I travelled to the camp with my team members, some of
whom I have never met. When one of the guys learnt that I had studied Computer Science before,
he jokingly said, ‘You learnt to write computer programs in the past. Now, you are writing programs
to convert people.’ At that time, I was not as passionate as them to share the Gospel. They sang
gospel songs in a vibrant spirit. They were keen to witness how Jesus Christ saved them. For a long
period of my working life, I had provided solutions for teachers and students to follow. Sometimes it
eased their workload and sometimes they just couldn’t avoid using IT. I asked myself, what is the
ultimate solution of life I offered to my students? Could I apply my problem solving skills to serve
God? Today I am going to share with you God’s solution to the problem of man living under the
power of sin.
i) The fatal disobedience of man and the triumphant obedience of Jesus.
ii) The work of Jesus Christ has brought us many blessings.
iii) “Super-abounding” grace for many to receive.
1) The fatal disobedience of man and the triumphant obedience of Jesus.
What is the good news or the Gospel? Who is the focus of the Gospel? Who is my Saviour?
Without the knowledge of bad news, people don’t treasure the coming of good news. Through the
history of Adam, we hear some very bad news. Adam’s story is a story of disobedience. In the
Garden of Eden, Adam inherited all the abundances of the earth from God. God gave him only one
command. In Gen 2.16, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Adam
disobeyed God and ate it. This is not just history. This is the reality we are now living in. In Rom 3:23
‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. Paul doesn’t say “all have sinned collectively”. Paul
emphasizes the actual sins of individual people throughout the course of human history. We disobey
God as Adam did.
In Romans 5 we learn that the result of sin is death. The death of all people is the result of
two facts. In 5:12, ‘death came to all people because all sinned.’ In 5.17, ‘by the trespass of one man
(Adam), death reigned through that one man’. How do we bring these two together? The best
solution is to think that Paul views Adam as representative of all human beings. There are two points
we need to keep in mind.
First, we have inherited the depravity or the fallen nature of Adam. Second, as descendants
of Adam, we do not die “merely because Adam had, as it were, sinned for us.” Every person has
actually sinned down through the course of history. Our lives are simply an expression of the
Some people insist that secular humanism is the universal value they hold firmly. But don’t
you know that humanism is about man claiming his autonomy. Man claims that he lives and survives
merely from his own strength. But I would say: In such a world, there is no mercy. Bertrand Russell is
an atheistic philosopher. He envisioned the story of humanity in the following terms:
“Mankind… is like a group of shipwrecked(t) sailors on a raft in a vast sea at night. There is
darkness all around. One by one they fall off the raft into the waters and disappear. When the last
man has fallen off, the sea will roll on and the holes made in the water by their bodies will be
covered over. Nature cares not for man.”
In contrast to the merciless humanistic world, the good news is that God loves. How do we
know that God loves? This is shown in the second representative of human beings – Jesus Christ.
Jesus is fully God and fully man. He is righteous and his earthly life was without sin. His life was full of
God’s glory. In 5:8 ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ
died for us.’ Christ died for us. Christ died for the weak. Christ died for the ungodly. Christ died for
sinners. Christ died for his enemies. God’s love is not just demonstrated or proved through Jesus’
death. In 5:5, God’s love has been poured into our hearts.
Through the Holy Spirit, God’s love has flooded our hearts. God’s love is a self-giving type of
love that works through the righteousness of Jesus Christ in his life and death.
When Northwest Airlines flight 225 crashed just after taking off from the Detroit airport on
August 16, 1987, there was only one survivor among 156 people on board: a four-year-old girl
named Cecelia. Cecelia survived because, as the plane was falling, her mother, unbuckled her own
seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around the
little girl, and refused to let her go. Without the sacrifice of the mother, this miracle was impossible.
Without the self-giving of Saviour Jesus Christ, we have no way to be saved.
Jesus Christ is the second Adam who represents human beings in the new community. In his
life, we can see that Jesus’ life was a story of obedience. Adam’s life of disobedience tells us about
the “dark side” of every person which has to do with sin, death and being under condemnation. Paul
argues with a series of ‘just as… also’ comparisons to tell us that through Jesus’ righteous act of
obedience, the disastrous results of Adam’s sin have been overcome. In 5:18, ‘just as Adam brought
condemnation… so also Christ brought life’, in 5:19 ‘just as Adam made many sinners… so also Christ
made many righteous’, in 5:21 ‘just as sin reigned in death… so also grace might reign.’ Out of these
three comparisons, the climax of the two stories of Adam and Christ is found in 5:19b, “For just as
through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the
obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Jesus’ obedient life reached the
highest measure when he died on the cross for us so that we could be made righteous.
