“Where did I come from?” “How was I assembled?” “I’m a mess so what’s the dang point?” God knew we’d ask those questions so He answered them definitively in the first few pages of His Holy Word. We don’t have to dig to find them. The first two are right up front. We and the planet we live on came into being because God willed it. He made everything. Genesis immediately identifies Him as the Creator. One would think that disclosure would suffice but there are hordes of people demanding a more explicit explanation. Eventually they set the first two questions aside for expediency’s sake and zero in on the last one.
Anyone in the medical field will tell you a physician can’t treat your symptoms until they diagnose the root ailment. Just giving you a numbing sedative will only delay their discovering it. True believers don’t attend church in order to desensitize themselves into thinking everything’s peachy. Christianity is not escapism. Everything else can be, but not Christianity. It is realism. And it begins with acknowledging the fundamentals. God made all there is out of nothing. He spoke, “’…Let there be light.’ And there was light!” (Genesis 1:3). Only God could do that and He did. He continued on and, when He finished His stupendous project, He pronounced it good. He created creation because it pleased Him.
Some accept that at face value. Others don’t. They opine the universe is the outcropping of a fortuitous accident. Pick a side. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Either you believe God created the world, or you believe the talk that gases – nobody knows how or where they came from – suddenly solidified and formed some primitive slime, and though there’s no mind, no understanding, no law, no order, no purpose in anything, somehow or other blind, hidden forces so worked and manipulated and reacted against one another that from a very primitive kind of undefined life they developed into human beings with their brain and power, they produced the complexity of the flower, the extraordinary instrument we call the eye, and all the astounding things that happen in creation.” Personally, I can’t fathom how a rational person can ponder the intricacies of any aspect of nature and not give a nod to God. I’m convinced that unless one accepts God as the starting line they’ll never find answers to anything pertaining to their life’s difficulties, troubles and conundrums. The Bible says our acceptance of God as the Creator must come first. What it doesn’t say in Genesis 1:1 is “Simply come to Jesus and everything’ll be great.” No. It states “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If we don’t get that through our thick skulls at the onset then nothing that follows will make any sense at all. In last Sunday’s newspaper there was a piece by some professor named William Irwin entitled “What believers, atheists share: It’s impossible to be certain about God; doubt is their common ground.” That’s 100% false. Believers can harbor doubts about myriads of things (like Bible translations) but the existence of God isn’t one of them, else they wouldn’t be believers at all. The writer stumbled right out of the gate and that faux pas rendered his entire premise implausible. The Bible places God first. A Christian who doesn’t believe God’s Holy Word is infallible is like a drunkard driving around with a “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper sticker stuck on the back of their car. Their faith is a trite slogan.
The Bible’s clear. What we’re part of is no accident. God started it. History had a beginning. Genesis teaches God decided to make a man and a woman no different than you or me. Thus a study of the species they propagated will help us understand ourselves and our difficulties better. Where do we humans come from? The Bible says we’re a unique creation of God crafted “…in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). Other creatures get mentioned but only humans were formed with that exclusive characteristic. Therefore to understand why we’re a mess we must first comprehend what we once were. The Bible says there was a time when we were without flaw, perfect. We were righteous and holy, created by God for God. We walked and talked with our Heavenly Father with blissful ease. Now, if you believe human beings are nothing more than mammals lucky enough to have developed more complex brain matter than, say, hamsters, then all the data Genesis provides means zip to you. If the theory of evolution is your bedrock hypothesis then you believe we started as amoebas but we’re improving a tiny bit every day. Nirvana is what we’re slowly achieving, not where we came from. So it’s Creation or evolution. One or the other. You either choose to believe you were made by God’s hands and belong to Him or you believe the chimps at the zoo are our close cousins. The Bible says the latter ain’t so. It says we were once pristine beings, living in a utopian garden.
