Comprehensive Grace? Discussion.
GOD WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED!
God Will Have All Men Be Saved!
I Will Draw All Men Unto Me
God's Oath - To Save All!
The Justification Of All Mankind
Mercy Upon All
Why Teach Salvation For All?
On this earth there are more than four and a half billion people! The most populous lands are China, India, and other parts of Asia, and in spite of missionaries from the West, actually more than half of all people on the earth have never so much as heard the ONLY NAME BY WHICH MEN MAY BE SAVED - the name of JESUS CHRIST! For your Bible says....... "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). [/b]This means that billions of people here on this earth have lived, and died, without having known anything about God's provision of salvation - without saving knowledge - neither having heard the only name by which men may be saved! Now think what that means. If all unsaved are eternally lost, then more than HALF the people who have ever lived on this earth have been consigned to eternal hell without ever having been given so much as a chance to escape it!...It is estimated that about one hundred and sixty billions of human beings have lived on the earth in the six thousand years since Adam's creation. Of these, the very broadest estimate that could be made with reason would be that less than three billion were truly saints of God. This broad estimate would leave the immense aggregate of one hundred and fifty seven billions (157,000,000,000) who went to their graves without faith and hope in the only name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved.
Paul, in I Tim. 2:1-6, gives the answer! "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for ALL MEN ... for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who WILL HAVE A-L-L M-E-N TO BE SAVED, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a RANSOM FOR ALL, to be testified in due time." This text is one of rare beauty. It is indeed like a precious diamond, the effulgence of whose radiance dazzles the mind. It is a drop of pure distilled essence, whose fragrance fills the rooms of the heart. It is a joy forevermore and a challenge to everyone who reads it with an understanding heart. It should be engraved upon the heart of every saint of God. There is so much depth to that text that I am afraid that we often do not even perceive it. It is like a beautiful sky of deep rich blue and one cannot even begin to grasp the vast depth above us. So it is with this passage!
“…God is love.” I John 4:8
One problem that those who believe in a never ending hell have is how to reconcile non-redemptive suffering with the fact that God is love. Many believe the two ideas simply are incompatible. How could God destroy eternally those whom He loves? I believe the ideas that CG presents solves this dilemma. CG says that God can destroy eternally those whom He loves yet save them at the same time.
Throughout the old testament and the new we see the day of the Lord as a time of great wrath yet also a day of great deliverance. The traditional view is that this day contained only wrath for the unbelieving and no mercy, and of course the believing obtained fullness of mercy and grace. Yet, is it possible that the unbelieving received judgment and mercy? This seems to be what passages such a Romans chapter eleven seem to be saying.
How could this be so? If we see how the following could be, then perhaps we can understand how the unbelieving received both judgment and deliverance at the Parousia.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:23-27)
Of course we know that the word “life” in this passage can be translated “soul”
“but whoever loses his soul for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” How can losing one’s soul result in its salvation? How can saving your own soul result in its loss? (It seems that this life or soul is lost one way or another) Exactly what did Jesus mean that they would have to lose their soul to follow Him, and how is this possible to do and still live?
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal 2:20)
How is it possible for Paul to have died yet still live? We know that the old Paul (or Saul) died with Christ at the cross, and the new Paul lives through the resurrection. Yet, what does this mean? What was lost at the cross that was so great, that Paul said he was no longer living? How could it be possible to die yet live?
When we begin to see the answers to these questions, we begin to see how the unbelieving perished at His coming, yet were saved. If it is possible to lose one’s soul and yet live, and if it is possible to die yet live, it is possible to perish at His coming yet live.
John says that God is love. Yet, the Bible says that there are those whom God hated. How can He love and hate at the same time?
it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.” Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” Rom 9:12-13
Of course we know that Jacob was a type of the New (younger) Covenant and Esau was a type of the Old Covenant. It was that Old Covenant man that God hated. It was the old creation that was fleshly—of the potential of man—that God hated. It was that old covenant man who righteousness was self-righteousness and who was sold into bondage to sin and who was under the reign of death and Satan that God despised.
Such was Esau. Such was Paul at one time. This was their identity. This who they were through and through. Yet, the very thing they were had to be lost if they were to enter God’s presence. Yet, who would help these wretched men whom God hated? The very One who loved them.
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 2 Cor 5:14
That old covenant man perished at the cross. What we see from Pentecost to the Parousia was the working out and revealing of all that Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection—the death of the old creation and the birth of the new.
So, what remained for those who refused to take part in the covenant transformation that was taking place in that first generation? They experienced the perishing of the old creation at his coming as all that Jesus accomplished at the cross was revealed.
So, did they die and suffer the loss of all things? Yes, they did. They lost their souls. Yet, the God who loved them saved them, and thus “All Israel was saved.”
That is where I am at now on this issue. I still have many questions, yet this view seems to make more sense than never ending conscious suffering which is entirely inconsistent with the nature of God.
First, a couple comments about what "Comprehensive Grace" is, in my estimation. Others who claim to hold to this view may not agree with me entirely. I am not trying to inspire a movement, nor change anyone's theology, necessarily. What I am trying to do is to better understand what the scriptures actually teach.
