8. Our New Adam, Jesus Christ

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 18 2024

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  • Series: Aspects of Systematic Theology
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Our Scripture is from 1 Corinthians 15:12-22, and 57-58. Our subject: ‘our New Adam, Jesus Christ.’

1 Corinthians 15, beginning with the twelfth verse.

“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 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.” 1

And verses fifty-seven to fifty-eight:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 2

We have from time to time dealt with the doctrine of Jesus Christ as the second or last Adam. Now it is important for us to review certain aspects of that doctrine and apply it to the meaning of the Resurrection, to the meaning of Easter. Paul insists that there is a necessary connection between Jesus Christ and His covenant-people. Unless they know this connection and believe in it, Paul says they have believed in vain. He goes on and stresses that point again and again: “If Christ be not risen,” he says, “our preaching is vain, your faith is in vain.” And he said: “If Christ be not risen then there is no resurrection for you. And if you do not believe in your resurrection, then you do not believe in Christ’s resurrection, because that event is not a freak occurrence in history.”

What the resurrection does, Paul makes clear is that it redeems us from sin, it destroys the power of death, and it gives us a hope for both time and eternity. So he says if you restrict the hope to one world or the other, you are false, there is a resurrection, and there is a victory here. “ If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 3 We must have hope in Christ with respect to this life, and to the world to come.

Thus, Paul stresses emphatically the necessity of believing in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the first nineteen verses he says that all is in vain if we do not so believe. He then goes on to declare that the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is essentially related to every man. He is, Paul says, the first fruits, not merely a freak occurrence. His resurrection tells us something about all humanity. Christ, in other words, is unique in person, but universal in the work He does and in its meaning.

Then Paul in the concluding section declares that all who are members of Jesus Christ partake of His victory, they triumph over sin and death, they enter into a new creation where their labor is not in vain in the Lord. What Paul says elsewhere in Romans 8:28 he develops here:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” 4

In other words, victory is built in to creation.

This connection between Jesus Christ and the whole of humanity is spelled out by Paul in the doctrine of Christ as the new or last Adam. God made man in His image, in knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and with dominion. Man fell, and sin brought in death. God is life, as John 1:4, 11:25, 14:6 and other texts tell us. Sin means death, “All they that hate me,” Proverbs 8:36 declares, “love death.” For the humanity of Adam, because it has fallen into sin, there is no option for it but sin and death, an endless cycle thereof. So that every culture outside of Jesus Christ is death-haunted.

Jesus Christ, Adam too, is a special creation; and like the first Adam, sinless. Having resisted the temptation, He faces the world with dominion. Adam I faced temptation and fell into sin, and therefore death. Adam II, righteousness and life were brought in, and dominion by His victory over temptation.

Paul tells us that the victory of the second Adam is our victory. In verses twenty-one and twenty-two of this chapter he says: “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.”

Before when we were members of the old humanity of the first Adam, sin and death exercised dominion over us. Now, as members of the second humanity, the humanity of Jesus Christ, we push back sin and death and exercise dominion over the world. Paul makes this clear in Romans 6:9-14, wherein he declares:

“Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” 5

And Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 therefore it has no more dominion over us:

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” 6

You are no longer under the death sentence of the law, for you are now redeemed by God’s grace.

2 Peter 1:4 tells us the meaning of being members of Christ. He says we are:

“…given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 7

Having been given great and exceeding precious promises - the word for ‘promise’ in the Greek means a gift given by grace. The gift must be used and developed to be realized, as with the gift of the Spirit in Galatians 3:14. “We have been made partakers,” he says, “of the divine nature.” Now, a ‘partaker’ does not mean that we become divine. The word ‘partaker’, ‘koinōnos (κοινωνός)’, means ‘companion,’ ‘partner,’ ‘one who is a recipient by having been made part of a fellowship.’ Thus it is again a matter of grace. The reference is the image of God in us, which in Adam II, manifests itself in us to apply knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and dominion.

Lenski comments with regard to 2 Peter 1:4:

“We are to be children and sons of God (John 1:12), begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Pet. 1:23). Ours is the restored divine image, righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24) plus knowledge (epignosis, Col. 3:10). The two former are divine attributes. When they are restored in us they do not deify us; yet they are derived from God and make us κοινωνοί (koinonia) of divine nature [partakers, recipients by grace].” 8

Knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and dominion are the communicable attributes of God which are given to us by His image. The image, thus, is restored in us that we might serve and glorify God. We have been restored in Christ into fellowship, koinonia, with God. We have been made members of Christ’s humanity, not His deity. Our Lord speaks of Himself as the bread of life, He declares in John 6:32-35 and 47-58 that none have life unless they eat His body and drink His blood. What our Lord here is telling us is that life means membership in His perfect humanity. By being members of the humanity of the first Adam, we have an inheritance of sin and death; by being members of the humanity of the second Adam, we now have an inheritance of righteousness and life.

