Is "Common Grace" real?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by shackleton, Dec 4, 2007.

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  1. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    Lately, I have been wondering how people "dead in sin" wind up in church. I was reading the Calvinist view, the Arminian view and the Lutheran view, which is basically like the Wesleyan view. I was trying to figure out how people who are not "elect" are able to come to church when they are in a state of being "dead in sin," these people are not able to seek God out on their own, yet they are able to come to church. Common grace seemed to be the answer to this. The world is not as bad as it could be because of God's restraining grace and God's general goodness to mankind, even though he is not saving everyone. Someone yesterday told me that there was no such thing as common grace, it is all just a mystery and we should not worry about it.

    Any thoughts or responses to what I am seeking?
  2. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    The existence of common grace depends on how you define the terms. It does and it doesn't. If common grace means that God gives everybody a head start, a little bit of merit, then no, it doesn't exist. If you mean, the sun shines on the elect and the rebrobate then yes, it does. Obviously, the arguments get much more complex and there are other definitions.

    A person may have a very strong desire to attend church regularly yet the motivation is self-atonement. They believe that they are fulfilling God's law or doing God a favor and thereby tilting the balance in their favor for God to reward them with salvation. Most people believe that God grades on a curve. As long as I'm not as bad as my neighbor then a few good deeds will get me through. I will go to church, give to the poor and read my Bible - that should atone for any mistakes I may have made.
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Common grace is good, but a lot of people try to milk it for more than its worth. All it means is that the blessings that God showers down upon his people peripherally splash the Christ-haters. That's all. It is a good and useful doctrine, but no more.

    A lot of people, unfortunately, try to build a whole ethical system from common-grace, and that is fraught with many problems.
  4. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Not to mention epistemology in general.
  5. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    You are right; a lot of people try to expand the doctrine well beyond the narrow definition you have provided. The Christian Reformed Church of North America in its 1924 Synod set forth three points that go well beyond what you have said. That of coarse drove Hoeksema, Ophoff, and Danhoff out of the CRC.

    The bigger problem is the issue Shackleton raised at the beginning of this thread: the linking of the free well meant offer of the gospel to common grace.
  6. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    It is ironic you use the word "Seeking". One of the errors of Boston and company, as well as some puritans as documented by Paul Helm is his book Calvin and the Calvinists,p61ff, claimed that there is present in the Gospel, some sort of grace towards the rebrobate or unregenerate by preaching the terrors of Law, which God used to bring them to know their demise and search for the remedy. SOme sort of perversion of grace that is different from saving grace, I am at a lost for words to give it a name, but they called it 'preparatory" grace. All who heard this were given this grace. These seekers, felt the conviction fo sin, and sought Christ. But ended up thrown into the lake of fire. I find this thought abhorent to the economy and love of God.

    The Canons of Dort have something to say about this matter in III & IV, B, 4:

    …the Synod rejects the errors of those who teach: that the unregenerate man is not really nor utterly dead in sin, nor destitute of all powers unto spiritual good, but that he can yet hunger and thirst after righteousness and life, and offer the sacrifice of a contrite and broken spirit, which is pleasing to God. For these are contrary to the express testimony of Scripture., "Ye were dead through trespasses and sins," Eph. 1:1, and: "Every imagination of the thought of his heart are only evil continually," Gen. 6:5, 8:21.

    Moreover, to hunger and thirst after deliverance from misery, and after life, and to offer unto God the sacrifice of a broken spirit, is peculiar to the regenerate and those that are called blessed, Ps. 51:10,19; Matt. 5:6.

    This preparatory grace is the mother who birthed this common grace/free offer/warrant to believe that Christ died for you personally. Dort was fighting against the Arminians, yet one can see the parallel of thought obviously.
  7. JoeRe4mer

    JoeRe4mer Puritan Board Freshman

    Good point Bob :wwbd:
  8. k.seymore

    k.seymore Puritan Board Freshman

    Calvin says this in Book 3, Chapter 24 of the Institutes:

    "there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness."

    If Calvin's right on this, I'd definitely interpret that as a type of grace. Else why would one be punished for ingratitude?
  9. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

    What I have read so far (by Wayne Grudem and Bruce Demarest) described Common Grace sort of like an extension of general revelation and providence. The abilities of Newton, Einstein, modern medicine, technology etc. are all effects of Common Grace. The fact that everyone eats regulary, the grass grows, the sun comes up etc. God is good to everyone and delays giving them what they deserve for their sins. He is longsuffering.

