The Children of Old Man Adam
June 29th, 1988 @ 7:30 PM
THE CHILDREN OF OLD MAN ADAM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-29-88 7:30 p.m.
This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas delivering the message entitled The Children of Old Man Adam. In the sixth chapter of the Book of Genesis it reads:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them.
That the sons of God saw the daughters of men they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
And the Lord God said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man . . . His days shall be a hundred and twenty years . . .
Then the judgment falls—verse 5:
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His Heart.
And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth . . .
Then the exception; one man in all of this created existence found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah [Genesis 6:8]. The children of old man Adam; the history of unregenerate human nature is ever the same; fill the pages with murder, and war, and bloodshed. I dread the paper that’s coming out in the morning, concerns us. Let’s say about 6000 BC Cain murders Abel [Genesis 4:8]; and about 4000 BC the Flood that destroyed the earth [Genesis 7:17-24]; in about 2000 BC Abraham [Genesis 12:1-4]. It was an idolatrous country from whence he came [Joshua 24:2-3], and it was sodomy in the country to which he journeyed [Genesis 19:4-5].
· In about 1500 BC the story is of Moses and Pharaoh and the Israelite oppression.
· In about 1000 BC is the story of David and the Philistines and the Philistine wars.
· In about 800 BC is Ahab and Jezebel.
· In about 700 BC is Assyria with Tiglath-Pileser and Sargon and Sennacherib.
· In about 600 BC is Babylon and the Babylonian captivity.
· In about 500 BC is the conquest of Persia.
· In about 300 BC is Greece and the worldwide armies conquering of Alexander the Great.
· In about 150 BC is the story of the Maccabees.
· In about 1 AD are the stories of the Roman legions.
· In about 120 AD are the Mongolians and Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.
· In about 700 AD is Mohammed and the Saracens and the Turks.
· In the Middle Ages is the One Hundred Years War and the Thirty Years War and the continual wars.
And in our story of America, our history is written in blood and conflict. There are the French and Indian Wars. There are the Spanish Wars. There are the English wars; in 1776 the Revolution; in 1812, the war with England; in 1846 the Mexican War; in 1860, the War Between the States; in 1892, the war with Spain; in 1914, the First World War. That’s where I can begin to remember, I remember it vividly. In 1940, plunged into the Second World War; in the fifties, the Korean War; and in the sixties the tragedy of the Vietnam War. The whole record of human history is bathed in blood!
The history of the human race is a history of the rejection of God, of disobedience. In the Garden of Eden, God said, “All of these trees, of them you may freely eat, but one. One, I reserve for Myself” [Genesis 2:16-17]. And the first man and his wife said, “No! We’ll not observe that interdiction, we’ll take it, too, God or no God” [Genesis 3:1-6].
In the days of the law, God said, “Keep My commandments” [Deuteronomy 4:1]. And the man said, “No! We’ll break them every one.” In the days of the prophets they cried, saying, “Turn ye, turn ye for why will you die?” [Ezekiel 33:11]. And the children of old man Adam said, “No! We’ll not turn.” And some of those prophets they stoned and some of them they fed to the lions, and some of them they fried in fiery furnaces, and some of them, they were sawn asunder [Hebrews 11:36-37].
And in the days of the New Testament, God sent forth His messenger from heaven, and he came, preaching, saying, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” [Matthew 3:1-2]. And they said, “No! We won’t repent.” And they cut off his head [Mark 6:14-29].
Then God said, “But they will reverence My Son.” And He came preaching, saying, “Believe on Him that sent Me” [John 5:24]. And they nailed Him to a cross [John 19:16-30].
God raised up apostles, and they preached, saying, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, that He lives, thou shalt be saved” [Romans 10:9]. And they said, “No! We won’t confess Him as Lord.” And some of those apostles they stoned, and some of them they beat, and some of them they beheaded, and some of them they banished to lonely isles, and some of them languished and rotted in jails.
On the surface, Adam’s children have greatly changed outwardly, for example, in our travel. In Abraham’s day, in Israel’s day, they walked or they rode a donkey. When Jesus came from Nazareth to the Jordan to be baptized, He walked the sixty miles [Matthew 3:13-17]. Today, we drive an automobile or we fly in an airplane.
In communication; in Abraham’s day, there would be such a thing as the Tel el-Amarna tablets. They baked the message and carried it on those tablets in clay. Today, there’s the teletype. You can look on that screen and read it, and the man is talking to you over there in Afghanistan; or you can listen to the radio, or on TV you can watch the news happen before your very eyes.
In our daily lives, how different do we live? When the angel messengers came to visit Abraham, Abraham said, “Be my guest.” And he prepared for them: he dressed a kid [Genesis 18:1-7]. Think of the time it took to prepare that animal for his guests. Today with electric lights, with the refrigerators, with all of the gadgets in the kitchens such as the microwave oven, with all of the things we have it’s an astonishing, amazing change in human life. But the old Adamic nature is just the same. We may have changed on the outside of us, we may have changed in the way we travel and the way we serve guests in the home, but the old Adamic nature hasn’t changed.
I can never forget a scene that I read in Thinking Black, by Dan Crawford. He was a missionary to the heart of Africa, and he, upon a day, said, “We’re going to the coast. We’re going to the sea. And there we’ll be in a ship and we’ll go to America.” And one of the big, black men seemed to be greatly untouched by this marvelous prospect of a trip to affluent America. And Dan Crawford, the missionary, spoke of the affluence and the wealth and all of the gadgetry that accompanied the life of the modern American, and he was still unimpressed. And when he pressed the big black man why, he stood to his highest stature and folded his arms and said, “To be better off is not to be better.”
