The Church: The Bride of Christ

For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body…  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,” (Ephesians 5:23-25).

The relationship of Christ and the church is likened to the relationship of husband and wife.  Why is this comparison made?  (1) It has to do with love.  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).  Adam was put to sleep and had his side opened up to receive Eve (Genesis 2:21-22).  Christ freely gave up His life and even had His side opened to receive His bride (Acts 20:28; John 19:30-34; Ephesians 5:25).  Some in the Bible offered or gave a dowry for their brides (Genesis 24:53; 29:16-18; 31:41; 34:11-12; Exodus 22:16-17; Judges 1:12-13, 14-15; 1 Samuel 18:25; 2 Samuel 3:14; 1 Kings 9:16).  Jesus freely gave His life (John 10:17-18; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25).

(2) It has to do with oneness.  God created Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 2:18-24).  God’s ideal plan, from the beginning, was one man and one woman to be joined together for life (Genesis 2:24 cf. Ephesians 5:31-32; Matthew 19:4-6; Romans 7:1-2; 1 Corinthians 7:39).  Christ has one bride.  There is one church (Ephesians 5:23 cf. 1:22-23; 4:4). [Note: The spiritually wise carefully study and search to find that one true church, and how to enter it. They will accept nothing less. They will accept no counterfeits]

(3) It has to do with provision.  “Christ… gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).  He made all the provisions necessary for us to appear before Him glorious.  Albert Barnes comments, “In all this there is an allusion doubtless to the various methods of purifying and cleansing those who were about to be married, and who were to be united to monarchs as their brides” (Barnes’ Notes, Vol. 12, p. 110; see also, Clark’s Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 463). Consider: Esther 2:12; Psalm 45:13-14; Ezekiel 16:9-13.  He made it possible for us to stand before Him as His beautiful bride.

(4)  It is about authority, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church.  Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:23-24).  The church is to be submissive to Christ.

(5) It is about purity.  Paul wrote, “I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).  Sometimes the church is depicted as married to Christ (Romans 7:4; Ephesians 5:22-32).  At other times, the church is depicted as espoused to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2), with the wedding day in the future (Revelation 19:6-9).  How can this be reconciled?  The solution is found in the Jewish customs of the day.  A woman betrothed (espoused) to a man was in a sense, legally considered married (Exodus 21:9; Deuteronomy 22:23-29).  Infidelity was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 22:23-29).  However, they did not yet dwell together.  The groom typically used this period of time to prepare a place for them (cf. John 14:1-3).  The wedding ceremony would occur at a later date.  Then, the bride would be taken home (cf. John 14:1-3)  The church is currently betrothed to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2).  We are expected to remain faithful.  May we keep ourselves pure, and without spot for His coming (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27; James 1:27).

O Beulah land, sweet Beulah land, As on thy highest mount I stand, I look away across the sea, Where mansions are prepared for me, And view the shining glory-shore, My heav’n, My home forever more” (Song: Beulah Land by Edgar Page).

 

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The Church: The Temple of God

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

The church is being referred to as the temple of God.  Marion Fox comments, “The only correct usage of a plural pronoun to refer to as singular noun as its antecedent is if the singular noun is a collective noun.  The only collective usage of the word ‘temple’ in the New Testament is when the apostles have the church in mind” (Fox, The Work of the Holy Spirit, Vol. 1, p. 235).

You also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesian 2:22).

The language is temple language (cf. Ephesians 2:19-21).  The church was in its childhood, still possessing miraculous gifts designed to bring it to maturity (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 13:8-11).  The church is designed to be the temple of God.

I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

The church is called “the house of God.”  This is temple language (e.g. Psalms 27:4; 42:4; 66:13; 69:9 cf. John 2:17; 84:1, 4, 10; 122:1-2; 135:1-2; etc.).

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

The church is, by metaphor, the temple of God.  It is not built with non-living stones.  It is built with living stones, individual members of the church.

