Distinction between the special grace and common grace of God

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Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi all,

I'm new on this website, but I'd appreciate a discussion on this topic to bring up further ideas of study.

I'm trying to get a better understanding of how the common grace of God and the special grace of God, 'overlap' and inter-work somewhat, for an assignment I'm doing on the same topic, in studying for a diploma of theology I'm completing. Its important to me that I feel like I have exhausted all aspects of this topic.

So far I have defined special grace as follows:

special grace is (A) the, ‘decision in eternity’, or the decision God has made in eternity to elect the Christian to become His child. God who inhabits eternity, has decided to elect a group of people and to give them eternal life (praise God I am amongst this number), coupled with (B) the changes in a person destined to be a Christian, which are solely attributable to the Holy Spirit which occur both before and after the instantaneous moment of conversion, which cannot be attributed to the Common Grace of God, which lead them to accept Christ by faith.

We know Special grace is irresistible / Common grace is not. Special Grace works to renew the nature of man to make him able to accept Christ.

An example of Common grace I would think is a Christian acting as the salt of the Earth. The drunken father after becoming converted, being kind to his kids and being a blessing to them is the common grace of God; perhaps how the common grace interrelates with special grace is where the converted father now takes his children to Sunday school which leads to his son coming to Christ and being saved. I'm not delving into the other aspects of Common grace (science / music / beauty of this world etc) as I'm specifically interested in how it interrelates with Special grace.

Does anyone else have any other ideas or possible examples please of how the 2 could interrelate? Ive got Louis Berkof as my main text. It seems like study of this subject naturally leads to a consideration of the flaws of Peliganism and the various heresies which fall under that umbrella.

Thanks to anyone / everyone in advance! I'd really appreciate anyone's feedback or ideas.
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hi and welcome to the board. (Quick - update your signature per the signature requirements before the mods see!!) ;)

You've given a definition for Special Grace and the points you have given I think could easily be proof-texted. How about Common Grace? Rather than an example of what you think Common Grace is, perhaps tell us the definition of Common Grace.

I'll pretend to be theological dummy (ok, so I really don't have to pretend here) - I've just looked common grace up in my concordance and I can't find it!
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
Common grace is any benefit to man which he enjoys due to God besides saving grace, which flows from His Spirit.

Examples -

[1] Stephens speech describing the Holy Ghost being resisted by the Jews. The 'thing' (person) being resisted is the Holy Spirit's attempt to indicate to the Jews the way they should be going.
[2] The unsaved husband being sanctified by the saved wife



The Doctrine of Common Grace

The following links are useful summaries of Common Grace

http://www.christianessentialssbc.com/downloads/2008/011308.pdf

Summary of Christian Doctrine

Any Ideas?????
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Freshman
I am sorry if my post is not up to par. I am sorry for any grammatical errors or if it is just confusing. And I could probably say what I am saying in a shorter way, but I am just not that good with words yet.
I do not consider myself a theologian. But, I do love to study! And, I am excited about this thread.

I have never heard this definition of common grace. I have always heard of "common grace" as God's grace towards the non-elect that Jesus purchased on the cross.

I have been reading "Death of Death in the Death of Christ:Owen". It has challenged me in my previous definition of "common grace".

From this book I now see that:
Jesus came down for one reason. To glorify the Father. In order to that he must do one thing, secure salvation of the Fathers elect by paying for their sin, fully satisfying the wrath of God, and being the High Priest for the elect by preforming a sacrifice and making intercession for his elect. Because this was the end goal of Jesus' coming, then all of his means must have been focused on this ends. All the means were focused on accomplishing the end.

If what Owen is saying is true, and the bible does really say this about the death of Christ, then my old definition of "common grace" can't fit into.
So, what I have come up with is that...(now if what I have already said was not confusing enough for you, this will probably be really confusing, and for this I am terribly sorry)...

