|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||Adam and Christ|
|Text||Romans ch.5 v.19 |
Links to Bible chapters open in a new window.
"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But 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" (Romans 5, 19-21).
The question might be asked, "What is the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian?" The answer that people give to that question tells you everything about their degree of knowledge of the Word of God. If you were to ask that question of a worldly person they would probably say the difference is that the Christian goes to church and that they do not.
This passage of Scripture deals with that subject - the difference between the Christian and the non-Christian. I wish to try to find out how the apostle Paul answers that question.
My first heading is this: Paul here explains how Adam has affected us all. You will have noticed surely in the course of the reading that the apostle Paul here makes many references to Adam. You will see him in v.14: "from Adam to Moses". Then you will see a reference to Adam under various forms of description, as for instance v.15: "not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead...". He is talking there about Adam. What Paul is doing is to explain to us how Adam has affected us all.
No one is fit to understand the problems of this world until they have studied this passage of Scripture, because these words - especially verses twelve to twenty-one - are the key of knowledge to explain what is wrong with the world. So, sadly, those who believe in evolution have disqualified themselves from beginning to understand the human problem. Everybody knows that something has gone wrong with human nature. You would have read the other day how that in Germany a young man in his late teens went into a school with guns and shot something like nineteen people before he was finally compelled to turn the gun on himself and commit suicide. Something has gone wrong with human nature. That is not an isolated example is it? Just a few short years ago - thinking now of Dunblane in the south of Scotland - precisely the same thing happened: a man entered a school shooting teachers and primary school children. What a soft target. But that too is not unique. The entire world knows what happened on September 11th: two or three hijacked aircraft deliberately targeted buildings filled with human activity. Thousands and thousands of people, suddenly and without any warning, were brought to their death. We need to know how to explain this. Why do people do these things? What is the real reason? The psychiatrist has a reason, the philosopher has a reason and the academic has a reason. Your concern and mine, dear friends, is to discover God's explanation here in such a passage as our text. That is our concern right now.
We begin like this. We have to say that Adam was the head of the human race in more ways than one. He was, of course, the head of the human race in a biological sense. We are all his children by ordinary birth and generation. We are all his descendants; the 'gene pool' as we call it, was in him. We have all come out of his loins. In a biological sense, one generation has followed another, and another followed that, and so it goes on -generation following generation. Go back to the beginning and where do you come to? The answer is to Adam and his wife Eve. These are not strangers. We are not talking about some remote person from outer space. We are not talking about green men who invade mother earth in their space ships. No, these are not men with flying saucers, these are our great grand parents many times removed - your flesh and blood and mine. This makes us all in the physical sense brothers and sisters with all mankind. In a physical sense we are all out of one pair of parents - Adam and Eve. What Paul tells us here is much more mysterious than that. Not only are we under Adam as our biological head but we are derived from Adam who was also our federal head. Maybe that is not an easy expression to understand. Let me explain it. That means when Adam was perfect in Paradise, he represented us all before God. His action has had an effect upon us all many, many centuries later. If you find that difficult to understand let me illustrate because it is not as difficult as it sounds.
Let's go back to the II World War. I was a little boy then. Some of you had relations who died in the war. They were killed or wounded in action, or lost in battle. They themselves did not opt to go to war against Nazi Germany. They didn't sign a letter to Her Majesty's Government saying that they declared war on Germany. They didn't do that - not in their own names. What happened was rather different. Somebody acting on behalf of this country signed the Declaration of War. I'm not sure that I know who it was. Churchill's name I daresay was there but supremely I'm sure it was the late King George VI who would have appended his signature to the Declaration of War. On the basis of that, Britain was at war - we were all at war. You see what I am saying? That representative head of the nation - the king - made an action which affected the entire nation. You couldn't opt out of it. Once the signature was down on the paper we were all involved. The implications of that were that many had to be mobilised: many had to go up in the air who never came down alive; many went to sea who never returned home; many were shot on the battlefields of Europe and the rest of the world. That was the implication of what the king or the Prime Minister of that day did. So it is with Adam - exactly the same. When Adam was innocent, all was well. But when Adam disobeyed God, he did something simply not for himself but something which affected the entire human race. The implications of his single action were catastrophic for the whole of his family to the ends of the world and to the end of time. That is what Paul is talking about here: Adam is a federal head.
