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THREE GARDENS TELL THE STORY
A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., Pastor Emeritus
and given by Jack Ngann, Pastor
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Corinthians 15:21-22; p. 1226 Scofield).
Physical and spiritual death came from Adam. Because of Adam’s sin all human beings are born sinners. We are all born with a sin nature. But because of Christ’s righteousness all who are saved by Him are made righteous and receive eternal life. In verse forty-five we read of the first Adam and the last Adam. The first Adam brought sin and death to the human race by his sin. The last Adam, Jesus Christ, brought salvation and life to those human beings who trust Him in a real conversion experience. Sin and its remedy can be pictured in three gardens, which are types of sin and salvation. I can’t think of a better way to present a clear picture of sin and salvation than by going over the meaning of these three gardens.
I. First, let us think for a few minutes about the Garden of Eden.
The Bible teaches that God created the first man. The Bible teaches that there was an actual man whom God placed in the Garden of Eden. “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed” (Genesis 2:8). This man was placed in the Garden of Eden to have dominion over the world, and to keep the Garden. He was given a commandment not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17; p. 7).
But Satan came into the Garden and tempted the man to eat the forbidden fruit. He ate it and brought down God’s curse on the human race. The man and his wife were expelled from the Garden of Eden. The earth’s environment also fell under the curse of God. The world became a hostile place for all living things as a direct result of Adam’s great sin in defying God. Death passed down from Adam to the entire human race. This was manifested in spiritual death, alienation from God, and blindness to the truth, as well as physical death. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,
The whole story of the human race can be summed up in terms of what has happened because of Adam...think of all the misery and unhappiness, the moral breakdown, thieving, robbery, murders, divorce, separation, all these things. Why is it like that? And why has it always been like that? The history books tell us that this has always been the pattern of things. The world is no different today from what it has always been. But why is this so? The Apostle Paul answers the question here [in Romans 5:12-21]. He says that it all results from Adam, that it is all tied up with what Adam did, and our relationship with him (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Romans – Exposition of Chapter Five, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2003, p. 178).
The Bible makes it very plain,
“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”
(Romans 5:12; p. 1197).
The death that passed down to us by inheritance includes enmity, or hostility and bitterness against God,
“Because the carnal [unconverted] mind is enmity against God”
(Romans 8:7; p. 1201).
This Adamic death also blinds our human minds to the truth of the Bible,
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”
(I Corinthians 2:14; p. 1213).
The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible says,
Reformed theology has depended heavily on the historical reality of the fall into sin...Adam was originally created in righteousness but fell into a state of corruption and judgment... The narrative of the fall provides a convincing historical explanation of human perversion and the corruption of nature (Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 2003, p. 14).
Therefore we can trace the sin, blindness, and perversely rebellious nature of the human race to the horrible corruption of Adam’s defiance of God in the Garden of Eden, at the beginning of history. The Garden of Eden is the place where sin came in to destroy the human race. We could call it “the Garden of Death.”
You have been blinded by the sin of Adam, which you inherited in your genes, and which has poisoned your very soul! The Bible says that you are “dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5). You can’t learn to be a Christian because you have been poisoned to death! There is no human hope for you because the black bile of sin is in your veins, the cancerous virus that came in your blood from Eden – the Garden of Death!
Oh! thou hideous monster, sin,
What a curse hast thou brought in!
All creation groans through thee,
Thou hast caused all misery!
Thou hast ruined wretched man
Ever since the world began.
(“Much We Talk of Jesus’ Blood” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).
II. Second, let us think about the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus ate a Passover meal with His Disciples. It was late at night when they finished the meal. They sang a hymn and went out. They followed Jesus into an olive grove on the side of the Mount of Olives. This place was called the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus left eight of His Disciples at the edge of the Garden. He took Peter, James and John deeper into the darkness of the Garden. He was now in a great agony “sore amazed” – “very heavy” – “exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mark 14:33, 34) – “deeply grieved to the point of death” (NASV). Then He prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me” (Luke 22:42). What was “this cup”? Most commentators say it was a reference to His death on the Cross the next day. But that view contradicts Hebrews 12:2, which tells us that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.”
Spurgeon asked, “What was the cause of the peculiar grief of Gethsemane?” He said it did not come from bodily pain. He said it did not come from fear of being mocked and crucified the next day. He pointed out that many martyrs went joyfully to their deaths. He said, “Our Master must not be thought of as inferior to [the martyrs], it cannot be that he should tremble where they were brave.” He said also that Christ’s agony did not come from an attack by Satan. He said that the true reason for Christ’s agony in the Garden was this: “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10). “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Dr. R. C. H. Lenski said, “The agony of Gethsemane will always remain full of mystery for us...the world’s sin had, indeed, been assumed by Jesus during his whole life, but here in Gethsemane the supreme moment of that assumption had come” (R. C. H. Lenski, Ph.D., The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, Augsburg Publishing House, 1946, p. 1074).
