Robert Morris - The Beginning of Death
We're going to talk about The Principles of First Mention. The Principles of First Mention. Now, let me explain to you what this is. There's what was called a law in theology, the law of first mention. And it means when something is first mentioned in the Bible, that you get an understanding of the definition of that word, to be able to understand the rest of the Bible. Now sometimes, you might go online to learn a little bit more about something. Let me just tell you that there's always something negative about everything online. There's stuff positive, there's stuff negative. So I looked a little this week and I thought, man, look, at the negative. Well, here's what happens with any truth, any truth, whether it's prosperity or health or grace, any truth, some people go too far with it, so others back off of it. So it's the same thing with the law of first mention.
So there are some that go very, very, too far with it, and they take things out of context. Any time you talk about something as a principle in scripture, it has to be congruent with the rest of scripture. So there are people who go too far, so now there are people who've totally backed off. But let me just give you a few words here. When we talk about the law of first mention, you also have to understand the law of context, the law of consistency, and the law of congruency. In other words, you have to keep it in context, it has to be consistent with the whole of God's Word, and it has to be congruent with God's nature and character. There is my, hopefully, my seminary part for today, okay? I'll try to be funnier here in a minute, but I'll just give you that, alright, to understand that. So, you can't take one verse out of context and build a doctrine or theology.
I can't tell you how many people have said something like this to me. Pastor, I'm leaving my spouse, and I want to give you the scriptural reasons. And I remember saying to this one guy, what do you do for a living? Before you do that, what do you do for a living? And he said, well, I'm a doctor. I said, well, let me tell you about how the body works. And he said, well I don't think you know how the body works. I said, don't tell me what the Bible says. This is what I do. And I don't mean that we can't study the Bible and learn. I want you to study the Bible and learn, but so many times people take things out of context and they think, I've got some new theology. No, you don't have a new theology. There is theology. Theology stands on its own. Doctrine stands. And it must be consistent and congruent with the whole of the Bible, and you can't take one verse out of context. If you take one verse out of context, you can prove just about anything you want. This is called contextual exegesis. It must come out of the context of the passage.
So let me just give you a few examples, alright? I can take one verse and prove to you that Moses played tennis. It says Moses refused to serve in the courts of Pharaoh. I can take one verse and prove to you that David had a sports car. It says David's triumph was heard throughout the land. Now, when I was young, I did another one that I'm going to share it with you. It's about ladies and I was young and stupid, so I used it as an illustration and a little old lady turned it around on me. So, that's the only reason I'm going to share it with you.
So when I was in my 20s, again, foolish, I said, you can prove in one verse of the Bible, that there'll be no women in heaven because it says in Revelation, and there was not a sound heard for 30 minutes. I'm not saying that now. Please hear me, okay? But after the service, I'm standing out the front, and this little old lady, and that's the way to describe her, she was little, she was old, and she was a lady. She came up to me, tugged on my sport coat and said, there won't be any pastors there either. So I thought that was pretty good. So, we're going to take, in the devotional, I take 21 truths and people who are on staff wrote them. And I gathered these and worked with our staff to do that back earlier in the year.
So there are 21 of them, the laws of first mention, principles of first mention, and we're taking them from the book of Genesis. The word Genesis means beginning. You may have even heard it used other ways. Like you might've heard in your company, in the genesis of this company, in the beginning of this company. The book begins with, in the genesis, in the beginning. That's the word. In the beginning. Matter of fact, there's one other book of the Bible that begins with those three words, also. Do you know what book that is? John. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. So you've got a book in the Old Testament and a book in the New Testament, which if you had to only read two books of the Bible to try to get an understanding of all of it, those would probably be two good books. Genesis, to see how it all started and the covenant coming up to pass, and then to see John, how Jesus came into the world and redeemed the world.
So, "in the beginning", so all of my messages are going to start with the words, "the beginning of". But this principle of first mention is not in the 21. The 21 is not an exhaustive list, okay? It's not an exhaustive list, but I felt like Holy Spirit led me to do this one. So it sounds a little negative at first, but we'll turn it to be positive, alright? But here's the title of the message this week, The Beginning of Death, because death began in Genesis with Adam and Eve when sin came into the world. So, The Beginning of Death. So, I have three questions for you, alright? Here's the first one. What is the cause of death? Now, before you answer... A couple of guys already answered, and they said sin, and that's true. That's true. The only problem is, if you go down that road too much, then you try not to sin, try to work on sin. You focus on sin.
