I recently saw a church sign that read:
“The Gospel in Six Words: God Loves, We Fail, God Forgives.”
I believe I understand the point the sign is trying to make. The world needs to know about God’s love! After all, God’s love is the root of John 3:16. And you can’t have the gospel without that! So to that extent it’s a good sign.
But if I were to describe the gospel in six words, I believe I would have to include an aspect that appears to get left out quite often in modern theology:
“God Commands, We Fail, God Forgives.”
God forgives because we fail, but the concept of our failure is not based on God’s love – the concept of our failure is based on the giving of God’s command. It is this failure in particular that necessitates God’s forgiveness. God’s law precedes our failure and then our failure is followed by an opportunity to find forgiveness (1 John 3:4-5).
Whether we’re talking about Eden, Calvary or Heaven, access to the tree of life revolves around the existence of a command, a failure and a second chance.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” … So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. … And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:6-7, 15)