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Is Grace Common?


Is grace ever common?



At the front end, I want to make it perfectly clear that most of the ideas behind common grace that are prevalent in our age is not the type of common grace that the reformed held to. What you have out there is essentially universalism at the root of the mainstream definition. As well, I want to emphasize the fact that nothing God ever does is common. Wrap your brain around that prior to reading this paper.



Ps. 145:9. “Jehovah is good to all; and His tender mercies are over all His works.”



Matt. 5:44, 45. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.”



I Tim. 4:10. “For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe.”



“Yes, every blessing flows from election in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-4) while good things come even to the reprobate in God’s providence, including a natural knowledge of spiritual things.


A good thing is something pleasant/helpful/enjoyable/beneficial, whereas a “blessing” from God is what comes from Him WITH HIS LOVE AND FAVOUR in Jesus Christ. Thus, e.g., Pharaoh received a lot of good things, e.g., the throne of Egypt, vast wealth and power, etc., but God raised him up in His wrath in order to destroy him and show His power over him (Ex. 9:16; Rom. 9:17).”

~Angus Stewart



There are those out their in the faith that say that God is immutable-to which we would agree fully; however, one needs to understand the complexity of God’s love in relation to His immutability. His love is multifaceted. As Turretin described, God deals with the creature in compound and divided senses; He deals with creation according to His will of decree and of precept. They are not one and the same things at face value and to miss this fact does no justice to the nature of God’s love towards the elect, nor the general consensus of creation. For instance, I have a paper on this site entitled, ‘Is God the author of confusion?’



Your first instinct may be to recall 1 corinthians passage that speaks of God not being the author of confusion, but author of a sound mind. This is true. However, if you read through all of the Old testament, you will find God authoring plenty of instances where He casts down confusion on peoples of all sorts. How does one reconcile these facts? In the compound sense, God is not the author of confusion and in the divided, God is the author of everything! In the same way, we must look to the scriptures and attempt to discern what exactly is the will of decree of the Lord and what is the degree of precept to his creation. God is not flat and a single dimension. The Godhead represents this idea in that there are three persons and a singular essence; All of the trinity is God! You do recall that the Jew holds to the Shema: Deut 6 Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. is the Lord one? Well, yes, but he is 3 persons in one essence, right? This is exactly the thing that the Jew rejects. In the compound sense, God is one, in the divided, He is 3.



In the same way, God loves all of His creation. You might ask, “Scott, how is it God loves all His creation and as scripture shows, he hates as well?” If you use the above Turretin doctrine, it helps explain away these seeming contradictions:



God hates:



Romans 8:7 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God.



James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.



Is. 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.



Col. 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.



Contrast the above statements with:



Rom. 5:6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.



Please tell me what the difference is, in regards to the love of God, in the elect, before they are converted? Did God love them, prior to their conversion and if so, how is that love different from the love He had prior to when they have the mediation of Christ? It cannot be one sided. It must be multifaceted, else you do an injustice to God’s character.


God blesses a reprobate:


Gen 17:19

19Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.d I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.



The Noahic covenant is a blessing to everyone, no?



Does God bless Ishmael?



Gen. 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.


GK H1385 | S H1288   בָּרַךְ   bāraḵ   327x


v. [root of: 1358, 1387, 1388, 3310; cf. 1386?; 10122]. P to bless, pronounce blessings, give praise, give thanks, extol; Qp, N, Pu to be blessed, be praised; Ht to bless oneself, be blessed; this can mean to speak words invoking divine favor (bless), or speak of the excellence of someone (praise). → bless; praise.



This is the same word used here in relation to Abraham and his seed:



Gen. 18:18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?



Gen. 24:1 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.



Gen. 24:27 And he said, “Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”



Gen. 24:48 And I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, who had led me in the way of truth to take the daughter of my master’s brother for his son.


Gen. 25:11 And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac dwelt at Beer Lahai Roi.



Gen. 26:3 Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.



Gen. 26:24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.”



