Review: Judgment: Grace and Salvation
Adam and the woman in the garden were there in order to serve God, and God has a relationship with them. But this relationship doesn't operate in an ethical vacuum. In order have this relationship God establishes ethical boundaries, and what we learn here is that relationships have to function on the basis of integrity. A relationship cannot function apart from integrity, and we need to understand that. It is true about a marriage, about friendship, about whom we work for in a company or corporation—if there is no integrity at the corporate level then there can't be a real relationship. When there is no integrity in the relationship then the relationship serves as a prop to arrogance. It is always serving somebody's self-interest. It is there for self-promotion, self-indulgence and self-gratification. When there is no integrity that relationship is only there for one reason and that is to benefit the person in charge. So in a marriage where a person lacks integrity then that relationship is really a sham.
What we learn from the first few chapters of Genesis is that the God of the Bible is a God of righteous, absolute standards and that is the standard of His integrity. Justice is the application of that integrity and this works in conjunction with His veracity. If God is not true in all that He does and all that He says, then He is not trustworthy. So integrity relates to His love, justice, and His veracity. Integrity highlights God's righteousness, His justice, His love, and His truth. Those four always go together when talking about integrity, and that lays the foundation for God's relationship with man. The reason why God can enter into unconditional covenants with man where God binds Himself legally to a contract is because of the high level of His integrity. That is something He binds Himself to without binding man to it because He knows the sinfulness of the human race. So the post-fall unconditional covenants are all unilateral, with the exception of the Mosaic covenant which was in some sense unilateral but was temporary.
Righteousness is the standard of God's integrity. Justice is the application of that righteousness to man, but this is always in the context of love. Love means that God always has the highest and best in mind for the object of His love; it is not self-serving. God's righteousness and justice does not operate toward man in a self-serving manner but has the best in mind for the object of love, and it always operates in veracity.
Once man sins there is a break in the relationship with God. And the sin is defined objectively. It is not just some sort of subjective line that is crossed, but he violates a specific commandment. This changes the fabric of the universe basically. God's righteousness is violated and in justice God has to condemn man. For God to remain God He has to judge the violation of that righteousness, but in love He wants to do the best for the creature consistent with His veracity, and so He is going to now express grace to the creature. Grace is defined as God's unmerited favor, unearned kindness. Grace can't operate before the fall because before the fall man has perfect righteousness. It is not undeserved kindness; he deserves it; he has the same righteousness that God has. After the great white throne judgment when all unbelievers are sentenced to the lake of fire grace doesn't operate any more. Why? Because believers are all in heaven without a sin nature and there are no sinful creatures out there for God to be gracious to. Grace is limited in history; it is bounded by the fall and the great white throne judgment, between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20. Something else is also bound and limited, and that is evil.
The fall introduces the problem of evil and it also introduces for us in an extremely abbreviated sense the solution to sin, which is salvation. We saw that in Genesis chapter three, that God solves man's problem of nakedness (which represents the sin problem) by making them tunics of skins, and this is done through animals sacrifice which pictures the ultimate death of Christ on the cross. Genesis chapter four shows that the sin problem isn't restricted to Adam and Eve but it is generational now, it is going to affect the entire human race, everyone who descends from Adam. So in Genesis chapter three we have this very abbreviated picture of God's solution, but the picture that Genesis really gives us of salvation is the next big event is the flood which begins in Genesis chapter six. Genesis chapters four and five really focus on the ongoing problem and consequences of sin on the human race and how it continues to play itself out generationally until man gets to a point where God is not going to put up with it any longer. In Genesis seven and eight, in the flood, we have a picture of judgment that goes along with salvation. This is always how the Noahic flood is used in the New Testament. It is always treated as a literal and actual event but it is always used to teach the doctrine of judgment as well as salvation. So when we look at Genesis we see a hint of judgment and grace and salvation in the curse but it is really developed in its full picture with the flood. The first mention of grace (not the first act of grace) in the Bible is in Genesis 6:8: "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." This shows what the Holy Spirit is wanting to emphasize in this flood event.