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In From the Cross to Pentecost, Bishop T. D. Jakes shares a magnificent depiction of the “Greatest Love Story” ever told—the love story between God and man. For those who’ve wondered about the relevancy of Jesus Christ’s life, His death on the Cross, and His resurrection from the dead, this book can answer those questions once and for all.
As a master storyteller and powerful biblical expositor, the Bishop shines a light on how the tragic Fall of mankind blocked access to the ...
In From the Cross to Pentecost, Bishop T. D. Jakes shares a magnificent depiction of the “Greatest Love Story” ever told—the love story between God and man. For those who’ve wondered about the relevancy of Jesus Christ’s life, His death on the Cross, and His resurrection from the dead, this book can answer those questions once and for all.
As a master storyteller and powerful biblical expositor, the Bishop shines a light on how the tragic Fall of mankind blocked access to the tree of life, yet how God grants us access to eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, opening the way to receive God’s abundant life through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
You’ll delight in discovering that God’s gift of the Holy Spirit not only gives us power but anoints us to be witnesses for Him. God has something glorious for every one of us who believes and receives it. The relationship with the Holy Spirit empowers us to serve with joy!
I hear people ask the question over and over today: ?What is the relevancy of the Cross of Jesus Christ? What does it matter to me that Christ died on a Cross over two thousand years ago? How does His Cross add any value to my life and to who I am and to who I want to be? What difference does it make whether Jesus rose from the dead? Even if He did, I?m going to go to work tomorrow just as I always have. It?s not going to make any difference to me or to my family, or to my attitudes or my daily life. So why should I care about the so-called Good News ?
Perhaps it?s a question you?ve asked yourself or someone else and never received an answer to that you considered to be satisfactory. If that?s the case, I want to answer your question once and for all, but not in the way you might be expecting. I could tell you that the Cross of Christ is the hinge of all the world?s history, and that it is without a shadow of a doubt the most crucial historical event that is the foundation for your relationship with God. We?ve created a holiday to acknowledge and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus?and I believe the foundation for this holiday to be true. But to start there is to try to present the solution before you understand the problem. If all you?ve heard is a list of what someone thought were solutions, it is very anticlimactic for me or anyone else to point first to the power of the Cross and the resurrection of Jesus until you are aware of the universal human dilemma?the degradation and the depravity of the human soul, which includes mine and yours and everyone else?s?the answer is irrelevant.
Nobody searches for an answer if they don?t have a question. No one seeks a solution if they?re not convinced they have a problem. I know that was true in my life. Until I came to see what the true nature of my heart was like, the Cross just didn?t make a lot of sense. But in the process of discovering who I really was, of seeing the real me, I found my soul crying out for answers.
So before I focus on the consequences of the Cross, I will shine a light on the dilemma that brought us to the point where we need the Cross in the first place.
Comprehending why and how the Cross of Christ makes a difference in our lives starts with an understanding of who God is.
One of the first things we need to understand is that our God is eternal, He is an everlasting and dateless God?One who is without a beginning or an end of days. King David said, ?From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God? (Psalm?90:2). He rules in eternity, which is timeless?there are no days, no weeks, no hours, no seconds. God simply exists in eternity.
Whenever God forms a thing, He will fill it.
Before God made man, the Bible says He formed the earth, and then through a divine process He began to fill the earth with good things. There is a life principle here that I don?t want you to miss: Whenever God forms a thing, He will fill it. That is as true for your life today as it was in His original creation. You don?t need to worry about filling your life, because whenever God forms something, He will fill it.
He formed the earth and then filled it with abundant life.
He formed the sea and then filled it with great whales and fish.
He formed the open firmament and filled it with birds.
He formed the dry land and filled it with grasses and trees.
Finally, He formed man and breathed in him the breath of life so that he became a living soul, placing man in time.
The concept of time requires some stretching of your mind, but consider time as a sliver between two eternities?eternity future and eternity past. Thomas Carlyle said, ?One life?a little gleam of time between two eternities.? Man was placed in a sliver of time, just for a moment really, an interlude, an interruption between eternity future and eternity past.
If we can capture the thought of eternity in our minds, it will change ?
the way we view God,
the way we view life,
the way we view ourselves,
the way we face problems,
and the way we deal with death.
