memories of Mama

Irene Vann memorial (1)

I want to tell a story on my Mama. It happened back when I was a young boy going to church in that building right over there. The preacher was preaching, and I was sitting in my spot on the front row listening. But in the middle of the message, I discovered that I had to go to the bathroom. My plan was to slip through the center aisle and scoot to the back, then make my way to the men’s restroom without much of a fuss. That was the plan. Unfortunately, my school/church shoes that I was wearing had seen better days. So, the preacher was preaching, but when I was halfway back up the aisle, he stopped. The soles on my shoes had come loose, so I was flapping. It sounded like I was wearing swim fins. When the preacher stopped preaching, everybody started looking at me, then everybody looked at Mama. She turned bright red with embarrassment. My Mama took raising us five children personally and seriously. You had better believe that the next Sunday I had a brand new pair of church shoes on!


There was another incident that took place back in the seventies, and it was not comical. We were home at our place down the road next to the chicken houses. Mom got a call on the phone. She went to the wall and picked the phone up, because that’s what you did back then. She calmly listened, hung up the phone, and then said to my Dad “Come on Buck, Gary’s been in a wreck.” Mom and Dad were out of the house in an instant, and the rest of us kids could do nothing but bawl our eyes out and pray.

My brother Gary was sixteen. I remember the day of Gary’s funeral. I was looking for Mama, but it was hard to find her because there were so many good people like y’all loving on her and paying attention to her. When the crowd broke, I saw her. I remember thinking “Why does Mom look so different?” I had never seen her old before. The years were not kind to her. She had to bury four of us. That’s not right.

When fate hands you that kind of a life, you have a choice to make. My Mama chose not to close up, or wallow in self-pity or escape into self-destruction. That was not her way. Instead, she chose to pour herself into us. She invested herself in us.

Mama gave me life twice. She gave birth to me, and raised me, but she also invested in my spiritual life. She gave me my first Bible, and my second Bible. She sent me to Christian conferences and camps. She encouraged me to join clubs where I could learn about public speaking. She didn’t send me to church, she brought me to church. When I started preaching, she was always in the audience. And when I wanted to go to college, she and Dad sacrificed to send me. You can’t repay something like that, and Mom never asked me to. To her, it was just being Mama.

Now, all I have is memories of her. But I cherish those memories. She was – and will remain a blessing to me. And some day soon our Lord Jesus Christ is going to return, and the first thing on his list will be raising his dead. I’m going to get my Mama back. So I don’t have to grieve like those who have no hope. No, the appropriate response is a prayer of gratitude.

FATHER GOD, giver of every good and perfect gift – thank you that Irene Vann loved us, and gave of herself for 88 years to demonstrate that love. She followed the pattern set by your Son, who came into this world not to be served but to serve. Thank you for the gift of Irene Vann.

(For anyone interested in the photo memorial that was presented at the reception after Mom’s funeral, it is available here).

perspective on permanence

lonestar

perspective on permanence

Luke 12:27-34 (CSB)

Luke 12:27 “Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. Luke 12:28 If that’s how God clothes the grass, which is in the field today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he do for you – you of little faith? Luke 12:29 Don’t strive for what you should eat and what you should drink, and don’t be anxious. Luke 12:30 For the Gentile world eagerly seeks all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Luke 12:31 “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. Luke 12:32 Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

I can’t read a passage like this without thinking of last year’s hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail. It was awesome, and one of the things that made it awesome is that we would encounter fields of wild grass that were just beautiful. I remember thinking that this is what God can do with just one crayon out of the box. But then, he could also fill those fields with colorful flowers and just overwhelm us with beauty. And, Jesus is pointing out that nobody plants or maintains them. God just puts them there.

Jesus also mentions Solomon here, and there’s lots more that story.

Solomon is interesting as a biblical author because we have three books attributed to him, and each of the three books appears to have been written at a different time in his life.

The Song of Songs tells the story of a young, passionate man, in love with life and in love with the love of his life, and his bride returning that passionate love.

