Monthly Archives: June 2015

Where was Jesus during the three days between His death and resurrection?

WHERE WAS JESUS DURING THE THREE DAYS BETWEEN HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Where was Jesus during the three days between His death and resurrection?”

Thank you for submitting this question. The concept is best understood by remembering that every human can be divided into an “inner/inward man” and an “outer/outward man.” This is the language of 2 Corinthians 4:16 and Ephesians 3:16. The outer man is the physical body (visible). The inner man is the spiritual body (invisible), and it can be divided into two parts—soul and spirit. (For more information, see our study, “What part of us is justified at salvation?,” linked at the end of this article.)

So, your original question can be refined so that it reads, “What happened to Jesus’ body, His soul, and His spirit, during those three days and three nights?” Each part of Jesus went to a different place.

1. WHAT HAPPENED TO JESUS’ PHYSICAL BODY?

It stayed in the tomb, lifeless and motionless, during those three days and nights. The Prophet Isaiah wrote the following Messianic prophecy some 700 years B.C.: “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:9). As a carpenter, Jesus was a poor man. His family was so destitute that they could not purchase a tomb for Him! We read about a “rich man,” “Joseph of Arimathaea,” a disciple of Jesus, who begged Governor Pilate for Jesus’ corpse. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, “and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock” (Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:46).

Psalm 16:9-10 contains two more Messianic verses, written by King David over 1,000 years before Jesus Christ spoke them to the Father concerning His death: “[9] Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. [10] For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Strangely, the Bible says there was not the slightest evidence of decomposition (“corruption”) on that body. After four days in a similar rock tomb, or cave, Lazarus’ carcass began to stink (John 11:39). Only dead for three days, Jesus’ body never emitted a foul odor. Once those three days and three nights expired (cf. Matthew 12:39,40), the Lord Jesus Christ burst forth, alive and well! God the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit raised Jesus’ physical body from the dead (Romans 8:11).

2. WHAT HAPPENED TO JESUS’ SOUL?

The soul is the “real” us. Jesus said that the repentant thief crucified on a cross next to Him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus’ soul went down into the heart of the Earth: “[39] But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: [40] For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39-40). This was called “Abraham’s bosom” in Luke chapter 16. Existing only prior to Calvary, it was a place in the center of the Earth where all souls went who died having the faith of Abraham. It was place for believers, not lost people. These were the saints of old who lived in anticipation of God’s earthly kingdom being established through Israel. Exactly what Jesus’ soul did in the spirit world for the three days and three nights, the Scriptures do not say. For more information, see our study, “Did Jesus Christ die and go to hell?,” linked at the end of this study.)

3. WHAT HAPPENED TO JESUS’ SPIRIT?

The last statement Jesus uttered from the cross of Calvary is found in Luke 23:46: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” Once Jesus gave up His spirit, it went back to the third heaven, to God the Father who gave it. “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” (Ecclesiastes 3:21). “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The spirit is that which gives life to the physical body, and the spirit is the part of man that communicates with Father God.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE RESURRECTION

At the resurrection on Sunday, Jesus’ soul and spirit reentered that physical body in the tomb, and the tomb was vacated. That body lived on planet Earth for some hours before appearing to Mary Magdalene and then ascending to the Father in heaven (John 20:11-18). Jesus came back down to Earth for doubting Thomas to touch Him eight days later (John 20:24-29). About 30 days after that, Jesus ascended to the Father’s right hand to stay there permanently (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9-11)—Jesus spent 40 days total on Earth post-resurrection (Acts 1:3). The Lord Jesus Christ has physically been at His Father’s right hand in the third heaven for the last 2,000 years (Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1).

SUPPLEMENTAL: DID JESUS PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THOSE IN HELL?

Certainly not! It is a common view but it is not Scripture. It is tradition. As far as the Bible record goes, Jesus Christ did not preach to anyone in the afterlife. He did not proclaim that His blood had now been shed to pay for believers’ sins. That information would not be revealed until Paul’s ministry over a year later. Also Jesus did not give lost people in hell’s torments a second chance to go to heaven. These erroneous views are partly based on a faulty interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19-21. In that passage, Peter was not talking about Jesus Christ preaching post-death. If you read these verses closely, you will learn that he was teaching that the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, was the same Spirit who had preached through Noah during the days just before the Great Flood.