Adam's guilt is reckoned to every baby in its mother's womb. That is a strange thing isn't it? It is a very hard thing to understand that before a baby has been born, before they have opened their mouths, before they have done anything, the sin of Adam is reckoned to them while still in the womb, because that baby is part of the same covenant that God made with Adam. A covenant is a special relationship between God and mankind. Adam was our representative - what he did determined what would happen to us. His first sin by which he broke the covenant and took from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of God and Evil, implied that he was guilty and that we are guilty too. The guilt of his first sin is reckoned to us. Before anyone jumps up and says that that is not fair, let me say to you - whether you think it's fair or not - it is what the Bible teaches. I would point out to you that it's a great mercy that that arrangement was made by God for reasons I am just about to explain. Somebody once asked the question, "Why were not all Adam's sins reckoned to us? Why was it just his first sin that was reckoned to us because Adam had many other later sins?" The answer is very simple: only the first sin of Adam was reckoned to us because that was the only sin which he committed as a covenant head. As soon as he broke the covenant of works he ceased to be a covenant head. All the sins he committed later were his private sins. You understand that sins cannot be transferred from person to person. My sins are not your sins. I am not guilty of your sins and you are not guilty of mine. That is a great principle. The Bible tells us that sin and the guilt of sin cannot be ordinarily transferred from person to person. You can't punish the father for the son or the son for the father. We are all guilty of our own sins and answerable for our own sins. There is, however, one only exception and that is Adam's first sin. Because Adam's first sin was the sin of our covenant head within the context of the covenant of works, for that reason, his sin is regarded as the sin of all his posterity down to the end of time. As soon as a baby is conceived in the womb, before it is born, before it emerges to act for itself, already, in the womb, that child is a sinner and will most certainly show evidences of being a sinner once it is born.
That is deep and mysterious. I know there is something in us that wants to say, "But why should God impute Adam's sin to me? I live thousands of years after Adam. I had no part in Adam's sin!" The answer is that you were in the same covenant that God made with Adam. The covenant of works was for him and all his children. When he acted in disobedience to God the implications are that he brought guilt upon us all. We didn't commit that sin physically, that's true. My hand didn't stretch forth and eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; it would be nonsense to suggest it did. But what he did was a sin that broke the covenant and therefore brought the curse of God upon the whole human race. You will not be surprised when I tell you that there are plenty of people, and some of them call themselves theologians, who don't accept all this. They think this terrible. "Tut, tut", they would say, "fancy teaching things like this in the twenty-first century." Well, my beloved friends, we did not write these things; the great apostle Paul with all the genius and revelation that God gave to his wonderful mind - he wrote it to explain what the real predicament of the human race is. That is my first point: Paul explains here how Adam has affected us all. Why are you a sinner? Why am I a sinner? The answer is because Adam sinned against God and the guilt of his first sin was reckoned to you in your mother's womb before you were born. When you came forth into the world you began to show all the signs of being a sinner. So, alas, alas, do I. We are all a ruined race. We are all a rotten thing. That is the sad fact about us. That's why young men take guns and go into schools. That's why men drive along side little girls in the dark and open up the door and pull them inside. They are never seen again except floating on the river. That's why an old widowed lady walking in England a few days ago, eating her fish and chips, was suddenly pounced upon and killed for the sake of those fish and chips. England - a land once renowned for Bibles.
