In Adam All Die, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, March 24, 2016 0 comments

by Steve Risner

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

This will conclude our series on death and the resurrection. This is part three in a short series written to answer a theistic evolutionist’s question: If death is a consequence of sin, why do Christians still die? If you’ve not read the other two parts to this series here and here, please do so. I feel this is one of the most important topics for a Christian as it is what our entire faith is built on—the resurrection after the death of Christ.

In theistic evolutionism (and probably some forms of old earth creationism), death cannot be accepted as a penalty for sin. It would upset their entire story line. In fact, creationists focus on life and love while evolutionists focus on death and struggle. They could not be more opposed. But Paul tells us that death is the last enemy to be destroyed by Christ in 1 Corinthians 15. To suggest death is an enemy that needs to be destroyed makes me feel like it’s not part of the natural, original order God created. I wonder if the theistic evolutionist feels sin is part of the created order—that God made us to sin and that’s why we do it. It would follow based on their line of reasoning.

Getting back to Paul, he tells us that our corruptible bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom. We must put on the incorruptible, i.e. our resurrection bodies. At the time of the Paul’s writings, it’s likely most of the pagan societies (and maybe the Jews as well) were repulsed by the thought of a resurrection. They most likely believed, like the picture that theistic evolutionist Tyler has included for us in asking this question (here), that a resurrected body was a reanimated corpse—a zombie. There were several resuscitations in Scripture that were simply putting the soul back into the body. These people all still died again. But Christ’s resurrected body was very different—it underwent a transformation and He cannot ever die again. This transformation separates His resurrection from all others before Him and marks the beginning of the time when God starts the renewal of all things.

In this chapter of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is constantly using the first 3 chapters of Genesis as the foundation for his argument for the resurrection. In light of this, the resurrection only makes sense if we read Genesis 1-3 as an historical account. Otherwise, Christ died for an idea rather than to pay the price for an act that actually occurred. Paul talks of Adam and the Last Adam—Christ—and relates each as a head of humanity. One is the head that brought sin and death to us all, while the other brings eternal life to all who are under Him. Notice that nowhere here does Paul indicate that non-believers will receive this resurrected body. Only believers will acquire this because only believers will live in paradise forever with our Lord. In other words, death will signal eternal destruction for the unbeliever and eternal life for the believer. So Paul uses this entire chapter as a way to describe creation, the Fall and Adam’s role in it, and how Christ is the starting point for a renewal of creation with humanity as its focus. We see the awesome contrast in that Adam brought sin and death, and Christ brings resurrection! Praise Jesus Christ for that! But if Adam was a mythical person that never existed, how could Christ be any different? The entire case rests on an historical Adam that brought death and sin to us all and that Christ, the Last Adam, made a way out for us—we can live eternally with Him. It all rests on the fact that Adam was real and did something real, and Christ is real and did something real.

So why do Christians still die? “By separating it [death] and drawing special attention to it, emphasis is placed on the fact that the reign of Christ is not complete until death is conquered.” –Scott Lewis. Paul’s argument is that the resurrection of Christ and eventually of believers is what constitutes the defeat of death. So the resurrection of believers will serve to complete Christ’s defeat of death; the logical result of which is “the end will come” with Christ’s complete victory over every enemy of God’s rule, and that Christ will transfer dominion to God the Father.

So death will be defeated as the Word clearly tells us. This truth is wrapped up in the fact that Christ died for our sin and rose again—defeating death and initiating resurrected life. Death reigns in this fallen world. We know this to be true because the Bible says it’s the case. Tyler says we can’t die, if death is the result of sin, if we never sin. But, again, a study of the Scriptures tells us something else. In Romans 5:14 we read: “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.” Death reigns because sin entered the world through Adam. And just a few verses later in Romans 5:19 we read, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” And in 1 Corinthians 15:21 we read, “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.” How many times must Paul say this for it to be true? Tyler has stated he feels it’s unfair for God to bring judgment on all mankind simply because Adam ate an apple (or something like this). But it’s pretty clear right here this is exactly what has happened. If what Tyler suggests is true (that one act wouldn’t bring judgment on us all), then doesn’t it also mean one act of righteousness (Jesus dying on the cross and rising again 3 days later) would not lead to salvation for all who would receive it? He wants it both ways.

Tyler uses Romans 7:9-10 to demonstrate his point. It's never good when he uses Scripture to defend his position because he really doesn't seem clear on what the Word of God tells us. It reads, “Before I knew about the Law, I was alive. But as soon as I heard that command, sin came to life, and I died.” He focuses on the “…and I died” portion of this to show us that Paul couldn't have meant he died physically right then. He fails to connect this, however, to the beginning of verse 9: “Before I knew about the Law, I was alive.” Does this mean Paul had no sin and therefore would inherit eternal life if he'd died prior to his knowledge of sin? Of course not. A couple of commentary references here and we'll move on. The Benson Commentary explains that Paul's virtue and strength died away—former persuasions vanished. Basically, he saw myself to be dead in sin, in a state of condemnation, and liable to death eternal. The Barnes' Notes on the Bible says, “Perhaps no words would better express the humble, subdued, melancholy, and helpless state of a converted sinner than the expressive phrase ‘I died.’” Paul was destroyed emotionally because he was made all too aware that the Law and his keeping of it (or failure to do so) was not a means to life but only highlighted his sinful state and the end result—death both physical and eternal.

Another interesting point to mention before we close this thing out is that not all Christians will die! 1 Corinthians 15:51 says, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…” This isn’t just some cute saying to put on your nursery wall at church; it’s a reference to the second coming. And just a bit later it tells us, “…the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This theistic evolutionist needs to read the Bible a little bit more. How does he make sense of any of this with his stated theology? This is the most amazing piece to the Christian faith and he’s missed it completely.

We leave Christianity half taught quite frequently these days. We see huge churches with celebrity status pastors who preach about getting out of hell. They teach us that Jesus accepts us the way we are and He loves us in spite of our sin. They teach that if we accept Him, all is forgiven. This stuff is essentially all true, but this is the end of the sermon. This is the depth of their message. This results in apathy towards seeking holiness. It leaves out the part about living today in victory and in the power and Spirit of the living God. This creates a wishy-washy Christian that doesn’t look any different than the world, i.e. a Christian that isn’t Christ like at all. Praise God we can live today—Christ in us! That’s the power of the Resurrection and why death is and will be destroyed. Celebrate Easter this year by taking some time to muse over what the Resurrection really means to believers... and then praise Him!

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