If we begin to comprehend that all of the business and interaction we are experiencing in this present world is merely a brief interruption in an ongoing relation of eternity, our perspective on all of life will change. If we come to grips with the fact that we are eternal, and that we are going to live somewhere forever?though we may not be able to define eternity so as to satisfy a metaphysician?we will be amazed and transformed by the wonder of the meaning of life.
We don?t have to be theologians to understand that we are eternal. Science informs us that all matter is eternal, and that it continues to exist in one form or another. It then corroborates what the Bible validates: ?Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations? (Jeremiah 1:5). That?s what God told Jeremiah: ?Before you even got here, I picked you out. I had predestined you. I had predetermined you. I prearranged for you to be who you are and where you are at this particular window of time.?
That is not just true for the prophet Jeremiah. The same is true for you and me!
God is amazing! God is astounding! God is incredible! He is power and purpose. He is the fusion of energy and intellect. He is a strategist, and He has a plan for everything, including our lives. What I love about Him is not just that He is powerful?our God is a thinking God, a logos God, an intelligent God, and He has a plan. That gives me joy, because sometimes I don?t have a plan; and when I do have a plan, oftentimes my plan goes awry. But it helps me understand that when my life seems chaotic and crazy, that God has a strategy for my life. According to Romans 8:28, I can rest assured that ?All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.?
You and I are called out of eternity into time according to His purpose and plan.
Women readers are now saying, ?Hold on a minute. You left us out!? No, I didn?t! You were in Adam.
We must also understand that God is good and that He is sovereign. That means that God is in complete control, and that out of His goodness and His mercy, He chooses to be good because He is intrinsically good. There is no need for someone to police God or watch over Him. He just chooses to be good. And out of His goodness and sovereignty, God decided, as the final act of creation, to make man. Man, then, is the crescendo of His creation.
We must also understand that God is a loving God, and out of the incomprehensible depths of His love, He created someone to love. The greatest love story we will ever read is found between the books of Genesis and Revelation, because God handcrafted an object to love. In essence, He said, ?I want something to love,? and He took that something out of eternity and brought it down into time. He scooped up a bit of clay and began to form and fashion man into His likeness and into His image so that He might have someone to love.
If you believe that is true, you?ll understand that we are far more interested in religion than God is. God is not interested in religion; He is interested in relationship. Religion only becomes significant when it enhances relationship, which it doesn?t always do. Oftentimes religion becomes a deterrent to relationship. The Bible is filled with numerous religious people who missed connecting with God altogether. Sometimes we are so preoccupied with our religious ideologies and teachings and doctrines and principles, we fail to understand that what really matters the most in life is a relationship with God. It is from our foundational relationship with God that He gives us the privilege of having healthy relationships with our spouses, our families, our friends, and countless others.
It all starts with a relationship with God?that is the foundation for our lives that everything else must be built upon. If we try to build on any of these other relationships, we are building on quicksand, because at some point our relationship with our children will break down, our relationship with our siblings will break down, our relationship with our spouse will break down, and our relationship with our parents will break down. But our relationship with God is founded on a sure foundation, and we can deal with everything else once we stabilize that essential relationship.
Consider these opening words regarding creation from Genesis 1:1?8:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Note that the Holy Spirit of God (see paragraph above) was present, even in creation. Open your Bible and read the rest of the creation account for yourself. Notice that each day God unfolded another facet of His strategy?from the second day to the third day to the fourth day there was the scattering of the stars into the skies, the releasing of the moon into the night, and the hurling of the sun into the atmosphere. Finally, after the vegetation had been created and the agricultural aspects of the creation had been resolved, He placed the cattle in particular regions to live and to graze. God provided for it all.
God did not create anything that had a need before first creating the provision. It?s not as though God created schools of fish and then said, ?Oops, I better create some water quick! Hold on! It?s coming.? It?s not as though God created cattle and then said, ?Hmmm, I wonder what they are going to eat? When the panda bears arrived in creation, I?m sure He had bamboo shoots waiting, knowing they would love them.
Don?t let this point escape your attention. If we have a need (and who doesn?t?), it is only a sign there is a provision from the Creator to fulfill it. If we have a problem, God already has a solution. This has implications in all of our lives. For instance, ?There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it? (1 Corinthians 10:13). God said it vividly through His creation, then He reinforces the same principle through the apostle Paul, saying, ?I won?t let you get into trouble without having a provision for any need.? That?s the kind of God He is!