The Proverbs reveal a different Solomon, a middle-aged man whose zeal is spent on enjoying and understanding the world around him, and bringing control to its chaos. For Solomon, everything he touched had to be the very best. That is why Jesus mentioned “Solomon in all his glory” in today’s text. Solomon spent a lifetime getting the best clothes, building the best buildings, and amassing the best fortune.

Ecclesiastes reflects a yet different perspective. As an elderly man, Solomon reflects back on the pursuits of his life and concludes that he has wasted much of it on pursuits that were merely temporary, ultimately not as fulfilling as he had thought they would be.

Solomon’s big lesson was not that everything is meaningless. I think that text is mistranslated. I think what Solomon concluded is that after all is said and done, none of it will last.

The things we enjoy are not going to last.

The wisdom we pursue is not going to last.

Youth is not going to last.

Wealth is not going to last.

Power and influence are not going to last.

Human life is not going to last.

We have to understand life from that perspective to see what Jesus is saying to us in today’s text.

He said “Think about how the flowers grow; they do not work or produce clothing. Yet not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, how much more will he clothe you, you people of little faith!”

For many in Jesus’ day, clothing was the symbol of success and status. So people went out of their way to dress well, because it affected how they were treated. Have you ever noticed that when you dress well, people tend to pay more attention to you? But pursuit of better, more expensive clothing can steal time and effort from pursuing true maturity, so Jesus warns us all not to let concern over the wardrobe consume us.

Instead, we need to choose to trust God to give us all we need, and not be so focused on the externals.

Jesus said, that we should not be overly concerned about what we will eat and what we will drink, and we should not worry about such things, because all the nations of the world spend their time pursuing these things, and our Father knows that we need them. Instead, we should pursue his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Much of the world is obsessed with consuming and acquiring. The Lord says we should not follow that path. Instead, our obsession should be the things that our Father has provided for us. His kingdom is his plan for our future, and we pursue it today by taking advantage of the grace he has given us now.

We need to choose to focus our pursuit on God’s coming kingdom of grace.

Jesus said that he is the shepherd, and we are his little flock. We should not be afraid because what pleases our Father most is giving us that coming kingdom. We can sell your possessions and give to the poor. That will provide wallets that do not wear out “a treasure in the sky that never decreases, where no thief attacks and no moth destroys. Because where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. If our treasure is these temporary things, our heart will be so focused on the temporary that we do not have time for the permanent.

The permanent thing that the Lord tells us to pursue just happens to be the very thing that he says God is delighted to give us out of the riches of his grace. So, that is why we can afford to be so generous with the other things we have. We see those things (present possessions) as temporary, and we have already been promised an eternal inheritance to replace them. If our hearts were tied to this present stuff, it would indicate that we are not seeking Jesus.

Let us pray: LORD, today we want to take a lesson from Solomon. He discovered that a life focused on getting temporary things is a wasted life. Instead we want to focus our pursuit on your coming kingdom and being grateful for your present grace. Give us your perspective on this present stuff, and make us generous with it, because we know it’s not going to last. But your kingdom will.

my scripture index

Have you ever wanted to make a scripture index of everything you have blogged or posted online? Well – I did that. After a few experiments, I found a system that is easy to update, and keeps a record of everything I have written online by Bible book, chapter and verse.

It utilizes only folders and .url files, so it does not take up too much space, although there are thousands of links.

It contains links to all my articles, devotions, sermons, newsletters, miscellaneous random rants … everything I have posted that references a biblical text.

 

Check it out!

Scripture Index (Jefferson Vann)

 

Let me know what you think in the comments to this post.

Proverbs 27³ LOL

me

I was not doing my devotions. I just opened my Bible to read for a bit while I was waiting for my wife to join me in the car so we could go to church. My Bible just happened to open to Proverbs 27. When I read verse three, I literally laughed out loud.

A stone is heavy and sand, a burden, but aggravation from a fool outweighs them both.1

I know – you don’t get it.

Here is what you need to know. For the past few months, I have been working at a major home improvement store. I won’t tell you what store. Just suffice it to say that the aprons are orange. You figure it out.

