As In Adam, Even So in Christ (last update to this study was made on 05/01/2003; extracts from original article 'God's Love Towards All" found in ARISE Journal - 07/1993)
Paul provides us with the statement that "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order:" (I Cor 15:22-23 KJV). In endeavoring to make the translation of the bible as nearly perfect in point of accuracy as possible, one translation proceeds with this same statement, "For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified. Yet each in his own class". Moffatt gives us "as all die in Adam, so shall all be made alive in Christ. But each in his own division". Dr. Robert Young writes "for even as in Adam all die, so also in the Christ all shall be made alive, and each in his proper order". Again, "for as by Adam all die, so by the anointed also, will all be restored to life. But each one in his own rank;" (Diaglott). And yet others, "Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: (Jerusalem bible), and "As members of a sinful race all men die; as members of Christ all men shall be raised to life, each in his proper order" (Phillips translation).
It is self evident that as a result of being in Adam, all have experienced that state of death, from cradle to grave, "For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead" (I Cor 15:21). I think I would be correct to suggest that not only has all mankind tasted this realm of death because of this one man, but also all of creation fell victim to the sting of death. Not man only, but ALL of the universe. And as ALL have tasted of this death, so shall this SAME ALL be made alive because of a man. Praise the Lord! And likewise, it will not stop with mankind, but the love of God will embrace ALL, including His whole creation. We reject the idea of those who would try to twist these scriptures to mean 'only those in Christ' to simply fit their doctrine. The evidence of scripture is clear and the facts are before us, let not your ignorance blind you from one of the most wonderful truths of God.
To quote a wonderful teacher - J. Preston Eby, "Just what does it mean for ALL to be "made alive"? First we must understand what it means for ALL to "die". I will speak very plainly about that condition or state of being that we call death. Who are the dead? Of course some one will say that is a foolish question because it is so obvious that the dead are those who have departed this life, their bodies lie buried in the earth. But far more than our decease was brought in by Adam, and something which affects our souls much more than the sleep which ends our earth consciousness. God did not say to Adam, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen 1:27). If He had, Adam would have fallen over dead in the very day he sinned. He would then have had no progeny of sinners. In the precise language of the Hebrew He said, "And dying, you shall die." That is, there would be a process of dying as well as a condition of death. As we now know, there is a long process of disintegration, with which we are all acquainted, even though we are accustomed to calling it life! Ever since Adam sinned, he and his descendants have been dying. It isn't that death "catches up with us." Death is apart of us, from the very moment of conception until the day it triumphs over us. Like ripe fruit plucked from the tree, our bloom soon passes away. In Adam, all are dying, even while they walk about on two feet. That is the "life" that we inherited from our disobedient parent.
But death is much more than this! No more precise definition of death can be given than the one provided by God Himself: "For to be carnally minded IS DEATH; but to be spiritually minded IS LIFE and peace" (Rom. 8:6). This is the process of death, descending from the purity of the realm of the spiritual, thus to awaken to the realm of the flesh, to mind the things of the flesh. And as long as we remain carnally minded, we remain in the state of death. It is not speaking of dead bodies, but of a dead-consciousness of God. Those who are not in any sense conscious of God, or His life, or what God is doing about them. They know not God or His will or His work, it is foreign to them as though they were far away in some other part of God's universe. The sad part of it is that many of the dead are professing Christians. The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians and said, "Awake thou that sleepest, and ARISE FROM THE DEAD, and Christ shall give thee light." Were these words directed to bodies in the cemetery? How foolish! It was written to professed Christians in the Church at Ephesus. Can we not see that in God's sight, death is not so much concerned with the fleshly body as with the consciousness of God's life............. Anybody apart from God in Christ is dead, whether in this life, or in any other. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I Jhn. 5:12). Physical death is only one of the results of a previous spiritual death. When Adam sinned, fellowship was broken between himself and the realm of God. It was not merely his physical demise after 930 years that constituted his death, but his separation from God on the very day he sinned was the inner reality of his death. That is the real death! And all the sorrows, frustrations, heartaches, pains, sicknesses, sufferings, disappointments, tragedies, and torments of this poor mortal existence are all part and parcel of the realm of death -- truly the condition and state of being of all men "in Adam".
Let us now see how it is that "in Christ" all shall be MADE ALIVE. The verse under consideration is found in I Cor. 15:22, and this whole chapter deals with resurrection.............. The contrast is not between corpses and walking bodies, but between the dying process and the life process of God. The Greek text actually reads, "As in Adam all are dying, so in the Christ shall all be made alive." The terms "are dying" and "shall be made alive" are in the incomplete tense in the original, which denotes an action in progress. The long drawn out activity of death in dragging men down to sin, death, and the grave is put in contrast with the endless activity of life imparting holiness, power, incorruption, and glory. All who endured the first shall enjoy the second............. To be "made alive" is more than some instantaneous event to take place sometime in the distant future. "Made alive" is not a blasting open of graves and the coming forth of the bodies that have been buried in them. "Made alive" does not point to some event when people will go soaring off into the heavens. When Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus, He rebuked Martha for looking for some manner of event in the far distant future and told her that the resurrection and the life was standing there before them." "I am the resurrection and the life." Oh, saints of God, do you not see that the eternal Father within the Christ was and is the resurrection? "I live by the Father", Jesus declared. The resurrection was not some thing that happened to Jesus, not some event of which He was a partaker, not some day marked by the calendar. The resurrection was and is A MAN! "I AM" - there it is! "I AM the resurrection and the life." To possess the Man, to put on the Man, to come into union with the Man is to have resurrection, for the Man IS the resurrection. "In Christ shall all be made alive.".............. Our alienation and separation from God, with all the dreadful attending sorrows, are already beginning to end in this life as through Christ we ARE MADE ALIVE! And, blessed be his name, in Christ shall ALL be made alive!" - endquote.
We rejoice in the fact "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2:10-11). The word used for confession is the same word used when Jesus said that he was "thankful" that the Father has hid certain things from the wise and prudent. Every tongue will be thankful that Jesus Christ is Lord. I can tell you that it would not be to the glory of God if one of His creatures were damned to a hell for all of eternity, but rather it would be to His disappointment.
So, we rest in the fact that the fate of those unsaved, loved ones who have passed on are not subject to a state of death for all of eternity. Every man will be made alive in his own time, his own rank or order in God's wonderful plan. Yet, we wisely remember to point out that we do ourselves much harm when we only look to those scriptures which state the reconciliation of all things and avoid the judgment of the wicked. We would not want to spend one day, one hour, one minute, one second anywhere without Christ and therefore preach to all men everywhere to repent.
He is not subject to the creature's final say
Hasn't the potter power over the clay?
And for all of mankind, a saviour He has become
That we be cleansed of our sins and live as one
So be ye reconciled to the One that sits on the throne
For he has bought you with his blood, to make you his own