God bestows “common grace” to all men. That is because God loves all of mankind. God provides the necessities of life, including the way of salvation (Jn. 3:16). Scripture speaks frequently to the concept of God’s common grace. However, there are instances which only God knows, when He withholds the providing of certain necessities. Scripture does say that God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). All Christians must accept this fact, for it’s His sovereign will to do as He pleases. Mercifully, God provides for all of mankind, whether they love Him or not and believe in Him or not.
Uniquely, Christians receive God’s “special” love, a love that will not only manifest itself physically, but will inevitably carry over into heaven–His love will never cease (Jn. 6:40, 1 Jn. 2:24-25, 4:9, Rom. 5:8, 1 Cor. 13:8, 13). All people have the opportunity for God’s special love, but, an obstacle which hinders most of them, has been the same obstacle for last 2,000 years: “…Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness.” (1 Cor. 1:23, and also Acts 4:12). “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:9). If only all people would clear this hurdle [belief in Jesus Christ alone], God’s temporal common grace, would turn into eternal love.
So what is God’s “common grace”? To put it concisely, Pastor John MacArthur defines it as: “…a term theologians use to describe the goodness of God to all mankind universally.” 1 That “goodness” of God is manifested in several ways. For instance, 1) God provides for mankind the necessities of life and daily sustenance (Matt. 5:45, Acts 14:15-17, 17:25). 2) He allows them to make independent decisions, even many that are ungodly and displeasing to Him. 3) He allows them to enjoy His creation; its beauty and splendor (Ps. 50:2). 4) He gives talents, knowledge, and physical prowess to all people–many for prosperous purposes. 5) He sets a government and leadership over the people (Rom. 13:1-5) 6) He restrains sin and evil (Rom. 2:15). And there are many more ways God is kind to all of humanity.
In this article, I want to focus on one particular way God displays common grace, which is provisionally. God’s graciously and mercifully bestows goodness to mankind equally: “”The LORD is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works.” (Ps. 145:9).
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He said; “…for He [God] causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45).
To the astonishment of the Lycaonian people, the Apostle Paul, by the power of God had just healed a lame man. Thinking Paul and Barnabas were gods [Zeus and Hermes], the Lycaonians exuberantly began preparing to make idolatrous sacrifices (Acts 14:8-13). Agitated by what was transpiring, Paul and Barnabas passionately challenged their idolatrous practices, and beseeched them to repent and turn to the one true living God: “…Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them. and in the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15-17). Paul explained to an idolatrous, pagan people, who obviously did not know the true God; that the God of creation provides all things to man.
Incidentally, mankind today may not worship wooden or stone idols, however men are no less idolatrous in nature. We might give “praise” to men rather than God. For instance, giving praise to physicians in the medical field; gratitude and thankfulness directed at fellow man instead of Creator God, where it ought to go. As an illustration of this might go this way, a hospital’s physician will perform tests and treatments on a sick patient, without achieving any positive results. And when the disillusioned physician is at a loss on how to proceed, he explains to the patient that he could do no more. Then utters in pure conjecture; “If you get some ‘rest’ overnight, perhaps you might feel better in the morning.” Amazingly, in the morning the patient miraculously recovers from the illness and is fully “healed”. Unfortunately, the response of both the patient and the physician, upon observing what was no less than a miracle can be is disheartening. The now rejuvenated physician might state, “Well, I guess you just needed rest, which was the right call.” Thus taking all the credit for the patient’s recovery and God receives no glory. The patient, who is healed, is fully impressed with the physicians ingenuity and wisdom! Both praised man’s ability rather than God. In the case of an unbeliever, that outcome is to be expected, but not the response of a professing Christian; he or she ought to give God the glory. Unfortunately, misplaced praise is the response of many professing Christians. They give the glory to a physician and fail to recognize that it was God who empowered the physician.
It’s God who causes the miracle of “healing” which no one else could perform. Therefore, only God can disintegrate inoperable cancer, cause a wound to scab, rewire the brain when it is injured, or cure the “common” cold; which no man-made medicine is able to cure. In my illustration, it was during the patients overnight rest, that God administered His common grace and caused the healing. Sadly, both the physician and patient, believed the [physician’s] “prescribed” rest was the right call for the circumstance. When in actuality, the physician didn’t have a clue what to do next and threw a proverbial “Hail Mary pass” hoping for a miracle. Indeed a “miracle” did occur, but it was at the loving and merciful hands of God, not the physician. That is how God’s mercy operates. It doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not, by His common grace the human body heals from all sorts of illnesses, diseases, and injuries–indiscriminately and impartially God heals. You may reject Jesus Christ, yet He heals you all the same. He is the great physician! For example, Jesus healed ten lepers, yet only one of them returned to give Him thanks (Luke 17:11-19). Unfathomably, the miracle of salvation operates in a similar manner: “For there is no partiality with God. (Rom. 2:11). Mercifully, God chooses those to set His “special” love upon; no one seeks after Him (Jn. 15:16).
As a caveat, God’s common grace is only applicable while living on this earth. Do not kid yourselves, God’s “goodness” will come to an end when your life ends. Then inevitable judgment, when you “will” be held accountable for your life of sin and unbelief, when God’s common grace will no longer be available. For unbelievers, physical healing in every capacity is only temporary and then condemnation will be permanent suffering. If however, you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will be judged, but not condemned because as eternal life awaits in Heaven (Rom. 14:12, 2 Cor. 5:10, Rom. 8:1). Furthermore, the believer experiences a peace, joy, comfort, and assurance [of salvation], and eternal bliss. The unbelieving world will never know or understand this truth. Therefore, in order for someone to stay in God’s goodness, one must turn to Christ and be permanently healed for eternity. Jesus healed many unbelievers of their infirmities and fed hungry multitudes, but He knew that mercy was only fleeting (Matt. 14:13, 15:32). That’s why He warned all men to quit striving after that which is perishable. For He alone is the only “water” someone can drink and never thirst again; He alone is the “bread” to eat to never hunger (Jn. 4:14, 6:35).
as I previously stated, the physical healing of those who spend this earthly life denying Christ, will only be temporary. It does not matter if you’re rich or poor, introvert or extrovert, famous or infamous, male or female, Jew or Gentile–all people alike need spiritual healing. When Adam fell [sinned] in the Garden of Eden, and he plunged the entire human race into death, both physically and spiritually (Gen. 2:17, 3:1-6, Rom. 5:12). Therefore, all people must repent and ask for the grace that eternally heals, Jesus said: “…I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (Jn. 14:6). “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
In conclusion, God’s common grace is a sample, each and every day of His mercy, grace and love so people will turn to Him for “complete” grace and eternal healing.
John MacArthur – Common Grace article