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Redemption and The Work of our Hands (Vol 08) - Common Grace and our work

Sunday English Service - 24 DEC 17


Please turn with me to Matthew's Gospel chapter 5. I am going to read to you three passages. First, I am going to read from Matthew's gospel chapter 5 verse 45 and then I am going to read from Psalms 65 verse 9 to 13. And then the third passage I am going to read is Acts chapter 14 verse 16 to 17. What I am going to say today is based on all these passages. So let me read it in the beginning because once we get into this, you will begin to see how thesepassages make sense. Matthew's gospel chapter 5 verse 45 says that, You may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Now to Psalms 65 and verse 9 to 13: You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it;The river of God is full of water. You provide their grain,for so You have prepared it.You water its ridges abundantly.You settle its furrows,You make it soft with showers,You bless its growth.You crown the year with Your goodness,and Your paths drip with abundance.They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,and the little hills rejoice on every side.The pastures are clothed with flocks.The valleys also are covered with grain. They shout for joy, they also sing.

Now, finally let me read to you Acts chapter 14 verse 16 and 17: Who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

We have been teaching on work for quite some time now. We looked at the first part where God designed man for work. Just as God worked, man should work; because man is made in the image and likeness of God. God is described as one who works 6 days and rested on the 7th day - very much like us. So man is designed for work. So we have to live according to the design - function according to the design. In the first aspect, we mainly talked about what was the design was all about - what was the work that was given to man. They were told to be fruitful, multiply, fill, subdue and dominate - that's the work. That means bring the Lordship of our God in every realm of life throughout all of His creations. Man was supposed to be the enforcer of God's Lordship over the entire creation; that's man's work. We may belong to different professions, we may do different things, but we all do basically one thing; and that is, we are in the business of subduing and dominating in the sense of bringing everything under subjection to God's Lordship; that's man's work.

Secondly, we looked at how sin came in and ruined man and as a result how work became difficult. And the third aspect is the one that we are covering now. We are now looking at how redemption impacts work. We say we are saved, so how does it impact work? Now, when Protestant teachings began to explore this truthit made a great impact upon societies. Entire nations were changed by these teachings and so I believe that they will have a great impact as we listen to it even now. And to understand this Protestant teaching, concerning work; The term Protestant work ethic is very popular - it came from the Protestant teaching concerning work. To understand Protestant teaching and Protestant work ethic, you need to understand 5 things, basically:

First is that you need to understand that the gospel is in four-parts - the gospel is a four-part gospel. I say this because some people have reduced it to just a two-part gospel. They say man is a sinner, Jesus is the Savior; that is the gospel, nothing more to it. Wrong, the four-part gospel goes like this: God created the world, man fell into sin, Jesus came to save and then ultimately, God will restore all things to Himself. Restoration means to bring back to the original condition. So, Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration - only then can the bible be understood. You should not start with the 3rd Chapter of Genesis where sin comes in, you should start with the first chapter of Genesis where the bible starts with the creation. That's the whole point I made. When you do that then all puzzles are solved, I believe. It is a wholesome teaching. That is what true gospel is all about.

Secondly, we talked about the creation mandate. The creation mandate is about Genesis 1:28 where it says that when God made Adam and Eve, He blessed them saying, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill, subdue and dominate. He was mandating them. In fact, He was declaring what man ought to be. He must be a person who is fruitful, who is multiplying, filling, subduing and dominating. You need to understand the meaning of that, and I related it to Matthew's gospel chapter 28 verse 19 - when Jesus rose again, he said, Go into all the world, preach the gospel, make disciples baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and then teach them everything that I have taught you. It is basically saying Genesis 1:28, in New Testament language - in New Covenant language. It is the same thing and I showed you that.

Now the third thing is what we talked about last week - the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is already come, in and through Jesus Christ. We are in the Kingdom, we have entered the Kingdom. And the bible talks so much about the Kingdom. What is the Kingdom? The Kingdom is already here in a certain way. Spiritually it is here. And as we go to work in this world, we must realize that we belong to that Kingdom. We are basically at war with the Kingdom of Satan in this world. There are these two Kingdoms now operating - the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Darkness. And we represent the Kingdom of God and we are here to enforce the values of that Kingdom and bring the Lordship of Christ in every realm of life and throughout all creation - we talked about it last week.

Now, today I want to talk about the "Common Grace". This is something you need to understand. I grew up in the Christian church - you can't tell me that you were not at church when I taught you this, because I never missed church. Every time the door was open I was there. So nobody can blame me saying that I was not in church. I was in church, and I was listening most of the time. So, as far as I could tell, nobody ever told me about "Common Grace". And really, nobody ever told me about work, also. These are things that I am exploring now. And I find it very valuable and it has really literally changed my life and I want to just share it with you. And the thing about "Common Grace" may sound like a theological matter that doesn't matter to you, but it a down to earth teaching that very much matters to you. When you understand that you will understand a lot of things.

Now, what is this teaching about "Common Grace"? You see, after the fall, the subduing and dominating work of mankind, which God originally gave mankind, became difficult now. Nevertheless, God did not cancel that mandate. God did not say, "Alright now sin has come in and made everything difficult, let us now forget about subduing and dominating. Let's now forget about the creation mandate." No! He didn't do that. In fact, after the flood of Noah was over - the flood came, ravaged the whole earth and left it devastated; and the end of it all God's speaks to Noah. And let me read it to you, you will see that God again mentions the same mandate that He originally gave to Adam and Eve, in Genesis chapter 1:28. Now, since the world is newly beginning after the flood, and that there is only one family - there it was only Adam and Eve, here it is only 8 people - Noah and his family; again, the same mandate essentially.