Why is the church referred to as the temple of God?  (1) It has to do with structure.  The tabernacle/temple was to be built according to a pattern (Exodus 25:40; Numbers 8:4; 1 Chronicles 28:11, 19; Hebrews 8:5).  Likewise, the church is to be built on the correct teaching (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20).

[Note: Some have wondered how Jesus could be the only foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) and the foundation could also consist of the apostle and prophets (Ephesians 2:20).  It should be understood that the apostles and prophets preached Jesus (Acts 8:5; 8:35; Romans 15:20; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:5).  Further, it should be understood that what they taught was from Jesus (John 14:25-26; 15:26-27; 16:12-14).  Finally, it should be understood that the apostles and prophets refers not to the men themselves but to their inspired teaching (Ephesians 2:18-20 cf. 3:5-6)].

(2) It has to do with worship.  “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).  The Old Testament temple was a place of worship [1 Kings 8:29 (cf. Exodus 20:24; Deuteronomy 12:5-6, 11; 16:16); 1 Kings 12:25-31; Matthew 21:13 (cf. Isaiah 56:7)].  The church is to assemble (Hebrews 10:25) and worship (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 13:15; Philippians 4:18).

(3) It has to do with relationship.  The tabernacle/temple was where God communed with Israel (Exodus 25:22; 1 Kings 9:1-3).  Jesus promised, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20 cf. Matthew 26:29).  He is with us, when we assemble together to do His will.

[Note on Matthew 26:19: The word “new” is Kainos, meaning new in form, quality, or meaning.  The Kingdom sometimes refers to the church (Mark 9:1 cf. Acts 1:8; 2:4; Romans 14:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26, etc.)].

(4) It has to do with representation.  The tabernacle/temple of old did not literally house God.  It could not contain Him (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18; Acts 7:47-50; 17:24-25).  However, it did represent Him and His dwelling place (Exodus 25:8; 29:45-46).  He, at times, even manifested His presence in the tabernacle/temple (Exodus 40:34-38; Deuteronomy 31:15; 2 Chronicle 7:1-3).  God miraculously manifested Himself in the early church (1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4, etc.).  The church is to represent Him on earth.  It should be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).  The church should support and uphold the truth, God’s word.  If we don’t, who will?

Oh, Lord, prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true; With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for You.

Lord, teach Your children to stop their fighting, Start uniting all as one; Let’s get together, loving forever, sanctuary for You”

(Song: Sanctuary by J.W. Thompson and Randy Scruggs).

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The Church: The Family of God

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but… members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

What a change!  God made it possible for those who were once “having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12), to become a part of His family.

He made this possible through the blood of Christ.  Those who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

This change takes place, today in baptism.  “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither make nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).

Why is the church referred to as the family of God?  (1) It has to do with the love of God.  “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).  He loved us enough to make it possible for us to be a part of His family.  Moreover, He wants to bless us.  We are, “if children then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:17 cf. Galatians 3:29; Titus 3:7; James 2:5; 1 Peter 3:7, etc.).

(2) It has to do with our relationship with Jesus.  He lived on earth in the same relationship to the Father, that we do.  “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren”  (Hebrews 2:11).  He came in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7; Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:17; 4:15).  He lived His life in submission to the Father” (John 6:38; Matthew 26:39; Hebrews 5:8).

(3) It has to do with relationship between Christians.  Paul told Philemon that Onesimus should be received “no longer as a slave but more than a slave – a beloved brother” (Philemon 16).  Paul told Timothy to exhort older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters (1 Timothy 5:1).  How great it would be, if every member so treated one another.  We are to “let brotherly love continue” (Hebrews 13:1).  We are taught, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” (Romans 12:10).  Jimmy Jividen has wisely written, “One becomes a son of God when he is born into the family of God at baptism.  Because of this sonship, he immediately and automatically becomes a brother to every other child of God.  If God is one’s Father, then all of God’s children are his brothers.  Christians do not choose who their brothers will be.  They only recognize as brothers those who have been born into the family of God.  Brotherhood has nothing to do with ethnic background, social strata, economic level, or educational attainment or personal interests.  It has everything to do with one’s relationship with God” (Jividen, Koinonia, pp. 13-14).  Again, “One does not choose his brother.  He can only recognize him as a brother when God recognizes him as a son” (ibid, p. 91).

