April 17, 2007

"Common Grace"?

For some reason, there are Christians that have a problem with labeling God's universal love, mercy, kindness, benevolence, or long-suffering as common "grace." Instead of dealing with their underlying conceptual problem that God can have a benevolent or loving disposition toward the non-elect, they quibble over the use of the term "grace" to describe it. If grace is at least, in some instances, God's favor shown to the ill-deserving, then it seems easy, on systematic theological grounds, to call his universal love common "grace." However, you know how the just-give-me-a-verse crowd is, so here are a couple for them:

NKJ Nehemiah 9:17 They refused to obey, And they were not mindful of Your wonders That You did among them. But they hardened their necks, And in their rebellion They appointed a leader To return to their bondage. But You are God, Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them.

NKJ Nehemiah 9:31 Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; For You are God, gracious and merciful.

In other words, God was gracious or favorable towards these disobedient people, some of which, no doubt, were made up of the non-elect.

One might also use this verse:

NKJ Jeremiah 16:13 'Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know, neither you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favor.'

The term "favor" is the same term used in the Hebrew for God's gracious disposition [see the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Zondervan, 1997), 2:203-206.]. So, whereas the Israelites formerly had God's "favor" in their land, they will be cast out for their disobedience and no longer be shown favor (i.e. grace).


Here are more verses:

NKJ Isaiah 26:10 Let grace be shown to the wicked, Yet he will not learn righteousness; In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, And will not behold the majesty of the LORD.

God showed favor/lovingkindness/mercy and love to all of Israel, not just to the elect within Israel.

NKJ Psalm 85:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. Lord, You have been favorable to Your land; You have brought back the captivity of Jacob.

NKJ Isaiah 60:10 " The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, And their kings shall minister to you; For in My wrath I struck you, But in My favor I have had mercy on you.

NKJ Jeremiah 16:5 For thus says the LORD: "Do not enter the house of mourning, nor go to lament or bemoan them; for I have taken away My peace from this people," says the LORD, "lovingkindness and mercies.

NKJ Jude 1:4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

NKJ Hebrews 10:29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 

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