Calvary Road Baptist Church

“EXTREME MEASURES” Part 2

 

He seemed to be a broken man. Why not call him Logan? Struck down in his prime by a loss of employment, the unfaithfulness and abandonment of his wife, and a series of catastrophes that humiliated him in front of his children, Logan wandered into the auditorium one day in response to a friend’s invitation. He was overwhelmed by the courtesy and friendliness of the people, and sat awestruck during the sermon. It seemed as though the preacher he had met only moments before was speaking to the issues of Logan’s life, and the Bible pierced him through with conviction. Suddenly, he found hope again and his spirits soared with renewed optimism. He left the auditorium convinced everything would turn out well after all.

What Logan did not realize was that he left the auditorium in the same condition that he arrived. Nothing had changed. No sins had been forgiven. No heart had been quickened. No miracle had taken place in his life. He was just happy where he had been sad, and was encouraged by what he had heard instead of being sad and despondent. In reality, however, all was the same, and nothing had changed. Logan’s misunderstanding, you see, was that he had no real comprehension of his underlying problems. His underlying problems included being dead in trespasses and sins, being estranged from God, possessing a heart that was deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, having a boatload of sins committed against God over the course of his life, and God being very angry with him. Because he considered his sins to be mere mistakes, because he gave no thought whatsoever his spiritual condition or the antagonism that existed between him and his Creator, Logan completely misread the state of his soul and fancied himself to be only slightly uninformed, which he thought was remedied by hearing two sermons. Logan had no idea that his predicament was extreme. He not only had a severe problem, he was a severe problem. Though he was happy to have his optimism restored, he had no idea that he had no real basis for hope, and that the last thing he ought to have had was any sense of optimism that things would be better for him in the future. God had granted no such assurances to him, despite how he felt.

We agreed at this time last week that extreme measures are typically taken to address only the most extreme problems. We also agreed that as we approach Christmas, our consideration of the birth of Jesus Christ as a prelude to His sinless life and earthly ministry, His substitutionary death on Calvary’s cross, and His glorious resurrection from the dead for our justification, is proof positive that no more extreme measures could be taken by God to remedy the problem sinners have with sin.

This morning we will take a second look at this matter of extreme measures. Remembering that if God could have sent even His best man to resolve this issue of sin, He would have done so, and if He could have sent His most powerful and competent angel to resolve this issue of sin, He would have done so, consider what God did do. Consider two extreme measures taken by God before He sent His Son to be born in Bethlehem:

 

First, THE EXTREME MEASURE OF EXPULSION FROM THE GARDEN OF EDEN

 

To refresh your memory, when God created Adam, we are twice told that He placed the man in the garden He had created, Genesis 2.8 and 15, “to dress and to keep it.” Adam’s only prohibition was concerning the eating of a single kind of fruit. I read Genesis 2.16-17:

 

16     And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17     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.

 

Because it was not good for the man to be alone, God then made Eve to be Adam’s wife and helper. All seemed well in the Garden of Eden, until the serpent tempted Eve and she ate the forbidden fruit, and she “gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” When they disobeyed God, they each became sinners by a single act of rebellion against God’s revealed will. It was a catastrophe.

As I mentioned last week, since Adam was the federal head of the entire as yet unborn human race, his disobedience and the consequences of his disobedience have most adversely affected all who have descended from him. What were these consequences of Adam’s Fall into sin? Remember that God had given Adam fair warning, as I pointed out moments ago, when I read God’s warning to Adam: “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

There were consequences for Adam deriving from his single sin, consequences for all mankind, and consequences for the entire universe that God had only recently created: Of course, Adam died, just as God had said would happen. However, it is safe to say that the ramifications of Adam’s sin were not at all appreciated by him until after his disobedient act had been perpetrated. In addition to Adam becoming a sinner, we now know that Adam’s descendants were born sinners, springing from the loins of a man who was now a sinner by nature. Romans 5.12 is explicit: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5.14 declares that death reigned because of Adam. In First Corinthians 15.22, we are told, “in Adam all die.” Coming into this world spiritually dead, everyone then experiences physical death. Of course, there is also the consequence of the lake of fire. Originally created for the punishment of the devil and his host of sinful angels, it is also the eternal destiny of every person descended from Adam who is born and who then dies without being converted to Jesus Christ, Matthew 25.41. The sin of Adam also brought about universal consequences, with Adam’s sin against God being a spiritual crime of such outrage that all of God’s physical creation is said to groan and travail in pain because of it, Romans 8.22.

Therefore, of course God, Who cannot lie, being a just and a righteous God, kept His Word and took immediate action against Adam’s rebellion: First, He confronted the man and the woman. Though He found them hiding from Him, an insult to His omniscience and omnipresence, God still provided them an opportunity to explain their outrageous actions. Of course, they had no justification for their rebellion, but instead as sinners always do, attempted to place the blame elsewhere.[1] After hearing their lame excuses for disobeying Him, God then pronounced His judgment upon them for their sins, in Genesis 3.16-19:

 

16     Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

17     And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

18     Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19     In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

 

Surprisingly, and perhaps because He had pity on the naked and guilty creatures that stood before Him, God showed that even when pronouncing and executing judgment, He is merciful. Genesis 3.21: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Though some are of the opinion that these clothes made from the skins of animals suggest that Adam and Eve may have found grace in the eyes of the LORD, it must be pointed out that Adam is never mentioned in connection with faith or with grace in the Bible, but everywhere as the head of a dead race. Notice once more how Paul refers to Adam in First Corinthians 15.22: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” What is right is right, and what was their just due was their just due, so God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3.22-24:

 

22     And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

23     Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

24     So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

 

God had warned Adam before creating Eve that if he ate the forbidden fruit he would die. “. . . in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Therefore, though Adam lived out the remainder of his physical life before he met his death, a span of 930 years, God’s warning was literally fulfilled. When he was ejected from the Garden of Eden, and separated from the life of communion and interaction with God, Adam straightway experienced spiritual death. As a result of his spiritual death, Adam’s physical death and all the ills and problems that led up to it were inevitable.

