Was Adam „good” before the Fall? Doug Wilson

Ask Doug: I am trying to understand what is meant by God calling Adam and Eve, His prized creation, „good.” Did that mean perfect? Did that mean sinless? If so, did they need Jesus before the fall? If not, what would you say they were? canonwired.com/featured/adam-good-pre-fall/ (Photo credit www.christianbookexpo.com)

They needed Jesus before the fall, they needed the grace of God before the fall, but, what they did not need was forgiveness, before the fall. Every creature depends upon the grace of God. Fallen creatures require a special form of grace, which is forgiveness, mercy, where God deals with our rebellion and forgives our sins.

What Adam and Eve were before the fall, I would describe as ‘they were in a probationary status’. They were sinless and they were good, but it was untested innocence. Had they passed the test that was given to them, and had refrained from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then they would have been settled, or established, or confirmed in their innocence, which I would describe as righteous. It was an untested innocence that moved into a mature tested righteousness.

God was giving them good gifts, and it was all the grace of God. It says in Luke that Jesus grew in grace. Well, Jesus experienced the goodness of God, the grace of God, but He never experienced the grace of God in forgiveness.

They (Adam & Eve) needed Jesus to pass the test, that they failed to pass. So, if Adam and Eve had said no to the serpent, and had refrained from eating from that tree, and they got through to the other side, here’s the thought experiment: would they have needed to say a little prayer of thanks, that they’ve been spared? I think, obviously, yes. They needed to trust God and obey God through that whole event. They didn’t and so they fell. Had they done so, they would have been sustained by the preserving grace of God. It still would have been unmerited favor, which is different than demerited favor.

A lot of our debates about the grace of God get gummed up because Christians are using the word grace maybe equivocally. Most of the time, we as sinners, experience grace as favor from God that we actively demerited. We behaved in such a way that what God gives us is mercy and grace. It is the very opposite of what we were insisting on getting.

Now, the instant before Adam had life breathed into him, when he was still dirt, he was dirt that had done nothing to earn or merit his coming life. It was unmerited life. So, the life that God breathed into him was unmerited, but it wasn’t demerited.


….when Adam spurned that grace, God gave him everything he needed for life and godliness. And when Adam spurned that and fell into sin, he actively demerited any continued goodness from God, but God continues His goodness anyways.

click on video to listen to the entire answer (conversation).

Ask Doug: Was Adam „good” before the Fall? from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

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