This sermon explores Genesis 2:4-25, tracing humanity's journey from Eden to eternity. It underscores God's enduring plan for humanity. God wanted redemption for humans. In Eden, God created a perfect union, but sin disrupted it. Nevertheless, God initiated a redemptive plan, promising a Savior. Throughout history, from Abraham to Jesus, God worked to restore this union. Now, through Christ, we find redemption and the promise of eternal communion with God in the New Jerusalem. This passage reveals God's unwavering plan to reconcile humanity to Himself despite our failures.

Pr. Todd Mathison

From Eden to Eternity

Close Encounters
Genesis 2:4b-25
September 10, 2023
This sermon explores Genesis 2:4-25, tracing humanity's journey from Eden to eternity. It underscores God's enduring plan for humanity. God wanted redemption for humans. In Eden, God created a perfect union, but sin disrupted it. Nevertheless, God initiated a redemptive plan, promising a Savior. Throughout history, from Abraham to Jesus, God worked to restore this union. Now, through Christ, we find redemption and the promise of eternal communion with God in the New Jerusalem. This passage reveals God's unwavering plan to reconcile humanity to Himself despite our failures.

Dear friends, grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Today, we kick off a new sermon series called Close Encounters. But this is just the first, it’s a five part series of what we’re launching into over the next nine months as we’re going to go through the Bible cover to cover. Genesis to Revelation. The hope and intent is that you’ll get a sense of the whole narrative of scripture and how it ties together. There are threads woven throughout the whole fabric of the Bible that reaches not just across the pages of the scriptures, but across centuries to today into your life as you are part of God’s plan with his creation. And so today, we start off a five part sermon series called Close Encounters, going from the Garden of Eden to the Giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. We’re gonna look at five distinct accounts that really, uh, show God, the Creator, you know, having dynamic interactions, conversations with His creation, all part of His plan. In fact, today’s sermon, I think, sets the context and the root of all the messages that are going to come over the next nine months. Maybe sounds a little grandiose, but I don’t think it is. And so this is what I want to get after, is that you’ve got to understand the context of scripture and the first three chapters of Genesis.

Set the table upon which the rest of divine revelation is delivered. And it reaches into your life and mine today, culminating with communion for us. Let me, uh, give you an example of what I mean about these first three chapters of Genesis. And I’m going to be dropping around to different parts, so it’s not going to be a convenient part for you to, uh, just read. We’re not just going to read through a passage. Uh, this context, though, is important to nail down. And then we’ll look at, um, some other scriptures. So, in Genesis chapter 2, it’s actually the second account of creation, a more detailed account of God creating humanity. Adam and Eve, marriage, and the family. And it’s, it’s a passage, maybe you’ve heard Red say it at weddings. You know, it’s the beginning of the family, and, uh, you know, it has, um, uh, this verse about a, a man leaving his father and mother and uniting to his wife, right? So, as a pastor, I, I get the privilege of presiding at some weddings, and there’s this one wedding one time in Minneapolis. It was gonna be kind of a low budget wedding. So we met downtown Minneapolis. We’d, the bride had chosen a big shade tree under which to get, uh, married. And so, uh, her family and the groom’s family, we all met down there on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. One more verse in chapter 2. And here’s how it reads, and he read it. Adam and his wife were both naked. And they felt no shame. And for some reason that just got the… Funny bone of all of us in the wedding party, and it seemed a little embarrassing, but also cute. And, uh, and, you know, we proceeded, and, and the couple is still married to this day, no harm, no foul. But I say this to, to make an illustration that God made creation good.

In fact, when he made humankind, he called it very good. So good. That Adam and Eve, this is without sin, so good that Adam and Eve could be naked before each other without any shame at all. In other words, God’s creation is good. And this is key for us to understand what God is up to then throughout scripture and history. Because today, you and I don’t run around naked. Well, in public. I’ll just speak for myself, I guess. Uh, I know I don’t. At least not without shame. And why is that? Well, it’s because something else happened. And this is recorded for us in Genesis chapter 3. Genesis chapter 2 ends. Everything’s good. You can even be naked and no shame. And then it comes along, Genesis chapter 3. And the snake, and sin, lies, and temptation, and it changes everything. The first verse of Genesis 3 reads, Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden? So Satan comes along, lies to Eve, and encourages her to disobey God. He says, You will not certainly die, the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good from evil. And we know what happens next. Eve looks at the fruit, takes it, takes a bite, gives some to her husband, who was with her, the Bible says, complicit along with Eve.

