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#13114 - Wed Mar 31, 2004 4:34 PM A hard question about the Love of God  
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Does God Love all babies? Don't want to sound un-loving or un-kind. Just curious to know how does God feel toward those He knows that are not His and never will be.
As human beings we can't help love small babies and we have a anger toward those who don't, but yet we know that God doesn't love every one or is there different degrees or kind of love within God?
Does God have a kind of love toward the non elect or is His love only for those He has choesen in Christ alone? Hard to understand and any input would be appreciated.


Thanks.


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#13115 - Wed Mar 31, 2004 4:41 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God [Re: 4Ever_Learning]  
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Question: Does God Love all babies?

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Romans 9:6-13 (KJV) "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this [is] the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. And not only [this]; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac; (For [the children] being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."

It doesn't take a "rocket scientist" to come to the truth on this matter, despite the fact that one's personal feelings may be found contrary to it. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

In His Grace,


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#13116 - Wed Mar 31, 2004 5:16 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God [Re: Pilgrim]  
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I was just thinking a few days ago about the song "Jesus Loves the Little Children." What do you think about it? He certainly does love "red, yellow, black, and white," but so many people take this song to mean "all" as in every single individual.


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin
#13117 - Wed Mar 31, 2004 7:32 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God [Re: Pilgrim]  
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So than, does this mean God has no love at all toward the non elect? What of common grace or do you not consider that as a type of love? or is the idea of common grace extra biblical? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/scratch1.gif" alt="" />


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#13118 - Wed Mar 31, 2004 7:50 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God [Re: 4Ever_Learning]  
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From Errol Hulse's article here on the Highway:

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When God’s attributes of goodness are celebrated in Psalm 145 the Psalmist quotes the revelation that God made of himself to Moses (Ex. 34:6,7). God’s grace as expressed to all the world is praised. His goodness is shown to all, and his tender mercies over all his works. This general favour or common grace is something too easily taken for granted. There was no favour shown to the fallen angels. God was not obliged to show rebels grace. Nor was he obliged to bestow favour upon a race that had sided with a race of rebel angels. But he did show grace to mankind in general by granting a period of probation in which they might repent.



Common grace is God’s attitude of good will towards his enemies in which he shows much goodness, longsuffering and forbearance with a view to their repentance (Rom. 2:4, 2 Pet. 3:9). Evil in the world is restrained on a vast scale by the exercise of the Holy Spirit (Gen. 6:3), by the provision of civil governments (Rom. 13:1-4) and by the provision of family life. Not only does God restrain evil, he positively bestows enormous good by way of human gifts and talents, by the sciences, by innumerable benevolent institutions and abounding provisions made to meet human need. All this undeserved favour is usually referred to as common grace. But this grace does not save. It does not apply the blood of Christ to sinners. It does not regenerate. It must be carefully distinguished from the free grace of God which is the exercise of God’s power in calling out an elect people for himself.


http://www.the-highway.com/freegrace_Hulse.html


And from Loraine Boettner:

Quote
The unregenerate man can, through common grace, love his family and he may be a good citizen. He may give a million dollars to build a hospital, but he cannot give even a cup of cold water to a disciple in the name of Jesus. If a drunkard, he may abstain from drink for utilitarian purposes, but he cannot do it out of love for God. All of his common virtues or good works have a fatal defect in that his motives which prompt them are not to glorify God, — a defect so vital that it throws any element of goodness as to man wholly into the shade. It matters not how good the works may be in themselves, for so long as the doer of them is out of harmony with God, none of his works are spiritually acceptable. Furthermore, the good works of the unregenerate have no stable foundation, for his nature is still unchanged; and as naturally and as certainly as the washed sow returns to her wallowing in the mire, so he sooner or later returns to his evil ways.


In the realm of morals it is a rule that the morality of the man must precede the morality of the action. One may speak with the tongues of men and of angels; yet if he is lacking that inward principle of love toward God, he is become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. He may give all his goods to feed the poor, and may give his body to be burned; yet if he lacks that inward principle, it profits him nothing. As human beings we know that an act of service rendered to us (by whatever utilitarian motives prompted) by someone who is at heart our enemy, does not merit our love and approbation. The Scripture statement that “Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto God,” finds its explanation in this, that faith is the foundation of all the other virtues, and nothing is acceptable to God which does not flow from right feelings.