    Others like the Arminians (Lutherans) extend Common Grace to the point of saving grace, it is then up to the individual to believe or not based on their own free will.

    I am guessing "non-elect" people are able to come to church, not out of a desire to know God and have a relationship with him, but out of a desire to ease their conscience. Since we are living in America when people get the urge to be a better person they go to churches out there that are ideal for these type of people (liberal churches), where there is no talk about sin, judgment and a God who is angry at us, but a God who wants us to be all that we can be. Sin is not living up to our true potential and sermons are desinged to teach you how to be a better person.
  10. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Doctrinal Divinity~Book 1

    Chapter 13:

    Of The Grace Of God

    This attribute may be considered, both as it is in God himself, and as displayed in acts towards his creatures; as in himself, it is himself; it is his nature and essence; he is "Grace" itself, most amiable and lovely; hence so often called "gracious" in Scripture: it is a character expressive of the amiableness and loveliness of his nature: and thus he was before he had, and would have been for ever the same if he never had displayed his grace towards any of his creatures. And this appears from the loveliness of Christ, the image of the Father, the express image of his person; who, to them that believe, is exceeding precious, and altogether lovely; when they behold his glory, as the only begotten of the Father; the fulness of grace in him, as Mediator; the purity, perfection, and beauty of his human nature, as in union with his divine person, in which he was in high favour with God and men. Now if Christ, under these several considerations, is so graceful and amiable, he must needs be infinitely so, whose image he is, and who has all virtues, all excellencies, all perfections in him; he is said to be "glorious in holiness", #Ex 15:11. And if he is so glorious and graceful, viewed in one perfection of his, what must he be when all put together, and he is viewed in them all, his goodness, wisdom, power, justice, truth, &c.? and therefore is to be loved above all, and with all the heart, soul, and strength; and hence it is that good men, as Moses, David, and others, desired to see the "face" of God, so far as could be admitted, and they were capable of, #Ex 33:14,15 #Ps 27:7,8 105:4 and what a lovely sight had Moses of him in the clift of the rock, when he caused his goodness to pass, and proclaimed his name, a God gracious before him, #Ex 33:19 34:6 and to see the lovely face of God, so far as creatures are capable of, is the happiness of angels, will be the happiness of saints to all eternity, #Mt 18:10 #1Co 13:12 1Jo 3:2 Re 22:4.

    The grace of God may be considered as displayed in acts of goodness towards his creatures, especially men; and is no other than his free favour and good will to men; it is no other than love unmerited and undeserved, exercising and communicating itself to them in a free and generous manner; which they are altogether unworthy of. There are many things called grace, and the grace of God, because they flow from his grace, and are the effects of it; as the gospel, #2Co 6:1 Ga 5:4 #Tit 2:11 gifts for preaching the gospel, #Ro 12:6 Eph 3:7,8 the blessings of grace, as justification, adoption, &c. #Ps 84:11 2Ti 1:9 in each of the graces of the Spirit in regeneration, as faith, hope, love, &c. #2Co 9:8 Ga 2:9 but then these are to be distinguished from grace in God; as the Giver and the gift, the Fountain and the streams, the Cause and the effect. The grace of God arises from the goodness of his nature, and not from anything in the creature; and is exercised according to his sovereign will and pleasure; "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious", #Ex 33:19. It is "independent" of all merit and worth in creatures, and of all works done by them, and is always opposed to them in scripture, #Ro 11:6 2Ti 1:9 Eph 2:8,9 it is quite entirely "free", as Austin {1} said long ago, grace is not grace, unless it is altogether free. As an attribute, it wholly and only "resides" in God; and is only in men, as to the sense and perception of it, and the effects of it upon them and in them, #Ro 5:5 8:37 and it is only exhibited and displayed through Christ, in and through whom men are elected, adopted, redeemed, justified, pardoned, regenerated, and sanctified, #Eph 1:4-7 Ro 3:24 Tit 3:5,6. And though there are various gifts and blessings, and effects of it, it is but one in God: there is but one Fountain, from whence they all flow. With respect to creatures, the objects of it, some distinctions are made concerning it, as of natural and "supernatural" grace. Natural grace seems to sound oddly, and unless guarded against, may tend to confound nature and grace together; but rightly applied and understood, may be admitted. What Adam enjoyed, in a state of integrity, above the rest of creatures, was all owing to the unmerited kindness and goodness of God, and so may be called grace; as the image of God, in which he was created; his holiness and righteousness; knowledge and understanding; the communion he had with God, and his dominion over the creatures; and yet it was all natural: so many things which his posterity in their fallen state enjoy, being altogether owing to the free favour and undeserved goodness of God, may be called grace: to have a being, and life, and the preservation of it, and the mercies of life, as food and raiment, which men are altogether unworthy of, are gifts and favours; and so may bear the name of grace, though only natural blessings. "Supernatural" grace includes all the blessings of grace bestowed upon any of the sons of fallen Adam; and all the graces of the Spirit wrought in them; and which will easily be allowed to be supernatural. But that Adam had any such, in a state of innocence, for my own part, I cannot see; though some are of this opinion. Again, grace is, by some, distinguished into "common" or "general", and "special" or "particular". "Common" or "general" grace, if it may be so called, is what all men have; as the light of nature and reason, which every man that comes into the world is enlightened with; the temporal blessings of life, the bounties of providence, called the riches of God's goodness, or grace, #Ro 2:4 which all partake of, more or less; and the continuance and preservation of life; for "God is the Saviour of all men", #1Ti 4:10. "Special" or "particular" grace, is that which is peculiar to some persons only; such as electing, redeeming, justifying, pardoning, adopting, and sanctifying grace, #Ro 8:30 and this special grace is, by some, distinguished into "imputed" and "inherent" grace: "imputed" grace is the holiness, obedience, and righteousness of Christ imputed to justification: "inherent" grace is what is wrought in the heart, by the Spirit of God, in regeneration. But these distinctions, with others, only concern the effects of the grace of God; that itself is but one in God; and is sure, firm, and immutable, as his nature is; and is the efficient cause, source, and spring, of all good things enjoyed by men; and should be acknowledged, as it was by the apostle, "By the grace of God I am what I am", #1Co 15:10 whether as a man, or as a minister, or as a Christian; and this is the final cause, or ultimate end of all, that God does towards, upon, or in his elect, through Christ; all is "to the glory of his grace", #Eph 1:6 and is what appears, shines forth, and is illustrious in every part and branch of their salvation; and therefore they are said to be "saved by grace", #Eph 2:5,8 as will be evident by an enumeration of them.

    1. The grace of God appears in the election of men to everlasting life; and is therefore called the election of grace; and is denied to be of works, #Ro 11:5,6 and, indeed, this act of the grace of God, passed in his eternal mind, before any works were done, good or evil, and without any consideration of them, #Ro 9:11 nor can any works truly good be done, until men become the workmanship of God in regeneration; and then they are the fruits and effects of divine preordination, #Eph 2:10 nor were men chosen in Christ because they were holy, but that they might be holy, #Eph 1:4. And sanctification, both internal and external, is a means fixed in the decree of election; and is as absolute, unconditional, and certain, as the end, salvation, #2Th 2:13 and all the true holiness that is, has been, or will be in the world, flows from electing grace; had it not been for this, the world had been as Sodom and Gomorrah, #Ro 9:29. Election is also irrespective of faith; that is likewise a means fixed in the decree, and most certainly follows upon it, and is therefore called the faith of God's elect, #2Th 2:13 Ac 13:17 #Tit 1:1. It remains, therefore, that election must be ascribed to the free favour, good will, and pleasure of God, to his unmerited grace and goodness, the true spring and cause of it; and to show forth which is the design of it, #Ro 9:18,23 Eph 1:4-6.

    2. The grace of God is displayed in the covenant he has made with his elect in Christ; this, with great propriety, is commonly called by us, "the covenant of grace"; though the phrase is not in so many words to be met with in scripture; it is founded in the unmerited grace and mercy of God; and is made to establish and secure the glory of it, #Ps 89:2,3. It was free grace that moved God to make one, to which he was not otherwise obliged: it was free grace that called, and that moved Christ to engage with his Father in it, and which "gave" him to be the covenant of the people, #Ps 40:6,7 #Isa 42:6 it was free grace that stored it with all spiritual blessings; by which it appears to be ordered in all things for the glory of God, and the good of his covenant people; and these are grants of grace, made in it to them in Christ, #2Ti 1:9 and it was free grace that filled it with exceeding great and precious promises; promises of grace and glory, made before the world began; and which made them sure by an oath to the heirs of them; and who become heirs of them, not through any merit of theirs, but through the undeserved favour of God towards them.

