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I would like to suggest that the gospel of Jesus Christ should be something that is so engrained into us that, just as the Prophet Jeremiah, we should not be able to keep the word of God within us. We need to make the gospel a part of us. It needs to be the driving force of our lives.
It is such a simple message that we all can share with the lost, and we need to let our love for the Lord and our desire to be like Him to compel us to not allow fear or any other excuse to get into the way of us showing our love and faith to the Lord and sharing it with the lost.
There are many ways of sharing the simple message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I would like to this afternoon share with you at least one way of remembering what the message of the gospel is all about. I would like to suggest that the gospel is a message of 3 trees that we see in the bible!
The Tree of Knowledgeà Sin and its consequences The Tree of Calvaryà Mercy is offered to us by God The Tree of Lifeà the faithful will be rewarded
God created everything in 6 days, including man. After all of His work, He made the pronouncement that everything that He had made was very good, including Adam and Eve. He was fully pleased with His creation.
God formed man from the dust of the ground (v8) and breathed life into him. Then in v9 God put man (Adam) into a garden that He planted in Eden where he was given dominion over God’s creation, he was given a wife (Eve), but the most important part of all, they were in fellowship with God. We see in 3:8 that God was in the garden with them. How amazing that must have been being in the very presence of God! God was walking in the garden among them
We are introduced to 2 of our 3 trees in the Garden of Eden.
“And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” ().
God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of the tree of life, but the same is not true of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The Tree of Knowledge
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die."
They could eat of the tree of life and be given life (), but if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would receive death.
So I’m sure that they did not disobey this command not to eat of the tree of knowledge, right? Well, all appears well until the serpent arrives on the scene.
The serpent comes onto the scene. He is described as being craftier than any beast of the field which the Lord had made (v1). He lies to Eve, trying to get her to doubt what God had said
“So when the woman 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. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” ().
Adam and Eve sin because of their disobeying of God’s command not to eat of the tree.
Consequences of their sin
There were quite a few consequences of their sin...
· Adam and Eve lost their home in the garden of Eden,
· They were separated from the tree of life! They would physically die. ()
· But worst of all……..They were separated from God by their sin! (Spiritual Death)
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. ()” The scriptures refer to this separation as spiritual death ().
Why does this separation due to sin occur? Because God is holy!
God desires His people to be holy, just as He is holy (). That is the only way that Adam and Eve could have remained in fellowship with God. When they sinned, they were separated from God. God is Holy. He is perfect in every way. He is pure and righteous and good. “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (). He will not do any evil. “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You” ().
No evil; no darkness can dwell with God. Because of this, He could not be in the presence of Adam and Eve the way He was before they sinned.
Our Sin Problem
This is the position sin put Adam and Eve in, but the scriptures teach us that this was not just a huge problem for them, but for all men, including you and me. Just as Adam and Eve sinned, we all have sinned against God. We all have disobeyed His commands.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”().
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” ().
Because of sin, we all die spiritually; we all are separated from God.
Have you broken God’s laws?
But you may be one of those people that looks at yourself and says, “I’m a pretty good person. I haven’t really done anything that bad against God.” What would you consider eating a piece of fruit off of a tree? It doesn’t matter what the sin is, no matter how big or small, it brings these consequences on us.
But I think after honestly examining ourselves, we can see that we are not as “good” as we think. For instance, let’s compare the lives we have lived with the standard that God gave the Jewish people in the 10 Commandments:
ü You shall have no other gods before me
ü Have you ever put anything before God, even family?
ü Covetousness is idolatry ()
ü You shall not take the name of the lord your god in vain
ü Have you ever used God’s name disrespectfully?
ü This is called Blasphemy
ü Honor your father and your mother
ü Have you ever in your life disobeyed or disrespected your parents?
ü You shall not kill
ü Have you murdered someone?
ü Jesus says hate is murder in the heart! (; jn 3:15)
ü You shall not commit adultery
ü Jesus says lust is adultery in the heart ()
ü You shall not steal
ü Have you done this’ even something small?
ü You shall not lie
ü Even a “little white lie”!
ü If you believe you have no sin (, )
If we have broken any of these laws just once we have separated ourselves from the Lord, and we will be judged for doing so! Are you going to stand before God as an idolater, a blasphemer, a rebellious child, a murderer at heart, an adulterer at heart, a thief, or a liar? We could go on looking at more of God’s laws that we have broken, but i think these suffice in showing that we just aren’t as “good” as we think we truly are. There is no reason why we should feel self-righteous!
As we stand before the Lord in judgment, we should never expect that the Lord would just let us off for our breaking His laws. No just judge would let a murderer get off for their breaking of the law. God will not either. You have sinned, and God has showed us in His word what price we will have to pay already for our sin. In He says “the wages of sin is death.”
We have a death sentence on our heads for disobeying God. God declares that life is required as a payment for sin. You and I deserve to die for our sins as says, “The person who sins will die.” If we remember, this is exactly the pronouncement that God gave to Adam and Eve in the garden. He told them that the day in which they eat the forbidden fruit; the punishment will be that they would die.
God takes sin seriously!
We need to remember that God takes sin seriously. In the Old Testament, we see that our just God punished sin and disobedience. During the time of Noah, He killed every living thing on the earth except for Noah and his family because of the sin that the people were corrupted with. He destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their immorality. He even punishes angels if they disobey. He is a God of justice. He must punish those who break the law!
