Calvary Road Baptist Church

“DEALING WITH THE RACE ISSUE”

 

Two of the great legacies related to the founding of this one-of-a-kind nation (What other country in history has been founded on worthy ideals and aspirations, after all?) are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for the United States of America.[1] Sadly, because we live in a fallen world, even the self-perception given to our early Puritan settlers by the noted gospel minister John Winthrop, who told them in a sermon that they would be “a city in a hill,” has been twisted around from the exhortation it was (and in the face of several previous attempts at English colonization having failed) that their efforts would be visible to the entire world. Winthrop meant that people would carefully look at what those early settlers did. However, his words to them and about them have been misconstrued (as so many things Puritan are misconstrued) to suggest he and those he was speaking to were filled with arrogance, pride, and a feeling of superiority. Not true.

From the beginning the people who formed this nation had problems, serious moral problems, and they were very aware of their problems. Two of the problems that plagued the thirteen colonies were slavery and racism. Notice, if you will, that I observe these problems to be separate, to be distinct. It is important to recognize that slavery and racism, though commonly thought to be one and the same in our day, are actually two distinct issues. Slavery has been a worldwide problem throughout the history of the human race, with racism being the sense of superiority adopted by one people so they can in a sense justify to themselves their enslavement of another people. Two examples: The man known to us in history as St. Patrick was actually a highborn Brit captured and enslaved by the Irish before he managed his escape, was later converted to Christ, and then returned to Ireland with the gospel.[2] Before Patrick, of course, was the Roman Empire, well known for its system of slavery.[3] Related to Imperial Rome is the interesting factoid that our English word slave is derived from an Old Slavic word by way of Latin that was first applied to captives of Slavic origin in southeastern Europe.[4] Thus, slave comes from slav.

The point that I seek to make is that men were enslaving men long before anything like racism was invoked to rationalize or justify enslaving human beings. And as wrong as slavery undeniably was and is, it is a vulgar and horrid practice that is only made worse by adding to it the stupid and unscriptural notion of racial superiority and racial inferiority. Racism is based upon the absurd notion that humanity consists of various races that are visibly distinguished by skin tone and hair texture and that these various races are not equal. Deny it as much as they will, such notions are part and parcel with a belief in evolution. Can you imagine what would happen if all mankind was somehow educated so as to eradicate the vast ignorance that makes the belief of such absurdities possible? Would relations between groups of people improve if it became known to one and all that there is only one species on earth known by biologists who naively describe us as Homo Sapiens, wise man?[5] It is not likely. However, even that statement is not precisely true. While there is only one biological race of man on earth, with every human being being a member of that one race, the race of man, there are actually two races that inhabit this planet insofar as the spiritual realm is concerned.

Though all of us in this auditorium are members of the human race, insofar as our physical makeup is concerned, in another sense we are not all of us here today members of the same race. Let me explain by bringing your heart to a consideration of the Lord Jesus Christ in a way quite unlike I have previously done. Several passages in God’s Word link together Adam, the first man, and the Lord Jesus Christ. It will help us to carefully compare and contrast these two men. In thinking of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Fall of mankind into sin by Adam’s rebellion a threefold line of thought may be developed. First, a contrast between the first man, Adam, and the second man, Christ, in terms of their characters and conduct. Second, Christ Himself bearing the Curse of the Fall. Third, Christ reversing the effects of the Fall and bringing in the “better thing.” Let us take up these thoughts in this order.