The Father unconditionally chose a people to himself. Jesus died to save and secure the salvation of his elect, and to purchase every good thing for them. The Holy Spirit carries out the plan of the Father and the Son, and is the agent to apply all that the Son has accomplished on the cross. And because of the plan of the Lord, and by his sovereign decree, he chose for his elect to live their full life that he chose for them (each elect would be different) , whether it be 8 days or 800 years, and in those days/years, the Father planned the day that the Holy Spirit would come into them and create in them a new heart. And, not just that day but every thing the Holy Spirit did leading up to that and every thing afterwards. The Holy Spirit bestows on the elect every good thing the Son purchased for them.

Now... in some if not all of these good things, the reprobate plays some kind of role in them.

For an example:

-If you are reading you bible, a reprobate might have made it, or the chair you are sitting in, or maybe the building that the bible was published in, etc.

-If you are driving to a discipleship or evangelism group, I am sure that at some point in history "Ford Motor Company" had a reprobate either put your car together or had someone high up in leadership to make a decisive call to create this car that you are using to get there.

-Unreached people living on a mountain gives motivation to go proclaim the Gospel.

-Unreached people allow elect to praise God that the Gospel has been shared with them.

So, as of the past couple days, I have understood "common grace" to be grace that is given to the reprobate that allows them to live and be used by God to bless his elect. So, because Jesus' end was to glorify the father, by securing and saving his elect and purchasing all the good things inteded for them, part of his means was to purchase a temporary providence for the reprobate, so that Jesus can give the elect all the good things he purchased for them. Not that he needs reprobate (or that he needs elect for that matter, God can do just fine on his own, and does not need anyone...ever) to carry out the good things purchased for the elect, but that the Father just chose to use reprobates to help bless his elect.

So, i used to think that Jesus died for 2 reasons:
1-purchase saving grace
2-purchase a temporary grace for reprobates, just to show that he even had grace on the reprobates "common grace"

Now, i think Christ died for 1 reason:
1-(Ends) purchase saving faith for elect. (Means) use reprobate to carry out the plans that he purchased on the cross "common grace" .

And now after hearing what you said, I now see that I could still see that I have no idea what common grace is. So I am all ears and ready to learn.

Again, sorry for the post being so long. I hope things get clearer for you and I. :)
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
There is only one form of grace, and that is saving grace. Common grace
has been coined in the past to try and put God in a better attitude to the
unbeliever, Rather we should speak of God's goodness or benevolence.
And although He would exercise benevolence to the reprobate in bestowing
blessings upon them , because they abuse and misuse them, and consume
them on their own lusts, they really then prove to be their damnation.
It is interesting that Shedd believed that common grace could take a soul
to the gates of heaven but not get it in. Such a view really is an attack on
total depravity, that man with a little assistance of common grace can respond
even up to the pearly gates
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
I posted this video on YouTube finding it personally helpful. I have posted others if you are interested.

[video=youtube;TPSG2Sxe4AQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPSG2Sxe4AQ[/video]
 

davdavis

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems to me that examples of common grace would be: An author, like Kipling or Orwell, who, while not believers were able to have very correct insights it our modern plight. Someone like Albert Schweitzer, who was a heretic, but a noted humanitarian. It seems clear to me God acts to restrain evil in the world and acts even in unbelievers.
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
Allow me to utilize an analogy using a less controversial subject, the trinity (I say less controversial, but I really mean less disputed. I'd be very surprised if anyone could deny the existence of the trinity on this forum and not get kicked off). When I learned about the trinity, we understood that God is one indivisible essence, but that essence is in 3 persons. We also learned that, whilst this fact regarding the trinity is beyond human comprehension, it is an essential doctrine to establish and defend to avoid error. In spite of the fact it seems illogical for God to be one yet there are 3 persons in the Trinity, we need to state categorically this is the case and defend it.

The doctrine of Common grace has / had its origins in seeking to explain why it is that sin is restrained in this world - or in fact how it is.