And whammo, sin enters into God’s good creation and twists everything. And so, let me give you an example of how we know this. In verse 7, Genesis 3, Then the eyes of both of them were opened, after they had eaten the fruit. And what? They realized they were naked. They were ashamed, so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Isn’t it interesting, but it’s more than a curious point. Here we are shown what’s real throughout the entire Bible and reaching across the centuries, even for you and me today. Sin has come in, and we have a problem with sin even today. And it has ruinous implications for God’s creation and for our own lives apart from Christ. This entrance of sin into God’s good creation, it’s called the fall, the fall of humankind. And here’s a big idea that you need, I want you to grab onto and hold in your Christian faith, and that’s this. Creation good, fall bad. God didn’t make Adam and Eve sin. That was their choice directed by the lies of the accuser of their souls, Satan. God’s creation was good. Sin is bad, but God didn’t leave us there. And that’s what the rest of scripture and even human history shows. God’s work to redeem his fallen creation and make holy for himself a people. The first inkling of God’s redemptive plan is actually seen in verse 9 of chapter 3 where God seeks out Adam and Eve who are hiding. Fig leaves and hiding under the bushes because now they were ashamed. God sought them out. But the clearest revelation of God’s plan comes a bit later in the chapter. After Adam and Eve played the blame game, remember? When God said to Eve, why did you, er, to Adam, Why did you do this? It was the woman you gave me!

Okay? Not that we’ve ever heard those words before. Eve, why amnesty between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers? He will crush your head and you will strike his heel and we see this fulfilled Later on when the serpent Satan strikes the heel of Christ Tries to destroy him by having him crucified, and what Satan thought would be the defeat of Jesus, God turned the tables and it became Jesus greatest victory. So the serpent is strike striking at the heel of Christ, but Jesus crushed the head of S of Satan. On the cross. And one day, when Christ comes and his kingdom is revealed, Satan will be thrown into the abyss forever. The war is won. The kingdom has come, but is yet to be fully revealed. But Jesus has crushed the head of our enemy, the accuser, Satan, and has defeated also sin and death. So in Genesis, 3, verse 15, comes this promise of salvation. And so from then on, there’s this rollout of God’s redemptive work throughout His creation and time. Even in the midst of this curse, God gives us promise that His plan all along was to exert His kingdom and rule by redeeming His people and ultimately renewing.

And so this is the context of the rest of the Bible. You see, you gotta get these first three chapters of Genesis right in your understanding for you to see what God is up to throughout the pages of Scripture. Two key words to read in the Bible. You hear them a lot here at Victory. The first is Law. The second is Gospel. Law, what you gotta do. Gospel, what God has done for you in Jesus Christ. In just a few minutes, we’re going to hear the words, the body and blood of Christ for you. It’s what God has done for you. That’s the whole basis of our salvation. Now, we see this in these first three chapters, but just a little bit look, looking forward ahead into Genesis, by chapter 6. We’ve got this problem of sin again. In verse 5, the Bible says, The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. Man, sounds like a headline, doesn’t it? Or at least a post on social media. It’s real. Back then, as well as today. So back then, every inclination toward evil all the time. What happened? Amidst the law, there’s judgment. The flood. All living creatures destroyed on earth except Noah and his family and two of every kind of, uh, of creature. And even in the midst of judgment for the law and sin, God provides grace and makes a covenant. with Noah. He says, God, in Genesis 8, beginning in the 21st verse, Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done. And then he says in verse 13, I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

