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Thread: Common Grace?

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    Re: Common Grace

    Here are the verses out of the Bible that refer to the 'reprobate', it is amazing when you dwell on them awhile, there are more verses written to the 'christian' telling him to be concerned not to be, or act as a reprobate, then there are warnings to those that will be such. Maybe the Word is trying to set our perrogatives straight?
    Pilgrim



    Psalms 15:4 In {1} whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But {1} who honoreth them that fear Jehovah; {2} He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not; {1) Or his?he 2) Or He sweareth}
    Romans 1:28 And even as they {1} refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; {1) Gr did not approve}
    2 Corinthians 13:5 Try your own selves, whether ye are in the faith; prove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed ye be reprobate.
    2 Corinthians 13:6 But I hope that ye shall know that we are not reprobate.
    2 Corinthians 13:7 Now we pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we may appear approved, but that ye may do that which is honorable, {1} though we be as reprobate. {1) Gr and that}
    2 Timothy 3:8 And even as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth. Men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith.
    Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but by their works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

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    Re: Common Grace

    Let's suppose for a moment that the rich young ruler was a reprobate and that Christ loved this man in his divine nature. How does this prove any kind of general love for every man? Isn't the point of this passage that Jesus bestowed his love upon this man and not upon every other person that came up to him? If Jesus loving every person that he saw, why would it only be recorded that he loved the rich young ruler? Even if we take the rich young ruler to be reprobate, there is still particularity involved.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: Common Grace

    Please don’t take this post the wrong way. I mean no disrespect and I am not calling any one here a heretic.
    I have many wasted many hours with Jehovah’s Witness showing them all the many scriptures that portray Christ as God only to have them say, “I see nothing here that proves the Trinity”. Their system won’t allow them to see what would be plain to any child.
    If God had wanted us to read only the elect instead of the World in John 3:16 he could have just said so. If God had wanted us to assume that the rich young ruler was saved later in life it would have been easy to include that fact for all to see. If the people at the foot of the Cross where elect why does the Bible show them rejecting Christ?
    I love the Bible because it is plain and straightforward and it doesn’t require leaps of logic to understand. We can just take the plain meaning unless the Bible itself forces us to research more. I don’t see any reason from the Bible why we can’t do that in this case. If there are any passages that show that God can’t feel compassion and wrath for the same people I will humbly take all this back. We all have systems myself included but we must continue to hold them up to Scripture to see if they pass muster.
    Of course the Bible doesn’t say in capitol letters “I have compassion for all my creation even the reprobate”. If it did we would not be having this discussion. But I would hope we could agree that at least some of the scriptures mentioned by Disciple seem to say just that, if you take their plain meaning. I could offer other scriptures but I’m afraid they would not make any difference until we deal with the system.


    After scanning back over this post I feel like I should quickly share what I have learned so far from this thread so I won’t sound so bitter. I have learned to not use the term Grace so lightly. I learned that even Spurgeon sometimes made mistakes. And I’ve learned that we all enjoy cheeseburgers but some of us would not go so far as to call it love.
    By the way I have been called a hyper-Calvinist because I believe in limited atonement
    Peace Brothers

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    Plain Meaning?

    If God had wanted us to read only the elect instead of the World in John 3:16 he could have just said so.

    This assumes from the start that the common use of the word 'world' by evanjellyfishanity is the orthodox position, and any other view is suspect. Who determines what 'world' means anyway? Is a position viewed by the majority assumed to be truth--simply because most persons believe it? Come on!

    If God had wanted us to assume that the rich young ruler was saved later in life it would have been easy to include that fact for all to see.

    OK! I once had a work friend who said that if God wanted him to believe Christ and the Bible for salvation, he would have personally delivered him a written message on paper to that effect.

    If the people at the foot of the Cross where elect why does the Bible show them rejecting Christ?

    Some were elect and some were reprobate, of course. That is the nature of the human race at all times and places. Certainly John, Mary, the guard who said 'surely this was God's son', and many others were elect.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Sarcasm?

    Ok, well, I admit that what I said in response to Tomas about the rich young ruler sounded sarcastic.

    The Bible is not a systematic theology. Not all details of what is implied in a certain event or teaching are made perfectly plain in exact language. In addition, we are to interpret disputable verses in the light of didactic passages or teaching elsewhere.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: Common Grace

    Tomas:

    Two thoughts on your question about why doesn't God make these things clearer:

    1. No matter how clear some scriptures may be wicked men will always try to twist the truth. If you define absolute complete truth as 100%, finite men will have varying degrees of understanding of absolute truth. Some great scholars may have 0.5% say, others may have only 0.01%, even the worst of heretics may have 0.00001% of truth! There are so many problems with language and limited, sinful human reasoning. The bible could say the same thing, unequivocally and clearly ten different ways and someone would still twist it!

    2. The scriptures do seem to speak of things being deliberately unclear, spoken in parables so that its NOT clear, others even, are simply described as a "mystery". We can, however, be sure that God's Word is perfect and will achieve what He intends. I would suggest that a part of His purposes even includes some of these things being unclear. What is important to remember, of course, is that, thankfully, salvation does not come from having a correct intellectual understanding of all truth but from a very simple, Holy Spirit-inspired understanding of the Glorous Gospel of Christ and from being born again, not by the will of man but by the will of God who is forever to be praised. Amen!

