John Piper – Why did God forbid one tree?

Of the many trees in the Garden, God banned Adam and Eve from eating from one — just one (Genesis 2:16–17, 3:1–3, 11). Why?

You can listen to the full episode here:

John Piper recently gave the question some fresh thinking, which he shares in today’s episode of Ask Pastor John:

The function of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is to make sure that the pleasures of all the other trees in the garden are supremely pleasures in God.

The command went like this: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16–17).

So what was God saying in prohibiting the eating of one tree out of a million trees? He was saying, “I have given you life. I have given you a world full of pleasure, pleasures of taste and sight and sound and smell and feel and nourishment. Only one tree is forbidden to you. And the point of that prohibition is to preserve the pleasures of the world, because if you eat of that one you will be saying to me, ‘I’m smarter than you. I am more authoritative that you. I am wiser than you are. I think I can care for myself better than you care for me. You are not a very good Father. And so I am going to reject you.’ So don’t eat from the tree, because you will be rejecting me and all my good gifts and all my wisdom and all my care. Instead, keep on submitting to my will. Keep on affirming my wisdom. Keep on being thankful for my generosity. Keep on trusting me as a Father and keep on eating these trees as a way of enjoying me. There are 10,000 trees, every imaginable fruit. Just go eat. Be thankful. I have given them to you and see them as expressions of my goodness and savor them that way.”

And Satan comes along, and he takes that arrangement and says, “Hey, Eve, the meaning of that arrangement is: God is selfish. God is stingy. He is a skinflint.” So he took the prohibition of one suicidal tree and treated it as a prohibition of everything.

So the issue of the tree is this: Will we keep looking to God as the giver and lover and treasure of this garden so that all our eating is thanking and all our savoring is a savoring of God? Will we keep on experiencing every one of these tastes as a tasting of something like what God is, and in that sense a tasting of God? Will we keep on enjoying God in the enjoying of the trees?

That is what the forbidden tree was there to test.

I think a lot of people try to set that up as merely arbitrary: Will man obey? Or will he not obey? And they don’t put it in the context of his fatherly care and all the goods that he has given. I don’t think it is arbitrary like that.

It was a warning. “If you choose independence instead of God-dependence, you will lose the pleasure of the garden and God with it.”

“If you keep trusting me and enjoying me as your greatest delight and highest treasure, you will have this garden and I will be the pleasure of all your pleasures.”

The forbidding one tree is a way of securing that the pleasures of all the other trees in the garden are supremely pleasures in God.

Ask Pastor John is a daily podcast series of 3–8 minute conversations released each weekday at 10:30am (EST) through the DG Facebook and Twitter feeds. You can tune in to the new episodes through the free Ask Pastor John mobile app for iPhone and Android. We’re currently hosting all the recordings on SoundCloud, a website making it easy to listen to several of the podcasts in one sitting. They’re also archived on the DG website and syndicated in iTunes. To submit a question to Pastor John please include your first name, hometown, and question in an email to AskPastorJohn AT desiringGod DOT org.

By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

A challenge to evangelicals who have backed away from an historic Adam – Vern Poythress

Vern PoythressSCIENCE  A challenge to evangelicals who have backed away from an historic Adam, using a theologically informed look at ape ancestry genetic claims

As the battle between Darwinism and the Bible rages, some evangelicals have backed away from maintaining that Adam and Eve were real, historical individuals created in the way Genesis 2 relates:

“… the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. … So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” 

In a just-published article from the Westminster Theological Journal, Westminster Theological Seminary professor Vern Poythress brilliantly explains why such a surrender is wrong biblically and scientifically. Poythress, with both a Th.D. and a Harvard Ph.D. in mathematics, is well-positioned to write about both theology and evolutionary theory. He has published 13 books, including Redeeming Science and Redeeming Sociology, and numerous scholarly articles. We post this new one with the author’s andWTJ’s permission. —Marvin Olasky

ADAM VERSUS CLAIMS FROM GENETICS

Did Adam and Eve exist? Does science say otherwise? The human genome project has produced voluminous data about the information contained in human DNA. Various news media and scientists tell us that this information demonstrates our ape ancestry. How do we evaluate these claims?

Click here to read the entire story on Worldmagazine – You will be prompted to scroll through 8 short pages: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/05/a_biblical_and_scientific_adam

John Piper panel – Complementarianism: Essential or Expendable?

Panel led by Ligon Duncan of Ligonier.org, Russell Moore, Greg Gilbert and John Piper from the Together for the Gospel T4G Conference 2012:

Here’s a small excerpt from the discussion where Piper discusses the texts he would use in order to explain complementarianism. For its context, you will find the complete answer down at the very bottom of this post. Piper:

„Now, here’s Adam, why did He create him and then the woman later. Why did He give him the rules of the garden like „don’t eat here”? Apparently he’s had to tell her because she was never told that. And why does he name her and why in the world didn’t he step up to the plate, because it says he was there while she was being tempted and he blew it from the first point and I think, probably, what Paul is getting at when he says ‘the woman was deceived and not the man- is that simply she was taking initiative and dealing with the tempter, and the guy (Adam) was not saying a word, like he should have been, to protect his woman from this tempter and you just walk through 8 or 9 evidences in Genesis 1 & 2 that this is from the beginning what wrecked the world. That the beauty of his headship wasn’t owned by him. Maybe he fell first. In the real fall there, they fell together. She didn’t fall and then he fell, they fell together cause they’re both there at the tree and he’s not doing his role and she’s not doing her role and the whole sin collapse is happening as they reject their roles, which is right at the heart of it.”

Complementarianism: Essential or Expendable? from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

Duncan asks Piper: Where did the term ‘complementarianism’ come from?

