A STUDY ON SALVATION, PART III

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COPYRIGHT 2010 JESSE MULLINS

For "A Study in Salvation, Part I," go here. For Part II, go here. For links to other articles on this site, go here.

Greetings!  In accessing this posting you have located a portion of my just-completed and yet-unpublished second book, entitled Original Reason. (Specifically, Chapters 7-9, on this particular pageview.) I am posting this here in the summer of 2010 as an experiment. I will be shopping the manuscript around to some publishers, but for the time being I will "host" the manuscript on my site, and if anyone doing a Web search happens to land here, as a result of a search, then perhaps the searcher will find something helpful or instructive or interesting here. I will probably arrange the various postings so that the book cannot be read in its entirety, though I might provide a means whereby a visitor can link from one section to another and read a sizeable portion of the book. As I insert these sections right now, I will probably divide the entire manuscript into six postings, each of about three chapters. Anyone wishing a bound copy of this study can obtain one by contacting me directly.  I have printed and put together some comb-bound, Kinko's style copies, and can make them available at cost (mainly shipping and handling, but with a little bit of materials cost thrown in - say $12.00 postpaid - if you email me with a request at jesse.mullins at juno.com). I am calling these "review copies," and I am making them available mainly because doing so could give me valuable feedback before I commit to publication, even if it is only self-publication. I am thinking about doing something similar with my first book, Rightly Divided, but I have paperback copies of that one available at $16.95 postpaid. Thanks! Jesse Mullins  469.371.7323.

COPYRIGHT 2010 JESSE MULLINS

CHAPTER 7:

A “NECESSARY” INJUSTICE

At this stage in our inquiry we are equipped to draw a conclusion that would not have been self-evident at our beginning:

Spiritual death enters in when a sin-unto-death is committed, and sins-unto-death enter in when the law enters in, and the law enters in when reason enters in. So… reason kills.

Let us put that in initial capital letters and treat it as a maxim—our first that we will coin. Reason Kills. Understanding this is one of our keys to understanding how God saves man.

And it is not as though we derive this conclusion exclusively from the example of Adam and Eve. We also derive it from our own standing explanations for how people today lose their spiritual lives. They lose them by acquiring reason. The acquisition of reason—which is equivalent to arriving at a state of accountability—is something that by common consent is held to lead inescapably to spiritual death. Not just in Adam’s time. In our time.

Christians don’t just say that a person who arrives at a state of accountability will likely sin. They contend that there is no possibility of that person not sinning. It’s the difference between a probable outcome and an absolute certainty. We see some of this certitude in God’s remark in Gen. 3:17: “…in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” The human couple will not die unless they sin. The sin is not the eating of the fruit but rather some sin they will commit after their eyes are opened. And the “you shall surely” indicates how certain God is that that other, later, imputable sin will occur. The reason He knows they shall surely die is because He knows they shall surely sin. And the sin that He knows they will commit is the sin they will commit after their eyes are opened. It is not so surprising that He would expect that of them because we (now) know, as He always knew, that they were sinners before they approached the tree.

And of course Christians base their own conclusions about mankind’s predisposition to sin on such testimonies as “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and “in Your sight no man living is righteous” (Psalm 143:2).

We find in the Bible certain admonitions against sinning. God abhors sin. Neither He nor His chosen spokespeople in the Bible miss many opportunities to inveigh against sin or to urge restraint against sin. But these are not indications that a human being has some realistic prospect of living a sin-free life. We know from our own lives that, in any given moment, it is possible to resist, and often to overcome, an individual temptation to sin. But there is a difference between our moment-by-moment, passing encounters with sin and our supposed lifetime prospect of avoiding it entirely. If Jesus alone was without sin—and this is what we find in the Bible—then all others have sinned.

So one kind of encounter—the next one we have with sin—holds some possibility of avoidance. But as a cradle-to-grave issue, the question has a foregone conclusion.

And so it is a certainty that Reason Kills, for reason brings law, law brings sin (with no chance of total avoidance), and sin brings death.

I will borrow a term from philosophy and call this causal connection (between reason and spiritual death) a “contingent” cause. Reason “causes” sin but it does so through what might be called a domino effect, as opposed to a direct action. In applying this term (contingent cause), I do not believe I have been exactly faithful to philosophy’s definition of it, but I trust my meaning should be clear. The contingencies are that reason will be followed by law, and law by sin, and sin by death (our series of dominoes). And if we have established that these eventualities are inescapable, then our “contingent” truth, that Reason Kills, is equally inescapable, and hence true.

This principle of contingent causes and contingent truths will be helpful to us as we advance to larger issues. If the word “contingent” gives trouble, one could mentally substitute the word “dependent” and do as well. One cause or truth can be “dependent” on the realization of another, different cause or truth.

Meanwhile, our analysis of contingency has led us to the threshold of another conclusion that also was not self-evident at our outset.

Consider, first, these parallels:

Adam and Eve acquired reason. We acquire reason.

Adam and Eve sinned. We sin.

Adam and Eve died spiritually. We die spiritually.

We have demonstrated that in the matter of sin, Adam and Eve sin just as we do. We have demonstrated that in the matter of spiritual death, Adam and Eve die as we die.

But consider what remains: reason. It is here, and only here, that we see a difference between Adam and Eve and ourselves. The difference lies in how they came into it and how we come into it. They came into it by choice. We do not come into it by choice. We are born with a genetic certainty that, provided we live long enough and that we do not suffer from any mental disability or inadequacy, we will encounter our tree of knowledge and not be given any chance to refrain from its fruit.

We do not come into our powers of reason by choice, and yet Reason Kills.

Thus we are killed, spiritually, by something that we had no chance of avoiding. In saying this I do not mean to imply that we are not deserving, in our individual lives, of whatever guilt ought apply to us for those moment-by-moment sins that we each commit. We are guilty of those. But there is another dimension to all of this, and within that dimension we have a measure of innocence as regards our condition.

To see our condition clearly, we must be careful not to succumb to an illusion. The illusion is that we have a choice just as Adam had a choice. In one regard that statement is true, but it is not the regard that is critical for us. We have as much choice to sin, or not to sin, as Adam had. That is true. And that has been the lesson, and the doctrine, that has been held up to us for the ages. But it is the wrong comparison to make. Yes, we have as much chance of avoiding sin as Adam had. But the critical issue in this Biblical account, and in our own condition, and in our link to Adam, is one of reason, not sin.

We do not have a choice whether to accept or decline this killing power that is higher reasoning. Adam had a choice to partake of reason or to stay away from it. That’s where we differ from him. The action taken by Adam caused us to be different from Adam in this essential way. Adam struck a dividing line between himself and us—one that will never be breached.

And it is these circumstances that create a disparity whereby God can find justification for intervening in our plight and saving us. But it all turns upon reason being our dilemma, not sin. If our sin were the whole business here—sin being our deliberate separation of ourselves from God—then God would not be justified in providing a way of escape for us. If we deserve our sin, and if our sin is the only issue to be considered, then God cannot simply sweep it away and treat His action as one of heavenly justice. If our dilemma is something else, however, then God has latitude to treat that other dilemma. And if, in treating that other dilemma, God opens a path for us to avoid the destiny that otherwise loomed before us, then God has not violated His own sanctity and justice.

In calling this disparity (between Adam’s power of choice and our lack of it) an “injustice,” I am not suggesting that God was anywhere at fault. Quite the contrary. It was an injustice arising entirely from actions brought by Adam and Eve (with encouragement from the serpent). It was an injustice that affects everyone who followed Adam and Eve. But it never affected Adam and Eve themselves. They were not deprived of the opportunity to decline the killing nature of reason. We were, and we are.

We will see, however, that this matter of the existence of an injustice gives God opportunity to go to work on our behalf. A cosmic injustice arose (against the descendants of Adam and Eve) when Adam and Eve tasted the fruit. God is innocent of this injustice. You and I are innocent of this injustice.

God is a righter of wrongs. He is an upholder of justice. Where injustices reside, God, being the supreme judge of the universe, is entitled to see that justice is served in those matters. We will also see that, without an injustice that He could address, God would not have been able to save man. It is in addressing injustice that God finds His “out”—His avenue of interceding for man.

Reason, not sin, is our inheritance from Adam. Because this is true, there is an inevitability about our spiritual dying—an inevitability that didn’t hover over Adam and Eve. If Adam and Eve had not acquired reasoning, they could have gone on sinning their sins for the remainder of their days—for those sins were unimputed sins—and they never would have lost their spiritual lives. You and I cannot even so much as hope for such an outcome for ourselves.

Nothing from Adam was imputed to us, despite what some have said. We’ve seen that imputation is, instead, an action confined within the individual human being. Imputation is a function of the individual’s intellectual maturity.

But while nothing from Adam was imputed to us, something from Adam was imparted to us. What was imparted to us is something that is now in our makeup, and as such has been taken away from us as a conscious choice. That thing is the onset of reason. And reason is deadly.

Adam himself was spared a destiny that ensured, from the start, his spiritual death. We are not spared that destiny. Adam’s legacy to us is our death, but the manner whereby it has been passed to us has been misunderstood.

