Echo Zoe Answers, Episode 2

October 27, 2017

Logan (via Twitter) asks:

This is a very interesting question, and not an easy one either.

I think the best way for me to approach and attempt to answer the question doesn't answer it directly, but should bring us to a Biblical understanding of what Paul was teaching in Romans 5.

Before we get to that, let's take a look a the relevant text of Romans 5, which Logan's question is based upon:

12 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— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 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.

15 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. 16 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. 17 For 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.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 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. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 5:12-21

In order to address the issue of representation, let's take a look at three qualities necessary to stand in as our savior:

1. Must be a man (human): The apostle John declared that the test of a message as errant or true lies in confession of the humanity of Jesus.

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 1 John 4:1-3

It wasn't enough to confess that Christ came to Earth, it must be confessed that He came in the flesh (as a human being.) Paul also confirmed that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5

The Old Testament presents to us the concept of a Kinsman-redeemer. A Kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who rescues someone who is in danger or in need. The book of Ruth illustrates one example of the Kinsman-redeemer. Ruth's husband had died, and they had no children. Boaz stepped in as the kinsman to fulfill the need and bear children with Ruth. Being of the Messianic line, this was important, as Ruth and Boaz were ancestors of Christ.

Christ is the ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer. Being human, he is a Kinsman of us all, and thus able to step in as our redeemer. He is able to rescue us from the danger we are in as sinners.

Furthermore, Jesus had to be human because He had to die. In order to pay the penalty for our sins, He had to have blood that could be shed.

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22

And the last point I'll make on Jesus' humanity is that He stands in as our mediator, between God and man.

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6

As we'll see in the next point, Jesus needs to not only be a man, but also God. As our mediator, he bridges the gap between humanity and God, and is thus the perfect mediator.

2. Must be God: The theological term for the two co-equal natures of Christ is the hypostatic union. Jesus is fully human, but He's also fully God. As was just mentioned, being both God and Man, He is in a unique position to be able to act as mediator between God and mankind.

Being God in human flesh also qualifies Jesus to pay our sin debt. Not only can he pay the debt of sin for another, he is capable of paying the infinite price of all His elect.

The Jesus of the Watchtower is not God, but rather the angel Michael incarnate. As such, his death is insufficient to pay the debt for our sins. And that's partially why the Jehovah's Witnesses are very much a works-based religion. You'll notice as you look at false religious systems and cults that have a false Jesus that all end up being works-based, and not based solely on faith in the atoning death of the Biblical Christ.

3. Must be sinless: If Jesus had any sin at all in Him, He would not be God, and He would not be able to pay the penalty for our sins. As God, He was, by definition sinless. Sin is, by nature, a departure from God's nature, and so in order for Jesus to sin, He would have had to violate his own Holy, perfect, and sinless nature.

He also had to be sinless to pay the penalty for sins. If he had any sin in Him of His own, He would have had to pay for His own sin, and would have made him ineligible to pay for our sins. He is likened to a lamb, sacrificed to pay our sin debt. Any lamb, whether literal or (in Jesus' case) figurative, was required to be spotless. The lambs offered for sacrifice in the Old Testament were physically spotless, meaning they were without physical defect. Being inhuman, they were not capable of being either sinful or sinless, they just were. Animals are not moral beings. Jesus, however, was spotless in the sense that He was without moral blemish. He was perfect.

Romans 5 is really also a specific passage illustrating the redemptive nature of Scripture as a whole. It's a passage of inverse parallelism. Adam disobeyed, Jesus obeyed. Adam brought death, Jesus brought life. This inverse parallelism is a repeating and overarching theme. Jesus is the “last Adam,” the “greater Adam.”

Finally, getting back to the original question, I did want to point out that Adam was also sinless when he became our representative. It was as our representative that he introduced sin into the world. And so, I don't think the sinful or sinless condition of either Christ or Adam is important in whether or not either were qualified to represent mankind (or a subset of mankind in the case of Christ.)

Posted at 9:22 pm in: Echo Zoe Answers

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