Is Grace Common ?

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AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
From: http://www.go-newfocus.co.uk/pages.php?section=21&subsection=1&artID=190

Is Grace Common ?

Peter L Meney​


Do you believe in common grace?

To answer this question one needs to be able to define what common grace is. Unfortunately, the term means different things to different people. For some common grace describes God’s good gifts or common provisions in nature such as sunshine and rain. Some see it in terms of talents or gifts that lead to human distinction in art, sport or music. Others discern the restraining hand of God holding back human wickedness by conscience and the structures of law, order and civil government; keeping society from deteriorating into anarchy.

All things to all men

If this was the extent of common grace teaching we could be content, but it does not stop there. Recently, common grace has taken on two new functions. It seems its flexibility knows no bounds. First, it is preached from pulpits in support of universal offers of saving grace and to exemplify how God cares for everyone and wants everyone to be saved. Second, it is used by some para-church organisations to justify their existence and defend joint campaigning on moral issues with non-evangelicals.

At its heart common grace means goodness shown by God to saved and unsaved alike. It is distinguished from particular grace or saving grace, which is only given to certain individuals – the elect. It is usually divided into two parts. First, God’s grace restrains man from being as bad as he could be, given total depravity. Second, God’s grace enables men to perform worthy deeds. These ‘good works’ fall short of works meriting salvation.

Common grace is explicitly not saving grace but some say it impinges on the doctrine of salvation. Though sin deserves punishment, we are told, God is patient and longsuffering with mankind, not willing that any should perish. Consequently, though common grace does not actually save anyone, it demonstrates God’s desire and willingness to save everyone.

Common grace teachers believe God has two great works going on in the history of the world. First, the work of saving the church by special grace, second the work of improving society by common grace.

Rejecting common grace

However, we do not accept that these two works are a valid representation of God’s dealings with men. Rather we believe that God’s great purpose is singular and particular – the work of redeeming chosen sinners by the blood of Jesus Christ. God is saving His people from their sins, from death and from hell. This is the special work of the Lord Jesus and outside of Christ there is no salvation, no redemption and no grace, common or otherwise.

Common providence

Clearly people enjoy many pleasures in life, acts of charity are performed and great works accomplished. It is also true that sun and rain nurture crops without reference to election and reprobation. We are better off with government than without. Such things cannot be denied, yet we find the term ‘common grace’ unhelpful.

We do not know as God knows, and what some call ‘grace’ may be no more than the means of man’s destruction. Nations and individuals can appear, in human terms, to prosper but we should not ascribe this to God’s goodness (see Psalm 73). Worldly wealth often indicates God’s judgment as it tends to greater self-reliance, self-indulgence and despising Christ (Luke 12:20). God may raise a man high, not as a mark of grace but to glorify His own name (Romans 9:17).

The dangers of common grace teaching

But our rejection of the teaching of common grace is not merely a matter of words. If the phrase dealt simply with matters of climate we might question the term but agree with the principle. If it were only that God grants moral rule, civil authority, intermittent peace and prosperity, we might adapt the language and take time to define what we mean. But increasingly, common grace is being used to teach universal love, offers of grace and a desire by God to save everyone. It is on this matter we believe common grace to be a dangerous error dragging in its wake a host of unwelcome consequences.

Here are five consequences of current common grace teaching:

1. It misrepresents God

Those who hold common grace find it hard to limit other attributes of God. Having settled upon common grace their theology readily flows into other common or universal blessings such as universal love; universal desire to save; universal atonement; universal salvation. Yet God’s blessings are always definate and particular.

2. It misrepresents God’s saving purpose

Common grace misrepresents God’s purpose by implying that God is saving society in the world as well as saving His elect out of the world. God’s purpose in Jesus Christ is to redeem His church out of this guilty, condemned world. Everything that happens in the world is conducive to that end. Nations rise and fall for the saving of the elect. Men prosper and perish for the saving of the elect. Peace on earth is reconciliation between God and man, otherwise, outside of this, Christ came to bring a sword (Matthew 10:34).

3. It teaches grace outside of Christ

In the eternal covenant the church is placed in Christ. In and from Jesus Christ they obtain forgiveness, mercy, goodness, and love. Outside of Christ there is judgment, wrath and holy hatred. Outside of Christ God does not bestow mercy, grant forgiveness or dispense grace. God’s grace is always special, always saving, always sure. It is founded on Jesus Christ, given by Jesus Christ and received in Jesus Christ.

Divine holiness demands retribution for sin. The broken law cries out for justice. Grace itself is constrained until holiness and justice are satisfied. This is why blood was shed in Eden, foreshadowing the coming of God’s perfect lamb. To speak of grace that is non-saving, grace that is common and outside of Christ simply misrepresents the Saviour’s work.

4. It distracts from preaching Christ

Common grace is used to urge public action, political involvement and militant Christianity within society. Of course, Christians are called to do good works such as love our neighbours and stand for truth. Yet the first duty of the church is to preach the gospel. The day is fast approaching when Christian lawyers are more highly valued than Christian preachers.

Today, evangelical organisations spend millions of pounds on social work, overseas aid, political lobbying and public protests. Nurses and water engineers have replaced gospel preachers on the mission field. Instead of ministering to the souls of men we are ministering to their bodies. The energies, resources and finances that the church should be directing towards preaching Christ are spent for that which is not bread.

5. It brings confusion into the church

Common grace will never produce a more righteous society. God’s provisions to the reprobate, be they perceived as good or bad, never lead to their ultimate good but serve to leave them without excuse. Common providences increase the unbeliever’s condemnation and are ultimately an expression of God’s sovereign displeasure.

