Getting to the Root

We are given various historical examples and descriptions of sin in Scripture. One way to describe sin is that it is our rejection of, and rebellion against, having the true and living Triune God as our God. But this does not stop God from being God and ruling over us. The first man, Adam, learned this, as the saying goes, “the hard way.” He learned that it was sinful, even extreme foolishness to trust his own reasoning rather than God’s revelation of truth to him. By his Word and Spirit God created Adam, placed him in creation, gave him a duty within creation and explicit personal communication—revelation—so that he could interpret creation and live in it for his enjoyment, the expansion of the human race and the extension of God’s kingdom. Adam thought he had a better way.

It is not surprising that many will do whatever they can to water-down, if not weed out, the Genesis account regarding Adam. As my mother told me when I used to pull weeds: “Get the root, son, or they will come back.” Alter or abolish the root of the entire storyline of the Bible and you alter or abolish that storyline.

One way to think about the Bible is that Genesis 1-3 is its seed and Genesis 4-Revelation 22 is the organic, historical, progressive unfolding of what is already present in Genesis 1-3. Like the seed of a plant that possesses all the organic properties of the plant, even while having a very different form than the fully grown plant, the Bible has its entire contents in Genesis 1-3. Among other things, this means that all the doctrines of the Christian faith are present in Genesis 1-3. Creation, fall (into sin), redemption (from sin) are all present in Genesis 1-3. They all revolve around what God’s Word and Spirit produce and whether people are willing to trust God’s Word.

It is not a coincidence that the atheistic evolutionary theories about the origins of the universe gained popularity in Western culture at the same time that our culture increasingly rejected the Old and New Testament as the written word of the only living and true God. In some cases it is true that atheistic evolutionary theories led to the rejection of, or, at the very least, reinterpretation of the Bible. The more accurate way to think of all this is that it was the reinterpretation of the Bible and its rejection as the written word from the only living and true God among particular scholars during the 16th and 17th centuries that led to the popularizing of atheistic evolutionary theories regarding the origin of the universe. Rejecting the God of Scripture does not mean one stops trying to explain life. It also does not mean that one stops trusting one’s reason to an authority that informs one’s reason.

Debates about any and all aspects of Genesis 1-3, like debates about the rest of the Bible’s content, are all rooted in the authority upon which we entrust our reasoning. Genesis 1-3 present us with the first man and woman, created in God’s image, and having to entrust their thinking and behavior to their creator. They had to do this because, according to Genesis 1 and 2 they were created as finite, or limited in their powers. Life reveals that humans are limited. Even in all the collective knowledge and power that the entire human race is capable of harnessing, it is limited. We have very impressive capabilities to be sure, capabilities given to us by God, but limitations persist. Knowledge continues to increase, and this, in part, reveals that we lacked knowledge. We still do. We want to know and do more, as individuals, and as social communities. In all these pursuits the issue of trust looms large. Interesting that life reveals all this, and the first three chapters of Genesis do as well.

God’s word reveals that in the way that Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. Romans 5:12-21 highlight this. Hebrews 5:7 tells us that “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” He who is God’s word made flesh trusted God’s written word through the power of God’s Spirit, and this has produced salvation. God’s word can and should be trusted. The First and Second Adam (1Cor. 15:45-49) reveal this. Who will you trust?

David P. Smith, M.Div. (Covenant Seminary), Ph.D. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), is Pastor of Covenant Fellowship A.R.P. Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.   

David Smith