Saturday, September 15, 2018

Triplets of Faith: Were Adam and Eve Saved?

The common element in different covenants God made with mankind throughout Biblical history is our faith in Him, as reflected in three true Gospels. Faith is our belief in God Whom we cannot see directly (Hebrews 11:1-3), although His creation reflects His excellence (Psalm 19:1). Without this faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). 
 
How do we demonstrate our faith in God?  Faith is manifest in our obedience to Him (1 Samuel 15:22; James 2), yet each of us has disobeyed God (Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3). Sin, or disobedience, is always the result of pride and/or unbelief

Thankfully, God can take the smallest seed of faith we can muster and grow itinto faith that could move mountains (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:5-6). Paradoxically, He shows His love for us by punishing us when we disobey, just as a loving Father does His children (Hebrews 12:5-11).
The specific requirements of what He asked the faithful to believe and to do differed with each covenant, or promise that God made to His chosen people (Hebrews 11). God did not reveal His entire plan of salvation or Who He is all at once (Isaiah 55:9), nor will we able to understand Him in His infinite glory until we see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Despite their disobedience that ultimately led to every person being born with a sin nature (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:18), I believe that Adam and Eve were saved because they knew Who God was, and they obeyed Him before the Fall. They recognized that He created them (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7) and everything else, and that He provided for them (Genesis 1:29; 2:9).

Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, it appears that they enjoyed daily fellowship with Him, speaking with Him as He walked in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). They obeyed God in that Adam named all the animals as God requested, and they both kept and dressed the garden (Genesis 2:15,19-20).

Adam believed what God had done in creating a wife for Him (Genesis 2:21-22), and he recognized the significance of that creation and of their union (Genesis 2:23-24) as one flesh – a forerunner or type of the union between Christ and His Bride the Church (Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-32)

Despite this blissful existence with God in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve fell prey to Satan’s deception when the serpent convinced Eve to disobey God by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-6). God, being holy and just, had to punish their sin (Genesis 3:16-19) and banished them from the Garden of Eden.

Yet their banishment from the garden was for their own salvation, for had they stayed there and eaten of the Tree of Life, they would have lived forever in their sinful, corrupted state, in their aging bodies subject to sickness and pain (Genesis 3:2-24).

In a futile attempt to cover their own sin, symbolized by their nakedness, with their own works, Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together (Genesis 3:7). But God covered their nakedness with animal skins (Genesis 3: 21), representing the blood atonement (Leviticus 17:11), or “scarlet thread,” that would culminate in the shed blood of His Son (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22).

The perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), not only covered sin but removed it as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). When God looks at all those who place their faith in Christ, He no longer sees their sin, but only the perfect righteousness of His Son (1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 1:8; Philippians 1:11; 3:9).

Although the first couple was cast out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:22-23), Eve continued to show her faith in God’s promise that her seed would destroy the serpent’s seed (Genesis 3:15; 4:1, 25). Adam’s faith is not spelled out, but he is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:38), suggesting that he was also saved by faith.

The disobedience of Adam and Eve resulted in all their descendants being born with a sin nature (Romans 5:12-14). Except for Jesus Himself, all thereafter sinned and came short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and none has perfectly kept His commandments. So salvation cannot be based on self-righteousness or works, or none would be saved (Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:8-9). Rather, it is based on believing what God has revealed about Himself at that point in history -- believing that He is Who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do.

© 2013 Laurie Collett
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Saturday, September 8, 2018

“Baba” and Ruth: From Bitterness to Trust


As we saw in our first post of the story of Ruth, and of some parallels in that story to the life of my grandmother “Baba,” trials often bring us to an important crossroads: rebel against God, or follow Him. When Ruth’s husband, and that of her sister Orpah and mother-in-law Naomi, died in the pagan nation of Moab, Ruth chose to follow Naomi back to her home in Bethlehem, to be faithful not only to Naomi, but also to the true Jehovah God they both served (Ruth 1:1-18).

After Baba’s husband and nine of her ten children died in Nova Scotia, they did not return to Baba’s place of origin in the Ukraine, but instead moved to a Russian community in Manhattan’s lower East Side. Both Ruth and Baba had to trust God despite additional trials and the need for hard work.

Once Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, Naomi’s family was happy to see her, but she expressed her bitterness that God had dealt so harshly with her, taking the lives of her husband and sons (Ruth 1:19-21). Ruth would have to become the breadwinner for both of them by hard work in the fields of Boaz, Naomi’s relative and therefore Ruth’s nearest kinsman by marriage (Ruth 2:1-3).

Baba had never learned to read or write, and she spoke only a few halting words of English, so her job opportunities were extremely limited. Still, she had to provide for herself and for my mother, and she was not afraid of hard work. She found a job at a local bakery, where she went to work at 5:30 AM six days a week. But the job had its perks, including bringing home cookies and pastries that were left over at the end of the day!

Although Baba could have justifiably complained about her hard life, I believe she had the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and joy in her salvation (Psalm 35:9). Like her husband who had gone home to Jesus before her, I believe that Baba had trusted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).

God’s plan for Ruth, predestined since before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:5,11), was a plan of peace and not of evil (Jeremiah 29:11). The blessing He gave her of leading her to the fields of Boaz was only the beginning of His reward for her faithfulness. Boaz admired Ruth’s dedication and faith, offering her the opportunity to glean exclusively in his fields, feeding her as she worked, and arranging for his men to leave handfuls of barley behind them as they worked his fields, so that Ruth could gather extra to feed herself and Naomi (Ruth 2:1-18).

