common grace is ‘common’ because it is universal, and it is ‘grace’ because it is undeserved and given by a gracious God. As with my other foundational doctrinal loci, the formulation of this doctrine is extremely rich, complex and controversial, and I can highlight only some of the relevant points. The exposition of Murray is seminal. Murray defines common grace as ‘every favour of whatever kind or degree, falling short of salvation, which this undeserving and sin-cursed world enjoys at the hand of God’. According to Murray, common grace has both a negative and a positive function. Its negative function is that of divine restraint: a restraint on sin, a restraint on wrath and its execution, and a restraint on the effects of sin. The positive function is that of divine favour, whereby creation receives divine blessing, non-Christians receive divine favour and goodness, ‘good’ is attributed to non-Christians, and non-Christians receive benefits from the presence of the gospel. It is important to note that with all of these functions, under the sovereignty of God, there can be a great deal of differentiation and variegation in terms of the amount of divine restraint and blessing within a particular society or period of history.
Their Rock is Not Like Our Rock