Common Grace

 

 

God loves His creation because He is a benevolent Creator. The blessing that He bestows on His creation is called Common Grace. This blessing extends to not just the elect, *but also to the reprobate. We can see Common Grace in the love of a friendship, a beautiful flower, as well as moral accountability. It is Common Grace that allows the rain to fall on the crops of the pagans and for an atheist’s business to be a prosperous one. The governing structures can even be partially accredited to Common Grace. Even some aspects of human intelligence can be attributed to Common Grace, for example, as when a scientific marvel is discovered. Virtually everything that God does for His creation that we do not deserve is Common Grace. God does not have to give us beauty. He did not create the universe out of necessity – nor does He have to sustain His creation. It is only through His unmeasurable mercy and grace that He does so and promises to continue doing so. He sustains all His creation simply by His grace.

 

Matthew 5b “(God) makes his sun rise on the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”

 

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

 

“and yet He did not leave Himself without witnesses, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14:17

 

“For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Romans 13:1b

 

Not all human intelligence can be attributed to this Common Grace, because some of the “greats” of the secular intellectual world contradict the true nature of reality. For example, Freud’s Psychoanalysis Theory says that man is not responsible for his sin.  This is in direct contradiction of what the Bible has to say about man's sin, therefore it cannot be true nor can it be attributed to Common Grace.

 

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

 

We can also see from Scripture that the human conscience is a part of Common Grace. Everyone understands the basic principles of right and wrong. Since everyone has this knowledge, no one can be held blameless before God. It is the Common Grace that restrains evil. Hitler was restrained by God. You and I are restrained by God. Paul Washer said  “if it wasn’t for the Common Grace of God, you would make Hitler look like a choir boy.” This is because our sinful hearts in our unregenerate state do nothing but follow the Devil.

 

“For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” Romans 1:25

 

“They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” Romans 2:15

 

God is gracious. His Common Grace differs from His Special (Salvific) Grace in that Common Grace is to all people while Special Grace is just to those whom He has predestined. Both are given due to the benevolence of God, not based on any merit from anything we could possibly do. We cannot earn God’s grace.

 

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.”  Romans 8:31-33

 

Our Human Condition

 

 

Sin causes problems. Not just morally and relationally, but also epistemologically. When sin entered the world, man became completely and totally depraved. Sin has damaged our ability to do anything good and true. This means even the ability to gain true knowledge about ourselves, our world, and God. Since man is utterly corrupt even in his ability to reason and think, man cannot know anything accurate about God without God’s revelation. Read more about Revelation here: https://strivingforeternity.org/7275-2/

 

Even our personality and our mind is subject to the fall. We cannot think rightly on our own. Sin distorts our entire being which manifests in our thinking, feeling and thus behaving. Since our ability to reason is even tainted with original sin, we know that there is nothing neutral about our mind. Sin has warped not only our hearts, but our body’s too. Our cells are now dying from the very moment of our conception. Our genetics have corruptions and our bodies are riddled with disease. Our entire being – our mind, our thoughts, our feelings, our bodies – are all opposed to God. Man in his unregenerate state is wholly at enmity with God. The effect of sin upon our minds is referred to as the “Noetic Effects of Sin.”

 

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6

 

“Being darkened in their understanding, excluded form the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the harness of their heart;” Ephesians 4:18

 

Thankfully, upon regeneration, many aspects of our mind and heart are changed. God grants us a new heart with new desires. This doesn’t mean that we will be perfect, nor does it mean that we will be free from our tainted flesh. But our thinking and our hearts are changed. This is the only true and lasting change – it all comes from Christ, alone.

 

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” Romans 5:12

 

 

Secular Psychology and Biblical Counseling

 

 

Common Grace allows secular psychologists to rightly analyze some aspects of the human condition. Unfortunately, secular psychologists cannot correctly diagnose every problem and expose every truth about a client’s situation because they hold to a secular worldview instead of a Biblical worldview. Having the wrong worldview affects quite literally everything.

 

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Romans 1:21

 

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

 

So how does this apply to the world of counseling and psychology? RC Sproul said, “even though the mind is darkened by sin, and leads us to futility apart from being captured by the Word of God, Paul is not saying that the human faculty for thinking is destroyed by sin.”  The non-Christian can know some truths.

 

While Biblical Counseling is the only method that can provide real healing, secular methods are not to be completely eschewed.  A secular psychologist can help a client ascertain genetic testing; this can clarify why a client has a certain proclivity towards certain behaviors. It does not negate the client’s responsibility to choose to be obedient to scripture in the way he behaves, but it can be enlightening in identifying one aspect of the situation. Also, a secular psychologist can provide beneficial information in the identifying of some environmental issues – in abuse victims, for example, the brain itself (chemically and structurally) is often altered from exposure to significant stress. A health professional may be beneficial in helping identify any neurological or physical impairments that can lead to a proclivity to certain behaviors. Correcting these physical impairments as much as possible may be beneficial and can be an aspect of God’s Common Grace.

 

For example, if someone has an MTHFR gene mutation, this mutation causes synthetic folic acid to not be metabolized. Further, this synthetic folic acid is not easily removed, causes damage to the liver, and is registered as a harmful neurotoxin by the body. Folate, which is folic acid in its natural form, is required for “turning on and off genes” as well as for a large variety of other neurological responses among other critical bodily functions. If this essential vitamin is depleted, then the client will frequently experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and nervousness. Having these physical proclivities makes it easier for the client to fall into self-centeredness, worry, and anger.   This physical condition is not an excuse to indulge in these sins – but facing the temptation may be much easier if the nutritional deficiency is supplemented.

 

It is through the Common Grace given to men – scientists and secular psychologists – that the issue at hand can be described, given a (sometimes beneficial) label for explanation purposes, and (some of) the physical attributes better understood. But what secular psychology and science cannot do is to explain WHY. Only God can explain fully why these- issues occur. To the unsaved, this does not make sense, a biblical worldview is an utter folly. Therefore Biblical Counseling is absolutely vital. The Biblical Counselor is the only professional counselor who repeatedly brings the heart issue back to the Gospel and appeals to the authority and foundation of Scripture.

 

Finding True Healing

 

 

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’ However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So, faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:14-17

 

Scripture has to be our foundation and authority because it is sufficient. Scripture is completely sufficient because it is God-breathed, and it is alive. Further, if there were other sources that were equally effective for providing a real and lasting change in our heart – then Scripture wouldn’t be completely sufficient. To read more about the Sufficiency of Scripture in Counseling please read our article here: https://strivingforeternity.org/the-sufficiency-of-scripture-in-counseling/

 

 

“I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10

 

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:12-13

 

Being able to understand the human condition can be completely different from being able to work on improving the human condition. Secular psychology can not offer this type of improvement. It is only God who can change a person’s heart when he is confronted with Scripture. Scripture must be our authority – because it is the Word of God. Therefore, seeking counsel from someone who is not a Christian, or someone who doesn’t use Scripture as their authority and foundation are not only foolish, but it can also be detrimental.

 

When counseling someone who has physical issues that attribute to a heart problem, the Biblical Counselors first priority should be for their ultimate healing which happens through the Salvific Grace in Christ alone, followed by progressive sanctification, but our second priority should be to assist in bodily healing by means of God’s Common Grace. The proclamation of the Gospel must be the central aspect of Counseling if there is going to be any true healing takes place.

 

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3