To many Christians, Adam and Eve are considered wicked people because of their disobedience to God's commandments in the garden of Eden. The Bible teaches that in the beginning God had created a beautiful world for them to live in and had blessed them with all good things. But there was one particular tree, set in the midst of the garden, that they were commanded not to partake of its fruit. According to what Christianity teaches, both Adam and Eve were enticed by the words of the serpent, and tempted by their own feelings of greed and egoism, they coveted to have what God had -- the knowledge of good and evil.
It has been said that Adam and Eve were given the ability to decide for themselves whom to listen to -- God or Satan speaking through the serpent. Instead of showing gratitude and obedience to their Creator, with whom they had a close, personal relationship, they chose to follow the suggestion of the evil one by doing exactly what their God had forbidden them. As a result of their willful transgression against what they knew to be right, they committed an egregious sin and were justly cast out of the beautiful garden and banished from God's presence forever. Furthermore, because of their disobedience, not only was the earth itself cursed with thorns and thistles to torment and afflict man, but all of their children were born in sin. This is the view which many Christian churches teach today.
In contrast, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that, despite their initial act of disobedience through ignorance, Adam and Eve were people of high moral integrity who remained faithful to God to the end of their lives. They further teach that after their expulsion from the garden of Eden, Adam and his wife were taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, and were given the law of sacrifice and the priesthood of God along with all other necessary ordinances needed to obtain the gift of eternal life. Furthermore, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declare that Adam and Eve taught all these principles to their children, thereby spreading the knowledge of God's salvation to all of mankind.
To most Christians, such a doctrine seems to contradict what they believe the Bible teaches, therefore, they conclude that the LDS church cannot be considered Christian in the traditional sense of the word. However, when we take a closer look at what the Bible tells us, it is the traditional Christians who have a bigger problem reconciling their views with those of the Bible.
To begin with, much has been made of how both Adam and Eve tried to pass the blame onto someone else (Adam blamed Eve; Eve blamed the serpent) when God confronted them with their disobedient behavior. The fact of the matter is that they each honestly and remorsefully acknowledged that they did eat of the forbidden fruit. More than that, they both felt shame for what they had done and each readily admitted their guilt without resorting to lying, telling half-truths, or any other form of deceit. What they did in actuality was to give a complete, truthful explanation for their wrongdoing before confessing their misdeed, yet their explanations were honest and accurate. We must therefore ask ourselves: Is this the characteristics of people so wicked that they are beyond redemption?
If, as traditional Christianity teaches, Adam and Eve were such unrighteous people that God disavowed them forever, then it becomes difficult to explain the scripture which reads, "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord" (Genesis 4:1). Notice that Eve acknowledges that it was the Lord who had given her a son. Why would she say such a thing if she felt no sense of closeness to God or He to her? Furthermore, her declaration implies something of joy. That certainly isn't what someone would say who had lost touch with God. Therefore, the sincere inquiring mind would be led to ask: If God had nothing more to do with Adam and Eve, why does Eve express a sense of gratitude to the Lord for Him giving her a son?
Perhaps it might be argued that even though Adam and Eve were cast out of God's presence and His grace, they still desired to be close to Him again, but because they had sinned so badly, such a desire could never be fulfilled. Yet, the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ is about saving people from a state of eternal misery and reconciling them back to God if they repent of their sins. Therefore, it doesn't make sense that repentance is the key to salvation for all but Adam and Eve.
The next child of Adam and Eve which the Bible tells us about is Abel. "And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstling of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering. But unto Cain and his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door" (Genesis 4:2-7).
The first thing we learn from this scripture is that both Cain and Abel made an offering unto the Lord. The question we should ask ourselves is "Why did they make this offering?" In other words, where did they get the idea that they should offer up something to God? That becomes a very interesting question when we consider that their parents, Adam and Eve, were supposedly such corrupt people, that their sins placed them beyond the grace of God. If that is true, as modern Christianity wants us to believe, then where did their children get the correct knowledge that God would be pleased with them giving Him an offering? There are only two possible answers. Either the sons of Adam received that knowledge from God Himself or they got it from their parents.
