Coming of Age

The discovery of DNA is considered a milestone in many ways for diagnosis and treatment of diseases, forensics, and genealogy. Lately, it seems people’s interest is to search out their family’s history and ties to distinguished people from the past, or perhaps not so unique since unsavory characters may be uncovered along the way. DNA testing is useful to locate details about family lineage. The real upside is that knowing our family’s history may turn up some clues to deal with personal health problems that may be associated with former relatives. In that sense learning about our past can be beneficial. But especially useful is what we can know about our spiritual heritage since sin’s imprint has been left on all of our lives. We must begin our search in the Bible. We must acknowledge the existence of original sin and that its effects are both universal and personal and are the resultant cause of Adam and Eve’s rebelliousness which continues to be passed to this day from generation to generation. To understand all of this let us go back to the Lord’s first return visit to His hometown of Nazareth as recorded in Luke 4:14-30.

During his visit Jesus attended a synagogue on the Sabbath. He read a portion of a Messianic prophecy from Isaiah 61:1,2 followed by His announcement that He was fulfilling that prediction. His claim was met with skepticism from his hearers. In disbelief they asked “Isn’t this Jospeh’s son?” (Luke 4:22). They had conceived that Messiah’s identity was different than that which they saw in Jesus. The Jewish people perceived the Messiah to be a warrior and ruler, punishing and presiding over their enemies, not the son of a common carpenter whose upbringing was nowhere exceptional enough to match their notion about Messiah. A wrong outlook that stands corrected once Christ genealogy is taken into consideration. The importance of genealogy for the Believer cannot be overstated if you wish to better understand Christ’s role and mission.

Both the gospel of Luke and that of Mathew trace the lineage of Christ to Adam and Abraham respectively. Luke’s record goes back to Adam, where a prediction is given of a Savior in Gen 3:15, which six thousand years later would be fulfilled at Calvary. In Mathew’s genealogy we learn that Jesus was the direct descendant of David. Often the son of David is a term that refers to His Messianic title. When the right optics are put in place you can see how genealogy helps to dispel the notion that Jesus’ origin was anything but common. Clearly, the religious crowd in the Synagogue that day had not considered His heritage. Instead, they had formed their own opinion from preconceptions they had about His identity. The facts of Scripture are the same for everyone to read and understand but it is really about how these truths are interpreted that remains the key to help us arrive at the truth.

An objective study of Messianic prophecy leads the reader to discover that Christ is indeed the predicted Messiah. That day in Nazareth, Jesus said that he was fulfilling the particulars of Isaiah 61:1,2. In his inaugural year of ministry many had been healed, both physically and spiritually, the poor helped, the gospel taught to throngs of needy people. Predictions about the Messiah were coming true in Christ’s ministry and are a sure sign to help us see the accuracy of His claim. The real problem is not about proof but an unwillingness to believe the truth! Jesus knew the real source of their rejection and even went so far as to compare their unbelief to the same spiritual blindness that the O.T. Israelites experienced during the days of Elijah and Elisha. Not much has changed since that time. Unbelief never will recognize Christ as the Savior. We are all descendants of Adam and all of us have been affected by the same sin of unbelief that began in the Garden when Eve took of the fruit contravening God’s expressed command against it. As a result of our parentage all of our difficulties, sins, issues, and disdain for God can be traced back to Adam and Eve by virtue of their disobedience. Since our heritage can be traced back to Adam, sin has been passed down to us from generation to generation. It is as though mankind has been attributed the DNA of Adam’s fallen state.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12).

With God’s help accepting this fact that we are in the family line of Adam can indeed lead us into an objective appraisal of our sinfulness and need of a Savior. Prophecy provides ample proof that Christ is the Messiah by virtue of its fulfillment, over three hundred and fifty-three predictions in all. In the face of such overwhelming evidence we should look to Christ for forgiveness of our sins. His lineage is a direct antithesis to our own and attests to the fact that He is indeed the Messiah that was promised in the Old Testament. In the wake of our failed ancestry, we stand condemned along with our forefathers, corruption is universal, and every heart is inclined towards evil. Christ will help remove any doubts you may have should you ask him to. So seek His help to obey the gospel. Believe in Him and repent of your sins.

