"For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." – 1 Corinthians 15:22
The Bible teaches the resurrection of the dead. When the apostle Paul was being questioned by the Sanhedrin, and there realized that a belief in the resurrection of the dead separated the group, he capitalized on that division by siding with those who believed in the resurrection. And what Christian could ever do otherwise? For at the heart of our faith is the teaching that Christ "was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead" (Apostle's Creed).
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul states that everything hinges on this…that "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins" (v.17). Indeed, if Christ was not raised from the dead, then we are still "lost" and we are "to be pitied more than all men" (vss.18-19). The sin of Adam had incurred death upon Adam and all his seed, but in Christ, the second Adam, all will be made alive.
This is, needless to say, a profound and great teaching of the church. Unfortunately, in our age, some well-meaning Christians have taken the idea of the resurrection from the dead and extended it beyond the teaching of scripture. Allow me to explain…
Since the time of Charles Darwin and his 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, the Christian church has often felt itself being pushed out of the realm of science and current thought. In a sort of pendulum swing against what was perceived as a godless attack upon the Bible and the origin of human life, a position was adopted that suggested that the creation was not just "very good" (the language of scripture) before the fall of Adam but, in fact, perfect. As heaven and the eternal state are presented in the Bible as having "no more death or mourning or crying or pain" (Revelation 21:4) some have concluded that that must have also been how things were in the beginning, before Adam's sin. The conclusion of this was – and this is where the reasoning has gone BEYOND the teaching of scripture – that there was no death at all before Adam's sin. So it wasn't just that Adam didn't die before the fall, but NOTHING DIED before the fall: no animals, no birds, no insects, nothing. When I first heard this idea being presented (now some 45 or so years ago) I thought, "Really? No elephant ever stepped on an ant? No horse ever swatted a fly with its tail?" The teaching that there was no death (at all) before Adam's sin has now come to be accepted dogma within many circles of evangelicalism. But think about it…
Recently, Ruth and I found some drain flies in our upstairs bathroom. These are tiny flies, similar to fruit flies. They supposedly breed in drains (and thus the name). As we spotted many I got out the vacuum and started vacuuming them up and counting them as I did: 65…119… By the second day the number was over 200. The flies seemed to be breeding at an exponential rate. 650…954…1115. I searched and searched for the source. Where were they coming from? I tried various means of getting rid of them. After many days I gassed the room with a fogger. Still the numbers increased: 1359…1487…1636. Then I figured out the source: a small bowl into which a toilet brush is placed. I threw the brush and bowl out. Finally…finally…at 1674 the flies ceased. That's a lot of drain flies!
But these who advocate no drain flies ever died before Adam's sin MUST, if they consistently apply the scriptures, then also argue that every fruit fly, every fly, every dog, pig, cat, bird or germ…anything and everything that ever died, must, at the time of the resurrection of the dead, also be raised. Folks, if that happened, not one of us would be able to move. We would be unable to walk for all the living creatures around us. The insects alone would completely take up all the space available. Earth would become an immediate hell.
Better is to stick with the clear teaching of scripture. And the clear teaching of scripture is that Adam's sin brought death to Adam and his race. And the resurrection – rooted in Christ's own resurrection from the dead – has in view only the resurrection of all mankind: with some being raised to "everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2).