an expository sermon on Matthew 22:15-33 preached by Pastor Jordan Atkinson on April 11, 2021
Living in the United States in the 21st century, we are blessed with a plethora of theological resources. The Bible, the gospel, and the things of God have never been so accessible as they are now in our society. Below are some of the books and articles that have been most helpful to me to understand the creation and fall of man, which much of Article III of The Baptist Faith and Message treats, as well as how to combat sinfulness in my own life.
Resources on the Creation and Fall of Man
Created in God’s Image by Anthony A. Hoekema
Danvers Statement of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Kingdom through Covenant by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum
Nashville Statement of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Resources on (Fighting) Sinfulness
Gospel Treason by Brad Bigney
Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore
The Enemy Within by Kris Lundgaard
We Become What We Worship by G. K. Beale
God originally created man in His image, and the sixth day of creation ended with God proclaiming everything, including the creation of man as male and female, to be “very good” (Gen 1:31). Genesis 2 gives a complementary and more detailed account of the sixth day of creation (Gen 2:4-25). But then Genesis 3 comes, with its account of how man fell from his original sinlessness and God cursed all creation with decay. As the third article of The Baptist Faith and Message says,
In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Man was originally sinless, but Adam’s fall resulted in all his progeny being sinful thereafter. Nevertheless, all people still remain divine image-bearers.
From Sinless to Sinful
As the goodness of gender was one implication of the “very good” nature of God’s original creation (Gen 1:31), so the sinlessness of man is another. And God in His grace gave Adam a choice whether to obey God’s command not to eat from the forbidden tree (Gen 2:16-17). In the original creation, without a sin nature, Adam had absolute choice whether to continue in his sinless state or to introduce sin not only into his own life but also into all the created world if he ate the forbidden fruit.
Tragically, Adam chose to disobey God and therein became a sinner. Satan in the form of a serpent tempted Eve directly (Gen 3:1-5), but Adam “was with her” (Gen 3:6). Satan distorted God’s word (Gen 3:1) and then after Eve inaccurately quoted God’s command herself (Gen 3:3) denied God’s word outright (Gen 3:4-5). Adam was with her, Eve—but he didn’t correct the serpent himself or even correct Eve’s misquotation. Adam didn’t stop
Eve from eating, he allowed her to eat the forbidden fruit, and when she didn’t drop dead immediately, he joined her. Eve was deceived into sinning—but Adam sinned with eyes wide open, willfully, flagrantly. Adam failed as Eve’s husband, as a man of God, as priest-king of the garden of Eden. And in so doing he abdicated his throne over the rest of creation to Satan. By getting Adam and Eve to obey him in the garden and give in to temptation to disobey God, Satan gained mastery over the human race. He is “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30), “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2). Satan boasted to Jesus in his own wilderness temptation, “all this authority and their [nations’] glory … has been delivered to me” (Luke 4:6). Indeed, as John summarizes, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
In describing the original fall into sin, the Bible shows that temptation comes not only from external sources (e.g., Satan) but also from internal desires (Gen 3:6). Eve saw the threefold goodness of the tree: its goodness for food, its physical beauty, and its desirability for acquiring wisdom, she took of its fruit and ate. God Himself proclaimed the tree to be good in these ways (Gen 2:9; 3:22). But it was wrong for Adam and Eve to take the tree’s fruit apart from God’s permission. Their desire for a good thing was greater than their desire for God, who is the greatest good, so they sinned.
Adam’s sin had immediate consequences. He and Eve felt shame. Sin broke their relationship not only with God but also with each other. Having broken trust with God, Adam and Eve could not trust one another. So they hid from one another by sewing together leaves into loincloths (Gen 3:7), and they attempted to hide from God, as well (Gen 3:8). Of course, they can’t hide from God, and God the just Judge passes judgment on them. Eve will have pain in childbearing, and there will be conflict between her and Adam (Gen 3:16). God’s judgment on Adam is most lengthy and last, because Adam bears covenantal responsibility for humanity’s fall into sin and the subsequent curse on the rest of creation. God curses the ground on account of Adam, and Adam’s work will be tiresome and troubled (Gen 3:17-19). Because of sin, Adam and Eve must be separated from God’s relational presence in Eden and be in exile to the east (Gen 3:23-24).
Because of sin, every life will end in death (Rom 6:23). Such is evident from the near-universal refrain of Genesis 5: “and he died” (Gen 5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27, 31). “This unique litany of death … functions as the death-knell of the judgment in Eden.”1 Paul explains why everyone dies:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.Romans 5:12-14
In Adam all die, because in Adam we all fell. Adam was the founding father of the whole human race. He was our head. But he fell. He sinned. He
transgressed God’s law, and mysteriously, we sinned in him, also. From Adam, we all inherit “a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.” But as soon as we all have the ability to choose to sin, we sin. We rebel against God and are set against Him (Rom 3:9-20). None of us are able or willing to save ourselves. We need God’s grace in order to save us, as our plight is so severe that we are in fact dead in our sins (Eph 2:1, 8-9).
