Category Archives: Bible Study

The Biblical Adam: Man or Myth?

Creation-of-AdamGrowing up I believed in myths. On Christmas Eve, our family huddled up in front of the evening news to see how Santa’s trip from North Pole was going. The radar’s flashing reindeer got us excited to set out milk and cookies as we awaited the arrival of jolly Old Saint Nick.

On Easter morning, my sister and I hustled to the window to see if we could find paw prints from the Easter Bunny so we could know which way he hopped after filling our baskets with candy. And a loose tooth was always followed by hopes that the Tooth Fairy would leave a stack cash in the middle of the night.

Most children believe in some type of myths. And most of us, as we grow up, learn to leave our myths behind. We get smarter. We become more educated. We see behind the curtain, as it were. It is a mark of maturity to discern between what is true and what is merely a story.

There are some things however that are not myth, even if they are a bit mysterious. One of these is what the Bible teaches about the first man, Adam. The Bible presents Adam as a real, historical, man from whom all other people descended. In Acts 17:26 Paul said “[God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.”

There are many other places in the Bible that present Adam as a historical person including Genesis 1-3, 5; 1 Chronicles 1:1; Hosea 6:7; , Luke 3:38, Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49; 1 Timothy 2:13-14; Jude 4.

Holding to Adam’s historicity is essential for many reasons. For instance, it means that all people, regardless of ethnicity or cultural background, have the same nature and dignity. We’re all made in God’s image and we all have the same problem of sin. There may be many reasons we divide, but we all find unity in the same family, descended from Adam.

If this isn’t true then the door is wide open for certain groups to justify racism or elitism of one culture or ethnicity over another. Now, most people who deny Adam’s historicity wouldn’t advocate racism, but they undermine the foundational Biblical teaching that guards against it.

But affirming Adam’s historical existence isn’t just a historical, scientific, or anthropological issue, it’s a Gospel issue. Romans 5:12-21 clearly portrays Adam as the representative head of natural man in whom all people are condemned because of his sin.

If Adam is made out to be a myth, then the analogy of Christ’s work breaks down and we are left with Adam merely being an example to avoid and Jesus being an example to emulate. This is a far cry from what the Bible teaches. As Dr. Albert Mohler says, “Jesus didn’t come to improve our evolutionary line, He came to redeem sinners.”

The Bible begins with the account of God creating the world which is followed by a fall that came through the sin of Adam (Gen. 1-3; Rom. 5:12). If we dismiss that event as myth, then the dominoes of what the Scriptures teach us about God, His revelation to us, our sin nature, redemption in Christ, and the resurrection from the dead begin to tumble as well.

The doctrine of a historical Adam is an extraordinarily important issue that demands our attention. As I prepared to teach Romans 5:12-21 (which might be one of the toughest and amazing texts in the Bible) I spent some extra time revisiting the historical Adam debate. Below are some of the resources that a few friends helped me compile. I commend this study to you as a means of not only believing in the first Adam, but even more importantly, the second Adam, Jesus Christ who died and rose to give life for all those who will believe.

 

Articles

Was Adam a Historical Person by Guy Walters (Ligoneer)

“The Search for the Historical Adam” by Richard Ostling (June, 2011)

Christianity Today’s cover story that details some of the modern thinking on the issue.

 

“Sinned in a Literal Adam, Raised in a Literal Christ” by Tim Keller (June, 2011)

Part of an interview in which Keller discusses the implications of believing in a literal Adam.

 

“10 Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam” by Kevin DeYoung (February, 2012)

Short, punchy, and sets the stage well for the traditional view.

 

“Thoughts on Kevin DeYoung’s Restless Comments on the Historical Adam” by Peter Enns (February, 2012)

A well argued, but not convincing rebuttal to Kevin’s 10 Reasons article. His conclusions are concerning to me.

 

“Adam in the Epistles of Paul” by D. A. Carson (1980’s)

He’s basically the Yoda of all Christian thinkers, so it’s deep and wide and good stuff.

