Skip to content ↓

The Essential: Common Grace

Resources Collection cover image

This is the sixth installment in a series on theological terms. See previous posts on the terms theology, Trinity, creation, man, and Fall.

Why is it that after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden and incurred the just penalty of death, they did not immediately die? What enabled them to go on living to enjoy the many of the benefits of life for years afterward (food, marriage, sex, children, etc.)? And why do so many sinners today enjoy those same benefits, even those who will never believe?

In general, we can answer by pointing to grace–a fitting description for every one of God’s blessing, each of which is, by very definition, undeserved. However, because the grace we are talking about here is poured out “on the just and on the unjust” (that is, on both believers and unbelievers–see Matthew 5:45), and since it is of a different kind than the other manifestations of grace we read about in Scripture (e. g. forgiveness of sin, adoption into the family of God, eternal life in heaven—that is, special grace, or graces related to redemption), theologians have found it helpful to distinguish this as common grace. It is common in that it extends to all people without distinction just as the common room at a university is accessible to every student.

As Wayne Grudem succintly defines it in his excellent Systematic Theology, “Common grace is the grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation.” Berkhof tells us what such grace accomplishes: “[It] 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.” Thus common grace encompasses not only physical blessings like rain and food and health, but also blessings in the areas of intellect, morality, creativity, society, and religion. Like all grace, all undeserved favor, it is meant to point us to our kind, loving Creator.

  • How Should We Then Die

    How Should We Then Die?

    Euthanasia makes a lot of sense. At least in our culture at this time, it makes intuitive sense that those who are ill without hope for a cure or those who are in pain without likelihood of relief ought to be able to choose to end their own lives. Our culture assumes there are few…

  • A La Carte Friday 2

    A La Carte (April 12)

    A La Carte: Is God always pleased with Christians? / Southern Baptists debate designation of women in ministry / Good growth / Planted and rooted / Both worm and worthy / Scotland’s destiny and the rewriting of history / and more.

  • A La Carte Thursday 1

    A La Carte (April 11)

    A La Carte: 4 reasons why the Bible does not support transgenderism / Your elders will fail you / 25 questions a Christian woman should ask herself when a man starts to show interest / The same person in every room / Is the story of Job historical? / Book and Kindle deals / and…

  • The Sun Is Blotted from the Sky

    The Sun Is Blotted from the Sky

    Men of great physical strength have sometimes carried outrageously heavy burdens—six hundred pounds, seven hundred pounds, eight hundred. And even then they have said, “I still have not been fully tested. Put on some more weight! Load me up!” With confidence they have gripped the bar and with great straining and groaning they have lifted…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 10)

    A La Carte: Reflecting Christ in the crucible of your marriage / Finding peace beyond the illusion of control / There are no free bets / What temptation is and is not / Grieving the loss of a loved one / The Bible says it, I believe it / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 9)

    A La Carte: Christians are a last days people / The case for holy obstinacy / Don’t lose your home to a passing storm / We need a gospel awakening in Africa / Can I tell an unbeliever “Jesus died for you?” / Imagining the new heavens and new earth / and more.