PARADISE LOST AND REGAINED
by: D. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES—1898-1981
I should like to call your attention this evening to the message from the chapter
that has been read to us, the third chapter of the book of Genesis and in particular
the last three verses - verses 22, 23 and 24:
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good
and evil.. and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of
life, and eat, and live for ever.. 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.
Now we are living in an age in which the vast majority of our fellow countrymen
and women regard what we are doing here tonight as something which is not only
old-fashioned, out of date and outmoded, but something which is really quite
ridiculous. People have left the chapels and the churches and have turned their
backs upon the Bible and the Christian faith and religion, because they have
the feeling that it is quite irrelevant and has nothing to say to the mounting
and terrifying problems that are afflicting this modern age. Were they to come
and to find that a man proposes to give an exposition of them, to speak on the
basis of the third chapter of the book of Genesis, they would indeed regard
it probably as a sign of insanity. To speak out of the Bible is bad enough,
but to preach on the third chapter of the book of Genesis in our modern world
as it is at this moment they would regard, as I say, as being utterly and completely
ridiculous and nonsensical.
Well now, I want to try and show you tonight that it is not only right and good
for us to consider the message of the third chapter of Genesis. I want to prove
to you that you do not begin to understand the modern world and its problems
without understanding the teaching of this chapter. I go so far as to assert
- and I am going to try and prove it to you - that it is quite impossible to
understand the modern world and its tragic condition without the message of
this chapter; and still more, there is no hope whatsoever of any kind of solution
to our problems apart from the message which we find there and in the whole
of this book which we call the Bible.
FACING THE FACTS
Now let me proceed to do that. You see, the preaching of the gospel, the purpose
of the Christian faith and of the Church is really to call upon men and women
to face the facts of life. The world, I know, does not believe that. The world
thinks that we are just sentimentalists and emotionalises; that we are just
people who meet together to sing our hymns and choruses and ditties, and to
waft ourselves into some emotional condition; that we are people who have contracted
out of life; that we have ceased to think, and to face the hard realities, and
to look in the face of the problems that are so bewildering and perplexing.
Well now, I say, I am concerned to show that we really are the only people who
can face the world, the only people who can understand it, and the only people
who have a message of any hope to give to the people who deplore the appalling
state into which we have come. So let us proceed to do this. Let us look at
the state of the world in which we live. I need not keep you with this, because
anybody who thinks at all must be painfully familiar with circumstances as they
prevail at the present moment.
What are the chief characteristics of life in this world tonight? Well, I suppose
one of the greatest characteristics is restlessness, lack of ease, lack of quiet,
lack of tranquillity. The doctors will tell you this. You must have read frequently
in the papers of the amount of money that is spent on drugs which are called
tranquillizers, and other drugs that enable people to sleep. It is an age which
is restless. It is an age which is uncertain, an age which is insecure. This
is an extraordinary thing, that perhaps it is true to say that man has never
felt more insecure than he is at this present time. Indeed a leading authority,
not a Christian at all, has described our age as 'the age of anxiety', and that
is undoubtedly the truth concerning it. Never have people who think been more
anxious, more troubled, more worried. I am not talking about Christian people.
I am thinking in particular of great scientists. They of all men are most troubled
and anxious at this present time, and they tell us why. They tell us that they
are afraid of this terrible problem of pollution. We are polluting the land
and the sea and the rivers. They fear the problem of what they call ecology
- how we are disturbing the balance of nature, killing certain types of animals
and so on, with the result that the whole balance of nature is being upset and
the consequences are quite frightening. Then they are foretelling that terrible
things may happen as a result of this atomic fall-out, as they call it. You
know, there is a great enquiry going on and people are worried about these things
- this strontium that comes into the land, and into the milk which the little
children are going to drink. They are concerned that it is going to affect the
development of their bones. What is the future? They are anxious about these
Then some are forecasting a world famine. At the same time there is this population
explosion. They estimate that the population of the world may well double from
what it is now before the end of the century. And what with this pollution and
so on, and the lack of food and a possible famine . . . well, they are terrified;
they are really alarmed. That is the age in which we are living, and it is an
age which has an uneasy conscience. People have a feeling that somehow they
are partly responsible for all this.
Then it is an age of strife. There has never been more strife. Look at the industrial
position. Constant strife. Quarrels not between one section and another capital
and labour if you like - but quarrels within each section. Quarrels throughout
the whole of society - jealousy and envy, greed, malice, spite. Now I am not
inventing all this. You cannot read a newspaper, and you cannot look at a television
news bulletin, but that you see at once that I am literally giving you a description
of the state of the world in which we are living. And on top of all this, there
is this so-called 'rat race'. People are working and yet wondering what is going
to happen: Is it worthwhile? and, Can they trust anybody? Well, this is our
modern world: the age of insecurity, the age of strife, the age of anxiety and
of struggle, and, above all, a sense of final futility.
Well, I need not keep you with this. A poet belonging to this century, A. E.
