First Adam vs Last Adam

Explaining Romans 5:18-19


Universalism and inclusionism are twin towers built on the same foundation, which is this:

When Adam fell, he took all of us with him. We had no choice in the matter. If Jesus only saves those who meet certain conditions – those who repent, believe, etc. – then first Adam is greater than last Adam. Since that cannot be true, Jesus must save everyone.

If you think everyone will end up saved and in heaven, you are a universalist. But if you think everyone is already saved, you may be an inclusionist.

Since I am neither, I am often hit with the two-Adam argument, which goes like this:

Just as the human race was in Adam when he fell, the human race was in Jesus when he went to the cross. Say otherwise and you’re elevating Adam above Jesus.

The two-Adam argument comes from Romans 5 where Paul compares the damage done by first Adam with the redeeming work done by last Adam (i.e., Jesus). The key phrase is “how much more,” which appears in this verse:

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Rom 5:15)

Paul’s point is that last Adam did a greater work than first Adam. Grace is greater than sin and the gift is greater than the trespass.

This is such a wonderful revelation that I have written a study note on it. It’s called Last Adam’s Greater Work and you can download it for free. Read it and you will learn just how much more Christ has done on our behalf.

The two-Adam argument: 5 problems

If the two-Adam argument is true, then either everyone is saved or they will be. This is surely a happy outcome, but there are at least five problems with the two-Adam argument.

1. If Jesus merely raised those who had been killed by sin, then his is not a greater work; it is a comparable work, an equivalent work. There is nothing “how much more” about it.

2. First Adam took us down against our will. This is an outrage because we had no choice in it. In a sense, we were violated by Adam’s trespass. But if last Adam did the same thing in reverse, then we have been violated twice. You had no say in it. Some will say the ends justify the means, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

All or many

3. Universalists and inclusionists love Romans 5:18 which talks about how Jesus’ one act brings life for all men. “All means all.” Then why does Paul refer to “the many” in verses 15 and 19? Many means many, not all. Paul never says all have been or will be made alive. He says life has come and is now freely available for all men. (For more, read the accompanying the study note.)

4. The universalist/inclusionist conclusion that all will be/have been saved ignores the prerequisites for life that Paul stipulates in the preceding verse, namely, receiving God’s abundant provision of grace (Rom 5:17). Since grace is accessed through faith, unbelievers have not crossed over from death to life (Joh 5:24). If you refuse to come to Jesus to receive life (Joh 5:40), how can you have life?

5. If universalism/inclusionism were true, then God made a mistake by giving Adam the freedom to choose. Somewhere along the way he changed his mind and decided this whole free will thing was too risky. Adam had a choice but you get none. If this were true then you’re not free, God makes mistakes and he doesn’t trust you. How is that good news?

The two-Adam argument diminishes the cross

On account of Romans 5:18, universalists and inclusionists claim all will be or all have been saved. Their thinking is that just as Adam’s sin tainted 100% of humanity, Jesus must therefore save 100% of humanity. (Actually he must save more than 100% if his is a greater work, but never mind.)

But this is to miss the point of the cross. Jesus didn’t come merely to undo Adam’s harm but to give us what Adam never had in the first place, namely, his life.

We tend to imagine unfallen Adam as a superstar but he isn’t a patch on Jesus. Adam was called to reign but didn’t. Adam was called to fill the earth with godly offspring but failed. And since Adam was never filled with the Holy Spirit he only ever experienced God at arm’s length.

The newest Christian has advantages infinitely superior to what Adam had. Adam occasionally talked with God, but we have God living permanently within. Adam knew what it was like to be apart from God but we need never know. God will never leave us. When the devil comes to tempt us the Holy Spirit is right there to guide us in the way of life.

Because of Jesus, we have it far better than Adam ever did. This is the greater work. This is the how much more.

This isn’t about sin

“If Adam’s sin condemned everyone, then Jesus simply has to save everyone. It stands to reason.” I suppose it does if you define salvation as merely “no more sin.” But the new life Christ offers us is much more than that.

“Adam’s sin affected the entire human race, so Jesus has to save us all.”

One does not follow the other. Don’t you see? This isn’t about Adam’s sin. No one is going down for Adam’s mistakes. His sin, along with yours and mine, were done away with at the cross (Rom 8:3, Heb 9:26). To say “Jesus must save us all” is to say he has no choice and we have no choice.

But Jesus, the Bible, and history all say otherwise: You have a choice.

Romans 5 views

This is about love

Here’s the important bit: Because of Jesus we all get the same choice Adam had – the choice to trust God or trust ourselves. Either we will receive the life that God offers us or we will condemn ourselves through unbelief. No one is lost through Adam’s unbelief but their own.

Your freedom is a big deal to God. By giving Adam the freedom to choose, God took a risk he knew would ultimately cost him his life. He did it to show us that he’d rather die than live without us. There is no greater love.

God has not changed. God loves us too much to force himself on us. He wants us to choose him because that’s how love works.

Love woos; it doesn’t snatch.

The gospel isn’t the horrific announcement that a God who makes mistakes has taken you against your will. It’s the happy declaration that God is good, he loves you, and wants to share his life with you.


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140 Comments on First Adam vs Last Adam

  1. Good one Paul, Good analogy,never took the time to compare the two Adams,as a matter of fact,I don’t recall ever hearing a teaching on it, not only is the second one better, but offers more benefits.

    • Paul: God has not changed. God loves us too much to force himself on us.

      “God loves us too much to force himself on us..” This concept is not a biblical one. If I see a child headed toward the highway I will step in and save that child from death; not “Because of my deep love for this precious child I will respectfully allow him to exercise his free will and let him decide for himself whether or not to get smoked by the big smokin’ satan semi. Instead I will stand by the road quietly, meekly, and in a still, small voice hearken him to come to safety” (Singing) “Come home…come home… all who are weary come hooo—ooo—oooom.. SMACK!” “Oh well, nothing I could do about it. My hands are tied and I am bound by love and respect for them not to interfere…”

      We were never even as free as the illustration above but were ‘dead in our sins’, ‘serving our father the devil’ and prisoners to our lusts’. Just exercise our free will and choose freedom? I think not.

      Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; (2) to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; (3) to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

      I love, love, LOVE your passion for the Cross and the Gospel, brother Paul but I’m struggling a little with some of your perspectives on free will, who chooses who first, etc…

      • I have heard the child-running-out-in-front-of-the-truck metaphor countless times. It’s typically used by those who claim we have no free will. However, there are two problems with this metaphor. (1) It assumes humanity is incapable of making good choices and that God must do all our choosing for us and that he’s not looking for mature sons and daughters. The history of humanity demonstrates the opposite. He let Adam choose the wrong tree and didn’t stop him. (2) I have actually been in this situation of watching my 3-year-old run onto the road in front of a truck. Someone, who was not a parent, left a gate open and out she went. I yelled but couldn’t stop her. By some miracle she wasn’t killed. This shows that even the worst choices we make are not beyond God’s power to save.

        Unforced, freely-chosen love is very Biblical. “Love never gives up. Love … doesn’t force itself on others” (1 Cor 13:4-5 MSG). Thanks for the comment.

      • You are right; God is looking for mature choices from his sons and daughters but that’s not the topic up for discussion. It’s who initiates the relationship. Do we search for God or does He come to us in our grave and give us life so that we are then able to respond to His love, grace and mercy? Grace FREES our will so that we are able to make right choices in the first place. The glory goes to God for that; the power comes from Christ for that and we are left thankful and grateful that He saved us when we had no desire to seek after Him.

        To say that God put the tree in the Garden and ‘risked’ Adam partaking of it thereby plunging humanity into sin has an odor of Open Theism, brother. We were saved ‘before the foundation of the earth’ and this took place before there was an Adam or a Tree anywhere in the picture.

