09 March, 2018

II Kings 12:2—“… And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord …”

And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him (II Kings 12:2).

Proponents of common grace appeal to this text (and others similar to it) in the assumption that it speaks of the ability of the wicked to do good—i.e., “good worked by the Holy Spirit and pleasing in the sight of God.”

Jehoash (who is presupposed to be a reprobate) “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.”

How is his “doing good” to be explained apart from a “gracious work of the Holy Spirit” in him, restraining his sin and enabling to perform these things? For, concerning Jehoash, we know that, when Jehoiada died, Jehoash “turned to wickedness and even killed the prophet that was sent to warn him” (II Kgs 12:17-19; II Chron. 25:17-25). That doesn’t sound like elect child of God, but an unbeliever …


Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[Source: Common Grace Considered (2019 edition), pp. 268, 269]

It is true … that the [text says] that … Jehoash did good. But that this is proof for “good influences of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of wicked men, so that they do good in the sight of God” is quite another matter, and there is no mention of any such thing in the text …

… Jehoash kept God’s commandments and preserved the faithful worship of God in the temple, but only because of the strong influence of godly Jehoiada. But that his own heart was evil and that he did not do good to please God is evident from his dreadful sins after Jehoiada’s death. [He] “did good” in an outward obedience to God’s commands, the doing of which was for [his] own personal advantage.

No one has ever denied that wicked and unregenerate men are able to “do good” in a certain sense of the word. Mozart can compose very beautiful music, though he was a wicked man. An architect can design a beautiful building, but not do so in a way pleasing to God and bringing God’s approval upon his good works. A carpenter can and often does build a house that has few, if any, defects, because he is an excellent builder; and we say, “He did a good job of this house.” I recall one noted theologian who said that Tiger Woods’ ability to sink a 40-foot putt was surely due to “common grace.” And so we can go on. It happens all the time in the world that men “do good” from a purely earthly viewpoint. But this is still a far cry from “moral good that the Spirit enables wicked men to do”; and it is a far cry from good that meets with God’s approval. The [text] quoted [is] entirely [besides] the point and [has] no bearing on the matter at hand.



Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965)


[Source: The Standard Bearer, vol. 40, no. 10 (Feb 15, 1964), pp. 220-221]

Good is an act when it is motivated by the love of God and of men; evil an act when in its deepest root it is motivated by hatred of God and our fellow men. There is nothing else. There can be nothing else … As to Jehoash we read that he did right, not from the love of God, nor from the motive of a certain “common grace”; but he was under the influence of Jehoiada, the priest. And when the priest had died, the king, as is evident from the record we find of him in II Chronicles 24, forsook Jehovah and became wicked. [The] mere fact that a man can and does something right is no proof at all that so-called “common grace” restrains him from sin. On the contrary, at the same time that he does well, he sins against God.


[Source: The Rock Whence We Are Hewn (RFPA, 2015), pp. 425–26]

In both cases (Jehoash and Amaziah) the kings outwardly adapted to the law of the Lord in their reigns. They showed regard for orderly external deportment in ruling their people. Regarding Jehoash, Scripture distinctly says that he did right in the sight of the Lord as long as he was under the influence of the powerful priest, Jehoiada. Scripture does not imply or suggest that there was an operation of the Spirit upon these kings, an influence of God that improved their sinful natures and caused the evil trees to bring forth good fruit.
The fact that synod referred to these examples shows how hopeless the case of the third point is. Does it not teach that there is an influence of God on all men whereby they can do civil good? Granted for the sake of argument that the illustrations of Jehoash and Amaziah suggest an operation of common grace, where is proof for a similar working of the Spirit on all the other wicked kings of Israel and Judah? The operation of the Spirit of the third point does not appear to be very common or general. All these and similar illustrations show that fallen man by natural light—without any operation of common grace and while remaining wholly sinful in all his deeds and perverse in all his ways—may show for various reasons and from different motives that are always sinful some regard for orderly external deportment and may adapt himself in his outward life to the law of God. 



Westminster Confession (1647)

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: yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God (16:7).



Heidelberg Catechism (1563)

Q. 8. Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?
A. Indeed we are, except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.

Q. 91. But what are good works?
A. Only those which proceed from a true faith, are performed according to the law of God, and to His glory; and not such as are founded on our imaginations or the institutions of men.



More to come! (DV)

No comments:

Post a Comment