Also see:
» Did Jesus Christ really die on a Friday?
» Did Jesus go to hell? (COMING SOON!)
» What part of us is justified at salvation?

How are we “able ministers of the new testament?”

HOW ARE WE “ABLE MINISTERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT?” DOES THAT MEAN WE ARE UNDER THE NEW COVENANT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“What does Paul mean in 2 Corinthians 3:6 when he says we are ‘able ministers of the new testament?’ 2 Corinthians 3:6: ‘Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.’ He can’t mean Israel’s New Covenant in Jeremiah 31, or can he? Testament and covenant seem to be used interchangeably in Scripture but they are also different words. Thanks.”

Friend, this verse once puzzled me for some time. I am sure it has perplexed many others. As long as we are sure to keep definitions straight, the matter is simple. While people use “covenant” and “testament” interchangeably in normal conversation, it would be best just to leave them in their respective verses in the King James Bible. (I am well aware that modern English versions remove all references to the “new testament” and insert “New Covenant” instead. While the Greek word for “testament” is the same as the Greek word for “covenant,” as you pointed out, they are different terms in English. Our 1611 King James translators occasionally used “testament” to emphasize a special teaching; we will see that “nuance” doctrine momentarily. That is why I would not recommend using “covenant” and “testament” interchangeably when it comes to Bible study.).

COVENANT

Our English word “covenant” is a Middle English term from the Old French, present participle of covenir ‘agree,’ from Latin convenire (see convene). “Covenant” (Greek, diatheke) appears in our King James Bible some 295 times (mostly in Genesis through Malachi, but 20 times in the books of Matthew through Revelation). As you can see from its etymology, the word “covenant” is merely a “contract or agreement.” In the Bible, it is usually an agreement that God makes with people (whether Noah, Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, national Israel, et cetera). “Testament,” however, is a more specific term.

TESTAMENT

Our English word “testament” is a Middle English term from the Latin testamentum ‘a will’ (from testari ‘testify’). “Testament” (Greek, diatheke) appears 14 times in our King James Bible—all in the books of Matthew through Revelation. We will take a little time to look at these occurrences:

  • Matthew 26:28: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
  • Mark 14:24: “And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.”
  • Luke 22:20: “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”
  • 1 Corinthians 11:25: “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”
  • 2 Corinthians 3:6: “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
  • 2 Corinthians 3:14: “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.”
  • Hebrews 7:22: “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.”
  • Hebrews 9:15: “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”
  • Hebrews 9:16: “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.”
  • Hebrews 9:17: “For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.”
  • Hebrews 9:18: “Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.”
  • Hebrews 9:20: “Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.”
  • Revelation 11:19: “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”

If you noticed above, “testament” is generally used in conjunction with the death of someone or something (that is, the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ or the shed blood of animals). Perhaps you can reread those verses above as you keep that in mind. Now, pay close attention to Hebrews 9:16-17, about how a testament is of force after the death of the testator. Jesus Christ had to die on the cross before the New Testament could be introduced. In legal terms, we talk about someone’s “last will and testament.” This is a legally binding document that someone makes in order to manage his or her estate (possessions, et cetera) after death. Our King James Bible is using the word “testament” in that sense—it is most often used in connection with Jesus Christ’s death at Calvary.

Now we can go back to 2 Corinthians 3:1-6 to exposit the passage and answer your question about the New Covenant: “[1] Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? [2] Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: [3] Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. [4] And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: [5] Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; [6] Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

In the New Covenant, God writes His laws in each and every believing Jew’s heart (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17). But, contrary to popular opinion, we are not Israel and we are not under the New Covenant. Jeremiah 31:31 says the New Covenant will be given to “the house of Israel” and “the house of Judah.” We are neither. Never once did Paul quote Jeremiah 31:31 and apply it to us. The closest passage to Jeremiah 31:31-34 that Paul wrote is Romans 11:27, and Romans 11:27 applies to Israel (see verses 25-26). When the writer of Hebrews quoted Jeremiah 31:31-34 twice, on both occasions, it was a reference to Israel (Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17). So, what did Paul mean in the above passage?