        Again, I absolutely love your emphasis on the Gospel and grace but my heart aches to hear of what sounds to me like a strong emphasis on free will, man’s ability to choose God initially, and that ultimately it’s up to us to save ourselves by making the right choice of coming to Christ for salvation in the first place.

      • I was responding to your comment about “forced love,” which I believe to be an oxymoron. For sure, God initiates everything. All we can do is respond.

        I appreciate your comments, but please respect E2R’s Comment Policy and keep future comments brief (and not split up over multiple comments) and limited to the post being discussed. Your comments on sovereignty may be more relevant here. Thanks.

      • Shon, would I be correct if I said I believe I smell the odor of open Calvinism?

      • If you consider an “Open Calvinist” is someone who believes the Bible and forms their theological positions based off of what it says then fer sur… that’s me 🙂

    • First Adam/Last Adam is in 1 Cor 15:45-47. In this chapter, Paul makes a wonderful defense of the greatness of the gospel and how (and why) it is a greater work than Adam’s sin that caused all of us to be born sinners. I agree with much that is above, but if you’re going to preach against “first Adam/Last Adam”, then you’ll have to address this chapter and bring them both together, hopefully showing the glorious love in our Father’s heart, the love that brought Him to ask Jesus to endure shame, spitting, mocking, beatings, scourging and crucifixion. All for us!!!

      Such wonderful love!

      • John, I’m not “preaching against first/last Adam” but the universalist idea that Last Adam’s work was merely comparable to First Adam’s (when the Bible clearly says it was greater). Although I don’t explain how it is greater in this post, I do in several others as well as in a couple of study notes. Links for these can be found in the article above. Thanks.

  2. Heres a thought. First Adam had a choice, those who followed didn’t UNTIL Jesus. Now we have a CHOICE. If Jesus saved all we would still have no choice. So now everyone has a choice it’s just the opposite of first Adams. Does that makes sense?

    • Except babies that die 😉 they don’t have a choice. I guess not. At the least I believe in an infant universalism…

      • Wow. Based on what, Steve? When God looks at ten pregnant women, he doesn’t see 10 women and 10 innocent babies. He sees 20 individual souls, does he not? Does God know the beginning from the end? Does he really have names written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, or not? Revelation 13:8 – All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. Or is the book metaphorical?

      • So Molly, are you saying that infants who die (perhaps in the womb) are consigned to eternal conscious torment or to heaven based on God’s knowledge of what they would have done with Jesus, had they been given the chance? I’m not sure I’m quite following your point?

      • I don’t know, Cindy. I think that’s what I’m saying, yes. I can’t find any scripture that is clear on this; however, the Bible is very clear that God knows the beginning from the end. What are your thoughts?

      • Hey, Molly — I want to discuss this with you, but I can’t do it just now and I have a very busy four days ahead of me. If for some reason you don’t hear back from me, give me a nudge by posting something here (if you wouldn’t mind). I’m sometimes forgetful, but I don’t want to forget you. Thanks!

      • Jesus said do not stop the little children from coming to me, also unless you become like a little child you shall not enter. I do not understand what we find so difficult to understand.

      • But before the flood, God didn’t rescue the children. They received the same judgment as adults. A soul doesn’t have an age, does it?

      • A soul a some point believes in death, it requires life to live again.

      • I’m sorry, Chris. I’m not following you.

      • Hi Molly a child has absolute faith in life, a young child has no concept of death, you could say they do not believe in death, they rejoice in life. And are fearless. We need to become like little children. We have to have faith in life, the true life that is Jesus.

      • Just to help the child eventually believes in death and is corrupted, and now requires life again.

  3. Paul, I knew I liked you but now I think I love you;-) Keep up the good work, brother.

  4. Explain these verses one by one thanks…

    • Please limit comments to the post. I appreciate some will say I am simplifying things (the gospel is simple!) and wonder, “What about this verse?” But I am restricted by space limits. For those wanting to go deeper or wanting to know my thoughts on other scriptures, I recommend checking out my detailed study notes.

  5. Excellent!!! Love It…You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free!
    God gave Adam and Eve a choice…A Choice between Life and Death, He gives us the same Choice today, we can accept Christ or we can reject Him…when Christ draws all men unto himself that’s when the Father is calling them…No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, not collectively but individually. If all people were already saved why was God adding to the Church daily those that were being saved, in Acts? Was Saul already saved while he was murdering the people of God’s Church, I think not! Paul had a changed heart after his encounter with Christ. That’s what will happen to each individual that has an encounters Christ. (If) any man be “in Christ” the old man is gone, the new creation has come…

  6. I find it interesting that in the Genesis account Adam’s disobedience is not explicitly called sin. The first mention of the word ‘sin’ is actually in reference to Cain.

    I’m also curious to know: does this mean that you disagree with Augustine’s doctrine of ‘Original Sin’?

  7. Truth is not the result of a complex boolean operation. With God… there is no “right”… rather, there is Love. 😉

  8. I have learned so much from you.Thanks. I think we should concentrate more on expounding and showing All, what Jesus has accomplished for them instead of on which doctrine or which group of people have it right. Lets stay on revealing the Love of God and the grace of God in the face of Jesus. Now since you are neither a universalist or inclusionist, then you are an exclusionist! Adam was only a type of Christ. What he did and the extent of his work was a figure of what Jesus was going to do or rather had already done.All that you mentioned are all part of the greater work. One act of obedience brought justification from both Adam’s sin and our sins.This is the greater work for me.Jesus saved more than 100%. I wonder why people talk about choice and the freedom that God gave to us.Did we choose to be born,Did we choose which country to be born into.Did we choose our parents.Did we choose our gender.Did we choose for Jesus to come and save us.Where is our choice in Adam.Jesus said that we didnt choose Him rather He chose us.So all these arguments about choice doesnt hold water.We simply choose His choice.And how can people know His choice except the hear.And that’s why we preach.All have been chosen.All are included.

    • Great points Idika! The journey continues…

    • Very good Idika!!! Lets just stick to love and what the King did with the slave girl in Song of Solomon (a book that I believe talks about how God woos His church). He fell in love with her and no matter what the slave girl said to Him about being unworthy and how ugly she was, He, The King, just kept loving her and telling her, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” (Song of Solomon 4:7), until she finally believed Him. And when she finally did, she was able to share in all that He is and was. I think that is what God did and is doing with ALL of us. Lets stop labeling people and just love on people and tell them the truth (in relationship with people) of what God has already done until they believe it and can then go do the same.

    • I love your thinking and arguments.

  9. How about those who weren’t given the opportunity to choose like people who died as infants, mentally challenged people, etc? Are they are going to hell just because they failed to make a decision to choose God?

    • As I explain in this post, I believe everybody responds to God’s love, one way or the other. For those who are incapable of choosing, or who never get the chance, eg: babies and mentally challenged people, Jesus takes them all.

      • So wouldn’t it be better for everyone to die as babies or live their lives mentally challenged because then they don’t risk hell and get to be with Jesus? That way, they don’t get the chance to choose, and Jesus will force His love on them by taking them home because they can’t make the decision for themselves. At what age does a child become someone who gets to make the choice? And what level of mental disablity is allowed before that person is responsible?

      • I guess that would make sense if you define new life as “avoiding hell,” and if you believed in a fiery hell, but I don’t and I wouldn’t frame it that way. I would say that babies who die miss out on an incredible opportunity to receive and respond to love in this life. Think of the natural parallel. A baby who dies never experiences the joy of being wooed and wed. As for what age people go astray and decide to reject God, I can’t say. That’s between them and God. But as long as they live I believe there is hope. Some might say there’s hope even beyond this life, but we can only speculate.