Chapter 9 of Genesis verse 1, So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. - This is right after the flood. Noah was looking at the earth, wondering how he is going to make it because the whole earth is devastated by the flood and now God says, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill" - and if you read few more verses, those few more verses can be put in the same words that come after this, in Genesis 1:28 - subdue and dominate. It is all about subduing and dominating. So the same mandate is given. So, God has not cancelled the mandate - the creation mandate. And I told you that it is also called "the cultural mandate". He has not cancelled it - He sees man's job even after the fall as the job of subduing and dominating. There is no doubt in God's mind - He sees it as that. So now, humanity today after Jesus has come, even in the days of Noah, humanity stood as two divided groups. One, is the godly seed and the other is ungodly (the ones that did not follow God). You had the children of Abraham, the covenant people and the rest of world, the Jews and the Gentiles. The world was divided into two - Jews and Gentiles.

Now in the New Testament times the world is again divided into two. One is the people of God - the saved, born again people, the people of God. And the other is the unregenerate - the unsaved people, people who do not know Christ, do not know God. The world is basically divided into these two categories. Now, since there are two categories now, in order to carry out this mandate that was originally given to all mankind, now the mandate belongs to all of us. Now when we seek to fulfill this mandate of being fruitful, multiplying, subduing and dominating, we have to necessarily work with people who are not saved, people of this world. And this is where the problem comes because a lot of people - Christian people, I think they have an issue with that. They have this idea of separation from the world which has been taken too far, I think and I will show you; and so they believed that they cannot have anything to do with the people of the world. That we must keep away as much as possible from the world and from the people of the world - from sinners, so to speak, because we are a different people and they are different. So, we must separate ourselves from them. And this idea of separation and a very wrong notion of separation, has led to the wrong kind of results. One result being that people are unable to handle their work in this world. They find themselves inefficient - not able to cope with their work. Not able to go to work and work with all lot of people that don't know Christ. They say, "How am I supposed to be in this world and work with unsaved people that don't even believe God, don't have the same values, don't even follow God. How can I work with them?" Their values are different, their ways and means, methods are different, everything is different, how can I get along with them. How can I work with them? Some believe that they need to get out of that, and get into ministry or get into some kind of holy organization, Christian organization or something. And then they get into it and find Christian organizations are sometimes just the same as other organizations. They have a real problem. People can't meaningfully go and work with the world. They cannot go and cooperate with others, and happily work with others, knowing that they are different from them. They believe that they cannot work with unbelievers. But the bible teaches differently, and I want to show you that today because the whole purpose of preaching is this: to make you understand that when it comes to come, God expects as to work in the world, with the people of the world, whether they are saved or unsaved, join hands with them to fulfil a common goal, a common cause, a good cause and to put our minds together and cooperate with one another and do our work in this world, because that's what God expects out of us. And I want to show you that.

In the Scriptures, you see, there are many examples of men of God, cooperating with non-believers, to achieve ends under this cultural mandate of subduing and dominating. The first example that I will show you is Joseph. There are many examples, let me just point out 2 or 3. First example is Joseph - Joseph goes into Egypt; you know the circumstances - was sold and went into Egypt, lives in Potiphar's house, then ends up in jail, then ends up as the Prime Minister of Egypt, God elevates him. Now, through the lifetime that he spends there - from being a young man he was there. In his teenage years he went there, he never tried to get out of that and somehow be delivered from these people; he felt a destiny that God has him there, at that time, for a purpose, for the glory of God. And his idea came true. God was with him. He was in a foreign land, among an alien people. Those people did not even worship the living God, they worshipped other gods. Their values are different, their culture is different - everything is different. He was an alien there. He could very well say, "I can't work with these people." But there he rose to the highest position in Egypt - right next to the king. And had the whole government machinery under him, worked in cooperation with them to solve one common problem - that is the famine problem.

For one common goal, for one common good; to achieve that one common good, he the man of God, a child of God, worked with all other people who are not children of God, don't even have the knowledge of God, have nothing to do with this God; join hands with them and achieve that goal of saving the nation from disaster - from the people from perishing in the famine. Wonderful example, you read that in Genesis chapter 41. Then we have the example of Daniel going to Babylon. He didn't go by choice, he went there as a slave. Again, it all looks like everything is going wrong. The Babylonians, when they took the people of Israel captive, they were very clever. They picked up people to be taken as captives by choosing the young ones, the educated ones, the ones that have certain skills and abilities because they can make use of them for their country's welfare. So, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were chosen literally like that and taken into Babylon and they recognized the gifts and talents that was in them and they started using them. And these fellows learned the language and rose to very high positions in the government there. In the same government that took them captives, they came to the very top, really. Daniel was very high up there, like a governor he was, and governing the nation, had lot of power, and God gave them many opportunities. See, God had taken them there for a purpose and God had given them many opportunities. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fire because they did not worship this big statue that the king made and when they were thrown in the fire, the king looks and finds there is a fourth man walking with them. Tells them to pull them out and they are pulled out. There is not even the smell of fire upon them - completely clean. They are not burned, not one wound, not even the smell - so protected. The king himself declares, "Your God is a living God", in a foreign nation where they worship other gods, where they don't even believe this living God. In fact the whole statue and everything was designed to throw these people on fire and kill them. That king takes it all back and says, "Your God is the living God". And then Daniel for example, he was thrown in the lions'den; and the Lord shut the lions' mouths. And Daniel spent the whole night there. I think he had a wonderful sleep. Some of our Christians would have had a fasting meeting there, sincerely praying. He had a wonderful sleep. The king could never sleep. He comes first thing in the morning, he looks, and Daniel is fine. He says, "My God has shut the lions' mouths." And here he is, again the king declaring that, "Your God is the living God."

