“In addition to this common grace and common love shown to all men, there is an uncommon grace and uncommon love poured out from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit upon some. And just like men have not earned his common grace and common love, so they have not merited in any way this divine intimacy, affection, and attention.”
There has been a grace common to all. God created a world fantastically suitable for those created in his image. Even though all men and women, created in his image, chose to rebel against him and play the part of the spiritual whore, the Creator providentially governed his universe for rebellious man’s sustenance and delight. Despite the fact that all men and women, created in his image, continually chose to worship idols and other created things, God continually showed long-suffering patience and favor towards them while his church commanded them to repent and offered them the free Gospel of grace. Yes, God has not given men that which they have earned and deserved. In a very real way God has always loved the lost. God has always loved his enemies. In every generation, God has continually blessed his rebels with time, talents, and treats they have not deserved and have in turn squandered in his face.
Yet, in addition to this common grace and common love shown to all men, there is an uncommon grace and uncommon love poured out from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit upon some. And just like men have not earned his common grace and common love, so they have not merited in any way this divine intimacy, affection, and attention.
So for a moment, let us meditate on the distinction between God’s common grace and love to every man and his uncommon grace and love to his elect:
- Great love was shown to all men when the Creator gave men themselves; greater love was shown to some men when the Redeemer and Creator gave himself.
- Great love was shown to all men when the Creator loved them when they were yet nothing; greater love was shown to some men when the Redeemer and Creator loved those who were worse than nothing.
- Great love was shown to all men when the Creator spoke to them through his various prophets; greater love was shown to some men when the Redeemer and Creator spoke to their depraved and dead souls.
- Great love was shown to all men when the Creator made men in his image and called them his people; greater love was shown to some men when the Redeemer an Creator remade, them, adopted them, and called them to be his holy bride.
- Great love was shown to all men in giving them a transitional earthly paradise – though now cursed; greater love was shown to some men when the Redeemer and Creator gave them an eternal kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Oh friends, I’m sure the list could go on and on. It is impossible to conceive of all the special ways in which the Creator and Redeemer has lavished his love on his elect. This is something wise men focus on today. This is something glorified men will focus on for eternity. Greater love has never been expressed than that of a Divine Lover who laid down his life for his enemies who are now his friends. Like Gomer delighted in the unmerited love of Hosea, so we ought to cherish our undeserved position in God’s house of wine. So what are we to do with this uncommon grace and uncommon love?
Let us be uncommonly humble. In describing us in our rebellious state, Scripture calls us fools, dung, worms, maggots, and whores. As those around us laud the inherent worth and value of all men, let us see our true worth only in Christ. All we bring to the relationship is sin and rebellion, and in this condition he loved us. Let us not be arrogant and think we were worthy of such love. Let us not be arrogant and think we can and must respond with such love. He has chosen to adore us despite our past, present, and future sins. What can we do but rest in his unusual, unbelievable, and uncommon affection?
Let us be uncommonly happy. Yes, it is all of grace. We know not why we have been so privileged. We know not why the Spirit of God has affected our hard wills, our dull heads, our stopped-up ears, and our blinded eyes. We know not why the Spirit has left others alone. And yes, I know we sometimes feel a bit guilty that others do not enjoy the unreasonable and undeserved love we have experienced. However, putting all that aside, let us leave God’s sovereign decision making with him and radically enjoy the privileged state in which we find ourselves. Those born in free countries around the globe, they know not why they were so privileged, but they enjoy their blessed condition. Those born in affluence, they too had nothing to do with their parent’s wealth, but they still enjoy the fruit of their parent’s labor. Therefore, let us not despise our election, but glory in the courtship of the Heavenly Lover. Let us be thrilled about his predestination. Let the doctrine of Christ’s eternal decree result in our loud earthly declarations. We were scum! We were whores! But we have been loved with an everlasting love, clothed in bleached white garments, our husband dances over us in his house of wine, and all of this because our names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the beginning of time.
Finally, let us be uncommonly bold. The Creator and Redeemer has not yet gathered all his own into his household. Therefore, with whole-hearted obedience, let us partner with him in his Great Commission. Let us share the Law and the accompanying curses that come with less-than-perfect obedience. Let us share the Gospel and the accompanying blessings that come through no labor or our own. Let us call all men to repentance and faith. Let us seek to make hay while the sun shines. Let us pray for more laborers while the fields are white unto harvest. Let us remind our neighbors that the bridegroom has not yet come home and it is their duty to anticipate this glorious reality and act accordingly. Then, let us rejoice to see how the Heavenly Father builds his household through our evangelistic labors. Friends, the common grace and the common love of God is running out. His long-suffering patience is limited in duration. However, the uncommon grace and uncommon love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is available to all who respond in faith. Brothers and sisters, we have a love-story to tell to the nations. Let us be adoring wives who loudly proclaim the excellencies of our husband’s uncommon grace and love.
Joseph A. Franks IV is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. This article first appeared on his blog, and is used with permission.