Results tagged “Adam” from Reformation21 Blog

No Adam, No Christ!

Preaching through Genesis over the past year and a half has encouraged me to re-open quite a number of significant theological subjects--not least of which is the historical character of the foundational portions of God's revelation. Over the past 150 years, biblical scholars have spilled ink ad nauseam over the question of the historicity of the opening chapters of Genesis (as well as other parts of the Old Testament). Denying the historicity of various portions of Scripture was the backbone of theological liberalism at the turn of the 20th Century. Today, in the biblical studies world, scholars are far more nuanced and sophisticated in the ways in which they deny the historicity of Genesis 1-3. With the rise of studies in Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) literature and complex scientific theories of origins, there is no end to the ways in which its historicity is explained away. 

Today, quasi-evangelical scholars have concocted an amalgamated hermenuetical approach made up of various aspects of Higher Criticism, ANE mythopoetic categories and scientific theories of origin. One can find this amalgamated hermenuetic most notably (or perhaps most notoriously!) in the work of Peter Enns (who continues to spend inordinate time and energy seeking to overthrow the inerrancy and historicity of the foundational portions of biblical revelation). 

Nevertheless, the connection between the creation account and the subsequent redemptive revelation form the internal witness of Scripture to the idea that the historicity and theology of the creation narrative is inseparably linked to the historicity and theology of the redemptive (i.e. new creation) revelation. 

In his Reformed Dogmatics, Geerhardus Vos helpfully illustrated the principle of connecting history and redemptive revelation when he said, "within the narrative of Scripture the creation narrative is interwoven like a link in the chain of God's saving acts. God does not make a chain of solid gold, in which the first link is a floral wreath." Vos developed this thought in the following way: 

If the creation history is an allegory, then the narrative concerning the fall and everything further that follows can also be allegory. The writer of the Pentateuch presents his work entirely as history. Against those that believe in the results of higher criticism, it can perhaps be useful to note that according to the critics who carve the Pentateuch into pieces, Genesis 1 belongs to the Priestly Codex, that is, to the more sober, non-poetic part of the Torah. The same writer who describes the layout of the tabernacle and the clothing of the priests gives us the narrative of creation, and he connects both. Further, elsewhere in Scripture Genesis 1 and 2 are treated as history (Exod 20:11; 31:17; Ps. 8; 104; Matt 19:4; 2 Pet 3:5).1

John Murray, in his Principles of Conduct, also defended the historicity of Genesis 1-3 as over against a supposed mythological or mythopoetic interpretation. He explained: 

That Genesis 2 and 3, for example, is story, but does not represent history, the present writer does not believe. An express attempt to refute such an interpretation had not been undertaken...The historical character of the revelation deposited in the Bible does not comport with a non-historical view of that which supplies the foundation and starting point of that history. It is surely apparent how far-reaching must be the reconstruction of the Bible's representation respecting the history of revelation if we are to reject the historicity of the fall of Adam as the first man. It is the conviction of the present writer that a mythological interpretation is not compatible with the total perspective which the biblical witness furnishes.2

Murray, like Vos before him, proceeded to root his argument in the fact that the rest of biblical revelation adopts a historical approach to Genesis 1-3. 

To state the case positively, the concreteness of Genesis 2 and 3, as historically interpreted, is thoroughly consonant with the concreteness which characterizes the subsequent history of Old Testament revelation. It should be noted that of supreme importance is the fact that Jesus and the Apostles assumed the historical character of the Old Testament, and frequently referred to the historicity of the creation narrative, Adam, Noah, a world-wide flood and the Exodus. In Mark 10:6, Jesus affirmed the historicity of the creation account of Genesis 1 when He said, "from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female.'" When he came to predict the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70, Jesus again affirmed the historical nature of the creation account of Genesis when He said, "in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be."3

Appeal to how the writers of Scripture viewed the historical character of the creation/fall account of Genesis is, without doubt, the strongest internal-witness argument of Scripture. This point of paramount significance is seen by a brief survey of how both the Old and New Testament human authors of Scripture viewed the creation account:

