Drinking Deeply

Thursday, November 17, 2005 at 3:13 PM

Common Grace

Ok, here’s what I’m wrestling with in regards to “Common Grace.”

A few disclaimers:

1) This is an issue of terminology. I am not denying that God lets the rain fall and the sun shine upon both the righteous and the wicked. I am not denying that God upholds and maintains the universe by His hand, which includes both the righteous and wicked alike. I am not denying that God’s Spirit restrains evil through what we term our “consciences.”

2) I am in the vast minority in this issue. Because of that, I am very highly inclined to believe that I am in the wrong, but I (currently) cannot understand how.

3) I was tempted to not post on this issue at all, but I figured to do so just so I could hear people’s views.

Ok, the issue for me, is “should I use the term “common grace” to refer to all those things I referenced above in point 1?”

The only issue with using it (to me at least) is if it would be misleading, implying something that is not there, namely the “grace” aspect.

Thus the question must arise: How does a person understand “grace?”

A few definitions from online:

1) the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God

2) Grace is unmerited favor.

3) The undeserved favor bestowed upon sinners, a gift from God giving us Christ's riches which we do not deserve nor can earn.

Seems pretty reasonable. What’s referred to by “common grace”? Well, it’s those things I referenced in the beginning. Things like God’s general providence in rain, upholding the universe, restraining evil and so on.

So here is my thought process:

1) God is sovereign over everything. This means that everything happens in accordance to God’s declaration. The coffee I spilled on my shirt this afternoon, the donut that I bit into. It’s happening by God’s decree.

2) As a corollary to the above, since everything that happens is in accordance to God’s sovereign plan, then the wickedness of the wicked resulting in their condemnation is also in accordance to His plan.

3) Since He knows that His favor and “grace” in sun and rain and restraining evil will not result in repentance and faith with those that he had predestined to reprobation, they will result in sin since without faith it is impossible to please God.

4) Thus what is grace to us: just scales, sun, rain, marriage, and the like, does not result in grace for them, but rather results in things that they will be judged for and held accountable for. Maybe some more than others because of their greater or lesser knowledge, but they are all without excuse.

5) To me, this idea that they will be judged for the honor they did not ascribe to God for the rain given to them really precludes the idea of me calling it grace. At least, not without a lot of qualifications.

I think this is summed up in:

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.

God is kind, forbearing, patient, but it’s supposed to lead us to repentance. If it does not (our hearts are hard) then we are storing up wrath.

Is it proper to call this kindness, forbearing ness, patience: “grace”?

That’s what I’m wrestling with here. To reiterate, I am not denying the existence of God’s general kindness, patience, and so on, but I hesitate to call it “grace” (or for that matter “love”) for those that are predestined to destruction.

A few ways I can see out of this mess:

1) Disprove God’s sovereignty over all things

2) Redefine grace

3) Establish a distinction in the “two wills of God” (which John Piper has tried to do http://www.desiringgod.org/library/sermons/87/040587.html but I’m not entirely sold on it)

4) Use the term “grace” knowing that I’m not being entirely intellectually honest.

5) Give up on the term “grace” in this respect.





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Blogger Frank Martens said...

Maybe you should look up the definitions of grace in some like "Bible Dictionary" just to be clear on that.

Also, find some verses that define grace for you.

The main reason we want to seperate grace is because, there's an elect (selected) number of people that are saved. And it takes Grace to save (For by Grace we are saved).... so we must agree that it takes something extra in order to save the select few as apposed to those who are NOT saved.

As you rightly defined... Grace is... "Grace is unmerited favor." So would you not agree that all of us should have been obliverated when adam and eve ate of the forbidden fruit? So there had to be some GRACE granted to all mankind to finishing living out the appointed years.

So there's GRACE to keep us alive on earth. And then there's GRACE to keep a select number alive for eternity.

Does that help?  


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