Clay Village, Ky., 1880.
“Will Elder J.F. Johnson of Ky., give his views on I Cor. 15:22? Did Adam die a spiritual death or not? If he did not, how are we spiritually dead? The question has been asked us, and we are bothered over it. By answering this you will confer a favor on the least of the little ones, if one at all.
BRETHREN BEEBE: – The above is a request from brother Russell, of Missouri. We do not suppose that the death here spoken of is a spiritual death, nor do we suppose that a spiritual death literally can possibly occur. Said Christ, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” And again, “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” Let it be noted here that die in the text is used in the present tense; it is not died, in the past, or we would all have been dead according to the wording of the text before now. Neither is it a spiritual death that we die, for we read of no such death in the scriptures. It is simply the corporeal death of Adam that is spoken of in the text; and when I say Adam, I mean all his posterity with him; for all the nations that dwell on all the face of the earth are simply Adam multiplied. No addition to him since his first creation; so that it is in the Adam nature, or in Adam, we die, and continue to die. My brother asks the question, “Did Adam die a spiritual death or not?” I answer unhesitatingly, No. How could he lose a life that he did not have? His life was a natural, not a spiritual life. See the connection. “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterwards 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.” – verses 46-49. The question is further propounded, “If he did not, how are we spiritually dead?” I do not find that the scriptures say anything about our being spiritually dead, nor do I think that the expression is a tenable one. Death is a destitution of life; and when we are destitute of it we are dead, so far as that life is concerned. It is true that we are by nature dead in trespasses and sins; but how can that be spiritual death if we never had spiritual life? The questions may arise, How then are we dead? When did the death occur? To answer these interrogatories, refer to Romans 5:12. “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.” Walker describes death theologically to be “separation, or alienation from God; a being under the dominion of sin, and destitute of divine life; called [he says] spiritual death.” All this took place when man first sinned; for God drove him out of the garden of Eden and placed an impenetrable barrier there to prevent his re-entering it; and therefore he was separated from God, [which separation is death] alienated, became a wanderer from him, and has by nature ever since then been an “alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger to the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” There then was separation from God while in sin, or in other words, “dead in sin.” This is neither a spiritual nor a corporeal death, but a separation from God, and that separation [or death] occurred on the very day when he had eaten of the tree which the Lord commanded him not to eat of; for God said, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” He did eat of the forbidden tree, and that day did die. Some who try to make it appear that this had reference to a corporeal death, quote II Peter 3:8, “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” but that text has no reference to the subject under consideration. Again; others say that the forbidden fruit was an apple. Now I do not suppose that it was an apple, peach, pear, apricot, cherry, plum, nor anything of the kind. I think that it was lust of some kind, whether it was to be as gods or some other kind. We are told that “lust, when it is conceived, bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” It appears to me, that lust, an inordinate desire, was the first crime and sin, a disobedient act, a consequent one, that sealed our death in sin. Thus it is in Adam, or in our Adamic nature, that we all continue to die.
“Even so, in Christ, shall all be made alive.” In this expression the two paternal heads of the two generations or families [natural and spiritual] are brought to view; and as in the first all that are born of him die, even so, in the second, all that were given him of the Father shall be [in the future] made alive.
I think that neither the death nor the making alive has any reference to the spiritual family, for they never die, and of course cannot be made alive; for they have ever lived, and will live forever. But when death shall have done its work on those who were given him [Christ] of his Father, they shall all be made alive in Christ; for it is said in Isaiah 26:19, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake; and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” And again, “Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us; in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” O glorious hope of an all-glorious resurrection! “And we shall live in his sight;” yea, in his presence; in whose presence is fullness of joy; at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore. And what a life! Not one bruised and blackened, polluted and defiled with sin, as is our mortal life here, but a blissful life of immortality, eternal life, un-contaminated, therefore undying. “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
“But every man in his own order.” In whose own order? I suppose that it is in Christ’s own order that all his people will be raised; precisely in the order, manner or likeness in which he was raised; for then we shall see him as he is and be like him. It is said in Acts 26:23, “That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead,” &c. And in Col. 1:18, “And he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.” Of course, then, as he is the first born from the dead, his followers, as they are to be like him, will be born in the same order or likeness.
“Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” Here allusion is had to the offerings of the first fruits under the Mosaic dispensation, which were typical symbols, pointing to Christ as the first fruits of them that slept. Those fruits were specimens of the following portion of the crop. “If the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” Of course, then, as before observed, “We shall see him as he is, and be like him,” raised in the same order. Yes, “afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” Momentous inquiry!
“Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought,
Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I his, or am I not?”
Have we a comfortable evidence that we are his? What a cheering, joyful, exhilarating anticipation! The Lord will come to resurrect the purchase of his precious blood, and receive them to their blissful home. Majestic, awful, sublime appearing, when the “Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Submitted first to my dear brethren editors, and then, if published, to brother Russell and others who may think it worth their notice.
May I still be permitted to remain a brother in hope,
J. F. JOHNSON.