Housman - far from being a Christian, he said he was not a Christian, described
the modern man in these terms:
I, a stranger and afraid,
In a world I never made.
How true that is! 'I, a stranger and afraid, in a world I never made.' Or take
another one, T. S. Eliot, This is his description of the modern man, the modern
Lonely men, in a world without meanings.
'Lonely men' - this is one of the paradoxes of the modern world. Though we are
huddled together in these great conurbations, people have never been so lonely.
The old friendliness of the village is gone. 'Lonely men in a world without
meanings.' Well now, that is the world in which we are living, and everybody
will agree about this. The politicians, philosophers, scientists - all thinkers
are really gravely troubled about the state and condition of the world at this
THE BASIC QUESTION
Here then is the question: Why is the world like this? And especially, why is
the world as it is, as I have just described it, in view of all our advances
in this particular century? Education, knowledge, culture, brilliant technological
achievements, and so on and so forth. Here is the basic question: Why is the
world as it is at this moment? My suggestion to you is that there is only one
answer to that question. It is the answer that is given in this one chapter.
I am claiming that you cannot understand the Bible without understanding Genesis
3. It is the key to the whole of the rest of the Bible. And in the same way
I am asserting that it is the key, the only key, to the understanding of the
What is the explanation? Well, let me put it to you. According to this teaching,
the world was never meant to be like this. More than that, there was a time
when the world was not like this. Here is the teaching: God made this world.
It is not an accident. It did not just come into being by chance. 'In the beginning
God created.' And everything God does, of course, is perfect. He created and
made a perfect world, and, as the kind of acme or zenith of His creation, He
created man, and He made man in His own image and likeness. In other words,
man was made perfect and God took this perfect man and put him into this perfect
environment. It was called Paradise. Look at the life of Paradise. What a wonderful
life it was! Its great characteristics were harmony, peace, concord, joy, and
man did not have to earn his food by sweating and labour and striving; he just
had to pick the fruit. There was nothing evil, nothing sinful, nothing to cause
any unhappiness at all. It was a state of perfection, a state of innocence,
a state of perfect bliss. And man's supreme moment of enjoyment was the moment
when God came down, as it were, and had fellowship and communion with him. God
had made man in order that He might have this companionship. He endowed man
with this amazing faculty of being able to have communion and fellowship with
the Almighty God. That is why God made him in His own image and likeness. There
had to be a corresponding of natures. Here therefore was Paradise. It is very
difficult for us to imagine it, but that is what we are told about it.It was
entirely perfect in every respect.
So we are left with this question: How then did the world ever become what we
know it to be tonight? Now if you do not face this problem, my friend, I have
only one thing to say about you, and that is that you are stupid, you do not
think. Any man who claims to be a thinker is bound to face this question: Why
is the world as it is? How has it ever come to this? And we are given the complete
answer in this one chapter. Let me note to you the things we are told here.
The first answer is that man ceased to realize that his highest and his greatest
privilege was to have communion with God. He ceased to realize that the most
marvellous and the most wonderful thing about him was that he should, if you
like, be in tune with the Infinite, and that he should respond to everything
that came from God. He ceased to believe that. And, you see, as I am telling
you how it happened at the beginning, I am at the same time explaining to you
why the world still continues to be as it is, and why it has been like this
ever since this incident took place. That was the first step.
But let me hurry to the second, and this is most important today. Man ceased
to realize his finitude, that he is a limited being. He ceased to realize his
dependence upon God. Now, of course, the devil in his subtlety and his cleverness
knew that this was the way to tempt man. The devil came and said, 'Hath God
said?' 'Don't you realize' he said, 'that God has said this in order to keep
you down? You've got it in you to be equal with God.' He was creating a doubt
as to their finitude. They had realized before that they were dependent upon
God and that they were limited, that they were not creators, but that they were
created beings - finite. But now they begin to dislike this, they want to be
equal with God. So they fall away from their understanding of their finitude
and their utter dependence upon God. This, of course, was due to something else
- and that was pride. Ambition came in. They wanted to be like gods. This is
the devil's whole point in putting it to them. 'You'll become as gods' - and
that was the very thing they wanted. Now I am giving you the description of
the modern world as well, you see. Man believes today that there is nothing
he cannot do. He can put people on the moon. He can do more than that; he is
beginning to say now that he can determine life and determine sex. He can act
as a creator. A great professor in Cambridge said a few years back: 'Man now
can take the place of the Creator.' There is nothing man cannot do. Man is no
longer finite. Man is like a god and he is a creator, and in his pride and in
his ambition he boasts of himself and he worships himself - MAN!
