Built Upon the Rock
by E.H.  ‘Jack’ Sequeira

Chapter 4:  The Nature of Man
Fundamental Belief #7 Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do.  Though created free beings, each is an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit, dependent upon God for life and breath and all else.  When our first parents disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position under God.  The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death.  Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences.  They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil.  But God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself and by His Spirit restores in penitent mortals the image of their Maker.  Created for the glory of God, they are called to live Him and one another, and to care for their environment.  [Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7; Psalm 8:4-8; Acts 17:24-28; Genesis 3; Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12-17; 2 Corinthians 5:19-20; Psalm 51:10; 1 John 4:7-8, 11, 20; Genesis 2:15.]

Closely related to the doctrine of Creation is that of the Nature of Man, the crowning act of God’s creation.  Last chapter we saw that, according to the Theory of Evolution, human beings originated from lower forms of animal life and have become what we are through natural processes that take billions of years.  Clearly, the Adventist understanding of the nature of man, as stated above, cannot be harmonized with the evolutionary theory.  The Bible tells us that the human race originated as a special, crowning act of God’s creative activity:

Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let us [the Godhead] make mankind in our image, in our likeness, 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.”  So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

What does the Bible mean when it says that God created humanity in His own image and likeness?  God is a Spirit; therefore, human beings were created as spiritual beings.  That is to say, the life that God breathed into Adam (which was passed on to Eve) was similar to God’s life (Greek zoe).

John 4:24
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
Genesis 2:7
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

In the Image of God

While on a physiological level humans and animals may share similarities, God created the human personality with a spirit, that He might have a dwelling place and mankind, in turn, could reflect His glory. 

Zechariah 12:1b
The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares....

Animals have bodies and souls, but, in addition, human beings have spirits, which explains why men and women of cultures great and small possess the innate desire to worship a higher being.

God formed this spiritual component in human beings as His contact point with humanity.  He planned that the Holy Spirit would indwell each human being and direct his or her mind which, in turn, would control their bodies.  Thus the entire person — spirit, soul, and body — would live in total dependence on God, reflecting His agape-type love.

God’s very nature is agape-love:

1 John 4:8, 16
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  ...And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

This love is unconditional, everlasting, and selfless:

Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:  “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
1 Corinthians 13:5
It [Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

As we saw in our study of the Godhead, agape-type love makes it possible for the three persons of the Godhead — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — to constitute one God.

This was the image in which God created Adam and Eve.  Their natures were controlled by unconditional, selfless agape.  Thus, man’s nature, as originally created, contained the image and likeness of God Himself; that is to say, man’s very nature reflected God’s glory.  This allowed Adam and Eve to act as one flesh.

Genesis 2:24
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Sin Enters

Sad to say, the entrance of sin resulted in agape becoming turned inward toward self.  Adam’s sin resulted in spiritual death, but it also stole God’s glory from within him.

Romans 3:23
...For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God....

The New Testament describes his fallen life with the Greek word bios.  In the following two texts, the word life in the original is bios:

Luke 8:14
The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
1 John 2:15-16
Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world.

Our first parents, then, no longer reflected God’s image, and Eve became an agent to entrap Adam:

Genesis 3:4-6
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

The apostle Paul tells us that, although Eve was deceived by Satan, Adam was not:

1 Timothy 2:14
And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

This means that, when Eve brought Adam the forbidden fruit, he knew it was the very fruit God had commanded them not to touch.  He also realized that, in eating it, he could not save Eve, only join her in death.  Yet he ate it knowingly, deliberately.  Why?

The Bible doesn’t dwell on Adam’s motive, but, since his nature was controlled by selfless agape-love, he loved Eve more than life itself.  But the moment he sinned, his nature changed.  The agape disappeared and selfishness took its place.