I'm not saying you do, whoever said the answer, I'm just saying, people will, it's like when I used to, you know Mike Brisky who works with me, he used to be a professional golfer, and we got up on a hole where there was water all down the right side. And he said, what's your swing thought in this hole? I said, don't hit it in the water. He said, you should never have a swing thought that begins with the word don't, because you know what you're going to do? Hit it in the water. And I proved him right three times. But anyway, he said you should be thinking, Hit it left. You should have a positive. So you don't want to go through life thinking, don't sin, don't sin, don't sin. Obviously, we all want to walk in righteousness, but I want to go to the cause of death, which is not really just sin, but what caused Adam and Eve to sin. Okay?
So let me show you how it's the first mention in the Bible. Genesis 2:16 says, "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.'" This is the first time, first mention of the word "die" in the Bible. And the word die, died, or dying is in Genesis 60 times. So this is when death comes in. God says... They've probably never heard this word. If you do this, you will die. You will cease to exist. You will die. Notice, too, what he says. You will surely die. You will surely, there's no doubt about it. You will surely die. Now, Genesis 3:4, the serpent Satan shows up. Watch what he says. "The serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die.'" God said, you will surely die. Satan said, you will not surely die. You won't. No.
So you know what the cause of death is, which is the cause of sin also? Unbelief. They had a choice to believe God or to believe the devil. They didn't sin and eat the apple until they believed the devil. So see, here's what I'm trying to get you to understand. You don't have to focus on behavior. Focus on belief, because your beliefs determine your behavior. If you believe that if you tithe, you're blessed, you'll tithe. If you don't believe it, you won't do it. No matter how much you try to focus on it. If you believe that if you walk in sexual purity in your marriage, that you'll have a blessed marriage, you'll walk in purity because you believe it. So it's your belief that determines your behavior. So what causes death is unbelief. Adam and Eve did not believe God. They believed Satan.
See, even when we're trying to teach our children to be good or to obey, why aren't we trying to teach them to obey? We're trying to teach them to obey because listen, we know some things that they don't know. Now, I hope you get this analogy. I taught all of my children, here's why daddy is trying to teach you to obey, because daddy knows some things you don't know. And daddy's doing this for your good. And so I gave all three of my children, when they were young, this example. They could say it back to me. I said to them, let's say that you're on one side of the street, and daddy's on the other side of the street, and you're standing there, and there's a parked car are there. And you want to come across the street, but daddy sees another car coming. You can't see the other car coming because the parked car is there. And you start to walk and daddy says, stop. I want you to stop because daddy can see some things that you can't see. Are y'all listening?
Your daddy can see some things you can't see, and he knows more than you know. That's why he's trying to get you to obey. That's why he was trying to get Adam and Eve to obey. Not just to have obedient children, but because he could see what was down the road if they came out in the street, for their good. My father is here, and I thought about that we had on Titteryville Road we had this fireplace and we had some glass doors. I remember these glass doors. And I think you shut them, you know, to keep the air conditioning from going out and the heating and all, but when you have a fire, it was a wood burning. I don't even know if they had gas logs back then, you know. But it was wood burning, so we'd open those glass doors. We'd have this big roaring fire. Pretty soon, you couldn't hardly stay in the room. So we'd close the glass doors so we could still see the fire, but it wouldn't heat the room up as much. Everyone follow me, what I'm talking about?
I remember I was by the fireplace, looking through the glass doors, and my dad said, don't touch that glass. It's hot. I remember thinking, doesn't look hot. Might not be hot. It was hot. But he didn't want me to learn by experience. He wanted me to learn by faith. Faith means believe. He wanted me to believe. Let me tell you what the root of death is, which is the root of sin. The cause of death and the root of sin is not believing your Father. When your Father says something and you don't believe it, you're going to sin, and death is the result. So that's the cause of death. Here's question number two. What's the consequence of death?
