Understanding the Gospel 
 by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira 

3 – The Two Adams

John tells us that, when we understand the love of God, His perfect love will cast out fear and there will be no more fear of the judgment.  It is not because we are good but because, as He is, so are we in this world.  But the fact that God loves us unconditionally is not enough to save us, because our God is also a righteous God, a holy God.  He says, “Yes, I know you are all sinners.  You have repented and I will forgive you.”

God cannot forgive us by excusing our sin.  Let me give you an example of what I mean.  One day I was asked to speak at a Commercial College in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.  Anyone who has been there knows that Nairobi has a problem when it comes to finding parking places.  Almost all the cars in Kenya are in that one city.

I left half an hour early to find a parking place but I couldn’t find one.  My time to speak was coming up when I saw a section of the road that said, “No parking.”  But there was a car parked there.  It was an embassy car and I thought, “I’m an ambassador too.”  So I parked my car next to his and went to my meeting.  When I came back, there was a policemen sitting on the hood of my car.

I saw him from a distance and I thought, “I am going to wait until he leaves.”  I didn’t want a ticket.  But, unfortunately, that policeman had the patience of the saints.  So I thought, “I’d better face the music.”  I went up to the car and he stood up and said, “This is your car?”  And I said, “Yes.”  He said, “You have broken the law.”  I pointed to the embassy car and said, “So has he.”  He said, “No, that car has diplomatic immunity.”  I said, “Why?”  He said, “Can’t you see it’s an embassy car?”  I said, “I’m an ambassador too.”

He looked at my beat up car and he said, “Why don’t you have embassy number plates?”  I said, “It’s very simple officer.  You see, the embassy I belong to doesn’t belong to this world.”  He saw the Bible in my hand and he said, “Ah, you’re a Reverend aren’t you?”  And I said, “Well, I’m not a Reverend.  I’m a sinner but I’m a pastor.”  He said, “I’d like to talk to you.  Can we get into your car?  I want to make a deal with you.”

I thought, “I wonder what this fellow is up to?”  I got into the car and he confessed that he was a Roman Catholic who had committed a terrible mortal sin.  A Catholic who has committed a mortal sin cannot make it to heaven unless he confesses it and receives absolution.  But he was afraid to go to his priest who had a high regard for him as an honest, law-abiding officer.  He said to me, “If you can give me forgiveness since you are a pastor, I will forgive you for parking here.”

I was very tempted but I knew better.  I said to him, “There is one problem.  If I forgive you, it won’t work because the Bible says there is only one Person who has the right to forgive you.”  I sat down and gave him a Bible study on the gospel for two hours of his working time and mine too, because I am a pastor.

I showed him how there is only one Mediator between a holy God and sinful man, Jesus Christ.  He was so pleased, so grateful that he said, “Pastor, I not only have forgiven you for parking here but as long as I am in charge of this area you can park your car any time.”  What he did was very good but what would happen if he went back to the police station and told his boss, “By the way, I gave a man the privilege to park in a ‘No Parking’ place.”?  Very likely he would lose his job.

The ground of our salvation is God’s love, but now we are going to deal with a passage where Paul explains how God saved us so that He is just in justifying all of us sinners.  It is a difficult text.  Most scholars look at Romans 5:12-21 as the high point of Romans.  It was this passage that opened my eyes to the gospel.

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.

The reason it is difficult is twofold.

  1. What Paul is telling us here is really contradicting what we were raised up with so we need to put our preconceived ideas to one side.  Even after three years with Jesus Christ, the disciples did not understand His mission and His gospel.  It was not because they were dummies, but they were wrestling with preconceived ideas.  What He told them disagreed with what they were taught in Judaism.  It was only after His resurrection that the Holy Spirit came and opened their eyes and brought to their remembrance what He had taught them and gave them understanding.

    In farming country, the cows eat quite a bit all day long and then they sit down and regurgitate what they have eaten and they chew on it.  Paul told young Timothy:

    2 Timothy 2:7:
    Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

  2. The second reason this passage is difficult is because it is based on what is called Biblical solidarity, which is a foreign concept to the Western mind.  The other day I was listening to an economist on the radio discussing the trade war between America and Japan.  He was an American who had spent many years in Japan so he understood the Japanese mind.  He made a very interesting statement.  He said, “The real problem of the trade war is that both countries are greedy.  [He was absolutely right there.]  But the difference is this.  The Americans are greedy individually.  The Japanese are greedy corporately.”

That’s the distinction between a corporate mentality and an individualistic mentality.  It may be very difficult, but we must put aside our Western minds and put on Jewish caps, because Paul was writing to an Eastern mind.  First let me explain what Biblical solidarity is all about.

