The Origins of Grace: Declaration

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV) 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.”

(Once again there has been a break in my posting. We just concluded our annual Unity Through Fellowship leadership conference. This conference was begun by Dr. B. J. Pruitt more than 40 years ago and our church, Living Word Christian Center in Greene, NY, decided to reinstitute it 5 years ago. Our focus is on leaders in the body of Christ coming to know one another on a personal level. As we partake of fellowship together, we find that differences become less important and our relationship in Christ more important. We would like you consider joining us February 20-22, 2019 for our next conference.)

We have been looking at the origins of grace from the book of Genesis. There is a great deal of discussion about the grace of God in the church right now. Some of it has been contentious. I believe that there have been some conclusions about grace that are not faithful to what the bible really teaches. I felt that this year the Lord wanted me to look at grace in the Word of God with as few preconceived ideas as possible.

We ended the last post by quoting Genesis 3:15. We have found that God created man for fellowship. In the process of creation he included a mechanism that would give man a choice as to whether he would love and obey God, or rebel and be separated from God. Just as God knew he would, man chose rebellion. Man deserved to be eternally separated from God. God had every right to destroy man and start all over again. He did not do that. That is mercy.

Instead, God gave man what he did not deserve. He began a process that would redeem man and give him the choice to restore relationship with the Father by taking upon himself the punishment for sin. They did not deserve this gift. They were guilty of sin. By undertaking a plan to redeem man God was providing grace or underserved favor.

Grace was not an afterthought. Mercy and grace were built into the plan from the beginning.

Revelation 13:8 (NKJV) 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Mercy is God’s choice not to give man what he deserves. It is not a choice made after man sinned. It is not a choice God made when he sent Jesus. It is not a choice he makes when we decide to receive it. This choice was made before God began to create. It was made from the foundation of the world. In Genesis 3:15 we see God choose mercy over judgement and we see how God is going to make grace available. Both were in God’s plan from the beginning.

In Genesis 3:15 we see that God is not going to leave man in his sinful state. In subsequent verses he must tell Adam and Eve what their choice has done. He reveals that all of creation is cursed because of their choice. He tells each of them how sin will change their lives. This is not a curse by God. This is the curse of sin. Behavior has consequences and man must understand that. Nevertheless, before he tells them any of that, he sets mercy and grace in motion.

The first thing he tells the devil is that he is going to put enmity between him and the woman. Woman was not created as an inferior to man. She was created as a helper to man. Sin caused her to be lowered to a place of servitude and property. There was another reason for woman’s post fall condition.

Satan knew that God’s children would come from the body of women. He hated them for being the channel of creation. However, God put this hatred there because he had a plan. He was going to use woman in a way that no one could have imagined. The enmity between Satan and women would ensure that women maintained a kind of spirituality that would cause one specific woman to be ready when the time of mercy and grace came.

Then he says something impossible. He says he will put hatred between the woman’s seed and Satan’s seed. Neither of them has “seed” in the context of children. Who is Satan’s seed. The seed that will create humanity from the fall onward will have a spiritual genetic flaw called spiritual death. Adam’s rebellion caused him to be immediately separated from God and eternal life. It eventually caused the failure of his physical body. This flaw was passed to all those born of Adam. His seed was eternally contaminated by the nature of Satan, sin. Therefore, all who were born from that day on were the “seed of Satan.”

What of the seed of woman? This statement is even more impossible from the human standpoint. Woman has no seed! Woman carries the other half of the creative equation. She carries the “egg” that is fertilized by the seed. That is why in most cultures the family line comes through the male. In most royal houses if no male is born to the King, the line of succession ends. This is God’s way of incorporating into society that woman has no seed. Who, then, is the seed of woman?

When God was ready to put the plan of redemption into motion he sent an angel to a virgin girl. In Isaiah 7:14 God reveals something.

Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV) 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Notice he does not say “a virgin shall conceive.” He points through history to a specific woman through whom he is going to do something extraordinary. In Luke chapter 1, we find out who this woman is.

Luke 1:30-31 (NKJV) 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.

