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Question Box

In what way is the Lord Jesus "in the midst"? Is He actually present or does it mean that He is present as He dwells in believers (Jn 14.23)?

The Lord Jesus is truly present as the Living Centre of His gathered people in the assembly. It might be said that He is present spiritually and not physically. The fact, however, that we say spiritually does not militate against His presence being real. His presence is not a mere promise, but a fact. We believe that one of the great attributes of deity is "omnipresence". Since, therefore, the Lord Jesus is present in every assembly gathered to His Name, we have a wonderful testimony to His omnipresence. Many thousands experience His presence all over the world when gathered together unto His Name, acknowledging His authority. It is therefore impossible that He should be in all these places and not be God.

I see no suggestion in the New Testament that the blessing of the Lord’s real presence in the midst of the assembly is due to or based on the fact of His presence in the believer, even though it is a blessed truth that Christ is in every person truly born again of the Spirit of God (2 Cor 13.5). Oh that we were as believers more aware of His presence in our hearts, for this was the prayer of Paul for the Ephesians (Eph 3.17).

If His being in the midst of the gathering of the assembly was the result of His presence in the believer, then on this basis one could well argue that any Christian company consisting of members indwelt by Christ might claim that He is in their midst. For example, it is quite true of every individual saint that their bodies are the temple of God who by the Holy Spirit dwells in them. This is true from the moment we believe, but it cannot be said of every company of believers, apart from their obedience to the commandments of the Lord and owning only the one Name to which they gather. It is one thing to have Christ in the heart, but quite another to gather where He is present among His people gathered to His Name alone (Mt 18.20).

John J Stubbs

I have heard it said recently that "when Adam sinned, we all sinned". Is this a Scriptural statement?

The key verse in this connection is: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom 5.12). The marginal rendering of "for that" in the KJV is "in whom". However, the verb rendered "have sinned" is in the aorist (or point) tense, indicating an event which took place once-and-for-all in the past; thus the concluding phrase of the verse may then be read as "in whom all sinned".

Paul’s great treatise concerning "the gospel of God" (Rom 1.1) enters a new section from the verse quoted above. The remaining verses of ch.5 serve as a link between the first part of the epistle and chs.6-8. Here we are introduced to two federal heads; Adam is portrayed in these verses as the federal head or representative of all those who form part of the old creation, whilst Christ is presented as the federal head of all those who are in the new creation. In human society, it is common for one man to represent many in contract dealings, etc. In such cases what is brought about by the actions of one is considered binding on the many he represents. This section teaches that as Adam was the means of bringing in sin and death, so Christ has brought in justification and life.

The commandment forbidding the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was given to Adam as the representative man on earth: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen 2.17). So Paul says, "Wherefore, as by one man (i.e. Adam) sin entered into the world" - this conveys not only the idea that sin began its course in the world, but that mankind universally became sinful; Paul is dealing with sin as a root. Paul continues, "and death by sin" - so physical death (the dying process began) and immediate spiritual death became Adam’s lot because he transgressed the commandment of the Lord God.

The verse goes on to say, "and so death passed upon all men" - death became the common lot of all Adam’s descendants, "in whom (i.e. Adam) all sinned". Adam’s sin was thus a representative act and all his posterity are reckoned as having sinned in him.

David E West


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