For those concerned that the doctrine of Common grace or the particular variety of the doctrine of Common grace is as mentioned Joshua and I quote him now:

We also firmly reject what many have associated with common grace that is called the Well-Meant Offer, wherein God, in some sense, sincerely desires the salvation of those whom He has foreordained to dishonor and wrath.

I humbly state that the doctrine of Common grace is completely inconsistent with this.

By suggesting or defending the doctrine of Common grace, we are being very Calvinist. Because we are making the clear distinction between Common grace and Special grace.
Special grace in itself is: God electing you and causing it to happen.

It is the Arminian argument that there is no distinction between Common grace and special grace. The doctrine of Common grace is necessary to explain that in reality, man is completely depraved and cannot choose of his own free will to become a co-heir with God.

The Arminian believes that all grace is the same. This is incorrect. The Arminian will have you believe that he is no different from his neighbor in the eyes of God. That the grace of God is universal, and although God foreknows who will be saved because He is God - in reality the Arminian would say that everyone has the same access to the grace of God which is (as I said universal) the same for everyone because, whomsoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. The ignorance of an Arminian can be quickly found out by asking them to explain, why then the rebuke of Romans 9:20 ? Why does God rebuke anyone who dares to question whom He will harden and whom by His Spirit He does soften in heart - if in fact grace is Universal, or the same.. Fact is, it isn't. Gods spirit when regenerating a sinner and saving is ONLY doing this to the elect - and it isn't hit and miss as the Arminian would have you believe. In reality you don't have a choice if you are elect, because God is softening your heart.

For who hath resisted his will?
Romans 9: 19

It is also important to understand, and I'll just quote Louis Berkof here:

The distinction between Common and Special grace is not one that applies to grace as an attribute in God. There are no 2 kinds of grace, but only one. It is that perfection of God in virtue of which He shows unmerited and even forfeited favor to man. This one grace of God manifests itself, however, in different gifts and operations.

It is a doctrine based in Calvinism.

I think to understand the beauty and wonder of creation, just to see it. To marvel at how intricate feathers are in there ingenious design, and plant cells etc. Who made that? God of course. Who gave man the ability to invent the piano? Was it a Christian who invented the piano? (Probably was anyway). Were Beethoven / Mozart Christians? But from where did these men get their gifts to write and compose such beautiful music? What do we, or should we attribute it to? I think simply God gifted those people.

What is stopping Indonesia invading Australia and killing all the Christians here? Is it that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia is a Christian? I don't actually know to be honest if he is or isn't, but I'd say God in His grace is preventing that occurring, as well as preventing my children being harmed by terrorists in Northern Ireland right now. God influences governments, and governments prevent wars. The Australian Government is acting as a deterrant, and the existence of Government is part of the Common grace of God.

How is God (practically speaking) doing this? How does God practically speaking influence men on earth? He does prompt people by His Holy Spirit, unsaved people

Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Anything Christ does on earth right now is done by the Holy Spirit - HOW ELSE IS HE DOING IT?? Ohhh ohhh ohh what?. HOW IS HE??

Come up with any explanation you want, but total depravity of man dictates that he is bent on sin. What happens in hell where there is eternal separation from God? Not much classical music getting composed down there. If God by His Holy Spirit prompts sinners who never receive Him - WHICH HE UNDENIABLY DOES, can that not be described as grace? If we are just debating terminology then that's fine, but Common grace is essentially that. It is the Common (regular) grace that every man on this planet is exposed to simply because he is alive and on the planet.

My dad is not a Christian and would be dead right now if scientists hadn't cured him of prostrate cancer. The same scientists skills may have enabled a gospel preacher to recover and spend another 15 years in the pulpit and lead souls to Christ. That wonderful science is part of the Common grace - regular ordinary grace of God.

If God is just generally good to everyone, and anyone can be converted, this is wrong. The doctrine of Common grace is a doctrine the church relies on to explain the good God does in the world that is not part of saving people.

I'm now going to watch that youtube video by Jason
 
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InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
All creation of God is good objectively (Genesis 1:31), but only salvificly good, if received with thanksgiving through Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 4:4). This is why the reprobate will never receive grace through earthly and temporary kindnesses of God.

