Romans 5:18-21 "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
As one travels further into Paul's letter to the Romans, it becomes abundantly clear that the richness of this Book of the Bible seems unending. At our church I am currently preaching through this marvelous letter. Anyone who preaches through a Book of the Bible will be stretched and challenged in their mind and heart. God's Word shapes our world and motivates us to reach higher and deeper in Christ. The Book of Romans takes the reader down through the foothills, rolling rivers and highest summits of the Gospel. As a preacher, I am reminded daily that I am the student and God through His Word is the Master-teacher. The preacher of the Word can never hope to master the Word, however joy is found whenever the Word is mastering him.
To summarize today’s post: we will consider how all of history and your own personal story are defined by two men – Adam and Jesus Christ. How do the actions of either affect you? Your identity, association or union with either one defines who you are as a person and, more importantly, your spiritual status with God. Today we want to look at your crisis, His triumph and your move.
Illustrating Paul's thought by what I once saw on a billboard
In this text, Paul centers his remarks around a remarkable comparison between the historic Adam of Genesis 1-3 and the Lord Jesus Christ. What we see developing is a portrayal of two-humanities, each with its representative head.
I can recall driving in a particular state years ago. On a billboard a certain Native American Indian Tribe had been awarded a particular award from the state government for its particular contributions. The billboard depicted a man receiving the medal and then wearing it around his neck. When I first saw that billboard, I was confused. According to the picture, even though the award was being given to this particular Native American Indian tribe or "nation", nevertheless, all one could see was an individual receiving the award.
I learned later on that the man in the picture was the Chief or representative leader of that tribe. Whatever he received was attributed to every member of that tribe throughout the state. Even for those individuals who lived out of the state, it didn't matter. The award could be just as much theirs, since they were associated and united to that chief by the dictates of that particular tribe. This particular Native American tribe operated with a similar concept we see here in Romans 5:12-21 - the idea of a representative or federal headship.
Adam and Jesus: Representative Heads Of Two Classifications Of Humanity
As we noted before, human history can be defined by two men: Adam and Jesus. The first Adam and Jesus the "second Adam" (see 1 Corinthians 15:45-47) are the representative or "federal heads" of two humanities.
We can first note parallels between both. First, each entered upon by a type of birth (to be in the first Adam, one must be "born"; to enter into the second Adam, Christ, one must be "born again"). Second, each passes along moral and spiritual traits (as well biological) to its members deriving from that respective original head (for Adam's humanity, there is sin, shame and judgment; for Jesus' humanity, justification, forgiveness and eternal hope). Lastly, each representative head is defined by scripture with respect to God, with such relationship defining the category of humanity in union with each representative (thus, "in Adam", human beings are guilty sinners before God, since Adam, post-fall, was guilty and sinful; whereas all who are in Jesus by faith, are declared innocent and righteous, since Jesus is actually innocent and righteous.
These distinctions weave their way throughout Paul's argument and serve to clarify what Paul is doing in his comparison of Jesus to Adam. Let's explore how Paul unfolds this comparison in Romans 5:12-21.
1. Your Crisis (Guilt By Association). Romans 5:12-15
I can recall as a child a childhood chum by the name of Roy. Roy was one of those kids who would keep you in stitches. Unfortunately, Roy would be the type of guy that could get anyone in trouble and then sneak off without hardly getting caught. I would often be either a willing or unwitting "partner in crime". When I would get caught, I would sometimes blame Roy. But my parents would always ask: "did you have to follow Roy"? clearly the answer was "no". Although I was guilty by association, my choice to do what Roy did was my responsibility. In Adam, all are born into this world "guilty by association". Just by virtue of the fact that we are related to original Adam means we're already in a moral, spiritual and relational crisis with God. Whenever we consider Paul's remarks in Romans 5:15-18, we can summarize by asking some questions:
Gen 3:17-19 "Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.
Gen 5 (death); Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die. Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:1-4 (wrath, darkness).
To put the crisis another way:
1 Cor 15:21-22 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
Thus: All born into this world are united in Adam, as their representative head. Guilty by association. Now thankfully, God did not leave things as there were. He chose to send His Son to taking unto His Person true humanity. His human DNA he got from His mother (Mary), whilst retaining His eternal Divine nature with which He shared with the Father. The crisis of Adam is really our crisis. But now, we need to consider secondly the Triumph of Jesus.
2. His Triumph (Forgiveness By Association). Romans 5:15-17
We can summarize Romans 5:15-17 in the following fashion:
Vs 15 Much more “did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”
Vs 16 on the other hand “the free gift arose from many transgressions, resulting in justification.”
Vs 17 much more those who receive the abundance of grace…will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
We see here a mighty triumph by what Paul's refers to as "The New Adam", Jesus Christ. All "united to Him" in saving faith are treated in the same fashion as He.
To illustrate this point, my wife recently posted the following on Facebook:
"I got to thinking .... We've been given the Holy Spirit and named co-heirs to Christ. We are wealthier than the wealthiest man on the Forbes list in position, yet we walk around defeated and beat down. Lets not look at the circumstances around us and lose heart. Lets allow our outer personas to match the gift we have on the inside. We are loved. We are treasured. We are rich. Walk in His confidence. Romans 8:17 " Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
All the benefits and glories associated with Christ become every child of God responding to the Gospel call in saving faith. This is the Triumph of the New Adam over the crisis brought about by the first Adam. So then, we come to the final point of today's post in our study of Romans 5:12-21...
Your Move (Remain In Adam or Trust In Jesus). Romans 5:18-21
We can focus our attention here on two verses - Romans 5:12 and 5:18. Romans 5:12 states - "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." Then, Romans 5:18 "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men." Whenever we read these two passages, it must be understood that the phrase "all men" refers to all members under each respective representative head. Throughout the New Testament, one's union to each head is described by the prepositions "in", "by" or "through" (ex: "in Adam" 1 Corinthians 15:22; "in Christ" found almost 15x in Romans alone!). This concept of "union with Christ" will be explored in future posts when we reach Romans 6.
One of the points of the Gospel is that the sinner need not remain "in Adam". To remain in Adam or be in Adam means: Born naturally, living naturally, rejecting the Gospel, thus, dying in your sins and suffering eternally as a result of such rejection. Transferal from "Old Adam" to "New Adam" occurs due to being justified by faith (see Paul's foregoing argument in Romans 4:1-5:11). To be in Christ (New Adam) entails: born again by grace alone through faith alone in the Gospel, living a new life in sanctification, thus: hope for eternity and life with God in Christ.
Today we considered Romans 5:12-21 in terms of what we called: "your crisis, His triumph, your move." We looked at Paul's analogy of Adam and Christ, noting that they represent two heads of two sorts of humanity. Whichever one we are in has profound spiritual and eternal implications.