Dr. S. Lewis Johnson discusses the basic Christian doctrine of God's covenant with Adam and Christ as representatives of the human race.
[Message] This morning we are turning to Romans chapter 5 and reading verse 12 through verse 19 in one of the most important of Paul’s sections from the doctrinal standpoint, and yet one of the more difficult sections. The apostle writes,
“Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death past upon all men for that all have sinned (Now my text begins a parenthesis at this point and it does seem to be true to the flow of Paul’s thought). 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 hath not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him who was to come.”
This passage incidentally is one we’re not going to deal with today. And so I’ll just state what obviously is Paul’s major point. It’s simply this; the apostle is trying to show that men sin because of what Adam did in the Garden of Eden and men are under condemnation because of what Adam did in the Garden of Eden. And so his point in verse 13 and 14 is to prove that. And the way he proves it is rather simple. He says you will remember that for the hundreds of years between the Fall in the Garden of Eden there was no law. The law was given a couple of thousands of years later at Mount Sinai. Now, sin was in the world, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. That is it’s not reckoned as worthy of death in the sense of which Adams sin was.
But nevertheless, Paul says, men died during the period of time. So from Adam to Moses men lived and men died, but sin was not reckoned when there was no law, and there was no law. Therefore, to answer the question, “Why did men die?” it’s obvious they died because of Adam’s sin. That’s Paul’s point. It’s plain and clear. And the apostle continues with that in mind in verse 15 through 19. He says,
“For not as the offence so also is the free gift, for if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ has 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 offense unto justification. For if by one man’s offense 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.”
So it’s evident the apostle is saying men died because of what Adam did, men lived because of what Christ did. It’s plain he sees a very, very important comparison between Adam and Christ. Of course, most of the things are by contrast. But the fact that each effected those who were related to them is the point of comparison. So he sums it up in verse 18 and 19,
“Therefore, as by the offense 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.”
This is good Pauline theology. What lies back of it? Well, that’s the point of the message this morning, and we’ll try to justify Paul. God doesn’t need justification, but his words do demand a measure of explanation. That’s why he has given us the facilities with which we can understand in a clearer way the things that are found in the word of God.
I hope that after the message this morning you will leave with a better understanding of what Paul is trying to say. May God bless this reading of his word. Let’s bow together in prayer.
[Prayer] Our heavenly Father, we give Thee thanks and praise of the word of God. And Lord while we recognize there are many things in the Scriptures that are difficult for us, some things we do not understand even yet. We rejoice, however, in the things that we do. And we ask, Lord, that Thou wilt continue to enlighten us, give us motivation for the study of the Scriptures and for submission to them and to our Lord of whom they speak. And we pray that through the knowledge that Thou doest give us we may serve Thee and this world in which Thou hast placed us in a way that will glorify the name of our triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We prayer for the Church of Jesus Christ today and all of its local manifestations. And we pray for Believers Chapel, for its elders, and for its deacons, and for its members and friends, and the visitors who are here today. We recognize, Lord, that there are many, many aspirations which belong to all of us, and many needs, and many concerns, but Lord we bring them to Thee. We ask that Thou wilt do with them in a way that will glorify Thy name.
We pray especially for the sick, and ill, and troubled, and perplexed. We ask for healing in accordance with Thy will. We thank Thee Lord for this country of which we are apart, and we pray for our president and for all who are associated with him in government. May the ministry of the word of God in our day be fruitful. May it run and have full course. And we especially pray for the ministry of the word in the United States in America and then to the four corners of the earth. Bless the outreach of the chapel. Bless its radio ministry, and its publications and other forms of outreach.
We give Thee thanks again, Lord, for the blessing of life, and especially eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. We pray in his name. Amen.
[Message] Our subject his morning is “Redemption by Covenantal Representation”. When we talk about covenantal representation it’s not surprising that the message should begin with an acknowledgement of the fact that it’s a neglected subject because it’s not easy to speak about covenantal representation. It’s not easy to explain it. It’s not easy to respond to it. Naturally human beings do not like the idea of covenantal representation, though they would not really know how to explain why they do not like it. But nevertheless, in spite of that it undergirds the whole story of human redemption. And that is why in our series on “The Important Christian Doctrines”, that is the limited number that we are looking at, it should be among them.
