Gríma

I have a knack of identifying with characters that others might not.  From the first viewing of The Two Towers, I had a powerful connection to Gríma.  Gríma Wormtongue.

I admit, not the nicest of names.  And not the nicest of characters.  Gríma is a groveling, no-good-for-nothing human who’s taken alliance with an evil wizard (an evil wizard who thinks less of him than a can of worms).  With a bit of skill in witchcraft and what can only be classified as worm-like conniving, Gríma has betrayed King Théoden, underhandedly murdered his son, and pathetically tried to win his daughter’s heart.  All this fails to get Gríma what he wants, of course, and when King Théoden wakes up from his trance he is not on the best of terms with Gríma.

Fortunately for Gríma, King Théoden doesn’t even realize at this point that his son is dead, or Gríma surely would be a goner.  In rage over the spell Gríma cast on him, King Théoden shoves the weakling villain down the outside stairs of the castle.  Gríma winds up on the landing with a bleeding mouth and a kowtowing spirit.

Gríma, outnumbered so outrageously–and so pitifully exposed as a powerless villain– answers this unexpected turn of events with what to me are the most haunting words in the trilogy series.

“Send me not from your sight.”

Send me not from your sight.

It’s manipulative, it’s artificial, and it’s pathetic–and, deeper still, it’s the cry of every scared sinner before a righteous judge.

King Théoden answers in the way we would expect–he tries to kill him.  In a tricking kind of way, the king is fulfilling Gríma’s plea not to be sent from his sight.  Can we blame King Théoden for responding in this way?  No.  Gríma is a completely worthless, very weird, and extremely unlikable groveling little villain responsible for abominable devastation.  This isn’t the kind of guy anyone would expect a king to give another chance.

Gríma does end up getting away, and his painfully pathetic saga continues, but I am still on that landing outside the castle.  In fact, I take a seat, take a thinker’s pose, and reflect on just how altogether marvelous Jesus Christ is.

What does Jesus Christ have to do with the scene that just unfolded?  Absolutely everything.

Because that scene that unfolded is the story of humanity–but with a turn that would have the best surprise we could possibly imagine look like a dud.

We are all Gríma.  We are all conniving, pathetic, evil-hearted creatures groveling at the feet of Satan.  We have all betrayed what is good and right.  We have all tried to twist good to look like evil and evil to look like good.  We have all played with other people’s lives–often the most helpless–for the purpose of growing more powerful ourselves.  And none of it works, of course, and we wake up one day to find we are not on the best of terms with God.

God has thrown us out of His Kingdom.  You will not be surprised to learn that this is not Heaven.  Down here, cars break and bones break, diseases grow and damnation grows, & dreams are buried and bodies are buried.

Once upon a time, earth was our Heaven.  Today, it is our graveyard.  Once upon a time, God walked with us in a garden.  Today, God the Father and Son are in a Heaven we have no hope of reaching on our own.

We are like Gríma on the landing of the stairs, wounded by our sin and by the curse God has placed on this world because of our sin.  We are in a state of morose pouting, withdrawal, anger, artificiality, manipulation, conniving, and utter patheticness.  And if we get even the tiniest glimpse of ourselves through the eyes of God, we know it.  We know God has sent us from His Presence because if we were to even glimpse at Him, we’d be goners.

But here is where the story takes a turn no one could possibly expect.

When we cry out to God, as wrapped in our sin as Gríma is in his ugly fur cloak, with all our best attempts to impress, with all our bitterness, brokenness, and bewilderment, with all our superficiality and conniving . . and with, at last, the plea of a repentant sinner’s heart before God,

“Send me not from Your Presence.  Bring me back to You.”

–What we find is not that God awaits with a sword to chop us down, but with a hand to help us up.  That hand is scarred with the print of a spike.  It is the hand that took our sin and drove it into Himself on the cross.

It is the hand of Jesus Christ.  And it is outstretched for you and me.

It is a grace King Théoden would not, could not offer Gríma.  But it is a grace God offers each one of us, even with knowing full well who we really are and what we have really done.

Maybe it is unimaginable to think of King Théoden as inviting Gríma back in his kingdom and giving the wretch new clothes and a seat at his table.  But it is not unimaginable to think of God doing this for us, if we come to Him through the helping hand of Jesus Christ.

Jesus has sent the Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, to show us how to reach for His hand.  If you are broken and repentant before Him, you can ask Him right now, right where you are, and He will not reject you.

