Mystery of Lawlessness – Part Eleven
The mechanics of salvation
In the first 10 parts of this series we have focused on the origin of satan (evil), his goal, and his influence upon human history through the workings of what we have called the “Mystery of Lawlessness”. Like rust, his evil influence never sleeps. Satan is relentless in his efforts to create a world empire that he can assume control over so that he can “be like God”. In spite of satan’s efforts, we have seen how God has intervened numerous times during the course of human history to retard this progression of evil until the appointed time at which the transgressions of man will reach its fullness. Whether by confusing mankind’s language as HE did at the tower of Babel, or by using a worldwide flood to wipe out evil mankind and then starting over with Noah and his family, God the Creator has ensured that human history will end in the prescribed time and manner that HE pre-determined before the beginning of time. The prophet Isaiah 46: 9-10 clearly reflected God’s omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent role upon the earth in the following verse.
Isaiah 46: 9-10
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
For those of us who have already knelt before Jesus our creator and accepted HIS free gift of salvation, this is GOOD NEWS indeed. We can rest assured that although the world seems to be spinning out of control, “All things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to HIS purpose…” (Mat. 8:28). We can look back over the last 6,000 years of human history and clearly see God’s loving hand counteracting the forces of evil and therefore be confident that HIS perfect Will will be done in the end. In the coming weeks, we will focus on bible prophecy regarding future events which I hope will serve as a “WAKE UP CALL” to those who have yet to decide what to do with JESUS’ pardon. However, to fully appreciate this time sensitive nature of this opportunity, allow me to briefly explain the mechanics of salvation and the eternal consequences that lie in the balance.
God placedAdam and Eve into a perfect environment. The Garden of Eden and all of creation was made for MAN to assume dominion over. It was a perfect world with only one rule “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. Now I had a long list of questions about Christianity, the bible and spiritual matters in general before I accepted JESUS CHRIST as my Lord and my Savior. I was determined to get answers to all of these intellectual questions before I would consider becoming a Christian. Fortunately for me, God’s overwhelming love convinced me to trust HIM first and that HE would reveal ALL the answers to my questions later. Consequently one of my favorite bible verses is: Jeremiah 33:3 which says” Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not”
So one question I had before I became a Christian was why did God put a tree in the garden of Eden, and then tellAdam and Eve not to eat of it? That didn’t seem to make much sense and I didn’t see why it was such a big deal in the first place whether they ate from it or not. After all…..it was just fruit! It was several years later after I accepted Christ, that I came to understand the purpose of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”. God’s purpose in all of creation was to produce a people whom HE could love and be loved by them in return. A people whom HE could fellowship with in a Father/Child relationship for all of eternity. For those of us who are parents, we know there is no greater joy than loving, and being loved by our children. That’s the way we are made and we are made in God’s image. Consequently, HE experiences the same joy in fellowshipping with us, as we do in fellowshipping with our children. So developing a LOVING, ETERNAL relationship with mankind was the goal and purpose of God’s creation. Okay….so what is the key ingredient for LOVE? God loved Adam from the moment HE breathed life into him. Adam became conscious of God’s love for him as soon as he opened his eyes for the first time and looked upon his Creator. Was that enough? No! For LOVE to achieve its full potential, it must be reciprocal and founded upon free will. God didn’t want to create automatons that loved HIM because they had no choice. God wanted Adam to love HIM out of his own free will, therefore Adam had to have a choice to love and obey God, or NOT.
What was the choice Adam and Eve were faced with? To eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or NOT. Think about that for a minute. What was the tree called? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil? What kind of name is that? At first it doesn’t make sense, but how can you know the difference between good and evil, if all you have ever experienced is good? God knew for man to Love of his own free will, he had to be able to choose. The tree represented two choices or paths that now lay before Adam. The path of obedience would have led to uninterrupted fellowship with God for all eternity with Adam and all of his descendants never experiencing death, sickness, disease, hunger or sorrow. The other path, of disobedience would lead to physical death and eternal spiritual separation from God. Was God (Jesus) surprised byAdams choice? Absolutely not! He knew in advance what Adam would choose to do and Jesus also knew in advance the price that HE would have to pay on the cross to redeem Adam.