We are a new creation; Christ, the second Adam according to John 6:57, lives by the Father. He is a member of the deity, of the Trinity. Then our Lord goes on to say in that same verse: “...so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” 9We become members therefore of His perfect humanity. The life of Christ as the incarnate one depends upon God, we as members of Adam II partake of Christ’s redeemed humanity, we live by Him. We are made victors over sin, and triumphant over death in Him, we are released to fulfill the creation mandate.

We are therefore called upon to “abound in the work of the Lord,” we are called to victory.

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 10

Paul declares, moreover, in 1 Corinthians 15 that Christ will put down all rule, all power, all authority, and finally having ruled over all things will destroy the last enemy, death itself. John tells us in 1 John 5:4:

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 11

And this victory is not merely a spiritual or a platonic one, it is a total victory. the early church, the New Testament tells us, was impatient for such a victory, and in Revelation 6:9-11 the martyred saints cry out from under the altar: “How long O Lord, how long?” Looking for the triumph of Christ in time as well as in eternity. And they are told to be patient for a season, that in due time there shall be triumph, not suffering alone.

Paul, thus, tells us that because we are essentially related as believers to Adam II, to Jesus Christ, we live in a world of total meaning and total victory, we cannot lose. The second hymn we sang this morning: Lift Up, Lift Up Your Voices Now, stresses precisely this note of victory, because we are essentially related to Christ. Did you catch the line as you sang it?

For Christ has won, and man must win.

This is what it means to believe in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has won, and man must win.

Hence, Christ having won could say to His church:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” 12

Let us pray.

* * *

Almighty God our heavenly Father we thank thee for the triumphant word that our labor is never in vain in Jesus Christ, that His victory is our victory, His triumph over sin and death our triumph over sin and death. Make us bold, O Lord, our God in terms of thy Word and of thy grace, that we may go forth to conquer in Christ’s name, bringing every area of life and thought into captivity to Him as king of kings and Lord of Lords, knowing that because Christ has won, that we in Him shall win. Bless us to this purpose we beseech thee. In Jesus' name, amen.

* * *

Are there any questions now about our lesson?


[Audience Member] Our local newspaper for about twenty-five years has always had a headline at this time of the year about ‘Easter.’ Now, there is no mention of ‘Easter’ in the paper.

[Rushdoony] Well, that’s beginning to take place all over the country, for some time they have been mentioning Easter as a matter of form, and the resurrection, but now if there is any mention of it it has to do with the Easter bunny, and everything non-essential. It is not going to change until we change, until we go out as conquerors. Christians have been retreating much too long, and by doing so they have been denying the resurrection.

Yes, as one very fine young man on our mailing list said to me in a telephone conversation, he said: “You know, I think too many Christians forget that our Lord said, Jesus said, ‘I am the door.’ He did not say: ‘I am the doormat.’” And too many Christians act as though they are called to be the doormat, as though that is the essence of the gospel; it has nothing to do with our faith.

Any other questions? Yes.

[Audience Member] I was watching something on the Reformation in England and I heard that the martyrs there would say “I forgive the king,” before being martyred. Can you make sense of that?

[Rushdoony] Yes, very good question. I think it was wrong for them to say: “I forgive the king.” Because the word forgive in Scripture is a legal term, it means ‘charges dropped because satisfaction has been rendered’ or in the word on the Cross: ‘Father, defer the charges for the time being, for they know not what they do.’ In other words, you forgive when restitution has been made. Christ makes restitution, renders satisfaction, makes atonement for our sins, therefore we are forgiven. We cannot forgive in relations one with another, except on God’s terms. If there is no change of heart, and that means therefore a change of life and restitution, satisfaction being rendered, there can be no forgiveness. Forgiveness is not to be on our terms. So with all due respect to those martyrs who were very great and remarkable men, I feel that at that point they had no right to say: “I forgive the king.”


[Audience Member] A missionary said that the Japanese, he feels, are difficult to convert to Christ, because they have a history of having persecuted the Christians so. What is your opinion on that?

[Rushdoony] It is true that the work of conversion in Japan has gone a little more slowly than elsewhere, but I don’t think that is because of persecution in the past, because persecutions in far more fierce form have taken place in other countries. Conversion in the Orient has been slower than in most parts of the world because there has been a deep-seated relativism in the Orient which makes conversion difficult. To believe in an absolute God and His unchanging word is much more difficult to people who are deeply imbued with a total relativism. Now, numerically the conversions in Japan have not been as great as in other countries of the Far East, but I believe they have been more valid and stronger conversions. As a result, while the Christian community in Japan is small, I believe it has been effective out of proportion. The country in the far east I should say which is an exception to the others is Korea, a very large percentage of the people there are Christian.

Let us bow our heads now for the benediction.

* * *

And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.

1 1 Co 15:12–22.

2 1 Co 15:58.

3 1 Co 15:18–19.

4 Ro 8:28.

5 Ro 6:9.

6 Ro 6:14.

7 2 Pe 1:4.

8 Lenski, R.C.H. (1966). The Interpretation of The Epistles of St. Peter, St. John And St. Jude (p. 262). Augsburg Publishing House.

9 Jn 6:57.

10 1 Co 15:57–58.

11 1 Jn 5:4.

12 Mt 28:19–20.

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