Friday, September 13, 2013

God in the Thoughts of Angry Sinners

Years ago I memorized Jonathan Edwards message Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and presented it to a seminary theology class at Philips Theological Seminary. Jonathan Edwards is rightfully considered one of the premier American theologians of all time because of his wonderful grasp of the biblical languages, his brilliant mind, and his artful ability to communicate profound principles with simple sentences. Though I memorized the entire message, I was troubled by it. Over the course of the next decade I began to understand why.

In Jonathan Edwards classic message he made the profound mistake of intermingling Law and Grace (Old Covenant vs. New Covenant).  Rather than seeing the love of God in sending the Messiah to fulfill the Law and pay completely for the sins and transgressions of His people, Edwards presents God as being both angry and loving at the same time toward the same sinners. Pardon the crude language, but the bi-polar God of Edwards is not the God of Scripture.  For example, Edwards writes "And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell (emphasis mine), whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God's word and providence."

John Gill, the Baptist contemporary of Jonathan Edwards and the mentor to the great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon, rightly corrects the error of Edwards in his classic work God's Everlasting Love to His Elect. Gill writes: 
The everlasting love of God, the Father, Son, and Spirit, is the bond of the elect's union to the sacred Three. What may he said of the three divine Persons in general, is true of each of them in particular. They have all three loved the elect with an everlasting love, and thereby have firmly and everlastingly united them to themselves. Christ has loved them with an everlasting and unchangeable love, whereby his heart is knit unto them as Jonathan's was to David. He loved them as his own soul, as his own body, and the members of it. This is that cement which will never loosen, that union knot which can never be untied, that bond which can never be dissolved, from whence there can be no separation; for who shall separate us from the love of Christ? I am persuaded, says the apostle (Rom. 8:35, 38, 39), that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
God's people are never dangled over the "pit of hell" as a spider on a thin web (Edward's imagery). From eternity God has chosen to deliver an innumerable company of fallen sinners from every nation, every family, every people group and every language group (Rev. 7:9).  These redeemed rebels God calls "My people" for thy are the rebels for whom God has sent His Son as Deliverer.  "You shall call His name Yeshua (Jesus) for He shall deliver His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

Again, God's people and "the world" are synonymous; they are from every race, every ethnic group, every nation, every tribe, and every family. God has chosen to save far more sinners from their rebellion than He has chosen to judge in their rebellion. The kingdom of God is compared to a vast sea (Revelation 4:6); hell is a compared to a small lake. The kingdom of God is compared to a vast city (Hebrews 11:16); hell is compared to a small prison. The kingdom of God represents lives (and eventually the earth) where the curse of sin is reversed; hell is the abyss where the curse  of sin is submersed.

When rebellious hearts are captured by God's grace and love in Christ, they begin to show evidence of His kingship in their lives. Jesus said, "A new command I give you that you love one another as I (God) have loved you. By this will all know you are mine, if you have love one for another" (John 13:34-35).

The real love of God for us translates into real love for others from us. The rebel transformed by the love of God will always be receptive to the message of Christ, because it is through the death of Christ that the love of God is fully magnified.  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son" (John 3:16). Our love for others is the evidence of God's deliverance and love for us not the means of His deliverance and love for us. God saves sinners through Christ.

A few of my close friends have been discussing on-line this week the question, "Could infants who die go to hell?" Answer: Yes, they could.  Death is "the wages of sin" (Romans 3:23). Everyone born into this world is constituted and condemned as sinners because "all died" when the first Adam rebelled against God (Romans 5:12-21). Babies are born sinners, grow in their rebellion toward God over time, and unless delivered by God, will die as sinners. When an infant dies in infancy, God could judge the infant for the first Adam's sin.

Some dislike the federal representation of Adam. At the heart of their consternation with this doctrine is a three-fold objection: (1). It's not fair that anyone should bear the consequences of the actions of the first Adam, and/or (2). God must be to blame for original sin because He could have created somebody better than the first Adam to represent us, and/or (3). I would much rather be judged by God for my own actions rather than the actions of the first Adam. Those who hold to the third belief are adamant that infants who die in infancy have done nothing wrong and so they cannot be judged by God.

I find it interesting that we live by representation every day of our lives without complaint, but when the Bible says Adam represents us before God we object. Doctors represent us in the operating room. Politicians represent us in Washington. Attorneys represent us in court. Why do we object to the first Adam representing us before God?

What troubles us is that Adam failed. We blame God for Adam's failure, for we must blame someone other than Adam. However, there is a sure truth proclaimed by Scripture: "God made man (Adam) upright" (Ecclesiastes 7:29). The rebellion of Adam as our federal head was free-will rebellion. More than that, Adam was constituted righteous by God, given every advantage and freedom in the world to follow after God, and so his free-will rebellion against God was extremely grievous. The consequence of this first Adam's rebellion affects everyone born into the world.

The good news is that when we begin to understand we are condemned by the actions of the first Adam, we begin to be able to rejoice over the marvelous biblical truth that we are redeemed by the actions of the last Adam (Jesus Christ). The people who have the hardest time resting in the work of the last Adam (Jesus Christ) are those who continually labor to move away from the truth that condemnation comes from the failure of first Adam.

Now, back to the question of infants: Could God judge infants who die in infancy for the sin of the first Adam? Yes. However, the better question would be does God judge infants who die in infancy all for the sin of the first Adam? Answer: No. Why? Because He redeems them through the actions of the last Adam.

It seems every infant who dies in infancy is reached by God, redeemed by Christ, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. In Scripture all the examples of infants dying in infancy contain not one instance of an infant experiencing the judgment of God. You can't say they were innocent, for they died. You can say they were redeemed by God through Christ.

Some believe the last Adam (Christ) reversed the curse of the first Adam for every human being at the cross and now everyone becomes their own Adam when they are born (i.e. "the age of accountability"). However, I believe the Scripture teaches that we all bear condemnation for the original sin of the first Adam (see Romans 5:12), but God in His love redeems infants who die in infancy, imbeciles who never comprehend the cross, and an innumerable company of rational rebels whom He transforms from hardened, hateful sinners into loving, kind human beings who live life the way Christ lived it. God saves sinners through His love.

There are some sinners in the hands of an angry (just) God; but it is a comparatively small group of rebels whom God will judge for their personal rebellion and their refusal to love God and their fellow man. All others will be delivered by God from their hatred of God and man, for they will be redeemed by Christ. For those who object, "But the Bible says 'Narrow is the gate that leads to life and few there be that find it'," I respond: "The parables of the King tell us the Kingdom of God begins with 'few' but mushrooms into an innumerable company. The gospel starts as a seed and expands to a tree. Since God saves sinners, and the King establishes His Kingdom on earth, there will be no thwarting of the expansion of God's Kingdom for 'The gates of hell shall not prevail.'"

If it also be objected "But if God could save everyone, why does He not?" Answer: The judgment of the wicked in their sins is as much a glorious display of the attributes of God (holiness and justice) as the deliverance of the wicked from their sins is a glorious display of different attributes of God (grace and love). I'm not sure where we got the idea that God's judgment for sinners is something ugly, brutal, senseless, evil , and maybe even sadomasochistic (maybe Dante?), but the truth is God's judgment of sinners is just, righteous, holy, beautiful and ultimately good for the universe.

If I were to preach a sermon like Edwards, I might title it "God in the Thoughts of Angry Sinners."  It seems the only ones with an unholy anger are people.  God's sovereignty in graciously redeeming sinners seems to cause emotional consternation because:

(1). Sinners seem to believe man's rebellion against their Creator is "no big deal."
(2). Sinners want to believe God owes it to rebels to redeem them from the consequences of their rebellion.
(3). Sinners tend to believe God is weak and 'altogether like unto themselves,' unable to accomplish what He intends
(4). Sinners believe God can't judge some rebels in their sins and save many rebels from their sin because "that would be unfair" and God is always "fair." What He does for one, He must do for all.
(5). Sinners want God to be like they want Him to be rather than the way He reveals Himself to be in Scripture.

God is love. He is also just. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but indeed, He will righteously judge the wicked. The man who loves God with all his heart and his fellow man more than himself will never be judged by God. The rest of us who fall short of this Royal Law of Love need a Redeemer. The good news is God's love for sinners transforms His people (i.e. former rebels) into people who love God and others.

