Common Grace.....yes, or no...

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Iconoclast, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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    In a topic related but distinct from the vessels of wrath thread much discussion takes place over this topic. Have you studied this issue out, and what conclusion if any did you come to?

    http://members.toast.net/puritan/Articles/CommonGrace.htm
    Common Grace
    by Mitch Cervinka
    What if God,
    although willing to demonstrate His wrath
    and to make His power known,
    endured with much patience
    vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
    Romans 9:22

    The term "Common Grace" refers to the fact that, in this life, God treats all men, whether elect or not, far better than they deserve. He sends sunshine and rain upon both the wicked and the godly. It is called "common" because these blessings are given to elect and non-elect alike. It is called "grace" because these blessings are undeserved.
    Although the basic concept seems simple enough, there are controversies surrounding some of the finer points of this doctrine. Does God show this grace to the non-elect because He loves them? Did Christ purchase these common-grace blessings for all men through His sufferings and death? Is common grace restricted to the material blessings that God gives to all men, or does it also encompass certain spiritual blessings as well?
     
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  2. Iconoclast

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    later on in the article;
    Our Responsibilities to the Unsaved, in Light of Common Grace.
    God uses us as intruments of His goodness toward unbelievers. It is important for us to understand that God's purpose for the reprobate is to magnify His justice by condemning them for their sins. Yet it is equally important for us to understand that, during this life, it is God's purpose to treat the reprobate with the utmost kindness and goodness. It is this latter truth that is to govern our actions toward the unsaved, for when God tells us how we are to behave toward unbelievers, He tells us to "love your enemies" and thereby fulfill God's purpose of showing them exceeding kindness in this life.

    Moreover, we don't know which unbelievers are elect and which are not. So, even if it were appropriate for us to treat the reprobate unlovingly, we have no way of infallibly identifying them or distinguishing them from elect unbelievers. To base our appraisal of them on mere outward appearances would be highly prone to error. In Jesus' day, most people naturally assumed that the Pharisees were closest to God. Yet our Lord made it clear that the repentant harlots and publicans were closer to the kingdom than were the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees. Conversely, Saul of Tarsus cruelly persecuted the church, and most Christians of his day might have reasonably concluded that Saul was a reprobate man, yet God, in His surprising omnipotence, reached down and saved this, His chief antagonist.
    We need to understand that, God can distinguish the elect from the non-elect. Nevertheless, with respect to earthly blessings, He treats both the same—showing them exceeding goodness—and calls us to follow His example. God does not want us to treat the non-elect with hostility, nor to withhold kindness from them. He does not want to give them any excuse for their impenitence and unbelief. Therefore, it is important that we behave with the utmost kindness and respect toward them, living our own lives in honesty and purity, that God's name might be honored in us.
    God calls us to proclaim His gospel to all men alike, with great compassion and urgency. This, too, is a display of the goodness of God, even if the men to whom we preach lack ears to hear or hearts to embrace the invitation that God sends to them. On the day of judgment, God wants to make it clear that their condemnation was their own fault—that, when faced with an opportunity to believe and be saved, their wicked hearts rejected the Savior presented to them. Even though they are guilty whether or not they hear the gospel, yet rejection of Christ increases their guilt and will vindicate the perfect justice of God.
    We should never imagine that we have some sort of obligation to tell unsaved men that God loves them. Neither our Lord nor His apostles ever preached "God loves you" as the gospel. The only place where scripture ever records that they spoke to unbelievers concerning the love of God is John 3:16, where Jesus spoke to Nicodemus regarding the new birth. Here, Jesus does not say to Nicodemus "God loves you, Nicodemus". Rather, He says "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son...". In other words, our Lord did not try to impress upon Nicodemus a personal love that God had for him in particular. Instead, our Lord speaks in general terms concerning God's love for "the world", and then particularizes it by identifying those who are benefited by God's love gift: "... that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." This would be good news to Nicodemus only if He trusted in Christ. Otherwise, Nicodemus would have no reason to believe that God loved him in particular.
     