 

“If the Apostle Paul Believed in the Historical Adam, Must We.”  by John Starke (February, 2012)

A good summary of DeYoung, Enns, and Carson’s work.

 

Books

“Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care” by John Collins (May, 2011)

 

Audio / Video

“Adam and the Gospel: Is a Historical Adam Necessary?” an excellent discussion at Southern Seminary with Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. Jim Hamilton, Dr, Stephen Wellum, and Dr. Thomas Schreiner (Fall, 2011)

 

“Historical Adam Discussion” a good podcast with Dr. Darrell Bock (DTS) and Dr. Richard Averbeck discussing the necessity of the historical view. (May, 2013)

 

“The Historical Adam” another podcast discussing the traditional Reformed perspective of the issue with Rick Phillips, Nick Batzig, and Kenneth Kang-Hui.

 

“Christians Divided Over Sciene of Human Origins” an interview on NPR in which Dr. Albert Mohler defends the historical teaching of Adam and Eve. (September, 2011)

 

An Introduction to the Book of Romans

Coffee and BibleOur church is currently studying through the book of Romans. What follows is an introduction to the book that I gave at an evening service the Sunday before we began the book. This introduction is very bare-bones, but may be helpful to some in their own study of the book. The sermons for Romans, including this introduction, can be listened to on our church’s website or podcast. I give acknowledgments at the end, along with recommendations for additional resources.

 

In the history of Christianity, Romans is one of the books that the Lord has used time and time again to hold back the gates of hell from consuming the church while at the same time propping open the door of heaven that sinners might be reconciled to God.

Romans serves as a reservoir of Gospel truth from which God invites His people to come and drink deeply. In its pages are some of the clearest presentations of doctrinal truth on which the church rests its eternal hope. At the same time, Romans is a powerfully practical book that gives wisdom to the church about how to love one another in light of God’s love toward us.

Above all, Romans is a book that presents the glory of God and the glory of His Son Jesus Christ. It is one of the Lord’s finest instruments to instruct sinners and saints alike. It has served as window through which many a rebel first saw the sweetness of the Savior.

In fact, one of the few things I have in common with Augustine, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, and John Wesley is that God used the book of Romans to convict us of our sin and draw us to Christ.

Augustine, was sitting in a garden and heard a voice say, “take up and read, take up and read.” He read Rom 13:13-14 “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” He was converted and became arguably the most influential Xian between Paul and Reformation.

Martin Luther was a catholic priest who was preparing to teach Romans to his students, but as he was preparing he read Rom 1:16-17 in a way he never had before “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

God struck Luther’s heart with the word “righteous” and used it to push him to the cross of Christ where He found his rest in Christ’s righteousness. As a result, God used Luther to spear head the Protestant Reformation, a movement in which God restored Gospel truth in His church.

Years later God used Romans and Galatians and Luther’s commentaries on it to open the eyes of John Bunyan who became a faithful pastor. During one of his stays in prison for preaching the Gospel, Bunyan penned Pilgrim’s Progress, which became one of the most well-known books in the history of the world.

God used Romans in a similar way in the life of a man named John Wesley. While reading Romans and Luther’s commentary on it had his heart “strangely warmed” and he was converted. God used Wesley as a great evangelist, pastor, and founder of the Methodist Church.

For me, Romans was one of the books God used to pierce my own heart when I was 21 years old. At that time I was lost in a life of drink and drugs and perversion. Two weeks after a friend boldly witnessed to me, I was overwhelmed with guilt during a party, so I went into my room and picked up a Bible my parents had given me and one of the texts I read that night was Romans 2:4 which says, “do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” By God’s grace, the Lord transformed my life through that mercy; and He still is today.

I share these testimonies because as we prepare for this study in Romans, my prayer is that many more sinners will be saved and many more lives will be emboldened by God’s power as presented in the Gospel.

 

Introduction

 

The basics:

1. Author: Apostle Paul (1:1). He was a missionary to the Gentiles who planted churches, but he didn’t plant the church in Rome.

