30 November, 2016

Argument: “Four Options. Choose One”


“I give you four options: unmerited favor (grace), merited favor (a wage), merited disfavor (just punishment), or unmerited disfavour (arbitrary punishment). Make your choice.”


When God does anything related to us, logically, it must fall into one of four categories. Either it is unmerited favor (grace), merited favor (a wage), merited disfavor (just punishment), or unmerited disfavor (arbitrary punishment). We know, Biblically, that 2 and 4 don't happen. God never owes us anything, and He is never arbitrary. Moreover, we are born sinners. We don’t deserve anything good from God. We deserve immediate, painful death and eternity in hell. Punishment is the only thing we ever merit. Hence, everything God does is either unmerited favor or merited punishment.

But, it is obvious that continued life, provision, happiness, and restraint of sin are good things. And, it has been established that they came from God, and we don't deserve them. Therefore, they must be unmerited favor. Therefore, God shows grace to all people.



The serious fault in the argument is the unspoken assumption that grace is in things, whether health, or food, or riches, or other material things.

The grace of God is not ‘things.’  Things may be good in themselves.  But they are not grace.  Grace is the favor of God towards a (human) creature with the resulting blessing of the creature in that grace.  And blessing is God’s doing of good to that creature. 
So long as [the advocate of the common grace] is determined to identify grace with good things, he wins the theological argument concerning common grace by his unproved, unbiblical presupposition.  "Grace is good things; the ungodly enjoy good things; therefore, the ungodly are recipients of grace and blessing.” 
Take note of the inescapable, necessary implication of his argument: "Wrath is bad things; the godly suffer bad things; therefore, the godly are the objects of wrath and curse."  Thus, the gospel is denied. 
Identifying grace with good material things in this life, [one who holds to common grace] ignores and contradicts the message of the Bible.  Proverbs 3:33 warns that the curse of the Lord is in the house of the wickedin his house, in this life, including his kitchen, his easy chair, and all his earthly life.  Psalm 73 teaches that the wealth and other good things of the ungodly are a slippery slide to bring him into hell (whereas the struggles and burdens of the godly are God’s way with him to bring him to glory. 
Another error of the identification of grace with good things is that it refuses to see the present life of humans in light of the eternal end of humans, whether damnation or glorification. 
In addition, the defender of common grace denies the justice of God.  On what basis does God bless the ungodly (in this life)?  Did Christ die for the reprobate ungodly, to merit blessing for him?  Is God unjust in blessing those whose sins deserve and demand cursing and only cursing?  The New Testament is full of the teaching that the wrath of God abides on the workers of iniquity.  Where is the teaching that God’s grace abides on the workers of iniquity in this life?  One thing, and one thing only delivers sinners from the wrath of God, and merits for them blessing, and this is the substitutionary death of Christ. 
There is grace only in the death of Christ, applied only by faith, with its source in election.
                                                                                        Cordially in Christ,
                                                                                                        Prof. Engelsma

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