Genesis 008 – The Great Choice (Part 1)Genesis 2:4-7 • Dr. Andy Woods • September 27, 2020 • Genesis
The Great Choice
September 27, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
Good morning, everybody. Let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to Genesis 2:4. The title of our message this morning is, “The Great Choice.” As you’re turning there, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine and Anne’s. Norm Davidson is here. He actually is a very good friend. He was my best man at my wedding—and we’re still married 21 years later. Not to each other, of course!
Norm does some photography and things for our ministry. I thought I’d introduce you to him, because if you saw a strange guy with a camera and a leather bag you might think, “Uh-Oh! We’ve got a domestic terrorist on our hands!” So, he’s a good guy.
Genesis 2:4. The title of our message this morning is “The Great Choice.” As you know, the first 11 chapters in the Book of Genesis is about the beginning of the human race. And that section begins with Creation, Genesis 1-2.
We’ve actually finished, believe it or not, Genesis 1. And Gabe gave us a little break last week in the Book of Titus. So, thank you, Gabe, for filling in last week.
Genesis 1, as you’ll remember, is an overview of the whole Creation week. There we learn about the heavens and the earth that the Lord brought about in six days of Creation, and then the Lord rested on the seventh day. Light; water, sky; land, vegetation; luminaries; sea animals, birds; land animals, and man himself, the pinnacle of God’s Creation.
Man comes into existence on Day Six. Man and woman, as image bearers of God, represent the pinnacle of God’s Creation. As we move into Genesis 2, beginning in verse 4 through the end of the chapter, we have the focus of Moses as he writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The focus is now on Day Six.
We are no longer learning about the six days, but we’re learning about the sixth day, which would be appropriate since humanity—man—was created on Day Six. Man and woman are such a big deal in the outworking of God’s program that we might ask ourselves, “Tell us a little bit more about Day Six! You went through it, Moses, sort of fast.” And Moses says, “I’m glad you asked that question. Here’s what’s happening on Day Six.”
Genesis 1 is an overview of the whole Creation week—but not Genesis 2! Genesis 2 gives you the details surrounding the creation of the Garden of Eden, the first man and woman and their activities on the sixth day.
One of the most important things to keep in mind as we study the Book of Genesis is the difference—the radical difference—between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. The themes are related to each other, but they could not be more different from each other at the same time.
Genesis 1—the focus is on the Creator God.
Genesis 2—the focus is more on God as a Covenant Keeper.
The Hebrew name for God is different.
Genesis 1—It’s Elohim, speaking of His power.
Genesis 2—the name for God is Yahweh, speaking of His Personhood, relationship with us.
Genesis 1—His power.
Genesis 2—the fact that He is a personal God. Isn’t it wonderful that the very God Who brought the heavens and the earth into existence wants a relationship with you and me? It’s amazing!
Genesis 1—God is the God of the universe.
Genesis 2—God is the God of man.
Genesis 1—climaxes with man.
But not Genesis 2. Genesis 2—climaxes with marriage.
Genesis 1—the six days of Creation.
Genesis 2—an amplification of the sixth day of Creation.
You say, “Why is this important?” It’s important to understand these differences. I’ve been to Europe a few times myself. All around Europe you will see the wreckage of what used to be vibrant Christianity. You can go all around Europe and you can see beautiful cathedrals that once housed literally thousands of worshipers, and now they are empty. Only a handful of people show up. And half of those people are the family of the pastor—and maybe the guy that sweeps up afterwards.
Europe is where the Protestant Reformation—one of the highest points of Christian history—took place, and today in Europe Christianity is all but over. Less than 1% of the population would consider themselves Christian, and even a smaller percentage of that would ever consider attending regularly a church service.
The fastest growing religion today in Europe is not Christianity; it is Islam. How is it that the very place where so much of the Protestant Reformation transpired is now so ambivalent? Even in some cases, antithetical to biblical Christianity.
The answer relates to what I’m describing right here: the differences between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Because, you see, there arose in Europe—much of it coming from Germany—a movement in the late 1800s and 1900s called higher criticism.
Higher criticism is where people think that we are here to judge the Bible—rather than the Bible sitting in judgment on us. There are, as Dave Breese describes in this book, 7 Men Who Rule the World from the Grave, including Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Julius Wellhausen, John Dewey, Sigmund Freud, John Maynard Keynes, and Soren Kierkegaard. These are godless, God-hating philosophies that we are still living with—even though the progenitors of those philosophies are all dead and gone.
