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Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
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 Free Reformed Churches of Australia - FRCA
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
Title:Our Fall in Adam
Text:LD 3 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps. 106: 1, 2

Ps. 34: 1, 3

Ps. 9: 1, 4, 5, 9, 10

Ps. 51: 3 – 5

Ps. 118: 6, 8


Text:    LD 3

Scripture reading:       Rom. 8:1 – 8; 1 Cor. 15:20 – 26, 45 – 49


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

LD 3 – Our Fall in Adam

Ps. 106: 1, 2

Ps. 34: 1, 3

Ps. 9: 1, 4, 5, 9, 10

Ps. 51: 3 – 5

Ps. 118: 6, 8


Text:    LD 3

Scripture reading:       Rom. 8:1 – 8; 1 Cor. 15:20 – 26, 45 – 49



Beloved Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,


When Adam sinned, we sinned.

Adam’s fall is our fall.

And in Adam we lost everything.


The gospel of salvation is that God provided us with another Head.   The eternal Son of God has become man; the second Adam.   Through faith in Christ we have been transferred from Adam into Christ.

As we all fell in Adam and died in Adam, so also are we raised and made alive in Christ.


Here in Lord’s Day 3 we focus on that which we lost in Adam.   But the purpose of this confession is not to bring us to despair.   Instead, when we see our terrible state in Adam, we flee to Christ.  


Dear congregation, it is necessary that we see how totally lost we are in ourselves, in order that we may humble ourselves before God and repent, that we may cling through faith to our only Saviour Jesus Christ.  

When we understand our total depravity in Adam, then God will receive all the glory for our new life in Christ.   The knowledge of our total depravity by birth, as we confess in this Lord’s Day, makes us to glory only in God’s salvation.


With this understanding I proclaim to you: Our fall in Adam


We will note…

1.            Adam’s exalted state in Paradise

2.            Adam’s fall

3.            Adam’s salvation


In the first place we note…

Adam’s exalted state in Paradise


“…God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good…” – Gen. 1: 31.


Everything God made was very good; even very good in the eyes of God.   It was perfect.   There was no sin or evil, no shortcomings or blemish.   Sin is not something that developed naturally from creation.   Sin and evil are contrary to God’s creation.  

Sin does not belong to God’s creation.


Everything God created was indeed very good.   And man was even better.   He was created different from the rest of creation.   God created man in His own image!


Now, what does Scripture mean when it speaks of God’s image?   LD 3 gives a short summary, saying:


“…God created man good and in His image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness…”


There you have a short summary of what it means to be created in God’s image.   We were created holy and righteous.   We were created in the spiritual likeness of God.   Spiritually Adam looked like God: holy and righteous.


This is taken from Ephesians where the apostle Paul says that we have put on our new man…


“…which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” – Ephesians 4: 24


Scripture makes clear that God’s image does not refer to any physical or fleshly image, but to the very image of God’s holy Being.  

He is God and we are man, yet we were created in such a way that our being reflected the holiness and righteousness of His Being.   We bear the image of God’s nature.  And God’s nature is – for example in Eph. 4: 24 – characterized as holy and righteous. 


And thus the apostle Peter, when he speaks of our salvation and sanctification, says that through Christ we become partakers of the “divine nature” of God – 2 Peter 1: 4.


Partakers of the divine nature of God!

That does not mean that we become divine.   It simply means that God again restores us to His own image, so that our whole being – our heart and soul and mind, our will and emotions, every aspect of our nature and of our life – will again reflect the holiness and righteousness of God.  

God restores us to His image by sanctifying us.  


To be in the image of God means that our whole being corresponds with, and reflects, the holiness and righteousness of God!  

Being in His image is to partake in His divine nature, which is summarised as holiness and righteousness.  


Dear congregation, it is this conformity to the image of God that makes an intimate relationship with God possible.   We were created to live with God in perfect covenant communion.   Being created in His image we were placed in the closest relation to God possible!   And therefore LD 3 continues in the first answer also to explain the purpose of being in the image of God:


“…so that man might rightly know God His Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness to praise and glorify Him”.


Do you see the exalted state in which we were created?


Man was different from the rest of creation; altogether unique.   For man was created in God’s own image.   

And now the Catechism quotes Eph. 4: 24 as a summary of what characterises God’s image.   God’s image – that is: true righteousness and holiness; that holiness and that righteousness which is revealed and demanded in God’s holy law.


