Archives for category: Theological

The parenthetical statement is now ended, but Paul’s thought commencing in verse 18, while it is logically connected back to verse 12, is truthfully just a reiteration of the same concept described in the last three verses.  He pronounces again that it was by the offense of one that judgment came upon all men to condemnation.  When Adam sinned, God passed judgment not upon him only, but upon all his posterity, who were seminally in his loins, and by a federal transaction charged with his guilt.  The judgment was the judgment of death, which includes the second death, and eternal separation from God.  All who remain in this deplorable state shall suffer not the death of the body only, but also be cast in the end into the lake of fire, which is the second death.


But just as Adam’s guilt was transmitted to all his family by a federal transaction, there is another federal transaction which lifts the sinner out of his state of guilt and condemnation and into a condition of justification and acceptance.  This comes through the second Adam, the other federal head which God appointed, who succeeded where the first Adam failed.  Adam by one act of sin brought ruin and condemnation, but Christ by His unblemished righteousness brought justification to all those who come into union with Him by faith.  By His righteousness the free gift comes upon all men unto justification of life.

The all men here corresponds to the same clause used in the first half of the verse.  Clearly, Paul means that condemnation came upon all those whom Adam represented; conversely, Christ’s righteousness, and the justification before God which it entails, comes upon all those that He represented.  It cannot possibly be that Christ represented every human soul, as Adam did, because then all the human race would enjoy the benefits of imputed righteousness, which unquestionably includes eternal life.  Were this the case, then universal salvation would have to be true, because God would be chargeable with a monstrous injustice were He to damn any individual who had the righteousness of the Son of God upon his account.  These terms, using the same words, are meant to describe the two different classes of mankind, under the two federal heads.  One group remains in sin and condemnation, the other group has been brought out of that state, and cannot come into condemnation, because they have passed from death unto life.


But the contrast is a most happy one.  If, or since, Adam sinned, death came in and commenced its terrible reign.  But if Adam brought such dramatic consequences upon his race through his sin, then how much more, Paul argues, will those who come under Christ’s headship receive abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness!  Adam’s only bequeathal to his posterity was a sinful nature, and an imputation of guilt.  A fine gift, this!  But the second Adam also has somewhat to bequeath to His heirs, and it is something which we ought to rejoice to receive.  Through Christ, we receive the superabounding gift of God’s grace; adoption, reconciliation, pardon, redemption, eternal life, and all the other marvelous things given to us by God’s unmerited favor.

We receive also “the gift of righteousness.”  It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of this little phrase.  Almost all false religion is based upon the idea that man can provide some type of righteousness which God will receive so as to reward him with a mansion in heaven.  But this makes man’s own works the object of one’s faith, which is not only contrary to the experience of Abraham, the father of the faithful, but contrary to the command of the Gospel.  We bring nothing whatsoever to God of our own, upon which we would plead for acceptance.  We simply look to Jesus, and say, “Lord, if I shall not be received and saved for His sake, I never can be saved.”  He who comes to Christ with nothing but this hope in his hand is received, as surely as the publican who prayed opposite the Pharisee in the temple.  He has no merit of his own to present to God, but he needs none, for God rewards his faith with a record of spotless righteousness that the angels themselves might envy.  This is that gift of righteousness, given to all who look to Christ for justification and life.  Just as Adam’s guilt was imputed to his posterity when he sinned as our representative, so Christ’s righteousness, which He wrought as our representative, is imputed to us when we believe upon Him.

Having received this unspeakable gift, we enjoy the promise of an eternal inheritance, which is something above and beyond all the powers of our imagination to comprehend.  We shall reign in life by, or through, the merits of that one man, Jesus Christ.  It boggles my little mind to comprehend how I, a great sinner, could be established in heavenly places, ruling and reigning with Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  He deserved His exaltation, and everything accompanying it: “The highest place that heaven affords is His, is His by right.”  That we who have nothing to claim but our sin should be blessed to reign with Him, and even to assist Him in the work of smashing His enemies, and dispensing judgment, is overwhelming; yet, it is the plain teaching of scripture.  Man could not have dreamed this up; it could only come by the revelation of the Holy Ghost.  Those who receive the gift of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ shall reign with Him in the immortal life of the world to come.  Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb!


The Rest of the People of God

This message was preached June 11th, 2017, as another installment of my teaching on the Fourth Commandment.  It attempts to answer the question, What is the rest, or sabbath keeping, which remains for the people of God?  The text is Hebrews 4:9, although most of chapters 3 and 4 are in the discussion, as this is perhaps the most important passage in all the Bible on the subject of rest.  Ultimately, my conclusion is that the believer’s rest should be focused not so much upon a particular day of the week, but upon Christ Who finished His work as thoroughly and successfully as God did His at creation.  Only by faith in Him shall we be certain of entering into the rest of the eternal Sabbath.