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  3. Iconoclast

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    here is where controversy came about;
    http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/Free Offer/Chapter10.htm

    Rev. Herman Hoeksema, at that time minister of the Word in the Eastern Ave. Christian Reformed Church, determined to bring the matter of common grace before the consciousness of the Church in the hopes that the Church would see the error of it. He began a series of articles in the Church paper, "The Banner," in which he subjected the whole doctrine to a careful Scriptural analysis and came to the conclusion that the doctrine was contrary to the Word of God.107
    The result of this was that many protests were lodged against him both from members of his own congregation and others in the denomination. These protests not only took exception to his views on common grace, but also challenged his position on the free offer of the gospel. Eventually all this material came to the Synod of 1924 where the issue was resolved. Three doctrinal statements were made concerning the doctrine of common grace and the free offer. We quote them here.


    1. Regarding the first point, touching the favorable attitude of God toward mankind in general and not only toward the elect, synod declares that according to Scripture and the Confession it is established, that besides the saving grace of God shown only to the elect unto eternal life, there is also a certain favor or grace of God which He shows to His creatures in general. This is evident from the Scripture passages that were quoted and the Canons of Dort, II, 5 and III & IV, 8 & 9, where the general offer of the gospel is set forth; while it also is evident from the citations made from Reformed writers belonging to the most flourishing period of Reformed theology that our fathers from of old maintained this view.


    2. Regarding the second point touching the restraint of sin in the life of the individual man and of society in general, synod declares that according to Scripture and the Confession there is such a restraint of sin. This is evident from the Scripture passages that were quoted and from the Netherlands Confession, Arts. 13 and 36, which teach that God by a general operation of His Spirit, without renewing the heart, restrains the unbridled manifestation of sin, so that life in human society remains possible; while the citations from Reformed authors of the most flourishing period of Reformed theology prove, moreover, that our fathers from of old maintained this view.



    3. Regarding the third point, touching the performance of so-called civic righteousness by the unregenerate, synod declares that according to Scripture and the Confession, the unregenerate, though incapable of doing any spiritual good (Canons of Dort, III & IV, 3) are able to perform such civic good. This is evident from the Scripture passages that were quoted and from the Canons of Dort, III & IV, 4, and from the Netherlands Confession, Art. 36, which teach that God without renewing the heart, exercises such an influence upon man that he is enabled to do civic good; while it is, moreover, evident from the citations made from Reformed writers of the most flourishing period of Reformed theology that fathers from of old maintained this view. 108


    A detailed analysis and criticism of these three points is not important here for our present study. We are concerned mainly about two points: 1) the teaching concerning the free offer; and, 2) the relation between the teaching of the free offer and common grace
     
  4. Iconoclast

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    Matthew 5:44-45 - But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.While this passage does not say directly that "God loves the evil and the unrighteous", it does say that the reason why we are to love our enemies is so that we can emulate our heavenly Father, who gives good things to His enemies. We have already seen that God's purpose for showering the reprobate with earthly blessings is to increase their guilt and to magnify His glory at the final judgment. The word "love" here describes the quality of the blessings, rather than the ultimate purpose for which they are given. God gives the same sorts of material blessings to the reprobate that He gives to His own beloved elect people—showering the non-elect with great kindnesses, just the same as if He loved them as His own children.