One should love the family, the brotherhood.  Peter taught “Love the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17).  Jimmy Jividen has written, “Concern for the brotherhood outweighed any personal rights or selfish desires.  This mutual concern of the family causes all who are children of God to treat one another as special people.  They give preferential treatment to one another because of the family ties.  They are spiritual kinfolk”  (ibid, p. 35).  “Never, never does not hear of an inspired man speaking in a derogatory way of either the church or the brotherhood” (ibid, p. 47).

We’re part of the family that’s been born again / Part of the family whose love knows no end/ For Jesus has saved us and made us His own / Now we’re part of the family that’s on its way home /

And sometimes we laugh together, Sometimes we cry / Sometimes we share together heartbreaks and sighs / Sometimes we dream together of how it will be / When we all get to heaven God’s family” (Song: God’s Family by Lanny Wolfe).

I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God / I’ve been washed in the fountain / And cleansed by His blood /  Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod / For I’m a part of the family the family of God (Song: The Family of God by Bill and Gloria Gaither)

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The Church: The Body of Christ

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body…” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

The book of Ephesians speaks of a body.  There is one body (Ephesians 4:4).  Christ is the Savior of this body (Ephesians 5:23).  The body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23 cf. Colossians 1:18a; 1:24).  It is composed of both Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:16; 3:6 cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13).

Why is the church referred to as the body of Christ?  (1) It is a reference to authority (Ephesians 1:22-23).  God put all things under Jesus’ feet (a reference to dominion and subjection (cf. Psalm 8:6; Acts 4:37; Hebrews 2:8).  God positioned Jesus as the head of the church (a reference to positional authority cf. Ephesians 5:23-24).  A healthy physical body is submissive to the will of the head.  Even so, the church is to be subject to, and carry out the will of its head, Jesus Christ.

(2) It has to do with relationship of members (Ephesians 4:16 cf. Colossians 2:19; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31).  “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:4-5).  “For in fact the body is not one member but many.  If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the healing? If the whole body were hearing, where would be the smelling… And if they were all one member, where would the body be?  But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'” (1 Corinthians 12:14-21).  The Holy Spirit gave, different members in the early church, different miraculous gifts (cf. Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28-30; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Peter 4:10-11).  He could have given all members the same gifts.  He did not.  He wanted the church to work together, using these gifts for the work of the ministry, the edifying of the body, and the glory of God (Ephesians 4:12, 16 cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Peter 4:10-11).  While the church today does not possess a diversity of miraculous gifts, it is composed of members with different talents and abilities.  We are to work together, as a body, to the glory of God and the furtherance of the gospel and the cause of Christ.

We should care for one another.  “There should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).  J.W. McGarvey commented, “God intends that the church shall look upon itself as such an organic whole… ‘When a thorn,’ says Chrysostom, ‘enters the heel, the whole body feels it, and is concerned: the back bends, the fore part of the body contracts itself, the hands come forward and draw out the thorn, the head stoops, the eyes regard the affected member with intense gaze.  When the head is crowned, the whole man feels honored, the mouth expressed and the eyes look gladness.'” (McGarvey, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans, p. 126.

(3) It has to do with the work.  “Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today.  He has no feet but our feet to lead men in the way.  He has no tongue but our tongue to tell me how He died.  He has no help but our help to bring them to His side” (Annie Johnston Flint).  The church is His body on earth to do His will.  If we don’t, who will?

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Noseblind

“Anosmia is the inability to perceive odor or a lack of functioning olfactory – the loss of the sense of smell” (Wikipedia).  Most people are not totally without the ability to smell.

