Archive for the ‘The Death of Christ and Common Grace’ Category


1) But while I have no idea that they intend to be satisfied with anything that I can say, I will repeat in another form, what my opinion is, so that no fair mind will be any longer misled to suspect me of ambiguity. I am asked whether I believe that “Christ bore the guilt of his elect only.” I reply, Christ designed by his sufferings to deliver the elect only from their guilt. In that sense he “bore” the guilt of the elect only. But if they wish to make me say that Christ had no more to do with the guilt of the non-elect than of the fallen angels, I shall not say it. For Christ’s work has actually procured for them great temporary benefits, which their guilt would personally have made them unworthy to enjoya suspension of just doom, social, material good, common operations of H(oly) G(host) and an offer of salv.(ation) from God, who is “serious.” Had there been no mediatorial dispensation, the doom would doubtless have followed immediately on the guilt, as in the case of fallen angels. I must believe, therefore, that, (with Hodge) there is a relation which the sufferings of Christ had to all men."56 Cited by, Morton Howison Smith, Studies in Southern Presbyterian Theology (Amsterdam: Campen, `962), 201. [Some minor reformatting; footnote content and value original; italics original; parenthetical inserts Morton Smith’s; and underlining mine.] [Credit to Michael Lynch for this find.]

2) There is no safer clue for the student through this perplexed subject, than, to take this proposition; which, to every Calvinist, is nearly as indisputable as a truism; Christ’s design in His vicarious work was to effectuate exactly what it does effectuate, and all that it effectuates, in its subsequent proclamation. This is but saying that Christ’s purpose is unchangeable and omnipotent. Now, what does it actually effectuate? “We know only in part,” but so much is certain.

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Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) on the Death of Christ and Common Grace

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


[407] Although vicarious atonement as the acquisition of salvation in its totality cannot therefore be expanded to include all persons individually, this is not to say that it has no significance for those who are lost. Between the church and the world there is, at this point, not just separation and contrast. It is not the case that Christ has acquired everything for the former and nothing for the latter. In rejecting universalism one may not forget that Christ’s merit has its limits even for the church and its value and meaning for the world. In the first place, it must be remembered, after all, that though Christ as such is indeed the Re-creator, he is not the Creator of all things. Just as the Son follows the Father, so re-creation presupposes creation, grace presupposes nature, and regeneration presupposes birth. Not included in Christ’s merits, strictly speaking, is the fact that the elect are born and live, that they receive food, shelter, clothing, and an assortment of natural benefits. One can say that God would no longer have allowed the world and humankind to exist had he not had another and higher purpose for it. Common grace is indeed subservient to special grace, and along with salvation God also grants the elect many other, natural, blessings (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 8:28, 32; 1 Tim. 4:8; 2 Pet. 1:3). Still it is wrong, with the Herrnhuter and Pietists, to erase the boundaries between nature and grace, creation and redemption, and to put Christ in the Father’s place on the throne of the universe. Even election and the covenant of grace, presupposing as they do the objects of the one and the participants of the other, were not acquired by Christ but precede his merits. With his creation the Father lays the groundwork for the work of re-creation and leads toward it. With his work, on the other hand, the Son goes back deeply–as far as sin reaches–into the work of creation. Still the two works are distinct and In the second place, Christ did not, for each of his own, acquire the same thing.

There is diversity among believers before they come to the faith, difference in gender, age, class, rank, character, gifts, and so on, and also in the measure and degree of wickedness and corruption. And when they come to the faith, there is diversity in the grace given them. Grace is given to each according to the measure Christ has bestowed (Rom. l2:3; 1 Cor. 12:11; Eph. 3:7; 4:7). The natural diversity among people, though cleansed by grace, is not erased. By the diversity of spiritual gifts, it is even increased, for the body of Christ consists of many members in order that it may be one organism, God’s own creation and masterpiece.

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Richard Baxter (1615-1691) on The Death of Christ and Common Grace

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


A[rminian] “But the death of Christ effected something for them; viz., the new covenant and common grace, though it effect not their salvation.

B[axter]: Who denies any of this? not the Synod of Dort.

Richard Baxter, Catholic Theology (London: Printed by Robert White, for Nevill Simmons a the Princes Arms in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1675), book 2, page 55. [Some spelling modernized and some reformatting.]


Thomas Beverley (d. 1702) on the Death of Christ and Common Grace

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


The ends of God’s constituting this one man as a common head, even his Son our Lord Jesus Christ are:

1. That he might have in human nature an adoption of many sons to glory in this great Son of God and Son of Man, Heb. 2:10.

2. There is a redundancy of benefit, Common Grace, other advantages upon all parts of human nature in preserving so much of the remains of conformity to the Law of Righteousness in the world, which would only condemn as in hell, and not guide any thing good, but turn the world into a hell, were it not for Christ, in whom also much of patience, and bounty is vouchsafed to men in outward blessings, essaying their return to God by repentance [Rom. 2:4, 2 Pet. 3:9.] in hopes of his mercy, to which this patience, and bounty give so great encouragements.

This shows the admirable congruity to our case, to have our help laid upon so mighty, and near a mediator, as Emmanuel, God with us.

Thomas Beverley, A Brief View of the State of Mankind in the First Adam and in the Second Adam ([London : s.n., 1690]), 38-40. [Some minor reformatting; marginal references cited inline; and italics original


As an aside, let me say that while not everyone is saved by the cross, the work of Christ yields universal or near-universal concrete benefits. Through the death of Christ, the church was born, which led to the preaching of the gospel, and wherever the Gospel is preached there is an increase in virtue and righteousness in society. There is a spillage from the influence of the church, which brings benefits to all men. Also, people around the world have benefited from the church’s commitment to hospitals, orphanages, schools, and so on.

R.C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross (Orlando, Florida: Reformation Trust, 2007), 144.

[While Sproul’s wording here is fairly artless, his comments manage to minimally reflect the traditional Reformed opinion on this topic.]