Wednesday, July 24, 2013

...a biblical look at God's providential benevolence to all people

In Matthew five Jesus said, "the rain falls on the just and the unjust." (compare Luke 6:27-36 as well). This is God's providential, merciful benevolence to all people—not just the elect. Theologians have referred to this general act of kindness as “common grace.”

Common Grace is normally defined as:

"a theological concept in Protestant Christianity, primarily in Reformed and Calvinistic circles, referring to the grace of God that is common to all humankind. It is “common” because its benefits are experienced by the whole human race without distinction between one person and another. It is "grace" because it is undeserved and sovereignly bestowed by God. In this sense, it is distinguished from the Calvinistic understanding of "special" or "saving" grace, which extends only to those whom God has chosen to redeem."
-source obtained from

Scriptures used to defend this theological distinctive are: Matt. 5:44-45; Matt. 37-39; Luke 6:35-36, 16:25; Acts 14:15-17; Psalm 33:5; Psalm 145:8-9; 104; 1 Tim. 4:4; Gen. 39:5, etc. This "common grace" can be seen in nature, by believers loving their neighbor and blessing the unregenerate through the fruit of a life of good works that by grace has a right-standing before God. This is what is usually held to as the definition for the phrase "common grace" in summarizing the bounties of God's providential benevolence and mercy upon all His creatures.

While I agree with the meaning behind the term of "common grace", biblically grace is never used to describe this universal benevolence and kindness of God.

Grace is used some 124 times in the NT (ESV), and every mention speaks of redemption, salvation, Christ's person or ministry, our sanctification, God’s provision for us in equipping and providing for ministry, the gospel, the bestowing of spiritual gifts, etc. But not one time is the word grace itself ever used to describe God’s universal benevolence to all of His creatures - specifically the unregenerate.

The Definition of Grace

Grace presupposes sin, guilt, and demerit; it addresses two facts: 1. we have not earned the favor of God; and 2. we have earned the curse of God.

Grace means we don’t get the curse we deserve AND that we get the blessings we don’t deserve. This is because Christ as our divine Substitute has acted fully in our place - imputing to us, by faith, the full merit of His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).

 The Gospel, therefore, is the message of the grace of God to undeserving, unworthy, sinful people like me and you.

The simple. historically accepted definition of grace is: ‘unmerited favor.’ Though this comes close to understanding grace, in and of itself is an inadequate definition. This is a definition more along the lines of kindness; but to really define grace--it needs to go further.

I was having dinner a while back with a friend of mine Jerry Bridges. He is one of the most profound Bible teachers of our day and his books reflect his deep love for the Lord and His Word. When we were discussing this issue of grace, he gave me a tremendous illustration to communicate the difference between providential benevolence and God's grace.

He said,
A hungry hobo comes to your door asking for a meal. You give it to him freely, without him doing anything to earn it. This would be considered ‘kindness’, not ‘grace’.

Biblical correct definitions of grace would be: 
1. Grace - ‘God’s favor through Christ to those who deserve His disfavor.’ 
 This version is designed to compare/contrast the historically accepted inadequate definition of grace above.

 Or 2. Grace - ‘God’s blessings through Christ to those who deserve His curse.’ 

 This is the better of the two definitions.

To illustrate this Jerry went on in using his example of the hobo. He continued by saying,
The hobo robs you after eating your free meal. He then returns one month later. Instead of calling the police, you give him another meal.

Key components of the definition:
 1. Christ is the only basis for both our redemption from the curse and our attaining any of God’s blessings. 

2. We have assaulted the holiness of God, but yet have been His grace. Back to our hobo, this takes us from seeing ourselves as the hungry hobo to seeing ourselves as the robber.

IOW, grace is ‘God in action.’ Grace is not just a benevolent attitude on God’s part to all people. Grace is always ‘God in action’ for our good and for His glory. 
every time the Bible mentions ‘grace’ it is always associated with ‘God in action.’ He is: saving us, justifying us, empowering us, sustaining us, equipping us, etc. ‘by grace.’

Words have Meaning
One of the reasons I enjoy writing (and reading) is that to effectively communicate one must place a high value on words. 
Words mean something. Words in the Word of God mean profound eternal "somethings." Grace, when used in the Bible, means something weighty, treasured, and valuable. And though the historical or traditional meaning of "common grace" has lent itself to represent a general mercy or benevolence by God for all people (which again I affirm), it seems there is a danger - even if ever so slightly - of weakening the high value and rich meaning of "grace" when we use it in a manner which the Scriptures do not.