Every detail of creation had to be considered and meticulously put into place, including the monitoring of the seasons so that each thing would cycle and reproduce after its own kind. There had to be the creating of seasons for each thing to have rest and recycling propensities. Everything had to be put in its place. The rocking of the oceans had to be controlled by the gravity that was controlled by the revolution of the sun and the earth moving around it, and all of it was put into a regimen of time. Every system was orchestrated and put in place so that the creation was finally a safe world into which He could put the object of His affection?mankind.
On the sixth day of creation, God stepped into the scene, scooped up some earth, and said, ?Now, I?m going to start working on the beloved.? ?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? (Genesis 2:7). God breathed in man the ?breath of life. ? Here the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, uses the Greek word zoe as the word for ?life.? God breathed into man ?the breath of life? so that he became a living soul made in the image and likeness of the Creator (Genesis 1:27).
Adam woke up with everything he needed in place and available to him right there on the spot. And God said it was very good, because it was very good.
God had also created a honeymoon suite called the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8), and in it He placed the man and his bride, Eve, in a controlled environment that was so sustained that man was not required to do any hard labor at all. Adam was responsible ?to dress [the Garden] and to keep it? (Genesis 2:15). All he had to do was love God, love his woman, and love his land. All he had to do was love. He didn?t have to sweat. He didn?t have to labor over deadlines. He didn?t have to work around the clock. His job was to love and nurture. How sweet was that?
Women readers are now saying, ?Hold on a minute. You left us out!? No, I didn?t! You were in Adam. The first birth was actually a man giving birth. After Adam had walked around and named all the living creatures, we find that ?for Adam there was not found an help meet for him? (v. 20). Adam looked at the giraffes and camels and said, ?Those won?t do.? He looked at the crocodile and said, ?No, not even close to what I?m looking for.? He looked at the spider and said, ?Too small.? He looked at the cheetah and said, ?Too fast.? Finally, Adam said, ?God, I?m not happy because I don?t have what You have. You have something to love, and I don?t. You created me so much like You, and I am made to love something in relationship to me even as You have expressed Your love in my relationship to You.?
And so it was that God ?caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept,? because God does His best work when we go to sleep. Then He reached inside Adam and ?took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman? (vv. 21?22). Essentially, God pulled Eve out from him. So women did not have the first C-section?Adam did!
Adam woke up, saw the woman, and said, ?Whoa, man! What?s up, Lord? She?s cool!? God is good all the time, and Adam knew it. Look a little deeper at Adam?s response to Eve: ?This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man? (v.?23). And Adam began to walk with the woman in the Garden, in their honeymoon suite, picking fruit whenever they were hungry, scooping water whenever they were thirsty, never having to worry about replenishing or recycling, because God put a perfect system in place.
How many years Adam and Eve lived in the Garden, enjoying each other and caring for the Garden, enjoying a relationship with God and learning about the creation, we do not know. The brief creation account only tells us what we need to know. But there is no reason to think it was a short time. We do know that the innocence of Adam and Eve extended into the years of fellowship in the Garden.
I woke up one morning and noticed my watch had stopped in the night. I kept trying to wind it, but it wouldn?t start. So I said to a friend, ?My expensive watch won?t work. See if you can fix it. I?m not that bright.? He looked at it and said, ?The battery must be dead.? I said, ?Duh!? Such an amazing technological mechanism is stopped by the lack of power. The whole system is completely shut down by a breach. The watch was useless to me in its condition of having lost its power.
On a far more profound level, we see something similar to this in Genesis 3: The complete loss of power through a break in mankind?s relationship with God. This breakdown began with the choice of whether or not man would love God and obey His word. Alone in all of creation, man was faced with the call to a moral decision. Man was created as a free moral being who is given the power of deciding for himself. In placing Adam in the Garden, God established one crystal clear rule: ?Of every tree of the Garden thou mayest freely eat: 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? (Genesis 2:16?17). This tree symbolized all moral knowledge, knowledge that only God?s power could sustain, and thus its fruit was forbidden to man.