Now, I asked Debbie this question. I like to ask Debbie questions cause she's not a theologian. It's fun. And it gives me sermon illustrations. So I said what's the consequence of death? And another word for consequence is curse. So what was the curse? Here's what she said, which is what all the ladies say. Pain in childbirth. I don't want to minimize that, but that's temporal. That's a temporal pain. Now, again, some of you will be thinking, well, you didn't have it. I understand, but you don't have it every second of the day. And here's the other one for men, till the ground. Okay, that's temporal. I don't know how much tilling you men did this last week. I don't do any tilling. To get food, we go online and order and it shows up on our doorstep. I wouldn't even know how to plant pizza. I wouldn't even know how to do it. It just shows up. It's wonderful. So what is the real consequence that happened to Adam and Eve? And it's what God didn't want to happen.
So, let me read it to you. Genesis 3:22. This is after he pronounced the other things. "Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.'" To know good and evil. "And now, lest he put out his hand to take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever', therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim", that's an angel, "at the east", that's two, actually, it's plural, "at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life". Okay. He's serious about not letting them get to the tree of life. He puts angels with flaming swords. Swords on fire. And that sounds like judgment, doesn't it? It's not judgment, it's grace. The reason was, once they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were separated from God spiritually. They were in a fallen state.
If they had eaten from the tree of life in that fallen state, they would have remained in a fallen state, separated from God for all eternity. That's why he said, they've eaten from it, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, let's get them away from the tree of life, so they don't eat from it, because they'll remain like this, and I've got to send my Son to redeem them. By the way, the tree of life is in heaven, and you can eat from it anytime you want in a redeemed state, so you can live forever in that state, redeemed in relationship with God. So what happened? The knowledge of good and evil. Now, this might shock you, but God never wanted you to have the knowledge of good and evil. And yet today, most of our choices, we try to choose what's right and what's wrong. What's right and what's wrong. In other words, what's good and what's bad.
Listen, the choice is not what's good and what's bad. There were two trees in the garden: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which when he said, if you eat it you'll die. So let me tell you what the two trees were, the tree of life and the tree of death. So my choice today is not good and evil. My choice should be life or death. In other words, not, is this house a good house to buy? Is this God's house for us? Will this house be life for our family? Will this job, not is it a good or bad job? Is this God's job? God reiterates this, by the way, that the choice is life and death. Deuteronomy 30, verse 19, "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live". See that's the choice. It's life and death. It's not good and evil, because that was all on the tree of death. It's life and death.
Now I want to take this a little further, and talk to you about, we raise our children, yes, to know right and wrong. Yes, we do want to raise them. We want to teach them right and wrong. I agree with that. But what I told you a moment ago is what we're really trying to teach them is to hear the voice of the Father. You realize God, again, let me say, God did not intend for you to live your life based on your knowledge of good and evil. He intends for you to live life based on his voice, walking and talking with God in the cool of the day. That's what Adam and Eve were doing before the fall. And that was all they needed to do.
So, we talk about raising children, right? And we need to, but I want to talk to you and just give you a little clarification on the age of accountability. The age of accountability is, we say it's when children know right from wrong. Well, that's not true, because you can say, well, they know right from wrong when they're three, four, or five years old, and if they die, they're not going to go to hell. So that's not what it is. I can remember saying to my son, James, who has this real strong will, I said to him one time, don't touch that. And he went like this. He knew it was wrong, but he's just about three years old. He wasn't going to go to hell. The age of accountability, let me tell you where it comes from in scripture. I've heard people talk about it that don't know where it came from in scripture.
Let me tell you where it came from in scripture. It comes from Deuteronomy 1 and Numbers 14. It's when God is talking about the children of Israel going into the promised land. And this is what he says, this is Deuteronomy 1 here, verse 39. "'Moreover your little ones your and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil,'" Now, notice the wording, same as the tree. Knowledge of good and evil, not right and wrong, good and evil. "'They shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.'" And then in Numbers,14, verse 31, "'But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised.'" So your little ones, your children who have no knowledge of good and evil, they're going to get to go in the promised land, but everyone else is going to die.