Dear friends, this is the explanation: you and I are capable of anything. Young men were found not guilty of a shocking crime which has been very much in the news. I understand from what I hear that one or other of these young people has said that they were criminals certainly but they were very sorry for it - which is good news. Then they went on to say that criminals though they were they would never kill anyone. I hope nobody here would ever be so foolish as to say that about themselves. I hope you would never say about yourselves, "I would never murder anyone", because we don't know. We are terribly capable of it. How do I know that? Because of what Paul teaches - we have a sinful, sinful heart.
The second thing I want to say is this. Paul now goes on to tell us how Christ is similar to Adam. I hope you notice this in v.12-21. Paul conducts the most interesting comparison between these two great figures - Adam and Christ.
I remember as a very young Christian when I stumbled on this chapter and began a little understand it, I suddenly realised that this chapter really is the key that opens up the whole Bible in a way - and indeed opens up the whole of history. You could say the whole of history revolves around two men - Adam and Christ. In some ways they are very similar and in other ways very different. In this chapter the apostle Paul conducts a comparison and a contrast between these two. He works it out. You may know he does this in one other place - 1 Corinthians 15. Here he works out the comparison in one way, there, in another way. Stay with me and let's see how Paul compares and contrasts Adam and Christ. He is not doing this merely as an intellectual exercise. This is not a trivial pursuit of some academic theologian. Here he is explaining the very nature of the Gospel, the very character of God, the requirements of God. He is explaining to us how Christ is a Saviour. We know He is but Paul is explaining how Christ is a Saviour and in what ways.
There are three ways in which Paul compares and contrasts Adam with Christ.
The first comparison between Christ and Adam is this: Adam's sin is imputed to us all. Similarly, he says, Christ's obedience is imputed to all believers. There is similarity here because Christ also is a covenant head. He is a federal head just as Adam is: Adam is the federal head within the covenant of works - now broken; Christ is the federal head in the covenant of grace. You see the similarity. There is similarity in the fact that Adam's first transgression is imputed to us and therefore renders us guilty. Similarly, Christ's obedience is imputed to believers so that they are not guilty. That is the first point of comparison.
The second point of comparison is this: the effects of that imputation. Because the sin of Adam is imputed to all his children they are now under God's condemnation. That is a terrible thing for anyone to have to say. I hope you weigh my words with care; they are written very, very clearly into this chapter and into other places. Every man who is not in Christ is under the terrible condemnation of God. You don't have to wait until the Day of Judgement to know whether you will enter heaven or not. If you are not a Christian, if you are not believer, you are condemned already. I am sorry to have to say that; it is terrible for me to have to say that. I wish I didn't have to say it but it is the truth - whether we like it or not it is the Word of God. The reason for that condemnation is, not simply that you are a sinner but, Adam sinned. What makes you a sinner is not your own evil nature in the first instance. In the first instance what makes you a sinner is what Adam did. That is imputed to you and because it is imputed to you, you are condemned. That is how you and I are born - under the wrath and curse of God. Just as that is true concerning Adam, so it is true in reverse with regard to Christ. When we believe in this blessed and holy Saviour - Jesus Christ - in view of His obedience we immediately are acquitted, justified and blessed of God. That's the difference: what Adam does for evil, Christ does for good. It is the second point of comparison: in Him there is justification and we become clothed with the very righteousness of Christ.
Then Paul has a third point of comparison between Adam and Christ. Adam brings us death - that is the wages of our sin and his sin. Death is the implicate of our sin - death in all its forms: spiritual death, temporal death and eternal death, which is hell. All of those come as a consequence of the fact that we are a condemned race. But, and here he makes his comparison, just as in Adam we are condemned to die, so when we become believers in Christ, the sentence is lifted, the condemnation removed. We are given life in all its forms, life in every form that God gives it. Spiritual life - that is the new birth. The new birth flows to us from Christ. Then we are given resurrection life. In the day when the trumpet sounds, our body will rise again because of Christ and we shall have eternal life in heaven with God - all because of Christ.
So you see Paul works it out in detail, these three comparisons. In each way we are to see that Adam and Christ are similar and yet very different.
