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.

Backsliding (Article)

BACKSLIDING (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on June 5, 2019)

Do you have to stay on your kids to clean their room, do their homework, or finish their chores? What happens if you get out of sight? They start goofing around. Some kids don’t but most, like ours, do. Then, when you return, they give you some lame excuse. You have to stand over them and hold them accountable. Unless they personally want a clean room, good grades, and finished chores, it will be a constant battle. So also, many Christians need a balance of accountability and personal responsibility to make it in the Christian life. Just like kids, they get distracted and start goofing around. They need others to hold them accountable but that’s not enough. They have to personally want to live the Christian life. If either accountability or personal responsibility is lacking, they will backslide.

Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote his letter to the Philippian church. He wanted to visit them but he couldn’t. But, word was getting back to Paul, maybe through Timothy and Epaphroditus, that the Philippians were backsliding into their old way of life. They were starting to regress in their faith. So, he wrote them a letter encouraging them to press forward. First, he began by reminding them that he is “confident…that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) We all need a Paul in our lives who will remind us of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Next, he told them that he was praying that their “love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” I have many godly people who pray like this for me every day. Do you? Paul even assured them of his personal commitment to stick around and help them even though he was ready to go and be with Christ. Finally, he pointed them to the ultimate goal of having the mind of Christ in Philippians 2:5-11. What a great model of accountability! Do you have a Paul in your life who keeps you from backsliding? Are you a Paul to someone who may be backsliding?

Paul also knew that the Philippians needed to take personal responsibility for their spiritual growth. So, he said in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” In other words, he was saying, “You don’t need me to stand over you for you to behave as a Christian is supposed to behave.” Some people have confused “work out your own salvation” for “work for your own salvation.” There is a big difference. Salvation is only by “grace through faith.” (Ephesians 2:9) We can only receive it as a gift from God. In the context, Paul was telling the believers in Philippi to take responsibility to cultivate the mind of Christ in themselves. It’s great to have people in our lives who can hold us accountable but we have to do our part in reading the Bible, praying daily, turning and repenting from sin, obeying the Word, submitting to the Holy Spirit, rejecting the Enemy, attending church regularly, connecting with other believers, and sharing our faith.

Charles Spurgeon, one of my favorite preachers from the Victorian era, said it best, “The Christian life is very much like climbing a hill of ice. You cannot slide up, nay, you have to cut every step with an ice axe; only with incessant labor in cutting and chipping can you make any progress; you need a guide to help you…. If you want to know how to backslide, the answer is leave off going forward and you will slide backward, cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity, for stand still you never can.” Are you moving up or are your sliding back in your Christian life?

First Gospel – The Choice by Dr. Abidan Shah

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

Introduction:  I grew up in paradise. What I mean is that my dad had planted a garden around the church and the parsonage which had all kinds of exotic trees from all over India. Everywhere he was invited to preach a revival or a crusade, he would bring some plant or tree from there. People driving past our home and church would stop and admire the beautiful trees, the flowers, and even the fruits hanging from them. It was known throughout our city as the most lush, beautiful, and cool spot. I remember as a little boy walking in the garden, sitting under the trees, and wondering if this is what it was like for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. For the next couple of weeks, with Christmas approaching, we will be going through a miniseries from Genesis called “FIRST GOSPEL.” The first prophecy of the coming of the Messiah was not in Isaiah or even to Abraham. It went all the way back to Genesis 3. Main point: God wants us to simply trust and obey him. Failure to trust and obey God leads to sin. Sin is senseless. It only brings death. Through Christ we have forgiveness and the power to conquer sin.

Genesis 2:8 “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.”

Context: People often ask me – “Where do you think was the Garden of Eden?” No one knows for sure, but the best possible location is somewhere near the south of modern-day Iraq. The next few verses give us some important geographical markers. Genesis 2    10 “Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.” Moses gave those markers to help the readers of his time have some reference point for where Eden was located. Of course, we cannot pinpoint the location because much has changed since the great flood. In fact, the Garden was buried in the great deluge. We find this in God’s pronouncement against Pharaoh in Ezekiel 31:18 “To which of the trees in Eden will you then be likened in glory and greatness? Yet you shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the depths of the earth; you shall lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with those slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude,’ says the Lord GOD.” All these trees have now become fossil fuel. So, if you want to know where the trees are from the Garden of Eden, look in your gas tanks! Also, since the tower of Babel was in Mesopotamia, the Garden of Eden could not have been very far from there.