There was a certain leading faction in Corinth that had turned these believers away from Paul’s apostleship. Throughout this second epistle to Corinth, he had to defend his apostleship (see chapters 10-13). Paul said that he did not need “epistles of commendation to [the Corinthians], or letters of commendation from [the Corinthians].” In other words, Paul did not need proof from others to show that he was a legitimate apostle of Jesus Christ. He did not need letters of approval from anyone, even from the Corinthians. Instead, he pointed to the Corinthian believers’ abandonment of idols and conversion to the living God as proof of his apostleship. Additionally, chapters 4 and 11 of 2 Corinthians document that Paul was legitimate apostle of Christ because Paul suffered greatly for the Gospel’s sake.

In this the Dispensation of Grace, we are the Church the Body of Christ. According to Romans 6:14-15, we are under grace not law. As we discussed earlier, Israel will have God’s laws written in their hearts. Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 3:1-6 that Father God writes “Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery,” in our hearts. The Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:17) writes not on tables of stone and He does not write the “letter” (a reference to the Ten Commandments, the Law). Rather, He writes Paul’s epistles and He writes them in our hearts. We are Romans through Philemon, Paul’s epistles. Our salvation in Christ is proof of Paul’s apostleship. The grace doctrine working in us is proof of Paul’s ministry. God has written His words, the message of His grace, in us. In chapter 4, verse 7, Paul will go on to say that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” This “treasure in earthen vessels” is the “life of Jesus made manifest in our body” (verse 10), Him living in and through our bodies as we walk by faith in those epistles of Paul!

By God’s sufficiency, through His Word to us, by power of the Holy Spirit, we are now able to minister (or proclaim) the benefits of Jesus Christ’s death (His finished crosswork). We are not under covenants of any kind in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. We are simply recipients of God’s grace, enjoying what He wanted to give us, apart from anything He promised us. The grace that God will give national Israel one day, we are enjoying that grace today by way of the Dispensation of Grace! It is through Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection we can receive the forgiveness of sins now (Romans 5:11). National Israel has to wait for until the Second Coming to get that grace and forgiveness through the New Covenant (Zechariah 12:10; Acts 3:19-21; Romans 11:27).

According to Romans 3:19-20, the Mosaic Law (or, Old Covenant) was not made with us Gentiles, and yet it still affected us because it condemned us as sinners before God. Likewise, the New Covenant is not made with us and yet still affects us in the sense that we can use its underlying crosswork to get to heaven (Ephesians 2:13). The Law condemns us to hell as sinners and yet Christ’s finished crosswork saves us by making us saints. In the end, God levels it all out. Because of Adam we are condemned before God, but, because of Jesus Christ, we can be declared righteousness before God.

CONCLUSION

While “covenant” and “testament” are the same Greek word (diatheke), “testament” stresses a special type of agreement. A “testament” is only valid after the testator dies, whereas a “covenant” is in force while the maker is living. This is why our King James Bible uses “testament” instead of “covenant” in 2 Corinthians 3:6 (and other places). We are not under the New Covenant, but we are affected by the “new testament.” It is for the above reasons that I do not recommend using “covenant” and “testament” interchangeably when it comes to these Bible passages (especially 2 Corinthians 3:6).

Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 3:1-6 that we can now minister to others (saved or lost) in light of Jesus Christ’s death at Calvary. Our sufficiency is of God, and so, we are “able” (equipped) to be “ministers of the new testament.” God the Father has committed unto us Christians the word of reconciliation, the message of how He reconciled the world unto Himself by Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). They can now be made right in God’s sight by simple faith in Calvary’s crosswork (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is all done by the working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in us to bring them the Gospel, and He works in them that they see the Gospel with clarity.

Also see:
» Are the books of Matthew through John “Old Testament” or “New Testament?”
» What does 2 Corinthians 5:19 mean?
» Are all Christians “ambassadors,” or just Paul and his ministry companions?

How do God’s foreknowledge and our free will work together?

HOW DO GODS FOREKNOWLEDGE AND OUR FREE WILL WORK TOGETHER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“If God knew that the Amorites would not repent after 400 years [Genesis 15:16], and He knew that they would crucify Jesus Christ [Acts 2:23], and He ‘knew’ all the future misery, woes, etc., etc., why do it? If I know that something is going to end in failure, I do not continue in it… how about you? If God always ‘knew,’ then what ‘is’ free will? Why does God (the Angel of the Lord) say to Abraham on Mt. Moriah, ‘…now I KNOW that thou fearest God…?’”