It is important to see that it is not Adam’s sin that affects us, despite the mountain of argumentation that has attempted to establish that theory or uphold that theory. We have seen from our inquiry that it is reason, not sin, that is passed from Adam to us. Sin became “inherited” only in the sense that we inherited, unwillfully, the condition that Adam freely chose—awareness. There is no connection between Adam’s eventual sin-unto-death and our eventual sins-unto-death. The only critical point of connection between Adam and ourselves is this fact that his eating of the fruit caused higher reasoning to be imparted to us as a natural step in our human development—a trait that was never part of Adam’s own natural attributes. There is, of course, a line-of-descendancy connection between Adam and us, we being descendants of Adam, but that connection is irrelevant to our inquiry, so it can be ignored.

The critical connection between Adam and us—reason—brought upon us the injustice. But without such an injustice hovering over us, we could only be regarded as creatures of choice, and for God to step into our lives and overturn the verdict—spiritual death—that befalls us would be for God to overturn the scales of justice. He would thereby be negating our acts of free will, which would be unjust.

And it is this understanding that cannot be reached by prior theologies. For this understanding is based on the fact that reason kills us—kills us in an inescapable way, in an in-our-genes way, that was not perceived previously.

It has already been demonstrated that the opening of the eyes is a step that, for man, was once (in Adam’s time) one of free choice and today is one of sheer inevitability. It is now in our genes. I will not pretend to understand how this transformation occurred. I will simply note that our own contemporary thinking indicates that we all understand it and accept it. I do not know of anyone who thinks that we are like the Adam and Eve who antedated the incident at the tree. I do not know of anyone who does not believe that we naturally grow into the reasoning adults that Adam and Eve themselves became purely by an act of deliberate choice. How this propensity came to be in our genes is a mystery to me. I simply say that no one denies it. And the reason why it thus affected us is entirely due to the disobedience of Adam.

We can now begin to glimpse some logic underlying the long-perplexing matter of why there was a tree of knowledge in the garden at all. All it takes to see this is for us to imagine God proceeding in some fashion other than He did. If, say, God had made us in the nature in which we now exist, God would have been giving us our start in the world equipped with reason. But as we can see, Reason Kills. So God would have been setting us out in life with an inescapable death sentence. For God to overturn a death sentence that He Himself ensured would be for God to suspend not just His own actions but His own divine righteousness.

Adam and Eve were not set out in life with a death sentence.

Moreover, had God proceeded differently than He had, there would not have been a chance that our injustice, described above, would have arisen. And if our injustice had not arisen, God would not have found room to address our misfortune. We will return to this matter later but it is helpful in the meanwhile for us to have at least some awareness of it.

Before we go further, we should arm ourselves with one more tool. That tool is a linguistic one—a clearer understanding of the word “cause.” We risk falling into difficulties in logic if we do not keep ourselves open to the possibility that we are misinterpreting or misapplying this concept of “causing” something to happen, or “causing” something to be true.

“Cause” can be misused because it has multiple meanings, and those meanings are easily misread. I will contend, shortly, that the translators and interpreters of our key portions of Romans may have been guilty of an oversight in their handling of the cause-and-effect relationships discussed in those Biblical texts.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Miracles, makes a passing reference to two meanings of the word “cause” when he makes the distinction between a cause-and-effect cause and a ground-and-consequent cause. We don’t need to worry about that distinction, and I only bring it up to show that there can indeed be some room for interpretation where stated “causes” are concerned.

It was Aristotle who conceived what would be the most influential analysis of the ways whereby things may be said to be “caused,” as articulated in his theory of causality. He said there are four causes. Not being the person best suited to describe these, I will share what philosophy professor Bryan Magee wrote in his book The Story of Philosophy:

“Let us take his (Aristotle’s) example of a marble statue,” Magee wrote. “For this to be the thing it is, there needs first of all to be the marble. This would be called by Aristotle the material cause, the what-is-it-made-of? cause. We have already learnt from Aristotle that this is not enough in itself to make the statue, which requires no fewer than three other causes…. For the statue to come into being it needs to have been hewn out of a block of marble by a hammer and chisel: this hewing is what Aristotle calls the efficient cause, the what-actually-does-or-makes-it cause. But again, to be the thing that it is the statue needs to take the shape that it does, that of a horse or a man or whatsoever—a block of marble hacked at random is not a statue. Aristotle calls this shape the formal cause, the what-gives-it-the-shape-by-which-it-is-identified? cause. Then, finally, all of this only happens at all because a sculptor has set out to make a statue in the first place. All three of the other causes have been called into operation in order to realize an intention: the overall reason for the statue’s existence is that it is the fulfillment of a sculptor’s purposes. Aristotle calls this the final cause, the ultimate-reason-for-it-all cause.” [1]

So Aristotle’s four causes are the material, efficient, formal, and final causes. Our aim here is not to apply his theory or adopt his nomenclature. Our aim is simply to see that causation can involve steps that fall short of what we think of as a “final,” “ultimate” cause.

For our own purposes, we need not be so definitive in our terminology. Two terms should suffice. I will avoid the term “final cause” because Aristotle spoke of God, his “unmoved mover,” as the final cause of all things, and so that term is not so helpful for us here. Instead let us use “ultimate” as our descriptor for the final, essential, defining cause of a thing. As for any cause that falls short of being the ultimate cause, we can stay with the catch-all term “contingent cause,” which we appropriated earlier.

These terms will give us a handy way of seeing that some things can be true, and yet are true only if other conditions are met. Knowing this will help us dig down to the true essentials of things.

To see how our terms work together, we can consider an example. Imagine, for instance, a man who is at risk for defaulting on the mortgage on his home, and thus at risk of losing his home. The man knows he must have a payment to the bank by 5 p.m. on a certain day. On that day, he starts off in his car toward the bank. Somewhere along the way, the car breaks down. It is 4 p.m. He does not have a phone with him. Someone who was driving by slows to ask him if he needs help. That person stops, and our troubled mortgagee borrows a cell phone from the driver. He calls for a friend to come and take him the rest of the way. The friend arrives, and gets him to the bank in time. He pays the mortgage and saves his home.

We know that the actual payment to the banker is what “saves the mortgage,” so we should call that our ultimate cause. But we can also see that two other steps in this process could be called “causes.” If the person who stopped for the man had not stopped, the man would have lost his home. Thus that passerby also can truthfully be said to have caused the mortgage to be saved. Without that person’s action, the mortgage would have been lost. The same can be said for the friend who arrived and took the man the rest of the way. That friend’s action caused the mortgage to be saved. But the actions of the friend and the passerby are true only if something else is true. So these would be our contingent causes. If the man continued to the bank and the bank were closed, then the home would be lost and the so-called “ultimate cause” would be nothing of the sort. That in turn would void the contingent causes, as causes. Or if getting the mortgage to the bank before 5 p.m. proved, by some other yet-unheard-of consideration, to be insufficient to save the mortgage, then (again) the other causes would not be true, nor in fact would they be causes.

We would call the truth of the ultimate cause our “ultimate truth” and the truth of the contingent causes our “contingent truths.”

Now, to the concepts of ultimate causes and contingent causes we add a third and final concept, that of metaphor. This concept, like the others, will help us as we move forward. Metaphors, interestingly, also have a “contingent” quality to them. A metaphor is apt only if the subject that it treats is actually the kind of thing that the metaphor “assumes” it to be. Suppose I say, as some have, that the historical figure known as Samudragupta was “the Napoleon of India.” I’ve expressed a metaphor. Now, if there never was a Napoleon, then our metaphor is lacking in truth. Or if there had been someone known as Napoleon, but if Napoleon had been a person who had never accomplished the things that brought him recognition as a great conqueror, then, again, our metaphor would be lacking in truth. But if Napoleon existed and was a great conqueror, then our metaphor about Samudragupta has a usefulness and even a truthfulness that it would not have if Napoleon never existed and/or never conquered. There is something that stands behind our metaphor that gives it value and relevance. A metaphor thus grounded is true in a way that an ungrounded metaphor is not. We are not wrong to treat such qualified statements as the truth.

And yet even if a metaphor stands for the truth, it is one step removed from that truth. That makes it rather like our contingent cause, which, while it is true, is not the ultimate truth that establishes the truthfulness of any and all contingent truths.

Now let’s test these terms against a specific statement. If I were to say, “The blood of Christ makes me whole,” I would be uttering a statement that I consider a true statement. And let me add that I will not say anything in this book to undercut what I consider the truth of that statement.

But consider: in saying “The blood of Christ makes me whole,” have I expressed an ultimate truth or a contingent truth? Have I expressed a metaphor?

That all depends on whether we think that something else—some ultimate truth—stands behind or beneath this truth and “makes it true.” If, for instance, Christ achieved something that caused His blood to have the power to make me whole, then that fact would undergird my remark about Christ’s blood and give it its truth value. But it would reveal my remark as a contingent truth, not an ultimate truth. The ultimate truth would be whatever it was that “stood behind” that contingent truth.

If, however, it is decided that the blood of Christ is a substance that had, from all eternity, the power to make me whole, whether Christ ever did anything or not, then my statement about the blood of Christ stands alone and is indeed an ultimate truth.

As for whether my remark could be metaphor, it would appear that the remark does not serve as one, but just the same I hope it is clear that some truths in scripture can be deemed metaphors, and we should be alert to those possibilities as we examine the Word.

With these considerations in mind, we are ready to examine two fresh passages:

Romans 5:19: “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”

I Cor. 15:21-22: “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

Adam brought sin upon us. Adam brought death upon us. These statements are true. But moments ago, we determined that the only critical connection between Adam and us was reason. We decided that Adam’s death did not affect our death—not directly, anyway. We decided that Adam’s sin did not affect our sin—at least not directly. Yet now we are confronted with two Bible verses, one saying that Adam brought death upon us and one saying that Adam brought sin upon us. And we are saying that they are true. How can that be so, if the only critical connection between Adam and us was one of reason?

