We know we are saved by the grace of God, but what is “common grace?”
Gift of Grace
The Bible is clear that we cannot save ourselves by doing good works. Our works are nothing more than filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6), so “all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Gal 3:10). Over and over again, we are told that “no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith” (Gal 3:11). It is only “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). Several of the other world religions base their rewards on the works they do. Of course, if there are no works in a believer’s life, then someone who claims to be a believer has a dead or useless faith (James 2:14-26). We are not saved by works, but saved for works…works that God has planned for us to do from before we were born (Eph 2:10). We are not saved by those works, but those who are saved, will work. Genuine saving grace will bear fruitful works for God’s glory, but the grace of God is what we receive that we did not deserve.
Common grace is the world, sinners and saints, all sharing in the blessings this life on earth. Some of the blessings of common grace include family, food, sunshine, rain, pleasure, laughter, and so many other things that we all enjoy in this life. Even if the sinner is unaware of God’s provisions, they are still recipients of God’s common grace. It is grace that is common to all, as it is poured out on all. Jesus told the crowds that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt 5:45), so God blesses those who don’t even acknowledge Him with all of the general blessings that are found in the world, but even though “favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:10). It doesn’t matter…God still “gives food to all flesh” (Psalm 136:25a). Uncommon grace is the idea that God blesses the world in general, and does not withhold blessings based upon a person’s character. Both a man who hates people and treats them in a harsh manner, and a man who loves people and is generous and kind, will receive the same amount of rain for their gardens. God’s uncommon grace is showered upon the rich and the poor, the sick and the well, and the good and the bad. Only God’s saving grace is specifically given to those who have been brought to repentance and faith in Christ. The greatest blessing of all is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. There is no greater blessing than the grace of God, but even this is a free gift of God.
The grace of God is different from the common grace given to all. To begin with, Jesus tells us to do things that are contrary to our own nature. For example, Jesus says some of the most uncommon things known to man. Radical things like, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28). That is not something you’ll find much of in the world, and it’s certainly not in the ways of mankind to respond in this way, but we are not children of this world, but the children of God. The Apostle Paul writes that “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). He didn’t wait till we’d be strong, because He’d have had a very long wait for that…like, forever. By God sending Jesus Christ, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). To go even further, even “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom 5:10). This is exceedingly rare, since “one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die” (Rom 5:7), but to die for ungodly, wicked enemies of God!? That’s an uncommon grace…an infinite love. That’s the grace of God.
Christ died for the ungodly, so that means He died for all of us. At one time, we were all an enemies of God (some still are), but God sent His Son to die for all who would repent and trusted in Him. Jesus has shown His love by living a sinless life and dying for us so that we might be “reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom 5:10). If ever there was a time to be saved, it is today. Tomorrow may not come for some…and that means judgment will have come before they had the chance to repent and believe (Heb 9:27). There is still time today…today is the best of days to be saved (2 Cor 6:2). None of us can say with 100% certainty, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” (James 4:13), so it’s not wise for us to “boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Prov 27:1). Today is the day of salvation.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Christian Crier or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.