Boaz assured Ruth, “The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” (v. 12)

Boaz, who is an Old Testament foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, showed abundant grace and mercy to Ruth even though she was a stranger to his people and she had come from a pagan nation worshipping false gods. Thankfully, God has opened the plan of salvation to all peoples, to whosoever will believe in His Son (John 3:16; Romans 1:16; 10:12) and be saved by His grace (Ephesians 2:7-10).

Baba’s new church community in New York supported her in love and prayer and helped to bear her burdens (Galatians 6:2), for they appreciated her diligence, character, and faithfulness to her fellow believers. She became a sister in the church and contributed her time and service to its ministry. Through the church, she met a well-to-do and kindly older man who hired her for janitorial work in his office building and arranged for her to be enrolled in Social Security.

It is amazing how God brings just the right people into our lives at just the right time, to accomplish His purpose for us. God will always reward faithfulness, obedience, and trust in Him by providing for our physical needs (Psalm 37:25; Matthew 6:25-34) and blessing us spiritually beyond measure!

No matter what hardships we may endure in this life, God’s children can rejoice always (Philippians 4:4), knowing that we will spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus and our loved ones in Him, enjoying the Heavenly City (Hebrews 11:16; 12:22), our glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-58), and even our own mansions He has specially prepared for us (John 14:2-3). You can’t outgive God, as both Ruth and Baba discovered, and as we shall explore further in our next post!


© 2018 Laurie Collett

 


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Labor Day Pains

Photo by Trollbackco 2014
To me, Labor Day always brings forth mixed emotions, as the joy of a three-day holiday may be tempered with discomfort, or even pain, over our labor. For young women who have just given birth or are anxiously awaiting delivery,  I’m sure Labor Day has a special significance for them this year!

Wishing all my readers a blessed Labor Day weekend, for those in the US, and a new start to the work and school year around the globe. May you enjoy this repost from the archives!

For people who have lost their job, there may be no Labor Day celebration, but instead the heartache of going without, and having faith stretched from one meal or rent payment to the next. For those blessed to be employed, there may be the aggravation of unappreciative employers or disgruntled customers, or the weariness of overwork on too little sleep.

Some may pour their whole being into their career, at the expense of family, social life, or even time for worshipping and serving God, only to feel the pain of being passed over for promotion by the rising star who captured the boss’ attention. Those who play by the rules, support the team, and pay their dues may be sorely disappointed when those in the favored clique, or those who outmaneuver their competition, advance unfairly, despite their lack of experience. Life in the working world is full of trouble and pain, and it seldom seems fair.

Thankfully, God isn’t fair either, because His grace gives believers what we don’t deserve (Ephesians 2:8-9), and His mercy keeps Him from giving us eternal punishment in hell, which our sins do deserve (Romans 6:23). No matter what our earthly situation, believers in Christ can find joy (Psalm 21:1;32:11; Isaiah 29:19; 61:10; Matthew 25:21; Romans 5:11; etc.) and peace (Philippians 4:7) in knowing that He is working all circumstances together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

We can endure the “labor pains” because He has appointed us to a specific occupation, to serve Him with the unique gifts, talents, and opportunities He has given us (1 Corinthians 12:4-6;28; Ephesians 4:11), and to glorify Him in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).. As the bumper sticker says, “Our Boss is a Jewish Carpenter” Who has empathy for our struggles (Hebrews 4:15) and supports us through trials and hardships (Philippians 4:13).

His grace is sufficient, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). He sees, honors and remembers work done for Him and will reward our labor, if not in this world, then in the next, where we can enjoy the rewards forever (1 Corinthians 3:9-14).

Best of all, He knows our sinful, wicked hearts (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9-10), but He loves us anyway (Romans 5:8). We don’t have to prove our worth, for we have none on our own merits (Isaiah 64:6; John 15:5). He is not interested in our qualifications, but in our justification by His shed blood (Romans 4:25; 5:16-18). Once we commit our lives to Him, we are guaranteed payment of the richest treasure imaginable – life in His presence throughout eternity (John 3:16), no matter for how long or short a time we have been saved (Matthew 20:1-16).

So why is this life often full of pangs of disappointment, physical disability and sickness, and even Godly sorrow? (2 Corinthians 7:10) I believe it is because we long for His return and the blessed hope (Titus 2:13), meaning eager anticipation, of the Rapture, when He will wipe every tear from our eye (Revelation 21:4). Then we shall enjoy eternity with Him in glorified bodies that will never experience pain, sickness or aging (1 Corinthians 15:40-50).

In the meantime, His whole creation is going through labor pains (Romans 8:21-22), anxiously awaiting the day when all will be made new by His refining fire (2 Peter 3:10-12). We groan in our aging bodies (Romans 8:23), yet the quickening pace and intensity of these pangs brings us inevitably closer to that day when we can truly experience being a completely new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15).

Once we place our faith in His death, burial and resurrection as the only way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6), we are born again (John 3:3-8). But on that day when all His children shall be changed and meet Him in the air, we shall live forever and be as He is (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). In the meantime, anticipation of this blessed event, and knowing that our labor for Him is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:51-58) helps us endure and even embrace these Labor Day pains!  

© 2013 Laurie Collett
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