Comprehensive Grace is the belief that, through Christ, all the world is saved. Not everyone in the CG belief system agrees what this means. Some believe that this is a form of "universalism", albeit biblical and not philosophical. Some believe that the "wicked" will receive some form of punishment, whether it is retributive or annihilating (two different groups). So, as you can see, there are some who are Conditional Mortality adherents who might consider themselves "Comprehensive Grace" adherents as well.
CG believes that when Jesus came, he came to "fulfill" the Law, that is to fulfill its salvific functions, since the sacrifices of the Old could not do it, it took Christ's atonement to accomplish (fulfill) it. Since it was through the Law that sin became realized and men "died" (Paul stated that when the commandment came, he "died"), the doing away of the legal requirements of the Law meant that "death" was defeated. This was accomplished, as all preterists believe, at the destruction of Jerusalem, and with it the Old Covenant.
As an aside, it is not clear to all that when Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, he was intending to show that the Pharisees, while claiming the opposite, were not able to "keep the Law" anymore than the "sinners" to whom Christ came. The pharisees thought that they were keeping the Law by not committing adultery (if they in fact were doing that), but Christ showed that their lust for other men's wives were adultery as well. NO ONE kept the Law, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Eternal life is further defined for us in the Gospel of John as "to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." This is a far cry from the way most define eternal life today.
Yes, the NT speaks of those not believing in Christ as perishing, or being sent into "eternal punishment", or being "destroyed". And yet, as preterists, we should see that this specifically refers to "the lost", whom Jesus said was "the lost house of Israel". Those "not found in the book of Life" should be understood as being those Israelites who did not keep the covenant (as is clearly portrayed in the other OT scriptures which mention the "book of the living").
However, as Max King has rightly pointed out, the destruction of the old heavens and earth, i.e. the Old covenant was the fulfillment of the promises made to "the fathers". CG adherents teach that this means that, through this "Lake of Fire" of judgment, these apostate Jews were reconciled to the Father. Hence, mankind was now reconciled to the Father.
God tells us to love our enemies, because in doing so we show that we are His children. What is interesting here is that this implies that God loves His enemies as well. How can He call us to imitate Him, and then tell us to love our enemies, if He Himself did not love His.
We know in John 3 that the bible teaches that Jesus didn't come to condemn the world, but to save it. AND, the scriptures even teach that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world, ESPECIALLY the household of faith.
Additionally, as Paul points out, in Adam "ALL die". In Christ, ALL are made alive (reconciled to God?). Having been a good Calvinist, I know the arguments here. I have not only heard them, I have used them, time and time again. However, one thing that I never considered before is that when ALL died in Adam, they had no choice in the matter. God did not send out evangelists who said, "look, Adam was your representative, and he sinned. If you accept him as your representative, you will be separated from God as well. Would you pray this SINNER prayer with me?" No, God imputed Adam's death to all men.
In the same way, is it not possible that Jesus died for ALL men, even though they did not make that choice? What else could this clear implication mean? All means all, doesn't it? And if it means "all kinds", then should we conclude that Adam's death only affected "all kinds" of men, and not "ALL" men?
One last point: everyone who is a Christian believes in some kind of afterlife consciousness. Even our friend Jack Chick teaches that the wicked will be fully conscious at the Great White Throne Judgment. Chick describes the wicked as realizing their error, and pleading to God for mercy, but our holy, wrathful God says, "too late, you go to Hell."
I would ask though, couldn't we just as easily imagine a loving and merciful God, who when He looks upon those for whom Christ died, even though they remained rebellious or ignorant up until their physical death, He would have compassion on them THROUGH CHRIST?
I am not talking about universalism as understood that "all roads lead to heaven." What I am saying is that THROUGH CHRIST all men will ultimately be faced with that truth, and that, in spite of their rejecting it during physical life here on earth, God reconciles them to Himself? If my calling coderguy a fool qualifies as a murderer as evil as Hitler, then does my "sinner's prayer" qualify me for heaven, while Hitler burns eternally? Is God's grace truly dependent upon our "accepting Jesus", or is it efficacious apart from our decision. The Calvinist would agree that God's grace is efficacious apart from our decision. Our decision simply "confirms" that we are elect. What I am saying is that God grace is efficacious for ALL MEN, as the scriptures indeed teach.
Are those who "accept Christ" any better off than those who do not? I think so, although some CGers would disagree. I believe that we who know God and His Son will receive special consideration in the afterlife. However, I believe that all things will be reconciled, and restored. Those who did me wrong will ask forgiveness. Why? Because when they see the Awesomeness of our Holy, Merciful God, they will be able to do nothing less. Those whom I have wronged will receive the same request for forgiveness, but this time from ME and for the same reason.
God is so awesom. God is so loving. God is so kind. Let us enjoy His kindness and mercy. Let us enjoy His grace. Let us help others to do the same.
Edited by InChristAlways, 25 October 2005 - 03:01 PM.