Just because the reprobate are under the same sky and its rain and sun as the elect, it does not mean God has any well-meaning toward the reprobate.

“If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.” (Malachi 2:2)
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
Ben,

I don't think you'll get many people objecting to the various examples you have given of God's benevolence toward all men as demonstrating we have a great, good and gracious God. The problem comes in labelling that "Common Grace". There is nothing salvific about the sun & rain falling on the unelect - yet it happens. To morph that Godly benevolence into the same root as the operation that regenerates the elect is bow too long to draw.

Matt
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
Just because the reprobate are under the same sky and its rain and sun as the elect, it does not mean God has any well-meaning toward the reprobate.

Indeed.

Ben - to use a North Australian analogy: When a farmer looks at his field of sugar cane he loves it and tends to it, waters and feeds it even when there are weeds, rats, toads etc throughout the precious canes. His field is his love and joy. But you can be certain he'll harvest the crop and the rest will light up the tropical sky as he burns it away to ready the field for the next crop.

So all the pests shared in the food and water, but were all consumed in fire without grace.
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
God causes it to rain on one city and not on another, that is the consequence of
His providence. If it is attributed to common grace then how would a Bangaladeshee
view the repeated devastation of his country by regular overwhelming floods? It would
not appear grace to him.
Isaiah 26:10 reads, "Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will not he learn righteousness:
in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord."
In God's providential way the reprobate is blessed with prosperity, health, the benefits of economic
national success, yet he will not acknowledge God as the bestower.
History shows, and demonstrably in the OT, that the Babylonians, the Pharoahs, Philistines etc,
experienced power, dominion and wealth, but that would not be the effects of grace. Rather they
are in providence, part and parcel of providence working all things for good to those who love God,
even the Church of Jesus Christ.
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Freshman
Sorry for the elementary question. I am just trying to soak all this in.
And I am not real sure how to phrase my question.

But, the way that I am seeing it is there are two types of people.

1)elect
2)reprobate

The elect don't go straight to hell because Jesus' work on the cross.
The reprobate don't go straight to hell because of God's providence.
This logic makes the most sense because I know that Jesus ONLY died on the cross for the elect.

But here is where my hang-up is...

The elect are saved by grace and mercy.
Grace:getting what you do not deserve.
Mercy:not getting what you do deserve

So, isn't that some kind of "grace" and "mercy" to the reprobate?
They have life, which is something they do not deserve to have - "grace".
They aren't dead, which is something they do deserve - "mercy"

And if that be the case... Where did this grace and mercy come from? The cross? I just don't think it did... everything I see that Jesus did on the cross was for the elect only. I am just so confused. Do we just chalk up reprobate having life under "God's providence", and if so how is that still not grace and mercy?
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Freshman
does this make any sense? am I completely missing the boat?

So, as of the past couple days, I have understood "common grace" to be grace that is given to the reprobate that allows them to live and be used by God to bless his elect. So, because Jesus' end was to glorify the father, by securing and saving his elect and purchasing all the good things inteded for them, part of his means was to purchase a temporary providence for the reprobate, so that Jesus can give the elect all the good things he purchased for them. Not that he needs reprobate (or that he needs elect for that matter, God can do just fine on his own, and does not need anyone...ever) to carry out the good things purchased for the elect, but that the Father just chose to use reprobates to help bless his elect.

On the cross Jesus had one goal...
1-(Ends) purchase saving faith for elect. (Means) use reprobate to carry out the plans that he purchased on the cross "common grace" or maybe "God's Providence"
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Sorry for the elementary question. I am just trying to soak all this in.
And I am not real sure how to phrase my question.

But, the way that I am seeing it is there are two types of people.

1)elect
2)reprobate

The elect don't go straight to hell because Jesus' work on the cross.
The reprobate don't go straight to hell because of God's providence.
This logic makes the most sense because I know that Jesus ONLY died on the cross for the elect.