A moral act is to be judged by the standard of love to God, which love is, as it were, the soul of all other virtue, and which is bestowed upon us only through grace. Augustine did not deny the existence of natural virtues, such as moderation, honesty, generosity, which constitute a certain merit among men; but he drew a broad line of distinction between these and the specific Christian graces (faith, love and gratitude to God, etc.), which alone are good in the strict sense of the word, and which alone have value before God.


This distinction is very plainly illustrated in an example given by W D. Smith. Says he:


In a gang of pirates we may find many things that are good in themselves. Though they are in wicked rebellion against the laws of the government, they have their own laws and regulations, which they obey strictly. We find among them courage and fidelity, with many other things that will recommend them as pirates They may do many things, too, which the laws of the government require, but they are not done because the government has so required, but in obedience to their own regulations. For instance, the government requires honesty and they may be strictly honest, one with another, in their transactions, and the division of all their spoil. Yet, as respects the government, and the general principle, their whole life is one of the most wicked dishonesty. Now, it is plain, that while they continue in their rebellion they can do nothing to recommend them to the government as citizens. Their first step must be to give up their rebellion, acknowledge their allegiance to the government, and sue for mercy. So all men, in their natural state, are rebels against God; and though they may do many things which the law of God requires, and which will recommend them as men, yet nothing is done with reference to God and His law. Instead, the regulations of society, respect for public opinion, self-interest, their own character in the sight of the world, or some other worldly or wicked motive, reigns supremely; and God, to whom they owe their heart and lives, is forgotten; or, if thought of at all, His claims are wickedly rejected, His counsels spurned, and the heart, in obstinate rebellion, refuses obedience. Now it is plain that while the heart continues in this state the man is a rebel against God, and can do nothing to recommend him to His favor. The first step is to give up his rebellion, repent of his sins, turn to God, and sue for pardon and reconciliation through the Savior. This he is unwilling to do, until he is made willing. He loves his sins, and will continue to love them, until his heart is changed.


Smith continues,


The good actions of unregenerate men, are not positively sinful in themselves, but sinful from defect. They lack the principle which alone can make them righteous in the sight of God. In the case of the pirates it is easy to see that all their actions are sin against the government. While they continue pirates, their sailing, mending, or rigging the vessel, and even their eating and drinking, are all sins in the eyes of the government, as they are only so many expedients to enable them to continue their piratical career, and are parts of their life of rebellion. So with sinners. While the heart is wrong, it vitiates everything in the sight of God, even their most ordinary occupations; for the plain, unequivocal language of God is, ‘Even the lamp of the wicked, is sin,‘ Prov. 21:4.”


It is this inability which the Scriptures teach when they declare that “They that are in the flesh cannot please God,” Rom. 8:8; “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” Rom. 14:23; and “Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing to Him,” Heb. 11:6. Hence even the virtues of the unregenerate man are but as plucked and fading flowers. It was because of this that Jesus said to His disciples, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And because those virtues are of this nature, they are only temporary. The one who possesses them is like the seed which falls on the stony soil, which perhaps springs up with promise of fruitage, but soon withers in the sun because it has no root in itself.


It follows also from what has been said that salvation is ABSOLUTELY AND SOLELY OF GRACE, — that God is free, in consistency with the infinite perfections of His nature, to save none, few, many, or all, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His will. It also follows that salvation is not based on any merits in the creature, and that it depends on God, and not on men, who are, and who are not, to be made partakers of eternal life. God acts as a sovereign in saving some and passing by others who are left to the just recompense of their sins. Sinners are compared to dead men, or even to dry bones in their entire helplessness. In this they are all alike. The choice of some to eternal life is as sovereign as if Christ were to pass through a graveyard and bid one here and another there to come forth, the reason for restoring one to life and leaving another in his grave could be found only in His good pleasure, and not in the dead themselves. Hence the statement that we are foreordained according to the good pleasure of His will, and not after the good inclinations of our own; and in order that we might be holy, not because we were holy (Eph. 1:4, 5). “Since all men alike deserved only God‘s wrath and curse, the gift of His only begotten Son to die in the stead of malefactors, as the only possible method of expiating their guilt, is the most stupendous exhibition of undeserved favor and personal love that the universe has ever witnessed.”



http://www.the-highway.com/depravity_Boettner.html


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin
#13119 - Wed Mar 31, 2004 8:13 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God [Re: MarieP]  
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Thanks. Lot of good information there.


