We gathered together on Friday night of Reformation weekend last year to hear our pastor speak on the subject of Sola Scriptura. Each year he takes one of the five solas of the Reformation to consider for the entire month of October. He had preached on previous Lord’s Days on the necessity and sufficiency of Scripture, but on this Friday evening he spoke to us on the formation of the canon. As we closed and were all ready to move on to the refreshments and games that had been planned for the evening, there was a brief time for question and answer. A few congregants asked questions regarding the subject matter of the pastor’s lecture, and then Ms. Pam spoke up.
Ms. Pam is a lady in our community who wanders the streets and collects items such as clothing and food (and sometimes jewelry) from whoever is willing to give. She is not in her right mind and at times what proceeds from her mouth must be corrected or sometimes ignored altogether. She wanders in from time to time (as many do, given our location) to have a meal before our midweek Bible study. At other times she has been a distraction taking attention to herself outside one of the windows of church building. On this occasion, she made her way in with many items in her possession (as usual) and found a seat midway through the pastor’s lecture. Her question had nothing to do with the formation of the Scriptural canon, she asked “Why does God hold me responsible for Adam’s sin?” The pastor answered her quickly and attempted to dismiss us, but Ms. Pam would not have it. She wanted more, and eventually we were dismissed and the pastor spoke with Ms Pam personally. She stayed and watched the children roast marshmallows, and then returned to the streets as she always does.
There were a few things I took away from this. First, even though Ms. Pam is not in her right mind, she reflects that she is made in God’s image in that she has the sense of guilt on her conscience. This is because God’s law is written there (Romans 2:15). Her conscience was both accusing her and excusing her of guilt. She admitted that God held her responsible not only for her own sins, but that she was guilty in her federal head Adam (Romans 5:12-21); of whom it pleased God to be a fitting representative for humankind in the covenant of works. Second, though her words testified to her possessing the imago dei she showed herself to be a true child of Adam in that she hardened herself against God and the guilt she knew she was under. It was amazing to me that even in her state of mind these things were evident in Ms. Pam. Third, as I looked at Ms. Pam it was as though I was looking into a mirror because I saw a reflection of myself. Like her, I sense the guilt and weight of sin but seek to excuse it, to place the blame on others, and to deny that I should be one on whom this guilt falls. Finally, I was reminded of the only hope for Ms. Pam and myself: yes, Adam’s sin was imputed to us and the effects of this guilt include our own actual transgressions that we are personally guilty of, but the sins of all of Christ’s people were imputed to Christ the second Adam that we might receive his righteousness and be justified in the sight of the Father.