By contrast, the goodness and love of God to His elect is demonstrated in the common providences of life. Christians learn to know by faith that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). If for the present some things are perceived as hard to bear, we take God at His word (Hebrews 12:11). Consider: If all things work together for good to those who love God what do all things work together for to those who do not love God?
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
If one answers "No, grace is not common", one will have to suffer the charge of "hyper-calvinist". For this question is intimately tied to "the free offer of the gospel" (AKA "the well-meant offer"), which says that God truly desires and thus truly offers the salvation of and for all, including those "passed over" in the electing decree of God.

I realize some of the biggest guns within Reformdom assert grace is common and salvation for all is desired and offered, even though the Reformed and Presbyterian confessions deny it, as well the Scripture. I cannot see it as other than Arminian doctrine within the camp, whatever I am labeled.

I have seen the doctrine of "Common Grace" used to foster friendship with the world and its arts -- because Grace is purportedly at work in it and them -- even to the point of accepting beauty -- albeit in sin -- as the grace of God.

There is then no more separation between the holy people and the unholy, the two-way road between destroying the antithesis, and the salt having lost its savor.

An enemy hath done this.

Steve
 

Robert Truelove

Puritan Board Sophomore
Matthew 5
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

From this text in Matthew 5, Jesus tells us to love our enemies. He says we should do this because the Father demonstrates this very same sort of love on those who are his enemies by giving them sun and rain. We are to love our enemies just as the Father demonstrates, and thus be like him.

While 'common grace' may be made to say too much, 'common providence', in light of Matthew 5, seems to say too little. Right now I am fairly open on this subject and 'unlanded'. If I were to be backed in a corner on it I would advocate the term 'common goodness'.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Calvin on Common Grace

It is true that Saint John saith generally, that [God] loved the world. And why? For Jesus Christ offereth himself generally to all men without exception to be their redeemer... (Sermons on Deuteronomy, p.167)

He calls all men to himself, without a single exception, and gives Christ to all, that we may be illumined by him. (Isaiah 3:295)

When we pray, we ought, according to the rule of charity, to include all. (Jeremiah 2:248)

God invites all indiscriminately to salvation through the Gospel, but the ingratitude of the world is the reason why this grace, which is equally offered to all, is enjoyed by few. (Synoptic Gospels 1:116)

As no man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open to all men; neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief. (Acts 1:92)

Though it is offered to all for salvation, it does not yield this fruit in any but the elect. (Synoptic Gospel. 2:257)

God ...shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to faith in Christ ...For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. (John 1:125)

... the end and design of public teaching...that all should in common be called; but God's purpose is different; for he intends, according to his own secret counsel, to draw to himself the elect, and he designs to take away all excuse from the reprobate. (Joel- Obadiah 252)

Paul makes grace common to all men, not because it in fact extends to all, but because it is offered to all. (Romans 117-118)

Christ ... kindles for all indiscriminately the torch of his gospel; but all have not the eyes of their minds opened to see it, but on the contrary Satan spreads the veil of blindness over many. (General Epistles 273-274)

God commands [the gospel] to be offered indiscriminately to all. (Genesis 1:503)

It is true that Saint John saith generally, that [God] loved the world. And why? For Jesus Christ offereth himself generally to all men without exception to be their redeemer... (Sermons on Deuteronomy, p.167)

…Jesus Christ reacheth out his arms to call and allure all men both great and small, and to win them to him. (ibid. p.167)

"If any man hear my words". John 12:47

After having spoken concerning his grace, and exhorted his disciples to steady faith, he now begins to strike the rebellious, though even here he mitigates the severity due to the wickedness of those who deliberately — as it were — reject God; for he delays to pronounce judgment on them, because, on the contrary, he has come for the salvation of all. In the first place, we ought to understand that he does not speak here of all unbelievers without distinction, but of those who, knowingly and willingly, reject the doctrine of the Gospel which has been exhibited to them. Why then does Christ not choose to condemn them? It is because he lays aside for a time the office of a judge, and offers salvation to all without reserve, and stretches out his arms to embrace all, that all may be the more encouraged to repent. And yet there is a circumstance of no small moment, by which he points out the aggravation of the crime, if they reject an invitation so kind and gracious, for it is as if he had said, “Lo, I am here to invite all, and, forgetting the character of a judge, I have this as my single object, to persuade all, and to rescue from destruction those who are already twice ruined.” No man, therefore, is condemned on account of having despised the Gospel, except he who, disdaining the lovely message of salvation, has chosen of his own accord to draw down destruction on himself (Commentary on John 12:47. p. 451. Ages Digital Lib).

"That whosoever believeth on him may not perish." John 3:16- Part B

It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.
Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father — that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ (Commentary on John. p 106. Ages Digital Lib.).
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People need to READ Calvin, not just claim to be Calvinists. The Free Offer is Biblical, historical, and confessional.
 

Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
Some great books on this topic are :
-Common Grace Revisited by David Engelsma
http://www.cprf.co.uk/bookstore/commongrace.htm

-Sin and Grace by Henry Danhof & Herman Hoeksema
http://www.cprf.co.uk/bookstore/sinandgrace.htm

-God's Goodness Always Particular by Herman Hoeksema
http://www.cprf.co.uk/bookstore/godsgoodnessalwaysparticular.htm

Debates : Is the doctrine of common grace reformed ?
http://www.hudsonvilleprc.org/ram-2/engelsma.html

Some articels":
http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles/commongrace.htm
http://www.rsglh.org/grace.uncommon.htm
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Calvin on Common Grace

Both those pro and contra common grace claim Calvin as their own and as Richard J. Mouw said in his book He Shines in all That's Fair that Calvin's views are hard to discern clearly simply because he makes unguarded comments and Mouw concludes that "The opponents of common grace teachings, then, do not simply disagree with Calvin. They may wish that he had chosen his words differently at a few points...But they can legitimately claim nonetheless to be working within the general contours of Calvin's thought."