We need help!
So we need help! We need a way to be forgiven of our sin that separates us from God. We need to be given a way to not suffer the consequence of death and eternal destruction that we deserve for our sin. And we need a way to once again have access to the tree of life so we can live forever.
God gave us a way!
Our third tree: the Tree of Calvary
We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love in which He loved us, sent Jesus Christ His Son to this earth to take upon Himself the punishment of death that we deserve!
In , over 700 years before Jesus lived on this earth, Isaiah foretold the suffering and death of Christ on our behalf.
“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried” (v4). “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well -being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (v5). “The LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (v6). “He was cut off out of the land of the living (death) for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due” (v8). He is even described as an offering for sin (v10). “My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (v11).
This is what Jesus did for us. He fulfilled this prophecy, giving His life for us on the cross. He died for our sins. We were the ones who deserved that punishment, but Jesus paid the price for us.
The Apostle Peter said in , “ For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross , so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
By Jesus’ blood we can be healed; by His blood we can be forgiven of our sins. By His blood the separation that was caused by our sin can be removed!
“and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself...having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (). It is also written in “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” We can be brought near to God once again by the blood of Jesus!
Jesus’ innocent life
Jesus was the sacrifice that God gave for the guilty sinner who was deserving of death. But for this to be possible, Jesus Himself had to be innocent of sin. We see in the life of Jesus that He did not disobey God once, and because of this, He was qualified to be a sacrifice for us.
Peter attested to this in a verse that we have already looked at. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH.” ().
There are four accounts of His death in the New Testament scriptures. He received such injustice from the Jewish leaders, going through trials where he was condemned to die as an innocent man. He was taken to Pilate, the Roman governor, who tried to release Him, but to no avail. He allowed Jesus to be scourged, and then crucified. He was on the cross for about six hours before He said in , ‘"Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT." Then, “having said this, He breathed His last.”
He died, was taken off of the cross, and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea ().
Jesus Defeated Sin and Death
Then the most amazing thing happened. After being in the grave for three days, Jesus arose. He defeated sin and the death that it causes. This happened to prove all of His claims and to show that the hand of God was in what Jesus had done for us. This proves that Jesus is indeed our sacrifice, and it proves that He is the Son of God. After He was resurrected, He was seen by hundreds of people according to . The New Testament gives us eyewitness testimony to these events, and shows how lives were changed by it.
says that without Jesus’ defeating sin and death by the resurrection, His death for our sins would have been meaningless. In verse 17 Paul states, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”
Through the resurrection of Christ we can be assured that we can be forgiven of our sins. We can also be assured we will defeat death on the last day when we are resurrected from our tombs as , , and many other verses state. What a hope we are given!
But we are also told in that the resurrection proves that Jesus will judge us:
"Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
Jesus will judge us, and because of this fact God calls every one of us to repent. He wants us to leave our lives of sin and to live lives in obedience to Him so we can be in fellowship with Him, and so we may be ready for the day when we are judged. When Jesus returns, or when you die, will you be forgiven of your sins and be in a relationship with God? This day could happen at any time! Will you be ready?
To receive forgiveness of our sins that separate us from God, We need the blood of Christ. We are justified through His blood (). Jesus said to the apostles that his blood would be shed for the remission of sin (). So the question must be asked, “what shall I do to be forgiven?”
We see this question answered in
When Peter preached to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, they believed the gospel and were convicted of their sin. They asked the Apostles this question: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They wanted to know exactly what they needed to do to be forgiven of their sin. How did Peter answer this question?
Did Peter answer by saying, “You don’t have to do a thing. Jesus did it all on the cross just 50 days ago for you!” Did he answer them by saying, “Just say this prayer with me and Jesus will come into your heart.” How about, “It seems like you already believe what I’ve said, so you are already saved!” No, he didn’t say any of these things, because these were not what the Lord told him to say to the people on how they could receive remission of sins by the blood of Christ. So how did Peter answer this great question? He said to them "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ().”
Peter told them that if they wanted to be forgiven of their sins each of them needed to repent and be baptized for the remission of those sins. We see that there were 3000 people who did just that! says, “those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” When these people received the word of God, they obeyed it by being baptized for the remission of their sins. It should not surprise us that Peter would give this answer to the people. Jesus Himself gave this instruction in the great commission. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved ().”
If your faith in the gospel message leads you to respond by repenting from your sins, and by being buried with Jesus in baptism, you can be freed from the bondage of sin today, and NO LONGER SEPARATED FROM GOD!
When you are baptized you become a Christian, and you are given the same promise of eternal life that God’s people in the first century were given. If you are faithful to the Lord until death, you will be freely given access to the tree of life
The Tree of Life
“To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."
I don’t know if this means that we will literally eat from the tree, but one thing that I see in scriptures is that the tree of life shows the length of the reward we will receive. In we see that the tree of life enables the one who eats of it to live forever. The tree of life is a symbol of the eternal hope that we have to be with the Lord in glory. In we are told that the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations. There will be no more death, no more pain, no more sorrow.
(NKJV) 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.
We will be in the presence of our God for eternity. That’s the great promise that our God gives us. By the grace of God, we can be freed from the bondage of sin, we can be in fellowship with God, and can spend eternity with Him in His glorious presence. That is great news for every one of us if we will make the choice to do his will.
The Apostle John writes,
Blessed are those who do His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city (where God is).