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Online Text Sermon - Adam and Christ, 1 Corinthians ch.15 vv.21-22

PreacherRev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness
Sermon TitleAdam and Christ
Text1 Corinthians ch.15 vv.21-22
Sermon ID2022

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Now you will find the text this morning in 1 Corinthians 15, 21-22:

"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15, 21-22)

Let me ask you this question: How many families are there in the world? Well you would say, thousands, and indeed millions, which would be true. But there are two families in the world which are extremely important, more important than all the other families upon earth. And these two families are what are mentioned in my text: "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." The way the Bible explains the condition of the world is this. There are two families upon earth: there is Adam's family, and there is Christ's family. And every one of us, and all others, are either in the one family or else they're in the other. You cannot be in both at one and the same time - you are either in the one family, or else you're in the other. Which means this: that if you are in Adam's family you are lost and on the way to hell, which is very bad news; but if you're in Christ's family you are saved and on the way to heaven, which is very good news. Now we are not born into Christ's family, we are born in Adam's. To get into Christ's family we must be born again, what we call the second birth or the new birth.

The apostle Paul writing here talks then about two Adams - the first Adam and the last Adam, which is Christ. And he explains to us the importance of understanding about these two Adams. One of the points we must begin with is this, that we must believe that Adam, at the beginning of Genesis, was a real person. There have been theories and ideas, which even some Christians have held, that Adam was not meant to be an individual person but that he was a sort of poetical description of how the human race began. Now that cannot be true and it cannot be right and we mustn't believe that. Oh no, Adam was a real person and he had an individual, personal existence - he was a real man. And the proof of that is that Christ is a real person also, and these two are compared and contrasted - Adam and Christ - as I hope to show you in a moment. But I think you would have noticed in the reading in Romans 5, 12-19 that Paul there is comparing and contrasting Adam with Christ; he refers to them as two men. And if Christ was a man and a person, so also must Adam have been a person, and he was. Therefore all evolutionary thinking and all Darwinian thinking that suggests that Adam was merely a poetical term for the beginning of the human race must be ruled out. No, Adam was not a mythical figure, he was not part of some fairytale, he was not a mere name without a person behind the name; he was a real person. He was the first father of the entire human race - a real person just as Christ is. Otherwise the comparison between Adam and Christ as the first and last Adams would have no meaning, but it does have meaning.

So my dear friends, the importance of this subject is this: that if we wish to get to heaven we must make sure that we get out of Adam and get into Christ. And that's what the salvation of the gospel tells us we must do. There are these two Adams, the first and the last - Adam and Christ. We are born in Adam; we must get out of Adam. We are not born in Christ; we must be born again to get into Christ. Nobody is in both Adam and Christ - that's the wrong way of thinking. Those in Adam are an 'old man'; those in Christ are a 'new man'. We are not both an old and a new man - that's the wrong way of thinking. When we are in Christ we are a new man, not that we are a perfect man; there are still the remnants of sin in the best of believers but it's not right thinking or a right definition to say to those who are Christians that they are both an old man and a new man - that is a wrong way of thinking of the subject. A Christian is a new man with indwelling sin. So the apostle Paul then brings us this subject when he says: "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

1. Christ is the second and the last Adam

And the first heading I bring to you is this simple one: Christ is the second and the last Adam. That's the first point Paul is making - Christ is the second and the last Adam. And that is made clear here in the statement: "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." And it is also made in Romans 5, 12 and following, where there is that sustained contrast between the historic Adam at the beginning of the world's history and the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ who is the last great Adam.

Now we refer to Christ and Adam in this way. We say that both of these persons, Christ and Adam, we say they were and are public persons - 'public persons': that's the technical term we use - and I want to say to you how important it is to understand that, that Christ and Adam were public persons. What do we mean by that? Well we mean this: that their actions involved all those whom they represented. Adam and Christ are representatives of millions of people, and their actions - Adam and Christ - affect billions of people beside themselves. Let me put this very simply so that even children can understand, and we're so delighted to have young people here because children are so precious to us aren't they?

