“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Never have so few words carried more far-reaching implications than the first verse of the Bible. For instance, in a single sentence God reveals Himself as the origin of everything, apart from whom nothing would or could exist, without whom we have nothing, and to whom we owe everything. Indeed, “every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).
God also created our first parents. But while Adam and Eve entered the world with no trace of evil and in a personal and loving relationship with God, they did not possess eternal life, as indicated by their fall and subsequent ban from the Tree of Life. Eternal life required a simple act of fidelity and obedience to God. Created holy, they were able to forfeit their righteous status and relationship to God by a choice of the will. Yet, in freely choosing to disobey God and eat from the forbidden tree, they exalted themselves over the will, knowledge, and authority of God and spiritually died. And while their sin deserved immediate physical and spiritual death, without remedy, God cast them from the garden and kept them from partaking of the Tree of Life by which they would have lived as condemned and cursed, forever. Moreover, God sacrificed animals to cover their nakedness, granted them long lives, and gave them a quiver full of children. And so for Adam and Eve, every good was grace–every breath, mercy.
Adam stood for the entire human race in his trial of obedience in the garden, so when he fell his posterity fell with him. “All sinned” in Adam and “through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners” (Rom. 5:12, 19). The results are promptly seen in Cain’s murder of his brother Abel from bitterness over God’s preference of Abel’s animal sacrifice to Cain’s offering of the fruit of the ground. God judged and cursed Cain for his sin, but graciously allowed him to live and gave him a sign to prevent others from killing him. But what did Cain deserve? Like Adam and Eve, he deserved immediate physical and spiritual death, without remedy. So, for Cain, every good was grace–every breath, mercy.
When the horrible fruit of Adam’s sin filled the world, God filled the world with water and destroyed humanity with a worldwide flood, sparing only Noah and his family. After the Ark and its passengers disembarked upon dry land, God promised to never again destroy the world by water. Noah and his family were spared the judgment of the flood, but were they without sin? Since God judged Adam for a single sin, could Noah claim to have deserved less? Of course not, for “who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?’” (Prov. 20:9). The question demands humble silence. For, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). So, in light of the same strict and unchanging standard of justice that condemned Adam, Eve, and the entirety of Adam’s posterity for a single sin, for Noah and his family, every good was grace–every breath, mercy.
We could multiply examples, but suffice it to say that all of Adam’s physical posterity have born the curse and judgment for their own sin and the sin of Adam, for “through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men” and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 5: 18, 3:23). Apart from the righteousness of Christ imputed (credited) to us, “There is none righteous, not even one” (Rom. 3:10). Thus, in light of God’s strict and unchanging justice, how should we view life? Should we ask why bad things happen to good people? Should we demand better treatment from God? No, for every child of Adam, every good is grace–every breath, mercy.
And so we have every reason to rejoice in the saving work of Jesus Christ, whose life satisfied the requirement of sinless obedience for eternal life (the same requirement that Adam failed to meet as our representative), and whose death paid the penalty required by God’s justice for our sin. God’s infinite grace and mercy in Christ earned for us infinite merit, a merit that God’s justice will compensate with an infinite reward. Thus, while our every good is grace and every breath, mercy, we have been given infinite blessings in Christ.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988, 1995. Used by permission.
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© 2016 Craig Biehl, author of God the Reason, The Box, The Infinite Merit of Christ, and Reading Religious Affections
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