The Saviour of Mankind 
 by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira 

5 – Christ Our Redeemer

The fundamental truth of the New Testament is that:

1 Corinthians 15:22:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

In Romans 5:12-21, this is fully expounded by the apostle Paul, so that some Biblical scholars consider this passage not only as the high point of the letter to the Romans (according to Luther, “the clearest gospel of all”), but the most significant passage in all the Bible.

Romans 5:12-21:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.  To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.  Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin:  The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

According to the argument of this passage, it is by the offense or sin of one (Adam) that judgment came upon all men; by the righteousness of one (Christ), the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (vs. 18).  Adam, says Paul, is a type of Christ (vs. 14, last part).  In order, therefore, to understand fully and appreciate what God has accomplished for fallen mankind in Christ, we must first come to grips with our situation in Adam.

In carefully examining this passage (Romans 5:12-21,) you will notice that the reason why Adam’s one sin condemns all mankind to death is because in Adam “all have sinned” (vs. 12).  Adam’s sin, in other words, was a corporate sin, it implicated all mankind.  This is the clear teaching of Scripture.  The life God breathed into Adam at creation was the corporate life of all mankind, and this is why the word “life” in the Hebrew text of Genesis 2:7 is in the plural.

Genesis 2:7:
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

God “breathed into his (Adam’s) nostrils the breath of lives” (emphasis mine).  Hence, as Acts 17:26 indicates, the human race is actually the multiplication of Adam’s life.

Acts 17:26:
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

However, before Adam began to multiply that corporate life, he sinned.  Therefore, all sinned in him, and every child born since then receives a life that has already sinned in Adam, a life already condemned to death.  This is why Paul declares:

1 Corinthians 15:22:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

“In Adam, all die.”  And in view of this, Ellen White writes:

“All men receive from him [Adam] nothing but guilt [i.e., condemnation] and the sentence of death.” (6 BC 1074)

This truth is based on biblical solidarity or corporate oneness.  Therefore, no “legal fiction” is involved here.  The word “Adam” is used some 510 times in the original Hebrew Bible, and in the majority of cases it has a collective significance.

This fundamental truth is vital to an understanding of the gospel, for Paul, having proved our situation in Adam in Romans 5:13-14, goes on to state that Adam was “the figure (or pattern) of Him Who was to come” (i.e., Christ).

Romans 5:13-14:
To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.  Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

By this he did not mean that Christ would come in Adam’s sinless human nature, but rather He would come as man’s representative, as was Adam.

In other words, just as all mankind sinned in Adam and, therefore, stand condemned in him, likewise, all mankind obeyed in Christ and, therefore, stand legally justified unto life in Him.  For this reason, Paul can affirm in 1 Corinthians 15:22 that “even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

1 Corinthians 15:22:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

This is the in Christ motif, the central theme of Paul’s theology and the biblical solution to the ethical problem of why Christ had to die.

For Christ’s obedience to be a legal reality, Christ’s humanity had to be the corporate humanity of the fallen race that was in need of redemption.  Apart from this, mankind could not have obeyed in Christ, and, therefore, God could not have been just in legally justifying all humanity in Christ.  Just as we all sinned in Adam, God made it possible for all of us to obey in Christ, by uniting His divinity with our corporate sinful humanity that needed redeeming.  In this truth is the divine secret of our salvation revealed in the New Testament.

1 Corinthians 1:30:
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

In answer to the question “How Is Substitution Possible?” Dr. Richard Davidson, of Andrews University Seminary, gave this as one of the solutions to the ethical problem of the atonement:

“Christ is the representative man, the second Adam.  Just as Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek because, by corporate solidarity, he was in the loins of Abraham [Hebrews 7:9], so the whole world was corporately in Christ on the Cross.

Hebrews 7:9:
One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham,....

As Paul put it:

2 Corinthians 5:14:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

We all died in Christ on Golgotha.  Thus, the guilt of the whole world was atoned for by the death of that one Representative Man.”  (Davidson:  “Salvation and Forgiveness,” ATS Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 1992.)

Because many object to the doctrine of Original Sin (perhaps a better term could be “Corporate Sin” rather than “Original Sin”), the tendency has been to dilute our situation in Adam as taught by Paul in Romans 5:12-21 and other passages.  Any interpretation however, that waters down the condemnation and death mankind inherits in Adam will of necessity require undermining the “justification of life” accomplished in Christ for all mankind, since in Romans 5:12-21 what is true of Adam is true of Christ, but in a directly opposite sense.

