Cultivating by Dr. Abidan Shah

CULTIVATING by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  As some of you know, we moved to the church parsonage about 22+ years ago; then, 10 years ago, we bought our new home. We instantly fell in love with it, especially the beautiful garden around the front of the house. My favorite were the beautiful rose bushes because they reminded me of my dad’s garden. One thing I remember him doing was walking around with a pair of shears and trimming away dead branches, damaged stems, and any places that had disease spots. He would cut them diagonally for the water intake. I thought to myself that I needed to do the same. So, I found a pair of garden shears and trimmed the rose bushes. It was about springtime before the bloom began. It was beautiful! We had the flowers until fall. As winter was coming, I thought to myself, “Why not cut them early? This way, they will really bloom in the spring. No need to wait.” Guess what? Spring came and all my rose bushes were dead. I had killed them. Thank God he doesn’t do that with us! Main point: God the Father prunes and cultivates us in order that we may bear more fruit. He also removes the dead branches that appear to be connected to the vine but are not. To reject Christ is to be severed from him forever. On the contrary, to receive Christ is to be sealed unto him forever with abundant fruits.

John 15      1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

Context:  The passage we just read has been a topic of argument for quite some time. What does it mean in verse 2 when Jesus said, Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away…” Does that mean that if a believer is fruitless over time that God will remove him from Christ? Does that mean that a fruitless Christian can lose his/her salvation? What does this do to the doctrine of eternal security? Typically, these questions are answered by either saying “Yes, a person can lose his/her salvation for being fruitless” or “No, that is not the point of the parable.” To answer these very important questions, we need to keep in mind both the immediate context of John 15 and the overall context of the Farewell Discourse of Jesus from John 13-17. First, the immediate context is the Old Testament imagery of Israel being the vine of God. Remember, the passages we studied in the last message from Jeremiah 5, Ezekiel 18, Psalm 80, Hosea 10, and Jeremiah 2. Based on the vine imagery, the more fruit were souls. Israel was given the task of being a fruitful vine by bearing righteous branches and even graft branches of other peoples who would also become righteous and fruitful before God. Unfortunately, Israel failed, and Jesus came to be the “true vine.” I gave you some verses last time from Jesus’ own words that this was the intended purpose. Here’s one more. As Jesus stood before Pilate, and he asked in John 18:37 “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Through Jesus, we can win more souls into the kingdom of God. There are no limits between Jewish people and Gentiles.

But, don’t forget the overall context. This parable was given in Jesus’ Farewell Discourse from John 13-17. Remember, the south view of Jerusalem with Mount Zion on the west and Mount of Olives on the east. In the middle was the Kidron Valley. Jesus celebrated the Last Supper on Mount Zion and then made his way through the streets of Jerusalem, maybe past the Temple, and down the Kidron Valley. Somewhere here, he gave the Parable of the Vine and the Branches. But, let’s back up to that upper room. There are somethings Jesus said that helps us understand the vine and branches imagery. Let’s pick up when he began washing their feet and came to Peter. John 13      6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” 8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” 10   Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”

Let’s pause here. What did Jesus mean by that? The Greek word for clean is “katharos.” Keep that in mind. When did Jesus clean them? This was obviously not at the foot washing or even their baptism. We have to go back to the synagogue in Capernaum inJohn 6      53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68   But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. The disciples were cleansed by receiving Jesus’ words except Judas.

In other words, Judas did not believe, but he hung around. Just like people do today. Maybe to see what comes next. Maybe to steal from their money box. In the New Testament church, there was Simon Magus, who was baptized, and Demas, who served with Paul.

Application: How about you? Are you a disciple or are you just hanging around? Have you truly believed, or are you just waiting to see how things turn out? Are you cleansed?

Back to John 13     11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.” 12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Judas was really on Jesus’ heart because he keeps talking about Judas! 19 Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He. 20 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” 21 When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” 22 Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. 23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. 25 Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Matthew’s gospel adds another detail – Matthew 26      23 He (Jesus) answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. 24 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.” How many opportunities he was given to return to Christ! If there had been a whimper of a cry from Judas – “Lord, save me” – like Peter, God would’ve found another way. The information we have is through foreknowledge not some foreordination. 27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. 29 For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, “Buy those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him.”

Now, let’s return to John 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” The English doesn’t tell us, but there is a play on words in Greek here. The word for take away is “airei” and the word for prunes is “kathairei.” The words can be used in agriculture world, but not necessarily, especially the first one. The point is this: the words are connected. The passage is not about eternal security. It is about true connection to Jesus. Judas was never truly connected to Jesus, unlike the other disciples. His fate is found in 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” Judas went out and hung himself. How about the other disciples? John 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” Guess what the Greek word is for “clean”? “katharoi.” Peter also stumbled that night, followed when he was not supposed to and denied Christ three times. But he was close enough to catch Jesus’ eye, and he went out and wept bitterly. About 50 days later, on the day of Pentecost, he won 3000 souls on his first message!

So many layers of meaning. Their acceptance of Jesus had made them clean. Their decision to follow was the evidence they were clean. The Father keeps cleansing those who accept Jesus and follow him by grounding them even more in the truth about Jesus. As a result, they keep shining his light and bear more and more fruit, which are souls.

Invitation: How about you? Are you clean? What decision do you make? Are you like Judas, just hanging around? You will be taken away. If you know Jesus as Savior and King, you will become more and more connected to him, bearing abundant fruits. The Are you bearing fruits/souls?

Someone said, “The same sun that melts wax also hardens clay.”

All-Sufficient by Dr. Abidan Shah

ALL-SUFFICIENT by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Sometime back in our series titled “Contend,” we played a portion of the sound recording of the crew of Apollo 8 reading from Genesis 1 on Christmas Eve, 1968. The following year, July 20th, 1969, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong stepped out and said the famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant step for mankind,” before the preparations began to exit the Eagle, Buzz Aldrin actually celebrated the communion. Because the previous year, Madalyn Murray O’Hair had sued the US Government for the Genesis 1 reading, Aldrin simply announced on the radio that everyone should “give thanks in his or her own way,” but he silently read John 15:5 and then took the Communion. The passage we are focused on in this series is no ordinary one. It has meant a lot to a lot of people. Today, we will see why. Main point: Christ is all-sufficient for all our essential needs. He is not just one among many sources. He is not just next in line of the many sources. He is not just better than all the other sources. He is the only true, promised, and ultimate source of all-sufficiency.

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Context: When people come to this passage, they take one of two approaches. Some take the viticulture or horticulture approach: Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. To understand this passage, we need to understand gardening or farming. Nothing wrong with this approach, but I don’t believe that’s all God intended. Others take more of a theological approach. They hear echoes of Exodus 3    13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” So, when they read a passage like this, it immediately confirms to them the doctrine of Jesus being fully God. That is true in passages like “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM,” but that’s not the only way “I am” is used in the Gospel of John. Sometimes, it is simply a way of speaking. Again, nothing wrong with either of those approaches, and we will use them in our series, but this passage and 6 others in John have a much deeper meaning. They are God’s answers to all our deep, essential, and universal needs.