I believe that Jesus took our sins upon Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. And it nearly killed Him – because “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Crushed within and without by our sins,
“His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44; p. 1108).
He took our sins from Gethsemane to the Cross, and atoned for them there the next day.
Wait! This is not a Mormon doctrine! Some of you may know that the Mormons teach that the Blood He shed in Gethsemane forgives us. Bruce McConkie, a Mormon theologian, said, “Forgiveness is available because Christ the Lord shed great drops of blood in Gethsemane” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, Deseret Book Company, 1978, p. 337). But that’s not what I said! I said that I believe Jesus took our sins upon Him from Gethsemane to the Cross, and atoned for them there. That is the first point of the Gospel, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3). The Bible says that Christ “made peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20) – not through the bloody sweat in the Garden! Our salvation only comes through the Blood Christ shed on the Cross, not the Blood that came out of His finger when He cut it – not even from the bloody sweat in the Garden. Only the Blood that He shed on the Cross can cleanse us from sin! Thus, my position is the same as that of Spurgeon, the reformed theologian Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, and Dr. John R. Rice. Click here to read what Dr. Buswell and Dr. Rice wrote on Gethsemane. The quotations are in my sermon, “The Horror of Gethsemane.”
Was it a coincidence that man’s sin began in a Garden, and Christ took our sin upon Himself in another Garden? It may be – and yet great Spurgeon wondered about it. He said,
May we not conceive that as in a garden, Adam’s self-indulgence ruined us, so in another garden the agonies of the second Adam should restore us? Gethsemane supplies the medicine for the ills which followed upon the forbidden fruit of Eden (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Agony in Gethsemane,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume XX, Pilgrim Publications, 1971, p. 589).
But this brings us to the third garden, and the three of them together picture the fall of mankind and its restoration in Christ Jesus.
III. Third, let us conclude by thinking of the garden that contained the Saviour’s tomb.
“Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand”
(John 19:40-42; p. 1143).
The body of Jesus was placed in this tomb in the garden attached to Calvary, where He was crucified. They closed the mouth of the tomb with a boulder, and sealed it with a Roman seal. They put guards to watch it through the night.
Early on Sunday morning Mary Magdalene and another Mary came to the garden tomb with spices, to embalm the body. As they approached there was a violent earthquake. An angel came down and rolled back the stone from the mouth of the tomb. He said to the two women,
“Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:5-6; p. 1043).
As they went to tell the Disciples, Jesus met them. “They came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (Matthew 28:9). He said they should go and tell the Disciples.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is one of the two most important doctrines of Christianity. His death as payment for our sins, and His bodily resurrection to give us life are the two parts of the Gospel. The word “Gospel” means “good news.” It is good news to know that Jesus rose physically from the dead “for our justification” (Romans 4:25). His resurrection from the dead brought justification and life to those who are united to Him by faith. The risen Jesus saves those who come to Him from the curse of sin, and eternal damnation.
“The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [Christ] was made a [life-giving] quickening spirit”
(I Corinthians 15:45; p. 1227).
The first Adam plunged the human race into sin and death by His disobedience to God. The last Adam, Christ, came to undo the curse of sin and give us life. As Spurgeon put it, “May we not conceive that as in a garden Adam’s [sin] ruined us, so in another garden the [last] Adam should restore us” (ibid). And Christ, the last Adam, rose from the dead in the third garden – from the garden tomb.
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Corinthians 15:21-22; p. 1226).
There you have an overview of the doctrines of sin and salvation, given to us in the form of those three gardens – the garden of sin, the garden of suffering, and the garden of new life!
This is beautiful and true theology. But what has it got to do with you? Nothing if you are not born again. You will live and die, and go to Hell. And these words I have given you from the Bible will haunt you, and torment you, for all eternity. I pray that will not happen to you. It won’t happen to you if you throw yourself on Jesus, and trust Him in your heart.
Think what a great thing Jesus did when He came down from Heaven to suffer, bleed and die to save you from your sin. Will you stop thinking about yourself and think only about Him? Will you stop thinking about yourself and look out of yourself to Jesus? Will you trust Him and not your own mind and your own feelings? The old hymn was right when it said, “There’s light for a look at the Saviour.”
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And [your fears and doubts] will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
(“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” by Helen H. Lemmel, 1863-1961;
altered by Dr. Hymers).