As the British scholar Harry Johnson puts it:

“If Paul does not mean that all men are somehow implicated in the sin of Adam, he destroys the whole force of the parallel of the redemption in Christ.”  (The Humanity of the Saviour, p. 10.)

It is only when “Original Sin” is linked with “Original Guilt,” as some Calvinists and the Roman Catholic Church teach, that this doctrine tends to more darkness than light.  To put it in Johnson’s words:

“Even though the phrase ‘Original Sin’ points to a valid truth, the phrase ‘Original Guilt’ seems unacceptable and out of harmony with the biblical message” (ibid., p. 24.)

Another British scholar, James D.G. Dunn, makes a similar statement in the Word Biblical Commentary:

“Paul could be said to hold a doctrine of original sin, in the sense that, from the beginning, everyone has been under the power of sin with death as the consequence, but not a doctrine of original guilt, since individuals are only held responsible for deliberate acts of defiance against God and his law.” (Vol. 38a, p. 291).

Guilt involves volition and responsibility and God does not hold us responsible for Adam’s sin, any more than we are responsible for Christ’s righteousness.  Nevertheless, both Adam and Christ stood as the heads and representatives of the human race and what they did affected all mankind.  That is why Scripture declares all men stand “condemned to death” because of Adam’s disobedience and are “by nature the children of wrath,” and all men are “justified to life” because of Christ’s obedience.

Romans 5:18:
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

Ephesians 2:3:
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

To reject the judgment of condemnation and death in Adam is to reject our justification unto life in Christ, and this, unfortunately, is what has led many into legalism.  For as the Swedish theologian Anders Nygren states in his Commentary on Romans (5:12):

“But if Paul had meant that all become subject to death because of the sins which they themselves committed, the conclusion would logically be that all would enter into life by reason of the righteousness which they themselves achieved.  That is an idea which is certainly the utter opposite of all that Paul says.”

Romans 5:12:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned....

Since guilt involves volition and responsibility, God does not declare us guilty sinners until we join our wills to the sinful desires of the flesh.  This all mankind have done apart from Christ who never, even by a thought, sinned.  Likewise, God does not declare us subjectively justified until we by faith unite our wills to Christ’s righteousness, or as Paul puts it:

Romans 5:17:
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness” (emphasis mine).  This writer feels strongly that a correct understanding of Original Sin (or Corporate Sin) is crucial to a correct understanding of Original Righteousness, which is in Christ.  Note the following statements from Scripture.

Ephesians 1:3 [GNB]:
Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  For in our union with Christ He has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world.

(Emphasis mine.)  And again:

1 Corinthians 1:30 [GNB]:
But God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be our wisdom.  By Him we are put right with God; we became God’s holy people and are set free.

(Again, emphasis mine.)  This is what is meant by Original Righteousness.

In view of this truth of the gospel, the humanity Christ assumed at the incarnation had to be the fallen, sinful, condemned humanity which He came to redeem.  The moment we deny this and insist that Christ came in a sinless human nature, like Adam’s spiritual nature before the fall, we sever Christ’s union with the humanity He came to save.  In doing this, we preach an unethical gospel (legal fiction), and the justice of God comes under question.

Let me put it this way:  Did sinful humanity die the wages of sin on the cross, or sinless humanity?  If we admit that it was sinful humanity, then not only were the just and legal demands of the law met at the cross, but fallen men can honestly identify themselves, through faith, with the death which sets them free from the curse of the law.

Romans 6:7:
...Because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

(The word “freed” in this text in the Greek is “justified.”)  This, in fact, was Paul’s point.

Galatians 2:19-20:
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

On the other hand, if we say that it was a sinless human nature that died on the cross, instead of our corporate condemned nature, we accuse God of injustice, since His own Word will not legally accept the death of an innocent person in the place of the guilty one.

Deuteronomy 24:16:
Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.

Ezekiel 18:20:
The one who sins is the one who will die.  The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child.  The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

Besides, such a belief makes it impossible for fallen man, truly and sincerely to identify himself with that death as true faith demands.

