Archive for June 2011

Blinded to goodness

29 June 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

Q. 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
A. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.

Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
A. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.

We are a cursed people. The stench of death hangs upon this world. It stalks us all. It lurks, like a specter, in the back of our minds from the time we become aware that we are persons to the time we breathe our last. It casts a shadow over all we do. Everything here rots. Everything here dies. Everything here turns to dust.

Nature itself feels the weight of death's oppression. The creation sighs, and it does not willingly suffer the sons of men to trample her underfoot. The earth longs for restoration, for the wicked to be put down, for death to crushed underfoot. If creation were not bidden by her Master to hold us up, she would gladly cast us off and be rid of our cursed ilk. The sons of men are cruel stewards.

Man is cursed to separation. He is separated from his God, and he is separated from the creation he was made to tend. He spends his life in fear of dying, wondering if there is something beyond this world of thorns and thistles. He sees the withering flower that dies and leaves no trace, he sees the oak tumble and burn, he watches his crops die for lack of rain, he hears his babies cry with hunger, he sees time etch her marks on his skin, and he knows he is headed for his doom. All of this, whether he knows it or not, is just recompense for his own wickedness.

It is a testament to the horror of sin and the depth of man's cursedness that the heinous thing we call death, the blight that permeates the world, is a mercy. Death is a mercy, though she is cloaked in terrible garments. For the Lord God said upon man's fall, "Behold, the man has become like on of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and live forever..." (Gen. 3:22). God drove the man out of paradise and into the clutches of death in order to save him from a fate worse than dying, a fate worse than a thousand generations of cancer, murder, rape, starvation, and war. A fate worse than a stillborn upon the lap of an inconsolable mother.

This brings us to the greatest shame of the sons of men and the source of our greatest misery. We are blinded to glory and goodness. We are utterly unable to see holiness. For if we could see glory, and if we knew holiness, we would never have to wonder if death were a mercy, whether our suffering is just, and how it could be that starving is preferable to God's displeasure.

Man is a cursed brute, and the world is full of his stench. No one knows this like a man who has been set free by that alien thing called grace, who has caught the scent of heaven, who has seen the glory of eternity, and who has been enveloped by the love of God that invades this wretched place. Only this kind of man, a man freed from the misery of sin, can see that God must kill us to save us, and that all our sufferings here, all of our miseries, are nothing in comparison to knowing the glory of God in the risen King, Jesus Christ. The cursed world thinks this man is insane, thus adding to the misery and the longing for the sons of God to be revealed.

The Fountainhead

28 June 2011 by Daniel

Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

Q. 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
A. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.

Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
A. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.

Adam was created as a righteous being. By that I mean that Adam was created in a state that was fit to stand in the presence of God. He was in this state from the very beginning, that is, it wasn't as though Adam started off neutral, and then became fit to stand in God's presence through subsequent obedience. He was righteous from the get go and his obedience was the natural adornment of that righteousness.

The moment Adam rebelled against God's command, however, he lost this state of righteousness falling into a state of corruption. Corruption (in this sense) is used to describe the lack of that righteousness from which all obedience flows.

Did you catch that? Think it through till you get it.

Christ was born (impeccably) righteous. He did not become righteous through obedience. Christ's obedience flowed from His pre-existing righteousness. His obedience did not bring that righteousness into being, rather His righteousness brought His obedience into being.

Do you see then what we have inherited through Adam? Each one of us is born into the same state of corruption that Adam brought into this world; we are born lacking righteousness (corrupt) and therefore have nothing within us from which obedience can flow.

This is the inheritance of all mankind. It is not something handed down from parent to child so much as it is something Adam brought into being that immediately affected all of mankind.

the Fault Line

27 June 2011 by Neil


Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

Q. 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
A. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.

Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
A. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  -- Ephesians 2:1-3

The enemy employs a battle-tested mind trick that contrasts the Original Sin of Adam (and it's corrupting consequences), with the specific sins that you and I have committed just since 2:30pm yesterday. The wobbly mind then spirals into quandaries, thinking that maybe it's all just the Serpent's fault, or perhaps wondering why God judges us at all, since he obviously is the one who made us this way.

