Monday, May 26, 2014

Review (Part 4 of 8)

Continuing my review of John H. Walton's book...

C.  Death.

An additional major problem I found with Walton's view is the issue of death and the effects of the entry of sin. In Walton's section on death (p.98-100), he takes a lot of liberties with the text of Romans 5:12. He says Paul is speaking only "about how death came to people." Really? The text says: "...just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul repeats this truth in 1 Corinthians: "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead." One could sum up and paraphrase by saying, "Death entered the world through sin through a man, one man; likewise, death spread also to all men because they all sinned in Adam." Does the reader see the fullness of this - that the sin of this one man also affected all of God's creation? Did not God tell Adam clearly, "...cursed is the ground because of you" (Gen. 3:17)Christ's work, as the last Adam, conversely renews all things; and when He returns, it will be consummated! But this is one reason why nature, the world itself, all of creation, "...has been groaning together..." (Rom. 8:22), awaiting Christ to fully restore all things (see Jer. 12:4; Acts 3:21). 

Walton's appeal to logic in the next paragraph (p.99) may initially seem legitimate because the only thing we are familiar with is a fallen world in which sin has entered, and death through sin. However, death is NOT part of the natural order of things as God originally made them. (Shall the just live by faith, or by sight?) My devotional booklet last month reads, "Death is an invader. One of the reasons death causes so much grief is because we know it is not supposed to be this way." And 1 Corintians 15:26says, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." If we could go back in time, to "Walton's world before Genesis 1," death would still have been grievous, man or beast. As Spurgeon says, man's conscience "tells them that it is the child of their sin." I think it could be rightly said that this is yet another reason why we who have been granted eternal life are called "pilgrims" and "sojourners" in this world, for death is a foreign thing to the people of God. For Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die..." (John 11:25,26)Christ defeated sin and death, not just "our natural mortality." So death for the saint is in one sense simply a departing; a shedding of one garment for another; a shifting of the weight from our back foot, on earth, to our front foot, in heaven already.

God pronounced all things "good" until sin entered through Adam. "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23). But how might it be if there was no sin? Like... Heaven? Is it so hard to fathom an unfallen world, or a restored world, where there are animals and no death, where "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" (see Isaiah 11)? I think it is interesting that the first hint of an actual death in Scripture is by the hand of God Himself - to provide a covering for our original parents' nakedness (see Gen. 3:21), which of course is a foreshadowing of Christ's atoning work. Isn't it also interesting that initially God gave all creatures only the plants for food (see Gen. 1:29,30)? Won't the new heaven and new earth have plants and animals, yet "...death shall be no more"Doesn't the Holy Spirit also say that "...death reigned from Adam to Moses"? Would Adam actually have died had he not sinned? "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:20)

And lastly, Walton's understanding of the purpose of the "tree of life," to simply be "an antidote" for "our natural mortality," is warped, confused, and unbiblical. Much more could be said, but regretfully I assert that, for any who would affirm this teaching, it reveals possibly a poor understanding of the fullness of the gospel.

"The Genesis 1 of the Bible gives us a surer and better, a more satisfying and useful, knowledge of the origin of the universe, than all the volumes of the philosophers. The lively faith of humble Christians understands this matter better than the elevated fancy of the greatest wits... These things we understand by faith. The Bible gives us the truest and most exact account of the origin of all things, and we are to believe it, and not to wrest or run down the scripture-account of the creation, because it does not suit with some fantastic hypotheses of our own, which has been in some learned but conceited men the first remarkable step towards infidelity, and has led them into many more."
 - Matthew Henry (from his commentary on Genesis 1 and Hebrew 11)

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