  • Moses tells us how Adam was created (Gen. 1:26; 2:5-8) and how many years he lived (Gen. 5:5). 
  • The writer of 1 Chronicles traced humanity from Adam to David (1 Chronicles 1 and 2) by means of historical genealogy. If Adam was not a historical being then neither were all the people from Adam to David. 
  • Job likened the hiding of his sin to Adam's covering his sin (Job 31:33). 
  • Luke traced Jesus' genealogy (from Mary) back to Adam (Luke 3:38). If Adam was not a historical being then neither were all the people from Adam to Jesus. Jesus declared that "He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' (Matthew 19:4). 
  • Paul explained that the reason for death and condemnation was the representative, imputed guilt of Adam's sin (Rom. 5:12-21). Paul also explained that the external giving of the law was first with Adam and then with Moses. Those who were not given external law from Adam to Moses still had the sentence of death in them because of Adam's sin. Paul explains, "death reigned from Adam to Moses" (Rom. 5:13). If Adam was not a historical being then neither was Moses.
  • Paul explained the solution to our deserved condemnation in the obedience of the second Adam, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:12-21). He explicitly declared that the first Adam was a "type" of the second Adam. If Adam was not a historical being then neither was Jesus. 
  • The apostle defended the role relation of men and women in the church by the order in which Adam and Eve were created and were tempted (1 Timothy 2:13-14). Eden was the prototype of every subsequent culture. No one can say Paul's teaching was culturally bound because he takes it back to the Garden. He viewed the Genesis account as an accurate historical record of Eden. 
  • The apostle urged the NT church to defend the Gospel by reminding them of the way in which Satan--in time and space--had deceived Eve: "I fear, lest, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3)."

Some have responded to the statement "If Adam didn't exit then neither did Christ" by appeal to the continuum fallacy. Ironically, such an appeal is itself a fallacious appeal to logical fallacy. If in historical narratives/genealogies we have explicit statements of generational descent then we have to conclude that it is either A) true (based on the authority of Scripture) or B) untrue. Because of the trustworthiness of Scripture--the variable of variables, in this case--we cannot conclude that part of the genealogy is true and part is untrue. Hence there is no continuum fallacy as there might be with that sort of reasoning where the "inerrancy/authority" variable is not present. 

While some conservative biblical scholars may, in fact, play the "slippery slope" argument too quickly (and even, at times, inappropriately), when the authority of Scripture is brought into the mix, our reasoning is affected in a way that it is otherwise not affected by those things that are not distinctly biblical. For example Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, makes a number of logical arguments about Christ's resurrection and the subsequent impact it has on our preaching, faith and personal resurrection (1 Cor. 15:14-18). As is true of the connection between the historicity and theology of the resurrection of Christ so too of the historicity and theology of the creation and fall account of Genesis 1-3. 

1. Geerhardus Vos. Reformed Dogmatics. R. B. Gaffin, Ed., A. Godbehere, R. van Ijken, D. van der Kraan, H. Boonstra, J. Pater, & A. Janssen, Trans (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012-12014) vol. 1, p. 161. 

2. John Murray Principles of Conduct (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman's, 1957) p. 9

3. Ibid.

A Christmas Reflection

If the dank earth forming marrow and flesh does not entice your wonder, then neither will the Incarnation. 

This Christmas season, I have been thinking of how integrally related Adam and Christ are in redemptive history, as made plain in Romans 5:12-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:42-49. The Trinitarian God spoke Adam into being and formed him from the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7). The Father uttered; the Son manifested; the Spirit gave life (cf. Job 33:4). Out of soil came a son.

In the Incarnation, the same Trinitarian God spoke, but this time in the tongue of redemption. The Father sent (Gal 4:4; 1 John 4:10); the Son complied (cf. John 5:19-20); and Mary conceived by the Spirit (Matt 1:18; Luke 1:35). Out of a womb came the Word (John 1:1).
At Christmas we are ever reminded that the Son of God took on flesh and dwelt among us. 