If the vast affluence of America has done anything to make our nation acceptable in the sight of God, I cannot discern it. And it seems to me our country is increasingly irreverent, increasingly dishonoring to the great Lord God who made us. The old Adamic nature, I say, is still just the same.
In the days of Cain he killed his brother Abel with a club [Genesis 4:8]. Today, we kill with bombs, and machine guns, and robots, and missiles. There’s evolution even in the way we commit murder. In the days of the long ago, such as in Genesis 4:22, Tubal-cain was an instrument and a artificer in every kind of brass and iron. A man did it by his hands. Today, these vast steel mills turnout ammunitions, and tanks, and guns; O God! In the ancient day, their energy came from maybe the pulling of a donkey going around and around the threshing floor. Today, we have atomic fission, and apparently, there’s no end to the energy generated by this marvelous new approach to the work of God. In the ancient day, the ships were biremes and triremes and grappling hooks. Today, they are giant aircraft carriers and iron battleships.
In education in the ancient day, there were scrolls copied by hand and the schools such as Plato’s academy, and Aristotle’s Lyceum, and Zeno’s stoa. Today, we have our great university systems, and even over there in our academy, right over there in our academy every child has a computer. These kids know ten dozen times more than I do about everything, and they’re getting smarter by the minute—but they’re not getting any better.
In our homes and our daily living, in the day of the long ago, they went to a well to draw water. They had lamps, or they lived in darkness. Today, we have electric lights and running water. How much the world and human life has changed. But how much on the inside is still the same, the children of old man Adam. The curse of universal sin and judgment and death is ever before us [1 Corinthians 15:22]. We are helpless. There’s no legislature that is able to legislate sin, and death, and violence out of our people. No system of government, no education, no training will deliver us from it.
I can well remember when Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin were seeking to rule all of Communist Russia. And as you know, Stalin won, and Leon Trotsky was sent abroad. He was exiled. And in Mexico City, he was killed with a pickaxe. An emissary from Stalin followed him and took a pickaxe and plunged it into his head.
That reminded me of something that Trotsky said—he’s writing about the change that the communist revolution was going to bring into human life, into the human heart—and he wrote, “All the emotions which we revolutionists at the present time feel apprehensive of naming…such as disinterested friendship, love for one’s neighbors, sympathy, will be the mighty, ringing words of socialist poetry.” All will be equally interested in the success of the whole. There’ll be no running after profits. There’ll be nothing mean. There’ll be no betrayals, none of the things which form the soul and society divide into classes. And they killed him with a pickaxe.
Dr. Robert J. McCracken was the president of the University of Chicago, and in an address before the Baptist World Alliance meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, his closing paragraph was this.
As Herbert Spencer put it, ‘There’s no political alchemy by which you can get golden conduct out of leaden instincts.’ Those who, recognizing this, seek to rid themselves of the fundamental egotism which is the root of sin, the root from which pride and inquisitiveness and lust spring sooner or later, make two discoveries: first, that nothing will serve their case but an inner transformation, a radical change of nature, and second, that by themselves and in their own strength they are powerless to bring about such a transformation.
You are not going to change human nature by all of these things of education and government, training. It is a discovery in line with the fundamental tenants of Christianity. About nothing is Christianity more empathic than this: that human nature carries within itself the seeds of its own frustration and defeat; that man unaided is powerless to be what he wants to be; that he stands in need of redemption, of being born again, of being changed in his soul; that if he or his society are to be saved, it must be by a power greater than his own; that he must, in Jesus’ phrase, “be born again.” If there is any hope, it lies in that word of our Savior. “We must be born again” [John 3:3, 7].
As I said, I have lived through these last wars in which America has been involved in this twentieth century. An American war correspondent in the streets of London, watching all night an air raid, one of the worst of the war, “Bombs tore through the roof of Westminster Abbey”—and I have stood there and looked at it—”through the Parliament buildings”—and I’ve looked at them—”and destroyed a wing of the St. Paul Cathedral”—and I’ve stood there and looked at that. “The sirens shrieked, the fire engines roared, and the bombs burst, and there was death and destruction everywhere in the great city of London.”
The American war correspondent went to his room, prayed that he not live another day—asked to die. Falling asleep, he heard singing. He thought he was in heaven. He went to the window and below him was a ruined chapel. The roof of the chapel had been blown off. In the heap of rubble, the choir was in place. The minister stood behind the sacred pulpit, and the service was continued as the choir sang:
The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By Spirit and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
to be His holy bride;
With His own blood, He bought her
And for her life He died.
‘Mid toil and tribulation
And the tumult of war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest;
And the great Church victorious
Shall someday be the Church at rest.
[“The Church’s One Foundation,” Samuel J. Stone, 1866]
That’s God! That’s the promise of His Word! That’s the sacred meaning of His presence, and that’s the victorious gospel we preach and offer to the world. There is no other hope. I cannot describe for you the infinite, unspeakable, indescribable joy I have in proclaiming it and sharing it in this sacred pulpit.
Now we’re going to sing us a song, and while we sing the song, somebody you tonight to give your heart to the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-13], or a family you to come into the fellowship of our dear church, or just somebody you, feel the call of God in your heart and you’d like to come forward, you do so now, and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.
THE CHILDREN OF OLD MAN ADAM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. History of unregenerated human nature is ever the same
1. Examples throughout human history to present
2. History of rejection of God
a. Garden of Eden
d. John the Baptist
e. The Lord Jesus
II. On the surface Adam’s children have greatly changed
III. Man’s efforts to improve himself – dismal failures, betrayals
IV. Curse of universal sin, judgment, death
1. Helpless before it
2. No system of government, elections, training, rulers can deliver us from it
3. Without Christ, man is powerless to be what he wants to be