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#13120 - Wed Mar 31, 2004 8:20 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God [Re: 4Ever_Learning]  
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Here are my feeble notes from MacArthur's talk on the Love of God at last month's Ligonier Conference. Pardon my brevity and 'fill in the blanks'.

3 Categories

1 - God's love for Himself (Intra Trinitarian) John 14:31; 15:9-10; 17:23,26; 5:19-27; 6:36

2 - God's love for humanity Matt 5:44-45; Mark 10:17-22

a Common grace Acts 14:17
b Compassion Jer 13; Jonah 5; Jer 48; Matt 23:37
c Incessant warnings
d Offer of the Gospel John 6:40 (limit not in extent, but in degree)

3 - God's love for His own

John 13:1 love His own to the end
John 14:1 (no empty rooms in Heaven)

Saving love Ezekiel 16; Jer 31:3; Romans 9:6> (riches of His glory)

Why did God chose not to love everyone like this - by His Glory Eph 2; Eph 5; Luke 15; Romans 8


John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
#13121 - Thu Apr 01, 2004 6:34 AM Re: A hard question about the Love of God [Re: 4Ever_Learning]  

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Dear 4ever_l,

Guess I'm going to end up being the contrarian on this one. No, I don't think there is any such thing as "common grace." Grace is always particular and is only for the elect. So, wrt your last query, I regard common grace to be an extra-biblical idea. So why do people (Calvinists) set forth such an idea? It gives an easy, but IMO incorrect, answer to the seemingly universalist passages in Scripture. I'm not interested in a rancorous debate (e.g. if someone is going to call me a "hypercalvinist," be ready with some definitions) on the subject, but would be happy to discuss the issue. Any idea where we should start? Anybody? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bigglasses.gif" alt="" />

#13122 - Thu Apr 01, 2004 12:32 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God  
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I always understood common grace to be related more to ability than love. Common grace is not as much a defense of seemingly universalist passages as it is an explanation of good in depraved men. Common grace describes the giftedness God gives even depraved men to do acts that seem good. This does not imply he loves them. Common grace is for the ordering of society.

#13123 - Thu Apr 01, 2004 1:25 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God [Re: bestrech]  

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Quote
bestrech said:
I always understood common grace to be related more to ability than love. Common grace is not as much a defense of seemingly universalist passages as it is an explanation of good in depraved men. Common grace describes the giftedness God gives even depraved men to do acts that seem good. This does not imply he loves them. Common grace is for the ordering of society.


Hi Bestrech. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/thewave.gif" alt="" />

I am of the opinion that men do not do any good (Rom. 3:10ff). And even when they are not as wicked as they might otherwise be, it is only because one sin is restrained by another. Thus fear of man may keep some from being as wicked as they might otherwise be. But fear of man is itself a sin. A miser may not be as dissolute as he could otherwise be if he were not so niggardly with his funds. But loving mammon more than God, even that is a sin.

So I reject the idea of any goodness in mankind whatsoever. So, in accepting it, it seems to me that your acceptance implicitly -- not explicitly of course or you would not be a Calvinist -- denies the doctrine of total depravity.

Seem right? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/scratchchin.gif" alt="" />

#13124 - Thu Apr 01, 2004 5:44 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God  
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Quote
Antikathistas asks:
So I reject the idea of any goodness in mankind whatsoever. So, in accepting it, it seems to me that your acceptance implicitly -- not explicitly of course or you would not be a Calvinist -- denies the doctrine of total depravity.

Obviously, I'm not bestrech, so I hope you don't mind me barging in on this one as it brings back "fond" memories when I studied at the PRC Seminary, where as you might expect, the doctrine of "Common Grace" was thoroughly hated and thrashed almost daily.

Again, I do not presume to speak for bestrech, but for myself. When we speak of the natural man's ability to do something "good", it is meant in relative terms, i.e., that there are acts done by unregenerate men, yes that includes the reprobate, which benefit mankind to one degree or another, even Christians. The act itself as considered from the perspective of what God requires in regard to any act, i.e., whether it is done from a heart that has been recreated to serve the Living God in faith and love, is evil, sinful and has no virtue whatsoever. But it cannot be denied that there are myriad acts, done every day by unregenerate individuals which are "relatively good".