In Romans, Paul, quoting from the Old Testament, tells us what God said to Rebekah, the wife of Isaac.  The statement is:

Romans 9:12:
...Not by works but by him who calls — she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”

The older here is Esau, the younger is Jacob, but we won’t find a single statement in scripture or in ancient history where Esau ever served Jacob.  Did God make a mistake?  This was not conditional prophecy.  God was making a statement of a fact to Rebecca.

But God was not speaking in terms of individuals.  He was speaking in solidarity language because that’s how God often dealt with the Jews.  We go to the original statement in Genesis 25 and, just to get the context, we will begin with verse 21.

Genesis 25:21a:
Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless.

In those days, a wife who was barren was a disgrace.  You could divorce your wife for that reason.  Medical science has discovered that men can also be blamed but in those days it was always the woman’s fault.

So Isaac pleads with the Lord.

Genesis 25:21b:
The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.

Remember, the conception was based on the blessing of God.

Genesis 25:22a:
The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?”

Even before they were born, they were already fighting and Rebecca was concerned.  “This is a blessing from God?  God’s people don’t fight.”  It disturbed her and she said, “If all is well (if this is a blessing from God), why am I this way?”

Genesis 25:22b:
So she went to inquire of the Lord.

“What is the meaning of these two babies struggling in my womb?”

Genesis 25:23:
The Lord said to her, “Two nations [not babies, not fetuses, not individuals, but two nations; He is talking in solidarity language] are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

God never said to Rebekah that Esau would serve Jacob.  What He said was that the descendants of Esau, the Edomites, would serve the descendants of Jacob, the Israelites.  That’s a solidarity statement and the Bible has many examples of it.

Paul shows that this is basically how God saved mankind in Romans 5:12-21.

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.

With this concept of solidarity, let me make three statements that are all Biblical.  According to scripture, God created all men, the whole human race, in one man.  In the Bible, names were very important; they had significance.  Today we give names to remember our loved ones or maybe because it is impressive or we like a certain name but, in the Bible days, names were very important.  They meant something.

When I first came to this country, there was a tavern next to our church.  What impressed me about this tavern was its name.  It was a Hebrew name.  I don’t know where the owner got it.  Many times I was tempted to go and congratulate him but I was afraid somebody would see me and jump to the wrong conclusion.  The name of the tavern suited it.  The name was “Ichabod,” which in Hebrew means “The glory of God has departed.”  That’s an excellent name for a tavern.

The word “Adam” means “mankind.”  It’s a corporate name.  If you read Genesis, you will find that, in the original Hebrew text, it says:

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 Adam the breath of lives.”  The word “life” is in the plural in the original text.  That is why Acts 17:26 says that out of one, God created the whole human race.

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.

Remember, God did not create you when your mother conceived you; otherwise, you would have to blame God for creating you with a sinful nature.  God created us in one person and that person is Adam.

The Bible tells us that Satan ruined the whole world when he got that one man.  Therefore, we will discover that you and I are lost not because of our personal sins but because of the fall.  Yes, our personal sins add to the problem, but Paul tells us the good news is that God redeemed all men in one man, Jesus Christ.  That’s why Jesus is called “the last Adam.”  The word “Adam” means “mankind.”  Jesus was not just one man among many men.  In Him, the whole human race was gathered up.

With this in mind, we will go step by step to see what Paul is saying here.  In Romans Romans 5:6-10, Paul is expounding for us the unconditional love of God which is the ground of our salvation.

Romans 5:6-10:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

We saw that, while we were still helpless, ungodly, still sinners, and even the enemies of God, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.  All this took place because God is love and His love is unconditional.

But in Romans 5:11, Paul adds:

Romans 5:11:
Not only is this so [not only are we basking in the love of God which redeemed us], but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received [we have already received] reconciliation [or atonement].

Now there are many who have difficulty with the word atonement.  Let’s make it very clear so that we don’t confuse the atonement with the Day of Atonement.  They are two different things.

The Day of Atonement has to do with the consummation of the plan of salvation.  The atonement has to do with the cross.  A text from the Old Testament, where the atonement is mentioned, is Leviticus 17:11.

Leviticus 17:11:
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

The Day of Atonement is dealing with another issue.  When we deal with sin in a legal sense, there are three things involved.  There is:  (1) the act which brings guilt, and (2) guilt brings punishment, but there is a third fact that we need to keep in mind which is (3) responsibility.  On the cross, Jesus took the guilt and punishment of our sins.  The issue of responsibility was not dealt with on the cross; therefore, since the fall, God has assumed responsibility for sin in this world.

This is why there are texts that are very difficult to understand.  I read:

Exodus 10:20:
But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.

I read:

Isaiah 45:7:
I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.

“I created evil.”  I read:

1 Samuel 16:14:
Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

We take this at face value.  God is saying there, “I allowed it.”  Because God is sovereign — the word sovereign means nothing can happen without His permission — He assumes the blame until the Day of Atonement when the real culprit will take the blame.  The sins of the people will be placed on Azazel who is to blame for the sins of this universe and of this world.  The Day of Atonement deals with who is to blame for sin.