Then another factor is this, that man began to put pleasure and enjoyment in
the place of truth. Notice verse 6: 'When the woman saw that the tree was good
for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to
make one wise, she took of the fruit . . .' In other words, you see, she was
no longer guided by principles, no longer guided by truth. She is now guided
by the appearance; it was a pleasant tree and very nice fruit to look at, and
this appealed to her. Lust came into being for the first time, and desire. From
now on the man and the woman are not governed by truth and by principles, but
by lust and desire. 'It looks good. I want it, I like it, I must have it.' Truth
does not matter; principles do not count. This is how man fell. This is how
Paradise ceased to be the condition of this world. Desire, lust, passion. Is
not this the most prominent feature of life as it is at the present time? People
are no longer governed by principles, by truth, 'I want it. What does it matter
what my wife or children suffer? I like it.' Attraction and lust and passion
come in, and off they go. It all came in at this point. This is why the world
is in such terrible trouble tonight.
Then accompanying all this, of course, was a feeling, again suggested and insinuated
here by the evil, that God is against us. This is his whole point. Why does
he say, 'Hath God said?' Well, he is suggesting this: 'God is a tyrant. He's
keeping you down. You've got it in you to be gods yourselves, but God is jealous.
He knows you would be equal to Him, so He is against you. He's keeping you down.'
And this is what people believe about God tonight. God, they think, is some
monster in the heavens, keeping us down, crushing us - the enemy of mankind.
That is why they say religion has been a greater hindrance to the march and
progress of the human race than everything else. Religion has kept us down,
and to be free is to shake off religion and Christianity. It is this feeling,
you see, that God is against us. The Apostle Paul puts it in these memorable
words: 'The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the
law of God, neither indeed can be' (Rom. 8:7). The natural man hates God. But
you say, 'I know many people who say they believe in God even though they never
go to a place of worship.' Yes, but you get them to define their god and you
will find he is not the God of the Bible. He is the god of their own making
and imagination, and when you confront them with the God who has revealed Himself
here, they hate Him. These are the things that came in. These are the things
that are still controlling the world.
There is another thing here which is so tragic and so pathetic. The man and
the woman thought fondly that they could escape from God. You see, the moment
they disobeyed and rebelled, they had a feeling of guilt. They had never known
that before. There was never a feeling of guilt until this point, but here guilt
and fear came in - and yet they are not afraid. They think they can evade God
and avoid Him. So when they heard His voice in the garden they went to hide
behind the trees. They thought that they would get away with it and that they
could avoid God; that He would pass by and would not know they were there. But
suddenly God calls out, 'Where art thou?', and Adam and Eve had to stand forward.
It is still the same, my friends. Men and women say, 'I don't care. You can
talk about your God. I'm all right. I'm going on with it.' They do not realize,
you see, that soon they will be dead, but that that is not the end. 'It is appointed
unto men once to die, but after this the judgement' (Heb. 9:27). The world is
as it is at this moment because people do not know there is going to be a judgement.
They think, you see, that when we die it is like an animal dying or a flower
dying, and that that is the end of it, though they cannot prove it. But it is
not the end. We are responsible beings. We will have to face God. Adam and Eve
had not realized this, but now they have got to and they do. There they are,
standing in their guilt and their fear in the presence of God. God cannot be
evaded; we cannot escape the judgement of God.
Likewise they did not realize the punishment that was going to be meted out
for their rebellion and for their act of transgression; but God tells them exactly
what it is going to be. Yet still the world does not realize this. This was
the judgement that was pronounced, that there was now going to be strife between
'the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent' - and this has been the
history of mankind ever since. Read your secular history books. What is it?
It is a history of troubles and of agonies, strife and conflict. This has been
the whole of history. And not only this unhappiness, this sense of guilt - it
did not even stop at that. The very ground was cursed - thorns and thistles
came in. There were none before; man had no problem with thorns and thistles;
but now this is a part of the punishment, and we are all aware of this. If you
have a garden, and you neglect it for a year, it will soon be back to a wilderness.
Weeds and thorns and thistles! Illness and disease came in, pestilences, disturbances.
All of that came in when man sinned, and this is a part of the Fall. He had
no idea that this was going to happen, and people still do not realize it. But
this is our world. There is a constant fight against nature and diseases and
infections and, above it all and beyond it all, death itself. Now this is what
we are told. Man was driven out of the garden, and there he is having to earn
his bread by the sweat of his face. It has been strife and conflict and struggle
ever since this point, and all that we know to be so true tonight is something
that originated at this point in history, and it has continued to be the story
of the human race ever since.
So we find ourselves tonight in this futile world. What is the explanation?
There is only one explanation - Paradise lost! That is the only explanation
of our modern world. We have lost Paradise. We have been driven out of it. We
have lost it. Hence our world is as it is at this very moment.
MAN'S FUTILE EFFORTS
But wait a minute! There is another question we are bound to face, and I am
putting it to you that this is the most urgent problem for every single one
of us at this moment. Some of these leading scientists, and I repeat their words
- they are not Christians - some of them are actually saying that we may well
witness the end of the world before the end of this century. Now it is not some
little preacher, excited in the pulpit, saying that. These are scientists. One
of them said it only last week, and they are saying it repeatedly. They see
this possibility. Very well then, is it not time we began to think? Why are
things as they are? How have they become like this? What has been the story
of mankind ever since this Fall that we read of in this chapter ever since Paradise
Now this is a most interesting matter. The whole story of the world ever since
then until this moment has been the story of man's futile efforts to get back
into Paradise. The whole of what we call civilisation tells a marvellous story.