Application: Have you ever thought about what it is that you and I really need? When we go shopping, I have to ask that question: “Do I really need that?” Sometimes the answer is “No, I just want it.” Then, Nicole will remind me about what we really need!

One of John’s purposes was to show that Jesus is the only true, promised, and ultimate source of all-sufficiency for all our deep, essential, and universal needs. These needs were experienced by God’s people Israel, and they demonstrated them for our benefit. In other words, Israel became God’s object lesson for all of us, along with being the vehicle through whom the answer came. Don’t penalize them for their failures. They had to answer to God for that, but we thank God for them and believe that they still have a future and a hope in God’s promises.

So, what are the needs and how were they ultimately met in Christ?

  1. Sustenance – “I am the Bread of life.”

John 6:35   And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst….48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

The point is that we are now to feed upon Christ every day.

  1. Direction – “I am the Light of the world.”

John 8:12   Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 9:5 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus said these words at the Feast of the Tabernacles when they were celebrating their wilderness journey of how God led them with a pillar of fire by day.

The point is that we are now to follow Christ our light in the wilderness.

  1. Protection – “I am the Door for the sheep.”

John 10      7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

  1. Provision – “I am the Good Shepherd.”

John 10      11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”

Both #3 and #4 are a reminder of the false shepherds (prophets, priests, and kings) who had misled the sheep (God’s people) – Ezekiel 34       1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered…9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! 10 Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.” 11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out…23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.”

The point is that Jesus, the son of David, is our gate and Shepherd.

  1. Sorrow and Death– “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”

If you read the Old Testament, sometimes it feels like a big, long obituary, starting in the Book of Genesis. Even Job yearned for that day in Job 19     25 “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

This was certainly the hope of the people of Israel.

The point is that Jesus, is our hope from Sorrow and Death.

  1. Sin – “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

We don’t have enough time to discuss the problem of sin among God’s people!

Again, Jesus was the fulfillment of the ages long wish of God’s people.

  1. Fruits“I am the True Vine.”

Here, the emphasis is on “alethine” or true vine. Israel was supposed to be the vine, but she failed.

  • Psalm 80 8 “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it…15 And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted, and the branch that You made strong for Yourself. 16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.”
  • Hosea 10. 1 Israel empties his vine; He brings forth fruit for himself. According to the multitude of his fruit He has increased the altars; According to the bounty of his land They have embellished his sacred pillars. 2 Their heart is divided; Now they are held guilty. He will break down their altars;He will ruin their sacred pillars.
  • Jeremiah 2:21 “Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?”
  • Ezekiel 17 6 And it grew and became a spreading vine of low stature; its branches turned toward him, but its roots were under it. So it became a vine, brought forth branches, and put forth shoots. 7 “But there was another great eagle with large wings and many feathers; and behold, this vine bent its roots toward him, and stretched its branches toward him…9 “…Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Will it thrive? Will he not pull up its roots, cut off its fruit, And leave it to wither? All of its spring leaves will wither, and no great power or many people will be needed to pluck it up by its roots.”
  • Isaiah 5 1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved a song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. 2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it; so He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. 3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. 4 What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?

In each of these places, the vine imagery was to highlight the failure of Israel to be God’s vine. Don’t misunderstand. God still has promises towards ethnic Israel. But, Jesus has become the true vine for us to bear fruits.

Invitation: Jesus is the only true, promised, and ultimate source of all-sufficiency for all our deep, essential, and universal needs. Are you looking to him? Are you connected to him? Are you looking to other sources for your needs? Do you know Christ? Are you saved?

Abundant by Dr. Abidan Shah

ABUNDANT – 1 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  How many of ya’ll were up at 12 midnight to welcome the new year? How many were up past 1, 2, 3, 4, 5? I was up in body but sleep in spirit. Someone said, “Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up for New Year’s. Middle age is when you’re forced to!” At the close of each year, we pray that God will show us his direction in the upcoming year. As we were praying and seeking God’s direction in 2022, the word “Abundant” came to us – abundant in our church; abundant in our family; abundant in our marriage; abundant in our children and grandchildren’s lives; abundant in our work; abundant in our community; and abundant in our personal life. Don’t misunderstand. By abundant, we don’t mean more money, success, and happiness. Although all that is wonderful and we want that, but here we’re talking about being abundant in bearing fruits for God’s kingdom. Main point: As we embark upon this theme of “Abundant” in the new year, it is vital that we know that “Abiding is the key to Abundance.” It is only when we remain in Christ by loving and obeying him that we bear much fruit.

John 15       1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

Context: The passage we just read comes in the middle of what’s known as the “Farewell Discourse” in the Gospel of John. Keep in mind: All four gospels talk about the final night of Jesus with his disciples before he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, taken to be tried before the chief priests, the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pontius Pilate, and then unjustly crucified; but only two of them have a “Farewell Discourse” on the night before he was taken when he gave them his final instructions. They are Luke and John. Our focus is of course on John’s Farwell Discourse, which is 15% of the Gospel. By the way, Farewell Discourse is a special genre or literary form that is found in some ancient writings and even the Old Testament. They are the final words of a famous or important person. In secular works, examples are the final words of Socrates (Plato) and Pericles (Plutarch). In the Old Testament, examples are the final words of Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and David. They have a certain pattern to them: reference to their coming death; review of their life; encouragement to press on; predictions or prophecies about the future; final warnings; and final blessings or prayer. Amazingly, the same pattern is found in the Farewell Discourse of Jesus in Luke and John but with some very important differences. Unlike secular works where many of the deaths in the pagan literature were suicide, Jesus was not headed to commit suicide. He was headed to fulfill God’s plan of redemption by giving his life on the cross for the sins of every human being. Unlike the Old Testament works, the focus was not on God’s faithfulness in the past but on Jesus himself. Jesus was much more than just some beloved guru who was about to be killed. He was the Son of God about to change the destiny of countless with his sacrifice on the cross. His Farwell Discourse tops all the rest. There is a reason why I spent this time giving you an overview of Farewell Discourses – They are very important. They must be read with extra care and detail.

Although, our focus will be on John 15 for the next couple of weeks, I want to spend some time today showing how it fits in the Farewell Discourse in John and then lead into the communion. There are 5 key words to remember:

  1. Service

Unlike the other gospels, John did not give the words of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. Instead, he described something else.

John 13      3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

This is not something that the other famous people ever did. When asked why, he responded in John 13      12 “…Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Before we can talk about bearing abundant fruit, we must learn to serve like Jesus. It is in service that we find fruits.

Application: Do you understand what it means to serve others, especially in the family?

  1. Glory

At this point Jesus began to warn them that there was a betrayer among them. Immediately, Matthew wrote in his gospel that they began to question – “Is it I?” Then Jesus identified Judas as being the one and Satan entered him and John 13:30 “…he then went out immediately. And it was night.” Then technically begins the Farewell Discourse – 31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, “Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Instead of being obedient, Peter wanted to be part of the glory, but this was not his task. He got into trouble not for denying Jesus but for disobeying him. John 13      36Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” 37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” 38 Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.”

True glory is in obedience.

Application: Do you see the danger of envy and self-glory? Do you know when you are trying to run ahead of God?

  1. Promises

John 14      2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

John 14     15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.

