"...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)


  • Rev. John Samson
  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
  • Marco Gonzalez

    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.


    Community Websites

    Monergism Books on Facebook


    Latest Posts



    Ministry Links

  • « Book Review: A Portrait of Paul, by Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker | Main | Psalm Twenty-Four: Lift Up Your Heads, O You Gates! »

    An Illustration - Two Federal Heads - Adam and Christ

    A few days ago I posted an article here about Adam being our federal head representing us in the garden of Eden. Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15 were quoted to show how Adam's sin affected us all with severe and dire consequences.

    Romans 5:12 says, "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..." Verses 15 through 19 say, "But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

    I know that many people struggle with this concept of Adam as our representative, but there's no doubt as to its biblical reality - so perhaps it may be of help to suggest the following as an illustration of the situation. I hope it helps. Here goes:

    Imagine for a moment you and I lived in a country (lets make up a name.. the country of Tangeria)... and in that country there was a presidential race and you and I picked a particular candidate (we gave him our vote).

    This man was elected president and went to the Tangeria equivalent of the White House to represent us. Once in office he made atrocious decisions even to the point of declaring war on (lets think of a country we know)... Italy ... for seemingly no reason at all.

    I fully realize that this illustration would not work in the USA because there are restrictions and limitations about what a President can do (thank God) - there are safeguards in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but this is "Tangeria" where no such safeguards are in place, but remember, this is just an illustration.

    Now, back to the analogy - IF such a thing happened, you and I would be responsible for the decisions he made because of our vote for him in the election - we put him there by our vote. We gave him the power to represent us as President of Tangeria.

    Now lets use this illustration and take that concept over to the book of Genesis and we can see that similarly with Adam, when he did what he did (sinned), he did so as your and my representative. The difference is, of course, that we were not alive back then to vote Adam into office, and that is where I think most people have an issue. However, we should remember this. We (the human race) could not have had a better representative than Adam. Though untested, he was created perfect. He had no track record of sin. The difference then is that rather than WE voting for Adam to represent us, God picked Adam to represent us, and yet, God could not have picked a better candidate for us.

    As our representative, when Adam sinned in the garden, we (the human race) all sinned in him. When he wanted independence from God and chose to disobey God, we also wanted the same thing. We are responsible for his actions because all that Adam did, he did on our behalf. Does this illustration help?

    Posted by John Samson on October 18, 2010 08:32 AM


    John, thanks for the effort. It is a difficult principle to get your mind around, much less illustrate. I think what is somewhat helpful is to suggest, albeit speculatively, that we, in the same situation as Adam in the garden, would have done the same thing Adam did and in fact, did do what he did because we were in his loin at the time ( similar to the Levites in Abraham's loin explanation given in Hebrews.) Since we are Adam's children, thus we have no valid basis to wonder at being held responsible for his sin by God becuase as his children, we would have done the same thing and thus can be held accountable for what he did. Adam represented us not so much forensically but rather, he represented us because we are fruit that doesn't fall far from the tree.

    Post a comment

    Please enter the letter "m" in the field below: