With all of the travel that we do today, we’re in a lot of varied environments – christian schools, public schools, youth groups, home meetings, church meetings, etc. Despite the wide variety of venues, we see something that all of these places have in common. And that is, people today, particularly teens, are desperately seeking hope in this world. One CDC chart has suicide as the number two cause of death among teens and young adults, with accidents being number one (https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/statistics/index.html). (Check out Carl’s article on the impact that media is having on this generation; it’s chilling.) CDC also says the suicide rate in the US has been increasing over the past 30 years, and drug activity and alcohol play a large role in reckless behavior and suicide. The CDC says the major cause of these suicides is hopelessness and anxiety.
From a Biblical perspective, we must look at the spiritual element in all of this. Jesus said that Satan wants to kill, steal and destroy us. He hates all image bearers, for we remind him of God who he hates the most. Satan desires to kill us if he can, and steal and destroy anything good in our lives. While educators see the need to build the self-image of children, their efforts are definitely hampered by their fundamental starting point of evolution. They don’t understand that our true value only comes from the fact that we’re created in the image of God. Nothing can give us more value, which leads to a positive self-image, than this fact. Satan has effectively convinced the world that we’re of no more value than pond scum, there is no purpose to life, and when we die we cease to exist. What everyone needs to know is that we were created for a purpose, and we can have the confidence that we will live eternally with our Creator who loves us completely. But between the curse of Adam and eternal home, we still have to live in this sin cursed world. We must be able to walk in enemy territory and maintain our hope and joy. What we really need to know is that God not only gives us eternal life, but He also gives us the ability to live abundantly here on earth until Jesus comes again.
What is this abundant life that Jesus spoke of? It’s the ability to live in a sin-cursed world yet be unscathed by it. It is the ability to walk in Satan’s domain untouched, to contend with the pain and evils of a cursed world yet live in victory, joy and thanksgiving. This is what Christ came to give. The world so desperately needs this hope for eternity and joy and fulfillment in this life. However, it’s not only the world that needs these, but many Christians are also missing out on much of what they ought to enjoy? It seems that many are just trying to hang on until Jesus comes when they finally get eternal life, as if it’s something we only get later on. It seems that many don’t know what they are missing, and turn to the world for fulfillment. But the sin of the world does not bring what they’re looking for; it only brings pain, sorrow, and lack of fulfillment. It’s no wonder we are becoming a hopeless culture of depressed and anxious people with only prescription drugs to keep us going.
Much of the church looks at the Bible and particularly at the book of Genesis as outdated in this age of science. Even Christians who believe the Bible can be flooded by micro doubts, questions that never get answers and eat at the soul. (Please pray for us at rforh. In 2018 we’re putting an emphasis on answering the most asked questions that we get from the younger generation.) As a result, many Christians are woefully ignorant of the Word of God. They hardly read it, much less study it and apply it to their lives. Thus, we are a generation that looks and acts like the world, and many are as hopeless and defeated as the world.
The book of Genesis is the key to living above this sin-cursed world, living an abundant life, unscathed by the world. Genesis answers two of life’s most important questions: who are we and where do we find truth. To be blunt, truth is what God said, and we are who He says we are. Unless we trust His word, and believe what God says about who we are, we will not live an abundant life; we will not live the way we were designed to live. The literal historical events as recorded for us in Genesis tell us some very important truths that we must believe in order to live in this world. The book of Genesis tells us that.
When Jesus was speaking the words that are recorded in John 10:10, I believe He had the big picture in mind of what happened to Adam and Eve at the beginning. Jesus said, “The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” In order to see how Satan effectively killed Adam and Eve and took and destroyed everything good that they had, we must look at what they had in the first place.
When God created Adam and Eve, they were created different from all the animals that He had just created. They were created in His image, to reflect what God was like in this physical world. What did that include?
They were alive.
Their physical bodies could have lived forever. Their eternal soul was housed in a physical body that was designed to live forever. Scripture seems to indicate that as long as they ate of the tree of life, their bodies would continue to live. They were told to be fruitful and multiply, so we all could have lived in our physical bodies forever.
They were alive spiritually. Their soul was united with their Creator in such a way that they had perfect fellowship with God. They walked and talked with God Himself.
They knew who they were.
Adam and Eve also had a perfect sense of belonging and identity. There was no need for books on improving their self-image. Adam and Eve knew exactly who they were. They were created by God, they were loved by God, and they belonged to God. They were created perfect and without sin. They were holy ones because they had not sinned. (Keep this in mind; they were perfect because they had not sinned.) Essentially, they had it all – perfect fellowship with God as part of God’s family. They had the biggest, strongest, smartest ‘daddy’ on the block. After all, He has infinite power and knowledge. They had complete trust in their heavenly Father. There was no fear, anxiety, or depression. There was no doubt, guilt or shame. What more could they want? But God went one step further.