Steps to Christ, pg. 17
Man was originally endowed with noble powers and a well-balanced mind.  He was perfect in his being, and in harmony with God.  His thoughts were pure, his aims holy.  But through disobedience, his powers were perverted, and selfishness took the place of love.  His nature became so weakened through transgression that it was impossible for him, in his own strength, to resist the power of evil.  He was made captive by Satan, and would have remained so forever had not God specially interposed.  It was the tempter’s purpose to thwart the divine plan in man’s creation, and fill the earth with woe and desolation.  And he would point to all this evil as the result of God’s work in creating man.

So Adam began blaming God for giving him a defective wife!  In turn, Eve blamed God for creating a serpent capable of such profound deceit.

Genesis 3:12-13
The man said, “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Prior to Eve’s sin, Adam could love God and Eve simultaneously, for Eve was on God’s side.  But the moment she sinned, her allegiance changed.  So when she handed Adam the forbidden fruit, he had to choose between God and Eve.  He could no longer be loyal to both.

By putting Eve first, Adam turned his back on God and lost his spiritual connection.  This is known as the Fall, and the fundamental belief says, “When our first parents disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position under God.  The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death.”

By getting Adam and Eve to eat the fruit God had forbidden them, Satan corrupted human nature at its very source.  Now:

Genesis 3:7
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Results of the Fall

When Adam and Eve sinned, it affected their natures in at least three ways:

  1. Spiritual Death.  Since sin is the act of turning one’s back on God, the immediate result was alienation from God, or spiritual death.  The Holy Spirit departed from our first parents, and their lives were plunged into darkness.  They were now spiritually dead, in the sense that God’s Spirit no longer had a place in their characters, and they became unable to reflect His glory.

    Romans 3:23
    ...For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God....

    Only through man’s positive response to the everlasting gospel can God’s glory be restored.

    2 Corinthians 3:17-18
    Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

    Adam and Eve’s children were all born after the Fall and inherited fallen human nature:

    Genesis 5:3
    When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.

    Likewise today, every child born is separated from God, devoid of the Holy Spirit, and spiritually dead, and Paul reminded the believers in Ephesus that, before their conversion, they were all:

    Ephesians 2:1
    As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins....

    Jesus reminded Nicodemus:

    John 3:6
    Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

    Ellen White describes the human situation this way:

    Child Guidance, pg. 475
    The inheritance of children is that of sin.  Sin has separated them from God.
  2. The Sentence of Death.  Adam brought a death sentence both on himself and all the human race.  The Bible does not teach that the human race inherited the guilt of Adam’s sin (the heresy of Original Sin).  That would make humanity as a whole responsible for Adam’s sin, which is unscriptural.  But the Bible does teach that all of Adam’s descendants suffer the consequences of his sin — the curse of the law — and that all are born on death row.

    Romans 5:12, 18
    Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned....  Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.
    1 Corinthians 15:22
    For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

    According to the apostle Paul, all are “by nature children of wrath” (emphasis supplied):

    Ephesians 2:3
    All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

    But nowhere in Scripture do we find the idea that this inherited condemnation is terminated by infant baptism, as the Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches teach.

  3. Weakened Human Nature.  Beside spreading condemnation to all human beings, the Fall brought weakened human nature into harmony with sin.  When Adam sinned, the agape that “does not seek its own” did a U-turn and placed self at the very core of fallen human nature.

    1 Corinthians 13:5
    It [Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
    Isaiah 53:6
    We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
    Philippians 2:21
    For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

    No wonder David could write:

    Psalm 58:3
    Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.

    “The image of God in them [Adam and Eve] was marred and they became subject to death,” reads the text of the fundamental belief.  “Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences.  They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil.”

    Concerning his own nature, David admits:

    Psalm 51:5
    Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

    Martin Luther was correct, I believe, in his interpretation of this text when he declared:

    Luther’s Works, Vol. 12, pp. 347-351
    He is not talking about certain actions but simply about the matter, ...the human seed, this mass from which I was formed, is totally corrupt with faults and sins.  The material itself is faulty.  The clay, so to speak, out of which this vessel began to be formed is damnable....  This is how I am; this is how all men are.