      • Thanks for your reply Paul, and I message with great respect as always! 🙂 How about people who have never heard of Jesus? What is your opinion on that?

      • I believe everyone gets a chance to respond one way or another. I think “preaching the gospel” probably accounts for about 10% of the ways this happens. I don’t have this figured out by any stretch of the imagination but I’m fully confident that my Father does. It’s a tricky problem but he’s got it sorted. I’m also encouraged by those prophetic scriptures in Revelation which promise that all nations will worship and that standing before the throne wearing white will be “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev 7:9, 15:4)!

        I can recall watching my first child being born. I literally felt like I was witnessing a miracle. If someone had leapt out of a wheelchair in the delivery room, I could not have been more full of wonder than I already was. Life is full of signs that make you wonder, signs that point to a good Father above.

      • wow Paul, interesting and challenging questions,some of them make you step back and make you think,but it seems that some of them offer no answers,only speaking for myself,i need to have some concrete under my feet.

      • “For those who are incapable of choosing, or who never get the chance”
        Paul, I’ve always wondered would that include the countless people over the past 2000+ yrs that lived in an area where they never even heard about Jesus? Are they ones who never got the chance?

      • Hi Linda, see my new comment above which sort of addresses your question as well.

  10. It’s God’s will for all to be saved because God is love, but love doesn’t force itself. So God gives man the choice to accept His love or not. He makes it as easy as possible and as attractive as possible to choose His love, but forcing His love would not be love at all. 

  11. My german translation makes no difference between many and all. its “all” in every verse.
    This is from the “Genfer” translation, the most accurate german translation, It says in verse 15: “all humanity. ”

    And when he says many in verse 19 I could conclude that not all have been sinners, cause he compares the many sinners with the many righteous.

    I am not writing to argue but from my translations I can easily come to the conclusion that what inclusionists say sabout the last adam is not far of.

  12. Sorry thought further about the article so I thought I share again.

    I can not fully go with this. Just the other day I snatched my son from the street because of the cars. I violated his free will when he chose to not obey my command “do not run to the street.” That is love nit letting him run into death, Also the comparision is only between Adam and Christ and it goes so far to call adam a picture or shadow of the one to come. I did not chose to go down with Adam , so I can not choose to be made righteous through christ, he has done it. Faith is the response to what he has done and I think here our lines of thinking meet again – the unbeliever has been forgiven at the cross you may still reject it but you can’t do anything against it,

    To put the lost son in a new garment was not the sons initiative – it was the fathers.

    But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    Paul says that you are justified(righteous) when you believe that you already are.

    At least this is how I read the text.

    • Really like what you wrote here Brother Tobi. I think it is best to think of our unbelieving brothers as done like we are, they just dnt know it yet. That is where we come in to disciple them and bring them along until they know.

  13. Universalism finally solves the problem Jesus presents for one world religion. Christians no longer need to be concerned about those who do not believe in Jesus because it no longer matters. The Apostles were mistaken to die for this cause. Man doesn’t really have a free will, because in the end, he is God’s robot who must become Christian. This is true love. We can even have self righteous feelings about including everyone (against their will) to help us forget how we got a little creative and manipulated the gospel to do it. We can be one with all of our brothers and sisters as we look down upon them in our heart; knowing that even though they may not be as spiritual as we are, one glorious day God will force them to come around.

    Disclaimer: This line of thinking does not portray a gospel of very much grace and doesn’t mean universalists are for one world religion. However, it may explain why there are a few who so badly want to advance these ideas.

  14. I understand what you are saying about love is a choice but I don’t agree people have total free will. I do believe God’s Perfect Plan has always been that in His timing all people will be taught the full knowledge of God’s truth and therefore come to a knowing in their soul realm that they are saved. I get so tired of hearing the same free will argument that some how in this fallen world all of mankind have the exact same ability to make a free will choice. God said that fallen man can’t even recognize his own need for a savior unless He opens their eyes of understanding himself. Where is the free will in that? Unless God gives man the ability to choose him no man is able to on their own. I believe God has given us a limited free will within the boundaries of our limited understand here on earth. In a simple way we are like ants inside an ant farm, in our minds we think we can move and dig where ever we want but obviously that’s not the case. Our choices are limited, we didn’t choose our gender, race, family we were born into, the year we were born ect…. Why don’t the “free willers” ever remember that God says His WILL is that all people come to the full knowledge of His truth. He also happens to mention that His WILL will be done on earth as it is in heaven. No one can stop God’s will even someone that is ignorant of His Love. God’s says He knows us better than we know ourselves, why would he leave our eternal destiny in our hands, he doesn’t. When people use the free will argument saying we would just be robots if we don’t have total free will is just silly, we can’t take a single breathe of oxygen with God’s help. You honestly don’t believe God in His perfect timing and omniscience will not be able to persuade every human who has lived to love the very One they were created for?

  15. The many in rmns 15 is Adam who affected the many is excluded , and also the many leaves out Christ , because in what Christ done at the cross also affected the many . In your doctrine does Christ affect the many , because the many do not get saved only a tiny percentage get saved in reformed theology worldwide , so christs work is really not done if its just a tiny percentage and not the many .

  16. Hi Paul, I have a question. Why do we have to assume that the reason that we have all fallen “Is Just Because of First Adam” ? I do understand the he initiated the process but when the Bible says “All Have Sinned” wouldn’t that mean that essentially each of us individually is responsible for our fall all over again, regardless of first Adam’s sin?

  17. Romans 9 affirms that God does make people the way He wants, hardening Pharoah’s heart is an example. Rm.11:32 gives us the reason why God makes some to dishonor and vessels of wrath (which is beyond our understanding), but it is so He can have mercy upon all. I do believe each person will have the opportunity to freely choose Christ or not, most do not have that opportunity in this life and there is nothing that says they will not have the opportunity after death. 1 Cr.15:22 is simply a prophetic statement telling us what is going to happen, the same “all” that are dead in Adam will be made alive in Christ.

  18. ps: i think what I see in your answer is, a lack of life , lack luster,no excitement,etc.kinda of like Eeyore in Winnie the pooh.everything is boring There’s one more kid
    that will never get go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool. I know Neil Young says it better………keep on rocking in HIS free world……Dance your way into heaven………Im going to stop now………

  19. So many people have visited Hell & Heaven and experienced its reality. Universalists & inclusionists use mental reasoning to misunderstand the truth instead of the spirit.
    2Cor5:17 IF any man is in Christ he is a new creation… (IF not because)
    John3:16 For God so Loved… Whoever Believes in Him… (yes its a choice)
    So many CHOICE scriptures…
    Thanks for the clear explanation!!

  20. There are at least five problems with the two-Adam argument.”
    Point One Jesus brings life abundant, we receive the Holy Spirit, and God lives IN us, not WITH us. This is ‘much more.’
    Point Two. If we were created to be one with God and the first Adam turned his back on God, I think it’s safe to say we also were created to be one with God and we also turned our backs on God, and we didn’t need any help from the first Adam to do that. (Original sin.) The last Adam undoes our choice, however you define the mystery of the cross.
    Point Five. Like a child walking into the street, we do have free will, the first and the last Adam both had free will. We all choose to follow God or not. We all choose to believe, have faith, lie, cheat, or steal, and none of those choices changes the Fathers love for us. And when the day comes and our souls find their way home, the Father will be there with a robe, and a ring and a fatted calf. And on that day there will be a party, and every knee will bow, not because we are robots, but because his great and abiding love will encompass us, and we will fall under its weight. No man will stand in the Father’s presence, but fall to their knees in love and adoration, not trembling with fear of punishment.