I have been assigned to the outdoor garden department, recovery section. That means that for several months I have been hauling rocks, stone and sand on a regular basis. That stuff gets heavy. It can also be a nuisance since stones break so easily, and bags holding stones break so easily – so I am always doing cleanup. So, I can tell you whoever originated the saying that Solomon collected which eventually became Proverbs 27:3a knew what he was talking about. Stones and sand and bags of rock are heavy.

But I can also tell you from experience that I would much rather move stones and sand and rocks and dirt and mulch for the rest of my life instead of enduring “aggravation from a fool” for the rest of my life.

People who are not only wrong, but wrong at the top of their voice all the time – those are the kind of people you need to avoid.

So, what the Lord in his wisdom – and humor – was telling me this morning was this: You are sore from lifting rocks and sand so much. Imagine how sore I am from having to put up with all the stupidity there is down there on your planet.

So, back to the rocks I go this afternoon. And, hopefully I will not act like one of those stupid people whose words and actions are dumber than a bag of rocks!

1Christian Standard Bible

my current resume

me

Résumé

Reverend JEFFERSON D. VANN

DOB 7/14/1961

5307 Nicholas CT

Williamsburg VA 23188

jeffersonvann@yahoo.com

Skype: jefferson.vann

EDUCATION:

Master of Theology (Th.M.) with a concentration in Biblical Theology. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, Massachusetts, Graduated 5/6/2006.

Master of Divinity (M.Div.) Missions Track. Columbia International University, Columbia

South Carolina, Graduated 5/25/1996.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Theology, Pastoral Studies Curriculum. Berkshire Christian College, Lenox Massachusetts, Graduated 5/21/1983.

MINISTRY CREDENTIALS:

Ordained Minister through the Florida Conference of Advent Christian Churches, PO Box 4303, Dowling Park, Florida 32064.

online presence:

https://jeffersonvann.com

https://marmsky.com

EXPERIENCE:

Present Associate at The Home Depot, 6700 Mooretown Road, Williamsburg, VA (757) 220-1800

2018 Hiked 1,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail (Virginia to Maine).

2013-2017 Advent Christian General Conference (Dept. of World Outreach)

Job Title: Missionary

On assignment to New Zealand (February 2015 to June 2017)

Responsibilities: Pastor in charge of teaching ministries at Takanini Community Church (Advent Christian), 160 Great South Road, Takanini, Auckland New Zealand. Also assist Advent Christian Conference of New Zealand at other ACCONZ churches (Thames and Hamilton) as a theological and leadership development consultant.

Global Training Coordinator for ACGC ministries worldwide (January 2013 to present)

Responsibilities: Assist conference and organizational leaders in 21 countries in setting up training programs to meet their leader development needs. This involved coordinating via phone, Skype and email with conference and organizational leaders, training resource providers, and (in some cases) trips to various countries in Asia, USA and Africa to train church leaders.

Asia-Pacific Area Director (August 2012 to Present)

Responsibilities: Oversee and consult with missions, church and organizational leaders in India, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, and Thailand.

2011-2012 Diverging Approach Inc.

Job Title: Document Control Officer.

Responsibilities: Served as office assistant and document control officer at this engineering firm. Analyzed, edited and produced documents pertaining to the design and production of railroad signaling systems. This position involved the utilization of online document distribution systems.

2011- present Henceforth Theological Journal (USA)

Job Title: Contributing Editor.

Responsibilities: Manage the content and contribute scholarly articles for this theological journal and its accompanying print journal. Edit online and print articles for spelling, consistency, and accuracy.

2010- present Afterlife website and From Death to Life Magazine (New Zealand)

Job Title: Contributing Editor

Responsibilities: Manage the content and contribute scholarly articles for this theological website and its accompanying print magazine. Edit online and print articles for spelling, consistency, and accuracy. Post articles to the website.

1996-2011 Advent Christian General Conference (Dept. of World Outreach)

Job Title: Missionary

On assignment to New Zealand (February 2010 to February 2011)

Responsibilities: Pastor in charge of teaching ministries at Takanini Church of Christ and Christian LIFE Church (Advent Christian), 160 Great South Road, Takanini, Auckland New Zealand. Represented Advent Christian Conference of New Zealand at other ACCONZ churches.

