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New Wine for the End Times
Faith in the Creator
and the Second Adam
The first five chapters of Romans is probably the best place in Scripture to study about salvation by grace. Chapter 5 is about Christ being the second Adam. Chapters 6 and 7 get into issues of sin and the Law of Moses. Chapter 8 is about being adopted as sons when Christ returns, and about the eternal security we have as we mature in Christ. Chapters 9 to 11 are about why the Jews didn’t accept Christ, and whether that invalidated God’s word. These chapters are about election. Finally, chapters 12 to 16 of Romans conclude with how we, as true Israel, should live our lives. Let’s take a look at the first two chapters of Romans, which are about salvation for everyone.
Romans 1:16 says the power of the gospel is for everyone who believes. Paul says it’s first for the Jew then for the Gentile. In other words, the gospel (good news) was brought to the Jew first. But now the good news is being brought around the world.
Romans 1:14-21 I am debtor both to Greeks and to foreigners, both to the wise and to the foolish . (15) So, as much as is in me, I am eager to preach the Good News to you also who are in Rome. (16) For I am not ashamed of the Good News of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes ; for the Jew first, and also for the Greek. (17) For in it is revealed God's righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, "But the righteous shall live by faith." (18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (19) because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. (20) For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. (21) Because, knowing God, they didn't glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened.
Verse 18 speaks of the wicked, who “suppress the truth.” Paul mentions the wrath of God that will be poured out on the wicked. But what about those who have not even heard the truth? How can one "suppress the truth" if one has not heard the truth? And yet they do have the truth in the Creation. In other words, verses 19 and 20 assert that all the knowledge that’s needed (for salvation) has been revealed to them by God in the Creation! Verse 20 explains it by saying the truth of the gospel is plainly seen in the Creation, so “that they may be without excuse.” Knowledge of the Creation is knowledge of Christ. Christ is the Logos.
Now go back to verse 16 and 17. The Good News is that the power of God for salvation is supplied to everyone who believes. If they have never heard of Christ, then what do they believe? In this immediate context, they believe the evidence of God in the Creation! Thus, belief in God because of God's revelation of himself in the Creation is sufficient for salvation! Verse 17 puts emphasis on this by quoting Habakkuk 2:4, saying "The righteous shall live by faith." This Old Testament verse was written before the name of Jesus was known. Faith in God brings righteousness. So if your only revelation of God is in the Creation, then faith in that revelation brings righteousness and salvation.
Does this contradict the fact that the only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ, and the only name under heaven by which a person can be saved is Jesus Christ? No, because first of all, by Christ all things were created (Colossians 1:16). Secondly, just because one is saved by being resurrected from the dead does not mean that they inherit eternal life. They must still mature in Christ, during Christ's reign, before they can come to the Father and inherit eternal life.
Very often this verse is interpreted as saying that all men are aware of their sins, and therefore they will have no excuse at the judgment. But that’s not what the verse is saying. Paul is explicitly giving us the reason for those who will have no excuse. Verse 21 says those who know God in the Creation, but do not honor Him as God, will have no excuse. In other words, God reveals Himself in the Creation. Only those who harden their hearts against God’s personal revelation to them, especially in the Creation, will have no excuse at the judgment.
Verse 21 goes on to say that those who knew God, but did not honor God, over time, become foolish in their thinking. They invent gods of wood and stone. As we will see, Paul expands on this foolishness from here to the end of the chapter. They go further and further into sin. Verse 31 even says they know they are worthy of death because of their sins. But does that mean they will not be saved? We who have known about Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross have been forgiven of our sins because of Christ's sacrifice. But we are still worthy of death because of our sins. Jesus paid the price. Those who do not know about Jesus also know they deserve death because of their sins. But if they have faith in the Creator, apparently their faith is credited as righteousness just as our faith is credited as righteousness.
The important thing to note here is that we are judged based on what we do with the revelation we are given. Those who are without excuse are those who know God in the Creation, but do not honor God as a result of that knowledge. This leads to wickedness. However, God turns them over to the lusts of sin, and they become blinded by sin. They become foolish, but not wicked.