  21. Thanks so much for addressing universalism and inclusionism, Paul. To the gentleman who said he forced his will on his own son by rescuing him from a car, he has forgotten that his son is already his son. He did not rescue a stranger and then force that stranger to come home with him as a son. Paul the Apostle called some people “sons of disobedience.” Jesus told the Pharisees, “The devil is your father.” If God is so intent on forcing His Will on us, since the argument is that our will doesn’t matter, why doesn’t He care about forcing us to KNOW His will? If Jesus, without the consent of any man or woman, saved everyone and has given everyone life, what kind of life is it if people don’t know it? What value is there in it? Why would He only go halfway and do it without giving everyone the knowledge of it? Jesus said, in John 17, that eternal life is knowing the Only True God and Jesus Christ whom He sent. How can anyone have life but not know it? If you don’t have the Son, you don’t have life.

    • Makes sense to me! Rom. 8:9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if ANYONE does not have the Spirit of Christ, THEY DO NOT BELONG TO CHRIST. (OR ARE “IN CHRIST”)

  22. Man does a lot of awful things that are way outside of God’s will, yet He allows it to happen against His will. It’s as if God is so unwilling to dishonor the free will He has given to man, He allows us to violate His own will.

  23. Paul, I found this to be a fascinating article. Can you tell me what your thoughts would be on the depravity of man and the sovereignty of God and how they relate to salvation.

    Also, if we talk about choice and we humans making a decision, do you believe it is God who must first open the heart of the person to receive the gift of salvation?

    • Here’s my take:

      1) I believe that “Total Depravity” means that everyone is stuck in sin. Paul described how sin is a universal problem in Romans 1:18-3:20 to demonstrate our need for Jesus.

      2) I believe that God’s sovereignty means that he is king of the universe. It doesn’t mean that God causes every event to happen.

      3) I believe that God opens the heart of people to receive salvation. Romans 3 says that in base form (no outside help), we don’t seek God. HOWEVER, while describing Jesus’s death on a cross, Jesus said that after the resurrection, he would draw EVERYONE to himself [John 12:32]. This doesn’t mean everyone is saved, it means EVERYONE HAS A CHANCE to respond to God’s good news because God seeks everyone. It’s just that not everyone accepts God’s calling.

      • John W Reed // December 27, 2018 at 9:23 pm //

        I like your take on total depravity and atonement and sovereignty. Calvinism makes it seem men are so depraved they can’t choose to believe and receive the free gift of Grace.
        As for draw all men, yes the universalists and inclusionists take this passage to mean so form of universal salvation. I disagree. There is merit to what you say about drawing all mankind, that He died for all, Jew and Gentile.
        However, listening to a minister who preaches the Grace Gospel teach on this passage his thoughts on this make one think. In the KJV the word people is in italics, meaning it was placed there by liberty of the translators. In context Jesus mentions judgment. What the minister taught is Jesus was really saying when He is lifted up He will draw all judgment unto Himself. I love this view. Because Jesus did take all the wrath and punishment for sins. That’s why we can’t look at earthquakes and tsunamis and conclude God is judging that land for sins.
        I think this view also addresses the universal salvation arguments.

  24. To me one of the biggest reasons why I believe inclusionism is false has to do with the Holy Spirit. If everyone is born again already, but some are just sleep-walking in a sense, then what is the Holy Spirit doing on the inside of them? Is He just on vacation? Sleeping as well? That is assuming He is dwelling in them right? I still have not heard an adequate response to this quandary?

    • Perhaps He is gently whispering to their soul and their hurting places and is often dismissed or hardly heard because their minds and hearts are so set on their pain and how to fill those places with anything, anything but the person inside who satisfies all. How could people have a revelation of Him without Him being inside them in the first place?

    • Who defined inclusionisim as believing that the Spirit of God would be imparted to the dead.

  25. Great word Paul! what I have been seeing is that before someone becomes a Universalism or inclusionism it seems they go through a stage of discrediting the written word. After they put doubts in people about the written word ( which Jesus and the disciples never did) they then start to believe Universalism and inclusionism. But everyone who is reading this be encouraged that this grace revelation that is happening around the world is not producing Universalism and inclusionism. Universalism and inclusionism is trying to come into and ride this grace revolution wave to distort and pervert true grace.

    • Yes..I had a man I worked with go through that. The more he got into universalism the more parts of the Bible seemed to become less important. I think the last I heard he believed that the New Testament was more or less just a set of teachings or a commentary and not “scripture”. I hope he has changed!

    • you know the old saying [THE DEVIL NEVER SLEEPS],Like Paul said, we know him all to well.

    • U know at the heart of your argument it’s all nothing but self can a loving God who doesn’t violate Your free will allow you to be tormented forever against your free will especially if you chose to be there and now you cannot choose otherwise? :/

      • If you were life how would you get a dead man who believes he has life to choose you without killing him ? How would you show him the way ?

  26. If the will of God was always, from the beginning, to save everyone against their will, arriving one day at an eternal heavenly home for every living person, then why give Adam and Eve a choice at all? Why not create a Utopian world where no one ever fails, ever falls short, ever rebels, ever sins? Why go through thousands of years of meaningless theatrics only to arrive at the same place in the end? What’s the purpose of that? Eternal life is NOT simply immortality in heaven. Jesus said, in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” and John 3:36 declares, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” And 1 John 3 says this: “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him… We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” Eternal life, again, is not immortality, but is knowing God and His Son Jesus. Not everyone knows Him. Not everyone has eternal life. Not everyone is reconciled to God. That’s why Paul says God is making His plea through us, “Be reconciled to God!”

  27. PAUL! Dude. My world has flipped upside-down over the last half-year. . . I feel like I’ve been drinking from a fire hydrant…
    All I can say is THANK YOU. I thank God for your faith and pray for you man, I could cry I am so grateful for this. I have been eating up your articles and encouraging others to do so… So Paul. Thank you. Thank you. Seriously, thank you. You’ve touched my life by the very finger of God, and it’s touching a lot of others…

  28. I think Paul was being prophetic. Romans 5:18 says “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.”

    I think God prophesizes that all will come to him (“IAnd I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself John 12:32). Not that we don’t have a choice, but that all will eventually choose him. He showed us he’s willing to die for us. He has showed us through his spirit he’s willing to live for us! He does not lie and says he doesn’t show favoritism.

    The argument was good enough for Abraham Lincoln to be a universalist. If he hadn’t been, I’d hate to think of what would have happened with the slaves in america. Once you start cutting somebody out, it’s far too easy to go along with racism and hatred of those who don’t believe as you do.

    • You seem to have proved my point in the post about universalists and their love for Romans 5:18.

      I fail to see the connection between universalism and emancipation. Thomas Jefferson was a universalist and he owned slaves.

      • Thank you for your post Paul. I keep thinking about Romans 5:18 as well as the other “much more” verses nearby. Let’s try this. My thought would be that just as Adam’s sin affected all humanity through the procreation process Christ’s finished work at the Cross somehow by the spirit affected all people (whether alive or to be born). So all people were actually relieved of their sin nature by the work of the cross. So people born after the cross should not be labeled “sinners” just ignorant of what Jesus has done for them. So far so good. It still takes faith to appropriate the grace that Jesus provided for someone to enter into right relationship with God. This would not be universal salvation. Also, man’s free will is still respected. This would be consistent with other scriptures. This minimizes the “us vs them” mentality I see in many believers.

      • Sounds good to me John. Nobody likes labels but sometimes they are unavoidable. The problem with “sinner” is it’s old covenant – you are defined by your behavior or nature. A more New Testamenty label is “ungodly” – you are defined by what you lack. There’s a difference. The first label suggests you need to change your behavior, which won’t really change anything. The second behavior suggests you need God, who changes everything.

