Grace: Common and Special

Geoffrey Cox

READ : Daniel 2:46-49

Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings . . . (v. 47)

Theologians call it common grace. It’s the biblical truth that God the Holy Spirit is at work everywhere in his world, keeping sin from spoiling too much too quickly, showering earthly blessings on good and bad alike (Matthew 5:45), and making everyone, even unbelievers, aware at least of God’s glory and majesty and power (Psalm 19). Here God’s Spirit helps Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge someone greater than himself—not only Daniel but also his God. As a token of his new respect for Daniel’s God, Nebuchadnezzar gives praise and authority to Daniel.

What theologians call special or saving grace, by which people come to be convicted of sin and then to trust in God’s mercy (in Jesus), is already closing in on Nebuchadnezzar as well. The king’s actions are all preparing for that saving grace to flow freely to him, but steadily and purposefully and in God’s good time. Daniel is aware of his part in all this, and seeks to surround Nebuchadnezzar with believers in the true God. When he gets Nebuchadnezzar to appoint his friends to high office (v. 49), it may look like Daniel is building a political power-base. But he is really working to affect the kingdom (and its king) for God’s glory—which means more testing to come.

PRAYER

Lord, teach me to recognize and make room for your saving grace.