Sermon Transcript September 19, 2021
Christ the King, Palm Coast, FL ~ Chapter 1 ~ The Story ~ Sunday, September 19, 2021
There was a little boy who went to visit his grandmother. As she was in the kitchen making lunch, the little boy was thumbing through the pages of the family Bible that sat on the coffee table. As he turned the pages all of a sudden a finely-pressed leaf fell out of the Bible onto the floor. Without missing a beat, the little boy shouted out with excitement into the kitchen, “Grandma, I think I just found Adam’s suit!”
Today we’re talking about Chapter 1 of The Story. As we work through this together, Adam’s suit may not fall off the pages but I tell you what will – God’s truth will fall off the pages, and his truth will change your life. Anybody up for some good, life-changing truth?
The very first sentence of the Bible is powerful, and many of you have it memorized. Let’s say it together.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” ~ The Story, pg. 1; Genesis 1:1 NIV
Those four words from the Bible are the first four words in the Story. And already there, you’re introduced to the main character… God himself. Everyone and everything else derives their life and breath and being from him. How do I know this? Because the rest of the sentence tells us: God created the heavens and the earth.
God is behind creation. The Story starts with a big bang, but this is no accident or chance collision. Before God’s voice spoke the stuff of the universe into existence, there was nothing but God himself. Here’s the thing. Once you discover that there is a Creator God, a God who can make everything out of nothing, frankly he can do what he wants. It may look like it took billions of years, but a God who can make everything in 6 days, can also make everything with the appearance of age too. Genesis 1 and 2 isn’t so much a lesson on science as it is about imparting a proper view of God himself.
And the better you see and stand in awe of God himself, all the more awesome is the bible’s answer to the question: Why did God do all of this? It comes down to a magnificent garden God created called Eden that the Bible tells us is located where the Tigris and the Euphrates River intersect down by the Persian Gulf in modern day Iraq.
In this garden God places his crowning achievement, the apple of his eye – he creates us. God created all of the universe and the 100 billion galaxies we have found to date to display his glory. My mind can’t even begin to comprehend the vastness of what God made. But if you’ve ever watched the sunrise over the Atlantic, you can’t help but be amazed at the beauty and magnificence of the God who can make something so awesome! God’s ultimate objective comes down to who he created and put in that garden – man and woman, Adam and Eve.
It’s in the creation of Adam and Eve that we actually discover God’s amazing reason for doing all of this! His vision is to come down and be with us in a beautiful garden. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the community of God, simply desires to come down and do life with the community of humanity. God is all about family. In the first pages of the Bible, we see what matters most to him is relationships.
At the heart of the best relationships is love and commitment. That’s the kind of relationship God wants to have with Adam and Eve, not a coerced one where they live under constant fear of him. Not a negotiated one where each uses the other to get something they want. (“If you clean your room, we’ll go to Sally’s for some ice cream.”) And not an automated one, like we have with our devices, where you push a button to get the result you want. Type in a message to the write sequence of numbers, hit send, and the device sends your text message to the intended recipient. You don’t think about what kind of day your device is having or wonder if the device will be willing to do this task. It is an automated relationship. Push the button, get the result. For many people, their cell phone is one of their closest relationships. But God wanted a relationship that was created for far more. That’s why he made Adam and Eve as he did, human beings with their own wants, their own minds, their own wills. Because God wants a relationship with people who want to have a relationship with him.
It's vitally important that we understand this. Not just so we know it in case a game of biblical trivial pursuit breaks out. It’s important we grasp this for ourselves so that we can find our place in The Story. So that we can know who we are. Created in the image of God. Created out of the love of God, created to reflect the glory of God.
