2009-03-14 - Heidelberg 16.1
Heidelberg Catechism Series, Part 37
Question 16.1: "Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?"
Answer: "God's Justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for its sin, but a sinner could never pay for another."
The one who sinned (Adam), as our representative, was holy before he sinned. His sin made him impure, defiled, and consequently all those who were born from him have sin (all of us). God's justice and His holiness demand that there are consequences for sin. "In the day that you eat from it you shall surely die," Genesis 2:17. Human nature sinned in Adam, and so the deliverance, for us, could not come directly from ourselves, as we are all sinners. There must be One, who while still being human, is also holy. This is the reason for the Incarnation. Thus Jesus Christ becomes incarnate, fully God, but also fully man, lives a sinless life on Earth, and dies on the cross at the hands of sinners like ourselves.
In so doing, the Righteous One (Christ), bears the sins of all those who the Father has given Him (John 6:37), who come to Him by faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9), are cleansed from their sins, and restored unto a right relationship with God. Salvation is God's plan. It is not our thinking up. It is His wisdom, and His mercy, that has devised a plan to save some from the eternal wrath that we all rightly deserve.
We might have a long discussion about whether or not this is just and right. We are guilty in our representative: Adam. When he sinned, we all sinned. But there is no way around it. Romans 5:12-21 leaves us no other option. We cannot settle the way Adam's sin is connected to us, but we know that it is. We have all sinned, so we are left without excuse anyway, but let us not deny the truth of God's Word because we find it difficult to understand or swallow. We sinned in Adam. It is the clear teaching of God's Holy Word. If you will indulge me, I will give you one blessed reason why we should embrace this and even be thankful for it. Let us consider that if the sin of one finite man was able to destroy us, then how effective the remedy must be that comes from the infinite God. It is the power and grace of God Himself that saves us. How much greater must that be, than the act of one finite human who stood as our representative in the Garden of Eden.
Are you sure that the one act of Adam, his disobedience, has done you great harm? Certainly, if we have ever known someone to die, or have been sick, or struggling to earn a living (Genesis 3:17-19), we know the damage sin has done. But if we are sure of this, how much greater assurance can we have in the self-sacrifice of the Son of God being able to forgive our sin and grant us peace with God. The remedy of the Only-Begotten Son is greater than the act of sin was by Adam.
The gift of God in Christ is by the grace of God. And the gift of God is stronger than the sin of Adam. God's justice is satisfied in the one sacrifice of Christ for sin on Calvary. We were ruined by the fall, but recovered and made righteous by the One Righteous, Jesus Christ. It is the grand essential message of the Christian faith.
Soli Deo Gloria,