    We must never suppose, therefore, that there is any deficiency in the quality of the earthly blessings that God gives to the reprobate. It is the very same sunshine that rises upon the evil and the good. It is the very same rain that waters the crops of the righteous and the unrighteous. God, in this life, treats the hated enemy in the very same way that He treats His own beloved children. From all appearances, it would be most appropriate to conclude that God loves all alike, and this is what is suggested to us in Matthew 5:44-45.
    However, when we step behind the scenes of earthly life and consider these things from an eternal perspective, we get quite a different picture—we get the picture described to us in Romans 9, where God raised up Pharaoh in order to obtain great fame for Himself by judging Pharaoh, and where God presently "endures with much patience" the "vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction". God calls upon us to be heavenly minded, and to rise above the superficial view we have when we live totally in this world. Colossians 3:1-3 - Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.To grow into the image of Christ, we must learn to think God's thoughts after Him—to see beyond what our senses tell us, and to believe what God has written in His Holy Word. It is very natural for fallen humanity to suppose that God thinks well of all men, that He would be too loving to condemn them to everlasting hell, or that His greatest desire is that all men be saved. Yet, Scripture teaches otherwise, and we must believe what God has written, even if it does not harmonize with the intuition of our fallen understanding.
     
  5. Iconoclast

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    http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/Free Offer/Chapter11.htm

    To make the preaching an offer robs the gospel of this great power. It reduces the gospel to a mere expression on God's part to save all those who hear. When it reduces the gospel to this kind of expression, it robs the gospel of its saving power. It makes the gospel nothing but some kind of pleading, begging, seeking on God's part for the sinner to turn from his way and to accept the salvation offered in Christ. God stands helplessly by, waiting to see what man will do. God wants to save all. The gospel expresses His intention and desire, His earnest longing to save all who hear. But God can do very little about it. He must wait to see what man will do. If man accepts the gospel, then indeed salvation is granted him. But he may very well reject it, and thus his reaction to the gospel stands outside God's power and sovereign determination.


    This sort of notion about the gospel is thoroughly Arminian. It is Arminian because it denies the truth of irresistible grace. It is Arminian because it ascribes to man the power to accept the gospel; thus it denies man's utter depravity and inability to do any good. It is Arminian because it makes salvation dependent upon the free will of man. And let it never be forgotten: Ultimately these questions are questions of Who God is. Is the sovereign God of heaven and earth, the Maker and Sustainer of all, the God Who gives us our life and breath, Who upholds us every step of our earthly sojourn, a helpless god who cannot save? Such a view of God is an idol, the creation of men's fevered and proud imaginations. Such a view destroys the God of the Scriptures and reduces Him to a pleading beggar. This is a terrible sin and brings down the wrath of God upon those who make Him such a weak being that He is as putty in the hands of man.
     
  6. Martin Marprelate

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    This seems to me to be the essence of Hyper-Calvinism.
    As preachers, we are to invite, urge, implore, warn and reason with our hearers that they will come to Christ. We can tell them on the authority of our Lord Himself that if they will come, He will certainly not cast them out (John 6:37b).

    Matthew 22:4, 14. 'Again, he sent out other servants, saying, "Tell those who are invited, 'See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted calf are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.'"........For many are called, but few are chosen.'

    Acts 2:40. 'And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation.'

    2 Corinthians 5:20. 'Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to Christ.' The word 'you' is not in any Greek manuscript. The imploring is a description of Paul's general preaching.

    Read the sermons of Whitefield and Spurgeon.



     
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  7. Van

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    Does God show this grace to the non-elect because He loves them? Yes, God loved the world, all mankind, in this way, He gave is unique Son so that everyone believing into Him would not perish but have eternal like.

    Did Christ purchase these common-grace blessings for all men through His sufferings and death? Common grace occurred before Christ died, so the blessing of mankind are a gift from God.

    Is common grace restricted to the material blessings that God gives to all men, or does it also encompass certain spiritual blessings as well? Yes, our ability to understand and respond to spiritual milk is a common blessing, but God can take it away, or we can through the practice of sin.

