Common Grace, 1.66-67

Common Grace, 1.66-67 September 1, 2020

This post is part of a series walking through the first volume of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace.

In the last two chapters of the first volume of Common Grace, Kuyper walks us back from the “special” features of common grace that will survive into eternity to the general picture. Here, we have to examine this eternal connection between particular and common grace to see how the fruit of common grace will survive common grace’s demise. And that’s an odd way to put it, but there will come a point when there is no more common grace because there is no more need for the restraint of sin, and yet the results of common grace in the life of believers will endure.

Looking at Matthew 26:29, Jesus suggests the fruit of the vine will exist in heaven. Perfected, but there. The same is true of bread. Therefore we must not over-spiritualize the Lord’s Supper such that we reject the Incarnation! (581) Nor must we see the promise of the Lord’s Supper as having been fulfilled at Pentecost–it points us to the Second Coming. The point is that “creational abundance” will be the future world, but will be out of the old creation. Until Christ’s return we ought to see this world as good, but needing renewal.

Common grace preserves this goodness by slowing the spread and effect of sin. We see a picture of this even in the role of technology, which increasingly makes the earth livable. (Though here we should remember that Kuyper is writing before the horrors of two World Wars and the rise of totalitarian death camps, where technology showed that it is at least as bad as it is good–it is more of a multiplier than anything.)

In a sense, it is really particular grace that will fall away. Election and security will persist, but there will come a point when no more are chosen. By contrast, all fruits of both kinds of grace are perfected/preserved into heaven. What this looks like in practice, we only really see through analogy in Scripture. Language is used of melting and recasting, the caterpillar and the butterfly, etc.

In sum, common grace creates three kinds of fruit for the Kingdom:

  1. Human development
  2. Character in the elect
  3. Preservation for renewal (587)

Finally, we should remember that the Lord preserves the world not just through special grace, but through common grace. Psalms 93 and 46 are parallel visions.  Yet in these Psalms, the general name for God and the covenant name for the Lord are switched, thus further enforcing the unity between common and particular grace.

Kuyper ends giving us a list of facts in review of the previous 600 pages, including that God creates for His Honor, that common grace and particular grace offset the fall and offer salvation to men, and that there are three dimensions of common grace which affect the heart, body, and nature. (591) He reminds us that in the first nine chapters of Genesis the two forms of grace sometimes flow together and sometimes flow separately, and are especially united in the ark that saves through the Flood. Since the Flood, the two are connected but not identified with each other. They flow in parallel and feed off of each other, but sin still abounds and corrupts. Nevertheless Christ will win in the end, and I think it’s best to let Kuyper have the last word:

“Christ will appear on the clouds. The judgment will commence. The earth will be annihilated not by water, but this entire earth will be melted by fire. Then out of that cosmic conflagration the new earth will arise that under the new heaven will flourish to God’s honor, the new earth upon which all God’s redeemed will triumph endlessly in their glorious body with Christ.” (595)

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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