Before the throne of God above

I have a strong and perfect plea

A great high Priest whose name is Love

Who ever lives and pleads for me

My name is graven on His hands

My name is written on His heart

I know that while in Heaven He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart

(From Before the Throne of God Above by Charitie Lees Smith)

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. (Ephesians 3:12, NLT)

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. (Romans 3:22, NLT)

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Ephesians 6:10, Army of God: Strength

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. (Ephesians 6:10, HCSB)

Had I understood this verse, I would have understood the entire passage about the armor of God.  But I didn’t, so the passage was nothing more to me than a disappointing analogy.

Before I can even begin to deal with my wholly faulted view of analogies in the Bible, I have to understand Ephesians 6:10.  If I don’t get Ephesians 6:10, I will never understand Ephesians 6:11-17.

I shared earlier that I grew up wanting to be a knight.  I didn’t want to be rescued by a knight, I wanted to be a knight.

One thing I thought was that girls had a bum wrap in the Medieval Ages.  Although I wanted to live back in that time, I sure didn’t want to be a girl.  Who wanted to be a damsel in distress, crying “Help, help!” from the top of some tower and expecting a knight to have all the fun getting there and saving you?  Not me.

I didn’t want to be saved; I wanted to save.  And although I thought this was a girl problem—I didn’t think I would have this problem if I’d been a boy instead—I didn’t realize this is actually a side problem.

There are two sides, and only two sides, in all epic battles I know.  There’s the side that represents good, and there’s the side that represents evil.

Most people—most—want to be on the good side.  Even though we live in a culture infatuated by villains, I think a majority of people would still say they would want to enlist for the good army . . . if for no other reason, then so they would be on the winning side!

If the majority of people want to be on the good side, doesn’t it make sense that Heaven’s going to be pretty full, and Hell pretty empty?  Can’t we all go out, do some good, win some battles, and step up to God on the day of Judgment to be knighted?

There is a big step I’m missing here.

Enrollment.

I can think of two big pieces to enrollment: qualification and willingness.

  • I can be very willing to be in the army, but if I’m not qualified, it doesn’t matter one iota.

For example, if I really want to serve in the U.S. military, and I’m a well-known terrorist . . . would the enrollment officers be wise to let me in?  Would they be mean to refuse?

The Bible tells us we are all sinners.  That’s like being a terrorist against God.  All of us have a past of evil.  Every time we put something or someone before God, the Bible tells us we sin.  We can say that’s not fair, but would we accuse our military of unfairness for banning terrorists?

God isn’t going to choose terrorists to populate His army.  We can fuss and fight about it, but the fact remains: He has every right to base His decision on our past.

If we want to go out and fight, there’s only one place with open enrollment for terrorists: Satan’s army.  And so, no matter how willing we might be to get into God’s army, our credentials will always land us on the other side.

Now here’s the incredible part: God had a special ops[1] plan to save us from ourselves.

God couldn’t make it easier to understand: He sent Jesus to die for our sins as terrorists, so that we could be free to enroll in His army.

But here’s the second part:

  • I can be qualified to be in the army, but if I’m not willing, I will not get in.

Jesus perfectly qualifies us to join the army of God.  But if we aren’t willing, we won’t get in.  There are two parts to willingness that I can think of from my own life: acceptance and surrender.

It does not benefit me for Christ to die for me if I do not accept His sacrifice.  I’ll say it again: I do not benefit from Christ’s sacrifice, if I do not accept what He’s done.  Rather, I am infinitely more condemned by this worst choice I make.

We were all in the execution line.  Every one of us was a terrorist belonging to Satan.  But Christ stepped in front of us, and He took our sin on His shoulders.

That is the point of the cross.

Far more than simply taking a bullet, He suffered the death of a terrorist, for us.  He paid for everything.

But if we stay in the execution line, His sacrifice is not for us.  His sacrifice is in no way diminished, but our choice voids our benefit from it.  This is the ultimate horror: not only to eternally die as a traitor, but to do so when you didn’t have to.

Going back to my vision of knights as a child, remember how I said I wanted to save and not be saved?  This is one of Satan’s all-time go-to defense tactics to keep his recruits standing in his line: pride.

I wanted to do the saving.  I wanted to get the glory.  I wanted to follow God my way on my own, and I wanted to get credit for bringing others along with me.  What I didn’t realize is that the only place we can lead people through our own works is behind enemy lines.