The tree of life, on the other hand, was similar to a fully charged battery in the watch?it keeps the system going. As ?the tree of life,? it gives life, and by that I mean eternal life. It?s an Eveready battery that will never lose its power?it continues to maintain the system. Isn?t it interesting that God did not create anything that did not maintain the system? By that I mean, when was the last time the sun needed to be recharged, having burned up all the gas and run out of power? When did the world slow down on its axis so it could take a break, or when has the ocean ever said, ?I?m tired. I don?t think I will sway today. Call me tomorrow and perhaps I?ll feel up to it again??
Even our bodies were made to be eternal. For instance, the moment I cut my finger, white blood corpuscles rush to that cut to stitch my body back together, because my body was not originally designed to die.
The tree of life is the battery that perpetuates the motion?tick, tick, tick, tick, tick?and the whole creation system operates around the tree of life. Every facet of creation was good, very good. Adam enjoyed it and explored it and loved it. There was pure joy and peace, and God rested from His labors. Whenever we see God sit down, we know it is done and all is well.
God loves when we come to Him as children and simply do what He says without reasoning it all out, without overprocessing the whys and the hows. There is something that God blesses in the midst of na?vet? that is irreplaceable. It?s one of the conditions of living in His Kingdom. Jesus said, ?Except ye ? become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven? (Matthew 18:3). The problem is that some of us cannot really get hooked up with God because we overthink everything and don?t just do what He says when He says. It?s a lack of na?vet?, a lack of childlike dependency, and a lack of vulnerability that stop us from having an intimate relationship with God, because we worship our minds and not God himself. We become like my watch that stopped because it was cut off from the sustaining power, and the system was broken.
There are two trees that God described within the Garden. One is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which will dispel the na?vet?, the vulnerability, and the innocence. If the innocence is gone, what emerges is an independence that will stop us from having a deep relationship with another, because relationship requires the vulnerability of need, and independence denies that we have a need. If you?ve ever tried to have a relationship with someone who doesn?t need you, you know how hard that is.
Consequently, once the recipient of God?s love chose to trade places and wanted to forgo the love of God and run ahead of His loving guidance, and wanted to know, even as God knows, that innocence was shattered and the need was gone. And God said, ?I?ve got to make some changes.?
Love is only proven where choice exists.
Take a good look at the nature of this tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Clearly, it was in the midst of the Garden to prove man?s love. It was the one and only tree from which he could not eat. Love is only proven where choice exists. If there is no choice, there can be no genuine proof of love. For instance, if there is only one woman in the entire world and I say to her, ?I love you above all others,? it means nothing, because there is no other option. There is no reason for that woman to feel flattered, special, blessed, or excited when she knows she is the only one available.
The same is true for our lives. God has forbidden us some things so we can choose to obey Him, because our obedience validates our love. As the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was to Adam and Eve, the purpose of that ?something? puts us into a system so that every day we can say, ?God, see how much I love You? I have kept this rule because I would rather choose You above anything else in life.? It is that preference that is at the heart of a relationship with God.
But while Adam enjoyed the creation and God rested, a slithering thing wiggled its way into the Garden?a slinking, crawling, creeping thing that the Bible uses as an icon of evil. Understand that the serpent as the icon is not the issue?it is what the serpent is symbolic of?evil?that is significant. When you touch it, it opens up hell?s kitchen.
The serpent naturally focused on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, knowing that it was the key to breaking man?s relationship with God. Coming to Eve alone, he said, ?Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil? (Genesis 3:4?5). In essence, the serpent was saying that God was withholding something good from her and would be jealous and envious if she took it, because then she would be like Him. The serpent planted the seed in Eve?s mind that God was afraid that if they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would know even as He knows, and then they would be like Him. ?That?s why God made the rule. He?s keeping you from becoming gods yourselves!?
Curiosity was aroused by the temptation. Eve stopped and looked. She reflected and talked when she should have fled the scene. Such a beguiling argument! Undoubtedly, Eve had never thought such a thought. The serpent played upon Eve?s desire to be like God, twisted it around, and got her to question why the rule was there in the first place. Surely it is a good thing to become like God. It?s the same thing we want today?to become like Jesus Christ. But Eve went about a right thing in a wrong way. The oldest trick in the world is to get us to do the right thing in the wrong way.
