Why sin and death?

Suppose someone came up to you and said, “You Christians are saying that we need Jesus Christ, and that we need to confess our sins. Sin? Why do we need Christ anyway? Besides, God can’t be who He says He is. If He is, like you say, a God of love, look at all the death and suffering in the world. How can that be?” What would you say?

The gospel, sin, and death

What is the gospel message? When God made man, He made him perfect. He made the first two people, Adam and Eve, and placed them in the Garden of Eden where they had a special, very beautiful relationship with God. When He made them, He gave them a choice. He wanted their love—not as a programmed response, but as a reasoned act. They chose to rebel against God. This rebellion is called sin. All sin comes under the banner of rebellion against God and His will.

As a result of that rebellion in Eden, a number of things happened. First, man was estranged from God. That separation is called spiritual death. On its own, the final effect of this would have been living forever in our sinful bodies, eternally separated from God. Imagine living with Hitler and Stalin forever! Imagine living in an incorrigible, sinful state for eternity. But something else happened. Romans 5:12 tells us that as a result of man’s actions came sin, and as a result of sin came death; but not just spiritual death, as some theologians claim. To confirm this, one needs only read 1 Corinthians 15:20 where Paul talks about the physical death of the first Adam and the physical death of Christ, the last Adam. Or read Genesis 3, where God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden so that they would not eat of the Tree of Life and live forever. Physical death as well as spiritual death resulted from their sin.

Why did God send death? Three aspects of death should be considered carefully:

1. God, as a righteous judge, cannot look upon sin. Because of His very nature and the warning He gave to Adam, God had to judge sin. He had warned Adam that if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The curse of death placed upon the world was, and is, a just and righteous judgment from God who is the judge.

2. One of the aspects of man’s rebellion was separation from God. The loss of a loved one through death shows the sadness of the separation between those left behind and the one who has departed this world. When we consider how sad it is when a loved one dies, it should remind us of the terrible consequences of sin that separated Adam from the perfect relationship he had with God. This separation involved all mankind because Adam sinned as the representative of all.

3. Another aspect of death which many people miss is that God sent death because He loved us so much. God is love, and strange as it may sound, we should really praise Him for that curse He placed on us. It was not God’s will that man be cut off from Him for eternity. Imagine living in a sinful state for eternity, separated from God. But He loved us too much for that, and He did a very wonderful thing. In placing on us the curse of physical death, He provided a way to redeem man back to himself. In the person of Jesus Christ, He suffered that curse on the cross for us. He tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). By himself becoming the perfect sacrifice for our sin of rebellion, He conquered death. He took the penalty which should rightly have been ours at the hands of a righteous judge, and bore it in His own body on the cross.

All who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour are received back to God to spend eternity with Him. Isn’t that a wonderful message? That is the message of Christianity. Man forfeited his special position through sin, and as a result God placed upon him the curse of death so he could be redeemed back to God. What a wonderful thing God did! Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we remember Christ’s death and the awfulness of sin. Each Lord’s Day we rejoice in Christ’s resurrection, and thus the conquering of sin and death.

But evolution destroys the very basis of this message of love. The evolutionary process is supposed to be one of death and struggle, cruelty, brutality, and ruthlessness. It is a ghastly fight for survival, elimination of the weak and deformed. This is what underlies evolution—death, bloodshed, and struggle bringing man into existence. Death over millions of years. It is an onward, upward “progression” leading to man. Yet, what does the Bible say in Romans 5:12? Man’s actions led to sin, which led to death. The Bible tells us that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). God instituted death and bloodshed so that man could be redeemed. If death and bloodshed existed before Adam sinned, the basis for atonement is destroyed.

Evolutionists would say death and struggle led to man’s existence. The Bible says man’s rebellious actions led to death. These statements cannot both be true. One denies the other—they are diametrically opposed. That is why those who claim to hold both positions at the same time (theistic evolutionists) are destroying the basis of the gospel. If life formed in an onward “progression,” how did man fall upward? What is sin? Sin would then be an inherited animal characteristic, not something due to the fall of man through disobedience. The many Christians who accept the belief of evolution and add God to it destroy the very foundation of the gospel message they profess to believe.