A much more common issue is a lack of ability to smell certain smells, smells to which one has become desensitized.  Febreze used the term “noseblind” in a 2014 ad campaign.  However, the term was used by some before this.  One website gave the following definition: “The gradual acclimation to the smells of one’s home, care or belongings, in which the affected does not notice them (even though their guests do)” (preshume.com).

A congregation, with which I once worked, met in a building with a basement.  The auditorium and offices were located above.  The class rooms, and fellowship hall was located in the basement.  The basement had flooded several times through the years.  Each time the water had been removed; clean up had been done.  However, an odor persisted.  Most members did not smell it.  They had grown accustom to the odor over the years.  Visitors did smell it, even from the auditorium above.  It was repulsive to them.  Some decided to attend elsewhere, explaining that the smell was too strong for them; or that they thought the mold would negatively affect their respiratory system.  How embarrassing!  Yet, many members could not smell it.  Some of those who could, did not think it was a big deal – the visitors were just being too picky, or making an excuse.

I think that it is possible for individual Christians, and entire churches to become spiritually noseblind.  (1) One may think that he is a faithful member, because he is faithful compared to other Christians he knows.  Paul wrote, “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves.  But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).  Again, “For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the LORD commends” (2 Corinthians 10:18).  “All the ways of man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits” (Proverbs 16:2).  (2) A preacher may think that his sermons are clear and balanced.  A mature member in the pew may have another impression.  Is the whole counsel of God being proclaimed? (Acts 20:27).  Do the sermons convince, rebuke, and exhort? (2 Timothy 4:2).  It is easy to be self-deceived.  This is why I have each year made available evaluation sheets and have solicited input from mature Christians.  (3) A congregation may think that it is a friendly congregation(I’ve never met one that didn’t).  A visitor may have another impression.  I have seen congregations that are very friendly member to member, but were not welcoming to visitors.  Melinda and I visited a large church in Oklahoma one Wednesday night (there a famous preacher preached whom I wanted to hear).  Members were talking one to another before Bible class.  No one introduced themselves to us.  No one helped us navigate our children to the right class rooms.  After class was no better.  I took the incentive to introduce myself to a man near me.  He too was a visitor!  No one had greeted either one of us.  I have also witnessed buildings and parking lots clear with in 5 minutes. This sends a message and leaves an impression. I have been a guest speaker in a place where no one invited me to lunch or to their house after preaching. I had nowhere to go for several hours till they met again. Such behavior  sends a message and leaves an impression. We should be a welcoming, hospitable people to all. (4) A congregation may think it is sound (Unsoundness always seems to be somewhere else).  A visitor may see poor attendance, a major swing in numbers between Bible class, Sunday morning worship assembly, Sunday night worship assembly, and Wednesday night Bible class (“Doesn’t every place have such drastic swings?” No. And even if such were the case, it wouldn’t make it right) .  This sends a message and leaves an impression.  He may notice members do not bring their Bibles, or do not open their Bibles.  This sends a message and leaves an impression.  He may notice many do not sing.  This sends a message and leaves an impression.  He may notice that they fight a lot in Bible class (and usually over non-essential matters).  This sends a message and leaves an impression.  They may see arrogance and self-righteousness, instead of humility and compassion. This sends a message and leaves an impression. He may see a lack of interest in the sermon, people talking, passing notes, texting, surfing the internet, or looking at their watches.  This sends a message and an impression.   He may see immodest dress and worldly talk.  This sends a message and leaves an impression.  He may know that the many of the members live in grand houses, drive expensive cars and trucks, wear nice clothes, shoes and boots – and then he looks at the total amount given each week. It does not add up to him. Do they value the church and its work so little? This sends a message and leaves an impression.  He may hear gossip and negative talk, instead of encouraging and edifying words.  This sends a message and leaves an impression.  He may hear someone in the pulpit refer to the preacher referred to as “pastor,” giving as “tithing,” evangelizing as “recruiting for our church,” a member of the church as “he is Church of Christ,” and members of the church of Christ as “Church of Christers,” and a construction project on the building as “work on the church.” This sends a message and leaves an impression.  He may see the young man, who is waiting on the Lord’s table, wearing a t-shirt with a beer ad on it, or slovenly dressed.  This sends a message and leaves an impression.  If a visitor or new member hears the business of the church discussed, he may hear a lot of personal opinions and “I think”s but little or no reference to the Bible. This sends a message and leaves an impression. Moreover, if the visitor or new member dares voice his concerns, he is dismissed as the one with the problem (“After all, this is the way that we have always done things”).  What message do we send? What impression do we leave?

