Common grace is the kindness and unmerited favor that God shows to all people. The reason it is common is because it is offered to all humanity alike. It is grace because it is the opposite of what humanity deserves. Heath Lambert discusses three categories to understand common grace. Due to humanity being totally depraved because of the Fall every aspect is corrupted. God provides grace in preventing humans from being as depraved as they can be. This saves us from an overwhelmingly horrible existence.
God Restrains Evil
In Scripture God restrains people out of kindness. In Gen 4:15 restricts people from harming Cain. 2 Thess 2:7 God restrains the man of lawlessness. This remarkable grace saves us from ourselves as we could be more depraved then we are.
God Restrains and Provides
God morally restrains our sin, but He also provides for our physical needs. Matt 5:43-45 is clear that God takes care of the just and unjust. Jesus is often urging His followers to be like God in kindness to others. Humans do not have to be saved to enjoy the sun and rain, or tasty foods. Jesus uses common grace when commanding His listeners to care for and be kind to their enemies.
God’s Intelectual Provision
The last category of common grace is divine intellectual provision. God’s common grace allows saved and unsaved people to know correct information and to process it. While worldly wisdom does not save good things can come from it. Hard work and wealth are useful lessons that unsaved people express (1 Cor 1:26). There are people with enormous intellect and skills. These same people though unbelievers can produce all types of wonders advances. The fact that we have cell phones made by believers and unbelievers is an incredible grace. We have a need to learn and both saved and unsaved can teach us knowledge.
Why does it Matter?
This relates to the secular psychologists and their ability to know and learn true facts about the human condition. God has graciously endowed humans with brains that can discover cause and effect. As biblical counselors we can appreciate the fact that God’s common grace allows secular scientists to discover right and true things about the human condition.
This appreciation needs to be held in check with the knowledge of the limits of common grace. Common grace does not save a person, and an unsaved person retains the effects of the Fall more fully than a saved person. In the case of knowing and understanding God’s will a secular person may generally be able to discern but cannot fully grasp that knowledge. Often wrong conclusions come from presuppositions held by the unsaved individual.
Thus, it is important for the believer to examine with Scripture saturated eyes the work and results of secular scientists and doctors and seek to come to a right and God honoring understanding of the information given.
What secular observations have you found useful?
What secular books have been helpful to you in understanding true observations?