It’s impossible to study the Gospel without at least taking a small look at the conditions that brought about the formation of the Gospel itself. When looking at the Good News, it helps to understand the Bad News that brought about the need for the Good News, in order to better understand the Good News. Say that 10 times fast…
The Bad News that brought about the need for the Good News started in the Garden of Eden. Today’s lesson from the course The Power of the Gospel** listed exactly what happened that fateful day when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, and even better, it listed how the Cross, or you could say, the Gospel, reversed every one of those results.
The Fall of Man (as it is theologically named) is described in Genesis 3. After having created Adam and Eve, given them the charge of guarding the Garden, and saying that they could eat the fruit of any tree in the Garden, save one tree – the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Satan came along and ruined the day:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:1-6)
The overall problem introduced here is the inception of something theologians call Original Sin. When Adam sinned, he brought about a hereditary spiritual disease of sinfulness that he passed down to his offspring, and that has been passed down from generation to generation, affecting all people, including us. Paul wrote about this in Romans 5:12: – “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…” The solution to this sinful state, which was brought about by “one man,” Paul says, is a righteousness brought about by “one man,” who is Jesus Christ.
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)
This is why in some places in the New Testament, Jesus is called the Last Adam. Just as the first Adam brought sin and death into the world, now the Last Adam (Jesus) brings righteousness and eternal life.
The lesson goes on to list 7 events that occured when Adam and Even disobeyed God in the Garden.** Each of these events is listed below, along with a description of how Jesus counteracted each of these events on the cross.
- Self was deified – when they ate the fruit, it was so that they could “become like God.” Prior to this, their entire existence was God-dependent, God-conscious, and God-centered. But now they were self-dependent, self-conscious, and self-centered. They had become the gods of their own lives. This is the Old Self (described in previous lessons) at work. The Gospel brought in the factor of faith – placing God back at the center of your dependence and consciousness.
- Knowledge of good and evil became the guiding force – the lesson says that judging right and wrong is something Adam and Eve probably always had the ability to do, but it was originally centered in God, based on His perspective. After the Fall, this centered on themselves – everything was right or wrong based on if it was right to them or wrong to them. This same principal is at work today, and we call it moral relativism. The Gospel is centered on God, and when it is revealed to us, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, which is seeing right and wrong from God’s perspective.
- Sin and death began to reign– God had told Adam and Eve that if they ate of that tree, they would surely die. Satan’s convinced them that they wouldn’t die, but God’s definition of death was much broader than simply the ending of physical life. The lesson pointed out 5 areas in which Adam and Eve faced a “death” of sorts:
- Spiritual death – separation from God
- Emotional death – effects of shame and guilt
- Physical death – sickness and aging, with a culmination in physical death
- Grief – over the physcial deaths of loved ones
- Fear – of death, and of the pain and suffering introduced to the world
- A curse came on human life – Adam and Eve brought on themselves “the curse of a life devoid of God’s presence.”** This meant death, hard labor, and pain in childbirth (see Gen. 3:16-19), but it also mean that there would be a greater curse when the law was given. The curse of sin was death, but the curse of the law was the frustration of not being able to meet God’s holy standard through self-effort. The Gospel reveals to us that Jesus didn’t just die for our sins, but that He took the curse of sin and the curse of the law on Himself: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13)
- Satan gained authority over the earth – Satan told Jesus, when he was tempting him, that “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to” (Luke 4:6). This authority was transferred to the devil at the Fall. But in Christ, we transfer the authority of our lives from Satan back to God – this was actually already taken care of at the Cross, and that is part of the Good News of the Gospel!
- Judgment became man’s destiny – “…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). This is part of the curse of sin, described above. At the Cross, we are given a new destiny: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30).
- The glory of God departed – the lesson states that prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve were “clothed with the glory of God.”** I’m not sure what that means, exactly, unless it means that God’s glory overshadowed their own nakedness. But after that glory departed, they became aware of their nakedness, and began to try to clothe themselves (self-effort much?). The Gospel is called “the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4), and it is the Gospel that reveals the glory of Christ – who is the image of God (also from 2 Cor. 4:4) – to us.
** Taken from Lesson 6: Back to the Beginning, from The Power of the Gospel, OBC