Application: Do you believe that you are never left an orphan? Do you recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life?

Now Jesus told them that it was time to go from the upper room, possibly on Mount Zion towards the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives. John 14:31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here. Here comes John 15. In other words, John 15 was spoken around 10-11pm as they were walking by moonlight. Three possibilities have been suggested by commentators:

  • They still talked for a while before they left because John 18:1 tells us again that they went out.
  • They walked past the Jerusalem temple. According to the Middot, “A golden vine stood over the entrance to the sanctuary, trained over posts; and whosoever gave a leaf, or a berry, or a cluster as a freewill-offering, he brought it and the priests hung it thereon.” Maybe they stopped by there and talked about John 15.
  • They walked down the hillside of Jerusalem and there were probably vineyards that they had to walk past before they crossed the Kidron, and Jesus must have stopped by there and spoken those words.

We will see this entire section in the weeks ahead.

Main thing to remember is that “Abiding is the key to Abundance.”

Application: Do you understand that in order to bear fruit, you have to remain in him? To remain means to love and obey him. Do you love and obey him?

  1. Persecution

John 16     1 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Application: Do you know that the life of abundance will have tribulations?

  1. Intercession

John 17      1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

John 17        9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.

John 17:20   “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

If you think about it, the disciples probably ran past some of these stops in the Kidron Valley and on the hill towards Jerusalem after Jesus was betrayed.

Application: Did you know that Jesus prayed for you on the night before he was betrayed in his Farwell Discourse? Do you know him? Are you saved?

First Gospel: The Cure by Dr. Abidan Shah

FIRST GOSPEL – THE CURE by Dr. Abidan Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, Duke and UNC, Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon, Steffi Graf and Gabriella Sabatini, Lebron James and Kevin Durant. What do all of these have in common? They are old rivals in their sport. They hate losing to each other. They talk junk about each other. Sometimes, many of these bitter rivals are actually best friends in private life. It is a publicity stunt. In today’s final message in our series called “First Gospel,” we are going to meet the oldest rivals in the history of the world. There is no publicity stunt here. This is as real as it gets. I am referring to Jesus and Satan. Main point: The ultimate rivalry is between Jesus and Satan. Unlike earthly rivalries, Satan is no match for Jesus. While Satan is just a fallen created being, Jesus is God’s Son, the King of kings, and he has already won the victory.

Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

Context: In the past two messages, we learned that Adam and Eve had a choice. Either they could trust and obey God, or they could fall for the Enemy’s lies. Obviously, they chose what was wrong. Consequently, there were damages. There was a damage in the relationship between Adam and Eve. Then, there was a damage in the animal world, but it didn’t stop there. There was also a damage in the woman’s life, especially with regards to childbearing, and in the man’s life, especially with regards to work and harvest. In the midst of all these damages, God also had the cure to Adam and Eve’s predicament. Listen again to Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” There are 3 important things that that were part of the cure:

  1. Enmity between the Serpent and the Woman
  2. Enmity between the descendants of the Serpent and the descendants of the Woman
  3. Enmity between the Serpent and the Messiah

Let’s look at each of them carefully:

  1. Enmity between the Serpent and the Woman

Although, we looked at the actual dislike of snakes by women in the last sermon, as I mentioned last week, there is more involved here. Since Satan tricked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, there is now a natural dislike of Satan for women, and the women for Satan. Ladies – be careful. Satan still wants to deceive you. He will constantly try to get you to doubt your self-worth. Are you pretty enough? Are you smart enough? Are you successful enough? On the flip side, God has also given women the sense of discernment. Nicole can warn me about people even when I am gullible.

But there’s more: Revelation 12      1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. 6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. 7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” 13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Who is this woman? This is Israel in the Tribulation being harassed by Satan. All throughout history, Satan has gone after God’s people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hence, it is vital for us to stand with Israel. Right from the beginning God has warned us about this enmity.

  1. Enmity between the descendants of the Serpent and the descendants of the Woman

According to the curse on the Serpent, there will two groups of people in humanity: descendants of the Serpent and descendants of the Woman. The descendants of Satan are those who despise God and want to deceive others into disobeying God. These descendants are not biological but ideological. On the other hand, there are the descendants of the Woman. They are not perfect, but they seek to be like God. There will be hostility between these two groups. In the very next chapter, we meet the first brothers, Cain and Abel. Cain is warned – Genesis 4:7 “…And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Unfortunately, he chose to kill his brother. Then, we meet Esau and Jacob. Genesis 25      31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” 32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” 33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. After Jacob rightfully got Isaac to bless him, listen to Genesis 27:41 So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” Then, Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him, but ended up selling him into slavery. Finally, the children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt. Have you ever noticed what’s on Pharaoh’s miter/crown? Snake known as Uraeus. It was a symbol of power, authority, and even deity. Down through the ages, the hatred has continued, even at the time of Christ. John 8      39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

When you reject Christ as your Savior and King, you opt out of the family of the woman and opt into the family of Satan. How about you? Right from the beginning God has warned us about this enmity.

  1. Enmity between the Serpent and the Messiah

Not only does the seed (zera) have a collective meaning, but it also has a singular meaning. The noun can be both collective and individual. After the collective meaning earlier, this is now a singular meaning. In other words, this is about one coming to bring judgment over the Enemy for what he did. Something very important to understand: Satan does not know which woman. Neither does Eve know which son. Therefore, he has been going after the young ever since. So also, Eve thought that Cain was the one. Genesis 4:1 “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “‘I have acquired a man from the LORD.’” She was mistaken again in Genesis 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” Every woman had to raise every child as if he could be the one to break the curse. That’s why Paul said in 1 Timothy 2      14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

However, God was making it more and more specific – Genesis 12:7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants (seed) I will give this land.” Genesis 13      15 “for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.”

How will the seed of the woman break the curse? “…He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” The Hebrew word “suph” means crush, bruise, or strike. One will be a lethal blow and the other just an injury. This is exactly what happened at the cross. Satan tried to strike his heel, thinking that he had killed Jesus. What he didn’t realize is that this was all part of God’s predetermined plan. As he was striking one heel, the other heel was being lifted and positioned bull’s eye over his skull. When Jesus rose from the grave, he crushed Satan’s head. He still has some life in him to harass believers and mislead the lost but not for long. His time is coming. In the meantime, Jesus has destroyed death and grave, powers and principalities, Even before the coming of Jesus, the Jewish Talmud talked about the “heels of the Messiah.”

Which seed do you belong to? Are you saved? Are you helping reaching others with the gospel? Are you taking the cure to others?

