Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
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.
As he does elsewhere, Paul places the account of salvation on a huge stage – nothing less than the story stretching from the first Adam to the second Adam.
He puts it even more succinctly in 1 Corinthians 15:22: ‘For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive.’ It’s by virtue of our union with Adam that we die, and by virtue of our union with Christ that we’re made alive.
And at the heart of this story is the cross.
We need it to be so. Though formed in the image of God to represent his good rule in the world, our reflection of that image is distorted. To be sure, threads of beauty, compassion, and industriousness are woven through the fabric of our lives; but so are threads of darkness, disease, and disorder. In our more honest moments, we need go no further than ourselves to be confronted with the twists and turns of the human heart. We walk tall, but fall short, and are unable to make good on our failings.
But there is another who does through his life what we cannot do in ours. There is another who, in his death, takes on the consequences of disobedience that rightly belong to us. Christ Jesus as the second Adam succeeds where the first Adam failed and undoes what the first Adam did – and what we have done since.
In doing so, wonderfully, the cross not only brings about the removal of guilt and the forgiveness of sins, but also creates a new humanity in Christ, people who now ‘put on the new self, which is being renewed in the image of its Creator’ (Colossians 3:10).
Crucially, Jesus does his work as second Adam in human flesh, and the salvation he brings about doesn’t remove us from our own body or our existence in the world. On the contrary, it makes us more truly human, more what we were designed to be. Precisely because of the one who has fulfilled the destiny for which we were made, whatever realm the Lord has placed us in – whatever family, job, school, church, or hobby – we can bear fruit in it, as men and women made and then remade in God’s image to represent and reflect the glory of his grace in all the earth.
Theology Advisor, LICC