26 August, 2016

Prof. Herman C. Hanko on Luke 6:35-36

[Source: Common Grace Considered]

This passage in Luke is nearly parallel with the passage in Matthew 5 that we considered [elsewhere]. The context also is very much the same. The Sermon on the Mount is recorded in Matthew 5-7, but here, though spoken on a different occasion, the subject is the same. The text is also very close to being the same, the only difference being that Jesus here speaks of God’s kindness to the unthankful and evil, while in Matthew 5, Jesus speaks of the rain and sunshine God sends to the just and the unjust. Luke 6 therefore makes explicit what is implicit in Matthew 5: the reference to the unthankful and evil is, therefore, a reference to the unthankful and evil elect. Election is not based on works, but on the free and sovereign choice of God. Those who are eternally chosen are not chosen because of any good they did, nor because something was found in them that made them suitable to be counted among the elect. They were as evil as any in the world. They were as ungrateful for God’s good gifts as anyone elsewhere. They were as deserving of everlasting condemnation as those who were not chosen. But they are in any case, citizens of the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus is giving them the principles by which the citizens of the kingdom live here in the world.
The elect who are the objects of God’s mercy know with total certainty that they were not chosen because they were in any way better than those not chosen. The awesome character of election and its sovereign work of God is the reason for the humility of God’s people. How can it be any different? It is not at all strange, therefore, that these people are admonished to be merciful to others. They are eager to love their enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again. They cannot help but be themselves kind unto the unthankful and evil, for this is the way God dealt with them.

There is no reason at all in the text to argue, as those who teach common grace argue, that God is merciful to all men. After all, Jesus is speaking here to His own disciples (v. 20) and is describing the characteristics and calling of those who belong to the kingdom of heaven. Citizens of the kingdom of heaven are saved by grace; they are now to be gracious to those with whom they come into contact. In this way they manifest to others the grace God has shown to them. What could be more obvious?

To argue that because within the sphere of the kingdom of heaven, God is kind to unthankful and evil people can never be reason why we conclude that God is gracious to all men. One ought to re-read Psalm 73 and Proverbs 3:33 if he has any problem with this explanation.

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