The Doctrine of Redemption: Example of Common Grace

Transcript February 16


Weekly Bible Study Tuesday, 16th February 2021 THE DOCTRINE OF REDEMPTION Topic: Example of Common Grace Text: Rom. 1:24-28 Today, we shall continue our study as we examine more examples of common grace 3. THE MORAL REALM. God also by common grace restrains people from being as evil as they could be. Once again, the demonic realm, totally devoted to evil and destruction, provides a clear contrast with human society in which evil is clearly restrained. If people persist hardheartedly and repeatedly in following sin over a course of time, God will eventually “give them up” to greater and greater sin but in the case of most human beings they do not fall to the depths to which their sin would otherwise take them, because God intervenes and puts restraints on their conduct. One very effective restraint is the force of conscience: Paul says, “When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them” (Rom. 2:14– 15) This inward sense of right and wrong that God gives to all people means that they will frequently approve of moral standards that reflect many of the moral standards in Scripture. Even those who are given up to the basest sin, Paul says, “Know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die” (Rom. 1:32). And in many other cases this inward sense of conscience leads people to establish laws and customs in society that are, in terms of the outward behavior they approve or prohibit, quite like the moral laws of Scripture: people often establish laws or have customs that respect the sanctity of marriage and the family, protect human life, and prohibit theft and falsehood in speech. 4. THE CREATIVE REALM. God has allowed significant measures of skill in artistic and musical areas, as well as in other spheres in which creativity and skill can be expressed, such as athletics, cooking, writing, and so forth. Moreover, God gives to us an ability to appreciate beauty in many areas of life. And in this area as well as in the physical and intellectual realm, the blessings of common grace are sometimes poured out on unbelievers even more abundantly than on believers. Yet in all cases it is a result of the grace of God. 5. THE SOCIETAL REALM. God’s grace is also evident in the existence of various organizations and structures in human society. We see this first in the human family, evidenced in the fact that Adam and Eve remained husband and wife after the fall and then had children, both sons and daughters (Gen. 5:4). Adam and Eve’s children married and formed families for themselves (Gen. 4:17, 19, 26). The human family persists today, not simply as an institution for believers, but for all people. Human government is also a result of common grace. It was instituted in principle by God after the flood (Gen. 9:6) and is clearly stated to be given by God in Romans 13:1: “There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” It is clear that government is a gift from God for mankind generally, for Paul says the ruler is “God’s servant for your good” and that he is “the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4). One of the primary means God uses to restrain evil in the world is human government. Human laws and police forces and judicial systems provide a powerful deterrent to evil actions, and these are necessary, for there is much evil in the world that is irrational and that can only be restrained by force, because it will not be deterred by reason or education. Of course, the sinfulness of man can also affect governments themselves, so that they become corrupt and actually encourage evil rather than encourage good. This is just to say that human government, like all the other blessings of common grace that God gives, can be used either for good or for evil purposes. Other organizations in human society include educational institutions, businesses and corporations, voluntary associations (such as many charitable and public service groups), and countless examples of ordinary human friendship. All of these function to bring some measure of good to human beings, and all are expressions of the common grace of God. 6. THE RELIGIOUS REALM. Even in the realm of human religion, God’s common grace brings some blessings to unbelieving people. Jesus tells us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44), and since there is no restriction in the context simply to pray for their salvation, and since the command to pray for our persecutors is coupled with a command to love them, it seems reasonable to conclude that God intends to answer our prayers even for our persecutors with regard to many areas of life. In fact, Paul specifically commands that we pray “for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Tim. 2:1–2). When we seek good for unbelievers it is consistent with God’s own practice of granting sunshine and rain “on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45) and also consistent with the practice of Jesus during his earthly ministry when he healed every person who was brought to him (Luke 4:40). There is no indication that he required all of them to believe in him or to agree that he was the Messiah before he granted physical healing to them. Does God answer the prayers of unbelievers? Although God has not promised to answer the prayers of unbelievers as he has promised to answer the prayers of those who come in Jesus’ name, and although he has no obligation to answer the prayers of unbelievers, nonetheless, God may out of his common grace still hear and grant the prayers of unbelievers, thus demonstrating his mercy and goodness in yet another way (Ps. 145:9, 15; Matt. 7:22; Luke 6:35–36). This is apparently the sense of 1 Timothy 4:10, which says that God is “the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” Here “Savior” cannot be restricted in meaning to “one who forgives sins and gives eternal life,” because these things are not given to those who do not believe; “Savior” must have a more general sense here, namely, “one who rescues from distress, one who delivers.” In cases of trouble or distress God often does hear the prayers of unbelievers, and graciously delivers them from their trouble. Moreover, even unbelievers often have a sense of gratitude toward God for the goodness of creation, for deliverance from danger, and for the blessings of family, home, friendships, and country. In addition, unbelievers who come in close contact with the church and perhaps associate with it for a time can have some religious experiences that seem very close to the experience of those who are saved (Heb. 4:4–6; Matt. 7:22–23). Finally, even the proclamation of the gospel to those who do not ultimately accept it is a clear declaration of the mercy and grace of God, which gives clear witness to the fact that God does not delight in the death or condemnation of any of his creatures (Ezek. 33:11; 1 Tim. 2:4).

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