    Ellen White describes the result of the Fall in these words:

    Steps to Christ, pg. 17
    Man was originally endowed with noble powers and a well-balanced mind.  He was perfect in his being, and in harmony with God.  His thoughts were pure, his aims holy.  But through disobedience, his powers were perverted, and selfishness took the place of love.  His nature became so weakened through transgression that it was impossible for him, in his own strength, to resist the power of evil.  He was made captive by Satan, and would have remained so forever had not God especially interposed.

The law of sin now prevails and, although human beings are capable of doing much good, all self-generated good works are ultimately motivated by self.

Romans 7:21-25
So I find this law at work:  Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Says the prophet Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?

Christian living itself is polluted with self-interest, unless prompted by a clear understanding of the gospel and the truth of justification by faith alone.  As long as believers are insecure of their salvation, they remain victims to self, and their behavior will be motivated by fear of punishment or desire for reward.  Says Ellen White:

Steps to Christ, pg. 54
Such religion is worth nothing.

The apostle Paul notes:

Romans 3:9b
For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.

The word “under” was used by the slave society of his day to refer to those ruled or dominated by another.  Paul adds that all human beings since the Fall are sold as slaves to sin:

Romans 7:14
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

This is the human situation, and nothing can be done to change it, as Jesus Himself made clear in addressing the Jews:

John 8:34
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

Philip Melanchthon, one of the great reformers of the Sixteenth Century, described the universal sin problem [in 1530] as follows:

The Augsburg Confession, Article II
After Adam’s fall, all men begotten after the common course of nature are born with sin; that is, without fear of God, without trust in Him, and with fleshly appetite; and that this disease, or original fault, is truly sin, condemning and bringing eternal death upon all that are not born again by baptism and the Holy Spirit.

Man’s Only Hope

This is mankind’s predicament, and no amount of human effort can undo the threefold damage of the Fall.  Every humanistic solution to the sin problem has failed, and will continue to fail.  For nearly 75 years, Russia tried to undo the selfishness of human nature (Marx’s “self-alienation”) by forcing people to share what they produced and owned.  The experiment ended when it became evident that, under Communism, there would never be enough to go around — however much the people shared. 

Sinful human nature is beyond repair.  No amount of education, legislation, or human effort can reverse the damage caused by the Fall.  Mankind’s only hope is the everlasting gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

This is why Christ came into the sin-cursed world, to save every human being:

Matthew 1:21
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

What man is incapable of doing, and what God’s law cannot do because of weakened human nature, God did:

Romans 8:3-4
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans 13:10
Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Galatians 5:14
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

As we read in Chapter 2, God at the incarnation united the holy, immortal, divine nature of Christ to corporate, unredeemed, sinful, mortal human nature.  Thus humanity, though spiritually dead because of the Fall, was recalled to spiritual life in Christ.

Ephesians 2:5
[God] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.
Titus 3:5
...He [God] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit....

The incarnation itself did not save humanity, but it prepared, or qualified, Christ to be the substitute who could legally represent mankind in His work of redemption.  Thus:

Hebrews 2:17
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

The Life of Christ

Qualified as He was by His unique birth to represent mankind, Jesus, the God-man, then spent 33 years living a perfect human life.  From birth to manhood, He achieved perfect obedience to the law, as required, and was able to tell the Jews:

Matthew 5:17
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Everything the law of God demands and the prophets foretold about the Messiah finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and to declare before He died on the cross, “It is finished!”

John 19:30
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The Death of Christ

Redemption called for more than Christ’s perfect obedience to the law on mankind’s behalf.  God’s law demands perfect and continual obedience, as well as judgment for those who have broken its demands.  Paul declares:

Romans 3:23
...For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God....

On the cross, Christ met the demand of the law for judgment.  He paid the full price for the sins of the human race and, thereby, redeemed it:

Galatians 3:13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

By His perfect life, Christ met the positive demands of the law, “obey and live”; by His death on the cross He met the justice of the law, “disobey and die.”