By comparison, when we speak of general and special revelation, we clearly have Scripture to support that distinction. Psalm 19:1-6 describes God's general revelation (the heavens declare His glory); and Psalm 19:7-9 describes His special revelation (the law of the Lord is just converting the soul). And this is done without having to alter the biblical meaning of the word “revelation” in making that distinction.

 To be consistent, the same principle should apply to grace... shouldn't it?

I also understand the need to answer questions of faith and to look biblically for those answers. Dutch theologian, Louis Berkhof, gives us an example of the kinds of questions this issue of common grace may prompt. He asks:
  • How can we explain the comparatively orderly life in the world, seeing that the whole world lies under the curse of sin?
  • How is it that the earth yields precious fruit in rich abundance and does not simply bring forth thorns and thistles?
  • How can we account for it that sinful man still "retains some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the difference between good and evil, and shows some regard for virtue and for good outward behavior"?
  • What explanation can be given of the special gifts and talents with which the natural man is endowed, and of the development of science and art by those who are entirely devoid of the new life that is in Christ Jesus?
  • How can we explain the religious aspirations of men everywhere, even of those who did not come in touch with the Christian religion?
  • How can the unregenerate still speak the truth, do good to others, and lead outwardly virtuous lives?
...then and to come to the text of God's Word to answer them truthfully, correctly and biblically. 

I see the answers to the above questions contained in rightly understanding God's universal providential benevolence--not in the phrase of "common grace."

 May I say there is nothing "common" about grace; whether the word means a general community, universal application, or to display a pedestrian distinction.

To quote again the profound words of G.S. Bishop when speaking of grace he says,
"Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the ax of justice; so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures; so adverse to God that they cannot turn to Him; so blind that they cannot see Him; so deaf that they cannot hear Him; and so dead that He Himself must open their graves."
Therefore, we can see that grace is not used in the NT in a casual or ad-hoc manner to describe a universal benevolence or mercy given to all created beings. God is kind and benevolent to all people - reprobate and regenerate (Matt. 5:45). But grace is used in a more exalted way to describe God's work of redemption toward sinful men in the gospel (Acts 20:24; Roms. 5:15; 1 Cor. 1:4; Titus 2:11); and the person and ministry of Jesus Christ our Lord (John 1:14, 17; Acts 15:11; Roms. 1:7; Eph. 2:8-9). Even the Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of grace" (Heb. 10:29).

 This is a simple issue for me: when using biblical language, use it in the way that God has in describing the faith.

Some want to discredit this kind of thinking by labeling me a hyper-Calvinist (which I am most definitely not); or by saying this departs from agreed theological nomenclature (which again, I affirm the orthodox meaning behind the phrase).

Why Dumb-Down Grace?
But why dumb-down grace by calling it something biblically it is not. I am not arguing for using only biblical terms in any discussion. What I am contending for, however, is keeping terms that are stated and used in the biblical record true to their meaning and context... biblically. There is a difference. Grace is such a term that is part of the NT record and used in very specific ways over 120 times and carries with it a meaning that is lofty and profound.

 Let's not alter that...

I.e. - The word "Trinity" is not a biblical term, but serves to concisely represent biblical truth. Terms such as " the five solas", "eschatology", "soteriology" etc. are not biblical terms, but they do clearly represent biblical truth.
 We can use them to unfold categories of theological belief that are "commonly" understood when speaking of certain theological convictions and truths.

One caveat here: the heritage of the phrase "common grace" is well documented and foundational for this issue. But the historical sense of it means little and should not take precedence when the biblical record is so clear.

IOW, I wouldn't point to the rich reformed historical heritage of paedo-baptism and favor it against the clear biblical record of credo-baptism just because paedo-baptism enjoys a n agreed historical tradition and practice among some of my reformed brothers (I mean, we are not Romanists). Though sadly, some in the reformed camp (no pun intended) stand more firmly on their historical practice over and against the biblical record to justify the baptizing of infants while at the same time deny the baptizing of adults who were once baptized as infants claiming that would be a "rebaptism."