And here’s where we start to realize that our place in The Story doesn’t end with the commendation God makes about his creation at the end of day 6: God made everything good and so whatever we do it’s all fine. Otherwise we’re liable to think the whole point of life is simply that we get to do what we want. That God is here to make our dreams come true on our terms. That the goal of life is all about us finding our happiness and God is here to help make that happen like a genie in a bottle who must grant our wishes, no matter what those wishes might be. Because if we start down that road, we end up with a world where the highest good is getting what you want regardless of what God might have to say about it. “My life, my choice!” becomes the most important mantra. And Lord have mercy on anyone who dare interfere with the pursuit of what I say is right for me and my own happiness. Where the cardinal sin is a failure to accept and approve of what I choose, regardless of how it might affect you or others. Isn’t this at the heart of the temptation our first parents fell for?
Adam and Eve are placed in the Garden, this paradise on earth, and can eat from every tree in the Garden except for this one tree called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God says don’t eat from that tree. To eat from that tree signals the rejection of one’s God-given place in creation. It’s rebellion against God’s authority on one’s life. To eat of it is the bold statement that I answer to no one, not even God. To eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is a demonstration of not knowing one’s place in The Story. To eat from it is the original sin.
Maybe this will help. Hold up your right hand and say: “This is my God hand.” I’m not telling you to look at your right hand as God … this is just an illustration. Imagine your right hand represents God. Now, please hold up your other hand and say, “This is my ‘me’ hand.” What God designed us for is a close, interconnected relationship with him. Look what happens when these two hands get close and connect together (hands connect together in praying form). This is what God designed us for, a life of healthy dependence on him, a life of prayer and devotion to him. This is God’s intent in the opening chapters of Genesis. That we would be in this kind of relationship with God. He would be our God and we his people, he our Father, we his children. We are made in his image, we belong connected with God and we live our best lives by reflecting God’s character to those around us.
But then sin happened. So take your left hand and let it drop away. This is the fall. We fell. You say, “Oh no, I didn’t fall. Adam and Eve fell. And I can’t wait to confront them for it someday because of them, everything got all messed up because of them.”
But before we get too busy pointing the finger of blame at Adam and Eve, think about this. The name of Adam literally translated into English is the word, “mankind” … so when you read his name, you’re hearing the echo that what was true of Adam isn’t just about Adam. And Eve came from Adam so she and Adam are representative of all humankind. This isn’t just the story of two people in the Garden of Eden, who made a disastrous choice. It’s also the story of us. This is where we fit in The Story. When they fall, its us falling too.When they rebel, it’s the story of us rebelling against God. When they blame everything else for their sin, it’s the story of how we blame everybody and anything else for our sin.
That’s the game that a lot of Christians play these days, isn’t it? Where we look at God’s commandments, and then wink and say to God, “But you didn’t really mean all of these, did you? There’s room to negotiate on some of these things, right?” We look at his call to love all people, to do justice and seek mercy, and we say, “But you didn’t really mean us, right? Even though I’m not technically following your rules, you know my heart, so it’s all good, right?”
God says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. The things I command, I meant all of it. And, yes, I meant for you to do everything I command of you the way I stated it. Here’s why: because it will bless you and bless those around you. I’ve sent you on this mission to reflect my goodness to the world and to share my good news with the world so that all people can respond back to me in praise and worship. You were made to be in relationship with me so much that I serve and work through you … and it comes back to me as praise and worship. We have this relationship, this bond, you were made in my image, but you have fallen away from me.”
I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but the truth is the way Adam and Eve acted isn’t unique. We understand what they did because it’s how we do. And we’ve all done it. Adam gets caught with his hand having handled the forbidden fruit, and what does he do? He immediately points the finger of blame. “The woman you made, made me do it! If you hadn’t made her and brought her to me, I would never have fallen, God. If you really think about it, you’re the one who’s at fault here, God.” And when God goes to Eve, she takes the same approach: “The serpent, you know the one you created, he made me do it. If you really think about it, God, I wouldn’t have sinned if you hadn’t made the serpent!”
Maybe we’re horrified by what we hear … and we should be because Eve and Adam are the ones who chose to do the crime. They didn’t go to the Lord in prayer and ask him to renew them to live in line with what he had said to them. (use hands coming together). No, they fell. They listened to Satan and went against God’s Word and they lost their connection with God, the most crucial relationship to their entire existence, they chose to walk away from it, because they were convinced (by Satan) that they knew better. They thought they knew how to have their best life better than the God of life!