So, now I'm going to, yeah, there's another verse here, and I'm going to show it to you, and it sets an age. Now let me clarify something: this is not the age of accountability. This is the age that God said, these people can go into the promised land, and the people below this age who had no knowledge of good and evil, these people can go in the promised land and the people who are above this age cannot, okay? So this isn't the age of accountability, but this is the scripture we base it on. This is the principle, and I'm going to clarify it. Everyone with me on this? Okay. So, here's what he says in verse 29, Numbers 14. "'The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above.'"
Now, I'm not saying the age of accountability is 20, but this is the scripture we base it on. Your children who have no knowledge of good and evil. And I do believe in the age of accountability, I believe God is a just God. What I'm saying is, though, that I've seen people around that age of 20, 15 to 25, let's say, begin to make an adult decision as to whether they're going to follow God or not. They begin to make their own decision. Remember, we talked about the three phases of life? And that's children, three categories, children, adolescents, adults. If you want to try to remember, it's real easy to remember the ages because adolescents are teens. So children are 12 and under. Adolescents, 13 to 19. Adults, 20 and over. All I'm saying is that they begin to make a decision.
Again, I'm not saying it's a firm 20 is the age of accountability. I'm not saying that. And here's another thing, I don't think you can really put a firm age, because the maturation process is different for every person. I mean, you can have an 18-year-old who's really mature and a 24-year-old who's very immature. Some of you ladies are thinking, I've got a 54-year-old that's... Okay. That's a whole other series, there, okay? And by the way, here's something about when you say it's just it's just this age, it's this age. If they get to this age, they go hell. Okay, it's just crazy to say stuff like that because here's another thing, what about that girls mature faster than boys? They do. Physically, mentally and emotionally. And by the way, men, we never catch up. We never catch up. We catch up physically, but we never catch up mentally or emotionally. They're smarter and more in touch with their feelings. And that's just the fact of life. Okay. So what do you do?
So I'm not saying that, but I am saying that I've watched people change around the age of 20. I watched my three children. All of my children made childhood decisions for Christ, all of them. But Josh, at 22 had an encounter with God. Elaine had an encounter with God when she was 19. James had an encounter with God when he was 16. They've never been the same, but they made childhood decisions. I'm not saying they weren't saved. I'm just saying, when your children start transitioning to adulthood, they're going to make a decision. Are you all following me? Have you seen this? They're going to decide whether they follow God or not. You did it. You started making your decisions. James, he just changed. I mean, just all of a sudden. He just changed. He started being nice to Elaine. That's a miracle. That's a miracle, just like that.
And then we'd go up to wake him up for school, and he'd have his Bible on his chest, where he fell asleep, reading his Bible. That's a miracle. 16 years old. And after about three weeks, Debbie and I'd talked about it, we're sitting the dinner table one night, and you gotta know, when James is eating, he's focused. He's focused, he's eating, you know? And so I said to him, Hey James, your mom and I have noticed that you've really made some good changes in the past few weeks. He said, well, that's because I got saved. I said, where you planning on telling us? Here's a little more of his personality. He said, I figured you'd notice. Well, we did.
Here's what happens though, when you get in the transition to adulthood. Listen to me, you get a knowledge that there's evil in the world. It's not when you're young and you learn right from wrong, and you get spankings. It's when you learn there's evil, and you either pursue evil or you pursue God. And you have a choice. Every one of you, you have a choice. It's a life and death choice. Alright, so we've got the cause and the consequence. Here's the last one. It won't take long. What's the cure for death? Well, that's easy: belief. Believe in Jesus. If the cause is unbelief, then the cure is belief, right? Now, you need to understand, death came into the world by Adam, and then Jesus brought life into the world. But let me show you a scripture, and I'm going to jump ahead one scripture here, guys.
Hebrews 9:27. Because I want you to understand death is a part of life. Hebrews 9:27 says, "It is appointed for men to die once". Now maybe you've never noticed this word, once. It could have just said, it is appointed for mankind, that's what it's talking about, to die. Why did it say "once"? You ever seen that? Appointed to die once? Well, let me ask you this question. I asked Debbie this too, and she didn't know, it was just fun. I said, do you know what the second death is? She said, I don't know what the second death is. Let me show you what the second death is. Revelation 20, verse 14, "Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death". The lake of fire.
