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Common Grace is a theological concept in Protestant Christianity, primarily in Reformed and Calvinistic circles, referring to the grace of God that is either common to all humankind, or common to everyone within a particular sphere of influence (limited only by unnecessary cultural factors). It is “common” because its benefits are experienced by, or intended for, the whole human race without distinction between one person and another. 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.

Aspects of common grace

In the words of Reformed scholar Louis Berkhof, “[Common grace] curbs the destructive power of sin, maintains in a measure the moral order of the universe, thus making an orderly life possible, distributes in varying degrees gifts and talents among men, promotes the development of science and art, and showers untold blessings upon the children of men,” (Berkhof, p. 434, summarizing Calvin’s position on common grace). The various aspects of God's common grace to all mankind may be generally gathered under four heads:

Providential care in creation - God’s sustaining care for his creation, called divine providence, is grace common to all. The Bible says, for instance, that God through the Son "upholds the universe by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:2-3; John 1:1-4). God's gracious provision for his creatures is seen in the giving of the seasons, of seedtime and harvest. It is of this providential common grace that Jesus reminds his hearers when he said God "makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. 5:45). We also see evidence of God’s common grace in the establishment of various structures within human society. At a foundational level, God has ordained the family unit. Even pagan parents typically know that they should nurture their children (Matt. 7:9-10) and raise them to become responsible adults.

Providential restraint of sin - In the Bible, Paul teaches that civil authorities have been "instituted by God" (Rom. 13:1) to maintain order and punish wrong-doing. Although fallible instruments of his common grace, civil governments are called "ministers of God" (Rom. 13:6) that should not be feared by those who do good. God also sovereignly works through circumstances to limit a persons sinful behavior (Gen. 20:6, 1 Sam. 25:26).

In man's conscience - The apostle Paul says that when unbelieving Gentiles "who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, . . . They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them" (Rom. 2:14-15, ESV). By God's common grace fallen mankind retains a conscience indicating the differences between right and wrong. This may be based on the fact that human beings, though fallen in sin, retain a semblance of the "image of God" with which they were originally created (Gen. 9:6: 1 Cor. 11:7).

Providential blessings to mankind - Human advancements that come through the unredeemed are seen as outcomes of God's common grace. For example, medical and other technological advancements that improve the lives of both the redeemed and unredeemed are seen as initiated by common grace.

In summary, common grace is seen in God's continuing care for his creation, his restraining human society from becoming altogether intolerable and ungovernable, his making it possible for mankind to live together in a generally orderly and cooperative manner, and maintaining man's conscious sense of basic right and wrong behavior.

Contrasted with special grace

Special grace, in Reformed theology, is the grace by which God redeems, sanctifies, and glorifies his people. Unlike common grace, which is universally given, special grace is bestowed only on those whom God elects to eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. This special grace is frequently linked with the five points of Calvinism as irresistible grace or efficacious grace. Common Grace is God working in the heart of the sinner to emulate the Christian life but not effectually saving that sinner. This is a most important distinctive of Historical Calvinism as it is a distinctive made by John Calvin in his book the Institutes of the Christian Religion and by a number of Confessions of faith for Calvinistic denominations originally in Europe. It is also the distinctive made by later theologians such as Abraham Kuyper of the Netherlands and Louis Berkhof and R.C. Sproul of the USA and others.

Louis Berkhof in his chapter on Common Grace (pages 434- 435) in his Systematic Theology speaks of Dr. H. Kuiper of the Netherlands (former Prime Minister and theologian) placing common grace into 3 categories in his book: Calvin and Common Grace.

(1) Universal Common Grace, a grace that extends to all creatures; (2) General Common Grace, that is grace which applies to mankind in general and to every member of the human race; (3) Covenant Common Grace, a grace that is common to all those who live in the sphere of the covenant, whether they belong to the elect or not.