How could a woman have a seed? Who was this seed? A woman who conceives with no male human involved could be said to have a seed. A human being born this way would be the seed of that woman. Jesus is the seed of woman prophesied by God himself in Genesis 3:15.

God is revealing the special hatred that the seed of Satan, all those born by the natural order after the fall, would have for the one who would be born without the nature of sin. Jesus the Messiah.

Finally, God tells the devil what he is going to do. His words seem to be trivial if you do not understand that they are Hebrew idioms. An idiom is a saying that says one thing be has an understood meaning in the language being spoken. In English we may say “I will lend you a hand.” That does not mean I am going to remove one of my hands and give it to my neighbor. It means I am going to help.

In Hebrew to bruise the heal means to cause a minor injury. Satan is going to cause Jesus a minor injury. To bruise the head means to take away the Lordship of a ruler. Jesus is going to take away from Satan what he has won in the fall. He is going to give man what he does not deserve. He is going to make grace available for all of humanity. In our next post we will see how grace came to the world in the form of a baby.

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The Origins of Grace: The Fall

Genesis 3:22-24 (NKJV) 22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”– 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

In our last two posts we have looked at the creation of man in some detail. To understand grace, we must understand its origin. Why was it necessary for God to bring grace into the creation? We have set a stage that is marked by a beautiful harmony. God created a world where his family could live. He is able to fellowship with them. They are different from all other created things just as he is different from everything in any world.

God is a spirit. He lives in and rules over a realm or dimension called the world of the spirit. The God of creation is all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present and unchangeable. There can be only one such being. He had created angels, beings who were also part of the world of the spirit. They were created as servants of God. They were not in the same class as God. For one thing, although they had the capacity to make a choice, they did not have the right of choice.

When some of them, led by Lucifer the leader of heavenly worship, did choose, there could be no redemption for them. Their choice brought a contamination to heaven that could not be tolerated. God had to create a place of separation for them. That place is called hell. It was created to hold the devil and his angels so that the contamination of sin would not affect the spiritual world (Matthew 25:41.)

God’s desire for a family caused him to create another place. A place that was separate from the world of the spirit. A limited place in which he could put man, a being whose life flowed from the spirit world but who existed in the limited, physical world. He wanted a family to love him. Because man existed in the physical world, God could give him the divine right of choice. Without choice there can be no love. Man was given both the capacity and the right to choose to either love God or not.

God put two things into the physical realm that would create the atmosphere of choice for man. He put two trees in the Garden. One representing the choice to love God and the other the choice to rebel against God. He put something else in the Garden. More accurately he put someone else in the Garden.

Isaiah 14:12 (NKJV) 12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!

Here we see that Lucifer also known as Satan was “cut down to the ground.” We see that in the Garden of Eden there is a being who has the power of speech. He is not man but a serpent. Satan is often seen as a serpent.

Revelation 12:9 (NKJV) 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.

In this verse we see Satan called the serpent of old. God put a tempter in the Garden. If man was going to choose to love God, he had to make sure there was no question that he would make the choice. In Genesis 3 the drama God knew would happen plays out. You can read the scriptural account later but let me summarize.

Satan temps the woman to eat from the forbidden tree. He could not make her eat. She had to choose to eat. In Timothy we see that she was deceived but Adam was not (1 Timothy 2:13.) We sometimes think Adam was off somewhere else in the Garden during Eve’s temptation. He was not. Genesis 3:6 says that she gave the fruit to her husband who was with her. Adam now had to choose. Until he ate of the fruit nothing happened. He was the head of the woman. He could have chosen to remain loyal to God, his Father. We cannot know what would have happened to them if he had.

He knew that Eve had eaten. He knew that he loved her as “flesh of his flesh.” It is my opinion that he believed God’s promise concerning the “Tree of the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” would come to pass in her life. She was going to die. He could not bear to lose her, so as he looked at the fruit she had eaten he made an informed decision. He chose her over God. When he ate their eyes were opened.

This set-in motion a number of things. God came looking for them in the cool of the day. He is God. He knew where they were, but they had to take responsibility for what they had done. He pronounces several consequences for their choice. Man will no longer rule the earth. He will have to fight it for survival. Woman will no longer be man’s “helper” designed to share in his dominion over creation. Instead, she became his servant. Her desire would be for him, but childbearing would be in pain. This was not God’s original plan. It was a result of choosing sin and self will over submission to God.