    Your concern to stick with what the bible says is commendable and I think you are right in that we tend to want to make something black and white when it can be a shade of grey but I do think it is important to harmonise our understanding of one piece of scripture with scripture as whole. This, unfortunately, is not straightforward and does require further research! Sometimes I wish I had one of those photographic memories and I could remember the whole Bible word-for-word! Nevertheless, we have and will have nothing except that which we receive from the Gracious hand of Almighty God who has promised to teach us, guide us and write His laws on our hearts, and has given each of us different gifts and abilities, has appointed each of us to different 'work' that we may be a people who shine like stars before a crooked generation and who leads us in the way everlasting that we may one-day, receive a "crown of life", evermore to sing the praises of the Lamb upon the Throne!

    Martin

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    Re: Common Grace

    Quote Originally Posted by Pigrim313
    well said, Jim, you have seen the confusion of those that link 'common grace' (God's goodness and mercy to all in a general sense (not salvation)) to Salvation. There is no connection in the thoughts of those that hold to common grace, it is just another revelation of God's Goodness to all His creatures and creations.
    For some reason, some are not able to distinguish between talking of the attributes of God, in an honorable way, without meddling into Arminian ideology.
    Pilgrim
    I believe the statement above to be a bit unfair. I don't see anyone making that confusion here and the use of the indefinite "some" may also be a misapplication of the word since re-reading the thread I could not identify who the "some" is.

    I did, though, identified virtually all of us here never denying that God shows "goodness" to the reprobate and to the wicked, i.e., everyone of us in a way see God being "good" to the wicked or reprobate.

    As for me, I think the theological argument is out there for anyone to draw their conclusions. I mean, the theological argument. I believe that if we do not draw the definition of the word sin from the Webster dictionary or from any other source outside the Bible, but rather we draw such a definition from the Bible, it is not much to expect that we should use ONLY the Bible as a rule to define our terms, including but not limited the term "grace". In other words, if we take the definition of "sin" from the Bible, we should as well take the definition of the word "grace" from the Bible. Then we would be debating the same concept. Grace is acording to the dictionary "favor". But the NT reserves such a word in relation to God's Love for His elect, as I see it. If I am to debate Grace in reference to God I will use how His book defines or demonstrates it to be.
    Grace Ambassador
    A pitiful servant of God; a pitbull guardian of the message of Grace

    My pledge to other members:
    A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Prov 15:1
    A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver - Prov. 25:11

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    Re: Common Grace

    Quote Originally Posted by tomas1
    If God had wanted us to read only the elect instead of the World in John 3:16 he could have just said so.
    I don't think we ought to read the word 'elect' into the verse. What is being emphasized here is God's love for people of every nation. I find it very strange that people take the natural meaning of the word world in the verse to be "everyone who ever lived or ever will live." Even in English, I can't think of a single instance where in everyday conversation someone has used the word world to mean every person who ever lived or ever will live. Most of the time in English the word is used to speak of the majority of the people which are living on earth at the present time as in "Everyone in the world knows that Saddam is insane." Most would not be referring to Noah if they said that. The Greek word kosmos which is translated as world seems to be used for all of the meanings which we give to the word world and more. It is translated as adorning in 1 Peter 3:3 to speak of a woman's attire. Are you suggesting that some women wear every person that ever lived or ever will live? I'm sure you have seen all the examples in which world is used so I am surprised you are trying to say world must mean every person who ever lived or ever will live.

    Also, in John 3:16 the way in which God demonstrates his love is described. God loved the world in such a way that He gave His only Son. How is God giving His Son a display of His love towards the reprobate.

    John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

    Does God want to save every person that ever lived or ever will live but is incapable of doing so? or does verse 17 tell what actually happend? It seems that we must either adopt universalism, say that God was unsuccessful, or say that "the world" means something other than every person who ever lived or ever will live.

    Quote Originally Posted by tomas1
    If God had wanted us to assume that the rich young ruler was saved later in life it would have been easy to include that fact for all to see.
    If we are supposed to draw from this passage that God loves every reprobate person, why is the focus upon one? If God wanted us to assume that the rich young ruler remained an unbeliever for the rest of his life wouldn't he have recorded that? The Gospels record that all of Jesus brothers were unbelievers, yet after the resurrection we find that at least two of them became believers and occupied important places in the church. I find it interesting that attention is drawn to the fact that he is young. Perhaps later on in life he realized his foolishness, but I've offered other interpretations as well which do not require that the rich young ruler ever become a believer.

    Quote Originally Posted by tomas1
    If the people at the foot of the Cross where elect why does the Bible show them rejecting Christ?
    Because without the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit we would have done the same thing and would have been yelling for his death and still do when we sin. Peter in fact preaches to some of those who had been standing there at the foot of the cross on Pentecost and many believe.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: Common Grace

    Quote Originally Posted by Skeuos Eleos
    2. The scriptures do seem to speak of things being deliberately unclear, spoken in parables so that its NOT clear, others even, are simply described as a "mystery". We can, however, be sure that God's Word is perfect and will achieve what He intends. I would suggest that a part of His purposes even includes some of these things being unclear. What is important to remember, of course, is that, thankfully, salvation does not come from having a correct intellectual understanding of all truth but from a very simple, Holy Spirit-inspired understanding of the Glorous Gospel of Christ and from being born again, not by the will of man but by the will of God who is forever to be praised. Amen!
    good words SE. i just was reading the first chapter out of a book by larry crabb called "the safest place on earth" and i thought this quote was very apropos to this conversation (even though he wasn't necessarily talking about theology):