First Gospel: The Damage

FIRST GOSPEL – THE DAMAGE by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  For the past few years, we have been blessed to take a trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Some of you have been there. It’s such a beautiful laidback place. We really enjoy going there. Last year, we went by a shopping center that had a boot store. I went in and asked for a size 11. The man brought it, and I put on the right leg. No trouble. Then, I tried to put on the left one and trouble began. It was impossible! I struggled and struggled. I finally got my foot in, and it loosened a little but not much. I even called a young man from church who had bought the same shoe sometime back, and I asked him if it was tight when he first got it. He said that it was actually loose, and he had to drop down a size. Now, I was really confused. The salesman tried to give me some pointers on how to break the boot in, but I didn’t think that was the problem. So, I asked him for a size 11 ½, and I began the process of removing the boot. The right was no problem, but the left was not going to come off. I thought it would be easier to chop my foot off! Finally, I got it off with the help of my boys. As I was putting it back in the box, I noticed on the bottom – size 9. Sure enough, right boot was 11, but left boot was 9. No wonder! Apparently, it was shipped that way by mistake. No amount of pushing and shoving would have solved that problem. So also, life in this world has been shipped this way since the Garden of Eden. It’s not that all of life is horrible, but there is a problem. All around us we can see and feel the impact of the Fall. We are in a series from Genesis 3 titled “First Gospel,” and today we come to the second message titled: THE DAMAGE. Main point: Life is wonderful, but it has been damaged by the fall. We try to enjoy life with the right foot, but repeatedly we are reminded by the left foot that not all of life is wonderful. Therefore, Jesus came – to fix what was damaged in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursedis the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.”

Last weekend, we learned how the choice of Adam and Eve to take the forbidden fruit brought original sin into the world. In this message, we will survey the damage that came into this world because of that choice. Of course, we know the fundamental damages: break in the relationship between God and man; and break in the relationship between man and woman; physical and spiritual death; but there’s much more. Before we start listing all the damages because of the Fall, let me clear up a common misunderstanding from Genesis 1:31 “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” It is often assumed that “good” means “perfect,” but that’s not true. The Hebrew word for good is “tov.” The word has the idea of being beautiful, pleasant, orderly, efficient, and morally good. It was not some static and rigid state. Some people assume that there was no entropy before the Fall. Entropy has to do with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Sometimes it is called the “Law of Disorder” or the “Law of Decay.” Keep in mind that God made matter and energy in the first week of creation. According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, “The total amount of mass-energy in the universe is constant.” In other words, “Energy is merely transformed from one form to another. It is neither created nor destroyed.” According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, “While energy is conserved, it becomes less useful over time.” In other words, “The amount of energy available for work is running out.”

Example: When you make your coffee in the morning, you add cold creamer to your hot coffee. Does your coffee get hotter or a little colder? It gets a little colder. The hot coffee loses some energy, but the creamer gains some energy. Energy is conserved. That’s the First Law of Thermodynamics. Here’s a question: When you pour the hot coffee into the cold mug, do you ever feel that the mug gets colder, or the coffee gets hotter? Heat is only transferred from hot to cold, and not vice versa. Energy is lost. That’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Important point: These laws did not begin after the Fall. They were there from the first day of creation, even the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Without the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the heat from the sun would not be transferred to the earth; Adam and Eve would be slipping as they walked in the Garden of Eden (friction helps us to remain stable); also breathing (movement of gas from high to a low pressure) and digestion (breaking down of complex food molecules) are all the results of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (Lee Anderson, Danny Faulkner). It is often claimed that Bible believers don’t understand scientific principles or that science contradicts the biblical account of creation. This is just not true. We believe that both the First and the Second Law of Thermodynamics line up with the biblical account of creation. Even in the sky, as good as things were before the fall, there were still craters on the moon, and supernovas and shooting stars occasionally. Someone may ask: If we believe that things were already running downhill or decaying before the Fall, doesn’t that mean that there was a “fall” before the Fall? It could be that God balanced out the energy until the Fall to keep diseases, suffering, and death away.

By the way, he has done that time to time for his people. Deuteronomy 8:4 “Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.” Deuteronomy 29:5 “And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet.” Joel 2:25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust…” Psalm 103      2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases…5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Application: Has the Lord done that for you? Can you see how the Lord has turned back time in your life?

So, what were the real damages due to the Fall? In the last couple of messages, we have seen what the Fall did to the relationship between the husband and the wife.

  1. Animal World

Genesis 3      14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

Next week, we will focus on the real culprit behind the Serpent and the enmity between his seed and her seed. Here, I want us to see that God first cursed the serpent and then also all the animals. Why? Animals were supposed to be under the dominion of the man and the woman. They were created for the benefit of Adam and Eve. When they chose to harm them, led by the serpent, they were harmed in return. First, the serpent – more than likely, he walked upright initially, but God changed his DNA. Now he would slither on the ground, sign of an unclean animal. He was “arum” (subtle), but now he was “arur” (banned). I know some people have pet snakes, and that’s fine; but typically, people all over the world are terrified of snakes and want to kill them. Also, they do literally eat dust with their forked tongue. At the roof of the snake’s mouth is an organ called the “vomeronasal organ,” that detects chemicals, and the tongue carries samples from the dirt to the organ (Sarfati).

Also, the animal world turned against each other in the form of predator and prey. Many went from being herbivores to carnivores. In the end, this will be reversed. Isaiah 11      6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Isn’t that a beautiful world!

  1. Woman

Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

We’ve seen the second half of the verse, but how about the first? It refers to the entire process from pregnancy to childbirth. It is painful. This pain is not coming through some form of fear, but it is physically discomforting. The potential of pain may have been there before the Fall, but God balanced it out as we mentioned earlier. Now, things had changed, but it was not evil. Even Jesus talked about this: John 16     21 “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” Paul adds: 1 Timothy 2     14 “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” We’ll see that next week.

  1. Man

Genesis 3       17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.

A thorn is simply a leaf that is “tightly curled upon itself.” This was a product of the Fall.

 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

Now, the fruit trees would not be enough, he will have to become a farmer and sweat. Then, he will go into the same ground!

Romans 8      19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

There’s so much here! So much was damaged! This is why Jesus came, to undo the damage. Do you know him? Have you been saved from the damage? More damage is coming when you reject him.

Operation Restore: Part 2 by Dr. Abidan and Nicole Shah

OPERATION RESTORE – 2 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Every time I wear a white shirt, I get something on it. Anybody else has the same problem? I try to be as careful as possible, but it doesn’t fail. Then, I will send it to the dry cleaners, and it is as brand new as ever. This is not possible if I get bleach on it! Last weekend, we began this two-part series on marriage called “OPERATION RESTORE.” In our series on apologetics, we came to the section in Genesis 2 where God made the first man Adam from the dust of the ground, and then he fashioned Eve from Adam’s rib. At first, it was paradise, but in less than 7 verses, sin came in and their relationship fell apart. In today’s message, we will see what it will take for us to restore the joy, beauty, and purpose of marriage. Here’s the main point: Biblical Marriage is a two-person team where the husband leads by sacrificial love and the wife submits with godly respect. This is only possible where both have put on Christ, and the Spirit of Christ fills and empowers them.

Genesis 3       8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

Context: What a strange feeling this must have been for Adam and Eve! They were like children who had broken a precious vase, and now they were hiding from their parents. Apparently, God would come and walk with them in the “leruach hayyom,” lit. “at the wind/breeze of the day.” It means that it was at some point after mid-afternoon when the sun’s heat had gone down and there was possibly a nice breeze blowing. This was not a one-time deal because the verb “mithallek” means a pattern or habit of walking. In other words, this was their custom everyday – God came down and Adam and Eve walked with him every evening, except this one day, God came but Adam and Eve were nowhere to be found. In fact, a break had also come in their relationship with each other. The source of this was sin and Satan – Genesis 3:1 “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.”