At one church, a man came up to me and insisted that a Christian could believe in evolution. Since I had spent considerable time during the service showing that the Bible teaches there was no death before the Fall, I asked him whether he believed there was death before Adam fell. In an angry tone he asked me, “Do you beat your wife?” This took me aback a little, and I was not really sure of the point he was trying to make, so I asked him what he meant by that. He asked me again, “Do you beat your wife?” Then he walked off. Life is full of interesting experiences on the preaching trail. However, I thought about this man’s comments for quite some time and then realized, after talking to a psychologist, that there is a type of question you can ask and no matter whether you answer no or yes you are trapped. Actually, what this man should have asked me was, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” If you answer either yes or no, you are admitting that you beat your wife. In relation to the death issue and Adam’s fall, if the man had answered in the affirmative, “Yes, there was death before Adam’s fall,” he would be admitting to a belief in something that contradicted the Bible. If he answered no, then he was denying evolution. Either way, he was showing that one cannot add evolution to the Bible. He was trapped, and he knew it.

I need to state here emphatically that I am not saying that if you believe in evolution you are not a Christian. There are many Christians who, for varying reasons (whether it be out of ignorance of what evolution teaches, pride, or a liberal view of the Scriptures), believe in evolution. Those who do believe in evolution are being inconsistent and, in reality, are destroying the foundations of the gospel message. Therefore, I would plead with them to seriously consider the evidence against the position they hold.

Even atheists realize the inconsistency in Christians believing in evolution, as seen in a quotation from an article by G. Richard Bozarth entitled “The Meaning of Evolution,” from The American Atheist. “Christianity is—must be—totally committed to the special creation as described in Genesis, and Christianity must fight with all its full might, fair or foul, against the theory of evolution … . It becomes clear now that the whole justification of Jesus’ life and death is predicted on the existence of Adam and the forbidden fruit he and Eve ate. Without the original sin, who needs to be redeemed? Without Adam’s fall into a life of constant sin terminated by death, what purpose is there to Christianity? None.”1

The atheist Jacques Monod (noted for his contributions to molecular biology and philosophy) said in an interview titled “The Secret Life,” broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission on June 10, 1976, as a tribute to him: “Selection is the blindest, and most cruel way of evolving new species, and more and more complex and refined organisms … the more cruel because it is a process of elimination, of destruction. The struggle for life and the elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against which our whole modern ethic revolts. An ideal society is a non-selective society, it is one where the weak are protected; which is exactly the reverse of the so-called natural law. I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution” (emphasis mine).

Original sin, with death as a result, is the basis of the gospel. That is why Jesus Christ came and what the gospel is all about. If the First Adam is only an allegorical figure, then why not the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45–47), Jesus Christ? If man did not really fall into sin, there is no need for a Saviour. Evolution destroys the very foundations of Christianity because it states, “Death is, and always has been, part of life.” Now, if you lived in a skyscraper, and if there were people underneath that skyscraper with jackhammers hammering away at the foundations, would you say, “So what?” That is what many Christians are doing. They are being bombarded with evolution through the media, the public school system, television, and newspapers, and yet they rarely react. The foundations of the “skyscraper” of Christianity are being eroded by the “jackhammers” of evolution. But, inside the skyscraper, what are many Christians doing? They are either sitting there doing nothing or are throwing out jackhammers saying, “Here, have a few more! Go destroy our foundations!”

Worse still, theistic evolutionists (those who believe in both evolution and God) are actively helping to undermine the basis of the Gospel. As the Psalmist asks, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3).” If the basis of the gospel is destroyed, the structure built on that foundation (the Christian Church) will largely collapse. If Christians wish to preserve the structure of Christianity, they must protect its foundation and therefore actively oppose evolution.

The new heavens and new earth

Paradise restored

Evolution also destroys the teaching of the new heavens and the new earth. What are we told about the new heavens and the new earth? Acts 3:21 says there will be a restoration (restitution). That means things will be restored to at least what they were originally. We read about what it will be like: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:9). There will be vegetarianism and no violence. “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them … and the lion shall eat straw like an ox” (Isaiah 11:67)—that is vegetarianism! “And there shall be no more curse” (Revelation 22:3).