The following question was posed to one of the professors at the seminary on this subject, "If you, professor XXX, were driving to the hospital with your wife who was about to deliver a child, and you got stuck in a snow bank and were unable to get out and your pagan neighbor came by and without any solicitation, pulled your stuck car out of the bank, would you thank him for his "good deed"?" This alleged Christian professor didn't take more than a couple of seconds to retort, "No, not on your life! For that act was wicked, evil, sinful and thus there was nothing good about it!"

Many of us who hold to the doctrine of "Common Grace", admittedly aren't too pleased with the use of the term, "grace" to describe the doctrine. Personally, I would rather speak of God's "Common Benevolence" upon all mankind. The fact that all men are created in God's image puts all men on a "common ground" in that they all share that image, distorted and corrupt as it may be due to the noetic effects of the Fall. And, I would also agree, that the "good deeds" of men are, in fact, due to the retraining influence/providence of God. What must be realized, is that this divine restraint and influence upon the wicked to do "relatively good" acts of compassion, benevolence, philanthropy, etc., etc., though sinful, are part of God's eternal purpose to benefit the Church. To admit even this much I think makes the case for "Common Grace", or whatever term YOU would prefer. For the fact that "all things work for good", due to providence, shows that there must be a recognized benefit received by God's elect and thus it is surely appropriate to speak of them as having a "relative good". <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Oh, let me add but one more item, lest I forget. These works wrought by the unregenerate/reprobate will ultimately be brought as evidence against them at the Judgment and will in no wise serve to earn them God's favor. Yet we also must not diminish the truth that there are going to be various degrees of punishment meted out to the reprobate according to their "works". Perhaps the relationship is similar to the actual "good works" done by the elect, they all being less than perfect, yet they are not only accepted but even worthy of reward. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/scratchchin.gif" alt="" />

In His Grace,


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#13125 - Thu Apr 01, 2004 6:37 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God  
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Pilgrim outlined a variation of my understanding of common grace. When reading posts regarding theology, it pays to read the words carefully. I couldn't give any voice inflection to certain important words in my post. Notice I said, "acts that seem good", emphasis on seem. I agree one hundred percent that man is incapable of doing anything righteous apart from the Holy Spirit. Thus the doctrine of depravity is intact.

When we speak of common grace we are speaking of God's good acts through depraved individuals. This is quintessential grace. God can order society and do good through bad individuals. It is not soteriological grace, but something much more "common".

SDG

#13126 - Thu Apr 01, 2004 9:23 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God [Re: Pilgrim]  

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Pilgrim said:
Quote
Antikathistas asks:


Of course I wasn't really asking anything beyond whether it made sense. My position is that men do nothing good. This is also the position of Paul. Bestrech is willing, fairly enough, to maintain that the acts seem good. They even have a benefit to the elect. God does use the Canaanites to keep the wild beasts at bay. However, that is sadly not where the doctrine of "common grace" ends, and I think we all know that.

Quote
Obviously, I'm not bestrech, so I hope you don't mind me barging in on this one as it brings back "fond" memories when I studied at the PRC Seminary, where as you might expect, the doctrine of "Common Grace" was thoroughly hated and thrashed almost daily.


Yes, I think they are serious about their adherence to the three forms of unity there. They also have some ideas with which I would disagree, but their doctrine of common grace is, IMO, unassailable.

Quote
Again, I do not presume to speak for bestrech, but for myself. When we speak of the natural man's ability to do something "good", it is meant in relative terms, i.e., that there are acts done by unregenerate men, yes that includes the reprobate, which benefit mankind to one degree or another, even Christians.


But, Pilgrim, I must disagree with you that the definition of a "good work" is "one which benefits mankind to one degree or another." That is simply not a confessional view of a good work -- and I would argue that it is not biblical either. The very plowing of the wicked is sin and their prayers are an abomination (Prov. 21:4; 28:9). Now, in order for a good work to be considered good, it must not only be for the benefit of the neighbor, it must also be from love to God and love to neighbor (Matt. 22:27-30). So also WCF 16.7,
Quote
Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: (2 Kings 10:30–31, 1 Kings 21:27,29, Phil. 1:15–16,18) yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; (Gen. 4:5, Heb. 11:4,6) nor are done in a right manner,according to the Word; (1 Cor. 13:3, Isa. 1:12) nor to a right end, the glory of God, (Matt. 6:2,5,16) they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: (Hag. 2:14, Tit. 1:15, Amos 5:21–22, Hosea 1:4, Rom. 9:16, Tit. 3:5) and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God. (Ps. 14:4, Ps. 36:3, Job 21:14–15, Matt. 25:41–43,45, Matt. 23:23).