I know this raises a lot of questions, but, in this message, our focus will be on marriage restoration. In the next few weeks, we will talk about other details. At this point, I’m going to invite Nicole to come and join me on the stage and talk from a woman’s perspective as to what happened.

Why did Eve eat the fruit?

NICOLE: Deceived

Genesis 3      1 “…And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Why did Satan go to Eve first? We don’t know for sure, but here are some suggestions:

  • Maybe, she was the innocent one. For starters, she was not suspicious of a talking snake! Everything was new and wonder-filled in Eden. She had no reason to be afraid or cautious.
  • Maybe, she was intrigued with the ability to choose like God. It symbolized freedom without submission to God. It represented equality with God. It gave the illusion of being in control of one’s own life and destiny.
  • Maybe, she was more spiritually minded than Adam: maybe she was designed by God to nurture the children in his fear and admonition; maybe to attain the glory of God (1 Corinthians 11:7 “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”)
  • Maybe, she was designed to accommodate (women led false religion are “all ways are equal;” men led false religion are “outright denial of God”). Instead of Satan being a liar, she deemed God to be the liar.

Nonetheless, she was deceived. 2 verses in the New Testament clearly say that: 2 Corinthians 11:3 “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 1 Timothy 2:14 “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

Why did she eat the fruit? The Bible tells us! Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” If you compare this to 1 John 2:16, you can see a pattern – “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” Very similar to how Satan later tempted Jesus also in Luke 4:1-12.

Application: If you don’t fill your mind with the truth of God’s Word, you are susceptible to the Enemy. Only with a mind full of God’s Word, there is no room for accommodation. Eve failed to defer to Adam’s headship. How about you ladies? Do you recognize your weaknesses? Are you filling your mind daily with the Word of God?

Why did Adam eat the fruit?

ABIDAN: Disobedience

Genesis 3:6 “…She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Did Eve deceive Adam? 2 reasons why Adam was not deceived:

  1. First, Adam was not present when Satan approached Eve. It seems as if Satan knew not to try that with Adam. Some people think that Adam was standing there the whole time. Grammatically, “the prepositional phrase ‘with her’ (immah), which we rendered as a clause, is first found at this point, strongly suggests that at the outset, when the temptation began, Adam was not with Eve but had only joined her at this time” (Leupold).
  2. Secondly, there’s nothing in the text that says that he was deceived. The Old Testament does not talk about this much, but the oldest book declares it clearly in Job 31:33“If I have covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding my iniquity in my bosom, 34Because I feared the great multitude, and dreaded the contempt of families, so that I kept silence and did not go out of the door.” In other words, Eve was not ultimately held responsible for opening the door to sin, but Adam was! She fell into sin, but Adam transgressed. The New Testament has couple of references to this: Romans 5 12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many…17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Also, 1 Corinthians 15      21 “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

Application: Men, do you realize the sense of rebelliousness in us? Do you understand the responsibility that God has given to you? Do you see the consequences that follow when we do whatever we want? The reason Eve failed was because Adam did not stop the sin. So also, in your homes today.

How did sin impact them?

Genesis 3:7 “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”

Prior to fall, they were one flesh. When they saw each other, they saw “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. After the Fall, they saw the person who betrayed me and the person who I let down. Nakedness represents shame which is a by-product of guilt. Guilt towards God (unbelief – walking with God in the cool of the day previously), towards others (consequences – crime, immorality, suffering, pain, division, disease, and death), and towards each other (two flesh division, betrayal, blame). Genesis 3       9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

Two-fleshedness brought Selfishness, anger, and blame.

Is restoration possible for Marriage?

NICOLE:

Genesis 3:13 And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Then God pronounced a curse on the serpent. Abidan will go over this in the week’s ahead.

Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” We understand sorrow and pain in conception and childbirth, but what does that mean “your desire shall be for your husband?” The Hebrew word for “desire” is “teshuka,” which is found 3 times in the Old Testament. Here is the first, then regarding Cain when God tells him that “sins desire is for you,” and Song of Songs 7:10 where it is about romantic desire between husband and wife. Based on the context, most scholars believe that the word “desire” here has a negative meaning of “contention for leadership.” In other words, she will seek to overpower and undermine his leadership.

  1. Recognize your desire to control.

Genesis 3:21 “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.”

Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

  1. Receive God’s clothing in Christ.

We cannot change on our own. We need the power of Christ in our lives. In our weakness, he proves to be strong.

Obedience to God’s Word is the key to not falling for the enemy’s lies and returning to the original design for marriage

A recommendation for couples – Six pillars of intimacy by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo

ABIDAN:

Adam was to lead with sacrificial love. He was to be grateful for the helper God had made for him.

  1. Reject the desire to domineer.

Genesis 3      17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”

  1. Receive God’s clothing in Christ.

Ephesians 5       25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Restoration is possible by God’s grace.

Invitation: Are you clothed in Christ? Are you saved? Are you being the husband and wife God has called you to be?

Re-Created by Dr. Abidan Shah

RE-CREATED by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Introduction: One of my favorite shows on TV is the Andy Griffith show. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I have watched each episode dozens of times. One of the characters on the show is Gomer Pyle. He is a sort of simple-minded auto mechanic working at Wally’s Filling Station. Some of his funniest lines were “Shazam!” and “Surprise, surprise, surprise.” He went on to star in his own TV comedy where he joined the US Marine. In real life, the actor Jim Nabors was gay, as many of you may or may not know. That’s just one example of someone who appears normal, funny, smart, winsome, and successful, but they are living a lifestyle that the Bible expressly calls sinful. How do we answer them or even others who may not be gay but who argue that this is normal and should be treated as no different than heterosexual relationship or marriage? Here are some questions that came through our apologetics questionnaire: What about consensual, committed, and caring gay relationships? Is there a gay gene? Aren’t SOCE (Sexual Orientation Change Efforts) proven to be harmful?  Main point: Our society and culture are increasingly trying to normalize homosexuality and homosexual marriage. Both scripturally and scientifically, homosexuality is unnatural, inappropriate, and sinful. Nonetheless, every person can find hope and healing through Jesus Christ.

Genesis 2      21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: “This is now 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 mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Context: If you remember, we read this passage last time, but there’s still so much that is packed into it. It starts off with a binary being (sexually undifferentiated) who is split into two sexually differentiated beings (Robert Gagnon). Marriage is the coming together of these two sexually complementary beings and becoming the sexual unity of the original Adam. A man and a man or a woman and a woman cannot come together to become a one-flesh or the original binary being. In other words, a single-sex union cannot bring sexual wholeness. With this in mind, I want to divide this message into the 3 questions:

Question #1. What about consensual, committed, and caring gay relationships? This requires a scriptural answer. The first clear instance of homosexual behavior is found inGenesis 19      1 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. 2 And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.” 3 But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. 4 Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” Similar account is also found in Judges 19 of a Levite and his concubine in the city of Gibeah of Benjamin. It is typically claimed by some that this was just an instance of forced, non-consensual, unloving, cruel gang rape. Check out these verses – Ezekiel 16      49 “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.” This is supported by the laws in Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” and Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”

The New Testament also supports this view. If you remember from last week, Jesus and Paul were in agreement with the Old Testament laws, but here are some specific passages – Jude 7 “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” and  Romans 1       21 “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Answer to Question #1: Whether it is consensual or not, committed or not, caring or not, homosexuality is still a sin before God.

