Common Grace, Euthanasia, and the End of the Age2
I don’t know when Jesus will return, but it had better be soon. Don’t read that as if I’m dictating to God when he should send his Son to wrap things up. Rather, it’s born of my own personal frustration and ever-deepening disillusionment when it comes to the rapidly decaying condition of our world. Continue reading . . .
I don’t know when Jesus will return, but it had better be soon. Don’t read that as if I’m dictating to God when he should send his Son to wrap things up. Rather, it’s born of my own personal frustration and ever-deepening disillusionment when it comes to the rapidly decaying condition of our world.
I’ve often said that as the end of history approaches we will see a decrease in the presence and influence of common grace and a corresponding increase in the operation of God’s special grace. By “common grace” I refer to the non-saving influence of the Holy Spirit common to all mankind by which he restrains the innate depraved tendencies of fallen human nature. As bad as it currently is, it would be much worse were it not for the Spirit’s exertion of restraint on the sinful impulses of fallen humanity. My sense is that the closer we get to the return of Christ we will witness a gradual withdrawal of the Spirit’s work in this regard.
Simultaneous with the decrease in common grace will come the increase of God’s redemptive and sanctifying “special grace.” That is to say, in order to strengthen, preserve, and expand the witness of the Church in the latter days, and perhaps to facilitate a global spiritual awakening, the Spirit will intensify his empowering work in God’s people, energize the witness Christians bear to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and impart more pervasively the many supernatural spiritual gifts so essential for us to carry on the work to which we’ve been called.
Some don’t understand how both of these operations of the Holy Spirit can exist simultaneously, how it can get increasingly worse in the world at the same time the Church grows in its power and influence. But if you’ll simply open your eyes you’ll see that it’s largely been this way for quite some time (indeed, for centuries). I’m only suggesting that the spiritual trends already in evidence will expand and intensify in more overt and obvious ways the closer we get to the second coming of Christ.
Now, enough of that. What provoked me even to bring up this issue? It started with an email from a church member at Bridgeway alerting me to a recent development in Belgium. Then, on Valentine’s Day this past week (February 14, 2014), I read about it yet again in USA Today (p. 5a). The title to the article was, “Belgium extends euthanasia law to kids.” Yes, you read it correctly. By a vote of 86-44 the Belgian House of Representatives (following earlier approval by the Senate) voted to amend the country’s law on euthanasia “so that it would apply to minors.” However, we are told that this would be only under certain specific conditions “including parental consent and a requirement that any minor desiring euthanasia demonstrate a ‘capacity for discernment’ to a psychiatrist and psychologist.”
Opponents of the measure insisted that “minors are not capable of such a drastic and irreversible decision.” According to one Belgian lawmaker, “Minors decide more impulsively than adults, and they don’t have the same perspective of short-term and long-term decisions. . . . Their brains aren’t as developed on an emotional, moral or cognitive level as an adult, and they are more depending on the influence of authority, and authority in this case would be the doctors or the parents. It’s too high a risk to leave this decision in the hands of children.”
My aim here isn’t to analyze the arguments for and against the practice of euthanasia, but to ask the sobering question: What has happened in the minds of people that they should now authorize parents to facilitate their child’s death? What has happened to the moral fiber of a country that its leaders, those entrusted to enact and enforce laws for the promotion of decency and good and the punishment of evil and debauchery, would make it possible for children to kill themselves and perhaps even supply them with whatever medical technology necessary to bring it about? What has happened in the worldview of such folk that human life, created in the image of God, should be so devalued and disregarded. [By the way, lest you think I’m singling out Belgium as uniquely sinful in this regard, the day will likely come when our own governing authorities in the United States will endorse a similar proposal. Belgium has not cornered the market on depravity!]
I think I know what has happened. God has given people over to the deeper cultivation of their selfish and sinful impulses, releasing them to follow ever more fully the depraved inclinations of their hearts (see Romans 1:24-32). The gracious restraint by which the Spirit held sin, at least to some extent, in check, has and is being gradually withdrawn.
How much worse can it get? The answer is frightening and sobering. I can’t even begin to envision where our world will soon be if Jesus doesn’t return. Yet, in the meantime, I rejoice in the abundant provision of God’s special, saving, sanctifying, supernatual grace by which he enables the community of the redeemed (i.e., the Church) not only to survive but to thrive in the midst of a wicked and crooked generation. For every parent (whether Belgian or American) that may give up its child to death, or even willingly assist him/her in the act, another, I pray, will serve and sacrifice everything to preserve such life for the glory of God.
Even so, come Lord Jesus!