2 Timothy 2:11:
Here is a trustworthy saying:  If we died with him, we will also live with him....

Romans 6:3, 8:
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  ...Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

The reason why the Reformationist gospel came under fire and was been accused of “legal fiction,” “divine make-believe,” “celestial bookkeeping,” and “as-if-passed-on righteousness,” by Roman Catholic scholars in the council of Trent, is for this very reason.  By teaching that Christ assumed a sinless human nature at the incarnation, the Saviour has been alienated from the humanity He came to redeem, and, consequently, this makes the gospel unethical or “legal fiction.”

At the expense of repetition, may I emphasize:  no innocent person can lawfully pay the wages of sin for a guilty person.  Those who insist that Christ assumed the sinless nature of Adam have tried in vain to defend the ethical issue of the gospel.  No wonder so many are turning to “the moral influence theory” as a better solution to the meaning of the cross.

The gift of God to fallen mankind is the divine eternal life of His Son.

1 John 5:11:
And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

This was necessary because the human life of Christ, which was in reality our corporate condemned life, died the second or eternal death, “the wages of sin,” on the cross.  It is this gift that made it possible for our humanity, united to Christ, to be resurrected to life the third day, and, thus, give eternal hope to us.

1 Corinthians 15:22-23:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in turn:  Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

Many Evangelical scholars have failed to see the true significance of the supreme sacrifice of the cross, because they hold to the non-Biblical view that man possesses an immortal soul.

The clear teaching of the New Testament is that, on the cross, sinful humanity died in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:14:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Colossians 2:20; 3:3:
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules....  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

1 Peter 2:24:
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

This fulfilled or met the just demands of the law.

Romans 6:7; 7:1, 4, 6:
...Because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.  ...Do you not know, brothers and sisters — for I am speaking to those who know the law — that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives?  ...So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  ...But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

As a result, it gave God the legal or lawful right to forgive us of our sins.

Matthew 26:27-28:
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Romans 3:24-26:
...And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood — to be received by faith.  He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

In exchange for our condemned life that died eternally on the cross, God gave us the immortal life of His Son, so that we may live again.

1 John 5:11-12:
And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

2 Timothy 1:8-10:
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner.  Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

This is God’s love gift to humanity and the glorious truth of the gospel.

2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone [the old life with its condemnation], the new is here!

This truth becomes relevant only when we identify Christ’s humanity with our corporate sinful humanity that needed redeeming.

The purpose of redemption is that the results of the Fall should be reversed, that the power of sin should be broken, that sinful nature “sold under sin” should be redeemed.  This could only be possible if the humanity Christ assumed was the corporate humanity of those whom He came to save, for that which is not assumed could not have been redeemed.  As Harry Johnson clearly demonstrates in his book The Humanity of the Saviour:

“In Christ we become linked with the second Adam and His victory and His benefits become ours....  It could appear, therefore, that, for this Representative theory of the cross to be fully adequate to meet the sinful human situation, there needs to be incorporated within its structure a Christological position similar to the one that is the object of our present study (i.e., Christ assumed our fallen nature at the Incarnation).”  (p 212).

Brooke Foss Westcott, the 19th century New Testament Greek scholar, expressed a similar truth:

“If Christ took our nature upon Him, as we believe, by an act of love, it was not that of one but of all.  He was not one man only among many men, but in Him all humanity was gathered up.  And thus now, as at all time, mankind are, so to speak, organically united with Him.  His acts are in a true sense our acts, so far as we realize the union, His death is our death, His resurrection our resurrection.”  (The Gospel of the Resurrection, Chap. 2, p. 39).

Christ assumed human nature as we know it after the Fall.  Also, in spite of this, Jesus lived a perfect life through the power of the indwelling Spirit, triumphing over the “law of sin” in the flesh.  Finally, this nature was cleansed on the cross and Jesus rose from the dead with a redeemed or glorified human nature.  This nature is now reserved for the believer in heaven until the second coming.

Philippians 3:20-21:
But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

This is how God legally justified all mankind, in the doing and dying of Christ, and liberated us totally from our sin problem to give us eternal hope now and in the world to come.

This being so, the good news of the gospel not only guarantees legal justification [to all who believe] but also offers total victory over the clamors of our sinful nature.  Righteousness by faith, therefore, includes, on the one hand, peace with God through justification by faith, but, at the same time, gives hope to the justified believer to live a life above sinning.

Romans 5:1:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ....

Romans 13:14:
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

This is the true understanding of righteousness by faith in Christ.

This now brings us to the secondary purpose of the Incarnation [in the next study].


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