    The upside of confusion is openness. Confused people listen better, not always, but more often than people whose minds are made up. Those folks listen only in order to critique, to see if someone else is on the right track, namely theirs. Confused people are more likely to combine kindness with whatever convictions emerge out of their confusion. And, because of their eagerness for meaningful dialogue with honest people, the convictions they develop tend to speak to the realities of life as it is really lived.
    i think it's healthy to always admit a bit of confusion and an attitude that we don't (and indeed cannot) ever have it all figured out. when we have the attitude that we have arrived and that we possess the compendium of knowledge on a subject always seems to result in unkindness and a seeming lack of interest in actually dialoguing about a particular subject.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Re: Common Grace

    i think it's healthy to always admit a bit of confusion and an attitude that we don't (and indeed cannot) ever have it all figured out. when we have the attitude that we have arrived and that we possess the compendium of knowledge on a subject always seems to result in unkindness and a seeming lack of interest in actually dialoguing about a particular subject.
    It is indeed a sign of kindness and courtesy to admit a bit of confusion. But only when the confusion is real and sincere. Only confused people, genuinely confused people should admit confusion.

    People with convictions, however, although often wrong about their convictions, if they admit confusion for the sake of kindness and courtesy, or because they don't want to appear hubridic and haughty, will then, in my little book, be downgraded from confused to a timid at best or at worse a liar.

    I am deeply interested in what anyone has to say in correction of my own convictions and am willing to renounce such convictions publicly if necessary. However, we must define our terms before we discuss and establish the same rule and source of definition.

    Speaking about confusion, I am admiting mine, openly here and now, and that has nothing to do with the desire to "make courtesy with anybody else's hat", or even seek more dialogue than we had here in this thread: My confusion is simply how can we define the Grace of God, either to the elect or to the reprobate apart from what the Bible says what Grace means? I am confused why we use the word "Grace" with its intended meaning in the English Language as being "favor" against the meaning of the undescribable Grace has shown and "bestown" the ek-klesia and call it the same thing with different results, i.e. that one is salvific and the other is not...

    I insist in saying that we have a distinction without a difference if we all agree that God does not save everybody and that he is providential to all but loving to the elect, and that both, (his providence and His love) fulfill his eternal purpose. However the more those who prefer the terms "common grace" read my conciliatory tone, the more they insist in defending their point of view that we should use such a term as "common grace" anyway... then, the more I read in between their lines (and perhaps I shouldn't) I see insinuations (such as hypercalvinist) of labels and lack of courtesy and open mindeness or things of the sort. Now, who is interested or not in dialogue?

    I want to praise God for what we have seen here so far. If we had abandoned our convictions, even the wrong ones, on behalf of courtesy and dialogue, we would not have had such a tremendous treasure chest of study about the issue of "common grace" as we had (and indeed continue to have - no thanks to me) in this thread. Perhaps the convictions presented here are the very reason why we have a dialogue, in which case, convictions were a good thing so far. At the same time, I do not want to close my mind for what others have to say here and please, I pray they say it with convictions with no worries about courtesy. I prefer to "be the wise man that when rebuked loves his "rebuker" (I am not attributing to me the term wise), than to have a lot of nice guys maintaining me in the dark chambers of stupidity, since from these I have grown weary.
    Grace Ambassador
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    My pledge to other members:
    A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Prov 15:1
    A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver - Prov. 25:11

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    Re: Common Grace

    Quote Originally Posted by GraceAmbassador
    It is indeed a sign of kindness and courtesy to admit a bit of confusion. But only when the confusion is real and sincere. Only confused people, genuinely confused people should admit confusion.

    People with convictions, however, although often wrong about their convictions, if they admit confusion for the sake of kindness and courtesy, or because they don't want to appear hubridic and haughty, will then, in my little book, be downgraded from confused to a timid at best or at worse a liar.

    I am deeply interested in what anyone has to say in correction of my own convictions and am willing to renounce such convictions publicly if necessary. However, we must define our terms before we discuss and establish the same rule and source of definition.

    Speaking about confusion, I am admiting mine, openly here and now, and that has nothing to do with the desire to "make courtesy with anybody else's hat", or even seek more dialogue than we had here in this thread: My confusion is simply how can we define the Grace of God, either to the elect or to the reprobate apart from what the Bible says what Grace means? I am confused why we use the word "Grace" with its intended meaning in the English Language as being "favor" against the meaning of the undescribable Grace has shown and "bestown" the ek-klesia and call it the same thing with different results, i.e. that one is salvific and the other is not...

    I insist in saying that we have a distinction without a difference if we all agree that God does not save everybody and that he is providential to all but loving to the elect, and that both, (his providence and His love) fulfill his eternal purpose. However the more those who prefer the terms "common grace" read my conciliatory tone, the more they insist in defending their point of view that we should use such a term as "common grace" anyway... then, the more I read in between their lines (and perhaps I shouldn't) I see insinuations (such as hypercalvinist) of labels and lack of courtesy and open mindeness or things of the sort. Now, who is interested or not in dialogue?

    I want to praise God for what we have seen here so far. If we had abandoned our convictions, even the wrong ones, on behalf of courtesy and dialogue, we would not have had such a tremendous treasure chest of study about the issue of "common grace" as we had (and indeed continue to have - no thanks to me) in this thread. Perhaps the convictions presented here are the very reason why we have a dialogue, in which case, convictions were a good thing so far. At the same time, I do not want to close my mind for what others have to say here and please, I pray they say it with convictions with no worries about courtesy. I prefer to "be the wise man that when rebuked loves his "rebuker" (I am not attributing to me the term wise), than to have a lot of nice guys maintaining me in the dark chambers of stupidity, since from these I have grown weary.
    AMEN!!!! well said as usual brother milt. as always, i appreciate your comments and the perspective you bring. indeed, i did not mean that we should pretend we are ignorant or confused for the sake of being kind but that we should be willing to admit that perhaps we don't have it all figured out. convictions are very good and i have many of them...but i believe edification for all abounds when we begin to realize that our convictions are not the only correct convictions and when we are able to appreciate our brethren's convictions even when they don't agree with our own. thanks again milt!
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Re: Common Grace

    And who says the DARTH GILL of Planet HyperCalderon doesn't have it figured out?
    This is my signature.