Thank you for those questions. From the human perspective, these issues are difficult to fathom. We have to look at them from God’s perspective. In the end, these events really did not end in “failure” as you assert. Granted, God knew how those events would turn out, and yet, He still used those events to accomplish His will. When considered in light of the overall scheme of things, these events were not so awful, and they were not failures. Despite giving man free will, and letting man do just about anything he wanted, God still accomplished what He wanted—that is the amazing part! That is the wisdom of God outsmarting Satan’s “wisdom!” As 1 Corinthians 3:19 says, “He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”

1. THE 400 YEARS AND THE AMORITES

Your first question is a reference to Genesis 15:13-16: “[13] And he [that is, the Lord GOD] said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; [14] And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. [15] And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. [16] But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”

Remember, when God spoke to Abram/Abraham in the above verses, the nation Israel had not even been born yet. It was over a decade before Isaac’s birth, and many decades before the births of Jacob and his 12 sons (the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel). God gave the nation Israel a 400-year-long opportunity to grow (multiply) down in Egypt, while He let the Amorites reach their “sin limit” up in the land of Canaan. Israel started out with Jacob and about 70 other people (by the time Israel went into Egypt; Exodus 1:5), but Israel was some two million strong when she left Egypt (400 years later).

By allowing that 400-year period: (1) God proved, to the Israelites and the Amorites, and other nations, He was justified in evicting the Amorites (400 additional years of their wickedness); and (2) He gave Israel four centuries to grow so they could be greater in number to take over the land of the Amorites. That is why God put up with the Amorites for so long. They had not reached their sin limit (“the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full;” Genesis 15:16), and Israel had not reached her population explosion yet.

2. JESUS CHRIST AND HIS FOREKNOWLEDGE OF CALVARY

The best example of God’s foreknowledge and man’s free will operating together is how Israel responded to Jesus Christ when He offered Himself as King/Messiah.

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:” (Acts 2:23). No question about it—God foreknew Jesus Christ’s rejection, betrayal, and crucifixion. Before creation, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit had already agreed that God the Son Jesus Christ would die for man’s sins. On the other hand, all three Persons foreknew of man’s rebellion, how Israel would conspire with Rome to kill Jesus Christ (Psalm 2:1ff.; cf. Acts 4:23-28). Note Acts 4:27-28: “[27] For a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, [28] For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” God revealed to the Old Testament prophets the information that was already determined in eternity past. “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled” (Acts 3:18). The Old Testament prophets wrote about a suffering Messiah, centuries before Calvary (Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 are two of the clearest examples).

Luke 24:44-47 amplifies this: “[44] And he [Jesus Christ] said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. [45] Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, [46] And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: [47] And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

So, there is God’s foreknowledge and man’s free will operating together to bring about Calvary’s crosswork. Man wanted to rid himself of Jesus Christ and thus he conspired to murder Jesus Christ. But then, after Calvary, and especially through the writings of the Apostle Paul (Romans through Philemon), God revealed the benefits of Calvary (see 1 Corinthians 2:6-14), how it was the means whereby man’s sin debt could be paid. God did not force Jesus Christ on those who rejected Him (free will), and yet, He used the results of man’s free will—the rejected Messiah’s blood—to pay for our sins. That is the wisdom of God. He took all of that information into account, and actually outsmarted Satan. (Satan thought Christ’s death would hinder God’s program and plan for creation, but God had another design in mind!—see 1 Corinthians 2:6-8).

The Old Testament prophets also talked about the healing and teaching ministry of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 35:4-6; Isaiah 53:4; Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus Christ had to come to earth to fulfill those verses by performing miracles, and teaching the doctrine that those miracles communicated. Had Jesus Christ not come, He would not have fulfilled the verses that needed to be fulfilled in order to validate God’s Word. Those hundreds of verses needed to be fulfilled, and they were fulfilled at Christ’s First Coming/Advent.

Ultimately, Jesus Christ had to die. There was no other way to pay for Israel’s sins, and there was no other way to pay for our sins. Jesus Christ had to die, and God simply used the wickedness of man to bring it to pass (see Psalm 2). This is evident in New Testament passages such as Hebrews 10:4-14 (quoting Psalm 40:6-8):

“[4] For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. [5] Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. [8] Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; [9] Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. [10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The only way that man’s sin debt could be paid is if God Himself would die (only He was sinless). God’s righteousness had been offended, and only God’s righteousness could be offered to compensate (make up) for that sin debt. That is why God became a man: He needed blood to offer and make atonement for the sins of man. Man wanted to kill righteous Jesus Christ, and so God used man’s ill intentions to bring about His will after all. Now, Jesus’ shed blood is the means whereby God will one day reconcile all of heaven and earth to Himself (Colossians 1:20)–today, Satan has corrupted heaven and earth (Job 15:15; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 6:12).