No one would put a terrorist on a bomb (dismantling) squad, but we become indignant when God doesn’t accept us just the way we are, and pick us for rescue missions.  I had all kinds of great plans for how I could serve God and become famous and glorious.  I had all kinds of great ideas for how I could win battles against the enemy.

The problem is, what enemy did I have in mind?  God tells us in no uncertain terms that we either serve Him or Satan.  There’s no “anti-war” ground and no place for people who don’t like to fight.  We are all waging war in every single act we do, and if we aren’t on God’s side, we can be sure we’re against Him.

Salvation through Christ goes beyond acceptance, though.  Salvation is the biggest internal battle any sinner will ever have, and it goes straight to the heart.  To be saved, we must surrender.

For many years, salvation to me was words that said over and over again, “I want you to save me,” to a Christ I didn’t want to follow.

It doesn’t work like that.

What if I call the U.S. military today and say, “Hey, guys, I really like what you’re doing.  I want to be in the military.  I won’t do push-ups or any of that hard core workout stuff, and you can’t ask me to quit my job, of course.  I’m afraid of planes, and I get seasick on ships.  Even if I take Dramamine, my homesickness won’t go away, so travel is basically a no go.  I have a psychological disagreement with standing in a straight line, and besides, it hurts my legs.  I’m ok if I can bring a folding chair along to drills, though.

“I’ve got to have a Jeep if we’re going on hikes, and I need to know the names of the caterers you hire for these events.  I need Tuesdays off, and of course all weekends.  I’m okay with sharing a room with one other person, but no bunk beds, please.  I get depressed if I get up before 7 a.m. and I need transportation to the nearest Starbucks.  I can’t make my bed like you guys expect, but I am willing to pay someone else who can do it for me.  Can my cat come along, and how many flat screen TV’s are in each barrack?  Do you have a microwave for popcorn, and will you buy me ice cream when I get my feelings hurt?  Oh, and how do I sign up?  Am I in?”

Our soldiers are able to protect our country because they surrender to authority.  There is absolutely no other way to keep a nation standing.  When we think of surrender, we think sometimes of “giving up”, but the surrender a soldier demonstrates is anything but.  A soldier surrenders to instant gratification, to selfishness, to personal glory, to mistrust, to fear, and to cowardice.  A soldier is able to give up even his or her own life because (s)he has surrendered doubt and put faith in the commander.  This is how concentration camps are emptied, hostages are freed, civilians are protected, and wars are won.  This surrender is anything but giving up.  This surrender is about giving all.

We are qualified by Christ to walk away from our old life as an enemy of God and walk into a new life of fighting for Him.  When we are willing to receive Jesus into our life, we realize that He is the knight in shining armor, not us.  We accept Him as our Hero, and we surrender to Him as our Commander.

Then—and only then—do we understand Ephesians 6:10.  Our battle is not won by our skill or strategy or courage, but by the strength of a God who holds Himself on a cross to die for the sins of the world.

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. (Ephesians 6:10, HCSB)

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1st Photograph, Statue of a knight, by Zakwitnij!pl Ejdzej & Iric, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/zakwitnij/

2nd Photograph, Knight’s helmet, by Jennifer Boyer, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/jenniferboyer/

3rd Photograph, Slaying knight, by Thomas Waldek, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/rawtrigger/

4th Photograph, Fighting knight, by Ed Alkema, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/nl/

Photographs are under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

[1] This comes from Dr. Charles Ware’s sermon, Special Ops for the Savior.

All things bright and beautiful?

All things bright and beautiful, the Lord God made them all[1].

A PBS special on the life of Charles Darwin ridiculed Christians with this song.  In the film, after Darwin’s daughter, Annie, dies, his family goes to church.  He won’t go in, and as he waits outside, he hears this hymn[2].

The message is that Christians live in a delusional existence, that we stubbornly cling to a belief in the loveliness of creation when all around us we see suffering and death.

Is that how Christians really think?

The only people I know who would identify themselves as Christians and think that way belong to the “health and wealth” movement.  Since they are in opposition to the book of Job, and the teaching and example of James, Peter, Paul, the early church, and Jesus Himself, they should not be showcased as examples of Christian living.