Once more, in the 17th verse the apostle teaches the same truth, only altering the language somewhat.  It is very curious how, for five consecutive verses, the apostle teaches the exact same doctrine of federal headship by contrasting Adam and his constituency with Christ and His constituency.  He states it in five different ways, but is always holding forth the precise same truth: condemnation in Adam, and justification in Christ.  The fact that he would state the same truth five times in a row strongly indicates just how important Paul believed the doctrine of federal headship to be.  It is no exaggeration to say that a failure to grasp the truth of this doctrine, with its vastly important implications, will cause one to err seriously in his understanding of the entire Gospel scheme.


In verse 17, he shows that it was through Adam that death came into the world, and that the sentence of death was passed upon him and all his descendants.  Death had no place in the world which God created very good, for death is a defect and a fault, not a natural part of the created order.  It can never be anything but the consequence of sin, and so long as there was no sin in the world, there could be no death.  But once Adam tasted the forbidden fruit, death came in as a mighty monarch, and continues to exercise his terrible dominion over the children of men.  All who remain under Adam’s headship remain not only under the penalty of bodily death, but are also subject to the second death.  The only escape from this final and most terrible penalty is through faith in Christ; and it is to this second death our Lord had reference when He said, “He that believeth in Me shall never die.”


Redemption and the Sabbath

Nearly all people acquainted with the Bible know that the Sabbath law is rooted in the creation order.  God rested on the seventh day after spending six days in the work of creation, thus establishing the principle of the sabbath.  But in the second telling of the law, in Deuteronomy 5:15, instead of again pointing back to creation, God instead tells Israel that He commanded them to keep the sabbath because of their miraculous deliverance out of Egyptian bondage.  This connection of the sabbath with redemption helps to set the stage for the New Testament doctrine, that the believer’s ultimate rest is found in the accomplished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This message also deals with several New Testament passages which indicate either directly or indirectly that the Church was not required to keep a rigorous Sabbath as Old Testament Israel was, the majority of the time being spent on Colossians 2:16.

The same line of thought is continued in the 16th verse, the same stark contrast being drawn.  Once again, the apostle shows us that the principle of federal headship is the basis of how God deals with all men.  He sees them all, either in Adam their fallen head, or in Christ, Whose righteousness He bestows as a free gift upon all believers.  The process itself is the same, as far as God’s determining of our status before Him; the difference lies entirely in who we have as our representative.  If we remain in Adam, then we are still in a state of condemnation, thanks to the imputation of his sin, as well as our own actual sins.  But if we are in union with Christ by faith, then He is our representative, and God sees not our own polluted record, but the spotless righteousness of our Saviour, Who kept the law in our place to a jot and a tittle. 


The judgment of God came upon all men to condemnation.  This judgment, Paul states plainly, was by one man.  Carnal intuition deems it unfair that God should condemn me for something my ancient ancestor did.  But the Lord seeth not as man seeth.  He saw fit to place all men in two categories, under one of two representative: either Adam, who sinned and therefore wrought judgment and condemnation, or in Christ, Who succeeded in everything given Him to do, and therefore wrought righteousness and life for His own.  To remain in unbelief is to remain under Adam as a representative, and therefore the judgment of death and condemnation remains upon the unbeliever.  Only by repentance and faith can he leave this state of condemnation and enter into a state of acceptation, righteousness, and life.

Judgment came by one man unto condemnation for all the descendants of Adam, but the free gift pardons our many offenses and ends in justification.  Even though we are guilty in Adam, and guilty in ourselves, God will declare us righteous because we are united to Jesus Christ.  Adam was placed in a state of probation, with but one law to observe; he failed, and brought about misery, ruin, and death.  Jesus Christ was placed also in a state of probation, if we may so speak of the impeccable Son of God, and He succeeded where Adam failed, resisting every temptation, and obeying every last law of God, from the smallest to the greatest.  Those for whom He died have their sins pardoned, and His righteousness is imputed to them, and received by faith.  They are made righteous by God, and considered righteous before God, not for anything done themselves, but entirely based upon what Jesus Christ has accomplished in our stead.


But there is another man, another representative, and those who come under the banner of his representation stand in quite another position.  The grace of God, and the gift given by His grace, comes to us through another man, the one man, the second Adam, even Jesus Christ.  He is the last Adam (to borrow the term from I Corinthians 15:45) because He represents all those given to Him by the Father, just as Adam represented all the posterity of which he and Eve would be parents.  Of course, those who are saved once stood under Adam as a representative, but in grace, God removes them from that failed covenant, and places them under the headship of Christ, Who perfectly fulfills all of His obligations to the last letter, and therefore they inherit everlasting felicity through Him.

This free gift of God’s grace has abounded unto many.  The many here are the countless number given by the Father to Christ, for whom He has engaged as a surety.  It cannot possibly be the exact same people whom Adam represented, for then all of those must be saved, for they would partake of the gift by grace and therefore enjoy the benefits of justification.  It is plain that this is not true of all men, but only those who believe.  Therefore, the many to whom God’s gift of grace has abounded are those that He has determined to save, and gave to Christ, Who effected the great salvation planned for us before the world was.