But on the cross, the guilt and punishment of our sins was dealt with.  The barrier between a holy God and sinful man was removed, once and for all.  This is the atonement.

Romans 5:11:
Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Paul is speaking in Romans 5:11 to Christians who have believed the blood of Jesus Christ, who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, “We don’t only rejoice in the love of God, but we rejoice in the fact that we have already received the atonement or the reconciliation.”  There is no barrier between a holy God and the believer who is still a sinner.  We can come to God with boldness, with assurance, through the blood of the Lamb.

John brings this out in 1 John 2:5-29, where he talks about two groups of people.

1 John 2:5-29:
But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.  This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning.  This old command is the message you have heard.  Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.  Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.  But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness.  They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.  I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.  I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father.  I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.  This is how we know it is the last hour.  They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.  For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.  I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.  Who is the liar?  It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ.  Such a person is the antichrist — denying the Father and the Son.  No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.  If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is what he promised us — eternal life.

I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.  As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.  But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him.  And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.  If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

It is very interesting about those two groups.  One group, he says, is walking in darkness and the other group is walking in the light.  Those who are walking in darkness say they have no sin and the other group who are walking in the light say they are sinners.  God says to the ones who are walking in darkness, who say they have no sin, that they are liars and the truth does not abide in them.  But He says to the ones who are walking in the light that the blood of Christ cleanses them from all sin.

I was talking at a Campmeeting once and a young man said to me, “I have not sinned for the last two years.”  I looked at his wife and I said, “It must be wonderful to live with a man who has stopped sinning.  My wife is having a hard time with me.”  She just smiled.  She was wise not to open her mouth lest her husband does sin.

In 1 John, John goes on talking to those walking in the light — to the believers:

1 John 2:1-2:
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  [He’s using sin in the present continuous tense] But if anybody does sin [aorist tense; not because you want to but because of your weakness and because you have not yet learned to walk fully in the Spirit], we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

We Christians have experienced that atonement but the unbelievers are still afraid of God.  They do not know that Jesus has paid the price for them.  Because they don’t know, we have to tell them, “Stop running away from God; you have already been reconciled to Him through the death of His son.”  We Christians are rejoicing in the atonement because now there is no barrier between us and God and we have peace with Him.  We can even call Him “Dear Father.”

Having made that statement in Romans 5:11, Paul expounds it in the rest of Romans 5.

Romans 5:11:
Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The question we must ask is why he suddenly, after making that wonderful statement in verse 11, spends the next three verses, 12-14, talking about Adam and our situation in Adam.  What does Adam have to do with our atonement in Christ?  He tells us at the end of verse 14.  The reason is because Adam is a type of Him who was to come.

Romans 5:12-14:
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.

So he is using Adam as a model, as a pattern of Christ.  The question we must ask is, “In what sense are Adam and Christ similar?”  As you read the passage, you will discover they are similar only in one sense and that is — what Adam did affected the whole human race.  Likewise, what Christ did affected the whole human race.  This is the similarity; this is the parallelism between the two and we need to keep this in mind.

In Romans 5:12, Paul says three things.

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....

(1) “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man.  The word “world” which in Greek is kosmos, can have at least six different meanings which come from the context.  So you can’t just take the word by itself.  The context here is absolutely clear.  The word world has the same meaning as in John 3:16, “God so loved the world,” which is the human race to which each of us belong.

John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Through one man sin entered us, entered the whole world even before we were born.  Sin entered the human race through one man.

(2) The second thing he says is “death through sin.”  Remember that God said to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, “If you eat of the forbidden fruit, you shall surely die.”  Did He mean that or was He joking?  If He did not mean that, God becomes untrustworthy.  I know what God says about me and Christ because when God says something, He means it.

God said to Adam, “The day you eat of this forbidden fruit, you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:16-17:
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

In view of (1) sin entered the whole human race, and (2) this sin brought death to Adam, (3) death spread to all men.  We die because of Adam’s sin.  You say, “Unfair!”  All right, let’s be fair.  How many days after he sinned should Adam have died?  If we read the Hebrew text, God said to Adam, “The very day you sin you shall die.”

Adam had no children when he sinned.  If he had died the very moment he sinned, we would have died in him.  That would have been fair though.  The reason we did not die, the reason Adam did not die, is because there was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world or because God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.  Adam’s sin did not take God by surprise.  He knew Adam would fall but when we discover what God planned for us in Christ we say, “Thank you, God, that You allowed Adam to fall.”

