Thursday, January 3, 2008

In Christ All Shall Be Made Alive

And he (Adam) said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (Gen 3:10)

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. (Gen. 3:21)

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Cor. 15:22)

If you look at the above scriptures very carefully, you will see both the beginning and the end of the plan of God for man. Most of us can see the beginning of this plan, but we do not have the “eyes to see” the end. While I have no doubt that Adam was a unique individual created for God’s glory, I also believe that he is the “type” (or representative) for all humanity.

Wherefore, as by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed
upon all men, for that all have sinned: Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
(Rom. 5:12, 14)

According to the Word of God, it was through Adam that sin and death entered the world. To help us see this, Paul tells us something very important in the first part of 1 Cor. 15:22, and that is that all men are “IN” Adam. Consequently, because we are “IN” him, we are in a state of dying—not just the one man, but ALL men. Adam’s sin not only affected himself, but also mankind in general. The Bible is clear: what happened to Adam, happens to us; Adam sinned, we sin; Adam dies, we die. No Christian will argue this fact. As a result of the disobedience of one individual (Adam), all of humanity has suffered a curse of death and sin ever since. (Rom. 5:18a)

What does being “IN” someone really mean? As simply as I can put it, it means that what happens to one person MUST happen to another. Let me try to give you both a practical and biblical example of this.

My last name is “Eckerty.” When my wife and I were married almost 22 years ago, she also changed her name to “Eckerty.” In this respect, she came INTO my name—good or bad. When good things happen to me, they happen to her; when bad things happen to me, they do to her as well. When I was struggling with the death of my best friend and thought I had lost my faith in God, my wife suffered right alongside me, and when the “joy of my salvation” returned over a year later, she also rejoiced with me. You cannot separate what happens to me and what happens to my wife. We are one. When I die, any unpaid bills will be the responsibility of my wife. Why?—because she is “IN” my name.

The biblical example can be found in the seventh chapter of Hebrews. Here, the writer is trying to prove that the Melchisedec priesthood (Christ) is greater than the Levitical priesthood (Moses).

And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. (Heb. 7:5, 10)

In order to prove the point that the priesthood of Christ is greater than that of Levi, the writer tells us that because the sons of Levi were in the loins of Abraham, everything he did, they had to do as well. In other words, just as Abraham bowed to Melchisedec, so the Levitical priesthood had to also bow to the greater (Christ) because it was “IN” Abraham even though it came later. What he (Abraham) did, they (Levi) also must do. Just as Abraham became subordinate to Melchisedec, so the Levitical priesthood must also be subordinate to Christ. This is confirmed for us in chapter 10, verses 11-12:

And indeed every priest stands day by day ministering, and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.But He, offering but one sacrifice for sins, “sat down” in perpetuity “at the right hand” of God,

The writer of Hebrews is telling us of the inferiority of the Levitical priesthood and how the ministry of Christ is much more glorious in that it can (and does) take away sins. So even though the reality could not be seen until after Christ, the type and shadow of this truth was actually presented to us thousands of years earlier with the story of Abraham bowing to Melchisedec.

Paul speaks of the same general principle in Gal. 3:17 when he says:

And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

In essence, Paul is telling us that because the promise came first, the law must be subservient to grace. In other words, because the law was—in essence—“in the loins” of the promise, the law (judgment) could never disannul the promise of God (the gospel). And so just as Levi had to bow to Christ because it was in the loins of Abraham, and the Mosaic code had to bow to the promise because grace came first, so also Adam’s sin was passed onto us because we were in his loins at the time of his disobedience. As a matter of fact, none of us had any choice in the matter. All of us were born with a mortal body that sins which consequently brings forth death.

We didn't have to be in the garden in order to receive the same penalty as Adam because we were “IN” his very loins when he sinned. He was the representative for all of mankind. Yes, he had to personally suffer the consequences of his own sin. Immediately, his fellowship with God suffered and eventually, he died. However, the “mystery of iniquity” is not that Adam sinned and then died, but the mystery lies in the fact that what was “IN” Adam is now “IN” us. Paul reiterates this in Rom. 5:14 when he says that even those who didn't sin in the same manner of Adam are still cursed.

Just like Adam, the sinner’s response to his own sin is exactly identical to that of the “first” man. Adam sinned and so he immediately tried to cover his own nakedness and hide from God. (Gen. 3:7, 10) Throughout the centuries, man has been running from God trying to cover his nakedness with his own good works. This is just as true in you and I as it is in others.

This is why in order for us to be accepted by the Father, we must be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. This is the only basis of our acceptance with God.

Thus far, no one reading this short essay will disagree with what I’ve said, but as I stated earlier, most of us can see the beginning of God’s plan (“in Adam”), but we cannot see the end of God’s plan (“in Christ”)—at least not in its fullest and grandest sense.

Now comes the exciting part! Notice what God does to Adam after he sins.
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. (Gen. 3:21)

Prior to God clothing Adam, he tried to do it himself with leaves. This, of course, would never do, and so the Lord Himself made skins (no doubt from a blood sacrifice) to cover Adam.