Before we learn about the person of Jesus Christ, we need to know about the human
representative Adam. His life was a story of disobedience to God. We have inherited his fallen nature
and we actually sin which results in death and condemnation. In the context of this universal human
predicament, Paul introduces Jesus as the obedient human representative. What we see in Jesus’ life
is obedience that shows us his righteous act resulting in life and justification for many of us. “While
we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What good news! What a great gift of grace! We can’t wait
to unpack this gift box. Let us see how the works of Jesus Christ have achieved some amazing things
which were impossible before he came to earth.
2) The work of Jesus Christ has brought us many blessings.
i) Justification (5:1)
First of all, grace is the forensic justification ‘by the blood of Christ’ or ‘through the death of
God’s Son’. In 5:1, ‘we have been justified through faith’ is the blessing that had been experienced by
the readers of the letter. By believing in Jesus Christ, Paul and Christians of all ages and places have
been declared innocent of all charges justly brought. Justification itself is a once-for-all act by which
God forgives sinners. The cross is not simply a lovely example of sacrificial love. The last words of
Jesus on the cross were ‘it is finished’. The meaning is not that ‘the job is done.’ It means that the
debt is paid. Whose debt has been paid? Obviously not Jesus’ debt because he lived a sinless life. It is
the debt of our sins: past, present and future sins are all paid. God the Son paid it. In costly suffering,
God himself forgives our sin.
In the movie, “The Last Emperor,” a young boy is anointed as the last emperor of China and
lives a life of luxury with 1000 servants at his command. One day his brother asked, “What happens
when you do wrong?” The emperor answered, “When I do wrong, someone else is punished.” He
then demonstrated by breaking a jar, and one of his servants was beaten. In Christianity Jesus
reverses that ancient pattern. When the servants (that’s us) make a mistake, the King is punished.
Instead of us being condemned eternally for our sins, Jesus is condemned. Our debt is paid.
Someone has to pay. Only Jesus Christ could bear our sin. That is justification to us, worthless
sinners. That is the righteousness of God. Following this legal act comes the personal experience of
peace with God.
ii) Reconciliation, peace with God (5:10, 11)
Because of justification through the death of his Son Jesus, we can receive the privilege of
being reconciled to God. Once an enemy, now I can have peace with God. In 5:10 ‘we were
reconciled to him through the death of his Son’, in 5:11 ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ, through
whom we have now received reconciliation.’
When Paul speaks of reconciliation, there are two important points we need to highlight.
First, God is always the subject of reconciliation and never its object. It is God who reconciles
‘people’ and ‘the world’, and never the reverse. We are grateful to receive such precious
reconciliation with God. Second, God’s reconciliation of people is based on the work and faithfulness
of Jesus Christ, and never on what people might do in their attempts to please God. By God’s grace,
we are justified by the blood of Jesus. By God’s grace, our personal relationship with God is restored.
Without Jesus, we cannot experience peace with God. This peace is everlasting.
iii) Eternal life (5:17, 21)
In 5:17, ‘how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of
the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!’ In 5:21, ‘grace might reign
through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’. Instead of death, those
who receive God’s gift of righteousness will reign in life now and in eternal life in the future. It is all
because of the one righteous act which resulted in justification and life for all people. Jesus’ death on
the cross resulted in our life. This is the amazing exchange. In Evangelism Explosion, the key verse on
the work of Jesus is Is 53:6, ‘we all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own
way. The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ The idea behind is the great exchange. On the
cross, Jesus had laid down his life and all our iniquity had laid on him so that we may receive
abundant life through faith in Christ.
3) “Super-abounding” grace for many to receive.