Piper: Wayne Grudem and I were a part of the production of the Danvers statement, which happened in the late 80’s in Danvers Connecticut, in which we tried to articulate a vision about how men and women are equally, gloriously, in the image of God with that worth and that dignity and yet complement each other in their differences, both in their marriages and in church and in their societies and in such a way that the flourishing of manhood and womanhood happened best when those complementary differences are honored rather than minimized in what we saw happening in feminism and evangelical egalitarianism was a minimizing at best or a nullifying of those differences. And, over on the other side, we saw a historic abuse  of women kind of machismo that would define manhood as mishandling or bossing, or putting down and we said: The egalitarianism- we don’t see that in the Bible. This abuse and beetling of womanhood, we don’t see that in the Bible. This goes on under various names like hierarchicalism , the more traditionalism, or whatever… so we said, „We need another name otherwise we’re just gonna be called traditional, otherwise, there will be no distinction between this”. I don’t remember who thought it up, but it came into being at one of those conversations, „Why don’t we take the word complement, complement with an ‘e’, not an ‘i’, we are not paying one another compliments, we are completing one another – ‘It is not good for man to be alone”, here is a fit. She is a complement for him. That is the origin and the essence of the term.

So, the just of it today is it’s a vision that stirs, we hope, a biblical path between the nullification or minimization of differences that are to be lived out in church, and home, and society, and the abuse of those differences that I think the New Testament has written to correct and it seems to me that in the garden, and then corrected in Ephesians 5, the abuses can be either men domineering or being passive and the women being domineering or being doormats, mindless and coquettish and we want to call women to full, articulate, creative personhood and men to step up to the plate where they kind of Christ-like sacrificial leadership in the home that enables the woman to flourish in all that she is and him to flourish in a Christ like demeanor.

Duncan:  Egalitarianism has been around in evangelicalism from the beginnings of neoevangelicalism. Why, in the late 80’s, did what became the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and what became the Danver’s statement, why did a group of folks get together (to say) ‘It’s important for us to articulate this now’. What was pushing that particular issue?

Piper: I don’t remember, except personally. You (Duncan) probably know culturally. I was teaching at Bethel College between ’74 and ’80 and the speakers that were coming in were increasingly strident in their feminism, so that Virginia Mollenkutt, for example, called our view obscene, in the Bethel Chapel and it was that kind of rising tide of aggressiveness of the evangelical wing that caused me, at least, to say, „I’m going to say something about this because I don’t see any of that in the Scriptures”.

Duncan: Russell (Moore), you are now the chairman of The Biblical Council of Manhood and Womanhood. Given where they were then, can you assess where we are now? Give us an idea where evangelicalism, the culture  is on this?

Moore: Well, what I fear is we have many people within evangelicalism who can check off ‘complementation’ in a box, but who aren’t really living out complementation lives. Sometimes I fear that we have marriages that are functionally egalitarian because they’re within the structure of the larger society and if all we are doing is saying ‘male headship’ – wives submit to your husband, but we’re not really defining what that looks like in a Christ centered way of discipleship in this kind of culture when those things are being challenged, then it’s simply going to go away. People are going to conform to the pattern of this age, which means we have an increasing struggle when it comes to questions that previous generations never had before in the same way. I have had in recent years- a woman came to me once and said, „My husband has told me he wants to be a woman, he wants to have gender reassignment surgery and become a woman. He doesn’t want to leave me, he wants to stay together. Martin Luther never had to deal with that. I can only imagine what he would have said, but he didn’t have to deal with that. Pastors now have to deal with that.

Duncan: Greg (Gilbert) you’re a pastor, what kind of issues do you see going on with regard to what Rusell has just talked about in the local church?

Gilbert: I do a lot of premarital counseling. The functional egalitarianism among the people that I counsel is just all over the place. So, you have men who think that being a complementation and leading their wives really has no feet on it until they come to a decision that they’re disagreeing about. But, up until that moment it is just an egalitarian way of living together without male leadership and headship in creating the atmosphere of the home.

Duncan: A lot of folks have said, „Why include this issue in a conference called Together for the Gospel? Aren’t there wonderful people that hold high views about God, high views of the doctrine of grace that are egalitarian? Why would we want to highlight this, given that it divides some parts of evangelicalism?

Piper: It is a good question because I don’t think you have to be a comlementarian to be saved and so it’s not essential at that level. But, as soon as you move beneath that level and ask: What are the implications of not following through with what Ephesians 5 seems to say or 1 Timothy 2 seems to say; those would be classic marriage/church texts. The implications… let me just mention 2 or 3. The implications, hermeneutically for the Gospel, are significant. If you do the kind of gymnastics that I think you have to do in order to escape Ephesians 5, you’re gonna get the Gospel wrong. That’s an overstatement. You will tend to go in that direction and sooner or later you’re gonna get the Gospel wrong. Second thing: Marriage, as it’s described there is the Gospel, in portrayal. The husband is to love like Christ loves the church and suffer for her, die for her and she is to submit to him, as the church submits to Christ. If you come along and say, „There is no head and there is no submission, you just cancel out the visible Gospel in marriage. And then, I would say, in the church where the Gospel is the pillar and bulwark of the Gospel and if you, at the core of its structure, and therefore deny that man, because of their call of God to be men, should be the leaders here and women should be leaders, it’s going to malfunction along the way. And I would say that in spite of the fact that I know Bible women in China and I know there are major women pastors in charismatic renewal in the global south, I would say: Not withstanding, it is written on male and female hearts to malfunction long term where the church is not being led by strong male proclaimers and leaders, the way Christ would lead. I would say, for those 3 reasons at least, it gets very close to the center in the kinds of things that are around the Gospel, protecting it and making it spread and vital in the world.

Gilbert: I would echo that and just push it again and I think that in order to get to an egalitarian position, you have to bring into your hermeneutic some bad DNA. You have to have some principles and ideas, that tend in a certain direction to corrode the authority of Scripture and once you do that, the corrosion isn’t just going to stop on those particular passages that you want it to stop at. It’s going to move on to other passages until you are eventually sitting right at the heart of the Gospel and letting those corrosive principles work on those texts also.

