As the New England Primer indicated (reflecting Paul’s teaching in Romans 5), the sin of the one man, Adam, brought death into the world. The sin of the one man, Adam, is placed on our account. We are all guilty and we are all sinners. The law of God serves like a projector, showing us our sin. But in Romans 5:16-17 the pattern of sin-condemnation-death is balanced by the pattern of righteousness-justification-life.
Sin increased, but God grace has increased even more. Paul adds a prefix (from which we get our term hyper–as in hyper-drive) to the verb increase. God’s grace is super increasing, or super-abounding. The act of righteousness of the God-man, Jesus Christ, declares us just, and gives us life. Parallel to Adam, but in contrast to him, the righteousness of Christ is placed on your account as you trust in him.
John Calvin has been caricatured as a harsh theologian. But read his rejoicing in the grace of God:
“. . . the abundance of grace becomes for this reason more illustrious, – that while sin is overflowing, it [grace] pours itself forth so exuberantly, that it not only overcomes the flood of sin, but wholly absorbs it And we may hence learn, that our condemnation is not set before us in the law, that we may abide in it; but that having fully known our misery, we may be led to Christ, who is sent to be a physician to the sick, a deliverer to the captives, a comforter to the afflicted, a defender to the oppressed.” John Calvin, Commentary on Romans.
God’s grace leads to life, not just any life, but life that cannot be invaded by death. Life in Christ includes the certain hope that beyond the grave lies the glory of the resurrection. Life eternal is not just an existence in the clouds, but, though starting now, includes your resurrection and your life forever with him in the new heavens and earth.
This life is yours because Jesus is the risen, glorified Lord. As you trust in him, the life that he enjoys now is his to share with you. And that life is not only future–it is a present reality.