And it’s still going on to this very day. Have you ever said to yourself: “It’s not a sin if I don’t feel like it’s a sin.” Or “I don’t do the big sins, just the little ones. Just a little white lie. I know we’re supposed to be married first, but hey, we’re in love and it’s not like we’re sleeping with anyone else. I think God understands. This is just how life is. None of this is that big of a deal to me, so why would this be a big deal to God?”
(Put hands together in prayer form, let left hand fall away.) Whenever the hand falls away, it’s a big fall. And it’s the reason there is darkness in this world, suffering in this world. These things aren’t God’s fault. In a world of order, there are consequences to actions. Rebellious actions lead to negative fallout. When God is life but we fall away from God, we fall away from God into death. Here’s God and God is good, we fall away from God isn’t it any surprise that we fall into evil? God is light, and we fall from God, is it really that shocking that there is so much darkness in the world?
If we believe what God’s Word says, why would we expect this world to be good, especially if people really aren’t all that interested in following God’s good and perfect plans for life? Like Adam and Eve when we get caught doing the crime, we naturally look for others to blame, even God. This is a universal problem.
So what’s the solution? Get everyone to stop doing wrong, right? Urge everyone to try harder? Get more focused on being more morally pure? Strengthen education systems to better inform people of what is right and what is wrong? Get more blunt with one another, telling each other to just do what is right and knock it off to doing what is wrong? Maybe. If we would actually do that. If we would all do that. Every single human being on the planet, all the time. But even then, that still won’t be enough. Even if you could stop doing any wrong in the future, you might be able to make a person whole financially that you’ve cheated but what about the emotional damage that’s been done? When you break a promise, you can apologize, but does that instantly restore the damage you’ve done to people’s ability to trust you? If you’ve been talking bad about someone, does coming clean instantly restore that person’s reputation in the eyes of others?
Even our best solutions tend to create more problems. This isn’t a problem we can fix by our own effort, ingenuity, or will. All of it a reminder, convicting proof that we’re too far gone. Too far fallen. The situation so serious, so desperate, we can’t make it right where we’ve gone wrong on our own. We can’t repair what we’ve broken.
So how do get right with God? What will it take to restore what we’ve ruined? Our only hope is that God will act. What is his next move? Remember the story at the beginning of the message about Adam’s suit falling off the pages of the Bible? In that story, there is a clue that God has given us.
Do you recall what God did for Adam and Eve? Look on bottom of page 6 or Genesis 3:21. He replaces their fig leaves with the skin of an animal to cover their nakedness. He is signaling to us that the solution to getting you back and covering your sin is going to require the shedding of blood. You see where this is going?
This story, folks isn’t just about two trees in a garden of Eden. It is also setting the stage for a better tree, a tree that is greater than even my worst rebellion and rejection. A tree that makes all the difference. The tree that was formed into the shape of a cross, where Jesus died on Calvary. That’s the tree where we come to see clearly that God is so good he won’t just let us go. Thank God, this story isn’t about us climbing the ladder up to heaven. It’s not about us being moral enough, or good enough, or pure enough. The rest of the Bible is God’s story of how he kept that promise and shed the blood of his own Son to restore us to a loving relationship with Him.
This is the great Upper Story of God, the glorious truth that the all-powerful Creator God, who spoke this universe into being in a week’s time, is the same God who refuses to give up on you. He is coming after you. He’s pursuing you. How do you like that? You’ve fallen away from him, and he falls down to get you in the person of Jesus Christ. And he sacrifices his Son, hear this, to forgive your sins. To set you free. To reconcile you into the relationship he created you to be in from the beginning of time. The rest of the Bible is God’s story of how he kept that promise, sending his Son to show you your Heavenly Father’s heart for you, to change your heart to want a relationship of love and trust and commitment to Him. The Story may just be getting started, but it’s already making a difference. That’s the power of God and his Word at work in you! And I’m eager to see all that God will work in us as we walk through the rest of The Story together! Amen.