Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Common Grace (Part II)
As we examine the word of God and as we come to understand God's position on sin, it is easy to see that God has zero tolerance for sin. As a matter of fact God hates sin in any form or fashion. The Word of God is replete with examples where God has pronounced horrific penalties of both sin and sinners. Yet, if we also examine the world around us we are quick to notice that in most cases judgement, wrath, anger, and punishment seem to be absent and undetectable. Granted, in most cases we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. However, our examination of the world around us demonstrates that God's grace, that is his unmerited favor and blessings seem to be prevalent in the lives of both sinners and saints alike. In other words, as we look about us we can see the evidence of God's common grace depicted in thousands of everyday examples. Let's look at a few areas or categories where God's common grace is depicted. So, let's "borrow" from Grudems bullet points and talk about these categories. The first category is...
The Physical Realm
Unbeliever's and believers alike live in this world and on this planet we call earth. God did not reserve this planet, at this to his elect alone. Sinners breathe the same air, experience the warmth of the same sun, and utilize the same resources as those who are the children of God. Sinners and Saints alike enjoy the handiwork of God in creation. Common grace allows every human being to enjoy sunsets, rivers mountains, oceans, flowers, woodlands, and plant life.
Although this earth is currently under the curse of God and is subject to decay, God extends his unmerited favor toward those who are his enemies by allowing them to live in this world by, first, not exterminating them immediately, and second, by allowing them to enjoy all that God has made.
"The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made..." (Psalm 145:9)
The Intellectual Realm
This is an area where God's common grace is very prevalent. We don't think of God's unmerited or undeserved favor in regards to the intellect of man very much. Consider three segments of the intellectual realm with me if you would. Think first of...
The Character of Satan
Satan we know from the Scriptures is a liar and he is the father of all lies. As a mater of fact the bible says that there is no truth in Satan at all. Satan is absolutely consumed with evil or wickedness is radically evil. What has that to do with our topic you ask? Well I am glad you asked!
You see not every human being, especially those who have not been redeemed by our Lord is equally evil. Human beings, saved and sinners, have some grasp of truth. Human beings have great intellects and great understanding. Make no mistake, having some element of truth, great intellect and even great understanding of the world around us is not enough to earn any merit or favor with God nor will it merit salvation. The common grace of God is extended to the human race enabling the human race to have knowledge of this world and universe in which we live. Secondly, think of...
The Knowledge of God
Every human being that intellectually develops has an awareness or knowledge of God. Romans 1:21 makes this perfectly clear - "Although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him. Every human being as a sense of God of God's existence. Men were created by God to worship God. Even when they reject God and are dead to God they have an internal and innate sense of God. Thirdly, think of...
The Abilities of Man
God has allowed by his common grace the ability of man to grasp truth and distinguish it from error. Human beings, whether Gods' children or not, can use science and technology to explore, experience, and enjoy creation.
The Moral Realm
Common grace is seen in the fact that God has provided various restraints which keep people from being as evil as they could be. Human beings are born spiritually dead therefore having no capability to interact with God and they are born utterly depraved. Common grace restrains our depravity and the demonic activity. Otherwise the human race would have wiped itself out centuries ago. What are some of those restraints that because of God's common grace both sinners and saints enjoy? There are several...
Demonic limitation - the fallen angels can only wreak as much havoc upon believers and this world as God's sovereign design allows. Many of the fallen angels are even locked up in a pit as you read this waiting on judgment for their decision to follow Lucifer and rebel against God. Demonic activity could have been worse!
Conscience- human beings have a sense of right and wrong that even causes the sinner to "comply" with God's laws. Not in any sense which would lead to salvation or forgiveness but does provide a restraint internally against certain behavior. Of course there are exceptions to the rule when men "sear" their conscience and become narcissistic psychopaths with no concern for others.
Some other restraints are parents, extended family, laws, society itself, the Word of God, Christ Jesus, and government. All things work to restrain the evil and depravity of our innate nature prior to the saving of our soul. Believers have at least one more restraint and that is the indwelling Holy Spirit.
God's common grace is depicted in these restraints within the moral realm of mankind retraining all people from being as evil as they could be. As evil as men are and as horrible as some have become such as John Wayne Gacy, The Boston Strangler, child molesters, murders, rapists, terrorists, those who torture for pleasure and et. cetera; without the common grace of God in restraints, human beings would be worse than we could imagine.
God's common grace is that grace, that unmerited favor which God bestows blessings and even favor upon all human beings regardless of salvation status. That common grace is seen in various "realms." There is one thing to keep in mind at this point; common grace does not save people. Common grace will not redeem sinners. Even though God blesses the sinner with the enjoyment of sunshine, bountiful harvests, pleasurable experiences, and allows the sinner to breathe the air God created, this grace will not save the soul of any sinner.Common grace will not change the human heart. Common grace can restrain sin but it will not give the necessary spiritual life needed by a sinner in order to exercise faith and to repent.
A second sobering thought to keep in mind is no act or actions of a sinner as a result of common grace is pleasing to God. The activity promoted by common grace does not merit God's approval or favor. Many human beings are philanthropists and by our standards do great works but those works do not please God. Particularly they will not appease God either. Building hospitals in the jungle, giving millions of dollars to education or medicine, sacrificing all that you know or have for someone else does not please God.
Are you shocked? You should be. We make much of philanthropic organizations and activities. We give great awards and accolades to those who "benefit mankind." First, these actions do not please God in the least, and second, they do not merit saving grace on any one's behalf. There are two reasons this is so:
First, these actions, attitudes, and activities are not born of faith - "Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." (Romans 14:23) and second, they do not spring from or are not motivated from a love for God. (Matt 22:37).
Here is a final thought that might surprise you. It seems that the sinner may enjoy or experience common grace more than the saint. Many times sinners are more skill full, harder workers, more talented, more intelligent, or more creative than the children of God. Many times the unsaved have more wealth or possessions than the children of God. This doesn't mean that God loves the sinner more than the saint. It simply means that God dispenses his common grace differently to various people.
Posted by Gregg Metcalf at 3:00 AM