The Expulsion from Paradise (A Sermon)

The Expulsion from Paradise

The title for today’s liturgical service In the Lenten Triodion is as follows: “The Sunday of Forgiveness, on which we commemorate, The Casting Out of Adam from Paradise”. Our first-parents ate of the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and lost paradise.
The serpent tempted Eve, contradicting God, making Him appear as a deceiver who was withholding something from her. Eve told him of the tree that Adam and she were forbidden to eat and which would cause death. To this the serpent replied: “Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5) So Eve was deceived and ate of the tree and gave the
fruit of it to Adam and he ate also.

Why did God put the tree in paradise if He knew that we would fall?” I know of someone who once asked this question with a very derogatory attitude toward God. Perhaps the same question may arise in one of us, but we must realize that all this is like a very small piece of a much bigger picture. It was only the beginning, like the very first page of a long book which tells us of the history of salvation of man. Consider another question: Can the delight and comfort of paradise be compared to the salvation of deification which Christ God has wrought for us? In His omniscience, God foreknew the fall from paradise; but, as the Apostle Paul writes, “He also, hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. (Eph. 1:3-7)

As the Apostle points out, all this was preordained before the foundation of the world, before Adam and Eve fell, even before they were created. So then, as I said, the ancestral sin through the deception of the serpent and the eating from the forbidden tree is a very small part of a
much bigger picture. And when we put them side by side, that is, the ancestral sin through the deception of the serpent with its resulting loss of paradise, and the salvation wrought through the incarnation, and crucifixion, and transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, we could say that the former magnifies the latter. Just as the Apostle Paul writes elsewhere: “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign
through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20-21).

If we look at the Greek for the phrase: “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”, we find two different words for the English “abound” and “much more abound”. ‘The first (pleonazo) is to abound, to be in abundance or to make increase; while the second (yperperissevo) is to abound beyond measure, to abound exceedingly or to overflow. In His foreknowledge of the fall, this is what God had planned for us: an overflowing super abundance of grace. But how is this? “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself.”[Ephesians 1:4-5] This is “the mystery which hath been hid for ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to his saints, to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:26-7).

The Apostle Peter in writing of this tells us that God “hath granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature” (IIPet. 1:3-4). But we must prove we are worthy of this. Again let us refer to the Apostle Peter who writes so nicely of the grace we have received and the need of being proved, or providing evidence that our faith is real.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Pet. 1:3-7).

So, as we are on the threshold of Great Lent, this time of repentance, let us keep such things in mind and “looking to what lies ahead” (Phil.3:13) “be transformed by the renewal of our minds” (Rom. 12:2). And thus proving our faith become partakers of life in Christ in this world and more perfectly in the never ending day of His kingdom. Amen!