Q&A: Common Grace

Common Grace

What is common grace? What role does the Holy Spirit have in common grace?

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Answer

Theologians have two terms for grace to distinguish the different works of God: one is common grace and the other is saving grace. And the importance of identifying common grace is something that God does generally that pretty much is available to everybody in some ways or other, like when the rain comes down it's for people that belong to God and people that don't; and so he gives rain to the just and the unjust. Common grace is maybe the setting for preserving and blessing people and inclining them to seek for God, but it doesn't save anybody, it's for them to look. And then saving grace is where God is reaching to people and converting their heart. Saving grace is done by the Spirit. And I think we should assume that common grace is also done by the Spirit because he is the one that is working closest in in creation, and he is the one that touches our hearts in saving grace. So, it's a preparatory work to do good to creation that oftentimes leads to saving grace where the Holy Spirit works in us, and it can include experiencing love, being able to enjoy art and beauty and have satisfying things in life, eating food. And these are all gifts from God and provided by the Holy Spirit.

Answer by Dr. John McKinley

Dr. John Mckinley is the Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola Universtity in La Mirada, California and is affiliated with the Evangelical Theological Society.