The enemy wants us to conclude that Original Sin is a bunch of hooey and that today's sin is all that is on the table.  Or he's also content if we blame everything on our ancestor, or on the devil, or even on God. This foe isn't fussy, and he's equally pleased if we somehow come to both conclusions, or to neither, or if we give up in frustration.  By confusing us about sinfulness and culpability, his relentless goal is to wash away the Bible's crystal clear messages that no one is or ever could be good enough, and that our sinfulness results in unending conscious death in a place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Original sin is bunk? Everyone is responsible only for the sins they've actually committed?  No.  Adam's decision to choose rebellion instead of obedience cascades onto all humanity (Romans 5:12, Romans 5:19). We are all ruined from before the first moment of our existence (Psalm 51:5).  We are corrupt... rotten to the core (Romans 3:10-12); we are unholy, and given the choice between right and wrong, in our own power we will always choose poorly.  Apart from God, we are incapable of even knowing what righteousness fully entails, let alone attaining it or even desiring it for ourselves (Romans 8:7-8).  We simply prefer our own deficient and fouled up definition of what is right.

Sinfulness not really our fault? Try telling that to yourself the next time you lie for personal gain. Or lie to avoid facing the music. Or decline an unexpected opportunity to help out a stranger. Or make a tired checkout clerk's day even worse than it was before. Or check out the checkout clerk. Or check out strangers in high resolution video. Or betray your beloved with your body as well as your mind. Or lead your children astray. Or neglect to lead your children anywhere. Or download stuff without paying for it. Or flip off a bad driver.  Or care not about the answer when you ask how someone is doing.  Or bad-mouth a friend. Or bad-mouth an enemy. Or seethe with resentment. Or crave vindication. Or cultivate bitterness. Or seek recognition.  Or feel a little entitled.  Or procrastinate. Or choose not to protect the weak. Or choose licentiousness over holiness. Or gravitate towards another gospel of rules instead of grace.  Or starve yourself by letting that Bible go unread today.  Or tut-tut over a brother's or sister's stumble.  Or congratulate yourself on your piety.  Or choose silence over proclaiming the truth. Or choose foolish words over silence.  Or, as you walk or drive or click away, leave anyone, anyone at all, with a memory of you that smacks of anything that a herald of Christ is not.  Or love God with something just a wee bit shy of your entire heart, soul, mind and strength.

Better yet, try telling any of that to God. Tell him it's not your fault.  See how that works out for you, k? Like every other human, you're a putrid mess, cheerfully emanating sinfulness and guaranteed by your nature to belch out even more stink before 2:30pm tomorrow.

Death and anguish, here we come.  This is a nightmare. I wonder if it's going to get any better.

Full-court press

23 June 2011 by Frank Turk

So in Rom 3:23, Paul urges on everyone, without exception, to the necessity of seeking righteousness in Christ. He might as well have said, “There is no other way of getting yourself right, of getting past sin; it is not to each his own way, with some succeeding and others failing. All must be justified by faith in the same way, because all are sinners, and therefore they have nothing to boast about, nothing to take credit for, before God.” But he takes for granted that every one, anyone with a conscience, when he comes before God who will judge him, is lost and ruined because he knows his own shame. No sinner can bear the presence of God, as we see an example in the case of Adam.

Paul again brings forward a reason taken from one who might deny this, and hence we must notice what follows. Since we are all sinners, Paul concludes, that we are lack, indeed we are utterly empty of, the praise due to righteousness. So according to what he teaches, there is no righteousness but what is perfect and absolute. Even if there were such a thing as "half righteousness," it would still be necessary to deprive the sinner entirely of all glory: and therefore the imaginary idea of partial righteousness, as they call it, is proven wrong. If it were true that we are justified in part by works, and in part by grace, Paul could't say any of this — that all are deprived of the glory of God because they are sinners. It is then certain, there is no righteousness where there is sin, until Christ removes the curse of sin; and this very thing is what is said in Galatians 3:10, that all who are under the law are exposed to the curse, and that we are delivered from it through the kindness of Christ. The glory of God I take to mean the approval and proof of God as he is, as in John 12:43, where it is said, that “they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.” In this way Paul summons us from the court of public approval to the divine court of heaven.