Let me pause before I come to a third point and say this: should we not in the light of what we have been hearing from the apostle Paul, marvel at the grace of God. It is terrible how we take God for granted. How little thanks we give God for His grace. When the devil sinned against God and he and his fallen angels were cast out of heaven, there was no Saviour sent to them. Jesus Christ did not take upon Him the nature of angels, He did not come to redeem the devil and his angels; they are lost under the power of sin's condemnation and they will be eternally punished. You and I are just like worms of the earth - far inferior to Satan in his original condition of glory. Satan was a great angel originally. When he fell he was left to himself - no saviour was appointed by God - but for you and me who are but dust, the great God appointed a Saviour who would come as the last Adam to undo all that the first Adam had done so the Christ should be our great Deliverer. The purpose is that we should see that everything we need is in Christ. He has done it all and in Him are all these great favours. This is why a Christian finds it so hard to live in this world: it is because we see so many people have no time for Christ or for His Gospel. When we tell people about Christ they scoff and they laugh and they mock and they despise what we tell them. We feel, as Christians, so sad because to us it is like watching a man who is in the water soon about to drown. We throw him a lifeline but he won't clutch at it. We stretch out a hand but he won't grasp it. We launch a lifeboat but he will not climb into it. He prefers to sink and die beneath the waves rather than receive the only help there is. That is how the sinner is who refuses to believe in Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore the Christian is often very sad in this world to behold the madness of mankind. Having received this Saviour as a gift of God's rich grace, men can only turn their backs upon it.
The third point is this. Paul explains here how Christ is better than Adam. Not simply that He is similar to Adam but that He is different from Adam and better than Adam.
I have tried to show that the argument of the apostle Paul is that Christ is similar to Adam. Now we move on a step to show that Christ, according to Paul, is far better than Adam. Perhaps a few verses would help us here. "But not as the offence, so also is the free gift" (v.15); note those words - "not as". Further, "And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift" (v.16). He is now drawing attention to the fact that there is similarity between Adam and Christ, but there is also dissimilarity - Christ is far better in what He has done for good than even Adam did for evil. What does he mean by this? He means this I think: we are better of in Christ now as Christians, than Adam was originally. Isn't that wonderful! If Christ had simply undone everything that Adam had done then that would have put us right back where Adam was. That would have been wonderful because we would have had a second chance or second start, but we are far better of in Christ now as Christians than Adam was to start with. Let me show you how.
When Adam was first created he had the power not to sin but there was the possibility he might sin. As a matter of fact he did - he fell and lost what he had. That is not our position in Christ; it is not as though Jesus has put us back in a position in which we again have the power not to sin but we might sin. No, no, we are not there. Thank God we are not there! It is impossible for a Christian to be lost once he becomes a Christian. Once you come to Christ then you cannot fall as Adam did originally. So you see we are better of in that sense - no doubt in other ways too. I like to put it to myself in these words; I hope these words help you - they certainly have helped me: Christ has done us more for good than Adam ever did us for harm. I can't put it simpler than that - Christ, I say, has done us more for good than Adam did us for harm. We are better of in Christ - even than Adam was originally. There is a lot more to be said. I believe Adam was a saved man. I think we can show very clearly that he himself became a believer. I am not going to stay to prove that because it will take me outside the orbit of my remark this morning but I think we can show that Adam became a believer. He is part of that godly line - Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah - all the way through to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Read the early chapters of Genesis and you will see the names of all these believers; they were godly and good men, and Adam's name heads the list. I believe it was very clearly the case that he was converted.
But now let me come on to say this. When we believe in Christ we have a change of covenant position: we are born in Adam but when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ we are immediately switched from one covenant to another. We are no longer in Adam or in Adam's covenant. Once we believe in Christ we are immediately transferred to the covenant of grace. We are in a different covenant all together - a covenant in which all the obedience and glorious work of Christ is mine and I am the beneficiary of it. All the riches of His grace are conferred upon me, not because I deserve it but because God's promises are faithful: "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2, 21) - though he be the blackest foulest sinner on the face of the earth.