Institutes II.iii.4;

4. The objection, however, is not yet solved. For we must either put Cataline on the same footing with Camillus, or hold Camillus to be an example that nature, when carefully cultivated, is not wholly void of goodness. I admit that the specious qualities which Camillus possessed were divine gifts, and appear entitled to commendation when viewed in themselves. But in what way will they be proofs of a virtuous nature? Must we not go back to the mind, and from it begin to reason thus? If a natural man possesses such integrity of manners, nature is not without the faculty of studying virtue. But what if his mind was depraved and perverted, and followed anything rather than rectitude? Such it undoubtedly was, if you grant that he was only a natural man. How then will you laud the power of human nature for good, if, even where there is the highest semblance of integrity, a corrupt bias is always detected? Therefore, as you would not commend a man for virtue whose vices impose upon you by a show of virtue, so you will not attribute a power of choosing rectitude to the human will while rooted in depravity (see August. lib. 4, Cont. Julian). Still, the surest and easiest answer to the objection is, that those are not common endowments of nature, but special gifts of God, which he distributes in divers forms, and, in a definite measure, to men otherwise profane. For which reason, we hesitate not, in common language, to say, that one is of a good, another of a vicious nature; though we cease not to hold that both are placed under the universal condition of human depravity. All we mean is that God has conferred on the one a special grace which he has not seen it meet to confer on the other. When he was pleased to set Saul over the kingdom, he made him as it were a new man. This is the thing meant by Plato, when, alluding to a passage in the Iliad, he says, that the children of kings are distinguished at their birth by some special qualities—God, in kindness to the human race, often giving a spirit of heroism to those whom he destines for empire. In this way, the great leaders celebrated in history were formed. The same judgment must be given in the case of private individuals. But as those endued with the greatest talents were always impelled by the greatest ambitions (a stain which defiles all virtues and makes them lose all favour in the sight of God), so we cannot set any value on anything that seems praiseworthy in ungodly men. We may add, that the principal part of rectitude is wanting, when there is no zeal for the glory of God, and there is no such zeal in those whom he has not regenerated by his Spirit. Nor is it without good cause said in Isaiah, that on Christ should rest “the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord,” (Isa. 11:2); for by this we are taught that all who are strangers to Christ are destitute of that fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10). The virtues which deceive us by an empty show may have their praise in civil society and the common intercourse of life, but before the judgment-seat of God they will be of no value to establish a claim of righteousness.​

Institutes II.ii.12;

12. I feel pleased with the well-known saying which has been borrowed from the writings of Augustine, that man’s natural gifts were corrupted by sin, and his supernatural gifts withdrawn; meaning by supernatural gifts the light of faith and righteousness, which would have been sufficient for the attainment of heavenly life and everlasting felicity. Man, when he withdrew his allegiance to God, was deprived of the spiritual gifts by which he had been raised to the hope of eternal salvation. Hence it follows, that he is now an exile from the kingdom of God, so that all things which pertain to the blessed life of the soul are extinguished in him until he recover them by the grace of regeneration. Among these are faith, love to God, charity towards our neighbour, the study of righteousness and holiness. All these, when restored to us by Christ, are to be regarded as adventitious and above nature. If so, we infer that they were previously abolished. On the other hand, soundness of mind and integrity of heart were, at the same time, withdrawn, and it is this which constitutes the corruption of natural gifts. For although there is still some residue of intelligence and judgment as well as will, we cannot call a mind sound and entire which is both weak and immersed in darkness. As to the will, its depravity is but too well known. Therefore, since reason, by which man discerns between good and evil, and by which he understands and judges, is a natural gift, it could not be entirely destroyed; but being partly weakened and partly corrupted, a shapeless ruin is all that remains. In this sense it is said (John 1:5), that “the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not;” these words clearly expressing both points—viz. that in the perverted and degenerate nature of man there are still some sparks which show that he is a rational animal, and differs from the brutes, inasmuch as he is endued with intelligence, and yet, that this light is so smothered by clouds of darkness that it cannot shine forth to any good effect. In like manner, the will, because inseparable from the nature of man, did not perish, but was so enslaved by depraved lusts as to be incapable of one righteous desire. The definition now given is complete, but there are several points which require to be explained. Therefore, proceeding agreeably to that primary distinction (Book 1 c. 15 sec. 7 and 8), by which we divided the soul into intellect and will, we will now inquire into the power of the intellect.

To charge the intellect with perpetual blindness, so as to leave it no intelligence of any description whatever, is repugnant not only to the Word of God, but to common experience. We see that there has been implanted in the human mind a certain desire of investigating truth, to which it never would aspire unless some relish for truth antecedently existed. There is, therefore, now, in the human mind, discernment to this extent, that it is naturally influenced by the love of truth, the neglect of which in the lower animals is a proof of their gross and irrational nature. Still it is true that this love of truth fails before it reaches the goal, forthwith falling away into vanity. As the human mind is unable, from dullness, to pursue the right path of investigation, and, after various wanderings, stumbling every now and then like one groping in darkness, at length gets completely bewildered, so its whole procedure proves how unfit it is to search the truth and find it. Then it labours under another grievous defect, in that it frequently fails to discern what the knowledge is which it should study to acquire. Hence, under the influence of a vain curiosity, it torments itself with superfluous and useless discussions, either not adverting at all to the things necessary to be known, or casting only a cursory and contemptuous glance at them. At all events, it scarcely ever studies them in sober earnest. Profane writers are constantly complaining of this perverse procedure, and yet almost all of them are found pursuing it. Hence Solomon, throughout the Book of Ecclesiastes, after enumerating all the studies in which men think they attain the highest wisdom, pronounces them vain and frivolous.​

Institutes II.ii.13;