If I do something wrong, you don't get blamed for it. Let's use an illustration. Supposing very stupidly I got drunk and drove my car and knocked somebody down and injured them. Well I'd be punished for that - rightly so, because I'm guilty. But you wouldn't be punished for it. On the other hand, if one of you did something wrong like stealing from a shop, I wouldn't be punished for it because it's not my blame. The guilt is yours, not mine. And in my previous illustration, where I'm knocking somebody down in a car after drinking drink, it's my blame not yours. In other words, blame is not transferable. Guilt is not transferable. If you do the wrong thing you are to be punished, and so with me. But in the case of public persons it's not like that. The action of a public person - Christ or Adam - affects millions.

Now, in the case of Adam, what did he do? He disobeyed God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the beginning of history. He did not act in that way as a private person but as a public representative of the whole human race. Therefore when he sinned we sinned. Or, putting it another way: the guilt of his disobedience is reckoned to all his children. That's why the world is the place it is - we're all born evil. The thing that makes you and me sinners is not that we commit sin. In the first instance, that's not what makes us sinners. What in the first instance makes us sinners is that Adam took from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, disobeying God, and as a public person representing all his posterity the guilt of his first sin is immediately reckoned to us all, even the baby in the womb who hasn't yet spoken a word or committed any actions; he is guilty of Adam's first sin because that child is in Adam. That's the way the Bible represents it. Now I don't doubt for a moment that that comes as a shock to many people who have never thought of that. To those of you who are Bible readers and Bible students it's no shock; but to the man in the street, as it were, it's a great shock to realise that the guilt of Adam's first sin is imputed to the whole human race. And they may say, "But that's not fair! I wasn't alive those thousands of years ago when Adam committed sin; why should I be blamed for what somebody did several thousand years ago?" Well, it's because Adam was a public person.

Let me put it another way, another illustration. When a nation goes to war, as we did in 1939 against Nazi Germany, you didn't have a say (well, perhaps you weren't living, but supposing you were - some of us were living at that time). We didn't have a say in whether to go to war or not. It was the leaders in London, the Head of State who signed the Declaration of War, "We now, as Britain, go to war against Nazi Germany," and they put their signature to that Declaration of War, and the nation is at war. Now you may be living up here in Inverness or somewhere and you may say, "But I don't want to go to war with anybody." Ah, that's not relevant. If the Head of State signs a declaration saying he'll go to war, we're all involved; and in the next days you and I and others are called to put on a soldier's uniform and to use a gun and to start fighting, or going up in the air as a pilot or something, or on the sea as a sailor. We have no option. If our Head of State signs a document, we have no option - we're all at war; or alternately at peace, whichever it may be. Because the representative of a nation acts on behalf of us all and we're all immediately involved, like it or not like it.

So it is with Adam and Christ. What the head of the family does affects the entire family. And that's what's meant by the fact that these are public persons. Now what was the framework within which these public persons acted? Well the way the Bible puts this to us is, it says that they were heads of two covenants. Now what's a covenant? A covenant is an arrangement made by God upon which he will have friendly relations with us - that's what a covenant is. It is a relationship ordained by God on the basis of which he will be our friend or our enemy. If we, within a covenant, act in a way which pleases God then he will have us as his people and he will be to us a God. And if we don't, he won't.

Now Adam, when he disobeyed God, he broke the terms of the Covenant of Works. That was the first covenant God made with man - the Covenant of Works is the term we give to it. It was broken when Adam sinned. And it has been broken ever since. That's why the world is the place it is - a place of war, of crime, of death, of trouble. That's what's referred to here in my text: "In Adam all die." Well we do, don't we? We are all going to have to die, every one of us. Even the youngest child, a babe in arms perhaps, they're all going to have to die, and you know that. Why do we have to die? Answer: because Adam sinned and broke the Covenant of Works, so death is the consequence. That's what Paul is arguing at considerable length in Romans 5, 12 and following. Because Adam was a public person, he was a covenant head.