Notice the man named Julius Wellhausen. I don’t think he came up with it, but he’s the first one to fully flesh it out and articulate what is called the JEDP theory. Higher criticism—and ultimately liberalism—sprang from this theory. It’s the idea that Moses did not write these words in Genesis 1 or Genesis 2.
Jewish history—Christian history—going back thousands of years, has always accepted Moses as the author. That’s not what Wellhausen said. He said, “Look, Genesis is the product of different documents that came on the scene long after the real Moses was dead and gone. And we know that these are different documents because in Genesis 1 the Hebrew word for God is ‘Elohim’ and in Genesis 2 the word for God is ‘Yahweh.’ Obviously two different sources.”
Not understanding that you use different names depending on what your theme is; a single writer could do that. That’s not what Wellhausen said. He said, “There are two different documents here that were stitched together long after the real Moses left the scene.” And that movement called “higher criticism” began to affect the Pentateuch.
Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch—the first five books of the Bible—was denied. And then it began to affect their treatment of the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah? We all know—they say, anyway—that it was not written by the true Isaiah. But there are different Isaiah’s there: Proto-Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, and Trito-Isaiah.
And that began to affect their interpretation of the Book of Daniel. “We know that the book of Daniel was not written by Daniel in the sixth century,” the higher critic will say. “That was written by someone long after the time of Daniel, forging Daniel’s name.” All over Europe in the seminaries this began to be taught, and it destroyed the denominational churches in the United States of America around the year 1920 in what is called the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy.
Look it up in it and read about it. It’s interesting that so many of those churches sent their best and brightest to Europe to be trained for the ministry. They got exposed to higher criticism, and they began to bring it back, gradually, into the American pulpits. And that’s why today we have the independent Bible Church movement.
Why is it that you can drive through the city of Houston and see beautiful churches well-endowed with stained-glass windows? And those of us that call ourselves fundamentalist are meeting in independent buildings. Why is that? There’s a historical reason for it: it’s called the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy.
Had God not raised up the fundamentalist to oppose the modernists in the mainline churches, Christianity in the United States of America would probably be as dead as it is in Europe today! And it relates to unbelief coming into the pulpits.
Really, this whole higher critical movement started with the JEDP theory. “Moses obviously could not have written this because we know that there was no writing in the time of Moses,” the higher critic would say. Now, let me just add that that has been completely and totally disproven. There is a legal code that has preceded the Law of Moses, by about 400 years, called the code of Hammurabi, but that archaeological discovery hadn’t been made yet at the time the higher critical movement started.
So they began to question, they began to second guess, they began to challenge the Word of God. And when you begin to challenge God’s Word, liberalism quickly follows and God’s Spirit is quenched in His own church.
And this JEDP theory all started with higher critics arguing that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 contradict each other! “How could the same writer have written both chapters when they obviously contradict each other?” Well, here’s the glad reality of the situation: they do not contradict each other if you understand that Genesis 1 is an overview of the six days and Genesis 2 is an amplification of Day Six. If that little piece of information is introduced, then any alleged contradiction between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 disappears.
But, you see, your average pastor today in the United States is not talking about an issue like this. And what is going to happen is you or your children or your grandchildren are going to be watching Mysteries of the Bible, A&E, the History Channel, where they will bring on some scholar from Harvard. And that scholar will basically tell you that any fool knows that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 contradict each other, “They’re obviously written by different authors.” They’ll be feeding you higher criticism. And if you’re not up on your game, then you’ll be caught flat-footed; you won’t know what to do with that information.
Not only that—your children are watching it—and your grandchildren are watching it. Or they’re in some kind of school somewhere where they’re teaching higher criticism. They’re coming back to you as their parents or their grandparents wanting an answer, and because the pastor in your church is too busy talking about five ways to be happy—or whatever it is they’re talking about today—and you’re not being equipped; you have no answer!
So liberalism came into Europe, destroyed Christianity in Europe, and almost destroyed Christianity in the United States in the 1920s. It’s about one generation away from extinction. That’s what my dad used to say to me, and it always stuck. He would say, “Christianity is one generation away from elimination.”