    Posts 2-6 are absurdities, pushing the nameless doctrine, and are obviously unbiblical.
    Here is part of the absurdity, even though God has disabled all men from responding effectively to the gospel, we should nevertheless preach it to all men to demonstrate God's glory. :)
     
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  8. Iconoclast

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    I agree MM......I first became aware of this controversy ironically by being sent a booklet that was meant to be 'evangelistic" as part of the Christian Reformed church. They attempted to make a biblical case, but it was not one I could agree with.
    I have found that the proper biblical balance holds to the truth of the doctrine without compromise, but yet has those who would mistake our methods or teaching as leaning toward they caricature as Arminian leaning.
    One accusation of our Lord was that He sat and ate with sinners. A proper balance can take many adjustments on our part and if done correctly we will be misunderstood by religious persons.
     
  9. Iconoclast

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    You might have missed this from an earlier post;

    However, when we step behind the scenes of earthly life and consider these things from an eternal perspective, we get quite a different picture—we get the picture described to us in Romans 9, where God raised up Pharaoh in order to obtain great fame for Himself by judging Pharaoh, and where God presently "endures with much patience" the "vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction".


    God calls upon us to be heavenly minded, and to rise above the superficial view we have when we live totally in this world. Colossians 3:1-3 - Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

    To grow into the image of Christ, we must learn to think God's thoughts after Him—to see beyond what our senses tell us, and to believe what God has written in His Holy Word. It is very natural for fallen humanity to suppose that God thinks well of all men, that He would be too loving to condemn them to everlasting hell, or that His greatest desire is that all men be saved. Yet, Scripture teaches otherwise, and we must believe what God has written, even if it does not harmonize with the intuition of our fallen understanding.
     
  10. Van

    Van
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    Does God think well of all men? Or are we all by nature children of wrath? (Ephesians 2:1-3)
    Are all people condemned for unbelief? Yes (John 3:18)
    Does God desire all men to be saved? Yes (1 Timothy 2:4)

    As I said, the posts advocate the unnamed doctrine which is unbiblical.
     
  11. Iconoclast

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    "Van,

     
    #11 Iconoclast, Jun 30, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  12. Iconoclast

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    Van,

    looks like you missed this also;

    The Great Kindness of Common Grace.

    Even though God's ultimate purpose for bestowing the blessings of common grace upon the reprobate is to magnify His glory in condemning unrepentant sinners, we must never suppose that God gives His common grace blessings in some sort of scheming or malicious manner. God's kindness to the reprobate sinner is very real and it overflows in a lavish display of patience and goodness, for God's purpose is to demonstrate that the sole cause of the sinner's impenitence is the sinner himself. If God treated the non-elect person in a cruel or devious manner, then the unrepentant man might imagine that his rebellion was justified. However, God demonstrates the extreme evil of the reprobate heart by showering unrepentant men with an abundance of daily blessings, too numerous to count—a loving family, a daily supply of food, a rewarding job, a comfortable home, good health, beautiful sunsets, pleasant weather, etc.


     
  13. Iconoclast

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    Van,

    On the other hand, our God is a God of reason and order, and we should make every effort to seek out a rational explanation for the apparent mysteries of Scripture—one that is consistent with all relevant Scripture passages. To refuse to seek a solution for such mysteries is to captiulate to the postmodernist axiom that there is no ultimate truth, and that it is thus foolish and counterproductive to seek to be logically consistent. Taking this to its "logical" conclusion (as most postmodernists do), Christianity has no exclusive claim on truth, since there is no ultimate truth, and therefore all religions are equally valid (or, more to the point, equally worthless).[1] Certainly, this is not the way that God, in Scripture, teaches us to think.

    So how, therefore, do we reconcile the teachings that (1) God's goodness is meant to lead men to repentance, and (2) God's goodness is meant to harden men's hearts?

    Some might naively suppose that this is merely a contrast between God's purpose for the elect versus His purpose for the reprobate—that God's goodness is meant to lead the elect to repentance, and is intended to harden the hearts of the reprobate. There are two problems with such a thesis.

    First, it is not God's common grace that brings the elect to repentance. Rather, it is God's special, quickening grace, accompanying the preaching of His Word.