      • There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ about a radical .i believe the founding fathers and good old Abe had questions just as we do,they had some revelation,like we we see through a shaded glass,but one day we see complete. .I am stepping out here, but I honestly believe that those who have HONEST questions and are confused, ..between here and the time they stand before the Lord, the Lord will say to them,Hi im Jesus,welcome Im here to answer all your questions I dont think that in anyway comes close to a complete rejection of Jesus,.now a pray I have prayed all my christian life was Lord dont let me be deceived, and he has not, so if I am not correct on that he will correct me. .i remember a line from Jesus Christ superstar, which i was into at that time summed it up ………… Lord dont you get me wrong i only want to know,God LOVES honesty,he loves you ,he wants to help you.GO BOLDLY INTO THE THRONE ROOM………come to think of it Thomas Jefferson said to Quote…….. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of BLIND-FOLDED FEAR……………………..then step back and wait for the lightning haha.

      • I have always thought of “sinner” and “ungodly” in the opposite way. This could be the reason why I still had some stumbling blocks in my mind upon reading the epistles. You have cleared up, and have given me another great instrument in my toolbox to help my Sunday School class get deeper into the “wide open spaces of God’s amazing grace.” Thank you brother Paul.

  29. I was hoping to ask you for some personal advise on the interpretation of Romans 14…

  30. I’m not on the same page as the post. No one knows if there is the possibility for post mortem reconciliation.To say there is absolute proof that there are no post mortem opportunities is well … talking out of the anal canal, and also greatly underestimating who Jesus is. Just my opinion though.

    • I agree that nobody knows about post mortem reconciliation which is why I make no speculations about it. God can do whatever he likes. However, in the absence of knowledge, I must take the words of Jesus seriously. He surely knows and look at what he says about the need to believe and receive. It seems to me that most universalists haven’t read John 3 or don’t believe it.

      • Paul what sort of free speech forum is this? You pick and choose the comments you want .How can people discover truth when you pick and choose the comments . My comments to ljp were fair comments what was wrong with them. Your site is no better then a cult , picking and choosing what can be read . Sorry my opinion goes against your man made philosophy .
        Ecclesiastes 12:14
        “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

      • Draydon, you are correct in saying that I pick and choose which comments get published but I do so in accordance with the criteria expressed in E2R’s Comment Policy. This policy was designed with feedback from long-standing E2R readers who do not care for the sort of hyper-ventilating or sarcastic comments that are starting to appear on this thread.

        As I state in the policy, readers are welcome to disagree with me. I don’t have all the answers and I value freedom of speech. But having expressed your different viewpoint, don’t expect me to give you a platform to continue arguing and judging those who see things differently. That’s not a discussion. That’s a rant. Besides, you embarrass those who think the same way as you do.

        Just to be clear: different viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged. But once you’ve submitted your comment and made your point, move on. And if someone responds to your point, accept that as fair too. And then move on.

        On a side note, I am very grateful to folk like LJP who take the time to respond to critical comments and do so with courtesy and good humor. Readers like LJP encourage me to keep open threads that I might otherwise close.

      • now now drydon, no coups, everyone is welcome,no take overs please. we dont want to have to clean house. ps:for draydon first adam,last adam………….saw no comment post paul just covering my bases paul

  31. An important note:
    1. We are born by the first Adam ( Adam )
    2. We need to be born by the second Adam ( Christ ) – John 3

  32. If God will have all men to be saved, and if most men are lost, then how can God be supreme (I Timothy 2:3, 4)?

    If Christ is the Propitiation for the sins of the whole world, did He die in vain for the lost (I John 2:2)?

    If God is going to reconcile the universe through Christ, how can some be tormented forever (Colossians 1:20)?

    How can God, in Christ, gather all things together as one while billions remain eternally estranged (Ephesians 1:10)?

    If all die in Adam, and a few are made alive in Christ, how can grace much more abound than sin (Romans 5:20)?

    If all men are condemned by one man’s offense, why are not all men justified by one man’s obedience (Roman 5:18)?

    If all die in Adam, why shall not all be made alive in Christ (I Corinthians 15:22)?

    How can every knee bow confessing Christ Lord, to God’s glory, unless reconciled (Philippians 2:10, 11)?

    If Christ only hath immortality, how can any of the dead be alive now (I Timothy 6:14-16; I Corinthians 15:53, 54)?

    Since the lake of fire is the second death, what happens to the wicked when death is destroyed (I Corinthians 15:26

    If God is love and has all power, will He not find away to save all, or will His love ultimately fail (I Timothy 4:9-11)?

    Will God ever actually become “All in all” (I Corinthians 15:28)?

    • Jesus is supreme, Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the world, Jesus did not die in vain, the grace of Jesus abounds much more than sin, Jesus is love, Jesus has all power, Jesus does not fail, Jesus is All in all, and Jesus does not have to be an inclusionist or a universalist to prove it. 🙂

      • That was inventive , thanks ljp
        I will make it easy just answer this one
        How can EVERY knee bow confessing Christ Lord, to God’s glory, unless reconciled (Philippians 2:10, 11)?

      • I hope you got a laugh out of that, I thought it was a bit funny (and true). 🙂

        Regarding your question, I think the main issue is that we must accept God’s gift to be able to enjoy it. Adam had a choice to obey or disobey God. We have a choice to accept or reject Jesus. Man’s free will to choose has not changed. We gain much more by choosing Jesus than Adam lost by  choosing to disobey. There are many scriptures that say “by faith” or “believe” which establish this as man’s small part to play in receiving everything Jesus accomplished. I won’t try to impress you by quoting a bunch of them because I’m sure you are well aware. All humans have beliefs. What we believe determines who we are, so I don’t see that as being a work. I see God wanting a deep relationship with us and that’s not possible unless we want it. How or why will every knee bow? I don’t believe my answer to that question is all that important. I believe that’s secondary to the relationship God so desires to have with us. By now you’re probably convinced I’m not going to give you a direct answer. If I had to answer I would say by the time we get to that point, choosing time is over. Whatever happens to those who rejected Jesus, before it happens, God is going make them give the King the honor the King deserves.


      • So God gives us freedom to choose in this life but the life to come we forces us to bended knee? Don’t sound right to.

      • Faith and belief is a Gift from God and it’s not out if you at all Eph 2/8.9
        You cannot muster up your own faith to believe .
        But every man has not this gift yet ,but in due time Everyone will get this gift
        Tim 1/2,6
        Now after reading these verses , go back and read phill 2/10,11
        It will make sense to you.
        Your will will not trump Gods will ,if he wants you he will get you, most christians believe there will is the reason they believe Wrong , this is where no credit is given to God and all credit to the believer for there belief , worshiping themselves for belief (the creature )not the creator.

      • Terry, were you eavesdropping? haha…Just kidding 😉 

        There comes a point when all of the choices are made and it’s time to continue. God has awesome things in store for those who want Him. At some point He has to respect the decision of the minority who do not want Him, so we can get to the fullness of what He has in store for those who do. I think it would be perfectly acceptable for God to expect those who do not want His love, to still give honor to the King who gave everything for them.

      • God is love. Love is a relationship. God created us to have a relationship with us. He sent His Son to die on a cross to have a deep Father and son/daughter relationship with us. Putting someone into a cage and feeding them once in a while is a pet. You could say that’s a relationship too, but that’s not the kind of relationship that God desires to have with us. If we take away man’s free will to choose, we’re just left with man as God’s pet. If that’s all God wanted, He could have finished creation with the animals. I am very much in favor of giving Jesus all of the credit. I believe that is the basis of grace, but faith is giving God consent. We’re not saved from faith, but through faith. We’re saved through accepting God’s gift. If my wife bakes cookies for a family this Christmas they might graciously accept and maybe send a thank you note after tasting how good they are. If they don’t like cookies, they might throw them away and complain that we’re trying to poison them with sugar. If my wife bakes cookies for that same family this Christmas and I cram them down their throat, they will probably not see that as a gift and we would probably not get a thank you note. God confines Himself to that line of man’s consent, because without it, there is no real relationship.