That's why I want the homosexual to know Christ. That's why I desire the adulterer to meet God. That's why I wish the child abuser could be transformed. That's why long to see the thief changed. That's why I long for the murderer to see the wickedness of his crime. The sinful nature that led them to hateful actions toward their fellow man was also in me - until God removed it by His grace. I tell the rebel who hates God and his fellow man the good news of the Redeemer. We are all born with the same inclination toward hatred of God and our fellow man because of Adam's sin. Our only hope is the Deliverer. Only He can transform our stony, wicked hearts into soft hearts that love God and our fellow man.

My philosophical friends who ignore the teaching of Scripture respond, "Why bother? If the wicked can't change their hearts unless God chooses to save them, why share Christ?"  Answer: Because my heavenly Father is in the business of changing lives and He has asked me to share Christ with sinners. I do what my Father asks. In addition, in my experience, I find my Father does what I ask (i.e. "Father, please deliver Brenda from her sin of not loving you and others"). We have not because we ask not.

When people blame God for their sin and ignore God's redemption in Christ, we live in a perverted world. When people blame man for sin and reach out to God for redemption in Christ, we live a perfect world. Unfortunately, our world is not perfect - yet. It's coming. Little by little, the kingdom of God is growing. His love and justice ultimately win, for His kingdom ultimately reigns.

God in the thoughts of angry sinners leads to all sorts of convoluted theology and confusing religions. The simplicity of the gospel--God saves sinners through Christ--is the power of the good news. This is a faithful saying and worthy of your acceptance, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief." (I Timothy 1:15).



Anonymous said...

Wade presumes: "In Jonathan Edwards classic message, he (Edwards) made the profound mistake..."


You are kidding, right?

Christiane said...

a favorite painting on the walls of early Christian catacombs was the Good Shepherd carrying the lamb on His shoulders

This is seen often in the area of the tombs of tiny children

There are no inscriptions or painting or mosaics of little children suspended over the 'gates of hell', no

The symbolism of a little lamb being carried by its Guardian is unmistakable . . . such was the faith of the early Christians

Istoria Ministries said...


No. :)

I am not kidding.

Istoria Ministries said...

Amen, Christiane

Istoria Ministries said...

"Edwards presents God as being both angry and loving at the same time toward the same sinners. Pardon the crude language, but the bi-polar God of Edwards is not the God of Scripture"

That's the mistake. God loves His people and redeems (delivers) them from His judicial anger.

Anonymous said...


O.k. I'm guessing it should not surprise me that a man who takes some credit for the growth of Blake Griffin as a basketball player would also point out the mistake of one of the most brilliant theological minds in American history. :-0

Wade Burleson said...


Methinks you jest.

If you saw me play basketball you would know how silly it is for me to take credit for Blake Griffin's growth as a player. My anecdote of offering advice to Blake (as an 8th grader no less) is funny.

If the point you wish to make is that my ability to call out Jonathan Edwards for a theological mistake is as silly as me coaching Blake Griffin, you've made it!

The day any Christian refuses to question the writings or sermons of another Christian - as brilliant as the other Christian may be - is the day Christianity loses her allegiance to Christ and becomes infatuated with institutions and individuals of power.

Christ and His word are sufficient for me.

It would be helpful, anonymous, to address the issue. I freely admit Jonathan Edwards is a much better theologian and Blake Griffin is a much better basketball player.

It doesn't mean I can't see a mistake in either man.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

"I find it interesting that we live by representation every day of our lives without complaint, but when the Bible says Adam represents us before God we object. "

I'm guessing most would respond by saying they had some choice in who the doc, attorney, politician was, etc., but no choice in appointing the First Man.

I don't think there is enough concrete evidence (apart from theological gymnastics/rationalizing) in Scripture for a person to say with absolute certainty that all infants are safe from eternal wrath. However, whatever God does is wise and righteous, without fault. ken

Aussie John said...


Long ago, as a young pastor I made a similar mistake regarding Edwards renowned sermon.

I'm so glad that when the second Adam hung on that awful cross, was buried and rose again, the first Adam ceased to stand before God, representative of sinners, !

Adam G. in NC said...

Doesnt "out of Christ" mean "not in Christ"? If so, are they not hanging over hell?

I understand the point you're making, but I miss it in the example you provided. Maybe I'm just dumb and not in the league of Edwards and Burleson.

Istoria Ministries said...


You are not dumb.

The gospel is the good news that those in Christ are delivered from their sins.

Every person who loves God and other people is in Christ, for that is the evidence of His grace and love in our lives.

Adam G. in NC said...

Yeah, but the example of Edwards that you included (best I can tell) was directed at those who are yet "not in Christ". Doesnt this mean "lost" or "unsaved" or "under condemnation" or whatever?

Istoria Ministries said...


That's the point. Sinners are in Christ and delivered from their sins by God's grace and love. God's love for His people is from eternity is neither malleable nor mutable. His love is like an artesian spring and flows from His very nature, for God is love.

Anonymous said...

Adam G.

I think what Pastor Burleson is saying - {please correct me if I'm wrong} - is that sinners no more "make" God love them by promises or commitments than an "Ethiopian can change the color of his skin or the leopard his spots." How can sinners change their evil ways? Only by God's sovereign and redeeming love which transforms sinners because it requires a change of nature. You speak of sinners "not yet" in Christ, but if God's people are in Christ "from eternity," the only thing missing in them is the evidence of God's love, which -- in time -- will come. The love of God for sinners reveals itself in the individual sinner through love for God and for his or her fellow man. What saves sinners is not their love, but Christ. The evidence Christ has saved them is their love.

Am I close Pastor Burleson?

Victorious said...

Some dislike the federal representation of Adam.

That would be me.

Federal Headship or "representation" is nowhere to be found in scripture so far as I can see. Romans contrasts Adam to Christ but makes no mention of Adam as representative nor the origin of my sin. Each is accountable for his/her own sin. Romans 2:6 (and many others)

Genesis records the consequences of Adam's sin was a cursed ground (outside the garden) death (because the tree of life was not available to them) and hard work (because of the ground producing thorns and thistles.) It does not say his sin is imputed to anyone else.

Rom 5:13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

I'm not familiar with Edward's "angry God" but scripture states that God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were "yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Mary Ann

Istoria Ministries said...


I understand.

Respect the dickens out of you, and would never seek to change your mind. If you ever desire to listen to a message on Romans 4 and 5, I would encourage you to go to our archives.

By the way, the very next verse after Romans 5:13 (which you quote) goes like this: "Nevertheless death reigns from Adam until Moses, even over those who had NOT sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of HIM who is to come" (Romans 5:13).

How is the first Adam a type of the last Adam?

They both represent other people in their actions.



Istoria Ministries said...


Very close.

Victorious said...

How is the first Adam a type of the last Adam?

This question has been asked many times in my "travels" around the internet. I find its most often brought to the foreground and supported by those who subscribe to the Federal Headship/Representative interpretation of Romans 5 and Adam. But if I understand correctly one cardinal rule of interpreting scripture, that phrase must be understood within the context of the passage. The passage in Romans 5 is contrasting two individuals with contrasting results/effects of contrasting actions.

Normally (I think) a type is a shadow of something future. In this case, Adam is a shadow of negative, adverse conditions as contrasted to Christ who brings positive, redemptive conditions of grace and righteousness.

I could be wrong about this, but I find nothing positive or admirable written about Adam anywhere in scripture. I don't see that he represents me anymore than Joseph, Noah, Mary or any other bible character does.

P.S. I don't mind correction and the respect comment is mutual. :) Perhaps I will take you up on your suggestion and give a listen to the message.

Tom Kelley said...

Hi Wade,
I like your thoughts about the extent of God's grace in saving an innumerable company of sinners such that "God has chosen to save far more sinners from their rebellion than He has chosen to judge in their rebellion."

I think I understand your reasoning, but I'm curious how you see this working out practically speaking, when most studies today indicate that between 40-50% of the world's current population are "unreached" by the gospel.

Do you believe that God regenerates large numbers of people apart from them hearing about Christ? I know He could do that, but from the Bible it seems that the preaching of the gospel is his usual means of bringing people to salvation. I'm not raising this as a point of disagreement, just trying to understand what you mean.