It has been suggested that in eating the forbidden fruit Adam cast reproach upon God’s love, God’s truth, and God’s majesty. Created in the image of his Maker: vitalized by the very breath of Deity: placed in a perfect environment: surrounded by every blessing the heart could desire: put in complete authority over God’s creation: provided with a suitable companion and helpmeet: made an example to all the universe of the LORD’s goodness and love, and given one single command that he might have opportunity to show his appreciation by an easy observance of it - yet, he gives ear to the voice of the tempter and chooses instead to believe the Devil’s lie. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God knowing good and evil.” What did Satan wish these words to imply? They were as though he said: Did God tell you not to eat of this tree? How unkind! He is withholding from you the very best thing in the garden. He knows full well that if you partake of this fruit your eyes will be opened, and you yourselves will become as God. In other words, it was an appeal for them to distrust God, to doubt His grace, and to question His goodness. Thus in eating the forbidden fruit Adam repudiated and dishonored God’s love. Moreover, he questioned and dishonored God’s truthfulness. God had plainly warned him. In unequivocal language He had threatened, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Adam knew nothing of death. He was surrounded only by living creatures. Reason might have argued that it was impossible for death to enter such a fair land as Paradise. But there rang the Word of Him who cannot lie,Thou shalt surely die.” The serpent, however, boldly denies Jehovah’s Word - “Ye shall not surely die,” he declares. Which would Adam believe — God or Satan? He demonstrated that he had more confidence in the latter: he dared to doubt God’s Word, and the foul deed was done. Thus, in eating the forbidden fruit, Adam repudiated and dishonored God’s Truth. Further: he rejected God’s authority. As the Creator, God possesses the inherent right to issue commands, and to demand from His creatures absolute obedience. It is His prerogative to act as Law-giver, Controller, Governor, and to define the limits of our freedom. And in the Garden of Eden God exercised His prerogative and clearly expressed His will. But Adam imagined he had a better friend than God. He regarded God as austere and despotic, as One who begrudged him that which would promote his best interests. He felt that in being denied the fruit of this tree which was pleasant to the eyes and capable of making one wise God was acting arbitrarily and cruelly, so he determined to assert himself, claim his rights, and throw off the restraint of the Divine government. He substituted the Devil’s word for God’s law: he put his own desire before the LORD’s command. Thus, in eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam repudiated and dishonored God’s Majesty. So much then for the character and conduct of the first Adam.

Turning now to the Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam, we find that everything is in direct antithesis.[6] In thought, word and deed, the Christ of God completely vindicated the love, truth, and majesty of Deity which the first man had so grievously and deliberately dishonored. How Christ vindicated the love of God! Adam harbored the wicked thought that God begrudged him that which was beneficial, and thereby questioned His goodness. But how the Lord Jesus has reversed that decision! In coming down to this earth to seek and to save that which was lost, He fully revealed God’s compassion for mankind. In His sympathy for the afflicted, in His miracles of healing, in His tears over Jerusalem, in His unselfish and unwearied works of mercy, He openly displayed the love and benevolence of God. And what shall we say of His sufferings and death on the cruel tree? In laying down His life for us, in dying on the cross, He unveiled the heart of the Father as nothing else could. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In the light of Calvary we can never more doubt the goodness and grace of God. How Christ vindicated the truth of God! When tempted by Satan to doubt God’s goodness, question His truth, and repudiate His majesty, He answered each time, “It is written.”[7] When He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day it was to read out of the Holy Oracles. When selecting the twelve apostles He purposely chose Judas in order that the Scriptures “might be fulfilled.” When censuring His critics, He declared that by their traditions they made void “the Word of God.” In His last moments upon the Cross, knowing that all things had been accomplished, in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled He said, “I thirst.”[8] After He had risen from the dead and was journeying with the two disciples to Emmaus, He “expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” At every point, and in every detail of His life He honored and magnified God’s truth. Finally, Christ completely vindicated the majesty of God. The creature had aspired to be equal with the Creator. Adam chafed against the governmental restraint which the LORD had placed upon him. He despised God’s law, insulted His majesty, and defied His authority. How different with our blessed Saviour! Though He was the Lord of Glory and equal with God, yet He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant. O matchless grace! He condescended to be “made under the law,” and during the whole of His stay here upon earth He refused to assert His rights, and was ever subject to the Father. “Not My will” was His holy cry. Even more: “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Never was God’s law so magnified, never was God’s authority so honored, never were God’s government claims so illustriously upheld, as during the thirty-three years when His own Son dwelt among men. Thus in His own Person Christ vindicated the outraged majesty of God.