Bottom line: The Garden of Eden and what happened there is not a myth. Since the coming of Darwin’s evolutionary theory, the Garden of Eden and what took place there has become a myth that is considered indefensible in the face of millions of years of evolution. Along with that, Adam is no longer the first man created by God, but he could be a myth, if not, at best, a representative man that was picked as the one from whom the biblical tradition began.

Important point: Christian faith is revelatory at its core. It does not mean that we ignore science and history or stretch or twist them to fit our faith. It means that we subject science and history to scripture. We filter them through the grid of scripture.

Application: Where do you stand? How do you see the Scriptures? How do you see the book of Genesis? How do you take the Garden of Eden?

What happened in the Garden of Eden? For starters, the Hebrew word for Garden is “gan,” which means “an enclosed area that contained a variety of plants, water sources (streams and ponds), and animals” (NIDOTTE). The LXX translated it as “paradise” from the Persian “pairi-daeza,” meaning “walled enclosure” like a royal park. The word “Eden” is the Hebrew word meaning “delight.” So, the Garden of Eden was the “garden of delight” or the “paradise of delight.” Genesis 2:9 “And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food…” Does that sound familiar? Those are the first two justifications by Eve for eating the forbidden fruit. 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.” Everything was easily accessible to them. Genesis 3:22“…And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.”

Important point: God gives us everything we truly need, and he makes it easily accessible.

Application: Do you know what it means to be content? Don’t misunderstand this for a lack of ambition. There is nothing wrong with wanting more, as long as God is leading you. Then, he will also make that easily accessible. It may require hard work, but it won’t be a struggle where you lose it all.

Back to Genesis 2:9 “…The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The first tree – the tree of life – is found several times in the Old and the New Testament, but the second tree – literally, the tree of knowledge good and evil – is found only here and in verse 17. Let’s look at the second one first:

  1. Tree of the knowledge good and evil: It is one phrase. Some scholars have suggested that it has sexual meaning. That does not make any sense when God says in Genesis 3:22“Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil…” Others have suggested that it implies that Adam and Eve had all knowledge like God. That is impossible. God can become man, but man can never become God. There are other suggestions, but the one that fits the context best is “moral autonomy.” An example of this phrase is found in Deuteronomy 1:39 “Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.” It represented moral innocence. Unlike their parents who saw the wonders in Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, drank the water, ate the manna and the meat, and saw the cloud of smoke and pillar of fire and still didn’t believe, they were innocent.

Illustration: Little babies and toddlers have this sense of moral innocence. They rely on their parents to guide them and make decisions for them. They simply have to follow their parents and obey them.

Victor Hamilton, “Man has indeed become a god whenever he makes his own self the center, the springboard, and the only frame of reference for moral guidelines. When man attempts to act autonomously he is indeed attempting to be godlike.”

Important point: God wants us to trust and obey him in childlike faith.

Genesis 2      15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” By the way, we know the event in advance – Adam and Eve did not die immediately. The Hebrew construction is “mot tamut,” which is literally “dying you shall die.” Like a branch cut off from a tree begins to die, so also Adam and Eve were cut off from God. It took 930 years for Adam to die, but he surely died.

Why did God even allow all this tree choosing business? This was a tangible way for them to show their childlike faith, trust, and love in and for God. Because God wanted the man and the woman to choose freely to trust and love him, he gave them the choice. They were truly morally free spiritual beings, but the choice should have been clear and simple!

Important point: God wants us to choose to love him and know that he is not holding out on us.

Application: Isn’t that the same with us? God gives us free will, but the choice is clear and simple – Love and Trust Him. What do you choose?

In this message, I don’t want to get into who Satan is and why he did what he did. Here, the point is very simple – Satan came and tempted Eve and then secondarily Adam and they both chose to eat the fruit. Eve was deceived and Adam disobeyed. Still the question is why. The answer is “Sin doesn’t make sense.”

Here’s the consequence – We are now corrupted by Adam’s Sin, and we are also guilty of Adam’s sin. We will also look in the weeks coming up what that means.