On assignment to the Philippines (June 1996 to August 2009)

Responsibilities: Represent ACGC to the Philippine Conference of Advent Christian Churches (BPACCI). Supervise other missionaries (as Field Superintendent). Teach at Oro Bible College, Orient new and short-term missionaries to the field including but not limited to cultural, climate and language orientation. Preach and teach at churches in the USA and the Philippines. Manage mission finances.

Responsibilities to Oro Bible College as a chaplain, professor and administrator

To plan, develop, teach and evaluate college level courses in Bible, Theology, Biblical Languages, Hermeneutics, Church Administration and Ministry Skills.

Served as Academic Dean for nine years, which involved setting and implementing the curricula for the Bible College, overseeing the instructors, and managing the registrar and library offices.

1984-1996 Various

Responsibilities: Pastored several small churches and served three years in the U.S. Army (Stationed in Gelnhausen, West Germany.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES

Ryan Linnekin Williamsburg, VA Ph. 757-870-1386 ryan@wldgreen.com

Ron Thomas Charlotte, NC Ph: 704-545-6161 rthomas@acgc.us

Paul Bertolino Dowling Park, FL Ph: 386-658-1048 paulbarb@windstream.net

Nely N. Gamayon Cagayan de Oro, Philippines Ph: +63 88-858-3209 nellie_gamayon@yahoo.com

Glennys Burge Auckland, NZ Ph: +64 027-405 4803

all my Afterlife articles – to date

Afterlife

During the past few years, I have written a substantial number of Bible studies and theological articles for a website called AFTERLIFE, based in New Zealand. Here is an alphabetical list of links to those articles.