Quote
Pilgrim continues:
The act itself as considered from the perspective of what God requires in regard to any act, i.e., whether it is done from a heart that has been recreated to serve the Living God in faith and love, is evil, sinful and has no virtue whatsoever. But it cannot be denied that there are myriad acts, done every day by unregenerate individuals which are "relatively good".


Had you used the terminology that Bestrech used, viz. "seemingly good," I would have been more inclined to agree. But it is simply contradictory to speak of an act that you have described in your own language as "evil, sinful and has no virtue whatsoever" as "relatively good." That means that they are also only "relatively evil" and "relatively sinful" and "relatively without virtue." But I disagree with your characterization of "relativity" when it comes to depravity. Man is not relatively depraved. He is totally depraved. First one must make the tree good; then and only then can one expect good fruit (Mt 12:33).

Quote
The following question was posed to one of the professors at the seminary on this subject, "If you, professor XXX, were driving to the hospital with your wife who was about to deliver a child, and you got stuck in a snow bank and were unable to get out and your pagan neighbor came by and without any solicitation, pulled your stuck car out of the bank, would you thank him for his "good deed"?" This alleged Christian professor didn't take more than a couple of seconds to retort, "No, not on your life! For that act was wicked, evil, sinful and thus there was nothing good about it!"


This is the kind of pejorative and name-calling that I was hoping to avoid. The man is not an "alleged" Christian professor because he maintains the doctrine of total depravity with consistency. Now, I would have thanked the man for his time and for his effort because it surely would have cost him both of those things. But he did not do those hypothetical "good works" because he loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. But it is upon that very principle that all the law and prophets hang. So, thanking someone for his time and service is simply good manners here in Texas. But as Calvinists (rather, as having a biblical view of man) we should not try to assure the man that he is capable of doing good works -- because he isn't.

Quote
Many of us who hold to the doctrine of "Common Grace", admittedly aren't too pleased with the use of the term, "grace" to describe the doctrine.


Good. Then quit. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Quote
What must be realized, is that this divine restraint and influence upon the wicked to do "relatively good" acts of compassion, benevolence, philanthropy, etc., etc., though sinful, are part of God's eternal purpose to benefit the Church.


Now I did some snipping there, Pilgrim. But I don't think I distorted what you are saying. I agree (and so would your professor at PRCA Theological School had you asked him) that all the gifts of God are good gifts. But benevolence is not in things. In fact, Pss. 37 and 73 encourage us to look at the latter end of those wicked men who receive them and learn that they were intended for their lifting up and their casting down. However, I would like for you to read very carefully what you have written in the previous quotation. You stated that acts can be both sinful and "relatively good." That is not in accordance with the reformed standards and more importantly, I think it simply injects an element of confusion into our apologetics.

Are the acts of the wicked intended by God to benefit the church? Absolutely so. Everything that comes to pass, comes to pass for God's glory and the church's good. But this includes such things as having my car broken into, persecution for the gospel's sake, affliction from sickness and poverty, imprisonments, etc. IOW, the fact that God intends these things for good does not make them good deeds.

Quote
To admit even this much I think makes the case for "Common Grace", or whatever term YOU would prefer. For the fact that "all things work for good", due to providence, shows that there must be a recognized benefit received by God's elect and thus it is surely appropriate to speak of them as having a "relative good". <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


See above. Additionally, the doctrine of "common grace" does not state that God intends all things for the good of the church. It states that he gives good gifts to the wicked because he loves them in a gracious way. If common grace were what you claim it is, then it would be a simple matter of correcting our language and stating our case more carefully. But the doctrine of "common grace" says far, far more than what you are claiming for it.

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Oh, let me add but one more item, lest I forget. These works wrought by the unregenerate/reprobate will ultimately be brought as evidence against them at the Judgment and will in no wise serve to earn them God's favor. Yet we also must not diminish the truth that there are going to be various degrees of punishment meted out to the reprobate according to their "works". Perhaps the relationship is similar to the actual "good works" done by the elect, they all being less than perfect, yet they are not only accepted but even worthy of reward.