Moore: You know, in the United States military went into Iraq, one of the images that we saw all over the world was that statue of Saddam Hussein being torn down, because that was a repudiation of Saddam Hussein. Pastor Piper is exactly right. Ephesians ch. 5, Paul says, „This is a mystery”. Marriage is designed to show you Christ in the church, not the other way around. God says, „It is not good for Adam to be alone”, not simply because he needs company. He could have designed Adam to subdivide like an amoeba. But He creates Adam to have someone taken from him, who is like him, but who is different from him and the two become one flesh. Paul says – the mystery is Christ and His church. When you strike at that, and the satanic powers always want to strike at that, you are striking at the very sign and picture of the Gospel  itself and in the fulness of time, the Gospel will not be credible when you raise up children who see the image of the Gospel being torn apart in front of them all the time. The second thing- I don’t think it’s a question of whether or not we have male headship. I think it’s a question of what kind of male headship we will have. We live in a culture right now that is dominated by pagan patriarchy in which there are restaurants that are expressly for men to come in and ogle women. Internet pornography is preying upon women. When you have a male headship that is unhinged from the Gospel or unhinged from Christ like discipleship, women and children are going to be harmed and hurt and that is what we see all around us right now. So, part of what complementarianism is saying is not: Women submit. It is saying, „Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands”. When a wife submits herself to her own husband, or when a young woman who is not yet married submits herself to that future husband whose name she does not yet know, she is refusing to submit to men generally. So she is not seeing her identity in terms of how men view her in terms of sexual attractiveness and availability. Which is why the apostle Peter, when he is talking about what it means to be sanctified as a woman says: Not what the culture demands of you in braided hair and external appearance, but, that quiet beauty of the heart. That’s a counter cultural statement and if we don’t preserve that and show the kind of male headship that is self sacrificial, that washes feet, that goes to the cross, then we’re going to wind up with the kind of male headship that is satanic to the core.

Duncan: I still see guys going 3 ways. Some guys will lean into the complementation issue and they’ll recognize: I’m just gonna have to be countercultural here. Others say: We’re gonna back burner this. WHy offend folks up front, eventually we’ll get around to it. And then, I still see, maybe because of the dominant cultural bombardment, there are still others that begin to question the issue itself and say: Have we bought into something that’s traditional and cultural  and we baptized it. How do you respond to that when you’re talking to your generation?

Moore: I think there’s a 4th category too, which is to have a kind of hyper masculinity, hyper femininity that tries to push back on it with the caricatured form of masculinity that really could apply in the Bible to Nimrod, more than it could apply to Jesus of Nazareth and to Joseph. I think there’s an overreaction in a sense that really does take some cultural norm and tries to baptize it. But, I think, when people embrace this issue they are forced to become countercultural in this society. To say: I love what it means to be a man , for a Godly woman to say: I love what it means to be a woman- simply to love children and to love families and do what it takes to love families. So, when you see that man who is working 2 or 3 jobs, so he can provide for his wife and children. When you see that mother who is not seeking her own career advancement, but really sees pouring herself into nurturing the next generation, you’re seeing something that looks increasingly strange to the outside culture, but strange in a glorious kind of way, which means we as the church have to stop mimicking the outside culture even with the kind of pictures we put of women in our printed materials. We give this picture that would say that the ‘supermodel shall inherit the earth’. Instead of saying- what we really value is not that Madison Avenue caricature, (but) something else.

Piper: There’s a line of continuity between simple home spun conservative evangelical complementarianism and so called gay marriage. And in those days I used to say, „You’re gonna quote Galatians 3:28 on me „There’s neither male nor female”. „The way you’re quoting it, I know where that’s gonna go”, and they would just scoff at me, just scoff at me. Nobody’s scoffing today. Here’s the question that I found… the questions egalitarians have never satisfactorily answered for me is: If you’re raising an 8 yr old little boy or little girl and you’re mom or dad and that lithe girl says to mom: Mommy, what does it mean to grow up and be a woman? Or the little boy: Daddy, what does it mean to grow up and be a man? It will not do to just talk in terms of plumbing (biological) because that’s not your personhood and it simply won’t do to just say: courage, humility, righteousness, Christ likeness- cause the little kid’s gonna say, „No, no I mean a woman and not a man”. No answer. And that’s the question I would ask these folks (at conference): What will you say to an 8 yr old or 10 yr old when they ask what does it mean to grow up and be a man and not a woman? What separates me, and I don’t just mean body, is there anything that matters? In personhood, is there any rich, deep sense in masculinity? What are you going to say if you can’t give some articulation to complement parity between them and buy and I read book after book  after book in those days when I was trying to fight those battles. They never would address the issue. They always are talking in terms of personhood in  things that cross over in male and female. If you don’t help a man know what it means to be a man it will show itself.

Duncan: Where do you see as to regards of the receptiveness of the complementarian message, in the places where you are?

Piper: I talk at pretty conservative places so it’s not a fair sample. The answer is yes. It amazes me the difference between the 20’s, 30’s crowd today and the crowd I dealt with in the late 80’s. I fought battle after battle with college students who were  viciously opposed and now you have the likes of these young guys who are down here, all of them embracing this and having churches filled with thousands of  young, articulate, educated, flourishing women who are saying ‘yes’ to what they are saying. That’s new. It’s just amazing to me that that’s the case.

Conclusion

Moore: First of all, you have to deal with those biblical texts: Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, 1 Timothy 2. Just in terms of sanctification, there are some things the Scripture gives to all people as persons and then there are specific things for men and specific tendencies that the Scripture warns against: pugilism, quarrelsomeness, and those kinds of things and then specific aspects of womanhood: that quiet spirit, that Titus 2 function and all of those things and specific dangers: „Don’t fear”, Peter says, „that which is  frightening”. So you have to deal with those texts. You also have to deal with biblical complementarianism  in terms of what it is and not in terms of a caricature, whether that’s a caricature from the outside or caricature from people who think they’re complimentarian and what they mean by that is: Woman, get me my chips, which is not Ephesians 5. Complementarianism bears a cross and complementarianism is thinking about what is in the best interest. Male headship is- what is in the best interest  of my bride and of my children and as Christ washed his bride with pure water, when Jesus does that in the upper room, He washes His church, those foundations stones of His church with pure water, the church objects initially. „You’ll never wash my feet”, Peter says. Jesus doesn’t respond with passivity: „Well, try to do something nice…” But, nor does He respond with raw sovereignty. What does Jesus do? He leads and He teaches with His Word, „Unless I wash your feet, you can have nothing to do with Me”. When Jesus is giving Himself up at the cross for His bride, His bride doesn’t want Him to. „We’ll fight for you”, Peter says, „You’ll never go to the cross.” Jesus, always lovingly and gently , but decisively leads through teaching and discipleship in moving forward. So you have to deal with complementarianism in terms of Christ, not simply in terms of who is in charge.