13. Still, however, man’s efforts are not always so utterly fruitless as not to lead to some result, especially when his attention is directed to inferior objects. Nay, even with regard to superior objects, though he is more careless in investigating them, he makes some little progress. Here, however, his ability is more limited, and he is never made more sensible of his weakness than when he attempts to soar above the sphere of the present life. It may therefore be proper, in order to make it more manifest how far our ability extends in regard to these two classes of objects, to draw a distinction between them. The distinction is, that we have one kind of intelligence of earthly things, and another of heavenly things. By earthly things, I mean those which relate not to God and his kingdom, to true righteousness and future blessedness, but have some connection with the present life, and are in a manner confined within its boundaries. By heavenly things, I mean the pure knowledge of God, the method of true righteousness, and the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom. To the former belong matters of policy and economy, all mechanical arts and liberal studies. To the latter (as to which, see the eighteenth and following sections) belong the knowledge of God and of his will, and the means of framing the life in accordance with them. As to the former, the view to be taken is this: Since man is by nature a social animal, he is disposed, from natural instinct, to cherish and preserve society; and accordingly we see that the minds of all men have impressions of civil order and honesty. Hence it is that every individual understands how human societies must he regulated by laws, and also is able to comprehend the principles of those laws. Hence the universal agreement in regard to such subjects, both among nations and individuals, the seeds of them being implanted in the breasts of all without a teacher or lawgiver. The truth of this fact is not affected by the wars and dissensions which immediately arise, while some, such as thieves and robbers, would invert the rules of justice, loosen the bonds of law, and give free scope to their lust; and while others (a vice of most frequent occurrence) deem that to be unjust which is elsewhere regarded as just, and, on the contrary, hold that to be praiseworthy which is elsewhere forbidden. For such persons do not hate the laws from not knowing that they are good and sacred, but, inflamed with headlong passion, quarrel with what is clearly reasonable, and licentiously hate what their mind and understanding approve. Quarrels of this latter kind do not destroy the primary idea of justice. For while men dispute with each other as to particular enactments, their ideas of equity agree in substance. This, no doubt, proves the weakness of the human mind, which, even when it seems on the right path, halts and hesitates. Still, however, it is true, that some principle of civil order is impressed on all. And this is ample proof, that, in regard to the constitution of the present life, no man is devoid of the light of reason.​


All of which is summed up by the Canons thus:

Head III/IV; Article 4 - The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature
To be sure, there is left in man after the fall, some light of nature, whereby he retains some notions about God, about natural things, and about the difference between what is honourable and shameful, and shows some regard for virtue and outward order. But he is so far from arriving at the saving knowledge of God and true conversion through this light of nature that he does not even use it properly in natural and civil matters. Rather, whatever this light may be, man wholly pollutes it in various ways and suppresses it by his wickedness. By doing this, he makes himself inexcusable before God.​
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
"The opponents of common grace teachings, then, do not simply disagree with Calvin. They may wish that he had chosen his words differently at a few points...But they can legitimately claim nonetheless to be working within the general contours of Calvin's thought."

Exactly. If we keep to the language of Calvin, we find ourselves using the language of the scriptures, letting the Word speak, not umpteen qualifications of the text.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
:amen: Jerrold!

Herman Bavinck, Calvin on Common Grace

Louis Berkhof, Common Grace

John Murray, Common Grace

Whilst these are interesting and explain well the common grace theory declared a dogma in 1924 they are nevertheless in error.

One of the biggest errors is the inclusion of gospel preaching as a part of common grace.

Another is that Providence answers the questions that underlie common grace theory. As Berkhof teaches:

1. The problem with which it deals. The origin of the doctrine of common grace was occasioned by the fact that there is in the world, alongside of the course of the Christian life with all its blessings, a natural course of life, which is not redemptive and yet exhibits many traces of the true, the good, and the beautiful. The question arose, How can we explain the comparatively orderly life in the world, seeing that the whole world lies under the curse of sin? How is it that the earth yields precious fruit in rich abundance and does not simply bring forth thorns and thistles? How can we account for it that sinful man still "retains some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the difference between good and evil, and shows some regard for virtue and for good outward behavior"? What explanation can be given of the special gifts and talents with which the natural man is endowed, and of the development of science and art by those who are entirely devoid of the new life that is in Christ Jesus? How can we explain the religious aspirations of men everywhere, even of those who did not come in touch with the Christian religion? How can the unregenerate still speak the truth, do good to others, and lead outwardly virtuous lives? These are some of the questions to which the doctrine of common grace seeks to supply the answer.​

The theory of common grace was developed (by Abraham Kuyper) to answer these quetions for which the Reformed church had already answers.

I would seriously recommend Hoeksema's The Curse-Reward of the Wicked Well-Doer and his The Christian and Culture.

I would also point out Engelsma's The Reformed Worldview on Behalf of a Godly Culture.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
"The opponents of common grace teachings, then, do not simply disagree with Calvin. They may wish that he had chosen his words differently at a few points...But they can legitimately claim nonetheless to be working within the general contours of Calvin's thought."

Exactly. If we keep to the language of Calvin, we find ourselves using the language of the scriptures, letting the Word speak, not umpteen qualifications of the text.

Not at all. We who oppose the idea of a Common Grace work with Calvin's thought as he stated it. But aside from this, the fact is Calvin is not the final arbiter of truth as if doctrinal development ended when Calvin died. His work was brilliant but not inerrant and we must be careful of the danger to read our debate back into Calvin. As Berkhof stated

"The name "common grace" as a designation of the grace now under discussion cannot be said to owe its origin to Calvin. Dr. H. Kuiper in his work on Calvin on Common Grace says that he found only four passage in Calvin's works in which the adjective "common" is used with the noun "grace," and in two of these the Reformer is speaking of saving grace."​

Psalm 92:6-8 "A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever: But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore."

