Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Last Adam

The first Adam was created and almost immediately sinned against God and died. But it was not simply Adam who died. His name means man and not only did Adam sin and die, but also everyone who lived after him sinned and died (1 Cor. 15:22). This is because of what the Bible calls covenantal relations. Every man, woman, and child is related to one another through Adam, our leader, and our head according to the flesh.

After God confronted Adam with his sin, he promised that a man would one day come who would crush the head of the serpent. This is understood to be the first promise related to our salvation. Adam sinned and died, God promised that a solution to that death would be coming someday in the future.

Throughout the Old Testament the fulfillment of that promise is intertwined with the illustration of the sinfulness of man. The seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman are continually interacting in a sort of cosmic dance, both seeming to try to ensure the collapse of God’s plan, God working to maintain a clear recognition of the grace of God and to show the love and kindness of God to anyone who would listen.

In the process, God told Abraham to move his family to the land he wanted to give them. They wandered around the desert for a few hundred years until Moses was raised up to bring them into the land again. Then the anointed of the Lord was chased around the desert for 40 years until David finally brought the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem where Solomon eventually built a temple to the Lord.

Then the people and the kings spent a few hundred years rebelling against God, until he brought Assyrian and Babylon to destroy Israel and haul the people off into captivity. After 70 years God brought the people back into the land where they resided until Jesus came to set them free.

Through all of this turmoil we see that sin was the reason why man and God did not get along. The reason bad things happen to people is because they continually choose to do things their own way. We are very much like two-year-olds, want to “do it” by themselves. One of the consistent things about God, however, is that he will not share his glory with anyone or anything else. Man is creation and God is Almighty.

The Biblical pattern of sinful humanity constantly rebelling against God is spotlighted over and over again so that we will know and recognize that sinfulness is a universal affliction and a very serious problem. Since Adam’s first sin, everyone sins. We sin because we are sinners, born into Adam. We are Adamic.

The bad news is that our sin has separated us from God (Is. 59:2). This separation is called death in the Bible. Some think that God lied when he said that Adam would die if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thinking that Adam didn’t really die. But Adam did die. Death in the Bible means separation from God. Separation of the soul from the body is a kind of death, but if it is describing a Christian, it is only a temporary situation and thus not really a death at all. The Bible also tells us that when Adam died, we all died. It says that before Christ intervened in our lives, we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). The worse news is that unless a miracle happens dead people are dead.

Here comes the good news. The Bible tells us that God is Love. The fact that God is love compelled him to do something about the fact that his created ones were dead because of their rebellion and sin. In love, he created what we call the sacrificial system. The Old Testament sacrificial system makes a way for God’s people to be forgiven for their sin and made alive through the death of a bull or a goat. A sacrificial animal needed to be perfect, spotless, without defect. He could not have any broken bones. The priest who offered the sacrifice on the altar had to identify with the sacrifice by putting his hands on the animal’s head and thus transfer the sins of the people to the animal. The bull was then killed and he died in the place, or as a substitute, for the people. They performed this procedure every year on what was known as the Day of Atonement. It was the day when men’s sins were forgiven and God and men were once again one in their relationship.

The book of Hebrews, however, tells us that the fact that this had to be done year after year proved that this was not a permanent solution to the problem (Heb. 9). Over the course of the centuries, it was slowly revealed through the prophets that at some point there would be a person who would come and save God’s people from their sin. Another Adam. According to Psalm 8, Isaiah 53 and many other places it became clear that this would be a man. He would be a man like Adam. And because he would give his life for his people as a sacrifice for sin, he had to be a man who fulfilled all the particulars of the Old Testament sacrificial system.

The author of Hebrews goes to great length to show us that Jesus was that man. He was with God in creation, he was higher than the angels, he was a greater prophet than Moses, he came as a priest according to the order of Melchizadek (a priest and a king), he was a greater high priest than any Israel had ever seen.

One of the reasons he was a great high priest was the same reason he was a perfect sacrifice. He was completely Adamic in every aspect of his being. He was born of a woman, He was baptized into John, he was tempted like all men, he suffered, he bled, he died and he did it all without sinning. He never turned away from his father in heaven. He always brought honor and glory to the one for whom he lived. He was never tempted beyond what he could bear. He was a perfect Adam. He was the last Adam.

I know you know all of this, but it is good to hear again and again. Here are a couple of things to consider as you go out this evening:

First: If he was a perfect man, why did he die?

  • When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law (Gal 4:4). Born of a woman points to the fact that he was indeed human. He was not God inside a man, or God instead of a man, he was really a man. He hurt, he bled, he was happy, he laughed, he cried, he lived and he could die. Born under the law referred to the fact that he lived according to the law of God. He was subject to the blessings and the cursings of the law, even the condemnation of the law.
  • Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses (Rom 4:25). Jesus was delivered to the Jews and then to the Romans because of our trespasses. He was responsible for our trespasses. And so he was delivered up. He was tried and condemned in our place. He was responsible for our sins because he was the last Adam, our head, our leader, our representative.
  • Christ became a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree" (Gal 3:13). Jesus, being crucified meant that he became a curse. As our leader, as our head, as our last Adam, Jesus himself became a curse. Jesus died a curse and a stench in the nostrils of the Almighty God. And so God damned him and he died.
  • Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh (1Pe 3:18). Jesus really died because of the unrighteous God placed on him. He became unrighteous. As the last Adam he took our place on the Cross. There was no other way that our sins could be atoned for. He had to be a perfect sacrifice and he had to represent us as one of us and as our leader. He had to take our sins on himself and he had to be killed in our place in order for our sins to be punished.
  • Christ having been offered once to bear the sins of many (Heb 9:28). Jesus bore our sins on his own person. We are the many.
  • For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin (2Co 5:21). Not only did Jesus suffer for our sins, and die bearing our sins, he was made sin even though he had never sinned before in his life. Jesus became sin personified and suffered and died because of that sin.
  • For the wages of sin is death. (Rom 6:23). Ultimately, Jesus died because of his sin. He owned and took responsibility for our sin. He made it his.
Second, you should know that none of the benefits of Jesus life and death are of any value to you whatsoever, if nothing happened after he died. If this is the end of the story, Jesus is dead, buried, condemned, living eternally in Hell. As long as Jesus is dead none of any of this is true. Jesus is just another dead crucified, and cursed man.

  1. You are still guilty of your sins and for your sins and thus are still under wrath.
  2. You have no power over sin.
  3. The Spirit of God does not reside in you.
  4. You do not know God. You cannot pray to him, you cannot sing to him, you cannot worship him, and you don’t even want to.
  5. You hate Christians.
  6. You hate the Word of God.
  7. Because you live such a holier-than-thou life, you are to be pitied.
  8. You have not been redeemed.
  9. You have not been adopted.
  10. You have not been justified.
  11. You have not been nor will you be sanctified.
  12. You will not be glorified.
  13. You have not received salvation.
  14. You will not be spending eternity in Heaven.
  15. You are lost with no hope in the world, like all the rest of Adam’s race.
You are still in your sins.

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