“Are you saying that Adam is greater than Jesus?” This is a comment I often hear from those who preach universal salvation. It usually comes at the end of a conversation like this:
Me: Jesus died and rose again so that we might have new life, His life. Repent and believe the good news!
They: No, everyone is already saved, already righteous, already alive because Jesus died. His was a finished work. Your faith-works add nothing to it.
Me: I agree that His work was perfectly perfect and cannot be improved upon. But grace only comes through faith.
They: Yes, but not our faith – His faith. All the key verses on faith actually refer to the faith of Christ.
Me: I’ll grant that the righteousness of God comes to us on account of the faith of Jesus Christ. That’s Romans 3:22. But read the rest of that verse. It comes to “all who believe.”
They: Keep reading: “There is no difference.” It makes no difference whether you believe or not – we’re all righteous.
Me: If it makes no difference, then why did Jesus, Paul et al. challenge us to believe the good news? Paul told Timothy that his transformation from “worst of sinners” served as an example for those who would believe on Jesus and receive eternal life. Grace unmixed with faith is worthless. That’s Hebrews 4:2.
They: So you’re saying Adam did a greater work than Jesus?
They: Adam’s sin killed everyone – whether they believe Adam or not. That’s Romans 5:12. Are you saying that new life is only given to those who put their trust in Jesus? If so, then you’re elevating Adam above Jesus. You’re saying that first Adam did a greater work than last Adam.
If you have ever had a conversation with someone who believes in universal salvation, chances are you’ve heard something similar to this. Is Adam greater than Jesus? This is the trump card, the final word, because how could anyone say Jesus did an inferior work to Adam?
This is one of the most profoundly important questions you could ever ask. It is so important that I have written a study note to help you answer it. The note is an easy-to-read study of the ten verses of Romans 5:12-21.
So how did last Adam improve upon first Adam? In this post I want to briefly look at the traditional and wrong answer to this question and then, in my next post, I will give you Paul’s far better answer from Roman’s 5. I plan to upload the next post on Good Friday. If you can’t wait that long to hear some stunningly good news about God’s purposes for your life, read the study note.
So, what was last Adam’s greater work? To kick off, here is the wrong answer: “Jesus raised everyone from the dead. Everyone is now saved, righteous, and seated with Christ. They may not know it but it’s true nonetheless.” This is the main claim of those who preach historical reconciliation. Everyone has been made alive. A variation on this is: Everyone will be made alive. This is the view taken by those who preach ultimate reconciliation or universalism.