  33. I guess i see two things, I see an acceptance and acknowledgement of God and Jesus and we connect that to salvation. Those who don’t die in their sins. But if Jesus died and ALL are saved than those who reject Christ are still saved, but not receive the HS nor would they enjoy the relationship. So we are creating a false separation between saved and unsaved. All are saved but only those who choose the relationship get the relationship.
    For example if Cornelius died before Peter shows up Acts 10, Is Cornelious still saved, or did he die in his sins?

    • Hi Terry,

      I was hoping to show with the parable of the cookies 😉 that a gift looses its’ identity as a gift, without the element of consent on the receiving end. I think your position would be that the gift in Eph 2:8 is faith. In that scenario, I don’t see how consent comes into play. As a result, I don’t see how that would be a gift. My view is that the gift is salvation or actually Jesus, Himself, as per Jn 3:16. And faith is the consent or the accepting of the gift. Thanks

      • The gift has no value if I don’t receive it, or want it, the cookies are simply left to dry up and be tossed. However for the giver the cookies still have value and mean something.
        Another thing is the importance of the relationship. The closer we are to God, the more open we are to a relationship, the more inviting is the box of cookies. I may need time to accept it but the relationship makes the difference.
        Modern day evangelism says, I have a box of cookies, and you need these cookies, so I am going to shove them into your face, and try to get you to eat them for your own good because we love you. While God says; I got a box of cookies and when you are ready to eat they are yours for the eating. God wouldn’t shove them in your face, but he wouldn’t keep them a secret.

        But again I am still confused because we have in the modern gospel salvation and then surrender, both require me to do something, but in my thinking the two things are salvation, and surrender, and only surrender requires me to do anything.

        Think if it this way…

        I did nothing to receive condemnation, yet to be saved I have to conform my belief system to that of God. Yet grace is a free gift, unmerited favor, you can’t earn it, its freely given to you who do not deserve it, yet nothing is really free because I have to conform my belief to that of God to receive an unmerited favor.

        But if Jesus died for all, then that is unmerited favor, I did nothing to be condemned and I did nothing to be saved. Its not two wrongs to make a right its Jesus fixing for us what we cannot fix ourselves…

        Any way LJP, I would like to continue this conversation, off the blog as this guy is thinking about closing it down. I need a level headed, open minded, intelligent person to hash through these scriptures with, not to try and convince you I’m right because I don’t know if I am right, but I want to learn – and having somebody who thinks differently and will challenge my thinking will be a good thing. If you are up for the task, my email is Feel free to friend me on facebook as well.

        Thanks for the dialog, I’m enjoying it.

      • That was a great response, Terry. I especially appreciate the friendly nature of your explanations. The intelligent guy you describe sounds like a well educated Paul of Tarsus. I’m more of a post pentecostal Peter who relies heavily on Jesus to navigate the scriptures on these things. Since I believe He’s already answered most of my questions in this area, I would probably disappoint you most on the open minded one. I have wondered though, how we can determine if we’re on the right track. I’ve noticed if my beliefs are out of my own thinking, I’m more defensive about them. If my beliefs came from Jesus, I don’t have to be defensive. When we are in line with Jesus, there is more of a rest about it. We have to determine on the inside if we have that rest. May Jesus be our wisdom.


      • Open minded means you’re open to allowing other people to interpret scriptures even if it means they see things differently than you. Most people are unable to be confident in what they believe in the face of another person who believes different. They feel like its their job to correct the other person, instead of just either loving them in their error, or actually being man enough to allow others to see things differently, and allow true freedom in the body of Christ. You strike me as a man who is able to trust in Jesus, not only for yourself, but for others.

        I don’t know that I agree with Universal Salvation, or Ultimate Reconciliation but I don’t know that I disagree with it either, I need to walk the path and see where it leads. I need to test the Spirit waters so to speak. Read through some scriptures, and allow the Spirit to confirm or deny what I read. Just thought it would be easier to do with somebody who disagrees than to do it with somebody who agrees.

        My email address is there, if you are open to the opportunity. I think it would be fun, but then again I always have had a strange idea of fun. We could spend some time just getting to know one another first, or we could just jump into it, or I guess you could just pass. But know this, I wouldn’t let you pass on answering questions I pose, any more than I would pass on answering questions you ask me.

        As for knowing if we are on the right track, I would say if we are with Jesus, if we have the Holy Spirit, if we are walking with brothers in the Lord, we are on the right track. I think we are a lot more interested in ‘correct’ theology and ‘right’ doctrine than Jesus ever will be. I think he was more interested in just loving people. We seem to be the ones who want greater understanding, and seem to think we will get it through scripture, rather than experience. Although I guess I shouldn’t try to speak for you.

        Anyway, offer is still open.

  34. Michael Jenkins // November 23, 2013 at 6:51 am // Reply

    I struggled with this for a couple of months. I use to believe that all were made alive, regardless of their unbelief. It was not until I started reading scriptures about receiving the abundance of Grace. If all were saved, the why do we preach the gospel? Why do we want people to receive Jesus? The Bible says that He that does not have the son does not have life. If all were saved, then Paul and Jesus has a lot of explaining to do. Jesus does not need to knock on anyone door to dine. He basically forces Himself on someone without their will. Since Jesus is a gentlemen, that is not going to happen. He desires us to get saved.

    I am still struggling in some areas.I do believe that all of humanity has been redeemed, reconciled(on God behalf) but not all will believe. Jesus says if you do not believe I am, you will die in your sins. He also says that he convicts unbelievers of their unbelief. Unbelief will rob you of knowing the freedom that you have in Christ.

    However I do have a question that I trust you can answer. Do we tell unbelievers that they have been forgiven praying that they will come to Christ or do we elaborate on the grace of God cause that only saves?

  35. I,m not sure what prompted me to Google ‘last Adam’, but I am glad I did and that I found this article. You have articulated, very well, something I *knew* but could not have explained. I think a couple of points could be added and those are the role of Satan in the fall and that first Adam did not have a redeemer. Free will makes more sense if we understand Satan’s continued influence in this world and the alternative choices he offers. Through the act of redemption and the gift of the Holy Spirit the last Adam has left us with clear choice and guidance. Taken together with the parable of the seed, we can understand how some do not have ears to hear or eyes to see.

  36. Paul love your passion for the gospel & for the record I am not an inclusionist but I find many that are attacking inclusionism are also attacking truths contained in the gospel. Paul, how can you quote Romans 5:19 to refute the all in Romans 5:18 with reference to Jesus & not apply the same reasoning to Adam? Romans 5:19 also says MANY were made sinners because of Adam. If you say the MANY in verse 19 refutes the ALL in verse 18 in reference to Jesus then are you saying also that All were not made sinners in Adam. I find Romans 5:18-19 is in direct reference to the point you made that no one will be condemned by Adam’s transgression. And that all mankind was restored to the place of innocence Adam was in before the fall where they are free to choose life or death.

    • There are several ways to read Paul’s words but I find it significant that Paul does not use ALL consistently. It’s almost as if he is anticipating the inclusionist argument and is taking steps to avoid it. Those who know me know that I do not believe in the “sin gene.” I do not believe babies are born hell-bound, fist-waving rebels, so I have no problem with Paul’s words in either verses 18 or 19. They make perfect sense to me.

