1 Corinthians 15:47-49
47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
I find that the passage above, along with the similar use of this language in Romans 5, is something we do not often think about in our context. Are you in Adam? Are you in Christ? How are the two different? We just don’t often think in these terms.
As Paul responded to the questions that the Corinthians had about how human bodies would be resurrected to live eternally, he drew to mind a massive comparison and contrast. Paul basically told the people that there are two kinds of people in the world: those in Adam and those in Christ.
The people who are in Adam are represented by the first man. Adam sinned against God. Adam fell. Adam died because of his own sin. In all this, Adam is not a picture of rescued and redeemed humanity. Adam is, instead, a picture of fallen, rebellious, and lost humanity that is headed for judgment. [I’m not, by the way, arguing that Adam did not personally receive grace, but simply that he is the representative of lostness in Scripture.]
Christ, the second man, is the alternative to Adam. Christ lived perfectly. Christ died, but only to rescue others, not for his own sin because he had no sin. Christ rose from the grave to live again. When Christ rose, his body was changed, glorified, and made able to live in the presence of God eternally. Jesus is God who became man to do what man on his own could never do.
If you are in Adam, you will not live in God’s presence eternally. If you are in Adam, you will die and then suffer the full wrath of God for your sin against him. If you are in Adam, you will face infinite punishment for offending an infinitely holy God by your own imperfection. If you are in Adam, when you die you die.
If you are in Christ ,represented by Jesus, you are covered by Jesus’ sacrifice and Jesus’ righteousness. If you are in Christ, you will, after you die, be allowed into the presence of God. If you are in Christ, you will be raised from the dead, given a glorified body, and be allowed to live forever in God’s presence with perfect joy and perfect peace for a perfect eternity. If you are in Christ your sin, which would have condemned you, is totally covered by grace. If you are in Christ, you need not fear death, because death for the one represented by Jesus is a step toward perfection, not an end at all.
The amazing thing about the gospel is that we cannot do anything to earn the representation of Christ. To be in Christ, we simply believe in him, place our trust in him, and then begin to live for him. To be in Christ, we stop thinking that we are the center of the universe and realize that Jesus is. Of course, all this faith and turning on our part is preceded by the sovereign grace of God who is the Author of salvation and the one who receives all glory for every part of our salvation.
Today, perhaps it would be worthwhile to think in the strange contrast that Paul paints. Are you in Adam? Are you in Christ? If you are in Adam, what do you think about that? If you are in Christ, how does that give you joy and change your life?