Sin and Salvation: This We Believe Part 2

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This article is dedicated to our third and fourth Statements of Faith — on sin and salvation — as found in This We Believe: The Teachings of the Church of God (Seventh Day). A vibrant church of God is more than just knowing or saying what we believe about being human; she models Jesus with her life to others. God help us be that church!

— Jason Overman

Statement of Faith 3: Man, Satan, Sin, and Death

This we believe: humanity was created in the image of God as sinless, but not naturally immortal. Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve yielded to the temptation of God’s adversary, Satan. The Devil, capable of transforming himself into an angel of light to deceive and destroy humanity, will finally be destroyed in the lake of fire. As a result of Adam’s fall, all humanity became sinners by nature and by choice. The result is spiritual separation from God, physical death in an unconscious state, and eternal death for those who do not receive salvation in Christ.

When God created Adam and Eve, He made them in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26, 27). They were the showpieces of His creation, the culmination of all created beings. No other creatures were given such similarity to deity — only mankind. Just flesh and bones, but made in the image and likeness of God. And when God surveyed all that He had created on the sixth day, including humans, “indeed it was very good” (v. 31).

In every way, Adam and Eve were exactly as God wanted them. One could say they were perfect. He fashioned them with His own hands, forming Adam first from the “dust of the ground” and breathing life into his nostrils (2:7). Then, using a rib from Adam’s side, He formed Eve, “a helper comparable to him” (vv. 20-22). . . .

Being made in the image and likeness of God opens unlimited potential regarding human capabilities and characteristics. Though humans were invested with spirit, we are not spiritual beings as God is. Humans are finite, not infinite as He is. But most importantly, humans were made with the capacity to communicate with God. They enjoyed open fellowship with God originally, walking with Him in the cool of the evening (3:8). . . .

This paradise was sure to be interrupted, however. The Devil would not let it continue. He was intent on defiling God’s beautiful creation, especially humans. His basic goal is to destroy the work of God. There is no good in him; he opposes and seeks to destroy all that is good. . . . So it would be expected that the Devil would make an attack on God’s beautiful creation. . . .

The serpent, being “more cunning than any beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1), deceived Eve into eating from the forbidden tree. When she saw “that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (v. 6a). She was so impressed that “She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (v. 6b). “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (v. 7).

Immediately the aura of innocence was gone. The scene was corrupted! “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). One act of disobedience threw the entire creation into a downward spiral, known as the Fall — a fall that still holds all humanity captive until God’s provided deliverance is received through acceptance of Jesus as Savior. Galatians 3:22 says, “But the Scripture has confined all under sin. . . .”

For Adam and Eve, being the first generation of Satan-duped humans, the results were immediate. They became carnal; that is, they became governed by mere human nature, given to passions and appetites. . . . for all humanity, there arose a barrier between God and man that could only be overcome through Jesus Christ. . . .

God being just, He proceeded to administer punishment for the offense. He pronounced curses upon Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:16-19), which have been handed down to succeeding generations so that every living human has come under the terms of the curses. Death, hardship in survival, pain in childbirth, sorrow, even thorns and thistles were among them. And then to cap it off, God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden, making sure they could never reenter it . . . (3:23, 24).

The curse of death that God pronounced upon Adam came to be reality for mankind (Romans 5:12). All are destined to die. . . . In the garden, Satan told Eve, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4), but God had said, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (2:17). And as part of the curse pronounced on Adam, God said, “dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (3:19). That settles it: Death is sure!

From pages 39-42

Statement of Faith 4: Man, Salvation, and Life

This we believe: sinful humanity may be saved from the penalty of eternal death and receive eternal life instead, solely by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, apart from human merit, works, or ceremonies. Atonement for sins, with its attendant promise of eternal life, comes through Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf and is received in human experience by faith and repentance.

People need salvation. The gospel message of Scripture is so designed that it appeals best to those who are most aware of the need. The good news about Jesus resonates well with folks who know the truth about their sin. . . .

People need salvation because they need freedom from the penalty of their sins, rescue from the practice of their sins, and eventual deliverance from the very presence and possibility of sin itself. . . .

The teaching of Scripture is clear and consistent. Unless born again, humanity lives under the curse, enslaved by sin and powerless to be righteous. This sinful state is both a result of man’s sinful nature (i.e., original sin) and man’s sinful choices (i.e., volitional/willful sin).

Now consider the tragic reality that this sinfulness not only spells hopelessness, enslavement, and misery in this life but also means the condemnation of eternal death for unregenerate humanity. No doubt the punishment on Judgment Day is a horrid and terrifying prospect. It is also eternal and final. Throughout the Bible the final judgment awaiting the unregenerate is one of death and utter destruction (Revelation 21:8). . . .

In juxtaposition to the tragic picture painted above, we can now offer hope to all mankind in Jesus Christ. Paul writes in Romans 5:8 that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Earlier in the same letter Paul had written, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes . . .” (1:16).

Just as sin and death spread to all humanity through Adam, so the hope of salvation and resurrection unto eternal life is offered to all through the second Adam, who is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22; Romans 5:12-19). As Jesus said: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16, 17, NKJV). This offer of salvation in Jesus Christ is made available to everyone in the world as foreseen by the prophet Joel and affirmed by Peter and Paul: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). . . .

Scripture teaches that a person moves from sinfulness to forgiveness, from death to life, by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. As Paul says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no man can boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9; cf. Romans 5:1, 2).

What do the words grace and faith mean? Grace is the unmerited favor, or gift, of God that is bestowed on unworthy humanity in His gracious acts — chiefly in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 3:23, 24). . . .

Faith means “trust” or “belief.” . . . As Paul writes, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9, 10).

From pages 47-53

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