Now here is something that only became clear to me as I’m writing this. When HE planted the tree in the garden, Jesus knew that Adam would make the wrong choice resulting not only in his physical death and eternal separation from his Creator, but the death and eternal separation of all of his descendants. Jesus knew as HE looked upon the tree HE had made in the garden that one day, HE (Jesus) would have to suffer and die on a man made tree called the cross in order to correct the mistake that Adam was about to make.
As previously discussed in Part Four of this series, Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and introduced sin (imperfection) into God’s perfect creation. Their sin resulted in changes to their world, as well as permanent physical, mental and spiritual changes in their being. These flaws were then passed down to all of their descendants in what as known as our “sin nature”. This sin nature is a naturally inherited imperfection that will forever prevent us from having fellowship with our perfect CREATOR unless it is dealt with. Adam’s sin tainted the entire human race and as God warned, their sin resulted not only in their death and separation from God, but the death and separation of all of their descendants as well. God’s word is very clear, sin brings about death without exception. There is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood.
Four thousand years later, Jesus fulfilled HIS promise to redeem mankind and restore that fellowship with God that was lost in the garden. The virgin known as Mary conceived a child through God’s Holy Spirit and gave birth to a little baby boy named Jesus. Because Jesus wasn’t a descendant of Adam, HE didn’t inherit the flaw “sin nature” from Adam. In addition, during the course of HIS 33 years upon the earth, Jesus never committed a single sin. Although tempted by all the same things we are tempted with today, He never once sinned. Because of HIS sinless nature and life, Jesus was the only MAN that ever lived that was not under the penalty of death. In the garden of Eden, Jesus had made a promise to Adam and his descendants that HE would restore that which was lost in the garden and redeem mankind back to God by willingly giving HIS life upon the cross in payment for our sins. NOTE: This payment is only valid IF WE ACCEPT it. By recognizing that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and by accepting Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sins, Then, and only THEN can we have fellowship with our loving God and Creator.
As I mentioned before, I had lots of questions before I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, I couldn’t understand how JESUS life and death almost 2,000 years ago had any bearing on my life today. Of all the different religions of the world, how did I know that Christianity was the only way to know God? I was young (16 years old) and had my whole life ahead of me. I thought about all the “FUN” that I would be missing out on by believing in a God that encouraged me to pick up HIS cross and follow HIM. The list of questions and arguments seemed endless, but through it all, I could feel the still small voice of my loving Creator calling out to me. I knew who it was that was knocking on the door of my heart and I knew that my decision to turn HIM away or invite HIM into my heart would have eternal consequences. So around 10:30 pm on December 3rd 1973, as I walked down a deserted street in the beach side community of Surfside Texas, I asked the Creator of the universe to come into my heart and forgive me of my sins. The God who walked with Adam in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day,….The God who told Noah to build an ark, and who parted the waters so that Moses and the children of Israel could cross Red Sea…..the same God who laid himself down on the cross so that the Roman soldiers could drive nails through HIS hands and Feet that I might be forgiven…..came into my heart. In the words of King David in Psalms 51:10 He created in me a clean heart, and restored a right spirit within me that I might get to know him on a personal, intimate and eternal basis.
That same God is gently and lovingly knocking on the door of your heart right now. Jesus said in John 14: 6 “ I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by ME”. Over the last 39 years, God has answered many of the questions that I had before I trusted HIM and I have learned that HE is ever faithful, HIS love is unconditional and HIS peace passes all human understanding. The bible says in Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” You only have one life, one chance to get it right. Now is the time to decide….What will you do with JESUS? I hope and pray you will listen to that small still voice and embrace the joy and peace that comes from getting to know the heart and mind of your Creator. Life is short and as we will see in the coming lessons, Time is growing shorter still! God is about to conclude the last chapter of human history and bring about HIS righteous judgment upon a world that has spurned HIS love in favor of the Mystery of Lawlessness. This world and all that is in it, is just temporary but eternity is forever and where you will spend it (heaven or hell) depends entirely upon YOU! God has prepared an eternal place in heaven for all who will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God has also prepared an eternal spot in hell for all who CHOOSE to reject HIS pardon! The choice is yours…..as are the consequences!