trusted online casino malaysia
Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Extent of Common Grace

It's everywhere.

The Foundation of Culture (2)

The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the L
ORD. Psalm 33.5 (my translation)|

So loved
The basis for common grace—grace that reaches to every nook, cranny, and creature in the creation, and provides the foundation for all cultural activity—is nothing other than the love of God. God is love (1 Jn. 4.8), and thus His love comes forth in an infinite variety of ways toward His creatures. Or as the psalmist put it, “The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.”

Jesus explained that God loves the cosmos, loves it so much that He gave His only-begotten Son for its redemption (Jn. 3.16). How could He not? God made the cosmos, after all, and He sustains and upholds it by His Word of power (Jn. 1.1-13; Heb. 1.3). One does not exert continuous attention and sustaining strength on something he does not care about deeply.

God loves the cosmos, the whole vast creation and everything in it. The common grace of God thus flows from the depths of His eternal and unchanging being. And it flows especially to human beings, enabling them to live and to define, sustain, and enhance their lives by making and using culture.

Nowhere in Scripture is this truth more concisely and joyfully explained and celebrated than in Psalm 104.

A catalog of common grace
Psalm 104 presents a kind of catalog or précis of the common grace of God. Here we are invited to consider the greatness, majesty, and power of God, together with the impact on and implications for His creatures of His being and work. Common grace reaches from the heights of the eternal heaven to the beginning and continuation of time, creatures animate and inanimate, and to the very depths of the sea and the heights of the heavens. God has pitched His tent over everything He made, and He blesses, cares for, and keeps His creation out of the depths of His eternal love and power.

The reach of His common grace includes such cultural activities as cultivation, animal husbandry, wine and oil making, ships and commerce. Without the constant work of God extending His love to His creatures, none of this would be possible.

Let’s take a closer look.

The majesty and might of God
Psalm 104 begins with a proclamation concerning the majesty and might of God. He is “very great” (v. 1) and clothes Himself in honor, majesty, and light (vv. 1, 2). He dwells above His creation and traverses it freely and continuously, like a shepherd keeping watch over His flock (v. 3). God dispatches His angels as messengers of fire and light to perform His bidding in, through, and on behalf of all He has made (v. 4).

Further, God established and rules the creation by His powerful Word (v. 7). He has made the cosmos such that it is firmly established and shall not be moved, except by His Word. The creation is fixed and knowable, but not by virtue of any inherent properties or strength; the Word and will of God make the cosmos function and continue as it does. Earth, which in Scripture is the stage on which the drama of glory and redemption unfolds, teems with creatures of various sorts, and each of them is provided with shelter, food, and water by the command of their Creator (vv. 8-14).

God, Who is all glory, beauty, power, and life, has made and sustains a creation which declares, in its diversity, splendor, mystery, and strength, the glory and will of Him Who made it. God provides the water which all life requires (vv. 10-13). He causes food to grow from the ground to delight and sustain His creatures (vv. 14, 15). He gives life to trees and plants; provides shelter and work for His creatures; and sustains them in the times and seasons of their lives (vv. 16-20). The creatures “seek their food from God” (v. 21), and man pursues the work appointed to him by the Lord (v. 23; cf. Ps. 90.16, 17).

All this is meant not merely to make our lives better but to lead us to worship and serve the Lord with all the gifts He gives us (vv. 33-35). The grace of God can be known in all His works, and as we who know Him make and use culture, we can celebrate and glorify God and extend His love to our neighbors.

How manifold are Your works!
By the time the psalmist was ready to compose verse 24, he was filled with wonder, delight, amazement, and joy at the enormity of God’s grace and power. He blurted out, “O LORD, how manifold are Your works!” God has brought His great wisdom to bear on the creation, and the psalmist acknowledges that “the earth is full of Your possessions.” Of course it makes sense that such a great, powerful, all-providing God would exercise loving stewardship over the things He has made.

And that He would expect those who know Him to do the same.

This extends even to the depths of the sea, “In which are innumerable teeming things,/Living things both small and great” (v. 25). But the sea also provides advantages to humans, who use it for transport and as a source of food (v. 26). All the creatures of the sea, like all the creatures of the earth “wait for” God to sustain and bless them, and to cause them to flourish (vv. 27, 28). Wherever we may go, by whatever means, for whatever purposes of defining, sustaining, and enhancing our lives, God is there before us and calls us to acknowledge and serve Him in all we do.

As long as God looks with favor upon His creatures, they flourish. He is the Lord of life and death; His Spirit sustains all that He has made (vv. 29, 30). The purpose of all this wondrous, all-encompassing grace is that God may be glorified. The psalmist cries out exultantly, “May the glory of the LORD endure forever;/May the LORD rejoice in His works” (v. 31). God rules His creation with a mere look and a mysterious touch (v. 32). And all this wonderful, all-comprehending, all-sustaining grace of God leads the psalmist to worship (vv. 33-35).

Common grace reaches to the entire creation, from the deepest sea to the remotest distant galaxy and every sub-atomic particle and power. And why? Why all this lavish, continuous, marvelous, powerful, breath-taking display of beauty, goodness, wisdom, and wonder, and all the remarkable cultural products that come from it?

Because God is love.

For reflection
1. Meditate on John 1.1-4 and Hebrews 1.3. How would you describe Jesus’ relationship to the physical cosmos?

2. God loves His creation. How is this apparent? How does He want us to use His creation?

3. How does Psalm 104 support the idea that common grace is the foundation of all cultural activity?

Next steps—Transformation: Every day we are immersed in, surrounded by, suffused with, sustained by, and confronted with the common grace of our amazing God. Like the psalmist, such a realization should lead us to worship. How will your awareness of common grace lead you to worship the Lord today?

T. M. Moore

Two books on culture are available to accompany this series on “A Christian Approach to Culture.” Christians on the Front Lines of the Culture Wars shows how important it is that we consider culture as a way of bringing glory to God. Order your copy by clicking here. Redeeming Pop Culture examines the nature of pop culture and some ways we can make good use of it for God’s glory. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for ReVision comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

Subscribe to Ailbe Newsletters

Sign up to receive our email newsletters and read columns about revival, renewal, and awakening built upon prayer, sharing, and mutual edification.