How can spiritual noseblindness be removed?  (1) We must spend time looking at the true standard.  “Examine yourself as to whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).  We need to observe our face in the mirror of God’s word (James 1:22-25).  (2) We must determine that it is God whom we wish to please.  “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44).

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Is Man Born In Sin? (Part 2)

Many teach that man is born in sin.  Consider: (1) Catechism of the Catholic Church Second Edition – “(Adam) has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the ‘death of the soul.’  Because of this certainty of faith, the church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal.  How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants?  The whole human race is in Adam ‘as one body of one man'” (403, 404).  (2) The Westminster Confession of Faith – “They (Adam and Eve – B.H.) being the root of all mankind, the guilt of sin was imputed… conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation” (6.3).

Let us continue considering some passages which some say teach this doctrine.

4.  1 Corinthians 15

“For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

“Death” in context refers to physical death (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20).  Adam’s sin resulted in not only his, but all of humanity, being cut off from The Tree of Life (Genesis 3).  The consequences , not the guilt, of Adam’s sin is still with us.  “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

“Alive” in context means more than just a return to life.  Both the righteous and the unrighteous will be raised (John 5:28-29).  The resurrection in view is for those who are in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23).  It is a resurrection to glory that is in view.

There is a comparison being made.  Just as all who physically die can credit such to Adam; even so, all who are raised to glory can credit such to Christ.

“It is sown a natural body.  it is raised a spiritual body.  There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’  The last Adam became a life-giving spirit… The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Corinthians 15:44-49).

The comparison continues.  Man, through Adam, receives a body suitable for this earthly existence.  This body is similar to that of Adam’s.  The saved, through Christ, will receive a body suitable for a heavenly existence.  This body will be similar to Him (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2).

This chapter is similar to a more controversial chapter.  Let’s next look at –

5.  Romans 5.

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death spread to all men, because all sinned – ” (Romans 5:12).

The one man is Adam (Romans 5:12 cf. 5:14).  Sin entered the world through Adam.  True, Eve was the first to eat of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6).  However, Adam was with her (Genesis 3:6b), and he was not deceived by Satan’s words (1 Timothy 2:14).  He could have, and should have, tried to prevent sin.  Instead, he followed his wife into sin.

Death came into the world because of sin.  Does this refer to physical death or spiritual death?  (a) Physical death certainly came to man, as he was cut off from the Tree of Life.   (b) Some believe that spiritual death is in view (cf. Romans 5:19).

Death spread to all men.  Why?  Because all sinned.  (a) Those who believe that physical death is in view, suggest that “all sinned in Adam being in him” (Lard, Commentary on Romans, p. 167).  It is much like Levi paying tithes to Melchizedek, being in the loins of Abraham (Hebrews 7:9-10).  It is possible to hold this view and believe that we inherit the consequences of physical death, and other earthly matters, without inheriting the personal guilt.  (b) Those who believe that spiritual death is in view, suggest that the reason that death spread to all men is because all have sinned, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

This is a difficult section of Scripture.  I believe that this probably refers to spiritual death (I will treat the rest of the article according to this view).

This does not teach that man inherits the guilt of Adam’s sin.  The Bible teaches against such (Ezekiel 18:20).  It is personal sin which separates a man from God (e.g. Isaiah 59:2; Colossians 2:13; etc.).

(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed where there is no law…) (Romans 5:13).

