All people live under God’s common grace and receive certain blessings outside of the boundaries of salvation.
- “In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:16-17).
“….there is a world that God created that is shared in common by believers and nonbelievers alike. … the goodness of creation is fundamentally and ubiquitously marred by sin but it is not negated by sin. It may be fractured, incomplete, and corrupted, but his goodness remains in it. The gifts of God’s grace are spread abundantly among the just and unjust in ways that support and enhance the lives of all” (James D. Hunter).
Called to be like our Father in heaven
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. …. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-28, 35-36)
Four shared contexts for common grace ministry
Two key Questions
- Q. Can we engage together for the common good with non-believers?
- Q. How do we engage together for the common good in ways that are consistent with the gospel and prepare a way for Christian witness?
Three bases for working together
- Common origin: God’s ownership and image
- Common Concerns: Stewardship of the earth as our dwelling place
- Common Connections: Truth about God, moral order, and transcendence (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Five examples of common grace
- Physical Realm – (Matt. 5:44-45; Acts 14:16-17; 17:24-28; Gen. 39:5; Ps. 145:9, 15-16).
- Intellectual Realm – (John 1:9; Rom. 1:21; science and technology).
- Moral Realm – (Ps. 81:12; Rom. 1:32; 2:14-15; Luke 6:33; 2 Kings 12:2; warnings of final judgment).
- Creative Realm – (skills, art, beauty, technology, architecture, culture, music)
- Societal Realm – (family – Gen. 5:4; government – Rom. 13:1, 4; other institutions) (from Wayne Grudem)
Answer these questions –
- How does the affirmation that, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” shape my calling to serve God?
- How does the fact that all people are created in God’s image shape the way I view all people and my calling to serve God?
- Are salvation categories the only ones for understanding God’s disposition toward human beings?
- How do we remain serious about lines between belief and unbelief (between those who live in the boundaries of saving grace and those who do not), while at the same time showing active appreciation for all that is good and beautiful outside of those boundaries?
- How should our knowledge of God’s common grace and revelation of Himself through creation be reflected in the ministry of the church?