November 12, 2014

Herman Bavinck (1854–1921) on God's Love, Goodness, and the Means of Grace

Now it is indeed possible to speak of God's love to creatures or people in general (the love of benevolence), but for this the Scripture mostly uses the word "goodness," and as a rule speaks of God's love, like his grace, only in relation to his chosen people or church (the love of friendship).
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 2:215.
...the reprobates also receive many blessings, blessings that do not as such arise from the decree of reprobation but from the goodness and grace of God. They receive many natural gifts--life, health, strength, food, drink, good cheer, and so forth (Matt. 5:45; Acts 14:17; 17:27; Rom. 1:19; James 1:17)--for God does not leave himself without a witness. He endures them with much patience (Rom. 9:22). He has the gospel of his grace proclaimed to them and takes no pleasure in their death (Ezek. 18:23; 33:11; Matt. 23:37; Luke 19:41; 24:47; John 3:16; Acts 17:30; Rom. 11:32; 1 Thess. 5:9; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Pelagians infer from these verses that God's actual intention is to save all people individually, and therefore that there is no preceding decree of reprobation. But that is not what these verses teach. They [the aforementioned verses] do say, however, that it is the will of God that all the means of grace be used for the salvation of the reprobates. Now, these means of grace do not as such flow from the decree of reprobation. They can be abused to that end; they may serve to render humans inexcusable, to harden them, and to make their condemnation all the heavier--like the sun, which may warm but also scorch a person. Yet in and by themselves they are not means of reprobation but means of grace with a view to salvation.164
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164. Synopsis purioris theologiae, XXIV, 54ff.; H. Heppe, Dogmatik der evangelisch-reformierten Kirche, 134–35.
Ibid., 2:398.

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