Pantelism or Comprehensive Grace

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All the sin we see in the world, such as war, crime, false religion, unbelief, "struggling" in faith, teenage sex and pregnancy; and the identity problems that lead to homosexuality, transgenderism, etc. are all the fruits of a broken world, that has been left that way, seemingly indefinitely.
Yet, it is taught that God is holding everyone "responsible" for what is simply them acting out this brokenness (i.e. body craving sex long before the mind is ready; the issues that create gender identity problems, and all of the problems that cause war and the rest of the sins), and not changing both their beliefs and behavior.

The premise of Comprehensive Grace (archived version) is that God is unconditionally granting the entire world "grace" and thus "not counting their sins against them" (2 Cor. 5:19).
The need of each soul to personally place faith in Christ was a condition, that was temporary, until the "end of the age". (Acts 3:19-22, notice the personal addressing: "you"; and the time frame. It is spoken to them, the listeners in the Temple; not us, centuries later, and the sins would be blotted out at the return of Christ; not the moment they first believed!)

The age that was ending was the Old Covenant, or age of "Law". Hence, man condemned by default, "under the Law".

The new covenant or age of grace, while having begun during the writing of the New Testament, was overlapping with the old covenant.
Hence, there was spoken of a "travail" while waiting for the new age, and metaphorized conflicts such as "new wine in old wineskins".

Each person therefore had to choose one or the other: either Christ, or their "old life" (which all defaulted to by birth), which corresponded with "the spirit" vs "the flesh". For Jews, this was the Law (under which they had no truly efficacious redemption); for gentiles, it was paganism, under which they also stood condemned by the Law.

Since grace in this transitional period was conditional, each person also had to persevere in faith and obedience, and run the so-called "race" to "the end" (which was said to be in their lifetimes! 1 Cor. 15:51, 2, Matt. 16:28, 24:34), or they were in danger of falling back into "perdition".

The path was "narrow", and the "few" would be saved as Christ's "little flock" because they were all turning away from the prevailing Old Covenant system they were living amongst.
This only lasted until "the end" of that age.
Else, it would hardly be good news, since God already had a small "flock" with the rest of the world "lost" under that Old Covenant. (What really changed between then and now, in that case?)

The evidence of the two covenants overlapping is the "deposit" or "downpayment" (KJV "earnest") mentioned in 2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5 and Eph.1:14. We take this today to refer to this invisible, either felt or unfelt influence of the Spirit, which is supposed to be the "downpayment" on heavenly bliss after death or the return of Christ. Or some might take it as a sense of "assurance" (admittedly limited) we have now.

But this "promise" in these passages is redemption itself in the first place. All of this shows entrance to the Kingdom was not completely secure yet, so they had this "downpayment" on it until the time had come (Hence, Rom.8:16). But this surety itself is the promise they were waiting for.

The period of Law was finally ended when the Temple was destroyed (AD70), and Jerusalem basically transformed into an antetypical "Gehenna" (the lake of fire and brimstone, fulfilling the prohpecies of Jer. 7:31-33, 19:2-13 and Isa. 34:4-10 cf. Rev. 14:11, 20:10).
This was in their lifetimes, and the only event that could fulfill "the end" spoken about in the prophecies.

"The world" (usually aeon; "age") referred to the Old Covenant. "New Heavens and New Earth" refers to the final fruition of the new covenant, when death [spiritual, that is, and the one that was our biggest enemy; much more so than physical death] was abolished. ("Heaven" in prophetic language represented the government of Israel; while "earth" represented, originally, the land of Israel. "The whole world/earth" meant the Roman Empire, which then encompassed the land of Israel. Evidence of this is the fact that Col.1:23 and Rom.10:18 say that the Gospel had ALREADY spread "to the ends of the earth"! Col.1:6, 16:26, Rom.16:25-27, Acts 2:5, 11:28 also show this taking place, and that there were already “devout men, from every nation under heaven”).

After the destruction in AD70 (which may have included some sort of visible appearance of Christ alluded to by Josephus, and the actual "rapture of the saints" —we are still waiting for), the proverbial "left-behind" then went on to comprise the new Church. Yet they did not understand what had just occurred, and thus continued to look for something in the future, and then began developing (corrupting) into Catholicism, as leaders sought a stronger organizational system to deal with ongoing persecution and schism.
It is pointed out that there were two major groups of dissension in the Church before the destruction of Jerusalem: the Judaizers and the Gentile separatists. The Judaizers of course lost all their power, but the Gentile separatists (who would be the ones we can see Paul warning in Romans 11) are then the ones who gained power in the Church, and what did they do, but teach exclusion? (e.g. antisemitism took hold among many of the early fathers)

All of this makes all of Christian history finally make sense now! (Church historians had mentioned a so-called "lost century" between the last apostles, and the first Church fathers, in which the Church was clearly becoming more "Catholic" in doctrine, practice and organization).
The whole century surrounding AD70 would become "lost" because of the events and the sudden rapture of the Church.* The "church" was afterward no longer guided by the Spirit, and rapidly fell into purely human error and confusion of doctrine with no divine authority to resolve them (except for their own claims of authority.)

