Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Common Grace

Rev. Angus Stewart

 

We reject common grace on the basis of the Word of God. Common grace teaches that God loves the reprobate, but the Scriptures proclaim that "the Lord abhorreth" "the covetous" (Ps. 10:3). The Psalmist declares of God: "thou hatest all workers of iniquity" (Ps. 5:5). God does not hate the sin but love the sinner! Moreover, "the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth" (Ps. 11:5). Here is the intensity of God’s aversion to the reprobate: his very soul—all that He is—detests him. Thus Jehovah "shall rain snares, fire and brimstone" upon him (6). 

Common grace teaches that the good things which the reprobate receive in this life are proof of God’s love for them. This was Asaph’s mistake, and it is the mistake of many. In "the sanctuary of God" (Ps. 73:17), Asaph came to understand that "the prosperity of the wicked" (3)—their health (4), food (7), riches (12)—was "surely" God’s setting them "in slippery places" before He casts "them down into destruction" (18). God gave them good things in His providence, but He "despised" them (20) for their wickedness (8).

Solomon, the wisest of men, declared, "The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked" (Prov. 3:33). All the good things in his house—wife, children, possessions, food etc.—come not with God’s love but with His curse.

Some people say that we reject common grace on the basis of inferences drawn from the eternal predestinating counsel of God. But God’s revealed truth of predestination is not the only doctrine that militates against common grace. Against God’s unity (Deut. 6:4), common grace teaches that God has two loves, two mercies, two lovingkindnesses, etc. Against God’s immutability (Mal. 3:6), common grace teaches that God loves the reprobate in time and then hates them in eternity. Against the divine righteousness, which is so great that God cannot "look on iniquity" (Hab. 1:13), common grace says that God loves those who are completely evil (Rom. 3:10-18). In short, common grace postulates a temporary, limited, changeable, unrighteous love of God (outside of Jesus Christ!) for the reprobate. But the Scriptures teach us that God loves Himself, and that He loves His elect church (Eph. 5:25) with a particular (Rom. 9:18), eternal (Jer. 31:3), infinite (Eph. 3:17-19), unchangeable (Ps. 136) love in Jesus Christ.

This initial error of a love of God for the reprobate is being used by many (including professing Calvinists) to erode the antithesis (Gen. 3:15), to soften total depravity, to compromise particular atonement, to preach a desire of God to save the reprobate, to silence and (then) deny unconditional reprobation and election, to refuse to condemn Arminianism and its teachers, and to enable fellowship with unbelievers. 


To obtain Prof. David Engelsma’s Common Grace Revisited (£4.50) or the two audio tapes of "The Common Grace Debate" between Engelsma and Mouw (£3; both prices inc. P&P), e-mail the CPRC Bookstore.