Some of the mental jewelry to be considered would be is, does mercy have love in it and if so, what type? Is grace ever devoid of love? Are there degrees of love and grace? Is the grace that God distributes in creation intended only for the elect or is some of it for creation?



David Silversides writes:

“It must also be borne in mind that elsewhere Hoeksema’s definition of the word ‘goodness’ is very different from the meaning commonly given to it by Reformed writers and, more particularly, its usage in the Westminster Standards. For example, in Answer 4 of the Shorter Catechism, we read, ‘God is a Spirit, infinite eternal and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth’. The Shorter

Catechism has been criticised by some at this point for not using the terms ‘grace, mercy, love’, but it must be recognised that in the minds of the Westminster Assembly the term goodness included all of these. This explains why the term ‘goodness’ is expanded in the Larger Catechism as equivalent to ‘most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness’ (Ans. 9) and in the Westminster Confession as ‘most loving, gracious, merciful, longsuffering, abundant in goodness…forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him…’ (ch. II,i).



“Even the worst taste of God’s mercy; such as fight against God’s mercy taste of it; the wicked have some crumbs from mercy’s table. “The Lord is good to all.” Sweet dewdrops are on the thistle as well as on the rose. The diocese where mercy visits is very large. Pharaoh’s head was crowned though his heart was hardened.”


–Thomas Watson



“After these common mercies, I say, whereof the reprobate are often partakers, he openeth the treasure of his rich mercies, which are kept in Christ Jesus for his Elect … Such as willingly delight not in blindness may clearly see that the Holy Ghost maketh a plain difference betwixt the graces and mercies which are common to all, and that sovereign mercy which is immutably reserved to the chosen children…”


The Works of John Knox, Ed David Laing, (vol. 5, Wodrow Society, Edinburgh, 1856), On Predestination, p. 87.



“There is a common and inferior sort of grace, which is made known to all the world. The whole earth is full of his goodness, but this grace that bringeth salvation, that is peculiar to the elect, to a few poor base creatures in themselves, a little handful whom God hath chosen out of the world; John 14:22, ‘How is it that thou wouldst manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?’”


Thomas Manton, SEVERAL SERMONS UPON TITUS 2: 11-14 (Works, vol. 16, Sermon 1).



“All preparations even wrought in us, by the common and general restraining grace of God, can have no effectual influence to produce our conversion.”



Samuel Rutherford,



“1. He loves all that he has made; so far as to give them a being, to conserve them in being so long as he pleaseth: he had a desire to have Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth, Heaven, Sea, Cloud, Air; he created them out of the womb of love, and out of goodness, and keeps them in being…”


Samuel Rutherford, Christ Dying and Drawing, op. cit. p. 476f. (some copies, p. 440f., due to faulty numbering)



“…of men he loves some more especially and peculiarly than others; namely, those whom he loves with an electing, calling, redeeming, justifying, glorifying love. God loves all creatures, and among them the rational, and among them the members of his Son, and much more the Son himself.”


William Jenkyn, An Exposition Upon the Epistle of Jude (James & Klock, 1976), p. 36.



Neh 9:17

17 They refused to obey fand were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, ggracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.



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



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).



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.



The theological term “common grace” is biblcally warranted (just as the term “Trinity,” “Millennium,” “aseity,” “hypostatic union” or “perichoresis” is), given the biblical data. Usually when people have a problem with the terminology, it’s really the case that they have a problem with the CONCEPT or IDEA behind it, i.e. they don’t think that God actually loves the non-elect, or shows them any benevolent favor such that he seeks their well-being. God does do those things according to scripture.



“the Reprobate in the Visible Church, be so under the Covenant of Grace” & “It is a state of common grace to be within the visible church” – Rutherford



Bavinck said “Our children do not enter the covenant, because we dedicate them to the Lord. Much less, because by any virtue or merit they made themselves worthy. They are in the covenant by virtue of God’s promise. They are in the covenant from the time of their birth, not by nature, but by grace, while God has committed Himself to be the God of believers and their seed. The same law that rules in the spiritual realm, rules in the natural realm. All of us received a natural life that through our parents we received from God, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth. It is not by our merits that we possess life. We did not give it to ourselves, did not merit it, we even forfeited it by our guilt. It is God’s gift in a complete sense, not of His particular grace, but of His common grace.”