Wade Burleson said...


Great question. Three part answer:

(1). Infants who die in infancy number in the hundreds of millions if not billions.
(2). It is possible for God to redeem people through Christ whose knowledge of Christ is far more limited than yours or mine. Go look up the number of texts that speak of the sinner "believing on HIM who raised up Jesus from the dead" (Romans 4:24). Notice, it is faith in God. I have studied doctrine all my life - what saves me is God work in Christ, not my understanding or knowledge of Christ.
(3). All the gospel parables speak of the kingdom GROWING. Great revivals through history bring transformations of cities, countries, nations and even the world - and I believe another great revival is coming (Romans 9).

Anonymous said...

A great post that leads me to think and grow.

I admit I haven’t studied Edwards seriously so I don’t know what his position was on the spiritual security of “infants” or others who could not be considered to be accountable for their own decisions due to their inability to reason. I would not interpret his statement "And let everyone that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken….” statement as Edwards saying that “infants” go to hell. I was 8 years old (“little child”) when I made a decision to follow Christ because I was aware that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. The “age of accountability is quite individual.

I interpret Romans 5:12’s “as one trespass led to condemnation for all men” as being the condemnation of the mark made on all the descendants of Adam to be born with Adam’s sinful nature, or tendency to sin. I believe we are also “condemned by Adam’s sin” to live in a world that has been distorted as a result of that first sin. Because of our inherited nature we WILL sin as soon as we grow old enough to reach a time when we can consciously rebel against God. We WILL die physically as one of the results of living in a world distorted by sin. I do not see it as saying that we are created by God as sinners condemned to hell due to Adam and Eve's sin.

As to God’s Kingdom having more souls than are in hell, I do not interpret the passages where Jesus refers to the Kingdom of God being like a “mustard seed when planted then growing into a huge tree” is meant to imply that more will go to heaven than hell. The growth of the Kingdom did expand like wildfire but never has there been more people in the world who were sincere followers of Jesus Christ than lost people.

Anonymous said...

Good post, Pastor Wade.

Amazing how we to see ourselves as helpless depending on grace.

Like you, I also trust God that there will be untold numbers around the thrown praising God.

I don't worry about how few do today. Abraham could have given up waiting for his offspring to be as numerous as the sand had he just looked at the number he had....before God acted


Anonymous said...

Ok, brain dead spelling.

Throne, not thrown.


Victorious said...

OK, Wade I listened to your sermon on Romans 5.

I found this in the notes:

"Instead of dying for their actual sins, death is to all men the penalty of the first sin"

This is evidently the basis for what is called "Original sin."

I have far too much disagreement on this topic to post here but I'll venture just a couple.

- First, Adam's sin was not the first sin, was it? He sinned after Eve sinned, did he not? Paul knew that, so why did he choose Adam as the basis for his contrast in Romans 5?

- Do we find anywhere in scripture where God punishes an individual for the sin of another?

- If the principle of my being condemned for Adam's sin reflects God's justice, why don't we apply that principle in our lives prior to coming to Christ? For example, what would we think if a judge sentenced a person to death knowing he was innocent of the alleged crime just because he is condemned for Adam's sin. Would our children think its just if Mary gets punished for John's disobedience?

- Paul knew the difference between intentional disobedience and unintentionally being deceived. That's why he used Adam's sin in the Romans 5 contrast instead of the "original sin" of Eve's. He even confessed that his sin (not Adam's) was unbelief because of ignorance. He didn't blame Adam's sin as the basis for his.

I've concluded that this doctrine appears to be supported by reading something into the passage that Paul never intended. It seems to be absent from the whole counsel of God throughout scripture but that each person is individually accountable for his/her own sin is present throughout. And there is a distinction between intentional and unintentional sins as well as greater and lesser. But it's true nonetheless, that all do sin regardless of whether or not it's in the likeness of Adam's deliberate disobedience.

Thank you, Wade, for allowing me to voice my disagreement and I hope I've done so respectfully as you have always done so in that manner. :)

Victorious said...

P.S. Even God Himself didn't speak of condemnation to Adam or Eve. All He said in essence was that it was gonna be rough "out there" (outside of the garden)and after all the toil, they would return to dust. Not much to look forward to. Except to Eve was the promise of being the progenitor of the One who would destroy the power of Satan. That gave her hope.

Wade Burleson said...


I am impressed you listened to the message! Well done. Again, I am not trying to convince you of your error. Truth is, I could be wrong. I don't think I am, but I could be. All I'm trying to do is show you the basis for my freedom, the ground of my hope, and the reason why I feel 100% secure in the love of God. Here goes:

First, Adam's sin was not the first sin, was it? He sinned after Eve sinned, did he not? Paul knew that, so why did he choose Adam as the basis for his contrast in Romans 5?

- Do we find anywhere in scripture where God punishes an individual for the sin of another?

No, we don't. In fact, Jesus taught us just the opposite. I think the difference with Adam is God had a Covenant with the first Adam whereby Adam represented others; a type of the last Adam to come, who represents others as well!

- If the principle of my being condemned for Adam's sin reflects God's justice, why don't we apply that principle in our lives prior to coming to Christ? For example, what would we think if a judge sentenced a person to death knowing he was innocent of the alleged crime just because he is condemned for Adam's sin. Would our children think its just if Mary gets punished for John's disobedience?

Victorious, again, I think we are comparing apples to oranges. A representative's vote ALWAYS affects those who represents by COVENANT or CONTRACT. In ancient world, two men fought in the stead of two nations, and by covenant the losing man's army surrendered (think David and Goliath). I could give many, many other examples of representation. You are going ONE for ONE and saying it would be UNJUST to punish one person for another person's crime. My response: It would NOT be unjust if there was a covenant of representation.

- Paul knew the difference between intentional disobedience and unintentionally being deceived. That's why he used Adam's sin in the Romans 5 contrast instead of the "original sin" of Eve's. He even confessed that his sin (not Adam's) was unbelief because of ignorance. He didn't blame Adam's sin as the basis for his.

Well said! "Death" is the wages of Adam's sin (or the punishment for Adam's choice), but each individual person will be held accountable to God for his or her own sin.

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks Linda,

I, of course, agree with you. :)

Victorious said...

Wade, thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment. Here's where I think my "red line" :) is:

A representative's vote ALWAYS affects those who represents by COVENANT or CONTRACT.

I see neither recorded in the creation narrative.

Since you are apparently building doctrine on the belief that Adam is a representative and there was a covenant between Him and God, I understand that foundation and how you've arrive at your conclusion about Romans 5.

Since I see no scriptural support for Adam being a representative nor for a covenant, I'm concerned about a doctrine that elevates him to a position that scripture doesn't.

I'm satisfied that at least I have a better understanding of how this Federal Headship/Representative and how those who support it have arrived at their conclusion.

Thanks again for your gracious words of explanation.

Rex Ray said...

“…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” New American Standard Bible

Was God referring to physical death or spiritual death?

The facts:

Spiritual death is separation from God, and everyone knows what physical death is.

Adam and Eve did not drop dead, but hid (separated) from God. Thus they died spiritually on the day they sinned.

If the ‘death’ was physical and Jesus died for that penality, then Christians would never die a physical death.

Wade Burleson said...


I, too, appreciate the dialogue. I hold to my view of the federal representation of Adam through the teaching of the Apostle Paul (Romans) and other New Testament passages. I agree with you that there is a great deal of silence on this in the Old Testament.

The reason the doctrine of representation brings comfort to me is because through the last Adam's representation of me, I know myself to be perfect in God's eyes. In short, I have peace with God through Christ Jesus my Lord.

Thanks again for the pleasant conversation and I know your doctrine brings comfort to your soul and I would never think you less of a believer in Christ than I because we disagree on this matter. Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Wade, I read through the post again...was thinking of Eph. 2

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

If we were in some real sense 'children of wrath', 'sons of disobedience' - then wouldn't some aspect of God's wrath be against us before the gifts of repentance and faith were implanted and at work in our lives?

In reference to someone being punished for the sin of another - Josh.7 is pretty clear that entire nation of Israel lost the battle of Ai because of individual sin, then Achan's entire family, sheep and cattle, and belongings were destroyed because of one man's sin.


Wade Burleson said...


Great question! I can tell you are genuinely thinking through this important issue.

Your question to me:

If we were in some real sense 'children of wrath', 'sons of disobedience' - then wouldn't some aspect of God's wrath be against us before the gifts of repentance and faith were implanted and at work in our lives?

My answer: You left out an important phrase in your question -
"and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."

This entire passage is a description of a change in nature. In other words, we "walked" like a spiritual dead man (which by nature we were) until being born again and we began walking differently.

Ephesians 2 does not say you -- a child of God -- were the "object" of God's wrath before conversion, but rather, you -- a child of God -- lived a life like every other human being because "by nature" you were just like them. The new birth produced in you a new life, and the rest of the text shows you the difference of how you lived after you entered the kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response, Wade. I'm having trouble digesting what you seem to be saying. I've never had issues with the idea of multiplicity in God's disposition towards people.

Roms. 9 says that from the same lump of clay he prepares "objects" (people) that will ultimately either receive wrath or mercy (potter's rights), yet it appears that the objects of wrath experience a genuine portion (however small) of God's mercy in the fact that he is patient with them.

I have trouble seeing that the vessels prepared for ultimate mercy, would not have some sense of God's wrathful disposition on them before they are made alive/recreated in Christ. Your point about "nature" in the Eph. 2 passage seems to enforce what I'm saying - that God is against, hates what is by nature sinful, though his love will ultimately break through and win the day, so to speak, and produce radical change in that nature.

Do you think God had a disposition of genuine wrath against his own Son on the cross, was satisfied in bruising his Son on our behalf, so that His love would dominate? I don't see God as bi-polar in doing so. He has absolutely no wrath now towards Christ, as it was fully satisfied, but at some point elements of both wrath and love were at work.

When one is found outside of Christ, there seems to be some sense of wrath, or antagonism towards that person (by nature) until they are brought to repentance and faith in Christ. I don't see my security in Christ as being jeopardized because I view God's disposition as containing elements of wrath towards me when I was found outside of Him.s

What am I missing? thanks, ken

Wade Burleson said...

"Do you think God had a disposition of genuine wrath against his own Son on the cross, was satisfied in bruising his Son on our behalf, so that His love would dominate?"

Great question, again. "He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God."

Christ cried out - "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani" (My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?).

I believe that the wrath of God was actually, really and personally born by Christ on the cross so that there is no wrath, no condemnation and no judicial punishment (all the same thing) for those in Christ.

Anonymous said...

"I believe that the wrath of God was actually, really and personally born by Christ on the cross so that there is no wrath, no condemnation and no judicial punishment (all the same thing) for those in Christ."

Exactly! My point being there was a time in Christ's life where wrath and love were too, the child of God's before they were hidden in Christ experienced wrath and love. Love triumphs!

Anonymous said...

I could have worded that better...not sure we "experience" wrath as Christ did, but it seems Scripture indicates it is there in some sense pre-in-Christ.

As always, thanks for the food for thought!

Anonymous said...

After poking around on the web I found an interesting article addressing this idea of God's wrath towards believers:

He points out a couple greek words for "wrath" hardly ever mean eternal judgement.

“In the NT orge„ is both God’s displeasure at evil, [and] His
passionate resistance to every will which is set against Him.”20 pg50

" As in the OT, the “wrath of God” in the NT falls upon the
unregenerate and on disobedient believers. Thus, God awaits one’s
choice—for the unregenerate to believe and for the believer to obey.
Thus, to extinguish the wrath of God requires obedience for the
regenerate; and for the unregenerate, faith. " pg53

Regardless of whether I agree with his conclusions, I see the importance of defining what one means when using the word "wrath".


Victorious said...


I found this in Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary:

WRATH — the personal manifestation of God's holy, moral character in judgment against sin. Wrath is neither an impersonal process nor irrational and fitful like anger. It is in no way vindictive or malicious. It is holy indignation—God's anger directed against sin.
God's wrath is an expression of His holy love. If God is not a God of wrath, His love is no more than frail, worthless sentimentality; the concept of mercy is meaningless; and the Cross was a cruel and unnecessary experience for His Son.

The Bible declares that all people are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph_2:3) and that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom_1:18). Since Christians have been “justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom_5:9). The magnitude of God's love is manifested in the Cross, where God's only Son experienced wrath on our behalf.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Victorious!

Rex Ray said...


I’m not disagreeing but if God’s wrath is holy indignation against sin, why did he order the death of babies when his people conquered their enemies?

I guess my question of physical death vs. spiritual death is too far off the radar screen.

BTW, if I had a pretty name such as Mary Ann, I’d use it all the time. No joke; I’m serious.

Victorious said...


I don't know why God ordered the death of babies. I do know He is loving, just, merciful, wise, and long-suffering. Knowing that, I put my trust in Him and try not to lean on my own understanding.

I believe the "death" of Adam was, as you mentioned, both physical and spiritual. Though some disagree with me, I think this was a direct result of having to leave the perfect environment of the garden designed specifically for Adam. The world outside that area left them prone to sickness, disease, war, etc. and eventual death.

I also believe Adam died spiritually due to his deliberate disobedience and refusal to acknowledge or confess his disobedience but rather chose to accuse both his wife and God as the cause. I do not believe Eve died spiritually, however. She rightly recognized , acknowledged, and exposed the deceiver and for that reason God determined the enmity between them would continue. She is called her the mother of the living. Not only did she provide physical offspring, and not only did she recognize the Lord as the origin, but that offspring called upon the name of the Lord. A continuing relationship with God is evidenced albeit in a far more limited way than in the garden.

Since physical death (returning to the ground from which he was taken) was spoken to Adam only, and scripture states that only Adam was forced to leave the garden, I assume Eve chose to follow him and hence placed himself in the same position of dying physically due to the lack of availability of the Tree of Life.

Eve's choice to leave the garden along with Adam accounts for the warning from God that her turning to him would cause him to rule over her.

Thank you, Rex, for the compliment. I do use my real name when I think of it, but Victorious has almost become second nature having used it on the internet for so long.

Victorious said...


I assume Eve chose to follow him and hence placed HERSELF in the same position of dying physically due to the lack of availability of the Tree of Life.

Anonymous said...

Example of others receiving punishment for someone else’s sin: In 1 Kings 21 Elijah tell Ahab that he will be punished for his wickedness but after Ahab’s repentance God says that Ahab won’t receive the punishment in his days but in the days of his son 21:29.

On another note: Of course Eve died spiritually because she sinned and rebelled against God. She was no longer holy so the Holy Spirit of God could not live in her heart as He had before she became a sinner. She knew she was commanded to not eat of the tree as was Adam (Genesis 3:3) even though Scripture only specifically makes reference to this command being given to "Adam" (2:16). Just as in 2:16, God’s judgment is only specifically referred to being placed upon “Adam” and Eve is not referred to. This does not exclude Eve. Example: in 3:22 God says that the “man” has obtained the ability of knowing good and evil even though “both” of them experienced this consequence of having eaten the fruit (3:7).

Because of this both Adam AND Eve were forced out of the Garden of Eden before either could eat from the Tree of Life (3:22). References to “Adam” and “the man” is used repeatedly as being inclusive of Adam and Eve.

It’s a stretch to say that Eve did not die spiritually. She sinned as a direct result of Satan’s temptation and Adam sinned as a result of being tempted by Satan’s agent, Eve. If Eve had not died spiritually it could only mean that she was NOT a "sinner" and did NOT need a Savior but we know that Jesus Christ Himself is the only person who has ever lived who was not a sinner.

There is no gauge portrayed as to whose sin is greater but I would think that Eve first disobeying God and eating the fruit and then being used by Satan as an “agent” to lead Adam to sin would be the worst of the two. But my opinion is neither here nor there.

On still another note: “I think” that God ordering the “death of babies” was to eliminate a “people”. If so it could only be done by total genocide.

Victorious said...

She sinned as a direct result of Satan’s temptation and Adam sinned as a result of being tempted by Satan’s agent, Eve

RRR, this is a stretch as scripture specifically records Eve's sin as being deceived...not being tempted nor disobedience. And likewise, scripture nowhere records Adam's sin as being tempted, but rather disobedience.

One sin is unintentional and the other deliberate. Eve was a sinner, of course, as defined as "missing the mark" and involved in the transgression by being deceived.

