Sin is Like AIDS (Another way to Explain the Gospel)

I’ve always kind of struggled with the idea that Adam’s one sin ruined us all and made us all sinners.  It doesn’t seem fair does it?  I mean, one person ruled the fate of all mankind just by eating a piece of fruit?

Over the years I’ve come to understand that the sin committed by Adam was much worse than just eating a piece of fruit.  He wanted to be like God, which is why he gave in to the Serpent’s lie when he told them that they would be like God if they ate the fruit.  Adam was also supposed to be the protector of his wife and he just stood by as she was being tricked and then he took of the fruit himself.  Have you ever noticed that their eyes were not opened until after Adam ate of the fruit, even though he ate after Eve did?  Just something to think about.

I believe that God has helped me to see a better way to understand what happened in Eden and what is happening now with an illustration.  When Adam took on the disease of sin by taking of that fruit, he took on a disease that would spread to all of his offspring.

We are facing a disease today that is very similar to the disease of sin.  AIDS is a result of sexual immorality and generally is contracted when sexual immorality takes place.  The disease is often spread to the sexual partner, and in most if not all cases, to the offspring.  Now wait a minute, that baby didn’t have sex outside of marriage did it?  And yet it contracted AIDS because of it’s father’s choice.  That is just like us.  We may not have been there in the garden of Eden to choose to disobey God, but the disease of sin was spread to us because of the nature of what sin is.

AdamSin

We are all born with the disease called sin, and are hopelessly and terminally ill with it.  For some people, its symptoms are very mild and it does not show itself very often.  For others, the symptoms are very strong.  The point is, the symptoms of sin are different for everyone and the severity of the symptoms is different, but the fact of the matter is, we are ALL, every single person on this earth, born with the terminal disease of sin and without hope of a cure on our own.  And if we are not cured of it, we will die of it.  The only way to be cured of it is by a miracle.

The only person who can do any kind of real miracle, especially of this magnitude is God.  Why would God help us when we have chosen to consistently turn our backs on Him?  Because He is full of grace.  He came down to earth as a man who had no earthly father to pass the disease of sin on to Him because God is His Father.  He was born without the disease of sin, lived His life completely perfectly without the disease of sin, and yet died as a result of the effects of the disease of sin in everyone else even though He didn’t ever show a single symptom of the disease of sin.

Christ has died

Then He rose from the dead so that He can save those who have died because of the disease of sin.  He holds the only cure for this awful fatal disease and offers this cure for anyone who wants it.  The problem is, most people don’t realize their need for the cure.  Many think they don’t even have a disease that needs curing, or don’t think they have the disease badly enough to need a cure.  Now, we all know that the first step to being cured of a disease is acknowledging that we have a disease that needs to be cured, that we need help.  But most people are too blind to see that.

He is Risen

But for those who do acknowledge that they have a terminal disease that they have no hope of curing themselves and who ask God to cure them of that disease, He answers and gives them the cure.  He sees them as healthy as Jesus, who lived without sin and who died as a result of sin and rose from the dead.  God gives them the hope that they will also rise from the dead one day to live forever without the awful disease of sin.

The sad reality is, the world would rather flaunt their symptoms and try to force everyone to believe that they aren’t sick or that it’s ok to be sick since everyone is sick rather than seeking the cure for their sickness.  And they will die of their disease and be forever separated from the Holy and Righteous God Who has the only cure for the disease of sin by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Without Christ, no one is cured of sin.  Just like with AIDS, no matter how healthily you choose to live or what good choices you make, it cannot be cured but by the miracle that God provided through Jesus Christ.

I realize that this is not a perfect way to explain the Gospel, but I believe that the essential message of the Gospel is included and that this is another way to explain the Gospel to others in a way that can help them understand the seriousness of sin and the amazing Grace of God.  Be encouraged!  There is hope!  Grace, love and peace!

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Why the Virgin Birth is Essential (by John MacArthur)

During this time of year, I feel like we get too caught up in the birth of Christ.  It was a great thing, but the Bible never tells us to celebrate it interestingly enough.  I love celebrating it, and would never discourage celebrating it, but I would also encourage everyone to, along with the birth, celebrate His life, death, resurrection and everything that was accomplished and is being accomplished as a result of those things.

I feel that more important than Jesus’ birth is how it came about.  I’ve struggled to put this into words, but one of my favorite teachers John MacArthur wrote a very great blog about why the virgin birth is essential.  I’ll leave the rest up to him to explain:

Why the Virgin Birth is Essential

“You may be wondering why the virgin birth—of all the miracles in Scripture—is so frequently attacked. After all, if one can believe, say, that Moses parted the Red Sea, what’s the big deal about a virgin birth? It certainly isn’t as spectacular a miracle. And Scripture devotes relatively little space to describing it. Can it really be that important?

