This post is part of a series walking through the first volume of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace.
When Christ returns, will common grace pass away? This is important! It affects our view of this world and whether it ‘matters.’
There is no automatic transfer from this world to the next, even gradually–given the nature of the coming catastrophe where “everything that exists will perish.” (544) But! The “hidden life germ” will grow into a “higher order and… richer glory.” (544) And so common grace will be stripped down, but simultaneously preserved and even made better.
For example, our natures will be renewed when we are resurrected, though with a more glorious body and more glorious faculties. If that is true, should not the faculties as developed and refined by common grace be renewed as well? But even beyond that, we expect to see in full glory the infants who died, or the disabled, in their full potential despite their apparent limited involvement in common grace now.
Aside from all this, common grace is what differentiates culture from culture and allows for social advancement. Will all of this advancement merely collapse when Christ returns? Or will it be renewed in greater glory?
“To the extent that sin was interwoven and embedded in common human development, all of that is destroyed and perishes. But nonetheless it is added just as clearly that in this new situation will enter something of great importance from the life of nations, that is, from the former life of humanity. And what is carried in from that preceding development of our human race into that kingdom of glory is called the glory and the honor of the nations.” (548)
Revelation 21:24, 26 suggests that in the kings bringing in their wealth into the City of God the wealth of the nations will be renewed.
Kuyper thinks that we see a historical scale of ‘honor and glory’ among nations both now and historically–as there is such a scale among all institutions. This honor and glory exists in heaven, so it must be that common grace perseveres into the next life. Again, it’s not that any literal nation will necessarily survive. We shouldn’t expect to see the United States or Benin or any other specific nation there. Instead, the living germ of ‘nationhood’ will unfold and grow. These capacities that common grace has enabled have eternal meaning. This is the meaning of the beatitude about the meek inheriting the earth. One day the meek shall receive the fullness of the good things of this world, even as today they are run over by the world.