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    Re: Common Grace

    Introduction by Mr. Rick Noorman:

    Prof. Engelsma will be defending the position that the doctrine of common grace is not reformed. Prof. Engelsma currently is professor of Dogmatics and Old Testament Studies at the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches in Grandville, Michigan. He has served in this position for the past fifteen years. Following his schooling in the Protestant Reformed Seminary, he served as pastor of Protestant Reformed Churches in Loveland, Colorado and South Holland, Illinois. He is a graduate of Calvin College, and he earned his Masters of Theology Degree at Calvin Theological Seminary. He has authored several books defending the historically reformed position on marriage, divorce and remarriage, Christian education, the covenant, and the end-times. Prof. Engelsma is also the editor of the reformed periodical the Standard Bearer published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association. Prof. Engelsma is married to his wife...Ruth, and he has many children. Please welcome with me tonight Prof. David Engelsma.



    Mister moderator, my esteemed co-disputant and friends. All of us have honored reformed doctrine by our coming together tonight. What brings us together is a debate over the issue whether the grace of God is common or particular. And this issue is distinctively a reformed issue. For this discussion of the doctrine of common grace we have Dr. Richard Mouw to thank. And I thank him now face to face, as about a year ago I thanked him in writing. In his recent book, He Shines in All That’s Fair, Dr. Mouw has renewed the discussion of the doctrine of common grace. He has renewed the discussion, not only among reformed people, but also among evangelicals. Not long ago Christianity Today featured Dr. Mouw’s book and the doctrine of common grace in a lengthy article. Indeed, even the Protestant liberals join the discussion : University of Chicago theologian Brian Gerrish has written a lengthy review of Mouw’s book.


    In his treatment of common grace, Dr. Mouw has presented the Protestant Reformed rejection of common grace fairly , and even, with a certain respect. He is sensitive to the spiritual concern of the Protestant Reformed Churches : the conviction that the doctrine of common grace opens the church up to the corrupting influence of the wicked world. Mouw remarked, that in their rejection of common grace, and in their insistence on the separation of the church and the world, the Protestant Reformed Churches may lay some claim to be true to the theology of John Calvin. Dr. Mouw himself, of course, enthusiastically endorses the common grace project. Indeed, he wants to spread the doctrine beyond the boundaries of reformed churches and he advocates a far more aggressive exercise of common grace than heretofore. He proposes what he calls, “ common grace ministries “. Hence, our debate this evening.

    All of us should understand that Dr. Mouw and I are limiting ourselves tonight to one aspect of the doctrine of common grace. That aspect which we are airing tonight is a grace of God supposedly shown to the non-elect or reprobate, in which God gives them good gifts, such as rain and sunshine on the fields of an atheist farmer, and musical ability to W.A.Mozart. And in which God restrains sin in the reprobate so that they are not completely depraved, but partially good, and therefore are able to perform works that are truly good, even though they are not the highest form of good. In addition that aspect of common grace that we are discussing tonight holds that by virtue of the common grace of God, Christians can, may, and should form friendships with unbelievers. Especially in order to cooperate with unbelievers in building a good, even godly, culture. There is another, more important aspect of common grace. A love of God for all humans without exception in the preaching of the gospel of Christ in which God sincerely desires the salvation of all humans without exception. This was not the subject of Dr. Mouw’s book, and this is not our subject tonight. Our subject tonight is what I might call, cultural common grace.

    I deny that the doctrine of common grace is reformed, and I do so as a representative of the Protestant Reformed Churches. I put forward three main reasons why we object to the doctrine of common grace.

    First of all the Reformed Faith is defined by the Reformed Confessions, and common grace is not taught in the Reformed Confessions. The reformed creeds mention common grace one time, and this mention attributes the doctrine of common grace to the Arminians, whose teaching the creed, the Canons of Dort, condemns as heresy. The Arminians used the doctrine of common grace in the service of their teaching that God on His part is, quote, “ ready to reveal Christ unto all men “ end of quote. In view of the great things that are ascribed to common grace by its defenders, it forms nothing less than a world view, the silence of the confessions is deafening. The complete absence of the doctrine of common grace in the creeds may not be decisive for the question : is the doctrine of common grace reformed ? But the silence of the creeds certainly should give pause to those who want to proclaim the doctrine as important, even fundamental reformed truth. The matters are worse for the doctrine of common grace as far as the creeds are concerned than that the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort, and, I may add, the Westminster Standards as well, know absolutely nothing of this doctrine.

    The doctrine of common grace conflicts with teachings that are found in the creeds. Teachings that are fundamental. I mention two : Common grace conflicts with the confessional teaching of total depravity : the Heidelberg Catechism in question and answer eight is representative : I quote, “ Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness ? Indeed, we are, except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God. “ end of quote. Common grace, however, teaches a work of God in all humans that restrains sin, so that all humans are partially good, and capable of doing good. The effect of the doctrine of common grace, is to render the reformed doctrine of total depravity hypothetical, that is, unreal. Total depravity is what all of us would have been, were it not for common grace. According to the doctrine of common grace, no one is totally depraved, except for perhaps such monsters as Nero, Hitler, and John Wayne Gasey. This, we charge, is a compromise of the offense of Calvinism, which is, in reality, the offense of the gospel.