Although Paul introduces Jesus through comparing the disobedience of Adam and the
obedience of Jesus Christ, there is no comparison between the trespass and the grace of God. In
Rom 5:15, ‘but the gift is not like the trespass’ firmly tells us the supreme position of grace. ‘How
much more’ in 5:15, 17 further elaborates this meaning. “How much more did God's grace and the
gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” “How much more
will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life
through the one man, Jesus Christ!” The first contrast is one of degree: the work of Christ is greater
in every way than that of Adam. The second contrast is one of consequence: Adam’s act brought
condemnation and death. Christ’s act brought righteousness and life.
The ‘super-abundance’ connected with God’s gift of grace in Christ has the power not only to
cancel the effects of Adam’s work but to create, positively, life and peace with God. In 5:17, Paul
breaks the parallelism where ‘death reigned through that one man’ is followed by ‘those who receive
God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life’. In the first part,
‘death’ is subject but in the second part, ‘human beings’ are the subject. The former has the
character of fate. The latter is by personal decision and the experience of receiving grace. Unlike
condemnation which is inescapable in Adam, grace as a free gift should be received in Christ or it can
In the classic Les Miserables, Jean Valjean the bitter ex-convict stole silver from a bishop who
had already shown him kindness by giving him food and accommodation. He was caught by the
police and was brought back under arrest to the bishop’s home. In an act of radical grace the bishop
gave Valjean the silver and released him from arrest. This act of mercy shook him to the core. Victor
Hugo the author spelled out how threatening this grace was:
“To this celestial kindness [of the bishop] he opposed pride, which is the fortress of evil
within us. He was indistinctly conscious that the pardon of this priest was the greatest assault and
the most formidable attack which had moved him yet; that his obduracy was finally settled if he
resisted this clemency; that if he yielded, he should be obliged to renounce that hatred with which
the actions of other men had filled his soul through so many years, and which pleased him; that this
time it was necessary to conquer or to be conquered; and that a struggle, a colossal and final
struggle, had been begun between his viciousness and the goodness of that man.”
Valjean chose to let grace work on him. He gave up his bitterness and became gracious
towards others. But in the novel there is another character - the police officer Javert who had built
his entire life on his understanding of rewards and punishments. He relentlessly pursued Valjean but
finally he fell into Valjean’s hands.
Instead of killing him, Valjean let his enemy go. This act of radical grace is deeply
troublesome to Javert. He realized that his worldview required a complete change. Rather than make
that change, he took his life by throwing himself into the river Seine (Sane) in Paris.
This year in Men’s convention, Paul Tripp shared a message to build up the faithful man of
God. On Father’s day, I would like to share two points to encourage especially men. 1) Bad news like
unemployment, health issue or drought is the common horizontal fear. The bible teaches us to fear
God and be fearless to any bad news. If a man fears bad news more than fears God, gradually sin will
reign over his life. Psalm 112.1, 7 “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in
his commands… He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” 2)
From 1 Peter 1.3-9, God’s great mercy has given us through the resurrection of Jesus. We are then
enabled to live out the effective and productive faith, even in all kinds of trial. Be thankful to God
other than complaint. Always has gratitude for everything you need for life and for godliness. If you
always think of how God’s grace reigns over you, you will change your focus, your agenda and your
In the year 2000, I started to work on an intranet for the school in Hong Kong because I
hadn’t found any commercial products that met their needs. My teaching load was reduced. Apart
from teaching, I spent all of my time on programming. That intranet was successful and it enhanced
the school’s communication in many ways for over 10 years. The computer program I wrote may
contain bugs and it might not last. But the free gift of grace offered through redemption in Jesus
Christ will last. From the disobedience of Adam, we learn the inevitable consequences of sin, death
and condemnation for all men. From the obedient life of Jesus, we have the hope of rejoicing in the
glory of God because we have been justified by his blood, resulting in a transformed life and
reconciliation with God.
We have to receive this free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Saviour. If you have
not received it, I encourage you to continue to seek God. The focus of the Gospel is Christ Jesus. You
just need to look to him for salvation. Then, you will have justification, peace with God, eternal life
and rejoice in God. As a Christian, it doesn’t mean that he don’t sin anymore. But it does mean that
sin cannot reign over a Christian. Do your life reign by grace or reign by sin? That grace from God will
surely surpass the reward of any project you are now working on. This is the perfect and ultimate
solution I have been looking for. I am confident that this can be the perfect solution for you also. Let
me sum up the message with a verse in 5:1 ‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’