The rest of the Christians I know are intimately aware of the evil in the world.  I have friend after friend who has gone through deep hardship, from disease to accident to violence to death.  To insinuate that Christians are out of touch with suffering is not only inaccurate, but deeply cruel.  We do not cling to God because we see a bright and beautiful world around us.  We cling to God because He is the only antidote for the curse.

As my father wasted away with Lou Gehrig’s disease, he became more and more confined to our dining/living room where his hospital bed was.  From this area he could watch the birds outside the window, eating the birdseed out of their birdfeeder.  We had friends who came over and filled the birdfeeder every day so my father would be able to watch the little birds.

Are suffering and death a natural part of the struggle to survive? Or are we missing the first and last part of the story?

One day when he was watching, a hawk pierced down through the sky and snatched up one of the birds at the feeder.  Not even the fastest athlete could have stopped this from happening, but I imagine what it must have felt like to be my father, struggling at that point to even stand.

All things bright and beautiful?

Evolution answers this question with an absolute

NO.

But do Christians answer this question with a happy-go-lucky yes?

Bloodshed, survival of the fittest, disease . . . these are not bright and beautiful.

But even so, as a Christian, I don’t have to answer with an absolute NO.  It’s true that bloodshed, survival of the fittest, and disease are not bright and beautiful.  But for the question All things bright and beautiful? I can answer,

Once.  And someday.

Once, creation was bright and beautiful.  And someday, creation will be bright and beautiful again.  These are the two bookends of this world: God created a perfect heaven and earth (Genesis 1-2) and God will create a new heaven and earth through Christ Jesus (e.g., Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 66:22, John 1:4, John 3:16, John 10:9, John 11:25, John 14:6, Ephesians 2:18, 2 Peter 3:13, 1 John 5:20, Revelation 21:1)

The in-between pages to these bookends is not chance but choice.  I am not living in a world of suffering by chance.  I am living in a world of suffering by choice.  When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, they chose suffering for this world.  And every time I sin, I reiterate their choice.

My father’s disease was not God’s choice or God’s responsibility.  My father’s disease is the choice and responsibility of mankind.  When I become angry for the suffering in this world, I find the anger must always be directed back to myself.

If this is where it ends, I might as well jump off a cliff.  But, praise be to God, it isn’t.  Just as God created a perfect world, He will one day create another perfect world, only this time, it will last forever (e.g., Isaiah 65:17, John 5:24, John 6:51, 1 Corinthians 2:7-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Titus 1:1-3).  There will be no more sin, and so there will be no more suffering (e.g., Isaiah 51:11, Revelation 7:9, Revelation 22:3).  Because there is will be no more sin, no one with sin will be able to enter that world (e.g., Romans 2:16, Romans 20:15, Revelation 21:27, Revelation 22:14).  Only those who have had their sin washed away by Jesus will be able to go in (e.g. Matthew 1:18-23, Matthew 25: 31-46, John 3:36, John 6:37, John 10:1-18, John 17:3, 1 John 1:2).

And, for those who enter, all things will once again be bright and beautiful.

“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud

And your sins like a heavy mist.

Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

(Isaiah 44:22, NASB)

[1] All Things Bright and Beautiful lyrics by Cecil F. Alexander

[2] See And It Was Good by Ken Ham, from his book How Could a Loving God . . .?  Ken Ham lost his brother Robert to a degenerative brain disease in 2002.  The book How Could a Loving God . . .? is free to browse on the Answers in Genesis site as well.

Photograph by Dave Gingrich, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/ndanger/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Choice

I remember being about eleven or twelve and hanging around some teenage friends of mine, who thought snow-cones were all the rage.  Up until that point in my life, I had liked just regular ordinary ice cream cones, but those were kiddie now.  Snow cones were the cool thing, and the price sure reflected it: they were very expensive at something like $4.00 a piece (compared to a .59 or at most .99 cent ice cream cone)!  I didn’t have that kind of money, and so when my teenage friends got their snow-cones, I just watched wistfully.  Of course they didn’t share!

One Friday night my dad wanted to take me out for MacDonald’s ice cream cones.  I didn’t tell him until we were in the car, however, (away from other influencing adults) that I really wanted a snow cone.  He could not believe I wanted dyed ice, and he kept telling me he thought I wouldn’t like it and it was way too expensive.

Oh, but I was sure I would like it!  My life would be transformed by this snow cone, in fact!  Dad wasn’t happy, but I begged and begged and pleaded and pleaded and nagged and nagged until at last he caved in and said he would get me a snow cone.