Like that, God used them mightily, in a foreign nation, among alien people, among people that did not even have any faith in God, to show God's love and God's power and to show himself, God used them. So we have stories like this, and I want to read you one little verse. In Jeremiah, a very interesting verse. In Jeremiah chapter 29 and verse 7, says this, God is telling the people, People of God he says, Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive. They are slaves there, carried away captives. Now God is telling them, Seek the peace of the city - that means literally he is saying, "Pray for peace of that city." Into which you have been taken as captives and I have allowed it. And pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.In other words he says, "Don't be resentful." Don't be sitting here and say, "Well, I can't ever do what this people tell me to do." I can't ever cooperate with them, I cannot ever live in this place, I can't be having.... No, pray for this people. Pray for this peace of this city; because that city to which you have been taken captive is full of peace then that peace will be shared by you also. You will also enjoy the benefits.

In New Testament we read another passage in Galatians chapter 6 and verse 10, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Now Paul is not saying, "Let's do good to those who are of the household of faith." In other words, the church people or the Christian people. The New Testament times, Paul is writing and saying, "Let's do good to all." When he says, "all", he means "all". That means people out there in the world included. Let, as the opportunity comes, as you have the opportunity, as much as you have the opportunity, try to do good to everyone. It doesn't matter what religion they belong to, what persuasion they belong to, what they believe or you know, whether they are saved or sinners, or whatever it is; do good to everybody and especially to the people that belong to the household of God, the people of God, the people of the church, he says. Very right attitude. He didn't says, "Folks, we are church people, let's just take care of our own. Don't do any good to any others. We don't care about them. We are separate from them." No, no, no, he says, "Let's do good to all."

Through Jeremiah, God says pray for that city. Let that city have peace, even though they have taken you as captives, because in that peace you will find peace. So this is the biblical teaching. The biblical teaching says that like Joseph and Daniel and others, you can live among unbelievers, and successfully live among unbelievers, and join hands with them in achieving some common good and do things for the glory of God. But there are other passages in the bible, I don't have the time to read all of them; but if I read one, the main one, the chief of them all and explain that to you, I think that would be sufficient enough. So let me ask you turn to 2nd Corinthians chapter 6. There are many passages like this, which tell us again that we need to watch out and we need to be separate from the world. We are in the world but we must not be of the world. There is the difference between the world and us. Now some people take these verses, and the Christian church today is famous for teaching a separation which is wrong. Separation is not wrong - they teach a wrong kind of separation. They say that we should have nothing to do with people that belong to other faiths, nothing to do with people of any other kind, any other religion and so on. That is wrong, the bible does not teach that.

If you don't believe me, read this: This is one famous verse that is used again and again to teach that. 2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 14, says, Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with the idols? - Now, this is a very powerful passage. Paul is making an argument. And many people have believed that this is an argument to keep ourselves separate and holy from our association with any other kind of people. So they teach a kind of separation, where we will have nothing to do with any kind of people. In fact, Tamilnadu Christianity is very famous for going even to very great extremes. There are circles in which if you belong to a certain church, you cannot even wish another Christian. This is their idea of separation - by wishing them you will get tainted, you will become corrupt, because they belong to another church. There are churches that teach that. That you cannot even shake hands and wish, say, "Praise the Lord, brother." You can't even say, "Hello" to another man. That is one extreme. Not everybody goes to that extreme, but there are people that go to that extreme. But there are people that say on the basis of these verses that I have just read to you, that we should have nothing to do with unbelievers. That is what this verse says, they say. Is that what it says?

Now if that is what the verse says, then how comes Joseph lived there and it was alright. How come Daniel lived there and it was alright. How can Paul say, "Let's do good as opportunity arises. Let's do good to everyone, especially to the household of God." How? If you are supposed to have nothing to do with them, then we should not do good to them. I will tell you, you need to understand the bible very clearly. Paul is not teaching that we should not have anything to do with unbelievers in the world. If that is true, then you can't work in any career. You will all have to quit today. We have to start Christian companies and take only Christians which will be against the law. This is all wrong ideas about separation. The bible does not teach that. What does the bible teach then? Why is Paul saying this? Listen to what he says: He says very clearly, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers." Yoke is the word that means a very strong entanglement with them, a very strong joining together with them in every way, so that their thinking becomes your thinking, their ways become your ways,their methods become your methods, their approach becomes your approach. Their philosophy and way of life becomes your philosophy and way of life. Yoke is such a strong word, where you become literally one with them. That is what you are not supposed to do. You can join with them for a common good, he can keep his policies and his way of life and I can keep my policies, my beliefs and my way of life, but joint together in some way to achieve some common good. That is ok according to the bible. Now, let me explain to you in Indian language. You have heard the term, "Common minimum program", right? Politicians used it nowadays. They come up with all kinds of things. What is Common minimum program? Two parties that are totally opposed to one another, ideologically, come together, sometimes joined together in election time, they want to win and they want to rule. You wonder how they are going to rule because they are totally opposed in their philosophy, in the way they think about economics, in the way they think about social issues and so on; you think how are they going to join and work. For the sake of getting rid of the common enemy.