Correctly stated categories (1) and (2) as defined by Kuiper are classed as God’s Providence to mankind in the Westminster Confession of faith 1646 in Chapter V. Of Providence. Category (3) of Kuiper is alluded to in Section VII: [1] See as a reference the parable of the Sower and the Seed in the KJV Bible: [2] The Synod of Dort 1618-19 refers to this passage of Scripture under: The Third and 4th Points of Doctrine in article 9: Human Responsibility for rejecting the gospel. [3]

Louis Berkof in his Systematic Theology, published by The Banner of Truth Trust ISBN 0 85151 056 6, page 441 speaks thus about this aspect of common grace as mentioned in the Cannons of Dordt above: [4]

Berkof is speaking about God's spirit operating in the sinner to illuminate his mind and his senses and yet without changing his heart. The sinner receives the word intellectually, he is filled with joy emotionally and yet this operation of the holy spirit stops short of changing the heart. And because it stops short of circumcising the heart the man will eventually fall away because God is not keeping him in His power and through the sinner’s weakness, trials, tribulations, old age and other factors rob that man of whatever he did have and he is left only with a faded view of God and remains in his original state that is lost and fallen.

Berkof get his conclusions from the Bible, the Canons of Dordt and from the Westsminister Confession of Faith 1646 and other Christian literature. In the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646 at Westminster in the UK the Westminster Divines write in Chapter X paragraph IV thus: [5]

Berkof Quotes this on page 435 in his Systematic Theology. On the same page Berkof quotes The Westsminster Larger Confession as Q. 60, there has been a misprint and it should read Q.68 from the confession. [6] The proof for this statement in the WCF 1646 is taken from two biblical verses: [7]

Another biblical passage to support this grace of God acting in the heart of the sinner without actually saving him is shown in the Parable of the King and the Wedding Feast: [8]

In conclusion I have to say that Common Grace has being confusing for many people over the years mainly because Kuiper’s categorised (1) and (2) correctly stated should be designated under the Providential care of God to all creatures. This wold then agree with the WCF 1646 and then Common Grace would be limited to category (3) of Kuiper’s categories. People may ask why has God called people into the church through an operation of the Holy Spirit and yet leaves them without hope. This is not an easy answer and yet we must say that Jesus spoke about it in His parable of the Tares and the Wheat (Math.13:25-40) There are unbelievers in the church, we may not know who they are but God knows and it is His plan that they are there.

Theological Issues

Covenantal Common Grace

There is a category of Common Grace about God working in the heart of the sinner to emulate the Christian life but not effectually saving that sinner. This is a most important distinctive of Historical Calvinism as it is a distinctive made by John Calvin in his book the Institutes of the Christian Religion (although Kuiper in His work Calvin en Algemeene Genade says that of the 4 cases that Calvin used Common Grace in his writing only two spoke of common grace the other two being related to special grace. L. Berkof, Systematic Theology page 434) and by a number of Confessions of faith for Calvinistic denominations in Europe. It is also the distinctive made by later theologians such as Dr. H. Kuiper of the Netherlands and Professor L. Berkof of the USA and others.

Louis Berkof in his chapter on Common Grace (pages 434- 435) in his Systematic Theology , published by The Banner of Truth Trust ISBN 0 85151 056 6, speaks of Dr. H. Kuiper of the Netherlands (former Prime Minister and theologian) placing common grace into 3 categories in his book: Calvin and Common Grace.

(1) Universal Common Grace, a grace that extends to all creatures; (2) General Common Grace, that is grace which applies to mankind in general and to every member of the human race; (3) Covenant Common Grace, a grace that is common to all those who live in the sphere of the covenant, whether they belong to the elect or not.

Kuiper’s Category (3) on Common Grace

This article is devoted to showing how important this category is and how distinctive it is to Historical Calvinism as compared say to High Calvinism or sometimes known as Hyper Calvinism.

Correctly stated categories (1) and (2) as defined by Kuiper are classed as God’s Providence to mankind in the Westminster Confession of Faith in Chapter V. Of Providence. Category (3) of Kuiper is alluded to in section VII:

VII. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.

See as a reference the parable of the Sower and the Seed in the KJV Bible:

Math.13:[3] And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; [4] And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: [5] Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: [6] And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. [7] And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: [8] But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. [9] Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. [10] And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? [11] He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. [12] For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. [13] Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. [14] And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: [15] For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. [16] But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. [17] For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. [18] Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. [19] When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. [20] But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; [21] Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. [22] He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. [23] But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

The Synod of Dordt 1618-19 refers to this passage of Scripture under: The Third and 4th Points of Doctrine in article 9: Human Responsibility for rejecting the gospel.

