Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, September 24, 2012

Re: 'Common Grace'.

Monty is once again partly right.  The good works of evil men are not acceptable to God.  The "good works" of rebels are done out of sinful motives and are therefore in and of themselves sinful.  As the 39 Articles of Religion puts it:

WORKS done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.

Also, it should be pointed out that the problem with "common grace" is that it is only "grace" for the elect.  Calvin never once called this "common grace".  He called it "general providence" and Calvin himself rejects the views of those so-called Calvinists today who call providence a "grace" for the reprobate:

17. But if it is so (you will say), little faith can be put in the Gospel promises, which, in testifying concerning the will of God, declare that he wills what is contrary to his inviolable decree. Not at all; for however universal the promises of salvation may be, there is no discrepancy between them and the predestination of the reprobate, provided we attend to their effect. We know that the promises are effectual only when we receive them in faith, but, on the contrary, when faith is made void, the promise is of no effect. If this is the nature of the promises, let us now see whether there be any inconsistency between the two things—viz. that God, by an eternal decree, fixed the number of those whom he is pleased to embrace in love, and on whom he is pleased to display his wrath, and that he offers salvation indiscriminately to all. I hold that they are perfectly consistent, for all that is meant by the promise is, just that his mercy is offered to all who desire and implore it, and this none do, save those whom he has enlightened. Moreover, he enlightens those whom he has predestinated to salvation. Thus the truth of the promises remains firm and unshaken, so that it cannot be said there is any disagreement between the eternal election of God and the testimony of his grace which he offers to believers. But why does he mention all men? Namely that the consciences of the righteous may rest the more secure when they understand that there is no difference between sinners, provided they have faith, and that the ungodly may not be able to allege that they have not an asylum to which they may retake themselves from the bondage of sin, while they ungratefully reject the offer which is made to them. Therefore, since by the Gospel the mercy of God is offered to both, it is faith, in other words, the illumination of God, which distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked, the former feeling the efficacy of the Gospel, the latter obtaining no benefit from it. Illumination itself has eternal election for its rule.

Another passage quoted is the lamentation of our Savior, “O Jerusalem Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Mt. 23:37); but it gives them no support. I admit that here Christ speaks not only in the character of man, but upbraids them with having, in every age, rejected his grace. But this will of God, of which we speak, must be defined. For it is well known what exertions the Lord made to retain that people, and how perversely from the highest to the lowest they followed their own wayward desires, and refused to be gathered together. But it does not follow that by the wickedness of men the counsel of God was frustrated. They object that nothing is less accordant with the nature of God than that he should have a double will. This I concede, provided they are sound interpreters. But why do they not attend to the many passages in which God clothes himself with human affections, and descends beneath his proper majesty? He says, “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people,” (Isa. 65:1), exerting himself early and late to bring them back. Were they to apply these qualities without regarding the figure, many unnecessary disputes would arise which are quashed by the simple solution, that what is human is here transferred to God. Indeed, the solution which we have given elsewhere (see Book 1, c. 18, sec. 3; and Book 3, c. 20, sec. 43) is amply sufficient—viz. that though to our apprehension the will of God is manifold, yet he does not in himself will opposites, but, according to his manifold wisdom (so Paul styles it, Eph. 3:10), transcends our senses, until such time as it shall be given us to know how he mysteriously wills what now seems to be adverse to his will. They also amuse themselves with the cavil, that since God is the Father of all, it is unjust to discard any one before he has by his misconduct merited such a punishment. As if the kindness of God did not extend even to dogs and swine. But if we confine our view to the human race, let them tell why God selected one people for himself and became their father, and why, from that one people, he plucked only a small number as if they were the flower. But those who thus charge God are so blinded by their love of evil speaking, that they consider not that as God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,” (Mt. 5:45), so the inheritance is treasured up for a few to whom it shall one day be said, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom,” &c. (Mt. 25:34). They object, moreover, that God does not hate any of the things which he has made. This I concede, but it does not affect the doctrine which I maintain, that the reprobate are hateful to God, and that with perfect justice, since those destitute of his Spirit cannot produce any thing that does not deserve cursing. They add, that there is no distinction of Jew and Gentile, and that, therefore, the grace of God is held forth to all indiscriminately: true, provided they admit (as Paul declares) that God calls as well Jews as Gentiles, according to his good pleasure, without being astricted to any. This disposes of their gloss upon another passage, “God has concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all,” (Rom. 11:32); in other words, he wills that all who are saved should ascribe their salvation to his mercy, although the blessing of salvation is not common to all. Finally, after all that has been adduced on this side and on that, let it be our conclusion to feel overawed with Paul at the great depth, and if petulant tongues will still murmur, let us not be ashamed to join in his exclamation, “Nay, but, O man, who art thou that replies against God?” (Rom. 9:20). Truly does Augustine maintain that it is perverse to measure divine by the standard of human justice (De Prædest. et Gra. c. 2).  Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III, Chapter 24, Section 17.

Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

In other words, grace is not "common" since ONLY the elect will believe and come to know Christ.  Providence serves to move the elect to glorify God and the reprobate to continue in their rebellion.  (Cf.  Romans 9:11-13).  In other words, general providence (Matthew 5:44-48) does not contradict God's hatred for the reprobate.  (Romans 9:13, 17-22; 1 Peter 2:8; Proverbs 16:4;Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27-28).  I am posting this to the blog again.  I highly recommend that you read Book III of the Institutes for yourself.  Calvin clearly rejects the semi-Arminian and neo-Calvinist doctrine of "common grace".  And common grace is only mentioned in the rejection of errors in the Canons of Dort:

That the corrupt and natural man can so well use the common grace (by which they understand the light of nature), or the gifts still left him after the fall, that he can gradually gain by their good use a greater, namely, the evangelical or saving grace and salvation itself. And that in this way God on His part shows Himself ready to reveal Christ unto all men, since He applies to all sufficiently and efficiently the means necessary to conversion. For the experience of all ages and the Scriptures do both testify that this is untrue. “He sheweth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for His judgments, they have not known them” (Ps. 147:19, 20). “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16). And: “Now when they (Paul and his companions) had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:6, 7).

The reprobate in one sense of the term do "good" works to other men.  But before God these works are not good at all since they are done out of rebellion against God and with wicked and sinful motives rather than out of faith and gratitude for God's mercy and grace as opposed to His justice.  So although Monty's view is a bit reductionistic, overall he is correct.  The wicked can do no good works.  (Cf.  Romans 11:5-6).

The peace of God be with you,


On 9/23/2012 11:57 PM, Brandon Burdette wrote:
Seen this one, Charlie? What do you think of it?

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. Visit 1662 Book of Common Prayer: Daily Prayer and Reasonable Christian Blog


aaytch said...

Charlie, what do you say to Psalm 145:13- Looks like grace to me, even if at the end God destroys those whom he hates.

"Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever. "

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hudson, general providence can only work for the good of God's elect. For the reprobate, as Calvin says, God's goodness only serves to drive them further from God. So providence is not a grace to the reprobate but only a curse.

Article 17 says the same thing. Those who refuse to accept God are under the sentence of God's decree and they are driven to further desperation. How that is "grace" I don't know. Calvin spends several paragraphs refuting the notion of "common grace" as the Papists understood it.

aaytch said...

As you say, "God's goodness only serves to drive them further from God." This is precisely what Psalm 145 says, or so it seems to me. It is also what Article 17 says, that the goodness of God is evident to all, but while it is a blessing to the Elect, it is a curse to those not Elect.

Perhaps you are suggesting that God's goodness can sometimes be of something other than grace. If that is what you are saying, then what is it that God's goodness arises from?

What I am saying is that it is possible to receive a notion of "common grace" so long as its sole purpose is stated to be the means by which Sheep and Goats are separated. Furthermore, grace is not the only means by which He fulfills the Decree of Election. He also provokes... some to their damnation and some to their salvation as in Romans 10: "17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you."

Charlie J. Ray said...

I should also point out that the so-called doctrine of "common grace" has been used to elevate general or natural revelation to the same level as Scripture or above Scripture. That can be seen in Calvin College and Calvin Seminary where theistic evolution and tolerance for the view that homosexuals are excused for their same sex thoughts because they are "born" with that predisposition.

David Engelsma has pointed this out here: Genesis 1-11: Myth or History?

The Protestant Reformed website also points out this problem here:

Kuyper intended his theory of common grace to be a bridge between the Reformed church and the world over which the Reformed believers would move into the world to "Christianize" the world. Kuyper forgot something about bridges. Bridges allow for two-way traffic. Over the bridge of common grace, during the past 100 years, the world has poured into the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, the Free University of Amsterdam, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, Calvin College, and the other organizations that espouse the worldview of common grace.

Common grace has driven out or silenced the gospel-truth of particular grace. Predestination, limited atonement, and irresistible grace are a dead letter. The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands have got rid even of the letter (the Reformed creeds). Universalism in various forms prevails. Universalism is the mind of the world.

Opened up to the world's way of life by common grace, the churches, their people, and especially their schools adopt the world's explanation of origins (evolution); accept the world's demolition of the family (feminist denial of the headship of the husband in the home and church); and approve the world's adultery (divorce on any ground and remarriage for guilty and innocent parties alike). The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands have sunk away into the deepest, filthiest depths of the wicked world. They sanction sodomy and lesbianism. The Christian Reformed Church, having already declared that the homosexual condition is not sinful (because she insists on listening to the world), is now reduced to a struggle, on her assemblies, to keep out homosexual practice.

Men graced by God with the gift of discerning spirits saw it coming. In the early 1900's Henry Danhof, Herman Hoeksema, and George Ophoff warned the Christian Reformed Church, as Dutch ministers warned the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, that the adoption of Kuyper's worldview of common grace would certainly result in a deluge of worldliness. The entire church world at the end of the 20th century can see that the prophecy is fulfilled.

Why do the PRC reject the worldview of common grace? Because God's powerful, frightening judgment in history upon Kuyper's worldview is that it has been weighed and found wanting. It has transformed no culture. It has destroyed the churches and schools that embraced it.
From: The Failure of Common Grace, by David Engelsma.

aaytch said...