Rutherford said “It is a state of common grace to be within the visible church” – and our children are in the visible church.



“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.”



Louis Berkoff writes:


“Another objection to the doctrine of common grace is that it presupposes a certain favorable disposition in God even to reprobate sinners, while we have no right to assume such a disposition in God. This stricture takes its starting point in the eternal counsel of God, in His election and reprobation. Along the line of His election God reveals His love, grace, mercy, and long-suffering, leading to salvation; and in the historical realization of His reprobation He gives expression only to His aversion, disfavor, hatred, and wrath, leading to destruction. But this looks like a rationalistic over-simplification of the inner life of God, which does not take sufficient account of His self-revelation. In speaking on this subject we ought to be very careful and allow ourselves to be guided by the explicit statements of Scripture rather than by our bold inferences from the secret counsel of God. There is far more in God than we can reduce to our logical categories. Are the elect in this life the objects of God´s love only, and never in any sense the objects of His wrath? Is Moses thinking of the reprobate when he says: “For we are consumed in thine anger, and in thy wrath are we troubled”? Ps. 90:7. Does not the statement of Jesus that the wrath of God abideth on them that obey not the Son imply that it is removed from the others when, and not until, they submit to the beneficent rule of Christ? John 3:36. And does not Paul say to the Ephesians that they “were by nature children of wrath even as the rest”? Eph. 2:3. Evidently the elect can not be regarded as always and exclusively the objects of God´s love. And if they who are the objects of God´s redeeming love can also in some sense of the word be regarded as the objects of His wrath, why should it be impossible that they who are the objects of His wrath should also in some sense share His divine favor? A father who is also a judge may loathe the son that is brought before him as a criminal, and feel constrained to visit his judicial wrath upon him, but may yet pity him and show him acts of kindness while he is under condemnation. Why should this be impossible in God? General Washington hated the traitor that was brought before him and condemned him to death, but at the same time showed him compassion by serving him with the dainties from his own table. Cannot God have compassion even on the condemned sinner, and bestow favors upon him? The answer need not be uncertain, since the Bible clearly teaches that He showers untold blessings upon all men and also clearly indicates that these are the expression of a favorable disposition in God, which falls short, however, of the positive volition to pardon their sin, to lift their sentence, and to grant them salvation. The following passages clearly point to such a favorable disposition: Prov. 1:24; Isa. 1:18; Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11; Matt. 5:43-45; 23:37; Mark 10:21; Luke 6:35: ROM 2:4; I Tim. 2:4. If such passages do not testify to a favorable disposition in God, it would seem that language has lost its meaning, and that God´s revelation is not dependable on this subject.”



John Calvin on the free offer:

“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.



Jerrold Lewis writes:

“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.”



Calvin continues:

“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).”



Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.



In regards to Murray on the Free Offer of the Gospel:

“The introduction of the report seeks to outline what is essentially being contended for in the statement that God desires the salvation of all men. The word, desire, we are informed, does not have reference to the decretive will of God, but to the revealed will of God in “the free offer of the gospel to all without distinction. This distinction between a decretive and a revealed (or preceptive) will of God is both sound and necessary, and one to which all orthodox Calvinistic divines have had recourse. To quote Francis Turretin: “The first and principal distinction is that of the decretive and preceptive will of God… The former relates to the futurition and the event of things and is the rule of God’s external acts; the latter is concerned with precepts and promises and is the rule of our action.”



