CHAOS AND DISORDER PART II: COMMON GRACE

God extends common grace to both the righteous and unrighteous.

Due to the popularity of my original article on Chaos and Disorder, I find it necessary to add some additional content on the subject. The subject seems to have struck a chord with many people, not only here in the U.S. but also from various countries around the globe. The article has received views from readers in Australia, Canada, France, India, Israel, China, Kenya, The Netherlands, Turkey, The United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and Saudi Arabia, as well as many other nations. My belief is that people are growing ever fearful in light of events that are affecting every corner of the globe. The ongoing mutations of new deadlier strains of Covid and the lockdowns which seem to be getting more restrictive in some nations such as Australia and France, are growing causes of distress. In the U.S., crime is on the increase as recent policy changes such as defunding the police and the refusal to enforce certain crimes are fueling lawlessness. It seems the greatest issue is that people are acknowledging the increase of hatred and violence in their homelands. Believer and non-believer alike are recognizing the real presence of evil as the source of the chaos. I have had many conversations with Christians who seem to believe that we are entering the end-times of the book of Revelation, but more on that later. As in my original article, my intention is to provide biblical wisdom to all readers and to assist Christians in viewing the situation through a biblical lens. Let me repeat the definition of chaos as reference for those readers who have not read the original article.

“A Biblical definition of chaos is the state of disorder that would exist in the absence of a divinely imposed order of the cosmos. It is complete disorder and confusion.”

from the Lexham Bible Dictionary

In my prior article I explained that the forces behind the chaos in the world are demonic spiritual forces which are directing human agents. I recommend that viewers read it before reading this article. One of the main points in my thesis is that God is sovereign over everything that happens in the cosmos, even as there are dark spiritual forces present and active in the world. These forces active in instigating evil and opposing the Kingdom of God are being restrained by God. This restraint on evil by God is an aspect of His common grace over His creation. In times of judgment God lifts His hand of restraint allowing these dark forces to bring destruction on a rebellious people. Understanding common grace, and how it applies to chaos and disorder will bring comfort to Christians as they endure these difficult times along with unbelievers. God’s special grace applies only to those who are in Christ (believers). Fortunately, God is gracious and desires that all persons should come to saving faith, (1Tim. 2:3-4, & 2Pet. 3:9).

The Doctrine of Common Grace

The opening scripture verse, Matt. 5:44-45, is from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. These verses are part of His instruction to “love your enemies.” The point is that we should love our enemies as sons of the Father who gives blessings of sunshine and rain on all persons regardless if they are evil or good, or righteous or unrighteous. This is God’s common grace given to all people.

Definition

Here is a theological definition of common grace: “God’s universal nonsaving grace in which blessings are given to humanity for physical sustenance, pleasure, learning, beauty, etc., as expressions of God’s goodness.” I would add to this definition that through the operation of common grace sin and evil are restrained in the lives of individuals and society. All persons benefit to some degree from common grace as sin is kept in check so that order is maintained in social life, and civil righteousness is promoted. God bestows these general blessings to all of mankind regardless of their beliefs and according to His own measure. While common grace diminishes the effects of sin and evil, it is still in conflict with the rebellious nature of man. The rebellion against God and His commandments lessens the effect of common grace which accounts for some regions of the world receiving greater effects of common grace, while other areas receive less. Common grace also applies to the forces of nature where calamities such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, floods, and other disasters impact life. While these disasters are part of the judgment on mankind in a fallen world, (the fall of Adam), like evil they are restrained by God’s common grace.

Background

The Chaos Monster under divine restraint.

In biblical and ancient Near Eastern literature, chaos is symbolized as a great sea serpent or dragon. This monster represented the forces of chaos which are in conflict with the forces of order. The supreme gods battled and subdued the forces of chaos bringing order to the universe. The chaos monster was known by some ancient cultures as Leviathan, Rahab, or Tiamat. Here we see chaos depicted as a sea serpent churning up the waters of the sea being restrained by the forces of God. In a time of judgment, God removes His restraining power allowing the forces of chaos to wreak havoc on the earth.

The above illustration helps to show how the diminishing of God’s common grace allows evil and disorder to be unleashed on the earth. God’s power of restraint is slowly removed in relation to mankind’s rebellion against God and His commandments. The decrease of God’s common grace always precedes His judgments and the result is chaos and destruction.


Biblical Examples

“The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”

Psalm 145:8-9

“In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

Acts 14:16-17

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

Romans 2:4

Chaos and Disorder in Real Time

Is chaos and disorder increasing in these times, and is it related to the lessening of God’s restraining power over evil and sin? Without actual revelation from God Himself, we can only evaluate the current situation through biblical teachings. The above bible verses show that God provides blessings to all mankind through His common grace. We also know that in His sovereignty over His creation, He does at certain times bring judgments down upon a rebellious people, such as in the great flood where He destroyed all of mankind except Noah and his family, the confusion of languages at Babel, or the captivity of the Israelites by the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

I believe it is evident that chaos and lawlessness are on the rise in our world at this time. The rejection of God through the decline of Christianity and the increase in Pagan beliefs is verified through numerous recent surveys. Government policies have been instituted which are in contradiction to the commandments of God. Changing social views and cultural norms clearly violate the teachings of scripture. These factors taken in their totality are enough to display our generations rebellion against God which bring judgment and a reduction in His common grace. As I was writing this article, I searched the most current headlines, (within the past week), containing the term chaos. Here are the results.