Psalm 73:1-3, 17-20 "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image."
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Some great books on this topic are :
-Common Grace Revisited by David Engelsma
http://www.cprf.co.uk/bookstore/commongrace.htm

-Sin and Grace by Henry Danhof & Herman Hoeksema
http://www.cprf.co.uk/bookstore/sinandgrace.htm

-God's Goodness Always Particular by Herman Hoeksema
http://www.cprf.co.uk/bookstore/godsgoodnessalwaysparticular.htm

Debates : Is the doctrine of common grace reformed ?
http://www.hudsonvilleprc.org/ram-2/engelsma.html

Some articels":
http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles/commongrace.htm
http://www.rsglh.org/grace.uncommon.htm

I also like Rev. Stewart's Was Cain the Recipient of Common Grace?


(1) Reprobate Cain was a child "of the devil" (I John 3:10), who "slew his brother" because his "works were evil" (12). Cain was an "abomination to the Lord" (Prov. 3:32; 11:20; 16:5) as was everything about him: his "hands" (6:16-17), "lying lips" (12:22), "thoughts" (15:26), "sacrifice" and "way" (15:8-9).

God spoke with Cain (Gen. 4:6-7, 9-15)—a rational-moral creature—laying before him the ways of life and of death (6-7), explaining his evil (9-10) and cursing him (11-12), thus leaving him "without excuse" (Rom. 1:20).

God marked Cain so that no man would kill him (Gen. 4:15). Cain’s prolonged life meant that he heaped up more wrath to himself (Rom. 2:5). God willed Cain’s continuance on earth for some years so that the line of the reprobate would continue and develop in sin (Gen. 4) over against the line of the elect (Gen. 5).

Nor were Cain’s city building (4:17) or the riches, artistic talent and technological advances of his descendants (20-22) signs of God’s love for the reprobate. God’s purpose "when all the workers of iniquity do flourish" (including Cain and his seed with their earthly prosperity) is "that they shall be destroyed forever" (Ps. 92:7). God does not immediately cut off the wicked for He is digging the pit for them (Ps. 94:13).

(2) God’s "tender mercies are over all his works" (Ps. 145:9). Many reckon that this includes the reprobate. But the next verse declares, "All thy works shall praise thee" (10a). The reprobate do not praise God, and so they cannot be the objects of God’s tender mercies. According to Hebrew parallelism, "thy saints shall bless thee" (10b) defines God’s works, here, as His people (cf. Isa. 19:25; 29:23; 45:11; Eph. 2:10).

Rev. Angus Stewart
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
The theory of common grace was developed (by Abraham Kuyper) to answer these quetions for which the Reformed church had already answers.

The Reformed church has taught the doctrine of common grace long before Abraham Kuyper arrived on the scene. As we have seen, John Calvin taught it, using the words "common grace" and "general grace." So did James Durham (Christ Crucified, 1726 edition, pp. 6-9; "Concerning the Nature and Differences of Saving and Common Grace," Commentary on Revelation, 2000 edition, pp. 151-183); John Knox on Psalm 145.17-20 (The Works of John Knox, Vol. 5, p. 87); Samuel Rutherford (Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners To Himself, 1647, p. 240; John Owen (The Works of John Owen, 1957 edition, Vol. 6, p. 270; Vol. 12, p. 552); Wilhelmus a Brakel (The Christian's Reasonable Service, 1992 edition, Vol. 1, p. 442, 459); Jonathan Edwards (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 1974 edition, Vol. 2, p. 551, 562); and others (HT: David Silversides, The Free Offer: Biblical & Reformed).
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
The Reformed church has taught the doctrine of common grace long before Abraham Kuyper arrived on the scene. As we have seen, John Calvin taught it, using the words "common grace" and "general grace." So did James Durham (Christ Crucified, 1726 edition, pp. 6-9; "Concerning the Nature and Differences of Saving and Common Grace," Commentary on Revelation, 2000 edition, pp. 151-183); John Knox on Psalm 145.17-20 (The Works of John Knox, Vol. 5, p. 87); Samuel Rutherford (Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners To Himself, 1647, p. 240; John Owen (The Works of John Owen, 1957 edition, Vol. 6, p. 270; Vol. 12, p. 552); Wilhelmus a Brakel (The Christian's Reasonable Service, 1992 edition, Vol. 1, p. 442, 459); Jonathan Edwards (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 1974 edition, Vol. 2, p. 551, 562); and others (HT: David Silversides, The Free Offer: Biblical & Reformed).

I do not deny they used the term "Common Grace" but what I deny is that what they meant by it is the same as what CG proponents mean by it today.

http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles/denyingcommongrace.htm
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
From the same site:

1. If God loves all men, including those who receive eternal life and those who suffer eternal damnation, what does the love of God have to do with anyone’s salvation?

2. If God wills for all men to be saved, including those who receive eternal life and those who suffer eternal damnation, what does the will of God have to do with anyone’s salvation?

3. If Christ shed His precious blood for all men, including those who receive eternal life and those who suffer eternal damnation, what does the work of Christ on the cross have to do with anyone’s salvation?
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
If God desires to save the non-elect, but makes no plans to save them, would that be a genuine desire?
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
The idea of common grace is woven into the very fabric of Calvin's theology. It just so happens he was balanced in his exposition and preaching. When the text demanded the emphasis on man's responsibility, he preached and taught that emphasis. When the text spoke of God's sovereignty, he let that text speak. He did not preform exegetical gymnastics to make the text say something different than it did. This is what confuses the Hoeksemites; Calvin does not fit into their systematic 1924 mold thus the need to claim he is not "the final authority on the matter". The point is clearly a logical one. One is a hyper-Calvinist who extends (at least) beyond Calvin himself on the well meant offer, or free offer, or genuine call (or whatever name you wish to call it). As I have proven, Calvin taught the free and well meant offer. Argue with him, not me, they are not my words. But whatever you do, don't claim Calvin as a true representative of the Hoeksema view as he clearly taught and preached the free offer.