It?s amazing how the enemy still uses the same tricks on us over and over again. He even tried it in the temptation of Jesus during the forty days in the wilderness. In Matthew?4, the Bible states that after Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was hungry, and it was right for Him to eat. But ?when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread? (Matthew?4:3). The fast had ended, and it was not wrong for Jesus to eat, but in this situation it would have been wrong for Jesus to use divine power to accomplish this human need. Satan tempted Jesus to go about doing the right thing in the wrong way. But instead of falling prey to the lie that Eve believed, and that we often believe, Jesus hit the devil with the Word of God and drove him away: ?It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God? (v. 4).
All temptations play upon trying to satisfy legitimate needs in illegitimate ways. So we are not wrong to have the need, but we may be wrong with the method we employ to accomplish the need.
Once Eve had been deceived into believing the enemy?s lie, she reached out after the forbidden fruit?whether it was an apple, an orange, or a tangerine doesn?t matter, because it was what it represents that matters. In that moment, her eyes were opened, and the results were far different from what she or Adam would have expected. Instead of gaining superior knowledge that made them equal with God, they gained an overwhelming awareness of guilt and shame.
You see the impact that followed. Eve immediately reversed the divine order of their marriage. Rather than Eve being the recipient of the provision, she became Adam?s provider and gave to the man rather than the man giving to her. ?She took of the fruit ? and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat? (Genesis 3:6).
However, it wasn?t Eve?s eating of the forbidden fruit that brought the world down, so we need to stop blaming women for The Fall. Eve innocently fell prey and was deceived, but Adam knew exactly what he was doing as she gave it to him and he ate. This problem falls squarely on Adam?s shoulders. He consciously made the decision, for God had told him specifically that ?in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die? (Genesis 2:17).
Instead of dying with His bride, Jesus Christ died for His bride and broke the curse.
I think that Adam looked at the situation and made the decision that if Eve was going to die, he would die with her in disobedience rather than obey God. We see in Adam a type of Christ. He was the ?first Adam? (1 Corinthians 15). Both the first Adam and the last Adam?who was Christ?had the same dilemma. The last Adam?s bride?the Church?was dying, too. If He had disobeyed the Father, He would have taken the bait of the first Adam, and He would have died with His bride. But instead of dying with His bride, Jesus Christ died for His bride and broke the curse. Jesus reconnected the battery?tick, tick, tick, tick?and redemption started.
With the juice of the fruit in their mouths, Adam and Eve looked at each other, and all their innocence was gone. Suddenly they knew that they were naked, and they were ashamed. In that historical moment in the third chapter of Genesis, we see the phenomenal crash of mankind. Like a magnificent airplane falling out of the clear blue sky and crashing into the deepest ocean, mankind plummeted down into the depths of depravity so low that The Fall has not stopped yet. It continues to plummet downward until every baby is born in sin and shaped in iniquity. There is no need for classes that teach us how to sin?it is inherent from The Fall. No one teaches a two-year-old child how to lie about sneaking a cookie?it?s inherent from Adam.
God walked through the cool of the Garden and called out to Adam, ?Where art thou? (Genesis 3:9). This is a rhetorical question. God obviously knew the answer when He asked the question. God asked this to teach Adam as well as you and me a lesson, because one of the hardest things in life for a man to be honest about is where he is. We men fill our lives with work and career and money and toys and busyness to avoid having to answer the question: ?Where am I?
What the woman wants to know is, ?Where are you?
What the kids want to know is, ?Where are you?
What God wants to know is, ?Where are you?
And the truth is that most of us men honestly don?t know where we are. We are lost?plain and simple. Not knowing where you are means you are lost.
Adam didn?t answer, because he did not know the answer to ?Where art thou? The best he could have done was to respond, ?God, I?m not sure.? Most men can empathize with Adam. We know what it means to lose our ability to articulate where we are. If God asked us the same question, how would we respond other than to answer, ?God, I?m lost! I don?t know where I am.?
By the way, God was never lost. We may say we ?found the Lord,? but I beg to differ with that statement. We didn?t find God, because God wasn?t lost. God is never lost. ?The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth? (Romans 10:8). God is in our next breath. He is in our prayer life. He is never lost. He is in our home. He is close to us. It?s not God who is lost; it is us.
As foolish as it was, Adam hid from God, which is exactly what we?re still doing today.