They had dominion.
God gave them a dominion. As their birthright, being offspring of God Who is in authority over the entire universe, God placed Adam and Eve in authority over the earth. God gave them dominion over everything that He had created on this earth. They had fulfilling work to tend and keep the garden. As image bearers, they were fulfilled in reflecting God on earth. They were fulfilled in using their abilities to make things better.
What more could Adam and Eve want? To live forever with perfect fulfillment in life and perfect fellowship with their Creator. Their offspring would have also shared in all of this. The whole human race could have lived forever in perfection. Truly, we had it all with Adam.
Elsewhere in Scripture, we read that one of God’s angels rebelled in heaven. Lucifer wanted to be like God, to be in authority. God cast him and others who followed him down to this earth. There he was, trapped on a world, under the authority of Adam and Eve who had the dominion. How he must have hated that, being under the authority of image bearers who constantly reminded him of God who he hated the most. Satan set out to change all of that. He disguised himself as a created animal. Remember, Satan is a master of disguise. He tempted Eve and she sinned, then Adam sinned, and as a result all of us are in sin. We have all inherited the results of sin. When Adam sinned, Satan won. Adam was responsible for his own choice, but Satan took advantage for his own benefit. Satan in essence, killed them, destroyed all the good that they had, and stole their birthright.
Adam and Eve died.
They died physically. Not right away; however, without the tree of life, their bodies eventually wore out and died. Their souls eventually were separated from their bodies. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, God left a guard to keep them from returning and eating of the tree of life. This was actually a blessing in disguise. God cursed all of creation because of sin. The effects of the curse on their bodies caused mutations, disease, decay, and pain. Living forever in a decaying body would have been more like eternal death than eternal life.
They died spiritually. Immediately their souls were separated from God. They lost that perfect fellowship with the Creator of the universe. Their souls would exist forever, but outside the fellowship of God in a place that was prepared for Satan and his demons.
They lost their belonging and identity.
Satan not only killed them, but he destroyed their belonging and identity. Adam and Eve were no longer beloved children in the family of God; they were now in the family of Satan. They were once holy ones, but now they were sinners. Their very nature was changed from saints to sinners; they became by nature children of wrath. Their very identity had changed. Now all they were left with was fear, guilt, shame, and hopelessness.
Their birthright was stolen.
As their birthright, God had given Adam and Eve dominion over the earth, but Satan stole their birthright. When they sinned, Satan became the prince and power of the air; he is now the god of this world. Adam and Eve became subjects and slaves under the authority of an evil lord. Back before they had sinned, they were in charge; they had the authority to tell Satan to leave their garden and he would have had to obey. However, they did not exercise that authority. They just stood there and listened to Satan’s lies. Now the whole race of Adam has become sinners by nature and slaves under the cruel authority of Satan.
If this were the end of the story, we would be left in hopelessness, fear, guilt and anxiety. The good news comes in the next installment of this story. But we must reflect on the consequences of Adam’s sin on the whole human race. Though Satan is the god of this world, we know that God gives him a short leash. He can’t do everything to us that he can imagine. He would like to kill us, but he has limited ability. Perhaps he could get us to live in defeat and hopelessness, get us to kill ourselves and one another. Satan has convinced a whole generation that we are of no more value than animals, so why not act that way? There’s no purpose to life, so why not live in reckless behavior while driving, doing drugs and consuming alcohol. He has convinced us life has no purpose other than to carry on the species and live a life of survival of the fittest. This might explain why accidents, suicide and homicides top the list of the major causes of death among teens and young adults.
But there is hope! When we see what we gain back in Christ, it all comes clear how God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, gives us back what we lost and enables us to walk in enemy territory yet live in victory and abundant living. Stay tuned for the rest of the story.
Written by: Bob Gillespie
About the Author: Bob and his wife Lois graduated from Cedarville University in Ohio. Bob went on to receive his masters degree at Clark’s Summit Seminary in PA. They both spent 14 years teaching in Christian schools in Ohio and another 10 years teaching missionary kids in West Africa. Bob taught science, history and Bible, always emphasizing why his students can believe the whole Bible. Coming back from Africa, God called Bob to expand his apologetics teaching to adults as well. He was with Answers in Genesis for 7 years, speaking in camps and schools, and holding apologetics conferences in over 350 locations all over the US. Today, Bob and Lois still travel together with Reasons for Hope. He likes to communicate the message of why believing in Genesis as literal history is important, how to answer the questions that convince so many that they can’t believe the Bible, and how to reach a generation that thinks the Bible is a myth.