And the same is true with our blessed Lord Jesus Christ - in reverse. Christ is the second and last Adam to put right everything that Adam put wrong. And the covenant under which Christ does his glorious work is called the Covenant of Grace, which is an arrangement worked out, ordained, by almighty God with terms such that because Christ has done what he has done, and suffered what he has suffered, and risen again from the dead, because of what Christ is and has done as our representative, we, when we believe in him, are in a right relationship with God. And we shall never die, in the highest and deepest sense of the word; we shall die physically but that's nothing compared with the deeper death which awaits the wicked who die in Adam.

So this is what the apostle Paul is saying here. Christ and Adam are similar: they're both covenant heads, they're both public persons, they're both representatives of the two covenants - Adam, head of the Covenant of Works; Christ, head of the Covenant of Grace. In Adam we are ruined because the imputation of his sin makes us all guilty and liable to punishment and death and hell, which is the deeper death. But Christ has come, and when we believe in him, what he has done by his obedience of bringing in righteousness and life, we are saved.

So these are the only two families, really, to matter. It doesn't matter whatever families you're in. We all have our family name, don't we? Whether it's a Scots name or an English name or a Welsh name or a Chinese name - we all love our family name. But the one family which is all important to belong to is this one - Christ's family, the Covenant of Grace, the covenant which God has made with sinners in Christ by which, when we come to be in him, we are no longer regarded as in Adam, guilty, liable to death and hell, but saved and on our way to heaven and to glory. Because these two - I'll say it again - are what we call 'public persons', they are covenant heads, Adam and Christ; they are the only two responsible persons in the history of mankind who will affect the human race by their actions in that public way.

2. Christ brings life to all those who believe in him

A second heading I bring you is this: Christ brings life to all those who believe in him. Look at my text, verse 22: "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15, -22) Now the 'all' in Adam means the entire human race who live and die in Adam. But the second part of the verse, 'all' those in Christ, mean all those who come to believe in Christ in the course of their lifetime, all those who are saved by Christ, all those who trust in Christ, all those who die believing in Christ and in the Covenant of Grace. So you see, these two men, Adam and Christ, are similar and yet opposites - similar and yet entirely dissimilar. What the one brings for evil the other brings for good. And so we're told now then that Christ brings life, that's what is said: "Even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Now what is death? There are three kinds of death in the Bible: there's death temporal, death spiritual, and death eternal. And all three of these will come to those who live and die in Adam, in the Covenant of Works. What is meant by temporal death? Well temporal death means the separation of body and soul - that's what most people, and the man in the street, call death. And the definition of death, as the man in the street understands it, means the separation of body and soul. And the person who is in Raigmore Hospital or somewhere and they die, then what happens is that their soul, which has lived in the body for the duration of its lifetime, has now left the body and has gone into eternity to be judged by God, and immediately goes either to heaven as a Christian or to hell as an unbeliever. That's what temporal death is, separation of the soul from the body.

What is spiritual death then? Well spiritual death means the separation of the soul from God, and that's the condition in which we are all born. We are born with our soul separated from God: we don't have fellowship with God, we don't love God, we don't pray to God naturally as we come into this world. Only when we are converted, only when we come to believe in Jesus as Saviour, only then do we begin truly to have fellowship with God and to love God, and to serve God, and to pray to God; because that spiritual death is finished as soon as we are converted and come to faith in Christ. The life then comes from Christ. It's his life that brings new life to us.

Now what is eternal death? - because there are only three forms of death: death temporal, death spiritual, death eternal. What is eternal death? Eternal death is separation of our soul and body from God forever in eternal punishment. That of course is the unspeakably terrible end of all who continue in Adam throughout their lifetime and never come to be in Christ. That is the terrible condition of the ungodly, of the unbeliever, of those to whom God imputes sin always. And of course after death there is no escaping from that condition; it is an eternal condition. But happily, those who come to faith in Christ, that believe in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, he gives to them this life. So although the Christian must die temporally, yet he will never die either spiritually or eternally. But as soon as the Christian dies, his soul being released from his body goes straight to heaven and to glory in what we call the 'intermediate state', that is the state of happiness in glory between death and the end of the world when the resurrection of the body will occur.