Would you conclude that expelling Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, barring their reentry with a flaming sword to prevent their access to the tree of life, and visiting them with spiritual death that would necessarily lead eventually to physical death, was an extreme measure? I would say so. God responded to their wicked and flagrant sin by enacting the extreme measure of expelling them both. The question to be asked, however, is whether or not the extreme measure God took remedied the problem. The answer, of course, is that it did not, and God certainly knew that it would not. Adam and Eve’s first child was Cain, who was also the world’s first murderer. Adam and Eve eventually died, showing that their sin remained, or they would not have died. Death has reigned throughout the human race since Adam. Therefore, that extreme measure, the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, though certainly called for as a consequence of their sin against God, seems to have remedied no problems related to sin. This extreme measure was entirely punitive and not corrective.

 

Next, THE EXTREME MEASURE OF THE WORLDWIDE FLOOD

 

Expulsion from the Garden of Eden did not eliminate the sinfulness of the human race, and there is no indication that God intended to address anyone’s future behavior when he expelled Adam from the garden and blocked his reentry with a flaming sword wielded by angels. Once again, let me state that Adam’s expulsion was purely punitive. Evidence to support this conclusion is found in Genesis chapters four, five, and six. As the human race multiplied over the centuries that followed the Fall, the Genesis record takes us from the sad account of Cain’s wicked, murderous and selfish life to the bigamist and manslayer Lamech, and on to a series of other men, each of whom lived and died, lived and died, and lived and died (excepting Enoch, of course).

By the time the Genesis narrative arrives at chapter six, we have intermingled with the record of a demonic attack on the human race God’s conclusion about the ever-worsening spiritual condition of the human race, Genesis 6.3-6:

 

3      And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

4      There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

5      And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

6      And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

 

Notice verse five again, where we read, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” No wonder God’s heart was grieved. It is understandable that “it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth.” His long-suffering finally come to an end after 1500 or 1600 years, God resorted to another extreme measure. Genesis 6.7: “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.”

You know the rest. With the exception of eight individuals, four married couples, and pairs of animals with whom they enjoyed the safety of the Ark that Noah and his sons built, every other animal on land or that flew in the air, including every man, woman and child then living on the earth, died by drowning. Genesis 7.17-23 summarizes the extreme measure God took to punish the wrongdoing of mankind:

 

17     And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.

18     And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.

19     And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

20     Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.

21     And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:

22     All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

23     And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

 

Can you digest the horror of the annihilation of the entire human race, with the exception of eight souls? Since God is just and righteous, how awful must have been the magnitude of their sinfulness for God to have visited them with so great a punishment? So extreme a measure can only be a response to a problem, a crime, an offense of such horror that a measure that extreme was appropriate.

 

Psalm 136.1 reads: “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Twenty-five more times in the 136th Psalm alone we are told, “His mercy endureth forever.” Therefore, being mindful of the goodness and mercy of God, His nature as a righteous and holy God demands that His punishment be a proportional response to the seriousness of the offense being punished. Thus, we are reminded that sin is vastly more serious an offense than our minds can comprehend.

The question that has been asked before and needs to be asked again is whether God’s extreme measure of judging the entire world by means of a worldwide flood brought sin to an end. The answer is that it did not. No sooner did Noah and his sons leave the Ark and built an altar and worshiped, than “the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.”[2] God set the rainbow in the sky as a token of His promise to never again destroy the world by flood, after which Noah got drunk on wine.[3] Therefore, though the Flood put an end to the sins mankind was committing against God by ending their lives here on earth, it did nothing to alter the nature of men. Even Noah resumed sinning against God.

Two extreme measures, expelling Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, and destroying the entire world by means of a worldwide flood. Staggering to the mind when you think about it, but a proportionate response to the extremity of the wickedness God was dealing with. Consideration of these extreme measures will enable you to recognize the greatness of God’s grace and love when He took the extreme measure of sending His Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. We celebrate it as Christmas, though it is one of a chain of events that included the Savior’s death on the cross for our sins. It was an extreme measure taken by God to deal with a problem that is far greater than any of us really recognize, the problem of sin.

Since God has employed extreme measures, He demands that sinners respond with extreme measures. Positively, there is the extreme measure of faith in Christ. Negatively, there is the extreme measure of repenting of sin. These two aspects of the extreme measures called for by God in response to the gospel of Jesus Christ can be summed up in the words of Jesus:  “Come unto me.” Nothing less will do for the safety and salvation of your eternal and undying soul.



[1] Genesis 3.7-13

[2] Genesis 8.21

[3] Genesis 9.21



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org