I strongly encourage anyone reading this post to listen to Rev. D. Silversides dismantle Rev. Hanko on the subject on SermonAudio.
The link can be found here.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
We should observe the way terminology changes in different contexts. Andrew has referenced Durham's excursus in his commentary on Revelation in which he deals with saving and common grace. It is a MUST read. The concern is with the grace of God as given through the Word and sacraments. There is undoubtedly a participation in the "outward grace." Hence it is quite appropriate to speak of it as common grace, that is, common to all who partake of the hearing of the Word and administration of the sacraments.

This is what the Westminster divines were referring to when they spoke of "the common operations of the Spirit" in relation to the general call and as distinguished from the effectual call. Whatever benefits one might receive in terms of understanding or temporary commitment to the things of God, these are undoubtedly a result of the operation of the Spirit working in a non-saving way upon the person through the ordinary means of grace.

It is entirely biblical. Titus 2:11, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." (See Thomas Manton's sermons on this passage for the typical Puritan view of common grace.) The apostle is referring to the gospel which reveals the grace of God to men; and there is no doubt that this grace is presented (or offered, I won't quibble about words) to all men in the gospel in a general and indefinite way.

Again, 2 Cor. 6:1, "that ye receive not the grace of God in vain." The context makes clear that the apostle is speaking about "the word of reconciliation" committed to the ministers of the gospel (5:19), whereby, as ambassadors for Christ, they pray or beseech men IN Christ'S STEAD to be reconciled to God (5:20). This external call of the gospel is the "grace" which the apostle beseeches the Corinthians to not receive in vain. It is a "grace" which all hearers of the gospel receive.

As to whether we should speak about the blessings of this world, like provision, protection, etc., as grace, I think it suffices to call them temporal mercies or favours. Here it should be pointed out that at no point does this "grace" of God fail to accomplish the purpose for which He gives His blessings. The persons who are so blessed receive the temporal benefit without frustrating God's purpose in giving it to them -- whether for their final hardening or softening. What does Abraham says to the rich man? "in thy lifetime receivedst THY good things." Also Ps. 17 speaks of the worldly man being filled with the treasure of God; and reprobate Esau received a temporal blessing, though not a spiritual one.

The one word of caution I would give is that the dominion mandate of the Dutch school carries the concept of "common grace" beyond traditional reformed theological boundaries, and hence should be cautiously guarded against. See William Young's excellent articles dealing with Historic Calvinism and Neo-Calvinism. Blessings!
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
The idea of common grace is woven into the very fabric of Calvin's theology. It just so happens he was balanced in his exposition and preaching. When the text demanded the emphasis on man's responsibility, he preached and taught that emphasis. When the text spoke of God's sovereignty, he let that text speak. He did not preform exegetical gymnastics to make the text say something different than it did. This is what confuses the Hoeksemites; Calvin does not fit into their systematic 1924 mold thus the need to claim he is not "the final authority on the matter". The point is clearly a logical one. One is a hyper-Calvinist who extends (at least) beyond Calvin himself on the well meant offer, or free offer, or genuine call (or whatever name you wish to call it). As I have proven, Calvin taught the free and well meant offer. Argue with him, not me, they are not my words. But whatever you do, don't claim Calvin as a true representative of the Hoeksema view as he clearly taught and preached the free offer.

:rofl:
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
The concern is with the grace of God as given through the Word and sacraments. There is undoubtedly a participation in the "outward grace." Hence it is quite appropriate to speak of it as common grace, that is, common to all who partake of the hearing of the Word and administration of the sacraments.

The preaching of the Word is gracious towards the elect but not towards the reprobate for by it God hardens them and provokes them resulting in a greater condemnation. As St. Paul terms it, a savour of death unto death for the reprobate but a savour of life unto life for the elect.

Again, 2 Cor. 6:1, "that ye receive not the grace of God in vain." The context makes clear that the apostle is speaking about "the word of reconciliation" committed to the ministers of the gospel (5:19), whereby, as ambassadors for Christ, they pray or beseech men IN Christ'S STEAD to be reconciled to God (5:20). This external call of the gospel is the "grace" which the apostle beseeches the Corinthians to not receive in vain. It is a "grace" which all hearers of the gospel receive.

I would argue that the grace here denotes "the doctrine of grace, the Gospel of Christ, so called, because it is a declaration of the love and grace of God to sinners, ascribes salvation in part, and in whole, to the free grace of God, and is a means of implanting and increasing grace in the hearts of men" (Gill). This in no way implies that the external call of the gospel is gracious or a grace but rather describes the content of the message of the external call as being a message of grace.

That said, there is another legitimate meaning whch is that the apostle is refering to "gifts of grace, qualifying for ministerial service; and the sense of the exhortation be, that they be careful that the gifts bestowed on them might not be neglected by them, but be used and improved to the advantage of the church, and the glory of Christ; by giving up themselves to study, meditation, and prayer, by labouring constantly in the word and doctrine, and by having a strict regard to their lives and conversations, "that the ministry be not blamed"; which exhortation he pursues in, and by his own example and others, in some following verses, the next being included in a "parenthesis"." (Gill)

As to whether we should speak about the blessings of this world, like provision, protection, etc., as grace, I think it suffices to call them temporal mercies or favours. Here it should be pointed out that at no point does this "grace" of God fail to accomplish the purpose for which He gives His blessings. The persons who are so blessed receive the temporal benefit without frustrating God's purpose in giving it to them -- whether for their final hardening or softening. What does Abraham says to the rich man? "in thy lifetime receivedst THY good things." Also Ps. 17 speaks of the worldly man being filled with the treasure of God; and reprobate Esau received a temporal blessing, though not a spiritual one.

But are they blessings?

Psalm 92:7 "When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever:"

The issue I have is the suggestion that these good things that God gives to the reprobate denote a love to them or that he is gracious to them in doing so.