You see, sometimes people get together to get rid of a common enemy. Francis Schaeffer is a man that came up with a term for that. See the idea is now is, if you have an enemy and someone else is also an enemy of that person, then he is your friend, because your enemy and my enemy is the same. That makes us both friends. That's a policy and he came up with a term for that. It is called "co-belligerence" is where you are in a war-like attitude with others. You are totally opposed to certain ideas and so on. Belligerence is a very strong word, and Francis Schaeffer talks very much about culture and Christianity's impact upon culture. He came up with the word co-belligerenceto describe that. He says there can be co-belligerencewhere Christians join together with those that are not Christians at all - that don't believe like them at all. Ideologically they are so different; but to achieve a common good and to defeat some common evil - there are some common evils, there are some social issues, some issues in the nations for which we fight against and there are other people that are fighting against also. So, both can join together, and join hands together and fight a common evil and achieve a common good, and forget about all the differences. That kind of association, the bible encourages and teaches -that it is possible.

But a lot of people have gone the wrong way, interpreting saying in 2nd Corinthians 6:14 in this way, saying that we must have nothing - separatism. We must have nothing to do with unbelievers. So, you will find Christians having a lot of issues when it comes to work; they have problems with work. They hate their work because they have to work with unbelievers - bad people, people that are not right. One fellow comes and tells me, "Oh, you know brother, in our office, I don't even like to go there because they worship and do this..." You know those kinds of issues. And if you are having issues like this, please listen, that is what I am trying to talk about today. So the bible talks about and gives us examples like Joseph and Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and many others, who worked successfully under those circumstances. Don't you think they had the same problem? Don't you think they lived among people that worshipped other gods, and they had to work with them daily? In fact, they were great majority and these people were very small minority. They worked successfully, by the grace of God; and yet those people opened their mouths and acknowledged many times that their God is the living God. You think times have changed now, you can't do that now today. You think God has changed now, He doesn't allow us to associate with anybody that doesn't belong to our same faith and believe just like us. No, no, no. So let us try to understand it. So let us try to understand. The bible teaches it in this way: The bible teaches that God's grace is shown in two different ways, basically - that is what the bible teaches. The Protestant teaching came up with this great wonderful truth - that grace is manifested or shown by God in two different ways:

One is called. "Special grace", or another name is "Saving grace". This is the grace that is shown to people that come to Christ and are saved. What kind of grace is this? This is a grace which reaches out to a sinner, brings conviction to him and repentance to him, where he turns to Christ, becomes a new creation. The Holy Spirit begins to deal with him and he turns to God, and he turns to Christ and he believes in Jesus Christ, confesses him as Lord and Savior, receives him, and thereby he is changed and become a new creation, and becomes a new person. That is "Saving grace". He is a sinner, he should have received the punishment, he should have been destroyed. The wages of sin is death, but he has got life everlasting, God's favor is upon him, God loves him - loves him so much, that he is saved. That he is brought in to the family of God, made a child of God. That is "Special grace" or "saving grace". Special grace always leads to salvation, and it is that grace that saves a person. It is the grace that can be seen the lives of people that have been saved - special grace or saving grace. Common grace is the grace that God's shows to all the rest of the people that never even come to Christ, they even hate Christ, don't want Christ, enemies of Christ, literally; God even shows them some grace. This is a wonderful truth from the bible. When you understand this, you will understand the world and the people of world, and look at them, and approach your relationship with them in a different way.

You have grace - God's grace has saved you, but God is in a way showing them a certain kind of grace that is called "Common grace" - it called "Common" because it is available to everyone whether they are saved or not, whether they are good or evil. God shines His sun on the good and the evil, sends His rain upon the good and the evil - that kind of grace. So when you understand that, you will understand how to look at the people in the world and how to work with them and how to understand and approach them. So common grace is grace that doesn't bring salvation, but it brings everything else. There are a lot of benefits and blessings that it brings from God, even though the person is bad or unsaved or whatever.

When humanity fell into sin, through Adam, Christian teaching is that, the human race entered into state called, "Total depravity". "Depravity" is the word you know, means basically corruption. When you don't keep food in the refrigerator, it is corrupted. You can't eat it, it's of no use. It's spoilt, we say. So, mankind in some way got corrupted. That is what the "Total depravity" doctrine says. But the people that teach total depravity also teach that while humanity is totally depraved,that total depravity is a reality, it doesn't mean utter-depravity. There is a difference between utter-depravity and total depravity. What is it? Why do we say, "Totally depraved" but not "Utterly-depraved"? What is the difference? The difference is this: Even though the person is totally depraved, humanity is total depraved, God is gracious enough so that He still seems to endow that fallen man, that sinful man, that man that has entered into a state of total depravity. He still seems to endow him with certain gifts and talents, and stimulates and interests them to do certain things for the common good so that we will not be left without any hope of survival of this creation. Total depravity is not utter depravity.

If total depravity meant utter depravity, we will not be sitting here today. We would all have been destroyed; either God has destroyed it or we would have killed each other long before. Just imagine, we believe in total depravity but we are not utterly depraved. If we were utterly depraved the world will become an impossible place for people to live. Nobody can live here; it will be an intolerable place. You can see some little shades a bit now in the world - everywhere. Utter depravity makes people behave and become as bad as they can be, as wicked as they can be. Do you know that even though we are sinners we have not become as bad as we could be - that's the common grace. The common grace ensures, that there are certain gifts and qualities that are given to us by God, that ensures that we do not completely become depraved in such a way that we destroy one another. There is something positive there. God still endows people that are fallen and people that are in sin with certain gifts, talents and stimulates and interests them to do certain things for the common good so that we will not be left with any hope of survival of this creation. That is why we are not as wicked as we could be. Just imagine - we see that even believers enjoy God's gifts, and they do things which benefit the world. Have you ever seen that? There are some very gifted unbelievers.