One generation stops contending for the faith and Christianity in the next generation will not be the same. That’s why I put up charts like this. Not to bore you with a bunch of information, but to equip us for the battle that we find ourselves in.
Let me just walk you through a few points, if I could. The higher critic will say, “Look the beasts (Genesis 1:24-25) were created before Adam and Eve. But then you go to Genesis 2, and it looks like (verse 19) that the beasts were created in between the creation of Adam and Eve.” So, Dad (or Granddad or Grandma or Mom), that’s what my professor says. What say you?”
The fact of the matter is that there’s a simple answer to that. There is no contradiction, because Genesis 2:19 in the Hebrew reads, “The animals that God had already formed.” You start to understand it that way, and the supposed contradiction disappears.
Or they’ll say this, “The plants and the herbs are created on Day Three (Genesis 1:12), yet Genesis 2:5 seems to indicate that the plants and the herbs were not yet in existence on Day Six.” So, Mom (Dad, Grandma, Grandpa), that’s what my professor says. How do you resolve this?” And the answer, again, is there’s a special word used in Genesis 2:5 for “cultivated” plants—special plants—garden plants—plants that would only be proper in a garden. That’s what God brought into existence on Day Six. Whereas the ordinary plants and herbs already existed on Day Three.
See, this this stuff isn’t rocket science if you just know a few tricks. What about this? Trees are created on Day Three (Genesis chapter 1:12), but Genesis 2:9—on Day Six—seems to indicate that the trees don’t exist yet. Well, again, it’s a special Hebrew word for trees on Day Six in Genesis 2: the garden trees—trees appropriate for a garden. It’s not making a statement that no other trees ever existed.
The reality of the situation—and this is just a sampling—is all of these so-called contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2? Frankly, they don’t exist at all! I’ve use this example before: It’s a lot like three blindfolded people feeling an elephant. One person is grabbing the elephant’s trunk, and they say, “I’m feeling a giant tube.” Another person is touching the elephant’s foot, and he says, “I’m feeling five lumps for the five toes.” And another person is touching the elephant’s side with his blindfold on, and he says, “It feels like a giant wall.” And at first glance, all of those testimonies seem to contradict each other—until you take the blindfolds off and the contradiction disappears. All they are doing is touching different sides of the same animal. I mean, there is no contradiction at all.
There’s no contradiction between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 if you start from the right premise that Genesis 1 is an overview of the entire week of Creation; but Genesis 2 is an amplification on the formation of man and woman on Day Six.
By the way, when Jesus was asked about divorce and remarriage, we read the following in Matthew 19:3-6. “Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?’ ” Divorce and the circumstances for divorce was a hot issue in Christ’s day—just like it’s a vigorously debated issue in our day.
When is it proper, under God, for marriage to dissolve? There was a long-standing debate with Rabbi Shammai. They quote here Deuteronomy 24; the “indecent thing” allows you to put your wife away in terms of dissolving a marriage. Rabbi Shammai interpreted that very strictly.
Then along came Rabbi Hillel, and he interpreted it very liberally, “You can divorce your wife for any circumstance at all—including if she puts too much salt on your food!” So they come to Christ in the midst of this debate and they basically are asking Him, “Who are you with, Hillel or Shammai?”
And I love how Christ answers. Verse 4, “and He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female [that is Genesis 1:27], and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”?’ ” That is Genesis 2:24. See what the Lord just did? Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.
6 “ ‘So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’ ” Christ doesn’t get into a bogged down debate between Hillel and Shammai. He doesn’t even seem to care what the rabbis of the day were saying. He goes right back to God’s pattern in Creation and talks about the original design of God in marriage, and in the process, He quotes Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24—back to back.
Apparently, Jesus Christ Himself—can you think of a higher authority than Jesus? I can’t—felt there was no contradiction at all between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2! He never said, “Well, the E source says this in Genesis 1, and the J source says this in Genesis 2. Jesus knew nothing about higher criticism; He never considered those chapters contradictory. And if it’s good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for you. And it’s good enough for me. And it doesn’t matter what the erudite scholars that are featured on these different TV programs are saying. There is no contradiction.