-- Calvin, Commentary on Romans, Rom 3:23

The Midst of the Conflict

22 June 2011 by David Kjos

Q. 24. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God —Romans 3:23

With apologies to the Westminster catechists, I think the catechism needs a little help here. Not that the given answer is wrong, but that it doesn’t quite get to the bottom of things. Sin, it says, is any variance from God’s law. But what is that?

God’s law is nothing more or less than a picture of his own character. In giving the commandments, he was telling us, “This is how I am. Do this, and you will be like me, as you must” (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:15–16). None of us do, of course, which brings us to Romans 3:23, which paraphrased says, “I am the standard. You don’t measure up.”

With the bar set so high, we cannot help despairing of any hope. But remember, these are the middle chapters in the book. We’ve read the introduction, and are now in the midst of conflict. The resolution is coming.

Something was Wrong

21 June 2011 by Neil

Q. 24. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

Back when we were young with two sons under the age of ten, we lived in a four level backsplit. One day my Princess wife had been puttering around on the highest floor where most of the bedrooms were (but not all of the bedrooms... the son that we love the least had to sleep in a very small room under the stairs). While doing something important and productive, she noticed that it was quiet. But the two boys were home. There should have been anti-quiet.

Something was wrong.

Her elf ears fully extended, she advanced to the edge of the stairway, and heard nothing. She went down a level to the living room and kitchen area. Still nothing. She went down another level to where the family room and Unloved Son's bedroom were and sensed the shimmering whisper of a spring breeze rustling the daisies, or perhaps it was a gently cooing dove. The Princess can be stealthy when the need arises, so she crept to the edge of the final stairway, opened the door a wee bit and peeked down into the rec room.

Youngest Son and Unloved Son were tangled on the floor. Somebody had somebody in a half-nelson, and somebody else was pounding on somebody else with all his might and soul and strength. Faces were contorted with rage, mouthing curses at the other, and each was thinking the same thing: “vengeance is mine, says me”. This was a full blown brother brawl. Unloved Son had the upper hand. Sure to get bloodied if it continued much longer, Youngest Son was on the verge of abandoning the rules of engagement by opting for the nuclear elbow jab to the groin.

Hatred held the day, but the brouhaha had to be a secret affair if they wanted to retain certain other privileges.  But that wasn't the only concern: after a panicked scan of the room, Princess was relieved to see that both sons' eyeglasses had been safely placed side by side upon a sewing table prior to the smackdown, because even though they each really wanted to kick the bejibbers out of the other guy, apparently neither wanted to face an angry Princess.

And really, who would? 

Certainly not mine

20 June 2011 by David Regier

Q. 24. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

Parenthood calls us to extraordinary sacrifice, and teaches us from the depths of that sacrifice.

One of my little angels (I won't say which) was coming along well in the potty-training process. But there's a stage where one hears "I need help!" from the commode, and one must rise to the call of, um, duty. As I entered the bathroom, the pungent fog of putridity caused me to reel. "Eck!" I choked.

At which point my blessed seated munchkin, dipping down into some heretofore unknown deep well of conviction, shouted "MY! POO! POO! DOES! NOT! SMELL! BAD!"

And so it is with us all.


Why you are like this

15 June 2011 by David Kjos

Q. 24. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written,
“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.
THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE,
WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,
THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS;
WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS;
THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD,
DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS,
AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.
THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”
—Romans 3:9–18

In the beginning of the chapter, Paul responds to the slanderous charge of licentiousness, concluding that his accusers are justly condemned. Then he turns back on himself and his fellow Christians, asking, As bad as they are, are we any better? (v. 8). No, we “are all under sin,” Jews and Greeks, Pagans and Christians alike.

Then he presents the evidence, a litany of Old Testament declarations that his Jewish audience could not challenge: “as it is written …”

All mankind is characterized by unrighteousness, ignorance, indifference toward God, rebelliousness. Consequently, they are spiritually useless and universally unprofitable (v. 10–11).