Let me say what I think you really want to say, Pilgrim. Because I really don't think there is a reason to get into a spitting contest here. You and I agree on this: the works of the unconverted cannot be considered to be good works because they are not done from a motive of love for God or neighbor, or from a goal of God's glory. However, it would be more sinful for them to leave such works undone. That is the wording of WCF 16, and I think it alleviates the problem of having to call that which is intrinsically sinful by the term "relatively good."

So, I think we are agreed on two things at least: unbelievers can do works that for the appearance of them seem good to us. But because they are not performed in faith or love or for God's glory, they cannot be classified as good works -- they don't meet the measure. We can also agree that "common grace" is a really bad term for what we are talking about. If you want to call such works "mere civil good" or "seeming good" or even "less sinful" I will not disagree. But such works do not meet the biblical measure of a good work, and for that reason I reject the doctrine. It leads to or implies a doctrine of partial depravity, which IMO is a contradiction of terms.

Still friends? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/cheers2.gif" alt="" />

#13127 - Thu Apr 01, 2004 9:38 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God [Re: bestrech]  

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bestrech said:
Pilgrim outlined a variation of my understanding of common grace. When reading posts regarding theology, it pays to read the words carefully. I couldn't give any voice inflection to certain important words in my post. Notice I said, "acts that seem good", emphasis on seem. I agree one hundred percent that man is incapable of doing anything righteous apart from the Holy Spirit. Thus the doctrine of depravity is intact.


Yessir, but "appearances can be deceiving," and works that seem good can actually be sinful. I don't question that they seem good. But I do question whether they really are good. I've written a rather lengthy reply to Pilgrim, and I think much of it applies to your response as well, sir. You agree that man is "one hundred percent...incapable of doing anything righteous apart from the Holy Spirit." I would simply add, as the Heidelberg Catechism adds, that he is incapable of doing any good apart from regeneration. IOW, there is no influence of the Holy Spirit short of regeneration that enables the unbeliever to do good works. Therefore good works require special, or saving, grace.

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When we speak of common grace we are speaking of God's good acts through depraved individuals. This is quintessential grace. God can order society and do good through bad individuals. It is not soteriological grace, but something much more "common".


I'm not sure we are using the term "quintessential" the same way either. Grace in its purest form? Now, everything that happens, happens because of the predestinating will of God. In that sense we can speak of God's good acts taking place through sinful human beings (e.g. Joseph's brothers selling him into slavery or the crucifixion of the Son of God). But it was not a good act for Joseph's brothers to do so, nor for the Jews and Romans to crucify the Lord of glory. I agree, as I've agreed in my reply to Pilgrim, that everything that takes place happens for God's glory and the church's good. But the fact that God has good ends for everything does not turn sin into "relative good."

Perhaps it seems to y'all that I'm just being picky or difficult to get along with. My purpose, however, is to clarify and to warn where a lack of clarity on this issue will ultimately lead. Hugs? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/hugs.gif" alt="" />

#13128 - Thu Apr 01, 2004 10:34 PM Re: A hard question about the Love of God  
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Antikathistas confusedly states:
But, Pilgrim, I must disagree with you that the definition of a "good work" is "one which benefits mankind to one degree or another." That is simply not a confessional view of a good work -- and I would argue that it is not biblical either. The very plowing of the wicked is sin and their prayers are an abomination (Prov. 21:4; 28:9). Now, in order for a good work to be considered good, it must not only be for the benefit of the neighbor, it must also be from love to God and love to neighbor (Matt. 22:27-30). So also WCF 16.7,

That is clearly NOT my definition of "good works". Only those who are regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit of God are capable of doing any "good work". Perhaps I didn't make this clear enough? Or, perhaps you are so passionate about setting forth your rejection of the doctrine of Common Grace, you read into statements things which are not there? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/Ponder.gif" alt="" />

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You continue:
Had you used the terminology that Bestrech used, viz. "seemingly good," I would have been more inclined to agree. But it is simply contradictory to speak of an act that you have described in your own language as "evil, sinful and has no virtue whatsoever" as "relatively good." That means that they are also only "relatively evil" and "relatively sinful" and "relatively without virtue." But I disagree with your characterization of "relativity" when it comes to depravity. Man is not relatively depraved. He is totally depraved. First one must make the tree good; then and only then can one expect good fruit (Mt 12:33).