“For” (gar) connects this with the previous verse.  Roy Deaver explains, “What follows is intended to prove that spiritual death passed to all men” (Deaver, Romans: God’s Plan for Man’s Righteousness, p. 176).

Sin is a violation of God’s law (Romans 4:15; 5:13; 1 John 3:4).  It did not start with the law of Moses.  Sin has existed since Adam.

(…Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come…) (Romans 5:14).

Death’s reign began with Adam and passed to all men, even to those who did not sin according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam.  Roy Deaver comments, “But if all men sinned in Adam, then their sin would be after the likeness of Adam’s transgression – in fact, it would be the same sin!  The sins of these people were not like the transgression of Adam.  Remember that if we had sinned in Adam our sins would be after the likeness of Adam’s transgression… Adam’s transgression was of a specific positive divine law relating to the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden of Eden.  Only to Adam and Eve was this law ever given” (Deaver, Romans, p. 178).

“(…But the free gift is not like the offense.  For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ abounded to many.  And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned.  For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free  gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.  For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through one, much more those who received abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)” (Romans 5:15-17).

This contrasts the action of Adam and the action of Jesus.  Adam allowed sin to enter the world (the offense).  He did nothing to try to stop it.  Jesus did something to justify men from many offenses (the gift of God cf. Romans 6:23).

Moreover, the gift is greater than the offense.  (1) It is greater in scope.  Roy Deaver comments, “Christ died because of ‘many trespasses’ – not because of Adam’s ‘one’ trespass” (Deaver, Romans, p. 180).  Robert Taylor Jr. comments, “The free gift of Calvary… was not designed just to cover the destructive damage of Adam’s transgression. Christ at Calvary made provisions for the possible pardon for all sins of humanity” (Taylor, Studies in Romans, pp. 102 – 103).  (2) It is greater in effect.  Robert Taylor Jr. comments, “It is true that what man lost in Adam is gained back through Christ but those who view Calvary’s gift as JUST co-extensive in Adam, have not begun, even in surface fashion to understand what Paul is describing here” (Taylor, Studies in Romans, p. 102).  God wants to make known to us “the exceeding riches of His grace” (Ephesians 2:7).

“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgement came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men resulting in justification of life.  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18-19).

This returns to the thought which was being introduced in Romans 5:12.  This provides the “even so” to the “just as.”  Verses 13 – 17 were parenthetical.

Adam’s sin had consequences.  The Tree of Life and The Garden of Eden were lost (Genesis 3:23-24).  A state of enmity would exist between Satan and man (Genesis 3:15).  Innocence was lost (Genesis 3:7-11).  Life would become much more difficult (Genesis 3:16-19).  Physical death would come (Genesis 3:19).  In this environment, temptation and sin abounded.

Jesus, unlike Adam, was obedient to God.  His obedience has positive consequences.  Man can be counted righteous.

This does not teach that man directly inherits Adam’s sin (cf. Ezekiel 18:20); nor does it teach that man directly inherits Jesus’ righteousness (cf. Hebrews 5:8-9).  Robert Taylor Jr. remarks, “Adam’s disobedience did not make any of his descendants sinners without their choices to sin and participate therein.  Christ’s obedience does not make any righteous without their choice to obey” (Taylor, Studies in Romans, p. 105).

Does this teach that all will be saved?  Guy N. Woods comments, “He does not argue that as many will be saved, as were involved in the effects of Adam’s sin, all that is intended is that the provision which he makes is as widespread in its application and in its effects as the sin of Adam.  Men must embrace God’s  plan to be saved; some will not thus do, and hence, remain lost.  But, the plan is here, and is available to all men; if all men are not saved, it will be because they do not accept and follow the plan” (Taylor, Studies in Romans, pp. 104-105, quoting Woods, G.A. Adult Quarterly, Winter, 1968).