I love seeing rainbows in the clouds. Because every time, I’m taken back to Genesis, chapters 8 and 9. And it’s a, it’s a sign that God says, When I see the rainbow, I’ll remember my covenant. My covenant promise to you. To never destroy the world again as I did then. And then the rest of the book of Genesis. Um, it’s amazing. We see this dynamic of law and gospel. Of sin and forgiveness. Just two chapters after the flood. Lot of years. But in Genesis chapter 11, humankind and all kind of gathered together and began to be pretty self sufficient and self satisfied, self made. Again, sounds like a modern social media post, doesn’t it? It’s called the Tower of Babel. So God comes in amidst the sin and pride and confuses the languages, scatters the people. There’s judgment. But then, in the very next verse, which is actually verse 1 of chapter 12, remember, there are no chapters and verses as the scriptures were written originally. The very next verse, God chooses a man from among the nations, a man named Abram, and makes promises to him, a covenant with him, to bless him. And then he says, God says to Abram in Genesis 12, 3, I will bless those who bless you and all peoples on earth. We’ll be blessed through you. There’s the promise the rest of the book of Genesis and then throughout the rest of the Old Testament this pattern of people Messing up. There’s law and then God acting in grace.

There’s gospel It’s repeated over and over again almost like kind of a rhythmic drumming of people messing up and God having to come in and bear the cost himself That we might be forgiven and redeemed. Law and Gospel. People messing up and God redeeming. Can you hear some of the foreshadowing for us today? This happens, this rhythm of Law and Gospel occurs for the descendants of Abraham, the children of Israel. 430 years in slavery and then the exodus. Sin and forgiveness. Undeserved blessings, they’re recorded in the books of judges, where the people turn away from God. God has them be oppressed by their neighbors and then brings a deliverer, a judge. And then the people turn from God again. And then there’s hardship. And then the people repent and God forgives and raises up a judge to deliver them. The nation of Israel, they finally have kings and it’s a mix of good and bad, probably mostly bad. But again, people turning from God, and God punishing them, so that they would turn to Him, they repent, and then there’s forgiveness and restoration, and God keeping His covenant. Eventually the nation becomes divided, the people then become exiled, and all the time the drumbeat of law and gospel pounds out. God’s redemptive plan in the prophets God’s redemptive plan is revealed Jeremiah writes this is during the exile. This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time declares the Lord I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts I will be their God and they will be my people for I will forgive their wickedness And we’ll remember their sins no more. Friends, that’s good news. Isaiah, 700 years before the birth of Christ, foreshadows what we call Christmas. See if you can hear the connection here in Isaiah 7, 14. Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. There it is. 700 years before Christ.

Zechariah points to the revealing of God’s ultimate Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and see if you can hear this connection with what we call Poem Sunday. Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion. Shout, daughter Jerusalem. See? Your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey on a colt, the foal of a donkey. So all the Old Testament is looking ahead and now God’s plan is getting more specific, becoming more specific as Jesus. And then comes the New Testament. The Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all accounts of Jesus life, death, and resurrection. And then, throughout the rest of the New Testament, in Romans, Paul explains how all have sinned and how God’s redemption is through faith. In Galatians 3, Paul is making the case that Christ’s redemption is what frees us from the curse of the law for all who believe in him. In Ephesians 1 7, he writes that redemption through Christ’s blood. brings forgiveness and grace. In Philippians 2, the Apostle Paul is pointing us to Christ, showing how he was, he’s divine, but became human and obedient to death, even on a cross, and then was raised and glorified as everyone one day will bow their knee before Jesus. whose name is above all other names. In Colossians, Paul writes, that deliverance from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of light is through Christ’s redemption. Hebrews chapter 9, but the whole book really drills down on Christ’s role as the high priest and the mediator of a new Covenant. And finally in Revelation, chapter 5, we have a vision of redeemed people from every tribe and language, worshiping the Lamb who was slain before the creation of the world.

