Tag Archives: Bible

Origin of Sin

All of us take it that God made this universe perfect.  “Behold it is very good.”  God must be incapable of making  anything imperfect.  Here is the problem – Why didn’t God leave well enough alone?  None of us would go so far as to say, “Why did God make sin?” And yet we say, “Why did God let it happen?”  We say, “God allowed it.”  Whether he commanded, or planned it, it is not just a theological thing; we must think over this meaning.  It involves our will.  If it isn’t our responsibility we can say, “Well, we can’t help it.  God is responsible.”  That is why we have to answer this question to see if God is responsible or not.  When we say “Why didn’t God leave well enough alone,” we think that Adam was apparently perfect, but he wasn’t.  For example, a pediatrician would say about one of the babies in the nursery, “This baby is perfect,” and not one of the parents would say, “I hope this child stays this way.”  This is a relative thing.  They wouldn’t want that baby to stay a perfect 2 months old, but would want it to become a perfect 4 month old, etc.

Adam was spiritually a child.  If you will permit an illustration:  Our high school and local colleges recently had their examinations, and they aren’t particularly pleasant for the student or for the teacher.  It means a lot of extra work for both the teacher and pupil.  Why do it then?  It is by means of these tests and examinations that they grow and learn more — so it is by means of the possibility of failure that Adam would grow and become a man.  I think every one of us feels that a person who has resisted temptation is a better man thereafter.  I don’t know whether one can logically speak of more perfection, but Adam would have become more perfect if he succeeded in this temptation.  If he had not sinned he would have been confirmed in holiness.  Even the least thought of evil would not have entered his mind, just as the Lord Jesus while he was here on earth – like the angels, who are finite creatures, are incapable of the least sin, they would have worked out their claim to heaven, eternal salvation.

We often speak of paradise as a picture of heaven, but that is just what it is; a picture.  Heaven would have been a step ahead.  They would have gained glory.  That is what God arranged.  Adam and Even were completely capable of that.  They could have said to Satan, “Get thee behind me,” as Christ had done.  Let us not blame God for what he is not responsible.

That is all good and nice, but you are just talking, “Might have been.”  “Why didn’t God make it so that they couldn’t have sinned?”  If God had done that there would not have been free choice, and man would have been merely a puppet in God’s hands.  The very fact that man did not do what God wanted him to do shows how free and independent he was.  Otherwise God would be like a ventriloquist.  An English writer says that sin or failure in the garden of Eden is the risk God ran in order that God could make a creature like himself, self reliant.  The problem of free will as over against predestination comes in here, and the answer is that man is free.  The Bible says that deliberately, lest some people escape their responsibility.  The fact is that there isn’t a soul here that doesn’t act deliberately.

It is true that God knew that man would disobey, and allow me to say, that God planned it that way, but God planned beyond that too, that out of this tragedy would come something better.  The Chicago fire long ago was a blessing because it was through this that better and stronger buildings were built, etc.  Out of the fall came a saved saint, which is an advantage.  If the first Adam hadn’t fallen, Jesus would have never come.  We wouldn’t know anything about the wonderful attributes of Jesus.  We wouldn’t know that we are on a higher level then Adam and Even were in Paradise.  We have eternal life in our hearts.

 

Advertisements

He Came Into His Own

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world knew Him not.  He came into His own and His own people received Him not.       John 1:11

History has a way of repeating itself.  Sacred history also has its repetitions, which is the reason why the Bible, through written two thousand years ago, is as modern as tomorrow morning’s newspaper.  Human nature is pretty much the same throughout the ages, and so we find ourselves making the same mistakes as Abraham, Moses, David, and Peter, even though the Bible honestly records their foibles and failures for the very purpose that we should be spared their sins.

The first coming of the Lord is a sorry illustration of what will transpire at the time of His second.  Sometimes we think people were eagerly awaiting the coming of Christ.  They should have been all ready to receive Him, for the prophecies robbed them of all excuse for being unprepared.  Similarly, we are going to be amazed, when our physical eyes see Jesus, how exactly His second coming was predicted and fulfilled.

But even the people who knew that He was born in the little village of Bethlehem did not bother to go the six miles to see Him.  They were too busy studying their Bibles!  All this shows that it is possible to be very religious, all caught up in church affairs and still not possess the real thing.  It is possible to be so busy in kingdom causes that we neglect our own souls — our “quiet time,” personal prayers, our soul-searching.  Then, like the foolish virgins, we will be left outside when the Prince returns.

This Same Jesus

“….This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”          Acts 1:11

There are minsters of the gospel who solemnly assert that they believe in the second coming of Christ.  They recite the Apostles’ Creed, “He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”  But when they are asked what they mean by the second coming they explain it by saying that Christ comes in the judgments upon the earth and in such personal experiences as conversion.  They say, Do we not sing, “Come into my heart, Lord Jesus”?

While such events may indeed be spoken of as a kind of coming on Jesus’ part, it is inescapably obvious that Scripture says Christ will return personally, physically, visibly, and once for all.  When He ascended, the disciples were told, “This same Jesus will come in the same manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Now we all believe this.  But do we really reflect on the fact of Christ’s physical return in the way that we anticipate, for example, the return of a student from college or a visitor from far away?  Do we ever stop to think that we shall be able to hold his hand, hear his voice, touch his shoulder?

Unfortunately we have no idea of what Christ looked like when He was here upon earth. The likenesses of our Lord that we usually see are pretty poor pictures, and even if they were accurate photographs they would be badly outdated, for that is the way Christ was in his humiliation.  Now He is completely changed.  Even His close friends hardly recognized their glorified Savior after His resurrection.