It will be easier if we add one statement to our mix and then look at all three statements simultaneously.

Adam brought sin upon us.

Adam brought death upon us.

Adam brought reason upon us.

Let us assume that these statements have some kind of relationship, one to another. Maybe they don’t, but let us just assume for a moment that they do. Drawing upon our understanding of contingent causes, we are free to ask ourselves if two of these statements might function only as contingent causes. And we are free to ask ourselves if one of these statements might be an ultimate cause that, by its very existence, is the only reason the other causes are causes at all.

Our chain of causation that we were examining earlier in the book proceeded in a certain order. That order was as follows: the arrival of reason, then law, then sin, then death. We can set aside the idea of law, just so long as we remember it occupied a place in our chain of causes. To answer our question, though, we must consider reason, sin, and death. Which of the three might account for the other two?

Can death be the ultimate cause that stands behind the other two? It’s important to remember that the issue is one of Adam bringing things upon us. Another way of asking the question is this: which one of these three things is the single thing that comes “on its own” and brings the other two things upon us as well?

Let’s start with a hypothetical. If we were to take death away, as a possibility, have we invalided the other two? We can see that the answer is no. Whether Adam brought death on us or not, we can still see that it could be true that Adam could have brought reason on us. The only way that death came upon us at all is because Adam ate the fruit and acquired reason and thereby set in motion a world wherein we come into our reason involuntarily. Reason makes sin imputable to us. Our sinfulness is a given—all people sin—and so death follows. In other words, death comes at the end of that chain. If we removed something from the beginning of the chain, it would affect everything down the line. But if we drop one “cause” from the end of the chain of events, we have not affected the steps that preceded it. They could still occur. It is conceivable that there might be a world in which reason reaches us from Adam and sin reaches us from Adam but somehow sin does not lead to death. In such a world, Adam could still be responsible for our possession of reason, and Adam could be responsible for our unavoidable state of sin, but Adam could never have “brought death upon us” for the (still hypothetical) reason that sin does not produce death.

We could follow the same exercise, using “sin” as our hypothetical instance. And sin, being the middle term in this exercise, would yield the same answer: it cannot be the ultimate cause. Our contingent causes (maybe better in this context to call them contingent effects) have to be sin and death. The ultimate cause why Adam brought reason, sin, and death upon us is simply that Adam brought reason upon us. Had he not brought reason upon us, it would be impossible for us to say that he brought sin upon us or that he brought death upon us. Those follow reason in the chain of events.

Someone might have been tempted to say that the three steps are unrelated. Such a dissenter could say that, first of all, Adam brought reason upon us. Then, in some kind of unrelated fashion, Adam brought sin upon us. And in a third unconnected sense, Adam brought death upon us.

But we have already established the causal connections that link reason (the opening of the eyes) to sin and sin to death. The Bible gives us support for these. To ignore that and adopt some unsubstantiated explanation that treats the three causes as independent of one another is to unnecessarily multiply hypotheses. I do not think that anyone takes a three-separate-matters view of things, except in the sense that someone might encounter one scriptural passage about Adam and our death, and later encounter one about Adam and our sin, and might simply not reflect on any possible connections between the two.

But for those who have thought about such things, the causal connections are clear, and in fact those causal connections—between reason and law, between law and sin, between sin and death—are all over the Bible and are taken for granted.

And so for these reasons I find it hard to believe anyone would accept the “unrelated” view of things, and will say nothing further about it.

Our conclusion, then, was that reason is the ultimate cause, while sin and death are contingent causes. Therefore, we can declare that “Adam brought death upon us” and still be accurate, even though it is a conditional statement and even though we established earlier that the only critical, direct connection between Adam’s disobedience and our lives was the effect Adam had in turning us into involuntary recipients of higher reasoning—a killing attribute that he himself had a chance to decline.

So both statements are true. Adam did bring death on us because Adam brought reason on us and that led to our spiritual deaths.

And if we are satisfied that this explains things, then we can agree that there is nothing wrong with scripture treating some truths as being implicit. By “implicit” I mean that there can exist Biblically authorized truths that do not always receive explicit mention in scripture even though the discussion could somehow “involve” or imply that truth. The scripture said, “For as in Adam all die.” The scripture told the truth. And yet the scripture made no mention of reason. What was not mentioned, then, was the chain of causality that made the statement true. If Adam were not responsible for our acquisition of reason, then we would not die “in Adam.” But he is, and so we do. The idea of reason is implicit in the passage. It has been communicated to us elsewhere in scripture. Not every fact needs be asserted every time it has some connection with the discussion at hand.

Reason, then, is here our ultimate cause, and yet some may recall that in an earlier chapter we were speaking of contingent causes and we identified reason as a contingent cause rather than an ultimate cause. I don’t want that to create any confusion so I have dealt with that in a footnote.[2]

In building our case thus far, we have overturned some assumptions that have guided people’s thinking for ages. To show the difference between our new views and the longheld ones, I will share three remarks I found by searching the Internet for key phrases that we have considered already ourselves.

The kinds of views I will share are quite common, so I will not attach names and sources to them.

One commentator wrote: “So death passed to all men, because when Adam sinned, we all sinned. It was a representative act.”

We have seen already that a conclusion such as this one does not follow from the premises. Yes, death did pass to all men, because scripture tells us so. But it is wrong to say that “when Adam sinned, we all sinned.” We did not sin when Adam sinned. The Bible nowhere says that. What has been missed by previous generations is this simple fact: what Adam passed to us was the opening of the eyes. That alone was enough to put us under law. But it is not Adam who puts us under law. It is the opening of our own eyes that puts us under law. It is important to keep in mind the order of our fresh paradigm. It goes thus: the onset of reason brings the “entering in” of law, which leads irrevocably to sin (because we are sin-prone and imperfect creatures), which brings death. But it is critical to understand that what Adam bequeathed to us was the opening of the eyes—not sin itself.

In a second remark from an Internet commentator, we find the person quoting Rom. 5:19 (“For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous”). Then the person offers this conclusion: “Adam’s sin was imputed to all, and therefore all were made sinners.”

No, Adam’s sin was not imputed to all. And no, this does not explain why all were made sinners.

This view suggests a lack of understanding of what imputation is. The concept of imputation, as the Bible uses it, cannot be understood unless it is viewed as an action that goes on within the individual human being.[3]

Finally, there is this comment, also found on the Internet:

“The reason why God condemned us to death… is… because we participated in Adam’s sin. We were implicated, or, to use the language of Hebrews, we were ‘in the loins of Adam’ when he sinned.”

To say that we were in the loins of Adam is to say that we would eventually descend, physically, from Adam. But that has nothing to do with our state of sinfulness. Nor is it true that we “participate” in Adam’s sin. That’s not something the Bible says. It is an assumption made by those who do not understand Romans Chapter 5. The word “implicated” is no help here, either. It, too, is a non-scriptural word that is imported into the discussion in an attempt to explain Romans 5. We’ve seen what the connection is between Adam and us. Observations from commentators—at least those that I have read—indicate that they do not understand that connection. Nor do they understand imputation. Hence, they do not understand this critical passage.

Before we leave this topic (this commentator’s remark about our being “in the loins of Adam”), it is worth noting that the Book of Hebrews, which this person cites, does not connect the word “loins” with Adam. The remark there (Heb. 7:10) is that Levi was still “in the loins of” his progenitor Abraham when Abraham encountered Melchisedek. Not that the difference matters much. We could as easily say that we indeed were in the loins of Adam when Adam sinned. Technically, we were. Even so, what can be deduced from that?

Interestingly, something can be deduced from that, but it would not be the idea that we sinned in Adam. If we were in Adam’s loins, that can only mean that our genes existed in Adam long before we came into the world ourselves. That is a statement about genetics, not about sin.  And yet what actually can be deduced from that fact is exactly what we have been saying all along here. It is that, beginning with the birth of Adam and Eve’s first child (Cain), and extending to our day and doubtless for every future generation, every one of Adam’s descendants had or (speaking of future births/lives) will have a trait that was/is passed to him or her from Adam’s loins but that Adam himself was created not having. That trait is the genetic predisposition to mature into a state of intellect that Adam himself would never had achieved naturally. That trait is to arrive at our own “tree of knowledge of good and evil” and pluck its fruit and eat it, without being able to stop ourselves, without having any choice in the matter. God warned Adam and Eve not to do it, or they would die. They did not die in eating it—they died in sinning afterward, as was their wont. The very development that God sought to deter in Adam and Eve—the opening of their eyes—comes inexorably and unalterably for every being who follows them.

EVERY WAY FROM ADAM

It might seem, to some, as if the point made at the end of the foregoing chapter—the point about genetics—is at best a sidelight to our inquiry. I am not sure how it might strike most people. I can well imagine that to some it might seem inconsequential or tangential to our thrust. Yet I linger over it for a reason. I have found, in my other Christian writing, that when one attempts an interpretation that departs significantly from the status quo, such an interpretation is absorbed more slowly, and sometimes only by degrees, or only by gentle repetition.

