The Fall affirms that humanity now experiences the universe, in the oft repeated phrase, ‘not as God made it but as sin marred it.’ The disobedience of Adam and Eve, described in Genesis 3, was a violation of God’s law and, therefore, rebellion against his sovereign rule. The Bible calls this violation sin and depicts those acts of the first people as the reason for the break in the relationship between God and human beings and as the source of evil and corruption in the world.
This original disobedience, this spiritual treason against the rightful Ruler of the universe, had far reaching consequences. All parties—God, humanity, and nature—were affected.
God takes sin seriously and by it his moral nature was and is affronted. This is well illustrated in Jeremiah 23:22, where, in marking the difference between the true and the false prophet, God says, ‘If they had stood in my counsel, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them away from their evil ways, and from the evil of their doing.’ In other words, those who have stood in God’s presence (counsel), who have some understanding of his nature, know his abhorrence of sin. In the New Testament, Paul reflects the same truth when he says sin is to ‘come short of the glory of God’ (Rom 3:23).
In the Biblical view of things sin is far more than mere acts. Because of the spiritual as well as the biological unity of the human race our moral characters, dispositions, and status were changed. All descendants of Adam and Eve bear the sinful nature, responsibility, and guilt incurred by our first parents. People not only commit sins but are sinners. Along with Adam and Eve all their descendants lost the innocence and real freedom enjoyed before the Fall. We now bear culpability, liability to punishment, and we are helpless to alter our situation.
As the result of the Fall, the universe has become apparently evil, purposeless, disharmonious. Genesis 3:16–18 alludes to pain and natural evils as a part of the curse of sin. In the New Testament Paul asserts that ‘creation was subjected to futility’ (Rom 8:20). The word translated here ‘futility’ (mataiotes) carries such meanings as ‘emptiness’, ‘purposelessness’, ‘frustration’, ‘transitoriness’. The word seems to refer generally to the sin, evil, disharmony, depravity, apparent meaninglessness, and the rest of the ‘dark side’ of the universe, especially of humans and their experiences. Unlike many modem viewpoints, Paul indicates this condition came after creation was complete. It is not inherent in the way the universe was made; rather it is the result of alienation from God, caused by human beings rejecting God’s person and right to rule his intelligent and rational creatures.
We may further clarify the situation by noting that just as a disruption of significant human relationships can affect all areas of life, so the Biblical writers assume the breaking of the spiritual-religious relationship between God and humanity—the ultimate relationship—is behind all problems arising in all other relationships. Psychological problems come from conflicts within the individual; sociological and political disruptions spring from disharmony between individuals and groups. Environmental disorders stem from improper relationships between humanity and nature and even between the various parts of nature itself. All these are results of the loss of the necessary harmony and purpose possible only when God’s rightful place and role in the universe are acknowledged. We must return to this matter in a couple of different ways in chapter 3, as we ask the question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’
In addition, in some way, not fully explained in the Bible, human disobedience made possible an invasion of the world, a takeover by an evil hostile power, the Kingdom of Satan. Satan, the spiritual adversary of God, has and does work through the original sin to multiply its effects and further his ends which are in opposition to God.
As a result of the Fall, any solution for the ills of nature, society, and individuals lies beyond natural processes or human abilities. It is possible only because of God’s grace; in his redemptive work he is restoring all things to the condition in which they will fulfill his original intention.
Phase III: Regeneration, Reconciliation, and Restoration are essentially synonymous with human history and involve God’s actions to reclaim and restore his rebellious and spoiled creation. Biblical writers assume that God continues to be active in history, that this activity is related to his creative purpose—to exercise his sovereign rule over his creation, especially his creatures. Thus, God’s activity in history is redemptive and centred in Jesus Christ through whom God has done something decisive. This supernatural redemption involves all of the universe, all parts of the make-up of individuals and societies, and all aspects of life. Nevertheless, although accomplished, redemption is not yet consummated.
Phase IV: The final phase of the Biblical worldview, is that of Consummation (‘the age to come’). This looks forward to the completion of the reversal of those conditions caused by the Fall. It involves the expectation of the restoration of the fellowship, harmony, and purpose between those elements alienated by the Fall and the ultimate goal and result of God’s work, forgiveness and reconciliation.
The goal of history will be realized, the Rule (Kingdom) of God will be re-established in its fullest form. God’s purpose will eventually be worked out. His sovereignty will be established over all and over all of history. Humankind is not caught in an endless, meaningless cycle—history is going somewhere, toward God’s goal.
The New Testament writers assert that from Christ’s earthly sojourn until the final consummation, the universe, especially humanity, now exists in a state of tension between promise and fulfilment. Yet, the consummation is not just a hope; it, with the finalization of God’s victory, is a certainty.
This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget;
that ’though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world, the battle is not done;
Jesus who died, shall be satisfied, and heaven and earth be one.
Scott, J. J., Jr. (2008). New Testament Theology: A New Study of the Thematic Structure of the New Testament (pp. 35–38). Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor.