Grace in Christianity – Part II
In part one of our series, we laid down the basic foundation of what common grace is which we also said was synonymous with beneficent grace. In this part, we are going to introduce another kind of grace and why that grace differentiates every person in the world making a fine distinction.
Common grace is the grace of God poured out on all of creation. In the scope of mankind, that means saved and unsaved. In theology, it is also known as prevenient grace. This grace goes before salvific grace in order to prepare the hearts of sinful men who have been blinded by the curse.
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)
All people, everyone, in their natural state are born with a predilection to sin because their hearts are corrupt.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Psalms 14:3)
A legitimate question for a thinking mind is why would God not punish the wicked and those who walk in their own ways if He is a good God? One reason is to demonstrate his love and mercy to them, leading them to salvation. Unlike humans, He is slow to anger and wrath, full of mercy. He’s not willing that any should perish but that man would turn from his evil way and live.
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11)
This then magnifies His goodness, not bring it into question. We would not have had the opportunity to come into his kingdom if it wasn’t for His mercy and grace evident before our own conversion.
The important thing to keep in mind through all of this is that common grace is not a substitute for saving grace or what theologians call salvific grace. Salvific grace, as defined by The Baker Compact Dictionary of Theological Terms:
is an attribute of God, His goodness expressed to those who deserve condemnation. This is highlighted by God himself when He revealed His name, grace is associated with mercy, patience, love, and faithfulness. Grace is God’s de-merited favor. This gift is not owed to people derelict in person and duty who engage in good works; rather, God is gracious to whom He will be gracious, and His gracious salvation is appropriated by faith.
Something to be aware of in this definition. God is not obligated to give salvation to anyone, therefore He reserves the right to extend it to everyone and bestow it on whom He chooses.
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Romans 9:15)
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (Romans 9:15-16)
Common grace does not guarantee salvation. It only demonstrates God’s goodness. This is where unsaved people get confused for they see those who are not Christians blessed with many things and suppose that God approves. But God’s common grace is based on who He is, not what we’ve done or who we are or what we have. Sinners are still sinners by nature the only way to deal with sin is through Jesus the Christ. There’s no getting around that no matter how rich, intelligent, or powerful a person may be in society. They still need Jesus to impart the saving grace found only in the atonement and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
In our next segment, we’ll take a more detailed look at saving grace in depth and what effects are seen in it to mark someone as having obtained it.
God bless you and keep you.by