"For as in Adam, all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22).
We presently have two series on hold. Earlier this year we had commenced a series on the doctrine of sanctification. We put that on temporary hold in the month of April to commemorate Confederate Heritage Month by writing on the Great Revival in the Confederate Armies. Some of the sensational events of late moved us to write on the Biblical teachings of domestic servitude and of Capital Punishment. We shall resume these series in due time, but again we feel moved to write a short series on the subject of a Christian View of Death. What we shall be writing for the next few weeks will be strictly for Christians. Much of our writing is calculated to call the unconverted to Christ, and warn false professors, and we shall not lose sight of that, but we know that we have in our readership a few humble, true and tried children of God to whom we desire to write words of comfort. God's servants are not only to warn the unruly, but also to comfort the children of God (Isaiah 40:1). In the next few weeks we shall, with the help of the Lord write on the subject of death itself, the state of the soul after death, and the resurrection of the body. By the way, my pastor has granted me permission to preach on this subject at our home church for the next several weeks so we will be briefly interrupting the series we have been preaching at Zion Baptist Church from the Letter to the Romans.
Now let us consider our text which is a summary statement of the gospel which may be comprehended under two general heads- Ruined in Adam and Recovered in Christ (See also Romans 5:19). Our text is found in Paul's great defense of the doctrine of the resurrection in I Corinthians Chapter 15. The reason that believers in Christ have the assurance of the resurrection of the body is because of this saving gospel that declares that Christ has recovered His people from their ruined state in Adam. So let us first of all see that all men were ruined in Adam. We do not need to try to convince true Christians that Adam was a real man. All who are truly saved believe all the Bible in all its parts including the first three chapters of Genesis. Our text declares that Adam was the Head of the human race. All men were in him representatively (see also Romans 5:12). When Adam sinned in the Garden we all sinned in him. As school children used to learn, "in Adam's fall, we sinned all." The human race was constituted as sinners when Adam reached forth his unthankful hand and plunged himself and his posterity into sin and degradation. The whole human race fell in Adam, including the elect of God. The sin of Adam resulted in the eternal ruin of all his natural descendents, which is the whole human race, for Adam is the father of all men naturally as Eve is the mother of all (Genesis 3:20). God had commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and pronounced death as the penalty for breaking His Law. When Adam transgressed he brought death upon himself and his descendents spiritually, naturally and eternally. There is nothing natural about death; it is a curse upon fallen sinners. So all mankind was ruined by Adam's fall, including the elect of God.
But now let us consider the second half of the text which tells us that the elect of God are recovered in Christ. As Adam was the federal head of the whole human race, even so Christ is the Federal Head of His elect people. Every person that would ever be saved by sovereign grace was chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Thus there was an election union between Christ and His people from all eternity. This union is so strong that nothing or nobody in heaven or hell or on earth can ever break it. Christ as our Head and Surety undertook all our obligations to God and His law and thus made satisfaction for our sins by substitutionary and vicarious sufferings. Both His active and passive obedience is imputed to the account of His people so that we have a righteous standing before our Great God. We are in Christ by eternal and sovereign election, but when the set time is come (Psalm 102:13) God sends His Blessed Holy Spirit into the hearts of every blood bought heir of promise and makes them new creatures in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17) so that our union with our living Head is vital and experimental. Our Lord Jesus Christ as our Federal Head even now represents us in heaven (Romans 8:34).
Now this recovery in Christ is at least three fold. First, Christ recovers us from spiritual death. By the agency of His Blessed Holy Spirit, and by the merits of His blood, he recovers us from spiritual death. Thus we read in Ephesians 2:1 that he hath quickened us who were dead in trespasses and sin. Secondly, Christ recovers us from the ruin of eternal death. God's holiness and justice requires that rebels doomed to die pay the eternal price of everlasting hell. But Christ suffered the vengeance of hell for us when he bore our sins on the accursed Tree. He satisfied God's justice forever. Not one charge can be laid to those for whom the dear Saviour died. God will punish the sinner, or He will punish the sinner's Substitute. Thank God the Lord Jesus Christ is the Substitute for everyone who believes in Him. But thirdly, the Lord Jesus recovers His people from the curse of natural death. This is the primary lesson of our text this week as its context in the 15th chapter of I Corinthians will show. Believers are doomed to die even as unbelievers. But we have the blessed assurance that when we die we shall immediately be with Christ beholding His glory (II Corinthians 5:8; John 17:24). And we also have the blessed assurance that when He returns He will raise our bodies from the grave. Christ was raised from the dead that He might be the First-fruit of all who die in Him. As God the Father raised up His Son, so shall He raise all His children. We shall be raised up with perfect bodies, free from sin and it effects, and capable of praising Christ for all eternity.
Dear child of God, Christ has removed the sting of death by His saving work. Christ has regained all that we lost in Adam, including natural life itself. Though we believers must die as all men because of our connection to Adam, we die not as unbelievers who have no hope. We know that our souls will go to be with Christ at the very moment of our death, and though our bodies be confined to the tomb ten thousand years, we shall be raised perfectly conformed to the image of our Covenant Head. My soul, meditate the Day and rejoice.