Question #2. Is there a gay gene? This requires a scientific answer (J. Alan Branch, Born This Way?: Homosexuality, Science, and the Scriptures).

  1. To start with, we need to be careful about the Freudian mother-father-child triad of sexual tension. Yes, it is true that if the roles of fathers and mothers are not clear or appropriate in a child’s life that it does impact their personalities. We have seen that more and more in the past 50 years, but the Freudian model is not the answer for all homosexual lifestyles.
  2. We need to discard Alfred Kinsey’s influence and the 10% myth. According to Branch’s research, “The true number of people who are homosexual is much lower than Kinsey suggests. The pro-homosexual Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law reported in 2011 that about 3.5% of American adults self-identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and that a further .03% identify as transgender. Among the 3.5% who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, bisexuals comprise a slight majority of 1.8% as opposed to 1.7% who identify as gay or lesbian. About 1.1% of women and 2.2% of men self-identify as exclusively homosexual. This is consistent with findings from a 1993 study of sexual behavior of men in the United States which claimed only 2% of men aged 20–39 had any same gender sexual activity in the previous ten years, and only 1% reported being exclusively homosexual during this interval.”
  3. There are several other issues: Brain Plasticity (Neuron pathways due to experiences, especially pornography), Prenatal Hormones (levels of exposure to testosterones and cases of DSD – Disorders of Sexual Development, part of the fallen world), gay gene (Xq28, 8q12 regions in the genome), brain development, etc. All of these have been proven to be inconclusive.

Answer to question 2. There can be correlation but not causation. Predisposition is not predetermination (Branch).

Question #3. Aren’t SOCE (Sexual Orientation Change Efforts) proven to be harmful?The answer is yes and no. First, let me say from scripture that it is definitely possible to find hope and healing through the gospel. 1 Corinthians 6        9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Let me also add very clearly that it is not as easy and simple as you may think. Here are 4 scenarios:

#1. Mostly Negative Life with Salvation

  • Begin weighed down by the Fall
  • Negative disposition
  • Negative upbringing
  • Bad experiences
  • Satan/evil
  • SAVED – tips scale all the way to the right
  • Obedience
  • Fellowship
  • Ministry
  • If not, the scales tend to tip back, but that does not mean that salvation is lost.

#2. Mostly Positive Life with Salvation

  • Begin weighed down by the Fall
  • Some negative disposition
  • Some positive disposition develops
  • Positive upbringing
  • Good experiences
  • SAVED – tips scale all the way to the right
  • Positive influences
  • Consistent walk with God
  • Awareness of the Enemy
  • Failure to be aware of the Enemy can also tip the scales back terribly.

#3 – Imbalanced Life and Unsure of Salvation

  • Begin weighed down by the Fall
  • Negative disposition
  • Positive upbringing
  • Negative experiences
  • SAVED – tips scale all the way to the right, but it won’t stay there
  • Mixed messages (obedience, fellowship, and ministry)
  • Insufficient truth
  • Unawareness of the Enemy
  • Inconsistent walk with God
  • “?” added to SAVED

#4 – Very Positive Life but No Salvation

  • Begin weighed down by the Fall
  • Positive disposition
  • Positive upbringing
  • Good experiences
  • Church
  • Good decisions
  • Salvation never comes, so the scale is still weighed down on the left

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Invitation: God’s grace is available to every person. He is there to comfort. He understands the problem with the fall. Hence, he sent his Son Jesus to die for us. We should stand firm in our conviction without losing our compassion.

Created by Dr. Abidan Shah

CREATED by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  How many of ya’ll remember watching the show “Home Improvement” with Tim the Tool Man Taylor, played by Tim Allen. He had a TV show with his assistant Al Borland who would try to warn him to follow directions, but he wouldn’t listen and end up getting hurt. Also funny were his interactions with his wife Jill. They highlighted the differences between men and women. Of course, some of them were over exaggerated, but some things were true. For the next couple of weeks, we will focus on some of the questions that were sent on gender issues: Where should Christians stand on the gender debate? Aren’t male and female differences imposed by the culture? I have a friend who is gay and does not care about Christianity. How should I respond? I have a friend who is gay but also claims to be a Christian. How should I respond? Before we dive into answering these questions, we need to back up and deal with another issue that we brought up in the opening of this series – Biblical Authority. Main point: The real battleground in some of the recent cultural attacks against Christianity is on Biblical Authority. It stems from seeing Truth as being distinct from Authority. To the contrary, God is the source of all truth, and he is the ultimate authority. Hence, the Bible is the truth of God tested over time, and it claims authority over our lives. Failure to obey the Bible is failure to submit to God and refusal to walk in the truth.

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Background: This verse has become the epicenter of the battleground in the recent gender debates. There are many ways that people respond to this verse:

  • If you grew up in a Christian environment where the Bible was held up as the source of ultimate truth, the Word of God, and this was reinforced throughout life’s ups and downs, this verse is not a problem.
  • If you grew up in an environment where the Bible was not held up as the source of ultimate truth, the Word of God, this verse is a problem.
  • If you grew up believing that the Bible is the source of Ultimate truth, the Word of God, but you faced circumstances or information that challenged this view and substantial counter reasons were not given, this verse becomes a problem.

The focus of the message is not as much over the first two groups as it is over the last group. Here, the problem stems from failure to offer adequate reasons. Sometimes, it is even because of behaviors of those who claim to follow biblical authority but do not live it out that causes confusion, resentment, and even activism against the Bible.

We’ve touched on the matter of biblical authority as compared to scriptures of other religions. Here, I want to return to the subject and focus on biblical authority as applied to some of the issues we are facing from our culture, especially gender issues. Once again, here’s the definition of the “authority of Scripture” by Wayne Grudem – “The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.” In fact, submission to scriptures is submission to God, more specifically to Jesus Christ. Also, once again, to quote J. I. Packer (famous evangelical theologian who authored “Knowing God”): “Authority is the basic theological issue into which discussions of biblical revelation, inspiration, and interpretation finally run.”

Now, we are living in a culture that sees Truth and Authority as distinct.

Let’s begin with the basics about Biblical Authority:

  1. The Bible claims to be God’s Words.

Numbers 22:38 And Balaam said to Balak, “Look, I have come to you! Now, have I any power at all to say anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must speak.”

Deuteronomy 18      18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

2 Peter 1:21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus;

2 Peter 3:16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

1 Corinthians 14:37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

  1. The Holy Spirit convinces us that the Bible is God’s Word.

1 Corinthians 2      13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

How about the truthfulness of the Bible? Aren’t those distinct and even contradictory at times?

  1. God is Truth.

Titus 1       1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

  1. The Bible claims to be God’s truth for life.

Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

1 Thessalonians 2:13 “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

  1. The Bible has been proven to be true in everything that it affirms.
  • Origin
  • Operations
  • Predicament
  • Prescription (Salvation and Daily Life)
  • Future

How does this apply to the current gender debate?

