“Parents may not be put to death for their children nor children for their parents, but each must be put to death for his own crime” (Deut24:16)
The Torah is not man’s law but God’s and certain universal principles may be drawn from it. We have already considered the proportional and humanity-focussed nature of final judgement; here we see that neither guilt nor righteousness can in its essence be transferred (imputed) from one person to another. That is more clearly and contextually affirmed in Christ’s own teaching on final judgement in Matthew 25. Neither Adam’s guilt nor Christ’s righteousness is taken into consideration in that definitive passage on final judgement, merely the actions of the individuals being judged (vv31-46). Many will struggle to reconcile that with their particular understanding of the teaching of Paul, a matter I deal with in detail in chapter three of my book*.
But Scripture (including Paul’s writings) actually teaches that Jesus died as an offering for sin rather than substitute for particular individuals. He became sin for us all (2Cor5:21); He gave Himself for our sin (Gal1:4); He bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1Pet2:24); He suffered once for sins (1Pet3:18); the iniquity of us all was laid upon Him (Is53:6). Sin throughout the ages has been punished in Jesus; not just the sins of individuals who would come to be His disciples.
Why then the Gospel?
This is not to say that Adam’s guilt and Christ’s perfect righteousness do not impact upon humanity; nothing could be further from the truth. The former has resulted in an inherent deprivation of spiritual life and physical mortality whilst the Latter provides the ultimate remedy for the matter, not as a direct result of the Life itself but through its expenditure. Likewise Adam’s disobedience resulted in “original sin” by which each human invariably inherits what Paul refers to as “the body of this death” (Greek: somatos tou thanatou toutou) – this death being the current experience of the concupiscent “law within the bodily members” processed through the brain, rebelling against the law (and light) that God has implanted within the human psyche that we refer to as conscience (Rom2:15; 7:23). That in turn results in “dead works” of the flesh that defile the conscience and prevent the natural man from fulfilling the ultimate purpose of human life: to know and serve the living God in spirit and truth (Heb9.14). Likewise, the perfect life, selfless death and sacramental body and blood of the Righteous One provides pardon for all with “faith”, evinced by a genuine humanity, especially the exercise of compassion towards others (Mt25), being a response to the light of Christ provided to all (Jn1:9KJV). Yet it is only those who apprehend Christ as Lord and Saviour who can be spiritually cleansed, renewed and empowered to participate in the divine life whilst in mortal flesh (Jn8:36).
Such is the urgency of the Good News (Christian Gospel) – only those who respond positively to it may experience “eternal life” (i.e. a living relationship with Jesus Christ in the present – “For this is eternal life, that they might know You the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn17:3). And it is only His faithful disciples who shall be fitted to share His inheritance and partner the Lord of Glory through eternity.
- A free PDF of the e-book version is available HERE