We shall be saved by His life
Wonderful words! Wonderful words indeed!
The death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cruel cross of Calvary has reconciled us to God. Indeed, it is by His death that we have received the atonement. If you are in Christ, that is, if you have believed the gospel of Christ, in His death, burial and resurrection, then you have received the atonement.
But here, the apostle tells us that it is indeed Christ’s life — His resurrection life — that is the Christian’s salvation. We go on to learn that, while atonement is good, there is something much better, that without atonement would be impossible. Atonement breaks down the barrier that created enmity between God and man. Because that atonement is made, God is just in justifying sinners by the death of Christ, and because of the free gift given to those in Christ, He gives us that gift that without it none of the rest matters: He gives us the gift of life.
It is at this point that we come to the solemn truth of sin and death through relation to Adam. But the teaching on sin and death related to Adam is to show a great contrast.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned … Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” — Romans 5:12, 18–19
All mankind in general, and all of us individually in Adam are under judgment because of sin. We know this to be true because all in Adam die. This is well known as a universal truth. There is no getting around this.
We also know, this by revelation, that all men are declared to be guilty before God. Romans 3:9–19 declare this absolutely as fact:
“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
The declaration of guilt is a settled matter. There is no further arguing it. People have been trying to argue it since the declaration, but the final judge is Almighty God, and He has not allowed for appeals. What He has allowed for is gift righteousness — justification by grace — given to those that have faith in Christ.
The truth brought out now in chapter 5 begins with the assumption of this fact, that all have sinned, and shows that because of sin, Adam’s race is condemned to die. It also contrasts this with the good news that all to whom God gives righteousness by faith of Jesus Christ as a gift of grace now have life. Not by some indwelling goodness in themselves, but because of Christ and His righteousness.
As universal as death is in Adam, so also is life in Christ. As the Apostle Paul tells us in the great resurrection chapter:
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” — 1 Corinthians 15:22
In Adam, death is king. In verses 13 through 17, we see a comparison of the two “Adams”:
“(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)” — Romans 5:13–17
We see that death reigned from Adam to Moses before the law of Moses was given. We will see as we progress in this epistle that the law actually made sin worse. It brought out sinful thoughts and actions that were latent but not visible. It brought knowledge of the sinfulness of these, but gave no remedy. The law only condemns. But even before the written code of condemnation, the condemnation of death was present, and all died.
We see that because of Adam’s offence, all died. From Adam to Moses, all died because they were in Adam, and as such, were condemned to death. At a specific time during this period, the death of all mankind was hurried because the nature of all of mankind was exceedingly wicked and the Creator’s longsuffering had reached its end. But Noah was also in Adam, so the sin problem remained. And all after Noah, while they did not die in the flood, they still all died.
In Christ, however, we do see the undoing of Adam’s condemnation. How could the actions of one Man (Christ) affect so many? In the exact same way the actions of Adam affected so many. The gift of grace benefits all that are in Christ in the same way that the condemnation of Adam condemns all that are in him.
As death reigned, or as we could say, as death is the king over those who are in Adam, those in Christ will reign in life because Christ is King of life, and we are in Him.
“For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” — Romans 14:9
Adam the first was disobedient, and his disobedience granted death its ultimate kingship over all mankind. Our Lord Jesus Christ was obedient unto death, even the excruciating and humiliating death of the cross, and by His obedience, righteousness, i.e., a right standing before the judgment of God, is given to all that are in Him.
The resurrection life of our Lord Jesus Christ is given to all those that believe His gospel. The gospel that must be believed for this gift of life is that He died for our sins and rose again. He was “raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25), and by Him all that believe are justified from all things from which no one could be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:39). The Israelites who were under the law could not be justified by it. They were only condemned by it. We Gentiles are condemned by the law given that every mouth may be stopped, and that all the world may become guilty before God.
Only the gift of God’s grace can justify the sinner, and this grace is given freely to all who will believe. All who will stop trying to justify themselves before the holy and righteous God and accept the free gift will receive it. The law has already condemned you. Life is found only in our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.
One more note for clarity. The gift of grace is not given universally to all in Adam. It is given to all in Christ. All in Adam living under this dispensation of God’s grace can be saved, but it is only those that believe who are. “Therefore being justified by faith” is the opening of this chapter, and there is no change to this at the chapter’s close.
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.