This character is evident in their speech (Luke 6:45), which is marked by deceit, cursing, and bitterness (v. 13–14). That may sound a bit extreme — surely not everyone has such corrupt speech — but everyone, in his natural state, is indeed “a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6: 5). It’s only a matter of degree, really, and God isn’t interested in comparing malicious lies with “little white lies” and half-truths, or vitriolic, hate-filled invectives with condemnation muttered sotto voce. Sinful speech is sinful, whether or not it’s turned up to eleven.

The corrupt character of sinners is also evident in their actions (v. 15–17). Again, the charge may sound extreme — Their feet are swift to shed blood — but again, it is only a matter of degree. Jesus taught us that “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” The natural man, whether or not he actually extinguishes a life, has a murderous heart, and is swift to respond with hostility when crossed. He does not naturally seek peace, except though conquest, and so he leaves a trail of destruction and misery in his own life, and the lives of others.

Why is he like this? Because he has no fear of God (v. 18). Because he has no fear of God, he makes a god of himself, living as though his purpose is to glorify himself and enjoy himself forever. Consequently, when he is offended, or deprived of his desire, he reacts as though divine justice has been violated, and visits judgment, inasmuch as he is able, on the offenders.

This describes every human being, to one degree or another. This is the estate of sin and misery into which mankind fell.

A Desire

14 June 2011 by Matt Gumm

Q. 24. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

Sin is something that goes against what God says in the Bible. For example, God says in the Bible "Do not steal." If we go out and steal a candy bar from the store, then we are sinning.

Sin is caused by Satan tempting us, but it also comes from our own heart. When Adam and Eve sinned at the beginning, all of their offspring were born with sinful hearts. We are born into this world with a desire to sin. The only way that we can be rid of this desire to sin is when we trust in Jesus Christ our Savior, who is God’s son. When we do this, God changes our hearts to want to please him instead of ourselves.

That doesn't mean we stop sinning. We still make sinful choices. However, God cares about us so much that He provided a way for us to get to heaven even without being perfect. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16, ESV

A. Gumm, age 12

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Comprehending Context

13 June 2011 by Daniel

Q. 24. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

To understand where sin comes from we must first know what sin is. In my translation of the bible it reads, "darkness covered the surface of the watery depths" even before God says, "let there be light". Notice that it isn't until the light is created that the darkness has context? We comprehend darkness because it is a lack of light.

Alternately, I suppose you could look at silence as another metaphor. Silence would not mean anything if there were no noise to give the lack of it context; or also loneliness. If you had never known there to be anyone else in the world (or at least I would imagine it this way because I have never actually been in such a situation), how would you know that you were alone?

In the same way, just as darkness is a lack of light, silence is a lack of sound, and loneliness is a lack of others, consider it: sin is a lack of obedience. Sin is the absence of something.

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The Heart of Misery

10 June 2011 by Daniel

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Because Adam set aside the command of God, taking to eat the fruit from the Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil, God drove him out of the Garden of Eden, and cursed him to boot.

One noteworthy effect of this fall is not defined so much by what we see but rather what we no longer are able to see. Consider this: in the garden Adam and Eve could sense the presence of God, not as some airy-fairy feeling, but through their natural senses - they knew where God was and could "see" Him in some sense (I say in some sense lest we forget that God is Spirit). They communicated with God directly and not merely through prayer. The moment Adam forsook the command of God he made forfeit his "right" to be experientially aware of God.

That isn't to say that there weren't moments throughout history where God spoke to men; He did speak to individuals occasionally throughout redemptive history, and in a variety of ways, but mankind as a whole was cut off from God by Adam's sin. By and large (second to such things as sin and death of course) the misery of God's absence (or more properly the fact that we are unable to see God experientially) is the most penetrating reality of our existence.

Do we have to work for our food? Yes. Do we get sick in this world? Yes. Is there corruption and violence? Yes. Fear? Hate? Suffering? Yes, yes, all of those things. Are these things the cause of our misery? The thoughtful answer is that these are all expressions of the misery of God's absence. Not that God is actually absent, but rather that God withholds (from our awareness) His presence from us. This is the very heart of our misery.

You see: hunger, thirst, sickness, and death all came upon us because of Adam's sin, but what defines the nature of our misery is not these things, it is the absence of an awareness of God. The most horrible thing about the curse was not what God added, but what God took away. Just as death is defined as the absence of life, and isn't a thing itself, but is the word we use to describe a lacking of life. Just as darkness is a non-thing: the absence of light; so also the misery that is in this world is defined by what we lack: the awareness of God.