Matthew Winzer writes:

“Such a distinction must never be understood as implying that God has two wills. For it is clear from the above definition that the word will is being used in two different senses, i.e., equivocally, having two distinct points of reference. It is only the will of decree which is the will of God in the proper sense of the term, as an act of volition, for therein God has decreed what shall be done. Samuel Rutherford expresses this well in his own inimitable manner: “that voluntas signi, in which God reveals what is our duty, and what we ought to do, not what is his decree, or what he either will, or ought to do, is not God’s will properly, but by a figure only; for commands, and promises, and threatenings revealed argue not the will and purpose, decree or intention of God, which are properly his will.  The will of precept has no volitional content, for it simply states what God has commanded ought to be done by man. Whether man wills to do it is absolutely dependent upon whether God has decreed that he shall do it. So it is quite inappropriate to say that God wills something to be with reference to His will of command, for the preceptive will never pertains to the futurition of actions, only to the obligation of them.”



Matt 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?



The rationale that God cares for the birds of the air more than He cares for the reprobate is ridiculous.  He feeds the birds and all beasts; yet, in some estimations, He does not care in the least for the reprobate-He offers no good things in the line of graces.



Here are some quotes from John Calvin on his perception of the doctrine:



“Paul, accordingly, after reminding the Athenians that they “might feel after God and find him,” immediately adds, that “he is not far from every one of us,” (Acts 17:27); every man having within himself undoubted evidence of the heavenly grace by which he lives, and moves, and has his being.” – (Book 1, Chapter 5:3).



“Read Demosthenes or Cicero, read Plato, Aristotle, or any other of that class: you will, I admit, feel wonderfully allured, pleased, moved, enchanted; but turn from them to the reading of the Sacred Volume, and whether you will or not, it will so affect you, so pierce your heart, so work its way into your very marrow, that, in comparison of the impression so produced, that of orators and philosophers will almost disappear; making it manifest that in the Sacred Volume there is a truth divine, a something which makes it immeasurably superior to all the gifts and graces attainable by man.” – (Book 1, Chapter 8:1).



“The power of the intellect, secondly, with regard to the arts. Particular gifts in this respect conferred on individuals, and attesting the grace of God.” – (Chapter 2, Heading)



“In that some excel in acuteness, and some in judgment, while others have greater readiness in learning some peculiar art, God, by this variety commends his favour toward us, lest anyone should presume to arrogate to himself that which flows from His mere liberality. For whence is it that one is more excellent than another, but that in a common nature the grace of God is specially displayed in passing by many and thus proclaiming that it is under obligation to none.” – (Book 2, Chapter 2:17)



“But we ought to consider, that, notwithstanding of the corruption of our nature, there is some room for divine grace, such grace as, without purifying it, may lay it under internal restraint. For did the Lord let every mind loose to wanton in its lusts, doubtless there is not a man who would not show that his nature is capable of all the crimes with which Paul charges it.” – (Book 2, Chapter 3:3)



“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.” – (Book 2, Chapter 3:4)




“The reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.” – John Calvin (Book 3, Chapter 2:11)



“As by the revolt of the first man, the image of God could be effaced from his mind and soul, so there is nothing strange in His shedding some rays of grace on the reprobate, and afterwards allowing these to be extinguished.” – John Calvin (Book 3, Chapter 2:12)



“God is undoubtedly ready to pardon whenever the sinner turns. Therefore, he does not will his death, in so far as he wills repentance. But experience shows that this will, for the repentance of those whom he invites to himself, is not such as to make him touch all their hearts. Still, it cannot be said that he acts deceitfully; for though the external word only renders, those who hear it, and do not obey it, inexcusable, it is still truly regarded as an evidence of the grace by which he reconciles men to himself.” – John Calvin (Book 3, Chapter 24:15)


“For, since the fall of Adam had brought disgrace upon all his posterity, God restores those, whom He separates as His own, so that their condition may be better than that of all other nations. At the same time it must be remarked, that this grace of renewal is effaced in many who have afterwards profaned it” – John Calvin (Commentary on Deuteronomy 32:6)



“But prosperity, and the happy issue of events, ought also to be attributed to his grace, in order that he may always receive the praise which he deserves, that of being a merciful Father, and an impartial Judge. About the close of the psalm, he inveighs against those ungodly men who will not acknowledge God’s hand, amid such palpable demonstrations of his providence.” – John Calvin (Commentary on Psalm 107)