So it is here, I suspect. Let me illustrate with something. While working on this portion of this book, I asked a question of a man who was otherwise acquainted with my main ideas, through prior conversations we had had. I shared the thoughts above, about Adam not being biologically disposed to grow naturally into a state of higher reasoning on his own, as a person would today. I shared the idea that everyone from Cain through our own time was different, in this biological/genetic sense, than Adam had been before the tree. I said that something got into the gene structure of mankind that was not there before. And, incidentally, if we are not going to conclude that the capacity for growing into higher reasoning got into mankind’s gene structure, then we are going to have to say that that characteristic comes from somewhere outside the biological body of man, for it has to come from somewhere. But as for the statement about this predisposition getting into the gene structure—I can see, certainly, how odd and anomalous that statement sounds, just on the face of it. But just because something is odd is no reason why we should sidestep it.

This man and I had been over this point before, and he had not questioned it then, but now, confronted by it in this stark manner, he paused. He asked me, how did that happen? I said I did not know. He asked me, does the Bible say anything about that? I said no.

So here we have an admittedly odd statement, and we have this admission—my own, in fact—that there is no way to explain this changeover, this transition. And on top of all that, the Bible does not have anything to say about it. Are we to just drop it? Should it be passed over, ignored, overturned?

If this point is not absorbed in all its starkness, all its foreignness, all its lack of Biblical explicitness, then it might not be absorbed at all, because when people can dismiss it as just some stray sidelight, they can dismiss those points which attach to it too. And it might seem surprising, but I will contend that it is an easy thing to defend my point here. But before I do so, let me say that this little exercise illustrates what I mean about some truths taking more attention and reflection if they are to be absorbed. This is one such truth.

This view I’ve shared is not just possible. It is not just probable. It is completely inescapable. The reason it is not hard for one to defend this truth is because the whole world defends it at every turn. There is not a rational Christian man or woman anywhere, to my knowledge, who does not believe as I do that an absolute difference separates us from the Adam and Eve who had not yet disobeyed at the tree. There is not a rational believer anywhere who does not think that we mature naturally into the same kinds of adults that Adam and Eve were after they tasted of the fruit—though we have no physical tree of knowledge of our own. No one believes that the earlier Adam and Eve would ever have become the kinds of adults that we are if they had simply lived long enough. No one believes that we are not genetically predisposed to mature into the kind of adults Adam and Eve were after—not before—the disobedience. This state of affairs might not be discussed explicitly in the Bible, but if I were to suddenly reverse myself and disagree with what I’ve said here thus far, I’d be the only one I ever heard of who ever disagreed with it.

Earlier in this study we encountered a matter similar to this one. We were considering the matter of an “age of accountability.” The Bible is silent on that question also. Yet the view of an overwhelming majority of Christians—if not all Christians—is that such an age of accountability exists. If we dismiss such an idea, we are thrown into all manner of contradictions and even nonsense. The whole idea of anyone being “lost” goes out the window. That, or the idea that infants are not damned. One or the other becomes a casualty of any doctrine that does not admit to an age of accountability—and that is just the start of our difficulties, where such inconsistencies are concerned.

Likewise, we run aground on all kinds of inconsistencies and even absurdities if we cannot admit that we humans today are not different from Adam—fundamentally, developmentally, constitutionally different—as regards this matter of maturing into a state of higher reasoning. To deny it is to say either that Adam would have developed eventually, on his own, into a being possessing the knowledge of good and evil, or it is to say that we as normal adults today are just like Adam was before—not after—his disobedience at the tree. To opt for the first denial is to throw out the Biblical story itself, for it makes matters clear on that question. To opt for the second is to say that we lost something that Adam gained—that mankind regressed, that we do not know the difference between good and evil, that we would not even recognize our own nakedness. But we know those things to be false.

I know, as well, that these arguments have an unconventional feeling to them. I know they draw us into unfamiliar waters. It might be difficult to throw off old habits of thought and examine such issues. But logic and thoroughness demand that we consider them. And considering them, that we follow them to their inescapable conclusions. The most important of these is that our difference from Adam translated into an unfairness that affected us (at least until salvation came) as a class of individuals. This unfairness was not brought upon mankind by those who were affected by it (that is, by those who were born genetically different from the unenlightened Adam), and it was not brought upon mankind by God. But it existed, it was unfair, and it comprised this cosmic injustice discussed earlier.

Now, what is to be said in answer to the person who will agree that we became different from Adam but that this state of affairs did not constitute any kind of unfairness or injustice? After all, someone could certainly make such a contention.

It strikes me that there are only two possible positions that that person could adopt. One would be that we still were sinners anyway. We might have been “different” from Adam, but we still sinned, and each of us was accountable for our own sin, “injustice” or no “injustice.” The other position would be that Christ gave us a way out of this purported injustice, and the idea of Christ’s intercession was present in God’s mind from the time of Eden (Gen. 3:15), so the whole matter is rendered immaterial, or irrelevant, or at the very least insignificant.

Let’s take each of these in turn, beginning with the first objection.

I can well imagine someone saying, “Where’s the problem here? Yes, the person born after Adam came into an age of accountability with no avenue of escaping it, and died spiritually. But even if that person arrived at that state of accountability without any choice, the fact is, that person eventually committed a sin—and that person had a choice as to whether to sin or not to sin. The same was true for Adam after he tasted the fruit. He, too, had a choice—another choice, a second choice—and if he had not chosen to sin he would not have lost his spiritual life either.[4] So regardless of how one sets the terms, the outcome for each is the same: death. And each had as much opportunity to avoid that sin-unto-death as the other one did. So the idea of ‘injustice,’ if it is to be cast in that term, might be technically accurate, but it has no real bearing in the matter, for death is the end result for both parties—not just the later party—and that is true whether one party or the other was victim to an ‘injustice’ or not.”

Now, the person who might argue in this vein, above, is overlooking something important. We’ll explore that, but to keep our thinking straight, it is good for us to remember that there are two Adams. There is the Adam who had not yet eaten the forbidden fruit, and there is the Adam whose eyes were opened. Our comparison here has to be between ourselves and the early Adam, the Adam who had not yet eaten of the fruit. That’s where the critical difference lies. Once Adam has eaten the fruit, there is essentially no difference between him and us. That’s where our dissenter is going wrong. His argument bounces indiscriminately between the earlier Adam and the later Adam.

As was said, we are not concerned about how we compare with the Adam who tasted the fruit. That person was transformed. There’s nothing to be gained by considering how his condition differs from ours, for he is already like us.

The real issue here is how we differ from the Adam who had not yet tasted the fruit. And on that question, the answer is still that we are deprived of the choice of receiving or declining the knowledge of good and evil, but that Adam was not.

Our hypothetical “dissenter” would say that—difference or no difference—we still sin and lose our spiritual lives, and that act of sinning was something about which we had some choice. And it must be admitted that on the surface this sounds persuasive. But consider how the word “choice” has been subtly altered. His argument is that there is a choice as to whether to sin or not. But that wasn’t the real issue we were probing. The issue that we have been trying to come to terms with was indeed a matter of choice, but it was not a matter of choosing to sin or not choosing to sin. It was a matter of choosing to acquire reason or not. We demonstrated that Reason Kills. We saw that Adam had a chance to avoid that deadly trait. We saw that we do not. This choice—acquiring or not acquiring reason—is the choice to be considered.  And this is the ground on which to contrast ourselves with Adam. Our “dissenter” altered his premises in mid-argument.

Even so, let’s examine his assertion about sinning and choice. For we will see that even that line of thought is self-refuting.

Our dissenter says that we sin and that Adam sinned, that we die and that Adam died, and that therefore there is no real difference, in the long run, between us and Adam, for in the end each of us is blameworthy for our own destiny. And therefore there is no real “injustice” for us to worry about.

Notice the phrase “we die and Adam died.” A switch occurs there. The fact is, Adam—that Adam—doesn’t die. Remember, the Adam that we are to contrast ourselves with is the Adam before the disobedience. That Adam had a choice. His choice remains with him all the way to the moment that he ceases to be the “early Adam.” It is that person we must be concerned with, and that person does not die. We have to approach this problem as though that earlier Adam had full powers of choice, and that, if we were in his place, there is every chance that we might have obeyed at the tree and that we might have avoided spiritual death and stayed in Eden, extending our lives—both physical and spiritual—there. So it is wrong to say that “we die and Adam died,” for the only Adam who died was the Adam after the disobedience, and that Adam was one equipped with reason, and we have already seen that it is a moot point to draw any comparisons or contrasts with him, for he is already like us. He is, indeed, already “us.”

No, the one to contrast with is the early Adam, and not only does that Adam not die, but also (for so long as he shuns the forbidden fruit) he gets to go on sinning, without penalty. We have seen that he was a sinner prior to his approach to the tree, and we know from the account that, had he disdained the forbidden fruit, just as we ourselves (hypothetically) might have disdained the forbidden fruit, then he could have gone on sinning and living. That’s because his sins were unimputed sins. They were not deadly sins. Making the wrong choice turns him into someone like us. But making the right choice keeps him as he was, and in that state his sins do not bring death. Yes, he represents, in one sense, a hypothetical state of affairs. We know that in real-life terms he did not obey, and so everything changed. But we have to look at his prior situation in life—that’s the real issue here. It’s not him per se—it’s his situation that is the key. Someone else could have acted differently. It’s the life that that hypothetical person would have had—that’s the life that we must contrast with our own.