The whole story of civilisation has been one of man striving and struggling
and endeavouring to get back into Paradise. It is an extraordinary thing in
this way. Men and women generally do not believe what I am putting before you,
they do not believe in the Bible, they do not believe the story of Genesis 3
- and yet the human race has a sense and a feeling that the world was never
meant to be as it is. They seem to have a strange nostalgia, a feeling that
it was once different, and that they can get back to where they were. This has
been the spur and the impetus to all the magnificent effort of what we call
civilisation. But I am here to show you and to remind you that it has been a
futile effort, that man cannot get back to Paradise. It has been a great story.
I must not keep you with it. I hope you are familiar with it - you should be.
You can hear the story on your television, you can read it in the books.
What has been the story of man's effort to get back into Paradise? Well, partly
it has been the story of what is called philosophy. You remember those great
men, those Greeks, who lived three and four centuries or more before Christ.
Here were men with great brains and intellects, and they began to think. They
said: 'Here we are in this troubled world' - saying with A. E. Housman, in a
sense, 'I, a stranger and afraid, in a world I never made.' - 'What is it? What
is the matter? What has gone wrong? Can it be put right?' And they began to
think and to work out their principles. Let us give them great honour; they
were great giant intellects, and they were concerned about the problem, and
they said, 'It can be put right. What we must do is to think and to reason.
We must not be governed by our instincts and desires. We've got brains, we've
got understanding, we must think, we must work it out.' And they did so. They
drew up their plans of what they called Utopia - how you could have a perfect
city - state. All you had to do was this and that, and they divided up the human
race into groups and categories, allotting different tasks to different persons
according to their abilities. All you had to do was to do this and you would
be back in Paradise. But unfortunately, of course, there were rival schools,
and the upshot of it all was that before our Lord came into this world the rate
of suicide amongst philosophers was higher than that of any other single section
of the community. But it was a great story. Let us not forget this.
There were various subdivisions and branches of this philosophy. Some said that
what we needed was pure thought, and to get people to think. Others said, 'No!
You need a little bit more than that, you need government.' So they brought
in government and the whole idea of politics (it is their word; they invented
it). Politics - how to govern, how to control, how to get people to have respect
for law. Everything must be organized and governed. So there has been a great
effort throughout the centuries by means of various political activities to
get us back into Paradise. You notice the steps from your oligarchies to your
monarchies, and then your aristocracies and your plutocracies, and at last we
have arrived at democracy - the ultimate. Here is the salvation! Democracy -
the people - we have got to be back in Paradise!
Others have said, 'No, what you must do is take a kind of poetic view of life.'
And so you have great men like Wordsworth and others who say the thing to do
is to go back as it were to nature, to be in tune with nature and become more
primitive. This was the whole idea of Rousseau and others, that there is too
much emphasis on reason; we must go back to nature, live a natural life. We
have had people like D. H. Lawrence and others saying the same thing in our
modern world. This has been advocated by means of poetry, feeling, romance and
so on, and others have gone in for art and culture in that sense.
Now all I am concerned to say is this: nothing has been more extraordinary about
the history of the human race than the extraordinary confidence people have
had in these various ways of getting back to Paradise. They really believed
it could be done. They pinned their faith in it. They said, 'It is going to
happen. Leave your chapels and churches, leave your religion, leave your so-called
God. This is the way.'
Now let me give you some illustrations of what I am talking about. There was
a man called Tom Payne who was very popular 200 years ago, and Tom Payne wrote
a book called The Age of Reason. He was an Englishman and he said the great
trouble has been this religion, this belief in God. That is the cause of the
trouble, he said. Now get rid of all this fancy and folklore and fantasy; get
rid of that: what you need to do is to apply reason. And so he wrote his books
The Age of Reason and The Rights of Man. Do you know what Tom Payne actually
wrote in 1776, 202 years age? This is the optimism that man has always had that
he can get back to Paradise. These are the words of Tom Payne: 'We have it in
our power to begin the world over again.' - Paradise, you see! - 'The birthday
of a new world is at hand.' Tom Payne, 1776!
Come on to the next century. A great man, a great thinker arose called Karl
Marx - and how many have left religion because of the teaching of Karl Marx!
Here is another man who had his way of bringing us back into Paradise, and do
you know what he said? This is what he wrote: 'So far the philosophers have
done nothing but explain the world. It remains for us to transform it.' 'All
these philosophers,' he said, 'they were great men, but they simply gave a description.