This, we are told, should bring us to well up with joy--a glorious joy fit for proclamation by an angelic host (Luke 2:13-14). And it should! But reminding ourselves that Adam lies in Christ's shadow may serve to deepen that joy. Here are a few thoughts to remind us of how the beauty and wonder of the Incarnation builds upon the beauty and wonder of creation.

Just as God did not have to redeem, God did not have to create.[1] "Creation was not required, not mandatory, not extracted from God, neither by any necessity imposed from outside nor by any deficit lurking within the life of God."[2]  Creation is the result of a voluntary, gracious, and loving decision. All that we see around us "is a work of God's grace, flowing from God's love."[3]

The creation of Adam, seen in this light, is not ordinary or expected in the sense of being the product of some mechanical law of evolution. Adam was not simply bound to be there in the beginning. Adam was there only because God chose to speak him, and nothing can thwart the sovereign choice and holy speech of an almighty God. Creation was voluntary, not compulsory.

In this sense, Adam's life can be seen as a gift from the Trinitarian Giver. Creation, not Christmas, is the origin of gift-giving. That, perhaps, is part of the wonder of humanity's genesis. Ours is a beginning wrapped and tagged by the Trinity: Adam and his progeny are the gifts God gave to himself--not in divine greed but in divine grace. 

Now, juxtapose this with the Christmas story in the New Testament. If the wonder of Genesis is that God gave humanity the gift of life, then the joy of Christmas is that God gave us new life. And the packaging of both gifts resembled one another. The temporal son took on flesh and bone, as did the eternal Son. The "man of dust" (1 Cor 15:47) had no biological father, and neither did the "man of heaven." 

But there are also stark differences: the temporal son failed where the eternal Son succeeded; the man of dust could offer no salvation, but the man of heaven had salvation in his bloodstream. The first Adam exchanged the words of God for the words of a creature; the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45) crushed the words of a creature with the words of the triune God (Matt 4). 

Given this redemptive-historical relationship between Adam and Christ, we would do well to remember them both at Christmas, with greater emphasis, of course, on the Incarnation. Adam, we said at the outset, is in Christ's shadow, not the other way around. And yet, our appreciation for the utter uniqueness of the Incarnation is deepened when we contrast it with that ancient incarnation of sonship in Adam. What a wonder it was for God to breathe life into the dust and form a person! Such wonder is outweighed only when we reflect on the miracle of God breathing the second person of the Trinity into flesh and blood! We should be awed by Adam, but overwhelmed by Christ. The former brought death through life; the latter, life through death. 

This Christmas, as you focus on the glory of the Incarnation and the gift of the Son of God, remember that this Son cast a long shadow in which a lesser son was born. The world began with a gift; we might not be so surprised, then, to see it restored through one--a far greater and more costly gift: God himself. Such a gift is worth more than gratitude. It is worth our adoration.

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!
O come, let us adore Him, 
Christ the Lord. 

- John Francis Wade


[1]  Herman Bavinck, in my opinion, has one of the best treatments of the Triune God as creator. See God and Creation, vol. 2 of Reformed Dogmatics, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), pp.420-26. God created not simply to have something isolated from him, but to dwell in relationship with his creation. That is why redemption is so frequently spoken of as a restoration or reconciliation with God. Or, for Bavinck, it can be described as a return to God. "Creation thus proceeds from the Father through the Son in the Spirit in order that, in the Spirit and through the Son, it may return to the Father" (p.426).

[2] Fred Sanders, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), pp.64-65.

[3] Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012), p.47.

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Place for Truth provides thoughtful yet accessible articles ranging over biblical theology, systematic theology, church history, and practical theology emphasizing the continual need for the church to maintain the gains of the Protestant Reformation. Our hope is that you have been stopping by Place for Truth and benefitting from the truths being shared. Here's a small sample of what you will find this week. 