The one word of caution I would give is that the dominion mandate of the Dutch school carries the concept of "common grace" beyond traditional reformed theological boundaries, and hence should be cautiously guarded against. See William Young's excellent articles dealing with Historic Calvinism and Neo-Calvinism. Blessings!

:agree:

As an aside Rev Winzer:

1. I have printed off your review linked earlier,
2. Have you come across the following?

http://www.epc.org.au/start/literature/stebb6.html
http://www.epc.org.au/start/literature/mod-cal.html
 
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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
James Durham's 2nd Sermon on Isaiah 53

I have uploaded to the NP website James Durham's sermon dealing with "Christ Offered", "Of The Gospel Call, and the Largeness of the Offer", etc. from the Naphtali Press critical edition of his Sermons on Isaiah 53. This is Sermon Two on Isaiah 53:1. This is from an elaborate new edition (2001) of Durham's sermons (review comments below). See the prepublication offer on the second printing due out this Fall at the online store.

Christ Crucified: Or the Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53. By James Durham (1622-1658). Text carefully corrected and compared from several editions. Size: 7×10. Hardcover. Smyth sewn. 704 pages. Extensive Table of Contents, Subject and Scripture Index. Side headings. (sorry, prepub offer for USA only).
This is no ordinary book of sermons. It is the type of book that you will enjoy reading over a period of time. Keep it on your reading table; use it as part of your devotional reading to help you meditate on and appreciate anew God’s great plan of redemption. Dr. Dominic Aquila, PCA News.
One of the great passages of Scripture is Isaiah 53, and one of the great expositions of it is by James Durham (1622–58). The work has been thoroughly done, … with relevant footnotes, glossary and index. The technical aspects of paper and binding are splendid with large clear pages and good margins. Dr. Rowland S. Ward.

This is marrow indeed. We need say no more: Durham is a prince among spiritual expositors. C. H. Spurgeon in Commentaries and Commentating.

isa53.jpg

 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
I could either get annoyed at your post or just chuckle...I chose the latter. :handshake:

Perhaps if we stick to Calvin we could avoid the :rofl: and get some where on the subject at hand.

We both know that grace is particular, and that saving grace is not common. We also agree that none but those who were predestinated in eternity passed will be saved. The Lord will lose none of His elect, and only the elect will come to saving faith by the effectual work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, faith and repentance. No believer in the Free Offer (FO), and Common Grace (CG) from the Confessional/Puritan line would deny this incontrovertible fact.

However, most deniers of the FO & CG argue backward from the resultant consequence instead of the ontological progression of the scriptures. This is where Supralapsarianism becomes dangerous. (*Note: All hypers are supra's, but not all supra's are hypers). The terms we are fighting over were not created by Kuyper or his neo-calvinistic innovations. It is myopic to view the phraseology of the Reformed faith through the sieve of 1924. This is not fair nor scholarly. You would be interested to know that many who believe in the Free Offer, and Common Grace, are not Kuyper fans at all (I being one of them). He is a neo-calvinist, and his divergence from the historic understanding of salvation has been unfortunate indeed (especially in the CRC where the fruit has been born to its fullest extent).

I have in my library hundreds of Puritan works ranging from Perkins to Owen which speak of the FO, and CG in the very same way Calvin does. When I speak of the FO & CG, I'm not thinking of Kuyper at all, I'm thinking of the Confessions and the Puritans! But many deniers of the FO offer and CG have little use for the language of the Puritans because of their organic development of a text. So let's use the words of Calvin shall we? We both claim to be Calvinists, so we should be able to agree upon his development.

Hoeksema and his followers are very adept at pointing out where Calvin is a strong predestinarian. Fine, good, and amen. They are however not consistent in developing all of Calvin's thoughts as they relate to the manner in which God deals with fallen man anthropomorphically. This is where the innovations of Hoeksema in the USA remains an anomaly (incidentally there is not Dutch counterpart to the Protestant Reformed dogma in Holland as a federation, nor has there ever been). When Hoeksemaites come across Calvin sounding the gospel by the way of a free offer, they quickly conclude that he used "unfortunate language", but never deal with the substance of his thought (dare to dream he was as consistent on the FO as he was on predestination!). This is why they never deal with the portions Calvin that I have posted. Perhaps you can prove otherwise. I'd be open to that. My research however has produced an erie silence on the part of Hoeksemites in this regard.

So let me hear your thoughts on this subject AV1611. What do you think of Calvin on the quote posted below? And don't run to another place where he speaks of election and reprobation, we already agree on that. But please do deal with Calvin as he is found on texts that are uncomfortable to you. Let's begin here.

" The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. " 2 Peter 3:9

But the Lord is not slack, or, delays not. He checks extreme and unreasonable haste by another reason, that is, that the Lord defers his coming that he might invite all mankind to repentance. For our minds are always prurient, and a doubt often creeps in, why he does not come sooner. But when we hear that the Lord, in delaying, shews a concern for our salvation, and that he defers the time because he has a care for us, there is no reason why we should any longer complain of tardiness. He is tardy who allows an occasion to pass by through slothfulness: there is nothing like this in God, who in the best manner regulates time to promote our salvation. And as to the duration of the whole world, we must think exactly the same as of the life of every individual; for God by prolonging time to each, sustains him that he may repent. In the like manner he does not hasten the end of the world, in order to give to all time to repent.

This is a very necessary admonition, so that we may learn to employ timea right, as we shall otherwise suffer a just punishment for our idleness. "Not willing that any should perish". So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost. But the order is to be noticed, that God is ready to receive all to repentance, so that none may perish; for in these words the way and manner of obtaining salvation is pointed out. Every one of us, therefore, who is desirous of salvation, must learn to enter in by this way.