Some of you might remember, or were even there, when R.C. Sproul debated John MacArthur on this issue several years ago. R.C. conceded in his opening remarks that John had already won the debate because they had agreed to make their respective cases from the scope of God's Word. Simply, John had the weight of Scripture behind him on this issue, R.C. did not. Both of these men are tremendous pastors, teachers and theologians whom I greatly appreciate, love and respect in my life and ministry. But I was so encouraged that R.C. paid homage to the truth of God's Word over the historic tradition -- even though he ultimately didn't change his conviction on infant baptism. The biblical teaching should always trump the historic tradition. That same principle should govern our thinking when we are defining key and essentials aspects of Christianity.

Graciousness vs. Grace
In Jerry's hobo illustration, I do see the response as being one of graciousness--but to me that's not an act of grace, but an act of mercy and benevolence. IMHO, those two things are different. 

Gracious implies genial, affable, urbane, merciful, compassionate. But an act of God's grace is redemptive, salvific. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but I don't think it's ta-MAY-toe, ta-MA-toe.

 Again, words mean something; and grace is too important of a word to concede to theological labeling.

Psalm 145:8-9 that some site in defense of the phrase "common grace" are some of my favorite verses on the benevolence of God.
"The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works."
Spurgeon's commentary on these verses is especially profound. He does mention "his plans and his poses all manifest his grace, or free favour"; but then he does clarify it more as his commentary unfolds on the whole of it pertaining to these verses by emphasizing God's mercy, longsuffering, and compassion.

Consider these words:
"To all living men his aspect: he is gracious, or full of goodness and generosity. He treats creatures with kindness, his subjects with consideration, and his saints favour."

"To the suffering, the weak, the despondent, he is very pitiful: he feels for them, he feels with them: he this heartily, and in a practical manner. Of this pitifulness he is full, so the compassionates freely, constantly, deeply, divinely, and effectually."

"What an ocean of compassion there must be since the Infinite God is full of Slow to anger. Even those who refuse his grace yet share in long suffering. When men do not repent, but, on the contrary, go from bad to worse, averse to let his wrath flame forth against them. Greatly patient and anxious that the sinner may live, he "lets the lifted thunder drop", and still bears. "Love suffereth long and is kind", and God is love. And of great mercy. This is his attitude towards the guilty. When men at last repent, find pardon awaiting them. Great is their sin, and great is God's mercy, need great help, and they have it though they deserve it not; for he is good to the greatly guilty." 

This discussion comes down to a simple recognition that grace, biblically defined, does have a meaning that doesn't carry with it the idea of a universal or common benevolence or kindness. But something more powerful: redemption, salvation, conformity to Christ; justification; imputation; propitiation; and glorification.

is also representative of God's character (the grace of God) and of Jesus Christ (full of grace and truth; the word of His grace; as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.)

This is the heart and soul of it... To those with whom I disagree, I think we are on the same page here--just using different phrases to express the same, important truth.

To be clear, I have never claimed that grace is only used in a soteriological sense (though that is the majority of its usage in the NT). I listed above that grace is used in matters of provision and equipping for ministry (2 Cor. 9:8; 2 Tim. 2:1) ; in our sanctification (Col. 4:6; Titus 2:12); for the use and purpose of spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10); and also in relation to the character of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (cp, Col. 1:2; John 1:14-17; Heb. 10:29).

Grace Upon Grace
In closing, there is a wonderful phrase in the first chapter of John's gospel where he says,
"For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace."
"Grace upon grace. Literally, as Dr. MacArthur referred to this in a sermon by saying, "we are graced with grace" (cf, Eph. 1:5-8; 2:7). This is speaking to the super-abounding grace given to us. "Where sin once abounded, grace super-abounded..." I am a great sinner; but He is a greater Savior.

This "grace upon grace" reality flows from the "fulness of Christ." As Calvin says,
"He begins now to preach about the office of Christ, that it contains within itself an abundance of all blessings, so that no part of salvation must be sought anywhere else. True, indeed, the fountain of life, righteousness, virtue, and wisdom, is with God, but to us it is a hidden and inaccessible fountain. But an abundance of those things is exhibited to us in Christ,"

This is the language of sufficiency beloved.

Paul echoes this in Colossians: Col. 1:18
"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. Col. 1:19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, Col. 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven." 

AND, "that is, Christ Himself, Col. 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Col. 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, Col. 2:10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;"
If we look at the flow of this section of Scripture (John 1:14-18) the outline unfolds according to Pink as follows:
  1. Christ’s Incarnation—"The word became flesh": John 1:14.
  2. Christ’s Earthly sojourn—"And tabernacled among us:" John 1:14.
  3. Christ’s Essential Glory—"As of the only Begotten:" John 1:14.
  4. Christ’s Supreme excellency—"Preferred before:" John 1:15.
  5. Christ’s Divine sufficiency—"His fulness:" John 1:16.
  6. Christ’s Moral perfections—"Grace and truth:" John 1:17.
  7. Christ’s Wondrous revelation—Made known "the Father:" John 1:18.