Paul realizes that there are many who will object to that last statement.  Why should we die because of somebody else’s sin?  So he gives the reason why all men die because of Adam’s sin — because all sinned.  That is an incomplete phrase and I can imagine when we all go to heaven, all those theologians all through the history of the Christian church will come to Paul and say to him, “Why didn’t you finish the sentence?”  There is probably no other passage that has produced such tremendous controversy.  More paper and ink has been spent on this passage than probably any other passage in the New Testament.  I can imagine Paul saying, “Why didn’t you read verses 13 and 14 which explains what I have said in verse 12?”

Romans 5:12-14:
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.

I want to pause here before we look at the explanation.  The word “men” is generic which includes ladies.  He is not talking of the male only.  If he was living today, he would say “all persons.”  Paul says the reason all men die is because all sinned.  There are two ways we can complete the sentence.  One is to say that the reason all die is because we all sinned like Adam.  The other way is by saying all died because all sinned in Adam.  Both views are taught but which one is correct?

We cannot take a position because it feels right.  We have to ask Paul, “What are you saying?”  But before we answer that question, I want to explain the distinction.  If we say, believe and teach that we all die because we all sinned like Adam, then we are making Adam an example of our sin problem.  Since Adam is a type of Christ, to be honest with this analogy we would also have to say that we all live, are all justified and are all saved because we have obeyed like Jesus.

If we say we have obeyed like Jesus, we would deserve an honor plus a badge saying, “The Greatest Liar in the World” because none of us have obeyed like Jesus.  We have a problem if we use the word like.

If we use in Adam and say that we all sinned in Adam, then we can teach that we all live because we obeyed in Christ.  That’s good news.

To understand what Paul is saying, first look at the phrase all sinned.  That phrase all sinned is what we call aorist tense.  It is something that took place once and for all.  Paul uses the same statement in Romans 3:23 except there he adds something else.

Romans 3:23:
...For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God....

One is in the aorist tense, one in the present, continuous tense.  One is referring to an historical event that took place in the past and the other is one that is taking place continuously in our lives.

If Paul meant we all die because of our personal sin, that is, like Adam, he would not use the aorist tense; he would use the present continuous tense.  He would say all died because all are sinning but he doesn’t do that.  He uses an aorist tense so the grammar points to in Christ.  The second reason is his explanation in verses 14 and 15.

Romans 5:14-15:
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!

He takes a segment of the human race, Adam to Moses.  What is special about Moses?  God gave the law through Moses.  Were the people from Adam to Moses sinning?  The answer is, “Yes.”

Paul says:

Romans 5:13:
To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given [or until Moses], but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.

Paul is not saying the law did not exist before Moses.  If it did not exist then sin could not exist.  He is saying that God could not legally, lawfully condemn the human race from Adam to Moses before He spelled out the law.  We need to be clear on this so we will look at some illustrations.

In one of my churches, I had a member who belonged to the police force.  He was a traffic officer.  One day while I was listening to the news I heard some very good news and I am sure all the pastors in America rejoiced.  The Federal Government had changed the speed limit from 55 to 65 and now the state where I lived had accepted, confirmed, and implemented this law.  So on Sabbath I said to this police officer, “Tomorrow I am going to do 65 and you can’t touch me.”  He said, “Yes, I can touch you.”  I said, “Did you hear the news?”  He said, “It doesn’t matter how many times the news media announces this good news.  As long as the sign on the road says 55, that is what you will be judged by.”  We had a law that said 65 and we had a sign that said 55.  It took them a long time to change that sign.  In fact, some states still have not changed the signs.

Paul is saying, “Yes, these people were sinning.”  Notice the word he uses.  They were sinning; they were missing the mark; they were coming short of the glory of God.  But God could not legally condemn them for their personal sin because God had not spelled out the law.  You ask me, “What about the flood?”

1 Peter 3:18-22:
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.  After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits — to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.  In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.  It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand — with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Peter says that the reason they were destroyed was not because they were breaking the Ten Commandments but because they were disobedient to the call of God who said, “Come into the ark and be safe.”  They refused to come.  They refused to believe there would be a flood.  The reason they were destroyed was because of ungodliness.  They had turned their backs to God.

We are told:

Romans 5:13-14a:
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 [in spite of this fact], death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses...

These people from Adam to Moses were dying.  But there is more.

Romans 5:14b:
...even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

Notice the play of words here.  Paul is a very careful theologian.  The people from Adam to Moses were sinning.  Adam did not sin; he transgressed.  There is a distinction.

For example, when an Arab in Saudi Arabia works on the Sabbath, he is sinning.  He has never seen the Bible; he has never been told about the Ten Commandments.  But a Sabbath keeper who knows the law and breaks the Sabbath is not sinning; he is transgressing.  Sin is missing the mark which happens to all of us but transgression is a willful, deliberate violation of a known law.