Let's look at both of these answers. If Cain and Abel received their knowledge of how to make a proper offering to the Lord, directly from God Himself, how is that God still spoke to them yet refused to talk to their parents, from whom they not only received a sinful nature at birth, but were raised by sinful parents who had no respect for God? On the other hand, if we say that Adam and/or Eve taught their children to make a proper offering to God, then it is inconsistent to say that they remained wicked people and that God had not extended the possibility of salvation to them as well. Either answer challenges the assumption of Adam's standing with God which today's Christianity teaches.
According to what many churches believe, Adam and Eve were banished from the presence of the Lord forever because of the gravity of their sin. They conclude that because of their willful act of disobedience in the face of such sure knowledge of His commandments, their sin was so reprehensible that they were beyond the possibility of salvation. Furthermore, it is taught that this couple genetically transmitted their sinful disposition to their children, resulting in the entire human race becoming born in sin and therefore causing them also to be estranged or cut off from God. As a result of this alienation from our Creator, it is further believed that all mankind are children of the devil until we accept the saving grace of Christ's atonement and become adopted into the family of God.
Yet the scriptures clearly tell us that God talked directly to Cain and that Cain not only heard His voice but was able to converse with Him "as one man speaketh to another." If we accept the premise that Adam and Eve were such ungodly people, who passed on their evil tendencies to their children, then how is it possible that God could still talk to Cain (and no doubt to Abel), explaining what and how He wanted an offering from them? In other words, if Adam didn't teach his children about God, how did Cain and Able become worthy to have the Lord speak to them, but not to their parents? And why would the Lord instruct the sons of Adam on the need for an offering, but not require Adam to do the same? On the other hand, if Adam and Eve did teach their children about God, logic would force us to conclude that God would have also instruct them to give Him an offering as well.
Although the Bible doesn't tell us exactly who told Cain and his brother that they needed to make an offering unto God, it is certain that someone did. But the Bible does tell us what kind of an offering they did make. Cain brought the fruit of the ground, and Abel "brought of the firstling of his flock, and of the fat thereof." Abel raised sheep. Therefore, his offering was a lamb, and it was the "firstling" of his flock. The Lord accepted Abel's offering, but He didn't accept Cain's. Why? The Lord told Cain, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." Obviously, Cain knew what kind of an offering the Lord wanted, and, apparently, he didn't do it the way he was instructed. Abel's offering was accepted. Cain offered fruit, while Abel offered, not just a lamb, but the firstling of his flock, and the fat thereof.
When Moses was in the land of Egypt, trying to secure the release of his people from Pharaoh, the Lord told him that He was going to send the angel of death to kill the firstborn of every family. However, the children of Israel would be spared if they took the blood of a lamb and smeared it on their door posts. But it couldn't be just any lamb. The Lord instructed Moses, "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year [a firstling]: ye shall take it from the sheep" (Exodus 12:5).
Later, when they were in the desert, the Lord instructed Moses to build a tabernacle, or temple, where Aaron and the male members of the tribe of Levi would perform certain duties as priests unto the people. The Lord told Moses that if someone commits a sin, "he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or kid of the goats, for a sin offering, and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sins" (Leviticus 5:6) "And he [the priest] shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priests shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord; and the priest shall make an atonement for his sins which he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him" (Leviticus 4:35).
According to the instructions which Moses received from God, the people were to make an offering of a lamb to the Lord in the temple. This lamb, and the fat thereof, was to be a peace offering and a trespass or sin offering unto the Lord. The purpose of such an offering was an atonement for the person's sins, and it was in this way that the people of God were able to receive a forgiveness of their sins. Cain offered fruit to the Lord, while Abel gave an offering in accordance with the Law of Moses almost three thousand years before the law was given!