It helps, I think, if we imagine other people occupying Eden just as Adam and Eve did. When we mentally put others into the garden, we give ourselves a chance to picture it as a place of choice. Adam and Eve lived there and made a choice. Their bad choice, and their quick exit, makes it seem to us as if there was no choice. But that’s not the case. Still, having such familiarity as we have with the oft-told story causes us to view it with a particular bias. Adam and Eve made the wrong choice, and so we tend to think of Eden as a place of no choices, as a place of inevitability.

But God put the tree before them as a choice. And it is when we view Eden this way—not as a tale of a quick exit by two people, but rather as a tale of what might-have-been, a tale of real choices and real freedom from necessary reason and necessary death—that we begin to see how that situation contrasts with our own. It is the situations, the scenarios—theirs versus ours—that should interest us. They changed the scenario for all who followed.

And so we see, when we confine our view, as we should, to the early Adam, that that Adam does not receive spiritual death, nor is he penalized for sinning. Only the later Adam, a drastically changed Adam, received spiritual death. The earlier Adam could have lived indefinitely, sinning every day, presumably forever. He had a choice—avoidance of reason and avoidance of imputed sin—that we never had.

So it would not be correct of our dissenter to say that our “injustice” evaporates simply because everyone (Adam and us) dies regardless, because of our individual sins. Adam doesn’t die. Not the Adam with whom we are contrasting ourselves.

So far, so good. Now what if our dissenter were to take a different tack? What if he were to ask us, “How is it that you can say that [normal] people today are born with no chance of avoiding spiritual death, when we can all see that sometimes we succumb to sin but sometimes we avoid sin? If we have the power of avoiding sin, why does our acquisition of reason have to mean that sin and death are, for us, unavoidable?”

With the question put to us in this manner, the thought arises that we might be dealing with two different and distinct concepts. One is the idea that sinning is inevitable and inescapable. The other is that human beings have a God-ordained duty to resist sin. The very existence of the latter concept causes us to question the validity of the former one. If it is possible that human beings can resist sin, and if we can observe, in the Bible’s accounts of certain individuals as well as in our world today, examples of exemplary moral conduct, then does sin necessarily have to be inescapable? If sin-free conduct is somehow within our reach, then the idea of an “injustice” befalling us is nullified. So we must establish how both conditions can be true—how mankind, by its very nature, can be so bound to sinfulness that it is not possible to live a sin-free life, and yet how we still can be held responsible for our sins.

We can see that some of the difficulty here lies in the way the issue reflects upon God. For if man can be held responsible for sin, and yet if God made man in such a way that total lifelong abstinence from sin is not possible, then it would seem that God created the very quandary for which He holds man responsible.

A good deal of the theology that we hear about, and that shapes the outlooks of Christians everywhere, has to do with this question of sin and how it reflects either upon us or upon God. We instinctively sense that it cannot reflect upon God. I agree that that instinct is well founded. Yet in trying to demonstrate from scripture how man is responsible for his sins, or how God is not responsible for the sinfulness of man, theologians and commentators have come into sharp disagreement.

For me, these issues are most easily entered into if I begin by resorting to a smaller matter stemming from a remark I heard once from a Bible class teacher. As I recall, it was in the early 1990s. During the class a question was raised about differences in translations of the Bible. One particular translation drew special attention: the New International Version (NIV). During those years the NIV was riding a wave of popularity, and so, as with any other book that was gaining influence, it was coming under heightened scrutiny. The teacher was trying to describe how the NIV had drawn some criticism over its use of the phrase “the sinful nature” as it appeared in portions of the New Testament.

He said that, in the King James Version, the Greek term that had been translated as “the flesh” was translated in the NIV as “the sinful nature.” And he said that some Christians found that objectionable. For our purposes we need not worry whether it was objectionable or not. That remains to be seen. What this example does accomplish is that it exposes the underlying sensitivity about this question of sinful “natures” in general.

This teacher, while trying to remain more or less neutral on the issue, allowed that the controversy had to do with the idea of man being innately sinful. If one translation applied the English word “flesh” where the other applied the term “sinful nature,” then the second translation would seem to “go further” than the first, in implying that any being who is fleshly is, ipso facto, a being with a sinful nature. It could be construed as meaning that all flesh is sinful. While that idea might not be problematical for some people, it undoubtedly is for others.

The latter person more likely would be found among Protestant denominations. Even there, not everyone would feel the same. But Protestant theologies would be more likely than others to hold that free will must be taken into greater account. For those Protestants who found the NIV translation problematical, the only acceptable way of viewing a “sinful nature” likely would be as a nature that is at most a hindrance (but not a complete barrier) to a person who wanted to behave righteously. Such an interpretation would leave some room for free will and accordingly leave some due emphasis on personal responsibility.

But if by “sinful nature” one is to understand that such a nature excludes any significant operation of free will or self-determination, then our recalcitrant Protestant might well decide that that doctrine smacks of original sin. (Original sin representing perhaps the very antithesis of what many Protestants believe.) Or that it smacks of Calvinism and predestination and doctrines of “total depravity.”

And all of this goes back to our question, “How does the issue reflect on God?” If we are possessed of a sinful nature such that all hope is gone, from our births onward, of our ever having had any choice in avoiding sin, then that condition must not be traceable back to God, for that would implicate God in our sin. God, in that scheme of things, would be the Maker of sinful man. And how could someone who created man sinful also be the one who holds man accountable for that sinfulness? Certain theologians have done away with that problem by assigning the “sinful nature” of man to what they describe as the “Fall” of man. Because man fell, man’s “sinful nature” is entirely man’s own fault. The Fall thus serves as a sort of firewall that makes it impossible for anyone to trace man’s sinful nature any further back than the disobedience at the tree.

Incidentally, while I personally do not subscribe to the idea of original sin, I cannot help thinking that that doctrine at least might have had something creditworthy in its motive. If the impulse toward establishing that doctrine sprang from a desire to dissociate any blame for man’s sinful condition from God, then to that extent it had something admirable about it.

But defending original sin is not the intention here, and in fact I have set aside, into the appendix, such remarks as I would like to share about original sin.[5] Any study such as this one, a study that concludes that man was sinning prior to the purported “Fall,” cannot be one that agrees with original sin.

But for the “Fall” to satisfy all that theologians claim for it, it has to mark (for them) the beginning of sin in man. And that indeed is how it has been treated throughout history—the Fall is the onset of sin.

That’s wrong. It is not. We have seen already that “until the law sin was in the world” (Rom. 5:13) and we know that the law entered in when the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened. Sin preceded the so-called Fall.

And if anyone should be concerned that a firewall has been knocked down, and that God could be blamed (under the interpretation established in this book) for making sinful man, there is no need for such concern. Yes, God made man and God knew man’s propensities for sin. But we must remember that the sins man was sinning before his eyes were open were unimputed sins. From what we can tell from the Genesis account, those sins were not an offense, or at least not a concern, to God. There was nothing wrong with God making man a sinful creature if the sinful creature did not sin imputed sins. God’s abhorrence of sin began when sin became imputable to man, not before. Furthermore, we know that God completed His act of creation and He declared His handiwork “very good.” So in creating man imperfect, weak, and selfish enough that his sinning was inevitable, God was not doing anything for which God Himself could be deemed culpable. God does not judge anyone unrighteous for their unimputed sins. The only sins for which the law would hold man accountable are imputed sins, and Adam alone is responsible for the fact that we sin imputed sins. Thus, our “firewall” that preserves God’s righteousness remains intact, but now it is understood for the right reasons.

And—to complete this line of thought—we can affirm now that both our statements are true, and there is no contradiction: (1) Man is incapable of totally resisting sin, and (2) God is entitled to hold man responsible for sin. God is entitled to do so, because someone other than God deliberately brought reason upon mankind, which made sin imputable. It had not been imputable before.

Now we turn to the other possible objection to the idea of an “injustice” affecting mankind—the idea that the sacrifice of Christ, and what it does for man, negates or voids any idea of a supposed injustice.

I would imagine that most who have followed these arguments thus far have guessed how our problem of an injustice will be answered. It’s probably fairly obvious that it will be answered by the actions of Christ. Just the same, it is possible that some might think that, since God knew all along that He would send His Son to save mankind, that any sense of “injustice” regarding man’s plight would have been misplaced from the start.

But the fact of Christ being the answer cannot dispel the idea of an injustice—not if Christ indeed resolves the injustice. If Christ answers the injustice, that fact only confirms the idea of an injustice. There is a saying that “the exception proves the rule.” What this saying means is that when someone tries to dispute the existence of some purported (but doubted or challenged) norm or “rule” by citing an instance that seems to be an exception or deviation from it, the effort at disputation only confirms the very thing it was intended to overturn. An exception is only an exception if there is a rule or norm from which it departs. That’s what makes it an exception—the fact that a rule existed, and that this instance did not conform to it. Without a rule being in effect, it does no good to call something an “exception,” for we would be tempted to ask, “An exception to what?” The “what” would be the rule in question.

The same argument can be used here, with only a slight alteration of terms. Now, if we say that Christ answers the injustice created by Adam’s disobedience, we should keep in mind that an “answer” is not strictly the same thing as an “exception.” But when there is an answer to a quandary, the answer does have some relationship to the quandary that it answers. And to that degree, it confirms the quandary. In doing so it mirrors the way that an exception confirms the “rule” from which it departs. If it can be demonstrated that Christ’s sacrifice answers an injustice (and we have not gotten that far, yet) then the last thing that we would have confirmed is that an injustice did not exist. If anything, what we would have confirmed is that the injustice was real.

