Christianity 201

April 20, 2016

Resurrection: Dead in Adam, Alive in Christ

Wednesday contributor Clarke Dixon continues his Resurrection Facts series, begun last week. Click this link to read at source.

•••by Clarke Dixon

Have you ever had the experience of knowing something is coming and there is not a thing you can do about it? I remember vividly the first time I capsized a sailboat. You might think it would be a sudden thing and that you would find yourself in the water before you knew it. But it wasn’t. It seemed to happen in slow motion. With the boat laid over on its side, the hull slowly sank into the water. I even had time to say to my sailing partner that day “well, here we go.” We knew we were about to get wet and there was not a thing we could do about it.

The apostle Paul speaks of something coming that we can do nothing about: “For as in Adam all die.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) There is much that confirms this fact. History confirms it. Study the history of any era in any place and time and time again you will see the same thing has happened; “In Adam all die.” Look to science and the same thing is confirmed again. Indeed the news there is worse as scientists point out, quite matter of factly, that some day the sun will go out and the earth will be no longer life permitting. “In Adam all die.” Look to the arts, and there you will find many novels, poems, songs, music, paintings, and movies dealing with the theme of mortality and what is the meaning of life when “in Adam all die.”

Of course the Bible itself confirms that “in Adam all die.” We can look to the time death entered our world:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die. (Genesis 2:15-17)

Adam ate the fruit. The consequence was death: “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). Some may point out that Adam and Eve did not in fact die that day. However, they did start dying that day. When the Bible says “for as in Adam, all die” the word for ‘die’ is in the present tense so could be translated “in Adam all are dying.” We tend to think we grow until we are 20, have a perfect body until we are 60 and then we start the ageing process. Being in my mid 40’s I can attest to this being untrue with the ageing process being quite underway. We actually begin the ageing process at conception. Our bodies are continually changing so that even while we are living, we are also dying.

To continue in the Greek, “in Adam all die” is also in the active voice. This means it is something we do, something we are responsible for. We can speak of this or that disease “taking us,” but in fact it is we who are doing the dying. We are responsible. Now some will deny this. “Put me in the Garden of Eden, I would have done better!” But when we are being honest we will relate to Paul who said:

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death. (Romans 7:21-24)

“For as in Adam all die.” And there is nothing we can do about it.

Alive in ChristThat is the bad news. Is there any good news? Well yes, because we have only read one half of the verse so far: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Back to the Greek; “All will be made alive” is in the future tense, so even if we feel we are presently dying, hang on, death is not the end of the story. When we are “made alive” we will have a new beginning within God’s grand story.

“All will be made alive” is also in the passive voice, meaning it is not something we do or are responsible for. Someone will do for us something that we could never do. This takes us back to verse 3 of 1st Corinthians 15 where Someone does something for us: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” All those sins we have committed that show we are no better than Adam and are sharing in the same fruit? Yes, Jesus died for those. The bad news gives way to very good news!

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:24-25)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

This is very good news indeed but we might be very typical and think it is all about us. We get to enjoy eternal life. But there is more going on here. The resurrection of the dead is not just about us.

Consider that back in the Garden of Eden there seemed to be new rulers in town. The serpent was powerful in temptation. Adam and Eve were powerful in exerting their own will and doing their own thing. Soon Cain was powerful in the ending of his brother’s life. And on it goes down through history with people wielding power and enforcing wills. “Just try to stop me God!” With all that exercise of power let’s read what happens with the resurrection of the dead:

Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)

That can all sound quite complicated, but it points to something very simple; God’s rule, God’s sovereignty, for God’s glory. While salvation is really good news for what it means for us, it is also about the glory of God. He is “all in all.” The spanner thrown into the works by the evil one, and by Adam and Eve, does not upset God’s apple cart at all. Despite Satan’s best efforts to drive a wedge between humanity and God, despite Adam and Eve’s sin, despite yours and mine, The LORD will be

. . . among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them.
(Revelation 21:3)

God’s purposes will be accomplished, God’s Kingdom will come, God’s glory is intact.

Let us go back to the original question. Have you ever had the experience of knowing something is coming and there is not a thing you can do about it? The resurrection of the dead in Christ to eternal life is something Satan and the powers of evil know is coming  and there is not a thing they can do about it. When we repent and trust in the Lord Jesus, then our resurrection becomes something coming that no one can touch. Not because we are better than Adam, but because God is all in all.

All scripture references are from the NRSV except “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” which is taken from KJV.

Image: Augsburg Fortress Bulletins

1 Comment »

  1. : Resurrection: Dead in Adam, Alive in Christ
    Clarke’s point that in Adam all will die while in Christ all will live is certainly true. It is in the hope that Christ offers that mankind can truly count his blessings and look forward to a better future. There are details in his presentation however, that make all the difference in attaining one’s hope.
    The preposition “in” as “in Adam” and “in Christ” needs to be well understood. “In” is a position. To make it clear, those who are NOT in Christ are in Adam and they will die…not only physically, but spiritually. But, what does it mean to be “in Christ?” It is often presented that those who make a confession of faith are “in Christ.” The Lord made it clear that this was not necessarily the case. In the fifteenth chapter of John Christ admonishes His listeners to “remain in” Him. Since they are encouraged to remain in Him, it musts be that He is cautioning them not to depart from Him. John records, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4, NIV) And, “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” (John 15:5, NIV) Both of these verses are preceded by John 15:1, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit.” (NIV) These words of the Lord had been recorded by John, as well: “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a lave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family.” (8:34-35, NIV) To lack permanence means that one must have been considered in the family but that state will not remain for those who are slaves to sin. Those “in” Christ will live but they must be “in” Him.
    “This body of death” (Romans 7:24, NIV) needs to be given consideration. This might be understood to ‘this body that dies’ or ‘this body that brings about death.’ It is fair to say that in this instance Paul is taking about one’s spiritual death since he is talking about sin and the death it brings. In either case the result is the same, the physical body that all mankind possesses will die, but who is to rescue believers from spiritual and eternal death? It is Christ. “Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:25, NIV)
    There are several places where Paul reminds his readers that all will be judged for things done in the body. “For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one might receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NIV) The deeds of the body will bring about the destruction of some. The body is certainly an instrument that Satan uses to bring about one’s death, even that of the one who has confessed the lordship of Christ but has not lived it. (Revelation 22:5) “He [Christ] will punish those who do not know [appreciate] God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.” (2 Thessalonians1: 8-9, NIV)
    As Clarke points out the salvation of man will be for God’s glory. He will be “all in all.” That means that He will be everything in all things. Concerning those who will be privileged to dwell with Him, He will be everything in each of them. It should not be surprising that Paul has presented that “Christ in you is your hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27, NIV) He must increase (be everything) in the believer’s life so that his old nature is willed to death and Christ is allowed to rule and exercise His life just as He did in the body that God had prepared for Him in the womb of Mary. The believer is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Romans 8:29)
    The devil is still “throwing the spanner” into the life of the believer. He is to endure to the end (Matthew 10:22) and he is to achieve victory (Revelation 7:21) through his presence in Christ (Colossians 1:27) and the utilization of His power. (2 Peter 1:3) Satan can still persuade to find fellowship with Adam and the world.

    Comment by Russell Young — April 23, 2016 @ 12:08 pm | Reply


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