When Eve brought that fruit to Adam, he knew that it was the forbidden fruit.  There was no ignorance there.  He actually knew where that fruit came from.  Have you ever wondered why he ate it?  He could not save Eve by eating it.  I don’t think he believed Eve when she said, “If you eat this fruit you won’t die.”  I believe the reason he ate the fruit was because his nature was agape and love “is not self-seeking.” [see 1 Corinthians 13].  He said to Eve, “You’re going to die; I’m going to die with you.”  He loved her more than himself.  It was only after he ate that his nature made a U-turn and self took the place of love.

Now, he began to blame God.  “God, you gave me a defective wife.  Don’t blame me.”  The problem is human, not divine.  When Adam sinned, he actually broke a law that he knew, a commandment that God gave him and so, Adam transgressed.

People were not dying for their personal sins.  They were dying because they were implicated in Adam’s transgression. 

Romans 5:15-18:
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.

Paul says four times in Romans 5:15-18 that we do not die, we are not condemned, and we are not judged because of personal sins.  There is no mention of our personal sins.  It is because of Adam’s offense.  Once Paul has proven our predicament that in Adam all die, then he says that Adam is a type of Christ.

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

The question we must ask is, “Why do we all die in Adam?”  As I mentioned earlier, it is because we were “in him.”  As an illustration, suppose a group of us decides to go on a trip to visit Washington, D.C.  We rent the Amtrak and all get on board.  The driver comes to a curve on the rail and instead of taking the curve at the speed he should, he takes it at a high speed and all the cars roll over and everybody gets hurt.  The fact that we are in the cars and that the cars are one, linked together, brings suffering to everyone because of the mistake of someone else.  You were implicated and involved in that accident even though you are not to blame for that accident.

The life that you and I received at our conception came from our parents, which came from their parents, until we come to Adam.  The human race today is simply the multiplication of one life — Adam’s life.

The life that God gave Adam was conditionally immortal, but Adam did not pass that life on to his children.  He passed on to his posterity a life that has already sinned, that is already condemned and, therefore, a life that must die.  This is our inheritance.  This is why Paul can say:

Ephesians 2:3b:
Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

If this is true, then the same must be true with Christ.  The reason Christ’s obedience can justify me is that all were implicated in His obedience.

In Romans 5:15-21, Paul deals with the parallelism.  In verse 15, he brings out how Adam is a type of Christ.

Romans 5:15:
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!

There is one word in this text that is missing in the King James Version and some other versions.  That word is the definite article “the.”  What Paul actually wrote is, “For by one man’s offense the many died.”  “The many” is spelled out in verse 18 as “all men.”  So he is not saying simply “many” but “the many,” applying the phrase to the whole human race.

The second half of verse 18 tells us:

Romans 5:18b:
...So also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

What Adam did affected “the many” or “all people” and what Christ did affected “the many.“  But through all this passage there are two statements about Christ that Paul will use that he does not apply to Adam.

The first statement is that what God did to the human race in Christ is a gift.  We cannot enjoy a gift if we refuse it.  We have a lot of homeless people in our area so church pastors from all denominations got together and decided to try to do something for them.  We discovered that some of the homeless men are veterans who are entitled to a pension plus Social Security.  They are living on pennies so, instead of giving them financial or material help, we discovered that we could give them another kind of help.

We found lawyers in our churches who knew all the red tape and the ropes of the law of this country and tried to help these men to get the Social Security and the pensions that they deserve.  Some of them said, “No, we are quite happy.”  We don’t know why, but they actually chose to be homeless.  Once a month, when we take soup to them, they ask what kind of soup we have.  We tell them “vegetable,” and they say they don’t want it.  They want clam chowder.  They choose to live that lifestyle.

If we willfully, deliberately refuse the gift of God, we can’t blame Adam or God; we can blame only ourselves.  God will say to us in the judgment, “How often I came to you and gave you the good news.  I gave it to you through the radio, through books, through individuals, and you would not accept it; therefore, you will receive what you have chosen.”

Jesus says:

Matthew 25:41:
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared [not for you] for the devil and his angels.’

To the believers He will say:

Matthew 25:34:
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’

“Your performance had nothing to do with it.  I redeemed you; I planned your redemption even before you were born.”

Before we go on, let us look at some texts from the words of Jesus Christ.  We are very familiar with John 3:16, but verses 17 and 18 say:

John 3:17-18:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already [he was condemned already but now he is condemned by his own choice, not because he has failed to keep the Ten Commandments] because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

That is why man is lost.

John 3:36:
Whoever believes in the Son has [it does not say will have but already has] eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

Man is not lost because he is a sinner.  If God blamed me for being a sinner, I would say, “I was born that way.  You have to be blamed for allowing me to be born a sinner.”  God will not condemn me because I am a sinner.  He will condemn me because I have rejected the life that He has given me.

Let’s go back to the second statement.  First, we saw that what God did for us in Adam is natural; it is not a gift; it is our natural inheritance but what God did for us in Christ is a gift.  Like any gift we have to receive it.  But there is another phrase in verse 15 occurring through this passage that we need to keep in our minds.  The phrase is “much more.”  What does it mean?

