There is one thing I can remember as a child: Dad would be away, leaving us home with mom. It was not that we did not take mom seriously or respected her less, but being home with her alone was different. If we did wrong or were disobedient, she would just take the wet tea towel and swing it our way. More than once the seam of it left the necessary red marks on our legs.
But there were times that we took chances and really overstepped the mark. Mom would not use the tea towel then; fear entered our souls when she said, “Wait till you father comes back!”
In those days the rod was not spared, however I must add, never was it used unnecessarily. Between mom’s warning and dad’s return the daylight turned into darkness; waiting for judgment and justice brought immeasurable good resolutions and fear to the mind of a child!
When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, they brought sin into this world; and sin led to death, not only physical death, but spiritual death. Since the day of the fall all of humankind are living under the curse they brought upon us. If we could, we try new resolutions everyday to please God – but the inability within us to please Him would tear us to pieces inside as we wait to appear before his judgment throne to give account of our lives.
The sermon topic today is “Death through the man Adam; life through Christ, the King”.
Sin plunged us into eternal death
Our Westminster Confession of Faith helps us to understand what happened when Adam and Eve sinned. In Chapter 6 it states:
- Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit.
- By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly polluted in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.
- They (Adam and Eve) are the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed to us all; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, are conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by birth.
- Every sin, both original and actual, is a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary to it, does in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, and put him under the wrath of God, and curse of the law; he is made subject to death, with all spiritual, temporal, and eternal miseries.
In his book “Holiness”, JC Ryle writes in the very first chapter (1879):
If a man does not realise the dangerous nature of his soul’s disease, you cannot wonder if he is content with false or imperfect remedies. I believe that one of the chief wants of the Church in the nineteenth century has been, and is, clearer, fuller teaching about sin.
One of the clear Confessions of the Reformation was the Heidelberg Catechism. Right at the beginning it asks this question?
What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort [ which is to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour]?
Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are; second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.
So what is sin? Let’s look at Romans 3:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness … For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened…. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:18–25, NIV)
What is the result of this rebellion?
… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23, NIV)
Death through Adam
The apostle Paul in the first chapters of his letter to the Romans make a few astounding remarks about sin:
- Through one man sin entered the world and death through sin, and death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12)
- Some people did not sin grievously as Adam sinned, yet all rebellion against God is sin, therefore death reigned in them too, because ultimately all sinned (Romans 5:14)
- By Adam’s sin many (in fact all) die (Romans 5:15)
- By Adam’s sin judgement cam to all, resulting in condemnation (Romans 5:18)
- By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners (Romans 5:20)
- Sin reigned in death, for the wages of sin is death (Romans 5:21, 6:23).
Paul, who also wrote the letter to the Corinthians, as we heard it read today concludes: “For .. death came through a man.” (1Corinthians 15:21)
In his letter to the Ephesians he writes:
All of us also lived … gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (Ephesians 2:3, NIV)
We now understand what he had in mind when he argued with those said there is no resurrection from death. Remember last week?
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17, NIV)
You are still in your sins! And if in your sins, you will not only physically die, but you face another death. The Bible calls it the second death. The Bible records a scene when all will appear before the judgement throne of God. This is far more frightful than waiting for an earthly dad to come home and face punishment for disobedience! Listen:
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12–15, NIV)
Life through Jesus Christ, the King
I’m not going to leave you with that scene. the message of the resurrected Christ is the message of hope and glory.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22, NIV)
Who are the “all” who will be made alive? The next verse answers: “all who are Christ’s at His coming.” It’s it clear through the context – it is surely not those who do not believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead!
This is the good tiding of life in Christ. Listen:
By Man (capital “m”) came resurrection from the dead. He is the firtsfruits of those who die in Him.
What does this mean? It takes us back to the Old Testament festivals. The Passover was the first major event of the Jewish religious year. Then, on the first day of the week after the Passover the Feats of the Firstfruits initiated the next: the Israelites brought offerings of the produce of the land, being the first and best of the crops, given in acknowledgment of God’s abundant blessings. This was an indication of a much larger crop that is to follow. This festival lasted 49 days (or seven Sabbaths), and the 50th day two loaves of bread, together with seven lambs, bulls and rams (Leviticus 23:15-21). The Jews also remembered their slavery in Egypt and then with their offerings thanked Him for their deliverance and providence (Deuteronomy 26:1-11).
When Paul calls Christ the firstfruits from the dead it is significant. He was the Passover Lamb who rose on the first day of the week. And his resurrection was a sure indication of the full harvest of those who believe in Him. He conquered death on the first day of the week after He sacrificed Himself to die in our place, but He rose to destroy death. Then, fifty days after his resurrection the Spirit was poured out and the harvesting of the full crop of all nations began (“Pentecost” comes from the Greek word meaning “fifty”). This will continue till the day of Christ’s return.
Between Christ’s resurrection, ascension and return his children still physically die (but not spiritually!), but when He comes again death will be the last enemy He will put under his feet. As the Second Adam He will stand before the throne of the Father, representing all He die and rose for sand hand over the consummated kingdom to God. Then it will be finished, and those who loved Him will live in all eternity with Him in the new heaven and new earth.
This is possible because:
- God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Romans 5:15, NIV)
- The gift (grace) followed (went for it to destroy it) many trespasses and brought justification. (Romans 5:16, NIV)
- Those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Romans 5:17, NIV)
- one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. (Romans 5:18, NIV)
- through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19, NIV)
What a glorious Gospel we proclaim! Jesus Christ overcame death, hell, sin and satan.
I bring to you this Gospel of grace: it’s free, and God’s purpose with it is to save you from the second death, and offer the free gift of salvation and new life in Christ. Listen:
God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10, NIV)
Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on 24 April 2016