They simply explained the world to us. That is not enough. What you and I have
got to do is to change it. We have got to transform it. Do this, and you will
transform the world.' He was assured, he was confident, he wrote with great
confidence - and people believed him. I am simply illustrating for you the extraordinary
confidence which mankind has had in its ability to get back into Paradise. 'Things
are not meant to be like this, they must not be like this, we are meant for
something better, we can be something better, we can get back.' And they have
But come, let us come right up to date. I remember very well in December 1918
(there are some advantages in getting old, you know) - I remember standing in
1918 for four hours in a mixture of rain and sleet to have one passing glimpse
of a man called President Wilson, President of the United States. He had come
over to this country in order that he might go, together with our Prime Minister,
to Paris to the Palace of Versailles to draw up a peace treaty. And you know,
we thought that this man was really going to lead us back into Paradise. We
had had this terrible war. We had been told before the war that it could not
happen, that war would be impossible with our German cousins in our educated
and enlightened age, with our philosophy and science, and so on. But the war
came, and then our fellow countryman, David Lloyd George, gave us the explanation.
He said, 'I am surprised like everyone else. I was a pacifist and I did not
believe in war, and I have done my utmost to avoid war, but the war has come.
But it's all right; don't get despairing. This is the war to end war.' Loud
cheers! The war to end war! - the First World War! But then President Wilson
came, and what did he tell us? These are his words: 'I believe', he said in
1918, 'that men are beginning to see not perhaps the Golden Age itself, but
an age that is brightening from decade to decade, and which will lead us some
time to an elevation from which we can see the things for which the heart of
mankind is longing.' 'Marvellous!' we said, 'He's going to do it. He's bringing
in what he calls the League of Nations. He's modest enough to say it isn't actually
the Golden Age itself, we're not actually in it, but we are at any rate almost
reaching the top of the mountain, and when we get to the top of the mountain
we shall have a view of the Promised Land, and it will only be a question of
time before we will be in it. Paradise regained!' - and we believed it. We thought
the League of Nations could do it!
NO MORE OPTIMISM
And so, you see, mankind has persisted in this optimism, believing in his own
ability to get back to the Paradise which we have lost. Indeed is it not about
time we began to ask questions? Can it be done? You and I tonight are living
in a world which is hopeless. We are no longer optimistic as we were 60 years
ago. And indeed, even before this time great thinkers have always doubted this
fatal optimism. A philosopher like Spinoza, 300 years ago, wrote like this:
'Such as persuade themselves that the multitude of men can ever be induced to
live according to the bare dictates of reason, must be dreaming of a poetic
Golden Age, or of a stage play.' Here was a Jew - a brilliant philosopher, saying
that any man who thinks that the majority of men can be persuaded to live according
to their reason must be dreaming of a poetic Golden Age, or else of a stage
Not only that, I should have reminded you of this. Take the so-called great
world religions, and there are many of them: Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism,
Mohammedanism and others. There are people who are turning back to these in
their utter hopelessness. There is a man who has been a great judge - Christmas
Humphries - and he became a Buddhist. Aldous Huxley ended as a Buddhist. A brilliant
mind, a brilliant thinker, but in his utter despair he says the only hope for
this world is not reason - that has failed - but mysticism, Buddhism. But Buddhism
is utterly hopeless, as are all the other world religions. Every one of them
is utterly hopeless. They have no hope at all. They have no hope for this world.
What is the hope they offer us? Well it is this: that I may have to come back
several times into this world in a series of reincarnations, and gradually shuffle
off a little bit more each time, and at last I am lost in some Nirvana, in some
absolute, and I cease to be. That is the only hope. No hope for this world.
Every single one of the so-called great world religions is completely hopeless,
entirely negative, and has nothing to offer us.
There have been people who have always said this. A man who has been responsible
perhaps for turning more people against religion than anyone else in this century
is the late Bertrand Russell. He lived to an old age and we used to see him
on the television - this great brain, this great thinker. 'This is what we want',
they said, 'not the stories of the preachers, not singing these hymns and choruses.
Let's have some reason, some understanding, let's have a man who can think it
out, a man who is logic.' This is it - logic, analysis, reason. But what does
he say? What has he to offer us? Let me read you the words of Bertrand Russell:
'All the labour of the ages, all the noonday brightness of human genius are
destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole
temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of
a universe in ruins.' That is Bertrand Russell. He was indeed logical enough
to see that man will never get back into Paradise. He can never lift himself
and his world and humanity back into Paradise. It is impossible.
Or take a very modern psychologist, Erich Fromm. You could have seen him a few
weeks back on the television. He has just written a book with the title To Have
and To Be. Do you know what he says? 'We are working against the survival clock,
and the odds for global or nuclear destruction, and psychological and ecological
destruction, the odds are shortening sharply. We must produce a sane society
or perish.' This man, of course, is not a Christian. He is almost an anti-Christian.
But he says that the odds are shortening, there is going to be a complete collapse
and destruction in all these respects. And he points out that there has never
before been a time in the history of the world when man has had it in his power
to destroy the world. He has always been able to do a lot of harm, and he has
always done a lot of harm. That is why the world has been chaotic and unhappy
and miserable. But it is only now in this century that man has got this nuclear
power whereby he really can destroy the world. And he says if we do not return
to some sort of sanity, we are finished. And you know the only sanity he has
to offer us? - Women's Liberation!