Those who have had personal knowledge of Christ, and have rejected Christ, will certainly have no excuse. As Paul says, those who “suppress the truth” that they see in the Creation, will not have an excuse. However, those who have been faithful to the only revelations of God that they have been given, would have excuse at their judgment. If they do not “suppress the truth” that they see in the Creation, then they will have lived by faith in that limited amount of revelation that God has given them. As Paul states here, “the righteous shall live by faith” (verse 17).
Some will argue that people will have no excuse if they are presented with the gospel and reject it. There are, however, many different churches out there. There are many different religions. If the person has faith in the Creator, but picks the wrong religion, how can it be said that he or she has no excuse? Such a person is simply under the deception of Satan. But God will be faithful to anyone who has faith in God. The Creator is God. God will not ultimately allow anyone to be deceived and go down paths that do not ultimately lead to His Son. Otherwise, they would in fact have an excuse at the judgment. Their excuse would be their faith in God the Creator.
Obviously people who have faith in the Creator have died without personally knowing Christ. Most theologians believe that death is the end of the journey of righteousness. Therefore, those theologians tend to come up with creative ways of explaining these verses.
Don’t mistake this as an excuse to not tell people about Christ. Paul would have never thought along those lines. God reveals Himself through His faithful servants. There are still many elect people left to whom God plans on revealing His Son before they die. Those who are to be the saints in the millennium must have an [agape] love for Christ and learn to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:9) before they die. Those who are mature in Christ deeply desire for God’s plan of redemption to be spread to everyone who is ready to receive God’s revelations.
Next, in verses 21 through the end of the chapter, Paul tells us that people knew God through the Creation, but because they didn’t glorify God, they progressed through a series of sins that got progressively worse. In verse 21, Paul describes this as foolishness and darkness in their hearts. Verse 22 says, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” Paul uses the term “foolish” to refer to falling further into sin. And remember that the wicked, those for whom the “wrath of God is revealed,” are those who “suppress the truth” (verse 18). The “wise” (righteous), of course, are those who “live by faith.”
People knew God through the Creation. But if people do not give thanks to God, and honor God, they become self-centered. They think they are wise, but they become foolish and fall into sins.
Romans 1:21-25 Because, knowing God, they didn't glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. (22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, (23) and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things. (24) Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness , that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves, (25) who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Why does Paul say God gave them up? Is God saying, “Heck with them, let them all go to hell?” Or is God allowing them to fall into the foolishness of sins because it’s better for them to be ignorant and foolish than it is for them to be knowledgeable and wicked? They "exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” As one falls into sin, one no longer sees the truth in the Creation. The lie of idol worship and other sins hides this truth about God. But it’s much better for them to be under Satan’s deception than to intentionally “suppress the truth” about God.
Back in verse 14, Paul says he is obligated to “both Greeks and barbarians, to both the wise and the foolish.” Paul’s ministry was primarily to the Gentiles, although he routinely went to the Jews first. The Greeks, of course, are Gentiles. From the Greek perspective, the difference between Greek and barbarian is wisdom. From the Greek vs. barbarian perspective, the Romans, to whom Paul writes, would have considered themselves to be Greek (educated).
Romans 1:15,17 I am eager to preach the Good News to you also who are in Rome. … (17)For in it is revealed God's righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, "But the righteous shall live by faith."
Romans 1:21-22 Because, knowing God, they didn't glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them.
The foolish are those who fall under the control of sin. Yet, Paul says he is obligated to both the wise and the foolish (verse 14). In the context of the passage, the foolish are those who are not in Christ. They are still slaves to sin; but they are still saved because they have Christ in the Creation. They have the Logos. Paul does not obligate himself to the wicked, who “suppress the truth.”
Starting with chapter 2, Paul reprehends those who would pass judgment upon these people who are in slavery to these sins. Paul says those who pass judgment upon them do the same things. In addressing the church at Rome, Paul warns them not to pass judgment upon the foolish sinners or they themselves would be subject to the wrath of God. Notice in verse 1 that Paul uses the same terminology for those who judge as was used for the wicked. They “have no excuse.”
