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The Last Adam
By David A. DePra
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (1 Cor. 15:45)
Adam, the first man, is called THE FIRST ADAM. Jesus Christ is called THE LAST ADAM. Of course, the name, "Adam," means, "man." Man is a distinct type of being that God created in His image and likeness. But this raises an interesting question: How is Christ, "The Last Adam?" He obviously wasn’t the last man ever born. So what does that name indicate?
Actually, to discover the answer to that question is to discover a fundamental Truth about the Redemption of Jesus Christ. Indeed, to discover why Jesus is called, "The Last Adam," is to discover the essence of His Redemptive work itself.
Let’s first talk about Adam. Adam was an individual -- the first man. He isn’t an allegory or a picture lesson. He wasn’t the product of evolution. Rather, he was a created being – a man. God created Adam of the dust of the ground and breathed into Him the breath of life. He BECAME a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
Now note: Adam was created – and is the ONLY human being ever created by God. Everyone else came FROM Adam. First, there was Eve. She wasn’t born, but was created FROM Adam. But then everyone else was BORN of Adam and Eve. It is therefore a fact that the human race, through natural birth is born IN ADAM.
God began the human race with Adam – and when God created him, God said that it was good. In fact, Adam was made one with God in his spirit. His union with God was built into him as a part of his makeup and structure. This was NORMAL in God’s original design. As a result Adam was ALIVE in every way. He was alive because he was one with Life Himself.
Of course, Adam was created without a sin nature. But what is the sin nature? Well, the sin nature is death personified in a human being. Adam was built to be one with God. But he willfully chose to reject God. The result was exactly what he chose: God was no longer one with him. This resulted in DEATH. Death is a state of being without God – and carries with it corruption, darkness, and all that the Devil can usher in. This, we call, the nature of sin.
The trouble with human beings boils down to one thing: We are born spiritually dead – completely without contact with God. Adam’s sin rejected God, not just for himself, but for humanity AS A BEING. This is why the Bible says, "In Adam all die…." (see I Cor. 15:22) And as we have seen, we are all IN ADAM by natural birth.
In a very real sense, the entire human race, through natural birth, IS collective Adam – because together we comprise the original Adamic race. We are all OF that original creation of humanity that God began with Adam. We are IN ADAM, because we have all come FROM Adam. We all form the collective BODY of Adam – i.e., together we are all summed up in one man called ADAM. We are that old creation through natural birth.
So the FIRST ADAM is the individual whom God created from the dust of the ground and who became a living soul when God breathed into him the breath of life. He alone was created by God. Everyone one of us can trace their human origin back to this FIRST ADAM.
Read that last sentence again: Everyone one of us can trace their human origin back to this FIRST ADAM. This includes Jesus Christ. That’s right. However, with some variation. Jesus Christ was born not born OF ADAM in the same way in which we are born OF Adam. Rather, He was born INTO Adam from the outside. Jesus had been God from eternity, and therefore, is the only human being who ever existed before human birth. Thus, at physical birth, He had a human mother, but God was His Father. He was born the God-man.
Now here is the important point: Despite being God BECOME man, Christ was born into the same human race that started with Adam. Christ was not, through His physical birth, of a different order of man, or of a different creation of human being. No. For you can trace the genealogy of Jesus Christ back to Adam, and the gospels do so. Jesus did not usher in the NEW creation until His death and resurrection. So keep this vital point in your mind: Jesus was born into the same human creation that God started with Adam.
Jesus, of course, was born INTO Adam from the outside, but not born IN Adam. This is an important distinction, because it is why He had NO sin nature. His pre-existence and the virgin birth means Jesus did not have a human father, but did have a human mother. Thus, just as the FIRST ADAM was created without sin, so was the LAST ADAM born without a sin nature.
So we are beginning to see a relationship between Adam and Jesus Christ. Adam was the original human being, created in God’s image. He was the, "first man," or, "first Adam." He was created without a sin nature. But he rejected God and brought his entire race down into death – and this became the sin nature. Thus, IN ADAM all die.
Jesus, however, despite being born of that original Adamic race, did not inherit this sin nature. Thus, we have a SECOND perfect man – come into this world without sin. And Jesus would not fail. He would not sin. He lived a sinless human life and satisfied the heart of God and fulfilled the purpose of God for that ORIGINAL human race.
Do you see this? Where Adam failed – in the original race of man that God designed and created – Jesus succeeded. Jesus was born of the very same original creation God began with Adam, and brought through to God’s glory what a human being was supposed to be.
Now we begin to see one reason why Jesus is called THE LAST ADAM – the LAST MAN. He was everything that God intended humankind to be. He lived it to God’s glory. In that sense, therefore, Jesus Christ – as the sinless man – was the summation of man. And because He was the summation or finality of God’s original thought for humanity. He was humanity wrapped up in one Person. He can therefore be called the LAST ADAM. There is no improving upon Christ.
The Last Adam
God made Adam for a purpose – to glorify and reflect God Himself. But instead, Adam chose to turn away from God. So Adam DIED. And from this death there is NO WAY BACK. It isn’t a matter of God forgiving or letting things slide. No. Adam was dead – void of God, and consequently, ruined as a creature. All of us inherit this condition through natural birth. As we have seen, it’s called the SIN NATURE.
So what does Adam need? Well, if death is his problem, then Adam needs LIFE. But a reversal of death back again to the OLD life is not possible. No. That old creation is ruined. Adam needs a NEW LIFE.
This is where The Last Adam comes in. The name, "The Last Adam," really carries TWO dimensions. We have already mentioned one of them: Jesus’ perfect life as the perfect man.
When Jesus was born of Mary, we’ve seen that He was NOT born as a NEW CREATION. No. That would come later through His resurrection. Rather, originally, Jesus was born of the old creation – of the very same Adamic order of humanity that God started through the first Adam. So what we had here was God Incarnate, fully God and fully man, born into the old creation of humanity from the outside.
Jesus lived a sinless life. He therefore became everything God intended the first Adam to become. Herein we see the first reason why Jesus was THE LAST ADAM: Because in Him was accomplished the fullness of God’s thought for man – for, "Adam," as an order of being.
Again -- this is but one dimension of Jesus as the, "The Last Adam." He was the full Truth in human form. There could be no improvement upon Him as a man. He was The Last Adam in the sense that He was God’s final word as to what He wanted in a human being – the fullness of God’s glory shined through Him.
But incredibly, there is an even greater sense in which Jesus is, "The Last Adam." As a human being Jesus was the living fulfillment of God’s thought for man. But then Jesus laid down His sinless life for us. And when He did, He brought to a close the Adamic race. In Him, ADAM – that original race – actually DIED.
The name of Jesus -- The LAST Adam – refers to the fact that through His death on the Cross, the original creation which God began with Adam DIED. It ended in Christ on the Cross.
This will make no sense at all if we think that all Jesus did on the Cross was bear our punishment for us at the hand of God. But Christians by the thousands think that this is all Jesus was doing. Man sinned, God got mad, and Jesus appeased Him by taking our punishment for us. To many, that is the Redemption.
How many times have you heard that? Many Christians continue to think that all Jesus did on the Cross was appease God’s anger against us because of sin. This, in turn, supposedly allows God to then lift from us the death penalty for sin. And once God lifts that death penalty, we reason, we are out from under the death penalty, and thus, have eternal LIFE!
But this is NOT the Redemption. Indeed, it makes eternal life nothing more than the result of God lifting His punishment of eternal death. It makes the new birth nothing more than a new legal classification. And worse, it does absolutely NOTHING to change the sinner. This wrong idea of the Redemption merely removes the punishment for sin, but does nothing to actually DELIVER us from sin itself. It makes Jesus, not the SIN-BEARER, but only the punishment bearer FOR sin.
