After having established the truth of justification by faith, the apostle moved into his discussion on the blessings of that justification: that we have peace with God; access to God; we exult in the hope of the glory of God; we have assurance of God’s love for us; we have assurance of final salvation; and we exult in God Himself through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But what we may not realize and may not have stopped to consider is how can the sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection of one Man bring about justification for as many as have faith in Him. It may seem that under penal-substitution one Man could only die for and save one man. Why isn’t there a one for one ratio in salvation with each sinner needing his or her own savior who couldn’t be anyone else’s savior? How is it that Jesus can be the Savior of innumerable souls and not just the Savior of one individual?
Actually the answer to that question is of utmost importance and is what the apostle Paul was establishing in Romans 5:12-21 – the basis of justification through imputation. The basis of our justification through one Man is imputation through headship.
The first man, Adam, was given headship over the human race. All men descend from him. Even Eve had Adam as her origin. This means that Adam was created first; that Adam by virtue of the created order was the head of the race; and therefore Adam was the federal representative for all men. This made Adam responsible for all men and that whatever Adam became all men would become by the very law of nature in procreation – each will reproduce “after its kind.”
The fall of man into sin changed man’s nature to that of a sinner and therefore all men born into the world through the agency of a human father are born with a sin nature. In the fall of man it was Eve who sinned first and then Adam. However, we read that sin and death entered through Adam and not Eve because Adam was the head of the race and responsible for it.
So the consequences of the fall into sin was that death spread to all men because all sinned in and with Adam and all receive a sin nature from Adam who is our representative head. All who have an earthly father have a sin nature because of the imputation of the guilt of one man – Adam. This is the reason for the virgin conception of Christ. God bypassed the necessary imputation of the sin nature of Adam to Christ by Christ not having an earthly father. Although Mary had a sin nature and was a sinner, the woman is not the head of the race and the sin nature is not imputed because of her but because of the man. Therefore, because of the virgin conception of Christ, He was not born with a sin nature.
To understand this better let’s consider he angels. The angels don’t procreate. Their full number was created when God created the angels and there aren’t any being born and there aren’t any more being made. So no – you’ll never be an angel! The angels do not have a federal head or representative – when Satan fell he didn’t cause the fall of all the angels and his sin was not imputed to any other angel. The other angels that fell, fell on their own and each fell from a pure and perfect state into sin. Since there was no imputation of sin from one head angel neither can there be the imputation of righteousness from one savior for angels – if they were to be saved each would have to have a different savior – and that is not going to happen!
It is on the basis of federal headship that not only can one man be responsible for the fall and sin nature of all men but that one Man can also be responsible for the salvation and rescue of innumerable souls and not just a one to one ratio. The last Adam, Jesus Christ was born of a virgin so that the sin nature of Adam was not imputed to Him. He lived a sinless life in perfect obedience to God which qualified Him to lay down His life in one full and final act of obedience – His obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross, as a substitute or sacrifice because of our transgressions. Our sin was imputed to Him so that He could pay our debt. The Lord Jesus experienced a supernatural resurrection because of His innocence and because the death that He died was not His own but for others. It is on this basis and this basis alone that His righteousness can be imputed to those who have faith in Him – He was raised for our justification.
As the last Adam, Christ is the federal head of the redeemed race and all who are in Christ will be made alive! This is how one Man can save so many!