    3. The grace of God is very manifest in the adoption of the chosen ones; the cause of which is, the good pleasure of the will of God; and the end of it, the glory of his grace, #Eph 1:5,6. God, the adopter, stood not in any need of sons; he had a Son, an only begotten Son, a beloved Son, the dear Son of his love, who always pleased him, his Son and Heir; the adopted are altogether unworthy of such a favour, being "by nature children of wrath, as others"; and these men, and not angels, who are only servants in the family, to wait upon the children, the heirs of salvation, and minister unto them: and not all the race of men, only some, and these no better in themselves than others; and therefore their adoption cannot be ascribed to anything else but the free and distinguishing grace of God; and into which relation they were taken before time, in the everlasting covenant; and Christ was sent to open the way, that they might receive this blessing of grace, and which they do by faith, the gift of God; for faith does not make them, only manifests them to be the sons of God; which relation is the ground of their having the Spirit, faith, and every other grace, #Ga 4:4-6.

    4. The grace of God shines very illustrious in redemption by Jesus Christ; free grace set infinite wisdom to work, to find out a proper person to be the redeemer and saviour; and it found out Christ to be the ransom, and provided him to be the sacrifice, #Job 33:24 his incarnation was owing to God's good will to men, #Lu 2:14 and his mission to his unmerited love, #1Jo 4:10 and it was by the grace of God he tasted death for men, #Heb 2:9 and this for sinners, the chief of sinners, ungodly men, enemies in their minds by wicked works. In short, all that are redeemed and saved, whether Old or New Testament saints, are saved by the grace of God and Christ, #Ac 15:11.

    5. The grace of God is very conspicuous in the justification of men before God, and acceptance with him; which, in the strongest terms, is said to be of grace, to be by "his grace", the grace of God, and "freely" by his grace, and that through the redemption that is in Christ, #Tit 3:7 Ro 3:24. Free grace, by infinite wisdom, found out the way whereby sinful men might be just with God; which otherwise never could have been; namely, by not imputing their trespasses to them, but to Christ, the Surety free grace provided, whereby "God is just, and yet the justifier of him that believes in Jesus", #2Co 5:19 Ro 3:25,26 free grace appears in appointing Christ to work out, and bring in everlasting righteousness; and in sending him in the likeness of sinful flesh to do it, #Da 9:24 Ro 8:3,4 and it was free grace moved Christ to come to do this will of God, and "become the end of the law for righteousness"; and it was free grace in God the Father to accept of this righteousness, in the room and stead of sinners, and to impute it, without works, unto them, as their justifying righteousness; and in appointing faith to be the recipient of it, that so it might clearly appear to be of grace; as the persons who are justified by it, being in themselves ungodly, more clearly shows it, #Ro 4:5,6,16. Justification is always denied to be of works; and the righteousness by which men are justified, is represented as a gift, a free gift, a gift by grace, as faith that receives it also is, #Ro 3:20,28 5:15-17 Eph 2:8.

    6. Pardon of sin is according to the riches, fulness, and freeness of the grace of God, #Eph 1:7 the promise of it in the covenant is free, absolute, and unconditional, #Heb 8:12 the proclamation of it in the gospel, bore witness to by all the prophets, is the same, #Ex 34:6 Ac 10:43 13:38 the blood of Christ was shed freely for it; and though it cost him dear, it is all of free grace to sinners, without money and without price. Christ is exalted as a prince to "give" it; and God, for Christ's sake, frankly forgives all trespasses, #Ac 5:31 Lu 7:41,42 Col 2:13 and it is vouchsafed to the worst and chief of sinners, #1Ti 1:13 and to great backsliders, ungrateful persons, guilty of sins of omission and commission, #Ho 14:4 Isa 43:22-25.

