Tag Archives: Matthew

Confronting Historical Adam


And the LORD God formed [ʼâdâm] of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and [ʼâdâm] became a living soul.  (Genesis 2:7)

The question of whether Adam was a true historical person is not a new one. Liberal theologians have debated the question since at least the middle of the nineteenth century. They eventually concluded that Adam was a mythical figure recorded in Scripture for the purpose of attributing to God a superintending role in the process of creation, which was mostly guided by evolution. This rejection of the literal reading of the text quickly degenerated into relegating the rest of Scripture to the stuff of myths, and ultimately to the rejection of the deity of Christ. The Bible thus became a good book to live by, but not necessarily to be taken seriously.

This is nothing new. However, the negation of the historical Adam, and the rest of the Genesis creation account, is now cropping up in Evangelical circles. Evangelicals who have traditionally stood for the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture are now beginning to question the historicity of a real Adam and Eve as the very first, uniquely created, human pair from which the rest of humanity sprang. Granted, this is NOT a salvation issue. Our salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith in Christ alone, and by no other means. However, what one believes about the historical Adam has huge theological implications for several reasons.

First of all, the Bible is the “God-breathed” Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), therefore it cannot be found in error because God does not lie (Numbers 23:19). Nor can God’s Word fail (Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:18; Luke 21:33; 1 Peter 1:25). Some may try to discredit the Bible by claiming that it was written by men and therefore is full of errors. That is to charge that God is incapable of preserving His Word. Scripture makes clear that God’s Word is not to be tampered with (Deuteronomy 4:2), and that it is not the product of the will of man but of God Who inspired and guided men to pen the text (2 Peter 1:20-21). Since the writing of the original autographs, textual criticism had confirmed the integrity of the text that we now have over and over again. So, to question the historicity of Adam is to question the integrity of God and His Word. Personally, I would rather steer clear of that.

Secondly, Jesus confirmed the authenticity of the historical Adam (Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6), as well as other “questionable” miracles contained in Scripture: Noah and the Flood (Matthew 24:37-38; Luke 17:26-27), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15; 11:23-24; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:12; 17:29), and Jonah swallowed by the “great fish” (Matthew 12:39-40; 16:4; Luke 11:29). Since Jesus is the Creator (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16) and the ultimate Author of Scripture, one would surmise that He had first-hand knowledge of the events. So, to deny the historicity of Adam is to find fault with Jesus’ testimony. Ultimately it is to deny His deity, for how can God commit such errors! To deny the historical Adam is to charge that either Jesus purposefully lied, which God cannot do, or that He was uninformed, which God, through omniscience, is incapable of doing.

Thirdly, other New Testament writers affirm the historical Adam. Luke, the physician (Colossians 4:14), who had “taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us” (Luke 1:1), set down in his Gospel the genealogy of Jesus tracing it back all the way to “Adam, which was the son of God” (Luke 3:38). The significance of this is in that Luke, being a physician and scientist, was meticulous about the details he recorded as can be seen throughout his Gospel. Paul also, highly educated under the tutelage of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), refers back to Adam especially with regard to original sin (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45; 1 Timothy 2:13-14). Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, counts the generations of Enoch beginning with Adam (Jude 14).

With all the internal evidence for the historical Adam, especially that which comes from the lips of our Lord Himself, one has only two options: accept the historicity of Adam recorded in the foundational book of Genesis, or reject the Bible altogether as unreliable. That brings us full circle to the issue of salvation. If the Bible is unreliable with regard to historical Adam, how can it be trusted in regard to salvation? One cannot ride the fence on this issue, and it is time for Evangelicals to nail this down once and for all. Adam and Eve were real, historical figures and the progenitors of the human race.

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Tares Among the Wheat

Green Wheat Fields With Cyprus – Vincent Van Gogh (1890)

But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. (Matthew 13:25)

Before I cranked up the lawnmower Saturday morning, I noticed that some bad grass had come up in my backyard, and it was going to seed. As much as I dreaded that task, I knew I would have to pull it all up by hand otherwise I would risk scattering bad seed all over my yard and making matters worse. Through the pain of my aching back, I recalled Jesus’ “Kingdom Parable” about the tares among wheat found in Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43.