Gilbert: I think the objections I run into with the young people that I pastor most of the time, it’s just a misunderstanding,  an understanding of role between men and women leads to dignity  and I would just shoot at that with everything I have to say: No, God given roles does not speak to God given dignity. Men and women are both created in the image of God; thats just as clear as it can be in Genesis 1 & 2. But, what’s also clear in Genesis 1 and 2 and 3 and then on through the rest of the Bible is that within that context of that equal dignity, God has every right to give out roles to his created people. And He does that throughout the Bible. Sometimes it’s men and women, sometimes it’s different things. But, God as Creator and Lord has every right to give us roles and that doesn’t speak to the dignity of the created person.

Piper: So, the question is (to) help the uncertain with the Bible. Show its in the Bible. I think I would probably start with Ephesians, because I think that’s the clearest: „a woman should submit to her husband and the man should be the head. Even if you don’t know any Greek like Grudem to look up 3800 uses of κεφάλη  (pronounced kefali) for ‘head’, you can just follow the context through on this one and say, „Well, if it means source, source of provision and source of authority, and source of protection and so we’ve got the real deal anyhow, whatever you call it, so I just think Ephesians 5 carefully walks through, beautifies marriage, it’s what every woman wants, a man who cares for her, will be strong for her, lay down his life for her, be strong for her and lead in devotions and open the door, take her to the restaurant and just respect her in every possible way. Then I would go to 1 Timothy 2 and I would say that the two things that a woman is forbidden here: to teach and have authority, or the two things that distinguish an elder from a deacon, governance and teaching, and therefore what he is saying is, elders should be men. That’s the distillation of 1 Timothy 2:12-13 and then he grounds it in the order of creation. Well, what does that have to do with anything… and then you go back to Genesis 1 & 2 and you just walk through there and say, „Now, here’s Adam, why did He create Him and then the woman later. Why did He give him the rules of the garden like „don’t eat here”? Apparently he’s had to tell her because she was never told that. And why does he name her and why in the world didn’t he step up to the plate , because it says he was there while she was being tempted and he blew it from the first point and I think, probably, what Paul is getting at when he says ‘the woman was deceived and not the man is that simply she was taking initiative and dealing with the tempter and the guy (Adam) was not saying a word, like he should have been to protect his woman from this tempter and you just walk through 8 or 9 evidences in Genesis 1 & 2 that this is from the beginning what wrecked the world. That the beauty of his headship wasn’t owned by him. Maybe he fell first. In the real fall there, they fell together. She didn’t fall and then he fell, they fell together cause they’re both there at the tree and he’s not doing his role and she’s not doing her role and the whole sin collapse is happening as they reject their roles, which is right at the heart of it. Those are the 3 places I’d start.

Related articles on gender roles 

Are we all Descendants of Adam?

Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is a professor emeritus at Westminster Theological Seminary. He quotes the ESV. This article first appeared in New Horizons in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, March 2012. The article is excerpted from The Aquila Report.

Richard Gaffin sounds the alarm on where the questioning of the historicity of Adam is headed:
Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development [i.e., that the descent of all human beings from Adam has been increasingly called into question by scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians] and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss. If it is not true that all human beings descend from Adam, then the entire history of redemption, as taught in Scripture, unravels. The result is no redemptive history in any credible or coherent sense, and so the loss of redemptive history in any meaningful sense.
he makes the point that Adam’s historicity is called into question more and more by
 scientists, biblical scholars, and others who consider themselves evangelical or even Reformed Christians. Moreover, they are persuaded that their doubts about this truth should be accepted as compatible with their Christian commitment.Every Christian who is truly submitted to the Bible’s authority needs to be alert to this recent development and clear about the consequences of these doubts and denials. No matter how well intended, they undermine the gospel and will lead to its eventual loss. If it is not true that all human beings descend from Adam, then the entire history of redemption, as taught in Scripture, unravels. The result is no redemptive history in any credible or coherent sense, and so the loss of redemptive history in any meaningful sense.
He lists the reasons given for this recent questioning of two sorts:
scientific and exegetical. Accumulating results in several fields—primarily paleontology, archaeology, anthropology, and, especially in the past couple of decades, genetics—allegedly make it virtually certain that all human beings have not descended from an original pair. The claim that everyone living today has the same “first parents” is deemed no longer credible.
In this article he deals with the biblical and theological views:
In that regard, let’s not suppose that we are faced here with yet one more “Galileo moment,” where Christians need to adjust their thinking and get on board with science. Plainly at issue here is not an aspect of our ever-changing understanding of the physical workings of our environment and the universe at large, but perennial and unchanging matters that are basic to who we are as human beings—what it means to be created in God’s image and the kind of relationship with him that that entails.
As a general rule, within the unfolding history of God’s special revelation consummated in Christ and recorded for the church in the completed canon of Scripture, the Old Testament is to be read in light of the New. Every passage is to be read from the vantage point of God’s speaking “by his Son” in “these last days” (Heb. 1:2).
 Specifically, in the overall profile of biblical revelation, it has been given to Paul, as an apostle of Christ, to speak about the origin of humanity in a way that has a clear and decisive bearing on the matters we are considering. That happens principally in two places: Romans 5:12–19 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22, 45–49.
Adam as the “First” man, and Christ as the “Second”
The central interest of both passages is plainly the person and work of Christ. Equally plain in both passages are (1) the sweeping historical outlook on Christ and the salvation he has accomplished and (2) within this historical outlook and fundamental to it, a contrast with Adam. In 1 Corinthians 15:44b–49, this perspective is the most comprehensive possible, covering nothing less than the whole of human history from its beginning to its end, from the original creation to its consummation.
Accordingly, in verse 45, Adam as he was by virtue of his creation and before the Fall (Adam in Genesis 2) is contrasted with Christ, “the last Adam,” as he is by virtue of his resurrection. In Romans 5 and the earlier verses in 1 Corinthians 15, the scope of the historical outlook is only slightly less comprehensive; on the one side, Adam is in view as he was after the Fall, as a sinner (Adam in Genesis 3). For Paul, redemptive history has its clear and consummate ending with Christ only as it has a definite and identifiable beginning with Adam.
 