    7. The grace of God is abundantly evident in regeneration, calling, and sanctification; God regenerates men by his grace, and of his own good will and pleasure, #Jas 1:18 and he calls them by his grace, and according to it, #Ga 1:15 2Ti 1:9 and which always becomes effectual. There are some things which bear the name of grace, which fall short of true sanctifying grace, at least what men call so, as "restraining grace"; whereby some of God's people, before conversion, and some others, are kept from the commission of gross sins others fall into; and external "gifts" of grace, as a rational knowledge of the gospel, historical faith, and even gifts for the public ministry; which persons may have, and yet be unknown by Christ, and be castaways. And also what some call "sufficient grace", though wrongly; rather it should be called, insufficient; for that can never be sufficient which is ineffectual; as the means of grace often are. There are other distinctions of grace, which are not very material, yet, if rightly explained and understood, may be allowed, as grace "preparing, anticipating, operating", and "co-operating", and "subsequent". "Preparing" grace must be understood not of preparations, and previous dispositions in men, and of them, to the grace of God; but what is of God himself, who prepares the heart, and makes it, by his grace, good ground, fit to receive the seed of the word cast into it, where it becomes the ingrafted word, #Pr 16:1 Mt 13:23. "Anticipating" grace is that in which God goes beforehand with men, and enlightens their minds, teaches and instructs them in the knowledge of themselves, and of Christ, and guides, directs, and draws them to him, #Joh 6:44,45 "Operating" grace is that by which God works in men, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure, #Php 2:13. "Co-operating" grace is that by which men act, being acted or wrought upon, and by which they run, being drawn, #So 1:4. And "subsequent" grace is that by which the work of grace is carried on, and performed until the day of Christ, #Php 1:6. Though there seems to be no great need of these distinctions; the most proper epithet of the grace of God, as displayed in regeneration, calling, and conversion, is, that it is "efficacious"; it never fails of its effects: and it is always "persevering" grace, and is never lost or comes to nothing; but issues in everlasting salvation; and all is owing to unmerited goodness. Every grace implanted in regeneration, flows from the free favour and good will of God. Faith is a gift, a free grace gift, a distinguishing gift; not given to all men, only to whom the Lord pleases, #Eph 2:8 2Th 3:2. Repentance is a grant of God's grace, a gift of Christ, and a blessing of the covenant, #Ac 5:31 11:18 #Eze 36:26. Hope is a good hope through grace; what men, in a state of nature, are without; and which God, of his free grace, gives, #2Th 2:16. The same may be said of every other grace, love, humility, patience, &c.

    8. Lastly, Eternal life is the free gift of God, through Christ, a free grace gift through him, #Ro 6:23. The introduction of all the Lord's people into the enjoyment of it, will be attended with shouts and acclamations, crying "grace, grace, unto it!" #Zec 4:7 and which will be the employment of saints to all eternity; and so the great and ultimate end of God in their salvation, will be answered, namely, "the glory of his grace", #Eph 1:6.
  11. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Doctrinal Divinity~Book 1

    Chapter 15:

    Of The Longsuffering Of God

    The longsuffering of God, the same with his forbearance and patience, arises from his mercy, is a display of it, or is one way in which mercy shows itself; and so, by the Cabalistic Jews, it is said to belong to the predicament of "Chesed", or mercy, as they express themselves {1}; and it may be observed, that wherever God is said to be longsuffering, he is represented as gracious and merciful, or as of great mercy and kindness; and by this attribute, as by them and with them, he is pleased to describe and make known himself, for the encouragement of faith and hope in him, #Ex 34:6 Nu 14:18 Ps 86:15 and therefore the consideration of it very properly follows that of mercy. The Hebrew word Mypa Kra which literally signifies "long of both nostrils", is sometimes rendered "longsuffering", as in the places referred to; and sometimes "slow to anger", #Ne 9:17 Ps 103:8 and to which the Greek words makroyumew, and makroyumia, in the New Testament, answer, #Ro 2:4 2Pe 3:9,15 the allusion is to the nose, the seat of anger, which restrains or shows it, as it is long or contracted.

    God is sometimes called, "the God of patience", #Ro 15:5 not only because he is the author and object of the grace of patience, and that is grateful to him; but because he is patient, or longsuffering in himself, and towards his creatures, and is a pattern of patience to them; for this is one of the attributes of God, in which he may in some measure be imitated; see #Eph 4:1,2 Col 3:12. This is not to be considered as a quality, accident, passion, or affection in God, as in creatures; who bear with patience things grievous, distressing, and torturing to them, #Col 1:11 but it is the very nature and essence of God, which is free from all passion and perturbation, from all suffering, grief, and pain; it springs from his goodness, and is as essential to him as that, and is joined with it, #Ro 2:4 it is no other than a moderation of his anger, a restraint of that, a deferring the effects of it, at least for a while, according to his sovereign will; it is an extension and prolongation of mercy for a season; for mercy is always in it and with it; and in this it differs from it, that the mercy of God is from everlasting to everlasting; but the longsuffering of God, as to the exercise of it, is only for a time, until some certain end is answered, and in which it issues; either in the damnation and destruction of the wicked, when they are fitted for it, #Ro 9:22 or in the salvation of God's elect, #2Pe 3:15 for it is exercised towards both, till each take place; which will be distinctly considered.