The Bible states that Adam?s response was, ?I heard thy voice in the Garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself? (Genesis 3:10). As foolish as it was, Adam hid from God, which is exactly what we?re still doing today. We would be shocked at how many people get up on Sunday morning, take a shower, go to great lengths and costs so they can look good to everyone in church, but all of it is a fa?ade they?re hiding behind. The real person is hiding beneath the well-groomed hair and the fancy clothes and the matching shoes. People only hide when they are afraid, and the voice of God is frightening when there is disobedience in our lives.
By way of contrast, ?There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear? (1 John 4:18; emphasis mine). But where there is fear, we are always hiding. After all, who wants to be rejected and judged? Who wants to be exposed and seen for who they really are? The overwhelming fear of rejection makes both men and women hide.
God found Adam and Eve hiding in the Garden, and what did He discover? ?They sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons? (Genesis 3:7). In their attempt to cover their nakedness and shame, they had gone and found a bush, cut off some leaves, and made themselves little aprons. Adam didn?t realize that when he cut off the leaves, the same thing that was happening to the leaves was happening to him. The leaves were healthy and vital until he severed them from the life source. Adam and Eve were fine until they cut themselves off from God. Even though the leaves appeared green at that moment, even as they were weaving them together into aprons, the leaves were dying.
Even though a man looks good today, he is dying because he has cut himself off from God. This is always what happens when man tries to cover himself. That?s what religion does?it covers us with works. We actually begin to think God will accept us because we?ve done good things. We?re saved because ? anytime we have a ?because,? we have a religion. And anytime we have religion, it is blocking relationship. Nevertheless, we prop up leaves, man-made good deeds, hand-cut stuff that is withering and will eventually crumble, and soon we?ll have to find something to replace it. An apron of leaves is a poor replacement for a lost relationship with God.
Understand that the aprons of leaves were withering even while Adam and Eve were stitching them up. The man and woman came out in the open before God and probably hoped they were acceptable to God. Adam presented to God what he?d made, but God did not accept it, although He did introduce Adam and Eve to what His Son Jesus would accomplish much later. God took animal skins and covered their nakedness (Genesis 3:21), because ?without shedding of blood is no remission? (Hebrews 9:22).
Why is that true? Because God said, ?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.? What God introduced to mankind is the principle called substitution. If there is no death, then God is a liar; and if God is a liar, then Satan takes over. Something had to die so that Adam could live, and that happened through the life of the innocent animal that died in his stead.
Consider the animal that gave up its skin to cover the man and woman. If it could talk, it would say, ?No, no! Don?t kill me! I didn?t do anything wrong!? And God would have said, ?That is exactly why I will take your life, because what I need is your innocence. Adam lost his innocence, and I?m going to take your innocence and give it to him. I?m going to take the guilt that Adam incurred, and I?m going to place it on your account so that the death you died is not in your name but in Adam?s name, and the life that he lives is not in his name but in your name.?
All of this is a temporary solution to a far bigger problem. This is merely a Band-Aid that is placed over a cancer, so it temporarily stops the oozing. But it doesn?t heal the cancer. If the blood of bulls and goats could have healed the cancer of sin, Christ would not have had to die. But it would stop the oozing long enough so that man could live out his life, which he did. Otherwise he would have immediately died physically.
With mankind lost and already free-falling into depravity, all of God?s creation also fell into peril, and it?s still in peril today, waiting on the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:21). Looking around the world, we see that we are still falling downward. We ruin our water supplies, our lakes, our streams, our air, our oil, and other natural resources. Everything that God created for us, we are now destroying, because it is all part of the meteoric Fall of all mankind as we continue to live independent of the will and the purpose of God.
All that God had created seemed lost. The angels were aghast. There was no record that this had ever happened before. All that God labored over had now been placed in jeopardy?it was taken to the marketplace, it was auctioned off, and it was hocked. Later we will find that where it has been hocked by the first man, Adam, it must be redeemed by the second Adam, Jesus Christ.
Everything was spiraling down.
There was a gulf between God and man.
They now knew sorrow and hard toil.
Nature, once man?s ally, had become hostile.
War broke out between the man and the woman.
Crisis broke out between their children until one murdered the other.
It was all spiraling down.
The Garden of Eden was lost, mankind was lost, but God was not finished with mankind. He said, ?Wait a minute! I?ve got to deal with Satan: ?Thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.? I?ve got to deal with the woman: ?I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.? I?ve got to deal with man: ?In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground? ? (see Genesis 3:14?19).