Well, my friends, there it is. Let me give you one more quotation. This is preaching
the gospel, you know; this is not sob-stuff. It is the people who spend their
nights looking at the television who are indulging in the sob-stuff. I guarantee
that none of you have had to think as much as you are thinking now for a long
time. This is Christianity. 'Come, let us reason together.' I am not here to
tell you fairy tales or to play upon your feelings or to tell you stories about
myself or anybody else. I am here to ask you in the Name of God to think, while
you have still got time to think.
Let me quote you finally, then, Lady Medawar, the wife of Sir Peter Medawar,
one of our leading geneticists and scientists at the present time. She wrote
an article last July which I read, and she said this: 'At least we are beginning
to realize the worst.' Have you realized the worst? What is the worst? It is
this: 'No scientific or technological trick is alone going to improve the quality
of life.' Of course you can land people on the moon, but does that improve the
quality of life? Of course you have more education - is the quality of life
better? Of course you can read more, and you can listen to learned men on the
television and wireless, and read the Sunday newspapers and their pompous articles
- is the quality of life improving? She says, have we realized the worst? Here
it is. None of these tricks is going to improve the quality of life. Though
man has made this magnificent effort throughout the centuries to get us back
into Paradise, we are not there. He cannot do it. Paradise cannot be regained.
Why not? The only answer is at the end of chapter 3 of the book of Genesis.
'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'
NO PARADISE WITHOUT GOD
Why cannot man in all his genius and his brilliance get back to Paradise? The
simple answer is that God has made it impossible for him to do so. God will
not allow him to do so. Why not? Here are the answers. Man, of course, wants
to get back to Paradise. Nobody wants to be miserable. Nobody wants to be unhappy,
nobody wants to sweat and to work. Everybody wants to have his food for nothing.
'More pay, less work.' This is wanting to get back to Paradise. Everybody wants
to get back to Paradise, and mankind, as I say, throughout the centuries has
been striving to get back to Paradise. Why cannot he do it? For this reason
- he wants Paradise without God! He wants Paradise on his own terms, but it
cannot be done. There is no Paradise without God, and man in his unutterable
folly, in spite of the Renius of the philosophers, is mad enough to think that
you can get back to Paradise without God. It is impossible.
But not only that. Here is another reason why mankind has failed to get back
and to regain Paradise. It is that man, while he is a sinner, can never regain
Paradise. Why? Well, for this reason. What is Paradise? As I have defined it
to you, as it is defined here, it is a place of bliss, a place of concord, a
place of happiness, a place of mutual understanding, a place of mutual appreciation.
So you see, while man is a sinner, he is selfish, he is self-centred, self-interested,
self concerned. He does not care who else suffers, he must have his rights,
he must have his money. It may throw thousands out of work - what does it matter?
I want this. This is true equally of the masters. It is true of the whole of
humanity. It is true right through society from top to bottom. Man - whether
he is wealthy or poor, whether he is learned or ignorant - every man is a sinner,
and every sinner is selfish, self-centred, greedy, avaricious. We want everything
for ourselves. Well, while everyone of us is like that, Paradise is a sheer
impossibility. It is the very antithesis of Paradise. So man, whatever he may
do, until he is entirely changed and delivered from this infection of sin which
leads to such selfishness and self-centredness, can never experience Paradise.
Another reason which the Bible in this chapter indeed gives us is this: Man
can never get back to Paradise as long as he is under the power of the devil.
You see, that is what happened when man listened to the temptation and defied
and rebelled against God. He thought he was going to make himself free. What
he succeeded in doing was to make himself the slave of the devil. Ever since
this, man has been controlled by the devil. Paul says that the devil is the
god of this world. He is, 'the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that
now worketh in the children of disobedience.' He says, 'We wrestle not against
flesh and blood.' What is our problem? Oh, it is the principalities and powers,
the rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places.
Why is our world as it is? Because it is controlled by the devil. Can you explain
this century to me apart from the devil? Why have we had two world wars in this,
the most educated century the world has ever known? Why are they piling up these
terrible armaments? Why all this expenditure on these foul and terrible things?
What is the meaning? How do you explain it? My dear friends, there is only one
explanation - this evil power that is controlling mankind, creating the enmity
and the division and the malice and the spite and the suspicion and the hatred.
There is no other explanation, and while man is the dupe and the slave of the
devil, he will never experience Paradise, it is impossible.
THE HOLY AND JUST GOD
But - and this is the supreme explanation - over and above all that, the Cherubims.
What are the Cherubims? The Cherubims in the Bible always represent and are
emblematic, if you like, of the presence of God, the holiness of God. They are
in a sense the guardians of the holiness of God, and so man cannot get back
into Paradise, because to get there means to be in the presence of the holiness
of God, and God is of such a pure countenance that He cannot even look upon
sin. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, and there is no fellowship
between light and darkness. The Cherubim - the holiness of God - man cannot
stand it. We are told in the book of Revelation that when evil men shall have
a glimpse of it, they will cry out to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall
on us and hide us.' The holiness of God.
