Common grace is, according to its theorists, a grace of God that is common: a grace of God for everybody, head for head, bar none, including the reprobate, those not elected nor redeemed nor effectually called in Jesus Christ. The advocates of common grace claim that God has grace, love and mercy for the reprobate, those whom God has eternally decreed not to save but to punish in the way of their sins.
There are many different doctrines of common grace, but all forms of common grace hold to two basic points. First, God has a favourable attitude towards the reprobate wicked, viewing them with grace and pity as objects of His lovingkindness and mercy. Second, all the good things which the reprobate wicked receive from God in this life come to them out of a love of God for them, as proofs of His grace and favour for them and instances of His blessing upon them.
Other advocates of common grace would go further, stating, third, that God inwardly and graciously restrains sin in the reprobate (contrary to the Bible’s teaching on total depravity). Fourth, God inwardly and graciously enables them to do works which are partly good in His eyes (contra Gen. 6:5; Rom. 3:12).
Yet others would take common grace further, claiming, fifth, that believers are to be friends with unbelievers (contrary to the truth of the antithesis; Gen. 3:15; II Cor. 6:14-18). Sixth, Christians should cooperate with non-Christians in building the kingdom of God on earth (contra II Chron. 19:2; John 3:3).
Others add, seventh, that God empathises with the ungodly, entering into (so as to share) their feelings (contra Josh. 11:20; Lam. 2:2). Eighth, most advocates of common grace link it with the free offer: a purported earnest and passionate, yet always resisted, desire of God to save the reprobate (contra Matt. 11:25-27; Rom. 9:17-18, 21-23).
In the next few issues of the Covenant Reformed News, we shall consider the two most basic elements of common grace (God loves the reprobate and out of this love gives them good things), for they are fundamental to all forms of common grace, and when these two elements are shown to be false, all the various common grace theories fall to the ground. Rather than canvas the whole of Scripture, we shall consider only the teaching of the inspired Psalms, in order to reduce our field somewhat.
We shall begin with Psalm 5:4-6: “ For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.  The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.  Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.”
Notice God’s attitude towards the ungodly: hatred (5) and abhorrence (6). Jehovah’s hatred and abhorrence are not merely of the sin but also of the sinner: “thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (5) and “the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man” (6). Moreover, it is not just some particularly bad sinners, but “all workers of iniquity” that God hates (5). God does not love the reprobate sinner but hate his sin; He hates the sin and the sinner (5-6).
The ground of God’s hatred and abhorrence of reprobate sinners is their complete moral corruption or total depravity. Psalm 5 uses the words “wickedness,” “evil,” “foolish,” “iniquity,” “bloody” and “deceitful” (4-6) to describe the ungodly. Psalm 5:9, quoted in Romans 3:13 as proof of the total depravity of all fallen sinners outside of Jesus Christ, adds, “there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre.” Since God is the kind of God that He is—righteous, holy and just—and since man is totally depraved, God hates the wicked outside of Christ: “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Ps. 5:4-5).
So what about the theory of common grace? According to common grace, God loves the reprobate wicked. According to Psalm 5, God hates the reprobate wicked. Which are you going to believe?
Perhaps you think this is too strong, a “hard saying,” but Psalm 5 is the voice of God. It is sacred Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the Word of Jesus Christ who spoke by the Old Testament prophets (I Peter 1:11). Psalm 5, according to its title, was penned by David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel (II Sam. 23:1) and the man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14). Psalm 5:4-6 is immediately preceded by David’s heart-felt petitions to his God (1-3) and immediately followed by his resolution to worship: “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple” (7). The truth of God’s hatred for the wicked (4-6) does not hinder David in prayer or worship, but helps him in prayer (1-3) and worship (7).
David, the man after God’s own heart, professes particular grace, “mercy” to him and all the saints (7), but not to the wicked whom God hates (5). God views with “favour” and promises to “bless” the “righteous” (12), whereas He abhors the ungodly (6). Psalm 5 does not teach a universal love of God for all, but a particular love of God for His elect people and a holy hatred for the reprobate wicked (4-6). Psalm 5 denies common grace and teaches uncommon grace.
Next time, we shall consider more Psalms against common grace (DV).
- Volume: 12
- Issue: 3
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
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Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851