  1. Designed to complement.

Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

  1. One-flesh Union

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

  1. Procreation

Genesis 1.     27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth

  1. Affirmation by Jesus

Matthew 19       4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

  1. Divine Symbol

Ephesians 5      31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Invitation: The Bible claims authority over our lives. The Bible has been tested and retested and found to stand true, and it demands our submission. In fact, submission to scriptures is submission to God, more specifically Jesus Christ.

Where do you stand? Do you know the person of Truth, Jesus Christ?

Ascent by Dr. Abidan Shah

ASCENT by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Geico, the auto insurance company, is known for its funny ads. How many of ya’ll remember their cavemen ads back in 2004? They featured these Neanderthal-like cavemen who were trying to make it in a modern setting. The premise of their ad was that their website was “so easy, a caveman could do it.” This offended the cavemen who happen to be standing nearby. All joking aside, it is commonly assumed that human beings evolved from cavemen like the Neanderthals, Australopithecine, or Homo Erectus, or that we are similar to animals, especially apes. In our series on apologetics called “Contend,” we will answer some of the questions that were raised: Do humans and chimps share a common ancestor? Are human and chimp DNA very similar? Where do the Neanderthals fit in the Genesis account? Who were the cavemen? Here’s the main point: God has made us in his image. The image was never lost at the Fall, just marred. Through Jesus, we are restored and made new creations in the likeness of God. Evolution from ape-like creatures or “cavemen” is not only false, but it also devalues the image of God in us and seriously undermines the gospel.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Context: As you know, this was Day 6 of the creation week. God was about to create the final act of his creation. It would be unlike anything that he had made thus far. It would be the crown of his creation. Unlike the previous acts of creation, this was not just a “let there be…” Instead, listen again to verse 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Several important things here:

  • First, unlike the previous creations of matter, light, plants, celestial bodies, and animals, this one involved the entire godhead. Yes, all were involved so far, but this one was going to be special. In fact, this is also where we first meet the plurality of the godhead. Later, we will learn that God is “trinity” – Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Again, this implies that human beings are a special creation.
  • Second, unlike the previous creations, this one will be in the “image” and “likeness” of God himself. The Hebrew word for “image” is “tselem” and “likeness” is “demut.” Both imply that human beings will be similar but not identical to the original, that is God. Similar in that we will share the communicable attributes of God – love, justice, creativity, reason, grace, mercy, truth, relationality, and even holiness. Even these, we will not perfectly share with God. Nonetheless, not identical in the sense that we will not be like him – omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, sovereign, transcendent, unchanging, and self-existent. These and more attributes make God who he is.

Being “image bearers” brings some very important benefits:

  1. It makes us God’s representatives in the world, called to rule over his creation. 26“…let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
  2. It gives us special dignity above all other living creatures. Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God he made man.” Also, James 3 8 “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.”
  3. It allows us to have a special relationship with him, unlike anything the living creatures can ever experience. Of course, God is spirit, but when he appeared on earth, it was always in a human form and not any animal. So also, his angels appeared as humans. Ultimately, the plan of salvation was for us. Jesus is God becoming man.

I can go on and on, but I want to stop here and make a point that will help us answer the questions that were raised – Ever since the beginning of time, human beings have been either trying to exalt themselves to the level of God or devalue themselves to the animal world. For some reason, we cannot seem to accept the gift of “image bearers.” In the past couple of hundred years, this has expressed itself by either claiming that we have evolved from ape-like creatures or from “cavemen” over millions or hundreds of thousands of years. Let’s look at each of them:

  1. Evolution from Ape-like Creatures:

Although Charles Darwin did not talk about human evolution in the Origin of the Species, he talked about it 12 years later in his other book The Descent of Man. His arguments were based on anatomical, embryological, and behavioral evidence, not fossils. Until his death in 1882, no fossils for non-human or pre-human ancestors of human beings had been found. He blamed it on the lack of fossil research. Bottom line: Human and primate fossils are extremely rare (See David Menton and Marvin Lubenow). About 95% of all known fossils are marine invertebrates (don’t have a backbone/spine). About 4.7 % are algae and plants and 0.2 % are insects and other invertebrates. Finally, 0.1% are vertebrates and out of this a small fraction are primates (humans, apes, monkeys, and lemurs). Maybe about 6000 human individuals if counting single teeth and bones. Much more apes and monkeys in the fossils than humans.

Differences between Human and Ape skulls (Menton):

  • Small vs Large (1400cm3 vs 500cm3)
  • Sloped vs Vertical Face
  • Flat vs Curved Forehead
  • Flat vs Protruding Nasal Bones
  • Jaws and Teeth (humans have thick enamel)
  • Pelvis and legs (the gait is different to walk on two legs)
  • Carrying angle of the knee
  • Locking Knee
  • Foot Bones
  • Hand Bones (the thumb is the most distinguishable feature, longer in humans)

What about ape-men fossils? From combining bones of apes and humans (Piltdown Man in Natural History Museum in London with the skull of a human and jaw of an orangutan, with the teeth filed down. It was left there for 50 years.), claims that ape skeleton is human, and vice versa. Unfortunately, lots of pictures drawn by artists also misrepresent the facts. Now there’s a new category called “hominin,” which includes Ardipithecus, Australopithecus(Lucy), Paranthropus, and the genera Homo. Ardipithecus = Afar Ethiopian word “ardi” meaning “ground” and “pithekos” = Greek for “ape.” Australopithecus = Latin “australis” means “southern” and pithekos. Paranthropus = “par” beside and “Anthropos” man. They seem quite official sounding on the surface, but they are not. The Homo group leads us into the next category.

  1. Evolution from Cavemen:
  • Homo Habilis (Homo = Latin for man, “handyman,” 1.4-2.4 million years ago)
  • Homo Rudolfensis (1.9 million years)
  • Homo Erectus (Java Man and Peking Man, 1.9 million – 144,000 years ago)
  • Homo Heidelbergensis (found in 1908 near Heidelberg, Germany, 700,000-200,000)
  • Homo Neanderthalensis (from Neander Valley in Germany in 1856. Since then, about 500 are found in central and western Europe, the Carpathians, Balkans, Ukraine, Western Russia, and northern Asia, 400,000-40,000)
  • Homo Floresiensis (Flores, Indonesia, “hobbits,” maybe deformity)
  • Homo Sapiens (us about 200,000 years ago)

Basic differences: large brows in adults and wide nasal cavities.

3 contradictory evidences:

  • the DNA evidence shows that we are the same. Through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology, in 1993 onwards, they were able to study mitochondrial DNA. Savante Paabo, a Swedish biologist, has been able to map the genome of Neanderthals and has found that we are not only similar, but also, we have mixed. (Some are gone but many may still be around, but they are not inferior (Papua, New Guinea, Australian Aborigines, and Mamanwa, Philippines).
  • Fossil records shows close association and integration with modern humans.
  • Archaeological evidence shows that their behavior and thoughts are human.

How does evolution from apes or cavemen undermine the gospel?