When we think about covenantal representation we of course may use that term “covenantal representation”. And by that we mean simply that the Lord Jesus represents us in covenant. And in a full explanation of it we would also precede that by the recognition that Adam too has represented us by convent. The covenant made between the Lord God and Adam in the Garden of Eden, the covenant works he broke. But we are related as the people of God to the Lord Jesus, the last Adam, by covenant too. In fact, the whole covenantal program of the Old Testament reaches its climax in the ratification of the new covenant by the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All Christians remember very well that Jesus, at the first Lord’s Supper and last Passover, took the wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is shed for many for the redemption of sin.” And so he ratified that new covenant in the shedding of his blood; the Lord’s Supper being a constant reminder of that important fact. The Lord Jesus is our covenantal representative and so he stands for us in all that he did. That’s why we are so sure that we do have eternal life because it rests ultimately upon that which he has sovereignly and completely done.
We might simply speak of this as representation, and if we understood something about the Scriptural story we would know its representation by covenant. Strictly speaking representation is not a big term, or should I say a meaningless term, for moderns at all. President Reagan is our representative and he carries on foreign policy for us as our representative. We have two senators in Washington and those Senators are our representatives in the Senate. We have representatives in the Congress, also, who are our representatives and they are many ways in which were acquainted with the idea of representation.
Sometimes in Scripture this is referred to as simply “union with Christ” or “union” since we were joined to Adam as our natural and federal or covenantal head. Those two terms are synonymous; federal and covenantal. Well, that world fides means covenant. So our federal head was Adam, and the federal head of the people of God is the Lord Jesus Christ, but you can speak of that in the sense of union. We were united with Adam in covenant and we are united with the Lord Jesus as his people in covenant, “God the Father having given us to Him,” so he says in John 17 verse 1 and 2.
Well, the natural man’s enmity to the truth of the Bible, in my opinion, centers around this. The natural man does not like to recognize the fact that Adam was our federal head. And the natural man does not like to think that Jesus Christ is the only federal head that saved men shall ever have. We do not like to think of Adam as our federal head because that might suggest that we all fail in Adam and we’re all sinners. And then we don’t like to think of Jesus Christ as our federal head because the world does not respond to the truth that salvation resides only in Christ. They like to think that they may be saved in other ways as well. And so the idea that Jesus Christ is the federal head of all the people of God is a truth that usually provokes enmity. That’s why Paul says, “The mind of the flesh is enmity against God. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
I think one of these days when you’re dreaming, and if you should ever dream about a service in Believers Chapel you’ll probably dream about me reciting Romans 8:7 and 8. Paul says, “For the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them for they are spiritually deserved.” We do not like to be told that salvation is only through Christ. As a matter of fact, we are often accused of arrogance, and pride and a lot of other things when we affirm this. But if we read the Bible we understand that’s what the Bible says. Then in that case we transfer our enmity to the Scriptures themselves.
But in the Scriptures we have representation. In other words, God does make distinction in men. “In Isaac shall they seed be called (not Ishmael).” “Jacob have a loved, Esau have I hated.” These are biblical facts and if we respond to the Bible then of course we must acknowledge those things. We must seek an explanation for them for they are there very plainly. When Paul preached in the city of Athens there were three response. Many of the people who were listening to him said, “Well here you again about this resurrection.” It sounded to them, they were so scripturally ignorant, as if resurrection was a new God. And then there were those who scoffed, but a few believed. That’s always the case. There are always scoffers. There are always people who find it difficult to respond to the word of God; the reason being that they were covenantally represented by Adam in the Garden of Eden and when Adam fell the race fell, and they’ve inherited the enmity manifested by Adam after he had fallen by the fact that when the Lord God came down into the Garden of Eden they hastily hid themselves in order to separate themselves from him.
