Drinking Deeply

Saturday, November 19, 2005 at 4:31 PM

Common Grace (3)

A few final thought on Common Grace before I move on to less heretical stuffs. It’s something I’m going to wrestle with, but not something I feel comfortable getting into debates about, though it is interesting to note that there have been denominations that have split over this issue.

1) The issue seems to hinge on whether the term “grace” can refer to a general kindness and patience that God does show towards the unregenerate. For me, I am not too sure on that. Grace (for me right now) is tied to salvation.
Acts 15
11But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.

Romans 3

23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
2) A denial of common grace and/or that God loves everybody (I view them as the same issue) shouldn’t change my treatment of other people, regenerate or non. While there does seem to be a special preference in the Bible towards those that are part of the body, one’s treatment of people is governed by the “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Romans 12 (emphasis added):

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. 17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
3) For me, the way I speak to other people (especially in doing evangelism), will not change. I have never liked the “God loves you” sentence simply because I felt like it was much too likely to be misinterpreted and misunderstood, even if common grace is true. I hope to continue to proclaim a gospel of grace and forgiveness.
Acts 17:

30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
4) If we do use the term “common grace” or talk about “God demonstrating His love” it seems that an important thing to do is to explain what we mean by it and how it can and will lead to judgment if we don’t turn in thankfulness for the patience of God. That should clear up the whole issue and render this debate that has split churches moot.
Romans 2:

4Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
5) Whatever we decide regarding this issue, I think the fact that it has split churches should make us carefully consider it so that we can make an informed opinion on it, so that every man is fully convinced in his own mind.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

Blogger Frank Martens said...

"Whatever we decide regarding this issue, I think the fact that it has split churches should make us carefully consider it so that we can make an informed opinion on it, so that every man is fully convinced in his own mind."

I once had a conversation with someone and said that everyone should have an opinion on most everything important.

They got upset and said no and blah blah blah. I clarified to say so that way they are ready to give an answer for why they live like they do and so that they can be fully convinced in their own mind.

They were still upset, so I went further to say that it doesn't mean you have to speak up and speak your mind. It just means to be ready.

They were still upset :)

Hahaha, but anyway I agree with you on it.  

~

Anonymous Jon said...

Hey Mickey,

I think these few entries really help to illustrate an issue that has been neglected and taken for granted in Reformed circles over the past 80 years or so. I recommend that you check out the literature of the Protestant Reformed Churches of America (www.prca.org) and the literature of the denomination from which they split off, the Christ Reformed Church (www.christreformed.org). The denomination (CRC) split over this issue, with the Rev. Herman Hoeksema leading the PRC out of the CRC. Hoeksema was a brilliant theologian and had some very wise things to say about this issue.

Needless to say, I remain ambivalent with you, although my mind is definitely made up concerning "free offer" of the Gospel. That issue is often deeply interconnected with the "common grace" controversy. Sometimes it is very difficult to separate the two, especially when reading the PRC and CRC materials. They seem to equate the two as a packaged deal.

Soli Deo Gloria

Jon  

~

Anonymous Jon said...

"Needless to say, I remain ambivalent with you, although my mind is definitely made up concerning 'free offer' of the Gospel."

Heh, on second read, I realized that sentence might be misread. What I meant is that I side with you in remaining ambivalent toward the common grace issue. In no way did I want to imply that I remained ambivalent toward you. I think you're great, bud. ;)  

~

Drop a thought