And I’m just wondering… What if someone had stood up in a unified sense when the JEDP theory was starting to come into existence and vigorously challenged it. What if they did what the Book of Jude says, “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3), “always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…” (1 Peter 3:15). If that was happening in Christianity in Europe as higher criticism was rearing its ugly head, I’m wondering, what would be the state of all of those buildings that are empty today in Europe?
Could Christianity have been preserved? Could it have been saved? And are we going to take up the challenge and answer these objections? Because if we don’t, and we’re just satisfied with churches that entertain us, the churches that we have today are not guaranteed to be there for your children or your grandchildren. And that’s why I put up charts and make you aware of these things.
With that being said, as Genesis 2 is not contradicting Genesis 1 but is simply amplifying Day Six, here is our outline for Genesis 2. This is all on Day Six. Verses 4-7—we have the creation of man. Verses 8-14—man is placed in a garden, the garden of Eden. These are all things that God did on Day Six that Genesis 1 doesn’t tell you about.
Number three: God gives man responsibilities in Eden verses 15-17—including the great choice. A choice, by the way, that you still have to make—and I still have to make—today. Then, after all of that is complete, God puts man (or Adam) into a deep sleep, and from his side He forms woman. And there we have the first marriage.
Now, notice this very carefully after man is created. Number one: he has the Word. The Word of God is given to him, and that happens in verses 15-17. But before that, verses 8-14, he has the work. First you have the work, then you have the Word, and last comes the wedding. That’s a fascinating order, isn’t it? Work, Word, wedding!
Because I, through the sound of my voice, am speaking to a lot of single people. Particularly single women are extremely stressed out due to the fact that they haven’t found Mr. Wonderful yet. Well, as someone once told me, “If you want to find Mrs. Wonderful, you’d better be Mr. Wonderful yourself.” And vice versa.
And people, because of loneliness, are willing to rush into a marriage relationship. And God is saying, “Hold the phone here a minute. Number one: Does the man that you’re interested in work?” Does he have a job? Does he have an ability to provide? If he is 27 years of age and sitting in his parents basement playing video games all day, chances are you, as a young woman, should look elsewhere. “Yeah, but he’s so cute!” Let me tell you something about cute: Cute is going to fade! We’re going to see that in Genesis 3. Cute is going to fade faster than you thought possible!
So, number one: Does he have work? Number two: Does he have the Word? Is he a man of God? Does he respect the God of the Bible? Is he a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? Only when those two are in place does God provide the wedding, or the marriage, and bring to the man the right wife. There’s work; there’s Word; there’s wedding.
“Well, I’m thinking about dating so-and-so.” Okay, let’s look at the first two W’s—work and Word. That will cross a lot of people right off your list right off the bat, won’t it? Because when God brings you the right person, that in essence is what his characteristics and his qualities will be.
We move on here into verses 4-7, where we have the creation of the first man. Notice, if you will, verse 4, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.”
Now, notice what it says there in verse 4, “This is the account…” That’s a Hebrew word translated, “this is the account,” or “these are the generations of.” This is the Hebrew word TOLEDOTH. It’s plural; it simply means, “these are the generations of.” And that formula shows up over and over and over again in the Book of Genesis.
We’re just looking here at this one, “This is the account the TOLEDOTH of the heaven and earth.” Why does it keep saying, “This is the account…”? Later it will say, “This is the account of Adam. This is the account of Noah. This is the account of the sons of Noah. This is the account of Shem. This is the account of Terah. This is the account of Ishmael. This is the account of Isaac…Esau…Jacob.” What is being spoken of here?
What does this mean? This is a pre-Mosaic Bible. It’s a Bible before there was a Bible. Because Moses, when he wrote these first five books, was not receiving direct revelation from God. Certainly, he could have received that—and probably did at points—and the Spirit of God was guiding him. But he was stitching all of these things together from other records.
So, when he says, “This is the account of this,” and “This is the account of that,” he is accessing Jewish records of history which talk about these different time periods. There happened to be a toledoth—or an account of the heaven and the earth. This is what Moses is building the history on in Genesis 2.
Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible, called Torah or Pentateuch, until about 1400, 1500 (roughly) BC. There was a lot of history that transpired beforehand.
And when Jacob came from the land of Canaan to Egypt (Genesis 46) to receive grain in the midst of famine, most likely Jacob, coming to Egypt, brought all of that material with him. And it was passed down through the generations. Finally, it fell into the hands of Moses.
