What you See is not What you Get
by Tom Brown
Have you ever wondered why faith is so important to God? I had. I was
preparing what was meant to be an ordinary message on faith. While working on
the sermon my curiosity about the importance of faith got to me. I knew there
was more to this faith message than what I had understood. I am not the kind of
person who is easily satisfied accepting something as true; I want to know why
it is true.
I wanted to know the answer to why faith was important. Why did God make faith
the condition necessary to be saved or receive any blessing promised by God? Why
faith, and not love. After all, didn’t Paul say, "And now these three
remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor
13:13)? If love was the greatest, then why was faith the requisite for
salvation? Why not love. The Bible says:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from
yourselves, it is the gift of God—(Eph 2:8)
Salvation is by grace through faith. Love, as important as it is, is
not the requirement for salvation. Faith is! The Bible in fact says it is
impossible to please God without faith:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes
to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly
seek him. (Heb 11:6)
The Hebrew writer, then gives the names of the faith hall of fame. Noah.
Abraham. Moses. David. Elijah. The list goes on. All these people were
different. None were perfect. When we look at the list for a common denominator,
the writer wants us to realize that only one thread is woven through—and that
was their faith. They were not necessarily kind, loving, or especially pure.
Some got drunk. Others gave their wives away to other men. Still others brutally
killed communities. A certain hero fell into adultery and plotted the murder of
the husband. One particular man contemplated suicide. Despite their human
frailties, God was pleased with them all. He was pleased because of one thing:
they had faith. But why would that be so pleasing?
When the Bible says something is impossible, you better pay attention.
Especially when it is impossible to please God without faith. You may
have every other good quality such as love, self-control, and joy, but without
faith you still are not pleasing to God. You must find out why faith is so
pleasing to God.
God began to answer my deep yearning about faith and its importance. God
showed me that in order to understand why faith was important, I had to
understand the origin of sin.
The First Sin
Speculations abound concerning the nature of the original sin. Some see the
sin as simply eating an apple. Others think it was sex. Still others elaborate
on more fanciful ideas, imagining Adam and Eve committing high treason or some
other contrived offense. The truth is clear: the sin of Adam and Eve is so
obvious that we miss the real significance of the simple act of eating the
forbidden fruit. Why was the fruit forbidden? Simply because God said so:
And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree
in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Gen 2:16-17)
There was nothing in the appearance of the fruit that gave any indication
that the fruit was deadly. It looked harmless. Matter of fact it looked good for
food. However, if Adam and Eve believed God’s Word that this fruit would kill
them, then they would not feast on it. If they doubted God and chose to believe
someone else’s word, then they would eat it. Their decision to eat the fruit
proved one thing: they disbelieved the word of God. The Original sin was
doubt. Before they could even place the fruit in their mouths, they doubted that
they would die. They believed they would grow wiser. And as Paul said, "His
eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is
sin" (Rom 14:23).
Do you understand the ramifications of doubt being the original sin? In order
for God to reverse the effects of the original sin, He must require the reversal
of the original sin. You can not reverse something, unless you actually do
reverse something. The sin of Adam and Eve brought the curse. Since the sin was
doubt, only one thing could ever reverse the sin, and that would be the opposite
of doubt, which is faith. God had no choice but to require faith as the
requisite for salvation, since doubt was the cause of judgment.
If the original sin were eating an apple, then not eating apples would
reverse the original sin. If the sin was sex, then only abstinence could save us
from sin. If the original sin was adultery, then only fidelity could save
people. If the original sin was lying, then only telling the truth could save
us. Do you understand? God, because of the nature of the original sin, had to
make faith the cause of salvation. The original sin regulates the rules on how
God could save humanity. Doubt was the problem, so faith is the solution.
Why is this Sin deadly?
So Adam and Eve doubted God, but why was that so deadly? Why did the fruit
bring death? To understand how dreadful their sin was, you must understand the
foundation and origin of the universe. How can you understand original sin, if
you don’t understand the origin of the universe?