She knew she was commanded to not eat of the tree as was Adam (Genesis 3:3) even though Scripture only specifically makes reference to this command being given to "Adam" (2:16).

So let's look at 2:16-18

Gen 2:16 And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
Gen 2:17 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.
Gen 2:18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.

Using your interpretation of "man" we should be consistent and assume:

1) When God said "man" in those verses He didn't really mean man.

2) He must have meant "man and woman" except that no woman had been formed yet.

3) Both Adam and Eve (man) shouldn't be alone and both needed a help suitable to them.


And then even after Eve and every animal has been named, God chose to refer to the woman as Adam? He referred to them as individuals here:

Gen 3:21 And Jehovah God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins, and clothed them.

and here:

Gen 4:1 And the man knew Eve his wife

God sent out the man to till the ground from which he was taken. Eve was not taken from the ground.

Gen 3:23 therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Pretty clear and straightforward imo. :)

Anonymous said...

Victorious, Interesting...I've not heard that view before concerning Eve - is this a typical view of those who don't embrace the paradigm of Adam representing Eve? ken

Anonymous said...

Thanks Wade for your blog and for all the helpful replies. Here is my bit.
1. Romans 5:12-23. In this passage Paul is comparing and contrasting Adam's disobedience in to the Garden of Eden , to the vital work done by Jesus Christ at Calvary. He portrays Adam as a figure, a symbol, a prototype, a representation, or pattern of the One who was to come. Several translations of the passage have it so.

2. If we don't consider Adam's occupancy of the Garden as a Covenant or a Contract, what then shall we call it ? As in Mark 12:1, we might see it a Tenancy or Lease Agreement, with particular conditions and restrictions attached to it, but all these terms are synonymous, indicating privileges and obligations.

3. On the matter of the spiritual state of persons who are mentally incapable or incompetent, I think we aught to exercise great caution because of our limited information. I tend toward thinking of infants as still being 'one flesh' with their parents and sharing in their grace of salvation.

4. In fairness to Edwards, I don't think he had small infants in mind when he listed these different age-groups, including children of sufficient awareness, who needed and could respond to John 3:16 ff. Like a good watchman of souls, he gave warning to all to flee to Christ for refuge. We know that the Law can only condemn, but the Gospel of Christ convicts and converts the sinner, and this is where I think our emphasis ought to be.

5. To me, there is no possibility that anyone can love God and his fellow man so perfectly as to be sure that he qualifies for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. All people on Earth, without exception, are in need of the services of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ (Rom.3:24). Apart from Him, there is no salvation (Acts 4:12). It would be giving false hope to billions of people to say that an alternate way to heaven is highly possible, if people would but only try hard enough to follow their inner light of conscience , nature or the Law (Rom. 2:12-16). Despite these means of enlightenment, Paul concludes in Rom.3;23-26 that all Jews and Gentiles alike have, nevertheless, sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It leaves faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone as the only way for any person to be saved.


Victorious said...

ken, all I did was post scripture. I'm finding titles, labels and descriptions for Adam that I can't find scriptural support for. Adam was the first man; Eve was the first woman; they were the first parents. I don't find Adam identified as federal, head, or representative so I'm confused as to where these terms originated and why.

Adam is never spoken of in a positive light far as I can see and these titles seem to be an effort to elevate him to a position to which he is not entitled.

Can you shed some light on the reason for this for me?

Christiane said...

I think the gift of God to us of His Son was a gift of redeeming love ...

The work of the crucifixion unfolds from the purpose of the Incarnation:
Adam was not capable of death until he sinned, only then was Adam mortal.
Christ, the second Adam, did not sin, but was capable of death on the cross BECAUSE at the Incarnation He assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that He could say in our name from the cross:' "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Having thus established Him in solidarity with us sinners, God "did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all", so that we might be "reconciled to God by the death of His Son"

From the mystery of the Incarnation, this we know:
The proof that Christ at Incarnation fully assumed our waywardly-inclined humanity is that He died on the cross.
The proof that Christ Himself never sinned is that death had no power to hold Him, hence, the Resurrection.

I think the 'wrath' of God is against the waywardness that causes death. In the assumption of our full humanity, Our Lord, who never sinned, was able to do what no other descendant of Adam could do. . . He took that fullness of humanity with its tendency toward waywardness to the Cross, died in our place, and yet on the third day this sinless Son of God rose from the dead.

some thoughts

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I can't be of help here, Victorious. Your ideas about this subject are thought-provoking..the first I've encountered of this perspective. Gives me food for thought while I work. :) ken

Anonymous said...

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 Psalms 22:1

Maybe this is an indication that the wrath of God was poured out upon Christ as He was crucified. I had heard all my life this passage interpreted as saying that God turned His head in disgust from Jesus when Jesus was being crucified because all the sins of the world were poured upon Him.

This never made sense to me as to why The Father would turn His face from the Son as The Son was completing the mission for which He had been sent and was sacrificing His own life in obedience to the Father although I did understand that Jesus was receiving payment for all of my disgusting sins.

In recent days I’ve heard a more believable explanation (for me, at least) that most of you have probably already heard. A friend said, “When you hear someone say ‘You’ve got to know when to hold them’ you think of Kenny Rogers’ ‘The Gambler’ song. When you hear someone sing the first words of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ you know it so well you continue to sing it and finish it. When Jesus said these first words to Psalms 22:1 He knew that all of the Jews watching and listening to Him, and all of us today, would think of this Psalms which is one of the most vivid portrayals of the crucifixion of the Messiah and know that He was fulfilling that prophecy. They would understand why He was hanging on that Cross.

I feel this explanation fits much better.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your insights and perspective. I personally don't differentiate between Satan's "tempting" and his "deceiving". Also, I didn't really mean to imply that Eve was better or worse than Adam. In my understanding they both were led to sin and break God's commandment by the power of Satan as he used whatever tools were within his reach, "deception, lies, greed, pride", etc.

On the matter of when "Adam" or "the man" was meant to be inclusive or not I guess we'll have to decide for ourselves and compare it as best we can to other Scripture and context.

Rex Ray said...

Mary Ann,

It’s been said that man was made from dirt but woman was made from refined dirt. :)

You’re right that Adam tried to put the blame on Eve. Since God didn’t ‘buy it’ from Adam, why would he ‘buy it’ when Paul tried the same thing in 1Timothy 2:14?

“It was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result.”

That statement from Paul seems to indicate that Eve was to blame and Adam was not. This statement was Paul's second reason why HE did not allow women to teach men. (The first reason was ‘seniority’ (God made man first). DUH

A harder question than knowing why God ordered babies to be killed is: ‘will those babies be in heaven?

How about this ‘fun’ idea. Besides ‘reptile’, the snake is an animal;

“And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” (Genesis 3:21)

Besides the serpent having to crawl on his belly, he may have lost his fur. :)

Rex Ray said...

“Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:5 NLT)

We know the story of the prodigal son and the son at home had the worse sin. With that in mind, IMAGINE the ‘top angel’ saying:

‘You’re going to bring man to heaven and crown that dirt higher than me?? DUH

I’ve served a zillion years—what has he done?--nothing but cause trouble. I won’t stand for it—it’s NOT fair.’

I said that to introduce what I think is the main point—how would God bring man to heaven?

I believe he planned to do it exactly the way He does now—physical death; otherwise the Tree of Life was fake.

Joe said...

This is one area in which I have a difficulty time with the reformed view. God has decided from the foundation of time who would be his elect; Child "A" is one of those, Child "B" is not. Both die in infancy, so does child "B" become a retro-active member of the elect? (go easy on me, I am a lifelong baptist, on the fence with reformed views)

Christiane said...

here is some help from the Gospel of St. Matthew 19:14

'Jesus said,
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs
to such as these.”'

if HE said it, you can trust it

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Victorious said...

Hello again RRR,

I trust you won't mind if I join in on recent post and the John Gill commentary.

Eve, on the other hand, was deceived by Satan and believed when Satan told her that she would not die and she would become wise like God

Here's how scripture records what Eve was thinking:

Gen 3:6 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 desirable to make one wise...

Those words perfectly echo God's own words describing the beauty of the garden He designed. Look...

Gen. 2:9 Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food...