But here is where my hang-up is...

The elect are saved by grace and mercy.
Grace:getting what you do not deserve.
Mercy:not getting what you do deserve

So, isn't that some kind of "grace" and "mercy" to the reprobate?
They have life, which is something they do not deserve to have - "grace".
They aren't dead, which is something they do deserve - "mercy"

And if that be the case... Where did this grace and mercy come from? The cross? I just don't think it did... everything I see that Jesus did on the cross was for the elect only. I am just so confused. Do we just chalk up reprobate having life under "God's providence", and if so how is that still not grace and mercy?

Mercy is universal, offered to all. Grace is particular, bestowed upon some. Read this.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
2 Peter 3 tells us why the reprobate don't go straight to hell.

Verse 4: They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ (the Second Coming of Christ) he promised?..."
Verse 9: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

The reprobate's judgment is postponed till all God's elect have been regenerated. That's when the end comes.
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
Guys, I think you misunderstand me.

All creation of God is good objectively (Genesis 1:31), but only salvificly good, if received with thanksgiving through Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 4:4). This is why the reprobate will never receive grace through earthly and temporary kindnesses of God. - InSlaveryToChrist's

This quote from 1 Timothy 4:4 is referring to all animals can be lawfully eaten. Man is a created being and has the 'small' problem of TOTAL DEPRAVITY. Christ said there is none good but God. All of creation is afflicted by sin as per,

Romans 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

Romans 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.


Tirian, InSlaveryToChrist, and Cyrmo, sorry to apparently confuse all of you into thinking that the doctrine of Common grace has somethng to do with God acting with benevolence towards sinners. I never suggested that for a moment, I would ordinarily say, "Strawman!! strawman argument!!" except I have no doubt that you gentleman are quite sincere. Let me assure you I do not seek to explain the apparent good that men do (which are sinful acts still), such as general morality, fear of breaking the law for punishment by the police etc etc by suggesting that by supplying the world with such grace, that God is acting benevolently towards sinners.

Firstly, a notion that God is acting benevolently towards sinners is inconsistent with John 3:18, and
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Now consider:

Romans 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: (good old Arminian bashing Romans 9)

God is acting with long-suffering towards sinners. WHY ?? Very simple answer to that question: (why would God act with long-suferring towards sinners?), very simple.

Despite ones views on the foreknowledge of God, and Gods ability to know the elect given he is the elector and the saint the 'electee', if God were to act in complete wrath now against the world...

Consider again the parable of the wheat and the tares: Matthew 13:24 - 29

Matthew 13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

Matthew 13:25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

Matthew 13:26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

Matthew 13:27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

Matthew 13:28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

Matthew 13:29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

Matthew 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.


Christ EXPLAINS THIS PARABLE

Matthew 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

Matthew 13:37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

Matthew 13:38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

Matthew 13:39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

Matthew 13:40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

Matthew 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

Matthew 13:42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.


Benevolence is not mentioned or inferred, any Common benefit stemming from the Common grace of God, acting to restrain sin is to prevent the destruction of the world prematurely by man. If man was left to his own devices now, due to total depravity, the world would become very much like an Apocalypse movie very quickly. There would be utter lawlessness, and total chaos. But the fact that there is not, is because of the Holy Spirit, and these benefits are due to the Holy Spirit acting generally, but in a way which does NOT CONVERT the wicked, because God has hardened their hearts.

Before I started this thread I searched Common grace in the forums and I can see it has been discussed quite a few times previously, but there was no discussion on the interelation and contrast with special grace that I could see strait away. But this word salvific keeps popping up, which I think is a red herring.

Salvific simply means, 'leading to salvation'. Common grace is not Salvific in any sense. The only thing that is salvific is the mind of God which elects people. If Common grace were salvific then you are saying that, the goodness in this world, which is Common, which all men experience, leads to salvation. I tell you that such a belief lies at the very heart of Arminianism and we ought to reject it whole-heartedly! The ONE THING, the SINGLE IDENTIFYING factor of Common grace, which distinguishes itself from special grace, is that it is not salvific.