But it may be asked, If God wishes none to perish, why is it that so many do perish? To this my answer is, that no mention is here made of the hidden purpose of God, according to which the reprobate are doomed to their own ruin, but only of his will as made known to us in the gospel. For God there stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world. But as the verb chōreō is often taken passively by the Greeks, no less suitable to this passage is the verb which I have put in the margin, that God would have all, who had been before wandering and scattered, to be gathered or come together to repentance.
:handshake:
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
What do you think of Calvin on the quote posted below?

I would not have used the same words as he did but it seems to me he is saying that 2 Peter 3:9 teaches God's will of command.

I would argue that John Owen was far more precise in stating

See, then, of whom the apostle is here speaking. “The Lord,” saith he, “is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish.” Will not common sense teach us that us is to be repeated in both the following clauses, to make them up complete and full, — namely, “Not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance?” Now, who are these of whom the apostle speaks, to whom he writes? Such as had received “great and precious promises,” chap. i. 4, whom he calls “beloved,” chap. iii. 1; whom he opposeth to the “scoffers” of the “last days,” verse 3; to whom the Lord hath respect in the disposal of these days; who are said to be “elect,” Matt. xxiv. 22. Now, truly, to argue that because God would have none of those to perish, but all of them to come to repentance, therefore he hath the same will and mind towards all and every one in the world (even those to whom he never makes known his will, nor ever calls to repentance, if they never once hear of his way of salvation), comes not much short of extreme madness and folly. Neither is it of any weight to the contrary, that they were not all elect to whom Peter wrote: for in the judgment of charity he esteemed them so, desiring them “to give all diligence to make their calling and election sure,” chap. i. 10; even as he expressly calleth those to whom he wrote his former epistle, “elect,” chap. i. 2, and a “chosen generation,” as well as a “purchased people,” chap. ii. 9. I shall not need add any thing concerning the contradictions and inextricable difficulties wherewith the opposite interpretation is accompanied (as, that God should will such to come to repentance as he cuts off in their infancy out of the covenant, such as he hateth from eternity, from whom he hideth the means of grace, to whom he will not give repentance, and yet knoweth that it is utterly impossible they should have it without his bestowing). The text is clear, that it is all and only the elect whom he would not have to perish. A place supposed parallel to this we have in Ezek. xviii. 23, 32, which shall be afterward considered.​

As I have said before, Calvin was excellent but not inerrant.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
I would not have used the same words as he did but it seems to me he is saying that 2 Peter 3:9 teaches God's will of command.

I would argue that John Owen was far more precise in stating

See, then, of whom the apostle is here speaking. “The Lord,” saith he, “is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish.” Will not common sense teach us that us is to be repeated in both the following clauses, to make them up complete and full, — namely, “Not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance?” Now, who are these of whom the apostle speaks, to whom he writes? Such as had received “great and precious promises,” chap. i. 4, whom he calls “beloved,” chap. iii. 1; whom he opposeth to the “scoffers” of the “last days,” verse 3; to whom the Lord hath respect in the disposal of these days; who are said to be “elect,” Matt. xxiv. 22. Now, truly, to argue that because God would have none of those to perish, but all of them to come to repentance, therefore he hath the same will and mind towards all and every one in the world (even those to whom he never makes known his will, nor ever calls to repentance, if they never once hear of his way of salvation), comes not much short of extreme madness and folly. Neither is it of any weight to the contrary, that they were not all elect to whom Peter wrote: for in the judgment of charity he esteemed them so, desiring them “to give all diligence to make their calling and election sure,” chap. i. 10; even as he expressly calleth those to whom he wrote his former epistle, “elect,” chap. i. 2, and a “chosen generation,” as well as a “purchased people,” chap. ii. 9. I shall not need add any thing concerning the contradictions and inextricable difficulties wherewith the opposite interpretation is accompanied (as, that God should will such to come to repentance as he cuts off in their infancy out of the covenant, such as he hateth from eternity, from whom he hideth the means of grace, to whom he will not give repentance, and yet knoweth that it is utterly impossible they should have it without his bestowing). The text is clear, that it is all and only the elect whom he would not have to perish. A place supposed parallel to this we have in Ezek. xviii. 23, 32, which shall be afterward considered.​

As I have said before, Calvin was excellent but not inerrant.

So would you agree that Calvin taught exactly what the Puritans (and neo-Puritans like myself) did? Leave aside what else he said on election for a moment. Are proponents of the FO & CG not consistent in their claim?
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Psa 145:9 "The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works".

In the debate under review, Rev. Hanko attempts to explain away the apparent meaning of this text by insisting that "all" in this text does not refer to "all men" but to all God's works. He gives some oblique reference to what he means by “all” and then chides David Silversides for claiming to be a Calvinist and holding that "all" refers to all men in this verse. But has Hanko taken the time to read Calvin himself on this verse? Here are Calvin's comments:


Jehovah is good to all, etc. The truth here stated is of wider application than the former, for the declaration of David is to the effect, that not only does God, with fatherly indulgence and clemency, forgive sin, but is good to all without discrimination, as he makes his sun to rise upon the good and upon the wicked. Forgiveness of sin is a treasure from which the wicked are excluded, but their sin and depravity does not prevent God from showering down his goodness upon them, which they appropriate without being at all sensible of it. Meanwhile believers, and they only, know what it is to enjoy a reconciled God, as elsewhere it is said — “Come ye to him, and be ye enlightened, and your faces shall not be ashamed; taste and see that the Lord is good.”(Psalm 34:5, 8.) When it is added that the mercy of God extends to all his works, this ought not to be considered as contrary to reason, or obscure. Our sins having involved the whole world in the curse of God, there is everywhere an opportunity for the exercise of God’s mercy, even in helping the brute creation (Calvin's Commentary on the Book of Psalms, p. 810).
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
"That whosoever believeth on him may not perish." John 3:16- Part B

It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.

Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father — that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ (Commentary on John. p 106. Ages Digital Lib.).
:)
 
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