Happily, we do have an exact picture of Christ as He is today in the Bible, and the one wise way to gain a mind’s-eye picture of our Lord is to seek Him regularly in His Word.  This is His voice: this is His likeness.  By doing so you will become strangely like Him yourself, and when He comes you will know Him, and He will know you.

God’s Last Revelation

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book:  If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book  And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life….                         Revelation 22:18, 19

The Bible is a holy book, so that we ought to treat with reverence even the pates on which it is written.  But one of the best ways to treat it respectfully is to write in it.  We may well take a pencil and underline certain words or phrases in the Bible, made notes in the margin of various verses, an write some of our own thoughts on the top of the page.  This is the way a Bible becomes more meaningful, useful, and precious.

Revelation is one of the books of the Bible with which we ought to use our pencil a great deal.  The most important thing is to divide the book, by ends of lines or numbers in the margin, into seven sections.  The book of Revelation is a series of seven sketches of the history of the world from different points of view.  So we have letters to seven churches, followed by the story of the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the battle of the dragon against a woman and her Child, the seven bowls of wrath, the destruction of the two beasts, and the grand finale after Satan is destroyed.

There are many details in this picture book which we do not understand.  But do not let that keep you from reading Revelation.  When we look at a large painting or a moving-picture, we do not look at all the little details, even though they are part of the complete picture.  So we should look at the last book of the Bible the same way we view a huge picture in an art gallery.  Do not worry about the meaning of every word.  Revelation is designed to give us a breath-taking glimpse of the greatness of God and the splendor of heaven.

More Than Roman Conquerors

…if God is for us, who can be against us?…we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.        Romans 8:31, 37

The Epistle of Paul to the Romans is not the first one that he wrote, but it is the first in our Bibles.  (They are arranged more or less according to length, like the Old Testament prophetical books.)  Many Christians heave a sigh when they read Paul’s epistles, especially one like Romans, and lament that they are so deep and doctrinal.

Well, the first thing to remember is that they were written to young churches, new Christians, babes in Christ, so that they cannot be as hard to understand as we imagine.  The second thing to remember is that we do not have to understand every last word or verse in the Bible to get a real blessing from it.  If we will read our Bibles in the same simple, eager way that the early Christians in Rome read Paul’s Epistles, we are bound to be changed people.  After all, we do not have to understand the laws of chemistry and digestion in order to get real enjoyment and even health and strength from our physical food.

Then, too, we ought to make a real effort to understand the deep things of God.  It is a thrill to think God’s thoughts after Him, just as it is exciting to work out a hard problem in mathematics.

Romans can be divided into three parts.  The first section speaks of universal sin; and it is followed by the good news that there is salvation for all those who are in Christ Jesus.  The third part of the book speaks of the saved sinner’s duty to live a life of Christian service.

People were proud to be Romans in Paul’s day; Rome was a conquering country.  But the Christians of Rome were more than conquerors.  Rome has declined into decay, but the Church of Jesus still stands.

He Who Runs May Read

I will stand at my watch, and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me …. Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”       Habakkuk 2:1, 2

Every one of us will admit that we do not know the Bible as well as we would like to.  One reason for this is that we do not read the Bible in the right way.  We think of the Bible as a collection of texts, forgetting that there were no chapters and verses in the Bible when it was written.  These were added later for convenience.

The result is that when it comes to understanding the Word of God we usually fail to see the forest on account of the trees.  We know a few “golden texts” from Sunday school days (like John 3:16), but we are not at home in the Bible,  We do not know, for example, how Matthew is different from Mark, or what is the main idea of Romans, or Ephesians.

One way to overcome this is to read large sections of Scripture at one sitting, just the way we read a letter from a loved one when it comes in the mail, rather than studying five sentences today and ten more tomorrow.  That is what most of the New Testament books are — letters that Paul and others wrote to their Christian friends, and when such a letter arrived the receivers would sit down and read what brother Paul or Peter had to say.

Half of the books of the Bible can be read in ten to forty-five minutes each, and many of them in less than 20 minutes.  The whole New testament is shorter than a single issue of the Saturday Evening Post,  which some men read every week.  The entire Bible can be covered in a year by reading in it only twelve minutes a day.

With this in mind, let us spend [this month] in getting to know the Bible better by looking at it a book at a time, trying to get a bird’s-eye view of the wonderful volume that took sixteen hundred years to write, that even a child can understand, and that never gets old no matter how often you read it.

Back To The Bible

Editor’s Note:  This month’s meditations were published originally under the theme A Book A Day in the January, 1963 edition of The Family Alter, publication of The Back-To-God Hour.

The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul:  The testimony of Jehovah is sure, making wise the simple.               Psalm 19:7

If you do not plan to read the Bible today may I suggest that you [skip this reading] and read a few verses of Scripture instead.  What you are reading right now is what a mere man has written.  The Bible, on the other hand, was written by God Himself, and there is no comparison between what God writes and what you and I write.

This is the time of year when people [have made and broken] resolutions.  One of the very best resolutions anybody can make is to resolve, with the help of God, to read the Bible by oneself every day.

Just think what an enormous amount of God’s Word a person can read in one year, even if it is only a few verses every day.  Even more, think of the tremendous effect that such reading will have on you.  Almost any book has an effect upon us: good books lift us up, and bad books put wrong ideas into our minds.  But the Bible has  a special effect upon a person.  It is not simply an account of what God once said.  It is more like a tape recording, or even a telephone conversation, in which God actually speaks to us today.  The Bible is God’s voice.  The Bible is a living Book.  It does something to the person who reads it reverently, the same way music affects you, or the voice of someone you love.  It changes us, makes us think differently, and act differently.

If we want to get back to God, as we ought to, we must go back to the Bible, again and again.  Read it often.  Read it alone.  Read it with a prayer that God may talk to you through it.