The fall introduced many things: pain, suffering, death, sickness; but it's what the fall took away that brought misery.

What's wrong with the world

09 June 2011 by David Regier

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Okay, I'm speaking off the record here, deep background. We're friends, right? I've got an image to uphold, you see. Being a small "g" god carries responsibilities, and if word got out that the internet doesn't hold up his end of the deal, well, I've got other friends, too, and they may not play so nice. Just so you understand.

The things you look for when you come calling to me, what are they? You want a vicarious life, and you want connection with people. What's that you say? No, no, I didn't promise those things. You need to learn the difference between my promises and your expectations.

You spend your whole life sitting there, watching videos of bike stunts you were too afraid to try in junior high, all the FAILs, all the jokes you can’t wait to re-tweet. You fight in a war-game, then turn around and debate high theology like some mediaeval council. You “friend” a thousand people and fake your highs and lows. And I won’t even talk about the lurid stuff – today. But you live a life in front of a screen, and none of those people really know who you are.

For you, that's living vicariously. For you, that's connection. Fellowship, if you will. And you control it all; all the profiles, the playlists, the interactions, the comments and the posts. But you must remember, there's a big "G" God that all us little "g's" report to. Maybe "report" isn't the right word. It's more like "tremble and obey." And His ideas about vicariousness and fellowship go far deeper than your pea-brain has ever imagined.

The way He made things, there's a connection that you can't control, and it connects you with everybody who ever lived, because it's through a single man, from the beginning. His action was your action, and your action is found in his action. That's vicariousness. And it's locked up with everything that's wrong with the world.

So when you're looking for a way out of it that you can control, you're not going to find it with me. I'm just a tool. If you think I made you a promise, well, buddy, that's just projection. If you want fellowship and a life you have not lived, there's a different place to look, and it's not with me. Because a day will come when I give up my secrets, and you'll see that what you had wasn't really control.

Born This Way

08 June 2011 by David Kjos

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. —Romans 5:12–14

Lest any doubt the catechism’s answer, take note: everyone dies. The universal mortality we witness all around us tells us that something has gone horribly wrong, and none are untouched. Death is in the news daily. We watch our friends and family get old, get sick, and die. Indeed, we look in the mirror and witness the steady decay of our own bodies. We are going to die.

How did this dreadful state of affairs come to be? The Apostle explains:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, … It might seem odd that Paul says, “through one man.” After all, Eve was there too, and actually started it, right? Yet God held Adam fully responsible, and a little more than five thousand years later, inspired the words, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). The headship of the man is shown to be a creation ordinance. It is not a result of the Fall, and certainly not an invention of a chauvinist apostle.

Notice that Paul does not speak of plural sins, but of sin. It does not refer to specific unrighteous acts, but to an innate condition. Cattle “moo”; that is something they do. But cattle are ruminants. It is a characteristic of cattle to ruminate because that is what they are. Just so, sin is a part of the human condition. We do not become sinners when we sin. Rather, we are born that way.

and death through sin, … God warned Adam that if he disobeyed, he would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17), and so he did.

and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— … As emphasized in the first paragraph above, the human race has a 100% mortality rate. With the exception of two men whom God miraculously caught away, every single person who has ever lived has died or is dying. Death awaits everyone, because everyone is a sinner. If “in Adam all die,” and all die “because all sinned,” it is just simple math to conclude that all mankind did indeed fall in that first transgression.

Only one man has ever been without sin. He is the lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. And even he died, when he took our sin upon himself — which brings us to the good news. Our text begins with a “therefore,” connecting the following verses to the previous promise of reconciliation to God, and ends with a hopeful finger pointed toward “him who was to come,” “through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (v. 11). However, the Westminster Divines require us to wait for that. We’ll pick this up again around Question 30.

Kinds of Captivity

07 June 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Freedom is an ideal that has been exalted to the highest heaven in Western culture. We demand freedom for ourselves, and we demand freedom for others. We believe that every man, woman, and child is born with the right to liberty and the pursuit of their own happiness. We love it so much that we hardly pause to question the wisdom of freedom. The wise can see, however, that freedom can be a tyranny. I hope you will give me the chance to explain why this is so.