The Truth is, Jesus did not merely bear our punishment for us on the Cross – or merely bear the judgment FOR sin on the Cross. He did much more. Jesus bore SIN ITSELF. Indeed, He bore the, "body of sin," – or to say it another way – Jesus bore the entire Adamic race in His body on the Cross.
(2 Cor 5:21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
(Rom 6:6-8) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
(1 Pet 2:24) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
The Last Adam BORE the FIRST Adam in His own body on the Cross. He then DIED. Thus, the entire Adamic race died IN CHRIST. But we do not end there. Having brought an END to the original Adamic race through His death on the Cross, Jesus was raised – not as a restored OLD creation, but as a NEW CREATION. And IN HIM, we are new creations as well.
For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor. 5:14-17)
The collective FIRST ADAM died in the LAST ADAM – and for those who believe -- are raised NEW CREATIONS in Christ Jesus. Jesus brought an END to that original Adam race by living it out to God’s glory, and then by dying on the Cross. In Him, that original Adamic race is finished, closed out, and dead. This is why He is called THE LAST ADAM. And it is likewise why He is the Risen Christ.
Jesus was the consummation of the Adamic race embodied in one Person – The Last Adam. He filled that to the full. He was perfectly sinless – the Lamb of God without blemish. But then, as The Last Adam, the perfect man, Jesus goes to the Cross.
Only The Last Adam could go to the Cross for us. Why? Because only The Last Adam – and everything we’ve seen that means – could offer Himself to bear the weight of the collective first Adam. Only The Last Adam could bear the collective Adam -- US – and be raised. Only The Last Adam could die for us – and bear us up to a resurrection unto newness of life.
It is only because Jesus became the fullness and perfection of everything God wanted in the first Adam, that He is able to offer Himself as the depository of everything which is of the fallen Adamic race on the Cross. He offered Himself as The Last Adam, and in doing so, brought death to that original Adamic creation that God had made, but which had fallen. And then He was raised. As what? As a NEW creation! As the FIRST BORN. As the one through whom all of us can likewise be born again.
Now, unless that is true, then there is no NEW creation, is there? You cannot have a new creation if the old one is still hanging around. Unless all that is of Adam died in Christ, then there is no escape from Adam. We are still of that old creation, and are not new creations in Christ Jesus.
The key to so much in our understanding is the new birth as new creations in Jesus Christ. Grasp that and you will see that you are delivered from the power of the old creation – wherein resides the sin nature, the power of the enemy, and everything else which drags you down. Grasp that and you will see that you are a new creation who is raised in Christ Jesus, with power over all of those negative things. Of course, this is exactly why the enemy seeks to keep us from seeing this Truth. The Cross – which is where Adam died – is his defeat. So he seeks to hide from us the Truth about who we are in Christ Jesus.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Cor. 15:22)
When all is said and done, there really are only TWO MEN. There is Adam, and there is Christ. In the end, we are going to choose to be identified with one or the other. We are going to be IN ADAM, or IN CHRIST.
You and I are IN ADAM by natural birth. We are summed up under that one name: Adam. But we are IN CHRIST through the death of the old creature we are IN ADAM, and then through the NEW BIRTH as a NEW creature IN Christ Jesus. Thus, we are either IN ADAM – a member of that body of spiritually dead human beings – or we are IN CHRIST – a member of HIS Body, and partakers of His resurrection life.
Notice the phrase which Paul uses to describe the relationship of a believer to Christ. Paul uses a number of terms. But his favorite is a simple, "in Christ." What does it mean to be IN CHRIST?
To be IN CHRIST means to be united with Him through death and resurrection, and then, because of that, to be eternally one with Him in a spiritual union. This is another Truth which is vital to see.
For example, have you noticed that God never speaks of eternal life as a THING He gives us through Christ? – not when we read all the scriptures on the subject? Eternal life isn’t a THING. No. Rather, God speaks of eternal life as the result of being ONE with Christ through death and resurrection. In other words, Christ IS our life. CHRIST IN US is eternal life.