This understanding of God’s image is also according to Rom. 8: 29 where we are taught that only the elect are predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son.   God restores us to His image through Christ.   He restores us to His image through sanctification.    Those who remain in their sin, is not restored to God’s image.

God’s image is restored in us when we are made obedient to His law, when we walk with God in righteousness and holiness, when we think and speak and act in such a way that we reflect the holiness and righteousness of God’s own being.


So then, Adam’s whole being was a likeness of the holiness and righteousness of God.   And he was created this way in order that he, with his total being, could correspond to God, live with God in true covenant communion, and in that unique and exalted position could praise and glorify God.


And thus our confession here in LD 3:


“God created man good and in His image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness, so that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness to praise and glorify Him”.


In this answer we also confess the purpose of all things: to glorify God.

As we are taught, for example in Romans chapter 11, that all things were created of God, through God, unto God.   All things exist for His sake.   All things were created unto Him with the purpose to glorify Him.      

Also man was created with this ultimate purpose: to praise and glorify God.  


Thus we see the exalted state of man in Paradise, for God said: “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him…”


Scripture speaks about this glory which God has given man.   We think for example of Psalm 8 where David says:


“…You have crowned him with glory and honour.  You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet…”


Do you see Adam’s exalted state?   Crowned with glory, all things under his feet, created in the likeness of God!


LD 3 starts with the question:


“Did God, then, create man so wicked and perverse?”


The answer is:


“No, on the contrary, God created man good and in His image…”


Congregation, the Catechism puts this question and answer to us, so that we may discover how far we have fallen.   Our sin and misery is not something that developed naturally from creation.   On the contrary!    Our sin and misery is the result of the worst rebellion against God.


For God has made us His companions, so to speak; He crowned us with glory and honour; He made us to reflect His holiness and goodness and righteousness, and made us to rule over all things to His glory.  He created us in an intimate covenant relation with Himself.  


That makes man’s rebellion and fall all the worse.  


Now we see from which height man has fallen.   It was indeed very good to be in Adam.  It was the highest honour possible to be created in God’s own image.


God is not to be blamed for creating us wicked and perverse; on the contrary, He is to be thanked and glorified for creating us so very good and holy.


The blame for our sin lies with man; even with ourselves! 


We note that in the second place…


Adam’s fall


When Adam sinned, we sinned.  


Brothers and sisters, there is no way in which we can make this sound reasonable or acceptable to fallen man.  

For us, with our small minds and darkened understanding, it seems to be unfair.   Adam sinned and we are condemned.

But, we are part of Adam; we are by nature one with Adam.

Moreover, Adam was our covenant head representing us.


We believe this only because God tells us so.   These are the facts.  We were in Adam.   We are conceived and born in sin, because: we all sinned in Adam.  


Adam was the head of the entire human race.  

God did not create a heap of individual souls; He has made from one blood every nation of men – Acts 17: 26.   We were created when Adam was created.  And when Adam fell, we fell.


That Adam is our head – by creation and by covenant – is no evil, for God created Adam in His own likeness, His own image!   We were all included in a very good head indeed. 

But Adam rebelled, and in him we rebelled against God.


There, in Paradise, our nature became so corrupt that we are all conceived and born in sin, totally unable of ourselves to do any good, and inclined to all evil. 

That means: we are all born spiritually dead.


Every baby is born totally corrupt; dead in sin.


Brothers and sisters, that is who we are in the flesh.  

That is our natural birth from Adam: totally rotten; unable of ourselves to do any good.

We have nothing to boast of, and we have every reason to be ashamed of ourselves – even from birth!


Sin does not come from outside of us.   It comes from within us. 

Every baby is born with an evil heart in rebellion against God.  

Every baby – yes, also us and our children!   By our natural birth we are just as bad as the man who will receive God’s eternal punishment.

That is the righteous judgement that each of us deserve.


There, in Paradise, our nature became totally corrupt.


Adam had a free will before the fall, but not afterwards.   Man became a slave of sin.   Man’s will became bound to sin, inclined to all evil.   And from that bondage man is not able to free himself.  


Brothers and sisters, our liberation and restoration is from God.  


By nature we are so totally corrupt that we are of ourselves not even able to believe the gospel.

There are not some good abilities left in man, so that man, if he tries very hard, can still come to God.

No, as the apostle Paul says:


“…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them…” – 1 Cor. 2:14.  


