May 17

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Where did it start? Did it start with man, or did it start with God? To answer these questions, here is another question: “Who was in need of salvation?” An easy question to answer, it is not God, but man who is in need of salvation. Of course, this brings to mind yet another question, “Why is man in need of being saved?”
Asking questions is a good way to get at the truth, whatever the area of truth one is dealing with. Understanding it is man that is in need of being saved (Which will be addressed later in this article.); it brings us to the question above, “Why is man in need of being saved?” It is easy to see that one question may in fact lead to any number of questions that need answers. Of course, if there is no God, the God who is not made of gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device (Acts 17:29), then, there is no story of salvation.
While looking at the subject of God, it will serve the reader well to look briefly at what it would mean if there is no God. If there is no God, then, there is no such thing as right and wrong, good and evil; other than what one thinks within himself; and cannot be binding on any other. Therefore, everyone would be free to do whatever seems right to him at the moment. True, a group of people, such as a nation, or state, could by the majority vote and make rules, laws, of right and wrong, but it would always be subject to change at the whim of the next majority! Therefore, it must be confessed that there would be no absolute standard! On the other hand, if God exists, and he does, then the very nature of being God necessitates a moral standard!
This truth will help us see why man is in need of salvation and with this the story of salvation has its beginning. Let us take a trip back in time to the Garden of Eden. God having created man and woman, male and female created he them (Gen. 1:27), gave to the man certain responsibilities. Before doing so, the story of how God created the man is told; “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). He then said to the man in regard to the garden: “dress it and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15), but this was not all; God also said to him: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). There was nothing difficult about these commandments; as they were clearly stated! God even stated the consequences for eating of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” as he said, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” There was no ambiguity, but clear and unmistakable truth.
Man was created innocent and without sin in the world! He was not in need of being saved, for he was not lost. It is here that God looked upon the man whom he had created and said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Gen. 2:18). With this, God made the woman: “he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; (22) And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man” (Gen. 2:21-22). In this, marriage had its beginning and the first family was created. At this point, mankind was still not in need of salvation, for no sin existed! But this would change as the day arrived when the tempter came upon the scene. It is here the story of salvation has its beginning; the one thing which the man and woman were forbidden to eat, which had the penalty of death was before them, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). In this series of events, the woman “being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Tim. 2:14), yielded and ate of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;” and she gave unto her husband and he did eat. In this series of events sin entered into the world.
Now mankind was in need of salvation and the story of salvation begins. God wasted no time, knowing the need of salvation! God said to the satan: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). This is the beginning of what has been called, the Protevangelium. Justin Martyr (160 AD) and Irenaeus (180 AD) called this verse the Protevangelium; the first messianic prophecy in the Old Testament. In our time, Frank Derek Kidner describes it as “the first glimmer of the gospel.” However man may describe it, the story of salvation has its earthly beginning!
However, it would be incorrect if we concluded that this is the real beginning of the story of salvation. We learn in the New Testament that if first began in the eternal mind of God which he proposed in Christ (Eph. 3:11)!

Frank R. Williams

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