  1. How about the Tree of Life? It is mentioned a few times in the Old Testament, but it comes back in the book of Revelation. He bars them from reaching it so they won’t be locked into their sinful state forever.
  2. We need another tree in between – the Cursed Tree.

Acts 5:30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.

Acts 10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.

Acts 13:29 Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.

Gal. 3:13   Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),

1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

Once we have accepted the Savior on the Cursed Tree, then we can have access to the Tree of Life.

Revelation 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’

Revelation 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22      12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

Invitation: Have you been to the cursed tree? You have both the nature and guilt of Adam. Only Christ can remove both? Are you saved?

He Understands (Article)

HE UNDERSTANDS by Pastor Shah (Clearview Church, Henderson)

(This article was published in the local newspaper The Daily Dispatch on 5/20/19)

“Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest…” (Hebrews 2:17)

How many of you remember telling your parents – “You just don’t understand.” How many of you have heard those same words from your kids? Why do we say that? Because we think that our struggles are so unique that unless others step into our shoes, they’ll never understand what we’re going through. Employees think that their employer doesn’t understand and employers think that their employees don’t understand. The husband thinks that his wife doesn’t understand and the wife thinks that her husband doesn’t understand. Some people go through their whole life claiming no one understands what they’ve been through. Although our struggles are unique and painful to us, it’s not true that no one understands. There is one who always understand and his name is Jesus. There is no situation known to any human being to which he cannot relate. He was fully God who became fully man so he could die in our place…but, there’s more. The reason he lived 33 years before he went to the cross was so that he could truly relate with us and help us in our time of need. Here’s are just a few things that he understands:

Are you hungry? Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting in the wilderness.

Are you thirsty? From the cross Jesus cried, “I thirst.”

Are you exhausted? Jesus was so swamped by the multitudes that he and his disciples did not even have time to eat.

Are you dealing with temptation? The Devil himself harassed Jesus.

Are you homeless? Jesus said in Luke 9:58 “…Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Have you been mocked? Jesus was ridiculed for being from Nazareth.

Are you grieving? Jesus had compassion on the grieving widow who had lost her only son and brought him back to life.

Are you angry? Jesus was angry at the Pharisees who tried to use the sickness of a man to trap Jesus into healing him on the Sabbath.

Have you dealt with abuse? Listen to Jesus in Matthew 18   5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Are you having family trouble? Jesus’ brothers refused to believe in him.

Are you afraid for your life? Jesus had to avoid Judea because his enemies were trying to kill him.

Are you lonely and feel betrayed? One of his own disciples betrayed him and the rest forsook Him and fled.

Have you been falsely accused? False accusations were hurled at Jesus on the night before he was crucified.

Are you in physical pain? John 19   1 So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. 2 And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head…” And then they crucified him between two thieves.

Someone might say that Jesus does not understand what marriage is all about since he never married. It’s true that Jesus did not have an earthly wife but he was in a covenant relationship with his people Israel in the Old Testament. He knows what it is to be cheated on. Furthermore, the church is called the bride of Christ.

How about wayward children? He gets it. After all, he gave the parable of the Prodigal Son.

I can go on and on. The point is that he understands whatever you are going through and he is willing to meet your need. Call on him today.

 

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?

Thanksgiving: An American Way of Life (Article)

THANKSGIVING – AN AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE by Pastor Shah (Clearview Baptist Church)

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on November 22, 2013)

Recently, I asked some people, “What things are uniquely American?” I got all kinds of answers – baseball, BBQ, jazz music, blue jeans, and many more. Yet, there is one thing that tops them all. It is “Thanksgiving.” As many as, 40 million of us will travel on or before Thanksgiving Day in order to be with our family and friends. We will sit together, no matter if we get along or not. We will laugh or cry and eat till we pop. Many of us will bow our heads in thanks for the blessings of loved ones, health, job, freedom, and life itself. Indeed, thanksgiving is uniquely our American phenomenon.