Whoever believes that Common grace is salvific - if you could please tell me then is special grace common? The broad road which leads to destruction is Common, it is the narrow way which is NOT COMMON.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Ben, I can lead you to Calvin's definition of common grace and salvific grace. Those can be found in His commentary on Hebrews (chapter 6 and 10 of Hebrews) and his Institutes 2.2.17 and 2.3.4. If you don't have a copy of these they are VERY cheap on Amazon kindle books and free in other places on the net. Hope this helps you with your paper.
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Freshman
Sorry for the elementary question. I am just trying to soak all this in.
And I am not real sure how to phrase my question.

But, the way that I am seeing it is there are two types of people.

1)elect
2)reprobate

The elect don't go straight to hell because Jesus' work on the cross.
The reprobate don't go straight to hell because of God's providence.
This logic makes the most sense because I know that Jesus ONLY died on the cross for the elect.

But here is where my hang-up is...

The elect are saved by grace and mercy.
Grace:getting what you do not deserve.
Mercy:not getting what you do deserve

So, isn't that some kind of "grace" and "mercy" to the reprobate?
They have life, which is something they do not deserve to have - "grace".
They aren't dead, which is something they do deserve - "mercy"

And if that be the case... Where did this grace and mercy come from? The cross? I just don't think it did... everything I see that Jesus did on the cross was for the elect only. I am just so confused. Do we just chalk up reprobate having life under "God's providence", and if so how is that still not grace and mercy?

Mercy is universal, offered to all. Grace is particular, bestowed upon some. Read this.

What was it that happened for everyone to get mercy? Where did this universal mercy come from? Why did God give it to everyone? ... Am I asking the wrong questions :(
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Freshman
Ben,

Perhaps you've also misunderstood. We're denying that there is such a thing as Common Grace, since Grace, biblically understood, is pertaining to that which is salvific.. I suppose that puts us at an impasse?

I feel this way too. So, are you saying instead of "common grace" it should be called "God's Providence" ?
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
I feel this way too. So, are you saying instead of "common grace" it should be called "God's Providence" ?

It is God's providence. There is nothing common about grace, so I suggest not using the title "common grace" however well intended.
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
This is just a quick reply, as I'm just at home to check something else:

'Common grace' as a term is a means to explain why there are good actions done by the wicked. If you believe in total depravity you would see this as a contradiction.

The good samaritan in his day was referring to a man from a false religion who treated the guy beaten up ion the side of the road better than the Levite. The religion of the samaritans was a false cult back when Christ walked the earth.

There is a diferrence between justice and grace. Grace is not earned. Justice is earned, you do bad and you get punished.

I think we need a better definition of grace.
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
understanding of how the common grace of God and the special grace of God, 'overlap'

Its important to me that I feel like I have exhausted all aspects of this topic.

Ben, I hope if nothing else that we have been useful in helping you to feel like you are teasing out aspects of this topic.

Many of us tackling this assignment would firstly establish that God has not common grace - the "common grace of God" as you call it, and would then proceed to unpack how in many peoples minds, what they call the "common grace of God" is really a picture of God's providence and then proceed to discuss interactions between God's grace and providence.

As well intended as you are to demonstrate the ways in which God has withheld His righteous wrath, we will only see in that love for the elect - in that He promised not one of His sheep would be lost. Grace, as per your opening post, when used in relationship with God is always saving, always irresistible.

Do you have an alternate definition for grace - God's unmerited favour by which we are saved?
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
This is just a quick reply, as I'm just at home to check something else:

'Common grace' as a term is a means to explain why there are good actions done by the wicked. If you believe in total depravity you would see this as a contradiction.

The good samaritan in his day was referring to a man from a false religion who treated the guy beaten up ion the side of the road better than the Levite. The religion of the samaritans was a false cult back when Christ walked the earth.

