Summary: What are God's requirements in the post-garden period, and man's problem with it.
This is Part 3 of an 8-part series, which was originally developed for a 13-week adult class, with some of the parts taking more or less than a 45-minute class period. I am starting to post the series on SermonCentral, and plan to post the remaining parts over the next few days as time permits.
I developed a set of slides on PowerPoint for use with the series and will be happy to share the PowerPoint files. The prompts reminding me to advance slides and activate animations are embedded in the sermon below. If you want to request the slides send me an Email at firstname.lastname@example.org specifying what part(s) of the series you are requesting. Be sure to include the word “slides” in the subject line of your message; otherwise I am likely to miss it. I would find it interesting to know the location and a few words about your personal ministry if you will include it in your message. Allow several days for me to respond.
Outline of the series:
I. Introduction to the series
II. God’s Plan from the Beginning
III. God’s Plan Now and Our Problem with It
IV. Justice vs Mercy and the Plan of Salvation
V. The Only Way to Eradicate Sin
VI. Providence – What God Provides in Earthly Life
VII. Providence and Civil Governments
VIII. Providence, Miracles and Phenomena
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III. God’s Plan Now and Our Problem with It
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In the garden, God required simply that they tend the garden and not eat the fruit of a certain tree.
There was nothing complicated about it. They knew what he wanted and which tree he meant.
But having been driven from the garden, things were different.
The earth would now produce weeds, and the woman would bear children in pain.
There would be enmity between the woman and the serpent.
A judgment was issued upon the serpent – perhaps a snake but perhaps a creature that like others had legs and feet. Other animals had limbs to elevate their heads above the dust; the serpent tribe does not even have feet. Its head—though sometimes lifted for a time--lies on the ground. Man’s relationship with his creator—and therefore his condition—was greatly altered by the consequences of disobedience, so what does God’s plan now require?
God still had a plan, and it had requirements.
We saw in the first session of this series that God has a plan and it involves us, placing requirements on us. A multitude of scriptures affirm this. One of the features of the bible that I love is that often a single passage of scripture captures in a few words the essence of our faith, or some major aspect of it.
Several passages address the question of what God requires in that way, capturing the essence of what God required after the garden in a nutshell:
Deut 10:12-13 - And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?
One of the ways God’s claim upon us may be viewed is captured in Eccl 12:13-14:
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
This expression of what God requires is based on JUSTICE. Judgment is where justice is rendered.
Jesus summed up God’s present requirement in these words:
Matt 7:21 ESV "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Matt 7:24 ESV "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
Micah 6:8 (KJV) - He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
We’ll come back to Micah 6:8 later - something is different about this one.
As these passages affirm, what God requires of us today may be summarized as follows:
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James 4:17 ESV- whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
How does one know what God wants of us?
How did the people of old know?