We have a saying: "You can't have your cake and eat it, too." A bit odd, if you think about it. However, its meaning is that a thing comes with all of its attributes, whether the recipient wants them or not. Another one along the same idea is, "You have to break some eggs in order to make an omelette."
The same principle applies to theology. It isn't a smorgasbord.
"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned - for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
"But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace might also reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
- Romans 5:12-21
A frequent objection to federal, or covenant, theology, is that it is unfair to represent the individual in a federal head, who makes that individual responsible for decisions or actions in which he did not directly participate. Afterall, the individual is sovereign in all things, right? But that atomistic approach to Christian spirituality runs into trouble here.
For the one who wishes to deny original sin, i.e., that each human being is conceived in sin, due to the fall of Adam, this passage from Romans creates a real problem. Paul's point here is that, just as all natural humankind fell in Adam, and is therefore spiritually dead, the redeemed are represented in their federal head, Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, in His justifying death. In other words, the one who denies that Adam represented him in the Fall is logically unable to claim that Christ represents him in redemption. Since the two concepts are founded on the same federal principle, it cannot be denied in the one case and claimed in the other. They necessarily stand or fall together.
Hence, David can mourn in Psalm 51, verse 5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." And then plead in verses 9-10, "Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." The same God who called him a sinner is the God who would save him from the consequences of that condition.
39 Articles—Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude (4)
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