Romans 2:1-5 Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who judge. For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things. (2) We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. (3) Do you think this, O man who judges those who practice such things, and do the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? (4) Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (5) But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath , revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God;
Remember that in the original Greek, there were no chapter divisions. Paul talks about those who have God's revelation in the Creation, saying that those who reject this revelation will have no excuse at the judgment. Then Paul talks about the fact that God turns them over to the lusts of their sins. But God's purpose in doing so is not to condemn them, but to allow them to become foolish, blinded by their sins, in order to protect them from becoming wicked. God is protecting them from the knowledge of God for which they would "suppress the truth" and become wicked.
Here, in chapter 2, we see Paul's purpose in bringing all this up. In other words, the context has not changed. Paul's purpose is not to say they are condemned because they do not know Christ. It's just the opposite. Paul's purpose is to say that we should not condemn those who do not know Christ and are slaves to their sins. Such contempt, Paul warns, could make a Christian become wicked, and become the subject of God’s wrath. This would be a case for which someone believes he has a relationship with Christ, but is actually condemned as wicked.
This was seen in the parable of the wise or wicked servant, as discussed in section 5.5 of this book. The wicked servant beat his fellow servants. In other words, they use their positions of authority in the Church to take advantage of those attending their churches. One way this is done is to preach that if you don't know Christ, you will burn in hell. This strongly implies or suggests that you need to be a member of that church in order to avoid hell. Such preaching could violate Paul's warning to not condemn those who do not know Christ, and are still slaves to sin. Of course the Church must continue to preach Christ Jesus. But it must be done in love and not out of self-benefiting judgment. At the same time, those who want to accept Christ as Savior must be told count the cost of discipleship before committing one’s life to Christ. That’s what Jesus was doing in Luke 14:26-33.
Those who know the truth of Jesus Christ, but who suppress that truth for the sake of their own self-interests, can become wicked. His or her name can be blotted from the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Romans 2:6-8 [He] will pay back to everyone according to their works: (7) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory, honor, and incorruptibility, eternal life; (8) but to those who are self-seeking, and don't obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will be wrath and indignation,
In verses 6‑8, Paul outlines what it takes to receive eternal life. Surprisingly, it’s not a relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s according to their works, says Paul. Those who persist in doing good works, who seek glory, honor, and immortality, will receive eternal life, according to Paul.
This is not to say that a personal knowledgeable relationship with Jesus Christ is not ultimately required. He starts out with the gospel (1:15-16). A knowledgeable relationship under the New Covenant (the Covenant of Grace) is the best way to eternal life. But for those who don’t have the knowledge of Jesus Christ, those who persist in good works, who seek glory, honor, and immortality will receive life under the Covenant of Creation. Later, after the resurrection, their knowledge and relationship with Jesus Christ can grow under the Covenant of Peace.
On the other hand, notice what it takes to receive God’s wrath and fury. They do not obey the truth. In order to not obey the truth, they must have knowledge of the truth. They can harden their hearts against the truth in the Creation. They no longer hear Christ’s voice in the Creation. It becomes a matter of choice. For self-seeking reasons, they do not obey the truth that they have been given by God.
Paul also warns about those who have God’s revelation of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, but who become self-seeking with that truth. They judge others who do not yet have that truth. These Christians become wicked. Without the Holy Spirit, these Christians do all the same sinful things as the foolish non-Christians do in ignorance. It’s all about what you do with the knowledge you have been given.
Notice that these sins of the foolish, listed in chapter 1, include homosexuality. Thus even the homosexual who does not profess Christ will be saved, if he persists in doing good, seeks glory, honor, and immortality. This may be shocking to many Christians. But those Christians who pass judgment on the homosexual are in danger of God’s wrath, according to these verses. They are in danger of God’s wrath for holding in contempt God’s mercy that God has for foolish sinners, including homosexuals. Homosexuality is a sin, and it is foolishness. But it’s not an unpardonable sin. It doesn’t, in and of itself, get your name blotted from the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Romans 2:9-11 [There will be] oppression and anguish, on every soul of man who works evil, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (10) But glory, honor, and peace go to every man who works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (11) For there is no partiality with God.