By the way, Moses was providentially ordained by God to write these first five books. Why was Moses ordained by God to write these first five books? Because he was a slave in Egypt. And had he stayed a slave, he would not have had the education necessary to put all of this material together that we call the Book of Genesis.
You know the story in early Exodus. Moses was set adrift on the Nile when the Egyptians were killing all of the Hebrew infant males, you’ll recall. And the Book of Exodus says as he was put in that basket and set adrift on the Nile, it just happened to find its way to Pharaoh’s daughter, a princess. She took Moses into Egypt which was the world power at that time.
And Moses was reared with the best education you could possibly have in that time period—an education he never would’ve had had he lived his entire life as a slave. You think that was an accident? Do you think it was just coincidental that he was set adrift and the basket just happened to come before the princess? Acts 7:22 says this, “Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.”
Why did God give Moses that education? Because one of the great callings on the life of Moses—in addition to leading Israel out of Egyptian slavery after 400 years—was to take these written truths and written records, stitch them together, and compile them into what we call the first five books of Moses. One of which we’re reading here: the Book of Genesis.
A lot of Christians struggle with this. “You say you’re against the documentary hypothesis, but now you’re telling us that Moses used records.” Well, don’t let that bother you, because Dr. Luke used records.
You know, Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke ,was not one of the original 12 disciples. So where did Dr. Luke get his information about Jesus Christ? He interviewed people. And, actually, there were prewritten records about Jesus floating around even before Luke penned Luke’s gospel.
In fact, Luke 1:1-2 says this, “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us…” (NKJV) Luke said (paraphrasing), “A lot of other people have tried to write gospels of Jesus Christ.” Some call those the gospelette’s—shorter versions.
Luke, not an eyewitness, had to talk to eyewitnesses of the things of Christ. I believe that one of the people that Luke talked to was Christ’s mother, Mary, among many others. And through that process of investigation, the Holy Spirit was at work and guided Dr. Luke so that he could paint for us a portrait of Jesus Christ that we call the Gospel of Luke.
The same kind of thing here is happening with Moses. He has access to these records, and yet, at the same time, the Holy Spirit is at work. The Holy Spirit is guiding Moses as the compiler, and what came out of it was the great Book of Genesis that we’re studying here.
We move into verses 5-6, and we read something very interesting. It says, “5 Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. 6 But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.”
One of the things that I had a chance to talk about, as we were studying Genesis 1:6-7, is this very curious phrase, “the waters above.” There were “the waters below,” the ocean. Then there was an expanse called “the sky.” And then it makes, in Genesis 1:6-7, a very interesting statement about “the waters above.”
What were “the waters above”? The sky, I recognize. The waters below the sky, I recognize—that’s the ocean. But what are these “waters above”? This is not necessarily something to start a new church over, but I do believe what’s implied in Genesis 1:6-7 and Psalm 148:4 is that at one time in history the earth was surrounded by a canopy of water. It formed sort of a greenhouse type of effect, filtering the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays, allowing people—even in the post fall world—to live into their 900s.
And I think that’s why we find so many animals in the fossil record that have really no parallel with the animals today. Things seem to grow bigger and grow larger under this greenhouse effect.
It explains an awful lot to me. It explains the long life spans of early man post fall. The strange beasts that we find in the Bible; some today refer to them as dinosaurs.
It helps me understand where the floodwaters came from. Because one of the critics of the global flood is there’s not enough moisture in the clouds to flood the earth. Well, who says God used the clouds? Couldn’t God have instantly—or gradually—released this canopy that surrounded the earth.
And its explains why, in the post fall world, man is no longer living into his 900s, 800s. His lifespan gets cut short—rolled back to what it is today. In Psalm 90:10 Moses says, “70 or 80 years old.” If you reach 70, you’re doing really well. If you reach 80, you are doing great!” I mean, why aren’t we living into our 800s anymore—or 900s?
Why did Adam live 930 years? Why did Methuselah live 969 years? Well, they lived pre-canopy. We live post-canopy, post-flood.
If all of this is true, then where did rain come from? Where did moisture come from? I think we have an answer there in verses 5-6. There was no such thing as rain. What it says is that water came up from the ground and provided the moisture.
