The Results of Justification
(d) Union with Christ
In examining the doctrine of assurance and the effect of justification Paul now comes to examine the union that the believer has with Christ. Theologians call this union invisible or mystical because it is spiritual as opposed to material. Nevertheless it remains a real and vital union and as such it argues for our eternal salvation. The redeemed of God are bound to Christ in an inseparable eternal union.
1: The Devastation of Union with Adam
Man needs to be joined to Christ because by nature he is united to Adam. V12 clearly teaches us that all have sinned because of the fall of one man, Adam. Furthermore v13-14 instructs us that even before the moral law was instituted death still reigned because union with Adam is the basic reason why we are sinners. The law certainly teaches us that we are sinners because we fail to obey its precepts. Yet if there was no revealed law we would remain sinners because Adam sinned. This is the doctrine of Original Sin which teaches us that sin has been imputed or transferred to all humanity as a consequence of Adam’s sin. This teaches us that in Eden Adam was a representative of the whole human race. As our federal head he failed the test and so death passed over unto all men. Therefore sin is an inescapable reality in this world.
2: The Deliverance through Union with Christ v15-19
As man has been devastated by the actions of one man God therefore chose to deliver his elect people by uniting them to another man who would be a better representative. This is the man Christ Jesus who is sometimes called the Second Adam because he succeeded where the First Adam failed.
• V15, As Adam’s offence has caused many to die, so the gift through Christ has abounded, or has been sufficient for many.
• V16, As Adam’s sin has condemned man, the gift of Christ has justified man.
• V17-18, As death reigns through Adam’s transgression, so life reigns thorough Christ.
• V19, As we are sinners through the disobedience of one man we are also made righteous through the obedience of one man, Christ Jesus. v12-14
• All of this instructs us that as God made a covenant with Adam in the the Garden of Eden he also made a Covenant with his Son. Acting as our representative Adam failed but Christ succeeded, therefore the Christian is no longer in Adam but he has been delivered in Christ.
3: The Direction from Union with Christ v20-21
In closing this passage Paul reminds us that our union with Christ moves in one direction only, grace. Grace is what motivated God to send his one and only Son and it is grace alone that baptises us into his body and which maintains us in this sacred position. Death came through Adam and sin became increasingly more painful as a result of the law. Into a world where sin, death and condemnation were abundant God flooded his grace and this was superabundant. The law was not the answer to man’s sin but grace is. There is hope for individuals, for communities and for nations because where sin abounds grace does much more abound. V20 teaches us that as death reigns supreme in the hearts of unregenerate men grace reigns supreme in the hearts and lives of the redeemed.
Note the various aspects of this reign of grace; righteousness (justification), eternal life (if grace reigns we are sure of glory as we therefore are depending upon God’s free gift); “by Jesus Christ our Lord” – our union with him is an integral aspect of grace. All that we are and will be is through Christ Jesus.