The fact that many who are called through the ministry of the gospel do not come and are not brought to conversion must not be blamed on the gospel, nor on Christ, who is offered through the gospel, nor on God, who calls them through the gospel and even bestows various gifts on them, but on the people themselves who are called. Some in self-assurance do not even entertain the Word of life; others do entertain it but do not take it to heart, and for that reason, after the fleeting joy of a temporary faith, they relapse; others choke the seed of the Word with the thorns of life's cares and with the pleasures of the world and bring forth no fruits. This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13).

Louis Berkof in his Systematic Theology page 441 speaks thus about this aspect of common grace as mentioned in the Canons of Dordt above:

In additon to this, (speaking of Common Grace subduing nations and the evil of men and preserving order through the magistrate and of God Providence in supplying the world with the nessities of life to all creature) however, it may be said that common grace in a more restricted sense also operates in the light of God's special revelation, which is not itself the fruit of common, but of special grace.

Berkof is speaking about God's spirit operating in the sinner to illuminate his mind and his senses and yet without changing his heart. The sinner receives the word intellectually, he is filled with joy emotionally and yet this operation of the holy spirit stops short of changing the heart. And because it stops short of circumcising the heart the man will eventually fall away because God is not keeping him in His power and through the sinner’s weakness, trials, tribulations. Old age and other factors rob that man of whatever he did have and he is left with a faded view of God and remains in his original state that is lost and fallen.

Berkof formed his conclusions from the Bible, the Canons of Dordt and from the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646 and other Christian literature. The Westminster Divines write in Chapter X paragraph IV thus:

Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can not be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may is without warrant of the Word of God.

Berkof quotes this on page 435 in his Systematic Theology. On the same page Berkof quotes The Westminster Larger Confession as Q. 60, there has been a misprint and it should read Q.68 from the confession.

Q. 68. Are the elect only effectually called? A. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called:[279] although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the Word,[280] and have some common operations of the Spirit;[281] who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ.

Proofs for Q68:

Matthew 7:22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? Hebrews 6:4-6. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Another biblical passage to support this grace of God acting in the heart of the sinner without actually saving him is shown in the Parable of the King and the Wedding Feast;

Math22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, [2] The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, [3] And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. [4] Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. [5] But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: [6] And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. [7] But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. [8] Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. [9] Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. [10] So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. [11] And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: [12] And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. [13] Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [14] For many are called, but few are chosen.

This parable of our Lord Jesus clearly shows that unsaved people are in the church, that they outwardly display a faith in Christ and yet when they come to judgement it is only the Lord who can distinguish them from true believers. This man had no wedding garment and this refers to the circumcision of the heart made in the rebirth. For unless a man is born again (John 3) he can nowise enter the kingdom of heaven. It further demonstrates the general call of the gospel to all men and that some men receive the news with joy and yet are never truly changed in the heart (Ezek.36:26) and (Ezk.11:19) and therefore remain in their original condition.

In conclusion, Common Grace (effects are ordinary i.e. not effectual) has confused many over the years mainly because of Kuiper’s categories of (1) and (2). Correctly stated these should be designated under God’s Providential Care for all His creatures. This would then agree with the WCF 1646 and then Common Grace would be limited to category (3) of Kuiper’s categories.

People may ask why has God called people into the church through an operation of the Holy Spirit? And yet leaves them without hope. This is not an easy answer and yet we must say that Jesus spoke about it in His parable of the Tares and the Wheat (Math.13:25-40) There are unbelievers in the church, we may not know who they are but God knows and it is His plan hat they are in the church and yet remain unsaved.

Within Calvinism

One of the earliest writers on common grace was the Dutch Reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper. The specifics of the Reformed doctrine of common grace have been somewhat controversial and at times bitterly contested by some Calvinists. Especially in the Dutch tradition, it has been the cause of divisions. For example, in a 1924 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), the CRC adopted what became known as the "Three Points of Common Grace." Certain ministers within the CRC refused to subscribe to those "Three Points," and they (with the majority of their consistories) were either suspended or deposed from office. Thus began the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. These ministers, and others after them, wrote responses to the decision that was taken and ever since, the Protestant Reformed Churches have maintained that these "Three Points" were contrary to Scripture and the Reformed Confessions.