Now, it’s my contention that you cannot understand the Bible if you do not understand covenantal representation. I do not think it’s possible. Ultimately, what is involved in this is an understanding of penile sacrifice through substitution. To put it another way: penal satisfaction through substitution. In other words, the Lord Jesus’ come has born the penalty for sin and he has satisfied the holiness of God and the justice of God by the blood that was shed, and he did it as a covenantal substitute. He bore what his people should have born and because he has born it all those for whom he has born it can no longer be judged by heaven. Their judgment has all ready taken place.
So right at the heart of the Christian doctrine of salvation is covenantal representation. But does the Bible teach it? Well, I’m thoroughly convinced the Bible does teach it. Do I understand it fully? No, I don’t understand it fully. But I think I understand a whole lot better than I did twenty years ago, and I think I understand a little better than I did about ten years ago. Now, let’s take a look at it. I think you will see that covenantal representation, though the world turns a deaf ear to it, though the world does not like it, that there is no more marvelous way by which God may have dealt with men than by covenantal representation. I think if you will study this for yourself you will become convinced that God was as gracious as a human man can conceive grace to be in the way in which he has dealt with us.
So let’s look first at the crucial passage, Romans 5: 12 though 19. And I’ll not try to expound in detail because I’ve done that before more than once in your presence. And if you’re interested in a fuller justification of the few points that I want to lay stress upon I suggest that you go and get the tapes. In fact, others here in the chapel have taught the epistle to the Romans and generally, I’m sure, will give the same approach. And I recommend the tape ministry for you. I just lay stress on two or three things that are important.
The apostle begins by saying in the twelfth verse, “Wherefore, as,” or in the original text, “For this cause.” Now one might ask, “What’s the connection?” Well, I think it’s something like this. “For this cause,” referring to verse 1 through 11 in which it is stated, “We have salvation through one man, Jesus Christ.” So for this cause, this likeness exists between Christ and Adam. Just as all men are saved through Christ and through the representation of them by him, so also all men are lost by what happened to them in Adam as he represented all men.
Now, the master thought of this little paragraph is the unity of the many in one. That idea is true of Adam, and it’s true of Christ; the idea of the many in the one. In Adam’s case the race was in him. In Christ’s case the people of God are in him. Now he says, “Sin, condemnation, and death find their origin in Adam. On the other hand, righteousness, justification, and life find their origin in the last Adam.” The rest of the paragraph is largely contrastive. There is a solidarity between Adam the first and Adam the last. That’s why the Lord is called “The Last Adam”. There is a solidarity between those two, but in almost every way they are to contrasted. The one way in which they are alike is that what they do affects those who are in them. For example, in verse 12 he says, “All die because all sinned.” That’s a simple thought. Isn’t it? “Wherefore (Or “For this cause,”) as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, so death passed upon all men for all sinned.” All die because all sinned. That’s plain. Even a neophyte in Bible study could understand that.
Now, in verse 13 though 17 he says, “All die because one sinned.” Verse 12, ” All die because all sinned.” Verse 13 through verse 17, “All die because one sinned.” That’s simple, too. It’s the solidarity of representation. In fact to emphasize the point, Paul five times says that death and condemnation are according to the one sin of the one man. Isn’t that interesting? Five times. Even I can get that. five times. Look at them. Verse 15,
“For if through the offense of one many died, for the judgment came by one to condemnation, for it by one man’s offense death reigned by one therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.”
Isn’t that enough? Five times? Five times? That surely should enough. Five times he says, “Death and condemnation take place (result from) one sin by one man.” Well, that’s very important.
Now, one might ask how do we enter into the results of the activities of these two men. Obviously, I was not in the Garden of Eden. Some people have sought to establish the point that I really was there. [Laughter] Well, that is called the Doctrine of Realism in the study of Romans 5. And some of have sought to actually prove that. I’m sorry you laughed at it because at one time in my study of the Scriptures I rather thought there was truth in that. I didn’t realize I was so ridiculous in interpretation at that point. But nevertheless, we pass through stages. And I leaned very much upon the fact that when Abraham met Melchizedek, he paid tithes. And the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says that Levi paid tithes because Levi was in the loins of Abraham. And then it finally dawned upon that the writer of the Epistles of the Hebrews was speaking typically and not actually.