There are very gifted people that don't believe in God at all but they are great scientists, they are great doctors, great businessmen, great people, engineers that found solutions for mankind's various problems and difficulties. They have come up with gadgets and instruments that are so helpful in making man's life better. Some of them work so hard, night and day, coming up with things that benefit humanity so much. Some of them sacrifice a lot to come up with that. Why? These qualities and gifts come as a result of God endowing them with it, even though they are in a fallen state and condition. So they work and bring some kind of happiness in this world. They brings some kind of progress in this world. They bring social and economic improvement in this world for themselves and for others. So that is what I am talking about. That is what is called, "Common grace". God has given them something; they are not saved but God has given them something. They are not saved but their gifts come from God. They are a tremendous musician maybe, tremendous artistic people sometimes, people that are so gifted in science and mathematics and physics and so on, highly gifted because God has endowed them with certain gifts, even though they do not know anything about God, don't have contact with the living God, don't even care to believe in the living God.

So, God is clothed even the fallen man and ornamented him with God's excellent gifts, many times. That is what is called "Common grace". He has not got salvation but he has got everything else. Just after the first service, somebody met me, they came from another country. They talked to me and they said, "You know you are talking about work. Where we live if you tell an electrician or a carpenter to come at 11 O'clock, he will show up at exactly at 11 O'clock. You can leave the house to him, he will work and then he will close the house, and lock it up if you want when he goes.Everything will be safe and no danger. Come at the right time, finish everything on right time. If he not done his work right, he will come back and get it done for you and charge you nothing. There are certain things, principles they follow," he says. And it is very good. And then he said, "The only thing that they don't have is salvation, but they have got everything else good." That is what I am talking about. Common grace means they don't have salvation, they don't have the knowledge of Christ, but they have every other quality or many other qualities that makes their life and others' life wonderful. God has endowed them with certain gifts and abilities that are so useful, so beneficial to everybody. And you cannot deny that; that's what is called "Common grace". Now already you are easing up a little bit.Already, you see when youtalk about this already you begin to look at the world,and people of the world with a different light. You don't see them and totally reject them as people who don't know Christ, and destiny bound to eternal damnation or something like that. You look at them in a different light because they have also received some kind of grace from God called "Common grace". So, common grace is every favor of whatever kind or degree that is falling short of salvation, that is all.

So that is common grace. It is common because it is universal. It is grace because it is undeserved, and given by a gracious God. Now we see plenty of examples of this in the scriptures. Now in the Protestant circles there is a confession called the "Westminster Confession". Am sure some of you have heard about this. This is one of the best confessions of faith come up by the Protestants. And they have written it down, and a lot of people follow it. It is very thorough and good confession of faith concerning what as Protestants we believe. And they described the difference between the "Saving grace" and the "Common grace".

What is a "special grace" and what is "common grace"? They have described the difference like this: Basically they say, the works done by the saved are works that God commands, and they are works which are useful to the one who does the work as well as useful for others. And they come from a pure heart. There are three things about this work. It comes from a pure heart, it is done in a right manner according to the word and it is done for the glory of God. So when a converted person, a Christian believer, when he works good works, what kind of works are they? They are based on the word of God, the word commands it. And these are works that are highly beneficial to himself, but others also, and it comes from pure heart, because his heart has been born again. He is of a new nature, purified by the Holy Spirit. He is a new person, it comes from a pure heart and it is done in the right way according to the word of God, and it is done for the glory of God.

But what of the work done by an unbeliever? Now, an unbeliever also seems to do that kind of work, seem to do some work. When you look at it, it is good. But there is a difference. What is the difference? The unbelievers works, even though it may be based on what the word of God says by principle; maybe it is useful to him, as well as others, they do not come from a right heart. It is not a purified heart. The heart is not right; heart does not have any place for God - no respect for God, no belief, no faith in God; heart without faith, heart empty of God, heart that does not honor God, comes from that kind of a heart. And the work is not done in the way that the word of God tells. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount remember Jesus said, when you want to do charity, do it in a certain way. He says, "Let your left hand not know what your right hand did." If you did something to somebody, don't let your left hand know what you right hand gave. But there are people that would do good to others, but they would first advertise in the paper. They would call everybody, they would have at least a half a dozen people withgarlands waiting for them to garland at them and people with shawls to honor them, and then half a dozen of people to talk about them - how they have donated, so many andaas and gundaas andsarees and dhoties and so on. They'll put it in every paper, call everybody from the press and take pictures of all these things being handed out and all of that.

So, it is not done in the way the word of God tells you to do it, because basically the heart is not right. It is not a heart that respects God, honors God. Therefore, you don't care to do according to how God tells you to do, because you have no respect for God. So, you just do it, you know, the way you want to do it. And finally, it is done not for the glory of God, it's for the glory of that person who does it. This is the difference between the work of a believer and the works of unbeliever. This is Westminster confession of faith. This is how they say it can be differentiated. But whatever that person has done, even if they didn't do it out of a pure heart, even if they didn't do it the way God wants them to do; even if they didn't do it for the glory of God, still it is good. Am glad that so many people got andaas and gundaas and and shirts and dhoties and sarees and so on, which is good. Who will give sarees to these people and who will give all these things to people? I am glad that some people got it, that a hundreds of people got it, finally. That itself is good, that is a good work. It looks good to us, but because the heart is not pure, the motives are not pure, the way and method is not pure, the purpose is not pure, it doesn't look good to God. God looks at it with a different eye but it looks good to the world. That is what the works of an unbeliever looks like. Alright, so this is common grace. So you have an understanding of common grace.

