What is probation? What is the function of probation? Is probation an act of grace? Is probation part of the plan of salvation? The plan of redemption? And the answer to all of those is YES, but we shall answer them biblically.
866 – Roots of Truth – This Property is CondemnedI’m happy to see those of you who’ve come to listen to another presentation in the series the roots of truth. I hope that you’ll be blessed as you listen to God’s Word. I’ll try to present it as clearly as I possibly can because the power of God’s Word lies in its simplicity. There’s something about the human nature that loves to make things complex and that is truly applied when it comes to Bible study but the Bible is essentially an easy book to understand. Notice I said essentially, yes, there are some challenging passages in Daniel and Revelation but overwhelmingly the Bible can be easily understood if we will accept it as it reads and if we will come with honest hearts and a willingness to live by what the word tells us.
And so, we are continuing under the theme the roots of truth and the reason why we chose their thing is to say that the major doctrines of the Bible are all rooted, they all originate within the first 3 chapters of Genesis mainly and of course also the other up to chapter 11 but predominantly, they are rooted, they originate in the first 3 chapters of the book of Genesis. And Jesus used the principle of beginning at the beginning when He was asked by the Pharisees in Matthew 19:3 is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And He answered and said unto them verse 4 Matthew 19 have you not read that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female.
And so, Jesus answered the question by going back to the beginning and this example is for us. In Luke 24:27 as He spoke to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we’re told in verse 27 of Luke 24 and beginning at Moses and all the prophets He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Moses refers to the first 5 books and so Jesus began at Genesis worked his way all the way down to the last book of the Old Testament as He tried to explain to those two disciples that what happened had to happen and they have reason for rejoicing and not for the sadness that had darkened their mood.
So, the roots of truth and our subject title for this presentation is: This property is condemned. There is a belief in Christianity called Universalism. Universalism teaches that ultimately all people will be saved because of the sacrifice of Christ – John 3:16 for God so loved the world, they say and because of that love God cannot allow anyone to be lost and there are well-meaning Christians who believe that, because that kind of teaching, it caters to the carnal nature because what it actually says is you can live any life you like and you will be saved. But Universalism, the teaching that all people will eventually be saved is destroyed by one verse in the Bible and that is John 17:12 where Jesus says those that thou gavest Me I have kept and none of them is lost but the son of perdition. Jesus is very clear Judas is lost. And so, Universalism crumbles on that one verse. Now there are others on which it can come to grief, but particularly for me on John 17:12, the belief that all people will be saved cannot stand because Jesus is very clear that Judas was lost.
- when Jesus died, what did His death accomplish for Humanity? That is one of the questions we will try to answer,
- we will also try to answer the question, what is probation?
- we will try to answer the question was Adam and Eve or were Adam and Eve lost after they sinned in that garden? Were they lost or were they saved because Christ is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world? Were they lost or were they saved?
Let’s go to Genesis chapter 2 and we shall read verses 16 and 17 of Genesis chapter 2. The Bible says and the Lord God commanded the man saying of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Now that was a command that God issued to Adam and Adam had to inform Eve of this word of God – in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, no guesswork, surely die. We know from verse 6 of chapter 3 and when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to be desired to make one wise she took of the fruit thereof and did eat and gave also unto her husband with her and he did eat verse 7 and the eyes of them both were opened and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
Having read that, let me introduce another belief that is popular even among Seventh Day Adventists and it is the belief that Jesus by His death, resurrection, He justified everybody and all they have to do is accept it and I believe I have a correct summary of that teaching that Christ by the cross event, His death and resurrection, He justified everyone and they simply have to believe it for that justification to be operational in their lives.
We will try to answer the question did the death of Christ justify everyone? Keeping in mind that the death of Christ was effective from the foundation of the world because there is only one way for anyone to be saved and that is through the blood of Christ, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, there is only one way of salvation. So, keeping in mind the death of Christ was effective for Abraham as it was for Paul, let’s try to answer some of these questions that I have posed.
- Will all people be saved because of the death of Christ?
- Did the death of Christ result in justification for all people?
- Were Adam and Eve lost are saved after they disobeyed God’s explicit command?
Now, we’re trying to answer the question:
What condition were Adam and Eve in before Genesis 3:21 when God made coats of skins?
Were they saved or were they lost?
And we shall reason from Scripture as we try to get to the root of this teaching: Adam and Eve, wearing the aprons of leaves which they made – it is impossible for anyone to believe that they were saved in that condition.
