(It was suggested to me that I write a, sort of, snapshot of salvation history as a chance to catechize those who’ve never heard it, and refresh the story in the mind of those who have. We’ll start with Adam, and move through the key players in salvation history.)
The Story of Salvation; Adam (part 1)
“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” (Romans 5:12)
The story of Creation
Everyone knows the story of creation, if you’ve never read it, its in the first 2 chapters of Genisis.
Here’s the bullet point sketch of the first 2 chapters of Genisis:
- God created the world, and everything in it.
As St. John tells us “God is love” (1 John 4:8), because of this love, He created the world because love wants to love and be loved in return.
- God created one man named Adam.
That name means man or mankind in Hebrew, this foreshadows the fact that all mankind is implicated in the sin of Adam.
- God created a wife for Adam, and named her Eve.
Because man is made in the image of God, who is a family in the form of the Holy Trinity, it is only natural that man himself is better suited to living in a family. So God gives Adam a wife.
Beginning in chapter 3, we see the fall of Adam and Eve, and with them all mankind:
“But the serpent said to the woman, ” You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.” (Genisis 3:4-6)
This act against the will of God, is called the Fall of Mankind. It was the first time that man asserted his own will over that of the Creator, and so with every sin since then we say “my will, not your will be done” to God.
There is so much of theological significance in those couple of verses, but I just want to focus on the effect of this act. That is original sin.
Here’s what the catechism has to say about it:
- 397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.
- 398 In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully “divinized” by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to “be like God”, but “without God, before God, and not in accordance with God”.
- 399 Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness.They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image – that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.
All this is to say that what Adam done, set into motion a chain of events that would damn all of mankind. Because of the effects of original sin, we have inherited a fallen nature, and with it concupiscence. But this same act of original sin also set into motion a plan of salvation, it was this “happy fault” that brought us a Redeemer; “O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer.” (From the Easter Exultet)
The doctrine of original sin is what requires a redeemer, redemption, a savior, and salvation.
We were made for immortality
We were created in the image and likeness of God (Genisis 1:27), that is immortal. When Adam rebelled -and it was a rebellion against God’s will- he brought sin into this world, and as St. Paul tells us; “the wages of sin is death”
That we are paid for our sin with death is fitting, because original sin killed the divine life in our souls. The spiritual death that man experienced at the Fall is manifested in the physical death that all men will experience.
But, thank God, the story doesn’t end there. In the same verse that St. Paul delivers the bad news about what our sin has earned us, he tells us what gift God has arranged for us;
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
St. Paul sums it up, how sin came into the world by Adam’s disobedience and thus closed the door for our eternal life, but Jesus resets the clock;
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 -sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:12-19)
The new Adam
This is the reason that Jesus came into the world. This is the ultimate reason for the Incarnation, that God’s plan for us to live with Him forever could be restored. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, we are brought back into the covenantal relationship that God had with Adam in the garden.
Just as Adam was disobedient, so Christ was obedient. By Adam we were all condemned, but in Christ we are justified. By Adam we received death as an inheritance, but in Christ we inherit eternal life, the eternal life that was the original intent of God.
St. Paul explained it like this;
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 5:21-22)
Imitate the New Adam, not the original
St. Paul lays out the major differences between Christ and Adam (besides the obvious fact that one is a man and the other is God-made-man). Although Christ’s redemptive sacrifice offers redemption to all mankind, we must choose to follow as He leads us.
Following the example of choosing our will over God’s, will have us inherit the inheritance of Adam, but if we choose Christ we will inherit eternity.
“Thus it is written, ” The first man Adam became a living soul”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-49)
Because of the free gift of salvation, paid for by the precious blood of Christ, You can choose to bear the image of the “man of dust” or the image of “the man of heaven.”
(All posts in this series can be found at this Page)