Friday, December 9, 2011

To Fix The Problem - Find Where It Started

In the Beginning - That’s Where Everything Starts

The book of Genesis is not only the first book of the Bible, but it is the book of firsts. Since this book records the origin of the world and particularly human life, we can expect to find the first occurrence of the issues that affect our lives and God's instructions on how to live pleasing to Him. One of the finest principles of Biblical Hermeneutics is "The First Mention Principle". This is the idea that God's first revelation on an issue is of fundamental importance. Closely allied with this principle is another, "The Progressive Mention Principle". This principle shows us how, after His initial revelation, God continues throughout the Scriptures to give us additional information regarding issues that affect His plan for all humankind. These two principles are particularly useful in understanding God's plan for redemption of humankind. However this article is about a facet of that plan that affects us all and not the complete plan.

The First Family of the World Arrives

This is about the first man and the first woman and their respective testing whose failure ultimately affected the entire human race. We know the story of Genesis; in chapter one God created the entire world in six literal days and on day six He created mankind in His own image and likeness. In chapter two we see an exploded view of day six where God declares the generations of the heavens and Earth and gives a detailed description of the creation of the first man and woman. It is in chapter three that our story takes place. God created Adam and gave Him the command to eat anything he liked, but the fruit of one special tree. After Adam names the animals and it is apparent that there is no one like him, for him; God creates Eve and brings her to Adam. There is no indication; anywhere in the Bible that God also gave to Eve the same instruction about the special tree, actually later we find indication that it was Adam’s responsibility to see to it that she knew about it.

Problems Plague the First Family

I think we all know of the story of the serpent tempting Eve, but are we aware of why the sin that takes place in the Garden of Eden is called the sin of Adam? Eve took the forbidden fruit first, but Adam takes the heat for it, what’s up with that? Hardly seems fair does it? First, let me say that God makes no mistakes and is totally righteous in all that He does! What may seem unfair to us always has a back-story that will vindicate our righteous Lord! Here’s that story.

1. God made Adam and gave him commands and authority of leadership.

2. God made Eve next and gave her the position of following Adam.

3. In the Garden there was order and structure. These same truths are seen in I Corinthians 11:1-12.

4. Both Adam and Eve were about to be tested (tempted) for faithfulness. Both failed their test.

5. The serpent (Satan) approached Eve first. God allowed this for some obvious reasons. The temptation was to check faithfulness, not knowledge or ability. She needed to be tested first because Adam’s authority exceeds hers. If Adam were tested first she would have been untested because the damage would have been done and she would have been included in the consequence.

6. Eve’s temptation was to listen to the authority of her husband (Adam) or to chose to listen to the advice of the serpent, thereby taking family authority (Adams) for herself, thwarting God’s plan and altering her designed position. She failed her test. The following scripture selection reveals the conflict and the consequence.
Genesis 3:1-6

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 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 gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:13
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Genesis 3:16
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.

7. Adam’s temptation was not the beguiling of the serpent or the attractiveness of the fruit. His testing was also in the arena of authority. Would he listen to the authority of God’s command or would he listen to the voice of his wife? Adam made the wrong choice. He listened to Eve instead of God; therefore it is Adam’s sin that has affected the entire human race. Disobeying the voice of a man may bring temporal consequences, but disobeying the voice of God brings eternal consequences. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

8. The consequence of Adam’s sin is death to the entire human race, but God provided a way of redemption and salvation, also first demonstrated in the first chapters of Genesis. The consequence of Eve’s sin is difficulty in childbirth. Her being under the rule or authority of her husband is not a consequence of her sin, but rather a reminder of why she got into trouble in the first place.

