How Can the Death of Christ Save Billions of Sinners?

Many people wonder, “How can the death of one person, Jesus Christ, save billions of people from their sins?” Before we answer this question scripturally, let us first examine how the human race came to be in an inherently sinful condition. There is a principle illustrated in the book of Hebrews that helps us in this regard. Hebrews 7:4, 9 and 10 read: “See how great [Melchizedek] is! Abraham the patriarch gave him a tithe of the spoils [of war]. / One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.”

The principle illustrated above is that a person yet unborn can be said to have done something through the actions of an ancestor. Therefore, when Adam sinned by disobeying God’s command, in principle the whole human race, as yet unborn in his loins, sinned along with him and was condemned to death. Thus the apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned / ...by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners...” - Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:6, 17-19; Romans 5:12, 19

God had created Adam sinless; but with his disobedience he became a sinner. Therefore, the sinless Adam of God’s creation no longer lived, but was, in effect, murdered by a disobedient Adam. The Law which God gave Israel reflected various divine principles. Among these, one which is relevant to our discussion is that a murderer must be put to death, “soul for soul” or life for life. (Exodus 21:12, 23, 24) The sinful Adam eventually died for his sin; but the life of a sinful man could not be restitution for the sinless life lost. The principle of ‘life for life’ needed to be satisfied, yet there was no one to pay the price. - Psalm 49:7-10

Through divine intervention another sinless human life came into the world as a descendant of Adam. But how did his death relieve mankind of their death sentence with no hope of resurrection? To illustrate, let’s draw an analogy:

Suppose that your father borrowed one billion dollars. After having borrowed the money he suffered financial reverses wiping him out. With no money of his own and the billion dollars gone, he is hopelessly in debt. Then he dies, and you, his child, inherit his indebtedness. A wealthy and compassionate man hears of your plight and pays off your debt. As far as the lending institution is concerned you are paid off, no longer in debt. But in reality, you are indebted to your benefactor.

Likewise, our forefather, the disobedient Adam, became indebted to divine principles, owing a sinless human life. We, his offspring, inherited that debt. [1] Yet not one, not even all of us combined, can repay it. (Romans 3:23) Through a miraculous conception Jesus was born into the world of mankind as a sinless human descendant of Adam (Hebrews 2:14, 17; 4:15), thereby inheriting that debt, which he alone was able to repay. Jesus explained it this way, “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” By his paying, we became free of that indebtedness before the Universal Judge. - Matthew 20:28; John 3:17, 18

Jesus lived his entire life without committing even one sin. Though he never married or had children, he was, theoretically, capable of fathering a whole human race of sinless people, just as Adam fathered a whole human race of sinful people. Thus Paul could call Jesus “the last Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:45. Now applying the principle found in Hebrews 7:9, 10 that we discussed above, when Jesus died on the cross, one might even say that the potential human race of sinless people still in his loins was crucified with him! This is why Paul could write, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” - 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22

Hidden in Christ we become dead to the law, but alive toward God through him, and indebted to him. (Colossians 3:3; Galatians 2:19-21) Therefore, Jesus has the right to set standards for us, to forgive our errors when we fall short of his standards, but to require from any one of us repayment if we fail to acknowledge his authority in our lives. Yes, a day is coming when there will be a meting out of “vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the good news of our Lord Jesus,” a day when they “shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” Will you survive that day? - 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9


[1] What about the sinless human life Eve lost; did mankind inherit that debt? First Timothy 2:14 says, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being thoroughly deceived fell into transgression.” Though she died for her own sins, the one deceiving her was ultimately responsible and owes that debt of a sinless human life.

 

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This article is the Appendix of the booklet The Only True God - A Scriptural Study On The Trinity (Jay Dicken). Posted on Berean Minds with author's permission.