Therefore, I would conclude the "all" in verse 16 pertains to all believers; for no unbeliever is partakers of His fulness and recipients of "grace upon grace." It could also be argued, I guess, that the all could mean: "John appeals to all his own contemporaries as participants with him in the fulness of the Logos." (Robertson)

As to the example of Ezra: the context is not the general pagan world, but to the people of God. We know this to be certain for Ezra writes in 9:8: "that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage." Ezra’s address is a penitent confession of sin, the sin of his people. Let this be the comfort of true penitents, that though their sins reach to the heavens, God’s mercy is in the heavens. 

And part of that favor, as you say, is evidenced in releasing a remnant from captivity.

As some have rightly said, "there are so many things God has done for every single person in the world which we do not deserve." Amen! His providential kindness and benevolence rests on all the sons of Adam.

I also like how John Gill approaches this phrase when he says,
"the meaning is, grace is for the sake of grace; for there is no other cause of electing, justifying, pardoning, adopting, and regenerating grace, and even eternal life, but the grace, or free favour of God;" "...I also think, the abundance of it, at first conversion, with all after supplies, is intended; and that grace for grace, is the same with grace upon grace, heaps of grace;"
The superabundance of grace that comes through Jesus. I'm certainly not married to the phrase "graced with grace" - but I thought it reflected well the "grace upon grace" plentifulness found in Christ Jesus our Lord. "Favor given to one who has already received favor" also says it well.

Grace imparted; grace increasing.

Grace not being static, but active. AT Robertson says,
"Hebrews 12:2 where "joy" and "cross" are balanced against each other. Here the picture is "grace" taking the place of "grace" like the manna fresh each morning, new grace for the new day and the new service."

I know that Dan has an extensive knowledge of Greek and I would be interested on his thoughts as well. I'll defer to his wisdom on this.

Grace-Focused Worship
But here's the wonder and majesty of this issue for me in all this beloved. I awoke this morning worshipping the Lord and praising Him for His matchless, abounding, fathomless saving-sanctifying-glorifying grace. 

 This discussion about grace has caused me a fresh to reverence God today with joy. Why? Because He is a God of grace; and aren't you glad? Instead of His wrath He has given me His grace; instead of His justice, He has given me His mercy; and instead of His enmity, He has given me His unfailing love. Amen?

What hope, what promise, what forgiveness, what life and victory is given to us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus Christ IS our all in all...

Further Study and Reading:
1. "The History and Theology of Calvinism" by Curt Daniel, Ph.D.
2. "Dogmatic Theology" by William G.T. Shedd
3. "Systematic Theology" by Wayne Grudem


Shawn said...

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

Thank you Steve. What a great study and you have very closely helped me consider my words, I have really enjoyed this. I think I too will be looking at all of the text of scriptures on Grace as well and gain a fresh new look. I have been pouring over the scriptures trying to understanding the right perspective on Law and the Christian, but wow what a great word Today.

Ephesians 2:1-10
"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Carla Rolfe said...

I very much appreciate the work you put into this. I've also had a problem with the usage of "common grace". I like the way you worded this:

"though the historical or traditional meaning of "common grace" has lent itself to represent a general mercy or benevolence by God for all people (which again I affirm), it seems there is a danger - even if ever so slightly - of weakening the high value and rich meaning of "grace" when we use it in a manner which the Scriptures do not."

For me personally, that is the issue. I can't seem to reconcile calling benevolence or universal providence, or kindness, with grace (even though I understand the classifications of common v. saving).

It's a topic I continue to look at and strive to understand better. Your post has helped clarify a few things for me, and I thank you for that.

Oh, and when my photography skills grow up, they want to be Timmy Briter's. He's got some amazing shots and a wonderful talent there.

Michael Nevarr said...

Right on target Steve...

Soli Deo Gloria!

Charles Fry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Frueh said...

Grace - so misunderstood.

Douglas said...

I have read a couple of Jerry Bridges books a few years ago and they were very good.

I just came across this and thought you all may be blessed by them Jerry Bridges on The Beatitudes

I haven't heard them yet but my wife and I will listen to them as soon as possible.