Yes. The virgin birth is an underlying assumption in everything the Bible says about Jesus. To throw out the virgin birth is to reject Christ’s deity, the accuracy and authority of Scripture, and a host of other related doctrines central to the Christian faith. No issue is more important than the virgin birth to our understanding of who Jesus is.

If we deny that Jesus is God, we have denied the very essence of Christianity. Everything else the Bible teaches about Christ hinges on the truth we celebrate at Christmas—that Jesus is God in human flesh. If the story of His birth is merely a fabricated or trumped-up legend, then so is the rest of what Scripture tells us about Him. The virgin birth is as crucial as the resurrection in substantiating His deity. It is not an optional truth. Anyone who rejects Christ’s deity rejects Christ absolutely—even if he pretends otherwise (1 John 4:1-3).

Jesus Himself viewed the question of His parentage as a watershed issue. Matthew records one of the last confrontations He had with the Pharisees.

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question. (Matthew 22:41-46)

His sonship was the source of controversy on other occasions. John 8 records another run-in with some leading Pharisees. They told Jesus, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God” (John 8:41). “We were not born of fornication” is a not-so-subtle jab at Jesus. They implied that He was born illegitimately. They twisted the whole point of His miraculous birth to make Him an illegitimate child. They even said later in verse 48, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

The fact is, there is a direct parallel between those Pharisees and modern religious leaders who hint that the virgin birth is unimportant or a fable. Their challenges grow out of unbelief in Jesus Christ. They are the expression of sinful, unregenerate hearts.

Contrast their response with that of Peter. Matthew 16:13-17 records this exchange between Jesus and His disciples. Again, His sonship is the issue.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

Notice that the answers proposed by the populace were human ones. They had concluded Jesus was either John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. They had not yet grasped the truth of His deity. They assumed He was just a man.

Simon Peter’s response was different. He understood that Jesus was more than a human Messiah, more than an anointed prophet, more than a son of David. He was the Son of the living God. Peter knew because God had revealed it to him (Matthew 16:17). Flesh and blood cannot reach that conclusion. Science, philosophy, and human religion cannot explain who Jesus is. Their adherents will inevitably conclude that He is a great teacher, a good moral example, or even a great prophet of God. But they all miss the fact that He is the Son of the living God.

That’s why the virgin birth is so important. For Jesus to be God, He must be born of God. Joseph, a man, and Mary, a woman, cannot produce God. God cannot be born into this world by natural human processes. There’s no way He could be God apart from being conceived by God.

At this time of year, believers shouldn’t merely celebrate the birth of Christ. Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate every aspect of Christ’s life—His humble incarnation, His transformative ministry, His righteous example, and, ultimately, His sacrificial death. But none of that matters if we don’t believe God’s Word is accurate about His Son’s parentage. When it comes to the truth of the virgin birth, compromise is not an option.”

How is Jesus Greater than Adam if All are not Saved?

Romans 5:18-19 can seem like a tricky passage.  (18 Therefore as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.) When one is reading it, it seems to have contradicting ideas if not read carefully and with context in mind.  As always, context is king.  In this passage Jesus and Adam are contrasted as types of each other and each one’s actions bear a consequence, one good and one bad (this is a major understatement). 🙂

 

AdamandChrist*cheesy photo perhaps, but this is the picture that Scripture seem to paint.

 

The passage from verses 12-21 of chapter 5 (just to gain a bit of context) begins by stating that sin came into the world and therefore death followed, because of one man, Adam.  The entire human race, every single person who would live after Adam is counted as having sinned with him.  The one command God gave was broken, and even though there was no law given, sin and death still reigned because death is the result of sin and everyone dies.  There is no escape from physical death for anyone.  So even though people may not have been disobeying direct commands of God before the law was given, they were still sinning, just not in the sense of disobeying a direct command like Adam did.

 

Then comes Christ.  Christ’s act of a lifetime of perfect obedience and an obedience that led to His death, and of course, His resurrection, brought about not only a reversal of the curse to restore people to their original created state, but to give them God’s righteousness and a share of His eternal glory (Hebrews 2:10-11).  John MacArthur, in his commentary on Romans, makes a good point.  He says, “It might be said that Adam’s sinful act, devastating as it was, had but a one-dimensional effect-it brought death to everyone.  But the effect of Christ’s redemptive act has facets beyond measure, because He not only restores man to spiritual life but gives him the very life of God.”