In Genesis we find that man and animals were told to eat only plants (Genesis 1:29–30); they were vegetarians. Only after the Flood was man told he could eat meat (Genesis 9:3). There were only vegetarians when God first created, and there was no violence before Adam sinned. Some people object to the claim that the first creatures were vegetarian by saying that lions have sharp teeth which were created to eat meat. Is that necessarily so? Or is that just what you were taught in school? What we should say is that the lion’s sharp, canine teeth are good for ripping. The same teeth that are now good for ripping up other animals would also be good for ripping up plants. According to God’s Word, lions were vegetarian before the Fall and will be once again in the future paradise. By the way, “meat-eating” animals can still be vegetarian. Dogs and cats will survive quite well on a balanced diet of vegetables. Also, the Bible does not exclude the possibility of direct action by God at the time of the Fall (and in the future restoration), having a direct biological effect on the creatures in relation to feeding habits. There are many animals living today that have carnivorous-looking teeth, but only use these teeth for eating fruit or plants (e.g., the flying fox or fruit bat).

To believe in evolution is to deny a universal paradise before Adam, because evolution necessarily implies that before Adam there was struggle, cruelty and brutality, animals eating animals, and death. Is the world going to be restored to that? If you believe in evolution, you must deny a universal paradise before Adam (because you believe that there was death and struggle millions of years before Adam), and also at the end of time (because the Bible teaches the world will be restored to what it used to be). Thus, evolution not only strikes at the heart and the foundation, but at the hope of Christianity as well. We all should be out there doing something about it. Many of us have been hoodwinked into thinking that evolution has to do with science and that you need to be a scientist to do anything to combat it. But evolution is only a belief system, and you do not need to be a scientist to combat that.

Also, Christians who do believe in evolution must accept that evolution is still going on. This is because the death and struggle we see in the world around us and the mutations (mistakes in the genes) that are occurring are used by evolutionists to try to prove that evolution is possible. They extrapolate into the past what they see today, and deduce that these processes over millions of years are the basis for evolution. Christians who accept evolution must agree, therefore, that evolution is occurring today in every area, including man. However, God has said in His Word that when He created everything He finished His work of creation and pronounced it “good” (Genesis 1:31–2:3). This is completely contrary to what evolutionists are telling us. Theistic evolutionists cannot say that God once used evolution and now does not. To say that evolution is not occurring today is to destroy evolutionary theory, as you have no basis for saying it ever happened in the past.

There are many Christians who, after being taught the true nature of science—that evolution is religion, abandon beliefs such as theistic evolution and progressive creation. However, there are a number of ministers, theologians, and others who, because of their whole view of Scripture, will not accept what we are saying. They have a basic philosophical disagreement with us in regard to how to approach the Bible.

Perhaps the best way to summarize this argument is to give you a practical example from an encounter I had with a Protestant church minister.

Personnel from the Creation Science Foundation in Brisbane, Australia, had traveled 1,700 kilometers to Victoria to conduct meetings in various centers. In one location, this minister opposed us publicly. Another minister, in the same church, had put an advertisement in the church’s weekly announcement sheet concerning our visit. The opposing minister obtained the stencil before the announcement sheet was printed and deleted the advertisement. He encouraged people to boycott our seminar program and made many discouraging public statements concerning our organization and teachings. He even told people that we were of the devil and they should not listen to us.

I made an appointment with this minister to discuss the issue with him. He explained that he believed Genesis was only symbolic, that there were a great many mistakes in the Bible and one could not take it as literally as I appeared to do. The reason we had this disagreement concerning creation/evolution was because we had a basic philosophical disagreement regarding our personal approach to the Scriptures. He agreed this was so, but again emphasized one could not take Genesis literally and that it was only symbolic. I asked him whether he believed that God created the heavens and the earth.

He said, “Yes, this was the message that Genesis was teaching.”

Deliberately, I quoted Genesis 1:1, “Do you believe, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and earth’?”

He said, “Yes, of course I do. That is the message Genesis is getting across to us.”

I explained to him that he had just taken Genesis 1:1 literally. He was asked whether Genesis 1:1 was symbolic, and, if not, why did he take it literally. I then asked whether Genesis 1:2 was literal or symbolic. I pointed out the inconsistency of accepting Genesis 1:1 as literal but saying the whole of Genesis was symbolic. He went on to say it was not important what Genesis said—only what it meant was important.

“How can you ever understand the meaning of anything if you do not know what it says?” I asked. “If you cannot take what it says to arrive at the meaning, then the English (or any other) language really becomes nonsense.”

I then asked him how he decided what was truth concerning the Scriptures. He replied, “By a consensus of opinion amongst the fellowship.”

