Introduction: Put yourself in God’s place. Assume you created humans
and they turned against you. Would you go to heroic efforts to save
them? Or, would you just scrap the current crop (God did warn them
that sin caused death – Genesis 2:17) and create a new crop of
humans? How many times have you scrapped a project and started anew?
For some reason God did not start anew with us. He determined to
rescue us from sin, and that provides a learning opportunity for us
with regard to missions. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and
learn more!

  1. Creation

    1. Read Genesis 1:20-23. What did God create on the fifth day
      of creation? (Swimming and flying creatures.)

      1. What did He command them to do? (Create more.)

    2. Read Genesis 1:24-25. What did God create next? (Animals
      who live on the land.)

    3. Read Genesis 1:26-27. God next created humans. How are we
      different than the previous creatures God created? (We are
      made in the “image” and the “likeness” of God. We are
      created to rule over the all of the animals.)

    4. Read Genesis 1:28. What command does God give to humans?
      (To create more and to rule.)

      1. Step back a moment and consider this. What would you
        guess was going through God’s mind when He said and
        did these things? (Have you ever heard of the
        character “Mini Me?” God appears to be creating
        lesser gods. He is the Creator and Ruler. God gives
        humans the ability to create and the authority to

  2. Two Trees

    1. Read Genesis 2:8-9. What trees did God place in the middle
      of the garden where humans live? (The tree of life and the
      tree of the knowledge of good and evil.)

      1. Read Genesis 3:22. What does this teach us about the
        tree of life? (If you eat from the tree of life, you
        will continue living.)

      2. Are Adam and Eve forced to come near the tree of the
        knowledge of good and evil? (If they want to continue
        living, they come to the tree of life to eat. That
        would put them near the tree of the knowledge of good
        and evil.)

    2. Read Genesis 2:15-17 and Genesis 3:1-3. What stands
      between humans and eating from the forbidden tree? (Only
      their choice.)

      1. Do you recall the story about the chauffeur
        interview? The person hiring the chauffeur asks “How
        close can you drive to the edge of the cliff? The
        most skillful answers, “Three inches.” But, the
        person hired answers “I would not drive anywhere near
        the edge of the cliff.” Why did God put humans so
        close to the edge of the cliff? Why make it so easy
        to make the wrong choice?

      2. Some people say, “choosing God is not that easy. Some
        Christians make it too easy.” Is it fair to make it
        easy to reject God, but not easy to choose to accept

      3. Next, let’s more deeply explore the choice.

  3. The Choice

    1. Re-read Genesis 3:2-3. There are two trees in the middle
      of the garden, but Eve doesn’t mention the one by name. Do
      you think that God gave it the name “tree of the knowledge
      of good and evil?”

      1. Is the very name of the tree a temptation to find out

    2. Read Genesis 3:4-5. What is the temptation? (Selfishness.
      To be like God.)

      1. We previously discussed that humans were made like
        God. How is this different? (They would know about

      2. Look again at Genesis 3:3-4. What else does giving in
        to this temptation require? (Disbelieving and
        distrusting God.)

    3. Read Genesis 3:6-7. In one sense, the wrong choice is very
      easy: just reach out, pick the fruit, and eat it. Is any
      part of this choice hard? (Yes. You have to believe a
      strange animal and disbelieve God. You have to be
      dissatisfied with your current situation.)

    4. I just wrote a legal brief that involved “choice
      architecture” and “channel factors.” Choice architecture
      is about structuring choice. Assume you start a new job
      and your employer has a retirement plan to which you can
      contribute. The employer can structure your choice to
      automatically deduct retirement money from your paycheck
      unless you opt out, or the employer can require you to opt
      into the retirement payment program. Do you think the way
      the choice is structured makes a difference? (It makes a
      huge difference! When you have to take some action, only
      20% sign up. When you are automatically enrolled, and have
      to opt out, about 80% continue to make the payments.)

      1. “Channel factors” are events that help to direct your
        decision. Building a fence around the forbidden tree
        is a channel factor. Putting the tree of life next to
        the forbidden tree is channel factor. How did God set
        the channel factors?

      2. What do you think about the way God structured the
        choice of Adam and Eve regarding sin? (Unlike you and
        me, they had to opt into sin. However, God made it
        easy to opt in by using channel factors: the
        placement of the tree, easy to access to the fruit,
        and allowing an advocate for sin to be present.)

      3. One of the arguments against God is that He is unfair
        and coercive. What does this discussion about choice
        architecture and channel factors teach us about God
        and free will? (He does not coerce us to choose Him.
        Instead, we wish God would have made it a little more
        difficult for Adam and Eve to make the wrong choice!)

    5. I tried to shelter my children by sending them to
      Christian schools all the way through to college. I think
      that was exactly the right decision. What does God’s
      example with Adam and Eve say about my decision? (God
      structured the default choice to be “no sin,” but then
      created channel factors to make it relatively easy to sin.
      Our children are born into sin. To try to get as close to
      a “no sin” default as possible, our children have to be
      given a solid Christian education.)

  4. The Rescue

    1. Read Genesis 3:8-11. Does God know the answers to these
      questions? Why ask them?(Notice that God pursues His new
      sinners. He engages in a conversation with them about
      their sins.)

    2. Read Genesis 3:12-13. Are these new sinners easy to
      rescue? (They will not accept responsibility for their
      sins. Adam blames God!)

    3. Read Genesis 3:21-24. Some say that God does not punish
      sin. Instead, sin creates its own punishment. What do
      these texts teach us?

    4. Read John 3:14-15. Eve was tempted by a snake. Moses
      lifted up a snake in the desert to save those bitten by
      snakes ( Numbers 21:9). Two questions:

      1. Why create a figure of a snake to save the people?

      2. Why is Jesus lifted up like the snake? (Moses lifted
        up the snake so that the people would face their
        sins. Remember this was the problem in Eden, not
        accepting responsibility for sin? When Jesus was
        lifted up on the cross for our sins, it showed
        humanity the horrendous consequences of sin. It makes
        us face our sins.)

    5. Read John 3:16-17. Why did God engage in heroic efforts to
      save humans instead of just scrapping them and starting a
      new crop? (He loves us. His goal is to save us and not
      condemn us.)

    6. Read John 3:18. What are our choices? (To believe or not
      believe in God. Recall that Eve believed the serpent and
      disbelieved God.)

    7. Read John 3:19-21. What drives the choice that humans
      make? (Whether they love darkness or whether they come
      into the light.)

      1. How hard is it to come into the light? How is this
        choice structured? What are the channel factors?
        (Notice John 3:21 “it may be seen plainly that what
        he has done has been done through God.” God died for
        us. God defeated sin for us and rescued us. God has
        done the heavy lifting! However, we have to opt in
        when it comes to salvation.)

    8. Friend, will you decide right now to believe God and not
      Satan? Will you opt into living your life “in the light”
      and turn away from loving the darkness?

  5. Next week: Abraham: The First Missionary.