Scripture References: Romans 5
The Blessings of Our Justification – Continued
Reconciliation with God (verse 11). The word “reconciliation” means “brought back into fellowship with God.” The term (“reconciled”) is mentioned also in Romans 5:10. In Romans 1:18–32, Paul explained how men declared war on God and, because of this, deserved to be condemned eternally. However, God did not declare war on man. Instead, He sent His Son as the Peacemaker (Ephesians 2:11–18) that men might be reconciled to God.
A review of these seven blessings of justification shows how certain our salvation is in Christ. Totally apart from Law, and purely by grace, we have a salvation that takes care of the past, the present, and the future. Christ died for us; Christ lives for us; Christ is coming for us! Hallelujah, what an awesome Savior!
The Basis of Our Justification – Continued
Many have asked the question as to how is it possible for God to save sinners in the person of Jesus Christ? We understand that somehow Christ took our place on the cross, but how was such a substitution possible?
Paul answered the question in this next section, and these verses (12-21) are the very heart of the letter. To understand these verses a few general truths about this section need to be understood. First, note the repetition of the little word one. Depending on your translation, it is used eleven times. The key idea here is our identification with Adam and with Christ. Second, note the repetition of the word reign which is used five times (again, depending on your translation). Paul saw two men—Adam and Christ—each of them reigning over a kingdom. Finally, note that the phrase much more is repeated five times. This means that in Jesus Christ we have gained much more than we ever lost in Adam!
In short, this section is a contrast of Adam and Christ. Adam was given dominion over the old creation, however, he sinned, and thus he lost his kingdom. Because of Adam’s sin, all mankind is under condemnation and death.
Christ came as the King over a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). By His obedience on the cross, He brought in righteousness and justification. Christ not only undid all the damage that Adam’s sin effected, but He accomplished “much more” by making us the very sons of God. Some of this “much more” Paul has already explained in Romans 5:1–11 previously.
Skeptics sometimes ask, “Was it fair for God to condemn the whole world just because of one man’s disobedience?” The answer, of course, is that it was not only fair; but it was also wise and gracious. To begin with, if God had tested each human being individually, the result would have been the same: disobedience. But even more important, by condemning the human race through one man (Adam), God was then able to save the human race through one Man (Jesus Christ)! Each of us is racially united to Adam, so that his deed affects us. The fallen angels cannot be saved because they are not a race. They sinned individually and were judged individually. There can be no representative to take their judgment for them and save them. But because you and I were lost in Adam, our racial head, we can be saved in Christ, the Head of the new creation. God’s plan was both gracious and wise.
Our final question must be answered: how do we know that we are racially united to Adam? The answer is in Romans 5:12–14, and the argument runs like this: We know that all men die. But death is the result of disobeying the Law. There was no Law from Adam to Moses, but men still died. A general result demands a general cause. What is that cause? It can be only one thing: the disobedience of Adam. When Adam sinned, he ultimately died. All of his descendants died (Genesis 5), yet the Law had not yet been given. Conclusion: they died because of Adam’s sin. “Because all sinned” means “all have sinned in Adam’s sin.” Men do not die because of their own acts of sin; otherwise, babies would not die (Romans 9:10-12). Men die because they are united racially to Adam, and “as in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Having understood these general truths about the passage, we may now examine the contrasts that Paul gives between Adam and Christ and between Adam’s sin and Christ’s act of obedience on the cross.
To Be Continued