 

Why is this so? Is it because the pilgrims celebrated the “First Thanksgiving” with the Indians and thus set the tradition for generations to come? Not really. It is quite possible that the pilgrims might have celebrated some form of harvest festival with the Native Americans; but the evidence regarding that event comes from barely few fragments, which are not very clear about any grand thanksgiving celebration. Later writers and painters have embellished much of what we have come to think of the “First Thanksgiving.” They are not strong enough motivators for us to take red-eye flights or drive in the dead of night to avoid getting stuck in thanksgiving traffic.

 

Is it because our government has instituted “Thanksgiving Day?” Not really again. It is true that President Washington issued a proclamation that November 26, 1789 be celebrated as a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin.” It is also true that President Lincoln set the last Thursday in November as the National day of Thanksgiving and later the Congress passed a law ensuring the celebration of the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day every year. Nevertheless, our moms and grandmas don’t slave over a hot stove for three days in order to comply with some government mandate. After all, most of us Americans don’t take kindly to state sponsored religion.

 

Is it the food? Is it the family? Is it the urge for us to shop till we drop on “Black Friday?” I don’t think so. While there is some truth in all of them, I think the reason is much deeper. The real reason we celebrate Thanksgiving is because deep in our psyche we know that all we are and all we have is from above. This does not mean that every person sitting around the dinner table will be choking back tears of gratitude. Neither does it mean that those of us who are grateful will have the same level of gratefulness. What it does mean is that we know deep within that there is a divine hand that is guiding our lives.

 

This is not to say that people in other parts of the world are unappreciative and ungrateful. Neither does it mean that other people don’t recognize some sovereign deity. Here’s the difference – Our American sense of gratefulness towards God is not motivated by fear or obligation to God but comes from the recognition that God is good and gracious towards us, even though we don’t deserve it. Somehow we know that God in His goodness either carried us to the finish line or moved the finish line a little closer for us. Somehow we know that we have much more to be thankful for than complain about.

 

When people ask me if America’s glory days are over, I remind them to keep their eyes on Thanksgiving Day. The Bible reminds us that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful….Therefore God also gave them up…” (Romans 1:18-24) As long as Thanksgiving remains a part of the American way of life, we are still a “shining city upon a hill.”

 

This Thanksgiving let’s thank God for all our material, physical, and spiritual blessings. Thank Him most of all for bringing us hope, forgiveness, and peace through Jesus Christ. Happy Thanksgiving!

Operation Restore by Dr. Abidan Shah

OPERATION RESTORE – 1 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Many years ago, Nicole and I took a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, to see 3 Presidential homes in one day: Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland, and James Madison’s Montpelier. The last one was very interesting because there was a restoration project going on at the time. After the house was sold by Dolley Madison in 1844, various owners had made various changes to the house. In order to restore the house to what it was like when James Madison and his wife Dolley lived there, an 18-month long investigation was launched in 2001 and the project lasted from 2004-2009. We were there in 2008 on the day when a massive portion was going to be taken down. This was a big deal to me because this was the place where in his upstairs library Madison had drafted the Constitution of the United States. Today, we are doing a two-part series from Genesis titled OPERATION RESTORE. This is still part of the Contend Series on Apologetics. As we are answering various questions about creation and sexuality, we cannot ignore the passages regarding Adam and Eve. We are also launching an investigation into what happened to the first man and first woman. Main point: Marriage was God’s answer to man’s loneliness. It was meant to reflect the unity in the Godhead. Unfortunately, sin has corrupted it beyond recognition. Only the grace of God through Christ can restore the original picture.

Genesis 2      24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

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.

How did we go from Genesis 2:25 to Genesis 3:7? How did innocence turn into shame? If you compare it to marriages today, how did something so good get so bad? To understand the answer, we have to begin OPERATION RESTORE:

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man…” This is the first time in the work of creation that God used the plural form – “Let us make” (na aseh). So far, it was the impersonal “Let there be…” The Trinity had a divine counsel within itself before the creation of the man and the woman. Quick point here: Those who think that the Trinity was a later creation by the church councils, don’t take this seriously. If Moses, the Hebrew prophets, or the Jewish people after the exile had a problem with the plurality within the godhead, this would be the first verses they would take out! But they didn’t.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” What does it mean to be made in the image of God? In a previous message, I explained the benefits of being “image bearers”: 1. God’s representatives in the world, called to rule over his creation; 2. special dignity above all other living creatures; and 3. special relationship with him, unlike anything the living creatures can ever experience. All that is true. They are all amazing benefits, but what exactly is the “image of God?”27 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Just like there is unity and role differences in the Godhead, there is unity and role differences between the man and the woman. Later, we will learn that God the Father and God the Son are equal in essence, but the Son is subordinate to the Father. We will return to what this looks like in the marriage a little later. However, a negative instance of this same principle also showed up in Genesis 11      6 And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Unlike the first relationship between the man and the woman which reflected the good unity and distinction within the Godhead, this was a demonstration of the evil unity of human beings, which did not reflect the unity within the Godhead.

Overall, we need to remember that to be made in the image of God is equality and yet role distinctions, just like between the Father and the Son in the Trinity. This was emphasized again in Genesis 5    1 “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created.” Paul affirms this unity in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

What about the role distinctions? For that, we must go deeper in the text:

  1. Order and Source of Creation

Genesis 2      7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 8 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.

The word for dust is “aphar,” which is not really clay but just a lump of dirt. So, we could call each other a “dirt bag” and be right! This dirt is coming from the ground or “Adamah.” This is lost in our English because that’s where Adam comes from! Paul acknowledged this in 1 Corinthians 15:47 “The first man was of the earth, made of dust…” Then God breathed into him “nishmath chayyim” = breath of life.

God places him in the Garden of Eden to tend it, but he is lonely. 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.” 19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. 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…” The Hebrew word is “tsela,” can mean rib or side. What is very important is that the woman was made from the man. Even though they are equal in the sight of God and are equally responsible to take care of the creation, there is a clear order and source here. Paul brought this up in 1 Timothy 2:13 “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Also, 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. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man.” This was not just some cultural point from Corinth since Paul appealed to Genesis.

By the way, even scientifically speaking, this is so important. Male has both X chromosomes (for females) and Y chromosomes (for males). Imagine if Eve was created first, it would only be XX and only females could be reproduced.

Application: Prior to the fall, this order and source was understood and not fought against. If we are going to have a succesful Operation Restore, this is the first thing we have to understand, accept, and appreciate.

  1. Need and Reaction of Adam

Genesis 2     22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman and He brought her to the man. The Hebrew word for woman is “banah,” which means “to build,” “to construct,” or “to fashion.” There is a distinction between how Adam was made and how Eve was made. Eve was not made out of the dust but a rib of Adam was taken to make Eve. This is not just to remind the woman of her order in creation, but also to remind the man of his need of the woman. Listen to Adam’s response. 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.” Adam is exclaiming! In other words, God did an amazing job in creating Eve. This is not just about physical beauty, but also about partnership. The first recorded words in history are regarding the woman! He even names her “ishah” because she came from “ish” man. The name Eve does not come until after the Fall in Genesis 3:20 “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” Paul addressing a situation in Corinth said in 1 Corinthians 11      9 “Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.” 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Both Adam and Eve knew their role distinctions being made in the image of God. 1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

Application: Prior to the fall, there was jubilation at the sight of the woman. How is it now in your relationship? Do you understand the role distinctions?

  1. Ordinance of Marriage

Our culture doesn’t take it seriously, but God did and still does. Genesis 2     24Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Jesus was the officiant at the first wedding. He is still the officiant at every wedding, saved or lost.

Mark 10     2 The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. 3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” 5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God “made them male and female.’ 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Application: How much do you value the ordinance of marriage, even the ceremony?

Are you saved? Is Christ in your life?

Christian VS Disciple (Article)

CHRISTIAN VS DISCIPLE by Pastor Shah (Clearview Church, Henderson)

(This article was published in the local newspaper The Daily Dispatch on 5/22/18)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19a)

Christianity is struggling in the West. Churches are closing their doors every week for the last time. Yes, there are pockets of growth here and there, but that’s not the case everywhere. It breaks my heart and, in some ways, terrifies me because Christianity is the foundation of Western Civilization, especially the United States. Our freedoms and our values as a nation are dependent on our biblical worldview. Our successes and our abundance are an outgrowth of our Judeo-Christian principles. Our resilience and our optimism come from our hope in God and his promises. Our courage against the enemy and our compassion towards the helpless find their balance in Christian character. As goes Christianity, so goes the West, even America. Can you imagine the world our children and grandchildren will have to face!