Let us not forget the main curse associated with eating from the forbidden tree. The Hebrew says, “The day you eat from it, in dying you shall surely die.” Adam and Eve did not die physically for many years after they ate from the tree. However, there is no indication they would ever die before they ate of it. Adam and Eve were eternal beings.

There is an interesting fact about the human body. All the cells in our bodies are renewed every seven years. With each renewal cycle there is a flaw that grows. That flaw is what we call aging. I do not believe that flaw was in the original design. Man was designed to physically live forever. He was to be a spirit being who would live eternally in a physical body. They were to be God’s eternal family. When they sinned, something was introduced that caused them to begin to deteriorate. That something is called death. More specifically it is called spiritual death or separation from the source of man’s life, God himself.

Spirit beings cannot cease to exist. Man’s spirit would not cease to exist once his body died. However, since he would pass into the spirit world separated from God by his own choosing, he would suffer the same fate as Satan and his angels. He would spend eternity as a spirit being separated from God. The bible calls his future home Gehenna or the lake of fire.

All of this is what man deserves. He chose Eve over God. Adam knew the consequences but disobeyed anyway. God knew that he would. He was prepared for it. He had a plan in place to get his family back. Man did not deserve this from God. Man deserved to be left to his fate. God had every right to destroy what he had created but he did not. Man deserved eternal separation. That is not what God planned to allow.

God was moved with compassion for his family. He told Satan and all creation that he was going to give man what he did not deserve; a way out. He was going to redeem him from his choices and give him new choices. The act of redemption was mercy. The fact that Adam’s descendants would be offered what they did not deserve was grace. In today’s verse we see God’s mercy to preserve them until he did something about their situation.

Grace was not introduced in the New Testament. It was part of the original design. God planned for man’s fall when he created him. He was ready to put the plan of redemption into motion even before the fall of man. He makes a declaration to Satan that sets the course of history. In this declaration he declares both mercy and grace. Read it now and we will discuss it next time.

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV) 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.”

The Origins of Grace 2

Genesis 2:7 (NKJV) 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.

The story of the Bible is the story of the separation and reunification of a Father and his family. In our last post we saw that God created a physical universe. We focused on the fact that there are two realities that exist. There is the visible world of the natural and the invisible world of the spirit.

God is a spirit (John 4:24 KJV.) His realm of existence is a place called the spirit. If we are going to accept the truth of the Bible, we must also accept that this higher realm or reality exists. We live in the visible world of the natural. According to Genesis the natural was created by the physical. According to Paul in 2 Corinthians 4, the visible is temporary and the invisible is eternal. The visible is is subject to the invisible.

There is an important change in God’s method of creation when he came to man. God spoke the rest of creation into existence already alive. As far as we can see, the birds came forth flying, the fish swimming and the cows mooing. In today’s verse we see that God formed man’s body. The Hebrew word implies squeezing together like molding clay. To me this involves great love and care.

In Genesis 2:19 God uses the same word to describe his creation of the animals. What Genesis 2:19 does not include is the next step in man’s creation. The body that God lovingly formed for man was not alive. Again, everything else seemed to come forth alive. Their source of life was the physical creation. This was not the case with man. The body of Adam was dead. Then God does something very important. It says he breathed into man the breath of life and only then did man become a living soul.

There are many interpretations of what God breathed into man. One thing that can not be disputed is that whatever he breathed into him was the source of his life. It was then that he became a living soul. I believe that God breathed a spirit into the man. He took something from his own life and with that he gave man’s body life.

Let me be clear. I do not believe man was, is or ever will be God. There is only one God. The bible is clear on that point. What I do believe is that man is different from every other thing that God created. In Genesis 1:26 God said let us make man in our image. He did not say that about birds, dogs or even monkeys. He said that about man alone. Man is different from everything else in creation. How is he different and why is he different?