2. Audience: Roman Christians. The church was made up mostly of Gentiles who became Christians. (Rom 1:5-6, 1:13, 9:3-4, 11:13-31)

3. Date: Winter 56-57AD. Paul likely composed the letter in Corinth on his 3rd missionary journey (Acts 20:1-3). The letter was probably delivered by Phoebe (Rom. 16:1-2) while Paul went back to Jerusalem to delivered the financial relief he had been collecting for the suffering church there (Rom. 15:25).

 

The background: these are several cultural and religious factors that are important to help us understand Romans.

1. Rome’s population was well over 1 million people. The Emperor (Nero) was viewed as divine and called “Lord and Savior.” His birth was announced as a “gospel” and he promised to bring “peace” to the world [Pax Romana]. Jesus’ reign and kingdom are the truth of which the Roman Empire was an imposter.

2. Rome was home to thousands of Jews and some God-fearers (Gentile converts to Judaism) who worshiped the true God of Israel in the synagogue.

3. The church in Rome likely began by people converted at Pentecost. In Acts 2:10 we learn that “visitors from Rome” were present and some were apparently believed the Gospel that was being proclaimed. Following this, they returned to Rome with the Gospel and shared it in their synagogue. No evidence suggests an apostle ever visited Rome before Paul.

4. The only Scriptures the early church had were the OT. The letters of the apostles had just begun their circulation and were not part of the completed canon yet. The Law was rightly viewed by Jews and God-fearers as a wonderful blessing from God that revealed His character and His will. (7:12; Ps 119).

5. A constant struggle of the early church was to determine to what extent Gentile converts should obey the Law. Some held that circumcision, Sabbath observance, and keeping the food laws were required, while others did not. This struggle is a major theme of the New Testament (Acts, Galatians, 1 Cor. etc.).

6. Emperor Claudius (41-54AD) ordered a mass deportation of Jews from Rome in 49AD. This was probably a result of disturbances in synagogues over the Christian Gospel. (Acts 18:2)

7. The deportation emptied the church in Rome of Christ-believing Jews, leaving mostly God-fearers. This greatly reduced the “Jewish influence” on the Roman churches.

8. As the Gospel spread, Gentiles with no Jewish affiliation believed and joined the church. They had no conviction to keep Jewish Law and customs. This resulted in tension over how to rightly worship God.

9. The tension grew as Jews returned from deportation and discovered the church, that was founded upon their Messiah, their Law, and their rituals had drastically changed.

10. The church was divided over what it meant to worship Jesus the Christ correctly. Those who wanted to follow the Jewish customs (the weak) were judging those who did not (the strong.)

 

PURPOSE OF ROMANS:

Paul called the Roman churches to worship God according to His will, by obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. By living in Gospel-centered love, God is glorified and the Mosaic Law is fulfilled (Rom. 13:8-10).

 

Or probably a better option…

 

Romans was written to the believers in Rome to remind them of the Gospel (ch. 1:1-11:36), to unify them in Gospel worship (ch.12:1-15:13), and to compel them to help Paul proclaim the Gospel to Spain (15:14-16:27).

 

 

OUTLINE OF ROMANS: THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF GRACE IN JESUS

 

(1:1-17) INTRODUCTION: THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

1:1-7 – The Focus of the Gospel (Jesus Christ)

1:8-17 – The Promise of the Gospel (By Faith in Christ Alone)

 

(1:18-3:20) CONDEMNATION: THE NEED FOR THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

1:18-32 – The Hardened Heathen’s Need for the Gospel (God’s Wrath is Upon Them)

2:1-29 – The Hypocritical Hebrew’s Need for the Gospel (God Requires Obedience, Not Just Knowledge)

3:1-20 – All of Humanity’s Need for the Gospel (God is Righteous, All Fall Short)

 

(3:21-5:21) JUSTIFICATION: THE RESULT OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

3:21-31 – God Justifies Sinners through Faith in Christ

4:1-25 – God’s Excellent Example of Justification by Faith (Abraham)