That’s Jesus Christ. Do you see how getting the, the context and understanding of Genesis 1, is, is crucial in interpreting the rest of Scripture? And so here’s the final point I want to make. All of this points to Jesus Christ. As Redeemer and Savior. The Old Testament looks ahead to Jesus. The New Testament, and even up to us today, we look back to Christ. Jesus is the focal point of God’s plan of redemption and our salvation. And let me just make this, uh, refer to Romans 5, verse 17, where the Apostle Paul makes this direct connection with Adam in the fall. And sin and judgment to the work of the new man, Jesus Christ. He writes, For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of salvation reign in Life through the one man. Who is it? Jesus Christ. And now here’s the connecting point for us. Today, you and I, when we’re honest, we say we’ve got a problem with sin. We said it earlier before God and in public. And we can do so before God in honesty because we know through the scriptures of his redemption for us in giving his one and only son to die in your place and mine.

And then raising him from the dead. Declaring Him victorious over sin, death, and Satan. And so now, soon, you’ll be invited to come, even now during this worship service, as part of how you live your Christian faith day to day, remembering Jesus Christ and receiving the benefits of His sacrifice now given you in this sacrament. That you may be strengthened to live your life this day, knowing you are part of God’s unfolding redemptive history, but that God is also with you right now. He knows you, He knows your life, and He’s made full provision in His Son, Jesus Christ. Join me in prayer. Lord Jesus Christ, we bless your name. We lift you up. And only you as our Savior and Lord and King of Kings. Thank you for revealing God to us in a way that we can understand. Now we know that the Holy Spirit is with us today. Encourage our hearts. Bring your words of peace and comfort and encouragement that we need. And then grant us the assurance that our life now and our life to come. God is solidly in your hands. And with great confidence, we know that you will bring to perfection that which you’ve begun keeping us in the one true faith in Jesus Christ. In his name I pray, amen.

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Follow Jesus

Whether you are new in faith or are seeking to deepen your walk with Jesus, we are eager to connect with you.

Don’t hesitate to reach us out at (480) 830-5024, or message us filling the form below.

GriefShare

The GriefShare Program is a 13-week series of videos that we watch each week of the meeting. Each weekly GriefShare group begins with a 30-minute video featuring respected experts on grief-related topics and helpful stories from people who have experienced loss. Their insights will help you manage your emotions, gain clarity, and find answers to your questions as you walk through the grief process. We welcome everyone who has a loss; whether it be a child or a parent or spouse.

The videos are followed by discussion. Talking with other people who understand what you’re experiencing brings great comfort, normalizes the grief experience, and offers a supportive environment to work through your grief.

Each session stands alone, so you can join anytime. Consider a single session to learn about the program.

We meet every Monday from 12:30-2:30pm here at Victory.
Check out the schedule.

Sign up today!

Do you have more questions? 
Don’t hesitate to reach us out at (480) 830-5024, or message us filling the form below.
Learn more about GriefShare at their webpage: www.griefshare.org.

WOMEN’S MINISTRY

We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study.

Summer Schedule (May-Sept): 2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30am

Winter Schedule (Oct-April): 2nd Tuesday of the month

Esperanza Bible Study – 9:30am

Mary Bible Study – 1:30pm (in home)


Women’s Ministry

PURPOSE STATEMENT

As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30 am.

Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

  • 2nd Tuesday of the month
  • Esperanza Bible Study - 9:30am
  • Naomi Bible Study - 2:00 pm
  • Mary Bible Study - 1:30 pm (in-home)
  • Women’s Ministry

    PURPOSE STATEMENT

    As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

    We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

    Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

    2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30 am.

    Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

  • 2nd Tuesday of the month
  • Esperanza Bible Study - 9:30am
  • Naomi Bible Study - 2:00 pm
  • Mary Bible Study - 1:30 pm (in-home)
  • Stephen Ministry

    Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or relocation.

    Stephen Ministers are trained by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders using resources from Stephen Ministries St. Louis. The training they receive in the congregation equips them to provide high-quality care to people who are hurting.

    Care receivers are individuals in the congregation or community who are going through a crisis or life difficulty. Potential care receivers first meet with a pastor or Stephen Leader, who assesses their needs for care and matches them with a Stephen Minister.

    After being matched with a person experiencing a life crisis, the Stephen Minister meets with that person on a weekly basis for about an hour to listen, care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support. The caring relationship lasts as long as the need for care exists.