"Special grace" is saving grace, where it enables a person to get saved, brings him to Christ, makes him a new person, gives him a new nature so that the person is purified in his heart, so that he can do from a new motive and walk by the word of God and so on. So, whatever he does comes from that. The person who has common grace is the person that may also do some good works but there are deeper problems inside that person. Alright, people say, "Well, why does God give common grace? Why can't He just give Special grace, the saving grace and forget about these people?" Why does God give common grace? What is the benefit in giving common grace? What is the purpose? What is the meaning of this common grace? Why do you give common grace to all these people, even though they are sinners, even though they have bad motives? Some of them are really evil. Why does God give them such good gifts to them? Now let me give you at least one or two reasons:

The first reason why God gives common grace is, it restrains sin. Common grace restrains sin. Restrains sin meaning that it restrains sin from becoming fully evil or reaching its end. It restrains or prevents sinners from going all the way and doing all the evil that they could do, and keeps it restrained. If they went all the way, and if everybody did that; if every fallen man did that, then the world like I said, will not exist - there will be no salvation, there will be no creation, no world. So, common grace is given by God. In His infinite wisdom, God has decided that He wants to give common grace so that sin can be restrained, so that they would not go as far as they could go. Let me give you some example: Just one example, because there is no time. Remember Abraham went to Egypt when God called him in 12th chapter, you read in 13th chapter that he went to... In 12th chapter itself you read that there was a famine in the land where God called him to go. And so, from there he left there to go into Egypt, temporarily, so that he can get some grain, food... because everybody is dying of famine. So, he goes there - and the problem with this countries in those days, the king if they looked at a woman, she maybe another man's wife - if they found her beautiful and wanted and desired that woman, they would usually kill the man and grab the woman. So, before they went in there, Abraham told Sarah... Sarah must have been a very beautiful woman... He told Sarah, "Look you are a beautiful woman. When we go in there, they are going cast their eyes on you. So you better tell them that you are my sister, that I am your brother. At least they will leave me, even if they take you, they will at least spare my life." Now in a way that is true, because he married a relative and according to that, she is in a way his sister. So, it is kind of half-truth or half lie, whichever way you want to call it. So they go in there and sure enough the king is told that a foreign woman has come, and especially foreign woman had a special attraction to these kings. He was told that a foreign woman has come, she is looking very beautiful and so the king sends to take her and the man says, "Yea, she is my sister." So the king takes her, thinking that it's his sister. And gives him dowry also - a king's dowry. Might be truckloads of whatever - silver and gold. It looks like that, because the next verse says Abraham is very rich with silver and gold, male and female servants, cattle and so on.

He became rich by going there because the king gave him dowry to the brother-in-law, he thought. So, he gave the dowry, took the woman. They are preparing her to become the king's concubine. In the meanwhile at night God spoke to the king and said, "Look, if you touch her you will be a dead man." That is exactly what he said - read that. "You will be a dead man if you touched her because that is another man's wife." And the king said, "Well, I have not done anything wrong. The man said it is his sister." So the next morning he got up and called Abraham and said, "Why did you lie to me? Our whole household would have been destroyed, you know. Please take your wife and leave." For God to collect all the gold and silver he gave him you know, and sent him away. And the next verse says, Abraham was very rich with silver and gold and male and female servants, and cattle, and so on. A few verses later, it says that the cattle so many that Lot and Abraham had, that the earth was unable to bear the burden of the cattle - they had too much because the king had given them too much. Now the king is a wicked man. Like I said, when God got a hold of him he said, "that's his sister, that's why I took", but even if it was not his sister, he would have taken her. Only thing is he would have killed him. Such a king was forbidden from going as far as he could go. He could go further, he could get rid of Abraham. He could have killed Abraham, but God puts a stop to it. Now look at the amazing grace of God. That man is not saved, he doesn't believe in God, he doesn't believe in the God of Abraham, doesn't worship him, doesn't have any faith in him, never met him; but God stops him by divine providence - the whole thing was stopped, that man comes to terms with the wrong that he had done, and gives back the woman and so on - puts a stop to it, so that he did not go as far as he could go. That is what I mean by "Common grace". Common grace protects an evil person from going as far as he could go.

Now, let's come to ourselves. Forget the king. Let us come to ourselves. Are you ready for this? Before you and I were saved, just imagine what mess we would have gotten into, if it was not for the common grace. Boy, we would have committed some blunders for which you would be still hanging our heads down in shame. We would never be in positions that we hold today if it was not for the grace of God that kept us from doing certain things foolishly when we were sinners, out there running, doing all kinds of wild things. Hello, everybody acts like, "I don't know anything about what you are talking about". We always wanted to go, this way and that way, do this and that; so many opportunities showed up in life, to do the utmost evil, be as wicked as you could be and do all kinds of things that are so wrong, so terrible, so sinful - but at that time we desired to do those things. We ran after those things - we would have given our life to be able to enjoy such things. Some of us would have done it, but only by God's providence, He stopped us. Something, some fear came, something restricted us, something told us not to do it. We came very near, didn't go into it. We almost did it but didn't do it, we escaped. How many of you say today you are very thankful to God for the common grace. If as sinners we had no grace from God given to us at all.