    2 Timothy 2:25 - with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, Second, this explanation does not do justice to the context of Romans 2:4. Romans 2:4-5 - Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Romans 2:4-5 is addressing reprobate men who, in their stubbornness and impenitance, are storing up wrath for themselves. It is to these stubborn, impenitent people that Paul says "Don't you realize that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" Obviously, God's kindness does not actually lead them to repentance, or else they would not remain stubborn and unrepentant, continuing to store up wrath against the judgment day.
    So what is the correct way to understand these passages?
    We need to see that Romans 2:4 is describing what ought to occur—the kindness of God ought to lead sinners to reconsider their rebellious ways and to acquiesce to God's benign sovereignty. However, what ought to occur is not what actually occurs. What actually occurs is that sinful man becomes more complacent and self-confident in the blessings God gives to him, and daily hardens his heart even more against God.

    9
    Zuidema - Common Grace and Christian Action in Kuyper
    [1] Particular Grace and Common Grace
    Meanwhile, whether Kuyper’s doctrine of particular grace allows of
    Christian action and whether the companion doctrine of common
    grace does indeed encourage Christian action, remains to be seen.
    Can common grace indeed render such Christian action possible;
    can particular grace indeed come to express itself in action along this
    route?
    What is Particular Grace?
    What is God’s special grace – or, as Kuyper was wont to call it, God’s particular grace? It is God’s merciful disposition towards sinners with whom He has reconciled Himself for the sake of Christ’s meritorious work on the cross and to whom He now freely grants, through His Holy Spirit, out of pure, unmerited, forfeited and gratuitous favor, according to His eternal plan of salvation, Christ and all His benefits.

    God’s particular grace issues in the work of Christ as our Mediator of Redemption, who took upon Himself our flesh and blood, our human nature, and who gave Himself for us as a remission of all our sins, in the “Covenant of Grace and Reconciliation.”

    It issues no less in the work of the Spirit of Christ, who makes us Christ’s possession, whodwells in us and works in us, and who brings about in our hearts, in the core and center of our being, that regeneration without which no one can see the Kingdom of God. In short, just read the Canons of Dordt and you will know what Kuyper understood by particular grace.

     
    #13 Iconoclast, Jun 30, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  14. Iconoclast

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    An analogy may be helpful. Imagine that man's heart were like a ball of wax sitting in the sunlight of God's kindness. As the wax is warmed by the kindness of God, it becomes softer and ultimately acquiesces to the will of God. In contrast, imagine another ball—made of clay—that initially is just as soft and pliable as the ball of wax was before it was placed in the sunshine. The two balls may seem very similar at first. However, let the clay sit in the sunshine of God's goodness, and the clay hardens, eventually becoming as hard as a stone—thoroughly stubborn and rebelliously unyielding to God's authority.

    Ezekiel 36:26 - Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. God's goodness, like the sunshine, serves as a test of men's hearts to see whether they are like wax, that will ultimately become softer in the warmth of His kindness, or like clay that grows harder and more unyielding. God's goodness reveals the essential character of man's heart. If, as the Liberals claim, there were "a little spark of good in every man", then we would expect men to respond to God's goodness as wax in the sunshine. However, if, as Scripture says, man's heart is totally depraved, we would expect men to respond to God's kindness like a ball of clay—becoming increasingly calloused and stonelike as it is exposed to the sunshine of God's common grace. John 3:19-21 - This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. When I say that this is a "test" of men's hearts, I do not mean to suggest that God is uncertain and needs to perform the test in order to find out who will soften and who will harden under the influence of His kindness.

    On the contrary, this is a test designed to openly reveal what God already knows—namely, that unregenerate sinners have a heart of clay that will only grow harder under the influence of God's undeserved kindness to them.
     
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  15. Iconoclast

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    The following table summarizes this comparison.