You see, it seemed to relieve me from a problem of, in those days, how I could be responsible for something that Adam did. And if it could be shown that I was really in him then maybe that offense was softened a little bit. But then as I thought about it afterwards, if I have a problem with being responsible for something that Adam did and it’s ameliorated, that means softened or made a little better, by being in Adam that forced me to consider, “How could I do something before I actually came into existence?” and that’s just as big a problem. So I realized that to understand Paul one must understand covenantal representation. He represented me. He was the divinely appointed representative for the race. So the reason or the means by which I received death, and the means by which I receive life through Christ is called in Scripture “reckoning” or by theologians “imputations”. That is the death of Adam is imputed to me, reckoned to me, because he is my representative. And so the righteousness of Christ is reckoned to me or imputed to me because Christ stands for me. he stands for the people of God; imputation.
So I’m treated as if I failed in Adam and I’m treated as conquering through Christ. That’s the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; that we are declared righteous on the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, of course, we don’t we enter into that until by the grace of God we are brought to rest in Christ just as I don’t feel the effects of having fallen in the Garden of Eden until I’m born in this world. And as a matter of fact, I begin to manifest it right from the beginning because when I was born I was born with my hands clenched. It’s vague in my mind, of course. [Laughter] But with my hands clenched and I was kicking and I was screaming. Now, some of the French doctors say that the reason that we kick and scream is because we’re usually born with bright lights. And so some of the psychologists have suggested that if we were born in the dark we wouldn’t kick and scream and that would make us a whole lot nicer in our life. But theory has not yet caught on. I have some friends that I think it might catch on with if they had heard about it, but I don’t tell them about that theory for that reason.
At any rate, the reason or the means or instrumentally by which these things become ours; in the case of Adam, we’re born into this relationship and this condemnation. And listen, we prove it by everything that we do from the time that we begin to breathe. And then entering into Christ is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit who brings us to rest upon him, renouncing our own righteousness; trusting in Christ’s righteousness for time and for eternity.
We sang this morning in that last hymn that he will be with us to the end. But my Christian friends, there is not end for us. Now, that’s what Paul says in 5: 12 through 21 in a nutshell.
The second thing I’d like to say a word about is the biblical illustrations of this principle. I’m speaking to those who haven’t read the Bible through. Did you know that this principle of representation pervades the word of God? It’s found in the word of God almost from the beginning and almost to the end. Take Ishmael. Ishmael knows about it, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” God made distinctions. He arranges history in a certain way. Now, I’m convinced it’s the best way, but I don’t necessarily understand all of the details of every point. But I think I understand that. Or to take Jacob and Esau. As we said a moment ago. “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated.”
Do you realize that when Esau sold his birthright that he didn’t affect just Esau? He affected all of his descendants. Everybody who descended from Esau was affected by what Esau did. The principle of representation and solidarity exists within our society. So for example, Moab and Ammon because they did not treat the children of Israel properly as they were in their exodus to the land, they are excluded from Israel forever, so the Lord God says.
When Korah disobeyed and sought to take over the priesthood who suffered? Korah? Yes. Korah’s wife and Korah’s children. Representation. Now, you might say, “I can just imagine this. I’d say that’s unfair.” But God does deal in these ways. Take Eli. Eli was high priest but he didn’t treat his children as the Lord God said that he should. And so as a result of this his whole house was affected by hiss failure in the ages that followed. Take David. David sinned in the case of Bathsheba, but as a result of his sin God said that there would be a sword in David’s house forever. Or take Gehazi, the servant of Elijah, Naaman’s leprosy was healed. Remember? And then Gehazi sought to obtain some benefits as a result of it. he came back to Elijah and Elijah said, “Gehazi, what did you do?” He put his finger upon him and then he pronounced a curse upon him. He said, “Naaman’s leprosy shall cleave to you and to your seed forever.”
