In yesterday’s post, I wrote that in some way, God is merciful to all people – sinners and saved alike. In theological terms, we call this ‘common grace’. So, what is common grace?
Hebrews 1:1-4 (ESV)
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Common grace is the grace God has towards everyone. The key verse above is in verse 3, where Jesus ‘upholds the universe by the word of His power’. Without God expressly willing it to be so, there would be no world, there would be nothing.
It is God who keeps us alive.
It is God who provides for us all.
It is God who keeps the world turning, the seasons changing, the rains falling, the crops growing, and everything else happening as it does. What we call the laws of physics are really just expressions of Gods common grace in this world.
Matthew 5:45b (ESV)
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Without God, and His express desire for us to be here right now, we would not be.
So what is the purpose of this common grace?
It is through grace that we are not immediately condemned to punishment, before we had a chance to come to know God. It is through this grace that we still live in this world. It is through this grace that the name of Jesus is preached to all people, nations and tongues.
So God gives a common grace – a grace available to all people, everywhere, regardless of whether they love and acknowledge Him or not, whether they want that grace or not. But that grace is not without purpose. Our God is sovereign above all things, and He has a purpose. Only when that purpose is complete will He take away common grace.
2 Peter 3:8-10 (ESV)
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
So finally, what does this mean for you?
It is a simple reminder that God is not apart from this world – on the side as it were – but an integral part of this world. God is in control. It is through God’s express will that this world continues as it does, for His glory and purpose. So whatever is going on around you, to you, or even to others, know that under that is Gods common grace, and He is already using those things for His purpose.
God is in control.