“Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
The great doctrine of redemption by grace is the theme of the inspired apostle in our text, and indeed of the gospel ministry. The consideration of this subject involves the fall, guilt and just condemnation of God’s people in the earthly Adam, and their deliverance in the second Adam, which is the Lord from heaven. Treating on this subject in our text and its connections, the apostle alludes to the federal relationship of the two Adams, and their respective posterities. The first Adam, being of the earth, earthy, is unable to develop or produce a posterity of a different character or quality from himself; his offspring are consequently like himself, of the earth, earthy. The second Adam, being the Lord from heaven, is spiritual, and the seminal, or progenitive head of his spiritual posterity. Hence the earthy Adam is the figure of the spiritual Adam which was to come (see verse 14). “And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit, Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” (I Cor. 15:45-48) The guilt and condemnation of the posterity of the first Adam bears even date with the first transgression of Adam in the garden, before the first of all his numerous progeny was born. They were all created in Adam, and they were Adam, and were therefore righteously included in the guilt of Adam’s transgression, for they all being in him, were at the same time in the transgression. For such is and unavoidably must be the nature and effect of federal relationship. Therefore, the apostle tells us, in our text, “As by the offence of one.” That one was an entire race, embodied in one man, but to be developed by multiplication into all the tribes of mankind. “By the offence of [this] one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” This argument Paul makes conclusive and indisputable by the fact that by one man’s offence, death reigned by one. None can deny this, that from Adam to Moses death reigned over all the children of Adam, and that death still continues to reign over all the sons of men. Death cannot reign but by sin, for the sting of death is sin, and the wages of the sin is death. Therefore it is evident that the sting infused the poison which results in death, when all were embodied in the one undeveloped man. This judgment which has already come upon all men is the decision of God, the Judge of all; it cannot be reversed or annulled. It is in strict accordance with his holy law, and its execution is demanded by eternal justice. It has come upon all men; not to come, if they do not repent or reform, for it has come upon all men to condemnation. All men are therefore condemned already, and have been ever since the judgment came, which is nearly six thousand years ago; and it has come upon us who were not then born, and equally on all who are not yet born; for all have sinned in Adam. Every mouth is stopped by the law, and the whole world of mankind are guilty before God.
Now as the nature and effect of the federal relationship of Adam and his posterity has involved all alike in sin, judgment and condemnation, “even so,” exactly so, or in the same manner the federal relationship of Christ and his spiritual posterity secures to all the people of God the righteousness of justification of life. On legal principles, if the relation subsisting between Christ and his members was such that Christ could bear their sins in his own body, or that justice could inflict the penalties of the divine law, which were due to our transgressions, on him, then the same relationship must make Christ’s obedience to the law, and sufferings under the law, the ground of our justification to life. The law condemned us to death, but the righteousness of Christ’s active and passive obedience to the law on our behalf, takes away our guilt, and death as the consequence of guilt, and justifies us to life, as the opposite of death.
In further illustration of this, our apostle continued, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” We have shown that by the offence of Adam, all Adam’s posterity are made sinners, judgment has come upon them all to condemnation. Now taking this as a divine authorized figure, we must unavoidably conclude that the justification unto life of the seed of the second Adam is by virtue of his obedience to the law on their behalf, and the analogy of the figure shows that the same law and divine justice of God, which could behold all the human family in the first Adam, and being in him partakers of the guilt of his disobedience, must with equal clearness behold all the spiritual seed in the second Adam, when he obeyed the law and bore its penalties as partakers in him of his righteousness unto justification of life. We all sinned in Adam, and in Adam we all die, so in Christ all whom God had chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, when he was delivered up for our offences, and bore our sins in his own body on the cross, met the utmost of the penal demands of the law; and when Christ was raised from the dead, we were raised up with him to justification of life. Our perfect justification is therefore not predicated partly on what Christ has done and partly on what his people are to do, but it is by the obedience of one, that is, of Christ, exclusively of anything and everything else, that the saints are made righteous; this is prospective of what shall be by the obedience of one. But if Christ did not fully, effectively and forever purge away all our guilt legally when he died and arose from the dead, this prospect, assurance and certainty that all his children shall be made righteous, experimentally, would be forever cut off.
The atonement was perfect and complete in Jesus Christ our Lord, and in him we were reconciled to God while we were yet sinners in ourselves. But all that was legally fulfilled for us in Christ, shall most certainly be experimentally fulfilled in us individually at the appointed time. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:8-10)
Much confusion and jargon arises with Arminians and Universalists in consequence of their confounding the type and the anti-type, the figure with the thing signified, the shadow with the substance. General or universal atonement is inferred by them from such declarations as those in our text, because they do not perceive that the earthly Adam, as the type, is connected with his own earthly posterity, prefiguring the antitypical Adam and his chosen generation, royal priesthood and holy nation. The type is the natural progenitor of his own race which includes all his natural offspring, and Christ is the head over all things to his church; which, if we admit that by the disobedience of one many were made sinners, we must admit that many sinned in that one man. Amanis made up of a body, head and many members. When we say a man breathes, we do not affirm that his hand, feet and all the members of the man respectively inhale and exhale the atmosphere. It is enough that the proper organs convey the vital air into and from the lungs to justify the declaration that the man breathes. Personally, as the respective members of Adam, not one of his posterity was born when we were made sinners by his disobedience to God; and as none are sinners but those who have sinned, the declaration of our text proves that although unborn, we did sin in the disobedience of Adam. So in the application which the apostle makes of the figures to Christ and his seed, as antitypical of Adam and his seed, when Christ obeyed the law his people were so embodied in him that his obedience was our obedience, his death was the very death which the law consigned us to, and when he died for all his people, then were they all dead, and when he arose for their justification, they were all quickened together with him, and raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in him. Legally this was all accomplished when Christ, and all his people in him, died and arose again from the dead, they were legally all made righteous then and there; but our text reads, “So by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,” in his body, who is the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
The righteousness of Christ unto justification of life is not held up as a commodity in the market, offered to the highest bidder, nor is it offered conditionally to any, but it is the free gift. It is not offered to, but comes upon all men, that is, all the seed of the antitypical Adam. Free, because it is unconditional, without money, without price. “The gift of God is eternal life,” and that gift is free, sovereign and effectual, and where God has sent it, it comes, and where it comes, and on whom it comes, it comes to justification of life. And it is God that justifies, while by the deeds or works of the law, we are positively informed, there shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God.
August 15, 1861.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 40 - 45