The natural man – that is: man as we are by birth from Adam.  The natural man cannot understand nor accept the things of the Spirit of God.


And thus Christ also says:


“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day” – John 6: 44.  


No one can believe in Jesus Christ if the Father does not give him faith. 


The apostle Paul says the same:


“…by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…” – Eph. 2:8. 


So then, even faith is beyond the reach of natural man.   Faith is a divine work of God in us; a gift to His elect. 


And not only our will is bound to sin, but also our mind is darkened and blinded by sin, so that by nature we cannot understand the things of God.   By nature man rejects the gospel as foolishness.


Here we have to note that it also means that it is not possible to make the gospel acceptable to natural man.    The only way you can make the gospel acceptable to the natural man is by twisting the gospel.   The natural man will only like the gospel if you distort the gospel, in order to adjust it to the opinions and sinful liking of man.

For: the gospel itself is offensive to the natural man.


Dear congregation, also in our time there are many who try to make the gospel more attractive and more acceptable to the natural man.   We see this also in recent publications of so called Reformed theologians who reckon that it is not wise in our time and culture to explain Christ’s death on the cross as a payment for our sins, or that He bore for us the wrath of God, because such a gospel is offensive to the man of our time and culture.

And therefore these theologians try to explain Christ’s death in another way.


But the gospel itself remains in every time and in every culture offensive to the natural man; except if you are willing to distort it for the sake of making it a popular gospel.


So then, we are by nature so depraved that even the gospel is offensive to us, and counted as foolishness.

Yes, not even our faith is of ourselves.   It is a gracious gift of God to those whom He has elected in His sovereign grace. 

Salvation is completely out of reach to the natural man.   Only God can save us in this state.


Now, man’s total depravity does not mean that every man is as bad as he can possibly be.  There is always room to become more and more depraved, and indeed all who are outside of Christ continues daily from bad to worse.   But what we confess with man’s total depravity is that our whole being with all our attributes are totally corrupted by and enslaved to sin – our will, our mind, our emotions, every part of us – so that we, of ourselves, are not able to do any good.


We cannot say, for example, that our mind is darkened, but that in our will something remained pure and good.   Or that our power is lacking, but that we still have deep down in us something good.   No, totally depraved means: completely dead in our sins.  


Spiritually we are born not just short sighted, but blind; not only hard hearing, but deaf; not only slow to walk on the path of the LORD, but lame; not only spiritually ill, but dead.


There, in Paradise, our nature became so corrupt.


“But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined to all evil?   Yes, unless we are regenerated by the Spirit of God”


Dear congregation, it is not the purpose of this Lord’s Day to deal with regeneration, yet, it puts the teaching of our corrupted nature in the right perspective.   By nature we are unable to do any good, but now that we have died with Christ and were buried with Him and were raised with Him in a new life, we are able to do good!

Through Adam we were born spiritually dead, but through Christ we are born anew, spiritually alive to live unto God – Romans chapter 6.  


By His Holy Spirit He makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him – Lord’s Day 1.


And thus we note in the third place…

Adam’s salvation


The purpose of Lord’s Day 3 is not to bring us to despair.   It is to bring us to a better understanding of our salvation in Christ.   We have to know our total depravity in Adam, to appreciate our total redemption in Christ, to understand that it is truly by grace alone and not because of something good that God could still discover deep down in my heart.

Deep down in my heart God could only discover rottenness; nothing else!  


Yes, the authentic gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ strips us of all pride.   It makes us a humble people who glory only in the Lord, and in the riches of His mercies.


Salvation came through Jesus Christ.

Adam is the head of the entire human race, but since our head has fallen, God has provided another Head: His own eternal Son, who became Adam on our behalf.

Adam means: man.    The Son of God was made man in order to be our new Adam; the last Adam.


We can read this in Rom. 5, and we also read it in 1 Cor. 15:


“…as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15: 22) 


And further, in that same chapter, the apostle calls Christ: the last Adam; and: the second Man – 1 Cor. 15: 45, 47.


Scripture presents Christ as the second Adam.   In the first Adam we all died, in the second Adam we are made alive, born again; a new creation!


Now, when we speak about our transfer from Adam into Christ, we think fist of all of substitution.   And that is very important.   Christ saved us by living and dying in our place on our behalf.   And thus His death is our death, and His resurrection our resurrection, and His righteousness our righteousness.  


