Rev. Heys is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Very clearly both Adam and Eve, after their fall into sin, were the objects of God’s mercy. That mother promise which God spoke, and which we began to treat last time, speaks of an enmity that was going to be realized between Satan and the woman. That woman was Eve, for there was no other woman existing at that time. That promise was not to all women, or to all of Eve’s children and grandchildren. Next time we purpose to consider the awesome fact that Cain, Eve’s first child, was the seed of the serpent. But both Adam and Eve were given this promise, and pictured here by God as those who would have enmity against Satan and love for Him.
In fact, there are many examples in Scripture, as well as in the mission activity of our churches and sister churches, of cases where those whose fathers and mothers were undeniably the seed of the serpent, were in God’s grace made to be seed of the woman. This is possible because it does not depend upon man to bring forth this seed of the woman, of which God speaks in that promise. It all depends upon His sovereign grace and almighty power. Even as He changed Adam and Eve into seed of the woman, He can change anyone whom He eternally chose in Christ, Who is The Seed of the Woman and Who crushed the head of the serpent.
It is to be noted and accepted that here already in the garden of Eden, the day man fell into sin, the truth is presented to us that there is no common grace but a very, very particular grace. Even though Adam and Eve, who were the whole human race in that day, were assured of God’s saving grace, the awesome truth is there that all the descendants of Adam and Eve will be divided into two classes, from a spiritual point of view. All men were not in that mother promise assured that God would “offer” them salvation and invite them to come and enjoy His grace. That day thousands of angels already had fallen; and absolutely no promise of salvation was given to even one of them. God’s grace is not common. It is true that some of these fallen angels were not yet in hell, and that Satan is not there yet, either. But that is not due to God’s grace. Life, and in a sense freedom, to them is because of God’s sovereign, eternal counsel, wherein they have certain work to do and cannot do, if they are in the lake of fire.
And today, no one can deny, God does not give every man a “chance” to be saved. The gospel is preached far and wide today; and God’s grace is not shown merely to the Jewish race alone. Pentecost has tremendous importance to us, who are not of the seed of Abraham in the physical sense. But the first promise God spoke reveals that He does not intend to “offer” salvation to all who hear the preaching. He Who does not lie and can choose the right words to express Himself, began the preaching of the gospel by declaring that HE WOULD PUT ENMITY in the hearts of some against Satan and all his words, and love towards Himself. He is not going to ask men to accept the new life. He is going to give it to them in a particular grace. He presented no offer to Adam and Eve. He did not wait to see what they would do. He told them in a very emphatic way what He was going to do, and that it would be a very particular work! He says, “I will” not, “I would like to, if you will tell me that you want it.”
Do we not read concerning one of Jesus’ disciples, “The Son of man goeth as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed?” Does God have a temporary grace that Judas enjoyed and then lost? And what about that word of the God of all truth and knowledge? He “determined” not only that Christ would die, but also how every element in the transaction would take place. Is that not also the truth in Romans 9:13: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” And is He gracious to one whom He hates? Let us not dare to corrupt the words that come out of God’s mouth, and say that the idea is: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I loved less.” If you may do that, I may present it this way: “Jacob have I hated a little, but Esau have I loved a little.” If we may change the powerful word hate to mean love less, who can deny us the right to change that word love into a small hatred? And what about Jesus’ own words? In Matthew 22:14 He said, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” That harmonizes with this mother promise of putting enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. In Ephesians 2:10, likewise we are told: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Here we read that we are HIS workmanship, so that no work—and that includes “accepting the offer” or “heeding the invitation”—is ours before salvation is begun in us. We are saved before we can believe, and must be born again; or otherwise we will not want to be saved. We also read that we are createdin Christ Jesus, which means that of ourselves we did not even exist spiritually with the desire to be in Christ. We are created unto, not because we performed the good work of delighting in salvation. And God ordained salvation for us and its good works before the foundation of the world. His grace is particular, and by no means or in any way common. Yes, in a sense we can and must say that God offers salvation. In the literal sense of the word He does, for that word then means simply to present before someone. It was presented before Esau through his parents; but it was not presented as an invitation, so that God had to wait and see whether he wanted it. According to Romans 9:6-16, it was all eternally predetermined by God. He did not in grace invite Esau. He has mercy on whom He will have mercy; and He, before the children were born, willed to have mercy only on Jacob.
But let us return to this shadow of God’s grace in the garden of Eden. Before Adam and Eve were born again, God came in a particular grace and spoke of a very, very limited grace to which He would call the seed of the woman, and leave what He calls seed of the serpent in its spiritual death. Before they wanted salvation, God’s grace had already moved Him to give them that desire. His grace gives, and does not merely suggest or propose salvation, if the spiritually dead man will only show that he wants it.
