Cornelius Hanko is an emeritus minister in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
The following question has been submitted to the question box:
“Was Adam in the state of rectitude in need of Christ?”
Our first reaction might well be that we answer, “No.” We know that Adam was created good and after the image of God, in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, to know and to serve his God in love with his whole being. He was God’s friend-servant, serving God in the capacity of prophet, priest, and king over the earthly creation. He was filly capable of-fulfilling God’s mandate, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth,” at least as far as his mandate applied to the earthly paradise. (See Gen. 1:28.)
Adam possessed a certain freedom, that is, a freedom not to sin. He loved God, knew that God loved him, and was devoted to God in love. He walked and talked with God and dwelled in God’s house in the first paradise. He stood at the pinnacle of the entire earthly creation as God’s friend-servant, uniting the entire creation in covenant fellowship with God. In Adam’s heart the whole creation was united to the heart of God. (See Reformed Dogmatics, Rev. H. Hoeksema, page 222.)
Yet it was exactly because of Adam’s unique relationship to his God and his peculiar position over against the entire creation that also Adam’s life would never be complete without the Christ.
First, Adam was created fallible. Although he was created free in the sense that he was able not to sin, he still was capable of sinning. He was perfect, yet not in the sense that he could not lose that perfection. God had placed in paradise the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, with the demand that Adam should not eat thereof, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17).
Rev. H. Hoeksema writes in his Reformed Dogmatics, page 213, “His (Adam’s) freedom did not consist of this, that he could either sin or not sin, but exactly in the fact that he stood in perfect righteousness, in harmony with the will of God, so that he loved the Lord his God with his whole heart. But he was created lapsable. He had not attained to the highest freedom. He indeed was capable of performing the will of God; but he could nevertheless by an act of his own will turn about and subject himself to the slavery of sin. The highest freedom is the state in which it will be forever impossible for man to choose contrary to the will of God. But this is attainable only in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God united with our nature. Adam, therefore, could lose the image of God. . . . And it is only through the grace of Christ that this image is restored and raised to a higher, to a heavenly level and glory that can be lost nevermore.”
Second, Adam was of the earth earthy. “He lives an earthly life. He cannot reach to heaven. He is dependent upon the earth for his very subsistence. From the earth his life must be constantly sustained and replenished. He has earthly sensations and perceptions; an earthly eye, with which he perceives earthly things; an earthly ear, that can hear earthly sounds; an earthly sense of taste and touch and smell, that can bring him into contact with earthly objects. He is bound by ties of earthly love and friendship. Even his thinking and willing assume earthly forms. There are things that eye cannot see, and ear cannot hear, and which cannot arise in the heart of man, which only the Spirit of God can reveal to him” (Reformed Dogmatics, page 200).
Third, Adam was mortal. Although death had no dominion over him, he was dependent upon the tree of life to perpetuate his earthly existence (Gen. 3:22). After the fall Adam learned to seek his life in Him Who is the Resurrection and the Life, to live from Him forever in the new creation.
Fourth, the first Adam was a type of the last Adam. “And so it is written, the first Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man was of the earth earthy: the second man is the Lord of heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (I Cor. 15:45-48). Christ was in Adam’s loins, for Adam was our first father, and organically root of the entire human race. To serve his purpose as our first father he had to bring forth the Christ, through Whom alone he could have eternal life.
This is most beautifully expressed in Colossians 1:13-19: “Who (God) hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he was before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead: that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the father that in him should all fullness dwell.”
From this follows that when Adam fell, he fell into the arms of Christ. It was never God’s intention to attain heavenly perfection and glory through Adam, as is evident from the Scripture passages referred to above. The riches of God’s glorious perfections and the blessedness of His intimate covenant life could never be fully revealed and shared through Adam. The first paradise must fade away to make room for the second, the eternal heavenly Paradise (Rev. 22:1, 2). The first Adam must step aside to open the way for the last Adam. “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” (I Cor. 15:21, 22). See also Romans 5:12-19.