The position of Herman Hoeksema and all leaders of the Protestant Reformed Churches is unique to the denomination, and is based on a high view of the word "grace" as a Biblical concept of favor applied only to the elect. According to Hoeksema (and any PRC writer) God's undeserving gifts of sunshine, rain, etc. are "providence" and while providence serves grace for believers, because it adds to their spiritual growth, it is not sent in love to unbelievers and only adds condemnation to those who never believe, in the same way rain is beneficial to a living tree but causes a dead one to rot. Connected to the first point of common grace, which asserts that God's "common grace" is demonstrated in a "general offer" of the gospel, Hoeksema asserted that such a view is pure Arminianism. While God commands all men to repent and believe and this command must be preached to all, Hoeksema insisted this command, like all other commands to godliness in Bible, is not a "well-meant offer" since it is impossible for unregenerated, totally depraved man to truly perform apart from God's saving grace.

Between Calvinism and Arminianism

Both Calvinists and Arminians generally accept the concept of common grace in that there are undeserved blessings which God extends to all mankind. However, the Arminian sees this common grace including what has been termed "common sufficient grace" or the Wesleyan "prevenient grace" whereby the effects of the fall are offset such that all persons now have free will and the moral ability to understand spiritual things and turn to God in Christ for salvation. The Calvinist maintains that God's common grace does not improve man's unregenerate nature, nor does it improve his ability to change his moral standing before God. Covenantal Common Grace

There is a category of Common Grace about God working in the heart of the sinner to emulate the Christian life but not effectually saving that sinner. This is a most important distinctive of Historical Calvinism as it is a distinctive made by John Calvin in his book the [9] and by a number of Confessions of faith for Calvinistic denominations originally in Europe. It is also the distinctive made by later theologians such as [10] of the Netherlands and [11] of the USA and others.

Louise Berkof in his chapter on Common Grace (pages 434- 435) in his [12] speaks of Dr. H. Kuiper of the Netherlands (former Prime Minister and theologian) placing common grace into 3 categories in his book: [13]. Quote: (1) Universal Common Grace, a grace that extends to all creatures; (2) General Common Grace, that is grace which applies to mankind in general and to every member of the human race; (3) Covenant Common Grace, a grace that is common to all those who live in the sphere of the covenant, whether they belong to the elect or not. End Quote.

Category (3)

This article is devoted to showing how important this category is and how distinctive it is to Historical Calvinism as compared say to [14] or sometimes known as [15].

Correctly stated categories (1) and (2) as defined by Kuiper are classed as God’s Providence to mankind in the [16] in:

Chapter V. Of Providence.  However, it is important to state that this category (3) of Kuiper is alluded to in section VII:

Quote:

VII. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.

End quote. See as a reference the parable of the [17] in the [18] Bible: Quote: Math.13 [3] And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; [4] And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: [5] Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: [6] And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. [7] And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: [8] But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. [9] Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. [10] And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? [11] He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. [12] For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. [13] Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. [14] And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: [15] For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. [16] But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. [17] For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. [18] Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. [19] When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. [20] But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; [21] Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. [22] He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. [23] But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. End Quote.

The [19] refers to this passage of Scripture under: The Third and 4th Points of Doctrine in article 9: Human Responsibility for rejecting the gospel.

Quote: The fact that many who are called through the ministry of the gospel do not come and are not brought to conversion must not be blamed on the gospel, nor on Christ, who is offered through the gospel, nor on God, who calls them through the gospel and even bestows various gifts on them, but on the people themselves who are called. Some in self-assurance do not even entertain the Word of life; others do entertain it but do not take it to heart, and for that reason, after the fleeting joy of a temporary faith, they relapse; others choke the seed of the Word with the thorns of life's cares and with the pleasures of the world and bring forth no fruits. This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13). End quote.

Louis Berkof in his Systematic Theology, published by The Banner of Truth Trust ISBN 0 85151 056 6, page 441 speaks thus about this aspect of common grace as mentioned in the [20] above: Quote In additon to this, (speaking of Common Grace subduing nations and the evil of men and preserving order through the magistrate and of God Providence in supplying the world with the nessities of life to all creature) however, it may be said that common grace in a more restricted sense also operates in the light of God's special revelation, which is not itself the fruit of common, but of special grace. End quote.