And she desired wisdom; the very virtue Solomon wanted and it pleased God. Wisdom/prudence and or understanding is a desirable thing. We can't see deception yet.

Now here's how satan deceived her. " the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Two trees; one affords knowledge and one affords life. Hence his words....You will not die (pointing to the tree of life) made perfect sense to Eve.

Gill's words about Adam eating because of his love for Eve is pure speculation. Again, scripture does not tell us the reason for Adam's disobedience only that he chose to listen to his wife rather than God. If you want to speculate, imagine that perhaps he noticed that she had not died (like God said would happen) and decided to go ahead. Which ever way you look at the situation, Eve was tricked or deceived by the deceiver and Adam willfully disobeyed and ignored God's warning about the consequences of eating from that tree.

Even if Eve portrayed a susceptibility to deception as Gill concludes, it does not follow that Adam receives the responsibility "over" her as a result of a deliberate, willful sin. It is my belief that satan focused on Eve because she was specifically formed to act as a help that Adam needed. He attacked that position of strength not because she was weak. To assume God created a help that was not up to the task, makes no sense.

And lastly, if all women must be forever labeled inclined to deception, then consistency dictates that all men must bear the label of disobedient farmers.

Every single prophetic warning in Gen. 3 about life outside of the garden has been reversed and overcome save one... the husband still thinks he's entitled to rule over his wife.

Men no longer have to toil the soil and sweat (they are free to work in air-condition environments). We have mulch and Round-Up to eliminate thorns and thistles. And though the word "sorrow" is erroneously translated "pain" in child birth, nevertheless women benefit from today's anesthetics to alleviate the discomfort of childbirth. And no longer must we only eat the plants from the ground, but have the choice of incorporating meat into our diets today.

No, there is only one prophetic warning in Gen. 3 that has yet to be overcome, and the reason is because of the titles, entitlements, and speculative translations in an effort to maintain power never intended. I see it. Gill's contention makes no sense if scripture is read without preconceived conclusions.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


I enjoy reading your responses and include them in my considerations as I strive to get deeper insight into one of those mysteries of Scripture where we seek to discover more clear understanding of possible lessons God has in store for us.

I removed my posts quoting Gill's Exposition. I do believe his propositions are worthy of consideration but I have not "owned" them as mine. Also, I did not feel comfortable in posting it because I thought it too provocative and susceptible to being offensive to women. I “think” Gill was writing objectively and without prejudice but it deals with a sensitive subject and we men and women tend to take positions defending our own sexual identity. If a woman had written the commentary instead of a man it probably could have been received more objectively by both sexes.

I totally understand your perspective and appreciate your giving it. My desire is to have the best understanding of Paul's perspective portrayed in the 1 Timothy passage as possible. Personally, I receive Paul's teachings as being sacred Scripture as I do all of those things written in The Bible meaning that I accept them as being the inspired Word of God. I do not contend that the intent is simply a reflection of the contemporary and cultural conditions of the time in which they were written. I take them as being ageless. This being the case, I strive to gain deeper insight into those Bible portions that are a challenge to understand.

This 1 Timothy passage seems on the surface to portray Paul as being chauvinistic and his writing reflecting someone who is personally prejudiced toward women. However, given that I accept it as being The Word of God I believe that there is a better explanation and that if we study and pray and continue to search we will discover a meaning that reveals God's plan and heart in a way that is not readily apparent by casual review. I don't accept the view that the source of this 1 Timothy passage is a man expressing his own prejudices and distorted opinion. To discover the truth I have to search with an objective mindset not bent on defending my own male identity or tending to shift blame upon those of the opposite sex.

I personally take the same position about Scripture when dealing with those Old Testament genocide episodes that Rex Ray mentioned or other passages like God's preference for choosing Jacob (the deceiver) over Esau or David (the adulterer/murderer) over King Saul, etc. Deeper search reveals to me aspects of God that enrich my understanding of who He is and His eternal nature. You, Victorious, and the others who respond to Wade's good posts, help me as I make this journey.


Dee Parsons said...

Great discussion Wade.

The reason I believe the destination of infants who die is so important comes from personal experience. When my Abby was so sick, and given less than a 10% chance of survival, the only thing which comforted me was the thought I would see her and enjoy her in eternity.

Since that time, I have met many other families who have had to face a similar heartbreak. The answer that some give "The Bible is silent so you'll just have to wait to see," has caused untold grief and pain. This is a question that, IMO, must be dealt with. I am grateful that you believe that they will be in heaven.

Now, for an interesting question. In the discussion at hand, Adam and Eve sinned and we are saved by the Second Adam. I have read a number of theologians who would contend that Adam and Eve had no choice but to sin. It was ordained from the beginning that it would be so. What's you take on that ?

Love the Burlesons and Emmanuel Enid!

Anonymous said...

"The answer that some give "The Bible is silent so you'll just have to wait to see," has caused untold grief and pain."

Hi Dee - it really depends on your perspective, I guess. We had friends who conceived twins knowing they'd most likely be born with a genetic disorder their other child had, lost the first shortly after birth, then the other several years later.

Our friends struggled with the message the pastor preached at the services, that he knew with great certainty they'd see them again, because they found peace and comfort in letting God be God, and trusted that whatever He did was good and right and just. We greatly admired their confidence in God even when their perspective on the Scriptures didn't shout out answers absolutely. ken

Chris Baumgart said...

Dear Victorious,

I believe both Adam and Eve had a "standing" directive from their Creator not to eat of this fruit. They were both holy at this time, without sin. Lucifer tempted Eve. He made her believe that God was holding back something good for her, something better. He made God out to look as someone who was selfish and greedy. If Eve would have waited and ask her Creator if what Lucifer said was true(?) then this would have been an act of willful obedience by her. But she did not. She was attracted to having this power. She reasoned through this statement from Lucifer, then made a choice. Once she had made up her mind to break her agreement with God, her selfishness prevailed and she ate of this fruit. Conviction was the next spiritual stepping stone in her and Adam's fall. Both hid from God.

this fruit. Very similar to Lucifer's choice, seeking self gradification verses obedience to God through Love.

Victorious said...

Hello Chris,

With all due respect, the adjectives you have assigned to Eve are nowhere found in scripture; i.e. tempted, power-seeking, selfish, and self-gratifying. The reason for her involvement in the transgression is recorded as deception only.

We need to be careful about going beyond what scripture says in creating our own suppositions. It might make for an interesting story, but if it's built on speculation, the end result if really fabrication.

Eve clearly sinned (missed the mark) but equally clear is that she was tricked/deceived by the serpent. To add to what scripture says is to arrive at a erroneous conclusion.

Sometimes we speculate but when we do, it's helpful and appropriate to note that we are doing so imho.

Dee Parsons said...

It is very painful to watch your small child suffer with a brain tumor for years while, at the same time, walking with God through the whole thing. I shared from my heart my own experience and thoughts as a committed Christian.

Because of that experience, I have been in a position to walk with other parents who have had to watch their little ones with cancer suffer untold pain, sometimes for years.To watch a small child scream with pain, not understanding why they must endure it, is beyond the experience and imaginings of most parents.

When someone shares their pain and struggle, it is hard to have someone else tell you that their friends did it better with no acknowledgement of the pain of the other. I am sorry that my theology didn't cut it during the trial of my daughter's illness.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Chris is being unreasonable in his understanding of the process by which Eve and Adam fell from their sinless and immortal creation, into the current human state of depravity and death. Satan targeted Eve, the weaker vessel according to 1 Peter 3:7, with persuasive deception and seductive lies. For all Eve's talk, she willingly consented to break the rules of the Garden. Her weak excuse for disobedience was: 'The Devil made do it'. And, because misery and sin like company, she was not content until she had also seduced innocent Adam into the ruin of mankind.
According to Scripture, Adam was less culpable than Eve in having caused the Fall (1 Tim 2:14), but the two are mostly dealt with as one in this beguiling temptation.

Satan, or the Tempter as he/she was known (Matt.4:3), tempted Eve in a similar manner in which he was later again to temp Jesus ...such as the gratification of the physical appetite (stones into bread); trying to make Him doubt and test the veracity of God's word; making lying promises to Him of instant power and co-rulership of the world. Our Savior, the Second Adam, was not for turning !