God stepped in and dealt with each participant in The Fall, but another problem remained. The system was still working?tick, tick, tick, tick?because the tree of life was still there. And if God didn?t do something about that, man would be eternally fallen, because the tree of life was still sustaining everything.
So God sent down cherubims from heaven and said to Adam and Eve, ?I am going to drive you out of your honeymoon suite that I built for lovers to dwell in, and I am going to send you out into the world. You?re going to be in the world, but not of it. You came from here, and you?re going there. I?m placing my cherubim with a flaming sword that turns every way, and it will block the way back to the tree of life, because if man was to get to the tree of life in his fallen state, he would be eternally damned? (see Genesis 3:24). The reason God blocked the way to the tree of life was so that man cannot get to life, and the further he gets away from the tree, the more his knees hurt as he ages, the more his back goes out and his hair thins.
The tree of life is still giving life, but mankind cannot get to it anymore. It still has all the power it ever had, but man cannot reach it. Every time man would try to reach for its fruit, the flaming sword would stop him from having access. So mankind begins the slow, dangerous process of trying to find a way to eternal life without getting killed by the sword.
The Flood came, and he couldn?t find his way to eternal life.
The Pentateuch came, and he couldn?t do it.
The goats died, and he couldn?t do it.
The lambs cried, and he couldn?t do it.
The incense went up, and he couldn?t do it.
The tabernacle came, and he couldn?t do it.
The temple was built, and he couldn?t do it.
The prophets came, and he couldn?t do it.
But one day, this man Jesus came. He was born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. When He grew, He walked among men, healed the sick, raised the dead, and turned water into wine. They tried to get Him to seek an office so they could make Him king over the earth, but He said, ?My kingdom is not of this world? (John 18:36). And when the time was right, they drove nails into His hands and feet, and they pierced His side, because the only thing that could stop the flaming sword was the Cross of Christ.
That?s why when I think of the goodness of Jesus and all of His love for me, my soul cries out, ?Hallelujah! Now I can come to the Father boldly and obtain my Savior and find grace to help in the time of need. I come to the tree of life and receive the eternal life Jesus won for me!?
Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, the Lover of my soul, knew I was broken, knew I was fallen and couldn?t get up, so He came for me. He knew I couldn?t come to Him. He knew that it was no good for my mother to say to me, ?Why don?t you do better, honey? He knew it was futile for my father to say, ?Why don?t you change your life, son? Jesus understood that neither you nor I could come to Him because we were broken. But if we would just cry out to Him, He would come to us.
One Tuesday night in a tiny little church that was so small you couldn?t even whip a cat in it, God found me. I was lost. Many times I had tried to come to Him. I couldn?t do it. I couldn?t make it. I couldn?t reach high enough. Why? Because I was broken. But when I couldn?t come to Him, Jesus came to me, and He saved me.
Today we have excellent programs available, from counseling programs to rehabilitation programs. We have systems in place that are supposed to help us, but they hold no real power. For God is saying, ?Verily, verily I say unto you, with your rich self, with your broken self, with your attractive self, with your homely self, with your healthy self, with your afflicted self, you must be born again.?
You can come shake my hand until my fingers fall off, but unless you give your heart to God, it will not make a difference.
WHEN I CONSIDER THY HEAVENS,
THE WORK OF THY FINGERS,
THE MOON AND THE STARS,
WHICH THOU HAST ORDAINED;
WHAT IS MAN, THAT THOU ART
MINDFUL OF HIM? AND THE SON
OF MAN, THAT THOU VISITEST
HIM? FOR THOU HAST MADE
HIM A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE
ANGELS, AND HAST CROWNED
HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOUR. Psalm 8:3?5
? 2010 TDJ Enterprises
Excerpted from From the Cross to Pentecost by T.D. Jakes Copyright © 2010 by T.D. Jakes. Excerpted by permission.
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Chapter 1 Access Denied 3
Chapter 2 Access Granted 37
Chapter 3 The Cross-A Symbol of Evil 67
Chapter 4 The Cross-The Place of His Passion 101
Chapter 5 The Plot of the Priest 133
Chapter 6 The Master's Mysterious Plan 167
Chanter 7 Finally! 197
Posted March 28, 2012
No text was provided for this review.