There is no kind of grace available that God left us in our own sins and abandoned us to do whatever we wish to do and go about our wickedness as we would wish to do and go to the extremes of wickedness; we would have been finished long time ago and we would not have amounted to anything, because of that common grace, grace that is even available to sinners; we have even experienced that. That is why we should be merciful to sinners. We should be merciful to others that don't know the saving grace of God, because God loves them even in their unsaved state, God cares about them, undergirds them, strengthens them, empowers them, stops them from doing utmost evil, comes to their aid and help, and gives them the power to say no to certain wrongs, keeps them from totally corrupting themselves and destroying themselves. Oh, when I think of the grace of God, I want just to praise God a million times. What amazing grace of God. It is because of the grace of God you and I are seated here. We should never be proud, that we are such holy people, we have never done any mistake or anything like that. We should always think about the grace of God. It is the grace of God that stopped us from our foolishness. We would have gone a thousand different ways and fallen so many times, fallen flat on our face so that we will never get up and we will still be living in our shame, but God saved us. Because He has marked us and marked us for Himself. He was very careful about leading us and guiding us into this salvation and brought us all this way. That is the way I feel like. I thank God for the grace of God. So, common grace restrains sin.

Secondly, the common grace of God restrains God's wrath against sinful mankind. Have you ever wondered what happens to God's wrath? When Adam and Eve sinned, God could have destroyed Adam and Eve, and He would have been a just judge. If a judge punishes someone for doing a crime, you can't question him, he is judge. He has done just; justice has been done. So, God would have done justice if He destroyed Adam and Eve, that very minute. And told them, you thankless people, I gave you so much, and blessed you so much, and you are disobedient to me, this is it you are gone; and God would have been right and just but He did not do it. He allowed them to live. He came and announced punishment, but even in the midst of punishment, there is a promise of the coming savior. He said, "I will put enmity between your seed and her seed. He will bruise your head and you will bruise his heel." What a wonderful promise right in the midst of the punishment. Instead of completely getting rid them, destroying them, He gives a wonderful promise of the coming savior. And redemption and deliverance from this devil that has defeated them.

Then the punishment also said that he will have problems bearing children and so on, and also their work will become difficult as thorns and thistles grow.Out of the sweat, they will have to eat bread as long as they live. That is why I read Psalms 65, and all these verses. Even that God kind of helps man to overcome even in His fallen state. If according to those words - if thorns and thistles would choke everything that we sow and make impossible our harvest, we wouldn't have enough to eat. Mankind would not be able to feed their stomach. But Psalms 65 says, The fields are joyful, it seems, and rain comes from heaven as a blessing of God. God gives prosperity to the whole world, to a certain extend. Even in spite of their sin and their wrong doing people are enjoying a certain level of prosperity today. Why? Because God does not want people to die in their sweat. And labor and labor, and labor and not make enough to fill their stomach. So God is gracious, even all the effects of the fall have been greatly reduced because of common grace. The wrath of God is not shown fully.

The third reason is even more interesting. Why common grace is given is this: Common grace - God restores common grace on everybody because that way He can bestow His blessings - physical, spiritual, mental and material blessings on all mankind including those who reject Christ. That is the meaning of Matthew 5:45 - sends the rain and the sun upon the good and the evil. See, God bestows His blessings - that's common grace. If there was no such thing as common grace, in what way can God bless the wrong doer, in what we can God bless the sinner? The sinner would have no place to any blessing. Thank God, that God has decided that He will not only save, but He will also for those that will not come to salvation, that refuse to come to salvation, He will sustain them by His grace, by His goodness and by His love through common grace. That He will also bless them in a certain way. So God blesses them even, spirit, soul and body - in every way, as much as they could be blessed, because God loves them and cares for them, wants them to come to the knowledge of Christ, so that He can show these blessings to them and through those blessings, at least they would know God. They will one day realize that there is a God.

Let me read to you Acts chapter 14, that verse that I just read to you. I am not going to go to all the verses. But let me read 14th chapter, because that is the most unfamiliar verse, I think. 14th chapter - let me start with verse 12. Paul and Barnabas go into a place and preach among the Gentiles and the Gentiles are greatly impacted, because one man that could not walk from his birth, got up and walked. While Paul was preaching, he looked at the man, he saw that he had faith to be healed. So he told the man, "Rise up and walk." And the man walked. Just imagine what kind impact it would have had among the Gentile people (these are not Jewish people) Gentile people, they were stunned. They never had seen anything like this. A lame from birth walked right in front of their eyes. They had known him from all his life and now he is walking. Now see what happened. - And Barnabas, they called Zeus and Paul Hermes because he was the chief speaker.So they named Paul and Barnabas as the Greek gods - gods that we worship have now come to us in flesh. So they called each one by their name. Then the priest of Zeus whose temple was in front of the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. - Just like the offered sacrifices to their gods, they wanted to offer sacrifice because they thought these men were gods - incarnation of gods.

14, and when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made heaven and the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them - now listen: Who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. - just imagine - God graciously, because of their ignorance, tolerated them as they walked in their own ways, and not only simply tolerate them as they walked in their own ways. Look at what He did, (next verse): Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good - God did them good it seems, to these people that walked in their own ways, He did them good - gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. - gave us rain, fruitful seasons, feeling the stomach with food and filling their heart with gladness.

Many many years ago I was travelling, and there was a European sitting next to me and he asked me what I was doing. And I said I was a preacher and we got into a conversation. And then I just started sharing the gospel with him because he told me he has never went to church and never goes to church and so on. So, I started slowly tell him the gospel, man has a need, and this and that, you know. I was very young at that time. I was trying to tell him, and that guy looked at me strangely. He said, "You know what you are saying, maybe in India that's good, because those people live with great needs. They have no hospitals, they have not enough food in there, don't have enough good jobs, and no good income, no good standard of living - they need that. They need the gospel you are preaching. That is why Christians built the hospitals and schools and all that - they need that. But we, we don't need it. You are talking about how I have a need for salvation, for joy, for peace. I am having a life of peace, I am happy" he said. What do you mean I can't be happy without Christ? I am happy without Christ." That is the first time I met a guy like that.