If that’s so then why are we so far away from that now? Why aren’t we still perfect? Why’s the world an asylum run by dysfunctional inmates? Why all this suffering and corruption? How’d we go from Eden to swampland? The Bible answers with “Now the serpent was more shrewd than any of the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Is it really true that God said, “You must not eat from any tree of the orchard?”’” (Genesis 3:1). If you’re an unbeliever I probably lost you right there by injecting doctrine into the debate. You’ll claim I’ve diverted from your “Why am I unhappy?” question and detoured into the realm of theology. Thing is, I believe with all my heart that until you accept the Biblical explanation you’ll never find a satisfying answer to that question. I have faith that “In the beginning God…” Theology is the science of the knowledge of God (and how everything in existence is related to Him) so I can’t and won’t leave my Bible out. And what it tells me is God created Adam & Eve, set them up in paradise and then one of His free-will-endowed angelic beings (one vehemently opposed to Him and the humans He made in His image) introduced sin to the world. The Bible doesn’t tell us all we want to know about this evil entity. It does instruct us there’s another dimension than this one. A spiritual realm teeming with angels. It tells us God endowed angels with supernatural powers and their sole purpose for existing is to serve their maker. Alas, it also says long ago one of them rebelled against God and persuaded others to join him. But God is undefeatable and He smacked ‘em down hard. The legion of disobedient angels and their ringleader, Satan, plunged to earth. Then, through lies and temptation, Satan got Adam & Eve to defy God’s implicit instructions and commit deliberate sin – an act that sent the world spinning out of control. That’s why we’re in such a quandary. Simple cause and effect.
The answer to why we’re so mean to one another, why we want to disrespect those who look different from us, why we do things we know are morally despicable, why we’re jealous of others, why we’re so quick to judge, why our lust runs amok, why our marriages crumble, why children suffer abuse and neglect, etc. is found in Genesis 3. There’s a powerful spiritual being in this world who succeeds in dragging mankind down to the level of ruthless animals. That’s why our hearts are filled with iniquity and Eden’s a distant memory. The Bible doesn’t beat around the bush. Satan and his vile minions are in there from front to back. When Christ came into the world the devil tried to seduce Him for 40 days straight and it turned into a struggle for the Son of God. As in Eden, Satan did his level best to disrupt God’s plan. The Devil tempted Jesus (unsuccessfully, I must add) to try things his way in direct defiance of His Father in heaven. He confronts us with the same temptations. If not for our Savior we wouldn’t stand a chance. If we accept the Bible as truth then what the Apostle Paul calls in Ephesians 6:12, “principalities… powers… rulers of the darkness of this world… spiritual wickedness in high places” are as real as rain and they can gang up on us and lure us into sin. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 we’re told Satan is, to this day, “the god of this world” and that fact deserves our rapt attention. To say he wants to coerce us into behaving badly doesn’t quite cover it. He wants to destroy every single one of us. And he never relents. I know he’s real because I get attacked in the morning with foul thoughts before I’m even fully awake. I often get besieged with unwholesome urges or ideas even when I’m reading the Bible or on my knees in prayer. Where’s this crap coming from? The Holy Word says it’s Satan’s doing and thus I must be constantly prepared to resist him.
Satan ruined everything. He lied and we fell for it. Secular society will tell you that’s a fairy tale and modern men and women should treat it as such. Their explanation is our species hasn’t had enough time yet to fully evolve, that we’ve still got too much “simian blood” in us and we just can’t help being the way we are. Implicit in their theory, despite evidence to the contrary, is that we’re better people now than ever before. But if that’s so then why do we covet what the Joneses possess just as fervently as we did thousands of years ago? Why do nations still try to annihilate each other with the same determination and vigor their ancestors in antiquity did? Where’s all this so called progress taking place? I don’t see it. Nothing much has changed at all over the course of history. In Genesis we read where Cain was so envious of his own brother he murdered him in cold blood. I see the same thing on the news almost daily. Therefore I must conclude the Bible is being honest when it tells us the planet’s in disarray because Satan introduced sin into our world by convincing us we had the right to determine what’s moral and immoral to suit our desires. Genesis reveals our own pride-fueled rebellion against God as the primary reason all this pain and misery flanks us on every side.
