“In human affairs a representative is not a substitute. Whereas a substitute takes our place, a representative acts on our behalf, and so makes us present where we cannot personally be. But Christ is both. He always has represented and always shall represent his people before the face of God, the throne of grace and the judgment seat. He stands for us, and we are present in him. This means we are chosen in him, accepted in him, righteous in him, glorious in him. Whatever he is before God, he is for us. And so we are complete in him.”
John M. Brentnall
Read Romans 5
- Verses 1-5: Paul here is building upon the foundation of faith in Christ declaring us righteous (see the first verse). Paul goes on to describe what the practical results of true faith in Christ are as thus: rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God according to the riches of his unending grace. This steadfast hope is the outflow of true faith, and it will not, indeed, it cannot, disappoint us. Why is this hope unable to disappoint? Because it founded in God’s unending love and belief that he is working in every situation “for the good of those who love him, who were called according to his purpose.” Whether prosperity or affliction, God is steady, and this is why we hope. This hope produces a steadfastness in us through Christ, thus creating character.
- Verses 6-11: It is important to note here that Paul calls us “helpless” before Christ. We were not simply wandering and in need of a push in the right direction. On the other hand, however, we were wholly unable to put our affection towards Christ rightly. We were enemies of God. In step with our sinful nature, we hated God. All the while, Jesus humbled himself to die, despite our willful rebellion! What wondrous love is this? It would be noble for Christ to die for those who are “just” or people who display good works, but that is not what he came for. He came for us, the worst of sinners, so that we may also “rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.” “Since we are helpless in sin, salvation must be a free gift.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon
- Verses 12-21: Here, Paul calls us to view Christ as the “New Adam.” Adam’s representation of humanity in Genesis doomed us into condemnation. On the other hand, the representational work of Christ propels us into the grace of God according to the work of Christ. By the one sin of Adam, death reigns. By the work of regeneration, faith, and justification, Christ has reverted this curse for all who declare his name. The Torah brought to bear our wickedness before God, and this led to the multiplication of sins. With Christ, this multiplication will always be surmounted by a super-abounding of grace. Christ represents us to the Father so that we may be clothed in Christ’s righteousness. “We were ruined by the sin of Adam, but we are saved by a free gift.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon
- How should acting in faith practically look like? In times of prosperity? In times of affliction? In the day-to-day?
- If we are truly helpless, then how can we be saved?
- How does this view of Christ as the New Adam affect your view of the Bible? What are the implications of viewing Christ as a representative?
- O God, your love is so great and unending that, “while we were still helpless,” you willingly laid down your life so that you may reconcile us to you. You give us the power to declare your name and live in hope for the age to come. You acted in response to the curse of Adam by sending your son to reverse the curse. Thank you, Lord, for actively redeeming and reconciling us to you through the New Adam, Jesus Christ. Help us to realize the scope of your love. You did not wait until we moved towards you, for we were helpless. Rather, you extended your love in a conquering and sufficient manner so that we may come to you in grace. Finally, with Christ as our representative, the Father will never deny us from his presence. Whether I am eating or drinking, whatever it is that I am doing in life, help me to remember your love and help to me actively live in light of the reversed curse. Amen.