In both passages, Adam and Christ are clearly in view as individual persons. But as individuals they no less clearly have a significance that is more than individual. They are contrasted as each represents others, as each is a head in a way that is decisive for those “in him.” This union-based contrast exhibits the representative or federal principle that is at the root of the Bible’s covenant theology taught, for instance, in the Westminster standards. This teaching may be summarized like this: as Adam by his disobedience has brought sin with all its consequences into the originally good creation for himself and all those “in him,” so Christ by his obedience has brought salvation from sin and all its consequences for those “in him.”
 
The significance of the identifying terms in the contrast must not be missed. Christ in his saving work is “second” and “last”; Adam is “first” (1 Cor. 15:45, 47). The uniquely pivotal place of each in the unfolding of redemptive history, at its beginning and end, is such that no one else “counts.” Only Adam, in his representative role in union or solidarity with “all,” is the “type of the one who was to come” (Rom. 5:14). As Christ is the omega-point of redemptive history, so Adam is its alpha-point.
 
It cannot be stressed too emphatically that these passages teach that essential to Christ’s work of saving sinful human beings is his full solidarity with them, personal sin excepted, as he is “second” and “last,” and that he has, and can only have, this identity as Adam is “first.” If Adam was not the first man, who fell into sin, then the work of Christ loses its meaning. Without the “first” man, Adam, there is no place for Christ as either “second” or “last.” The integrity and coherence of redemptive history in its entirety depends on this contrast. It is simply not true, as some claim, that whether or not Adam was the first human being is a question that leaves the gospel unaffected, at least if we accept the clear teaching of these passages. Paul is elsewhere similarly clear: Christ’s resurrection, the final judgment, and the attendant call for all people everywhere to repent, all stand or fall with the fact that God has made from one man every nation of mankind (Acts 17:26–30).
 
Other Interpretations of Adam
How do those who deny that all human beings descend from Adam and yet wish to remain committed to the authority of Scripture as in some sense God’s word, understand the references to Adam in these passage (and others, like Luke 3:38, 1 Timothy 2:13–14, and Jude 14)? It appears that two approaches are being taken: one denies the historicity of Adam; the other affirms his historicity, but denies that he was the first human being and father of the entire human race.
 
On the former view, Paul, like the other New Testament writers, may well have believed that Adam was a real, historical person, but that belief is immaterial for his teaching and can be jettisoned without detriment to the gospel or faith in Christ. In our passages, “Adam” is supposedly a personification either of humanity in general or of Israel as nation for all humanity; Adam is everyone. He serves Paul’s purposes as a “teaching model,” as it has been put, to highlight the universality of human sinfulness. Suffice it here to note that this view flatly contradicts the sustained emphasis in Romans 5 on Adam’s sin as the one sin of the one man, distinct from the sinning of “many” or “all.” To conclude that the historicity of Adam is irrelevant for Paul is in fact to make responsible exegesis irrelevant.
 
Another view affirms Adam’s historicity, but denies that he is the first human being. At least some who take this view assert that Adam is “first” in the sense that at some point in human history God set him apart as a representative from among a considerable number of already existing human beings for the dealings with humanity that he initiated at that point. But this view is faced with an insuperable difficulty: Adam is not simply the “first”; he is the “first” in relation to those who “have borne [his] image” (1 Cor. 15:49). People can hardly be described as image-bearers of Adam if they either existed before him or subsequently have not descended from him. Adam is the representative of all who, by descending from him, are in natural union or solidarity with him, and he represents only them. It is not enough today for Christians simply to affirm the historicity of Adam.
 
This is not a minor point. Paul is clear in verse 49. Believers will bear Christ’s heavenly image, the redeemed and glorified image of God, as they have borne Adam’s earthly image, the original image of God subsequently defaced by sin. It is quite foreign to this passage, especially given its comprehensive outlook noted above, to suppose that some who do not bear the image of Adam will bear the glory-image of Christ. There is no hope of salvation for sinners who do not bear the image of Adam by ordinary generation. Christ cannot and does not redeem what he has not assumed, and what he has assumed is the nature of those who bear the image of Adam, and as they do so by natural descent.
 
The Implications of Denying Adam’s Priority
By now it should be clear that questioning or denying the descent of all humanity from Adam as the first human being has far-reaching implications for the Christian faith. It radically alters the understanding of sin, particularly concerning the origin and nature of human depravity, with the corresponding abandonment of any meaningful notion of the guilt of sin. It radically alters the understanding of salvation, especially in eclipsing or even denying Christ’s death as a substitutionary atonement that propitiates God’s just and holy wrath against sin. And it radically alters the understanding of the Savior, by stressing his humanity, especially the exemplary aspects of his person and work, to the extent of minimizing or even denying his deity.
 
I don’t have room here to detail these implications, so instead I commend the following more extensive treatments, among others, as particularly helpful: Is Adam a “Teaching Model” in the New Testament? by J. P. Versteeg; Robert B. Strimple’s chapter, “Was Adam Historical?” in Confident of Better Things; and Michael Reeves’s chapter, “Adam and Eve,” in Should Christians Embrace Evolution?
 
I conclude with the closing words of Versteeg’s study:
 
As the first historical man and head of humanity, Adam is not mentioned merely in passing in the New Testament. The redemptive-historical correlation between Adam and Christ determines the framework in which—particularly for Paul—the redemptive work of Christ has its place. That work of redemption can no longer be confessed according to the meaning of Scripture, if it is divorced from the framework in which it stands there. Whoever divorces the work of redemption from the framework in which it stands in Scripture no longer allows the Word to function as the norm that determines everything. There has been no temptation down through the centuries that theology has been more exposed to than this temptation. There is no danger that theology has more to fear than this danger.
 
You can read the article in its entirety here  The Aquila Report.


Important: Human Heart Recall

Global RECALL NOTICE

The Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart.

This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units.

This defect has been technically termed „Subsequential Internal Non-Morality,” or more commonly known as SIN, as it is primarily expressed.

Some other symptoms include:

1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin
4. Lack of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behavior
6. Depression or confusion in the mental component
7. Fearfulness
8. Idolatry
9. Rebellion

The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this SIN defect. The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required.

