Sunday, 5 May 2013
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. Romans 5:15
Paul is showing the parallel between Adam and Christ. But, although the lines are parallel in direction, they are vastly different in altitude. Where Adam’s line runs in a downward motion, Christ’s soars to the heavens. We see the contrast with the word “but.” Death entered the world and death reigned over man… but. “But the free gift is not like the offense.” The gift referred to is the work of Jesus. What He did is not at all like what Adam did.
“For if by one man’s offense” is speaking of Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Adam had one rule to follow and he failed to do so. By this one transgression “many died.” This is the state of the world as explained by Paul. Every person born from the time of Adam died the moment Adam died. Because we were “in” Adam though not yet born, we inherited the spiritually dead state that He earned.
However, in Christ there is a difference. Adam’s line plummeted to the depths of the grave, but Christ’s line will take a different path. “Much more” shows us the divergence of the lines. What Adam did brought death to man, but “much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.”
Adam was created sinless; Jesus was born sinless. Adam sinned; Jesus never sinned. Adam’s disobedience brought about immediate spiritual death to all people and eventual physical death to all; Christ’s obedience – being far superior to Adam’s disobedience – brought about the possibility of immediate eternal spiritual life to any and all who will receive it and eventual eternal physical life to all of the same. Adam’s failure resulted in the wages of death; Christ’s triumph brought about the gift of God’s grace which is eternal life.
The gift is superior in all ways, but it is a gift. A gift is not forced, just as wages are not a gift. Wages are earned, but gifts are received. The truth that must be understood is that just as Adam freely chose to disobey (it was not an act which can be ascribed to God in any way) the lost son of Adam must freely choose to receive the gift offered by God.
Note: The term “free gift” is a redundancy. The original Greek simply uses the term charisma, meaning “grace.” If something has a price attached to it, it is neither “free” nor a “gift.” If it is free, it is a gift and if it is a gift, it is free.
Life application: Life itself is a gift. It is unmerited, and therefore we cannot complain about how ours turns out. Some people live long, healthy lives; some people live short, pain-filled lives. Some are rich; some are poor. Some are born in Japan; some are born in Canada. These things in no way imply that God is unfair. The same is true with our salvation. God offered His Son in payment for our sins. We cannot call God unfair if we reject this offer, nor can we claim He is unfair if we never heard the good news. Time and place are His decision, but if the gift is available it is up to us to receive it. Don’t refuse the grace of God found in Jesus… it is a blessing of eternal value.
Lord God Almighty – how can I complain about my place of birth, the year in which I was born, or the family I came through? These decisions belong to You and Your wisdom. My life is a product of Your placement, but into this life came an offer – a new family and a new direction. Into my life came Jesus. Thank You for giving me the gift of eternal life and adoption as Your son through His work. What a glorious God You are! Amen.