Monday, July 25, 2011

The World-Tilting Gospel - A Study & Review Part 3a

Continuing the series studying "The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight" by Dan Phillips. Part 1 can be found here and part 2 can be found here.

I will be posting on Chapter 3 in two or more parts. Block quotes in italics are from the book and are used with permission. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise noted.

Chapter 2 of "WTG" covered creation and "The Fall". Dan opines that "fall" is too mild a word. He describes it, among other terms, as a disaster or cataclysm, and I tend to agree with him. Adam and Eve's rebellion was no mere "mistake" or "oopsie!". We may ask what Adam and Eve's sin has to do with us today. Wasn't their sin an isolated incident? The answer, of course, is "No."

"...(O)ur great-grandparents' very names are representative. 'Adam' is simply the Hebrew word for 'human being'. Adam is a man, and Adam is Man. As went Adam, so would go Man. And Adam's wife is first called simply 'woman' (Genesis 2:22-23). Then she is called 'Eve', which in Hebrew looks like the word for 'life' because she was the mother of all living humans (Gen. 3:20)."

Genesis 5:3 says, "And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image..." This is an echo of man's creation in God's image and likeness (Gen. 1:26, 5:1-2). Adam's image was still there, but it was disfigured by his sin. That marred image was passed down to Adam's children and on through all humans. The Bible shows the spread of sin and death through Adam's children. In "WTG", Dan says,
"The human history is a tale of the interweaving of sin and death." 
What is Sin?

We first find mention of sin in Genesis 4:7 which says, "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Amplified Bible). Here, God is speaking to Cain. He speaks of sin as crouching like a wild animal, waiting to pounce in its overwhelming desire to dominate Cain. He tells Cain that he must master, or rule over, sin.

The word "sin" means "missing a target" or "missing the mark". The "target" or "mark" is the holy will and character of God. If we fail to meet His absolute standard even once, we are sinners, and we are doomed.
"Sin is a big deal. ...Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4), being my own law and authority and god (cf. Gen 3:5). It is a heart that hates God and His will (Rom. 8:7), which issues in love for things God hates, and hatred for things God loves, which in turn gives birth to doing things which God forbids, and failing to things God commands (cf. Matt. 15:18-20; Gal. 5:19-21)."
It would seem that sin is serious business, and that we all suffer its effects. Adam and Eve missed the mark, and that lawlessness was passed on through their children (Genesis chapters 4 & 5).

Even after the Flood, when righteous Noah and his family were the only people left on earth, sin showed itself. Noah got drunk (Gen 9:21), and Ham brings a curse on himself (Gen. 9:22f). The whole Bible, as well as all of human history shows the effects of the Fall in our race.

Categorical Biblical Diagnosis of Human Fallenness: Old Testament

The notion of "original sin" was not invented by the apostle Paul or later made up by Christian theologians. Genesis, and all the narratives of the Old Testament treat sin as pandemic. In 1 Kings 8:46, we hear Solomon saying, "When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin)..." And in Proverbs 20:9 he asks, "Who can say, 'I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin'?" (Amplified Bible). It's a rhetorical question. Solomon expected the answer to be "No one". It can be said, unqualified and categorically that no natural-born son of Adam will ever be able to claim purity. We all bear Adam's fallen, guilty, corrupted likeness.

Several other examples of man's fallen nature appear in the OT. In Job 14:4, he asks, "Who can  bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" and answers, "No one!". David, the man after God's Own heart, who fell into shocking sin, said in Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me." David knew that his sin wasn't God's fault, but his own by his nature. Psalm 14:2-3 states, "The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good. No, not one."

Sin has affected our intellect and moral judgement, our life orientation and our morality. Sin has polluted every bit of us, and every part of us. There is no good in us. Isaiah 64:6 reads, "For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God's favor, hurrying us toward destruction]." (Amplified Bible). It's interesting to note, that what is translated as "a polluted garment" actually refers to a used menstrual cloth. And this is what our best good deeds look like to God when we are still slaves to sin! 


Because of Adam's sin, we're all affected. No one, by his or her own inclinations, is good. Though "sin" means "missing the mark", we must understand what mark it is that we've missed. That mark is God's holy, absolute standard. Under the dominion of our sinful nature, even what we consider good deeds are repulsive to God. 

1 comment:

Thomas Louw said...

I'm enjoying your summary of Dan's book.