Now, we could go on, and on, and on through the word of God. There are countless illustrations of the principle of representation. That’s a biblical principle. In fact, we even have in the New Testament an expression that probably is one of the most common of all expressing this fact. When Paul talks about the benefits of our relationship to the Lord Jesus, what characteristic expression does he constantly use? Why he says of believers that they are “in Christ”. What does he mean he says, “in Christ?” Well, he’s talking about covenantal representation. We are related to him. We are united with him. He and the saints of God form a body because he has dealt with the Lord God in their behalf.
How many times does “in Christ” occur? That’s a rhetorical question. One hundred and sixty four times. Not a one of you looked in your Bible and started reading to find out how many times it occurred. I don’t think you’re really interesting in how many times “in Christ” occurs. Well, do you know it does occur about a hundred and sixty four times? And if you added other little expressions like “in him”, “in whom”, “through whom”, etc, but particularly “in him”, “in whom”, you have over two hundred times covenant representation is set out in Scripture. That’s why I think this belongs among those important biblical truths.
Now where Paul learned this truth, well that’s an interesting question for New Testament scholars. Some would like to say he derived it from the Lord Jesus’ teaching in the Upper Room Discourse where he spoke about “me in ye and I in you”. That in essence is the though of union with Christ. Or perhaps on the Damascus road. Some have even suggested that Paul’s doctrine of union with Christ is simply the Damascus road put to doctrine, when he heard the Lord Jesus say, “Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me?” and he recognized that in persecuting the saints he was persecuting the Lord. And thus, there is some kind of union between the Lord and the saints. But it’s not necessary for us to deal with that.
I want to go on now in the rest of the time we have and speculatively justify this principle. I never heard anybody preach on it. Maybe after this your response will be such that no one will ever preach on it again. Who knows? [Laughter] But it’s so important it ought to be clarified. The great objection to the way God deals with mean is simply this. It’s manifestly unjust. Why should I be dealt with through Adam? And why should I be dealt with through Christ? On the one hand people object to being called sinners because Adam sinned. And on the other hand, they object to finding salvation only through Christ. They want to find salvation through the church, through their good works, through their culture, through their education and all of the other things which are insufficient to measure up to the righteousness and holiness of the Lord God in Heaven. But that’s human nature.
So they say it’s manifestly unjust. But I’d like to say, first of all, it is very unrealistic to say that. It’s unrealistic even if you’re a human being. Unrealistic for the simple reason that that’s a principle that pervades human like. Even if you knew nothing about the Gospel, nothing about the Bible, you could still talk about covenantal representation. Now you could, of course, define it in a little different way. You wouldn’t define it exactly as the Bible does, but you would probably say something like this. “The acts of our parents affect us.” That’s the way we are created. That’s the way the race is. That’s the way human beings are.
When I was growing up and was in college Edward VIII came to the throne. He lasted three hundred and seventy two days. He was a very popular king for less than a year. But when he announced that he was going to marry, one who was not royalty to start with, and then secondly who had all ready had two husbands and was in process in being released from the second and the king would be the third the result of it all was that Edward VIII abdicated. And we heard constantly the fact that he made his decision on account of the woman he loved. And then he spent his life largely in exile. Afterwards though, he was buried right there at Windsor Castle today.
Now, if Edward had had any children then all of his descendants would have been affected by his action. As a matter of fact, we don’t have to think about royalty. We can talk about the national debt. Yeah. That’s right. You’re in debt. Legally you’re in debt. “I don’t care,” you might say. “Our children are going to have to pay it. I go free. I take social security and all of the rest of the things that I have and they pay for them. How nice.” Our society is built for representation. It’s sad. We have to pay our debts. We ought not to leave our children with that. But the fact is that they’ll be responsible.
Everything that we do, as a matter of fact, affects others. The alcoholic who wastes his life finds it reflected in his children. The drug addict finds it reflected in his children. The man who inherits a fortune and wastes it; his children have no recourse. They cannot go to court and say, “That’s unfair. It ought to be mine.” Our society is built on this. Think about it. Why? Well, because God has arranged it that way ultimately. That’s why. So even if we didn’t want to even talk about the scriptural thing we’d have to say, “This doctrine of representation has empirical support.”