But we must not only think of substitution when we think of Him as our Head.   As our second Adam, our second Head, Christ does not only represent us before God.   As our Head He also infuses life into us by dwelling in us and governing us and restoring us by His life-giving Spirit.  


When we speak about justification through faith, then indeed the concept of substitution and imputation is central.   We are accounted righteous before God only because the perfect righteousness of Christ is freely imputed to us, put on our account, reckoned as our own.  

That is very important.  


But when we speak about the headship of Christ, when we speak about Christ as our second Adam, it includes also more.  Being transferred from Adam into Christ also means that we are engrafted into Him as our Head, and that His Spirit dwells in us, and sanctifies us, and restores us to the image of God.

Our transfer from Adam into Christ is a transplant from a dead branch into a living vine that makes us alive and causes us to bear fruit.


Our transfer from Adam into Christ is all-inclusive.  It is a complete transfer from death unto life – true life in communion with God.


Brothers and sisters, if anyone complains that it is unfair to have the first Adam as our head, and if anyone would reject the whole idea of being included in Adam, how will he then believe in the second Adam?   If one would not accept Adam as his first head, and complains that it is unfair and unjust, how will he then accept and believe in the headship of the second Adam?  


If we don’t accept our total depravity in the first Adam, how then can we accept our total redemption in the second Adam?


The two things are linked together.   Just as we were not created a heap of loose individual souls, but were all formed from one blood, in the same way we are not recreated as a heap of individual souls, but born of one Spirit out of one Man: Christ.


This has implications also for our understanding of the church.  The church is not a heap of individual souls who come together in worship.   We are created as one body with one Head.   The moment we would try to deny the reality of Adam’s headship and our sin in him, everything else also falls apart.   Because the way we are saved in Christ is based on the same principle of headship.  


Brothers and sisters, we are not individuals all on our own, otherwise Christ had to die a million times for each man separately.   But now, as the last Head of the new human race, He died only once to save the whole body that belongs to Him.


The implications of Christ as the second Adam, goes even further.   It means that we receive in the second Adam that which we lost in the first Adam.   In the second Adam, Christ, we are again created into the image of God; we again receive kingship and dominion over all creation and will reign as kings with Christ for all eternity – Rev. 22: 5.  


In the first Adam Paradise was lost; in the second Adam, Christ, we receive Paradise back again. 


But because Christ is infinitely greater than the first Adam, that which we receive in Christ is also infinitely greater than that which we lost in Adam.  The glory of the Paradise that we lost in Adam cannot compare to the glory of the Paradise that we receive in Christ.  The glory that God prepares for us in Christ is such as no man has ever seen or conceived of.


Dear congregation, the line from the first Adam to the second Adam becomes clear.   It is a line and a history that reaches a climax of infinite glory – a glory that will be revealed at the second coming of Christ.


In Adam we were born spiritually dead.   In Christ we are made alive: born again.

In Adam we are totally depraved; in Christ we will be totally renewed – restored to the very image of God.  And our Head will not only be a Man, but the Son of God in the flesh: Emmanuel – God with us!   God one with us in Christ; and we one with Him!


That is the line from the first Adam to the second Adam.


LD 3 focuses on the first Adam, and our position in him.  

In the first Adam we are dead in sin, totally depraved, unable to do any good and inclined to all evil. 

It could not be worse!

By the mercy of God, we are no longer in Adam, but in Christ.

Through faith we have been transferred from Adam into Christ.


It is therefore not correct to say that we, as believers, are not able to do any good!   That would be contradictory to our whole profession as Christians.   In Christ we are a new creation, heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.


Note that we do not confess here that we, as believers, are totally depraved.   Definitely not!   We confess that we were indeed dead, but now we live.   Through Christ we are indeed able to do good works, and zealous to do good works, actively bearing much fruit – John 15.   In Christ and through Christ we are made alive in order to live a new life of obedience to the glory of God.


If someone is not holy and godly, then he is not in Christ.   If someone is totally depraved and unable to do any good, then he is not a Christian.


What the doctrine of total depravity shows us, is that there is no hope for us outside of Christ, and that our salvation is from beginning to end God’s gift and His grace, so that all the glory for our salvation – also the praise for our sanctification – belongs to God alone. 


Dear congregation, let us thank God for His salvation.  

Let us thank Him for sending His own Son, who not only redeems us from our sin and guilt, but who also restores us to bear His image of holiness and righteousness, to live in covenant communion with Him, to praise and glorify Him by a new life in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

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