First Family Failures = Modern Families Problem

In the western world we are seeing our cultures deteriorating at an epidemic rate. Many are wondering why. The reality is that the failures of the first family still plague us today. Sin has become a part of human nature as a result of Adam’s sin. We are repeating their actions in regard to authority, both God’s authority and family authority; as a result we reap the destruction and heartache that they too experienced. We cannot continue mixing up the same old recipe and expect to come up with a better cake, just won’t happen. What we must do, if we are to enjoy a better home life and by extension a better national life is to repent of our actions and return to the God designed structure for the family. God is the final authority in each person’s life and we will ALL ultimately answer to Him. The primary issue each of us will face, after yielding to Christ Jesus, as Savior is our relationship to God as the genuine Lord of our life. This is the same set of issues that Adam and Eve faced in the Garden of Eden. Whose authority are we yielding our self to? In the family God has ordained that the husband and father is the head, that is, he is the final authority for the family and he is under God’s authority. Under the headship of the husband is the wife and mother. She is under his authority and is disobedient to God and her husband if she listens to any other source of authority that would usurp her husband’s leadership. She does wrong to even go to God for instruction when her head has given direction or instruction. By going to God to get confirmation of her desire, she would actually be asking God to bless or be involved in circumventing the authority He has placed over her, her head, her husband. The only time it would be right for a wife to seek God’s intervention against her husband would be if he were an ungodly man bent on rebellion against God with destruction for her as well. Even then it is her duty to pray for him and seek to demonstrate Christ in his presence. Our culture is falling apart because of the lack of godly structure in our homes. As the family goes, so goes the nation. We have raised several generations of people that disregard God’s designated authority, both personal and familial; we therefore are reaping the reward of our disobedience. The only solution is to repent and return to God’s designated family structure. I doubt that we can change the world, but we are still responsible for our families.

Bottom line – Let’s do it to the glory of God!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Better Blueprints Make Good Structures

Western civilization is in deep trouble. We are facing an uncertain future.

One of the main reasons for this trouble is that we have strayed very far from God’s blueprint for family and the society that rests on the family. God gave us a definite structure for the family, but somewhere along the line mankind in general felt the liberty to deviate from that structure. Even Bible believing Christians as well as preachers and teachers have strayed from God’s structure. Now we are reaping the reward of our straying. One of the laws that God presents for the natural world is the law of reaping and sowing. We reap what we sow, without fail. The only way that this law is abrogated is by the intervention of a higher power. Too many people sow their wild oats and then pray for crop failure. The Bible says, “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind:” Hosea 8:7. We are reaping the whirlwind of chaotic homes and society. We are crying out to God for crop failure and ignoring His instructions for recovery. With crime increasing, satisfaction with life decreasing, depression at epidemic rates, credit spending out of control and job security disappearing people have been seeking answers and comfort in new directions. We try to fill the void in our life with things, experiences and people in new ways. “Try something new, it’s got to be better”, expresses the desperate hope flooding the hearts and minds of the populace at large and sadly, even Bible believing Christians are taking up the cry. Yet in all this fervent desire for rescue from failure and the desire for success, God is saying, “Come back to me!” Several times in the Old Testament scripture and all the way through the New Testament scripture to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, God calls His people to repent (turn around), to return, to repent and do the first works. This is the essence of revival.

God is telling us today, from His Word and by His Holy Spirit, to return to His blueprint for the family. By doing so, we may have His blessing on our efforts. Do you think it unreasonable of the God of Heaven, the creator and sustainer of the world to expect us to do things His way, if we want His blessing? I don’t. He has every right, by right of creation and by right of redemption to expect us to walk in obedience to His Word and Will.

What does His blueprint look like? I will use a word that must be explained, to be understood, because it is a word that has been abused, manipulated and wrested in such a dishonest way, as to make the word completely ineffective. Yet this word is the best word (when properly understood) to describe God’s blueprint, “PATRIARCHY”. Do you understand why it must be explained, to comprehend God’s blueprint? Did not images of abusive, authoritarian, cold and distant men immediately flood your mind? Have you not heard from most every source, how evil it is to think that there are significant differences between men and women (other than biological)? God’s blueprint may well fly in the face of common knowledge, but I prefer God’s blueprint; common knowledge isn’t working out too well. Patriarchy is literally defined as father rule. "Etymologically, the word "patriarchy" derives from the Greek (patriarkhia), literally means "rule of fathers”. Fathers and husbands have become less than desirable in our culture because of militant feminism, whose efforts of liberation have exceeded the need for liberty. When we understand that God refers to Himself as “Father” to believers and to His creation, it is easy to understand how we have strayed so far from God’s blueprint.

