The Barrier Between God and Man

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Tod Kennedy, June, 1999
Revised January 4, 2001

1. Introduction

1.1. The barrier is the sin wall that exists between God and man because of man's fall from innocence to sinfulness as recorded in Genesis 3.

1.2. There are at least five aspects of the sin barrier. They are all part of this sin barrier: sin, penalty of sin, physical birth and spiritual death, manís relative righteousness, and position in Adam.

1.3. Jesus Christ, by His work on the cross, removed the sin barrier; the result was that now man might have eternal relationship with God and temporal fellowship with God.

1.4. God the Son removed the sin barrier. Man can do nothing to help.

2. The five aspects of the sin barrier are sin, penalty of sin, physical birth and spiritual death, manís relative righteousness, and position in Adam.

2.1. The first aspect of the barrier is manís sin. Sin, by definition, is any violation of or lack of conformity to God's perfect character, whether expressed or not. The result of sin is the separation of man from God. The Bible teaches three kinds of sin:

Imputed sin: when Adam sinned the entire race sinned in him because "all individuals were seminally in Adam, and actually participated in his sin.Ē Biblical Theology of the New Testament, Ryrie, p. 182. (Romans 5:12-21).

The sin nature: man is a sinner by nature. His natural inherited condition is sinful and is therefore under God's judgment (Romans 3:9-12; Romans 6:16-19; Romans 7:14-20; Ephesians 2:3; James 1:14-15).

Personal sin: sin which a person commits (Romans 3:13-18; Ephesians 2:1,3,5; Romans 4:7; 1 John 1:9).

2.2. The second aspect of the barrier is the penalty for manís sin. The penalty is spiritual death and physical death.

Spiritual death means separation from God. Man does not have spiritual life and relationship with God (Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3:1-8; Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1-3).

Physical death means gradual deterioration of the physical body until physical death, which results in separation of the soul and the human spirit from the physical body (Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3:19; Genesis 3:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 1 Corinthians 15:53-54; 2 Corinthians 5:1-7).

2.3. The third aspect of the barrier is manís physical birth and spiritual death.

  1. Man is born physically alive but spiritually dead. He is born of the flesh and needs to be reborn of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8; Ephesians 2:1,5; Genesis 2:17).
  2. Man must be born from above; this new birth is called regeneration or spiritual birth. If he does not undergo regeneration his spiritual death is perpetuated into eternal death (John 3:5-8; Revelation 20:6; Revelation 20:11-15).

2.4. The fourth aspect of the barrier is made up of manís relative righteousness. This contrasts with Godís perfect character.

  1. God is perfect. We may call his righteousness +R in contrast to manís relative righteousness which is ĖR (1 John 1:5; Revelation 4:8; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 Peter 1:15-16; Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2; 2 Timothy 4:8; Romans 3:23).
  2. Manís righteousness is always less than Godís and is not good enough to qualify for relationship with God. The best he can produce is always -R in comparison to God's +R (Romans 3:23; Titus 3:5; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Isaiah 64:6).
  3. God cannot have relationship with anyway who does not have his kind of righteousness (Isaiah 59:2; 1 John 1:5).

2.5. The fifth aspect of the barrier is manís position in Adam or the kind of life we have because we are Adamís offspring or people who share Adamís propensity for sinfulness. Adam and Eve sinned. They fell from relationship with God and from sinlessness into separation from God and sinfulness. All mankind is related to Adam and Eve and, therefore, are fallen. Manís natural kind of life is in Adam. This kind of life carries with it physical death and spiritual death (1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 John 5:11,12).

3. The conclusion: man is locked behind a barrier. There is no way out. He is incapable of correcting the problem made up of sin, penalty of sin, physical birth and spiritual death, manís relative righteousness, and position in Adam. Only God can remove the sin barrier and solve relationship problem.

II. Doctrine of the Removal of the Barrier

1. Only God is qualified to remove the sin barrier. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth, took a human body, and removed the sin barrier by his substitutionary death on the cross (Ephesians 2:4-6; John 3:16-18; Romans 3:22-24; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

2. Reconciliation is the Bible word that summarizes the removal of the sin barrier. God is the doer, the subject in reconciliation; man is the benefactor, the object of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:11-16; Colossians 1:20). Substitution is the way God did it. (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 21). Grace describes Godís barrier-removal work. Grace is the expression of the character of God on behalf of man. Grace means that God freely benefited man; God did the work and man benefits (Romans 6:23; Romans 4:3-6; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7). The mediator between God and man is Jesus. A mediator must have something in common with both parties. Christ is eternal God; he became man so that he might die for sinful man (1 Timothy 2:5; John 1:9-14,29; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 10:5). Faith is the means by which each person gains eternal life, the experience of personal reconciliation with God (Romans 4:1-6; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16).

3. The Bible views reconciliationóthe work of Christófrom different aspects. Each aspect of the work of Christ clarifies the entire work. These aspects are redemption, unlimited atonement, substitution, regeneration, propitiation, imputation, justification, and position in Christ.

3.1. The first aspect of the barrier, manís sin (in all three categories - imputed, inherent, and personal), is removed by redemption (Romans 3:24; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19) and by unlimited atonement (2 Corinthians 5:14,15,19; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:2).

3.2. The second aspect, the penalty of manís sin, is removed by substitution (John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Colossians 2:14; 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 Peter 3:18).

3.3. The third aspect, physical birth and spiritual death, is removed by regeneration, (John 3:1-18; Titus 3:5).

3.4. The fourth aspect, manís relative righteousness contrasted to Godís absolute righteousness, is removed by propitiation (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10), imputation (Philippines 3:9; Romans 4:22-24), and justification (Romans 3:24-26; Romans 5:1,9).

3.5. The fifth aspect, manís position in Adam and the kind of life we possess, was solved by position in Christ, relationship with God through Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 John 5:11,12).

4. Since Jesus Christ has solved the problem by removing the barrier between God and man, the issue for the human race is now Jesus Christ (John 3:36).

5. Man benefits from the work of Christ by believing in Christ as Savioróbelieving that God will give you eternal life because of the work of Christ (John 1:12; John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith or belief is the inner conviction that what God said is true. The conversation between Jesus and Martha shows what faith is and that faith is the only requirement for salvation (John 11:25-27).

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world."

III. Personal Application

1. If you have believed in Jesus Christ for eternal life, then these doctrines will build you up, strengthen you, encourage you, and give you confidence for life and ministry. Spread the good news that Christ removed the barrier between God and man.

2. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, you are separated from God, under Godís judgment, and without eternal life. You may receive eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ as your savior. Believe means to trust, to rely on Jesus Christ to give you eternal life. Believe is a verb and faith is a noun. They are in the same word group in the New Testament (John 3:16-18; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9).