Denise said...

I agree that "grace" is always used in Scripture in relation to Believers on the account of God. That is precisely why HIS grace is not "common" at all.

Just a note re: RC Sproul: It sadly seems that forSproul and and his camp, tradition (in this case the practice of infant sprinkling which came directly out of the RCC) trumps the Scripture they say they believe. They are unwilling to submit to the Master's command of baptizing believers only.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine is fond of repeating;

"It's not what you say that matters. It's EXACTLY what you say."

That seems to be true here and is always especailly true when dealing with issues of eternal significance.

Chad V. said...

Let me preface with this, I rarely ever have a beef with what you write. I think your blog is great. Having said that;

This post reminds me a lot of a commentor we had back in the closing weeks of Old Truth. A guy jumped into the meta and started complaining about the colloquial use of the word "church". He considered it a dumbing down and an obfuscating of the scriptural meaning of the word to call the building in which believers meet a "church". He argued that the bible only calls the collective people of God the "church" that is was wrong of us to use the word "church" when speaking about the building in which we gather for worship.

There is nothing wrong with saying, "Meet you at church tonight", or "are you coming to church" etc. Everyone knows what we mean when we say that and it's a perfectly acceptable use of the term and in it's colloquial sense we all know what it means.

Likewise the Doctrinal Label of "Common Grace" is nothing more than a label which distinguishes the grace that God has towards the elect from the general benevolence (which can be rightly called a type of grace) that God has for the whole human race and his creatures. Since grace is unmerited favor and the provision that God has for every person is unmerited, all deserve nothing but wrath and indignation and to be destroyed, it is indeed accurate to say that God exercises some grace even toward the reprobate in not sending them to their immediate and deserved destruction and providing what they need.

The reason that God's grace is dumbed down in the church has nothing at all to do with the doctrine of Common Grace. It has to do with the doctrinal confusion that is so rampant in the church today and the lack of interest in Christians in general for real spiritual truth.

You have already admitted that you think that it is accurate to say that God is gracious to all people, saved and unsaved. Well, "gracious" is an adjective that describes God's a part of God's character. If God is gracious and his general benevolence is an act of his graciousness then the must be exercising some grace to those to whom he is gracious. to divorce grace from "gracious" just doesn't make sense since "gracious" is simply the adjective form of the word "grace". You can't argue that God is gracious yet does not give grace but only benevolence. It's just not logical. As long as common grace is properly defined it's a perfectly good usage of the word.

To be honest, and with all due respect, I think your post does more to confuse the issue than the term "common grace" does. This really has no point unless you are going to spearhead a campaign to change the term and then what will you call it? Any term you come up with I can argue will apply to believers albeit in different ways. You seemed to like the word mercy rather than grace. Where is mercy ever used to describe God's general provision for all men? If you were to adopt that term wouldn't that obfuscate the meaning of God's mercy?

If you really want to confuse people call it "Common Mercy".

SJ Camp said...

To All
Thank you for your encouraging words on this potentially explosive topic.

They are so appreciated.

chad v
Thank you my brother for your encouraging words as well and for your honest appraisal of this post.

Two things:
1. In the Luke 6 account of this same passage from Matthew 5, Luke uses the words kind or merciful when describing the character of God to the unregenerate.

IOW, it is an act of benevolence. "Common Benevolence..." That says it well for me here.

The Puritans were known for their love of God's Word and for their accurate handling of its truth: they cut it straight (2 Tim. 2:15).

When any of us apply an inference to a key word from Scripture and attach a meaning to it that God's Word does not support (even if over time that word's "new" definition has been commonly accepted - pun intended) then I think we do an injustice to God's Word.

If we were to look specifically at the biblical record to see how grace is used, defined and applied, I think anyone would be hard pressed to come up with a meaning of grace that was common to both saved and unsaved people.

You used the word "church" example to try and prove your point, let me try as well with a brief anecdote.

If a judge pardons a criminal from serving a lengthy jail sentence, we would say in society "he deserved justice, but in the end was shown mercy." Common phraseology. We wouldn't call it love or even grace; but mercy. The judge was merciful, benevolent to give a lighter sentence than the criminal deserves.

The same can found in Luke 6; God is "merciful and kind" (benevolent) to allow the rain to fall on all of His creatures - elect or nonelect.