In verse 10, Paul assures glory, honor and peace to those who do good works. He says, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. But in verse 11, Paul says that God does not show favoritism (or partiality). Three times in the first two chapters, Paul says, “first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Rom 1:16, 2:9, and 2:10).
The idea here is that the Jew first received revelation about God other than what can be learned from the Creation. To him who is given more, more is expected. Yet God does not show favoritism with regard to salvation itself (Romans 2:11, 10:12). The law was given to the Jew, and not to the Gentile. Those who sin apart from the law are not judged by the law. Those who sin under the law, as was given to the Jew, are judged by the law (verse 12). Those to whom less was given have a law to follow in the Creation itself. And those who follow Christ have Christ as our law to follow.
Romans 2:12-16 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without the law. As many as have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. (13) For it isn't the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified (14) ( for when Gentiles who don't have the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves, (15) in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying with them, and their thoughts among themselves accusing or else excusing them) (16) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men, according to my Good News, by Jesus Christ.
Commentators of this verse generally say that the law that’s written on their hearts is only there to condemn them at the judgment. But I would ask, “Who wrote this law on their hearts?” The idea of the law being written on one’s heart reminds us of the New Covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-32 is the Old Testament prophecy of the New Covenant. It’s quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12. These verses say that with the New Covenant, God’s law is written on our hearts.
These people do not yet know about Christ. But it was Christ, the Logos, who wrote His law on their hearts. Christ will not abandon them. Christ’s lost sheep, who do not know Him, still hear His voice.
We have Christ as our example. We have perfection to follow. Those who follow Christ have been given more, and more is expected of us. We are expected to overcome sin. Salvation is first to the wise, then to the foolish. Both can be saved. God does not show favoritism.
Chapter 4 speaks of Abraham’s justification. We are not justified by our works, or by observing God’s commandments (law). Our obedience to Christ’s commandments provides us with no more justification than those who don’t know Christ and commit the sins listed in chapter 1. We are saved simply by faith in God. If we have a relationship with the person of Christ, then we are saved by our faith in Christ. Abraham didn’t have the law, nor did he know the person of Christ Jesus. Yet Abraham was saved before God gave him the Covenant of Blessing. Abraham was saved by simple faith in God under the Covenant of Creation. He didn’t have the Law of Moses. Abraham did not have the name of Jesus Christ.
Yet, there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12). Those who have faith in the Creator will eventually be saved under the name of Jesus Christ. When Christ returns, Abraham will be raised from death and be given eternal life under the name of Jesus Christ. It was because of faith in his Creator that Abraham was saved.
As God gives us more revelation about Himself, more is expected of us. Those who harden their hearts to the truth can get their names blotted from the Lamb’s Book of Life. But even today, especially when someone lacks understanding about God’s revelations, people can be saved by faith in their Creator. Should we then refrain from telling someone about Christ for fear they would reject our testimony and be condemned? No, the rejection of Christ that would get someone condemned is a rejection in which they really do understand and know the truth, yet they “suppress the truth,” due to their hardened hearts.
As one starts to obtain knowledge of Christ, he will eventually repent of his self-centered nature, or he will reject Christ in favor of that self-centered nature. This will happen either in this age, or in the age to come. With knowledge of Christ in this age, hopefully, the person will mature into righteousness. A revelation of the law in Old Testament times, or a revelation of Christ in this age, is never a bad thing. Eventually, everyone will have the full revelation of Jesus Christ, and will either reject him, or will seek a mature relationship with him.
Consider Job. Many theologians believe he lived before Abraham. Job was saved by faith in his Creator. But he was also given a revelation about his Savior. Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes -- I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25‑27).
