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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Human Language & Inspiration | Main | Book Review: The Gospel for Real Life, by Jerry Bridges »

    Condemned by Adam's Sin or Our Own?

    Those born between Adam and Moses, (and I think it holds true today), how were they condemned to Hell? Adams Sin? Or their own?

    we not only choose sin but we inherit it (Rom 5:12, 18, 19). Human beings are either in Adam or in Christ. Our sin and Adams' sin are, in many ways, essentially one and the same. There is a passage which says that the Levitcal priesthood gave tithes to Melchizedek in the loins of Abraham (Hebrews 7:9-11). In the same sence, we were in Adam's loins (so to speak) so we were participating (no, cheering him on) in his sin. There is such a close identification for us in Adam that the Romans passage teaches that all of humanity experience death because of him. Likewise when we are united to Christ by grace through faith we are united to Him in his life, death and resurrection. We participatein what He accomplished for us. We are declared righteous in Christ and granted a new heart which loves Him and His law. Is this imputation of grace any more "fair" than the imputation of sin from Adam? Both sin (when we were born in Adam) and grace (when we are united to Christ) are imputed to us apart from what we may individually think we may deserve. Our moral bankruptcy and inability is not like a physical inability that we cannot help, no, it is like a debt we cannot repay. And, like a debt, our inability to repay it does not thereby alleviate our responsibility to do so. As for those born between Adam and Moses it is the same as those born in countries or situations where they will never hear the gospel. God will judge them based on thier sin in Adam and the sin against the light given them, and that will be enough to condemn them.

    In individualized cultures such as ours such collective thinking about the human race is hard to grasp but the Bible is a federal (representative) document from start to finish. Consider that all people inherit many things (good and bad) from their parents or the countries they are born in and this occurs in many ways that may seem unfair to the (external) casual observer. But we all certainly get better than we deserve in this life. What really should amaze us is that God is merciful to us at all. We can rejoice greatly in that ... that He has set his affection on a people whom He has set aside for Himself, in spite of our rebellion (see Ezekiel 26:22 to the end of the chapter).

    Posted by John on February 19, 2009 12:25 PM

    Comments

    Your comment "...our inability to repay it does not thereby alleviate our responsibility to do so."

    Except perhaps under an Obama administration. :)

    I think we need to stop using the word "sin" when we refer to our "state". Its more to do with a state of relationship, function and purpose and by saying "sin" we confuse it with "doing bad stuff". One is the result of another.

    Now, whilst Adam is responsible for the break in relationship and purpose, we are responsible for our own state. We are in the likeness of Adam (gen 9:3), that is, mortal, separated from God, and no longer able to function as his representatives.
    Its a bit like the analogy of WWII. While the english and the german people were not responsible for the war declarations, they were officially in a state of war. All children born at the time were born "at war". Its a judicial thing, not a "doing" thing.

    Geoff,

    Thank you for your comment, but, with all due respect, we are talking about God's revelation here, not personal opinions. Notice that your comment about the fall was prefaced by the words "I think" ... So, it appears to me that by your own self-declared authority you have thought it better to describe the historcial fall as a state, not one of sin, perhaps to take the edge off. Unfortunately the Bible descibes this is event in the most uncomfortable of terms because it is outright rebellion and idolatry against God.

    To contrast your opinion, in Romans chapter five, the Holy Spirit, through the apostle describes this event as follows: "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come."

    By your own self-declared authority you have concluded on your own that the Biblical revelation didn't get it quite right but you have a better way to describe the fall and all of redemptive history. Perhaps this is not what you intended but it is the result of your way of thinking.

    I have heard this kind of rhetoric from some in the emergent community, who no longer see Jesus as a savior ... but thinks Christianity is about what we do for Jesus rather than what He has done for us. So words like "wrath" and "sin" must be eliminated.

    Fact is, we all justly deserve the wrath of God save for Christ's mercy alone. There is no gospel without believing this. Your are flirting with a position that was long ago in the early church declared a heresy called Pelagianism. (see Council of Orange)

    John S. Imputation is a tricky concept. Adam and Christ and brought so close in comparison yet the purpose and effects of their respective actions are radically different. It really does seem to be imputation that is in view in Romans 5, imputation that is the point of similarity.

    So just a comment John S. about the way you put things in your post. I understand your trying to bring us closer to Adam by saying "we cheer him on," but the unity, the strength of the bond seems greater then the mere solidarity suggested by Geoff or the comment "we cheer him on."

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