Thus Christ became mankind’s righteousness.  He is “the end [Greek completion or fulfillment] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes”:

Romans 10:4
Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

This holy history of Christ is God’s supreme gift to humanity and includes the incredibly good news of the everlasting gospel.  This good news is made effective in the lives of every individual, by faith.

The Resurrection of Christ

After fully redeeming mankind in Christ on the cross, God raised His Son back to life.  In doing so, He also raised humanity in Him, total cured from the effects of the Fall and the sin problem.  On the cross, the corporate, condemned, sinful human life (bios) died the second, or eternal, death.  It forever came to an end in Christ.  In exchange, God gave mankind the eternal life (zoe) of His Son.  This is God’s supreme gift to mankind.

1 John 5:11-12
And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

In one of his last letters, Paul declared that Christ has abolished death:

2 Timothy 1:10
...But it [grace] has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!

Christ’s Ascension

Finally, in Christ’s ascension, God took redeemed humanity to heaven in Christ and sat it in heavenly places in Him:

Ephesians 2:6
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus....

Christ took a glorified body to heaven, fully redeemed from the effects of sin, and all who accept Him by faith will receive the same.  This blessed hope will be realized at the Second Coming of Christ.

Romans 8:22-25
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Revelation 22:20
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

Believers at His Second Coming will experience this transformation, when this this mortal will put on immortality.  Through the everlasting gospel, the Lord, Jesus Christ, will restore human nature to its original perfection in Him.

1 Corinthians 15:50-54
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery:  We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:  “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Although human nature has been ruined by the Fall, there is indeed still hope — but not through modern science, the process of evolution, education, or human effort.  The only solution for the predicament of sin and the curse of the Fall is faith in the everlasting gospel.  Only Christ can take away the stony birth-heart and replace it with a heart of flesh.  This is God’s promise of the New Covenant:

Ezekiel 36:26-27
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Today, mankind already stands perfect in performance, in justice, and in nature — but still only in Christ, and the apostle Paul could declare to the believers at Colossi, “you are complete in Him”:

Colossians 2:10
...And in Christ you have been brought to fullness.  He is the head over every power and authority.

The Blessed Hope

The act of conversion, then, does not alter the believer’s sinful nature.  Christians prior to the Second Coming will continue to struggle with what the Bible calls “the flesh.”  But by the grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ, through the everlasting gospel, believers may experience sanctification of spirit, soul, and body while they await the glorious appearing of the Savior.

1 Thessalonians 5:23
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 12:7b-9
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Now let us consider how human beings can experience the power of the gospel and its transforming grace individually, here and now.

The Gospel Experience

Although God redeemed, or reconciled, the entire human race to Himself through Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection (the everlasting gospel), the Holy Spirit communicates this redemption.

John 16:8-11
When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:  about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

How does this happen?

Since sin is a deceiver, the Holy Spirit must first convince sinners of their total depravity and inability to save themselves.  The Holy Spirit points out not only sins of performance, but the base sinfulness of human nature.

Romans 3:9-20
What shall we conclude then?  Do we have any advantage?  Not at all!  For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.  As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Romans 7:14
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
Ephesians 2:1-3
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
Titus 3:3
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

After proving that “by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified,” and destroying all confidence in the flesh, the Holy Spirit then points humanity to the agape-type love of God as the basis of salvation:

Romans 3:20
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Philippians 3:3
For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh....
John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Ephesians 2:4
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy....
Titus 3:4
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared....
1 John 4:9-10
This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love:  not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

He follows this up with the facts of the everlasting gospel, the truth as it is in Christ:

Romans 3:21-31
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood — to be received by faith.  He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Where, then, is boasting?  It is excluded.  Because of what law?  The law that requires works?  No, because of the law that requires faith.  For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.  Or is God the God of Jews only?  Is he not the God of Gentiles too?  Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.  Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith?  Not at all!  Rather, we uphold the law.
Ephesians 2:5-9
[God] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.

