Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Why is it as a race that despite all of our education and all of our history, we still have such trouble doing what is right? Even when we know something is wrong, even when we know it's bad for us, why do we not do to others what we would want them to do to us? Why do riches almost always lead to selfishness? Why does power almost always lead to corruption?
Why are we attracted to the wrong so, so much and so forbasively? Happy Friday. Thanks for joining us on Summit Life with J.D. Greer.
As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. Okay, listen, I've got some bad news. We all have a problem.
Yep, you too. We are all living under the curse of sin and death, and it's all because of the choice of one man, our dear friend Adam. I know that's pretty depressing stuff, isn't it? But thankfully, there's hope for us only in the gospel. Today, Pastor J.D. walks us through Romans 5 and shows us how even though we all made the same choice as Adam to sin, we can all make the choice today to accept salvation through another man, the second Adam, Jesus Christ. If you missed any of the previous messages this week, you can hear them all at jdgreer.com. And Pastor J.D. called today's message, A Tale of Two Adams.
Let's jump right in. I want to go ahead and tell you, I hope that you brought your theological big boy pants this morning, and I hope that you have the belt on those things pulled really tightly because a little advanced warning, this one is going to be a doozy. And you are going to need to take some notes because you might need to come back to this at various points just to rethink some of the things that we're going to go through. I mentioned at the beginning of this series on Romans that I believe that this is one of the two most difficult passages in the book of Romans. The last half of Romans 5 is one of the most difficult passages in Romans. The other one, I think, is Romans chapter 9, maybe the most difficult passages in the entire Bible.
It's not hard to comprehend what is being said per se. It's just difficult to get your mind around the concepts that Paul is teaching and the internal logic of them and how they are fair. To be really candid with you, this is one of those passages where I've really struggled to believe. It's one of those places where I've sensed the Holy Spirit saying to me, hey, are you willing to accept my word because it's my word, because it comes with my authority, or do you have to understand everything in order to be able to consent to it? I've told you that there's an image that I have for faith.
It's basically the midst of my questions that I have sometimes and things I cannot understand. Sometimes I'll picture as if Jesus were to appear to me, if Jesus were to appear in the flesh and did something to demonstrate that it really was him. He showed me the nails in his hands and his feet or said something about the past or the future I couldn't know.
I knew it was him. He said, whatever question you have, whatever question you're dealing with, what if I don't give you the answer to that ever in this lifetime? What if you need to have your mind expanded in heaven and then you can understand it?
Are you willing to trust me in the meantime and to doubt your doubts and to trust me that it is what I say it is because I am who I say I am? The reason I think about that, by the way, it comes from John chapter six, because that's pretty much what Jesus said to Peter. A bunch of Jesus's followers had left Jesus because they had this difficult question, this objection to some of the things Jesus was teaching. And Peter has the same objection that all the people that have left have. Jesus looks at Peter and says, well, Peter, are you going to go away also? And Peter says those now infamous words. He says, well, where else can I go? You're the one that has the words of eternal life.
In other words, I don't understand this. In fact, I find it offensive, but because you are who you say you are, where else can I go? That's what I've sensed God often saying to me through passages like this one. Y'all, the evidence for Jesus being the son of God is solid to me. The evidence for Jesus raising from the dead is indisputable.
So my question is, where else can I go? And yes, I have doubts like the rest of us, but I've learned to doubt my doubts because of who Jesus is. And I realized my doubts might not be telling me the truth.
It may be that there's some things I'm just don't have the capacity to comprehend yet. I've told you some of my favorite definitions of faith, and you should probably write these down. Some of my favorite definitions of faith is faith is when the unexplainable meets the undeniable. So there's a lot of things I can't explain in the Christian life, a lot of them, but I have this other thing, and that is the undeniable. And that is Jesus Christ rose from the dead. And I'm willing to accept the unexplainable because of the undeniable. And because the Jesus who rose from the dead told me it was the way it said it was. Faith is accepting what you cannot understand sometimes based on what you can't understand. You can understand Jesus is who he says he is, and that means you accept what you cannot understand. By the way, you should be writing this down.