Let me give you an experience.  When I first went to a very large city, I had to learn a hard lesson, because the city I came from previously had only 29,000 people and the traffic was very simple with only about eight or nine traffic lights.  But when you try traveling in the outer area of a very large city where three lanes soon merge into one lane and because of no garages, all the cars are parked on the road, it is survival of the fittest.

I did not realize that, because of the heavy traffic, the road had a film of oil, and when the first rain came I was trying to get ahead of the other cars onto that one lane.  The light turned red and the taxi in front of me stopped.  I braked and skidded into him and smashed my car.  Nobody was hurt.  The front fender was pushed in; I lost a light and one of the fenders was badly bent.  I had full insurance so I didn’t worry.  I took it to the insurance company and they did some calculations and said, “The cost of repairing this car is more than the value of the car, therefore, it is totaled.”

I felt insulted, so I asked them, “How much will you give me in exchange for my car?”  After deducting my deductible they said, “$2,500.”  I couldn’t buy a car for that so I said to them, “What are you going to do with my car?”  They said, “Sell it to the junk yard.”  “How much?”  “$150.”  I thought that was an insult to my Suburu so I said, “Can I buy it?”  They said, “Yes.”  So out of the $2,500, I paid $150 and I now had $2,350 and a smashed up car.

Then I searched all over the city and found a man who would fix it for $500 less than what I had in my pocket from the insurance.  He did an excellent job so I had an almost brand new car plus $500 in my pocket.  I thank God for the accident.  I had much more than what I lost.  Paul is saying here that in Christ we have much more than what we lost in Adam.  The first “much more” is in Romans 5:15 (again).

Romans 5:15:
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!

Now look at verse 16:

Romans 5:16:
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.

Here is the parallelism.  One obeyed, which is a gift — Christ.  One sinned, which is Adam.  All these verbs are in the aorist tense, so it has nothing to do with our subjective experience.  It is dealing with an historical truth.  [We are told what happened in the latter part of verse 17, below.]

Look at the phrase “much more” in Romans 5:15.  Paul says here that Adam’s one sin brought condemnation to all men.  Christ did die for Adam’s sin which condemns us but, if He only did that, which is the very opposite of Adam, we would still have a problem because we have added our own personal sins to Adam’s sin.  So Christ did much more than die for Adam’s sin.  He died for Adam’s sin plus your sins, my sins, the sins of the world, past, present and future.  Every sin that you committed, every sin that you will commit to your dying day has already been paid for on the cross of Christ.  When He died on the cross, all your sins were future because you were born long after He died.  Here is the first “much more.”  This is wonderful.

We see the second “much more” in verse 17:

Romans 5:17:
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man [Adam’s one sin brought condemnation to all men], how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness [righteousness is a gift] reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

When Adam sinned, death did not become an option; death came to the human race as a conqueror.  Nobody, no matter how strong they are or how wonderfully they practice healthful living, nobody can escape death.  We can put off our death by healthful living, but we cannot escape it.  Die we must, because death came as a conqueror.

When we were in Uganda and Idi Amin took over, he built a throne which was carried on the shoulders of the slaves.  Then he used four Englishmen to carry him on that throne.  Uganda was a Protectorate under the British Government and he put a big sign on the throne.  He also made T-shirts with the same sign.  I had one of them, but my wife wanted me to get rid of it so I did.  Above the throne were these words, “Idi Amin, the conqueror of the British Empire.”  He had a sense of humor but he also was the only one who believed these words.  None of the Ugandans believed them.  A few months later, he heard the firing of shells coming from the Tanzanian army.  They were too close for his comfort.  Even though his own people called him “Idiot” Amin, not “Idi” Amin, he was not such a fool to think that he could defy or conquer death.  He may have conquered the British Empire in his mind, but he could not conquer death.

So he killed all of his twenty-two wives except one and took off in his helicopter for Libya.  There was only one problem in Libya.  He had not trusted his own people so his bodyguards were Libyan soldiers and almost all of them were killed in the war.  The families of those Libyan soldiers were out to kill him in Libya, so he fled to Saudi Arabia where he was protected by the Americans in the Gulf War.

Death came as a conqueror.  It came to rule over mankind.  Every human being, according to scripture, is born afraid to die.  We are slaves to the fear of death.  When human beings come into a hospital, this fear increases, because hospitals are only for sick people and sickness is one step to death.  If all we do in our Christian hospitals is heal them physically, we have missed the mark.

We need to tell them that what we are doing to them physically is temporary but we have good news that is permanent.  We should read them:

John 5:24:
Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

No longer will death become the grim reaper.  For Paul says:

Philippians 1:21:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

We have a mission to the world.