Then He impresses the conscience that the gospel is the only hope of salvation.  Finally, He pleads with humanity not to refuse the supreme gift of God, the incredibly good news of the everlasting gospel — at the risk of losing eternal life:

John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 16:8-11
When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:  about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Mark 16:15-16
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Once these things are established, there is no excuse for anyone to be lost.  But God created human beings with free will — the power of choice.  The gospel demands a person’s response, either in the form of deliberate rejection of God’s gift (the unpardonable sin of unbelief), or as a positive, abiding faith-obedience in Christ.

This is what justification by faith, or righteousness by faith, is all about.  This righteousness by faith is the very opposite of righteousness by works of the law:

Romans 9:30-32
What then shall we say?  That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal.  Why not?  Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.  They stumbled over the stumbling stone.

The moment Christians place themselves under the canopy of justification by faith, they pass from death to life, and their subjective status changes from condemnation to justification.

John 5:24
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
Romans 3:24-26
...And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood — to be received by faith.  He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Believers now have peace with God and can call Him “dear Father,” for they have become His adopted sons and daughters in Christ:

Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ....
1 John 3:1-2
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

The New Birth Experience

Once believers receive Jesus by faith, God sends the Holy Spirit to live in them.  This is known as the new birth, or regeneration:

1 Peter 1:23
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 John 5:1
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

To have faith in Christ means more than agreeing in a casual way to the gospel.  It means deliberately surrendering the Adamic life (bios) that stands condemned to death on the cross and pursuing a life of heart-obedience:

Romans 6:17
But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
John 12:31-33
Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

In exchange, a Christian accepts Christ’s divine, immortal life (zoe) that He laid down at the cross.

1 John 5:11-12
And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Some Bible scholars call this the great exchange of the gospel, clearly taught by the apostle Paul:

2 Timothy 1:8-10
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner.  Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Once believers experience the new birth, the process of sanctification begins — the fruit of the gospel.

2 Thessalonians 2:13
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
1 Peter 1:2
[To God’s elect] who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:  Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

This transformation of character results from walking by faith and in the Spirit.

Romans 13:14
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 2:19-20; 5:16
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  ...So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

But we must never forget that this process of sanctification has no merit in itself for salvation and brings about no change in the basic, sinful human nature.  It simply transforms the character to better reflect Christ’s life of love:

John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Romans 13:8-10
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Thus, what was impossible to do in one’s own strength is fulfilled in the believer by the Holy Spirit.  Paul refers to this as “the fruit of the Spirit”:

Galatians 5:22-24
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

This fruit, incidentally, is in perfect harmony with the law and is defined as the New Covenant experience:

Hebrews 8:10-12
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.  I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, “Know the Lord,” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.  For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

The Glorification Experience

Finally, at Christ’s Second Advent, the believers’ very natures will be changed and be fully restored to the original perfection of creation.  This is the blessed hope of the gospel.

Titus 2:11-13
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ....
Romans 5:19
For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Until then, Christians will be battling their sinful natures.  The apostle Paul describes the situation this way (emphasis mine):

Romans 8:22-25
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

This is the fantastic, incredibly good news of the everlasting gospel.  Because of the Fall, the world has come under the curse of sin.  The very nature of human beings, along with the animal and vegetable kingdoms, have been damaged and corrupted by the principle of self.  Thus, sin and crim abound and men’s hearts fail because of what is happening in the world.  Man’s only hope is in Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Since sharing the good news of the everlasting gospel is the main emphasis and primary purpose of the Bible, this incredibly good news of the gospel will be dealt with in much more detail in Chapter 6, on the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ.

Society remains torn by all kinds of factions and atrocities, and every human effort to stop its downward trend has failed.  There seems to be no hope of lasting peace in a sin-cursed world.  But the good news remains that:

Romans 5:20b
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more....

This can be the experience of every Christian.


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