That's what I'm talking about, because you need to be able to explain to other people who have these kinds of questions. I realize that there's going to be a lot of things in the Christian life that I just struggle to get my mind around. I have this image of heaven. Basically, the first couple of years, I'm anticipating us being in a big stadium, a big classroom, and Jesus just taking questions. And by the way, if that's the way it goes down, you just need to be prepared.
There's going to be an annoying kid on the front row named J.D. Greer who's just going to have his hand up, and eventually Jesus is going to say, anybody else in the human race besides J.D. have some questions, I'd be happy to take some time and answer them. But I'm willing to live with those unanswered questions because I know Jesus is who he says he is. So I want you to keep that in mind as we work our way through this passage.
This passage is going to address a few questions that I get asked a lot as a pastor. One of the questions is, what is original sin? A lot of Christians have heard that phrase, but I get the most interesting definitions of it when I say, well, what is original sin? People think like, maybe it's a sin that nobody's ever done before, that you're the first one to actually do it.
I stole a Hershey bar and a Mountain Dew, and I was thinking unkind thoughts about my neighbor, and I was smoking illegal weed all at the same time. And nobody's ever done that combination, and that's an original sin. That's not an original sin, okay? That's not what we're talking about. So what is original sin, and how is it fair?
How is the logic of it fair? A second question this passage is going to address, what about babies? What about infants who die in infancy? Do they go to heaven?
How about the mentally handicapped? What happens to them when they die? And what about people who have never heard the gospel?
What about them? Paul's going to teach concepts in these last 10 verses of Romans 5 that are going to touch on all of those questions. If you remember, if you were here last weekend, the first 11 verses of Romans 5 are where Paul shows us how the gospel reshapes our view of trials and suffering. Paul shifted, I told you, in that passage from argumentation for the gospel to celebration of the gospel.
Well, here in verse 12, he's going to shift back into argumentation. This might be one of the densest doctrinal sections in Romans, but it is really important for you not to separate, not to separate this doctrinal section from the felt needs section about hope in the midst of trials that we just went through last weekend. We tend to think, you see, that there are two kinds of Christian teaching. There's the touchy feely, felt needs, relevant practical stuff for normal people over here, and then there's the deep doctrinal stuff for seminary nerds over on the other side, but that's not how Paul saw it. The practical for Paul is connected to the deep. The way to deal with problems in your day-to-day life, Paul is going to explain, is to go deeper into who you are in Christ. That's why you should notice that the very first word that bridges the two sections of Romans 5, the felt needs part and the doctrinal side, the word that connects them is the word therefore. Therefore, Paul is saying, what I've just said about how to have hope in trials, that connects to what I'm about to teach you about the gospel. Paul is showing us that these are not doctrinal musings for the seminary nerd herd. These are truths that show all of us how we can face life with hope and balance and joy, how we can live free of bitterness and regret.
Okay, so here we go. Verse 12, therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, in this way death read to all people because all sin. Verse 14, and death reigned from Adam to Moses even over those who did not sin and the likeness of Adam's transgression. If you remember in chapter 4, when we worked our way through Romans 4, we saw that Paul used the story of Abraham from Genesis 12 to show that Abraham's life illustrated justification by faith. Well, here in chapter 5, Paul is going to go back even farther than Abraham. Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation. Paul is now going to jump all the way from Genesis 12 to Genesis 1 to the father of the human race. He's going to say Adam. Even Adam's life demonstrates the gospel.
It sets up the gospel story. Paul is going to show us that all of history could be told as the story of two Adams. Just out of curiosity, how many Star Wars fans have we got in the house this morning?
All right, raise your hand. Star Wars fans, I've heard it said that you could describe Star Wars as the tale of two skywalkers. The first Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker, gave in to the temptation to embrace the dark side. And in so doing, he brought death and destruction and chaos into the entire galaxy far, far away. The second Skywalker, Luke, he faced the same temptation as his daddy, but Luke was faithful and obedient to the Jedi way.