Our first parents were made good. There was no moral blemish in Adam and Eve. They had no inborn compulsion to sin, foolishness, and selfishness as we have. They were innocent in a way we are not, and thank God, never can be. They lived in a blissful naivete that had never known, seen, experienced, or even heard of sin. This can never be again. Never, ever again.

When Eve stretched out her hand to become like God, she had no idea that it would mean the spiritual death of her soul. When Adam tasted the sweet fruit of transgression, he had no idea that his beloved son Cain would rise up and murder his beloved son Abel. All Adam could see in that moment was himself; he cared not for the consequence. He was, in that moment, enthralled with his own self, in his own sin. Once, he had been captive to the love of God, now he was enslaved to the love of self. And there are those who call this self-love "freedom." God did not give man the "freedom" to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God gave Adam a command, not a choice. Adam excercised a kind of freedom that should never have been, and by God's grace, someday never will be again.


This morning, I came to work and I brewed some coffee. I sat at my desk and turned on my computer. There, in my inbox, was an unsolicited email from some pornographer who stole or bought my email from someone. I have a wife. I have two children. I am the pastor of a church. I am a Christian. I felt the ghostly pleasures of sins past stirred by sins from which my God has been weaning me, but I was free to click away and kill myself with ruinous pleasure.

Thank God, I was repulsed. I was restrained. My Master has enslaved me. He has bound my soul fast with the bonds of love. I have seen, unlike Adam, what sin does to sons. I have seen the horror of what sin does to marriages and mothers. I put that email in that little box marked "spam" and destroyed it as a man destroys a loathsome bug. When confronted with a sin, like adultery, I do not want freedom. I want love to close all options but one, and then I want love to compel down the road of righteousness.

May the love of God in Christ constrain us so that every option is removed except the one choice that brings the most glory to our wonderful God.

A Tale of Two Men

06 June 2011 by Neil

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

The Spirit touched him, and the breath of life caused the chest to heave. The man arose. There is no word in any language to express the wonder and exhilaration that grasped his being. Everything was new! He was new! It all seemed to be made for him. An innocent and perfect creation awaited his hand. In due time his Father God gently led him down the path and into the Garden. The man followed willingly.

But God saw that the man was alone, and that he needed a companion. God gave him a soulmate.

The man could not endure the innocence. He did not obey the one command.

He ate the fruit. He added to creation. He introduced something new. The man introduced leaven. The man brought sin into the world, and death through sin. By the sweat of his face, he now had to eat leavened bread.

The man died, and he is dead still.

All of his kinfolk die, died, and will die, even if they accomplish the unachievable, and do not sin. And they are dead forever, in every way that a person can be dead. Even while they live, they are dead.

When the man brought life to the leaven, he brought life to Death, and hope died.

Genesis 2:7 Genesis 2:15-17 Genesis 3:6 Genesis 3:8-10 Genesis 3:17-19 Romans 5:12 Romans 5:14
The Spirit touched her, and the breath of life caused the chest to heave. The girl arose. There is no word in any language to express the wonder and exhilaration that grasped her being. Everything was blessed! She was blessed! It all seemed to be made for Him. An innocent and perfect creation would be born in a manger. In due time His Father God gently led him down the path and into the Garden. The Man followed willingly.

God saw that the Man was alone, and that His companions were lacking. The Man had no soulmates.

The Man did not disobey a single command. He refused to endure the alternative.

He drank the cup. He remade creation. He made everything new. The Man introduced grace. The Man bore the sin of the world, and He became death and sin. By His sweat and His blood, he became broken bread.

The Man died, but He is not dead still.

All of his kinfolk die, died, but will live, because He accomplished the inconceivable, and did not sin. And they will live forever, in every way that a person can be alive. Even when they die, they live.

When the man gave salvation despite the leaven, he brought Life from death, and hope revived.


Luke 1:30-35 Mark 14:32-27 John 19:30 2 Corinthians 5:21 Luke 24:1-6 Romans 5:14-19