Berkof is speaking about God's spirit operating in the sinner to illuminate his mind and his senses and yet without changing his heart. The sinner receives the word intellectually, he is filled with joy emotionally and yet this operation of the holy spirit stops short of changing the heart. And because it stops short of circumcising the heart the man will eventually fall away because God is not keeping him in His power and through the sinner’s weakness, trials, tribulations, old age and other factors rob that man of whatever he did have and he is left only with a faded view of God and remains in his original state that is lost and fallen.

Berkof get his conclusions from the Bible, the Canons of Dordt and from the Westsminister Confession of Faith 1646 and other Christian literature. In the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646 at Westminster in the UK the Westminster Divines write in Chapter X paragraph IV thus: Quote: Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can not be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may is without warrant of the Word of God. End quote.

Berkof quotes this on page 435 in his Systematic Theology. On the same page Berkof quotes The Westminster Larger Confession as Q. 60, there has been a misprint and it should read Q.68 from the confession. Quote: Q. 68. Are the elect only effectually called?

A. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called:[279] although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the Word,[280] and have some common operations of the Spirit;[281] who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ. End Quote.

The proof for this statement in the WCF 1646 is taken from two biblical verses:

Quote: Matthew 7:22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? Hebrews 6:4-6. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. End quote.

Another biblical passage to support this grace of God acting in the heart of the sinner without actually saving him is shown in the Parable of the King and the Wedding Feast: Quote 1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, [2] The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, [3] And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. [4] Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. [5] But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: [6] And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. [7] But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. [8] Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. [9] Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. [10] So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. [11] And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: [12] And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. [13] Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [14] For many are called, but few are chosen. End quote.

In conclusion I have to say that Common Grace has being confusing for many people over the years mainly because Kuiper’s categorised (1) and (2) correctly stated should be designated under the Providential care of God to all creatures. This would then agree with the WCF 1646 and then Common Grace would be limited to category (3) of Kuiper’s categories. People may ask why has God’s called people into the church through an operation of the Holy Spirit? And yet leaves them without hope. This is not an easy answer and yet we must say that Jesus spoke about it in His parable of the Tares and the Wheat (Math.13:25-40) There are unbelievers in the church, we may not know who they are but God knows and it is His plan hat they are in the church and yet remain unsaved.

See also

References

  1. VII. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.
  2. Math.13 [3] And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; [4] And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: [5] Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: [6] And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. [7] And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: [8] But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. [9] Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. [10] And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? [11] He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. [12] For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. [13] Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. [14] And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: [15] For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. [16] But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. [17] For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. [18] Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. [19] When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. [20] But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; [21] Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. [22] He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. [23] But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
  3. The fact that many who are called through the ministry of the gospel do not come and are not brought to conversion must not be blamed on the gospel, nor on Christ, who is offered through the gospel, nor on God, who calls them through the gospel and even bestows various gifts on them, but on the people themselves who are called. Some in self-assurance do not even entertain the Word of life; others do entertain it but do not take it to heart, and for that reason, after the fleeting joy of a temporary faith, they relapse; others choke the seed of the Word with the thorns of life's cares and with the pleasures of the world and bring forth no fruits. This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13).
  4. In additon to this, (speaking of Common Grace subduing nations and the evil of men and preserving order through the magistrate and of God Providence in supplying the world with the nessities of life to all creature) however, it may be said that common grace in a more restricted sense also operates in the light of God's special revelation, which is not itself the fruit of common, but of special grace.
  5. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can not be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may is without warrant of the Word of God.
  6. Q. 68. Are the elect only effectually called? A. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called:[279] although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the Word,[280] and have some common operations of the Spirit;[281] who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ.
  7. Matthew 7:22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? Hebrews 6:4-6. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
  8. 1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, [2] The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, [3] And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. [4] Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. [5] But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: [6] And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. [7] But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. [8] Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. [9] Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. [10] So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. [11] And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: [12] And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. [13] Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [14] For many are called, but few are chosen.
  9. Institutes of the Christian Religion
  10. Dr. H. Kuiper
  11. Professor L. Berkof
  12. Systematic Theology
  13. Calvin and Common Grace
  14. High Calvinism
  15. Hyper Calvinism
  16. Westminster Confession of Faith 1646
  17. Sower and the Seed
  18. KJV
  19. Synod of Dordt 1618-19
  20. Canons of Dordt
  • Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 4th ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979).

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