Let’s listen to the words of Christ in Luke chapter 19 verse 10 speaking to Zacchaeus that tax collector who when he met Christ his life was changed so radically that what he used to do he began to do the opposite giving his money to make up for all the stealing that he had done. Jesus told Zacchaeus in Luke 19:10 for the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. If you read that verse as only applying from the time of Christ’s human existence onward, then you miss so much. Keep in mind that Christ is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so His words the Zacchaeus the Son of Man is come to seek and to save, we must understand that the seeking of Christ began not with Zacchaeus, it began when Adam and Eve sinned.
Let’s go and see Christ seeking. Genesis 3 from verse 9 the Bible says 9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, where art thou? Now this Lord God was Jesus Christ, He was not called Christ in those days, just a second member of the Godhead but it was Christ, why? Because He is the mediator between God and man, why was the mediator necessary? Because of sin. So, after Adam and Eve sinned, God the Father no longer communicated directly with them.
Conflict and Coverage page 20 paragraph 7 Ellen White writes, Christ to Adam in his innocence was granted communion direct free and happy with his maker. After his transgression, God would communicate to man only through Christ and angels. So, the moment Adam and Eve sinned, they no longer enjoyed Communicator of the Father. He will only communicate through Christ the mediator and angels. And so, the one who came down and said where art thou? must have been Jesus Christ who was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Here we have Christ seeking as He said in Luke 19:10, He is seeking that which was lost. Listen again to the words of Christ – the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost and this seeking began in the Garden of Eden. The conclusion is that, Adam and Eve after they partook of that fruit, they had sinned and they were in a lost condition that’s why the light disappeared, and they realized they were naked and they sewed fig leaves to make up for that light that surrounded them, but nothing man-made can make up for that light that is the result of a sinless life. Only God can provide that light and so they realize there were sinners and they were lost.
Let us see additional evidence to support the fact that they were lost. In chapter 3 verse 8 of Genesis the Bible says 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. Now a saved person does not hide from God because a saved person has a spiritual nature and the spiritual nature longs for God, pants after God like the gazelle or the heart pants after the water brook. The unconverted person, the sinner of false God because sin avoids God. When they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Here again is evidence that Adam and Eve were lost. But I need to say something about their lost condition because there are two ways to be lost; you can be lost with hope or you can be lost without hope. Let me say that again, there are two ways to be lost, you may be lost with hope or lost without hope and the major question we shall answer in this presentation is really
- what is probation?
- what is the function of probation?
- is probation an act of grace?
- is probation part of the plan of salvation? The plan of redemption? And the answer to all of those is YES, but we shall answer them biblically.
Adam and Eve were lost. Now between the time that they sinned when they consumed the fruit in verse 6 and God giving them the coats of skin in verse 21, that is about 15 -16 verses, we do not know how much time elapsed, how many days, weeks did Adam and Eve spend in that condition before Christ came and said Adam we’re at thou and he finally came in repentance and He covered them with the coats of skin in verse 21. In that period of time however long it, was Adam and Eve were lost because the only ways someone can be saved is through the righteousness of Christ and the righteousness of Christ as symbolized by the coats of skin did not appear until verse 21. Up until then, Adam and Eve according to the information in verse 7 of Genesis 3 were clothed in the aprons of leaves representing their own attempt to deal with their own sins, self-righteousness, works as an instrument of salvation of which the Bible says nothing.
And so, in that condition, I repeat Adam and Eve were lost but why were they were alive? We’re talking about probation. Why were they alive and they were lost? When God had said in verse 17 of Genesis 2 in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
I’ll give you a couple of eye-opening quotations from the spirit of prophecy, the first one is:
Conflict and Courage page 20 paragraph 6, listen carefully, after his fall Christ became Adams instructor. He acted in God’s stead toward humanity saving the race from immediate death. In other words, what Ellen White is saying that were it not for Christ’s intercessory work, His mediatorial work immediately upon the commission of sin Adam and Eve would have died instantly. He acted toward humanity in God’s stead toward humanity saving the race from immediate death. He took upon Him the form, the function or the office of a mediator. Adam and Eve were given a probation in which to return to their allegiance and in this plan, all the posterity was embraced. We need to break down that subject, before we do let me give you the other quotation.