*(Most Pantelists don't believe in the literal rapture; they believe the "covenant body" is what "died" and was "resurrected", and the saints just blended back into society; however I believe the language of Corinthians and some other scriptures favors a literal bodily resurrection, as nonPantelist, full preterist writer Ed Stevens suggested in the article "Silence Demands A Rapture").

CG is very similar to the soteriology of the Primitive Baptists. They too believe that God saves purely on Grace, and not on a person's choice (even if "enabled" by "election"). They point out that The "faith" that "grace" works through to save (Eph.2:8) is the "faith" OF Christ (Gal 2:16), not our faith "IN" Christ. (which is fallible as it is, as we see). So to them, God randomly saves independantly of "duty faith". The difference between them and Pantelism is that they still seem to hold more people going to Hell, including many who profess the faith --i.e. The "tares". (Since they maintain Hell for many people today, they are able to pass as within the pale of orthodoxy).

This point is shown by studying Romans 3:23 ("For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God") in its context. This is one of the most familiar verses in scripture, becoming part of the so-called "Romans Road" to salvation devised by popular evangelists in the 20th century. (It should be noted, that this is not even a whole sentence, even though it was made into its own "verse"). The preceding verse says "Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith OF Jesus Christ unto ALL and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference...". This then leads into "for all have sinned...".

Here we see again, the "faith OF Christ", rather than individual faith IN Jesus (And the term pistis can also mean "faithfulness"); and most importantly, that "ALL" and "all who believe" are distinguished; with "no difference" between them; both having "sinned and come short of the glory of God", and thus also, both being covered by the righteousness of God through the "faith of Christ".
It's amazing how much of a clear proof of a Fulfilled View is right there, next to one of the most well known statements in the Bible! You read that for years and never even think to put it together with the context. (This shows why this truth would be unknown for all this time, and only seem to come out of nowhere now).


The first objections

Our first reaction is naturally to throw up 2Tim 2:18 "Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some"; but Paul wrote this to those for whom it was yet still future.
(Imagine, assuming a future Millennium, at the end of this millennium, when "Satan is loosed and deceives the four corners of the earth" again (Rev.20:7,8), and apart of the deception might be a denial that Christ came back at the beginning of the millennium. People could take this same verse to "prove" the Second Coming still hadn't occurred. But obviously, it would have still have been fulfilled by then).

Another objection will be that it makes the New Testament writings "obsolete", and no longer "written for us". But this is no different from the Old Testament, which we still use; but clearly, nearly all of its commands are not for us.
Even parts of the New Testament we hold as applying then, but not now. Such as the "original organization" with 12 "apostles", 70 "evangelists", and 7 elders or committeemen; literal footwashing, holding all things in common, and other elements some sects insist are still in effect, but "orthodoxy" rejects.

There still could be some sort of future visible coming and Kingdom. But the main focus of the Plan; the abolition of spiritual death, has been long accomplished.

As for the central doctrine of conditional salvation, a basic argument (to use an example I've seen) will be that "God’s forgiveness, while certainly conceptually related to and motivated by His love, is not extended universally, as His love is." No direct justification is made for separating love and forgiveness. Love is seen as simply the "offering" of forgiveness, but then, the ball is put in the sinner's hand, with supposedly no further grace outside of the proscribed "conditions". And where does this argument turn, but to various Old Testament passages, showing the conditional nature of forgiveness. (Josh. 24:19–21, Jer. 36:3, Ps. 51:3, 16–17), and the New Testament is seen as "agreeing" through a pre-Cross instance (Luke 7:40–50), and that “godly sorrow works repentance” (2 Cor. 7:9–10), and several examples in Acts.

