Question 27: Are all people, just as they were lost through Adam, saved through Christ?
Answer: No, only those who are elected by God and united to Christ by faith. Nevertheless, God in his mercy demonstrates common grace even to those who are not elect, by restraining the effects of sin and enabling works of culture for human well-being.
Although Jesus Christ is the Savior of humanity—redeeming all kinds of people from all nations of the world—his saving work does not redeem absolutely everyone. Just as we are united to Adam by natural birth, bringing us under condemnation, so are we united to Christ by the new birth, bringing us into justification and life. The new birth is not a blessing that every person receives, but is manifested in those who believe the gospel.
Rooted in God’s election from eternity past, union with Christ is demonstrated in our own experience when we come to faith. Faith, which includes knowledge of the truth of the gospel, assent to it, and trust in the Savior declared to us, is the defining mark of Christian identity. This is why baptism, the public identification of believers with Christ, is “an appeal to God for a good conscience” (1 Pet. 3:21), that is, an act of faith in God’s promise through Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.
In eternity past, God has joined us to Christ by his sovereign election. In history, he joins us to Christ covenantally by drawing us to faith. At the moment of faith, we are transferred from condemnation in Adam to life in Jesus Christ.
Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Romans 5:12-21. Who are the two covenant heads of humanity? How are we joined to each one? How does Paul present them as similar in this passage? How does he present them as different?