    The second fundamental doctrine of the confessions, with which the doctrine of common grace conflicts, is the teaching of the confessions that the grace of God is particular for the elect of God alone. The whole world knows that the hallmark of Calvinism, the hallmark of the reformed faith, is its teaching that the grace of God, with its source in predestination, is particular, not universal. And this is why most of the world has always detested Calvinism, and why much of the world still does detest Calvinism today. Common grace, however, universalizes the grace of God. It universalizes the grace of God both as regards a favorable attitude of God towards people, and as regards His mighty power within sinners delivering them from sin.
    Granted, defenders of common grace, have argued that common grace is a different kind of grace from God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ. The fact remains, the doctrine of common grace posits a grace of God that is general and universal, in diametrical opposition to the particularity of grace in the reformed confessions. In their teaching of total depravity and of the particularity of grace, the reformed confessions present the doctrine of scripture. In Romans Three verses nine and following quoting Psalm Fourteen, the apostle passes a devastating judgment upon the entire human race without exception : “ all are under sin “, “ none is righteous “, “ there is none that doeth good, no not one”. This is not hypothetical, this is not what we would have been had it not been for common grace. This is reality. This is the truth about everyone of us as we are in and of ourselves, apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ.


    Common grace teaches a favor of God upon all humans without exception. But according to Romans One, verses sixteen and following, apart from the gospel of Christ, there is only wrath upon ungodly and unrighteous persons who hold the truth in unrighteousness. All the way through the epistle to the Romans, which is recognized widely as a summary of the Christian gospel, the stark alternatives are grace, righteousness, and life in Jesus Christ according to God’s sovereign election, or wrath, guilt and death outside of Jesus Christ. One objection then, to common grace, is that it is not only un-confessional, but it is also anti-confessional.

    Second, we oppose the doctrine of common grace, because the doctrine of common grace is destructive of the antithesis that God Himself has put between the Church, and the world of the ungodly , and between the Christian, and the unbeliever. ‘ Antithesis ‘ refers to spiritual separation, hostility and warfare. I emphasize, this separation is spiritual, not physical. Although often enough, the world of the ungodly has made the separation physical, by boycott, reproach, and persecution. The term ‘ antithesis ‘ may be unfamiliar to some who are here tonight, surely the reality is known by every Christian. “ I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. “ God said at the very dawn of the history of the Church in the world in Genesis Three fifteen. From then on there are two groups of people in the world, and they are at enmity by God’s appointment. Of the typical church in the Old Testament, Moses declared, “ Israel then shall dwell in safety alone.” Deuteronomy Thirty-three verse twenty-eight. No more forceful insistence on the antithesis can be found anywhere in the Bible, than the New Testament exhortation of Paul to the church, and her members, in Second Corinthians Six verses fourteen and following. “ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers : for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? what part hath he that believeth with an infidel ? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate. “

    ‘ Antithesis ‘ may be a strange word, but the doctrine is basic Christian doctrine. Augustine taught it long ago, in his City of God. This doctrine we maintain, and observe, is compromised by the doctrine of common grace. The antithesis is fatally compromised. According to common grace church and world now share grace, a grace of God. According to the doctrine of common grace, Christian and infidel now have sweet fellowship in grace. According to the doctrine of common grace, the Christian school must be open to the world’s thinking on matters of faith, for example creation and of life, for example, sexual and marital ethics. According to the doctrine of common grace, the Church and the world, can and should cooperate, in the good work of creating a godly society on the basis, not of Jesus Christ, and His redemption, but on the basis of a grace and goodness found in the world itself. The doctrine of common grace has destroyed, and is presently destroying churches, and Christian institutions, especially Christian schools, that have embraced and practiced that doctrine, by opening those churches and schools to the thinking and the ways of the world that hates God. I refer specifically to evolutionary theory concerning origins, with the inescapable implication that Holy Scripture is not inspired, at least in the opening chapters. I refer to the repudiation, at this late date in history, after two thousand years of the Church’s thinking to the contrary, of the authoritative headship of the husband in marriage, reflected by the restriction of office in the Church to qualified males. I refer to the endorsement, and even the defense, of the filthiest, most violent movies and music, for the entertainment of the children and young people of the covenant, God’s children. I refer to the approval of friendship with unbelievers, which leads, among other things, to mixed marriages, that is, the marriages of believers and unbelievers. And I refer to the acceptance, at the present time, of homosexual behavior and relationships, and also, an increasingly favorable judgment, upon non-Christian religions. Where the doctrine of common grace has been emphasized, the very idea of antithesis has largely been lost.

    Do not mistake it, common grace is not only a doctrine, it is also a mentality. The effects of common grace have been harmful. We do not stand tonight where our Fathers stood in the Netherlands one hundred years ago, and in Western Michigan eighty years ago. We stand where we can see with our own eyes, the fruits of the doctrine of common grace and the fruits are bitter ! It is evident that the project and world view of common grace have failed. Society has not been Christianized, not in Amsterdam, not in Grand Rapids, not in Chicago, and also not in Northwest Iowa. But the churches and the schools have become worldly. Do not misunderstand, we who deny common grace, are not, for that reason, immune to the danger of being swallowed up by the world. We, we ourselves, are fighting a life and death battle against the pressures and influences of a wicked world, now far advanced in unholiness. But adoption of the doctrine of common grace takes the weapons out of the hand of the Christian, takes the fight out of his soul, and indeed tells the Christian that there is no war at all.