Testimonies Volume 1 page 341 paragraph 1 listen to this astounding statement- fallen man is Satan’s legal captive, in other words the sinner legally belongs to Satan. Now God is a God of law so God respects anything that’s legal, He respects the legality of a transaction, He respects it. Since fallen man is Satan’s legal captive something had to be done to overthrow that. Let me say that again, perhaps differently. Since fallen man, sinners are the legal captive of Satan, in order to bring them under the Christ umbrella of probation, something legal had to be done to cancel the legal belonging to Satan and bring them under the umbrella of Christ’s probation. That legal act was the sacrifice of Christ which satisfied the law, removing the condemnation from sinful man and placing it on Christ.
Now notice I keep saying probation. While Adam and Eve were in the aprons of leaves, they were under probation, and probation is an act of grace, there were not justified as some people believe even within the church. Let me say that again, Adam and Eve covered with the apron of leaves were under probation under grace. Probation is an act of grace but they were not justified because justification is a process by which the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the sinner who recognizes his need for Christ confesses, accepts Christ and in that instant according to Luke chapter 18 the publican and the sinner, in that instant, and the Pharisee the transformation occurs the righteousness of Christ covers that person. The person has a change of state and standing before God. In that instant Adam and Eve had no change of state, they had a change of standing because the sacrifice of Christ now brought them under the umbrella of Christ’s probation.
My brothers and sisters, probation is an act of grace. It is a period that God gives to the sinner in which to accept the offered salvation of Christ. Let me say that again, probation is a period in which Christ woes and tries to bring that sinner to the place of accepting the sacrifice of Christ, accepting the forgiveness that is freely offered based upon the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve were under probation but they were not saved. Let me illustrate that differently by going to the story about the flood.
Genesis 6 we shall read from verse 1. Our subject is this property is condemned.
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. Now that was a period of probation. Within that period those sinners had an opportunity to accept the preaching of Noah and be transformed and be delivered from the flood which was to come. Within that hundred and twenty years, I say, there was hope for them to be changed but until they accepted the message of salvation from Noah, while they were under the grace of probation, they were still in a lost condition because as I said earlier there are two ways to be lost; lost with hope of being saved or lost with no hope of being saved.
Now in Genesis 7:16 the Bible says 16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in. Now something has changed, the hundred and twenty years have come to an end. When God shut the door of that Ark those who were lost with hope, were now lost without hope. Their probation had come to an end. That period of grace which God gives to the entire world, which He gives to individuals, it had run out for the antediluvians who rejected the message of Noah, a message directly sent by God and when God shut that door, He closed probation and those who were lost with hope, now found themselves lost without hope. Adam and Eve in the fig leaf state were lost but with hope because Jesus only comes seeking and saving that which was lost and that applies to Adam and Eve.
Let me illustrate that differently in line with our title which is this property is condemned.
In major cities, all over the world and I live close to Detroit and a few hours from Chicago, there are houses referred to as condemned houses. They are condemned because they have fallen short of the building code necessary for them to be fit for human habitation. They are called condemned houses and they are condemned because at some point the city government will come in and destroy that house with a wrecking ball. Some entrepreneur can come along and go to the city and say I want to buy that condemned house. The city says fine you can buy it, but you have a certain period of time after you buy it to fix it up and make it livable again. When that business person, that entrepreneur buys that house, he temporarily lifts the condemnation from that house meaning the wrecking ball to come and level it and destroy it. That condemnation is temporarily lifted during the period that he has to fix that house.
Let me apply that to the world. When Adam and Eve sinned, the entire world became a condemned house because the wages of sin, is death. Jesus Christ who is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world by His promised death, He bought that condemned house. I say again, He bought the condemned house by His blood which was shed from the foundation of the world. Now having bought the condemned house, He temporarily suspended the condemnation of death but even after Jesus bought that condemned house it was still in a broken-down condition. That house being the world, that house being Adam and Eve, then now had to accept what Christ wanted to do by way of changing their lives from sinner to saint.
Let me say that differently. When a business person buys a condemned house, the house is still in a broken-down condition but now it’s bought and for a period of time the city will not destroy it. Within that period of time that business person, that builder, that entrepreneur repairs the house, the house is beautiful, no one can recognize it used to be a condemned house. This is what happened with the world when Adam and Eve sinned. The world became a condemned house, the wrecking ball of death legally should have struck that house, the death of Christ interposed, immediately lifted the condemnation temporarily and Adam and Eve were given a period of probation. By His death, Christ lifted the condemnation and granted grace a period of probation in which Adam and Eve now could come and accept the invitation of Christ to have their sins forgiven, their lives change and the possibility of a place in God’s kingdom.