So we went to the special snow cone stand with the fancy flavors and I ordered a cotton candy snow cone.  My dad grudgingly paid the man.  I took one sip of the sickeningly sweet dyed ice before I realized something.  You know what?  I did not like snow cones after all.

I remember my father sitting in the car, staring straight ahead, the look on his face something between aggravation, told-you-so, and pity.  I took about three or four sips and said, very meekly, “I really can’t drink this.”

Dad nodded, somewhat gloomily, and said something like, “Hand it over.”  He proceeded to drink the $4.00 snow cone that he hated.

I remember saying in a small voice something like, “I’m sorry.”  And, “let’s not tell anybody about this, ok?”

“Ok,” he said.  When we got home, he threw the snow cone cup away in an outside trash can so nobody would know.

When I think about our choices with God, it seems a little bit the same way.  God could have put a wall around the tree Adam and Eve weren’t supposed to eat from.  He could have put barbed wire on it, to further discourage them and, if that didn’t work, an electric fence.  Or He could have taken the tree off the earth altogether and placed it on another planet.

But God didn’t want to eliminate Adam and Eve’s choice.  He wanted them to choose His way.  He wanted them to love Him.  He didn’t program me so I would be forced to love Him—what would that even be, anyway?  Not love.  The love God recognizes as love is based on choice, not on puppetry or robot mechanics (see 1 Corinthians 13)

The problems we have in this world: disease, pain, suffering, disaster, death . . . these did not come about by the choice of God.  God’s choice was for us to live in the Garden of Eden forever.

We chose not to—all of us.  None of Adam’s kin have been perfect or even gotten close.  (Really, there is no way to get close to perfect, just like there is no way to get close to being able to make something vanish.  You either do it or you don’t.)

But who is it who suffers the most severe consequences for our actions?

God does!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Try as we might, we can’t redeem ourselves from this mess we’re in.  We can’t drink all the consequences we’ve earned, and we can never go backwards to make the right choice.  God knows this.  God knew this.

And while He waited patiently for humanity to realize what a horrible choice we had made and what a miserable predicament we had gotten ourselves into, He knew all along what He was going to do about it.  He was going to give us His Son for our wretched mistakes.

But would Jesus do it?  We find the answer the night Jesus was betrayed and about to be arrested by evil men.  One of His followers, Peter, started to fight against the wicked troop.  But Jesus knew His arrest was so the plan He and His Father has made could take effect.  He asked Peter,

“Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” (John 18:11, NLT)

Jesus chose to drink.  He drank the consequences of anyone who will give their sins to Him!  And He has the power to throw away all the evidence Satan would use to accuse us.

But I can’t miss this: I must cry out to Him!  I must confess I have been wrong and that I cannot make it right.  I must throw myself on His mercy and ask Him to do what I cannot: take away the problem.

God isn’t going to set people free who aren’t sorry for what they did.  That just doesn’t any sense.  If someone isn’t sorry, (s)he will want to go right back to what (s)he was doing before.  And God isn’t going to live with us in our wickedness.  He will bring us up to His righteousness if we cry out to Jesus, but He will not come down and sin with us.  That won’t be happening.

And God isn’t going to set people free who don’t want His help, either.  This goes back to wanting to be free from consequences without a relationship with God.  It doesn’t work that way.  Our relationship with Jesus is our freedom from eternal punishment.  Without Him, He cannot pay for our sin.  We have to drink it to the dregs all by ourselves.

John’s prophesy warns us what will happen in the end to those who do not call on Jesus:

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” (Revelation 16:1, NASB)

What a true horror for Jesus to have drank the cup of suffering for anyone who would choose Him, and yet have so many people choose for God’s punishment to be poured out on them, too!  These seven bowls are described in such terrifying and painful ways in Revelation as a warning to us!  We can’t go back and undo our sin, but we can choose to give our sin to the Savior who has already paid for any sin we give Him!

The message Peter gives after he’s experienced Jesus’ awesome forgiveness for himself, witnessing his Savior’s miraculous resurrection and ascension into Heaven, is as relevant today as it was then:

So turn away from your sins.  Turn to God.  Then your sins will be wiped away.  The time will come when the Lord will make everything new. (Acts 3:19, NIRV)

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Why would I believe in a young earth?

