What does Covid-19 tell us? It tells us that as often as we think that we have everything under control, we do not. It tells us that God is not absent from us. It reminds us of his power to disrupt the ordinary course of things with, as it were, the flick of a finger. It is not that God was absent and then intervened (occasionalism) but that God is always working in and through all things that occur. This is the Christian doctrine of concursus.
Whenever there is a dreadful, large-scale event, e.g., a terrorist attack or the outbreak of disease, someone is sure to announce that this is God’s judgment on the world for our sins. Without a doubt, by nature, after the fall, we all deserve nothing less than eternal condemnation for our sins both original and actual.
Corporate Guilt And Corporate Gospel
According to God’s Word, all human beings were represented by the first man, Adam. We were in him both genetically and legally. He stood in our place. We were there. We were created in righteousness and true holiness (Heidelberg Catechism 6). Scripture says, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Gen 1:31; ESV). Adam was created with the ability to obey. He was not created fallen. He was not created with concupiscence, i.e., a corrupt desire.
It is implicit in Genesis chapters 2 and 3 that Adam represented all of humanity, since the judgment pronounced in 3:14–15 is corporate:
Yahweh Elohim said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall strike your head, and you shall strike his heel.”
It was not only Eve and serpent who were cursed: “between your offspring and her offspring” makes Adam a public, i.e., representative person. We are as related to Adam as we are to our great grandparents. What Adam did affects us all. The judgment that he incurred, we incurred.
Scripture is clear that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). God had covenanted with Adam to reward his obedience with eternal life and to curse his disobedience with death: “the day you eat thereof you shall surely die.” That is why there were two trees in garden, a tree of life and the tree of death. Mysteriously, tragically, Adam chose death and we see and feel the consequences all round. In Deuteronomy 27:26 God repeated the demand for perfect obedience after the fall and he repeated the curse too:
‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen’ (Deut 27:26; ESV)
In Galatians 3:10 the Apostle Paul quoted this very verse in explaining the consequences of sin and the continuing demands of the law even after the fall. The law is holy, just, and good. It demands what it demands because God is what he is.
Scripture is equally clear, however, that the “gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). The good news is that the gospel was also promised to more than to Adam and Eve individually: “ he shall strike your head, and you shall strike his heel.” The covenant-making and covenant-keeping God, Yahweh Elohim, made a promise to the the Evil One. He would be finally judged and in that judgment, he would be allowed to strike the heel of his conqueror but the conqueror would strike or crush his head. Again, this work was not for one but for all those for whom the conqueror would come, whom the Father gave him, for whom he died. He would save them all in that one act of obedience (Rom 5:19). He acted on behalf of all his people. In Heidelberg Catechism 60 the Reformed Churches confess that, for those who believe in Christ, it is as if “as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, and as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.”
For those who are in Christ, by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), there is now, therefore no condemnation (Rom 8:1). Jesus himself said that, in his cross, the judgment against the Evil One was executed: “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31; ESV). Believers are not under judgment. Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24; ESV).
There remains yet a final judgment, a condemnation for those who are outside of Christ. Our Lord said, “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29; ESV). Those who are in Christ have “done good.” He is our good. Those who are outside of Christ face eternal condemnation. If you are reading this and you have not acknowledged your sin and misery under the law of God and turned to Christ, do it now!
Of Towers And Blindness
So, there is no question of our sinfulness. There is no question of the way of salvation. Further, there is no question that the effects and affects of sin still plague the world. As I write cities in the USA are being shut down, businesses closed, and worship services postponed because of the virus that spread, apparently, from a “wet market” in Wuhan, China to the rest of the world. This virus is particularly deadly for those who have an underlying illness (e.g., a respiratory ailment) and seniors.