Dr. William VanDoodewaard stops by to talk with Dr. Jonathan Master about the historical Adam. Dr. VanDoodewaard is Professor of Church History at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has contributed to and written several books, including his newest, The Quest for the Historical Adam: Genesis, Hermeneutics, and Human Origins. Listen in to the podcast as Jonathan and Bill discuss this very important and weighty topic!
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In his classic book, The City of God, fourth century bishop, Aurelius Augustine, discusses a notable abuse of scripture in his day. He speaks of contemporaries who "allegorize all that concerns Paradise itself," who teach "as if there could not be a real terrestrial Paradise!" (COG, 13.21). 

In our day we face interpretative challenges similar to Augustine's. We have men who use their own sophistication to make what is real in scripture less real in the church. This is especially the case with contemporary challenges to the doctrine of the historical Adam. Continue Reading...

The historicity of the Jesus' resurrection is a non-negotiable of the Christian faith. If a person does not believe that Jesus rose bodily from the dead, then they are not a Christian. The apostle Paul includes the resurrection of Jesus as a matter of first importance to the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4). He tells us that if Jesus has not been raised from the dead then our faith is futile and we are in fact still in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17). 

But God's Word also ties this Christ event and the representation that it gives to a historical Adam and the representation that he gave for humanity. While the historicity of Adam is not included in the matters of first importance at one's confession of faith (1 Cor. 15:1-4), Paul nevertheless draws a link between the reality of Christ's resurrection and a real historical Adam. Just as there was a real resurrection, the benefits of that resurrection are patterned after a real Adam and what happened to him. Continue Reading...

Text links

Pastor Mark Johnston leads us in a three-part series on the historical veracity of Adam. This work was done with the cooperation and encouragement of the Session of Proclaimation Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mawr PA, home of this years Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. Who, just last year, addressed this same topic In the Beginning: God, Adam and You.

Must We Believe in an Historical Adam
by Mark Johnston

There is nothing new about the question of how science relates to the Bible - it is as old as the Copernican Revolution of the 16th Century and older. There is, however, real urgency to the question in our present age when science is being increasingly exalted to an almost supreme status as the arbiter of what we can know and are to believe.

Continue reading at Place for Truth

Text links
PCRT Audio -
PfT Article -
Watch Joel Beeke describe his address at Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology 2013 where he argues the case for a real, historical, biblical Adam who was the federal head of the whole human race.

Be sure to follow the other Alliance videos. Look for information coming soon about Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology 2014. And be sure to register!

View video here -

Learn about PCRT here -,,PTID307086_CHID811018_CIID,02013.html

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Losing Adam

Losing Adam means losing so much more besides. That is because losing Adam is likely to prove the beginning of losing our Bibles. Like the gardener who decides to trim his hedge, he finds that an aggressive cut at one point leaves a lopsided creation which requires further cuts here and there in order to restore a sense of balance and proportion to his judging eye. As Lloyd-Jones makes plain, "the Bible is a unity. We must take it all." The whole of Scripture stands or falls together. Once the first cut is made, there is no saying how many more cuts must follow until the man with the knife is satisfied.

What are some of the specific cuts that might follow when we lose Adam? What, in this sense, falls with an historical Adam? When the creation and the Fall are undermined, what tumbles with them?

Losing Adam means losing my dignity. As a son of Adam, I know I am made in the image of God. That Adam was made distinctly, separate from every other creature, for a particular purpose and with a particular stewardship, establishes not just the dignity of my being, but that of every human being. Losing Adam may mean, in principle, losing vital ground in the battles against the sex trade, abortion, slavery, and a multitude of other spheres where the conviction of human worth is a reason for Christian engagement. It means losing that sense of vocation that comes from being, after a fashion, a steward in and of God's earth.