The why is simple. God wanted a family. He had created spirit beings, but they had no right of free will. They could not choose to love God. When 1/3 of them chose not to love and obey God they had to be removed from Heaven. Hell was created for them. Why was that necessary? They were part of the eternal realm of the spirit. Sin and rebellion cannot be allowed to contaminate that world. There could be no redemption for them. To be God’s family and to love him as he so desired, man had to be different.

God created a limited, physical world that exists outside of the world of the spirit. The beings who were created as part of that world were not spirit beings. The creator world could affect the created world but not the other way around. Sin in the natural world could not contaminate the spiritual world. God wanted a family who would chose to love him. Love without choice is not love. Giving a spirit being in the spirit world the right to chose created a situation God was not willing to allow.

The purpose of the physical reality was to allow God to put man in a place where, when he sinned as God knew he would, he would not contaminate the world of the spirit. He would only contaminate the world of the physical. Since the spirit world, the creator world, is higher than the physical world, God would be able to change that world and save the man from his sin.

What is man? Man is a spirit being just as God is a spirit being. He body is made out of the dust of the earth just as any other part of the physical creation. He is physical. He was given dominion by God in the physical universe. He has a right to that dominion because he is part of it and because God gave it to him. However, he is also a spirit being. Though his body is physical, the source of his life is the world of the spirit. I believe man is a spirit being in a physical body. Man is the only one who is both.

In a spiritual sense man has God’s DNA. That does not make him God, but it makes him different from every other physical creation. He is in God’s image. Genesis 1:25 is a statement of a law that God placed into the earth.

Genesis 1:25 (NKJV) 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.

God made everything “according to it’s kind.” When things reproduce they would reproduce according to their kind. Cows would not reproduce horses. Fruits would not reproduce vegetables. When Adam reproduced he would reproduce after his “kind.” He would reproduce spirit beings in physical bodies. The bodies would be a product of the human physical DNA. The inner man from which the species “man” drew life would be created by God. Each and every human that would be born would have a spirit created by God. Each would be unique and each would be a child of God.

Let me set the stage as it is at this point of creation. God has created a being that is a part of the physical world. He draws his life from the spiritual world. He is unlike anything in either world. He is God’s child. God adds to the family by taking something from Adam and creating another being like him. This being was female. She was called woman.

God did not desire a world of children in the way Adam and Eve were. He wanted his children to share in creation with him. When the man, Adam, joined physically with the woman, Eve, something wonderful happened. Their physical DNA mingled and produced a physical child. Their Spiritual DNA which came from God produced a spiritual child of God. The creation of God’s family was set in motion.

In the beginning, God and his family were joined in the spirit. Genesis 3 it says God came to walk with man in the cool of the day. I do not know if God took a form man could see and walked with him. What I do know is that man’s connection to his Father God was not just on a physical level. He was joined to God in the spirit. Their connection flowed from the world God lived not from the one he created.

For man to love God in the way God desired he had to have a choice. God placed two trees in the Garden. He gave man free access to the tree of life. I do not have space to speculate on the nature of that tree. Suffice it to say it was a connection to God’s life. He also placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The fruit of this tree they were forbidden to eat.

Why did God place the second tree in the garden? The answer is choice. If man chose to eat of the tree of life, there were only blessings. There was no curse associated with it. If he chose to eat of the second tree, there was a curse. God says that in the day you eat of it you will die. In the Hebrew it says “in dying you will surely die.

Again[BK1] , I am sure you are wondering what all of this has to do with grace. What happens next is the whole reason for grace. To understand grace, we must understand why it was needed. We will continue to explore tomorrow.


[BK1]

The Origins of Grace

Genesis 2:7 (NKJV) 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.

(Once again, we have been traveling and as a result I have not had time to do any posting. Let’s get back to our discussion of Grace.)

We are looking at the bible doctrine of grace to sort out some of the confusion that seems to be in the church today about this topic. Grace is vital to Christianity. Salvation without a reliance on grace is impossible. That said, we must understand that grace is not a license to behave any way we like. Christianity is a relationship and relationships have parameters that are required for them to exist and thrive.

There is a confusion concerning the difference between law and grace. Some say that law is about behavior and grace makes the law, and for some, behavior irrelevant. God gave us 10 powerful commandments that reveal his nature and character to us. We are still required to live by them. Christianity has not changed that.