He also says later, “Jesus Christ broke the power of sin and death, but the converse is not true.  Sin and death cannot break the power of Jesus Christ.  The condemnation of Adam’s sin is reversible, the redemption of Jesus Christ is not.  The effect of Adam’s act is permanent ONLY if not nullified by Christ (emphasis added).  The effect of Christ’s act, however, is permanent for believing individuals and not subject to reversal or nullification.  We have the great assurance that once we are in Jesus Christ, we are in Him forever.”

One last brilliant quote from MacArthur and I’ll move on.  “It was the one sin by the one man at the one time that brought God’s judgment and its resulting condemnation.  But the gift of God’s grace through Jesus Christ is not like that.  God’s judgment on Adam and his posterity arose from but one transgression.  On the other hand, however, the free gift arose not simply because of that single transgression but from MANY transgressions, and its result is not simply RESTORATION but JUSTIFICATION (capitalized emphases added).

 

Why then are verses 18-19 so tricky?  (18 Therefore as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.)

At first glance, verse 18 seems to be suggesting that all will be saved and verse 19 seems to suggest that not everyone was made a sinner by using the word “many.” But as I said earlier, context is king.  Paul, and the rest of Scripture have already established that all are sinners.  And we know that not all will be saved by the plethora of Scriptures that tell us that those who do not receive the gift of salvation will not inherit the kingdom of God, but will receive everlasting punishment.  I could give an exhaustive list of Scriptures to back that point up, but I feel that that is unnecessary.

Therefore, we must conclude that when verse 18 says “one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men,” it means that justification and life are made available to all men, not that all receive that justification and life.  John Calvin explains it quite well.  He says, “He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him.”

 

Book of Romans

 

Verse 19 emphasizes the meaning of verse 18.  In most translations, even in the Young’s Literal Translation, which is a favored translation among those who teach universalism, the article ‘the’ is placed before the word ‘many.’ Most commentators conclude that ‘the many’ in verse 19 (“…the many were made sinners…” v. 19) refers to everyone, while “the many” who are “made righteous” refers only to believers.  While I believe that this is a logical conclusion and don’t disagree, I think that ‘the many’ likely refers to believers only in both instances.  I believe that “the many” refers to those mentioned in verse 17 “…who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness…”

 

It is true is it not, that all believers were made sinners as much as everyone else?  The only difference is, they will be and already have been made righteous by Christ’s act of obedience.  Everyone else is trying to make themselves righteous by relying on their own “goodness,” but we know that no one can make themselves righteous.  Only God can make one righteous through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ by His grace.

 

Many have already died (spiritually, because we already know that everyone dies physically whether they are saved or not), but many have also been made alive (spiritually) by the free gift of God by the grace of Christ (v. 15).  And not only that, but those who are made alive are not merely restored to the way humans were originally created, they are given the righteousness and glory of God!

THAT is how Jesus is greater than Adam, even though not all will be saved!  Salvation is offered to all, but is only effective to those who receive it.

JesusgreaterthanAdam  *This is true for the believer who has put on Christ’s righteousness, but not for those who remain in Adam.

 

I can’t pretend I know all about this.  Salvation seems like a simple concept, but when we look more deeply into it, it is more complicated than we think it is.  We cannot fully understand many things about God.  But as my friend Johnny Mac says, “…when we cannot understand the Lord’s ways, we must avoid the quicksand of human reason and stand in faith on the rock of God’s righteous character.” (I know I said I was done with Johnny Mac quotes, but had to throw this one in; sorry not sorry! 😉 )

More Hard Teaching… (or Lovemaking is Beautiful)

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog called “A Very Hard Teaching.”  Link here: http://joshandjenmendenhall.theworldrace.org/?filename=a-very-hard-teaching

Jesus told us that being His disciple would be very difficult.  He told us that we would have to deny ourselves (say “NO!” to our sinful desires and to a comfortable life of complacency), pick up our cross daily, and follow Him.  In my last post, I talked about how He is the good master who has paid the price to set us free from Satan, sin and self; all which lead to a dark, lonely eternity away from God and all that is good, but that many people refuse to accept the freedom either because they love themselves and their sin too much, or they think that they can get freedom on their own, which is of course, impossible.

 

One of the most difficult sins to break away from is sexual immorality.  Unfortunately, the human attitude toward sex is, “if it feels good, do it.” Even among Christians there are some who think that lovemaking is beautiful in any form, whether it’s two unmarried people, two gay men or two gay women, it doesn’t matter.  They obviously are not reading the same Bible that I am.  Or they do, but they try to twist what the Bible says and justify their sinful lifestyle.  (Haven’t we all at one time or another?)

 

This greatly disturbs me and honestly makes me wonder about the condition of their salvation.  How can anyone who claims to love God call something beautiful that He has called an abomination and shameful?  Do you dare to disagree with God or to call Him a liar?