Good egg, he was, you might say. Because of that, Luke was able to reverse the curse that came from the disobedience of the first Skywalker. He was even able to redeem the first Skywalker. George Lucas, the writer, said that the central theme of episodes four through six of Star Wars, which were the ones, the first ones that came out 20, 30 years ago, he said the central theme of those was the redemption of Anakin, the first Skywalker, by Luke, the second. Now I realize I've lost all the ladies in giving that illustration.
Next week, I'll do a Gilmore Girls illustration just for you guys. Similarly, you could say that the entire storyline of the Bible is about the redemption of the first Adam by the second Adam, Jesus Christ. That's what's going to happen in Romans 5, 12 through 21. Here's the basic idea.
You ready? We're going to take the theological submarine to hold crushed death. Adam, who was the first human created, chose to defy God's authority and to reject God's clear command to avoid the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because of that choice, Paul explains, death descended on all people. Even though you and I were not physically present with Adam, God regards Adam's choice to be ours and God's holds us guilty of Adam's sin. That is called the doctrine of original sin. Notice how Paul ends verse 12.
It's very important. Paul says, death spread to all people because all sin, the past tense. In Adam's choice, God regards us to be guilty. We sinned in him.
Now we say, wait a minute, that's not fair. How could I be held responsible for something I had no part in? I wasn't consulted. This decision wasn't made by committee. I didn't get a vote. Adam just made the choice.
Why am I held guilty of it? And to be candid, that's where I've struggled. It's where people like CS Lewis have struggled also. I mean, think about it, y'all. The effects of this choice were not insignificant. Because of that, death passed on the whole human race. Y'all, that means every disease, every natural disaster, every painful struggle with cancer, every child born with a birth defect, every abortion, every divorce, every rape, every war, every case of abuse, even hell itself went back to that choice. And I wasn't even there for it. My best friend growing up, when our Sunday school teacher first taught this concept, he said, man, when I get to heaven, I'm going to kick Adam's tail for making this choice on behalf of all of us.
So how is this fair? Well, in calling Adam our representative, God is saying that he knew that what Adam chose is what each of us would have chosen had we been given that same choice. Keep in mind, God is not some passive observer in this process. God is the infinitely wise creator. He understands literally everything there is to know about us. And God knew that how Adam acted in that situation is how each of us would have acted had we been given the same temptation. See, we cannot say, no, no, no, no, no.
Had I been there, I would have done the right thing. Because that would be to imply that we know more than God. God who is infinitely wise and infinitely just knew that given the same temptation, every single one of us would have done the same thing that Adam did. And that's not even hard for us to grasp, right? I mean, think about it. You can't even keep Oreos in your house without being tempted. Most of you got to get them out. That's the only way it is in my house. My wife was like, there were three bags of chips in here.
I'm like, where is the operative word? I started on one, just get them out. Because otherwise I'm going to clean them out. The Oreos are going to be gone.
So you can't even keep Oreos in your house without being tempted. Do you really feel like you could have resisted the temptation to eat from a tree that promised God-like power and knowledge? You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Before we get back to today's teaching, I wanted to remind you of a great resource for anyone who might be exploring what it means to follow Jesus. It's Pastor J.D. 's latest book, Essential Christianity, which provides a clear and practical understanding of the gospel message. It's a great book for anyone who wants to sharpen their knowledge of the faith and really grasp the essentials. You can get your copy of Essential Christianity with a gift of $35 or more to this ministry. And we'll also send you a companion study guide to help you dig deeper into the content of the book and share it with others. Now, we've been talking about this book all month, and if you've been meaning to get your hands on it, I want to encourage you to do that right away because we are only offering this bundle for a couple more days. You can give right now by calling us at 866-335-5220 or by visiting us online at jdgreer.com. Now, let's get back to today's teaching here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. You say, but still, I didn't make the choice personally, so it doesn't seem fair that I should be held accountable for something I didn't even choose. Okay? But have you not ratified that choice at some point in your life? Hasn't there been a point in your life at some point where you adopted Adam's identical line of thinking? I know better than God. I know what I want more than God wants. I would rather do what I want than God wants.
