Q: What is sin?
A: Many Christians say that the book of Genesis is not essential to the gospel. They say that as long as people believe in Jesus Christ and what He did on the Cross—that’s all that’s really essential to the gospel!
Imagine a Christian, though, whose church teaches that Genesis is not essential—as long as we just tell people about Jesus, that’s all that’s important. Imagine the following possible conversation as that person tries to witness to a skeptic.
“Sir, you must believe in Jesus.”
“Who is He?” replies the skeptic.
“Well, He’s the Son of God,” states the Christian, “and He died for your sins so you can go to heaven.”
“Why’d He do that? What is sin? Why am I not going to heaven already?” the skeptic questions.
The Christian then blurts, “There’s this story in Genesis about Adam and Eve sinning and being removed from God’s presence because of that—but it’s probably just a myth. Don’t worry about that—just trust in Jesus.”
Imagine, however, this much more effective response from a Christian who accepts the history of Genesis.
The Christian replies, “Well, from Genesis we learn that the first man Adam rebelled against a command of the Creator. This ‘original sin’ separated him and all of his descendants—including you and me—from the holy and righteous Creator God, who cannot let sin—any sin—go unpunished. The punishment for sin is death—eternal separation from God in hell. As children of Adam, each of us is in rebellion against God. We’ve all disobeyed His commands and thus deserve death. However, the good news is that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of sin on our behalf. When we repent and believe in Jesus, we will receive the free gift of eternal life!
The history of Genesis and original sin are absolutely foundational and essential to fully understanding the gospel.
For more information, see New Testament doctrines and the creation basis.