  • Chaos at the White House
  • Border chaos being ignored
  • Back to school chaos due to Covid
  • Chaos out there-shipping crisis gets crazy
  • Chaos and panic with Chinese stocks
  • Melbourne in chaos
  • Covid chaos in Alberta, Canada
  • Global supply chain chaos
  • Housing bubble chaos in China

I am sure there are many more such examples but the point is made, chaos and disorder are on the rise. While this may cause fear and panic, we as believers must view the situation through a biblical understanding and we should endeavor to follow God’s purpose in this judgment. We also find comfort in knowing that God is with us as He leads us through difficult times as our great shepherd, (Psalm 23).

End Times?

I felt compelled to include a section concerning the end-times because it is related to chaos and disorder, and because it seems to be a great area of concern which needs clarification. As I had stated earlier that I have talked with many people who either believe that we are in the end-times, or want to know whether we are in the final days. My opinion is that we are in a time of judgment by God due to an increase in rebellion against Him, His rule, and His commandments. I do not rule out the possibility that we may be in the time which precedes the end-times, but it is not the final judgment. A reading of Revelation and other passages of Scripture concerning the end-times or end of days describe the events that occur during that time. Those events have not, and are not occurring at this present time. The terrible events of the Tribulation have definitely not occurred. For example, the 200-million-man army of the apocalypse has not yet been released to kill a third of mankind, nor has another third of mankind been wiped out by three plagues, (Rev. 9:12-21). During the days of the end-times God will totally remove His restraining power from the earth and evil will operate at its full capacity. The world will witness chaos, disorder, and destruction as never seen before. Only the return of Christ will bring it all to an end including the destruction of the heavens and the earth, (1Pet. 3:10). Unfortunately, these things will eventually happen as prophesized in the book of Revelation. If you are still around when these things happen and you have not been killed by the army or the plagues then it might be a good time to come to faith in Christ if you have not already done so.

Another popular belief is that the Covid vaccinations are the Mark of the Beast. First of all, the Great Beast and his False Prophet must be present before they make people take his mark–they are not yet present. Revelation chapter 13 describes the events concerning the giving of the mark. The Beast causes men to create a great image of himself which has the ability to speak, then he forces them to worship the image or be killed. After this he causes those who have worshipped him to get his mark on their forehead or hand. Two points here: first, those who have not worshipped him have either been killed or are in hiding; second, only those who worship him will receive the mark. Getting vaccinated against a virus which can kill or cause severe illness is in no way connected to the worship of the Anti-Christ. Those who have been vaccinated or will receive the vaccine do so for this reason and cannot therefore be considered taking the mark of the beast.

Do not be misled by all these self-proclaimed prophets who claim to know when the end-times are since Jesus proclaimed that only the Father knows when that time is, (Matt. 24:36). Many also claim to receive special revelation concerning the date from God, but many throughout the centuries have given dates and have all been wrong. The only authority is Scripture and it is always prudent not to stray from its teachings. Scripture is the basis for proper Christian beliefs which give believers a firm foundation to stand on. Be confident, read and study the verses of the Bible concerning the tribulation and end-times, so that you can discern the times for yourself. For reference, please read my article on end-times literature in the Last Things section in the Doctrines tab.

Conclusion

God’s purpose in providing His common grace to mankind regardless if they are believers or are in rebellion, is to restrain sin and evil in the world as the work of redemption continues until the last moment before the final judgment. Satan and his demonic forces proceed forward with their hatred of God and his followers, and with their work to thwart the Church in carrying out the Great Commision given by Jesus to preach and teach the gospel throughout the world. The work of the Holy Spirit in reaching the lost through the preaching of scripture is a necessary component of God’s plan of redemption. It must not be hindered by the devices of the dark spiritual forces that are intent on destroying God’s people. Jesus taught that the gospel will be preached until the end of days, (Matt. 24:14). The apostle John also wrote in Revelation that an eternal gospel will be preached to those on the earth during the tribulation, that eternal gospel is to fear God and give Him glory because the final judgment has come, (Rev. 14:6-7).

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Mt 24:14).

And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of water.” (Rev. 14:6-7)

The will of God in His judgments is to bring people to worship Him and to save the lost by preaching the gospel. Our duty is to follow His leading by teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ to a rebellious world.


I can think of no better way to end this article than to add the thoughts of Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), Dutch theologian and Prime Minister of the Netherlands. His words are much eloquent than mine as he describes the doctrine of Common Grace. May my humble article and Kuyper’s enlightened teaching provide you with a biblical understanding of God’s control and sovereignty over the world in times of judgment. Let us fear the almighty God with great reverence, but also find comfort in His mercy and grace!

“The essence of common grace is the restraint of the process of sin; its scope is man and his world. Its ultimate foundation, we must add, is the mercy of God. Says Kuyper: “Thus common grace is an omnipresent operation of divine mercy, which reveals itself everywhere where human hearts are found to beat and which spreads its blessing upon these human hearts.”

Kuyper distinguishes in his second volume between the constant and the progressive aspects of common grace. By the constant aspect of common grace, he means largely what in the first volume he speaks of as the essence of common grace, namely, the restraint of the process of sin. God’s purpose with common grace, he adds in the second volume, is not merely to make human life possible by the restraint of sin, but also to provide for its progress. “There is,” he says, “on the one hand the constant operation of common grace which began in Paradise after the Fall, and which has remained till this day precisely what it was in the beginning and this constant common grace itself consists of two parts.” These two parts are God’s restraint of the power of destruction in nature and God’s restraint “of the power of sin in the heart of man, to make possible the appearance of civil righteousness on the earth among sinners and heathen. This is the common grace that leads to the maintenance and control of our human life.”

Van Til, C. (1977). Common Grace And The Gospel (pp. 16–17). The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Nutley, NJ.

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