    1. The longsuffering of God is exercised towards his chosen people; they are the "us" towards whom he is said to be "longsuffering", #2Pe 3:9 even who are called beloved, #2Pe 3:8 not only beloved of the apostle, and by one another, but by the Lord; and the elect according to the foreknowledge of God, #1Pe 1:2 for to the same persons are both epistles written; and therefore being the beloved and chosen of God, it was his will that none of them should perish, but come to repentance; even all of the same character, and of the same company and society, the whole election of grace; and until everyone of these are called and brought to repentance, God is, and will be, longsuffering towards them; and longsuffering to the world for their sakes; wherefore Christ's not coming to judgment sooner than he will, is not owing to any negligence, dilatoriness, or slackness in God, concerning the promise of it, but to the longsuffering of God; which has been eminently displayed with respect to the people of God.

    1a. In the saints of the Old Testament dispensation, which time is expressly called "the forbearance of God", #Ro 3:25. The case stood thus; Christ became the Surety for them in eternity, engaged to assume their nature, pay their debts, and make satisfaction for their sins: this was notified immediately after the fall of Adam, #Ge 3:15 but it was four thousand years from thence to the time fixed in Daniel's prophecy, "to finish transgression, to make an end of sin, to make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness"; to the fulness of time when Christ should come to redeem all his people, and particularly, to obtain the redemption of transgressions that were under the first Testament, #Da 9:24 Ga 4:4 Heb 9:15. Now all this time was a time of patience, forbearance, and longsuffering with God, in respect to his people under this dispensation; he did not stir up his wrath, and execute it on them; but reserved it for his Son, their Surety; he forbore to inflict the punishment on them their sins deserved; he did not impute sin to them, place it to their account, charge it on them, and demand of them satisfaction for it; but placed it to his Son's account, and expected satisfaction from him: he accepted of the sacrifices of slain beasts, as vicarious ones in their stead, though they had no true value, nor real efficacy in them, to atone for sin; only were typical of Christ's sacrifice; and were to continue, and did, until that should be offered up; God waited till he should come and make his soul an offering for sin; and, upon his credit, bore with them, and bestowed the blessings of his grace on them: they were justified by him on the foundation of Christ's righteousness to be wrought out; and their sins pardoned, through his atoning sacrifice to be offered up; they were saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, even as we are, and we as they; they were carried to heaven, and glorified, before the payment of their debts were made by their Surety, before satisfaction for their sins was given to justice, and before the actual redemption of them was obtained. All which, as it shows the trust and confidence God put in his Son, so his forbearance and longsuffering towards Old Testament saints; which also has appeared, and does appear.

    1b. In and towards everyone of his people in their state of unregeneracy, in every age and period of time, or of whatsoever nation, or under whatsoever dispensation they be; the Lord bears with them, while in a state of nature, and waits patiently all that while, to be gracious to them, #Isa 30:18. There was much grace in his heart, in his Son, and in his covenant, laid up for them. This is abundantly displayed in conversion, when there is an abounding and a superabounding of it. But then the calling and conversion of them is according to purpose; and as there is a time for every purpose, for the execution of it, so for this; and till that time comes, the Lord waits, forbears, suffers much and long; he does not cut them off in their sins, as they deserve; but saves them, and sometimes from very imminent dangers, to be called, #2Ti 1:9 and with some he bears and waits a long time, who are called at the ninth and eleventh hours, and, as the thief on the cross, at the last day and hour of his life; and he waits, as it were, in a longing manner; speaking after the manner of men, "When will it once be?" #Jer 13:27.

    1c. The apostle Paul is a remarkable instance of God's longsuffering; which was exercised towards him throughout all his blasphemy of Christ, his persecution of his people, and the injuries he did unto them; he waited, through all, to be gracious to him; his eye was upon him, and his heart was towards him; and hence such notice is taken of him in that state, before the account is given of his calling; see #Ac 7:58 8:1,3 9:1 yea, he himself says, "For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting", #1Ti 1:16 meaning the people of the Jews, in the latter day: his sense seems to be this, that as Christ bore much, and exercised great longsuffering towards him, and at last showed him mercy; so he would bear with, and show much longsuffering to the people of the Jews, of which that towards him was a pattern, and which should issue in their salvation, as it had in his; when "all Israel shall be saved", #Ro 11:26 God's longsuffering towards them is very great and very remarkable; as it was towards him; though they are under the marks of his displeasure, he has not stirred up all his wrath, so as to cut them off from being a people; but has reserved them for future times, and good things for them, and waits to be gracious to them.