But not only the Cherubims - 'the flaming sword that turned every way, to keep
the way of the tree of life.' What is the meaning of the flaming sword? It is
the Law of God, the justice of God, the righteousness of God. This is a universe
that is governed by a holy and a righteous God. We have not made it, we have
just found ourselves in it. But it is made by God and He has given laws, He
has given rules. The Law of God is in the heart of every one of us - a sense
of right and wrong. But God has given it explicitly in the Ten Commandments
and the moral law, and what does He tell us there? Well, what He tells us there
is this: 'Would you like to live a life of Paradise? Would you like to be happy,
live a life of contentment and of ease and of amity and of enjoyment? The way
to do it is this. Thou shalt not worship any God beside Me. Thou shalt not bow
down to any graven image. Thou shalt observe My day.' And then the practicalities:
'Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery;
honour thy father and mother; thou shalt not bring false witness against thy
neighbour, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's ox or his ass or his wife or
his manservant or his maidservant. Live like that,' says God, 'and you will
be back in Paradise. But you cannot come back until you live like that.' Not
only that - the justice of God metes out punishment upon sin. He is a holy,
righteous God, and we have no complaint. He told the man and the woman that
if they disobeyed Him they would suffer punishment, they would be cast out,
they would suffer death and separation from Him. The flaming sword is the justice
and the righteousness and the holiness of God. The Law of God, condemning sin,
destroying all who sin, and making it impossible for anybody to get back to
Paradise except he comes in terms of God's holy Being expressed in His holy
Law. The Cherubim and the flaming sword.
Now that is why the world is as it is tonight, and that is why civilisation
has failed completely; that is why Bertrand Russell was so pessimistic about
the future, that is why Erich Fromm is equally pessimistic. I could name you
many others who see no hope whatsoever. That is why it is. They do not believe
this, but this is the only explanation. They are baffled. They thought that
reason, education, culture, knowledge would do it. But it does not do it. Man
is not prepared to live by reason; he is governed by lusts and desires. But
here is God, the holiness of God, the Cherubim and the flaming sword.
IS EVERYTHING HOPELESS?
Well, you say, have you come to Cardiff again just to tell us that everything
is hopeless? Are you just preaching Paradise lost, and leaving us to fester
and to welter in a state of complete hopelessness? Not at all! There is a way
to regain Paradise. There is a way back to Paradise, and this is the Christian
message. What is it? Well, you see, the task is this: we cannot get back there
unless somehow we can answer the Cherubim and the flaming sword. The only one
who can get back into Paradise is one who can stand up and look into the face
of God, in utter absolute holiness. You know the hymn:
Eternal Light! Eternal Light!
How pure the soul must be,
When, placed within Thy searching sight,
It shrinks not, but with calm delight
Can live and look on Thee.
How can it be done? There is only One who is able to do it. There has been One
in this world who could do it. He could look in the face of God's holiness and
not shrink. Who is He? He is the One of whom the archangel in speaking to the
virgin Mary said 'That holy thing that shall be born of thee.' Here is the only
holy Person, throughout history, that this world has ever known. Who is He?
Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. He has come from God. He has looked from
eternity into the face of God. 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God.' There He is looking into the holy face
of His Father, eternally. He alone can do it. He alone can answer the demand
of the Cherubim.
But what of the flaming sword? What of the Law of God? Here He is, the same
One, 'made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that are under the
law.' How does He do it? Well, He starts by giving a perfect obedience to the
Law Himself. He came under the Law. He carried it out to every jot and tittle.
He gave a perfect obedience to the Law of God. He is the only One who has ever
done it. What is true of all of us is this: 'There is none righteous, no, not
one.' The whole world lieth guilty before God. That is why we cannot get back
to Paradise. Here is One who has kept and honoured the Law of God. He defied
everybody to find anything wrong or evil in Him. He has satisfied God in all
the perfection of His demands.
But, you say, what about the punishment that we deserve for our sins? Oh, blessed
be the Name of God! He came to take our guilt upon Himself. And the sword that
would have smitten us and killed us, killed Him - and yet, because He was the
Son of God as well as the Son of Man, He bore the full punishment. He was smitten,
stricken of God. The sword - God in the entrance smote Him, but He was able
to take it all and still go on. He has entered into Paradise. Now He came, this
blessed Son of God, not to do it for Himself, but to do it for us. He came into
the world to seek and to save that which was lost. He came into the world in
order to take us back into Paradise, and He has done it. He satisfied the Cherubim
and the flaming sword, and all that you and I have to do is to believe in Him
and to trust ourselves to Him, to become incorporated in Him, and in Him we
enter again into Paradise. This is the message of the Bible. You and I can enter
into a spiritual Paradise now, at this very moment. Every Christian, every man
who truly believes this message can enter into Paradise, spiritually, at this
moment. What do you mean? you ask. Well, what 1 mean is this. What is Paradise?
