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Page 119

Before examining in more detail each of these gracious, saving, Spirit-produced benefits in the lives of true believers in this and subsequent chapters, let us first focus upon the wider, total sphere of the Holy Spirit's gracious work.


COMMON AND SAVING GRACE

The work of sin results in death; the work of the Holy Spirit creates and maintains life. Satan's labors are death-generating; the Holy Spirit's are life-producing. Sin causes a curse; the Holy Spirit, a blessing. Satan generates disorder and confusion; the Holy Spirit, harmony and peace.

Due to our original and actual sins, all people deserve God's just punishment. All that fallen man receives above hell is grace - all are blessings he does not deserve. That God does not instantly destroy all mankind from off the face of the earth, as He did in Noah's day, is His grace. That He provides many natural blessings for all people, is God's grace. That God proclaims law and gospel to all who are brought in contact with His Word, is His grace. God's blessings of natural life and health; sufficient rain and sunshine; adequate food, shelter, and clothing; the outward hearing and following God's law; the activation of man's conscience and restraint of sin; the gospel offer of salvation in Jesus Christ; all of these, and many more, are gracious, undeserved blessings. They flow from the life-producing and maintaining work of the Holy Spirit, but they are natural blessings, not spiritual. They are temporal, not eternal; they benefit man outwardly, not inwardly.

God's common grace refers to the Holy Spirit's general life-giving and blessing operations. When these blessings touch sinful, undeserving man, the Spirit's general operations are referred to as common grace. These include:

    a. Natural operations through creation which affect all people in creation

    b. Natural operations through God's Word which affect all people under the Word

God's saving grace affects only God's elect, the true believers. It results from the special saving operations of the Holy Spirit. It alone produces spiritual life, true conversion, and eternal blessings.

These three aspects of the Holy Spirit's gracious workings are presented in the chart on the following page:

 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

- Romans 6:23

It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.

- John 6:63

 

 

The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.

The LORD is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works.

- Psalm 145:8-9

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

- Luke 6:35-36

 

Why is everything above hell God's grace to sinful people?

How can we overvalue, but also undervalue, God's blessings of common grace?


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