"...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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  • « Images of the Savior (8 - Othniel) | Main | Celebrating Five Years »

    Two Federal Heads - Adam and Christ

    We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. Like Humpty Dumpty, we all had a great fall, but not by accident, but by deliberate choice. The human race had a Federal Head in the Garden of Eden, namely Adam, who represented the entire human race. When he sinned, he sinned "for us" - we all sinned in him - He acted on our behalf. Because he was our Federal Head, this had huge and drastic consequences for us. Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned..."

    Did you catch that? We all sinned in Adam. When he disobeyed, he was disobeying on our behalf. His act brought death to us. We died in him. Just as Adam was cut off from the life of God (spiritually) as a result of his sin, all those born after him were born spiritually "dead on arrival" on planet earth.

    The Bible teaches us clearly that there are two Federal Heads for the human race, Adam and Christ. "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor 15:22). If we remain only represented by Adam, there is no hope for us whatsoever. Adam failed us all. He offers no redemption. God takes the sin of Adam and imputes it to all the human race. When Adam sinned, we sinned in him. That is the bad news - we were born sinners.

    Before we say it is not fair that we are credited with Adam's sin when we were not there in the garden, thousands of miles away, thousands of years ago, we need to remember, that the other side of the coin in imputation (crediting) is that Christ's righteousness is credited to all those who place their trust in Him.

    This is the really good news! Let me explain.

    Jesus the second Man succeeded where Adam, the first man failed. All that Jesus did, He did for us. He already was perfect and already had a perfect fellowship with His Father. He did not need to come to earth for any reason, except for love. He came here for us. He came here on a mission to save His people from their sin (Matt 1:21) and His mission was accomplished. He could cry out on the cross, "It is finished!" (It is paid for, the debt is removed completely). Because of His work for us, if we will make the Lord Jesus Christ our Lord, we gain all that He accomplished by His perfect life of obedience, His death as our Substitute who died in our place and triumphant resurrection.

    Now these words in Romans 5 begin to make sense: 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."

    Christ took the punishment our sins deserved and God imputed (credits, counts to us) the righteousness of One who obeyed God fully - a perfect righteousness that can never be added to or improved upon.

    "Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:" - Romans 4:4-6

    "For our sake he (God) made him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (in Christ) we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Cor 5:21

    Have you transferred your trust from your own works or actions and given yourself over to God's mercy found in the only One who can save you, Jesus Christ? If you have, all that Christ is and all He achieved is yours, now and forever. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the gospel (good news) of Christ.

    Christ came into the world to save sinners, and He does so when we turn from all self effort or trust in ourselves and instead rely solely on the finished work of the perfect Savior. In Christ there is endless hope; in Adam there's just a hopeless end.

    So let me ask you - who represents you, Adam or Christ?

    Posted by John Samson on October 15, 2010 03:55 AM


    John, I am reformed thru and thru and pretty well studied Scripturally and referentially, but this principle of being fallen in Adam is the one I have struggled in my brain to understand ( not accept/ but understand ) which is not to say I don't believe it primarily because of the passage you cite in your piece and the other passages that deal with the depravity of a man's heart from birth. What I have difficulty reconciling is the issue of responsibilty for my own sin with the lack of responsibility ( not the culpability ) for being one of Adam's seed and thus sinful by nature. I really can't come up with a good understanding other than to say "Thus saith the Lord".

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for your comment. I just posted an article here on the blog using an illustration to try to describe the situation biblically. Perhaps you could read it and then let me know if it addresses your intellectual (rather than biblical) concern with the issue. Many thanks.

    This arrangement by which we became sinners in Adam and become righteous in Christ is clearly laid out in Scripture, and very beautiful. However, if this is all there is, then we are helpless bystanders in our own lives, since the two biggest decisions are made for us by God. We did not choose, as far as we know to join Adam in sin in the garden, and it is God alone who saves us by giving us faith in Jesus. This may be all there is, but I find it less than satisfying. Is this God playing with action figures (us)?

    There must be a piece missing, something more that we do not know. I suspect that we all may have had a pre-existence before the garden, during which we all made the decision to betray God. Adam then played this out on earth for our instruction.

    But, of course, we must rely on God to know how much to tell us plainly and how much we must be left to guess. This at least, is the only way I know to deal with the headship of Adam.

    I agree with you here. It's hard to argue against imputed sin when A) I have sinned A LOT and keep finding more sins in my life AND B) The process through which I am saved is through IMPUTATION as well.

    Looks like I'm commenting on an oldie! Great topic and very worth mulling over. This is one of those ones that top the charts of doctrines that people tend to ignore, or just hate. Original sin and utter depravity are tough issues, but so crucial in understanding what makes the Gospel "good news".

    I think understanding the "thus saith the Lord" is always an important thing to remember since He is sovereign (another topic of disdain to some) but that in a somewhat practical sense, it is also not far-fetched to reason that sinful beings are unable to procreate sinless beings. Just considering that brings another vantage point that we are all under the condemnation of sin until we surrender our lives to the Lord.

    Thanks for the post! I would love some more like-minded interaction with you guys on each others blogs!

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