We are all from Adam . . . So what?

Dear BPCWA worshipper, At a recent Teens QnA, we answered a question posed about whether we all came from Adam and Eve. An important follow-up question to that is “So what”? Most people just mainly think about “Oh, we are all related in some way then!”. But we need to see beyond this aspect and realise something more critical.  The believer must have a clear understanding of our relationship to Adam, its consequences, and how we are saved. Unbelievers may ask, “If I became a sinner because of Adam, how can God punish me when I became a sinner because of Adam?” After all, did not God say, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father . . . and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Eze 18:20)?

How are we related to Adam? Why are we sinners the moment we are born? Man does not like to hear that. Some Christians reject the doctrine of original sin. After God created the world and Adam and Eve, the perfect God “saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Ge 1:31). He gave the command to Adam and Eve to populate the earth. This is the record of the origin of mankind and the beginning of the human race. Adam is the head of the human race. But the significance of our relationship with Adam must be understood beyond a mere physical one. Adam is mankind’s federal headship. For example, the president of a nation is known as the federal head of his country and he represents and speaks on their behalf to the world. Federal comes from the Latin word foedus, indicating covenant. Federal headship means the representation of a group bound by a covenant. Why do we say that Adam is the federal head of mankind? Because Romans 5:12 tells us that “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. Why are we all sinners? Because Adam represented us as mankind. Why will all men die? Because our federal head sinned and brought about death, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression . . .” (Rom 5:14). Why is every man condemned even though we did not sin Adam’s sin? The answer is because of the sin of our federal head, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation . . .” (Rom 5:18). When Adam fell, the entire mankind fell in him. This representation principle cannot be denied without plainly denying God’s Word. Death entered the world because of sin (Ge 2:17). Death continues to plague man today and every man dies. You can’t deny this when the sad fact is that babies die, some even in the womb – evidence of the sad fact that even they are born sinners (Ps 51:5). No matter how the proud and insubmissive man refuses to accept this fact, God, the Creator, informs man that it is true.

Why is our relation to Adam important? The federal headship principle in the Scripture also reveals to us the spiritual state of the human race, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners . . .” (Rom 5:19). Our sinful nature is a result of Adam’s fall. But from this fact in Scripture often arises 2 questions. The first question is – how can God condemn men for what Adam did, when He has said that “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.. . . and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Eze 18:20)? The second question is – how can God condemn me if I am spiritually dead and hence cannot understand, since “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom 3:11)?  Furthermore, God seems to be preventing me from being saved since He says “That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them” (Mark 4:12). The accusation is “How can God make sure that I do not see to prevent me from being converted and be saved?” The misinterpretation of these passages leads to false accusations of what we believe and has caused some to reject Christianity.

Is God contradicting Himself about original sin? Let us answer the two questions mentioned earlier. Does “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Rom 5:19) contradict “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father” (Eze 18:20)? God does not contradict Himself. The context of Ezekiel 18:20 is God telling His people to stop denying that they have sinned. They kept saying that the land was in trouble because of what their forefathers had done. So, the trouble in the land was due to their forefathers, not them. God is not denying original sin at all by His statement in Ezekiel 18:20. He is simply telling His people that it was their sin that He was dealing with. God was awakening them out of their self-denial. God had earlier exposed them, for their sins were worse than their forefathers, “Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways” (Eze 16:47). And God now follows up by asking them, “Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live” (Eze 18:19). In fact, God told them not to use a proverb to hide from the fact that they are suffering because of their own sins. Here, God is holding them responsible for their own sin, “What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel” (Eze 18:2,3). This passage has nothing to do with whether man has inherited the original sin. It is just God simply telling Israel to wake up to the fact that they are suffering because of their very own sins and hence to repent.

But then how do you explain to someone who falsely accuses us of believing that God made man blind and yet holds man responsible for his sin? After all total depravity means that man “cannot” choose God. Be wary of the adversary’s accusations and know the Word of God well! God willing, we shall answer these questions next week.

Yours in our Lord’s service,