Chapter 5 of Romans is about justification. We are justified by the blood of Christ. Justification means to be declared righteous (or credited with righteousness), by faith. Based on Romans 1 and 2, can this be faith in the Creator? Or is faith in Jesus Christ necessary for any measure of justification? Were all people justified at the cross? Before answering, we need to carefully read what Paul wrote in Romans 5. But we need to interpret these words in the overall context of Jesus as the second Adam. As we read Romans 5, this context becomes more and more apparent. With that context in mind, let’s take a quick look at what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15. This is Paul’s chapter on the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:21-23 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die , so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (23) But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Notice the obvious reference to Christ being the second Adam. What Adam brought to the world was reversed by Christ for the world, not just for believers. By Adam came death for everyone. Likewise, by Christ came a resurrection for everyone! “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” There is no indication here that faith in Christ is necessary. This is something Christ did for everyone while we were still enemies of Christ. It doesn’t say that only those who believe in Christ will be resurrected. It says “all” will be made alive. Some will point to verse 23 and say that only those who belong to Christ will be made alive. But was not the blood of Christ a ransom for everyone?
1 Timothy 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all; the testimony in its own times;
Everyone has been purchased by the blood of Christ and everyone belongs to Christ. We belong to Christ as long as we continue to hear his voice and have not hardened our hearts against him. This is true of Christ’s lost sheep as well as those who are found. We have to remember that this verse about Christ being the second Adam is in the context of Paul’s resurrection chapter. Salvation from the grave is a free gift for everyone. But we must become believers and have faith in Christ before we are no longer lost sheep. We must have faith in Christ in order for our sins to be forgiven and be credited with righteousness. As we will see in Romans 5, the distinction between being ransomed from the grave, and faith for the forgiveness of sins, is reconciliation and a justification that leads to sanctification.
Romans 5:1-2 Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; (2) through whom we also have our access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Verse 1 says we are justified by faith. As we have been seeing in these chapters, you can have faith in the Creator before you understand about Jesus Christ. Verse 1 also says this faith brings us the peace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Could this peace be an allusion to the Covenant of Peace, which will happen when Christ reigns in the millennium? Verse 2 says we hope in the glory of God. To hope is to expect something to happen in the future. The glory of God in the future will be when Christ reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords in the millennium.
Romans 5:3-5 Not only this, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering works perseverance; (4) and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope: (5) and hope doesn't disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Our suffering produces character. Our suffering produces faith. And we are justified by faith. As our character builds through suffering, God’s love is poured out through the Holy Spirit. Through this process, the Holy Spirit changes us and we can overcome sin. These changes by the Holy Spirit are also a free gift.
Romans 5:8-11 But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God's wrath through him. (10) For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled , we will be saved by his life. (11) Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Romans 5:8 says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Verse 9 informs us that his blood has justified us. Verse 10 says that while we were his enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son. How can this not apply to everyone? Everyone is an enemy until we accept Christ as our Savior. Thus everyone is reconciled. Being reconciled, we will be saved by his life. I interpret that to be the giving of his life on the cross. Everyone is saved by his life in that everyone can be resurrected if they do not reject Christ. That’s why Christ is the second Adam. Yet God does not impart (or credit, reckon, account) full and complete justification to us until we put our faith in him (Romans 4:22‑25).
This is because when we put our faith in Christ we embark on a journey to righteousness. As the Holy Spirit changes us, we overcome all our sinful habits. We cannot be completely justified as long as we are still sinning. But we can be credited with righteousness because we know the Holy Spirit will complete the work that he started. "He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
Verse 18 (quoted below) says that just as the trespass of one man brought condemnation to all men, one act of righteousness brings “justification to life” for all men. This means everyone can be resurrected. To be “justified to life” does not mean eternal life. It means that the penalty of death that was given to Adam and all his children has been reverse. All of Adam’s children can be resurrected.
Because Christ was lifted up, he will draw everyone to himself (John 12:32). Therefore, God will give everyone the opportunity to receive his or her free gift. Otherwise, it would not be fair to Christ.
In other words, the gift of Christ’s crucifixion has already been given to all men. It’s up to each individual person whether to accept or reject that gift. Christ is the second Adam. Every man and woman who has ever lived has already been given this gift. We are all Christ’s sheep, even Christ’s sheep who are lost. Everyone can be resurrected. But we must have faith in God for this gift to be credited to us as righteousness. Would God give anyone a gift and not provide some way for him or her to have the opportunity to accept the gift? Would God allow his Son to die on the cross for anyone, and then allow anyone to be forever deceived by Satan as to the availability of this gift?