I don’t claim to have all the answers but I do know one thing – churches will have to change or continue to decline and die. I realize that at this point many traditional churchgoers have a conniption because they associate change with worship styles. Please don’t misunderstand. True change is not moving from hymns to praise and worship. It is rejecting nominal Christianity and pursuing biblical discipleship. In other words, churches will have to stop trying to make Christians and start making disciples. There’s a big difference between the two. Jesus did not command us to “Go into all the world and make Christians.” Robby Gallaty (Pastor of Longhollow Baptist Church near Nashville, Tennessee) asks, “Do you know how many times Christian appears in the Bible? Only three times…On the other hand, the term disciple appears 269 times in the New Testament.” I believe that if churches take seriously Jesus’ mandate to “make disciples,” it will take care of many of our other problems.

After much prayer, study, and talking to experts, we at Clearview have developed an acronym – WATER – that helps us to set the goals and measure the growth of disciples. Each letter gives us an important element of becoming a disciple:

W – Witness. A disciple should be a witness to Christ. In other words, a disciple should have a testimony of who they were before Christ, how Christ came into their life, and how life has been since Christ. No testimony means no discipleship.

A – Accountable. A disciple should be accountable to other godly, mature, and trustworthy people. Men need 3-5 men and women need 3-5 women who will question their bad behavior and encourage their good behavior. John Wesley employed this strategy very well with his band societies.

T – Together. A disciple should be moving from the crowd to the congregation to the community to the inner circle. Jesus said in John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” To refuse to associate with other disciples at church is baffling to me.

E – Established in the Word. A disciple should daily feed upon the Bible, God’s instructional manual for life. Failure to follow the instruction manual is disastrous and destroys our witness to Christ. Jesus mandated his disciples to “observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20)

R – Reproducing. A disciple’s ultimate goal should be to make more disciples. Every disciple should be able to say with Paul “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) To me, this is the ultimate test of how well a person is doing as a disciple.

I believe that churches big or small all across our great land can be revived if we would return to Jesus’ Great Commission to all the disciples. The benefits are tremendous. Our failure here is catastrophic.

 

Re-Created: Part 2 by Dr. Abidan Shah

RE-CREATED 2 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  Robin Williams was one of the most talented actors in Hollywood, until his untimely death by suicide in 2014. One of his greatest hits was Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993. As you know, in order to be near his 3 kids, the father Daniel, played by Robin Williams, creates the character of a British nanny named Mrs. Doubtfire. His acting skills along with his prosthetic mask are so convincing that even his own wife, played by Sally Fields, cannot recognize him. Eventually, she does find out and the act falls apart. Robin Williams won several awards for his acting in the movie. Unfortunately, this happens in real life where men pretend to be women and women pretend to be men, and it is called Transgenderism. Here are some questions: How is transgenderism different from the homosexual movement? What about Epigenetics and the transgender gene? How should we address the high suicide rate among transgender teenagers? Main point: Our society and culture are increasingly trying to neutralize gender identities. Both scripturally and scientifically, transgenderism is unnatural, inappropriate, and sinful. We are to be compassionate towards those struggling with gender dysphoria, but we are also to stand firm in our conviction of biblical gender distinctions. Compassion without the gospel of Jesus Christ is collaboration.

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 and subdue it…”

Background: The scripture that we just read declares that men and women are equal and yet different. We are different on a deep level (Andrew T. Walker): chromosomes, brains, voices, body shapes, body strengths, and reproductive systems. God has designed men to lead and protect, and he has designed women to nurture and mother. Both are essential and assigned by God. These roles are very specific to our sex and gender and cannot be interchanged. Again, this is tied to the Trinity. 1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” To negate or neutralize these differences is to attempt to negate or neutralize the Trinity! There is so much there that we will see later.

I want to preach this message the same way I did the last one and that is by answering the questions that were raised.

