The Tale of Two Ways

 

“Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Genesis 3:23-24

Therefore” Again, Genesis chapter 3 records for us one of the darkest moments in the history of mankind when Adam & Eve sinned and brought the curse of sin upon all of creation.

So he [God] drove out the man” Because of their sin, Adam and Eve could no longer enjoy the splendors of the Garden of Eden. No longer could they enjoy the sweet communion that they had had with God.

To keep the way of the tree of life” Before Adam and Eve sinned, they had could freely eat of the tree of life. However, Romans 5:12 tells us…

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”

So, here is the question, “What is the way which leads back to life?”

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses – Be baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most must earn everlasting life on earth by door-to-door work. Salvation in Heaven is limited to 144,000.
  • Mormons – Saved by works including faithfulness to church leaders, Mormon baptism, tithing, ordination, marriage, and secret temple rituals. No eternal life without Mormon membership.
  • Seventh Day Adventists – Salvation by grace through faith, but maintained by commandment-keeping and repentance.
  • New Age Movement – Need to offset bad karma with good karma.
  • Scientology – No sin or need to repent. Salvation is freedom from reincarnation (derived from eastern religions).
  • Islam – The balance between good and bad deeds determines one’s destiny in paradise or hell.
  • Hinduism – Salvation is the release from the cycles of reincarnation which is achieved through yoga and meditation. This can take many lifetimes, though. Final salvation is absorption or union with Brahman, like a raindrop falling into the ocean.
  • Buddhism – The goal in life is nirvana, to eliminate all desires or cravings, and in this way escape suffering. The Eightfold Path is a system to free Buddhists from desiring anything and eventually achieve nonexistence.

Now, in Genesis chapter 4 we see Cain and Abel bringing an offering unto the Lord. Abel’s offering was accepted by God. Cain’s offering was not accepted by God. It’s here that I must highlight the truth that there is only one way that leads back to life. There are not many ways. There is a right way and there is a wrong way.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

It is not prideful to believe this truth. It is not unkind to proclaim this truth. In fact, the most loving thing that we can do is to proclaim the truth that there is only one way to eternal life!

The Way of Abel

Abel had faith.

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Hebrews 11:4

What made Abel’s offering “of the firstlings of his flock” – the sacrifice of a lamb – “more excellent” than Cain’s? Genesis 3:21 tells us that the Lord God made coats of skins and clothed Adam and Eve. This involved the killing of an animal. Why?

  • It wasn’t for food. The animals would not be given to mankind for food until after the flood.
  • It wasn’t specifically for clothing either. If that was the case, God could have simply taken the wool from the lamb and woven it into a woolen garment and clothed them.
  • It was to show them that, because of their sin, blood must be shed!

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22

Abel, by faith, simply took God at His Word and brought an animal sacrifice.

Abel was righteous.

He was saved. He had eternal life.

“That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.” Matthew 23:35

“Abel was not saved by offering a sacrifice any more than a present-day Christian is saved by taking the Lord’s Supper. The sacrifice was simply a token, a confession of faith in the coming Saviour, just as taking the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Christ’s death is properly a token, a confession of faith in the Savior who died for us.” – John R. Rice

Abel was a prophet.

“That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;

“From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias…” Luke 11:50-51

“To [Jesus Christ] give all the prophets witness – including Abel, that through his name (the name of Christ) whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission (forgiveness) of sins.

Abel, through his sacrifice, was proclaiming that there was One who would come to take away the sins of the world.

“And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.” Genesis 22:8

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29

John the Baptist, in those words, was talking about the same Lamb of God that Abel believed in and looked forward to.

The way of Abel – the way that is only found through faith in Jesus Christ – is the only way that leads to everlasting life!

The Way of Cain

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 11

“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” 1 John 3:12

Cain created his own way to God through his own works. Jude 11 says, “Woe unto them!” How dreadful for them! The grief that they will experience because they have chosen to go their own way!

Cain was wicked. He did not find salvation. Instead, he found only wickedness as his way led him to murder his own brother for no other reason than that Abel was righteous and that, through his sacrifice proclaimed that there is only one way to God.

Cain was driven further from the Lord. Cain’s way did not lead him to the Lord. In fact, it led him further from the Lord. As he went further from the Lord Cain experienced fear and a loss of joy and satisfaction in this life.

“And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

“Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.” Genesis 4:13-14

And yet, God was merciful. At every stage in this story, God offered Cain a way of escape just as we see in Genesis 4:7. However, in his pride, Cain refused.

How will you respond to God’s mercy today?

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

“Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

“That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:5-7

  • Will you receive Him today?
  • Will you thank the Lord for His wonderful mercy in saving you?
  • Will you pray that your friends and family will respond to His mercy and be saved?
  • Will you pray that South Charlotte Baptist Church will continue to faithfully proclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world?”