When we understand this, now you understand what Noah was up against, because 1 Peter 3 calls him a “preacher of righteousness” He warned of a coming judgment. He warned of a coming flood. And he did that (Genesis 6:3) for 120 years. And after 120 years of preaching, what did he have? Did he have a mega church?
He had eight people in the ark. One of them was his wife. And the others were his three sons and their respective wives. The Bible is very clear: eight people only in the ark after 120 years of preaching! You mean, you don’t have a convert—a single convert—after 120 years of proclamation? You want to talk about frustration in the ministry?
Why didn’t Noah have more converts? Because he was talking about something they had no knowledge of. In fact, Noah himself had no knowledge of it. He only knew of a coming Deluge because of what God said. He had to completely trust what God said, and he had to not rely upon what he knew in terms of his five senses. And that’s why Noah (Hebrews 11:7) is in the hall of faith.
Could you imagine talking about a coming Deluge for 120 years when the inhabitants of the earth didn’t even know what rain was? I’ll be giving you the dimensions when we get into that section down the road in this study; the structure the ark was massive!
Could you imagine having a structure like that in your driveway—or wherever he put it—and how foolish that looked in the eyes of the pre-flood world that had no conception of rain because moisture came up from the ground and watered everything?
See, your Bible says that the man who has the Spirit looks foolish to those without the Spirit. It talks about how the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Because the only way to understand the message of the Cross was the only way to understand the message of coming judgment in the days of Noah: you have to completely—100%—operate by faith. Because without faith, it is what? Impossible to please God.
So this provides us some insight on who Noah was and why he is so respected in spite of his failings. We’re going to read in the Book of Genesis of some of his failings in the post-flood world and why he is enumerated in the hall of faith which is a chapter calling our attention to the greats who believed God had all costs. May we be like them.
We continue to verse 7 which says, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground…” Now, you read Genesis 1:27 and you start to think, “We must be pretty special! We’re made in God’s image!” Which we are.
But Genesis 2? I like how it provides balance to that: “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought, because really you came from the dirt.” In fact, if moisture came up from the ground, you really came from the mud.
Genesis 1, “I’m made in God’s image! Look at how wonderful I am!” God says, “You are.” Genesis 2 says, “Well, don’t get too carried away because you’re really from the mud.”
And, by the way, you’re going back to the dirt—or the mud—from which you came, original sin, Genesis 3:19, which we haven’t gotten to yet. But when we get to it, we will read, “ ‘By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.’ ”
But then God, when He forms man from the dust, does something very interesting there in verse 7. “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” To my knowledge, humanity or man—Adam—is the only creature that God breathed into him life. Mouth-to-mouth, I guess. Mouth-to-mouth from God: from God’s mouth to Adam’s nostrils. The animals can’t say that, I’m not even sure the angels can say that, but it’s true about man.
And, yes, even though man came from the dirt and is going back to the dirt, he still bears God’s image. He still is the recipient of the direct breath of God. And when you understand that, you understand why people are so valuable to God!
There’s a famous saying in the ministry, “Ministry would be great if it weren’t for all the people.” The fact of the matter is, we all have people in our lives who are irritating to us—rub us the wrong way—personality conflicts—quirks—whatever the issue is. And we have to understand that from a biblical perspective, that person is of infinite, inestimable worth or value to God for the simple reason—whether they are Christian or not—that they are made in God’s image.
And they descended from the one who God breathed into the very breath of life. How do we treat people? We ought to treat them with dignity and respect—all people—because of who they are in the outworking of God’s Creation hierarchy.
Now, it’s very interesting in the Hebrew language. What does it say here? It doesn’t show up well in English. It says, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives [plural]; and man became a living being.” I picked up this little insight from Stephen Waterhouse in his wonderful book. We have them here, and we have Spanish versions here also. It’s a wonderful book that he wrote, covering every area of systematic theology in layman’s terms.
The book is called, Not by Bread Alone. He says, on page 77, “The literal translation of Genesis 2:7 teaches that, ‘God breathed into Adam the breath of lives’ (plural).” Man did not just become alive at a singular level; he became alive at multiple levels.
First Thessalonians 5:23 says, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV) Did you catch that? “May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It’s interesting that God is triune. One God, but He’s expressed Himself in three separate personages: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Isn’t it interesting that we’re made in God’s image? I’m a single person, and yet of me—and of you—there are three basic parts: body, soul, spirit. In this case, I’m speaking of the Holy Spirit.