But now, let’s for just a few moments think about what God could have done. If he’s going to have a human being, what could he do? Well, option number one; Adam could have been created as he was and left in a natural relationship to the Lord God under the law of retributive justice forever. In other words, if he obeys he enjoys the Garden of Eden. If he disobeys he dies eternally. In other words, his safety would be forever contingent; conditional. Now, I ask you a question my friend.
Would you like that? I wouldn’t. do you know why? I have the sneaking suspicion that I wouldn’t last as long as Adam did. I don’t want that kind of arrangement. The result would be universal ruin because man is finite by creation and the variety of trials that may be brought to me would be infinite coming from an infinite God. And what would be the result after maybe a short period of time, but let’s say a lengthy period of time. What would be the result? God would have a planet and no people. So that option is out.
Strikingly, a lot of people kind of think deep down within without really thinking that maybe it’s what God should have done. Oh, no. I’m glad he didn’t do that. Well, what about the Pelagian plan? This is a common plan people have suggested. Adam should be left upon the earth, this is a second option, under limited probation; say just seventy years. Then if Adam succeeds he and his descendants have eternal life; or they don’t like to about his descendants, his descendants if they succeed have eternal life. And if he fails; Adam dies. Well, here’s the striking fact. The Pelagians who have offered this as their understanding of things because they say, “Men die because of personal sin.” Now, we all believe men sin personally but we die because of Adam’s sin. That is, we’ve all ready come under judgment for Adam’s sin, and we’re sinners and that’s why we sin. But let’s assume that there is no such imputation of Adam’s sin. And so we are left like this for seventy years, and this is the Pelagian scheme, but strikingly the Pelagians admit because they look out at human history and they admit everybody has sinned. And so to a good believer in representation, and we’re sinners because Adam sinned, what does the Pelagian say? How can you explain universal sin without exception. The only exception being the one person who wasn’t born as we are born; Jesus of Nazareth.
Why it’s simple, so they tell us, by example. Everybody says, “By example.” Of course, they doesn’t explain how Adam sinned. He didn’t have a sinner as an example; so Pelagian’s scheme. Furthermore my Pelagian friend, if it’s wrong for the principle of representation to apply with reference to guilt, in other words if representative guilt of Adam is irresponsible as you say, then is not representative salvation which you sometimes like to preach is not that irresponsible too? So if we fall by virtue of our own sins maybe we should be saved by our own righteousness.
Now, a pure Pelagian would say, “Yes.” But nobody would be saved because their standards are so low. So we’ll have to drop option two. That won’t work either. I have that feeling that God thought of this all a long time ago. Don’t you? [Laughter] I have the feeling he’s not learning a thing by my lecture this morning. [Laughter]
Well the option is the third option, which Paul has set forth. Adam is left under federal probation for a limited time. What’s the support of this? well, the creation itself supports it because the race is united by blood. You see, when Adam was created he was created as the root of the human race because he was also to be the head of the human race. He is the root and the head, and everybody comes from Adam. Now, of course, that won’t qualify you for the DAR or the DAC, or the Sons of Cincinnati because there are certain lines within Adam’s genealogy that are more preferable than others. But let me assure, the genealogy of all of us goes back to Adam. We all have a rather lengthy genealogy. Some of us go back through South Carolina, and thus are preferred. [Laughter] But others go through other states and you think that’s the preferable line. But at any rate, the race is united by blood. We are not a collection of individuals belonging simply to the same class like birds that are not related by blood. We’re not that. So Adam is the root, but he might be the head.
