Death Before Sin

Death Before Sin
Was This What God Had In Mind When He Created?

This morning in our staff meeting, we had a guest speaker, Pastor Don Landis, talk about an issue that every Christian needs to understand. As many of you are aware, there is a huge debate in the Church today concerning whether or not the Bible allows for billions of years.

Now most conservative Christians reject biological evolution, but a large number have come to believe that it is all right to believe in the big bang and billions of years. In fact, this view is dominant in Christian colleges and seminaries—even many considered to be conservative.

As with any issue addressed in Scripture, Christians must ask, “What does the Bible teach?” rather than appealing to modern opinion. So let’s ask the question: What does Scripture teach on this issue? Is it okay to believe in billions of years and add that to the Bible?

The short answer is an emphatic “No!” Please don’t misunderstand me. A person can be a Christian and believe in billions of years. However, when a person does this, they attack the attributes, nature, and character of God. Consider carefully the truths of the following passages of Scripture.

Genesis 1:29-30 tell us that man was originally created to eat vegetation and so were the animals. Genesis 1:31 reveals that God looked at all of creation and declared that it was “very good.” In Genesis 2:17, God told Adam that if he sinned then he would surely die. When Adam sinned, death entered the world (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21).

Here’s the problem. If a person believes in the billions of years, then the rock layers we see are evidence of those billions of years (rather than a worldwide flood). These rock layers contain fossils—the petrified remains of plants and animals. This means that animals were suffering and dying for millions of years prior to Adam’s sin, yet the Bible teaches that the world was still “very good” (Hebrew word means exceedingly good) after Adam was created. This would mean that God thinks death, suffering, and disease is “very good,” yet the Bible says that death is an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26).

Some still argue and say that Adam only brought human death into the world or that man simply died spiritually when Adam sinned. It is true that Adam’s sin fractured man’s relationship to God, but remember that the animals were originally created to eat vegetation. Something happened that changed all of that. Now, we have animals that kill other animals. This world is very different than when it was created.

More importantly, if Adam’s sin only brought on spiritual death (separation from God), then why did God guard the tree of life? It was because man was now going to die, and if he could eat from the tree he would live forever (Genesis 3:22-24). Even more important, Jesus took on human flesh so that He could die a physical death on the Cross. If man only brought spiritual death, then Jesus would only need to die a spiritual death (be separated from the Father for a short time) to redeem man. However, Jesus came to die a physical death (and rose physically) because man’s sin brought physical death into this world. Romans 8 tells us that the whole creation (not just mankind) is in bondage because of sin.

The idea that there was billions of years of death and suffering is an attack on the Gospel message itself. Most Christians don’t realize this because they’ve been taught that the age of the earth is just a side issue. No, it is a foundational issue since billions of years of death and suffering undermine the very reason Jesus died on the Cross.

I can hear the objection now: “Yeah, but you said a person can still be a Christian and believe those things. So it must not be that important.” That’s right. I did say that. However, keep in mind the mixed message we send when we tell people that they need to repent of their sin and place their faith in Christ, but that they can’t trust the clear words in the beginning of the Bible. Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus, “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” (John 3:12). If God wasn’t telling us the truth in Genesis 1–11 then when does He start telling the truth?

I realize this raises many other questions. Is it plausible to believe the earth is only 6,000 years old? How can so many scientists be wrong? Isn’t there a lot of evidence for the billions of years? Isn’t the creation account just poetry or allegory? Don’t worry, there are answers to these questions. Many of these are dealt with in my first book, Old-Earth Creationism on Trial. You can also check out my website and Answers in Genesis for answers to these and many other questions.

Be Sure and Stand Firm!

Like this giant rock, we must take a firm stand.
The sermon at church this morning focused on the lives of two important figures from the Old Testament: Jehoiada and Joash. Here’s a little background information from 2 Chronicles 22 -24.
Jehoiada was an Israelite priest and a godly man. Joash was the only male child who survived Queen Athaliah’s attempt to wipe out all the royal heirs so she could take the throne. (Had she succeeded, God’s promise to David would have failed.) Jehoiada and his wife hid young Joash for six years. At the age of seven, Joash became king over Judah and he reigned for forty years.
Joash is often remembered as a good king, but this is hardly an accurate depiction. While Jehoiada the priest lived, Joash was a good king and served the Lord. He made wise decisions and restored worship in the temple. However, upon Jehoiada’s death, Joash’s true nature became known.
Almost immediately, Joash followed the advice of godless men and allowed the people to fall into idolatry. He took no action against the wicked men who killed a prophet named Zechariah, the son (or grandson) of Jehoiada – the man who risked his own life to save Joash’s life and to install him as king.
The problem is that Joash was just a follower. He lacked the backbone necessary to stand up and do what was right no matter what the cost. As long as Jehoiada was around, Joash followed him and did what was right. But as soon as Jehoiada died, Joash followed godles men.
In many ways, we see this same mentality reflected in the lives of young people today. I have seen far too many teens living out their parents’ faith. As long as they live under their parents’ roof, they walk and talk like Christians. But as soon as they are out on their own, they chase after the godless things of this world. Of course, young people aren’t the only ones susceptible to following after godlessness; adults stumble and fall too.
So what is the solution? First, like Paul told the Corinthians, we need to be sure that we truly are believers in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5). Second, we need to take a bold stand against the false philosophies, worldly practices, and all the other wiles of the enemy (Ephesisans 6:10-13). We must have the conviction to do what is right no matter what the cost. We have to be willing to draw the proverbial line in the sand, and say, “No!” to the things that we know are wrong. We must make that commitment now rather than waiting for a difficult temptation to come along.
Moreover, rather than always reacting to what the world does, we must take some proactive steps so that we are prepared to stand firm. Paul also told the Ephesians to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Well, what does that mean? There is a parallel passage in Colossians 3:16, but this time Paul wrote that they should “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” That’s what it means to be filled with the Spirit. We must fill our lives with God’s Word. We must read it, study it, pray about it, and meditate on it day and night.
Our music, movies, entertainment, and other leisure activities should draw us closer to God rather than fill our minds with the trash of this world. Our conversations and our thoughts should reflect our desire to be like Christ rather than like the world. We must be sure of our faith and then stand firm in it. Only then will we be prepared to stand against the attacks that will come our way. It will all be worth it because one day when true believers will hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21).