What we do find in Paul’s writings is that there is a better way than outward law to keep them. They were written on our hearts when we were born again. We keep them from the inside out not the outside in.

It is very difficult for me to look at any bible truth without starting in the book of Genesis. Every doctrine has its beginnings there. Genesis means beginnings. Grace began in Genesis. More to the point, the need for grace came into the human experience in Genesis.

To understand any of this we must know why God created man in the first place. God wanted a family. He had the spirit realm and the creatures he made to occupy it. There were angels to fill many functions in God’s world. However, the nature of their creation meant that they were servants of God. They were spirit beings like him. They were part of the same reality or existence. Nevertheless, they were not really like God. They were not his family. If there was another like him, he would not be the God revealed to us in the bible. To have a family God had to do something completely different.

In Genesis 1 we read about the creation of the physical universe. One of the things that we must accept by faith is the fact of creation. Hebrews 11:3 tells us so.

Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV) 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

I do not believe we will ever find definitive evidence of creation in the natural. Hebrews 11:6 tells us it is impossible to please God without faith. Natural evidence would eliminate faith from the equation. We have no proof or evidence of creation except our faith (Hebrews 11:1.) Nevertheless, we must accept Genesis 1 as true. If it is not, nothing in the bible makes sense.

God exists in another realm. Today we might use the term dimension to explain where God lives. I do not think that picture is really an accurate description of the world of the spirit, but it will do. Modern film and literature is full of alternate realities. Man instinctively knows that there is another reality beyond the one in which he lives. I believe that “other reality” is the realm of the spirit and I believe it is the world of God.

To have a family God created another “reality.” We call it the physical universe or the natural world. It is the only one we can see, hear and feel. The scientific community generally accepts the natural world as real and everything else as imagination, myth or foolishness. If we are going to understand bible grace we must accept the truth of Hebrews 11:3. God made this world out of a world we cannot see. Which world is more real? I submit that the creator world is more real than the created world. Look at Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

For the Apostle Paul, the things he endures in this “visible” world are only light afflictions. In Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 12 we read lists of things that happened to Paul. In the book of Acts we see many of them written in story form. To me they do not appear to be “light afflictions.” I would not want anything in the list! Paul seems to have a very different perspective. Verse 18 tells us why.

He speaks of two levels of experience. That which is seen and that which is not seen. That which is seen is temporary or subject to change. That which is unseen is eternal. Therefore, the unseen is more real and more enduring than the seen. Paul understands that something is happening in a place he cannot see while he is dealing with what he can see. That is the place God lives. It is the invisible world of the spirit.

I believe the spiritual world and the physical world exist in the same place. God created the physical as a home for his family. Since he created the physical world he can affect it. Control it and change it. He gave it to man.

Genesis 1:26 (NKJV) 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.”

God’s family became the controlling force in the earth by the Word of God and man’s connection with God. When man fell, he gave that control to Satan because of sin. God’s Word is always eternal. As creator he has the right to destroy what he made and start again. However, God is love. He would not abandon his family. He undertook a plan to bring them back to himself. This plan involved a legal intrusion of the spiritual world in to the physical.

Galatians 4:4-5 (NKJV) 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

When the time was right, God himself came to the earth. He came as the “incarnation” or physical manifestation of the invisible God. Jesus was not born of a physical human male. He did have a physical mother through whom he received a physical body just like yours and mine. However, he was conceived of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35.) Jesus was the Son of Man but also the Son of God. He was human but also divine. He was of the invisible world of the Spirit but also of the visible world of the natural. He was the bridge, the mediator between God and man.

How does this relate to grace? Grace is unmerited or undeserved favor. Favor from whom and to whom. It implies a greater favoring a lesser. Who is the greater. Where is the greater one? Who is the lesser and where is he or she?

Of course, we know that the greater one is God and the lesser is man. However, that implies two worlds. For many Christians this is obvious. For many more this is a farfetched and strange ides. They accept Christianity as a religion and a philosophy. That kind of Christianity does not really need grace. A reality that believes in an invisible creator God and an eternal world needs grace. A man who is separated from the world he was actually created to interact with as the child of God but from which he is separated by sin, needs grace.