Common Grace, 2.24

Common Grace, 2.24 February 16, 2021

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

Continuing on the topic of the relationship between common grace, the Incarnation, and Christ’s work of mediation, there are two more general points to make:

First, Christ came “in the fullness of time.” (205) This means that Christ’s arrival in the flesh was not at an arbitrary moment. In fact it was at a right and prepared moment. Christ could not have come one second earlier or later. [I’ll admit I’m not entirely sure where the second point comes in–I think it’s the next chapter where common grace is related to individual salvation, but don’t hold me to that.]

This truth tells us that history is predetermined, dynamic, fixed, and organically connected. Christ’s coming was not just an external addition to history. It was also an internal fulfillment. A world without common grace would have just gotten more and more unable to receive Christ as it fell farther and farther from the lost glory of Eden. Common grace ripens the world and prepares it, not least by not letting it sink into sin and devastation.

We must not “short-change” Jesus’ full human nature. Historically, it was His Deity that was undermined. But some in our time have over-corrected and begun to ignore His human nature. We have consequently also failed to understand the “fullness of time” and the common grace preparation of history for the Incarnation. We have mostly done this out of a fear of a back-door undermining of Christ’s Deity.

Yet, the human flesh Christ took on himself was something which He Himself prepared. We see something similar in how crops grow–the former must prepare the soil and plant the crop. Common grace was the preparation of the soil.

To be clear: the doctrine of common grace undermines Pelagianism in that it is all the work of God, as we see in the Reformed Confessions.

But this raises again the question of the relationship between particular grace and common grace in history–even in the life of Israel. Where does Israel fit into world history? Was it separate from or connected to the rest of history? Well, we see that it was clearly connected and interwoven with the history of the surrounding nations. This shows us that those other nations are also governed by common grace.

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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