We turn now to contemplate Christ Himself bearing the Curse of the Fall. What was the punishment which followed the first Adam’s sin? In answering this question we consider Genesis chapter 3. Beginning at the seventeenth verse of Genesis 3 we may trace a sevenfold consequence upon the entrance of sin into this world. First, the ground was cursed. Second, in sorrow man was to eat of it all the days of his life. Third, thorns and thistles it was to bring forth. Fourth, in the sweat of his face man was to eat his bread. Fifth, unto dust man was to return. Sixth, a flaming sword barred his way to the tree of life. Seventh, there was the execution of God’s threat that in the day man partook of the forbidden fruit he should surely die. Such was the curse which fell upon Adam as the result of the Fall. Observe now how completely the Lord Jesus bore the full consequences of man’s sin. First, Christ was “made a curse for us” (Galatians 3.13). Second, so thoroughly was He acquainted with grief, He was denominated “the man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53. 3). Third, in order that we might know how literally the Holy One bore in His own body the consequences of Adams sin, we read “Then came Jesus forth wearing the crown of thorns (John 18.8). Fourth, corresponding with the sweat of his face in which the first man was to eat his bread, we learn concerning the second man, And His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22.44). Fifth, just as the first Adam was to return unto the dust, so the cry of the last Adam, in that wonderful prophetic Psalm, was “Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death” (Psalm 22.15). Sixth, the sword of justice which barred the way to the tree of life was thrust into the side of God’s Son, for of old, the LORD had said, “Awake, O sword , against My shepherd, and against the man that is My Fellow” (Zechariah 13.7). Seventh, the counterpart of God’s original threat to Adam, namely, spiritual death (for he did not die physically that same day) , which is the separation of the soul from God, is witnessed in that most solemn of all cries, “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mathew 27.46). How absolutely did our blessed Saviour identif y Himself with those which were lost, taking their place and suffering the Just for the unjust! How apparent it is, that Christ in His own body, did bear the Curse resulting from the Fall.

Now we consider Christ reversing the effects of the Fall. God alone is able to bring good out of evil and make even the wrath of man to praise Him. The Fall afforded Him an opportunity to exhibit His wisdom and display the riches of His grace to an extent which, so far as we can see, He never could have otherwise done, had not sin entered the world. With respect to redemption Christ has not only reversed the effects of the Fall, but because of it has brought in a better situation. If God could have found a way, consistently with His own character, to restore man to the position which he occupied before he became a transgressor, it would have been a remarkable triumph, but that through Christ man should actually be the gainer is a transcendent miracle of Divine wisdom and grace. Yet such is precisely the case. The redeemed have gained more through the last Adam than they lost through the first Adam. They occupy a more exalted position. Before the Fall Adam dwelt in an earthly Paradise, but the redeemed have been made to sit with Christ in heavenly places.[9] Through redemption they have been blessed with a nobler nature. Before the Fall man possessed a natural life but now all in Christ have been made partakers of the Divine nature. They have obtained a new standing before God. Recognize that while Adam was created merely innocent, which is a negative condition, having no sin, believers in Christ are recreated righteous, which is a positive state. We share a far better inheritance. Adam was lord of Eden but believers are “heirs of all things,” “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”[10] Through grace we have been made capable of a deeper joy than unfallen spirits have known: the bliss of pardoned sin and the heaven of deep conscious obligation to Divine mercy. In Christ believers enjoy a closer relationship to God than was possible before the Fall. Adam was merely a creature, but we are members of the body of Christ - “members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” How marvellous! We have been taken into union with God Himself, so that the Son of God is not ashamed to call us brethren. The Fall provided the need of Redemption, and through the redeeming work of the Cross, believers have a portion which unfallen Adam could never have attained unto. Truly, “where sin abounded grace did much more abound.”[11]

Thus, you see that there are two races that coexist side by side in the world today, those who were born into the race of Adam, who are dead in trespasses and sins and who are doomed to a Christless eternity, and those who are born again into the race of Jesus Christ, the second Adam, who are alive by the Spirit of God and who live in anticipation of an eternity with Christ in paradise.

What, then, should those of you who live in Adam’s race do to deal with this race issue? Four things:

 

First, ATTEND CHURCH FAITHFULLY

 

Though Christians do not attend church primarily to benefit unsaved people, those who are of Adam’s race, there is great benefit to those of Adam’s race who attend when Christians do assemble to worship God and sit under preaching.

First Corinthians 1.18 and 21 shows the importance of preaching:

 

18    For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

 

21    For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

 

First Corinthians 14.24-25 shows the result of preaching:

 

24    But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

25    And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

 

Preaching is the primary and most useful means by which God ministers grace to the unsaved in need of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

 

Next, READ GOD’S WORD FAITHFULLY

 

John Gerstner (1914–1996) wrote, “Who was ever converted reading what the sinner liked to read, but sinners were known to be converted forcing themselves to read the Word they hated.” In the forty-one years of my Christian life I have not found it otherwise. “Who was ever converted reading what the sinner liked to read, but sinners were known to be converted forcing themselves to read the Word they hated.”