Losing Adam means losing my humanity. What it means to be male, and - by extension - female, finds its roots in the creation of the first man and the first woman. Hinging upon this is the whole construct of marriage. It is no accident that when the Lord Christ and the apostle Paul speak to the issue of marriage, they go back to creation. Losing Adam means losing the solid basis for complementarianism, with the God-ordained pattern for male-female relationships that has its origin in the very beginning of human life.

Losing Adam means that I have no adequate explanation for the sinfulness of my soul or my race. Adam as some kind of generic Everyman does not provide me with that foundation. Only Adam properly explains how sin and death entered God's world. Losing Adam means I have no fixed point from which to interpret the misery of mankind lost in sin and the awful realities of spiritual and physical death, for "through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Rom 5.12). It robs me of that which makes sense of the world as it is, populated by people like me whose hearts are by nature wholly inclined to sin, and it threatens to rob me of the need for atonement.

Losing Adam means losing hope, for my solidarity with Adam as a man condemned finds its Scriptural counterpart in my solidarity with Christ, the last Adam, as a man redeemed. Adam is "a type of him who was to come" (Rom 5.14) - all the God-ordained parallels and constructs out of which my salvation finds its form and substance are lost if an historical Adam is lost. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive," wrote the apostle in 1 Corinthians 15.22. But if there is no Adam in relationship to whom I die, how can I be confident that my parallel relationship with the Christ secures my life? If there is no imputation of Adam's sin, why should there be an imputation of Christ's righteousness? I cannot have one without the other. Thomas Goodwin's famous illustration illuminates the concern: if there are, in essence, and as far as God's dealings with the world are concerned, only two men in the whole world, two giants upon one of whose belts every other individual is hooked, then what shall I do when one of those giants is suddenly taken out of the equation? All of a sudden the existence of the other, specifically in that relationship of soteriological solidarity, begins to look more than a little hazy. If the one is a mere fairy tale or cipher, what of the other?

But losing Adam means losing not only my present but also my future hope. If there is no earthly man whose image I have borne, what confident expectation do I have of one day bearing the image of the heavenly man? The parallels again demand either that having shared in Adam's earthiness I will - united to Christ - one day share in his heavenliness, or that with my abandonment of an historical Adam so I must largely abandon my expectation of a physical resurrection in Christ Jesus. And not only that, but if the Fall falls with Adam, then what restoration do we have to look forward to? There is, perhaps, nothing to restore. The creation does not groan for redemption under the weight of Adam's transgression because no Adam transgressed, and if we have nothing to look forward to in the consummation of our redemption, then the creation either does not groan or groans in vain. What will become of the new creation if we lose the old one? What hope of a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells if the old one had no historical Adam who had an historical Fall? I am told to wait for that moment when, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall be changed. Must I now reinterpret that to mean an aeons-long progression of gradual development toward the heavenly state?

If I want to know who and what I am, before God and by divine design and intention, as a redeemed man with the prospect of glory with Christ ahead of me, then I need an historical Adam. In one sense, he paints all the needs that Christ meets. In another, he provides the outlines which Christ fills and the constructs within which Christ operates. Ultimately, if I lose the first Adam, I lose the second and last Adam. Losing Adam means losing Christ.

Results tagged “Adam” from Through the Westminster Confession

Chapter 9.2

ii. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God; but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it. 

Along with the trivial sense of free will - what today we term free agency - Adam also possessed free will in the important sense, what since the second century has been understood as the ability to make all the moral choices that any given situation suggests. This understanding of free will was lost by Adam at the Fall. In the Latin grammar of Thomas Boston: Adam before the Fall was posse peccare (able to sin) and posse non peccare (able not to sin); after the Fall, Adam was non posse non peccare (not able not to sin). He lost the ability not to sin. Adam (and, along with him, his seed) found himself in a state of moral inability. He lost free will in this carefully defined way. 

God created Adam with a mutable (changeable) free will. Adam's Fall plunged all his progeny into this state of misery. Genesis 3:6 carefully describes Adam and Eve's choice to eat of the forbidden fruit: "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 who was with her, and he ate." God created them "upright" (Ecc. 7:29), but placed them in a probationary state. 

