Everywhere grace does not save but points us to the One who does

Everywhere grace (see here and here) does much good to all who experience it. It enhances people’s characters, lives, and surroundings. We don’t want to even think what we and our world would be like without it. All the happiness, joy, peace, contentment, order, etc., in the world is the result of this almighty blessing.

And it’s not just the externals – the outward person or the external environment – that it impacts. It also influences the inner person, though without going so far as to save the soul. It imparts and stirs up human virtues such as generosity, patience, and parental love. It exerts a moral influence, giving our consciences a sense of right and wrong, and provoking  guilt to restrain further sin. It works on the heart but it does not renew nor regenerate it.

More grace is needed.

Or rather a different kind of grace is needed: the special, sovereign, and saving love of God.

However, we mustn’t separate these two kinds of grace entirely; they are intimately connected; the one should lead to the other. Everywhere grace is given to lead people to seek God’s special saving grace. So much everywhere grace is given that it leaves us without excuse for not seeking special grace (Rom. 1:20).

Everywhere grace is intended to draw us and call us to the special grace that’s located only in Christ. Paul challenges all recipients of everywhere grace: “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).

Do you see that? One of the most powerful tools in our evangelistic armoury is the goodness of God. If we only tell people about their sin, and refuse to point out God’s mercy and grace already in their lives, we are missing out a vital evangelistic lever. By highlighting God’s existing mercy and grace we encourage sinners to seek even more of it (2 Peter 3:9).

Everywhere grace does not save, but it does point us to the One who does.

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Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe
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How much of our Evangelism really is
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What you don’t need to forgive
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Listen to your critics
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Notes on pride and preachers
Some good remedies here too.

God’s Every-Animal Grace

Why doesn’t the rain fall only on the Christian farmer’s fields? Why do the wicked enjoy vacations in Hawai? God’s everywhere grace (commonly called “common grace”). “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45).

Why do the evil have such full freezers and why do the wicked have such happy times? God’s everywhere grace that fills their hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17).

God’s everywhere grace is everywhere and experienced by everyone. Or to put it negatively, there is no one and no place on earth that is devoid of everywhere grace (Ps. 145:9; Acts 14:15-16).

Scottish islands and North Korean Gulags
That’s not just true of the Grand Canyon, the Niagara Falls, and the Scottish islands. Go to the the most notorious high security prison in Venezuala, go to North Korea’s gulags, go to Al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan, and there you’ll find some evidences of God’s everywhere grace.

Find the most sadistic child-abuser, the most disturbed serial killer, or the most monstrous terrorist, and you’ll find everywhere grace somewhere in their lives. You’ll find some faint traces of God’s undeserved kindness. Even breath itself.

It’s hard to see – the evil is so thick and dark that it almost envelops everything else – but awful though these places and people are, none of them are as bad as they possibly could be. The Lord lightens every person that comes into the world (John 1:4).

Even the most hardened criminals have some code of honor that draws the line somewhere in what they would do or not do. North Korean prison guards can still extend surprising mercy to their terrified captives. Al Qaeda operatives cook one another food and share funny stories around their camp fires. These are only traces, the remaining vapors of God’s everywhere grace, I know, but still, if we can see it there and in these people, can we not more easily see it in our workplaces and in our boss?

Grace for animals?
And even if for a time you cannot see God’s everywhere grace in the people around you, what about the animals? Yes, God’s everywhere grace extends to animals too. Why don’t the animals tear one another to pieces until there’s only one left? What can explain the affection of our dogs, the playfulness or our cats, and the cuteness of our hamsters? Yes, God’s every-animal grace.

Of course, God’s everywhere grace is not everywhere in the same proportions. God gives it according to His sovereign wisdom and power, and He chooses to give more of it to some people and places than to others.

Here’s a question for you: Does God sometimes give more of His everywhere grace to unbelievers than he does to believers (those who have been given His special saving grace)? Does that explain why we sometimes find unbelievers are kinder and just nicer people than some Christians?

See Previous Post: God’s Everywhere Grace

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If the church wants to reach young people, start by affirming their callings outside the church
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25 Years of Evangelizing my Husband
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What practical tip about hospital visitation do I keep coming back to?
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What do I do if my child is looking at pornography?
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The Bible’s Christocentric structure
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Join Tim and Me for a Free Ligonier Class

For the past few weeks, Tim Challies and I have been throwing around different ideas for the fourth season of our Connected Kingdom podcast. In the past we’ve done interviews, Q&A’s, monologues, and more. This time we thought we’d do something completely different. We’ve decided to learn something together and we want to invite you all to join us!

As we worked through various ideas, we found we were both eager to begin some kind of Bible study and preferably something not too long. We also wanted to study a less-travelled part of the Bible, something we could learn from ourselves. When we put all these things together, we settled on the Poets, Prophecy, and Wisdom Bible Survey, a 13-week course taught by Dr R.C. Sproul via video lectures. We asked Ligonier Ministries what they could do for us and they generously offered a free class to us and our listeners through Ligonier Connect.

If you sign up, you will get all course materials, a full downloadable study guide, and access to the students forum. Tim and I will moderate the class and record an optional weekly podcast where we reflect on the lessons, and answer some of the questions raised by our fellow students. You won’t need to be taking the class to benefit from the podcast…but we trust it will help!

This link will take you to the course page. Click on the Connected Kingdom Class tab and sign up for the course. Have a look around, introduce yourself, and bookmark next Tuesday for the first Connected Kingdom podcast when we’ll introduce the course and get us started. You will want to have the first lesson completed by March 4.

We’re so looking forward to learning from Dr. Sproul, and from one another, as we study God’s Word together. We hope many of you will join us.

Here is our tentative timetable:

  • Feb 19-28 Sign up period
  • Feb 26 Connected Kingdom Podcast to introduce and explain the class
  • Feb 26-March 4 Watch first lecture and complete questions
  • March 5 Connected Kingdom Podcast on Lecture 1 (and begin lecture 2)
  • Weekly lectures and podcasts thereafter.

Sign up for Connected Kingdom Bible Survey Class: Poets, Prophecy and Wisdom.