What it’s saying there in Genesis 2:7 is that when God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of lives, Adam became alive at all three levels. Number one—he was alive bodily. That would speak of his physical being: his cardiovascular system; his muscular system; the body that he was in that allowed him to relate to the entire world around him; the five senses—sight, smell, touch, etc.
Adam was alive at that level, but he wasn’t alive at that level alone. He became alive at this soulish level. What is the soul? Jesus said, “Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:37, BSB) The soul is that capacity that God has given us which allows us to live forever. The soul is the seat of one’s personality, intellect, emotions, volition—those parts of you that are you but which I can’t see.
Why do you have certain preferences and tastes that I don’t have? Those are soul issues. Intellect, emotions, personality, will, volition is essentially what we would call the immaterial part of a person. Physical body—material. Soul—immaterial. I believe that sometimes the soul is referred to as the spirit in the Bible. “Soul” and “spirit” can be interchangeable.
But then man is alive at another level. He’s alive at the spiritual level, and I think the reference here is to the Holy Spirit. Man, at the beginning, had a capacity to relate to and understand the things of God. He could relate to the world around him through his physical body, but he could relate to God Himself through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus says, “ ‘But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’ ” (John 4:23-24) If that spiritual capacity is not there via the Holy Spirit, a person is just the natural man. They are alive at a bodily level. They are alive at a soulless level. But all of this Christianity stuff? And reading the Bible? And going to church? It makes no sense to them, because they don’t have the Holy Spirit.
And it’s through the Spirit that we can even understand the things of God. Beloved, I’ll tell you that I tried, as an unsaved person, to read the Bible. It made absolutely no sense to me! But then I got saved when I was 16, and I had an appetite to read the Bible. And, oh my goodness, what a different perspective! Did I suddenly get smarter? No. Something greater than myself entered me, and I had a capacity to relate to things on a spiritual plane that I didn’t have before.
First Corinthians 2:10-16 says, “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”
Take this from personal experience. Sitting on social media and arguing with people all day long concerning the veracity of Christianity is a waste of time. Because a lot of the people that you’re arguing with? They don’t have a capacity to understand the things of God, because they don’t have the Holy Spirit inside of them.
What you need to do for the person that you’re arguing with is pray for them to come under conviction, that they might hear a clear presentation of the gospel, and trust in Christ, and the Holy Spirit will come into them at that point. Then they’re alive at all three levels, just like you are! And you can have a conversation.
It reminds me of a missionary. The missionary came and he wanted to lead someone to Christ. And the fellow said, “Okay. I’ll become a Christian, but I want you to answer 10 questions. If you answer these 10 questions I’ll become a Christian.” The missionary looked at his watch and saw that he didn’t have time to answer the 10 questions because he had another appointment.
The missionary said to the unsaved person, “I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you receive Christ now by faith alone, and I’ll come back tomorrow at this same time and answer your 10 questions.” and the gentleman said, “You’ve got a deal.” He heard the gospel. He trusted in Christ. The missionary left.
And, as promised, he came back 24 hours later. He said, “Okay. I want to make good on my deal. Let me answer your 10 questions.” And the guy said, “Oh, I don’t have those anymore. All the questions that have been nagging me? They’re not nagging me anymore—I have answers.”
Now, what happened there? The Holy Spirit came inside a man. He was alive now—just like Adam. Not just at the bodily level, not just at the soul level, but he was alive at the spiritual level, and he could understand the things of God. They were no longer a mystery to him. They were no longer foolishness to him.
You see, this spiritual realm that I’m speaking of? This was the cord that was cut in Genesis 3. It says in Genesis 2:17, “ ‘but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’ ” The cord was clipped at that point. Yes, the process of physical death started—but there was a cord immediately cut!
As human beings, we are born under Adam’s sin and judgment. That’s why Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” Why would the Bible say that about unsaved people? In fact, some translations render Ephesians 2:1, “The Walking Dead.”
Why are people the walking dead? Why don’t they understand what you understand? Why don’t they have any appetite for the things of God? Because they’re alive at a physical level, they’re alive at a soulish level, but they’re not alive at a spiritual level. That’s why the Spirit convicts them day and night of their need to trust Christ for salvation.