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:23-28, how God in His foreknowledge gave up Jesus Christ to go Calvary’s cross to shed His sinless blood to pay for our sins: “[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

When we come by faith alone in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for our sins, we can receive the righteousness of God Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21). We can be accepted of God, have a home in heaven, play a role in God’s restoration of creation to Himself, and many other benefits. God saw these, the end results of Calvary, and that is why He let it fall out like that. See, in the overall scheme of things, neither the Amorites extended stay nor Calvary’s crosswork were failures.

3. HOW THE BIBLE DEFINES “FREE WILL”

In the beginning, Adam and Eve were fully blessed of God. Sin, suffering, and death were unknown. God’s only commandment was Genesis 2:16-17: “[16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: [17] 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.” God in His grace had given them many provisions—innumerable species of trees and plants from which to eat. They could “freely eat” of every tree, save the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is free will. God did not force Adam and Eve to do anything. He set boundaries in Eden and let them decide what they wanted to do. They could either stay within those boundaries or cross them.

When Satan attacked mankind, he singled out the woman. After craftily asking Eve if God really said not to eat of every tree, Satan observed Eve depart even further from the truth. Genesis 3:2-5 says: “[2] And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: [3] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. [4] And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: [5] For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Notice above that Eve neglected the abundance God gave her and Adam. She omitted “freely” from “freely eat,” ignoring the free will God gave her. Made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28), she was misled to believe that she could have a better position (“gods”). Once Adam ate, they lost that perfect identity, and all its provisions. They exercised their free will and chose wrong. God certainly did not cause them to do right (otherwise they would not have failed). He certainly did not cause them to do wrong (God does not cause anyone to sin!). It was their choice, and they chose to ignore God’s will. God did not force them to do anything.

Luke 7:29-30 is another good passage that describes free will: “[29] And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. [30] But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” According to the Holy Bible, again, God’s will can be rejected and the Pharisees and lawyers did reject it (this is free will). They did not want to be water baptized, they did not want to repent, they did not want to confess their sins like Moses instructed Israel in Leviticus 26:40-41 when under God’s fifth course of chastisement, and they did not want to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:5-6), so God did not force them. If they wanted to die in their sins and go to hell, God valued freedom to the extent that He let them make their choice. They did not want to submit to God’s righteousness—they were content with their self-righteousness in religion (Romans 10:1-3).

What Jesus said to the Jews in John 5:39-40 is very enlightening: “[39] Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. [40] And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Did God choose these people not to have eternal life? Not at all. Contrary to the Calvinists’ claim that say that God chooses some people for heaven and others for hell, these Jews did not want Jesus Christ. They did not want salvation from their sins. They refused to have Jesus Christ. We see this amplified in His words in Matthew 23:37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!They did not want Him to gather them, so He left them alone in their spiritual ignorance and left them on their hell-bound course that they preferred!

One more clear passage about free will should suffice. We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, a description of the horrors of Daniel’s 70th week: “[10] And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [11] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: [12] That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Again, the Bible says these people did not want God’s love, they did not want anything to do with Him, they wanted to stay lost and on their way to everlasting hellfire, so He gave them over to the lie of the devil (the context is the Antichrist, future events, the seven-year Tribulation). Again, the God of the Bible loves freedom, and if we do not agree with Him, we can disagree with Him (there will be eternal consequences either way).

4. WHY THE ANGEL OF THE LORD SAID HE “KNEW” ABRAHAM LOVED GOD

Regarding your question about Genesis 22:12, “…now I know that thou fearest God…,” The Oxford American Dictionary gives the following primary definition of the word “know:” “to be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information.” The word “know” in this verse is being used in the sense of understanding something through watching it. The angel of the LORD saw what Abraham did (he was about to offer Isaac), and it was through firsthand watching/observance that God was aware. God foreknew it, but it grabbed His attention when it actually came to pass, and He watched it.

Also see:
» What about those who have not heard?
» Why does God let Satan exist?
» What does “my kingdom is not of this world” mean?