    Third, we object to the doctrine of common grace because it inevitably develops into a doctrine of universal saving grace. Despite the protestations of the advocates of common grace, that this is an entirely different grace, from the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ; and Abraham Kuyper emphasized that in the opening pages of his three volumes De Gemeene Gratie. The lesson of history is that inevitably common grace develops into universal saving grace, which is the destruction of the gospel of Christ. Either the advocates of common grace teach a love of God for all, and a desire of God to save all in the gospel, or they teach that in some sense Christ died for all, or, as is becoming more the case today, they outrightly teach that all will be saved, in the end. Dr. Mouw could not resist that tendency of the doctrine of common grace in his book. On the next to the last page of He Shines in All That’s Fair he wrote this, I quote, “ For all I know, much of what we now think of as common grace may in the end time be revealed to be saving grace. “ end of quote. It is to my mind ominous that in his favorable review of Dr. Mouw’s book, the University of Chicago theologian Brian Gerrish observes that the updating of the doctrine of common grace called for by Dr. Mouw requires a reexamination of the Calvinistic doctrine that, and now I quote Gerrish, “ the divine decrees divide humankind into the elect, and the non-elect.” end of quote. That is not Dr. Mouw’s position, but that is Brian Gerrish’s observation concerning the updating of common grace, for which Dr. Mouw has pleaded.

    These are three main objections of ours to the doctrine of common grace. It is not confessional, it destroys the antithesis, and it threatens the doctrine of particular saving grace in Christ alone. Are these not worthy concerns for reformed people, indeed, for all Christian people ? Are not these grave concerns that all should share with us ? Is it fair, is it gracious, to dismiss these concerns as “ Anabaptist “, those who deny common grace as Anabaptists ? Something again Dr. Mouw does not do, and rebukes others for doing.

    In the time remaining to me, I will clarify our position regarding the doctrine of common grace in several important respects, the rules of this debate, you understand, demand brevity. First we freely acknowledge that God gives many good gifts to ungodly people. From rain and sunshine in season, to the ability of Beethoven to compose the Pastoral Symphony. These gifts are bounties of providence. To the non-elect ungodly, whoever he may be, say Emperor Nero living in luxury and gorging himself with every good thing creation affords, these good gifts are not blessings. They do not come to the reprobate wicked in the favor of God. Psalm Seventy- three teaches otherwise. By lavishing upon the wicked such good things, God sets the wicked on “ slippery places “. He “ casts them down into destruction “. Let no wicked person conclude from his health and wealth that God loves him and is blessing him. Divine blessing is not identical with earthly prosperity. Just as Divine wrath and curse are not identical with poverty, troubles and grief. That earthly good things and circumstances are not in themselves blessings is of vital importance for the comfort of God’s people. While Nero was feasting, the saints were burning as torches in his gardens, and were being torn in pieces in the Roman amphitheater. If Nero’s luxuries were a common grace blessing, the distresses of the saints were common wrath curse. The truth is that everything is blessing to the elect. Everything is blessing to the one who believes in Jesus Christ. “ All things are yours “, says the apostle in First Corinthians Three. “ All things work together for good to those who love God “, he says in Romans Eight. And nothing is blessing to the impenitent unbeliever outside of Christ. All things work together for his eternal ruin. And this must be preached to the wealthy, prospering, unbeliever.


    Second, we readily admit that the deeds of some non-Christians seem good to us. And that these deeds are useful to us and other people. To conclude, however, on the basis of this, that their works are good, truly good, good in God’s judgment, as the very fruits of His grace in them, is a mistake. We do not determine what is good, and what is evil. God determines good and evil. And God has made known in His Word, that every work that leaves Him out, any work that does not have Him, the Triune Father of Jesus Christ, as its purpose and goal, any work that misses the mark of His glory is sin. “ Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. “ Romans 14:23. This position is not a new, and strange teaching in the Church of Jesus Christ. Augustine saw the apparent good works of the wicked, and he called them “ glittering vices “, an indictment echoed both by Luther and Calvin.

    Third. Although we deny that common grace is the basis of the Christian’s active life in society, and the basis of the Christian’s association in everyday life with non-Christians, what Dr. Mouw calls the “ commonalty “ of Christian and non-Christian, we affirm and practice the active life of the Christian in all of creation. And the perfect right of the Christian to cooperate with non-Christians in everyday life. That is, at work, in the neighborhood, in the armed forces, and in politics. Christians must live, in every sphere of earthly life, family , labor, government, and the rest. They may use and enjoy all their gifts, athletic, musical and mathematical. They may avail themselves of the products of the ungodly from ‘ Black and Decker ‘ tools, to Patrick O’Brian’s great series on Aubrey and Maturin. They may associate closely with, and cooperate with unbelievers in everyday life : Muslims, Buddhists, and the typical American pagan whose idea of Sabbath keeping is mowing his lawn on Sunday. Denial of common grace does not mean withdrawal from society. The antithesis is not isolation. Rejection of cultural common grace does not secretly promote the life of pietism : ‘ met e'n bookje in e'n hoekje’ : with a little book in a little corner. But the basis for the full active life of the Christian in the world is the doctrine of creation and providence, not the doctrine of common grace. When Paul condemns asceticism, world flight, in First Timothy Four [ verse four ], he grounds his warning, not at all in a doctrine of common grace, but in the doctrine of creation : quote, “ Every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused. “ end of quote. “ The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof. “ [ 1 Cor.10:26,28 ] This is the basis of the Christian’s life and work in the ordinances of creation : associating with unbelievers at work, in the army, and in the neighborhood watch for burglars and abduction of children.