Question #1. How is transgenderism different from the homosexual movement? I’m sure some of you are probably wondering why I am preaching on this topic again since I just preached on homosexuality last weekend. Although, some people lump homosexuality and transgenderism in the same category, there is a difference. While homosexuality is same-sex attraction, transgenderism is more complicated than that, involving many conflicting definitions (from Alan J. Branch). Here’s the main issue: sex and gender are separate things. Sex has to do with biological and anatomical parts. Gender has to do with psychological, sexual, and cultural traits. Sex has to do with physical organs, bone structure, DNA, hormones, and reproduction. Gender has to do with how one feels. So, sex is male and female, and gender is masculine and feminine. Add to this, “gender identity” and “gender role.” Gender identity is how one thinks about oneself as “masculine” or “feminine.” Gender role is how the person identifies as he is playing a role in the presence of others. There is more. Under the broad category of transgenderism come many subcategories of transsexual, transvestite, gender variant, gender fluid, genderqueer, and cross dresser (from Branch). Also, new titles like “Cisgender” and “gender binary” have been created to refer to those who hold to the biblical view of male and female as the only sex and gender.

What are the actual numbers?  According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, in 2016, 0.6% or 1.4 million people self-identify as transgender. The population of the United States is about 330 million. Also, it claimed that in 2017, 0.7 % or around 150,000 of youth ages 13-17 years in the United States identified as transgender. Although the numbers are small, the problem is real. We need to be aware of the agenda since the 1960s and even earlier to obliterate any gender distinctions.

Question #2. What about Epigenetics and the transgender gene?

Just like homosexuality, there is no transgender gene. There is nothing conclusive with the CYP17 gene or the SRD5A2 gene or family studies or twin studies. Also, epigenetics is “the chemical modifications of the human genome that alter genetic activity without changing the DNA sequence” (Branch). Again, there is nothing there.

The sad case of David Reimer: Born in 1965, accidentally mutilated circumcision. His parents were put in touch with John Money, a Harvard trained and Johns Hopkins psychologist and sexual expert. He gave them the advice to have him castrated and raised as a girl named Brenda. As he grew up, he did not want that. Money was using pornography and other treatments that were nothing but sexual abuse to treat David. You can imagine the trauma. Ultimately, he had reconstructive surgery and got married, but ended up committing suicide in 2004. Transgender movement tries to claim this as support, but it’s actually to the contrary.

Question #3. How should we address the high suicide rate among transgender teenagers? The example of Joshua Alcorn: Grew up in a conservative home but wanted to be called “Leelah.” Ended up taking his life in 2014 by walking in front of a tractor trailer. He blamed his parents and upbringing.

To start with, we need to be clear as to what the Bible has to say about transgenderism? Of course, we have already seen passages from the Old and New Testament that emphasize that God has made us in his image as male and female, and both Jesus and Paul affirmed Genesis 1:27. There are some more that apply directly to our topic:

Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.” In the English, some of the nuance is lost. In the first clause about a woman not wearing “anything that pertains to a man,” the word is “keli” and it is not just clothing but any object that makes them manly. So also, in the second clause, the word for garment is “simlah,” which refers to a garment or a shawl/mantle. The whole point of those 2 clauses is that one should not pretend to be of a different sex. Why? Because it is an “abomination” to the Lord. The Hebrew word is “toebah,” which means detestable, loathsome, and abhorring. This is on the same level as pagan worship practices and the superficial worship of God. 2 things: 1. Yes, in our culture, women wear pants and shirts, but this is not to fool others that they are really men. It’s more about current style and comfort. 2. If God found transgenderism an abomination, so should we. Deuteronomy 23:1 “He who is emasculated by crushing or mutilation shall not enter the assembly of the LORD.” This was often related to pagan worship practices like the worship of Ishtar and Cybele. There is often the mention of “eunuchs” in the Old and New Testament. Isaiah 53         4 For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, 5 Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off.” The Hebrew word is “saris” and the Greek (LXX) is “eunichos.” Matthew 19        8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” 10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 12 “For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” What is the meaning of “eunuch” here? There are 3 categories here: 1. Eunuchs from birth are those who couldn’t have sexual intercourse and hence couldn’t marry. 2. Eunuchs who were forcibly emasculated to make them in charge of treasuries and harems. 3. Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven are those who have chosen to remain single in order to serve God. Three different reasons with three different applications.

Is there hope for people in this lifestyle? Yes.

Acts 8     26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 33In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” 34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.

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. 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: There is hope, but the gospel is the hope. Our compassion can never replace the gospel.

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