The number to call for repair in all areas is

P-R-A-Y-E-R.

Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download REMISSION from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:

1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self control

Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth), for further details on the use of these fixes.

WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded.

DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will need to be scrapped in the furnace. The SIN defect will not be permitted to enter Heaven so as to prevent contamination of that facility.

Thank you for your attention!

GOD

Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice, and you may contact the Father any time by „kneemail”.

(via)

Richard Dawkins: I can’t be sure God does not exist (via) The Telegraph (UK)

You 

Richard Dawkins & Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury)

Image via the BBC.UK

One perplexing thing I noticed in this discussion is that the Archbishop of Canterbury (who speaks on behalf of Anglicans as the Pope speaks on behalf of Catholics worldwide) does not believe in literal Creation or a historical Adam. He actually believes that the writers of the Bible did not know physics and so they wrote in their own understanding, yet even more troubling is the fact that he believes that „human beings had evolved from non-human ancestors but were nevertheless “in the image of God”. Dawkins pointed out to Archbishop Rowan that the Pope does take a literal understanding of Creation. Given the relationship between a literal belief in an Adam and Eve which affects the way one looks at the entire Bible, is it a wonder that the United Kingdom  slips into secularism more and more?

The video has now been posted here on Youtube:

Story by By , Religious Affairs Editor from the UK’s Telegraph Newspaper. Read entire story here.

He is regarded as the most famous atheist in the world but last night Professor Richard Dawkins admitted he could not be sure that God does not exist.

He told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, that he preferred to call himself an agnostic rather than an atheist.

The two men were taking part in a public “dialogue” at Oxford University at the end of a week which has seen bitter debate about the role of religion in public life in Britain.

For an hour and 20 minutes the two men politely discussed „The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin” touching on the meaning of consciousness, the evolution of human language – and Dr Williams’s beard.

For much of the discussion the Archbishop sat quietly listening to Prof Dawkins’s explanations of human evolution.

At one point he told the professor that he was “inspired” by “elegance” of the professor’s explanation for the origins of life – and agreed with much of it.

Prof Dawkins told him: “What I can’t understand is why you can’t see the extraordinary beauty of the idea that life started from nothing – that is such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing, why would you want to clutter it up with something so messy as a God?”

Dr Williams replied that he “entirely agreed” with the “beauty” of Prof Dawkins’s argument but added: “I’m not talking about God as an extra who you shoehorn on to that.”

There was surprise when Prof Dawkins acknowledged that he was less than 100 per cent certain of his conviction that there is no creator.

The philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, who chaired the discussion, interjected: “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” Prof Dawkins answered that he did.

An incredulous Sir Anthony replied: “You are described as the world’s most famous atheist.”

Prof Dawkins said that he was “6.9 out of seven” sure of his beliefs.

“I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very very low,” he added.

He also said that he believed it was highly likely that there was life on other planets.

 Watch a short clip from the debate (so far the only available video) and read entire story here.

The way of Cain – Genesis 4

Cain & Abel

by Greg Laurie at www.harvest.org

Genesis 4
When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they opened the door for sin to enter the world. The effect of sin’s entrance was felt in their children as we see in today’s passage.

When Cain and Abel presented their offerings, God accepted Abel’s gift offered in faith, but rejected the one Cain brought (Hebrews 11:4). Cain’s anger prompted the Lord to warn him that sin was waiting to consume him, if he didn’t watch out. Sadly, Cain ignored the warning and killed his brother, going so far as to deny his actions to God.

Let’s look at what Jude 1:11 calls “the way of Cain,” and how we can resist sin’s call.

PRACTICAL PRINCIPLES

  1. Worshiping with impure motives. God doesn’t look at the quantity of our worship, but at the quality of it. He is more pleased with the widow’s tiny than the Pharisee’s large gift. It doesn’t matter how beautifully you sing, the size of your offering, or whatever you do. If your heart is in the wrong place, your gift will go nowhere.
  2. Having a heart filled with jealousy, envy, and hatred. Cain’s anger stemmed not just from the fact that God rejected his offering, but that God accepted Abel’s offering. The fact is that there will always be someone better than us, whether it’s in smarts, beauty, talent, or ability. Instead of being consumed by jealousy and envy, we should rejoice in what God has blessed and be thankful for what we have been given.
  3. Lying to God about your actions and to excuse your actions. No matter how hard we try, it is evitable that we will sin. God’s desire—with Adam and Eve in the garden or Cain in this story—is for us to come clean about our actions. When we sin, He will use His staff, trying to steer us back into the fold, until He has no choice but to use the rod as the consequences for our sins (Hebrews 12:6).

RELEVANT REMINDERS
It is easy for us to confuse remorse with repentance. Remorse is being sorry for the consequences of your sin. Repentance is being sorry enough to stop sinning. Scripture tells us godly sorrow produces repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Cain was unrepentant, sorry only for having to reap the repercussions of his actions (Genesis 4:13).
APPLICABLE ACTIONS
Is there any envy, jealousy, or hatred in your life? God is trying to get your attention, asking you to  call on Him to help you resist giving in to it. Let Him take control. If you have given into sin and know you need to repent, today is the day to turn from that sin and come back to God. He is waiting for you, but He seeks repentance, not just remorse.

The evolution debate is shifting- Search for the historical Adam via Christianity Today Cover Story

The center of the evolution debate has shifted from asking whether we came from earlier animals to whether we could have come from one man and one woman.Richard N. Ostling | posted 6/03/2011 12:00AM Christianity Today

You can read the entire story here- All emphasis (bold type) is mine.

Secularist brows furrowed in 2009 when President Obama chose prominent atheist-turned-Christian Francis S. Collins to be the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Under the Los Angeles Times headline „Fit to Head the NIH?,” Skeptic magazine’s Michael Shermer fretted that Collins’s beliefs might somehow corrupt America’s biggest biomedical research agency. In a New York Times piece, atheist Sam Harris was similarly „uncomfortable,” fearing in particular that a Collins administration might „seriously undercut” fields like neuroscience. Jerry Coyne, a University of Chicago expert on evolution, carped that the nominee’s „scary,” „bizarre,” „inane,” and „snake oil” ideas „pollute his science with his faith.”