    Basing the life of the Christian in the world on the doctrine of creation establishes the possibility of the Christians’s use and enjoyment of the creation, and of his associating with unbelievers, without compromising the spiritual antithesis. Christian’s live a full active life in the world, but, and mark this well, we live this life, not by the power of a common grace, but by the power of the special, saving, sanctifying grace of Jesus Christ in the Spirit.
    [ bell chimes indicating end of allotted time ]
    Just a couple of minutes left, do I have that much grace ?
    The Christian does not live his life in the world on the basis, and by the power, of a common grace, but by the power of the special sanctifying grace of Christ in the Spirit. We live in the same world with the unbelievers, but we live by a different power - grace. We live according to a different standard - the law of God. We live with a different purpose - the glory of God. Therefore the Christian man and the Christian woman are marked people, and they ought to be. This enables them to witness to the unbeliever. This makes the Christian the object of persecution.


    Fourth and finally, and very briefly, we confess that God has one all controlling purpose in history. To which, absolutely everything that happens in history, is subordinated, from the standing still of the universe in the long day of Joshua, to Babe Ruth’s hitting sixty home runs in a season. That one purpose of God with absolutely everything is the honor of the worthy name of Jesus Christ, the Head and Savior of the Church, and thus the glory of God. In the eternal counsel of God Jesus Christ is first “ before all things “, Colossians One seventeen. “ All things were created for him “, Colossians One verse sixteen. Everything serves his “ preeminence “, Colossians One eighteen. Common grace posits two distinct purposes of God with history - Christ and culture. A culture that has nothing to do with Jesus Christ, and a culture that inevitably overshadows Jesus Christ. We say “ no “ to common grace, because we are determined to say “ yes “ to Jesus Christ. Thank you.

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    Re: Common Grace

    And who says the DARTH GILL of Planet HyperCalderon doesn't have it figured out?
    Now that is comedy =)
    veritas aequitas et pax

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    Re: Common Grace

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    holidayjim:



    If the association of grace with salvation is unjustified, could you please provide an example where the Bible explicitly says that God bestows His grace upon those who later suffer eternal punishment?



    Those who deny common grace do not deny that God gives good gifts to the reprobate. However, giving someone a good gift is not the same as bestowing grace upon a person. If I know that someone is suicidal and I give the gift of a gun to that person. That gun is a good gift which can be used for hunting or self-defense. But it is not grace. It is actually a display of hatred towards that person because I know what they will do with it. Giving someone physical life who is going to suffer eternally in hell cannot be thought of as grace unless grace is something very terrible.

    It has been shown historically that those groups which adopt common grace, eventually end up on the road to universalism. Dr. Mouw has even suggested this in his book "He Shines in All That's Fair". He says that possibly all that we think of today as common grace, we might one day discover is actually saving grace.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    I've been too busy lately to visit the board, but I'm currently preaching through I Peter, and last week, in dealing with 3:7, this discussion came to mind. The question of whether Karis is ever used in scripture except with respect to salvation seems to be answered in this verse.

    The expression "the grace of life", must necessarily have application in the case of an unregenerate marriage partner, given the context of the previous verses. The expression itself is designed to indicate that both husband and wife, regardless of their spiritual state, are nevertheless recipients of grace.

    Notice Calvin on this verse: "For since the Lord is pleased to bestow in common on husbands and wives the same graces, he invites them to seek an equality in them; and we know that those graces are manifold in which wives are partakers with their husbands. For some belong to the present life, and some to God's spiritual kingdom. He afterwards adds, that they are co-heirs also of life, which is the chief thing. And though some are strangers to the hope of salvation, yet as it is offered by the Lord to them no less than to their husbands, it is a sufficient honor to the sex."

    Can we deny therefore that Calvin accepted the concept of Common Grace?

    - Paul
    Paul


    "Where God has made an end of teaching, let us make an end of learning." - Calvin

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    Re: Common Grace

    The expression "the grace of life", must necessarily have application in the case of an unregenerate marriage partner, given the context of the previous verses.
    What in the context of the previous verses leads you to believe this?

    Can we deny therefore that Calvin accepted the concept of Common Grace?
    I don't see anything in what you just quoted where Calvin says that reprobate spouses receive grace from God. This is an example of reading neo-orthodox teaching into Calvin. Notice what Calvin says just prior to this.


    It is evident, that God is despised in his gifts, except we honor those on whom he has conferred any excellency. But when we consider that we are members of the same body, we learn to bear with one another, and mutually to cover our infirmities.

    Calvin is going under the assumption as is Peter that the wife is a member of the body of Christ. Peter's point is that the wife has received the same grace the husband has.


    And though some are strangers to the hope of salvation, yet as it is offered by the Lord to them no less than to their husbands, it is a sufficient honor to the sex.

    Calvin states that salvation is offered unto wives just as well as husbands (this may be a poor translation, I'd have to check the Latin) he does not say that all are the reciepients of grace. Calvin says that life is the main thing that is because salvation is what Calvin is reading by life. Notice that Calvin does not read "the grace of life" but believes that "grace and life" is a better reading.


    Being heirs together (or co-heirs) of the grace of life
    .
    Some copies have "ofmanifold grace;" others, instead of "life," have the word "living." Someread "co-heirs" in the dative case, which makes no difference in the sense.A conjunction is put by others between manifold grace and life; whichreading is the most suitable.