Paul is dealing, in Romans 5:17, second part, with those who receive.  The gift is for all men, but he is not dealing with what God did to all men but with those who receive that gift which, I hope, is all of us.

Notice the contrast.  When Adam sinned, death came to rule over the human race.  When we accept the gospel, not only do we escape the death that rules over us but much more we will reign in life.  The meaning of this is found in:

Romans 8:16-17:
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

By “joint heirs,” the Bible means we will share the privileges that Christ has.  Remember that He is the King of kings.  In Revelation 20:6, we are told that those who have part in the first resurrection, which is the believers, on such the second death has no power because that is what they have been redeemed from.  They shall reign with Christ for one thousand years.

Revelation 20:6:
Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Then we are told:

Revelation 22:3-5:
No longer will there be any curse.  The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.  And they will reign for ever and ever.

Here we are told that God will move His throne in heaven to this earth, made new, and we will reign with Him forever and ever.  In Adam, at his very best, we were created a little lower than the angels.  That is the very best we were before the fall.  Christ, by His redemption, did not take us back to our lost position.

Christ by His redemption, not only took us back to Adam’s condition before the fall, He took us where He is above the angels at the right hand of God.  We are sitting in heavenly places in Christ Jesus today, in Him, and when He comes, we shall be like Him.

We can never blame God for letting sin come in.  He allowed sin that He may make us better than what we were.  We are “much more” privileged.  We shall reign with Him; we shall rule over angels and they won’t complain because there is no self in heaven.

The conclusion is in Romans 5:18:

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

Paul, who is inspired, is saying this.  If anyone has any argument against this, they will have to argue with him.

“As related to the first Adam, man received from him nothing but guilt and the sentence of death.” 6 Bible Commentary, p. 1074, Ellen G. White.

Blessed is the one who can say, “I am lost in Adam but restored in Christ.”

We read in the second half of verse 18:

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.

This means we are already qualified for heaven the moment we believe in Christ.

It is not that now we have a clean slate and that now God expects us to do our best before He takes us to heaven.  We already have a ticket to heaven on the basis of the doing and dying of Christ.  We are justified to life.

But now look at another problem in Romans 5:19.

Romans 5:19:
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.

Notice the verb is the aorist tense.  When Adam sinned, he made all of us sinners, and sinners produce sins.  The question is what comes first?  Am I born innocent and my sins make me a sinner, or am I born a sinner and my sins are only the fruits of what I am?  The Bible says I am born a sinner and what I do is simply revealing what I am.

When we first moved to one town, we bought a house with a tree in the backyard.  It was in December so there were no leaves and there was a discussion between my wife and me as to whether it was an apple tree or a pear tree.  My wife said it was a pear tree because it was growing upward.  Apple trees tend to go sidewise.  I’m not an expert on apple trees but I said it was an apple tree.  We had to wait until the Spring when the flowers and fruit came and then we realized it was an apple tree.

The apple did not make the tree an apple tree.  The apples only proved it was an apple tree.  Likewise, we are righteous in Christ.  Sanctification does not make us righteous.  Sanctification proves, reveals that we are already righteous in Christ.  Therefore, sanctification is the fruits of justification by faith.

Romans 5:19 (again):

Romans 5:19:
For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [that one Man is Christ] the many will be made righteous.

The verb there is future tense.  If it is future, it no longer applies to the whole world.

  1. It applies to those who received the gift.
  2. When will we be made righteous?

To answer that question, we must ask the question, “In what sense were we made sinners?”  We were made sinners because, when Adam sinned, he injected the human race with the law of sin and death which Paul discusses in Romans 7.

So we were made sinners in the sense that we were born with a nature that is in harmony with sin.  When will this nature be made righteous?  At the Second Coming of Christ, when this corruption puts on incorruption, we will be made righteous.  Therefore, we are righteous today only in Christ.  We must study this very carefully because this is the truth of the Pauline epistle.  The righteousness that qualifies us for heaven now and in the judgment is always in Christ; it is never in us.

Today Christ is in heaven where no thief can go and rob us of that righteousness.  We don’t need Neighborwatch or alarms there.  No thief can enter there and rob us of that righteousness but the faith that makes that righteousness ours is not in heaven.  The faith is not tangible.  Nobody can see it but it is in our hearts.  Therefore, the most valuable thing that we possess in this world is not our bank account; it is not our houses; it is not our possessions; it is not our assets; it is faith that brings us the gift of righteousness.

Therefore, don’t allow the devil to rob you of that faith.  His greatest mission in the Christian church is to destroy your faith.  He will either do it through persecution, by dangling the trinkets of the world before you, or he will do it by perverting the gospel, or all three.

