I have just finished reading a diatribe against the doctrine of common grace. The concept causes some Christians to get a bit hot under the collar. Theopedia describes common grace as follows: Common grace refers 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, believers or unbelievers. 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.
The thought that God is gracious to the whole of humanity irrespective of spiritual standing is more than some can bear. So much so that disagreement over this issue led to a denominational split in the US. Those in the “mainstream” Reformed tradition however have always strongly affirmed this doctrine. The historic confessions and works of Theology affirm this. Not only should we accept the reality of common grace we should be exceedingly thankful for it.
Common grace is a manifestation of God’s goodness and love. He does not hate this world even though it has rejected Him. He establishes law and order; He sends the rain and the sun; He imparts gifts through which we can enjoy life; He moderates the effects of the curse in order to maintain a reasonable environment for His creatures to live in.
Common grace demonstrates that we are made in God’s image. Through disciplines like science, technology and the arts we reflect something of God’s own nature. God is the chief designer, the chief musician, the chief builder, the chief poet, and although such abilities are used sinfully they are still pointers to the One who created us.
Common grace provides the impetus for Christians to imitate their heavenly Father. Just as God is kind to all people, we are to do likewise. If we love our friends of what gain is it? Even the worst unbelievers love those who love them. But if we love our enemies as God loves His, so we show that we are His children.
I for one will be enjoying a good measure of common grace as I take holidays in April. I intend to potter around the garden, catch up on some reading, listen to Jazz CD’s well into the night, and watch football on the weekends. I may even take the missus out for a feast. I will do so very thankful that such opportunities are the blessings of a God who is kind beyond measure. He not only provides for our needs but a great deal more besides.