And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.(Genesis 4:3)
Cain believed in God. Furthermore he worshipped him. The account of the first murder in human history, took place in the context of worship.
We would do well to consider the theology of Cain, for we are warned in the book of Jude that in the last days many within the church and outside of it would”go in the way of Cain”, plunging on into everlasting destruction.
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; (Jude 11-12)
What exactly did Cain believe?
As stated earlier, Cain definitely believed in God. Furthermore, he was monotheistic, and understood the duty to worship God. I have no doubt that Cain acknowledged God as his Creator, and as sustainer of all life, as evidenced by the nature of his sacrifice, the fruit of the ground blessed by God.
But Cain refused to acknowledge that he was a sinner, nor did he offer the appropriate God ordained sacrifice, an innocent life as a substitute. He refused to bring a bloody sacrifice to God. He simply balked at bringing this offering as a contrite and broken-hearted supplicant, seeking salvation.
Abel did, but not Cain.
Cain’s approach to worship has a technical name, “Will Worship”. After his own will and preference, he presumed to come to the Holy God, and that on his own terms. His was a defiant religion of the flesh, a works righteousness. He didn’t like to be considered a sinner, and worthy of eternal destruction, he saw no need for a substitute, he would rely on himself, thus idealizing his own power and ‘goodness’.
He would own God as Creator, but not as Redeemer, .
Cain’s insubordinate self-redemption, and self-justification would become the prefered ‘respectable’ religion of millions who would follow him. Those on the “way of Cain” are ever willing to acknowledge the Creator, and even to extol his benevolence or His other favorable attributes, but they would adamantly balk at any suggestion of their own sinful condition, or any reference to the need of Divine redemption, substitution or the certainty of wrath and judgment!
This is the religion of the first murderer. It is a self-exalting Will worship, self-justification, salvation by works, Knowing God as Creator indeed, admitting his benevolent gift of life, but denying the fall, redemption, and the certainty of Hell.
It’s origin is Cain but its thread is a constant of human history, leading all the way through to its final and fullest expression in the Anti-Christ, the ultimate “will worshipper”, the man of sin, the son of perdition, “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or is worshipped as God….” confessing ultimately that he himself is god!
The so called “mainstream” Protestant churches have long since gone the way of Cain, for the most part, offering only a “social gospel” of good works, and “social justice”. Abandoning the gospel they were brought into existence to bear witness to, what other use could justify the church, other than a social serves organization?
They have abandoned the gospel revelation of the sin of man, and the need for repentance and personal rebirth. The idea of a God of Holy Wrath is an embarrassment to them, it is considered a barbaric throwback, to primitive, unenlightened times. There will be no trembling hands bringing a bloody sacrifice to a Holy God in these churches now, only Cain’s fruit.
But alas, within evangelicalism also , Cain’s teaching can has taken hold. Pastors, teachers, authors, and theologians have now emerged to deny the doctrine of propitiation, and also the concept which underlies and presupposes it, ie the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
Popular books are being published which deny the doctrine of eternal punishment(hell) in the name of the only attribute they will ever allow in God, Love. An evangelical church is “emerging” which emphasizes ritual, sensual religious experience, psychology, and humanistic love, but which adamantly opposes the idea of a Holy God of Wrath and Justice, as well as of Mercy and Grace.
But the most high God rejected the offering of Cain.
If there is a “way of Cain” as the Apostles warned us, surely there is a contrasting way of Abel, As Erich Sauer points out in his “Dawn of World Redemption”-
It is ,“the humble acknowledgement that sin demands death,the reliance of the guilty on the sacrifice appointed by God himself,the enduring of persecution for the sake of the eternal goal,the expectation of the triumph of the Divine Redemption through the woman’s seed “.(Sauer,”Dawn of World Redemption,Pater Noster press, pg 64)
Cain’s way will soon perish, it leads to the AntiChrist and to judgment and hell itself, for it is ever rejected of God. But Abel, though like the ultimate Abel, the Messiah, who also was persecuted and even slain, attains eternal life!