Notice the following passages which clearly show that eternal life is Christ in us, and a product of our ONENESS with Him – rather than a THING God hands to us independent of Christ.
(John 15:5) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
(Rom 6:5-8) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
(Gal 2:20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
(1 Cor 6:17) But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
(Col 3:3-4) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
(Col 1:27) To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Jesus didn’t just GIVE us a THING called eternal life. HE IS OUR LIFE. It is only because we are IN CHRIST that we have life.
But you see, so many Christians treat the Redemption as if it is a purely LEGAL transaction. We say that we have all sinned, and therefore are under the judgment of God. But Jesus came and paid the price for sin by bearing our punishment, and therefore God lifted that punishment from us, and declared us forgiven. And for many of us, THAT is eternal life.
It isn’t eternal life. In fact, if that were all there was to the Redemption, it wouldn’t result in new life for anyone. Indeed, that version of the Redemption is actually a denial that anything happens IN US at all. At the end of it, we are right back where we started, except now, "forgiven." Salvation is therefore nothing more than a new legal classification made possible by the death of Christ.
Salvation, in the Bible, is not the lifting of death. It is the passing through death unto NEWNESS of life. Salvation is a new birth. It is being a new creation IN Christ. It is the Person of Jesus Christ IN US – His life.
The only way to be saved is to bring everything we are IN ADAM to the Cross – where Jesus BORE Adam – and take the position of death there. By faith. By relinquishing all that you are in Adam – sin, yes, but also SELF. If you do, you will find that Jesus didn’t merely die FOR you – He did – for more than that, you died IN HIM. As Paul says in Romans, "Our old man is crucified WITH Him." And in Galatians, "I am crucified WITH Christ." You have to surrender to that without any conditions attached.
But that isn’t the end, for coming to the Cross – if that were all there was – will only put Adam to death. We still need life. The great news, however, is that, "if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him." If we come to the Cross, we will not only be crucified IN and WITH Christ, but we will likewise be raised IN CHRIST!
We are NOT saved by the death of Christ – although salvation without the Cross is impossible. You MUST first see the death of your old man in Adam, or there is NO salvation. And yet death alone isn’t life, is it? We are actually saved by His resurrection.
But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Rom. 5:8-10)
Salvation is LIFE. It is not a new legal classification alone. It includes that, but it is HIS LIFE in us – because we are made ONE WITH HIM through death and resurrection, and remain ever more ONE WITH HIM as a member of His Body. We are not given a THING called eternal life. We are IN CHRIST, and that is why we have LIFE.
The Son of Man
The name by which Jesus referred to Himself more than any other was, "The Son of Man." The name means much the same thing as The Last Adam. Jesus was not merely A son of man, like Ezekiel in the Old Testament. No. He was THE Son of Man – the consummate man – the fullness of what God wanted.
The first man brought death into the human race. But the LAST man, or LAST ADAM, brought LIFE. He did this by bringing an END to that first race through death on the Cross. And then by being raised to newness of life.
(1 Cor. 15:21-22) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
We are here seeing two entirely different orders. Two different creations or realms. Two different CREATURES. One in Adam, and the other in Christ. But Christ became the consummation of Adam, and died as such, bearing all of us, so that for those who receive Him – and ONLY those who receive Him, that newness of life might be possible through His resurrection.
Can we now see what the only conclusion possible as to the scope of the Redemption is that Jesus died for ALL who ever lived? Sure. He died for Adam! That is everyone – not just some few, "unconditionally elected," folks! Jesus died for all, but only those who believe and embrace Him will be saved. The FACT that He died for those who reject Him is precisely why they are condemned.
The Son of Man, The Last Adam – this is Jesus Christ as the One who bore the brokenness of each of us in His body -- so that we might be given newness of life through Him.
The realization that salvation is newness of life – not the old revamped– and that salvation is HIS LIFE in us, sets in order so many other Christian Truths. We are either IN ADAM or IN CHRIST, either in the first Adam, or in the resurrection of The Last Adam unto eternal life. There is no third option.*
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