“That God indeed favours none but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and that by this they are distinguished from the reprobate; for they are renewed after his image and receive the earnest of the Spirit in hope of the future inheritance, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on their hearts.” – John Calvin (Commentary on Hebrews 6:5)



“He is therefore rightly called the Spirit of grace, by whom Christ becomes ours with all his blessings. But to do despite to him, or to treat him with scorn, by whom we are endowed with so many benefits, is an impiety extremely wicked. Hence learn that all who wilfully render useless his grace, by which they had been favoured, act disdainfully towards the Spirit of God. It is therefore no wonder that God so severely visits blasphemies of this kind; it is no wonder that he shows himself inexorable towards those who tread under foot Christ the Mediator, who alone reconciles us to himself; it is no wonder that he closes up the way of salvation against those who spurn the Holy Spirit, the only true guide.” – John Calvin (Commentary on Hebrews 10:29)



“There are sons of God who do not yet appear so to us, but now do so to God; and there are those who, on account of some arrogated or temporal grace, are called so by us, but are not so to God.” – John Calvin (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p. 66)




The quotes from Calvin taken from webpage:




James Boyce writes:

“I want you to awaken to God’s goodness. I want you to see that all you are and all you have are a result of God’s common grace to you.Let me explain it from God’s perspective. God does not owe you anything. He does not even owe you a chance at salvation. When Adam and Eve first sinned against him in Eden, God could have judged them harshly and have sent them to hell at once; and if he had done that, He would have been absolutely just in his actions. Adam and Eve would have received nothing more than their proper desserts. If, acting in a different fashion, God had instead allowed them to live and produce offspring until there were literally millions of their descendants spread out over the entire earth to occupy it and pollute it by their abundant acts of idolatry, theft, fornication, hatred, greed, and other forms of sin, and then had brushed them all into eternal torment, God would nevertheless still have been just. No one could fault him. The righteous angels in heaven would still be able to cry out, as they do even today, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).God owes us nothing. Yet, as we well know, God did not immediately banish Adam and Eve to hell, nor did he later suddenly consign the masses of mankind to torment. On the contrary, though there is a judgment to come, God has continually poured out his blessings on men and women.You have received such blessings. Donald Grey Barnhouse writes correctly, “You are not a believer in Christ and yet you are still out of hell. That is the grace of God. You are not in hell, but you are on earth in good health and prosperity. That is the common grace of God. The vast majority of those who read these words are living in comfortable homes or apartments. That is common grace. You are not fleeing as refugees along the highways of a country desolated by war. That is common grace. You come home from your job and your child runs to meet you in good health and spirits. That is common grace. You are able to put your hand in your pocket and give the child a quarter or a half dollar for an allowance. It is common grace that you have such abundance. You go into your house and sit down to a good meal. That is common grace. On the day that you read these words there are more than a billion and a half members of the human race who will go to sleep without enough to satisfy their hunger, The fact that you have enough is common grace. You do not deserve it. And if you think that you do deserve anything at all from God beyond the wrath which you have so richly earned, you merely show your ignorance of spiritual principles.”Romans 2:4 puts the matter of God’s common grace to you and others as a question: “Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience?” The answer is, of course, you do–unless you have repented of your sin and turned back toward God through faith in Jesus Christ. By nature human beings are ungrateful. By nature you show “contempt” for God’s kindness. Yet it is precisely this kindness that God is using to bring you to repentance.I quote Barnhouse again: “To despise the riches of God’s grace is the blackest of all sins. It far outweighs the sins that are a violation of righteousness. Fallen man has a fallen nature. That is why the Lord seemed to overlook the outbreaks of the flesh, knowing man’s frame and remembering that he is but dust (Psalm 103:14). You who boast, perhaps, that you are not guilty of the great fleshly sins should realize that the despising of God’s goodness is a sin that far transcends an act that might be called a crime under human law.Why is God so good toward the lost? He declares that the purpose of the riches of his goodness, forbearance and longsuffering is to lead man to repentance; and he further declares that man does not know the object of God’s goodness. Is this not a further picture of the state of man by nature? Can it not be seen that the dark ignorance of unbelief has brought a further fruit of ignorance of the grace of God? You are in good health? Why does God permit it? The answer is that he wants you to turn to him and acknowledge his goodness and accept the riches that he has for you. You have other blessings that come from the common grace of God. The purpose of such riches is to cause you to turn about-face and come to Him for further blessing.” (Donald Grey Barnhouse, “God’s Wrath,” The Book of the Revelation, vol. 2 Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 1953)God’s Love CommendedI have spoken of “common grace” in the sense that God’s genuine affection has been poured out upon all persons regardless of who they are or what wrongs they may have done. As Jesus said, God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45). Common grace? Yes! But in another sense, it is not at all common. It is most uncommon. It is extraordinary, and it leads us to the most uncommon or extraordinary love of all. We find it in Romans 5:6-8: “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”