    • Even Adam still had a choice to make in his innocence , if not there would have been no need to put the tree of life in the garden.I believe it was not only a choice to stay away from the wrong tree but to choose the right tree .

    • The term “all” in Rom 5:18 is “pas” meaning: all, the whole, every kind of. The term “many” in Rom 5:19 is “polus” meaning: much, many. It seems to me that the two verses, although related, should be considered each in their own context.

      Rom 5:18 uses “pas” (all) twice and Rom 5:19 uses “polus” (many) twice. To me that shows that the intention of the writer is to compare the two “pas” and the two “polus” separately, within their own context. I’m inclined to agree that the “many” in v19 still means “all” because the “all” used in Rom 3:23 (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) is “pas”.
      So, for Rom 5:19 to agree with Rom 3:23, I believe it should be construed that ‘ALL (pas) were made sinners through Adam and ALL (pas) were made righteous through the One’…
      Any thoughts?

      • All means all, except when it doesn’t. The context determines the scope of the word. For instance, in Romans 4:16 Paul says Abraham is “the father of us all (pas)”. Does Paul mean Abraham is the father of the human race? No, he is “the father of all who believe” (Rom 4:11).

        Another example: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all (pas) will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). Is Paul saying every person will be saved? No, he’s saying all in Christ’s family will be made alive. “But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him” (v.23).

        For Paul to preach universal salvation in Romans 5, would be to contradict what he said in Romans 4 (and every other epistle).

  37. Paul, want to hear your heart about this point. If all did not share in the death Jesus died at the cross how was our marriage to the law ended. If all did not share in the death Jesus died at the cross how could our marriage to the flesh in Adam end & we be free to be married to Christ. What is your take on Romans 7 where it says we died unto the law or the flesh so we could be married to another. If all did not share in the death Jesus died at the cross how could they be free to be married to another? I believe we must believe to be saved & born again, but I believe some of the attacks are wrongly labeling ministers of the gospel as inclusionists or universalists. I agree with your end belief about these things but don’t see how they are possible without all sharing in the death & the All in Romans 5:18-19. Please share?

    • Romans 7 is a metaphor, not an admissions test. You don’t have to be Jewish before you can be saved. Paul makes it plain in verse 1 that he is speaking to his brothers, “men who know the law.” If he was speaking to “men who do not know the law” and were never under it, he would probably use a different metaphor.

      • Paul so then you don’t believe we were married to the flesh/law system because of Adam’s sin? And are you saying it was only a metaphor when Paul spoke of us being married to Christ?

      • Yes, marriage is an earthly picture of a divine mystery. We are more than married to Christ. We are in connate and indivisible union, like a vine and branches.

  38. My point is the only way you can use Romans 5:19 to refute the all in Romans 5:18 is if you also apply the same logic to what he says about Adam. Based on your interpretation of Romans 5:19 we would have to also say that only some were made sinners because of Adam’s transgression? You can’t apply the logic to 1 part of verse 19 without also applying to the whole of verse 19. If the many in verse 19 refutes the all in reference to Jesus as you say, then how does it not also refute the all in reference to Adam? Doesn’t make sense?

    • Yes, that’s what I said. But I know not everyone will agree with me.

    • just my two-cents greg, but i’m gonna quote something from paul’s new book that made a lot of things click together about this topic for me… “Forgiveness gets you out but it doesn’t take you in.” (GITQ, chap 15). all have been forgiven – but not all have been made righteous. He became sin who knew no sin, that we MIGHT BECOME His righteousness – all men were forgiven so that all men COULD BE made righteous by faith.
      i think YLT helps to clarify these verses: “So, then, as through one offence to all men [it is] to condemnation, so also through one declaration of ‘Righteous’ [it is] to all men to justification of life; for as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners: so also through the obedience of the one, shall the many be constituted righteous.”

  39. If you don’t mind me stepping in (even though I was not asked the question), it seems to me that verses 18 & 19 are built upon the foundation of verse 17, for verse 18 begins with, “Therefore…” and 19 with, “For”. The reason this is important is because Paul emphasizes more than once earlier in the chapter that these two examples do not perfectly line up “But the free gift is NOT like the offense…”.

    In verse 17 Paul states the qualifier for verse 18 & 19 when he says, “much more THOSE WHO RECEIVE” abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” This identifies the intended audience who are included in the statement “resulting in justification of life…” as those who receive the abundance of grace that is offered to everyone.

  40. Paul, we cannot be free to choose Christ unless our union to the flesh was 1st severed. This is what Paul is talking about in Romans 7. I am not trying to convince you to believe like me. I only wish you were more specific in your explanation because many preachers like me who preach incessantly about the need for belief are now being ostracized & labeled inclusionists. A person can believe that all died with Christ without believing they are all saved. A person can believe that Christ is the testimony of what God believes about all without believing that means all are saved. A person can believe both those things & still believe we must be born again by believing on Jesus. God has to 1st believe something about all. And then when I believe it my life can be born from the truth, that is what it means to be born again from an incorruptible seed. God has established a testimony about the entire human race in Christ & that testimony is incorruptible. Now when I believe on the word of truth God has declared about me in Christ my life is born from an incorruptible seed, or a testimony that can never be corrupted again by the accusation of satan. This is how God saves us from death & the fruit of death. Blessings to you & the ministry you have been given by God to share the gospel of grace!

    • I am not familiar with this phrase, “union to the flesh,” so my apologies if we are talking past each other. The point of the post is this: Inclusionists typically claim that just as the human race was in Adam when he fell, the human race was in Jesus when he went to the cross. As I explain above, I have a different view.

      I am well aware that many inclusionists are not universalists and that people in both groups insist on the need to believe in Jesus.

  41. I would like to first have views on what the offense was that we are talking about, We are told that Adam was not decieved, for this reason he is to lead. We can also say that because of what he done there was the continuation of the human race and this continuation eventually birthed the seed of the woman.If he was not decieved then I would think that he had the presence of mind to decide between two options ,to leave the woman in her dilemma ,or to join her.So now we need to ask what was his sin.

  42. High and deliberate treason. As Romans says it was a transgression – which by definition is a willful violation against a known law.

    • Great if it has to be deliberate can we then say Eve did not sin, then the question, why should the man lead.It may be that the mans only sin was his effort to save his wife and himself they were one.This is no easy answer but I believe the only transgression is that they tried to save themselves and nothing has changed man is still in the same mindset.Jesus breaks this mindset.Maybe the real transgression was not accepting the free gift.The tree of life.
      Romans also says Adam was a figure of him to come.

  43. By Jesus,s ministry Adam and Eve could be acquitted of our traditional view of what their sin was, by his exposition of the law.

  44. Chris, good question but the answer is no. Transgression is a ‘type’ of sin not a synonym for all sin. The account in scripture is pretty clear. Eve’s sin was not just taking the fruit but not believing in the goodness of God. She allowed satan to dilute and therefore delude the truth in her heart by making it all about her and he did this by posing questions about God’s good heart. “God really knows that if you eat YOU WILL BE”. Adam’s sin required no masking of the truth but sinned – eye’s wide open, but both were sin and both were treason, only for different reasons. As for man leading, this was a decision God made before the fall. She was designated HIS helper, not his leader. This was not a lowly place for the same word is used of the Holy Spirit who is our helper. Everyone has a role to play and it all represents God in some fashion. God delegates authority to whomever He will and rarely (from an earthly vantage point – especially if viewed through selfish eyes) does it appear “fair” by our definition. These facts are illustrated clearly in 1Cor. 11. She was created to be the glory of man, but man was created to be the glory of God. This was and is God’s original and unchanging intent and was in no way effected by the fall. All the fall did was create enmity between God and man and therefore enmity between any designated roles He established, and it has not changed even to today. But this is a diversion from the real topic, I’m only addressing it because you mention it and if left untouched, it leads to all sort of misconceptions.

