‘Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; O LORD, Your preserve man and beast (Psalm 36:5, 6).’
‘The LORD is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works (Psalm 145:9).’
What is common grace? It is God’s loving and favourable disposition towards the human race, which stops short of effectual salvation through the gracious atonement of His Son (Cf. Romans 3:24).
So then, there are two communities: the saved and the unsaved. The former is in appearance identical to the latter, but God’s unmerited favour [saving grace] is given to the former. God’s common grace [universal favour] is dispensed to both communities, and both profit from His gifts of the sun and rain.
‘…… for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45),’ and Psalm 36:5, 6 declares:‘Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; O LORD, You preserve man and beast.’
God graciously preserves all men and beasts (Psalm 36:6) until such time as He determines to end their lives. He feeds them and clothes them and sets them in their particular communities. So God bestows gifts upon individuals regardless of their moral status. This is the nature of God’s common grace.
Psalm 145:9 states: ‘The LORD is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works,’ and verse 17 continues:‘The LORD is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.’
Intrinsically everyone has some of God’s characteristics because we are made in His image (Genesis 1:26; 9:6) and He has endued us with a sense of what is right and wrong [good and bad] (Genesis 3:22):’“for in Him we live and move and have our being, as some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring (Acts 17:28).’”’
Therefore because of inherent common grace most parents love and care for their children.“Or what man is there among you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:9-11).”’
So evil men and women are capable of kind acts, and in the providence of God they treat people kindly. King Cyrus, for example, was unregenerate, and yet he was an instrument of God’s grace. He carried out God’s will by helping repatriate the Israelites (Isaiah 45:1-4).
There are two communities, and both are physically related, since they are the offspring of Adam and Eve – There’s the church community which is composed of God’s people who have been saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and there’s the community of the unsaved who lack faith in the Saviour.
The church is separate from the world, and spiritually alive in Christ, because its members have been given new life through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). In Christ they have everlasting life (John 3:16). They are no longer dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).
The church is a blessing to all, because it generally supports civil law and order and the payment of taxes for the provision of things like hospitals, schools, local government, the police etc. (Romans 13:1-7).
The church cannot turn a blind eye to the homeless or to those ensnared by addictions; nor can it ignore the plight of the innocent who are trapped and enslaved by evil slave masters. It opposes persecution and injustice, and it prays for God’s blessings on those who do not know Him. It volunteers and helps in practical ways by assisting when tragedy strikes, such as during recent floods in the Midlands. By doing these things the church is a facilitator of God’s grace. As it loves its neighbours it is a witness of Christ (Matthew 19:19b; Galatians 5:14).
The Scriptures inform us that wickedness will increase (2 Timothy 2:3), but the end will not come until there is a complete breakdown of worldwide law and order. This will signal the time of the coming of the the Antichrist [the Man of Sin] (1 John 2:18). With restraints gone, the Antichrist will step forth (2 Thessalonians 2;9, 10), and human law will cease to reflect God’s law.
The unbelieving community [although recipients of God’s common grace] will be condemned (V.12), but through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, God’s people will be saved to eternal life (V.V. 13, 14).