What is it? In short, the Earth is spinning around the sun, the grass is growing, you and I are breathing, and the world is not totally falling apart, in spite of what Fox News may be reporting. Common grace is common because it is poured out by God on His entire creation. He makes rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. It is not “saving” grace, in that its effects do not bring salvation and reconciliation with God. It reveals the good nature of God and His care and faithfulness to all people. It has other parts too – all human achievement, all human morality, pretty much everything – all God’s common grace.
Why Follow Christ? Common grace is pretty sweet…
I was talking through this idea of common grace with a group of guys from my church this past Thursday and we recognized an interesting dilemma with common grace. Basically, if we have common grace, doesn’t that make the work of evangelism a bit more difficult for us? Let’s say I have a friend who is doing pretty well for himself. By God’s common grace, he is able to have a family, work a good job that he enjoys, do some volunteer work on the weekends every so often, take vacation time when he wants, etc…all common grace, or at least made possible through common grace. I come up to this guy and start talking about Christ, and basically he says, “Why? My life is just fine as it is.” Evangelism would be much easier if God would just spite all those pagans right??? (that was a joke)
Sin enters the discussion.
While we were talking about this issue with common grace, I think our group, myself included, just totally forgot a pretty significant part of the Gospel. We’re sinners…and that’s a problem, a big problem actually. I think what we forgot to consider in our hypothetical discussion with our friend who is living the good life is that his life is not actually good at all. I heard a good analogy today: all our good works, all our ministry, all our evangelism, all our social action – in itself – is like monopoly money. No cash value. Good for nothing. It’s not real. What we must tell our friend is that he has a serious problem with sin, with an evil inside of himself that he might not be aware of at all. He actually has nothing to cling to, nothing that he can claim as good, as worthy, nothing that will stand the purifying fire of God. This probably won’t be fun thing to talk about, but it is central and we must not avoid it.
I think we just forgot to take sin seriously. Why is that bad? If sin is a non-issue, the cross is a non-issue, our Saviour from that sin is a non-issue and that’s a big issue. Our boast is in Christ and Him crucified and one thing that means is that we now rejoice in our weakness, we rejoice in our condemnation, because we are in desperate need of the power of Spirit to make us new. All that counts is new creation – nothing else.
When talking about common grace, it is useful to remember that it does not deal with our sin at all – and we really need some help with this sin stuff.