  45. Chris, you also said, “This is no easy answer but I believe the only transgression is that they tried to save themselves and nothing has changed man is still in the same mindset.Jesus breaks this mindset.Maybe the real transgression was not accepting the free gift.The tree of life.
    Romans also says Adam was a figure of him to come.”

    You are right of course that Jesus came (in part) to break that mindset and that they were trying to save themselves, but only from a suggested reality where God could not be trusted which is what satan planted in their minds to ponder. But the real sin (for Eve) and the transgression for Adam was just as it stated. Adam did willingly and deliberately what he was told not to do, Eve was deluded into the same – both did not trust God as good.

    • Agreed Greg but what was the mechanisim that effected this knowledge of good and evil.And how is it passed on to the next generation.To be like God may not be wrong if achieved by the correct mechanisim.This is not an easy subject and we have only been scratching the surface.And it has everything to do with the first and last Adam.

  46. Paul in your effort to come against the inclusionist/universalist doctrine you are attacking one of the most powerful truths contained in the gospel…

  47. Paul,
    I enjoyed the article. I didn’t see it directly address this issue so I wanted to ask:

    I am in agreement on the salvation part but I am just clarifying your position on “which” sins were punished at the cross? Do you believe all sin(s) were punished in the body of Jesus?


    • Hebrews 9:26 says sin was done away with at the cross. I believe that. John the Baptist said Jesus is the Lamb who carried the sins of the world. I believe that too!

      • miro1234 // March 7, 2014 at 1:08 am //

        Some say God had to give us choice or else we are robots? Some also ask God to guide them and trust him fully? Now if God is guiding you are you a robot? What does ones choice have in the matter? Do we really think we can make better choices than God? Are we so much older and wiser?

        If you want to talk about having a choice why didn’t I get a choice to live a life without satan, then I could guarantee a life with God forever? Why was there a tree of life and why let satan loose on mankind? To let us see good and evil and experience life without him so to speak and find out for ourselves. God loves us so much and wants to be with us but doesn’t want to force/impose his love on us.

        Parents have to make choices for their children so why can’t God make choices for his, especially when he made us, we belong to him and he knows better? Don’t you trust him? At what age does it say in the bible one becomes old enough to make the choice to live with or without God? It doesn’t!

        No matter how many times children tell their parents they hate you, you will always love them and never let them go no matter what. Why doesn’t God have that right with his children? He not only has the right, he has the power! Try and stop him!

        He loves us more than our parents ever could!

      • Universalists often compare us to children because then they can use the example of a parent who overrides a child’s will. (Parents also preach a lot of law but you rarely hear about that!) However, we are not called to be children but mature sons of God. We are called to be free in Christ and free indeed.

  48. I’m not so sure about that brother?

    God often asks us to become childlike. Matthew 18 1-14. Never heard him say we need to be mature sons to enter heaven?

    Are you inferring that because I trust God fully to make decisions for me that I am not free? Mathew 6,8 God knows what I need (not what I want) before I even ask. The truth (Jesus) is what sets you free, not any choice or decision I make. Sure you have free will and choice on earth but the most important choice is one none of us have to make, it’s been made for us.

    Obviously Jesus appreciates when people acknowledge his works and love him but I think God goes by the notion it is better to give than receive.

    God’s the kind of person in that the more you hate him the more he loves you! He will go to every length (parable of the lost sheep etc) to win you back.

    Luke 6,27, love you enemies and do good to them that hate you and don’t expect nothing in return, (so hard for me personally to do) , give and don’t expect back. Why wouldn’t the teacher do the same here or in heaven?

    Your notion of a free gift puts a demand on it? You must accept or suffer.

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Did Christ die in vain? If, like you say we reject him he did?

    God said his love for us is everlasting. Everlasting doesn’t end when I say it does.

    • When Jesus said we enter the kingdom like a child, he did not mean, “You will be dragged in against your will like a naughty child who doesn’t know what’s best.” Jesus does indeed love his enemies – he died forgiving them (and us) in their sins (Rom 5:6). I don’t believe God loves us more if we hate him. His love is constant and unchanging and utterly indiscriminate.

      If it were true that God drags us in against our will, then he is utterly cruel for giving us the illusion of freedom and making us suffer the consequences of sin. Happily, he is not like this at all!

      Dismissing choice as a work or a price you must pay insults the cross and the price Jesus paid for you to be free. Unbelief is a work but faith is a rest.

      • miro1234 // March 12, 2014 at 2:35 am //

        Your 1st point about the 5 problems is not valid for the simple fact that Jesus gave grace for free without the law. So his work is much greater! Nobody survived under the law so the gift is much greater. Death versus life.

        By your reasoning its man’s choice which makes it greater?

        Your 2nd point is invalid also.

        You could have saved yourself with your free will by following the law 100% perfectly! Adam didn’t violate you at all.

        Same as your 3rd point, all v many is just a phrase used and if you read all or Romans 5 in context you will see that it says sin made many sinners and other places they use all. Yet we know everyone was made a sinner. Even in the verse you quote, 19?

        Even your 4th point is mute for the simple fact that Hindu’s, Muslims or people who don’t really follow any religion so to speak don’t really get the chance to talk about Jesus much. You have it the wrong way around; it is grace that gives faith. How did Paul get grace when he had no faith?

        On the 5th point, for a start I find the risk part a bit strange because you write this about free will elsewhere, quote,

        “Your freedom is a big deal to God. By giving Adam the freedom to choose, God took a risk he knew would ultimately cost him his life. He did it to show us that he’d rather die than live without us. There is no greater love.” Unquote.

        God doesn’t change his mind! God doesn’t take risks and has a plan. He doesn’t make things up as he goes along and never makes mistakes. Everyone has free will but his love is irresistible when it comes to your salvation. What made Paul the hater/killer change in an instant if it wasn’t by grace and Gods will? Certainly wasn’t his faith as he had none before Damascus and he certainly didn’t believe!

        When you think it’s you who saves yourself then you take credit for your choice, you inevitably say to yourself I made the right choice, (I was right) when really only God is righteous? When without grace you would be dead in your sin. So where does your free will get you without grace, death!

      • Self-salvation is as alien to me as universalism. We are saved by trusting in God alone.

  49. If by your reasoning man can reject and not believe then it is self-salvation or at the very least co-salvation?

    If you believe that God can be resisted by man, then you have a man who is equal to or better than God. This also states that God doesn’t have full control over his creation? He would not be sovereign and he would be, therefore, no longer God.

    If you have the power to reject grace then what power does grace have? None! This makes man’s power equal to grace. Can it therefore still be called grace?

    Irresistible grace is such a blessing because it says that God will overcome anything that man rejects to reconcile that person to God. If salvation depended on my approval to anything before God moved, then I would be lost.

    If you could explain how Paul on the road to Damascus was saved or what made him believe? If by your reasoning it was his faith, he had none so it couldn’t have been that. His free will to choose, it wasn’t that because no one survived under the law. His belief, he was a hater and killer so he had none. So what was it?

    • Do you find it difficult to reconcile these two claims: (1) God is God, (2) God does not have control over everything that happens? Because this is what the Bible teaches (1 John 5:19 comes to mind). Can man reject God and choose his own path? Of course he can. How do you think we ended up in this mess? If God was going to coerce mankind against his will, he would not be a God of love and he died for nothing. He could’ve just clicked his fingers and taken us all straight to the universalist’s version of the happy ending. I’ll explain Paul if you explain Judas.

    • A person does not need to reject anything , they only need stay as they are and are dead. You see it is not really a choice and it is also not a given. It is about accepting life as you probably have done.

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