I hope I am not nitpicking here; but apart from our Lord's name, there is no sweeter word in all of Scripture than grace. For in that one word we find redemption, reconciliation, justification, and propitiation. It is a word that even unsaved people know is attached to our salvation - "amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me..."

So it is with the motive to protect the fidelity of God's Word and the purity of the language, that grace is anything but common; but mercy, kindness OR benevolence I think better and more biblically describes what God actually is extending to all of His creatures - the just and the unjust - in this temporal life.

I hope this better clarifies my meaning here and thank you for your thoughts which sharpen me as well to better serve Him.

Grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Denise said...

Would those who use "common grace" repudiate the use of ”predestination" & “election”? Why would they refuse to use "elect" or "predestined" to include unbelievers as well as believers, but see no problem using "grace" for all individuals?

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...


I see your point about mercy. But again, I don't think the doctrine of common grace is such a bad label. The term is supposed to be describing God's graciousness towards all men, believers and unbelievers. If God is gracious to the reprobate, we both agree that he is, then this cannot be divorced from grace, albeit the grace that God renders to the reprobate is different in measure and nature than is the grace given to the elect, the grace that brings salvation.

Mercy is the believer's as well as the unbeliever's is it not? But just different in measure and nature. For the believer mercy means forgiveness of sins. The unbeliever receives no such kind of mercy.

I do appreciate the post and I love what you wrote about the nature of grace, but common grace is a well understood term and it seems more confusing to try to change it now than to just leave it alone make sure it's properly defined.

And you're right, there is scarcely a sweeter word in all the world besides the Lord's name than grace, for by grace we have been saved.

Grace can be defined as "good will; kindness, disposition to oblige another...." Webster's 1828 dictionary so "grace" is an appropriate label. This is a common definition for grace, hence the term "common grace".

P.S. The subsequent definitions given in that dictionary nicely define salvation by grace.

Brian said...

Paul says the Gospel is about Jesus being raised from the dead, and dying for our sins, like in 1 Cor 15. But Jesus actually preached the Gospel before he was crucified or raised, like Luke 20:1(among many others). It seems like Paul used the word in a way different than Jesus did, would we accuse him of being unfaithful to Jesus' teaching?

Debbie said...

What a rich and wonderful study! I had an unusually large chunk of "free" time this morning and found myself working through this outline. I've bookmarked it because there is so much here to consider more carefully and thoughtfully -- I know I'll be coming back to it often.

I only wish I had a good excuse for needing to purchase the ESV Study Bible -- seems like the perfect tool for a study such as this. I appreciated your review and recommendation several posts back.

Chad V. said...


i don't think Paul and Jesus used the word "gospel" in two different ways. They both used it the same way. They both refer to the same gospel in the same substance.

Steve and I are discussing the use of the word grace as it applies to two different things entirely. One being the grace which God bestows upon believers for salvation and to grow and conform them to the image of Christ.

The other is the more colloquial use of the word grace as it applies to God's general provision and good will and kindness towards all his creatures and benevolence even toward the reprobate.

Brian said...

I understand what you and Steve are discussing - thanks for the clarification though. I am simply addressing Steve's post.

SJ Camp said...

Consider yourself banned from this site for disparaging and unapologetic remarks directed about the Lord Jesus Christ.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Good article Mr. Camp.

I just discovered your blog through a tweet by a friend of mine. I will look forward to other articles in the future.


Don P said...

I agree with you, that even the phrase " common grace" lessens the awesome nature of God's gift to us. But then what to call it? Providence used to be a good way to say it, but today few people would have more than a slight idea what that means.
Still, the Bible makes clear that words matter. We should always be careful

Anonymous said...

cara mengatasi berbagai macam penyakit secara alami
Obat Herbal Penurun Darah Tinggi Obat Herbal Ambeien Akut Obat Herbal Batu Empedu Tanpa Operasi Obat Herbal Sinusitis Kronis Obat Herbal Tumor Otak Jinak Obat Herbal Wasir Kronis Tanpa Operasi Obat Herbal Liver Kronis Paling Ampuh Obat Herbal Bronkitis Kronis Obat Herbal Usus Buntu Tanpa Operasi Obat Herbal Eksim Paling Ampuh Obat Herbal Gagal Ginjal Kronis Obat Herbal Kanker Pankreas

Anonymous said...

pengobatan penyakit glaukoma secara alami tanpa operasi

Obat Herbal Glaukoma

Blogger said...

If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (no matter why you broke up) you have to watch this video
right away...

(VIDEO) Text Your Ex Back?