The Bible then takes it a step further, saying mankind, on its own, is woefully incapable of getting out from under the curse it brought upon itself. It’s tried everything it can come up with. Nothing works. Just when it thinks it’s found the road back to Eden it turns out to be yet another dead end so the frustrating search continues. And, when it comes right down to it, it could be said our whole saga is a long chain of philosophical, political and scientific formulas designed to get us back into Shangri-La. All have failed. Why? Because God Almighty has blocked the entrance. Bible-readers know that. Satan knows it, too, but it gives him great joy to watch folks work themselves into a tizzy trying to find the yellow brick road using their own smarts. Plus as long as they think they can somehow pick Eden’s gate’s lock they see no need for a Savior. But it’s a futile endeavor because God’s in charge of security.
The Bible illustrates the sad consequences of sin in unflinching Technicolor. Adam & Eve, banned from the Garden, had to come to grips with the misery, fear, sorrow, diseases, hardships, violence and eventual sentence of death that comes in the package with sin. On top of all that, they and all who came after them are under the judgment of God. They broke the one law God gave them and the penalty for their willfully breaking it must be paid – else the concept of universal justice is nothing but empty rhetoric. In light of the chaos we see whirling around us it’s evident we’re still paying the price for ignoring God’s mandates and “doing our own thing” instead.
How I wish the Bible was still required reading in elementary schools! I know that’s a politically-incorrect pipedream but I believe our country would be better off if that was the case. So many rudimentary questions get answered by reading Scripture. Folks would better understand that sin precedes judgment as predictably as night follows day. Exile from Eden. The Flood. The annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jerusalem’s demolition. All judgments of God. Only a fool could miss the obvious results of sinning but evidently we’re aboard a ship of fools because we never learn. We’re all bozos on this bus. In the Celebrate Recovery ministry we point out the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result each time. So I guess the world’s insane. Thing is, eternity doesn’t mean much to people anymore. The Bible teaches that following physical death we’ll all stand before God and be judged. If we still owe a debt we’ll have to pay it. If we’ve been washed in the blood of Christ our debt’s been paid and we’ll be declared “not guilty.” Some think that’s nonsense, insisting when we die we simply cease to be. They hope it’s here today, gone tomorrow. But since forever’s an extremely long time that’s a risk I’m not willing to take. And, besides, how can that cavalier attitude towards death not adversely influence how one conducts their life? The Bible asserts that even if a person doesn’t believe God exists, they exist nonetheless in the mind of I AM and they’ll come to that realization in a flash after they take their last breath on terra firma.
Keep in mind I didn’t make any of this up. God reigns supreme and I don’t want His throne even if it was offered to me. Thanks but no thanks. I like the arrangement as is. However, since the New Testament states God at least wills or desires the salvation of all human beings (1 Timothy 2:4) and is not willing that any of them should perish (2 Peter 3:9), I feel an obligation to warn people of what lies ahead whether they agree with God’s plan or not. If I didn’t alert drivers to the fact a bridge around the bend was out wouldn’t I be held accountable for them careening into the river? I do understand if we die and the curtain falls then there’s no need for a Good News Gospel because nothing matters. But the Bible proclaims “…people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore I must inform everybody I can they’ll exist forevermore whether they want to or not. They will be judged and God’s ruling is final. No appeal.
But, thank God, we have hope! God Himself has intervened on our behalf. He incarnated as a man 2,000 years ago and voluntarily waded into this filthy cesspool in order to save us from ourselves. He fulfilled the promise He made to us in the very midst of our rebellion against Him. He vowed, “It [the seed of the woman] will bruise your [the serpent’s] head” (Genesis 3:15). God promised that Satan, while powerful enough to give mankind hell, will be vanquished by one even more powerful – the seed of the woman, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. Christ miraculously entered the world situation and defeated the Devil by doing the unthinkable – shouldering the sins of all humanity and giving up His life as ransom so we can be released from Adam & Eve’s curse. Our tab’s paid in full. All we have to do to return to paradise is believe God did that for us and, accordingly, change our ways through repentance.
The Bible says all our problems stem from sin becoming part of our lives. But God loves us so much He showered us with mercy and delivered us from ruin. Jesus is the only answer because He is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Christ didn’t have to, but he earned the right to say that. Turn your life over to His care and He’ll never give up on you. Jesus said, “Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away” (John 6:37). Believe it.