So Christ brings us life in three forms. First of all he brings us the new birth, which is the giving of life to our soul - that's conversion. That's the first form of life Christ gives us in his covenant; life whereby we come to understand the gospel, we see the truth of the Bible. Now we don't see the truth of the Bible before we're converted. To us before we're converted the Bible is a dull old book and people discard it, put it under the corner of the television just to keep one corner of the television in place, or they put lots of newspapers on top of it to bury it. The Bible means nothing really to us until we come to Christ and then the Bible means everything to us. But the life whereby we come to appreciate the Bible to be God's word is from Christ; the new birth is from Christ. The Son of God gives life to our soul and makes us new men and new women in Christ, and new children.

Then secondly, the second form of life that Christ brings to us is life when physical death takes place or temporal death. As soon as the soul leaves the body of a Christian, immediately his soul is in glory. You may say, "How long does it take for the soul to leave the body and to get into glory?" The answer: it takes this long [claps his hands] - just like that. As soon as the soul leaves the body it is in glory - I'm speaking of Christians. Of course the reverse is true with the non-Christian: as soon as the soul leaves the body [again claps his hands] - that fast he's in hell. There's no time at all - just the twinkling of an eye and the soul is either in glory or in that awful place of punishment. And so the second form of life that Christ gives us is this: it is life for the soul in the intermediate state between death and judgement. And the soul is perfectly holy and perfectly happy in that condition, but incomplete because our body of course is still in the grave and will remain in the grave until the trumpet sounds and the dead are raised in the resurrection day at the end of the world. Because, you understand it, when the trumpet sounds and the dead are raised, all the bodies will rise from the earth and from the sea - all the bodies - every single human body which has been in the grave and disintegrated into dust over the centuries, those who have been eaten by lions, those whose bodies have been drowned in the sea, bodies burned in the fire, bodies that have mouldered for centuries in the earth - all these bodies will suddenly come to life again, every single one, from Adam (he wasn't the first martyr of course; it was Abel who was the first person to die)... from Abel right to the last person to die, all their bodies will suddenly come to life and the souls of all those who have ever lived will come back into their bodies and they will be animated again. And they will appear in two forms. The wicked will appear with their resurrection bodies, terrible for ugliness, terrible for reproach, terrible for the sinfulness which betokens their inward condition. But the righteous of whom Paul is speaking, their bodies will come forth beautiful for holiness, shining with the image of God upon them. Body and soul now will be absolutely perfect in the state of resurrection glory.

And the third form of life then that Christ gives to us is resurrection life. As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all (all believers) be raised, and raised so that body and soul together - both - will enter into the glory of heaven and there they will enjoy God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, and the communion which they have with Christ for ever and ever, he will feed them and lead them to living fountains of waters; he will wipe all tears from their eyes; he will give them glory and immortality and eternal life and endless happiness with God, when the wicked are cast out into outer darkness.

Now this is the life then which the apostle Paul refers to, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Now beloved friends, it was no easy thing for Christ to do this. He didn't do this as easily as you and I could wind up a clock on the mantelpiece by turning a key or something. It wasn't as easy as that. Even though Christ is the Son of God, it was immensely expensive for him to give us this life. He could only give us this life by himself entering into death - that's the way he had to do it. In order to ratify the conditions of the Covenant of Grace and to obtain permission whereby you and I should have the Holy Spirit restored to us, he had to suffer infinite pains in his life and death in this world. That's what the cross achieved. Our Lord had to be damned by God Almighty, for my sins and yours, to undo the effects of the Covenant of Works and to bring in the effects of the Covenant of Grace. Our Lord Jesus Christ had to go through agonies of body and of soul, crying out on the cross: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" In other words, Christ had to drink of the cup of eternal death and damnation on the cross in order to bring life to you and to me. And I say this because we must appreciate that it was a very costly achievement of our Lord. We praise men that do very valiant things. We were hearing on the radio I think a day or two ago of an old man of 113, I think it was, the oldest man in this country, he had fought in the First World War, and he was being mentioned as a man worthy of respect and honour. He had given everything he could for the protection of this country in the First World War. Of course we honour such people. And those who do remarkable achievements, they are worthy of respect and honour. But oh my friends, in my text is Somebody who deserves more respect and honour and love than anyone who ever existed in this world - the Lord Jesus Christ who for us men and for our salvation was made sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