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22)

Putting It All Together

It is fair to say that mankind wishes to have as little to do with God as possible, not because His perfect character eclipses anything that we can imagine, since most admire excellence, but because many wish to avoid any form of divine domination. Mankind lives in contempt to God’s sovereignty, and seeks to deny it by setting their own standards, laws and methods in opposition to God’s. However, the climactic end for man is that he is going to face the very thing that he seeks to avoid for in the judgement none can escape God: He has sole authority over hell and death (Isaiah 10:3). Yet, those who cease their rebellion, and willingly accept His sweeping authority will enjoy a different outcome.

With every human life you can be sure that it will be defined by numerous events and each one will hold meaning. Chance or random happenings are ill advised notions and not the presupposition of the believer. The Christian worldview is that all has purpose and that God acts freely and purposely to form history and is the ultimate cause behind everything. The story of Joseph is a long narrative in Genesis which occupies about a quarter of the book, from his youth to his death, and is given that we may understand that Joseph recognized the divine purpose behind crucial events in his own life, regardless how hard they may have been (Genesis 37:2-50:26). Joseph was hated by his brothers who seeking his demise sold him into slavery; later on he was the victim of trumped-up charges and imprisoned, yet throughout his life Joseph remained objective in his assessment of these evils perpetrated against him. He saw beyond the event itself, and found the intended meaning it held for his life. Joseph learned that God was bringing good from out of the evil acts set against him. This inner realization that God was working these things out for his good promoted in Joseph a proper response to those doing him wrong, and kept him from bitterness and resentment.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

Dysfunctional family members can learn much from the way Joseph was able to speak to his brothers about their ill treatment of him and the fact that he returned good for evil by giving them provisions during the time of famine in the land. Joseph showed no malice toward his brothers, but encouraged them to acknowledge their sin against him and turn from it. Joseph’s confidence rested in God’s sovereignty which in turn brought comfort to him. This same comfort could be shared by others who have undergone abusive relationships. On the radio, recently, a story was told about human trafficking here in Ottawa, where attempts were made to lure young teen girls into prostitution by false promises of modeling jobs. A representative from a support group wanting to help these girls suggested it was going to take years before they could be expected to regain trust and recover from this ordeal. The perspective of time is not necessarily an obstacle once you consider the life of Joseph and his interminable belief in God’s sovereignty. Good counselling refers to the divine control of God into every area of our lives to bring about His intended purpose. When people grasp this particular truth they can recover and live through anything without taking on lasting baggage, trusting in God means that His wisdom, love and power is working out the worst in life to turn it into building blocks for our future, regardless how tough and hopeless our difficulties may seem to us. We cannot always give detailed answers to the many things that occur to us but can be confident that we will receive personal benefit from it, if we believe God and accept the fact that there are no independent acts apart from His works. To bristle against the trials of life and refuse to accept them as coming from God is no better than a flat-out rejection of His authority over our lives. Neither is it enough to stoically accept hard challenges as though somehow it was outside of His Will for our lives.

As I see it we have three options:

A. Rebel and remain antagonistic toward God about your hapless life, never coming to terms with your suffering and God. You believe that you deserve better. You remain angry, bitter and resentful.

B. Grudgingly accept your lot in life. Living your life in the best fashion you think possible, but never fully enjoying a deep sense of peace or joy. Trying to wrestle with answers for life’s many problems, but never experiencing life’s fullness which only comes in possessing the joy of fellowship with Christ. You never really accept the authority of Christ over every area of your life.

C. By faith accepting those sufferings, knowing that God is at work developing your character into Christ-likeness, sharing in His holiness, and furthering His Glory. Like Joseph you are able to put it all together and recognize and accept divine sovereignty and suffering as partners together in the quest to lead you into a deep abiding relationship with God though Christ.