(Notice that it was God who clothed Adam with the appropriate attire—Adam had nothing to do with it.) Since everything in the Old Testament was written in types and was for our example (1 Cor. 10:11), this covering was a type of “Christ” and was God’s promise to all those who were “in Adam” that they would be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. While Christians have no problem seeing themselves “in Adam” when he sinned, many cannot receive the wonderful truth that we were also “in Adam” when he was clothed. But this is exactly what Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15:22 when he says, For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

The first part of Paul’s statement, (For as in Adam all die....), is almost universally agreed to by Christians. To deny the scriptures on this point is to deny the darkness that is clearly evident all around us. However, when it comes to the second part of Paul’s statement, ( in Christ shall all be made alive), we refuse to see Adam as man’s representative, but instead see him only as an individual who could have either chosen or rejected God’s loving provision. In the former case (his sin), we see Adam as the representative for all of humanity, and yet in the latter case (his clothing), we see him as a lone man, solely responsible for his “eternal” destiny. This, my dear brothers and sisters, is a great travesty and has caused us to weaken the finality of God’s great plan.

When Jesus Christ took upon Himself the “sin of the world,” this was not just a cliché. Christ once and for all struck a deathblow to the sin that was passed onto humanity because of Adam’s disobedience. This is what the Bible terms as “the sin of the world.” Paul defines this sin in Romans, chapter five.

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation… (Rom. 5:18a)

Adam’s sin cursed all of humanity. However, Paul completes the thought by adding,

…even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
(Rom. 5:18b)

What exactly does this mean? It means that the sin (and the subsequent death) that has caused mankind to be alienated from God has been rendered ineffective. This is so wonderfully stated by Paul when he declares to us, “Jesus is the Savior of all men.” (1 Tim. 4:10) Notice the present tense (“is”) that Paul uses here. Even though most men are not yet experiencing the benefits of that salvation, nevertheless, “Jesus is the Savior of all men.”

God calleth those things that are not as though they were. (Rom. 4:17)

God does not see things as we see them. Even though man continues to sin and reject his or her Savior, God has considered (and declared) the “sin of the world” to be completely and finally dealt with FOR ALL MEN. The sin (singular) was taken away so that the power of faith in Christ would result in the forgiveness of sins (plural). Unrepentant sins must be dealt with (and will) in the “ages to come” through God’s judgment.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom. 5:6)

The good news of the gospel is that even when Adam hid himself from God, it was God who went after Adam, and when He found him, He clothed him with clothing only acceptable to Himself. This act by God was not only a prophecy foretelling the coming of One who would bruise the serpent’s head, but a guarantee to all those of Adam’s race that they, too, would experience this bruising of sin in their own lives—“to be testified in due season.” (1 Tim. 2:4, 6) All of mankind was in Adam when he sinned; all of mankind was also in Adam when God clothed him.

Why is it so easy for us to accept the first part of Paul’s statement but not the second? It’s because the first part (in Adam all die) is past and present, and the second part (in Christ shall all be made alive) is future and has yet to be fulfilled. The first part is something we can see with our eyes and have experienced firsthand; the second part is something that can only be seen with the eyes of faith, and only has been experienced by a few. It is easy to see that all men are sinners, but it much more difficult to see all men “in Christ.” No, it is not something that we see right now, but nevertheless, it is finished as far as God is concerned, and one day the glorious plan of God’s salvation will be fulfilled so that God can truly be “all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28)

Thus we have both the beginning and the ending of God’s plan for mankind. Genesis 3:21, seen through the eyes of faith, is God’s guarantee that one day all men will realize and rejoice in the truth of being “IN” Christ—for “every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord….” (Phil. 2:10-11) Because we are in the loins of Adam, we receive the same curse AND the same blessing that he also received. Adam’s curse was death, but his blessing was the skins of a dead animal (Christ in the flesh). None of us had any choice to be “in Adam,” therefore, none of us will have a choice to be “in Christ!” This is the “glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

So we have both the Alpha and the Omega in God’s plan. The beginning is “as in Adam all die,” the ending is “so in Christ shall all be made alive,” and everything in between is God’s record of how that is to be accomplished. The fact that this salvation MUST be received by each man, through faith, in no way affects the final result of God’s purpose to “fill all things with Christ.” (Eph. 4:10) Faith is a gift of God and will be given to all men exactly when God deems it to be given—no sooner, no later. For some it is given now; for others, in the ages to come. Nevertheless, God’s promise to humanity can never be revoked. The Alpha tells us what is in the past, the Omega is the prophetic and tells us what is future, and everything in between is how God is presently working it out.

...who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Eph. 3:11)

God has a definitive plan that He is working out and neither the “will of man” or the schemes of the “evil one” can prevent Him from carrying it out precisely as He planned it out “before the foundation of the world.” Just as Adam had nothing to do with being clothed with the skins of an animal, so all of humanity will have nothing to do with being clothed with the righteous covering of Christ. This is God’s great work. All of God’s judgments, though severe, are for the purpose of bringing about His glorious and unfathomable plan. (Rom. 11:33) Salvation is God’s work all the way, and He will not fail! Will you have the faith to believe it?

No comments: