The Common Fallacy of Common Grace
Grace is God’s sovereign work to benefit His chosen people with so great a salvation (Eph 2:8–9). It is anything but common, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (Ps 84:11).” Notice the distinction of who receives grace. In fact, a simple study of grace in the biblical text reveals that grace is as exclusive as all other doctrines benefitting the children of God, who happily acknowledge that God is merciful and gracious (Ps 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4; 116:5; 145:8). Non-recipients of grace are haters of God (Rom 1:30) and live at enmity with God (Eph 2:15–16).
It is God’s prerogative to be gracious to whom He will be gracious (Ex 33:19). It is the upright who pray for God to be gracious (Ps 86:3; 119:5, 32; 123:3). The recipients of God’s grace are said to be themselves gracious (Prv 11:16; 14:21, 31; 19:17; 28:8; Eccl 10:12). This is because the God of all grace is their God, and they belong to Him (Gen 17:7; Jer 24:7; 31:33; 32:38; Jn 10:26; 1 Cor 3:23) and walk by His Spirit (Gal 5:16, 25).
Proponents of the common grace fallacy invariably point to God’s providential care of His creation and call that “common grace.” God shines the sun and sends rain upon the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt 5:45). He gives food to the animals. He sustains all things by the Word of His power (Heb 1:3). Grace, however, is reserved for those who are predestined to salvation (Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4–5; Rev 13:8; 17:8), for “by grace you have been saved (Eph 2:5).”
The surpassing riches of God’s grace in kindness toward “us” in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7) also points to the exclusive recipients of grace. These are the ones who refuse to boast in their choices, decisions, acceptance, and validations of our Lord. Their boast is in the Person and works of God (Gal 6:14). He has done great things (Dt 10:21; Ps 71:19; 126:3; Joel 2:21; Lk 1:49; 8:39), and His people bear witness of Him, not themselves (Acts 1:8).
The Spirit of grace, that is, the Holy Spirit is the catalyst of every grace that manifests salvation in the elect, redeemed, regenerate, believer in Jesus. The gift of grace is realized with the visit from the Spirit. All of it, God’s work, is grace to sinners being transformed into saints. Even as the Spirit is given, so grace is given.
The Spirit is not given to those who do not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9). This is why they do not believe. There is no faith where there is no Spirit (Acts 6:5; 11:24; 1 Cor 12:9; Gal 3:2, 5), and there is no grace where there is no Spirit applying salvation. The Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son (Jn 14:26; 15:26) and He goes where it is the will of God to save some but not all (Jn 3:1–8, 36: Rom 9:6; 11:5).
The fallacy of common grace is an invention of man-centered theology. In order to make God look like a nice guy, the promulgaters of so-called common grace will say, “Look how good God is to everyone. This should serve to convince everyone to choose to let Christ save them.” This diluted and misappropriated version of God’s grace only adds to the confusion of the doctrine of salvation.
There is not even one example of grace being attributed to God’s dealing with the reprobate, which should thoroughly debunk this imaginary version of grace. Providential care of all things, animate and inanimate, is praiseworthy, but it remains the background to the drama in the forefront…God saving sinners.
God is gracious, and it is the work of grace to save. Therefore, we would not ascribe this attribute of God to His execution of just judgment upon unrepentant sinners. If grace was at work in these sinner’s lives, it would be grace that grants repentance (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Tim 2:25). It would be grace that grants faith in the measure of God’s own choosing (Rom 12:3; Gal; 3:22; Eph 4:7; Phil 1:29; Heb 12:2).
It is God’s gracious choice that sets the remnant apart unto salvation (Rom 11:5). It is the remnant who receive Christ by the will of God, not by the so-called “free” will of man (Jn 1:12–13). To receive Christ is to receive the Spirit of Christ, by order of the Father (Jn 6:44), and it is the Spirit who causes the redeemed remnant to be born again of God (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). This is the gift of God, the gift of grace (Eph 2:8–9).
The pervasive state of this false teaching of common grace must be confronted and refuted. It forces variations of grace that are not biblical. There is only one grace, and it is the grace unto salvation that brings the lost sheep to their Good Shepherd and continues to work through sanctification, which is by grace alone.
Grace justifies. Grace sanctifies. Grace glorifies. It is all the work of God to conform the elect into the image of Christ, the icon of God (Rom 8:29). He began His work of grace in each elect soul, and He will perfect it (Phil 1:6). Grace abounds. Grace is sufficient in working all things together for good for those who love God and who are called by Him for His purposes carried out in Christ (Rom 8:28; 2 Cor 12:9; Eph 3:11).
Grace is the sovereign work of the sovereign God who does all His holy will in the fulfillment of His eternal good pleasure. It is God’s good pleasure to display the riches of His grace on the objects of His grace.
God’s grace reigns in the lives of slaves of Christ (Rom 5:17, 21; Eph 6:6), for it is God in us who is willing and doing everything to accomplish all that concerns us (Ps 57:2; 138:8; Gal 2:20). Therefore, the saints of God add nothing to the grace given by God to us. It is Christ, no longer us, who is in us being gracious to us and through us.
In conclusion, may we cast off this idea of cheap grace called, “common.” Grace is amazing. Grace is extravagant. Grace is glorious. Grace is unsurpassed. All grace is the work of our gracious God for the benefit of Christ’s church, the Israel of God (Gal 6:16), His beloved people from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Rev 5:9). All glory to God for His matchless work of grace.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 22, 2021