  1. a coming kingdom
  2. A Conditional Immortality Bibliography
  3. A conditionalist looks at αἰών
  4. A final punishment bibliography
  5. a futile quest?
  6. a gospel without a resurrection
  7. a modern metaphorical view
  8. a new sky and land
  9. a resurrection perspective
  10. A soul sleep bibliography
  11. About those mansions
  12. Abraham: Machpelah
  13. Afterlife: After or Beyond?
  14. all about a Promise (part 1)
  15. all about a Promise (part 2)
  16. altered
  17. An Eastern Orthodox Perspective
  18. an invitation to study God’s exclusive immortality
  19. Attention, witnesses!
  20. being with Christ will have to wait
  21. Bell’s Base Cards | Review of Love Wins by Rob Bell
  22. better than survival | The Hope of Resurrection
  23. blaspheming heaven | Revelation 13:6
  24. Book Review of The Tree of Life Paul Sellman
  25. challenging modern mantras
  26. christian perseverance
  27. Christmas joy and peace
  28. Christmas light
  29. Christmas Myths
  30. Clarifying Evangelical Conditionalism
  31. coaching for the mission in Jewish Galilee | The light of Christ
  32. Comparing God and humans
  33. Conditional Immortality and the Tree of Life
  34. consumed
  35. Daring to say SLEEP
  36. Death is not the answer
  37. Defending a bit of unconsciousness
  38. demon mortality and Revelation 20:10
  39. Did Judas go to hell? Judas’ eternal sin?
  40. Did You Say “Sleep”? | Sleep of the dead
  41. discovered | “… and they will reign with him for a thousand years…” (Rev. 20:6).
  42. embarrassing lessons in ministry
  43. ending it all
  44. Erasing Hell Review by Jefferson Vann
  45. eternally
  46. Eternity somewhere vs the Kingdom of Heaven
  47. evangelism: an offer of the Holy Spirit
  48. everlasting
  49. excess life
  50. exchanging this world for heaven
  51. Explaining our hope
  52. exterminate!
  53. false hopes for reward
  54. first look at natural death
  55. Five questions to ask while reading the rich man and Lazarus story
  56. formed from the dust | Snips and snails
  57. God Alone is Immortal
  58. God’s mouse
  59. God’s trap
  60. Grudem on the Image of God in humanity
  61. Guidance through the dark times
  62. hard questions and heaven’s king
  63. having life, or awaiting wrath
  64. he laid down his soul for us
  65. Help for a hard parable
  66. How hell will really glorify God
  67. how to keep your soul
  68. how to receive permanent life
  69. if you died today…
  70. Immortality: a gift, not a given
  71. in good hands
  72. introducing the breath of God
  73. introducing the collector
  74. invaded | dwelling place of God
  75. Is Death a Better Place ?
  76. Isaac: other sons sent away
  77. it’s like a box of chocolates
  78. Jacob rolling over in his grave
  79. Jesus has the keys of death and Hades
  80. last climb
  81. learning to trust
  82. let my soul live
  83. life from above
  84. Life in Christ alone
  85. Life Only in Christ
  86. Limited to the visible
  87. looking at 1 Thessalonians 5:10
  88. lost souls and other insights from the First Book of Psalms
  89. more than release
  90. morning is coming
  91. Moses on the souls of animals
  92. my riddle
  93. never see death?
  94. no future
  95. no more
  96. not a better place
  97. not be there
  98. not enough | Ecclesiastes 6
  99. not welcome
  100. Not whisked off
  101. only Jesus: great shepherd of God’s flock
  102. only potentially immortal”
  103. only two destinies | Permanent Life | Permanent Death
  104. Our Resurrection | The Next ‘You’
  105. Paradise
  106. Paul’s ‘sky and land’ references
  107. perhaps you may be hidden
  108. Perish the thought
  109. permanent digs
  110. presently prohibited
  111. protective clothing | immortal body
  112. Q & A: resurrection chronology
  113. q & a: the devil hurled out
  114. q&a: the ascension of Christ
  115. Questions and Answers about Immortality
  116. Reading Romans Again – as a conditionalist
  117. Recent studies of 1 Corinthians 15 (an annotated bibliography)
  118. remembering the price of sin
  119. rescuing the text
  120. resurrection makes sense
  121. Review of “First Doctrine” | Conditional Immortality
  122. Review of Neighbor To The Nations by Ronald A. Murch
  123. Review of The Meaning of Jesus
  124. safe sinning
  125. satisfied with your presence
  126. set apart for destruction
  127. Set Free ? The soul after death
  128. sheol in the ground
  129. Sheol in the Bible: The Old Testament Consensus
  130. Should we modify conditional immortality?
  131. sky and land
  132. sky and land in Revelation
  133. Sky and land in the Gospels
  134. Solving the Problem of Hell
  135. sorry, Socrates!
  136. soul searching | What is a soul?
  137. Spoiling the Vineyard
  138. Spring up, Oh Well
  139. sustenance and sacrifice
  140. swept away
  141. Testing Pink’s presupposition
  142. The author of Hebrews chimes in
  143. the awesome power of Jesus’ presence
  144. the bloody city
  145. the body apart from the spirit | spirit in man
  146. the breath of our nostrils
  147. the collector converts
  148. the collector reflects on a mystery
  149. the collector reflects on aging
  150. the collector reflects on control
  151. the collector reflects on human mortality
  152. the collector reflects on human nature
  153. the collector reflects on life
  154. the collector reflects on success
  155. the collector reflects on the rat race
  156. the collector reflects on time
  157. the collector reflects on work
  158. the coming hour
  159. The consequences of separation
  160. The context of 1 Timothy 6:16
  161. the curse of immortality
  162. The curse of immortality Audio
  163. The dead will hear, and come out
  164. The desert snake
  165. the evolution of the afterlife
  166. the goal of Christian faith
  167. the gospel Christ preached
  168. The hook that caught me
  169. the Lamb has arrived
  170. The legacy of Millerism
  171. The one and only | Mark 12:28-30
  172. the promise | eternal life
  173. The promise of permanence
  174. the purpose of hell
  175. the real rescue
  176. the resurrection is Jesus
  177. The Rich man and Lazarus and the intermediate state
  178. The sky above – shamayim, the land beneath – erets
  179. The sky God is supreme
  180. The Stars and the Future by Jefferson Vann
  181. the third answer
  182. The true resurrection
  183. the unity that he prayed for
  184. the unsatisfied artist
  185. the wrath to come
  186. three ruined outfits
  187. three Solomons
  188. throwing away the earthly tent
  189. Thrown away from your grave
  190. time and chance
  191. To be gathered to his people”
  192. to die is gain
  193. tomorrow – fallen | Revelation 18:2
  194. tomorrow – ready
  195. Tough times and Christian discipleship
  196. Tough times and Christian faith
  197. Tough times and Christian identity
  198. tripping over words
  199. two gardens
  200. Unto You is born this day…”
  201. Up in smoke
  202. victory through resurrection
  203. wading through the “simplicity”
  204. waiting at the station
  205. Waking to taunt Babylon
  206. Was Adam created immortal?
  207. watch your language
  208. what God wants of you
  209. What if we taught John 3:16?
  210. What is an evangelical ?
  211. What is Life ? Life is…
  212. what little boys are made of
  213. what the dead really know
  214. where did all the spirits go?
  215. which assembly?
  216. why conditionalism matters – exposing the lie
  217. worth continuing forever
  218. wrong about hell
  219. you two point oh
  220. Αἰώνιος in the New Testament – the four adverbial instances
  221. Αἰώνιος in the New Testament – the fourth attributive instances
  222. Αἰώνιος | aiónios in the New Testament – the first attributive occurrences
  223. Αἰώνιος in the New Testament – the second attributives
  224. Αἰώνιος in the New Testament – three rare instances

