The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 1


CHAPTER THREE: Prohibition, Probation, Temptation, and Fall

I. One Prohibition Placed Upon Man in Eden

God brought forth a perfect world and placed perfect creatures upon it. The record is: “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). After the vegetable and animal life were created, man, “the crown of creation,” was brought into existence. He was a being worthy of his Creator, for he was made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). And God created a companion for Adam—a helpmeet corresponding to him, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. They were innocent and perfect, and were free moral agents, capable of understanding righteousness, wisdom, justice, and moral obligation. But before they could be made eternally secure, their loyalty must be tested. Here is the Bible story: CFF1 42.1

“The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:8, 9). CFF1 42.2

“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17). CFF1 42.3

Everything on earth was placed under man’s control except one tree. The eating or even the touching of the fruit of that tree (Genesis 3:3) was the one prohibition placed upon Adam and Eve. The sinless pair were thus placed in a perfect environment, subjected to a simple basic test, and duly warned of the consequence of disobedience. A subject of the divine government, man was placed under the law of obedience as an indispensable condition of continuing welfare and existence. If he transgressed here he incurred guilt, and disaster would follow. CFF1 42.4

Picture 1:
Adam and Eve in Eden:
Adam and Eve, as Free Moral Agents, Were Placed Under Test in Eden, Over Obedience to God’s One Prohibition.
Page 42

Adam might have been created powerless to transgress—a mere automaton. But without freedom of choice, obedience would have been forced, not based voluntarily on sovereign choice. There would then have been no essential development of character. Hence, perfect perpetual obedience was the condition of eternal happiness. This was the condition of perpetual access to the indispensable vigor imparted by the tree of life. CFF1 43.1


Our first parents, as dwellers in Eden, were thus placed on probation. Their holy estate, and life itself, could be retained only on condition. The issue was clearly drawn. There was the tree of life in the Garden and the unequivocal statement of God concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” In effect God said, You may choose to obey or to disobey. Continued life in My domain is conditioned upon obedience. If you disobey, death will be the result. Thus the choices were clearly set forth, and the results—life or death. CFF1 44.1