    Notice in the following quotation that Calvin equates life with salvation.


    He afterwards adds, that they are co-heirs also of life, which is the chief thing. And though some are strangers to the hope of salvation, yet as it is offered by the Lord to them no less than to their husbands, it is a sufficient honor to the sex.

    This is for good reason, as Gill writes:


    the grace of life
    , because it is the free gift of God's grace: and agreeably the Syriac version renders it, "the gift of eternal life"; and the Ethiopic version, glorious life: and this is represented as an inheritance, being what belongs only to the children; and which they have not by their own works, as an acquisition of theirs, but by the free grace of their heavenly Father, and as his gift and bequest unto them. Now all the saints, of whatever state, condition, or sex, are equally heirs of this inheritance; for there is but one inheritance, one kingdom, one crown of glory, which all shall enjoy; and whatever disparity there may be, particularly between husband and wife, in their natural relation, there is none in the things of grace, and with regard to the kingdom of glory; and which is an argument why husbands should dwell peaceably and comfortably with their wives, and give all due honour to them, since they are upon a par in spiritual things, there being neither male nor female in Christ Jesus, and because they are now joint heirs of, and shall equally share in eternal life and happiness,

    That your prayers be not hindered: as they would be were they not to dwell together; or should not the husband give honour to his wife, and take care of her as he ought to do: hence would arise strifes and quarrels, when they could not cordially, and to edification, join together in prayer; nor would such prayers, put up in wrath, be acceptable unto God, who requires that men should lift up holy hands everywhere, whether in public, or in private, in God's house, or in their own houses, without wrath and doubting. From hence we may observe, that family prayer is a duty incumbent on professors of religion, and great care should be taken that it be not neglected and hindered,

    (q) T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 59. 1. & Sepher Musar apud Drusium in loc. (r) Apud. Buxtorf. Chald. Gram. p. 389. (s) T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 59. 1.

    I don't think the majority of those who hold to the idea of common grace would appeal to this as proof for the doctrine. At best it could be twisted to teach that God bestows grace upon reprobate spouses of elect individuals but there is nothing which would lead one to believe that God bestows His grace upon all reprobates.

    It also seems clear that the case of a two believing spouses is being addressed because of the plural which is used.

    and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

    The verse does not say that your (singular) prayers be not hindered, but your(plural) prayers be unhindered which makes it clear that the husband and wife are praying together.

    As Kistemaker writes:

    God does not accept prayers that husband and wife offer in an atmosphere of strife and contention. He wants them to be reconciled so that they are able to pray together in peace and harmony and thus enjoy untold divine blessings.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: Common Grace

    Wildboar, you said:

    "I don't think the majority of those who hold to the idea of common grace would appeal to this as proof for the doctrine. At best it could be twisted to teach that God bestows grace upon reprobate spouses of elect individuals but there is nothing which would lead one to believe that God bestows His grace upon all reprobates."

    I raised this verse only because I happened to be dealing with it at the time, not because I consider it to be pivotal evidence. It is just a tiny piece of the mosaic.

    1) The very phrase Karitos Zoes is so designed as to avoid it's necessary application to salvation, but to life broadly. Regardless of textual variants, this is the one we have majority evidence for.

    2) The context does indeed require that we understand Peter to be allowing for situations where the wife is unregenerate. In dealing with the wife's responsibilities, v.1-6, he lays particular emphasis on the need for the wife's submission where the husband is disobedient to the word. What causes you then to imagine that he excludes the possibility of a mixed marriage when he then says, "Likewise ye husbands"? It is this illogical assumption that would be best described as "twisting the scripture".

    3) In begrudgingly allowing the possibility of showing that God bestows some form of grace upon the reprobate spouses of elect individuals, you yield the entire argument (IE: by allowing that God bestows grace in ways that are not always salvatory). What happens to other reprobates is irrelevant.
    Paul


    "Where God has made an end of teaching, let us make an end of learning." - Calvin

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    Re: Common Grace

    1) The very phrase Karitos Zoes is so designed as to avoid it's necessary application to salvation, but to life broadly. Regardless of textual variants, this is the one we have majority evidence for.
    I do not doubt that Karitos Zoes is the correct reading. But there were two separate issues I was addressing, the one was whether or not the Bible teaches common grace and the other of whether or not Calvin taught common grace. The textual variant which Calvin chose showed that he did not believe this passage taught common grace. In fact none of the recent commentaries I consulted, regardless of theological disposition believed that this passage was referring to anything but a salvatory grace. Wayne Grudem and J. Ramsey Michaels both believed that the second part of the verse was referring specifically to believing spouses and Peter Davids thought that the idea that a man had an unbelieving spouse was outside of Peter's thought since the husband had spiritual control in the home.

    What causes you then to imagine that he excludes the possibility of a mixed marriage when he then says, "Likewise ye husbands"?
    It may very well be that the first half of the verse is referring to spouses in general. However the very fact that it speaks of them being co-heirs and the prayer which is taking place together shifts to the situation of two believers.

    In begrudgingly allowing the possibility of showing that God bestows some form of grace upon the reprobate spouses of elect individuals, you yield the entire argument (IE: by allowing that God bestows grace in ways that are not always salvatory).
    I was not allowing this possibility. I was merely stating that even if someone were to interpret the verse in this way there is nothing "common" about this grace anymore than there is in Jesus' very specific love for the rich young ruler.

    Sola Gratia,
    WildBoar
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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