This article looks at the following questions: Was Adam created mortal? Why do people have to die? Is death millions of years old? 

Source: Clarion, 2014. 3 pages.

The Origin of Death

Sometimes it is said that death has been in God's cre­ation for millions of years. This needs to be said because evolutionism logically demands it. Some state that there is also scientific evidence that death has existed for mil­lions of years. Look at fossils, bones, and related stuff. In the course of time as the species develop, there are those who will adapt and live on and there are those who will become futile and die off. Therefore death has existed in this world for millions of years and is something com­mon to all species.

Actually, within this scheme death is not really "a last enemy" but it is a close friend. Death enables us to progress and become stronger and better, as lesser beings which could hold us back are cast off. Survival of the fit­test means conversely the extinction of the weakest. Some would even say that death is a natural phenomenon: it fits in the natural flow of things. We come into existence, we exist for a time, and then we cease to exist.

I read somewhere a statement that theories sug­gesting that Adam and Eve were created mortal do not necessarily contradict Scripture and confession (BC, Art. 14). How true! The crux lies in the word "necessarily." A suggestion that Adam and Eve were created mortal can be a very innocent statement. A lot always depends on the context and the purpose of a quote. I'd like to take that statement in a broader scriptural sense.

Was Adam Created Mortal?🔗

Those of us who believe the testimony of the Bible understand that man and woman were not created to die. If Adam and Eve had not taken from the forbidden tree, they would have lived forever. Death would not have en­tered the world.

Yes, there was the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But there was also another tree, called the tree of life. From this tree Adam and Eve could freely eat, until they sinned. Then they were sub­ject to death and everything that leads to death. And God promptly turned them out of the Garden.

If the word "immortal" means unable to die, it does not fit in the creation account. Then Adam was not creat­ed immortal. If the word "immortal" means "not made to die," it does fit. God did not want Adam and Eve to die. As a matter of fact, God in his love even warned Adam and Eve about the possibility of death. For God had said clearly about the tree of knowledge of good and evil that on the day they ate from it, they would surely die. Eve said this pointedly to the snake. The Bible tells us that God does not want the death of a sinner, but that he repents and lives.

Adam and Eve knew about the possibility of death, but death would become reality only if they broke God's covenant of life. I have written at length about this mat­ter and related matters in a book titled The Covenant of Love (Premier Publishing, Winnipeg, Second Printing, 2001). I do not have to repeat what was written there. You might consider investing in the book.

Death is the Wages of Sin🔗

It is important to note and remember daily that death is "the wages of sin." It is not only the final enemy but also the constant enemy. It can strike at any moment. It can take one person or thousands of people. It can in­volve a slow process or be immediate. Death is the wages of sin, but so is everything that encumbers life and leads to death. Sin brought with it the curse of God over all cre­ation and all creatures.

Sometimes we read angry protests of people who are deeply upset about the many natural calamities that we face in this life. People easily blame God for all of creation's woes and all of soci­ety's ills. And people force themselves to forget that they are the cause of all misery and the perpetrators of all evil. Another calam­ity, but no one repents. It's God's fault.

Au contraire, mon ami. The Lord did not abandon his creation and creatures to death. He pledged the coming of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ who would restore all things. This promise is given already in the Garden of Eden. Life would be greatly burdened but God's children could look forward to a Saviour who would redeem his people from their sins and grant to all believers eter­nal life. The end would be better than the beginning: in the new Paradise mortal man and woman would be rendered immortal.

If we look at death in any other way than as "the wages of sin" we totally misunderstand it. We deny the origin of death, we downplay its terror, and offend him who conquered it. We cut the centre out of God's justice and the heart out of his mercy. The saving work of Christ becomes unnecessary and obsolete (Romans 6:23).

Is Death also Millions of Years Old?🔗

I have stated before that to be a credible evolutionist one needs emphasize the element of time (as we think we know time). The earth needs to be very old, millions of years old, in fact. The same is true about death. Death has occurred millions of years ago already, and was a nor­mal aspect of living. Just as there were pre-Adamites, so there must have been pre-Abelites, people killed well be­fore Cain socked it to Abel. Someone might conclude that creatures have been dying for millions of years. Strange, that the term "pre-Abelites" was not coined earlier. Or perhaps I am missing something.

I'd like you to consider what this kind of thinking implies for the biblical account of Cain and Abel. It probably did not happen in the obvious way the Bible describes it. Could be a remnant of mythical pre-hist­ory. Supercalifragelisticexpialagoshis. But the Scripture makes clear that the murder of Abel was a real event that had great implications for Adams's descendants. A new era has started, and two opposing lines of generations develop. The one of Cain is the seed of the serpent, and the other of Abel is the seed of the woman. The contours of the great antithesis of the ages became visible.

No Garden? No trees? No Adam and Eve? No Cain and Abel? And yet the Bible in the New Testament speaks of "the blood of Abel" (Hebrews 12:24). Consider also Luke 11:50 and 51,

Therefore this generation will be held re­sponsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed from the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel, to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you this gen­eration will be held responsible for it all.

In the history of redemption there is no statute of limitations.

Abel was not just someone who was killed at an early stage of his life. Such deaths occur all too often. No, Abel was the first martyr. Abel was a prophet, created after God's image, and therefore his blood cried out to God. His death was an unprecedented dying that had grave con­sequences. It exposed a great rift in the family of God. Before this no one had died.

The Heart of the Gospel🔗

Stating that man was created mortal is not necessar­ily against Scripture and confession. Fine. Is it then also true that man was created to live forever? Is this not the very heart of the gospel? Christ was born as mortal hu­man being. He came to die for us, to give us life eternal.

I am reminded of Paul's second letter to Timothy in which he exhorts Timothy not to be ashamed of testifying about the Lord in whom we have grace.

This grace was given to us in Christ before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality through the gospel.2 Timothy 1:9, 10

Did you notice the expression "before the beginning of time"? Before the beginning of time God intended his children to receive immortality, and it was given us in Christ Jesus. Go back to the beginning. Actually, go back even farther, before the beginning. Immortality was always at the heart of God's plan for his children in Christ.

In both passages which I quoted there is the expres­sion "the beginning." The beginning means the begin­ning of time. Christ came in the fullness of time. And he will return in the perfection of time. You see, time is not an endless frame without a beginning and with no end. There is creation, redemption, and recreation. All within biblical parameters. May God grant us his bless­ing as time moves on into another year, en route to the perfection and immortality that has been promise and guaranteed in Jesus Christ.

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