Notice what the first humans were told: "And the Lord God commanded . . . 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but 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.' " (Genesis 2:16-17). The implication is that they could have eaten of the tree of life and lived eternally. Instead, they chose the other tree and set in motion a world subject to the bondage of corruption, as Paul said in Romans 8:21.
As soon as they ate the fruit, they felt different about themselves and their Maker. They were ashamed of their nakedness and wanted to hide from God. Their innocent, trusting relationship with God vanished. They had knowledge of good and evil, but it was not what they expected. Their ultimate punishment was death: " . . . 'For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.' " (Genesis 3:19). God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden because of their disobedience and unbelief. They would now have to wrest a living from a world cursed with thorns and thistles.
Humanity had started on the path to destruction. It did not take Adam's children very long to harness the elements to form iron and other metals. They made implements and constructed buildings. They developed a social structure. Left to their own devices, the children of Adam grew so depraved that God had to send a flood to cleanse the earth and start anew with the family of Noah.
Because he has allowed us to choose our own course, many people do not believe that a divine Creator exists. It is common to hear questions like, "If there is a God, why does He allow crime, war, and disease? If He is truly powerful, why does He not stop these evils? And why does he seem to HIDE Himself?"
Many religions teach the separation of man from God due to "the fall." They teach our creation was perfect and complete, but that Satan somehow wrecked the creation, causing a fall from grace. They will also tell you that God had to come up with some kind of plan to SALVAGE His creation -- a plan to repair the damage. They would have you believe that he has been in a contest with Satan since that time and that the contest continues to this very day.
It is important to note that such a scenario is hogwash! These erroneous teachings conflict with what the Bible teaches. If the above teachings regarding man's present condition were correct, then we would have to admit that God is losing His battle with Satan and that Satan must therefore be more powerful! How else could we explain the fact that the majority of people who are born into this world NEVER accept Jesus Christ as their Savior? Are we to believe that the majority of the world then is lost forever to a never-ending fate of being burned alive in hell fire?
The GREATEST thing created
Of all His wonderful creations, we are our Creator's greatest achievement. Through the human reproductive process He set in motion, God has created billions and billions of beings. Moreover, it is His desire that every one of these beings become complete in His eyes. The RESURRECTION, when humankind's nature transforms, will bring completion.
Genesis 1 and 2 describes a PHYSICAL creation -- a model that precedes a SPIRITUAL creation. Some have argued that Adam had the Holy Spirit. "After all," they say, "he was created perfect!" Indeed, all that God made was perfect, but it was PHYSICAL - the human creation was only flesh and blood. Even though Adam was perfect, he was incomplete. He lacked a very important ingredient. He lacked the Holy Spirit. Because of his being incomplete, Adam made a wrong decision in the Garden of Eden. He disobeyed God and obeyed Satan. This was the first sin (Genesis 3:22-24).
It is vitally important that we understand how God redeems us. Our salvation is by grace through faith. Christians are His workmanship -- created in Christ Jesus to perform good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). The ministers of this world would have you believe that there are NO WORKS involved in following Christ. They teach a person need only accept Jesus to receive salvation. This is not what the Bible teaches!
Jesus gave Himself for us:
" . . . that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." (Titus 2:14)
The Christian's good works stand as a witness to unbelievers, who will remember them and glorify God in the day of visitation (1Peter 2:12).
The final step in the plan of salvation will come when Jesus Christ returns to this earth. At that time, He will resurrect those who have died in faith (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Daniel 12:2-3) and will bring their reward with Him (Revelation 22:12, Matthew 16:27). Their reward will be according to their works.
How can we live FOREVER?
How does a person obtain salvation? What motivates him to want to produce good works and to remain faithful to the end? Before we can walk with God, we must repent. To most people, repentance means being sorry. The Bible, however, reveals much more.
In preparing the way for the Messiah, John the Baptist taught the necessity of receiving baptism and bringing forth evidence of repentance (Matthew 3:8-11). Jesus preached repentance.
"From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' " (Matthew 4:17).
Peter cried to the multitudes in Jerusalem gathered to observe the day of Pentecost:
"Then Peter 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.' " (Acts 2:38)
The first step in salvation is a change of mind, a recognition that your ways are not those of the Father, and that your sins have separated you from Him.
Repentance means being sorry for having sinned and having brought about the death of Jesus Christ, who bore the penalty of our sins on the cross.
"For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. " (2 Corinthians 7:10).
The apostle Paul recognized that he had been a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a destroyer. He wrote to his friend Timothy and said:
"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor . . . but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief . . . This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." (1Timothy 1:12-13, 15).
Despite the sins we did and would commit, God was willing for Paul and all other human beings to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:4). He is willing to forgive if we confess our sins and change our lives according to His commandments.
Once a person has fully repented and been baptized, the Holy Spirit renews his mind (Ephesians 4:23-24). The Christian becomes a NEW CREATION (2 Corinthians 5:17), who must no longer conform to the values of a world led by the devil.
The Christian learns to live by God's Word, the Bible:
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness . . . " (2Timothy 3:16-17).
The Bible corrects us and helps us to discern our innermost feelings as they compare to God's way of life.
Why were you BORN?
Man has perverted the word of God, polluted his mind, and let his body degenerate. He has failed to train or has wrongly taught his children. He feels resentment and envy - even hatred - toward his neighbor. He tries to get more out of life than he puts in. Yes, why are we special? What potential does our Creator see in us? Let's look at verse seven of the same chapter:
"You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands." (verse 7)
As the next verse points out, not all things are under our feet just yet. It took Jesus Christ, who as God came in the form of a human, to bring all things into subjection and to taste death for everyone:
"For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. " (Hebrews 2:10).
The truly converted Christian becomes a child of God -- a member of a Family first known to man as Elohim. In the beginning, the Family consisted of only two Supreme Beings. In the future, it will be composed of many sons and daughters who receive eternal life. Jesus is the firstborn of MANY BRETHREN (Romans 8:29).
"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1John 3:2).
What is the TRUE purpose of life?
Why did God create us? The purpose of man rests in the plan of salvation and his goal to make beings after His own kind. He is reproducing Himself through the many men and women that He is now calling to be Christians. When such a person, through baptism, receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, he or she becomes a spiritual son or daughter, though not yet born.
Through Bible study, daily prayer, and the experiences and trials of life, the Christian grows spiritually. His human, self-centered nature is reformed and shaped into godly character. Then, at the time of the resurrection, the Christian transforms from mortal to immortal. He is born again. Only this time, he is born into the divine Family, and not into a human family. As he was once born in the image of his human parents, his new spiritual birth we be in the image of his heavenly Father. The resurrected Christian will exist and be part of his growing family! This is the wonderful truth why God made us in the first place!