Lord's Day Liturgy

Praying for Common Grace

I’ve been thinking a lot about common grace the last couple months. Common grace includes undeserved good gifts from God to those who won’t worship Him. He makes the sun and rain fall on the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and gives them spouses and kids (Psalm 17:14) and paychecks and a glorious variety of imperial IPAs. He also gifts them with a level of restraint on their own sin, at least to some degree and for some time.

While looking around at what appears to be a decreasing amount of common grace in our culture, at least in terms of morals and values and reason/logic, I’ve wondered if we as Christians should pray that God would give more common grace? Or should we pray for redeeming grace, for saving grace, that deals with their greatest need, not just for what makes a stable society?

Why not both? Only a rocks-for-brains hyper-Calvinist wouldn’t pray for spiritual revival. Of course we pray for God to grant repentance and faith in His Son. But we are also instructed to pray “what we may lead a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:2). The prayers are actually for sake of “kings and all who are in high positions,” that they wouldn’t be stupid, capricious, little bossy-pants waiting to blow.

Our country’s common grace has been quite chunky in our short history, bringing blessing to many who weren’t believing in Jesus. And we can pray for more as it makes men more accountable to God. Asking for common grace for our neighbors isn’t asking for their comfortable ride to eternal hell, it’s remembering that “God’s kindness is meant to lead…to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

So Christians always have a word for unbelievers. Is your life heavy with judgment? See God’s holiness and repent from your transgressions. Is your life filled with good? See God’s generosity and repent from your ingratitude.

A Shot of Encouragement

The Lost Gift

Because sin darkens the minds of unbelievers (Ephesians 4:18), does that mean that they can’t discover any true things in science?

“No, the real darkening of sin is found in something completely different, in our having lost the gift to comprehend the true context, the proper coherence, the systematic unity of things. We now view things just outwardly, not in core and essence; hence also, each thing individually, not things together in their connection and origin in God.”

—Abraham Kuyper, “Common Grace in Science,” A Centennial Reader
Lord's Day Liturgy

This Table Is Reserved

God is full of grace. From His fulness He overflows in good things to the undeserving. He gives many good, undeserved things to those who hate Him. Jesus said that His Father makes His sun rise on the evil and sends rain on the unjust. We call this common grace. Do you have food? Do you have sight? Do you have kids? These are all blessings that believers and unbelievers can know.

Christians know another sort of grace, a special grace, a grace not given to everyone. We call it particular grace. God gives it particularly to His elect, those for whom His Son died. Particular grace is exceptional, exclusive, reserved for His people alone.

Does this make us special? Yes. Does this mean we deserved grace? No, not in a million years, no. If grace were earned it wouldn’t be grace.

Consider what the Lord revealed through Jeremiah.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.” (Jeremiah 9:23–24, ESV)

We don’t honor God by claiming that we deserve His blessings. We also don’t honor God by claiming that we don’t have special, particular blessings that others don’t. It is all about boasting. Everyone boasts. Many boast in self. Some boast that they prohibit boasting, which is a backward way of self-boasting. And those who know particular grace boast in Christ.

This meal of communing is a meal of particular grace. Bread is for men, but the body of Christ is for believers only. Wine is for celebration, but the cup of Christ’s blood belongs only to the people who celebrate a bloody sacrifice on the cross.

Every week we boast in something exclusive. The Lord’s Table is reserved for particular people who received particular grace. If you don’t know Christ, you are invited to Christ but not to this meal. If you do know Christ, this meal invites you to everything in Christ.