Here, again, we have a situation in which we are so familiar with the solution to the problem that we can have a hard time imagining that the problem ever existed.

But it did exist. Again, it helps to picture things in a different light, so as to grasp the situation in its purest form. If we picture this injustice as if there never were a savior, as if Christ never existed, then we see the injustice in all its gravity. Adam disobeyed God and achieved his higher state of wisdom and as a result every human being who came after him lost the choice that God gave Adam. Having lost that choice to decline killing reason, each person acquires reason and dies spiritually with no hope of changing or forestalling the outcome. Without Christ to save us, every human being faces destruction without hope. That was a condition that did not apply to the early Adam and Eve. Our plight, as forced upon us by their free actions, was indeed a grim thing—as harsh a sentence as could befall anyone. And it affected every single person born thereafter.

It might be that some individuals will insist that no injustice could possibly have occurred, no matter how much evidence is brought. It might be that some will decide that injustice existed but that it matters not at all. It might be that some will insist that God would never have permitted an injustice to occur. Some might assert that it is impious to even think injustice could exist. Some might say that if the Church Fathers and history’s other influential opinion-shapers did not recognize this injustice, then no injustice existed. There could be any manner of objections or disavowals or aversions to what has been said here. But if there have existed such people as did not perceive this injustice, then neither did they perceive the implications of imputed and unimputed sin. That was misunderstood, and because it was misunderstood, this matter of injustice was misunderstood as well, for the latter cannot be understood without the former.

Yes, there was a great, and grave, injustice done to mankind. And yet that injustice gave God room, and rationale, to intervene on our behalf.

We have heard people suggest that God “used” Satan to accomplish His (God’s) own purposes. On an Internet search program, I entered the string “God used Satan” and received back these remarks among the results: “God used Satan to plan, schedule, and bring about the crucifixion of His Son.” “God used Satan to help bring about his plan of salvation.” “God used Satan in the words of Caiaphas (John 11:50-53). Being of the seed of the serpent, Caiaphas wanted Jesus killed.” “God used Satan's plan to totally defeat him. Jesus Christ made a mockery of Satan.”

That idea, then, is fairly well entrenched. It is a small step to think that God used Satan in the garden to set in motion His plan there, too. If we think of the idea of an injustice as being, in an indirect way, a fortunate development for mankind, then we can imagine God, with his perfect foreknowledge of the future, not being inclined to thwart such a development. The Roman Catholic Church has long admitted the reasonableness of what it terms felix culpa, the “Fortunate Fall,” an oxymoron that suggests that the failings of Adam and Eve ushered in for humankind a grim state of affairs that, paradoxically, ultimately opened the door to something better for humankind than the kind of life represented by Adam and Eve’s even before the disobedience. And though I personally disagree with the idea of a “fall,” on grounds that mankind did not stumble into its first sin at the tree of knowledge but rather experienced the opening of the eyes, nonetheless, I can see how the ensuing injustice might be portrayable as a “Fortunate Injustice.”  If such a state of affairs served God’s long range interests, where mankind’s benefit was concerned, then it should be obvious how it could have occurred with His tacit permission. If Satan was “used” in Eden at all, it could have been through God’s disinclination to block the serpent from tempting man into a state of enlightenment, which would turn out to be man’s great plight, which would equally be the injustice that would give God the  occasion whereby He could intervene in man’s plight.

But whether or not Satan had a part in this plan, injustice indeed existed. Now we turn at last to the implications of that finding. They are considerable.

SALVATION’S PRESCRIPTION

If we are to understand the “how” of Christ’s act of saving man, we must understand the relationship between Adam and Christ. This much is clear enough from the way the Bible presents its parallels between the two. Consider this passage in I Corin. 15:21-22: “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

The most extended discussion of the connection between Christ and Adam comes in the passage we have concentrated on most closely: Romans 5.

We’ve looked at Rom. 5:12-14 and 5:19-20 in some depth. Now let us examine these verses along with the four intervening verses, to get the full effect of this pivotal passage in the Bible.

Rom. 5:12-21: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— (13) for until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (14) Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (15) But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. (16) The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from the transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. (17) For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (18) So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. (19) For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

(20) The law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, (21) so that, as sin reigned in death, so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

In verses 15-19, we get five contrasts, one per verse. Each is a contrast of Adam with Christ.

If there is any message that should come through clearly from these passages, it is this: what Adam got wrong, Christ got right. What Adam did wrong, Christ did right.

We know what Adam did and what he did not do. We know what Christ did and what He did not do. If we analyze these understandings, it should be here, if anywhere, that we stand to gain at least the beginning of some insight into the way that Christ’s actions save us. For it is in the passage at hand that the Bible comes closest to what might be considered an explicit statement of how Christ’s work saves man.

So let’s ask ourselves, what was Adam’s failing? If we can grasp what that was, and find our connection between that failing and Christ’s achievement, we should have a helpful insight.

Could it have had something to do, say, with the idea of shedding blood? The Bible tells us that “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Could that be the vital connection? Did Adam fail to bleed? No, that cannot be it. We cannot say that Adam failed to bleed, for we have no indication that blood or bleeding were required of him. Nowhere in the story of Adam is blood mentioned, or alluded to. Blood, then, is not our answer.

What about the fact of being wounded? The Bible tells us that we are healed by the wounds of Christ (I Peter 2:24). Could that be our answer? Did Adam fail to submit to being wounded?

No, we have no indication that Adam needed to submit to wounding or failed to submit to being wounded. Being wounded cannot be our connection.

We could work our way through a number of Biblical remarks about what Christ did for us. We could talk about taking punishment. About suffering. About “being sin on our behalf.” God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corin. 2:21). Was this what Adam failed to do but that Christ accomplished? Was this what made Christ the “second Adam”?

No, we have no indication that Adam failed to become sin on our behalf.

There is only one answer to this question, and that answer is supplied by our text.

Romans 5, verses 15, 16, and 17 make clear the one-vs.-one relationship between Adam and Christ. But our most revealing truth comes in verses 18 and 19. It is here that we see what Adam failed to do but that Christ did not fail to do.

Verse 18 says, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” Christ performed one act of righteousness. This points to our answer, but verse 19 makes it specific:

“For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”

There we have it. Adam disobeyed God. Christ obeyed God. The scripture is clear on it. After all the buildup of the first five chapters of Romans we come to this pivotal verse and we see what it is that “makes the many righteous.” It is the obedience of Christ.

I know that some will say, “Yes, certainly—and it’s because the word ‘obedience’ refers to dying on the cross, and it is by dying on the cross and taking the punishment for us that Christ saves us.”

But I submit that we ought look at this from the opposite direction. The scripture indicates that it was by obeying that Christ put right what Adam put wrong. So let us approach this as though dying serves obedience, rather than looking at it as though obedience simply suggests dying.

How can that be? Isn’t “obedience” just a reference to something else? Isn’t it just a way of referring to suffering or bleeding or dying or “being sin for us”? If we are asking Christians what it was that Christ did that saved us, these are the standard replies we get. Who is there who simply says that Christ obeyed? How could that have saved man? No one denies that Christ obeyed, but who goes about saying that purely in living an obedient life, Christ saved man?

Earlier, we covered the idea of ultimate causes and contingent causes. Let us see how this idea of obedience works for us if we assign it a place as ultimate cause. And let us see how these other issues—bleeding, dying, “being sin,” etc.—fall into place when considered as contingent causes.

An ultimate cause, as we defined things earlier, is a cause that, by its very existence, is the only reason the other causes are causes at all. Likewise, we said that a cause is a “contingent” cause (or contingent truth) if there is some other cause (or truth) that stands behind or beneath the contingent cause (or truth) and “makes it so.”  This single essential, establishing cause (or truth) is what we are calling our ultimate cause (or truth).

To put this in perspective: we are examining the idea of obedience as the ultimate cause—as the operative, clinching factor in the question of whether or not Christ saved man by setting right what Adam put wrong. In short, we are saying that salvation is determined by whether Christ obeyed or not. Now, obviously, we already have a verse saying so. Rom. 5:19 says that “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” The “obedience of the One” makes the many righteous.

But let’s be sure that the full implications are understood here. No Christian is going to deny the truth of Rom. 5:19. But some—perhaps most—could well believe that “obedience,” as mentioned there, is just a way of referring to suffering or bleeding or death, and that these (more than the “mere” fact of obedience) are what really do the job.

In fact, that reaction—that any mention of “obedience” is really a reference to what obedience supposedly implies (whether that be punishment, bloodshed, suffering, or death)—is a quite understandable reaction, given that the Bible has so many references to the “ways” whereby Christ saves man. In a while we will examine some of these and it will become clear that the plurality of scriptural indicators of what-saves-us (whether it be by concrete terms such as blood, suffering, or death or by abstractions such as propitiation, substitution, ransom, etc.) has fueled centuries of theological disagreement and dismay. And why wouldn’t it? Again, given no arguments to the contrary, why wouldn’t someone think that a mention of “obedience” has to refer to something else, when we see verses telling us that we are saved by the blood, or saved by the death, of Christ? Someone who reacts that way to the word “obedience” is simply trying to make honest sense of the entire body of evidence, by trying to account for all necessary “essentials.”

But this very natural tendency can explain why previous interpretations have passed over this idea of obedience-as-simply-obedience. Those interpretations have been attempts at making sense of myriad factors, and so obedience, as an ultimate cause of salvation, “disappears” for them, or gets lost in the mix, given all the other angles they are trying to reconcile. And given the long habit of thought that we bring to these accounts.