Moreover, the law entered that the offense abound.  But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

God gave Israel the law of Moses.  It “entered” (pareiselthen, came in besides – Vine’s).  It came in besides the rest of the world (non-Israelites).  The law did not change man’s spiritual condition.  Sin reigned from Adam to Moses (Romans 5:14), and it continued to reign under the law of Moses.  In fact, it entered that sin might abound (Romans 5:20).  (a) Some take this to mean that one of the reasons God gave the law of Moses was to make obvious man’s condition (cf. Romans 7:7, 13).  (b) Others believe that “that” denotes effect and not purpose (cf. Matthew 23:34-35; John 9:39; 12:40, etc.).  More legislation means more opportunities to sin, and more transgressions.

However, God’s grace is more than capable of covering all of man’s sins through Jesus Christ.  “Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see” (Song: Amazing Grace by John Newton).

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A Sense of Urgency

I recently finished watching Ken Burns’ series, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.  The 14 hour series weaves the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt into a single narrative.  He suggests that both Theodore and Franklin were driven by a sense of urgency.  They wanted to get as much done as quickly as they could.

Robert Caro has written four volumes (and he is not done), nearly 3,300 pages (so far) of biography on Lyndon B. Johnson.  Repeatedly, he emphasizes L.B.J.’s sense of urgency.  The clock was ticking, and he knew it.  Caro writes, “According to family lore, Johnson men had weak hearts and died young.  All during his youth, Lyndon had heard relatives say that.  Then, while he was still in college, and his father was only in his early fifties, his father’s heart began to fail, and Sam Ealy Johnson had died in 1937, twelve days after his sixtieth birthday.  Sam Ealy had two brothers, George and Tom Johnson.  George, the youngest of the three brothers, suffered a massive heart attack in 1939 and died a few months later, at the age of fifty-seven.  In 1946, at the age of sixty-five, Tom suffered a heart attack, and in 1947 he had a second.  Lyndon Johnson, who had been deeply aware of his remarkable physical similarity to his tall, gawky, big-eared, big-nosed father, was convinced – convinced to what one of his secretaries calls “the point of obsession” – that he had inherited the family legacy.  ‘I am going to live to be but sixty,’ he would say… whenever it was suggested that he might make his career in the House of Representatives, he would reply, in a low voice: ‘Too slow, too slow.’  Rayburn had begun trudging along that path early – he had been only thirty years old when first elected to Congress in 1912 – and it had taken him twenty-five years, until 1937, to become Majority Leader; he had not become Speaker until 1940, at the age of fifty-eight.  But Sam Johnson had died at the age of sixty… he might not break the seniority system before he died… he would make a run for the Senate in 1948″ (Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent, pp. 136-139).  If he was to achieve the kind of power that he wanted, he felt that he must get out of the House; he had to win a Senate seat.  His life was relatively short.  He would die at the age of 64.

Do we, as Christians, have a sense of urgency?  I am nearly 52 years of age.  If I die at an average age, I have 20 or 25 years to accomplish something for my God and Savior.  Time is ticking.  I am afraid that many Christians are lacking a sense of urgency.  They will talk to their friend about Christ some day, not today.  They will reconcile with their brother some day, not today.  They will truly be totally committed to Christ and involved in the work of the church some day, not today.  “You do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

Do we, as a church, have a sense of urgency?  A work is proposed.  The proposal is tabled to be discussed next year.  There is a lost and dying world who needs to hear the true gospel.  Are we fulfilling our mission?  We are taught, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5).  “Swiftly we’re turning life’s daily pages, Swiftly the hours are changing to years; How are we using God’s golden moments, Shall we reap glory, Shall we reap tears? \ Millions are groping without the gospel, Quickly they’ll reach eternity’s night; Shall we sit idly as they rush onward?  Haste let us hold up Christ the true light \ Souls that are precious, souls that are dying, While we rejoice our sins are forgiven; Did he not also die for these lost ones?  Then let us point the way unto heav’n \ Into our hands the gospel is given, Into our hands is given the light, Haste, let us carry God’s precious message, Guiding the erring; back to the right. (Song: Swiftly We’re Turning by Mrs. Roy Carruth and Tillit S. Teddlie).

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