Every child born into this world is born in Adam's covenant but as soon as you are born again - when you believe in Christ - you are translated into another covenant: the covenant of grace. All that was true of us before becomes now reversed. Sin, condemnation and death are now in Christ reversed. His obedience and His righteousness bring life, justification and peace with God into my experience.
You would have noticed in the first half of chapter five the apostle gives a long list of all the benefits of the believer: "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.1); "access by faith into this grace wherein we stand" (v.2); "tribulation worketh patience; patience experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts" (v.3-4); "we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.11). These, my dear friends, are the fruits of the covenant of grace in our own experience. These things are true of every believer more or less. They are growing experiences. This helps us to see that we are either in Christ or in Adam but you can't be in both. There is confusion here. There is famous poem that begins like this -
'I am an old man and I am a new man'
We know what he means by that but that is not biblical talk. That is not the way the apostle puts it. We are either an old man in Adam or a new man in Christ. You can't be both in Adam and in Christ - you can't be two men at once. You can't be an old and a new man. The Christian is a new man not an old man. It is true that the Christian who is a new man also has indwelling sin - that is true. But say it that way; don't say it the wrong way. To say that we are an old man and a new man is confusion. No, no we are not in two covenants at once. It is the old man in Adam who is condemned. The Christian is in Christ, He is in the covenant of grace, he is entirely a new man - there is no old man in the Christian. What is in the Christian however is indwelling sin. He is not yet made perfect but he will be by and by. All his perfections are guaranteed by the covenant of grace by Christ's obedience. Did Jesus fulfil the moral law perfectly for me? Did He die the death of propitiation for me? Then the covenant has been ratified - sealed by His blood. All the benefits of redemption are mine, not because I deserve them but because God's Word cannot fail. He is a truth-keeping God. We are sure that all is well with us. We don't need to have any doubts about the matter. If I believe in Christ, all this is true for me and of me. I am adopted into God's family. I need not doubt it. I shall soon have full conformity to Christ. In the resurrection the believer can say, "I shall shine as the sun; I will enter into Paradise at death; I will enter into the new heavens and the new earth when they are opened up at the second coming of Christ at His return." And much more that eye has not seen or ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man. All this because we are in the covenant of grace in Christ.
We began with this question: What's the difference between the Christian and non-Christian? I was bold enough to suggest if you went down the street and spoke to somebody who wasn't a Christian they would probably say to you, "The difference is that he goes to church and we don't". What a mistaken view. What is the real difference between a Christian and a non-Christian? It is the difference between somebody who is in Adam and someone who is in Christ. It is the difference between somebody who is in his sin and someone who is forgiven his sin; the difference between someone who is condemned and someone who is justified; the difference between someone who is dead and someone who is alive; the difference between heaven and hell.
My dear friends, let no one deceive you; to be a non-Christian is to be lost. If you are here today and you are not a Christian, I do wish with all my heart that you will realise what the Bible is teaching us here in this passage. I pray God you will go on your knees this very day in your own home and plead with God to transfer you from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son, to make you one of those who is a true believer - baptised into the Church which is His Bride and body. Those of you who are Christians, don't be ashamed of it; don't let anyone intimidate you with the high-sounding nonsense of evolution, science and scholarship - these great words - they don't know what they are talking about. We had here a few months ago an expert professor of medicine. He was showing us how little even the experts understand about simple things like the human eye. In London I was listening to another expert - a professor of psychiatry - he was admitting that we don't know what schizophrenia is. We can treat it with medication and it has certain effects but we don't know what it is. The really great men are telling us they don't know! However, the good news for you and me is we do know! The Bible tells us so, right here. We know the difference between the non-Christian and the Christian is all the difference in the world. Therefore, thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ. Let us believe with all our heart and with all our mind and all our soul and keep to the truth.
This sermon has been downloaded from http://www.bible-sermons.org.uk