I know what's better and wiser for me than anything that God has said. Right? How many times have you adopted that same process in the last week? How many times in your life have you known what the right thing to do was and chosen to do the opposite?
Right? You've ratified Adam's choice a million times over. There's a story Saint Augustine tells. Saint Augustine lived about 1500 years ago and Saint Augustine tells a story about he grew up not as a Christian and he ran with a pretty rough group of teenagers. They had some name in Latin for their gang like the destructors or something and he said, we were out playing sports one night and we were coming home and me and a couple buddies were walking down the road and we noticed one of my neighbors had a pear tree that was filled with pears. He said, so we climbed over the wall and we stole those pears.
He said, what haunted me later is I wasn't hungry. I didn't even want the pears. We ended up throwing them away. They didn't even look that good.
We ended up giving them to the hogs. He said, the only reason why I did it was because it was wrong. Here's what he said. He said, it's always haunted me why I stole those pears. The only reason I did it was because I delighted in doing the wrong. In all of our lives, he explains, we can look back and see some point where we chose the wrong just because it was wrong. Because we had an inward delight and attraction to doing something rebellious just because we wanted to do it and just because it demonstrated our independence. We've all nursed a secret resentment of God and his authority.
We have possessed that as even coming out of the womb. Even though you and I were not physically present with Adam when he sinned, we've all ratified that choice. You see, I think that's all being implied in that last phrase of Romans 5 12, because all sin. All sin. God regards us all to be sinners because first of all, he knew that what Adam chose is what any of us would have chosen had we been there.
Secondly, we've all ratified that choice a million times over. So because of that, we've all sinned. And because of that, Paul says death has passed to all people, which of course means physical death and spiritual death. Death spread to all people. Even if we're struggling, y'all, with the logic behind why original sin works the way that it does, at least you have to concede the presence of its effects, right? I mean, G.K. Chesterton, the British philosopher said, original sin is the only doctrine that is empirically verifiable.
You just look around, right? I mean, don't you see the effects of spiritual and physical death everywhere? Death affects everyone indiscriminately.
With all of our technical and medical advancements, the death rate in the United States is still one to one. Death and disease affect nice people as much as cruel people. They affect smart people as much as ignorant people. They affect even innocent infants as much as they would guilty adults.
It affects all indiscriminately. Spiritual death means that all of us are born in a posture of rebellion toward God. We come out of the womb, as it were, with a fist clenched toward the heavens, just assuming that our way is better than our parents' way and our way is better than God's way and our desires are the most important thing. Every parent knows this, right? You're kind of like, you want to nod your head, but you don't want to condemn your kids, but you're like, yep, that's the way my kids came out. I mean, kids coming out of the womb, my kids coming out of the womb were like those seagulls in Finding Nemo.
You know, they come out going mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine. Nobody taught them that. I mean, seriously, have you ever seen a two-year-old displaying gentleness and selflessness? We never had to send any of the Greer kids to sin camp.
We never had to send them to selfishness seminars. They came by that stuff instinctively. They inherited that straight from their mom. So it's all just been a part of their nature. I was reading a book the other day.
By the way, one of my favorite things is when I read a secular, some kind of secular author who stumbles onto something and thinks it's this great insight that the Bible has been teaching the whole time. This is the case with this guy, Burton White. He's a rather acclaimed child psychologist. He does all this empirical research in the early years, and here's what he said in a book.
It's a classic statement. From 15 to 16 months, so at 15 or 16 months old, you know, less than a year and a half, as the child's self-awareness becomes more substantial, something in his nature we don't fully understand will lead him to deliberately try each of these forbidden activities, specifically to see what will be allowed and what will not. In other words, he will begin systematically to challenge the authority of the adults he lives with. Resistance to simple requests becomes very common at this time. And if there is more than one child around, this can be a low point in the parenting experience. I'm like, oh, low point.