 

Yes, lovemaking is beautiful, but only in the context for which God created it, and that is between one man and one woman within the covenant of marriage.  That’s it!  “Love” making in any other context is vile, disgusting, broken, dirty and an abomination to the Lord our God!  He created it for a man and his wife to enjoy each other and to show their love for one another and that is ALL He created it for.  Only then is it the beautiful, wonderful, glorious thing for which He designed it.  Any other use of it is a perversion!

 

Would you call raping an innocent child beautiful?  Of course not!  What about a man cheating on his wife or vice versa?  I certainly hope not!  What about women and children being sold into the Sex Trade and the wicked men who buy them?  Why then would you call any other form of sexual immorality beautiful?  Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery, But I say to you, that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Also, “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander (Matt. 15:19, Mark 7:21).”

 

That’s a hard teaching, because unfortunately, that makes me an adulterer, and that breaks my heart.  Thanks be to God that I never got the opportunity to indulge in physical sex outside of marriage, but I sure spent a lot of time looking and lusting after women both in real life and on TV and the internet, and did things I certainly shouldn’t have done.  I don’t want to be an adulterer, and now I’m not because Christ has set me free from it.  I am deeply convicted by Paul’s words in I Corinthians 6:19-20:  “What?!  Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God??  For you are bought with a price!  Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which belong to God.”

 

If you are truly a believer in Christ, then all that you are belongs to God!  How can we glorify Him if we are defiling our bodies by perverting something that He created for one purpose only to satisfy our own selfish pleasures?  This also goes for addictions, storing up riches for ourselves and refusing to give to others and many other sins.  As the great preacher Donald Barnhouse said,

“The great fact is that God wishes these who name His name to become like Him day by day.  He is a holy God who demands holiness of His people.  We are all born as children of Adam, with natures that are prone to sin.  The greatest of all sins is that each of us desires his own way.  Wanting one’s own way is absolutely natural and absolutely sinful.”  Matthew 5:48, Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  And God the Father Himself: “Be holy because I am holy,” all over the Old Testament.

 

I hope you see that I am trying to identify with you as a fellow sinner.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, I love you and God loves you, because you are created in the image of God and He longs to redeem you and I long to see you redeemed if you have not been.  I wish that you could feel the deep love and concern that I have for you as I write this.  My words may sound harsh, but the truth is harsh sometimes and I would not be a good or loving neighbor or brother or friend if I did not warn you of the danger you are in by living in ways contrary to the Word of the Creator of the Universe.

 

But I know that many will misunderstand me.  I know that this post will be incredibly offensive to some.  I know that insults and false accusations of intolerance, hate, homophobia and judgmental bigotry will come.  But I know my own heart and I know that God knows my heart.  I do not wish to estrange myself from my family members or my friends whom I love dearly, but I desire the approval of God and not of men.  I will never view anyone as my enemy, but I can’t control how others view me.  That is the attitude that Jesus had, and look where it got Him.

 

I understand that it’s hard.  I have to fight against my flesh daily.  Being a follower of Christ is not meant to be easy.  I wish I could tell you that it’s ok to live however you want.  I wish I could tell myself that, but I can’t.  Barnhouse again with a great thought says, “God tells man that the divine way is perfect and that He desires men to walk therein.  Man cannot do it by himself, so God provided His own Grace.”  That’s the Gospel in a nutshell.  Why would we want to trample the Grace of God when our lives should be wholly devoted to Him with all gratefulness and thankfulness?

Titus 3:3-7: At one time we (Believers) too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us (Believers), not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

 

Before I end, I also want to share a word to the judgmental and/or self-righteous, which, at times is also me, but really is everyone.   This also from Barnhouse.  “God repudiates (hates deeply) formalism without a heart change, and the (person) who trusts in liturgical ceremonies or religious rites without having a definite change of heart is in the folly of self-deception.”  Just because we may not live lifestyles that we wrongfully consider more sinful than others, doesn’t make us right with God.  Only by putting on Christ’s righteousness can we be made right with God.

 

I pray that my words, harsh though they may sound, were spoken in love and genuine concern.  Once again, these are not my ideas or opinions.  They are the very truths of God and the ONLY truths that matter.  They are hard, they hurt and they can be incredibly offensive, but the Word of God is the only Truth that can set you free!  It MUST be shared! As one who has been given the responsibility to speak the Truth, I HAVE to.  I cannot suppress it, it burns within me, and it has changed my life!

I also pray that I share these things with humility, knowing that I do the same things sometimes.  I truly desire and long deeply to see us all set free from our selfish, sinful desires, and brought from the kingdom of Satan and darkness and self, and into the Kingdom of God and His glorious, marvelous light!

 

Grace, peace and love to all through God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!