3. Christ brings also resurrection from the dead

So, briefly and thirdly and finally, let me say that Christ brings also resurrection from the dead. This is what my text tells us: he gives life but also he brings us resurrection of the body - that's what resurrection means; it means the body being dead and yet being brought to life again; that's the meaning of resurrection. Now this is of great importance to you and to me because we're all going to die, every one of us, sooner or later - perhaps sooner than we think. We're going to die. Even children can die, as we very well know. This swine flu is going as a pandemic round the world, it's claimed many victims; for all we know it may claim thousands more and millions more - we don't know how many more victims it will claim. We must all of us be ready for the day when perhaps you and I, by that means or some other means, will be summoned out of this world by death. Well here's the good news. If we trust in Christ, if we are trusting his blood and his death and his righteousness, if we are in Christ, in the Covenant of Grace, then we have nothing to fear and we can say to death: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" True, I'm going to be buried in the ground, but only for a short time. My body's going to be put into the cemetery but only for a short time. And they'll put a stone at the head of it and they'll say, "Here lies the minister of this congregation" (or whoever it is) and then say nice things about you and nice texts of scripture. I hope you've got your text ready. I've got mine: "I know that my Redeemer liveth" (Job 19, 25) - there's my text. I don't know what yours will be. But that's what I want on my stone. Now the question is, it's only for a time. When the trumpet sounds and Jesus comes back, all our bodies rise from the grave and if we're Christians we rise with our body and soul to meet the Lord and to enter into resurrection glory. And I say as I close, dearest friends, this is good news. This is what we call the gospel, which is an old word meaning good news. You know, our fathers who lived in these islands of ours before the gospel, in the olden days before the Romans came, our fathers lived and died and went to hell. There was no gospel in those days. And there are plenty of countries in the world where there is little or no gospel still. We have the gospel, we have Christ preached to us, and the resurrection from the dead. Let us therefore value this glorious message and make sure that every one of us is trusting in Jesus.

I have almost finished but I want to end up with something for the children, a little story. And I hope you find it illustrates everything I've said. It's a true story and it refers to the year 1919, the first day of the year, and the night before, which is the last day of 1918 - the end of the First World War. It's a true story. There was a soldier coming back from war in 1918, the last day of the year, and he came to the Highlands. I think he came to Kyle of Lochalsh. He was an islander from Lewis and he wanted to get home to Lewis to see his family. The war was now over after these terrible years of fighting. Thousands and millions had died but he had survived. So he came to somewhere like Kyle of Lochalsh. Now he came there because there were two ships berthed side by side and he was put on one of them. They were both going to sail up to Lewis and he was going to meet his family. But when he got on this ship called the Iolaire - a big ship with tall masts, he looked across at the other boat and there he saw a nice girl that he was fond of so he wanted to have a word with her, but he wasn't allowed to leave the ship. So this is what he did. When the darkness came down - and of course at that time of the year the darkness comes very early, about 4 o'clock - and no one was looking, he got hold of a rope and he swung from this boat to that boat and dropped off to have a word with this young lady. Perhaps he was fond of her; I don't know what the reason was. Anyway, that's what he did. And he continued on this second boat. So his boat went off without him, called the Iolaire. What he didn't know then was this: that the Iolaire was going to sink in the bay just before it reached Stornoway and lots of the men who had gone through the war were drowned in sight of their own loved ones on the shore just a few hundred yards away. They went down terribly and they drowned within an inch, you could say, of their own homes - a terrible occasion. The fires were burning, the kettles were ready to make cups of tea, everyone was so happy that soldiers were back. And in sight of their own loved ones the ship went down with many hands drowned. But this man had swung from one ship to the other and his ship got safely there. That's what you must do. You must change your ship. You were born in a ship called 'Adam' but you must make sure you get into the ship called 'Christ', because in Adam all die, and in Christ all are made alive.

So I asked you to start with, how many families are there? Answer: two. And my last question: which family are you in? Make sure it's Christ.

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