Monday, November 10, 2008

Common Grace

God is a gracious God (1 Peter 5:10). Grace means God does good to those who deserve only condemnation. We focus a lot on saving grace - God's goodness to sinners that results in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. But what about common grace? Is God good to those who will never love him? How does God treat his enemies?

Of course the Bible is clear that those who are not obedient to Christ are under God's wrath (John 3:36) and will be cast into the lake of fire at the judgment. Truly, God's justice and wrath will ultimately pour out on all his enemies. But what about in the meantime? How does God treat those he will ultimately punish?

To make this question hit home, ask yourself what you would do if you were God (this is, admittedly, a dangerous thought). How would you daily treat people who have hated you, mocked you, killed your sinless Son, broken your righteous laws, spit in your face as it were...people you knew you would one day cast into the lake of fire forever?

Here's how God treats them: he rains on their crops so they can eat.
Common grace.

The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made…The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.” Psalm 145: 9, 15

Examples of common grace include every moment we don't spend in the fires of hell. God gives happy moments to those who hate him. Moments where they are not suffering. Every moment of sanity, every ounce of intelligence, every hug from a friend or kiss from a spouse is common grace. Food that tastes good. Morals and conscience that don't save the soul but restrain the wicked from wreaking complete havoc on the earth. Laws of government that bring some semblance of order to this race of sinful rebels. The existence of the church in the earth; a redeemed people who love their enemies, share their food and money, and do good.
Common grace.

Every sinner who experiences the joy of the birth of their first child. Every atheist who enjoys the beauty of a spectacular sunset. Every idol-worshiper whose crops are watered by the one true God. Everyone living in willful violation of the commands of the holy One but still experience joy, love and beauty are partakers of the undeserved common grace of God.
What an awesome, glorious God!

What have we done with this indescribable, surprising grace?
With our lips God gave us to declare his praise we have cursed our neighbor, questioned God's judgment and lied to get out of trouble.
With our hands God gave us to lovingly meet needs we have selfishly stored up treasures for ourselves, pushed and shoved, and committed sinful deeds without number.
With our feet God gave us to go where he sends us we have been quick to run to evil.
With our minds God gave us to understand his majestic wisdom we have devised wicked schemes.
With our hearts God gave us to love him we have loved ourselves and other things.

We have received God's grace and we have rejected the God of grace.

Our continued sin in spite of God's goodness only adds to God's rock-solid case against us. What will the unbeliever say on the day of judgment? What goodness God has shown the wicked, and O, how it has been spurned!

Behold, the common grace of God! How merciful and patient; how kind and good; how gracious is the Lord! Let us not neglect the grace of God. Worship him afresh for his grace to the sons of men. Fall at his feet and give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44-46
"who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: he gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields." Job 5:9-10
"In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness." Acts 14:16-17

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