Chapter 6

i. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.

ii. By this sin, they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.

iii. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation.

iv. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

v. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

vi. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal. 

The Confession begins the sixth chapter with a succinct description of the Fall committed by Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis three. It considers this a historical event, and not a mythical tale constructed by people living in an ancient culture. Adam and Eve were real individuals, and they were faced with a real temptation orchestrated by Satan.   

Why is it important for the Confession to affirm the historicity of Adam and Eve, as well as the events in the Garden of Eden? It is important because this is precisely how Adam and Eve sinned, and consequently why God punished them. The punishment for sin is terrifying and real. The act that brought punishment is equally real.

The first paragraph of this chapter concludes with an extremely difficult theological statement. According to God's "wise and holy counsel," he permitted Adam and Eve to fall and to sin. This is a theological point that is often very hard for some to grasp and even accept. Chapter three addresses God's decrees, which are eternal and unchangeable. Chapter four explains God's providence over all things. Why then does a wise and holy God decree and providentially govern the Fall and sin? 

The Confession teaches us that God was "pleased" to permit the Fall and sin because it would manifest His glory. The answer the Confession gives maybe hard to accept, but that may say something more about us and our view of God. God does everything to magnify His own glory because He is perfect, most pure, and most holy. If we believe this about who God is, then we also must acknowledge that in His infinite wisdom He permitted the Fall and sin because it would bring Him glory. 

In paragraph two of this chapter we have a more detailed statement about the consequences of Adam and Eve's fall. Immediately following the Fall, Adam and Eve were no longer in communion with God.  A. A. Hodge writes, "By this sin man must have instantly been cut off from this loving communion of the Divine Spirit." In other words, the relationship with God was broken; and the consequences extended to both the moral and spiritual abilities, and the entire body. Adam and Ever were now "dead in sin", and this was a state of total depravity (more on total depravity in paragraph four).

Paragraph three introduces the crucial doctrine of the imputation of Adam's sin. Adam and Eve's sin was imputed to all "their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation." What does it mean for the sin of Adam to be imputed to all his descendants? It means that everyone is included in the "guilty" verdict of Adam's first sin. To some this sounds absolutely unfair. Why should everyone be condemned for Adam's action? Shouldn't individuals be judged for their own specific actions? The Bible and the Confession teach us that Adam was appointed as our covenant or federal head. He stood as a representative, chosen by God, to be given the probationary test that would impact all of humankind. Again, it is important to remember that this was also according to God's decree established by His holy and wise counsel. Moreover, Adam was created in state of holiness and righteousness, unlike the sinful state in which we find ourselves.

This leads to the next point in paragraph four. It is not only the guilt of Adam's first sin that is imputed, but all of Adam and Eve's descendants likewise inherit a corrupt sinful nature. As a result, all humans now have a nature that desires sin and is in rebellion against God. This is total depravity. There is no part of a men or women that is not corrupted by sin; everyone refuses to obey God. Ephesians 2:1 describes the unconverted as "dead in trespasses and sins". Physical death is a state of complete inability. Spiritual death, being dead in sins, results in the same complete spiritual inability, which is an inability to obey God. 

The fifth paragraph changes the focus from the unconverted to the Christian. While Christians, because of the redeeming work of Christ, are pardoned from the guilt of sin, and their nature is renewed, they still sin, and sometimes sin grievously. This often leads Christians to either doubt that they are truly saved or believe in an unbiblical doctrine like perfectionism. We must not fall into either misunderstanding. Christians are justified and declared righteous, regenerated, and yet still in need of the process of sanctification to put death the sinful nature. 

Finally, the sixth paragraph explains clearly that every sin, no matter how great or small, is a violation of God's righteous law and deserves God's just punishment. The punishment for sin includes not only death, but also other consequences both in this temporal world and the eternal age to come. This may sound very cruel, but God's holiness demands perfect obedience. Thankfully, the Confession will go on to explain how the demand for perfect obedience was satisfied in the redemptive work of Christ. 

