10 September, 2018

FAQ — Common grace vs. the righteousness/justice of God

Q. 1. “How does common grace/the well-meant offer ‘militate against the divine righteousness’? Why would a general love need a ‘general judicial ground’ and what is even meant by that? … The Bible does say He ‘cannot look on iniquity’ (Hab. 1:13) but how would that preclude God from loving His creatures ‘as creatures’ (by which I mean that God made all men; all things God makes are good; all men are the work of His hands)?”

A desire to save, which the well-meant offer is, without any basis for salvation in the death of Christ and contrary to a limited atonement, denies the justice of God in that it posits a saving love without the satisfaction of divine righteousness and puts contradiction in the will of God, that is, in God Himself, in that, concerning justice, God wills the salvation only of those for whom Christ died, but concerning His grace He desires the salvation of all.
Such is the blatant contradiction of justice by the well-meant offer that defenders of the offer are today teaching a universal atonement in order to accommodate the well-meant offer.  I have called attention to this significant development of the theology of the well-meant offer in two book reviews I have written in the most recent issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal
“Hate the sin but love the sinner” is an old defense of the well-meant offer.  God then hates Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and suicide, but loves Judas. 
This defense of the offer fails on a multitude of accounts.  It implies the love of God for Satan, one of God’s creatures.  It contradicts plain biblical testimony:  God hated Esau, according to Romans 9—not only Esau’s sin, but Esau.  Similarly, the Psalms are full of the declaration that God hates the workers of iniquity.  It contends for the heresy that God loves all humans with a saving love, thus implying that the love of God fails and that when love is successful it is the sinner himself who must be credited for his salvation.  Not the love of God, but the creature himself is the cause of salvation.  It implies that God loves the damned in hell eternally, for they remain His creatures.  This is not only absurdity.  It is also disparagement of the love of God:  It cannot deliver the objects of love. 
Saving grace and love are particular (Romans 8 and 9).  Nor may the clay complain against the Potter, why hast Thou made me thus? (Prof. David J. Engelsma, 10/09/2018)

“God has His own people in the world. These He knew with divine love in Christ from before the foundation of the world. To them He assumed an attitude of grace in our Redeemer from eternity … But as well as He knows the elect, He knows the reprobate. They are not in Christ. They stand before Him in all their sin and transgression. They are guilty. They have forfeited all. For time as well as for eternity they have lost the right to any of the blessings of grace. They are, in a word, objects of His wrath … To maintain that, objectively speaking, God can assume an attitude of grace to them, say, for six thousand years, is to make an attack upon God's holiness and righteousness. No sinner can stand in any relation to the holiness of God without being deprived of all grace. No naked sinner can maintain himself or be maintained as an object of love in view of God's righteousness. And principally it makes no difference whether you assume such an attitude of love and favor in God over against the sinner outside of Christ for an endless eternity or for a single minute. The fact remains the same.” (Herman Hoeksema, quoted in “The Canons and Common Grace,” by Steven Key, PTRJ, April 2004)


Q. 2. “God doesn’t need a legal basis to extend grace and show favor to men who are outside of Christ, because, (a) common grace does not remove the guilt of sin, and therefore does not carry pardon with it; and (b) it does not lift the sentence of condemnation, but only postpones its execution.” (Louis Berkhof)

(a) The issue is how God can justly love the wicked (for whom no atonement is made). For the God who is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on sin (Hab. 1:13), it would be unjust to love them outside of Christ. There goes divine simplicity: an unjust divine love

(b) The one making this claim needs to prove that this delay is ‘grace’ and not simply providence, a providence with its own divine purpose, including giving the wicked more time to heap up more wrath to themselves (Rom. 2:5), develop in their sin, make themselves ripe for judgment, bring forth any children through whom the elect will be gathered, be used to test and try the saints, etc. (Rev. Angus Stewart, 12/06/2019)

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