The distinction between the love God reserves for his people, the elect is not the same love that God has and benevolently blesses those who are not chosen in Christ. Think of it this way, I do not love my daughter in the same way I love my wife. Nor do I love my patients that I visit with during my care in the hospital settings. I love my dog, dearly. He is old and will soon pass-I rue that day. However, it is nothing when compared to my family members. God’s love, to the elect in Christ is a salvific love. It is eternal. It is personal. Another example would be Christ; God loves Jesus, His only Son in a way that He will never love His creatures. There is a big difference between common grace and saving grace; the world receives rain in it’s common side and the elect, savingly. Intent is everything. My giving a sweet to my daughter and a sweet to a child that I don’t really know says much; when my daughter is filled with joy from the treat, touches a part of my heart where the other child will never reach into.


The Westminster Confession of Faith uses an interesting terminology in regards to Common grace:Ch 10 of the WCF:


IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can not be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may is without warrant of the Word of God.”‘



‘common operations of the spirit….’


Robert Shaw on the section of the WCF:


1. That though those who are not elected have the external call of the gospel addressed to them, in common with those who are elected, yet “they never truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved.”


2. That there are “common operations of the Spirit,” which produce convictions of sin, by means of the law in the conscience; and joyous emotions, by means of the gospel, in the affections of men in their natural state; which do not issue in conversion.


3. That those cannot be saved who are totally destitute of revelation. “Though the invitation which nature gives to seek God be sufficient to render them without excuse who do not comply with it (Rom. i. 20), yet it is not sufficient, even objectively, for salvation; for it does not afford that lively hope which maketh not ashamed, for this is only revealed by the gospel; whence the Gentiles are said to have been without hope in the world.—Eph. ii. 12. It does not show the true way to the enjoyment of God, which is no other than faith in Christ. It does not sufficiently instruct us about the manner in which we ought to worship and please God, and do what is acceptable to him. In short, this call by nature never did, nor is it even possible that it ever can, bring any to the saving knowledge of God; the gospel alone is the “power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth.’—Rom. i. 16. We are persuaded there is no salvation without Christ (Acts iv. 12); no communion of adult persons with Christ, but by faith in him (Eph. iii. 17); no faith in Christ without the knowledge of him (John xvii. 3;) no knowledge but by the preaching of the gospel (Rom. x. 14); no preaching of the gospel in the works of nature; for it is that mystery which was kept secret since the world began.”—Rom. xvi. 25.


The Westminster larger Catechism states:


Question 68: Are the elect only effectually called?


Answer: All the elect, and they only, are effectually called; although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the Word, and have some common operations of the Spirit; who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ.



Possibly the needed distinctions should be between the grace and love God intends only to the elect and the grace and love which flows off of nature secondarily like water off the back of a duck. One is intentional and the other is benevolent.



Matthew Winzer writes:


“As soon as the word “reprobate” is used, the waters are muddied. God does not love the reprobate as such, for reprobation required perfect hatred. But it would be quite appropriate to say that God loves His own image; hence, insofar as men are still the image of God in a broader sense, it is acceptable to speak in a qualified sense of God loving all men without drawing distinctions between elect and reprobate.”

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