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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

Two 3:19's
Date Posted: September 21, 2021

From worst to first!” ─ I don’t know who the first person was to use this statement nor do I know the activity that was the subject of the statement. I do know that there have been a few sports teams to have claimed this distinction. For instance, the Chicago Cubs finished the 2006 season with 96 losses to their discredit, last in their division. In their first year under Manager Lou Piniella, 2007, they rallied to win Major League Baseball’s Central Division. Regardless of the arena, to go from last to first is quite an accomplishment. I suppose in this case, Lou Piniella should receive a lion’s share of the accolades.

Today’s devotional takes a look at two 3:19 passages that denote a last to first ascent and then gives credit where credit is due. The first of the passages is quoted for your reading: “Then to Adam He [God] said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it”: Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.’” (Genesis 3.17-19).

From this dismal statement of fact, we can see that man had no hope of ascending higher than the respective elements from which he was made. Dust to dust simply meant that regardless of how much he might achieve in the universe, man’s ultimate destiny was simply to be one again with the elements of which his body was composed. Dust to dust meant that the carbon in man would eventually merge with the carbon of the earth, and that the iron in man would eventually merge with the iron in the earth, and so it would be. Dust to Dust!

However, if we skip to the end of the book (the Bible), we find quite a different story. To illustrate, we quote from the writings of John the apostle: “And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him [God].” (1 John 3.19). To be “of the truth” is directly opposite the position that Adam occupied when God reprimanded him in the beginning; he was of the lie! To have one’s heart assured before God is to live in hope beyond the mundane elements of which we are composed; the connotation is clearly one that transcends the material universe and extends into the Divine realm in which God dwells. The condition in which John found himself was certainly not the condition in which Adam found himself. Man had gone from worst to first!

Between the time of Adam and the time of John, something must have happened to make man’s ascent possible. However if we look at the nature of man at the time of Adam and the nature of man at the time of John, there is no difference. We can look at the 2007 Cubs and give credit where credit is due (a new manager, roster changes, etc., etc.). However, in the case of man, our basic nature has not changed; just as Adam was subject to sin, so are we; Just as Adam was subject to the law of sin and death, so is mankind in general. But, mankind in general is not mankind in Christ! Mankind in general still can have no aspirations beyond the grave; he is still doomed to descend back to the constituent elements of which he is made! Dust to dust!

The difference between mankind in general and mankind in Christ is the difference between black and white, between hot and cold, and between living and dead. Adam was mankind in general; the believer is mankind in Christ – heart assured and full of hope! Mankind in Christ epitomizes worst to first!

Questions:

1. What caused God to utter such harsh realities about Adam and his future existence?

2. What is the meaning of “dust to dust”? How much hope is there in that eventuality?

3. To whom does the credit belong for man’s ascent from worst to first?

4. If a man chooses not to go from worst to first, who is to be blamed?

"Bible verse and quote" from Jan Couns

Bible and Quote - April 18-22

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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