In the beginning God created all things.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. (Gen. 1:1-4)
All things were good, without any mistakes and without sin. Adam and Eve lived peacefully in the Garden of Eden without pain or toil. There was no death and humanity was free to live in the presence of God for eternity provided their obedience to God’s commandment to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:17). Adam and Eve were to take of the Tree of Life (Gen. 2:9; 3:22).
This agreement between God and man, that man should obey God and take hold of everlasting life—lest he become disobedient and die—is often referred to as the Covenant of Works.
The Fall of Man
In a jealous attempt to disrupt God’s overall plan, Satan would seek to tempt Eve with the violation of God’s condition: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was to remain untouched, not to be eaten from. Upon the violation of this condition, Adam and Eve would “surely die.” (Gen. 2:17)
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Gen. 3:4-6)
Satan would be successful and humanity, being made in an unstable and mutable state would choose sin over God. The motive here was that they would “be like God”. Unfortunately, though it is rarely admitted, this is what motivates sin; that we would occupy a place of godhood and authority apart from the one true God. This is called idolatry, and it is this sin which leads to all others (Col. 3:5).
God’s Plan of Redemption
It was not as if this caught God off guard or as if it surprised Him in any way. While God could have killed Adam and Eve immediately while remaining perfectly just and righteous, He did not. Instead, He banished them from His Garden and cursed them (Gen. 3:23). Our Lord graciously promised redemption in Genesis 3:15 where the serpent’s head would eventually be crushed by the seed of the woman. This is what we call the proto-gospel since it gives a glimpse of the good news of Jesus Christ before it actually came into full focus in the New Testament.
The Old Testament Promised Jesus
The Old Testament of Scripture progressed, and this promise was revealed further and further until the fullness of time. The promise was clearly revealed in the New Testament starting in the Gospel Account of Matthew. (Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:10)
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isa. 53:4,5)
Jesus Christ, spoken of throughout the Old Testament prophets as the Messiah, entered into history as a baby boy, supernaturally conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). Being conceived by the Spirit, He had no original sin and He would go on to remain sinless.
Jesus’ Perfect Obedience
Since Jesus—God in the flesh (Jn. 1:1)—was free of inherent sin, and able to fulfill the requirement of sinlessness, He did what we could not do—lived a perfect moral life before God His Father. This is called Christ’s active obedience.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)
However, this was not the only requirement of the Father which had to be fulfilled as a result of the world’s sin. God is a perfect judge and in being a perfect judge He will not forsake His justice lest He become unjust. Therefore, His justice had to be poured out upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Jesus suffered under His Father’s imponderable wrath upon the cross. This is called Jesus’ passive obedience.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal. 3:13)
In fulfilling perfectly both active and passive obedience, Jesus has fully satisfied the condition of the Father which had originally been violated back in Genesis 3 by Adam; and He satisfied His Father’s wrath which was necessary because of man’s sin.
How We Are Made Right With God
Because of this, anyone who truly believes in Jesus Christ will be saved. Believers are justified, that is, declared righteous, before a perfect and holy God. Believers are made right with God by virtue of the person and work of Jesus Christ, not by anything within ourselves. (Eph. 2:8,9) If you truly believe in Jesus, you will repent—turning from your old ways in recognition of Christ as Lord and Savior. Your desire and willingness to repent and live a Christ-like life is an indication that God has changed your rebellious heart. This is called being born-again (Jn. 3:3). Remember, believing in Jesus Christ is not merely recognizing that He exists, it includes knowing Him as Lord and Savior of all things, including your very own life, and the way you live it.
…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Rom. 10:9,10)
Believers are also sanctified. There is a two-fold aspect of sanctification. At the point a believer is called by God to believe, they are positionally sanctified (1 Cor. 6:11). This just means to say that they are set apart as children of God. However, believers are also progressively sanctified. This is the process by which God has determined to conform His children into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29, 30).
The Offer of the Gospel
If you are outside of Christ, unrepentant and dead in your sin (Eph. 2:1), pray that God would save you. Trust that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9). Judgment is near, but salvation has come to those who believe! There is nothing you can do to earn your way to heaven. There is nothing you can do in order to reconcile yourself to God. But Christ has earned this for those who trust in Him. If we believe, we are clothed in His righteousness and thus reconciled to a great and holy God. Without Christ’s perfect obedience, without His sacrifice on the cross, and without His resurrection, we are without hope. Trust in Him, because any other response is folly.