In this parable, Jesus likens Himself to the landowner who sowed good seed into His field – i.e., the world (vv. 24, 37-38). The “good seed” which He sowed are the children of the Kingdom – i.e., true believers in Christ (vv. 24, 38). “But while men slept” … Jesus defined all the players in the parable except for these. Who are these men who fell asleep on the job? Since there is no special definition for these men, it seems that these “men” are the “good seed” that was planted in the field. These did what good seed is supposed to do: receive nourishment, grow and produce fruit. But in doing what good seed is supposed to do, it took no notice of the enemy (Satan) that came in and sowed tare seeds into the field (vv. 25, 39). These too grew up together with the wheat and were indistinguishable from the wheat. As the time of harvest approached, the distinction became obvious, and the harvesters (the angels) wanted to rip up the tares (v. 28), but the landowner, not wanting to upset the good wheat, instructed that both be allowed to grow together until the harvest (vv. 29-30).

There are tares among us. They dress Christian. They speak Christian. They, by almost any means, look Christian, but they “are the children of the wicked one” (v. 38). Perhaps “outsiders” can spot them easier than those on the “inside.” Perhaps that is why many want nothing to do with the church because, they say, “The church is full of hypocrites!” No, the church is full of tares! Jesus says, “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (v. 30).

So, what are we to do about all of this? A good self-examination would be a good place to begin. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). Don’t act like tares. Peter reminds us that this present world is going up in smoke, and he exhorts us: “Seeing then thatall these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:11-13, emphasis added). Yes, there are tares among the wheat. Don’t be a tare!

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Beware of False Prophets

Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.   (Matthew 7:15)

This verse begins with the imperative verb “beware” – the Greek prosecho meaning to pay attention to or be cautious about.  This is not just good advice; it is a command from our Lord.  There are false prophets in abundance all around us.  They come to us sheep, dressed up in sheep’s clothing; that is, they infiltrate Christian gatherings disguised as Christians.  Often they fill great pulpits and attract large crowds.  Jesus warns that they are “ravening wolves.”  The Greek word translated “ravening” is hárpages meaning “rapacious,” i.e., given to seizing for plunder or the satisfaction of greed, and inordinately greedy; predatory; extortionate.  These are out to exploit the flock for their personal gain.  Their strategy is simple: tell the sheep what they want to hear.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” (2 Timothy 4:3).

So how are we to recognize these wolves in sheep’s clothing?  After all, on the surface, they appear harmless.  Jesus provided the answer.  “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16a).  Therefore, we are called to be fruit inspectors.  “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (v. 16b).  The concept is simple: “every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit” (v. 17).  The challenge is in discerning the good fruit from the bad fruit.  What standard is to be used?  The Berean church had the right idea.  “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).  John tells us to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). The Greek word translated “try” is dokimazō, and it means “to test (literally or figuratively); by implication to approve: – allow, discern, examine, (ap-) prove, try.”

Always measure the words of the prophet against the Word of God. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).  The Greek word translated as “study” is spoudazō  and it means “to use speed, that is, to make effort, be prompt or earnest: – do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour, labour, study.”  “Rightly dividing” is the Greek word orthotomeō, which means “to make a straight cut, that is, (figuratively) to dissect (expound) correctly (the divine message): – rightly divide.” So when we make an earnest effort and give diligence to correctly dissecting the Word of God (Truth), we should be able to spot the false prophet because his words will not match up with God’s Word. In this way, we can tell the good fruit from the bad, and never fall prey to the false prophets.

On a somewhat different note, but still very much related: some think that making such judgments is somehow “un-Christian,” and any kind of judging should be avoided. They come to this conclusion because earlier, in this same chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1-2). Obviously, from what Jesus said afterward, He did not mean for us to put our discernment on the shelf. We need to exercise discernment and to make judgments in order to identify the false prophets disguised in sheep’s clothing. What we are not to do is pass “holier-than-thou” judgments on our brothers and sisters in Christ except to help them out of some error or sin into which they have fallen. For that a close self-examination is required before proceeding. As for the wolves, beware, be vigilant, and learn to recognize their false message.


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