Dead or Alive
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)
We are a divided nation today. Factions war against each other based on race, gender, sexual orientation, politics, social justice, and any and every other grievance possible. Right or left, gay or straight, conservative or progressive: the battle lines are drawn. Loyalties are based on different factors depending on the issue under discussion. Where two may stand as allies on one issue, they may stand bitterly opposed on another. It seems everyone has an opinion on everything, and very few are neutral about anything. We are polarized, divided, and intractable.
The truth is, however, that despite how many factions there may appear to be, the Bible makes it far simpler. There are only two kinds of people on the earth. There are those who are in Adam, and there are those who are in Christ. Those who are dead in their sins and those who are alive unto God. Every other distinction is completely irrelevant in the light of the overshadowing importance of knowing where one stands in this regard. This is not a choice from which we can abstain either. By virtue of our membership in the human race, we are in one family or the other.
We were all born into Adam. He is the Father of our race, and we all proceeded from him. As our progenitor, he was also our representative before God in the Garden. What he chose, he chose for us all. That is why the Bible says, “For in Adam, all die.” God gave Adam and Eve the opportunity to have fellowship with Him and enjoy tremendous authority as His regents in the earth. They would have dominion over all He made and spread the influence of the Paradise in which they lived as they tended the expanding Garden until it covered the earth. However, somewhere along the line, Adam surrendered that dominion to the Devil who then became “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Bible tells us that Adam was not deceived in this. Although the Devil spoke lies and half-truths when he suggested the forbidden fruit to Eve, Adam knew he was in disobedience, and his act of treason against God had enormous ramifications for both himself and the entire human race.
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12 New Living Translation)
It feels unjust. After all, we didn’t sin. It was Adam who chose to disobey God! If death was indeed the cost of disobedience, as God had warned him, Adam should have borne that alone! But you and I were “in Adam,” as it were when he made his fateful choice, and thus, the death Adam’s sin brought was passed on to us. God had told him, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17), and yet, Adam didn’t die physically that day. No, the death he died was spiritual. He was alienated from God, and it was from that spiritual contaminant of sin that all the evil of which man is capable was born. Adam died spiritually and was removed from the Garden, lest he should take of the Tree of Life and live forever in an unredeemed state.
However, the way to life was not to be forever removed. God could not simply “undo” what Adam did because He had endowed man with free will, which is necessary for true love and devotion. God did not want slaves. He wanted man to love Him, and love can only exist where choice is possible. Nor could God simply give Adam a “do-over,” since “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). No, man had made his choice, but God would be the one to ultimately pay the price for his transgression. Enter Jesus.
Jesus is called “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). Just as Adam was our representative in the Garden, so Christ came to represent us on the cross. The first Adam brought death through sin. The last Adam, through His death, brought life. Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sin, balanced the scales of divine justice, and made reconciliation with God possible. Just as Adam did not have to sin, so too Christ did not have to die. He chose to take our place out of love. He took the bullet for us, so to speak, silently taking our place in judgment, the innocent for the guilty.
Yet, the question still remains, “How do I ‘get’ in Christ?” The answer is, “In the same way you got into Adam. You have to be born into Christ.” As Jesus said, “You must be born again.” Just as Adam’s death was a spiritual death, we too must be reborn spiritually, born of God, that we might become His sons and daughters.
“Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:5-7)
It is not enough to be born naturally or physically. That only puts us “in Adam.” If we would be “in Christ,” we must be born again. This birth, however, IS a choice. Though one must be born again to be cleansed, forgiven and made a child of God, the choice still remains with each of us. If we’re willing to surrender our lives in faith to the One who redeemed us and trust Him with our destiny, both immediate and future, He will transform us and give us true purpose for life. If we choose to live for our own purposes, as Adam chose on that fateful day in the Garden, we will likewise suffer the consequences. This is not difficult. This is an open book test. The true issue is whether we will open our heart to the author of life or keep choosing the Devil’s proffered fruit that always only leads to death.
Dr. Randy Bunch is the pastor of West Kern Christian Center, located at 1000 6th Street in Taft, as well as a graduate advisor and adjunct professor at Summit Bible College in Bakersfield, California. He is the author of several books, including his new devotional, Immutable: Changeless Truth for a Changing World. For more information, or to purchase your copy, go to immuntablebook.com. For more information on the ministries of WKCC, you can go the ministry’s website at wkcconnect.org.