So I said, “This, then, is your basis for deciding what truth is. Where did you get this basis from, and how do you know that this is the right basis for deciding truth?”

He looked at me and said, “By a consensus of opinion amongst scholars.”

I again posed the question to him, “If this, now, is your basis for deciding truth and determining whether or not your fellowship has come to the right conclusion about truth, how do you know that this is the right basis to determine what truth is?”

He then told me that he did not have all day to talk about this topic, and it was best we now finish the discussion. What he was doing, of course, was appealing to man’s wisdom to decide what Scripture meant or said, rather than allowing God’s Word to tell him what the truth was. The real difference between our positions could be summed up as follows: Where do you put your faith—in the words of men who are fallible creatures who do not know everything, who were not there—or the Words of God who is perfect, who knows everything, and who was there?

Christians (or those claiming to be Christian) who take this liberal view of Scripture will more often than not see the results of this wrong philosophy in the next generation: their children. Because they cannot provide a solid foundation for their children, they frequently see the whole structure of Christianity collapsing in the next generation. For many of these people, it is sad but true that most of their children will reject Christianity completely. This dilemma in regard to liberal theology is very much related to the controversy concerning Genesis. If one rejects Genesis, or claims it is only symbolism or myth, this logically leads to a denial of the rest of Scripture. You see this reflected in people who try to explain away the miracles, such as the crossing of the Red Sea, the burning bush, or a fish swallowing a man (to name but a few). But, these people do not stop there. They go on to explain away the miracles of Christ in the New Testament. Sometimes (and increasingly so), even the virgin birth and the Resurrection are denied. Once one accepts Genesis as literal and understands it as foundational for the rest of Scripture, it is an easy step to accepting as truth the remainder of what the Bible says. I take the Bible literally unless it is obviously symbolic. Even where it is symbolic, the words and phrases used have a literal basis.

Many people use the example in Scripture where it says that Jesus is the door to say that we cannot take that literally. However, understanding the customs of the times, we find that the shepherd used to sit in the gate and literally be the door. So, in this sense, Jesus is literally the door, just as the shepherd literally was the door. Too many people are quick to jump to conclusions concerning the literalness of Scripture without carefully considering the statement, the context, and the customs. When Scripture is meant to be taken symbolically or metaphorically, it is either obviously so from the context or we are told so.

Of course, many liberal theologians claim that the creation ministry is divisive. In that claim they certainly are correct; the truth always divides. As Christ said, He came with a sword to divide: “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matthew 10:35). How many situations do you know where relationships have been broken because of the tension between living as a Christian and not living as one? Compromise is too often made with the Christian giving ground for the sake of peace and harmony. Jesus predicted strife, not peace at any price. In Luke 12:51, Jesus said, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay: but rather division” (see also John 7:12, 43; 9:16; 10:19).

From a practical perspective, I find that students do not want somebody telling them the Bible is full of mistakes or that they cannot believe it. They want to hear that there are answers and that they can really know.

At one meeting a mother told me that her daughter was in the class I had spoken to at the local public school. Her daughter had told her that the thing that impressed the students more than anything was the fact that I spoke with such authority. They were impressed that I did not question God’s Word, but totally accepted it. It reminded me of the statement in the Scriptures: “The people were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. 7:28–29). Jesus was very authoritative and very dogmatic in the way He spoke. He did not preach various ways into heaven. He did not come and say that He believed He was one of the ways to eternal life. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). I do not think Jesus would be accepted in many churches today if He were to preach. He would be too divisive! It was little different two thousand years ago. Are we, as born-again Christians, who are the embodiment of Christ on earth today, too scared to proclaim the truth in case we are divisive?

I spoke to one particular church youth group on the importance of Genesis. I was amazed at the youth leader, who, at the end of the program, told the young people how disappointed he was with my “low” view of Scripture. He said that I was trying to impose a perfect Bible on God and how inadequate this view of Scripture was. They, on the other hand, were prepared to accept that there were mistakes and problems in the Bible. This led to a very “high” view of Scripture. After this conversation, I decided that words were meaningless for this person.

Many people (particularly those of the younger generation) have commented on the lack of authoritative teaching. It is a sad indictment upon our church. What are they feeding their people?

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Footnotes

  1. G. Richard Bozarth, “The Meaning of Evolution,” The American Atheist, September 1978, p. 19. Back