“But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.”
~Romans 5:15 (NRSV).
Sin is a powerful agent leading us through a dark pathway to death, but the way to life is supremely more powerful.
“One man’s trespass” is Adam’s—the first Adam of Genesis 1–3. Adam is a type of Christ in that he functioned as the head of humankind. Due to his decisions, however, he was found to be a man only; no feature of sinlessness in sight.
Jesus Christ is the second Adam, forever reconciling humankind to God with what was a restorative transaction of the first Adam’s trespass at the cross.
If many died with the first Adam, many more live because of—and through belief in—the second!
Following the First Adam – Trespass and Death
This is a choice. The way we live our lives, down to the minuscule decisions we make, suggests death and life are disposed to us equivalent to our wills.
When Adam made his choice in Genesis 3:6 there was the consequential stain placed over the whole of humankind. One decision to trespass God meant that trespass was how we were characterised.
Following the first Adam occurs as both a situational and eternal reality; the genuinely repentant believer can fall for the first anytime, yet they’re consecrated against the second unconditionally.
But whenever we behave according to the code of trespass we agree to be judged to a worldly standard of trespass. The consequences are any one of a trillion forms of individualised spiritual death. But a genuinely repentant believer—despite their sin—will reap the finalising benefit of grace, because they follow the second Adam, the Lord Jesus.
Following the Second Adam – Grace and Life
This also is a choice. The moment we take heed of the knowledge of God’s offer of grace, in and through Christ, is the moment we’re saved for all eternity. The previous and future trespasses made against God at our stead no longer count against us from the eternal destination viewpoint, though we’ll still be judged for what we’ve done and not done in this life.
With eternity settled, we come back to issues of trespass and grace in the here and now.
Even though we may’ve chosen for Christ, we slip back in practical terms to trespass in this life whenever we decide the way of the first Adam—that is, when we sin.
Salvation, at this point, has two realities about it—the eternal and the temporal. The first is certain, yet the second is threatened in a moment’s regression.
Christians must remember that eternal life is the knowledge of God and living according to the Lord’s will (John 17:3). We may be saved into heaven, but we must rely on God—here and now—so we achieve salvation in our moments also.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans – Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 1998), pp. 282-85.