- Published: 12 December 2010
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These were the words of God to Adam when He set Adam in the garden. Our problem today is whether this sentence has ever been altered or added to. Satan said that it was not true and told Eve, Ye shall not surely die. So what God told Adam and what Satan told Eve do not agree. And with which of these statements do the ideas of most men of today agree?
If Satan is right, then death does not mean death, but everlasting misery. And that is exactly the definition that Satan's dupes have given to death. For if man has an immortal soul and cannot die, then this is about the only possible definition of death that remains.
On the other hand, there are some who have said that God was the one that was right about death, but they then add to what God said. That is another problem we have to face. Did God ever add to this statement He made in Genesis 2:17. And if He ever did add to it, then under what circumstances and at what time did He make the change? In general the claim that is made about this is that God is going to reincarnate all unbelievers and punish them after death with some kind of torture for an indefinite length of time.
We are aware that in all the religions that have come down to us from Babylon, almost without exception they teach that death and then immediately punishment is the order. The very fact that this is an almost universal belief makes it suspect. What do the Scriptures say? Can we find the answer?
Our Lord suffered and died for the ungodly. If man now is to die and then suffer afterward, we have a right to know when this change of order took place and for what reason.
With his eyes open, with full knowledge what the penalty was to be, Adam ate of the forbidden fruit. From that day to this, death has been the universal sovereign. Adam started a great funeral procession to which millions upon millions have joined themselves since, and the procession goes on yet today. The grave hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure, and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and their rejoicing throng, descend into it. Do you not hear the tramp of the feet as they march to their destiny?
Before the eyes, the terrified eyes of Adam and Eve God killed an animal Genesis 3:21. The blood spurted. This was death. And it may have been a beloved pet, one that followed them about and even shared their food. But now a lifeless corpse. The death that should have been theirs had fallen upon it. It was the victim, the substitute for the time being.
And one may ask why such a bloody religion, as the Jews had? Why all the sacrifices from day to day and for years? It was to tell them about the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Every man could look at the sacrificial victim bleeding and breathing its very last, and say within himself, "Except for the grace of God, that is I." To them death was no far away dream. It became a present reality, a reminder.
But why the reprieve? Why was the substitute killed and Adam live on another 930 years? Adam was driven out of his paradise. But the sacrifice did not give him the right to reenter that paradise. No such provision. Nor could he return and eat of the tree of life and live on and on. That too was forbidden. Why?
Death was postponed so that there might be an intervening redemptive purpose worked out so that Adam might some day live again, an immortal being, and have a new and far better paradise than the one he lost. This is the love and grace of God!
For God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. He hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by the gospel.
To accomplish this great redemptive work, the Lord Jesus Christ has therefore been constituted a second Head for the human race, a Second Adam. But there is a difference. In the physical realm, Adam was still head of the human race without exception. What folks might or might not believe about it did not alter that reality. But in the case of the new Head, there is a difference. He is the Head only of all those that believe. The rest will ultimately perish.
And so we discover that the new creation is a selection from the old of those who will make the right choice. Those who make the wrong choice, and have no union with the Divine Redeemer, are like the beasts that perish and then judgment.
Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:16,17). And the first theologian comes along and says, Yea, hath God said.
With his doubt implanted in the mind of Eve, he hastens to say, Ye shall not surely die. The lie follows the doubt. The implication is that man does not really die. There is a spiritual sense to this that must be taken, according to the self-appointed teacher. Death is sometimes spoken of as a separation from God. Some of the followers of the first theologian even go so far as to say that dead people are more alive than they were when they were living. The spiritists and the orthodox pretty well agree on this notion.
So death does not mean death, but a greater and fuller life. We are told that this is the spiritual sense of it. Spiritual sense? Nonsense!
The rest of the lie is, Ye shall be as gods. Really the word Elohim is used here, the same word as God in Genesis 1:1. So the liar would have us believe that we are in some way immortal, that we cannot die. He would go so far as to say that God cannot destroy or kill what He has created.
So the background is set for all Scripture that follows, and all must be interpreted in keeping with the doubt and the lies that follow. John 3:16 uses the words everlasting life and perish for the future of man, but we are told that the spiritual sense is everlasting bliss or everlasting misery.
We are told that when any prophecy of the OT speaks of blessedness in the future, that it means the church is to obtain it. But if there is a curse, then that refers to Israel.
Now going back to Genesis again, we are told that eating of the tree means learning good and evil, that there was no fruit and no actual tree. This does not explain the free eating of other trees in the garden, nor does it explain eating of the tree of life and living on and on. The spiritual sense here might mean that education will give man immortality. That would conform to modern trends and that, to say the least.
Some say that the woman on the beast in Revelation 17 is Rome. But the label says Babylon. So the spiritual sense might be stretched to make black mean white, if necessary to bolster up a peculiar system of teaching. Or is it just a plain lie?
This spiritual sense, when applied to the ascension of our Lord has been stretched to mean that when He and the disciples were out walking, He got a bit ahead of them and went up over a hill and they never saw Him again, so they surmised that He went up to heaven. Was this story a product of faith?
We are asked to believe that everything that pertains to the kingdom really pertains to the church. It would take a whole library to set forth all the lies and fables that have come from this system of spiritual sense which hides the truth.
Adam was created mortal. There was a possibility that death could take him. He was made of dust, a very unstable material, to say the least. So in order that he might prolong his life indefinitely, or at least till his probationary period was over, he was given access to the tree of life. If Adam had been created immortal, then there would have been no need for the tree of life. Granted?
Adam sinned. There can be no argument about that. It was much more than just a social error, or a mistake. He exercised his own will instead of being obedient to the will of God. Crossing the will of God can result in nothing but death. That still is a truth in these days. True or false?
We can truly say that when Adam sinned, he committed murder. He brought death upon all his offspring. He killed the whole human race. Historic figures have killed their millions in wars and massacres, but not all of them put together have caused as many deaths as did Adam. All in Adam die!
As by one man came death, so by one man came resurrection. Resurrection cancels out death. Christ is the firstfruits of them that slept.
Now Adam must have believed the gospel which was pictured in the slaying of animals to make coverings for himself and Eve. Is it possible that all his progeny inherited this belief and hope of a life beyond death?
After sinning and receiving the promise of a Redeemer, did Adam receive immortality at that very moment and then pass it on to his progeny? Or, is it true, that all, like Adam, have to make the decision in this matter? Check which is right.
God did not want a sinner to live forever. That is why He removed Adam from the presence of the tree of life. From that day till now, no one has had the privilege of eating of that tree and living forever. Yet there are those who believe, or at least think they believe, that God will give immortality to unbelievers so that they will live forever in some kind of sinful state. To tell the truth, it is pretty hard to put sin and immortality together. An immortal sinner would be an absurdity. Does not sin bring death?
What we mean to say is, that the difference between the believer and the unbeliever is life and resurrection for the believer, and judgment after resurrection for the unbeliever. In the simplest of terms it is either have life, or, perish (John 3:16). 'He that hath not the Son of God hath not life. He that believeth not the Son shall not see life.' Do you believe?