Dr. Jeffrey K. Jue is the Stephen Tong associate professor of Reformed Theology and associate professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary.

Chapter 4.2, Part Two

ii. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change.  Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

As we conclude our study of the Confession's teaching on creation, we should note how focused the divines were on the redemptive message of the Bible. We rightly distinguish between the Bible's teaching on creation and redemption, but the Confession reminds us how they are related.  

In this respect, the Confession first reminds us of Adam's spiritual and moral ability prior to the Fall. He was "endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness." What a fitting covenant head Adam was for the human race! Adam and Eve had "the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it." Our first parents were able to obey God and to live without sin. Reading these words, we are reminded of all that we have lost through the calamity of sin! The Fall was possible because Adam and Eve had "a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change." 

Reformed theology strongly rejects the Arminian doctrine of free will, except when it comes to Adam. Prior to the Fall, Adam was created with a truly free will, since he had the ability both to honor God through obedience and to rebel against God in transgression. After the Fall, man in sin possesses only the latter (see Eph. 2:1-3). In Adam, we also see the relationship between righteousness and happiness. While Adam and Eve kept God's law, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures." So it is for God's people today, that having been restored to spiritual ability by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, we now find happiness through lifestyles that are obedient to God's Word and experience at least a partial restoration of the dominion which Adam lost (see 2 Cor. 3:18).

The Confession particularly wants to emphasize that Adam was not in covenant with God only in a general sense but also in a specific covenant. While God's Covenant with Man falls under the heading of chapter 7, it is impossible fully to treat man's created state without noting the Covenant of Works: "Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (see Gen. 2:16-17)  All of history was shaped by Adam's disobedience of this command, with the subsequent Fall of the human race into the condemnation and corruption of sin. Between mankind today and the blessings Adam and Eve once enjoyed in the Garden stands the historical reality of the Fall.  

All the rest of the Bible presents God's grand redemptive plan to overcome the Fall into sin and its consequences. To undo what Adam did in sin, mankind will need a new covenant head, the Lord Jesus Christ, who did not break God's commands and who perfectly fulfilled God's covenant of works, so that through union with Christ in faith believers may be saved from Adam's sin and our own (see Rom. 5:18-19). In this life, believers in Christ receive a righteousness gained by Christ and a partial, though increasing, restoration of our natures in knowledge and true holiness. When Christ's covenant of grace has fully achieved its harvest work, Adam's offspring will experience in Christ the fullness of the blessing that God intended through Creation as we enjoy the new heavens and the new earth in the return of the Second Adam, the Lord Jesus.  

As we consider all that Adam lost through sin - "knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness" after God's own image - we are reminded of the glorious restoration that we are now experiencing through faith, and we are motivated to enter more fully now into the blessings appointed by God for those who are in Christ.

Chapter 4.2

ii. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change.  Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

The Westminster Confession's second paragraph on Creation fittingly centers on mankind. An important emphasis is on the distinctiveness of mankind versus the other creatures. One of the great problems with the evolutionary dogma so dominant in our culture today is that it strips mankind of the special dignity that comes with being made in God's image. It is interesting that the Confession itself does not deal directly with the details of Genesis 2:7, "the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."  The Larger Catechism is very clear, however, that "God formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man" (WLC 17), which clearly rules out any theory of evolutionary processes involved in the creation of Adam and Eve.

Whereas the secular humanist would have mankind look downward to the beasts for his identity, the Bible would have man look upwards to God. Psalm 8:5-8, for instance, places Adam in a mediating position between the angels and the lower created order: "you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea." Notice that while Adam is placed between the heavenly beings and the earthly beasts, his identity is found above rather than below. He was made "a little lower than the heavenly beings" rather than a little above the beasts. Moreover, Adam was invested with authority on God's behalf to rule the creatures of the earth. This doctrine makes a world of difference in how we think about ourselves. We are special among all the other beings of the earth, "crowned with glory and honor," and have special obligations to God as his vicegerents in the world.

