See update at bottom of post (9/2/08)
Recently, I've spent a good deal of time reading and pondering over the first few chapters of Genesis. As I've read, a number of questions have come to my mind. Hopefully I'll blog about an number of them sooner or later, but I'll start with this one for now: What was the nature of Adam's relationship with God? Did Adam have to earn God's favor or did He already have the favor of God? Was his relationship based on grace or merit?
In Genesis 2:9 we read: "And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Later in v.16 we learn of the one restriction given to Adam: "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Adam could freely eat of every true except for one. This means that Adam could take and eat of the Tree of Life. Adam did not have to earn access to the Tree of Life. God did not require Adam to perform certain duties in order to earn His favor; rather, God was already favorable, or shall we say, gracious toward Adam. Granted, God did require Adam to be obedient and to live by faith in His Word, but this is a far cry from saying that Adam had to merit or earn God's love and favor. Adam had life, and he had continual access to the Tree of Life.
The reality that Adam's relationship with God was built on grace, magnifies the gravity of Adam's sin against God. The Creator God had given Adam everything. He had freely given the world to Adam's care. Yet, as Adam stood before the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam chose to follow his wife Eve--thereby ignoring and scorning God's graciousness. He chose to eat of forbidden fruit, thereby forfitting life and embracing death--both spiritual and physical. So, in Genesis 3:22-23 we read: "Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever--' therefore, the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken." The Tree of Life that was once freely available was now taken from Adam's reach. Adam had fallen from grace.
Blogging is interesting to me for a number of reasons. One issue that arises is the issue of progress and growth. As I go back and read some of my previous posts, I can remember the struggles/issues that were on my mind. Sometimes, my thought patterns continue in the same directions, while at other points I change my mind. This post is an example of a time where my mind has changed. While I previously thought that the word "grace" could be applied to Adam's pre-Fall situation, I've come to believe that the terminology of grace should be reserved for the post-Fall situation. It seems to me that "grace" is not simply unmerited favor, but unmerited favor in light of our demerit . Although I don't have the time to discuss what brought about such changes, it will have to suffice for me to say that I believe that the idea of "merit" or "works" was present in the covenant with Adam...and the terminology of "grace" should not be used to describe Adam's situation.