All sin leads to death, regardless of whether or not the person knows it’s a sin. However, verses 12-14 make a distinction between the sins of the ignorant, and the sins like the transgression of Adam.
Romans 5:12-14 Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned. (13) For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not charged when there is no law . (14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience , who is a foreshadowing of him who was to come.
Sin is not counted where there is no law. This is a direct connection back to chapter 2, especially verses 12-16, where Paul says, “When Gentiles who don't have the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves.” In other words, Paul connects the fact of everyone being reconciled at the cross with the fact that faith in the Creation counts for salvation where further direct revelation from God has not been given. We are all saved by faith.
However, sins like the transgression of Adam are sins where God’s law is known. It’s only after there is knowledge of God’s law that sins are condemned. Therefore, everyone must be eventually made to understand, and be given an opportunity to live for Christ, or their sins would not be counted at the judgment. When they are made to understand the good news of Christ’s sacrifice, they will have their opportunity to mature in Christ.
Romans 5:15 But the free gift isn't like the trespass. For if by the trespass of the one the many died , much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man , Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
God’s grace (favor) is related to being filled with the Holy Spirit. So in this verse, Paul uses “many” instead of “all” because God’s grace (favor) is given only to those who accept him as Savior. Paul is comparing the fall of “many” to the salvation of “many.” Yes, everyone was given a death sentence because of Adam’s sin. But Paul is using parallelism in these verses. So he equates the “many” who will receive the Holy Spirit with a literary “many” who were given Adam’s death sentence.
Romans 5:16-17 The gift is not as through one who sinned: for the judgment came by one to condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses to justification. (17) For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ.
Paul continues to use “many” in talking about those who accept Christ as Savior. This includes those who accept Christ as Savior even after their resurrection. You can say “many” will be forgiven of their sins if that opportunity is extended past the grave. But “many” is too many for those who become disciples of Christ this side of the grave. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that only a few find that gate. However, justification is a free gift for everyone. Everyone has it. Only those who “suppress the truth” they are given wind up rejecting their free gift.
Romans 5:18-19 So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life. (19) For as through the one man's disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one, many will be made righteous.
Notice the undeniable parallelism? Through one trespass, all men were condemned. Likewise, all men were justified to life, through the one act of Jesus Christ. Any restrictions on the all who are justified must also be made to the all who are condemned. If all are not justified to life, then all are not condemned by Adam's sin. In both cases, the only possible exception is Jesus Christ himself.
The verse says that all men are "justified to life." What does it mean to be "justified to life?" Again, look at the parallelism. All men were condemned by Adam’s trespass. It means that Adam's sin brought a condemnation of death. Thus, to be "justified to life" means Christ's one act of righteousness brings life to all men. All men can be resurrected. To be resurrected means you are saved from the grave (Hades). But of course some men will forfeit their salvation.
Verse 18 tells us that “all men” were “justified to life.” Then, verse 19 tells us that “many” will be made righteous. Justification to life has been given to everyone. Earlier, Paul called this reconciliation. But not everyone will be made righteous. Some will forfeit their reconciliation, deliberately refusing to be made righteous. This is equivalent to Adam’s original sin and erases what Christ did on the cross. We must have direct knowledge of God, in a similar way that Adam had a direct knowledge of God, in order to erase the work of reconciliation that Christ did on the cross. Those who do not refuse justification will eventually be made righteous. Therefore, salvation is something to be lost, not gained.
Some translations, such as the ESV, say that the one act of righteousness "leads to" justification and life. However, in the Greek this verse does not have a word for “leading,” or “leads to.” The verb is actually absent and assumed. Therefore, it would literally be translated “it is,” like Young’s Literal Translation.
Romans 5:18 YLT So, then, as through one offence to all men it is to condemnation, so also through one declaration of 'Righteous' it is to all men to justification of life;
Therefore, the crucifixion is a justification of life (resurrection) for all men. This is also known as reconciliation. The only way anyone can lose this gift is to reject the gift by hardening their hearts to the point where they no longer hear Christ’s voice.