenever people make an authoritative statement about HOW and WHEN spiritual gifts were given, ask them to give you a verse of Scripture that says exactly what they said. If they cannot do so, politely say you should move on to something God has spoken on.
Who were the spirits in prison that Jesus spoke to between His death and His resurrection? Why did He speak to them, and what did He say?
The spirits are identified as those "who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine long-suffering waited in the days of Noah"--that is, those dying in the flood. Later, in the fourth chapter of First Peter, we are told it was "the Gospel" that was preached to those who are dead." The reason, "that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit" (1 Peter 4:6).
This is all we are told of this occasion. We do well to remember that those dying in the flood lived prior to any Divine law, and many of them never apparently heard of Noah. Too, we are not to assume everyone that perished in the flood were full grown adults. I gather this is an index to the nature of God, who does everything short of denying His own nature to rescue fallen humanity. These spirits were unique in the history of the world, with very little revelation in existence. They were judged in the flood, but those in reference will also stand before the Lord in the last judgment. Peter says the Gospel was preached to them that they might "live according to God in the spirit."
These souls were similar to Sodom and Gomorrah in this respect -- they had not been given an opportunity to hear the Gospel. Jesus said it this way, "And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day!" (Matt 11:23). God provided more for those dying in the flood because of the scarcity of revelation in their time.
Because this is all that is said on this matter, we do well not to make an issue of it, or try to formulate crystallized doctrines of how God deals with the dead. It is put in the Scriptures to show us God is greater than man, and His ways are far beyond those of mortals. The text should be believed, and God revered for such remarkable workings.
Were not Adam and Even created as "children of God?" I mean weren't they born in grace and righteousness? I understand "adoption" into God's family to be secure -- that he will not "unadopt" any of his children because of sin. What happened in the case of Adam and Eve?
Adam and Eve were created in the image and likeness of God. Adam is specifically called a "son of God" (Luke 3:38). They were created without sin, or morally perfect. Grace and righteousness were not issues at that time, as there was no sin in them. Their case does present some problems for some theological positions. They were created by God without flaw. They were placed in the Garden, and given dominion by God. Yet, they became disobedient, and were expelled from the Garden.
Nothing in Scripture suggests any soul is locked into a relationship with God. Our present adoption is not yet complete, as we have but the "firstfruits of the Spirit" (Rom 8:23). Those "firstfruits" are abundant, to be sure, but they are only a portion of what is to come. Speaking of the "adoption," the Spirit says, "we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body" (Rom 8:23). There is yet grace to be brought to us "at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 1:13). Until the fullness of salvation is obtained, we live by faith. That is the means by which we appropriate and maintain this great salvation. The case of Adam and Eve should alert us not to be casual or assuming about our relationship to God. We are not fully saved (consider our mortal bodies), nor are we yet in heaven. We are like the Israelites who were delivered from Egypt. They all got out of Egypt, but they did not all get into Canaan. The Spirit makes a point of this lest we should presume we are out of danger (Heb 3:16-17).
I understood that A & E were born in the image and likeness of God, but lost grace by sin. When did they repent and return to grace. And in Gen 5:3 I thought that Seth's birth in Adam's image, was in contrast to birth in God's image. Please straighten me out.>>
When sin entered into the world, man began falling from the Divine image--something which continues until this day outside of Christ. Romans 3:23 points this out: "All have sinned and COME short of the glory of God." Others versions read "fall short."
We must speak of the sin of Adam and Eve in the way God does. Falling from grace, and returning to grace, are depictions of those in Christ Jesus, and represent a different reality. Remember, Adam and Eve were not judged for committing a series of sins, or sin over an extended period of time. We have a record one act committed one time--and it was eating a piece of fruit. At that point, the human race was soiled, requiring a Savior.
I gather that when the Lord clothed them with coats of skin, it was a token of their reception into His favor at the expense of the life of an innocent victim. When Eve gave birth, she said "I have acquired a man from the Lord" (Gen 4:1). While that first son was Cain, a child of the wicked one 1 John 3:12), Eve's remark reveals she had an acute consciousness of God--something the impenitent and hardhearted do not have. We also know they taught their sons concerning sacrifice to God. The Father also brought Jesus into the world through Adam's lineage (Luke 3:23-38).
Adam bearing Seth in his own image is contrasted with Cain being born, not Adam being created. Adam no doubt had sons before Seth, although we have no idea how many. The point was that Seth took Abel's place, so to speak. With his son, men began to call upon the name of the Lord. It was at this point that a division occurred in the race--people who sought the Lord, and those who did not. Moses spoke of the time God "separated the sons of Adam," setting "the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel" (Deut 32:8). I gather this refers to the godly lineage that took place through Seth.
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