Grace – Common and Prevenient


     Theologians speak of two kinds of grace in connection with the call of God.  The first is “common grace”.  This is grace shown to all humankind.  This is the call Romans speaks of when it says:


(Rom 1:20 NKJV)  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,


     There is a call to every human being, no matter how wicked, no matter how far away from the nearest missionary, no matter what kind of childhood training he or she has had, a call to come to the Lord, a call clearly seen through the wonders of His creation.  No one can escape this call, although anyone can reject it. 


     This “common grace” is what causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  It accounts for the protection and provision given even to those who do not believe.  It comes from His patience, His unwillingness that any should perish.


     But we must understand that He is not required to give this “common grace” to anyone.  The Lord reaches out in love to those who need Him, even before they know that they need Him.  They don’t understand that all provision and protection comes from the Lord.  They don’t understand that the only reason they can have babies is because of the Lord.  They don’t understand that life and death are in His hands.


     Those who are apart from the Lord in their thinking are never really out of His provision.  When the day comes for them to stand before the Lord in judgment, they will see all the blessings they had from His hand, all the blessings they either ignored or thanked others for.  They will see that His love for them was consistent and strong.


     This is common grace.  The great and mighty Lord God reaching down to the people of His creation to care for their needs in spite of their hopelessness and worthlessness.


     The other type of grace theologians speak of is “prevenient grace”.  Prevenient means ahead of time or grace beforehand.  It refers to the special grace which called you and me to salvation.


     Now, I doubt that there are many theological topics as controversial as the sovereignty of God in calling His people to Himself.  Yet, the Scriptures are very clear in asserting that no one comes to the Lord for salvation unless he or she has been called with that purpose by God’s grace.


(John 6:44 NKJV)  “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.


 (Eph 1:4 NKJV)  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,


     He chose us before the foundation of the world!  There are many explanations for the process of choosing that God used.  Some suggest that He went through all potential human life and chose some to be saved and some to be condemned.  Others say that He chose to give a special, irresistable, call to those who would be saved.  Still others say that the Lord simply set up the way of salvation and allowed that only those who came to Him according to this way would be saved.


     This discussion will continue until the day the Lord settles it forever.  The simple truth of Scripture, that which is so important for you and for me, is that the Lord has chosen us.


(John 15:16 NKJV)  “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.


     It is clear that there was nothing special about us.  He did not choose us because we were better than others.  He did not choose us because we had sense enough to choose Him.  He did not choose us because we were superior morally, intellectually, or in any other way.  In fact, He says that:


(Eph 2:12 NKJV)  that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.


     That was our state.  Just the same as that of anyone else in the world.  Yet, He chose us by His grace and called us by His grace unto Himself.


     What He said to Israel about His choice of them still holds true for us:


(Deu 7:6-8 NKJV)  “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. {7} “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; {8} “but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.


     It wasn’t because of anything in us that He chose us, but it was because of His love. 




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4 responses to “Grace – Common and Prevenient

  1. Kay

    Thank you, Dave. I look at my former years of not understanding my ‘standing’ in Grace, and I now KNOW why The Church is in such a mess. Folks just don’t ask The Lord for His wisdom, His participation in lack of knowledge and understanding. Thank you. kay

  2. Kathy Frazier

    If this is true, then where am I? I want to be saved by Him, but if I’m NOT one of the called, then I’m not really saved, even though I desperately want to spend Eternity in His Presence. So where does that leave me?

    • Kathy, I will have to go back over the text to see where I gave the impression that only some are called according to special or prevenient grace. I do not believe that. I think that are all called to the love of God through common grace and all are called to salvation in Jesus through special grace. My point was simply that anyone who comes to the Lord comes because of His initiative, His call. We cannot pat ourselves on the back or give ourselves credit somehow for coming to Him. I won’t claim to fully understand why some accept His call and others do not, nor would I claim to know how one gets into one group or the other. I do believe that salvation is sincerely available to anyone and everyone who comes to Him should remember that it was Him who called. Is this more clear? Please write again if I am being confusing somehow.

      • Kathy Frazier

        Okay, I was concerned (obviously!), and I DO believe in Jesus, and His finished work that covers all of my sins. I apparently misread the post, and having been previously burned by Calvinism, I was reading through that ‘filter’. I’m so sorry about that!
        I do appreciate you clearing that up for me. 🙂

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