Hebrews 10:38:
And, “But my righteous one will live by faith.  And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”

Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:38 that the just shall live by faith but, if any man draws back, He will have no pleasure in him.  Then he ends in verse 39:

Hebrews 10:39:
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

In Matthew 10:18-22, Jesus told the disciples that, because they had accepted Him, the devil would use the world to persecute them and to make their lives miserable.

Matthew 10:18-22:
“On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.  At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.  You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

“The one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  While you are a believer, you have full assurance of salvation and that assurance does not go every time you fall because you do not fall through unbelief.  You fall because you have little faith.  Never did Jesus accuse his disciples of falling because of unbelief.  He accused them of little faith and He said even a little faith is enough to move mountains.

The day you say good-bye to your faith; the day you say, “I do not want Christ”; the day you say, “Get away, I don’t want You”; the day you turn your back to Jesus Christ and Him crucified, then you are turning your back on the righteousness that saves you.

Hebrews 6:4-6:
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance.  To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Paul says in Hebrews 6:5, you are crucifying Christ afresh and to bring you to repentance is impossible.  He is not talking of backsliders.  He’s talking of people who deliberately, after knowing the gospel, clearly say good-bye to it even though they accepted it in the first place.

Romans 5:19:
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.

We have seen in Romans 5:19, that Adam’s sin made us sinners and Christ’s obedience will one day make us righteous.  But now look at verse 20:

Romans 5:20:
The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more...

“The law was brought in.”  The law entered the plan of salvation.  God came to Abraham and said, “I am promising you salvation as a gift and not only you but in your seed [singular, which is Christ] I will bless all the nations.”  God came to Moses, 430 years later, but He did not say, “Moses, when I gave that promise to Abraham I forgot to give him the law so I’m now giving it to you.”  The law was not given as an added requirement to the promise.

Then the question is, “Why did God give the law through Moses 430 years after He promised Abraham salvation as a gift?”  In Romans 5:20 Paul gives the reason.

“The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase.”  The word “trespass” is singular, therefore, it applies to Adam’s sin according to the context.  Paul tells us in Romans 5:19 that Adam’s sin made us sinners.  Now he is saying that Adam’s sin has produced a whole human race of sinners who are producing sins and that the law was given simply to expose that fact.  The law did not deal with the sin problem.  The law made it worse.  The law opened our eyes to the fact that we are all sinners.  The law proved to the human race that they are sinners.  It did not make me a sinner; it simply proved what I already am in Adam.

Adam’s one sin abounded but the good news is that, where “sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”  Grace did not only take care of two negatives, Adam’s sin and our sins, but grace also gives us positive righteousness and that is “much more.”  So grace can take the worst of sinners and tell him heaven is his because of the obedience of one Man, Jesus Christ.

So where sin abounded grace did much more abound.

Romans 5:21:
...so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When we were born in this world, we were born under sin.  Remember:

Romans 3:9:
What shall we conclude then?  Do we have any advantage?  Not at all!  For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.

Both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin.  We were born under the umbrella of sin; we were slaves to it; it dominated us.  If we lived under that umbrella, it would end in death, which is good-bye to life.

But before we died, we accepted grace and Paul now says, “Even so, let grace reign over us through righteousness — the righteousness of Christ — until eternity or eternal life is ushered in through the Second Coming of Christ.”  All of this is through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We can see why this passage is crucial.  In Adam all die; in Christ all shall live.  The only difference is that in Christ it is a gift.  There will be some people lost, not because Christ did not redeem them but because they have willfully, persistently rejected the good news.  This is why the end of the world cannot come until this gospel of the kingdom has been proclaimed to all the world as a witness.  The witness is there because God will say to them in the judgment, not, “Have you kept My law?”  The one question He will ask in the judgment, “What did you do with My Son which I gave to you at infinite cost to Me but as a gift to you?”

If you say, “I deliberately rejected Him,” which is what the unbelievers will have to say, then God will say, “You have chosen death and I will give you what you have chosen.”  But to those who believe, He will say, “Come inherit the kingdom which was prepared for you.”

As the unbelievers go into the everlasting fire, I believe there will be tears in the eyes of God and He will say, “I did so much; I did everything for you.  I not only redeemed you through Christ but I pled with you through the Holy Spirit and you refused.  Since I am a God of love and I do not use compulsion, I am giving you what you have chosen, which was against My own will.  For My will is that none should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

It is my prayer that you will know today that in Christ you already stand righteous; that you are already sitting in heavenly places in Christ; that it is by His obedience you qualify for heaven now and in the judgment.  Don’t let anyone tell you anything else.  We are not saved by faith plus works but we are saved by faith that works.  The works do not contribute towards our salvation.  You will not even know when God works in you because it is God living in you and your sinful nature will always make you feel a sinner.  A Christian must say what Luther said, “We are one hundred percent sinners but at the same time we are one hundred percent righteous.  In Christ I am righteous.  In myself I am a sinner.”  We can know now our position in Christ.


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