The symbolism of the lamb is well known to all Christians. It represents the lamb of God who would be slain for the sins of the world, as an atonement offering to save us from our sins. It is through that infinite offering that we receive a forgiveness of our sins. Furthermore, the apostle Paul wrote that "the law [of Moses, with its sacrificial offerings] was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24). Cain knew what kind of an offering was expected of him, and giving fruit was not acceptable. Abel offered an acceptable gift of the firstling of his flock of sheep and the fat thereof in faith. That means, before Abel even made his offering to God, he already had faith in God. More than that, as Paul pointed out, he had faith in a coming savior who would atone for his sins (the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ).
The apostle Paul further tells us that because of this, Abel obtained a witness that he was righteous (Hebrew 11:4). The only conclusion we can come to is that both Cain and Abel were taught what was necessary for them to receive a forgiveness of their sins and thereby become righteous. That means Cain and Abel must have had at least a partial knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ on how to be saved. Before the days of Jesus, the method used to obtain a forgiveness of sin was to offer up a sacrificial lamb, in similitude, or in the likeness of the offering God would someday give to mankind through His only begotten Son. Abel complied with that requirement in faith while Cain did not.
And how did Cain and Abel give their offering? The book of Genesis doesn't say, but according to the law of Moses, a lamb without blemish was slain upon an altar and the fat thereof was burned on an altar. But, more than this, the Law of Moses required that this sacrifice, or offering, be performed by someone who was a priest. Since Cain and Abel performed their own offering, it would seem that they had to be priests themselves. Even Christ Himself was ordained as a priest in order to offer Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 5:1-5). If we say that Cain and Able weren't priests, then we are forced to admit that God changes His requirements for forgiveness from one generation to another. Since we know that can't be, we are left with no other conclusion than Cain and Abel had to have held a priesthood that authorized them to give their offering upon an altar as a means of gaining forgiveness for their sins.
Again, we must ask the question: How did they know how to give an acceptable offering to the Lord? And did God only give this knowledge to the sons of Adam but not to Adam himself? If we say that God gave this information to Adam, then it would make logical sense for him to not only share this knowledge with them but to also ordain them to a priesthood which would allow them to offer up an acceptable sacrifice to God, so that they too might receive a forgiveness of their sins. On the other hand, if we say that Adam wasn't given this opportunity to have his sins forgiven, then we must ask ourselves, how did Cain and Able become more righteous than their parents so that they were worthy enough to talk directly with God, and receive the knowledge of how to have their sins forgiven, when their parents weren't worthy enough?
It is not logical to suppose that they became righteous on their own, without any instruction or training from their parents. We have to also remember that it was Eve who praised the Lord for giving her Cain. Speaking about Eve, the apostle Paul told Timothy that it was she who was in transgression, not Adam (1 Timothy 2:14). Therefore, if Eve was the transgressor of God's will, not Adam, and she rejoiced that the Lord had given her Cain, then how much more would Adam rejoice in the Lord, seeing that he didn't sin? It is not logical to suppose that Adam's sons were instructed on how to give an acceptable offering but Adam and Eve weren't.
It can be argued that since the Bible says nothing about Adam giving an offering, then he must not have. Yet the Bible is equally silent on this subject until we read about Abraham offering up his son Isaac two thousand years later. Then nothing more is said about an offering until the time of Moses. It is not reasonable to suppose that Cain and Abel were the only ones taught how to give an acceptable offering, and then the Lord no more required it of man until Moses. Such an idea is not only illogical, but inconsistent with the way God works.
Next, the Bible then informs us that, after the death of Abel, "Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew" (Genesis 4:25). Again we see that Eve acknowledges God's influence in her life. It is quite evident that Eve still continued to believe in God and expressed appreciation for His kindness to her. Clearly, there is no indication in her statement which would give the impression that she felt God had deserted them and no longer cared about them.
When Seth was a hundred and five years old "to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord" (Genesis 4:26). Notice that this scripture states that, during the time of Enos, "men [began] to call upon the name of the Lord." The first question that comes to mind is: What caused men to call upon the name of the Lord? In other words, who taught them and convinced them of the necessity to do this? The second question that comes to mind is: How did they call upon the name of the Lord? What exactly does that mean? Could it mean that they were likewise required to give an offering to the Lord the same as God expected of Cain and Abel?