So let’s be as clear as possible about it. Our fresh interpretation is that suffering, bleeding, and death are “causes” of our salvation only insofar as they establish Christ’s obedience. All such “contingent” causes—including the idea of “being sin for us”—acquire their standing as causes only insofar as they contribute to, or follow upon, the idea of obedience. If dying in obedience leads to the end result that an obedient life has been lived, then dying can be said to have contributed to salvation. But only if it establishes obedience. Dying is contingent. Obedience is ultimate. We might be prone to think of obedience as preceding death, but the question of obedience can only be answered when the life is finalized. Only then do we know if one has been obedient—therefore the dying is a determinant, but what it determines is obedience. That’s because any answers sought while the person is still alive are inconclusive. If the dying caps an obedient life, then it has contributed to the ultimate cause, which was completing a life of obedience to God. Once the obedience has been established, it makes all the other contingent causes true, and does so by its own, ultimate truth. Thus, it becomes true that “the blood of Christ makes me whole” (our earlier metaphor) if, indeed, Christ lived out, through the very end, a life that was fully obedient to God. He did. Along the way, He bled. Had He not bled when the times called for His shedding of blood, He would not have fulfilled the criterion of obedience. But He did bleed. So I can say in all truth that “the blood of Christ makes me whole.” But it is a contingent truth, not an ultimate truth. We will see that what ultimately makes me whole is that Christ lived an obedient life. Christ had to do what Adam failed to do, if Christ was to reconcile the injustice that resulted from Adam’s disobedience. The problem with Adam was not that he did not die. The problem was that he did not obey.

Clearly, in such an interpretation, we are using the word “obedience” in such a way as to suggest that its full import has not previously been grasped. Clearly, too, obedience has to mean complete, till-death obedience. Anything short of obedience until death is something short of obedience, period. God’s perfect measure of a person’s obedience has to be a lifetime measurement.

No orthodox Christian denies that Christ had to live out an obedient life. But the difference here is that previous generations have maintained—whether explicitly or merely implicitly—that the idea of obedience was secondary to the idea of sacrifice. In that way of thinking, the perfect obedience was achieved to make the dying effective. What we are saying here, however, is the reverse: that the dying was achieved to make the perfection (the perfect obedience) effective. It is more than a matter of semantics. We have here a difference that is more profound than it might appear at first blush. Had we not proceeded by the route we have taken, we would not be considering the ideas now under discussion. That, too, will be made more clear later, after we have advanced further.

The longstanding, traditional argument for why Christ had to be the perfect, sin-free sacrifice holds that it was so that He could go to the cross as the perfect Lamb of God. There is no question that He had to be perfect. There is no question that He had to go to the cross. But in the traditional view, obedience, as a cause of salvation, is contingent on, and secondary to, the idea that the sacrifice itself—the death on the cross—serves as the ultimate cause of salvation. In that scheme of things, if the death did not satisfy God, then the perfect obedience would have been for naught.

So let there be no mistake. This new interpretation that we are considering is different from that longstanding one. In this interpretation, the fact of obedience takes pre-eminence. Yes, the obedience entails dying, for without the dying that was prescribed for Him, Christ would not have been obedient. Yes, the obedience entails bleeding, for the same reason. And suffering. And so on. The Bible is not wrong to say that those things save us. They save us just as, in our earlier analogy about the man who had to pay his mortgage, “salvation” came by the man’s getting a ride to the bank. In this fresh interpretation, dying brings salvation because dying in obedience puts the crowning touch on living the obedient life.

But the operative, ultimate word here is obedience. And in this fresh interpretation, the dying is the step that actualizes the fact that an obedient life was lived, and it is the obedient life—something Adam did not live—that opens the way for a choice (that’s what Adam’s act denied us—a choice) to be restored to mankind. That choice is declared in the gospel.

Right now there can be someone thinking, “How in the world can it be said that Jesus’s life saves me when the Bible says that Jesus’s death saves me?” But both statements are true. Jesus’s death does save us. Jesus’s life does save us. One, however, has to be the ultimate cause. And it is life—obedience—that occupies this place, and makes the death effective in its own way.

Perhaps the best proof of this, however, is the fact that obedience demonstrates its fitness as ultimate cause by the way that it validates every other attested (but nonetheless contingent) cause. The Bible discusses more than one means whereby Christ saves man. In any cause-and-effect relationship, only one cause can be the ultimate cause. All other causes must be contingent. According to Aristotle, a cause may have many effects, but an effect can have only one cause. Our logic tells us that this must be so. Therefore, it behooves us to search among the various proclaimed “causes” of our salvation in the Bible to determine which one, by its very existence, is sufficient to validate all the others, which answers the long-debated question of how Christ saved us.

There is only one cause that can do so. Only obedience furnishes the overarching rationale whereby the other causes derive and display their meaning. Only obedience answers what Adam did not do. That is why the apostle Paul spoke only of obedience in his discussion of how God saves man, in Romans 5.

We’ve seen, for instance, how dying is a contingent cause in respect to obedience as absolute cause. That could be further supported by the fact that the dying has no meaning if it does not serve obedience. Disobedient dying would have meant nothing. Nor would Christ’s death on the cross have brought salvation if, earlier in His life, He had sinned (i.e., been disobedient). So by any measure, death is a cause of salvation only insofar as obedience effects salvation.

I realize that a dissenter could turn this point around and contend that its opposite is true. A dissenter could say that, instead of dying being a contingent cause in regard to obedience, obedience is a contingent cause in regard to dying. The argument would go as follows: if Christ did not die, then the obedience was for naught. Therefore, the death is the ultimate cause of salvation, and the obedience is contingent on the follow-through of death.

But there is a flaw in this. Notice what happens to the idea of “obedience” when we use the words “if Christ did not die.” It becomes void. And the premise accordingly becomes nonsensical. If we are going to speculate on the idea of Christ not dying, fine. But let’s not try to see what that does to the idea of Christ obeying. Because when we talk about Christ not dying, that very notion does away, on its own, with the idea of Christ obeying. A Christ who does not die is, almost by definition, a Christ who does not obey. So the entire notion becomes self-refuting.  It does no good to contrast dying with obedience if, by not dying, the whole contrast is thrown out.

There is a reason why dying cannot take precedence over obedience in this matter. Obedience is what gives meaning to the dying. If the dying is not done as an act of obedience, it loses its meaning—or never had it to begin with.

At any rate, this dissenter’s contention is illogical. It all still comes down to obedience. Obedience is the one criterion that makes the others valid.

We can weigh other causes of salvation in similar fashion. Take, for example, the testimony that Christ “bore our sins in His body on the cross…” (I Peter 2:24). This is a truth. We can see that it is a contingent truth by the fact that He doesn’t bear those sins unless He obeys. Take away the obedience and you take away the bearing of sins. The “bearing” only becomes true if the obedient life is completed. If the life was lived obediently until the last day, and then a lapse of obedience occurred, it would not be possible to say that at any point Christ “bore our sins.” Not before the cross, not after the cross. So the business of bearing our sins was always contingent. What is not contingent is that He obeyed.

As for the idea of blood as our ultimate cause of salvation, there are two ways to regard the matter. One is the idea of the shedding of blood. The other is the idea of what the blood does for sinners once it has been shed. We can see how a person might be tempted to contend for either of these, the first position holding that salvation becomes possible if the Savior sheds His blood, the other being that we are saved if we avail ourselves—sometime after His shedding of blood—of the power that that blood has for us.

We can dispense with the first of these considerations (shedding of blood as being prescriptive of salvation) by an argument used already. And we could lump with it the idea of suffering (as a cause). The argument against these as ultimate causes would be the idea that if either of them (suffering or shedding of blood) were a necessary determinant of obedience (that is, a  “mere” contributing factor toward obedience), then that cause (whether it was suffering or shedding of blood) could not be the ultimate cause, because obedience itself would be that ultimate cause. And certainly suffering and shedding of blood were required of Christ if He was to be obedient. It is important to keep in mind that “obedience” has to mean an entire lifetime of staying faithful and obedient to God. If God’s plan called for that person to lay down His life—and God did have that will for Christ—then shedding of blood and suffering were simply necessary steps on the way to that larger objective which was lifetime obedience.

Now we turn to the idea of what blood does for sinners after it has been shed. As with all other contingent causes, this cause is true. But notice: It is made true by the obedience of Christ. If Christ had not obeyed, could it be said that we are “washed by the blood of Christ”? No, it could not. Therefore, the power of Christ’s shed blood cannot be our ultimate cause of salvation.

At this juncture, it might be well to examine the idea of contingent causes that were cited in scripture long before Christ obeyed, and even long before Christ came on the scene. Isaiah wrote that, “by His scourging we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). This was written some 750 years before the time of Christ. How can it be said, then, that this does not prescribe the way whereby God saves us? We must admit that the statement is true. We are healed by His scourging. How can it be said, then, that Christ’s obedience makes this statement true, when this statement was delivered so many centuries before Christ was incarnated? How can Christ’s action make something true retroactively?

The answer is that we need not look upon this truth as being “made true retroactively.” Nor do we need to think that about any other prophetic remark in scripture that points ahead to salvation. These do not have to prescribe the cause of salvation. They can still describe it, even though they come so far in advance. That is because of the foreknowledge of God. Because God knows the future, and God reveals His Word, we can have answers (truths) revealed to mankind in advance of the events that make them true.

