Rev. Angus Stewart
We reject common grace on the basis of the Word of
God. Common grace teaches that God loves the reprobate, but the
Scriptures proclaim that "the Lord abhorreth" "the covetous" (Ps. 10:3).
The Psalmist declares of God: "thou hatest all workers of iniquity" (Ps.
5:5). God does not hate the sin but love the sinner! Moreover, "the
wicked and him that loveth violence his soul
hateth" (Ps. 11:5). Here is the intensity of God’s aversion to the
reprobate: his very soul—all that He is—detests him. Thus Jehovah "shall
rain snares, fire and brimstone" upon him (6).
Common grace teaches that the good things which the
reprobate receive in this life are proof of God’s love for them. This
was Asaph’s mistake, and it is the mistake of many. In "the sanctuary of
God" (Ps. 73:17), Asaph came to understand that "the prosperity of the
wicked" (3)—their health (4), food (7), riches (12)—was "surely" God’s
setting them "in slippery places" before He casts "them down into
destruction" (18). God gave them good things in His providence, but He
"despised" them (20) for their wickedness (8).
Solomon, the wisest of men, declared, "The curse of the Lord is in the
house of the wicked" (Prov. 3:33). All the good things in his
house—wife, children, possessions, food etc.—come not with
God’s love but with His curse.
Some people say that we reject common grace on the basis of inferences
drawn from the eternal predestinating counsel of God. But God’s revealed
truth of predestination is not the only doctrine that militates against
common grace. Against God’s unity (Deut. 6:4), common grace teaches that
God has two loves, two mercies, two
lovingkindnesses, etc. Against God’s immutability (Mal. 3:6), common
grace teaches that God loves the reprobate in time and then hates them
in eternity. Against the divine righteousness, which is so great that
God cannot "look on iniquity" (Hab. 1:13), common grace says that God
loves those who are completely evil (Rom. 3:10-18). In short, common
grace postulates a temporary, limited, changeable, unrighteous love of
God (outside of Jesus Christ!) for the reprobate. But the Scriptures
teach us that God loves Himself, and that He loves His elect church
(Eph. 5:25) with a particular (Rom. 9:18), eternal (Jer. 31:3), infinite
(Eph. 3:17-19), unchangeable (Ps. 136) love in Jesus Christ.
This initial error of a love of God for the reprobate is being used by
many (including professing Calvinists) to erode the antithesis (Gen.
3:15), to soften total depravity, to compromise particular atonement, to
preach a desire of God to save the reprobate, to silence and (then) deny
unconditional reprobation and election, to refuse to condemn Arminianism
and its teachers, and to enable fellowship with unbelievers.
To obtain Prof. David Engelsma’s
Common Grace Revisited
(£4.50) or the two audio tapes of "The Common Grace Debate" between
Engelsma and Mouw (£3; both prices inc. P&P), e-mail the