    “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NRSV)

    FAMILY PROMISE

    Four times a year we host families experiencing homelessness at Victory for a week at a time. Volunteers needed to set up rooms, preparing a meal, serve/clean-up dinner or stay as an overnight host.

    Upcoming Host Weeks: April 16-23, 2023 & November 112-19, 2023

    STEPHEN MINISTRY

    Stephen Ministers are lay congregation members trained to provide one-to-one care to those experiencing a difficult time in life. 

    GRIEFSHARE

    A grief recovery support group where you can find help and healing for the hurt of losing a loved one.

    13-week Program: Mondays, 12:30-2:30pm, February 13-May 8, 2023
    (No meeting April 10th)
    GriefShare.org

    LSS-SW

    Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSS-SW)

    I-HELP PROGRAM: We provide a safe and secure place for women who are currently experiencing homelessness the 2nd & 4th Thursday of the month.

    FOOD PANTRY: Food boxes distributed Mondays & Wednesdays, 9:00-11:30am.
    Utility & rental assistance by appointment only 480-654-4539.

    Victory Quilters

    We meet the 3rd Tuesday and Wednesday of the month at 8:30am. Come when you can, stay as long as you can; everyone can cut, sew, pin and tie knots. You do not need to be a church or circle member to attend. Bring a friend! The quilts are donated to Navajo Lutheran Mission, Orchard: Africa and Lutheran Social Ministries. We typically break for the summer. Please check schedule.

    MUSIC MINISTRY

    Ensembles at Victory practice weekly during the high season to prepare for weekly worship and special events. In addition, many people share their talents individually. Click here for our concert line-up!

    NAVAJO LUTHERAN MISSION

    Serving the Navajo community of Rock Point, AZ, a remote, isolated village near the Four Corners. The Mission campus includes a K-2 private Christian school, clinic, cultural center, water project and food bank.  (nelm.org)

    FAIR TRADE

    Victory Women support Lutheran World Relief (lwr.org) by selling Fair Trade hand-made crafts, jewelry, coffee and tea that generates income for small-scale businesses in third world countries. 

    OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD

    A “shoebox ministry” of Samaritan’s Purse, delivering gift-filled shoeboxes to boys and girls around the world.

    ORCHARD: AFRICA

    To equip the church to respond to poverty & injustice, thereby caring for the vulnerable using four programs: Food & Agriculture, Care, Education and Ministry.  (orchardafrica.org)

    Stephen Ministry

    Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or relocation.

    Stephen Ministers are trained by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders using resources from Stephen Ministries St. Louis. The training they receive in the congregation equips them to provide high-quality care to people who are hurting.

    Care receivers are individuals in the congregation or community who are going through a crisis or life difficulty. Potential care receivers first meet with a pastor or Stephen Leader, who assesses their needs for care and matches them with a Stephen Minister.

    After being matched with a person experiencing a life crisis, the Stephen Minister meets with that person on a weekly basis for about an hour to listen, care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support. The caring relationship lasts as long as the need for care exists.

    “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NRSV)

    WOMEN’S MINISTRY

    Welcome to the vibrant women’s ministry at Victory Lutheran Church! As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are committed to growing in faith, affirming our gifts, and supporting one another in our callings. Our purpose is to engage in ministry and action, promoting healing and wholeness in the church, society, and the world. At Victory Lutheran Church, our women’s ministry provides a nurturing and empowering space for women of all ages to connect, grow, and serve together. Through uplifting worship, inspiring Bible studies, enriching events, and impactful service opportunities, we equip women to live out their God-given purpose and embrace their unique gifts. Join us as we journey together, fostering fellowship, spiritual growth, and making a lasting impact within our church, our families, and our wider community.

    PURPOSE STATEMENT

    As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ,  and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

    We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

    Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

    2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30am.

    Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

    • 2nd Tuesday of the month
    • Esperanza Bible Study – 9:30am
    • Naomi Bible Study – 2:00pm
    • Mary Bible Study – 1:30pm (in home)