    The Recipients The Stimulus The Test The Effect
    The Reprobate
    ......Earthly blessings Manifests their rebellion ........Hardens their hearts
    The Elect...... Earthly afflictions ....Manifests their faith....... Conforms them to Christ
     
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  16. Iconoclast

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    Here are more thoughts on this important topic;
    Common grace has played a large role in Calvinist thinking about culture. For some, it is this general grace of God - His restraint of sin, His gifts of cultural skill to believers and unbelievers - that makes common culture possible. Special grace and special revelation are for the church; outside, common grace and general revelation rules.

    The great Dutch statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper is largely responsible for the prominence of this notion in Reformed worldview thinking, but as described by James Bratt in his recent Abraham Kuyper biography Kuyper’s own thinking on this topic is more nuanced than that of “some of his acolytes” (202).

    Bratt writes that Kuyper always dealt with special and common together, as “distinguished but not divided” works of the same God, “aimed at the self-same goal of re-creating the whole world until it finally reflected the glory of the divine image.”

    The church was destined to fill the world as the new humanity, but “common grace permitted the spoiled creation to stay in being while that development went forward,” with “significant achievements” of culture and political along the way.

    and then this;
    Special grace, Kuyper argued, “strengthened and best realized the possibilities of common grace,” not because believers were necessarily “more gifted than unbelievers at science, art, technical skill, or political acumen.” Kuyper thought the opposite was more the case. Rather, “those endowed with the insights of the gospel knew the ultimate purposes and norms” for technical, artistic, and political gifts (203)


    Kuyper gave most of his attention to this middle ground, where special and general mixed. I would only add that the middle ground is the only ground we have. Purely common-grace and purely special-grace communities are theoretical only. They have never actually existed for sons of Adam and Noah.


    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2014/05/kuypers-common-grace
     
  17. Iconoclast

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    Comments on Kuyper again;
    Kuyper— from this point on I shall confine myself to his views—repeatedly
    taught that God’s common grace has an independent purpose.
    3
    By this he meant to say that common grace has a purpose of its own,
    next to and even over against God’s special, saving grace.
    4
    In other words, common grace has a purpose which as such cannot be placed insubservience to God’s reconciling, redeeming and electing work in His covenant of grace. In this connection, however, three points should not be overlooked.
    http://www.reformationalpublishingproject.com/rpp/docs/s_u_zuidema_on_kuyper.pdf
     
  18. Iconoclast

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    Van,
    Van said-
    Does God show this grace to the non-elect because He loves them? Yes, God loved the world, all mankind, in this way, He gave is unique Son so that everyone believing into Him would not perish but have eternal like.

    Did Christ purchase these common-grace blessings for all men through His sufferings and death? Common grace occurred before Christ died, so the blessing of mankind are a gift from God.



     
  19. Van

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    An avalanche of copy and paste posts reiterating the bogus arguments of the nameless doctrine.

    Does God show this grace to the non-elect because He loves them? Yes, God loved the world, all mankind, in this way, He gave is unique Son so that everyone believing into Him would not perish but have eternal like.

    Did Christ purchase these common-grace blessings for all men through His sufferings and death? Common grace occurred before Christ died, so the blessing of mankind are a gift from God.

    Is common grace restricted to the material blessings that God gives to all men, or does it also encompass certain spiritual blessings as well? Yes, our ability to understand and respond to spiritual milk is a common blessing, but God can take it away, or we can through the practice of sin.

    Post 12 provided no scripture to support the assertions, and thus can be classified as twaddle.

    Is God's goodness meant to harden our hearts? No passage was cited to support this fiction in post 13.

    Being placed in Christ and born anew is not a common grace. Thus the OT promise of the New Covenant in Christ's blood is non-germane. So scratch post 14.

    Post 15 reiterates assertions devoid of biblical support.

    Post 16 presents more assertions but no scripture.

    Ditto for post 17.
     
  20. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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    Well-Known Member

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    "Van,
    The quotes are from the articles and writings which contain several vital scriptures on this topic......also click where it says ...expand,and the rest of the statement shows up.......this is why you miss it!
     

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