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God,
so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Heb
The worlds were framed by the word of God. A frame is the major support
in a building. It is the structure, which the foundation is built on. This verse
is saying that the foundation and origin of the worlds is the word of God. God
made everything by His Word. Colossians 1:16 says:
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible
and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things
were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all
things hold together.
The word him is a reference to our Lord Jesus before His incarnation. He
is before all things. Before there was anything, He existed, because He is
the second person of the eternal God. He was the Word before He became a man.
John reaffirms this:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)
Before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He was the word of God. It was the word
of God that made everything. This is why the first chapter in Genesis
painstakingly emphasis the spoken word as the creative force of God. No less
than nine times does Genesis chapter one say, "And God said … And God
said … And God said!"
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw
that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. (Gen
Notice the sequence: before God "saw" He first "said."
That which is not seen made everything that is seen. In the language of the
Bible, the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. The
invisible Word of God made everything that is visible. It even made the angels,
which are invisible. Nothing exists that does not owe its origin to the Word of
Not only did the word of God make everything, the word of God continues to hold
together the worlds:
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of
his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word … (Heb 1:3)
The word of the Son of God continues to sustain all things. A building
not only has a foundation, but it also has supports, such as beams, walls, and
pillars. God’s word is not just the foundation of the universe; it is also the
current support and sustenance of the universe. Without the Word, the universe
would presently collapse.
When you fully understand this, then you can appreciate how awful the
original sin was. Adam and Eve disbelieved the Word of God, which is the source
of everything. They abandoned the foundation and sustaining force of the
universe. How could they continue to live when they removed themselves from the
life support of the universe? This is why they died.
Man has Become Like One of Us
God’s response to their disbelief seems awkward. Notice what God says:
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing
good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from
the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Gen 3:22)
Eating the tree of life would still give man life and eternity. What is the
tree of life?
She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her
will be blessed. By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by
understanding he set the heavens in place; (Prov 3:18-19)
This scripture teaches us that wisdom is the tree of life. Wisdom is the
Greek word, Logos. You may recall this word is your study of the Bible.
It is the word used for word of God. We get our word logic from logos.
Logic implies wisdom. Logos means the word and wisdom of God. Wisdom is
personified as the tree of life, which is Jesus Christ. "He is the wisdom
of God" (see 1 Cor 1:24).
The tree of life in the garden was the word of God. Do you see how Adam and
Eve could have still eaten of the tree of life and escaped death? Death only
came to them because they left the word of God, so if they would come back to
the Word they would have lived. The Bible encourages us to eat from the tree of
life, see Revelation 2:7 and 22:14.
Notice carefully what God said had happened to Adam: "The man has now
become like one of us … " The plural pronoun us refers
to the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Please notice that God did not say,
"Man has now become like us." Man never became like the Trinity. God
did say, however, "The Man has now become like one of us." Not
all three of us, but only "one" of us.
If there were three persons standing up and they said, "One of us shall
be your friend," would you think all three would be your friends? No,
because they said, "one" of us. One is singular. The Trinity was
saying that man had become like one of the persons of the Trinity. Who of the
three did man become like? That’s simple: Who did man sin against? Man did not
sin against the Father or the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, man did not sin against
the Holy Spirit, or else there would have been no forgiveness, because whoever
blasphemes the Spirit will never be forgiven.
Man had sinned against the Word by disbelieving the Word. The Word was his
source of life, now man had chosen to live by another source—his own word. Man
now was to live based on his own knowledge and wisdom. He left the Word in order
to live by his own word. This is why God said, "Man had now become like one
of us." Man had become like the Word in the sense that man would create his
own existence based on his knowledge of good and evil. This is the current state
Man lost his spiritual union with God. He became sense-ruled. The only
knowledge he gets comes through the five senses. Whatever he sees and feels is
what he believes. When Adam and Eve sinned, they left the spiritual realm and
moved into the physical realm.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were
naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Prior to the fall, they were so spiritually minded that they had not noticed
they were naked, but once they left faith in the Word, they became concerned
over what they saw. Their eyes became the source of what was real. Their sight
now governed them. It was also their sight that caused them to fall:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and
pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and
ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
She saw that the fruit was good for food. Her eyes fooled her. She
believed more in what she saw than what God had said. God said the fruit was
deadly, but she saw that it was good. She went by her sight, and left the faith
that was in the word of God. She thought she would get wisdom, but instead she
got death. What she saw was not what she got.