Let us return to our analogy of the man who wanted to save his mortgage. In that story, catching a ride to the bank was clearly a step that kept the process alive and held an essential place in the chain of events. Without it, the man would not have done what was ultimately necessary to save the mortgage: that is, paying the mortgage at the bank. Catching a ride was a contingent cause. It is fine for us to decide that “catching that ride saved the mortgage,” just so long as we do not confuse that step with the ultimate cause. If catching the ride were the ultimate cause, the man could have exited his friend’s car and not entered the bank before 5:00. That would not have been necessary because the mortgage would have been saved purely by the man’s catching a ride. This might sound elementary, but matters involving causation can be complex indeed, and it does not hurt to be clear about the details. These contingent causes really are true. They just are not ultimate causes. So now let us express another maxim:

A contingent cause (or truth) can be descriptive but it cannot be prescriptive.

Now, what do we mean by that?

As we saw earlier, contingent causes (or truths) derive their truthfulness from the ultimate cause (or truth) to which they “belong,” so to speak. If that ultimate “truth” were not a truth at all, then neither would its contingent “truths” be rightly describable as truths. Let us assume, then, that our ultimate truth has validated all its attendant contingent steps, or causes, or truths. At such a time, these contingent truths—being made true only “after the fact”—can describe what happened, but they never could have prescribed what had to happen, at least not before-the-fact. That’s something only an ultimate cause (or truth) can do. Only an ultimate cause (or truth) prescribes, before the fact, what is necessary for the effect to be caused. It is important to remember that the effect in question is not a contingent effect. In our example, we are not concerned with the matter of whether or not the man caught a ride. We are concerned with whether the man saved the mortgage. If we let our mind slip from that effect to a different effect, our whole thought process will be derailed.

Let’s see how this works in our analogy. The idea that “catching a ride saved the mortgage” is true if, indeed, the man walked into the bank and submitted the payment. Now, before the man ever left his house, was it true that catching a ride would save the mortgage? No. All that catching a ride would do for him is get him to the sidewalk in front of the bank. But if we apply this test to our ultimate truth—that making the payment at the bank would save the mortgage—we see that it was a truth that existed even before he left his house that day. In other words, it prescribed “salvation” for the mortgage. It did not merely describe it.

Let’s examine another contingent cause—borrowing a cell phone. Once the man paid the mortgage, we can see that, yes, borrowing the cell phone saved the mortgage. But before the day began, could we say that borrowing the cell phone would save it? In other words, could that truth have been prescriptive? No. All that could be accomplished by borrowing a phone was summoning a ride. Once the ride arrived, the man did not necessarily have to take it. But even before the day began, we knew that if the man paid the mortgage, the mortgage would be saved.

Sounds simple, maybe, but it is a conclusion that is easily obscured. How? Simply by the very commonplace practice of expressing the matter not in its positive but in its negative terms. We could, for instance, have stated things this way: if the man did not catch the ride, then the mortgage would not be saved. We could even go so far as to suggest that this is prescriptive, in the sense that we know before the day starts that if the man does not have transportation to the bank, he will not save the mortgage. But notice what has happened when we have reverted to the subjunctive mood of “if the man does not.” We should be reminded of the difficulties encountered a while back with the idea of “if Christ did not die.” Whenever cause-and-effect statements are expressed in their negative form, we can be led into difficulties. Yes, it is true that if the man did not catch the ride, then the mortgage was lost. But that is not the same as saying that if the man caught the ride, the mortgage was saved. After catching the ride, the man is standing on the sidewalk in front of the bank, nothing more, and still the mortgage has not been paid. So we cannot derive any reliable conclusions from this practice of examining the negatives (the “if nots,” so to speak) of our various truths.

The upshot, then, is (our maxim, again) that a contingent cause (or truth) can be descriptive but it cannot be prescriptive.

And here is a corollary: any ultimate truth is a prescriptive truth.

And this brings us back, again, to Romans Chapter 5, for we have found, by more than one line of reasoning, that Romans Chapter 5, with its pinpointing of obedience as the cause of salvation, answers the tests we could ask of it, if we are seeking the ultimate cause of salvation.

These tests are twofold: (1) the test of validating all the other scripturally authorized (but contingent) causes of salvation and (2) the test of being a prescriptive statement of salvation. These are two conditions that ought apply if we have found our lone cause of salvation. And they do.

In working through this most recent set of proofs, all that we have really done is illustrate one other truth that has been mentioned already. That truth is Aristotle’s conclusion that a cause can have more than one effect, but an effect can have only one cause. We’ve simply taken the more roundabout, but more instructive, route. Had we stopped earlier to analyze Aristotle’s assertion more closely, we would have inferred from it that contingent causes are not prescriptive. There is always only one cause that explains any one given effect. Our salvation is a given effect. It should always have been discernible that salvation’s cause could be isolated.

We are acquainted, all of us, with sermons, lectures, and the like, that list numerous “possible” causes of something, only to hear in the end that “all of them” together are the cause. And in a sense that is right. But every cause save one was a contingent cause. For any given effect, only one cause can be prescriptive, because, in the final analysis, only one cause is ultimately responsible for that effect.

And so it is in the Bible as well. The Bible is full of truths that are descriptive of what saves man. They are made true by one ultimate truth, one ultimate cause of man’s salvation. That truth—the truth that makes those other, contingent truths true—is the only truth that ever could have been prescriptive. In matters of what saves man, only one truth ever could have been that truth. The Bible tells us what it is.

[1] Bryan Magee, The Story of Philosophy, (Dorling Kindersley, New York, first American edition, 1998), p. 36.

[2] The subject in that earlier discussion was our maxim, Reason Kills, and in making the case for the truth of that maxim, I remarked that it was a contingent truth. The question then was, “What brings spiritual death?” Our answer was this: “And so it is a certainty that Reason Kills, for reason brings law, law brings sin (with no chance of avoidance), and sin brings death.” In this context, reason was defined as a contingent cause. The ultimate cause of death is sin. It should be understood that an entity that can function as an ultimate cause (or ultimate truth) in one context can function as a contingent truth in a different context. In logic, one argues from one position to another position. The direction one is proceeding determines what is our final cause. And the direction we are proceeding in is determined by what kind of question we are trying to answer. Earlier, we were asking, “What brings spiritual death?” It was decided that reason brings spiritual death, but only by a domino effect. We knew, already, that the ultimate cause of spiritual death is sin. But reason leads incontrovertibly to sin (as was explained earlier), and so reason is a contingent cause of spiritual death.

Now we are arguing from a different direction. We are now asking ourselves, “How did these things come to us from Adam?” In approaching the question this way, we are tackling the steps in the opposite direction. The ultimate cause—the one absolute and necessary connection—is that reason caused these things to come to us from Adam. If Adam had not bequeathed reason to us—had not caused it to be instilled in our genes—then we would not have come into our powers of reason involuntarily, and therefore our sins would have remained unimputed sins, and we would not have died spiritually. So reason is the ultimate cause in this instance.

[3] To better see this, we can weigh the concept of imputation as it might apply to a law that is different from the law of sin and death. There could be such a thing, for instance, as imputation of the Law of Moses. We know that “sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:13). So first we must imagine someone coming under that law. That could have occurred in one of several ways. And when it did indeed occur for some individual or other, then any sins against the Law of Moses would henceforth be imputable to that individual. (Though of course there could be provisions for forgiveness within that covenant, thus making possible the later removal of those imputed sins.) In the times of the Israelites, a foreigner (among the Israelites) could be admitted into the chosen nation by a process authorized by God, and when that occurred the person would come “under the Law.” From that point forward, sin (against the Law of Moses) would be imputable against that person. For any youthful Israelite, the moment of reaching an age of accountability would mark the occasion when sins (in this case, what we would call “covenant sins”) were imputable to him or her. The entire nation of Israel came under the Law at Sinai, and so for all of them there came a moment after which their sins against the Law of Moses would be imputable to them. Even so, in all of these instances, imputation occurred within each individual person, and only there. The point here is this: imputation is an event that occurs within the individual—not between individuals, not between Adam and ourselves—and its occasion is always preceded by that moment when the law in question “enters in” for that individual.

[4]In case one other concern may be lingering in some readers’ minds, let us address it now. In this book we have discussed two separate disobediences of Adam. Each is important to us, but each is important for a different reason. Let’s call them the first disobedience and the second disobedience—the second being Adam’s sin-unto-death. The first disobedience was an unimputed sin—Adam’s eating of the forbidden fruit. The second disobedience was his imputed sin—Adam’s sin-unto death. In the early going, we placed our main concentration on the second sin, because our objective then was to demonstrate that that sin was the one that cost Adam his spiritual life. However, later in our discussion, we made Adam’s first disobedience our object of concentration. That’s because we were tackling a new and different issue—the question of Adam’s passing reason on to us. It wasn’t Adam’s mortal sin that passed reason to us. It was his unimputed sin—his disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit. It was that disobedience that gave rise to the injustice we have described herein. And right here, at this asterisked juncture, we are back to discussing Adam’s imputed sin, his sin-unto-death that had to have occurred sometime after the disobedience of eating the fruit.

[5] See page 135 for that discussion.

Please be aware that there is an explanatory note at the top of this file.  Thank you!

COPYRiGHT 2011 JESSE MULLINS

jesse.mullins at juno.com    469.371.7323   jessemullins.com



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