If we believe in the divine person of Jesus Christ, and trust the efficacy of His atoning work on the Cross for us, we shall be restored to the Paradise that once was lost.(John 3:16)


Victorious said...

Hello Gordon,

Satan targeted Eve, the weaker vessel according to 1 Peter 3:7

You are certainly free to believe that Eve was a weak vessel, but the verse in 1 Peter doesn't mean that women in general or even wives are weak vessels. Peter is comparing the way they should treat and honor their wives as "if" they were weaker vessels. Just like Jesus said "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves." Its a metaphor or comparison that describes the desired behavior. Granted women are generally weaker physically than their male counterparts, but not always.

The devil did deceive Eve. And nowhere are we told in the narrative that she "seduced" Adam nor are we told he was innocent. Funny how we are reading scripture very differently.

1 Tim. 2:14 merely says Eve was deceived and Adam wasn't. But Romans 5 indicates Adam's sin was disobedience and Job 31:33 says "If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom..."

Yes, satan tempted Jesus. We know that because that's what scripture says.

So...I'll leave it with this.

Eve was deceived and rightly confessed that she was deceived by the serpent

Adam disobeyed and confessed but blamed Eve and God.

Jesus was tempted not deceived nor disobedient.

Words have meanings imo.... :)

I leave this terrific discussion having enjoyed the fellowship and exchange of perceptions and understandings.

Anonymous said...

"When someone shares their pain and struggle, it is hard to have someone else tell you that their friends did it better with no acknowledgement of the pain of the other. I am sorry that my theology didn't cut it during the trial of my daughter's illness."

Dee, If I am reading the above statement correctly, then I owe you a sincere apology for coming across as insensitive to your pain, and on top of that, insinuating that my friends somehow "did it better", and that your theology was lacking. Please forgive me, those weren't my intentions.

I was merely responding to your statement of: "The answer that some give "The Bible is silent so you'll just have to wait to see," has caused untold grief and pain." That's a pretty strong statement, and thought that if you had a bit different perspective, then the statement wouldn't be as harsh.

Perhaps I would re-word this and say: The bible is isn't clear, so you'll just have to trust God and find peace in the fact that he has the right to do whatever he pleases.

I respect your perspective due to your experience, but I feel the issue is akin to the gun debate, where emotions often run high and cloud issues. Having said that, I certainly don't have all the insights and answers.

We helped out our friends a tremendous amount with taking them untold times to John Hopkins Hospital, watching their other children, watching the twins bloat up like watermelons about ready to pop, etc. It took a toll on the community and was very painful to be a part of. Especially, when she and my wife were pregnant at the same time. At the first funeral my wife was about to deliver our last. At the second funeral our last child was standing at the grave site holding my wife's hand. My wife felt terribly humbled, sad, guilty, etc. that our child was healthy, while both of theirs were gone. peace, ken

Christiane said...

If God 'giveth grace to the humble', we need not worry about His care for little babies who die, do we?

"" . . . God has created the baby who knows nothing and can utter only feeble cries.
He has created the poor savage with no guide but natural law, and it is to their hearts that He deigns to stoop.
They are His wild flowers whose homeliness delights Him. By stooping down to them, He manifests His infinite grandeur.
The sun shines equally both on cedars and on every tiny flower. In just the same way God looks after every soul as if it had no equal.
All is planned for the good of every soul, exactly as the seasons are so arranged that the humblest daisy blossoms at the appointed time."

(thoughts of Therese of Lisieux- a Doctor of the Church)

Anonymous said...

"The Bible is silent so you'll just have to wait to see,"

Personally, I believe the Bible DOES speak to issues like the eternal fate of those who die as infants or those born to be mentally disabled to the point of not being capable of rational thinking.

I figure that if Jesus (God) gave special access to those little children who were seeking Him out and defended them when others were trying to diminish their worthiness to have access that it was done with the intent of sending a message. When He compared their innocence to that of those others who receive God's grace and are forgiven due to their faith I believe He was sending a strong message about the fate of children not yet held accountable for rejecting God. I believe that the very nature of God that is portrayed throughout Scripture sends a strong message to us about the fate of these.

I don't believe we should base our opinion about God's opinion based merely on emotions or "what we think about God" and believe we should seek verification from His Word. God does give us guidance about this issue in His Word if we seek it.

This flies in the face of the rationale of a lot of Calvinists who believe that God pre-ordains that some infants are doomed to hell and some given God’s grace. That’s why I’m certainly not one of those.

Some would argue, "But God destroyed entire ethnic groups of people including infants and the unborn who were still in the wombs of mothers!" He did but with the intent of removing that ethnic group from existence but that is no indication that He judged the infants and unborn for eternal separation from Himself and did not receive them in glory where we'll meet them soon.

Dee Parsons said...


I believe the Bible is patently clear about the attributes of God. Your statement leaves open the possibility that God will send these little ones to hell to be tormented for eternity and that He has a right to do so.

God has a right to do many things but He will not act in a way contrary to His nature. To send an infant to hell is contrary to the nature of God. The Bible never once describes Him as sending infants to hell. It doesn't because it would be contrary to His nature. It doesn't because I think it is beyond reasonable to think that a just and merciful God would do such a thing in light of the Cross.

I see God very differently from those who would consider that He would do such a thing. God is looking for ways to bring people into the kingdom, not looking for ways to keep people out. The fact that he sent Jesus to break the bondage of sin brought to us by the first Adam is proof enough as to His purpose.

The silence that you impose on a loving God is not comforting to most people. It may be for you and for your friends but it certainly is not for me and for many, many others. In fact, I believe that He speaks loud and clear on this matter and I wrote a post at our blog, outlining the Biblical reasons for the salvation of all infants.

I believe that the salvation of infants is far more clear than the doctrine of the Trinity in the Scripture and I also believe in the Trinity.

I accept your apology. It is hard to get blown off by another who has not had to walk this path and feel the actual pain of wondering about the eternal destination of one's little girl. It is far different to observe one going through the process as opposed to going through it yourself. I should know. I used to be a hospice nurse. My own experience left me forever changed.

This subject is not the gun debate in which people argue who gets to keep guns in their house and on their person. (I have a concealed weapons permit, btw). This is an eternal matter in which we are talking about the possibility of babies being condemned to hell. Passions should be raised. They were put their by a loving God who deeply cares for these little children.

We are making a statement about God if we believe that He would send a baby to hell. The silence argument leaves open that possibility. To me, such a conclusion about God is unimaginable.

This debate is about eternity and is far more important than simple gun laws and should not be equated as being equal in passion. It affects our families, our eternity and how we convey our understanding of God to a watching world and to many parents who are not as "doctrinally precise" as your friends.

I wish I could tell them that their dear children are in heaven and they will, without a doubt, see them again because they serve a God who deeply and eternally loves both them and their children.

Anonymous said...

Dee, I gave it a day to mull over your last post before I commented. Also, I did read your recent blog post (and most of the comments) about this was eye opening. Thanks for your efforts in putting it together.

BTW: The link you provided for Grudem's view does not prove what you intended it to prove, namely that he believes *all* infants go to heaven. See the last three paragraphs.

Is this issue a litmus test for fellowship for you? I sense you wouldn't prefer to hang out with me? My name is really ken. :)

I'm saddened that you insist on broad brushing everyone who doesn't believe as you do as distorting and misrepresenting the very character of God. I say along with others that I'm not sure the Scriptures are crystal clear, yet by your standards I miserably fail to represent God by presenting him as the one who tosses a kid into everlasting torment. As you know, some of Christ's followers do not believe people die and 'go to' heaven or hell, but are returned to the earth, where the righteous will be resurrected and live forever in the kingdom of God. The dead are ultimately annihilated. This group would not neatly fit into your equation.

Well, I'm still in process, and have changed a great deal in the last thirteen years theologically. Please be patient with me...I'm not where you're at and am being honest with my understanding.

It's also unfortunate that you've wrongfully assumed I haven't walked in your shoes at all in reference to having a sick child, and accuse me of 'blowing you off' (not sure where that came from???). I stand by my statement that these issues are surrounded by emotions that cloud perspective and efforts towards mutual understanding....just like the gun control debate.

I'll end with a story that I'll probably get in hot water with you for sharing, but proves my point about how emotions often get in the way of understanding.