Charlie. I didn't ask for your view on Kuyper or any other person that has expounded something like Kuyper's view. I agree with you completely on that matter. But rather I asked for an explanation of Psalm 145. It states what we might call 'common grace', even if it is nothing like the Kuyperian version.

I see both common grace and common stumbling blocks, both of which are designed to accomplish the purpose of the Decree of Election. To the reprobate, God has given not only a measure of light (or grace) by which they may be convicted, but He has also given them "the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear.... David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:" Similarly, for the Elect He has also given both grace and stumbling blocks, but here the grace is for the purpose of salvation and the stumbling block is placed so that "whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."

Charlie J. Ray said...

See: Calvin on Common Grace

Charlie J. Ray said...

In other words, Calvin's comments on Psalm 143 are to interpreted in light of what he says in regards to God's secret and revealed will.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hudson, to confuse the "general call" of God with the "effectual call" of God is to conflate the Reformed view with Arminianism or semi-pelagianism.

Likewise, to confuse "general providence" with "common grace" is to conflate the Calvinist doctrines of absoute predestination and general providence with the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace for all or "common grace".

In short, God's eternal purpose in general providence is to bring greater condemnation to the reprobate, whom He foreknows and predetermines to rebellion. Therefore, general providence nor the general call to salvation can in no wise be called "common grace." In fact, Calvin nowhere calls general providence a "grace".

They are without excuse. Their condemnation is just. And yet, God has predetermined them to this destruction as vessels of wrath. It is therefore contradictory to call what God purposed to harden the reprobate a "common grace".

But what if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction? (Romans 9:22 NET)

His purposes in providence are favor to His elect and the hardening of the reprobate.

aaytch said...

Charlie. I'm not confusing anything, and you keep raising new issues and bringing in new texts, presumably to avoid answering my question. Please put away all your commentaries and theology books and deal with Psalm 145.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hudson, you asked if Psalm 145:13 proves "common grace". It does not. Calvin never refers to general providence as "common grace". The fact is common grace is an Arminian doctrine. This is why I do not and cannot attend any so-called "Reformed" church that teaches Arminian doctrine while pretending to be Reformed. This sort of irrationalism leads straight to Rome and to Anglo-Catholicism.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Besides, I didn't say "you" confused anything. I said that the "view" that general providence is "common grace" conflates Calvinism with Arminianism and is irrational. The law of contradiction asserts that A and non-A cannot both be true. In other words, "grace" in the Bible is always particular and not general or common. In the same way, the cross is either particular atonement for the elect or it is an ineffectual and general atonement that saves no one in particular and leaves salvation as merely a contingency subject to the capricious wills of sinful men.

aaytch said...

When I read theology books about "general providence", it is described more or less as stuff that God does for all his creatures which has no moral value (good or evil). These theological geniuses suppose God can't figure out how to give good stuff (grace) to only the Elect, so He gives it to both and calls it mere "providence". This is nonsense. Everything that God does contains the qualities of both 'good' and 'mercy'. Nothing is morally neutral and nothing is owed. The expression "general providence" is just a coward's way of not saying 'grace'. This grace bears to both salvation and to reprobation. Similarly, God creates stumbling blocks which bear to both salvation and to reprobation.

aaytch said...

Charlie, I did NOT ask you if Psalm 145 proves "common grace". I said "Psalm 145:13- Looks like grace to me, even if at the end God destroys those whom he hates." I object to the word "providence" in this context, which is just a weasel word whose purpose is to not say 'grace'. And no, there's no rule that says grace cannot be both particular and general, that it cannot be a two-edged sword. In fact, that's exactly what Scripture says it is.... separating with precision the Sheep from the Goats.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hudson, since "common grace" is not once mentioned in any Reformed standard except in the negative sense in the rejection of errors in the Canons of Dort, the weasel word here is "common grace." The Westminster Confession has a whole chapter on providence not one word about "common grace." Providence also occurs in the Three Forms of Unity. Common grace is a silly heresy perpetuated by Kuyper and the neo-Calvinists.

If you want to side with the heretics, be my guest. I'm not moving from the Scriptures or the Reformed Standards.


Charlie J. Ray said...

" And no, there's no rule that says grace cannot be both particular and general," If God's Word is contradictory and irrational, you might as well join up with the liberals and the neo-orthodox. The Bible is rational and logical. AND the Westminster Confession affirms that:

WCF, Chapter 1. Of Holy Scripture

6. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.1 Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word;2 and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed.3

1 2 Tim. 3:15,16,17; Gal. 1:8,9; 2 Thess. 2:2.

2 John 6:45; 1 Cor. 2:9,10,11,12.

3 1 Cor. 11:13,14; 1 Cor. 14:26,40.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Theology is not neutral. Being educated in theology does not equal truth. But certainly anti-intellectualism is not becoming of a Reformed view of Scripture. God calls us to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and He says that "truth" sanctifies us. (2 Peter 3:18; John 17:17).

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