The European mind works in a different way. Even now when I go and preach there, I have to think differently, among the Europeans. He said, "I am very happy. What do you mean I am not happy? I am happy in every way. We earn a good salary, when we retire we make better money than when we are working. We have all the facilities, we have good hospitals. We tell our government, they will give us anything that we need; nobody will be on the road, nobody begging, nobody will have any need. We have everything given to us. Why should I pray? Why should I ask Jesus to come into my life? "Why do I need Jesus?" he said,"I don't need Jesus." Then only I realized I need to realize how I am preaching the gospel. This idea of how you cannot have any gladness without Christ is not altogether right. God in His graciousness, through common grace makes people's hearts glad. The sinner's heart is able to receive some gladness so that they can sit...that is why they can sit in front of a television and laugh at all the comedies going on. They enjoy looking at shows and having fan and all that; they are sinners, it doesn't mean that they are totally unhappy. In the modern society, look how the gospel must be preached. In the modern society if you stand and say, "Without Jesus, you cannot have gladness." They will look at you funny and they will say, "What do you mean, I am very happy.What do you mean, I am making 2 or 3 lakhs a month, and I have everything that I need. I don't have any problem. I am happy."

God in His graciousness through common grace gives the sinner also some gladness. So from that time onwards and changed my preaching. You know how I preach now. I say listen, "You are happy - you have a good family, you have a great job, you have a nice house, you have a nice car, you have a nice everything. You live in a beautiful country, you have everything wonderful. But I tell you without God you will have nothing. The breath of life that comes out of your nose is given to you by God; every moment you are giving it out and taking it in, just imagine what will happen if it came out and never took it in, and disappeared. You will be gone and you will be dead. Thank the Lord who gave you this breath of life. Thank the God who gave you such a beautiful life, with all the prosperity, and blessing, and everything that you have. It is God who made all these things possible. We enjoy every blessing of God. All these things were created by God, made by the Almighty God that I believe, living in and through Jesus Christ. He made everything, without Him nothing was made. But we fail to give glory to God. We fail to be thankful to Him. We fail to even honor him in our life. That is the way you need to preach in Europe.

If you say you are not happy without Christ. They would say, "I am already happy." It seems like the preacher is not happy. I tell them where the happiness comes from - that God in spite of our sin and rebellion and dishonoring God has given us food to eat and fills our stomach and fills our hearts with gladness. He has not destroyed us, because God loves us. That is the way gospel needs to be presented. We don't present it that way because we don't understand common grace. We only understand saving grace, no common grace. When you understand common grace you will be able to interact with people that work with you wonderfully. You will be able to work with people, pursue relationships and have a positive interaction with all of God's creation. When you look at another man that is unsaved, you will not look down on him, you will see something positive in him - that God is interested in that man, that God maybe has gifted him in a certain way. God has been gracious to him, God is gracious to him. He may be a bad person, maybe he will not be such a wonderful guy, but God is gracious to him. You will realize that. You will realize that God's intention is not only to save us but to save the whole creation and restore the whole creation back to Himself.

God's intention is not to build just a church, but a great society. And how is a society built? It is built through families; it is built through our institutions and so on. So, we are kept in here in this world so that we can build a great society. We are kept in this world so that we can show what the Kingdom of God is like and what happens when God rules over people's lives, and we can show what kind of blessings belong to the saved. So, understanding common grace is so important. Common grace helps us to respect other people in the world.

I have seen some Christians having terrible problems. One fellow said, "I don't want to go to that wedding, brother because that is not Christian wedding. I will not go to anything other than Christian wedding." I said, "Why not? I have no problems going to other weddings. If someone comes and invites me and if I know them very well, and they respect me enough to come to my house and they invite me, I am going to go there." "Oh, if you go there, they won't make you do anything." I am not a dummy. You can't just make me do anything. I will do whatever I want to do. So, I go there, I conduct myself the way that I want to conduct myself. I will go there, wish them. Most often they ask me to pray. What more do you want? They will do all their things and then they will ask me to pray. And I'll pray, and I have no problem. I have no issues; because when I see them, I don't have any animosity with them. I don't have any kind of superiority attitude or anything like that. I see the grace of God over them. I see that common grace is an operation. I see that God is interested in these people, that God has an eye upon those people. Maybe God has put me in this society to be a witness to them, and has taken me among them so that I can be a witness to Christ among them. See, that is the way I think. I have no problem with handling that situation. All of us should have no problem, and we can maintain our holiness and our stance and all of that, yet interact with them positively. How many of you believe that? It is wrong to just start thinking like them, have a philosophy like them and live like them and believe like them, and everything; but it is good to have a positive interaction with them. That is what the bible teaches us. And common grace when it is understood you will have a most positive interaction with them because you will see the grace of God in those people. When you see the people out there on the street, see the grace of God upon those people. God is interested in every single person, who is there right there, working among you, working around you. Every person you interact with, God is interested. Therefore, you should be interested. And you should show some respect, and you should cooperate. You should join hands to achieve common good and it should be no problem for you. So work becomes an enjoyable thing, and time with them becomes a very positive interaction time.

Hello, are you there? So, Monday morning wake up with a positive attitude. Don't think, "Well I am going to go, work with sinners." You know how that it. No, no, no. God bless you.

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