The Bible's teaching on creation further assails the secularist mindset in the clear ordering of the beings that God made. Neo-pagan culture is determined to eradicate all biblical distinctions: the distinction between God and man, male and female, humankind and the beasts, good and evil, etc.  But the Bible's teaching establishes a clear order. What a mistake it is, therefore, when Christians think it helps our witness by downplaying the Bible's distinctions, especially when it comes to gender. Instead, we bear testimony to God the Creator by wholesomely emphasizing the gender pattern which is essential to God's good design in Creation. Christians should therefore not accommodate the cultural demand that men and women be treated as if they are the same. At the same time, the Bible does clearly show the fundamental unity and shared dignity of men and women within humanity. Similarly, the Confession emphasizes that man was made with a God-given awareness of moral truth. There is good and evil and mankind was made to know them, "having the law of God written in their hearts."

The Confession presents a strong doctrine of mankind as bearing the image of God. By stating that men and women were created "with reasonable and immortal souls," the divines point out that mankind was made to understand and know God.  We were created to worship and were obliged by our creation to obey and glorify God.  

CHapter 4.1, Part Three

i. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.

In considering the What of Creation, the Confession states that God was pleased "to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible." It is false to say that Creation came from nothing, since the Bible teaches that the Creation came from God.  Rather, God made the universe out of nothing, ex nihilo. The Bible says that God created simply by means of his speech, saying, "Let there be" (Gen. 1:3, 6, 14). Jesus wielded this same power of the Creator when he stood before the stormy seas and raging winds, crying out, "Peace!  Be still!" (Mk. 4:39). Peter tells us that God's same mighty Word goes forth in the recreating act of salvation: "you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God" (1 Pet. 1:23; see also 2 Cor. 4:6).    

When we read that God created "the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible," the Confession rules out any doctrine of macroevolution. Some Christians affirm that God got creation started, but then ordained that the process of evolution would actually bring the various species into being. To the contrary, however, the Bible teaches that God directly created all the various kinds of creatures. "And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds - livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds'" (Gen. 1:24). Some Christians will urge that God's approach in doing this may still have been evolutionary. This approach is intended to remove the conflict between Bible-believing Christians and the secular dogma of evolution. 

There are a great many problems with this mistaken compromise, however, some of which will come up in the Confession's teaching regarding Adam. But notice that there is an irreconcilable conflict between evolution - a random process taking place incrementally over many aeons - and the biblical teaching of Creation - which presents not random mutations but sovereign fiat according to the will of God. Included in the variety in God's creation are the invisible spirits known as angels. The Confession concludes that the entire creation was "all very good." The evolutionary worldview explains sin and other defects as part of a process that is continually perfecting itself. For the secularist, the world was created with major defects which evolution is slowly ironing out. The Bible, however, teaches that all evil and error resulted from an historical Fall. The world itself was made completely good, reflecting the heart and design of its glorious Creator.

Lastly, we consider the When of Creation. The Confession makes two statements. First, God created the world "in the beginning." This not only follows the language of Genesis 1:1, the Bible's first words, but it also shows that unlike God himself, the world has a beginning.  Second, the Confession states that God created "in the span of six days." There has been a great deal of controversy in recent years as to whether the Confession intends to limit its teaching to the view that God created all things in six literal twenty-four hour days. Most Reformed denominations do not require this view, but allow a range of alternatives. There can be little doubt, however, that virtually all of the Westminster divines believed in a literal six day creation. They urged this view because they believed in the truthfulness of the Bible not only in its redemptive message, but also in its teaching on the history of Creation. The Westminster Confession knows nothing of contemporary views that deny the historical value of Genesis one for the chronology of God's creation work. Indeed, here as elsewhere the Confession uses language that closely follows the Bible, showing their belief that the Bible speaks sufficiently for God's people when it comes to understanding the creation of the world.