2 Timothy 3:16-17, Romans 15:4, and 2 Peter 1:20-21 give no allowance for a "somewhat useful" Scripture. I must decide either 1) every word of the Word is true or 2) God is a liar or 3) people have made God up.

If the God of the Bible is perfect, His guidebook is perfect.  The Word is not just an authored book, the Word is a manifestation of the Author (see John 1:1-5).

For me to believe the God of the Bible is who He says He is, I must believe His Word is perfect.  The Word sets up an incredible claim: either every word God inspired specially chosen people through the ages to write is infallible, or the entire message is lost in imperfection.

I believe, with everything I am, that the Word is infallible.  I could not think otherwise because God has opened my eyes to read and my ears to hear the language of God, set down perfectly and immovably in the 66 books of Scripture.

This foundation is much broader than only a belief in a young earth.  This foundation is the starting point for why I accept every claim in Scripture [1].

There are Christians who genuinely believe the Word of God is infallible, but they believe God used millions or billions of years to create the Universe rather than the 6 days the Bible clearly outlines in Genesis 1.

To harmonize these two beliefs, they have to add time in between days of before the first day or believe the days as symbolic.  They also must believe the order of events is symbolic if they believe in the Big Bang.

Unless the Christian believes God used millions or billions of years for some processes but created Adam from dust[2], Adam is believed to be an evolved ape-like creature who God “finished” or merely “adopted and breathed into” rather than created from dust as Scripture says.

Outside the Garden of Eden, the world was already full of the skeletons of animals who have struggled to survive and failed.  To harmonize this with the Bible would have to mean death of animals is

very good (Genesis 1:31).

Ape-like creatures, who would one day become human, also suffered and died.  But God did not show care or concern for them until one day He “adopted” two [3]?

If instead of being the first two humans, Adam and Eve were two of many apes-like creatures evolving (as some progressive creationists now believe), why did the curse fall on all of humanity?  And what is the consequence of sin if there was already suffering and death[4]?

But most deadly of all, if the first Adam was symbolic . . . why do we believe the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, is an actual Person?  To believe in a symbolic Christ is to destroy the entire Bible, the purpose of faith, the atoning power of Jesus, and to condemn us all–every single one of us—to the sinner’s Hell where we belong.

Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:47, NLT)

Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death resulted from sin, therefore everyone dies, because everyone has sinned.  Certainly sin was in the world before the law was given, but no record of sin is kept when there is no law.  Nevertheless, death ruled from the time of Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the same way Adam did when he disobeyed.  He is a foreshadowing of the one who would come.

But God’s free gift is not like Adam’s offense.  For if many people died as the result of one man’s offense, how much more have God’s grace and the free gift given through the kindness of one man, Jesus the Messiah, been showered on many people!  Nor can the free gift be compared to what came through the man who sinned.  For the sentence that followed one man’s offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift brought justification, even after many offenses.  For if, through one man, death ruled because of that man’s offense, how much more will those who receive such overflowing grace and the gift of righteousness rule in life because of one man, Jesus the Messiah! (Romans 5:12-17, ISV)

And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17, NLT)

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[1] I am ashamed to even use the word “claim” to describe the Truth.  God has given us the freedom to choose to accept His Word or not, and this is what I am trying to express.  The reality is that whether or not I accept the claims of Scripture, they will always be truth.  Regardless of whether I accept the claim of gravity, if I jump off a cliff it’s not going to go well for me.  To an infinitely greater extent, what I conclude about God’s Word has no impact on its validity but instead on the state of my soul.

[2] This doesn’t satisfy the evolutionist, who insists man came from ape-like creatures, or explain why God would describe each day as a day but only day 6 (or certain days) to be literal.

[3] If Adam and Eve evolved from ape-like creatures, then Eve’s creation must be symbolic as well, for she could hardly have been made from Adam’s rib if evolution is true.

[4] If the only consequence of Adam’s sin was Hell, then the rest of creation did not actually suffer any more than it already was.  But Romans 8:22 says,

We know that all creation has been groaning with the pains of childbirth up to the present time.

Romans 8:18-23 is a crystal-clear explanation of the connection between the fall of creation, suffering, death, and our sin.  My prayer is you will take the time to read this passage, and explore what the Bible says about the curse (e.g., Genesis 3) for yourself.  Biblecc.com and Biblegateway.com are easy ways to look up Scripture.

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