There is a diferrence between justice and grace. Grace is not earned. Justice is earned, you do bad and you get punished.

I think we need a better definition of grace.

As far as Biblical language is concerned there is no grace for the reprobate. Here are the facts:

For the reprobate, Mercy is a goodness of God.

For the elect, Mercy and Grace are goodnesses AND the favor of God.

For the reprobate, Mercy is the postponement of their judgment.

For the elect, Mercy is the forgiveness of their sins, and Grace is the transforming power that makes them know God more and love Him more.


This is why we can't make fancy general distinctions like:

Grace: getting what you do not deserve
Mercy: not getting what you do deserve
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
As far as I know, grace is the unmerited favor of God, whether that be to the just or unjust.

I'll admit I don't have a proper understanding of providence, as in I have not studied the topic fully. But that said I was under the impression that what Christians call providence, the unsaved would call a coincidence, which is clearly saying something occurred by lucky chance and is based on the presupposition that God Himself was not involved.

Can God act or do anything in this world separate from His personality? It is not God AND His personality, God's personality is a description of what He is like.

Refusing the doctrine of Common grace as I have outlined it is a suggestion that the only time God does anything in this world, or intervenes is when He acts to save a sinner.

I have demonstrated that the doctrine of Common grace as I have described it is an explanation of how God operates in this world, by His Spirit - for there is no other way. I have also proved that by God so doing He is not acting with benevolence towards the non-elect.

As far as Biblical language is concerned there is no grace for the reprobate. Here are the facts: - Samuel AKA InSlaveryToChrist

Yes Samuel, I agree, there is no saving grace for the reprobate. But the Bible clearly says, "the rain falls on the just and the un-just" - providence I would agree, but is receiving rain receiving favor from God? Does the reprobate deserve rain to water His crops? No he doesn't, and interestingly enough neither does the Christian. The Christian receives unmerited favour also, by having his crops rained on. Does the Christian deserve rain? Does the Christian earn rain? Was the Christian saved by the rain at some point?
Who does the Christian ask for rain from? God. Who does the Christian thank for the rain? God. Who makes and who sends the rain? God. etc etc. The food that grows because of the rain, that we all eat - a good Christian will thank God for. Rain is the UNEARNT favour or blessing of God because without it you'd be dead. This is what I am referring to when I discus Common grace.

Take roads for example, we don't deserve to have roads. No one deserves roads, but we thank God for good roads. Do you ever pray for, "traveling mercies" Samuel? Do you thank God for a safe journey? Providence is a means to describe something occurring. But it doesn't reflect on how it occurs (the event) other than saying it was God caused.

How does God operate in this world? Would it be the grace of God to you Samuel, if a reprobate unsaved airforce pilot - hell deserving ungodly etc turns his crashing plane into an office block to avoid hitting the church you are sitting in? DOES GOD HAVE THE POWER [TO FORCE THE UNSAVED AIRFORCE PILOT TO DO THIS YES OR NO? Would God do this by His Holy Spirit? You have to answer yes. How does God influence the ungodly without the use of His Holy Spirit? Do you deserve death yourself? Yes, and do you deserve to have the plane crash into your church and kill you? Yes you actually deserve to die (you will eventually anyway die because of sin). If God so acts to save your life, it is the unmerited favour of God to you, through the Holy Spirit, working in the life of an unbeliever in a non salvific way.

If your grandad's life was saved in a war, because his reprobate war mate jumped on a grenade and sacrificed himself for his war mates, did he earn this? No. YOU don't earn anything good, everything good hat comes from God is not earned. The only thing you deserve is death.

Common grace is God's gracious dealings with the elect and non elect in an non salvific way. Or you are simply saying God never does anything but save people? Who on earth told you that? That's not in the Bible.

Consider the reprobate King whom God warned in a dream to not touch Abrahams wife - unmerited favor shown to Abraham / whilst protecting the king from committing and being punished for adultery - an UNDESERVED ACT OF GOD.