Additionally, Psalm 119.9 and 11 provide guidance:

 

9      Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

 

11    Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

 

Finally, James 1.18 reads, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth. . . .” God uses His Word to inform us of His Son, to impart unto us faith, and to make us who are of the material world sensible concerning the spiritual world. In short, apart from His Word God does not save the souls of sinners.

 

Third, PRAY TO GOD TO SAVE YOUR SOUL

 

You should never pretend that any unsaved person has the same kind of access to God that is guaranteed to the Christian who has trusted Christ, for that simply is not true. The shed blood of Christ provides prayer privileges to believers that are simply not granted to someone in rebellion toward God.

There is a great deal to be gained by a sinner who is willing to plead with God while recognizing that God is not obligated to hear his prayers and that God is not obligated to answer his prayers. That said, sinners are directed in scripture to seek the LORD while He may be found, and God’s compassions are said to never fail.[12] James 4.2 concludes, “ye have not, because ye ask not.”

Remember the parable of the Pharisee and the publican who went to the temple to pray. Surely the example of the tax collector standing before God “saying, God be merciful to me a sinner,” illustrates the attitude the Savior commends all who are unsaved to adopt.[13]

 

Finally, CONSIDER THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SAVIOR OF SINFUL MEN’S SOULS

 

That you should fix your mind and heart on a consideration of the Lord Jesus Christ is of paramount importance. The readers of the letter to the Hebrews are directed to consider Him, to fix their minds on Him in two different places:[14] Hebrews 3.1 contains these words:

 

“Wherefore . . . consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.”

 

Hebrews 12.3 reads,

 

“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

 

So you see, whether in His present exalted position in glory at God’s right hand, or during His previous condescension when He walked with us prior to His crucifixion, a person greatly benefits from, is spiritually enhanced by, and finds beneficial clarification of the truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ by fixing one’s mind on Him, by considering Him.

To what end is He to be considered who is the subject of preaching, the topic of scripture, the intent of prayer, and the consideration of one’s mind? The salvation of your eternal and dying soul, of course. Keep in mind that Hebrews 7.25 identifies the Lord Jesus Christ as the one who

 

“is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

 

By save, of course, I refer to the spiritual rescue of someone who is hopelessly lost, the enlivening of one who is irretrievably dead, the forgiving of one whose sins are otherwise unforgivable, the adopting of one who is without acceptable parentage, and the justifying of one who previously had no standing before God.

 

You see, all of this is very much a racial issue, but it is unlike any racial issue you are familiar with or that you have typically given any thought to. The Devil absolutely delights in people being caught up in what are said to be racial issues that are related to such mundane issues as skin color, hair texture, a shared plight, a common heritage, and prejudiced attitudes. However, these are but distractions from vastly more important matters. The real racial divide, the one that involves eternity, the one that is related to the torment of unquenchable fire, has nothing to do with skin tone, hair texture, or anything else so temporary and earthy, but rather involves one’s relationship with God, be it a relationship of animosity and opposition or be it a relationship of family based upon the forgiveness that comes through faith in Christ.

You and I, all of us, were born into one race, the race headed up by the first man, who stepped into sinful rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden when he disobeyed. That is the race of Adam, all of whose members are alienated from God by sin. However, I and others here today are no longer a part of that race into which we were born, but are now in the race into which we have been born again, with Jesus Christ as the head of our new race.

The ultimate destiny of Adam’s race is Hellfire, damnation, brimstone, outer darkness, gnashing of teeth, the bottomless pit, and eternal torment. The ultimate destiny of Christ’s race is glorification, exaltation, eternal life, eternal bliss, fulfillment and satisfaction, and unspeakable joy. So, how does one become a member of Christ’s race? One is born a member of Adam’s race, but to become a member of Christ’s race you must be born again. Until that momentous and eternity altering miracle takes place you are to attend church faithfully, read God’s Word faithfully, pray to God to save your soul, and consider the Lord Jesus Christ, the only savior of sinful men’s souls.



[3] Philippe Aries and Georges Duby, general editors, A History Of Private Life I, Paul Veyne, editor, (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1987), pages 117-137.

[4] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1705.

[6] 1 Corinthians 15.45

[7] Matthew 4.4, 7, 10

[8] John 19.28

[9] Ephesians 2.6

[10] Romans 8.17

[11] A debt of gratitude is owed to Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings In Genesis, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1950), pages 50-55.

[12] Lamentations 3.22

[13] Luke 18.9-14

[14] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 671.


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