Summary: This sermon is about how heaven is not God’s great break even, but it will even be better and more unbelievable than the Garden of Eden was.
The End of Even Stephen
(Masterpiece of Hope Series)
God is not just trying to break even with heaven;
He is going to bless us beyond what Eden was like for Adam and Eve.
Chapel Service of Plainfield Christian Church
My grandfather was a very interesting person, and one of his greatest interests was his lawn. He would spend hours upon hours, and great amounts of money on maintaining and growing a pristine and perfect lawn. Though he had emphysema really bad from years of smoking, every week he would get on the mower multiple times to keep his yard looking like a golf course. Even in the few months before he passed away, when he was too sick to be out on the mower or the fertilize spreader, he had my brother and I out there putting down coat after coat of fertilizer and weed killer. We joke about how those layers of fertilizer he had us put down are still causing the grass to grow too quickly a year and a half after he passed away. One of his mortal enemies, however, was the dandelion. He would spray and pull and dig and do whatever he needed to do to try and get rid of those things. He had a severe vendetta against this flowering weed, as if it had personally offended him, or insulted his mother. He understood what was said in Genesis 3:18 when God cursed the land because of man saying: “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you.” My grandpa spent a good deal of time trying to fight the curse on the small piece of land that God gave him.
The curse has really affected all of us though, hasn’t it? We find ourselves having to deal with the consequences of sin on a regular basis. Sickness, hard unproductive labor, relational problems, death, these are all consequences of what happened when we choose to follow our own wills instead of the will of God. We [humanity] really used to have it good though didn’t we? Before sin entered the world, we had it really good. Look at this description in Genesis:
I Come to the Garden
8 The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.
9 Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.
11 The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
12 The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there.
13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush.
14 The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
This was a pretty good place. God had created a special garden for Adam and Eve to live in, and given them rule and reign over the whole earth to multiply, subdue, and cultivate the earth. We can also reason that God used to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden on a regular basis. So, not only did they have an amazing, breathtaking creation that they were given charge over, but God himself would often walk with them in the cool of the day. They had walked with God so often that they recognized his sound. That to me is an amazing and phenomenal thing. They had it all. But then they lost it all.
Fallen for a Fruit
Because of Adam and Eve’s sin, they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Not only that, but death, disease, hardship, and a whole slew of other things entered into this perfect world that God had created.
The comedian Jim Gaffigan says: “An apple, who’s ever been tempted by an apple? I’d have been like, “Yeah, cover it in caramel and get back to me. Hey! You got any cake back there? ‘Cause I love cake.”
They weren’t tempted because they were hungry, they were tempted because they bought the lie that God is holding out on them. Because of their mistrust of God, their lack of faith in God, their sin toward God, they were exiled from Paradise.
A deep longing
That is why we can never truly be satisfied by the things of this world. We were made for a perfect world. The longings of our heart are not for the best that this world can offer, but the best that God can offer us. We miss the Garden of Eden, deep down we miss it. You know what though; it is not the immortality that we miss, even though it is a good thing. We don’t miss the trees, or the flowers, we don’t even miss the fact that we didn’t have to work as hard. If we were to look deep into the longings of our hearts, we would find that the thing we miss the most about the Garden is the walks with our creator. That’s the reason that this world doesn’t feel right, because our sin has always kept us from the close intimate walk with God that we desire.