You are simply saying, 'there is no common grace because there is no common grace'. That is not rational because God does move in this world in ways which no one deserves, both elect and non elect.

And yes this has been extremely helpful to my studies and I am extremely grateful to you people for this discussion. Please consider yourself my friends. God bless you :)
 
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InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Dear Ben,

I don't want to come off as offensive, but I would like you to slow down, read what has been already layed down in this thread as Biblical proof for not believing in "common grace" and stop with speculation / argumentation not supported by Scripture. If you really think God gives grace to the reprobate, then show us one single verse from the New Testament where the Greek word charis (translated grace) is applied to the reprobate.
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
Samuel,

I agree God does not give saving grace (special grace) to the reprobate. I assure you I do not hold to this position. This is essential Calvinism.

With respect, may I ask if you believe in predestination? I'm sorry if you think I am being sarcastic - I'm really not being sarcastic, its just I don't know you from Adam, and I know Wesley was a very godly man yet Arminian. I'm not sure if Arminianism is spoken against on this website, I assumed it was. So I'm just asking because predestination dictates that elect few will be converted.

You state that there is only one type of grace - saving grace. How about realizing that God not only converts but He also sanctifies.

Consider a married couple with kids, at first both are unsaved, then after a while the wife becomes a believer.

The wife fearing that her ungodly partner will be a bad influence on the couples' 2 children, and turns to Gods word for advice:

1 Corinthians 7:13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

Sanctification is a work done by God the Holy Spirit.

A reprobate is being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, for the sake of children of a believer who may or may not be part of the elect. Having 1 christian parent is no guarantee that all kids will be saved.

By what force/person/influence/prompting is the unsaved husband sanctified?

Is sanctification a grace? Certainly because it is grouped as follows:

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
 
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Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Ben:

A few things that you may wish to check out on common grace:

1. Hodge's disscussion of it (and he is representative of the Calvin/Turretin tradition) in his Systematic Theology, v. 2, pp. 654-675.
2. Bavinck's discussion in his Reformed Dogmatics (check out the index in v. 4 for the various places that he addresses it); also Abraham Kuyper, whose massive 3 vv.
work on the subject is in process of translation. A volume on science and art has already been published--Wisdom and Wonder.
3. Cornelius Van Til, Common Grace and the Gospel.

While this is, as you can see from the above replies, a matter that engenders some debate among the Reformed, there is a considerable body of Reformed theology that recognizes and affirms common grace in some fashion.

Peace,
Alan
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
please scan up to see my edited post Samuel


Dear Alan,

Thank you very much for your reply. I do very much sincerely appreciate your assistance.

Please scan up to my (now) edited previous remark as previously it may have seemed blunt!! Sorry if I gave this impression. Judging by Samuels position on grace, he states that it does not operate in the life of a non believer, whatsoever. So for him right now, the total depravity of man is unhindered by God's Spirit, and sorry the only thing I just cant put my finger on is how can anyone maintain such a position without believing that anyone can be saved?

If God isn't holding back men from sinning as much as they can - why arent they or what is? Providence is not a force, it is a means of saying Gods hand is in everything. Understanding Providence doesnt negate the Holy Spirit, rather it tells you that God is responsible for events. That information itself is not a force it is a rational concept and a concept only. The Holy Spirit is more than a concept, He is God and a person and acts in the hearts of all the kings on earth to move them wherever He likes.
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
Ben, I can lead you to Calvin's definition of common grace and salvific grace. Those can be found in His commentary on Hebrews (chapter 6 and 10 of Hebrews) and his Institutes 2.2.17 and 2.3.4. If you don't have a copy of these they are VERY cheap on Amazon kindle books and free in other places on the net. Hope this helps you with your paper.

Thank you very much Sarah, I do have an electronic copy of these and had not been able to find anything on Common Grace anywhere in my searches by Calvin because I think something is wrong with the computer search I do. I'll look these up.

I'd read parts of John Owen's A DISCOURSE CONCERNING THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Works of John Owen Part 3. He is very good and very deep.
 
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