Today's Word of Encouragement
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
The above expression is an example of ‘common grace’. ‘Grace’ is commonly defined as ‘God’s unmerited favor’ or God’s goodness toward people. It is further defined in terms of ‘common grace’ and ‘saving grace’. What is common grace?
“Common grace is the grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation” (Wayne Grudem).
“Common grace is God’s favor and gifts given to those who will not be finally saved” (John Frame).
“[Common grace is] every favour (sic) of whatever kind or degree, falling short of salvation, which this undeserving and sin-cursed world enjoys from the hand of God” (John Murray).
You get the picture. Common grace is God’s goodness shown to whomever He wills, but it is not saving grace. Why is it necessary to understand this?
1. Common grace helps us account for relative goodness and virtue in unbelievers. How can it be that those who reject Christ raise respectable families, generally act with integrity, build ethically responsible businesses, love their wives, and so on? The doctrine of common grace answers these questions.
2. Common grace enables us to express our gratitude to God for the many ways He provides for His creation. God provides for all people - Christian and non-Christian - with what they need and enjoy through their mutual inter-dependence. The farmer produces the wheat which the baker uses to make bread for families in the town, one of whom owns the shoe store that supplies footwear for the baker. The doctrine of common grace highlights the way God designed the world and how He provides for it.
3. Common grace helps us understand the difference between God’s common grace and His saving grace - to distinguish between earthly, natural blessings and spiritual, supernatural blessings. Health, wealth, success, popularity, power, status, influence, etc., do not indicate a person is a Christian any more than poor health, poverty, failure, disfavor, weakness, lowliness, etc., indicate a person is a non-Christian.
Jesus taught that God blesses even those who curse Him and are His enemies, with gifts like sun and rain. Christians are to emulate God in their response to those who hate them - they are to love them as God does, even though they are not saved, or ever will be saved.
“Father, thank You for Your marvelous, infinite, matchless grace that is greater than all my sin. Thank You for letting me see You are still at work in the world, that Your grace continues to reach us. Thank You, Lord, that You withhold from me what I deserve and bless me with what I don’t deserve. I am grateful, not only for the common grace You give me, but for the saving grace I have through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.”