And should God give you the privilege of presenting the gospel to somebody—and I’m going to pray that He does that for you this week. As that person trusts in Christ for salvation—Wow—what a difference! The Holy Spirit just entered them.
Romans 8:9b says, “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” I mean, the greatest need that people have today is for that lightbulb to be turned on. The Bible calls this the new birth.
Jesus spoke to Nicodemus at night. I call this the “Nick at night” conversation. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ” (John 3:3 NKJV) Do you notice that? He can’t even see it! He can’t even perceive it.
“Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ 5 Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water…’ ” To make a long story short, I think water is probably physical birth, but there are different discussions on that. I don’t want to get bogged down on that.
“Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit…’ ” Being born physically is not enough to be right with God. Being alive at a soul level and a physical level is not enough to be made right with God. There has to be something else. The spiritual dimension—lives—has to come into a person’s life for them to see the Kingdom of God, for them to even enter the Kingdom of God.
“ ‘…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” ’ ”
This is why the spiritual birth is so critical. Because when the spiritual birth happens, the rupture that took place in Genesis 3 is restored, and you are alive at all three levels now. So God breathed into Adam’s nostrils lives. Soulishly alive, physically alive, spiritually alive, and that’s the creation of man, verses 4-7.
Then He is going to place him in a garden and give him a choice, verses 8-14. Which I can’t talk about now, because the clock is almost up. And that really bums me out because that was my sermon title. I was so confident I was going to get to verses 8-14, that I named the sermon after that.
So next week will be “The Great Choice, Part Two.” Amen? But, you know, what an easy transition into the gospel today in presenting it. God wants to do the work so profound in your life that He wants to turn the lightbulb on. Physical and soulish life isn’t enough. To understand God and be made right with God, there has to be a spiritual birth. God has to reverse the cord that was cut in Genesis 3.
We’re all born with that deficiency. Something is missing. There is a gap. That, by the way, explains why so many people are unhappy in life and why they’re wandering off to this experience or that experience to fill that void. They are missing something. They’ve got the physical life, they’ve got the soulish life, but they don’t have the spiritual life.
And Jesus was very clear, “If you drink from that water, you’re going to go thirsty again.” The two best artificial substitutes are power and pleasure. That’s what people are trying to fill in their lives for that missing part that only God can provide. That’s what was happening with the woman at the well. She’d had five husbands, and her current partner she wasn’t married to. There was something missing in her life that only the Holy Spirit could satisfy. And she was trying to fill that missing void with promiscuity.
That’s what we’re all like, when you think about it. It’s a giant search. And the answer is so simple. The answer is: you trust Christ, and you come alive at all three levels the way God designed you. And when you live within your intended design, life starts making sense. Things start fitting together.
So our invitation to anybody who has never experienced this new birth is that you can experience it right now. Not by trusting me or Sugar Land Bible Church, but trusting the promises of the gospel. The promise of the gospel is Jesus, 2000 years ago, through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension bridged the gap so that the spiritual light can come on in people. He commands them not to trust in their own religiosity or good works for the spiritual light to come on. He commands them to trust in what He has done.
So at some point in a person’s life, they come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit of their need to do this. I’ve been praying all week that this conviction would be present in this room and present for anybody listening online, even long after the fact. That conviction would be so plain and they would follow through, after coming under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, by trusting in Christ and Christ alone.
It’s not something you raise a hand to get. It’s not something you fill out a card to get. It’s not something you join a church to get. It’s not something you give money to get. It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you trust—which is what faith is—in Him and Him alone for salvation.
And once that happens, not only is a person’s eternal destiny altered, but they come alive the way God intended—lives. The spiritual realm is added to physical life and soulish life. So, that’s what we’re presenting today. If anybody has any questions on that, I’ll be available after the service to talk to you.
But I don’t know how to present it any differently than what I just said. It’s not me or any human being that can give this to you. The Lord—and the Lord alone—can give it to you when you fulfill His condition which is faith alone. Shall we pray?
“Father, we’re grateful for the Book of Genesis and the things that it teaches us. It gives us so much of a foundation—even the foundation for the new birth. We just ask that Your Spirit will be at work convicting people—men and women—of the most important need that they have, that they may not even be able to see at the present time, so that they can come alive and be born again spiritually.
We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask all these things in Jesus’ name.” And God’s people said, “Amen.”