ACST 27. The Root

After almost ten years, I just discovered today that I apparently did not include this article in my blog. So, here is the long lost article that eventually became chapter 27 in my Advent Christian Systematic Theology book. – Jeff

The root cause of all personal sins is original sin. This term does not refer to the first time someone willfully sins. It refers to what happened the first time the human race sinned: the fall of our ancestors in the Garden of Eden. The choice to break the original prohibition has lead to a change in human nature and destiny, which is universal in scope.

The Black Hole

The doctrine of original sin is tied to the historical event of Adam and Eve’s rebellion in Eden. Since many today are convinced that the Genesis record is not factual, they are left with no space in their universe for original sin. As a result, “if there is a black hole for church doctrines, original sin is in one.”1 But to jettison this doctrine is to leave unanswered questions which continue to be asked by people who want to know what is happening to humanity, and what our destiny is.

The Change

Paul tells the Romans that death is a result of that original sin. He argued that “when Adam sinned, sin entered the world.”2 From that point on, there is no such thing as human innocence. All human beings have been changed. Part of that change is the inherited sinful inclination, and that leads inevitably to personal sins, for which we are accountable. But the difference made in Eden is even more fundamental than that. Since the wages of sin is death,3 and all humanity has been mortal since that fateful day, the original sin has resulted in an inherited guilt – not just a changed nature. The status of humanity changed that day.

Paul expressed the change in these terms: “so death spread to all men because all sinned.”4 He did not mean that we all will eventually sin, but that on that day, in the garden, all sinned. This is clear from the fact that Paul is comparing two event in Romans 5. He compares the fall in Eden with the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary.

By the one act of rebellion, all humanity were made sinners, and thus deemed deserving of immediate condemnation. Paul explains this by comparing the sin in the Garden with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He says “as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”5

God regards all human beings as sinners, even if they have not yet personally sinned. He sent his Son to die for us “while we were still sinners.”6 But Jesus died before you and I were even born. So, even before we were born, our status before God was sinners in need of salvation. Our status was not that of innocents. To understand why this is so will take another trip to the Garden.

Eden and Original Righteousness

God created human beings sinless, and with no condemnation. He “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”7 As totally sinless creatures, our ancestors had the potential to become much more than we can imagine. But all this potential had to continue to be directed towards God’s will for them. God had established one small prohibition. They were not to eat of the tree of knowing good and evil. This was the one bad apple that would spoil the barrel.

It was apparently not long before temptation resulted in that original sin. For “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.”8

Born in Sin

Ever since that event, human beings have been born with the defilement of sin.9 Humanity is not a tabula rasa – a blank slate upon which moral impressions are made only after the moment of conscious life. We come into life with the condemnation of God already upon us. That condemnation that came upon Adam was visited upon all who were in Adam at the time. He made the choice for all of us. We are born into a sinful state and a sinful world as a result of that choice.