The death of Christ from the foundation of the world legally bought back the world. Legally bought back the
World. Christ had to do that first in order now to make his salvation effective in the lives of those who would come to Him. What I’m saying may sound strange to you. Let me try to say differently by giving you a quotation from the spirit of prophecy:
Signs of The Times December 28 1891 paragraph 1 no amount of light, conviction or grace can transform the character only as man shall arouse to cooperate with God. Now what does she mean by that? Let’s clarify that statement by reading earlier in the quotation. God’s grace will not supply the place of man’s cooperation and this is an important statement to understand because there are some Christians who believe God saves people against their will because He’s such a good God. Listen carefully, God’s grace will not supply the place of man’s cooperation. No amount of light conviction or grace can transform the character only as man shall arouse to cooperate with God.
Now that God’s grace has given Adam and Eve probation, they now had to cooperate with God and accept His offered salvation from sin. Probation protected them from the condemnation but did not transform the character, did not justify them. Having understood and seen the grace of the love in the provision of probation, Adam and Eve now accepted Christ’s offer to justify them, to transform them, to work in their lives, that miracle called conversion or justification by faith as symbolized in chapter 3 verse 21 unto Adam also and to his wife that the Lord God make coats of skins and clothed them. You’ll observe the difference between verse 21 and verse 7;
- in verse 7 Adam and Eve make the skins, they cloth themselves
- in verse 21 God makes the skins and He cloth them. They cooperate with God because salvation is not an arbitrary act, salvation as far as justifying a person is concerned is the work of cooperation between God and man. God offers, men except.
Now probation is not a work of cooperation, it’s just an expression of grace. When God sent Christ to die, He did not ask, can I send Christ? He just sent Him without our say-so, but for the death of Christ and the resurrection, all that is involved in the sacrifice of Christ, for that to transform the life and we must have a say by way of surrendering to Christ, accepting His sacrifice and His grace, the cleansing power of His blood and having our lives transformed.
- Were Adam and Eve saved when they wore fig leaves? They were lost but they were lost with hope because hope, salvation was offered to them they accepted and they walked out of that garden in a right relationship with God
- When Noah preached 120 years, they laughed, they jeered, they made fun but as long as the hundred and twenty years were in effect, those who lost people had an opportunity to be saved. The time ran out God shut that door Genesis 7:16 and now they were lost without hope, probation had ended. That remarkable expression of grace called probation, it ended
In Genesis 18. God comes down, He informs Abraham, He will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. The city was full of wicked people most of them were wicked overwhelmingly as a matter of fact when those cities were destroyed only one righteous person escaped that was Lot. Now you may say his daughters came with him they’re not described as righteous, only Lot is described as righteous. So, those cities Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, Bela they were overwhelmingly wicked as we read in Genesis chapter 13 and verse 13 the men of Sodom were sinners and wicked before the Lord exceedingly. While Lot was in that city, talking to his sons-in-law and perhaps his friends, they were under probation, they could have come out with Lot, and would have been spared a fiery destruction, they did not and when Lot walked out of that city, Luke 17:29 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. They had a period to change. This period is called probation and it is an act of grace and it is based on the sacrifice of Christ. Christ has to offer that first before He can carry out the act of justifying a person because probation puts the person in a position to accept the transforming power of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Let me say that again differently, were it not probation Adam and Eve would have died instantly, they would have been lost in the flames of hell. Let me say it again, were it not for the grace of probation Adam and Eve would have been lost, they would have died immediately.
Let’s go back to the quotation I gave you Conflict and Courage page 20 paragraph 6, after the fall Christ became instructor, He acted in God’s stead towards humanity saving the race from immediate death. This is an act of grace, but saving the race from immediate death is not the same thing as justifying the race because Christ saved the race for immediate death without asking the race but for a man to be justified now he must cooperate and accept the blood of Christ as payment for his sin. There’s a difference between probation and justification. Now let me use my words very carefully because sometimes the word redemption is used as a synonym for justification.
To redeem is to buyback.
By the blood of Christ, when Adam and Eve sinned, Christ bought them back legally. He bought them back because His death paid a price that the law required which is death. So, in that sense it was a legal transaction. Let me say, it may alarm you, everything God does with the plan of salvation, has a legal overtone even when He forgives. Listen to 1 John chapter 1 verse 9 if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now He’s faithful meaning you can count on Him to do it and He’s just means He acts in accordance with a standard of right and wrong. Forgiveness cannot violate the law, that is why He is faithful and just. When God forgives us that has a huge legal side to it. The forgiveness of God cannot offend the law.