I say the most essential thing about Paradise is fellowship and communion with
God. 'Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ.' 'God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.' Any man who
believes that is in Paradise. He is reconciled to God, he has peace with God,
he can pray to God as Father, he can have communion with God as Adam and Eve
used to do freely before the Fall. He is in the spiritual Paradise. Not only
that. 'Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ: by whom also we have access by faith.' We pray to Him, He is our Father.
We take our troubles and our problems to Him, and He is with us, and we rejoice
in hope of the glory of God. You receive a new nature, and the new nature does
not love the darkness and hate the light. It loves the light and it hates the
darkness. We are new men and women. We are made partakers of the divine nature.
We are again something that corresponds to God's Being. It is no longer light
and darkness, but light and light. We are back in Paradise, enjoying the blessings.
But we are still in this evil world of sin with its bombs and its wars and its
illnesses, and we are getting older, and we have got to die. We are in this
old world still, brought to the shambles as the result of this incident that
we have been considering together. But, you know, my friends - and this is the
only thing to me that makes life not only worth living still, but glorious and
joyous, a royal pilgrimage and crusade. Not only does the Christian enter immediately
into a spiritual Paradise. We know that a day is coming when the whole cosmos
will be returned to its original condition in Paradise. What are you talking
about? says someone. Well, what I am talking about is this: Jesus Christ, when
He was in this world nearly 2,000 years ago, conquered all our enemies. He has
delivered us from the bondage of sin and of Satan. He has restored unto us the
happiness and the peace and the joy of which I have been speaking. He gives
us 'exceeding great and precious promises'. All these we enjoy at once. But
that is not the end of the story. He has defeated the devil. He has defeated
death and the grave. He arose triumphant over the grave, He has conquered the
last enemy, He has ascended to heaven, He is seated at the right hand of God
waiting until His enemies shall be made His footstool.
And you know, we have something wonderful to look forward to. Listen to this
in Revelation 21: 'I saw a new heaven and a new earth.' Not only are we renewed
men, we are going to be renewed men in a renewed universe. 'A new heaven and
a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and
there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down
from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.' Listen!
'And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God
is with men,' - Paradise again! - 'and he will dwell with them, and they shall
be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.' Paradise!
For the whole universe! 'And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall
there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.' Paradise regained!
All the evil removed and banished and destroyed. And listen - still more marvellously:
'And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding
out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it,
and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve
manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month.' We are back into the Paradise
we have lost. The trees and the river and the fruitfulness and the happiness:
'and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.' League of
Nations will never do it! United Nations will never do it! All the travelling
of these secretaries will never do it! But there is a day coming when 'the leaves
of the trees will be for the healing of the nations.' 'And there shall be no
more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants
shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their
foreheads.' Paradise regained!
That is the message, my friend. Do you believe this? You have got to die, you
know. What then? What is going to happen to the whole world? Here is the only
answer - you can be delivered from the fear of death immediately. There is no
terror in death for the Christian. The Christian with Paul can say 'O death,
where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin;
and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.' He has conquered them and He is going
to restore the whole cosmos in this grand regeneration. He will come again and
He will come to judge the whole world in righteousness. All who died without
believing in Him will go on to eternal misery - the life as they live it now,
but even worse! But all who belong to Him shall see Him as He is and be changed
like unto Him. Their very bodies shall be glorified. They shall live with Him,
they shall reign with Him for ever and for ever. Are you enraptured by this
prospect? Do you believe this is going to happen to you? It is realistic. It
has got to be one or the other. Here is the message. Are you prepared to agree
with a man who wrote a hymn in the last century?
This is the kind of thing I am living by these days.
Ten thousand times ten thousand, In sparkling raiment bright,
The armies of the ransomed saints
Throng up the steeps of light,.
'Tis finished, all is finished,
Their fight with death and sin; Fling open wide the golden gates,
And let the victors in.
Bring near Thy great salvation,
Thou Lamb for sinners slain; Fill up the roll of Thine elect,
Then take Thy power and reign; Appear, Desire of nations
Thine exiles Long for home;
Show in the heavens Thy promised sign;
Thou Prince and Saviour, come!
What does He say in reply? Listen: 'Surely, I come quickly.'
What do we say to Him?
Are you ready to say with me, 'Even so, come, Lord Jesus'? Reign; take Thine
own; receive us unto Thyself; and reign in Thy glory everlastingly.
That is the message of the Bible to this modern world. The only explanation
of our condition. The only hope of regaining Paradise. My dear friend, are you
already in Paradise spiritually? You can be, you have nothing to do but believe
on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. In Him, you are already seated
in the heavenly places. You are in Paradise and you can look forward to the
day when with Him you will be in this new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth
righteousness. You will be judging men, you will be judging angels. You will
be sharing with Him in the glory everlasting. In spite of darkness, the evil
of the hour, there is this blessed hope for the children of God. Make sure you
are amongst them.
By MARTYN LLOYD-JONES
LINKS TO MLJ SITE