    2. The longsuffering of God is exercised towards the ungodly, even towards "the vessels of wrath" whom he "endures with much longsuffering", till they are "fitted to destruction", #Ro 9:22 and this appears by his supporting them in their beings, notwithstanding their grievous provocations of him; which are such, that it is amazing he does not at once strike them, dead, as he did Ananias and Sapphira; or that the earth does not open and swallow them up, as it did Dathan and Abiram. This can be attributed to nothing else but, to his patience, forbearance, and longsuffering: and by the multitude of his mercies bestowed upon them, who have many of them, more than other men; and which are called "the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering"; see #Job 21:7-13 #Ps 73:4-7 Ro 2:4 and by granting to many of them the outward means of grace, which are despised and rejected by them; and by deferring his judgments on them; which, because they are not speedily executed, their hearts are set in them to do evil; they are more and more hardened, and promise themselves impunity in sin. Now the ends of God's thus dealing with them, are partly for his own glory; "to show his wrath, and make his power known"; to vindicate him from all cruelty and injustice, when he righteously executes his wrath, and exerts his power in their destruction: as in the instance of Pharaoh, #Ro 9:17,22 and partly for the sake of his own people who dwell among them, that they may not suffer with them; thus he would have spared Sodom, had there been ten righteous men in it, for their sakes: and he forbears to take vengeance on those that have shed the blood of his saints, until the number of his elect, in like manner, is fulfilled; and he spares a wicked world from being burnt up and destroyed, until all his chosen ones are brought to repentance, #Ge 18:32 Re 6:11 2Pe 3:9 and another end is for their sakes, that they may be rendered inexcusable, and the execution of wrath on them at last, appear just and righteous, #Ro 2:1,4,5.

    There are many instances of the patience, forbearance, and longsuffering of God, with respect to the wicked; as in the men of the old world, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, #1Pe 3:20 see #Ge 6:3 and in the inhabitants of Sodom, daring sinners, who had first hints of God's displeasure, yet had mercy shown them, a respite for a while, and then destroyed by fire from heaven, #Ge 13:13 14:11,21 18:21 19:24 in Pharaoh, refusing to let Israel go, whom God had spared some time, beginning with lighter judgments, then executed heavier ones; and at last drowned him, and his host, in the Red Sea, #Ex 5:2,7 &c. #Ex 14:17,18,28 in the people of Israel, in the wilderness, whose manners God suffered and bore with, and was grieved with them forty years, #Ac 13:18 in the Amorites and Canaanites, until their sin was full, and till the land itself would bear them no longer; but spewed them out of it, #Ge 15:16 Le 18:28 in the Gentile world, during their times of ignorance, #Ac 17:30 in fruitless professors of religion, signified by the barren fig tree, #Lu 13:6-9 and in antichrist, during the time of his reign, and no longer, #Re 2:21 13:6 18:8.
  12. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    First off, there is nothing "common" about grace. When the word is used in the writ I cannot possibly see how it is ever given to all head for head indiscriminately.

    ) grace

    a) that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

    2) good will, loving-kindness, favour

    a) of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

    3) what is due to grace

    a) the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace

    b) the token or proof of grace, benefit

    1) a gift of grace

    2) benefit, bounty

    4) thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward

    Grace should never be confused with common benevolence.
  13. k.seymore

    k.seymore Puritan Board Freshman

    In 2 Cor 8:19-20 Paul describes a "generous gift" as being "an act of grace." Makes sense. The poor in Jerusalem didn't somehow earn what they were going to receive. It was gracious. A free gift. In this case the grace was a special grace toward Christians, and not a common gift. But what should prevent someone from also referring to the generous gifts of God to all people as being, in some sense, acts of grace?

    "He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." (Acts 17:25)

    "He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." (Acts 14:17)

    It it true that scripture doesn't use the word grace in either of the two verses above. But it also doesn't use the word gift in either of the two verses above, yet I have no problem also saying these things are undeserved gifts either. Would I be wrong if I said God gives common gifts to all?
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