Born Mortal

This event also explains why all human beings are born mortal. God had warned Adam that if he ate of the forbidden tree it would result in mortality and eventual death.10 This warning was to Adam, as head of the entire adamic species. Had he obeyed the commandment, it might have resulted in eventual immortality for the species. Since he disobeyed, it is not unfair for God to visit the consequences of that choice upon all of us.

The consequences of that choice are spelled out in detail. Mortality from the moment of the original transgression, and eventual death to the entire species. The cemeteries that have appeared all over the landscape of this planet are reminders of that choice, that event in history. Those graves are not there because of anyone’s personal sins. The graves are there because the species has sinned in Adam.

Limits of Original Sin

Original sin explains the universal mortality and sinful state that every human is born into. The doctrine has absolutely nothing to with hell, or final punishment. When human beings are judged at the end of time, not one of them will be punished for even a moment because of Adam’s transgression. This present mortality alone and the death we all face at the end of this life are payment in full for Adam’s transgression.

If a child dies before she has a chance to make the choice to commit personal sin, that child will suffer only the consequences of her ancestor’s sin – that is, the first death. Original sin does not put anyone into hell. Knowing how Christ is just and compassionate in his dealings with all people should answer our questions about those who die early, thus are never given a chance to know him personally.

Likewise, Jesus’ death on the cross does not automatically undo the damage done by original sin. We all continue to suffer the consequences of Adam’s rebellion. There is, if you will, a tombstone with your name on it, regardless of whether you have accepted Christ as your Savior or not. Christ frees us “from our sins by his blood.”11 That is, Christ’s death has paid the price we all owe due to our personal sins. We would otherwise have to pay for those personal sins ourselves by suffering in hell and eventually dying the second death.12

The Complexity

“The wages of sin is death” is a true principle and applies in both cases. It applies to personal sins in that hell’s torments will eventually end in the second death. It applies in respect to original sin in that all humanity will face the first death. The complex nature of the sin equals death principle reminds the believer that God is just. Although some people may die as a result of mistakes, or wrong choices, that they will eventually die is not their choice. It was the choice of their ancestors in Eden.

The Choice

Yet God by his grace has provided everyone with another chance: a choice which will affect their eternal destiny. That choice is Christ. He is “the the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”13 By his death he can reverse and wipe out the consequences of personal sin on the species. God gave Adam the choice as to whether or not the species would suffer the first death. He made that choice, and original sin is the result. God gives you and me the choice as to whether we will personally suffer the second death. We cannot blame Adam if we make the wrong choice.

The Cross And Original Sin

Original sin made the death of Christ necessary because it removed the possibility of any human being gaining salvation through his own merits. Christ through his death on the cross has also set in motion a chain of events which will eventually abolish the death-penalty associated with original sin.14 This will happen in stages. First, Christ will reverse the consequences of original sin for believers at his second coming. The perishable will become imperishable.15

The consequences of original sin will be ultimately dealt with at the day of judgment when death and hades give up the dead who are in them.16 After all are whose names are not found in the Lamb’s book of life are destroyed in the second death, then death and hades (the consequences of original sin) will be themselves thrown into the lake of fire to be destroyed.17 This is the ultimate solution to the problem we call original sin. Redeemed and glorified humanity will not carry that problem with us into eternity.

1 Tatha Wiley, Original Sin: Origins, Developments, Contemporary Meanings. (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2002), 3.

2 Rom. 5:12 NLT.

3 Rom. 6:23.

4 Rom. 5:12b.

5 Rom. 5:18-19.

6 Rom. 5:8.

7 Gen. 1:31.

8 Gen. 3:6.

9 Psalm 51:5.

10 Gen. 2:17 (cf. 160).

11 Rev. 1:5.

12 Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8.

13 John 1:29, 36.

14 2 Tim. 1:10.

15 1 Cor. 15:42,50, 52,53,54.

16 Rev. 20:13.

17 Rev. 20:14.