That's what you call those moments when I wanted to claw my eyes out in that season, right? Something in his nature that we don't fully understand yet. Well, we understand what it is because God's word told us what it is. It is the spirit of Adam that is born in every child that is born to the human race. That is the assumption that I know better than God, and my way is more important, and my desires are more important.
It has affected every single human that has ever been born. So even if you don't understand the logic of original sin, you can at least concede the effects are everywhere. I mean, honestly, how else do you explain the pervasive wickedness of the human race? Why is it as a race that despite all of our education and all of our history, we still have such trouble doing what is right, even when we know something is wrong, even when we know it's bad for us? Why do we not do to others what we would want them to do to us? Why do riches almost always lead to selfishness?
Why does power almost always lead to corruption? Why are we attracted to the wrong so much and so pervasively? I should note, by the way, that there is one alternate theory as to where our selfishness comes from, and that is the explanation that is posed by atheistic evolution. Basically, that theory says that selfishness is bred into us through the principle of survival of the fittest. Selfishness helped our species.
It helped our family line survive in a very harsh and competitive environment. The reason that our species and the reason that your family line is here is because our ancestors figured out a way to claw and crawl our way to the top, and that certainly did not happen by being kind and selfless. According to this theory, there's no such thing as wrong.
Selfishness isn't wrong, of course, because wrong implies that there's a referee who has established the rules. There's only useful or harmful for the propagation of the species. Now, I should also add that in recent years, certain evolutionary theorists, guys like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, realizing the absolute moral bankruptcy of this worldview, have started to say, well, wait a minute. Now that we're in this advanced evolved state, now we can see that kindness and love actually helps humans survive in community. So we should choose not selfishness, we should choose sacrificial love. But note, even in that explanation, they're not saying that love is inherently good. They're just saying that now love appears to be more useful for the species than selfishness. Whereas before, cruelty and dominance were useful, now love and sacrifice is useful. According to the internal logic of this theory, selfishness and exploitation and rape are not wrong or evil per se, because there is no wrong or evil, because there's no lawgiver.
They're simply not useful. You see, if you're not a Christian, if you're an agnostic, you have to consider this, because this is a really big deal, especially when it comes to things like arguing for justice. If there is no wrong, then what actually is justice? Martin Luther King, for example, said that the reason segregation laws in America were unjust is because they conflicted with the higher laws of God. He didn't say that they were unjust because they were no longer useful, because you know what, there were probably some racists around at the time who would have been like, actually they're very useful.
They're useful for helping our family line survive and our family line thrive. The old system is more useful to us than what you're proposing. But Martin Luther King said, useful or not, it's wrong, because all of us are made in the image of their creator. You see, if all we are is accidental biology or chemistry, you can't say that.
So the question is, which of these two are you going to choose? Our prayer is that each and every one of these broadcasts is useful in growing your relationship with God. And if you missed any part of today's teaching, or if you'd like to catch up on the rest of our series through the book of Romans, you can listen online for free anytime at jdgrier.com. As we continue through this teaching series on the book of Romans, we are so excited to offer you our latest premium resource, Pastor JD's latest book called Essential Christianity. It's an excellent way to help sharpen your understanding of the faith, and it's also a great tool to facilitate conversations with anyone you know who might be curious about the gospel. And to help you do that when you reserve your copy of Essential Christianity with a gift of $35 or more, we'll also include a free companion study guide to help you think deeper and facilitate conversation with others.
So why wait? Reserve your copy today by calling us at 866-335-5220 or by visiting us online at jdgrier.com. While you're on the website, don't forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter. Get ministry updates, information about new resources, and Pastor JD's latest blog posts delivered straight to your inbox. It's a great way to stay connected with Summit Life, and it's completely free to subscribe.
Sign up when you go to jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch wishing you a great weekend of worship with your church family. Be sure to join us next time as we conclude today's teaching called The Tale of Two Atoms right here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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