You say, well, that says Death and Hades. It didn't say anything about people. Alright, let's read another verse. Revelation 21, verse 8. "But the cowardly, the unbelieving", What's the cause of death? Unbelief. "The unbelieving, the abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death". Now, here's what you might be thinking. Well, I'm not that on list, I haven't murdered anybody. Hold on. You ever been cowardly? You ever been unbelieving? I've got a good one for you. You ever told a little lie? I can guarantee you married men have. I can tell you the question when you lied. Do these pants make me look fat? I know you lied because you're still here.
So how do you get out of the second death? Revelation 2:11. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death". Well, you've got to overcome. Okay, that begs the question, how do you overcome? Revelation 20, verse 6. "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and shall reign with Him a thousand years". Okay. So I know it's getting deep, but it's all going to come together. So,how do you not be hurt by the second death? Well, you've got to overcome. Well, how do you overcome? Is it grace or works? Well can't be works cause you wouldn't make it. It's grace. But how do you overcome? Well, you take part in the first resurrection. Well, what's the first resurrection, pastor?
Well do you remember when Jesus was talking to Martha about Lazarus who had died? John 11:24. "Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.'" Now, hang on just a second: at the last day. Here's what she's saying, I know he'll rise again in the last resurrection. The last resurrection. Not the first, the last. I love Jesus' answer. I hope this strikes you. Here's what Jesus said, "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection,'" Not just I will be, for everyone that lives in the future, or that I was for all the Old Testament saints, I am right now. "'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live".
You know what the first resurrection is? It's when you to die to self, it's when you take up your cross, and it's when you're crucified with Christ, and then you're raised to walk a new life in Christ Jesus. That's the first resurrection. It's when you believe in Jesus because the only way you're going to get saved is not to do good or bad. It's to believe your Father. And your Father sent his only Son to die for you. And if you believe, then you're raised to walk a new life. And when you take part in the first resurrection, the second death has no power over you. Jesus, the Bible says, destroyed death and the fear of death.
I told you about in the helicopter, I didn't have any fear. This past year, as I said, my father's here, but I lost my mother. He lost his wife of 65 years. In the hospital, those last 19 days, we still talk about it. She had no fear. She had joy. She laughed. She told us jokes. She was excited. She said to my sister and me, "I want y'all to be okay with what's about to happen. Because I'm excited about it". And then she said to my dad, just days before she passed away, she said, "I've been waiting for this my whole life". No fear of death because Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He is the resurrection and the life.
I want you to just bow your heads and close your eyes. And I want you to just take a moment, like we always do, every campus and online, and just say, Lord, what are you saying to me through this message? And there could be many, many people that you've tried to be good, and maybe it's clicked for the first time that it's not about being good. It's about believing in Jesus. And it probably has clicked with some of you that you might've made a childhood decision, and you need to make an adult decision to follow God. I've heard that so many times from people, that they believed as a child. And I'm not downgrading that at all. That's wonderful. But I can't even tell you the number of times I've heard people say, but I had to make the decision when I became an adult, that I was going to follow God all the way. I was going to follow Jesus, and that's when the change came in their lives.
So I want to ask you, will you do that right now? Will you, right now, make a decision to follow Jesus? To believe in Jesus, trust Jesus, to follow Jesus? Quit running your life and let Jesus run your life. He can do a much better job than you can. So if that's you, just tell him. In your own words, right now, just tell him, Lord, I'm giving my life to you. Just give him your life. You're say, well, pastor, I want to make sure I'm saying all the right words. You don't have to say all the right words. You just have to believe. Just believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, and give your life to him. I want to pray for you.
Lord, I pray for every person that's heard this message. I pray, Lord, that you will put in us the confidence because of what you did, you destroyed death. Death, where is your sting? Hades, where's your victory? Jesus took it away. I thank you, Lord, for that, and I pray for every person that right now committed their lives lives to Jesus Christ, and I thank you for that, and I bless them, in Jesus' name, amen.