Sam Storms, writing several years ago, lays out his biblical understanding of how the bad will get worse and the good will get better as we see an increasing carving out of the middle:

As we approach the second coming of Christ, whether that be one year or one-thousand years in the future, I believe the presence and power of common grace will progressively diminish. The restraining power of the Spirit on the sinful souls of men and women, as well as on the natural creation, will incrementally weaken. The manifestation of human sin and wickedness and unbelief will therefore expand.

Common grace is much like the emergency break on a car that is parked on a steep incline. The weight of the car, together with the force of gravity, would naturally result in its descent down the road and its eventual crash. But the emergency break resists and impedes this otherwise natural inclination. So, too, with human sin. The Holy Spirit is like an emergency break on the human heart. But one day, perhaps imperceptibly and certainly in gradual fashion, the restraint on the sinful and depraved inclination of the human soul will be removed.

But here is the good news. I also believe that together with the progressive withdrawal of common grace will be a corresponding increase of special grace! The people of God will experience fresh and ever-increasing manifestations of divine favor and power and blessing and anointing simultaneously with the withdrawal of the Spirit’s common grace work of curbing the sinful impulses of the lost. This is why there will be an increase of wickedness and persecution (and, yes, martyrdom) in the world at large at the same time there is an increase of righteousness and perseverance in the church in particular.

My “theory” (which I do believe has Scriptural support) is that the Church will experience great revival, ever-increasing impartations of supernatural power, unprecedented expressions of love and unity, all the while she is being oppressed and persecuted and increasingly hated by the unbelieving world. Special grace will intensify even as common grace will diminish.

I should also point out that this process will culminate eternally in what we know as heaven and hell. Heaven is the unabated overflow of special grace. Hell is the utter absence of even common grace. Forever.

Storms ends by asking how, in light of this, we should respond. And he answers:

We should . . . flood the people who are suffering with expressions of kindness and compassion and generosity, knowing that such devastation could as easily fall on us (cf. Luke 13:1-5). As the Spirit’s provision of common grace diminishes, may the recipients of his special grace overflow in the goodness of Jesus to the glory of God the Father.

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4 thoughts on “How It’s All Going to End”

  1. Carlton Wynne says:

    Dr. Storms has done more studying on millennial views than most ever will, so I want to take his theory seriously. But I find it curious that he offers no Scriptural evidence (at least here) for his expectation of a progressive withdrawal of common grace and increase of special grace until Christ’s return. I would honestly appreciate knowing what it is. The gifts and works of unbelievers are so complex in their destructive and (by common grace) edifying effects for this world that I find it hard to believe in a steady (Spiking, but mainly down?) movement at all.

    But more important than any limited and fallible empirical observation is what Scripture explicitly says. Certainly the delay of consummate wrath until that day, by definition, implies a steady supply of that expression of common grace. We also know Christ will build his church, and one day common grace will cease, but it seems to me that until that day the bestowal of God’s common grace remains inscrutable (Ps 104:27-30).

  2. anaquaduck says:

    The danger here for me is how can you measure such a thing as history fluctuates. What were Christians thinking regarding the pope during the reformation, the great wars & then bankcards among other things. I think this is W.Hendriksen’s argument.

  3. Curt Day says:

    My question is how much does this speculation about the withdrawal of common grace cause us to violate what Jesus said in Matthew 6:34? There, Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow.

  4. Bruce Russell says:

    Let’s get on with it.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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