(Article for publication week of 5-9-2012 AD)
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
The gospel may be briefly comprehended in this text. The gospel is the declaration of how ruined sinners are recovered in Christ.
First of all we see the ruin of man. God created Adam, the First man and made him the federal head of the human race. The whole race of mankind was in Adam seminally and representatively. God gave Adam the First a perfect law. The whole moral law of God was in the one law that God gave Adam commanding him to do all that God required and forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam was the crown of God’s creation, made in the very image of God. God pronounced Adam along with all His creation as “very good.” Adam was a perfect man, but he was a changeable, created man. He was liable to fall and change his state. When Adam reached forth his ungracious hand and partook of the forbidden fruit, his, and our state was forever changed. Having broken the law of God Adam was no longer in a state of innocence but he was in a fallen state. “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” Romans 5:12 plainly tells us that “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.” Adam was the federal head of mankind, and so we were all made (that is constituted) sinners by his first transgression.
Now, if you will go back and read the fourth chapter of Romans, you will see how Paul laid down the principle of imputation which is fundamental to our text today here in Romans 5:19, and fundamental to the whole doctrine of justification that we are expounding in this series of articles. When Adam sinned, God imputed, or charged his sin to all his posterity. Before you start arguing with that, I want to remind you that we do this all the time. We often charge whole nations for the action of one, or perhaps a few. For example, on December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the American base at Pearl Harbour. Now we know that every person in Japan did not actively and actually participate in the attack. Yet, we say it that way- “Japan attacked Pearl Harbour.” So the congress of these United States declared war against Japan. (By the way, this was the last legal war the United States has waged, since only congress may legally declare war, but that is another lesson for another time.) Our government declared war against the whole nation of Japan because of the actions of a few. So when Adam rebelled against God (for that is what he did), God declared his whole family in rebellion against His Holy Self. All who are in Adam (and that includes you) are in a state of war against God. A war that God is bound to win.
Now friend, your only hope is to acknowledge the curse of Adam and your part in it, and flee to Christ, the Other Man in our text. As God imputed the Sin of Adam to all who were in him representatively, so He imputes the righteousness of Christ to all who are in Him. It is by the obedience of One Perfect Man, the God- Man that poor sinners are recovered from their ruin in Adam. May the Holy Spirit give you understanding is my prayer for you my dear readers.