Sacred though Sinful
God had created to be His image bearers (Gen 1:26-27). By sin, Adam marred that image. Ever since Adam’s original sin, we all by nature and by choice continue to be like carnival house mirrors. We distort God’s image even more than we portray it. Only Jesus, the sinless perfect man, is “the exact imprint of His nature” (Heb 1:3). Though the divine image in each of us is effaced by sin, it is not altogether erased. All people continue to be made in God’s image. Through faith in Christ, that image may begin to be restored.
Jesus died for sin, so all people are “worthy of respect and Christian love,” as our statement of faith affirms. Christian unity transcends all ethnic differences because of Jesus’s death for our sins (Gal 3:28; Eph 2:13-18). Jesus commissioned us His people to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). The gospel should be proclaimed to “every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev 14:6). By His blood, Jesus “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). In the end, this pan-ethnic group will be “a great multitude that no one could number” (Rev 7:9). So we Christians should treat everyone we encounter with great respect and love, both through acts of sacrificial service and through telling them the good news of Jesus.
After grounding all matters of doctrine and practice in Scripture and setting forth what Scripture teaches about God, The Baptist Faith and Message next summarizes what the Bible teaches about humanity. Article III first describes man’s original created state: “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation.” As this paragraph affirms, all people are created in God’s image, as male or female.
The Image of God
According to Scripture, on the sixth day of Creation Week, God resolved to “make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26). Furthermore, God’s purpose in creating man in His image and likeness was “so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Gen 1:26 NIV). Being made in God’s image speaks to man being His representative ruler over the rest of earthly creation. As God rules beneficently over all creation, so should mankind rule beneficently over the other earthly creatures (Ps 8:5-8). Even in relationships with other people, those in authority should not be authoritarian (Lev 25:43, 46; Mark 10:42-45). Being made after God’s likeness shows that mankind relates to God as a son relates to his father (Gen 5:1-3). Luke calls Adam the “son of God” (Luke 3:38). Paul proclaims that all people are God’s “offspring” (Acts 17:26-28).
God’s blessing of Adam and Eve shows how they are to exercise their God-given rule over the rest of creation and expand their dominion over it: by populating the earth and spreading out over it (Gen 1:28). As they do so, they are to steward the earth’s resources well (Gen 1:29-30; 9:3).
The Baptist Faith and Message rightly affirms, “man is the special creation of God.” Genesis 1, as well as the Bible as a whole, is incompatible with modern theories of macro-evolution. According to Scripture, humanity is not the product of millions of years of macro-evolution; rather, God specially created Adam and Eve as the first people on the sixth day of creation week. Indeed, the special creation of Adam and Eve is “the crowning work of His creation.” God’s creation of man is the climax of creation week. In Genesis 1, God’s creation of man takes more ink than His creation of anything else. The next chapter gives even more details about God’s creation of Adam and Eve (Gen 2:4-25). The gendered creation of man is also noted in that God created man “male and female” (Gen 1:26, 27).
The Goodness of Gender
God’s resolution to “make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26) is Trinitarian; God says that He (one) will make man in our (plural) image. Genesis has already shown the Holy Spirit to be active from the beginning of creation (Gen 1:2). Even from the first chapter of the Bible, we have a subtle hint to the plurality within the unity of God. And John would begin his Gospel by saying that Jesus, God the Son (“Word”), was also instrumental to creation (John 1:1-4, 14). The triune God created all the universe, including man, by the word of His power. And the Trinity (one God eternally existent as three Persons) appropriately creates man (singular) as both male and female (plural) from the beginning (Gen 1:27).
The gendered creation of humanity, then, is part of God’s original good creation. In fact, it is only after creating man, specifically as male and female, that God calls creation “very good” because it is complete (Gen 1:31). Being male or female is good, even from the beginning of creation, for at least two reasons:
- Being male or female is good because whether a person is male or female, he or she is fully an image-bearer of God (Gen 1:27).1
- Being male or female is good because God’s design for man to subdue and rule the earth depends in part on humanity being fruitful, multiplying, and filling the earth, which is possible only through the cooperation between both sexes (Gen 1:28).2
Gender distinctions are not the result of the fall. Abuses of these distinctions result from the fall of mankind (Gen 3:16), but gender distinctions themselves existed prior to the fall of mankind. God created Adam before Eve. When God gave Adam the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Eve had not yet been created (Gen 2:16-18, 21-22). So Adam would have been responsible to pass this command along to Eve. God even refers to Eve as Adam’s “helper” (Gen 2:18), which points to Adam’s responsibility to lead her well in their relationship.
As gender distinctions are increasingly maligned in our culture and as gender confusion becomes increasingly prevalent, it is increasingly important for us Christians to stand on the truth of God’s word that God from the beginning created man as male and female. Both genders bear equal dignity and worth as divine image bearers. Both genders have distinct roles in together fulfilling God’s mandate in creation.
We at Friendship Baptist Church gladly affirm The Baptist Faith and Message‘s summary of God’s original creation fo man as faithful to Scripture. The Bible is our final authority for all matters of faith and practice, and we are thankful for God’s clarity on the original good creation of humanity in His image, as both male and female. May we as men and women redeemed by the blood of Jesus strive to glorify Him as men and women in all we think, say, and do!
an expository sermon on Genesis 2:4-17 preached by Pastor Jordan Atkinson on March 31, 2019
an expository sermon on Genesis 1:26-31 preached by Pastor Jordan Atkinson on March 10, 2019