And so, I’m saying to you back to Genesis chapter 3, the reason Adam and Eve did not die immediately was because of the blood of Christ shed from the foundation of the world. That sacrifice paid the price that enabled them to live a probationary period within which to accept the justifying blood and grace of Christ. He came to seek and to save:
- to seek us, He had two places in a probationary period – an opportunity to accept
- then to save us when we accept the salvation He offers
And so, probation and justification are related but they are not the same thing. A lost person is under probation giving him a chance to accept the salvation of Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve before they wore the coats of skins they were lost but they were under probation and so had a chance to accept the sacrifice of Christ, His salvation which they did. Those in the days of Noah as long as Noah preached for 120 years they were lost, they were corrupt, they were sinful but there was hope for their salvation if they would accept the message after God closed that door all hope of salvation was gone and they were just as lost as before the door was closed but this time all hope of salvation was gone.
As I said earlier Adam and Eve were lost with hope, Christ came they accepted the salvation Christ extended. They were justified symbolized by the skins and they left that garden in the right standing and state before God. Probation is a tremendous act of grace because without it no one could be saved and that teaching is rooted in Genesis chapter 3. In Revelation 22 verse 11 the Bible says 11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. This is the global close of probation. Let me say that differently, probation closes individually and it will also close on a global scale.
In Patriarchs and Prophets page 140 paragraph 1 Ellen White writes, every day the probation of some is closing every hour some are passing beyond the reach of mercy. Every day some people’s probation closed because God does not send a text an SMS, He does not Skype and say your probation will close on February 23rd 2013. All we know is that we have an opportunity today to accept the extended salvation of Jesus Christ. So, there is individual closing of probation, there is also the global closing of probation when Christ intercessory work for this entire world will come finally to an end. He leaves the most holy place, take off His priestly robes, put on His crown as a conquering King, come back with that sickle, reap the lost, reap the saved take the saved home and reserve the unjust for the end of the thousand years when He comes back to destroy them.
Our subject was or is this property is condemned.
Sin placed us under condemnation of death and that was legally correct. Let me repeat the quotation I gave you Testimonies Volume 1 page 341 paragraph 1 fallen man is Satan’s legal captive. As he became the legal captive of Satan, the death of Christ allowed him to legally put fallen man under probation. From that period that position of probation now Christ can save by way of justifying that person.
Let me say that again, it’s a very serious message. Probation is Christ’s way of seeking. When we accept Him, that’s His saving! There many people Christ has sought, He can’t save. Remember He told Zacchaeus the Son of man has come to seek and to save. Christ seeks the whole world, but will save very few because most of those who are sought by Christ will not accept what He’s seeking to give them. Let me say that again, all the world has been sought by Christ, very few will be saved because Christ seeks us to offer something, most people reject it.
When He came down into the garden Genesis 3:9, Adam where art thou? He was seeking Adam and Eve, praise God they accepted the offer, accepted His shed blood, covered in the skins and they left saved and in the right relationship with God.
As you listen to this message tough as it was, ask yourself, what am I doing with this period of probation that God has given to me?
- am I wondering when the close of probation for the whole world will take place
- when the Sunday law will be passed
- when Jacob’s time of trouble will begin, the little time of trouble
Am I wondering about all those things not realizing that at an individual level, probation can also close today? Today as you listen and the Spirit touches your heart, you have an opportunity to say Jesus I open my heart to receive what you are offering. Thank you for allowing me a period of probation which is a tremendous expression of grace. Which is all part of the plan of salvation– probation, accept the salvation, justification, then there’s sanctification, growing in grace, then there’s glorification and of course when after the thousand years when Jesus destroys Azazel the devil then that’s the final end of the last piece of the entire overarching plan of salvation. It has not just save us from the condemnation of sin, it is save us from a sinful world, it is save us from the presence of the evidences of sin. It is all of that, but for now Christ offers His blood as the instrument of the cleansing of your life and mine. Instrument by which He justifies us because His blood represents His life, the life is in the blood. All your life and mine He has given us probation.
I urge you from my heart, accept that extended salvation, grasp the hand of Jesus, He cannot save you against your will, you must cooperate. Probation is the opportunity to accept that sacrifice and that salvation. May the Spirit of God move you to make that decision now before it is too late.