The fourth person from Adam is Mahalalel which is a Hebrew word meaning "blessed God", or "blessed of God". Again we see God being acknowledged in the naming of a person.
The seventh person from Adam is Enoch. The Bible tells us, "And Enoch walked with God: and was not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). According to the account in Genesis, it appears that Enoch was sixty-five years old when he began to walk with God, and he continued to do so for the next three hundred years, when God then took him off the earth, apparently without dying. This was not a punishment, but a great honor! Furthermore, Enoch wrote a book, prophesying about the coming of Christ. A part of this prophecy is quoted in the New Testament Book of Jude (verses 14,15). Enoch wasn't just a righteous man, he was a spiritual giant, a man of great virtue, a prophet of God!
Although Enoch was so righteous that he walked with God, yet there is not even a hint in the scriptures that he was the only righteous person living at that time. He merely was far and above the others in godliness. Once again we need to ask ourselves: How did he get that way? Where did he learn so much about God that he was worthy to walk with Him for three hundred years, and then be taken from earth without tasting death? Furthermore, are we also to assume that the Lord never required an offering from him as He did with Cain and Abel? And what about Enoch's son, Methusala? If Enoch was such a righteous man, surely he would have taught his children to be just as obedient to God.
During most of this time, Adam was still alive on the earth. In fact, Adam died just fifty-seven years before God took Enoch. It is inconceivable that Enoch did not know or associate with his great grandfather, Adam. If Adam was such a despicable person, as many Christians want us to believe, then how did it happen that so many of his children become so righteous? On the other hand, if we say that Adam was given the knowledge of how to make an acceptable offering unto the Lord, it is consistent with human behavior to say that he passed on this knowledge his sons Cain, Abel and Seth, who, in turn, taught it their children, who then taught it to their children, all the way down to Noah.
We read in the Bible that when Noah was five hundred years old that "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually... But Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord" (Genesis 6:5,8). The questions which an inquiring mind might have concerning this passage is: How did Noah find grace in the sight of the Lord? Who taught him to believe in God? What kind of things did he do that made him acceptable to God? Also notice that the scriptures don't say that everyone on the earth was evil. It simply states that there was great wickedness. That could mean there was either a great amount of wickedness, or it could mean that the degree of wickedness was great.
Yet we do know that by the time of the flood, Noah and his family were the only righteous people left on the earth. If that is so, then what happened to all the other righteous people before the flood? A little research will show that all the great patriarchs, from Adam to Lemech, the father of Noah, had already died a natural death before that time. Even Methuselah, the son of Enoch, who was the oldest known man, died the year of the flood, but apparently not in the flood. Were all these great patriarchs righteous men? Although the Bible doesn't clearly state so, the Jewish people, even today, revere them as such and many Biblical scholars agree.
It should also be noticed that there is no mention of great wickedness, either in quantity or in quality, until the time of Noah. We know that Abel found favor with God, so it stands to reason that there were others who likewise found favor with God. We also know that in the days of Enos, people were calling upon the name of the Lord. Obviously, there were good, righteous, god-loving people living on the earth long before the flood. Therefore, it is not logical to assume that God would require an offering from just Cain and Abel and no one else.
All of this evidence of righteousness leads us to ask the question: How could people back then give offerings unto the Lord in accordance with the Law God would eventually give to Moses if there wasn't someone to teach them? More than that, how could there be any righteousness at all on the earth unless there was someone who set the example for them to follow? In fact, how could the children of Adam, all the way to Noah, have any spirituality whatsoever to their character if Adam and his wife Eve were such contemptible sinners that they were not even entitled to God's grace of forgiveness and salvation as others were?
It is interesting to note that Adam was still alive when Lemech, the father of Noah, was born. And Noah was born just a mere hundred and twenty-six years after the death of Adam. For over sixteen hundred years until the flood, the influence Adam had on his posterity helped many to become and stay close to the Lord. Rather than the Bible showing Adam and Eve to be people of vile character, as some claim, when we carefully ponder the words found in Genesis, we find that just the opposite must have been the case. With his unique understanding of who God was, Adam was not only the first earthly man, but he was also the first godly man.
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