Yes, men want salvation from punishment. Spiritually dead men can do that. The question is, however, whether they want to be saved from sinand want to love God. Those who have not yet received the beginning of salvation, so that they still hate God, can never, when they hear Him speak, make themselves spiritually alive and want that kind of salvation. And Adam and Eve did not show the slightest trace of such a desire to love God again, and hate the devil, before God came, not with an offer in the sense of an invitation, but with a promise that He would work this in them.
Nowhere in Scripture do we find a more powerful manifestation that salvation is all God’s work, including the installing of the desire for it, than right there in the garden where man fell into sin. Here His particular grace is foreshadowed. There is no pleading and coaxing to try to get Adam and Eve to hate sin and once again love God. It did not depend upon what man was going to do. The almighty God spoke and revealed what He was going to do. He does not come with an invitation, but with a promise. Before Adam and Eve were even aware of a forgiving grace, God revealed it in this mother promise.
In His particular grace God did two things. He gave them a new spiritual life, which made possible for them, faith in the promise He was going to give. This is clearly evident in the fact that we do not read one word from the mouths of Adam and Eve, and are not told of one deed that even slightly revealed remorse and sorrow over their sin, before God speaks His promise. And He speaks not a conditional promise but a very unconditional promise. He tells us what HE will do, not might do, if we act first, and repent and ask for salvation. The simple fact is, that if that is the way He saves us, we will never, no never be saved; Dead men do not ask to be taken out of their coffins and graves. Spiritually dead men never do and never can feel sorry for their sins and ask to be given love to God. Once again, they will want relief from punishment, but not from Satan’s power over them. To fulfill a condition is to manifest that you already have that love of God in your heart. To want relief from punishment means, if that is all you have, to want to keep your hatred toward God even while you escape from His holy wrath. No, God’s grace gives man hatred, or to use God’s word to the devil, enmity, in the hearts of His people against the devil and all deviltry. And THAT God here declares is going to be very particular. There are those to whom He does not intend to give it. These will be left under Satan’s power, and they will hate those who have received .this love of God into their hearts. And He declares—that HE will put that enmity; which means that we do not have it by our natural birth. We are conceived and born in sin. We are totally depraved in the sense that we have not the smallest trace of love to God in us, as descendants of Adam and Eve. They lost all love to God; and they had nothing of spiritual good to give to their children. The murder of Abel by Cain reveals how particular God’s grace is, and that He must give faith to man unconditionally. Fallen man cannot ask for it, for he cannot want it. Very particularly God will give it to those whom He chose in Christ. There are those to whom He does not intend to give it. These He will leave as seed of the serpent. Take hold of it again. HE will put that enmity; and HE will decide who is going to receive it. Let us not listen to Satan, as Adam and Eve did. The denial of total, that is, one hundred percent depravity, is doing as Adam and Eve did, when they took Satan’s word and cast away God’s word.
God’s grace gives, and does not sell salvation. If man has to fulfill the condition, and take a step before God will begin salvation in him, then God sells salvation; and then also He—perish the thought!—runs the risk of having His Son’s work fail to realize all that He would like to have it cause to happen. A common grace, the giving of the benefits of Christ’s work to every one who hears the preaching, if they will only do what He has not given them the power to do, would not be grace. Grace presents a free gift, not one obtained by a work man performs. God’s particular grace is an unconditional grace.
Yes, we must believe, and, as we read in John 3:16, God loved the seed of the woman—and not everybody in the world—and gave His Son, so that those who believe in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. But Ephesians 2:8 is God’s word through Paul that salvation is a gift; and faith is part of that gift. What is more, through Paul, God begins this chapter in Ephesians with the truth that before God gave faith to these seed of the woman, to whom Paul wrote, they were dead in trespasses and sins; stating further in verse 5 that by grace they are saved. Plainly, grace makes the seed of the woman spiritually alive so that they can believe. Faith—which some incorrectly like to call the accepting of the invitation—is a particular gift; and therefore a particular grace is taught throughout Scripture, beginning right here in Genesis 3, the day man fell into sin.
There is a second work God wrought that day in His grace; but that will have to be treated next time. He, yes, in His grace, drove man out of paradise and placed cherubim with flaming swords to keep the way of the tree of life. That we also ought to appreciate. That also should bring words of thanksgiving to God and enrich in us the truth of His particular grace which was foreshadowed in that day, and today is manifested far more clearly.