In God’s blueprint for the family, we see the reflection that He has with both humanity at large and His believing people specifically. This is described in Ephesians 5: 22-33 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

The husband – wife relationship is based upon the relationship between Christ and His church. Husbands are to love and behave toward their wives in the same way that Christ loves and behaves toward His church. Wives are to graciously respond to and follow their husbands leadership in the same way His church is to graciously follow Christ’s leadership. Properly followed the resulting marital relationship will result in this pattern.

  •  The husband/father will exercise headship for the wife and family, taking seriously, the responsibility of leadership, provision and protection. He will duplicate, as far as humanly possible, with divine aid, the love, comfort and companionship that Christ Himself provides us all. This will exclude the possibility of abuse, selfishness and neglect. Such a task will keep an honest man frequently on his knees before our Lord, seeking guidance and strength to live with our families, as Christ lives with His churches.

  • The wife will practice, as far as humanly possible, with divine aid, the grace of total submission to her husband, showing to him reverence, trust, honor and love that is due him as the representative of Christ in their home. Such genuine submission to her husband is an act of her will, totally under her purview, as the church is willfully subject to Christ. Her behavior in this manner does not in any way diminish her intelligence, strength or will. Rather, it increases the awareness of her qualities and contribution to the husband’s leadership. By doing so she increases her value, by being a willing and enthusiastic supporter in the cause of the husbands calling.

  • Wives subjugate their right of leadership to the authority of the husband as God Himself established it.

  • Husbands will bind themselves by love to the awesome responsibility of leading and providing for their wives, not seeking personal prestige, but fulfilling God’s calling in their lives.

Our straying from this blueprint has created a chaos that has been labeled normal, but produced abnormal results. Divorce statistics for Christians that rival the rest of the world, disenfranchised children, school age children being sedated by parents and doctors, just to fit into the education system and ever increasing dissatisfaction with life are all evidences of our deviation from God’s blueprint and the resulting tragedy. The conflict between husbands and wives that is so evident in our culture is another result. Husbands’ fail when they do not step up to the plate and do those tasks given by God. By not doing so they put their wives in the position of shouldering the responsibility that God gave the men. This is not God’s design and it isn’t about whether or not the women can perform the manly tasks, in most cases they can. However, it is not their job to do so, they have their own tasks assigned by our Lord, which they are better suited for. These include the nurturing and supporting skills that women are so well known for. Can men do these same things? Yes, but not as effectively as the women who were originally assigned these good tasks. When wives are not willing to remain in their supporting role and covet the authority and leadership that God designed for the husbands and the men, for the authority and leadership role, the wives then cause their husbands to react negatively or accept a submissive nature, they were not designed for. This increases the conflict.

I hope it is not necessary to delve into the uniqueness with which both men and women were created or to provide argument that equality in value before God and society does not equal sameness in responsibility or efficiency. There is a definite, distinctive role for men and for women. While each may pick up the slack for the other in time of emergency, such activity is not the norm of God’s design. Effectiveness, efficiency and enjoyment of life all suffer when we deviate from God’s blueprint.

We must ask our selves, “What are we willing to settle for?” To be honest, it will always be difficult to follow God’s blueprint. Our own (sinful even though redeemed) human will, struggles with being the man or woman God wants us to be. Our culture is definitely against God’s blueprint, just as it is in rebellion against God’s authority in every area of life. To make things even worse, God’s enemy and ours, Satan endeavors to do all he can to destroy God’s authority in the life of God’s saints. Satan will even stimulate our human will and our culture in rebellion against God. These three the Bible describes as our foes, the world, the flesh and the devil, they are very effective. So, following God, as He leads, through His Word, by His Spirit will always be an uphill climb. We must count the cost and determine in our own hearts, “Am I willing to obey God and go against the tide of world opinion or will I take the easy route of less or no opposition?” Joshua said in a similar situation, “ Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15

                                                                                                                                         … John Whitten