Nonetheless, Collins won unanimous U.S. Senate confirmation, thanks to sterling achievements in biomedical research and leadership of NIH’s human genome research. Under Collins, this historic effort in 2003 finished mapping the complete sequence of several billion DNA subunits („bases”) and all of the genes that determine human heredity.

Collins, one of the most eminent scientists ever to identify as an evangelical Christian, staunchly defends Darwinian evolution even as he insists on God as the Creator. And he now stands at the epicenter of a dispute that increasingly agitates fellow believers. At issue: the traditional tenet (as summarized in Wheaton College’s mandatory credo) that „God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race.”

Mai mult

Staying Married is not about staying in love-John Piper Part 2

VIDEO by SermonIndex.net

Genesis 2:18-25

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Marriage and the Gospel

Marriage is more wonderful than anyone on earth knows. And the reasons it is wonderful can only be learned from God’s special revelation and can only be cherished by the work of the Holy Spirit to enable us to behold and embrace the wonder. The reason we need the Spirit’s help is that the wonder of marriage is woven into the wonder of the gospel of the cross of Christ, and the message of the cross is foolishness to the natural man, and so the meaning of marriage is foolishness to the natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14). For example, the atheist Richard Dawkins said last fall,

I provided . . . cogent arguments against a supernatural intelligent designer. But it does seem to me to be a worthy idea. Refutable—but nevertheless grand and big enough to be worthy of respect. I don’t see the Olympian gods or Jesus coming down and dying on the Cross as worthy of that grandeur. They strike me as parochial.

These are the tragic words of “the natural man.” Those who regard Christ and his incarnation and death and resurrection and lordship over all the universe, upholding it by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17), as parochial, will not see the wonder of marriage woven into this gospel. But by grace you might see it. I pray that you do. I believe God will reveal it to you if you will look steadfastly at the revelation of it in God’s word and seek the help of the Holy Spirit to enable you to see and savor the glory of Christ and his blood-bought covenant with the church, which is reflected in marriage.

Marriage Is the Doing of God, to the Glory of God

Last week we saw that the most fundamental thing we can say about marriage is that it is the doing of God. And the most ultimate thing we can say about marriage is that it is the display of God. The reason it is the display of God is that in Christ, God has made a new covenant with his people. In it he promises to forgive and justify and glorify all who turn to him from sin and receive Christ as the Savior and Lord and supreme Treasure of their lives. Marriage between a man and a woman was designed from the beginning to be a reflection and display of that covenant relationship.

That’s why Paul quotes Genesis 2:24—“A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”—and then says, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32). Leaving parents and holding fast to a wife, forming a new one-flesh union, is meant from the beginning to display this new covenant—Christ’s leaving his Father and taking the church as his bride, at the cost of his life, and holding fast to her in a one-spirit union forever (1 Corinthians 6:17).

So, I concluded, staying married is not about staying in love. It’s about covenant-keeping. If a spouse falls in love with another person, one profoundly legitimate response from the grieved spouse and from the church is, “So what! Keep your covenant.” Now it is time to probe more deeply into what this covenant keeping look likes and what it means.

Naked and Not Ashamed

To help us, and to lay a fuller foundation, we turn to the verse in our text that we did not comment on last week: Genesis 2:25, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” What is the point of that verse? Consider these two possible reasons why they were not ashamed. First, is the reason that they both had perfect bodies. So since their appearance was perfect, they did not have the slightest fear that their spouse would disapprove of them. In other words, their freedom from shame was because they had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Is that the main point?

It is certainly a true observation. When God created man he said that his creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). So the man and the woman were perfectly beautiful and handsome. There was no flaw and no blemish. Is that the point of Genesis 2:25? I doubt it. For three reasons.

Not Because of Perfect Bodies

First, no matter how beautiful or handsome your spouse is, if you’re cranky or selfish or unkind, you can make comments in a way that shames the other person. Not being ashamed in a marriage relationship takes more than being physically perfect; the one who is looking at you must be morally upright and gracious.

Second, Genesis 2:24-25 is intended to provide foundational wisdom for marriage long after the fall of man into sin. We can see that by the way Jesus makes use of verse 24. So it doesn’t seem to me that the main point would only relate to the pre-Fall situation, namely, the perfection of their bodies.

Third, verse 24 creates the relationship where verse 25 can happen. And the emphasis falls there on the covenant commitment: These two are holding fast to each other in a new one-flesh union that is not an experiment. It’s a new committed union. That is what creates the context for a shame-free marriage—not their perfect beauty.
Because of Covenant Love

So consider a second possibility for why they are naked and not ashamed. My suggestion is that the emphasis falls not on their freedom from physical imperfection, but on their fullness of covenant love. In other words, I can be free from shame for two reasons: One is that I am perfect and have nothing to be ashamed of; the other is that I am imperfect but I have no fear of being disapproved by my spouse. The first way to be shame-free is to be perfect; the second way to be shame free is based on the gracious nature of covenant love. In the first case, there is no shame because we’re flawless. In the second case, there is no shame because covenant love covers a multitude of flaws (1 Peter 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:5).

I know that in Genesis 2:25 the fall into sin has not yet happened. So there are no flaws to be covered. But my point is that verse 25 flows out of verse 24 because the covenant relationship established by marriage is designed from the beginning to be the main foundation of freedom from shame. Admittedly, until sin came into the world and all kinds of physical flaws came with it, Adam and Eve did not have to exercise their covenant love to cover any sins and flaws in each other. But that was God’s design. Marriage was designed from the beginning to display Christ and the church, and the very essence of the new covenant is that Christ passes over sins in his bride. His bride is free from shame not because she is perfect, but because she has no fear that her lover will condemn her or shame her with her sin. This is why the doctrine of justification is at the very heart of what makes marriage work. It creates peace with God vertically, in spite of our sin. And when experienced horizontally, it creates shame-free peace between an imperfect man and an imperfect woman. I hope to look more fully at this next week.

Declaring Independence

But first we need to finish looking at what the text has to say about nakedness and shame. In Genesis 2:17, God had said to Adam, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” I take the “knowledge of good and evil” to refer to a status of independence from God in which Adam and Eve would decide for themselves apart from God what is good and what is evil. So eating from this tree would mean a declaration of independence from God.

