Part 1: Adam and the Fall
Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
(This is the first of a series of articles that first appeared in 1950 in Truth magazine, published by Milwaukee Bible Institute/Worldwide Grace Testimony, now the Grace Gospel Fellowship. These articles have never before appeared in the Searchlight.)
“…by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
EVOLUTION AND THE FALL
The fall of the human race is more than a theological dogma; it is an unhappy fact with which we are all faced from day to day.
Do you remember the last time you slipped or stumbled and fell? Do you remember how it made you feel?—rather ridiculous, didn’t it?
The late G. K. Chesterton, referring to the so-called “animal kingdom,” once said: “Only man can be ridiculous because only man can be dignified.”
He was right. Does any one ever laugh when a dog or a cat falls? Why laugh when a man falls? What is there about the fall of a man that seems so ludicrous? Why is it that whether injured or not—he is so greatly embarrassed by it? What makes him look about to see if any one has noticed it?
The answer is that man was originally created in the image of God and was meant to stand upright, physically, morally and spiritually. When he fell, thru sin, he made a fool of himself. It embarrassed him acutely and continues to do so, for his fall is one from which he is unable to rise without help from God. Yet, rather than cry immediately for help, guilty man hopes no one has noticed his fallen condition while earnestly, but vainly, he tries to rise to his feet.
It is man’s depraved and fallen condition which the theory of evolution so utterly fails to account for. Seeking to substantiate her doctrine of “the ascent of man” she ignores or denies the Bible account of the fall of man in Adam. The fact is, however, that while “the god of this [age] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” as to the gospel (II Cor. 4:4), man is nevertheless keenly aware of his fallen condition and deeply embarrassed by it. He is well aware that within and about him there is a positive dislocation, a definite disorder of things which constantly troubles him. Things go wrong rather than right and, what is worse, he finds himself all too willing to yield to temptation to do those things which he knows will but increase his misery, sorrow and trouble.
As to the “ascent of man,” there is no evidence that he has become more holy or righteous or loving than he was centuries or millenniums ago. Indeed, his accumulation of knowledge seems to have made him more vicious and ruthless than ever.
In the light of facts obvious to all, evolutionists may as well concede—as some have—that their theory of “the ascent of man” is nothing more than wishful thinking, for whereas the theoretical “cave man” was capable of oppressing and killing a few, man has now attained to such heights of intelligence and morality that he wipes out whole cities at once and, though gripped by the fear that he will yet bring about his own extermination, he nevertheless works feverishly at preparations for wars more deadly than have ever been waged before. The ascent of man! The wars of bygone days were but Sunday school sessions compared with our World War II and the fiercer onslaughts yet contemplated.
BY ONE MAN SIN ENTERED INTO THE WORLD AND DEATH BY SIN
How much more reasonable to accept the Bible account of the fall of man and its plan of salvation through Christ! Indeed, the first step to salvation and a righteous standing before God is a recognition of the fact of the fall. It must be acknowledged that as sons of Adam we are by nature under condemnation; condemned, not first of all because of what we have done, but because of what we are. It is not only sins, but sin that would keep us out of heaven—not only what we have done, but what we are constantly prone to do and would do even in heaven were we admitted in our present state. It is impossible to explain the universality of man’s misery, sorrow and—sin, apart from the fact that Adam, as head of the race, transmitted a sinful nature to all his posterity. All the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, bears testimony to this important and basic fact.
In Psalm 51:5 David, acknowledging his (not his mother’s) sin, says:
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
And in Ephesians 2:3 it is declared that
“…we all…were by nature the children of wrath even as others.”
And this tallies with human experience. Parents, do your children have to be taught to tell lies, steal, do unkind things, etc.? Certainly not. They do all that naturally. You must teach them not to steal, lie and be unkind. But why is it that they so naturally do what is wrong? Simply because they are your children! They were born with sinful natures as you were.
“By ONE man sin entered into the world, and death by sin… through the offence of ONE many be dead…the judgment was by ONE to condemnation…by ONE man’s offence death reigned…by the offence of ONE judgment came upon all…by ONE man’s disobedience [the] many were made sinners” (Rom. 5:12,15-19).
It all began with one act of disobedience, after which Adam and Eve fled to hide, not from each other, but from God. As a result all their posterity became totally depraved—“wholly inclined to evil and that continually,” as the Westminster Confession has it. (This does not mean that man can do nothing that is good by comparison with others, but simply that nothing he does can be pronounced good by a perfect and holy God.)
In the reading of our Bibles we have scarcely passed the account of the fall of man when we find that
“God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).
And in Acts 17:30 we read that “…God…now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.”
This, of course, implies that all men everywhere are sinners.
AND SO DEATH PASSED UPON ALL MEN FOR THAT ALL HAVE SINNED
There is, naturally, the constant effort on the part of fallen man to explain his condition so that the responsibility for it will not rest upon him. Even those who theoretically accept the Bible account of the fall, frequently protest: Why am I to blame? I cannot help it. I was born with a sinful nature.
Such have failed to observe what Romans 5:12 clearly states, that
“death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
But some will object that we have just finished proving that death passed upon all because of the sin of ONE man. Yes, but we were all in that one man when he sinned. We all sinned in Adam. It is too soon forgotten by some that all of us were once in Adam, were part of him, have come from him, and that the sins we are now tempted to commit by our own fallen natures are but the natural fruit of that original sin committed by us all in Adam when he was yet a free moral agent.
The fact that sin and death entered the world through Adam does not excuse us; it but increases and clinches our condemnation for all Adam’s posterity were in Adam when he sinned—“and so death passed upon all men, for that ALL HAVE SINNED.”
THE LAST ADAM, A LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT
Thank God for “the second man…the Lord from heaven,” “the last Adam” who, in contrast to the first Adam, is a life-giving Spirit (I Cor. 15:45,47).
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22).
But here we must be careful, for just as there are those who teach that the fall came about through Adam’s sin without any responsibility on our part, there are also those who teach that all will be saved by Christ’s death whether or not they trust Him for salvation in this life. This too is false for as we were constituted sinners in Adam, so we can be made righteous only in Christ.
I Corinthians 15:22, quoted above, is a stronghold of the Universalists. In utter disregard of the context they emphasize the words: “…as…all die, even so… shall all be made alive,” whereas the true emphasis lies on the words, “…as in Adam…even so in Christ…,” the “all” in each case referring to those respectively “in Adam” and “in Christ.”
Paul does not speak of the resurrection of all men in this chapter, but of that more glorious resurrection which only the saved shall experience.
He speaks of it as the believer’s hope (I Cor. 15:13-19). Immediately after saying “even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” he goes on to say: “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming” (Verse 23). The unsaved clearly are not contemplated here. He says of the believer’s body: “it is raised in incorruption…it is raised in glory…it is raised in power…we shall…bear the image of the heavenly” (Vers. 42,43,49). All this could not be said about the unsaved, nor could it be said of them that they are made alive in Christ. It is only the believer who is made alive in Christ:
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him” (I Thes. 4:14; Heb. 13:20).
Yes, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all [i.e., those in Him] be made alive.” They will not be raised merely to be condemned to the second death. They will be made alive in the fullest sense of the word.
To fallen man, then, God freely offers eternal life and perfect righteousness in Christ,
“Even the righteousness of God…unto all and upon all them that believe” (Rom. 3:22).