God had a plan to redeem man. Since man had disbelieved the Word and thus
replaced the Word with himself, God knew the only redemption would be to get man
to believe in the Word again. But how was God going to do that? Man can only
believe in what he sees.
That is it!
God exclaimed. Since man had become like the Word, the Word
would have to become like the man. The incarnation was the solution to get man
to believe in the Word again.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his
glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace
and truth. (John 1:14)
The only way for man to believe in the Word is he must see his glory.
God must become flesh so man could believe. God must enter the world of man.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen
with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we
proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and
testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the
Father and has appeared to us. (I Jn 1:1-2)
Have you noticed the prominence of the senses? We have heard … we have
looked at and our hands have touched …The life appeared; we have seen it. Unless
man could touch the Word with his senses, he could not believe. So the Word had
to become flesh.
Listen, when someone believes in Christ, they actually believe in the Word,
which made everything. To believe in Christ is to reverse the sin of Adam and
Eve. They disbelieved the Word, so the Word became flesh for us to believe.
Faith is within everyone’s grasps. Everyone can believe in what they see.
Christ has come, the apostles are witnesses of what they saw, and now we believe
in their testimony, which is the testimony of their senses. They saw the
resurrection and have told us so; we either choose to believe in their testimony
or disbelieve their testimony.
Once we believe their testimony, we leave the realm of the senses, and enter
the realm of the Spirit. God did not intend for us to live by our senses. Christ
entered the sense realm once, then when we believe in Him, God gives us the
Spirit so that we can live by faith again. Faith brings us back to our original
state. Our faith is not based on our senses, but based on what God has said in
His Word. God told Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed;
blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
God could have left Jesus on the earth for all to see Him. Multitudes would
have touched His wounds and believed. That would have made our senses the basis
of faith. God did not want us to live by what we see. "We live by faith,
not by sight" (2 Cor 5:7).
Instead, God received Jesus into heaven, out from our sight, so that we would
be forced to live by faith again. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth: It is
for your good that I am going away" (John 16:7). If Jesus had stayed, then
none of us would be living by faith. Jesus continued, "Unless I go away,
the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you"
(John 16:7). Receiving Christ was our first act of faith as a sinner; however,
receiving the Holy Spirit is our first act of faith as a child of God.
Many believers falter at this point. It becomes too difficult to receive the
Spirit, because the believer is unwilling to leave the realm of the senses and
receive an invisible Spirit. Christ is physical; He has a body; He walked on the
earth. It is easy to receive a person like this, but on the other hand, the
Spirit does not have a body, He has never been seen, so it becomes difficult for
many Christians to receive the Spirit, but you can if you are willing to live by
faith. Look carefully at what Jesus said about the Spirit:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be
with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because
it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and
will be in you. (John 14:16-17)
Notice that the world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor
knows him. The world cannot accept the Holy Spirit because it cannot see
Him. The word world speaks of unsaved people. They have not made their
first faith decision to accept Christ who was seen; so how can they be expected
to make a more difficult faith decision to accept the Holy Spirit who has never
As a believer, your act of faith is to accept the Holy Spirit. If you can’t
accept the Holy Spirit, then how will you be able to accept any other promise
given by God? As Saint Paul writes:
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from
God, that we may understand what God has freely given us…The man without the
Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they
are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are
spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:12 and 14)
Many Christians consider such promises of divine healing, speaking in
tongues, exorcism, and the gifts of the Spirit as foolish. Why do they consider
those things foolish? They do so because they have not received the Spirit. As
we receive the Spirit, we begin to live in the spirit, not in the flesh or
fleshly realm. We live not by what we see, feel, or hear. We live by the
teaching of the Spirit. He opens the word of God to us, and we begin to learn
all the things that God has freely given us.
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