Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
DEATH IN ADAM—LIFE IN CHRIST
"Since by man came death, by man also comes the
resurrection of the dead; for as all in Adam die, even
so all in Christ shall be made alive. But every man in his
own order—Christ the First-fruits; afterwards they that
are Christ’s during His presence."
Once we considered most unkind, most unjust, the Bible declaration that our Creator condemned all of Adam’s race with him, on account of his "original sin."
But now, in the light of the clearer unfolding of God’s Word, we are privileged to see differently. Now we perceive, not only that God did no injustice to Adam’s children, but on the contrary that in this very particular He did them a great kindness—that His act was in the interest of humanity in general. We are aware that this statement will appear paradoxical to those who have not yet gotten the proper focus upon the Divine Plan.
The key which unlocks the difficulty is the proper appreciation of the
imposed upon Adam and his race. The erroneous, unscriptural view of this penalty, which came down to us from the Dark Ages, teaches that God damned Adam and Eve, and every child born to them, to an eternity of torture at the hands of the devils.
This unscriptural, irrational view of the wages of original sin has caused all our difficulty. Indeed, it is safe to say that no other false doctrine held by God’s people ever drove so many intelligent minds away from God, from the Bible and from the fellowship of the Church.
Can we fault such people? Surely not! Indeed, in our day matters have come to such a pass that, even if this view be propounded in any congregation of Christian people anywhere, not one in ten would confess to believe it. And it is to their credit that their hearts and their heads have outgrown this theory of the dark past.
Christian people heartily repudiate these creedal misrepresentations of God and His Word. Nevertheless, the subject is not clear to them; and they fear that to repudiate this doctrine would be to repudiate the Bible and to become infidels. Just here is their mistake. The majority of professed Christians are not Bible students.
They know what they THINK about the Bible, what they BELIEVE it teaches, what they have been TOLD it teaches, and what the catechism SAYS that it teaches. But they have never made a critical investigation of the Bible themselves to LEARN for themselves what it really does teach, to have a "Thus saith the Lord" for their belief.
"THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH"
However we read our Bibles in the past, we read into them from the creeds of a darker time the mischievous error that when the Word of God declares a death penalty for sin it really means the reverse of this—life—eternal life in eternal torture. Who was authorized so to twist the inspired words in such a devilish fashion? Who had the right to add to God’s Word and to make void its true teaching in this way? Hear the words of the Apostle: "The wages of sin is DEATH; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
.) What statement could be more simple?
The wicked will not be granted life at all, either in pleasure or in pain. They are under sentence of death—destruction. Eternal life is a GIFT; and it will be given only to those to whom it will be a blessing—to those who will accept it through Jesus Christ our Lord. All others will experience the very death penalty which God pronounced against Father Adam and his race when sin first entered the world.
Let us turn to Genesis and note the statements made to our first parents respecting sin and its penalty. Let us note that, without the twisting of theology, we would have no difficulty whatever in understanding the Divine
sentence, as evidently our first parents had done. The sentence pronounced upon Father Adam for his disobedience was, "Dying, thou shalt die." "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." "Cursed is the ground for thy sake. In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee; ... until thou return unto the ground from which thou wast taken." (
#Ge 2:17; 3:17-19
.) How beautifully simple, clear and rational! God took from our first parents the privilege of living, because they did not use their blessing in harmony with His Law.
"ALL IN ADAM—ALL IN CHRIST"
There would have been no hope of a future life, good or bad, had not God in His mercy provided the Savior—the Life-giver, as the Syriac renders the word. In God’s due time He set before His Son, the Logos, the opportunity of becoming man’s Redeemer. The Logos was made flesh (
), and obediently gave Himself in death—"tasted death for EVERY MAN." As by one man’s disobedience the sentence of death passed upon the race of Adam, even so by the obedience of "the Man Christ Jesus" unto death, justification to life passed for all the race—the opportunity to return to the original perfection possessed by Adam before he fell. Now we see the wise reason for permitting the sentence to pass through one man’s disobedience to all of his posterity. It was in order that one Sacrifice for sin might make possible the reconciliation of the entire race.
Now read our text and drink in its depths of beauty and force. The resurrection of mankind from the sin, death and tomb condition to the full perfection and image of God from which the race fell in Adam, is the salvation which God has provided for all. Whoever shall fail to attain the full recovery from sin and death conditions will have himself to blame for rejection of the glorious arrangements which God has made in and through Christ.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
God divides the salvation of mankind into two parts: that of the Church to spirit nature, and that of the world to perfected human nature. The first He is accomplishing during this Gospel Age. The second He will accomplish through Christ and the Church during the Millennial Age—during Messiah’s Reign of a thousand years.
The Church, the "little flock" of saints, who are called, tried and tested in the narrow way during this age, are to constitute the "First Resurrection" class and to become the Bride of Christ, "the Church of the First-borns." These are to be associated with the great Redeemer in His future work. These shall be made like Him, changed from earthly to Heavenly nature, sharers of His glory, honor and immortality. After the glorification of the Church, the Kingdom of God under the whole heavens will be inaugurated. Then will begin the blessing, the salvation, the uplifting, the resurrection, of mankind in general from sin and death conditions—not to spiritual conditions, but to perfect earthly life in a perfect earthly home—Paradise restored.
All the willing and obedient shall be blessed by the great Life-giver who, eighteen centuries ago, died, the Just for the unjust, and who during the interim has been selecting those who will be His associates in the work of human uplift. With this Bride class He will reign to bless all the families of the earth. As for the wilfully disobedient, the intelligently wicked, we read: "All the wicked will He destroy." (
.) He will not preserve them in torture or otherwise. They will die the Second Death. But none will die the Second Death because of Adam’s transgression. Christ died for that transgression, and will release Adam and all his race therefrom, even while holding them responsible for every wilful transgression, and giving them stripes or punishments therefor, in order to teach them to love righteousness and to hate iniquity.—