  1. It undermines the Problem

Rom. 5:12   Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many…18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

  1. It undermines the Prescription

Ephesians 4      20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

  1. It undermines the Promise

1 Corinthians 15       45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

Invitation: Are you still part of Adam’s family? Jesus has come to bring you into the family of God. Are you saved?

Distinct by Dr. Abidan Shah

DISTINCT by Dr. Abidan Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Hugh Lofting was an English author and a soldier in the British Army during World War 1. Instead of writing to his children about the horrors of the war, he decided to write to them imaginative letters which later became the inspiration of the children’s novels “Doctor Dolittle. I doubt many here have read the books, but I am sure you may have seen the movies. In fact, just last year another one came out. As you know, the interesting thing about Dr. Dolittle is that he can talk to animals, which takes him into all kinds of adventures. If only animals could talk, they could tell us so much about how they got here and how God takes care of them! In today’s message we will learn a little but about how God designed the animals – on the land, in the air, and in the waters. Questions: “Is there a pattern to life?” Is natural selection unbiblical?” “Aren’t similarities in forms evidence of common origin?” “What is Baraminology?” Main point: The Biblical account of the creation of animals testifies to the creative genius and power of God. The animals are a reminder of the providential care of God, the effects of sin, and the coming glorious redemption through Jesus Christ.

Genesis 1      24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Context: Now we come to the sixth day of creation when God created the land creatures and then the first man and woman. In this message, we will not focus on Adam and Eve, just the animals – those created to be in the water and in the air on day four and those created to be on the land on day five. There is a special phrase that is attached at the end of each of these creative acts, even to the plants. It is found about 10 times between Genesis 1:11-25 – “laminah”

  • 11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind,
  • 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind.
  • 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind.

The Hebrew word “min” means “kind.” “Kind” is not “species,” as we use the term today. We need to back up and understand where the current taxonomy comes from. It comes from a Swedish creationist named Carl Linnaeus in 1700s (Bodie Hodge). He gave the following classification:

Kingdom > Phylum > Class > Order > Family > Genus > Species.

He did not use the Bible but simply the available knowledge and observation. Now, secular scientists have added a couple of more categories in this classification:

Domain > Kingdom > Phylum > Subphylum > Class > Cohort Order > Suborder > Infraorder > Superfamily > Family > Genus > Species.

Again, the Bible does not mean “species” only when it used the word “min.” It can also include “genus,” “family,” and “order.” The point is this – when the Bible uses the word “min” or “kind,” it is referring to the “original” created kinds.

How do we determine which animals belong to which kind? This is where the discipline of “Baraminology” comes in. The word “baramin” was coined by a biologist named Frank Marsh. It’s a combination of 2 Hebrew words: “bara” means “created” and “min” means “kind.” Hence, “baramin” = “created according to its kind.” Instead of focusing only on “similarities in appearance, behavior and distribution and the ability to interbreed and produce fertile offspring” (Garner and Todd Wise), Marsh considered many different species to be in the same species. According to modern science wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingoes, and house dogs would be different species. Marsh said that they were all one baramin. He placed special emphasis on the ability of the species to make hybrid offspring. For example: the group of birds under Anatidae that include ducks, geese, and swans. Altogether, “there are about 146 species and 126 of them are connected directly or indirectly through hybridization” (Garner). This is not always the best test. How do we classify extinct animals just based on fossil records? How about bacteria, that don’t reproduce sexually? Sometimes, some animals may have lost the ability to interbreed, but they still belong to the same “kind.” This is where scientists Kurt Wise has proposed “baraminology” to argue that it’s not just similarities but also differences that decide on the proper “original kind.”

When all this is properly classified, how does the “tree of life” look? The tree of life is an evolutionary concept, where everything is connected. It is assumed that young earth creationists believe in the lawn of life with the fixity of species. To the contrary, we believe that it is more like the “orchard of life,” where every group is distinct (Kurt Wise). They had tremendous potential to bring forth many new species and varieties. This took place after the flood. People often wonder how all those millions of species got inside the ark. There were not millions of species but good number of kinds with the capacity to diversify. For example (Garner): There was one cat family that gave us lions, tigers, leopards, pumas, lynxes, and regular cats. There was one camel family that gave rise to the Old-World camels (dromedary and Bactrian) and the new world camels (llama, alpaca, guanaco, and vicuna). So also, horses. It is after the flood that a rapid development of the various kinds of species took place. The animals headed to Noah’s ark probably looked similar to our present animals but different.

In God’s providence, they had all the necessary DNA to reproduce and adapt to their new surroundings. Todd Wood, creation biologist, calls it “the AGEing process.” It has been known for some time that some parts of the DNA are able to make copies and move around. They can be harmful, almost like parasites. Wood thinks that they were not harmful originally – “Altruistic Genetic Elements” = they were good genes designed by God to produce diversity. Unfortunately, they don’t serve that purpose today. Ultimately, all these kinds went through the process of adaptation, natural selection, and biological change quickly into all kinds of species that we know today. Here’s a simplistic example: Maybe the first dog kind had medium length fur with one gene of long hair and one short. When two of these interbreed, there will be short fur dogs, medium fur dogs, and long fur dogs. If the climate is cold, the long will survive. If hot, the short will survive.  Doesn’t this sound like modern evolution? No (Garner).

  • Unlike evolutionary theory which goes back to a single ancestor, God made everything according to its kind.
  • Unlike evolutionary theory which trusts natural processes, God designed the organisms to change.
  • Unlike evolutionary theory which looks to random mutations, God placed in the organisms the potential for variety.
  • Unlike evolutionary theory which gives rise to new kinds, God allows speciation to work only within its kind.

People often mistakenly think that Charles Darwin came up with the idea of Natural Selection. That’s not true. It was actually a creationist named Edward Blyth. He wrote about it 22 years before Darwin published his Origin of the Species in 1859.

Why are there so many similarities? There may be similarities between the duck, duckbill dinosaur, and the platypus, but this does not mean that they came from the same ancestor. It tells us 3 things (Garner):

  1. Necessary for creation to function
  2. Perfect design for multiple uses
  3. Same Designer

Still some questions: What about Embryonic similarity? What about Vestigial Organs? What about Defense and Attack Structures? Same designer, but not necessary the same ancestor. Many uses that we don’t know yet.

It goes back to the Fall

Genesis 3.     14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field…” 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…”

God cares about the animals and has been providentially guiding them.

Psalm 104      10 He sends the springs into the valleys; They flow among the hills. 11 They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12 By them the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches. 14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle… 16 The trees of the LORD are full of sap, The cedars of Lebanon which He planted, 17 Where the birds make their nests; The stork has her home in the fir trees. 18 The high hills are for the wild goats; The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers…21 The young lions roar after their prey, And seek their food from God…25 This great and wide sea, In which are innumerable teeming things, Living things both small and great. 26 There the ships sail about; There is that Leviathan Which You have made to play there. 27 These all wait for You, That You may give them their food in due season. 28 What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good. 29 You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 30You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Matthew 10     29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will…31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

God will bring redemption even to them in our coming glory.

Romans 8.     20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

Invitation: Do you understand what the Fall has done to us? Do you understand the providential grace of God? Do you understand the redemptive grace of God? Are you saved?