When my oldest two were smaller they were trapping for coons and caught a stray cat. My son wanted to keep it (he was around 9 at the time), and I agreed - provided that he was going to be responsible in tending to it on a daily basis. He agreed wholeheartedly.

A month goes by and he starts slacking and misses a feeding here and there. I remind him of his commitment, but starts slacking again shortly after. I tell him on the third time I have to remind him there will be dire consequences that he won't like...the cat will have to die. Sure, I could have had him give the cat away, but realized it wouldn't ultimately serve my purposes.

He doubles his efforts to take care of it, but eventually slacks once again. I tell him that I will have to put the cat down because his irresponsibility. He was devastated that his irresponsibility killed the cat that day.

Pretty radical, maybe even over-the-top for some, but, do you know what? Everyone that he has done work for over the years has commented that he is absolutely not a slacker, but an extremely diligent and hard working young man.

I'd like to think the Lord used the Passover Cat to help produce that quality in him. And, believe it or not, I do really enjoy cats.

Peace, ken

Chris Baumgart said...


Thank you for your response. As spiritual creations God has made us in His image. We are made with a soul that uses the attribute of "reasoning" - the Word is very clear that God gave both Adam and Eve a directive, to NOT eat of the fruit from this specific Tree. So this became the "boundary" that Adam and Eve were living by before the deceiver sought them out to sway them into disobedience. Do you really believe Eve forgot God's Word? And then could claim, I didn't know any better? Our make up in reasoning spiritually is pretty clear in what unfolded in the Garden. Eve disobeyed God. And she knew clearly that she would when she made her decision to DO what God had clearly told her NOT to. Historically we as believers have a record of the nature of selfishness or sin, into the heavens beginning with the disobedience of the angel Lucifer. Adam and Eve continued this in their choices to disobey God in the Garden. They both had time to contemplate, think over, each their choice. Temptation. Serving to gratify self or living to please God. Pretty clear.

Chris Baumgart said...

The belief and teaching around Depravity is not sound. In regard to infants going to eternal damnation? Of course not. And anyone or any group that teaches this is not sound in his or her relationship with the core of God's Holy Word. God's benevolence. The Kingdom of God is governed by this principle, the actual nature of their Creator. Benevolence. Based on this, the Judgement Seat has great significance on the teaching, that some infants are damned eternally. Knowing that in whatever capacity the infant is brought before God's Judgement Seat, also evidence of willful disregard for the laws of God must accompany this child. We are taught in scripture that God has all things recorded. The Book of Record. Now specifically this child is responsible for his or her actions of mind, body and spirit. Justice is one of the attributes of God's Benevolence. A Just God will hand out the proper sentence. A Just God will get it right, we obviously can't.

Dee Parsons said...


If the story that you told about killing the cat is true, I am rendered speechless.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Dee, it is true, and so is everything else I wrote above.

I was picking up chestnuts in last light the other evening (to keep the deer from eating $4 a pound) and found out that it is almost easier to wait until dark and use a good LED light to find them in the grass since the light is continually cast at multiple directions vs. the single direction of sunlight. Plus, the LED light seems to make them glow a little.

I'm sure you'd agree that life and theology are a little like that. Perspective is healthy. I will always lack perspective to some degree or another - which is why I stop in at Wade's blog. I have read enough of yours to know that you certainly welcome it in certain areas.

My late grandfather used to host large picnics on the farm and supposedly had a cat that kept jumping up on the tables and getting in the food. He took and shot it. I don't remember hearing his actions spoiling the event, or of people leaving.

Things have changed to say the least - if he had done that today, I'm sure he'd have charges against him after someone video taped him on their phone and called police. Certainly, emotions would be a big part behind it.

Think back to the story of Achan in Judges 7. Achan steals and lies, the result being: "I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you". Put yourself in the shoes of the mother of Achan's wife in that God requires you to be part of this purification process.

The first stone you pick up and sling hits your baby granddaughter out of your daughter's hands, knocking her to the ground. Blood gushes from her little head as she screams. Your husband's stone hits your daughter. You watch in horror as the drone of stones from everyone else causes the death of the entire family and herds of animals. You participate in placing the bodies on the heaps of brush and branches, then watch and smell their flesh and all their belongings burn. You will never forget this moment as long as you live.

Question: At that point in history, what would have kept you from being speechless in raising your hand and heart against God because he commanded you to kill your lovely daughter and grandchildren because of the sin of your son-in-law? They did nothing to deserve this.

What is it about God that would have sustained your confidence in Him that He is indeed a loving God?

I think Scripture indicates there were only a remnant of genuine God-lovers that day, and am wondering what kept them from being overtaken by their emotions resulting in untold grief and pain, and a distorted view of God? They didn't have the Psalms, the prophets, nor the NT.

I've enjoyed your dedication to stand up for the victims of authoritarian leadership and abuse, but think you've gone too far in demonizing all those who don't agree with you in this issue of the destiny of infants who die. It comes across (to me) as unnecceary, unprofitable, and unloving. Just my 2 cents (I'm a nobody). ken

Chris Baumgart said...


After reading the "life lesson" that you taught your son, I understand the black and white of it. And it would be great "if" that furthers your son in taking his responsibilities seriously... By your report, so far he has. This is all good in an Old Testament kind of way, but I would direct you to the New Testament where God's Grace and Love take on the newest form of certain teachings in the home and the church. Myself a father and a Christian it has taken me quite sometime to move passed old school ways of disciplining my children to using God's Love as the first stepping stone to a better way of handling situations that require teaching and direction/correction. God's Grace may have spared the cat and giving it away to another family as being the "best" choice. Teaching God's Love through actions such as this is where we as Believers must learn to reside. And it is here God's Grace resides with you, with me and other parents who are trying to do their best in raising loving, caring, responsible children. I would admonish you to continue to grow in faith and the Lords love asking the Holy Spirit for this. As God's blessings continue in your life that your children and grandchildren see the Love of Jesus through you. -peace

Anonymous said...

I hear you, Chris. Parenting is tough. I've often found myself begging the Spirit of God for wisdom, and have told my son at times how inadequate I've felt to be a father to him.

But, in all fairness, that story is only a piece of the larger puzzle that surrounds it. Pieces like that are often screaming loud by themselves - tempting people to make huge assumptions without asking questions. Putting it with the other surrounding pieces (life's context) may help to interpret it differently.

My point in sharing it still remains...that we often allow our emotions be the main source of interpreting out of context (life and Scripture). jmho, ken

Rex Ray said...


There are several I could reply to, but I’d rather pick you.

I’ve wonder what happened to you guys and why you ‘left’ Wade’s latest post.

In applying that post, how do we know Paul said, “Eve was deceived and Adam wasn’t”…I mean maybe he was quoting someone else. (I’m picking a ‘fight’. :)

Mary Ann, I agree the devil didn’t pick Eve because she was the ‘weaker’ vessel. In fact, if an airplane had one bomb to drop on the enemy, it wouldn’t choose a foot-soldier; but a tank.

I believe the devil thought if he could deceive Eve, Adam would follow like a puppy dog.

How’s this for thought? If we want success in getting more souls in heaven, we bomb all the enemies of Jesus and all their babies would go to heaven, but that’s not the Great Commission.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said, "If we want success in getting more souls in heaven, we bomb all the enemies of Jesus and all their babies would go to heaven, but that’s not the Great Commission."

HA! Rex Ray you never cease to amaze me! The sad thing is that some religions really do believe it's better to kill people rather than to allow them to leave their religion.

I was talking to a good friend tonight about a mutual friend of ours from a Muslim family. She was determined to leave the Islamic faith and eventually had to flee from her radical family. In past times she couldn't even come to our house to visit because we had "dogs"; a real "no, no" with Muslims. My friend told me that she is "missing" and he has not heard from her in a long time. Nobody has. (This is not in the US). She did not flee to become a Christian but was simply tired of the Islamic intolerance. I pray she's okay.

Rex Ray said...

You are an amazing person with your circumstances. We talk about all these possibilities and solutions while you live them. I hope your friend is OK.

The Muslim mind is strange. A year before my son started living at a Muslim village 15 miles from Beersheba, it was reported to a father that his daughter was seen after school talking to a Muslim boy that was NOT in their tribe. (All the tribes go to school together.) She arrived home at the usual time but he locked her in a shed and burned it down. Restored honor to his family.