5:1-11 – The Result of the Gospel: Freedom to Rejoice in Hope

5:12-21 – The Result of the Gospel: Freedom from the Curse

 

(6:1-8:39) SANCTIFICATION: THE TRANSFORMATION IN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

6:1-23 – The Result of the Gospel: Freedom from Sin’s Slavery

7:1-25 – The Result of the Gospel: Freedom from Law

8:1-39 – The Result of the Gospel: Freedom, Hope, & Security in the Spirit

 

(9:1-11:36) MAGNIFICATOIN: GOD’S WISDOM AND MERCY IN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

9:1-29 – God’s Purpose in Election: Mercy & Glory for Jews & Gentiles

9:30-10:21 – Paradox of God’s Purpose: Israel Stumbles & Gentiles Receive Mercy

11:1-36 – Outworking of God’s Purpose in History: More Mercy to More People

 

(12:1-15:13) ADORATION: GOD-HONORING WORSHIP THROUGH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

12:1-13 – Living Sacrifices: Humbly Love as the Body of Christ (Among Believers)

12:14-13:7 – Living Submissively: Humbly Trust God’s Justice (Among Enemies)

13:8-14 – Living Lawfully: Fulfilling the Law through Love (Among All People)

14:1-12 – Putting on the Lord: Be Free from Judgment

14:13-23 – Putting on the Lord: Pursue Peace with Each Other

15:1-13 – Putting on the Lord: Jews and Gentiles Hoping Together in Christ

 

(15:14-16:27) GOD’S WORK THROUGH PAUL FOR THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

15:14-21 – God’s Power Fuels Paul’s Ministry to the Gentiles

15:22-33 – Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome

16:1-16 – Paul’s Personal Greetings

16:17-27 – Paul’s Final Exhortation and Doxology

 

 

Any good thing that comes from this study is because of God’s grace through His Spirit. I was greatly helped by John Piper’s sermons, Tommy Nelson’s personal discipleship, and the commentaries on Romans by Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry, Thomas Schreiner, and Douglas Moo. For a good list of Romans resources check out Challies’ recommendations.

A Lesson About Bible Study from Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones

I’ve been reading through Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones collection of sermons on the book of Romans. The good Dr. had a way of seeing and explaining the Scriptures that both warms the heart and instructs the mind. In his exposition on chapter one, I discovered a few paragraphs that I trust will help anyone who wants to learn to study the Bible more faithfully.

 

I am going to give you a bird’s-eye view of [Romans] before we come back to look at it in detail. Now, Bible students, let me commend to you the wisdom of doing that always.

First of all, with any verse or any portion of Scripture any paragraph or any longer portion, first of all take a bird’s-eye view of it—see the whole first, then come back and take it bit by bit and in detail. That, as I understand it, is the true way of approaching Scripture and of studying Scripture.

Some people, of course, stop at the bird’s-eye view, and never come to the details, and they never really grasp the Scripture. They just rush through it, and are content with having skimmed the surface. Others, again, come right to the details and never get from them, thus losing the general view; and, as I suggested at the beginning, they end in utter confusion, and fail to see the woods because of the trees.

 The right method is to do the two things—first, the general conception, and then the working out in detail, with a final synthesis again of all that has emerged in the detailed analysis. In other words, I suggest to you that the Scripture is remarkably like a symphony; the themes are stated, the themes are worked out in detail; and then, they are all gathered up together again in a final triumph…” (Exposition of Chapter 1 – The Gospel of God, pg. 318)

A Biblical Timeline for the Old and New Testaments

A number of years ago when I studied under Tommy Nelson (Denton Bible Church – Denton, TX), we learned how the whole Bible fits together. His teaching has forever blessed me and below are a few charts that one of the brothers in our class, Gene Herr, put together.

Thanks for your work Gene.

‎”Let us strive, every year we live, to become more deeply acquainted with Scripture.” ~ J.C. Ryle

Overview of the OT - Picture

Overview of the NT - Picture