In Genesis 3:5-6, that is what happens:

[The tempter says,] “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

The first effect of this rebellion against God and this declaration of independence is recorded in verse 7: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” What does this mean?

Suddenly they are self-conscious about their bodies. Before their rebellion against God there was no shame. Now, evidently, there is shame. Why? There is no reason to think it’s because they suddenly became ugly. That’s not the focus of the text at all. Their beauty wasn’t the focus in Genesis 2:25, and their ugliness is not the focus here in 3:7. Why then the shame? Because the foundation of covenant-keeping love collapsed. And with it the sweet, all-trusting security of marriage disappeared forever.

The Foundation of Covenant-Keeping Love

The foundation of covenant-keeping love between a man and a woman is the unbroken covenant between them and God—God governing them for their good and they enjoying him in that security and relying on him. When they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that covenant was broken and the foundation of their own covenant keeping collapsed.

They experienced this immediately in the corruption of their own covenant love for each other. It happened in two ways. And we experience it today in these same two ways. And both relate to the experience of shame. In the first case, the one viewing my nakedness is no longer trustworthy; so I am afraid I will be shamed. In the second, I myself am no longer at peace with God, but I feel guilty and defiled and unworthy—I deserve to be shamed. Think about these one at a time.

Vulnerability to Shame

In the first case, I am self-conscious of my body and I feel vulnerable to shame because I know Eve has chosen to be independent from God. She has made herself central in the place of God. She is essentially a selfish person. From this day forward, she will put herself first and others last. She is no longer a servant. So she is not safe. And I feel vulnerable around her, because she is very likely to put me down if that puts her up. So suddenly my nakedness is precarious. I don’t trust her any more to love me with pure covenant-keeping love. That’s one source of shame and self-consciousness.
The Broken Covenant with God

The other source is that Adam himself, not just his spouse, has broken covenant with God. If she is rebellious and selfish and therefore unsafe, so am I. But the way I experience it in myself is that I feel defiled and guilty and unworthy. That is in fact what I am. Before the Fall, what is and what ought to be were the same. But now, what is and what ought to be are not the same. I ought to be humbly, gladly submissive to God. But I am not. This huge gap between what I am and what I ought to be colors everything about me—including how I feel about my body. So my wife might be the safest person in the world, but now my own sense of guilt and unworthiness makes me feel vulnerable. The simple, open, nakedness of innocence now feels inconsistent with the guilty person that I am. I feel ashamed.

So the shame of nakedness arises from two sources and both of them are owing to the collapse of the foundation of covenant love in our relationship with God. One is that Eve is no longer reliable to cherish me; she has become selfish and I feel vulnerable that she will put me down for her own selfish ends. The other is that I already know that I am guilty myself and the nakedness of innocence contradicts my unworthiness—I am ashamed of it.

They Clothed Themselves

Genesis 3:7 says that they tried to cope with this new situation by making clothing: “And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” Then in Genesis 3:21, God made better clothes for them from animal skins: “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” What are we to make of this?

Adam and Eve’s effort to clothe themselves was a sinful effort to conceal what had really happened. They went on and tried to hide from God (Genesis 3:8). They were no longer innocent but were rebels against God. Their nakedness felt too revealing and too vulnerable. So they tried to close the gap between what they were and what they ought to be by covering what is and presenting themselves in a new way. From their standpoint, this was the origin of hypocrisy. It was the first attempted—and totally unsuccessful—snow job.

Then God Clothed Them

So what does it mean that God clothed them with animal skins? Was he confirming their hypocrisy? Was he aiding and abetting their pretense? If they were naked and shame-free before the Fall, and if they put on clothes to minimize their shame after the Fall, then what is God doing by clothing them even better than they can clothe themselves? I think the answer is that he is doing something with a negative message and something with a positive message.

Negatively, he is saying, You are not what you were and you are not what you ought to be. The chasm between what you are and what you ought to be is huge. Covering yourself with clothing is a right response to this—not to conceal it, but to confess it. Henceforth, you shall wear clothing, not to conceal that you are not what you should be, but to confess that you are not what you should be. One practical implication of this is that public nudity today is not a return to innocence but rebellion against moral reality. God ordains clothes to witness to the glory we have lost, and it is added rebellion to throw them off.

And for those who rebel in the other direction and make clothes themselves a means of power and prestige and attention getting, God’s answer is not a return to nudity but a return to simplicity (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:4-5). Clothes are not meant to make people think about what is under them. Clothes are meant to direct attention to what is not under them: Arms and hands that serve others in the name of Christ, “beautiful” feet that carry the gospel to where it is needed, and the brightness of a face that has beheld the glory of Jesus.

The Significance of Clothing

Now we have already crossed over to the more positive meaning of clothing that God had in his mind when he clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins. This was not only a witness to the glory we lost and a confession and that we are not what we should be, but it is also a testimony that God himself would one day make us what we should be. God rejected their own self-clothing. Then he did it himself. He showed mercy with superior clothing. Together with the other hopeful signs in the context (like the defeat of the serpent in 3:15), God’s mercy points to the day when he will solve the problem of their shame decisively and permanently. He will do it with the blood of his own Son (as there was apparently blood shed in the killing of the animals of the skins). And he will do it with the clothing of righteousness and the radiance of his glory (Galatians 3:27; Philippians 3:21).

Which means that our clothes are a witness both to our past and present failure and to our future glory. They testify to the chasm between what we are and what we should be. And they testify to God’s merciful intention to bridge that chasm through Jesus Christ and his death for our sins. He will solve the problem of fear and pride and selfishness and shame between man and woman with his new blood-bought covenant.

Marriage Is a Display of the Gospel

Marriage is meant to be a display of that covenant, and that gospel. Therefore, what we will look at next time, God willing, is how a husband and a wife embody the new-covenant gospel of justification by faith and so create a new safe and sacred place where it can be said again: They were both naked and were not ashamed.

© Desiring God website desiringGod.org

Third sermon in this series here –Marriage: God’s Showcase of Covenant-Keeping Grace – Desiring God

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