Here methinks the issue is one of semantics. My use of the phrase, "relatively good" is intended to be synonymous with Bestrech's "seemingly good". For both of us, the actual act performed is NOT inherently good and could not be since it is the fruit of one who is in rebellion to God and all that is good. The unregenerate/reprobate are sinful by nature and therefore incapable of thinking, speaking or doing anything good. You are reading into my words that which is not there nor is that which you are finding fault with even intended in my words. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/nono.gif" alt="" />

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The man is not an "alleged" Christian professor because he maintains the doctrine of total depravity with consistency.

This is your opinion based upon an erroneous conclusion that unless one holds to the particular rejection of a doctrine of Common Grace, then one automatically diminishes or discards the doctrine of Total Depravity. Let me assure you, sir... that I hold as tenaciously to the doctrine of Total Depravity as you do. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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Now, I would have thanked the man for his time and for his effort because it surely would have cost him both of those things. But he did not do those hypothetical "good works" because he loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength.

We are in full agreement here.

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So, thanking someone for his time and service is simply good manners here in Texas. But as Calvinists (rather, as having a biblical view of man) we should not try to assure the man that he is capable of doing good works -- because he isn't.

Am I understanding you here as saying that thanking someone for an act which was beneficial to you, even doing a benevolent act at great cost to himself is to be seen as a regional custom where you live, 2) But (conjunction connoting contrast), as a Calvinist one should not thank the man, for to do so would be to "assure the man that he is capable of doing good works?" [Linked Image] A clarification would be appreciated.

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Are the acts of the wicked intended by God to benefit the church? Absolutely so. Everything that comes to pass, comes to pass for God's glory and the church's good. But this includes such things as having my car broken into, persecution for the gospel's sake, affliction from sickness and poverty, imprisonments, etc. IOW, the fact that God intends these things for good [color:"red"]does not make them good deeds[/color].

Once again, you are imposing something wrongly where it was never intended nor ever stated. For your benefit, I shall once again state what I have already stated several times. The unregenerate/reprobate are incapable of doing any good work. Let's hope this is recognized as my actual position. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

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Antikathistas now states:
See above. Additionally, the doctrine of "common grace" does not state that God intends all things for the good of the church. It states that he gives good gifts to the wicked because he loves them in a gracious way. If common grace were what you claim it is, then it would be a simple matter of correcting our language and stating our case more carefully. But the doctrine of "common grace" says far, far more than what you are claiming for it.

Evidently, in all my reading, I have somehow missed something here. For I have never read anyone, at least of any recognition, who holds that "God gives good gifts to the wicked because he loves them in a gracious way." Is this the position which someone like L. Berkhof, H. Bavinck, Charles Hodge, Warfield, Edwards, ??? holds. If so, then I would need to read where this is written. I can tell you that none of the professors I had at WTS ever taught any such thing, nor even hinted at such a thing. And let me assure you that I also reject such a statement as having no biblical basis whatsoever. This isn't one of those proverbial "strawman" thingys, is it? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/rofl.gif" alt="" />

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Antikathistas concludes:
So, I think we are agreed on two things at least: [color:"red"]unbelievers can do works that for the appearance of them seem good to us[/color]. But because they are not performed in faith or love or for God's glory, they cannot be classified as good works -- they don't meet the measure.

Well, let's say there is 1/2 an agreement here. Those works performed by the unregenerate are indeed sinful. However, it would also appear that you are not willing to admit that those sinful works can actually result in something beneficial to other men. You mentioned the crucifixion in your other reply and I think that is a perfect illustration that makes MY point. The "hands of wicked men" crucified Christ, for which they shall be judged. Yet the benefit which pursued from that heinous act was immeasurably beneficial, for God intended it for good.... not simply "an appearance of good". Notice, I did NOT say that this act was "good". And therefore, how much more actual benefit "relative good" is to be seen in those sinful acts of men when the acts themselves are not wicked, e.g., saving a child from a burning building? helping an elderly woman cross the street?, et al. Again, those acts are deemed sinful before God. AND.... not "but", and they are also "relatively, seemingly good" in that they actually produce a real benefit to others.

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Lastly:
We can also agree that "common grace" is a really bad term for what we are talking about.

As stated before, I agree that it is unfortunately an unwise way to phrase an otherwise biblical doctrine.

In His Grace,


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simul iustus et peccator

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