There are always some natural ties in our relationships; parents, children, even kings and subjects. But furthermore, this was the most favorable thing that God could do for the race. He put Adam, as we said, he put him in the Garden of Eden and gave him everything he could possibly give him. It was a model of parental provision for Adam. Furthermore, Adam was created as a mature man, not as an infant. If he had been created as an infant he would have sinned a long time before he did. But he was created as a mature man. That raises questions about the Pelagian scheme, which we don’t have time to talk about. But at any rate, he was created as a man. And furthermore, there were no bad examples around. And he had the noblest of motives. Positively, here is an opportunity to glorify the Lord God who created me for his marvelous goodness in this magnificent creation, this magnificent garden and for his creation of me. Marvelous motive. Furthermore, something even more significant, something no person individually could ever have. Adam knew that the race depended upon him. In other words, God gave him all of the motivation of standing for others, the kind of motivation perhaps that the pilot of the American Airlines 747 has when he flies with three hundred people in his plane and knows that their safety and measure depends upon him as over against the man who in the passenger cabin who realizes that, “I’m at stake, but that’s about all.”
So the greatest responsibility was given to Adam to provoke him to obedience. I don’t think there’s anything that God could have done that he did not do. Furthermore, if Adam had succeeded do you think there’d be people going around the world saying, “It’s unfair. Covenantal representation is unfair.” No, they never would. They’d all be happy about it. Well, I suggest to you that the results do not transform the principle. But if we can accept covenantal representation in Adam’s success we have all ready established covenantal representation as a principle.
So by sinning in another we can be redeemed by another. So representation to my mind is clearly a provision of divine grace. It’s the way by which God makes it absolutely certain that some people, the people of God, will be with him forever in the enjoyment of the forgiveness of sins and justification of life. Now, the natural doesn’t think much about it, but the natural man doesn’t even understand that Gospel. He hates the Gospel. But I say that when one understands this he’s come close to understanding the heart of God in our redemption.
Now, there is no one other option. Maybe you thought about it. Perhaps you can come up with a fifth. I think this is probably comprehensive, but if you come up with a fifth; fine. Write it down and give it to me. But there is a fourth option. We could say, perhaps Adam could be created conformed to God in holiness. Then we wouldn’t have any testing and we wouldn’t have any failing. We wouldn’t have any sin to be thinking about well, of course, we can simple say to this first of all the words that our Lord said on another occasion, “Even so it seemed good in thy sight on Lord to create men who could fall.” That’s what God has done. Therefore, we look for other reasons and the reasons I think are right to hand. We would never know his mercy and grace if he created everybody conformed to God in holiness. We would never know God as a gracious God who forgives sins on the basis of the blood of a redeemer. Further, we would have imperfect understanding of the justice of God, as well.
So to understand God and to know God, that’s the end of all life. And that is helped, and increased, and bettered, strengthened by doing what God has done. So then let me sum it up. Divine revelation in Scripture presents a God who in infinite wisdom created a scheme to glorify the Son of God, giving him an elect people in marvelous grace in love. We’ve fallen in a representative. We’re restored by another representative. We fell in Adam the first. We rise in Adam the last. We fall by no fault of our own and we’re justified by no merit of our own. Oh, the wisdom, and grace, and knowledge of God.
When a father strikes oil the children get rich. We have hit a gusher in Jesus Christ. So I call upon you to respond to the word of God. “Christ died for our sins that he might introduce us to God,” Peter says. If you should like to know this marvelous, infinitely wise and glorious God, we invite you to receive through faith the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Recognize your lost condition. Recognize the fact that the redeemer has shed his blood to complete the new covenant, inaugurate it, ratify it, and now the forgiveness of sins is offered to all. We don’t know who the people of God are. We do not know the names of all for whom Christ died. We know he has told us to preach the Gospel universally and so we preach it to you. Come to Christ. Believe in him. Rejoice in him and rejoice in the benefit that comes through the blood that was shed. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. May we stand for the benediction.
[Prayer] We thank Thee Lord for the way in which Thou hast through Holy Scripture set forth the way by which Thou dost deal with men. We think it’s marvelous. We think it reveal the infinite wisdom and glory of our great God. O God, glorify Christ, our great representative, by bringing the people of God to him in faith. From this audience Lord, if it should please Thee, work in the hearts of some, whether children or adults, and bring them to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ through whom they may have righteousness and life. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.