|Vol. 16 No. 1 January 2014||
What Instructions Did God Give
Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Adam and Eve received three commands or instructions: (1) They were told to bear offspring to fill the earth (Genesis 1:28); (2) They were told to exercise dominion over or rule the world (Genesis 1:28), beginning with the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8, 15); (3) They were forbidden to eat from one tree (Genesis 2:17; 3:3). Looking at the current population of the world, it appears that the descendants of Adam and Eve essentially excelled in only one of the original three commands from God. It is debatable whether mankind has been a good caretaker of planet earth, and it is painfully obvious that humans have defined themselves overwhelmingly by their disobedience rather than by their obedience to God.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
I was baptized at the age of 14. I know my baptism was real but 2 yrs. Later [and since] I’m living in sin for 20+ yrs., [but] now trying to come back with a sincere heart. Well my question is can I come back to Christ, and is my baptism is still worthy or effective? Please comment on this. Thanks, Kevin
Yes, you can “come back to Christ.” There is no sin if we are willing to repent of it for which God is unwilling to forgive us (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We humans can put ourselves beyond the reach of a loving God by hardened, rebellious hearts (Matthew 12:31-32; Ephesians 4:19; 1 Timothy 4:2; Hebrews 6:4-6).
Someone may have doubts (Romans 14:23) about his or her baptism received at a young age or for other reasons (Acts 19:1-6), and subsequently request baptism again to make sure. There is one baptism (Ephesians 4:5), though, and either the first baptism was valid or the second baptism was the valid immersion “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38) or to be saved (1 Peter 3:21). However, Bible baptism saves one from past sins (Romans 3:25); that is, Bible baptism saves the participant from sins that he or she is no longer doing habitually. Furthermore, Bible baptism does not save one respecting sins that he or she may commit in the future.
Baptism cleanses the soul from sins (when preceded by faith, John 8:24; repentance, Luke 13:3; acknowledging Jesus as Christ and Savior, Romans 10:9-10) that occurred prior to baptism. After baptism—after becoming a Christian, instead of being baptized again to remove sin, the child of God repents and prays for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). Usually, this repentance is as public as the sin is known so that brothers and sisters in Christ can pray with us (James 5:16) and so that a local congregation can know of an erring Christian’s return to the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 2:6-8).
The salvation of a Christian, no matter who one is or how exemplary one practices Christianity, is fundamentally the same. We become Christians, and after that, we repent of sins that creep into our lives from time to time, and we ask God for forgiveness through prayer.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Bro can u explain me Mathew 5:19 verse what Jesus is telling? My QUESTION IS 1. one can disobey the Commands And he can teach the same. But can he go to heaven? EVEN HE DISOBEY THE Commands? 2. How one can enter into heaven went he disobey the commands? 3. What is the least of these commands? What Jesus is telling? 4. In heaven is there any division like Greater and smaller? Your’s In Christ, D. Pradabadathan.
First, let us consider two verses together.
Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19-20 NKJV)
The words “shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” are essentially a figure of speech, meaning that the Godhead (i.e., the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) denounces persons who break or teach others to break the commandments of God. From verse 20, it is apparent that Jesus had reference to a practice of the scribes and Pharisees of relegating some of God’s commands under Judaism to lesser importance than other commands of God. Actually, they also elevated their own religious traditions above some of God’s commands.
We can know that Jesus was not teaching that disobedient persons could become members of “the kingdom of heaven” or the church when it was established since in verse 20 He stated that those who do as the scribes and Pharisees do “will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” From the immediate context of Matthew 5:19-20 as well as from the overall biblical context one can discern that wilfully disobedient souls are not acceptable to God and will neither be saved from their past sins nor permitted to enter heaven. Jesus Christ is the Author of eternal salvation only to those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). Disobedient souls will be punished in eternity (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).
The “least of these commands” referred to the low esteem in which especially the scribes and Pharisees regarded some of God’s commands. Just because the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had that view of some Scripture does not mean that some laws of God are less important than other parts of God’s Word. Jesus used the perception that those religious leaders used so that He could identify to His hearers specifically the subject He was discussing with them. In a similar way, the apostle Paul resorted to the human view to discuss a subject when he referred to “the foolishness of the message preached” (1 Corinthians 1:18-21). The Gospel is not foolishness, though many people seem to think it is (Romans 1:16).
Regarding obedience and disobedience, we need to understand something. Though one cannot be acceptable to God while wilfully committing sin (Hebrews 10:26-31), no human is sinlessly perfect (Romans 3:10, 23). When we obey the Gospel by hearing God’s Word and believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 8:24); when we repent of our sins (Luke 13:3); when we acknowledge before others our confidence that Jesus Christ is the Messiah (Romans 10:9-10); and when we are immersed in water for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), we are saved from our past sins (Romans 3:25). Even then, we are not sinlessly perfect, but dependent upon God’s mercy (Titus 3:5) and grace (Ephesians 2:8), which is not offered to us unless we try to be perfect or obey. Though we become Christians, sin still creeps into our lives (1 John 1:8), but through penitence and prayer (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9), the blood of Jesus Christ continues to cleanse us from the guilt of our sins (1 John 1:7). In a sense, then, persons who are unwillingly disobedient and who have been showered with divine mercy and grace, by means of the blood of Jesus Christ as He sacrificed Himself, have their guilt of sin removed, whereby they may enter heaven.
Finally, we turn to the question of whether there are “greater and smaller” in heaven. In other words, “Are there degrees of reward in heaven?” Many, but not all, Christians believe that there are differing esteems and rewards in heaven. Two Internet resources by members of the churches of Christ that address this question and answer in the affirmative may be found at Apologetics Press (https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=212) and Christian Courier (https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/514-are-there-degrees-of-blessedness-and-punishment-in-eternity). Perhaps something on which we can dwell, irrespective of who we may be or what abilities and opportunities may be afford us, is making sure that we do our part so that we will be in heaven (Revelation 2:10; 21:8).