Even though the notion of the post-Cross examples reflecting an "overlap" will obviously be disputed; we see that even aside from those, the argument relies strictly on pre-Cross soteriology. In other words, the Law! The "conditions" are, in fact, the Law. ("Beliving in" the true God is basically the first Commandment). They themselves are not grace, but instead potentially stand in the way of it! It's another area in which man hopelessly ends up falling short!
The "repentance" preached in the rest of the NT is seen as simply a continuation of this; and that this was God's whole plan of "grace" from the beginning.
This shows that the conventional, traditional teaching is really still bound to the Law. People do not understand that the full fruition of Grace, and the "Blessed Hope" they were waiting for, was the complete removal of the "conditions" of the Law.

Another objection might be Acts 4:12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."
But under unconditional Grace, it is still Christ, and not any other god or savior, by which salvation is extended. This right here does not say anything about what's required on the part of the person being saved, though there are other scriptures that of course do seem too place it on personal "belief" (such as 2:38, 3:19 and 16:31, most notably), but this was the initial preaching of the apostles; and again, the premise is that of an overlap, where the people under the Law had to turn from that to Christ, as the "firstfruits" of salvation (Rom. 8:23, James 1:18, Rev. 14:4).


Satan is primarily an accuser, and his goal is to accuse people with the Law. Why do we say the world is "lost" in the first place? Because they have "sinned", which is "transgression of the Law"; hence, "the wages of sin is death".
His main deception was always to lead people into thinking they are saved by their own efforts. This is how he deceived the Israelites who rejected Christ and pressured the Church in the New Testament.
He denies Christ's work, rendering it largely ineffective, now, by leading religion to believe most men are still condemned under the Law, with new "conditions" that must be met by our own efforts (or God only "enabling" us to meet them) in order to be saved;
and it looks so "righteous" ("upholding God's Law"; "preaching against sin", etc) doing so (2 Cor.11:14).

This may sound like the total opposite of what we are accustomed to thinking. We normally associate Satan with "lawlessness", and basically "fun" (deemed to be lawless pleasures that run contrary to the Law), while God is the one who accuses with the Law. But Satan's deception involves covering up the fact that man cannot save himself by the works of the Law, so in order to think themselves passing in it, its standards have to be brought down to something attainable by man. This is done by religion of all stripes, from the most "conservative" on down. The more strict the "rules", the more people will find loopholes (this is what we see in the practice of the Pharisees), and thus behind a mask of rigid lawkeeping will always loom hidden lawlessness, and the people will be completely blind to it!

So I have had to clarify what I believe about Satan's role in all the evil we have come to associate with him now (blood, gore, false religion, spiritual darkness, war, sexual sin and perversion, etc). Basically, this would be part of his plot to accuse, and deny God's grace. He leads the world (and as many Christians as he can) into these things, they deep down inside feel condemned, and less likely to ever sense God's grace (they just "know" He would never accept them like that, so what's the use; just keep living it up), and then here comes religion hitting them with their sin, judging with the Law, and most of them telling them they need to reform their behavior to receive grace or "be right with God" (whether they put emphasis on the reformation itself, or claim "come just as you are", and God will work on it).
Again, most of the people feel they can't bear the burden, and just go on in their lifestyle. Then, when the Christians fail themselves on top of everything, that becomes the ultimate weapon, to turn the moral accusation back on them!

With war (the other main thing usually associated with Satan): again; one nation thinks it's right or better than the other, and when the other fights back (even if generations later), they feel they're being wrongly attacked. No grace; it's all one's own righteousness (with genuine crimes against one group always the basis of their case against others, even where it goes beyond the offence), and others' evil.

One of the most glaring evils in history is the African witch doctors who tell the tribesmen that raping newborn babies will cure them of AIDS. This is basically just another form of a quick "salvation" (albeit temporal) by one's own action.

If nothing else, it all boils down to "you have to save yourself by your own efforts" (Whether that "salvation" is deemed to be "spiritual" (from Hell), or just survival in the physical world).

So do you see what Satan is really doing through all the evil in the world? Basically covering up God's grace, and having everyone maintain their own righteousness (with or without the Law) and then judging and accusing each other with the Law.
This whole story is all about God and His grace (not man's evil deeds and moral reformation), and that is what Satan is attacking.

The much heralded (in preaching) "defeat of Satan" is basically reduced to a personal level in conventional theology, where "victory" (while procured by Christ) is attained purely by our own individual "choices" (or God hand-selecting the relative few), even though the majority of creation remains ultimately ceded over to Satan!

Law and the covenants

When we say the world is lost, what we're actually saying is that we are still under the Law, and essentially, that the Old Covenant lives on to this day, until Christ returns. But of course, most of us don't actually see this as still the Old Covenant.

In the NT, the Old Covenant and New Covenant were coexisting side by side, and one was "perishing" while the other was set to eventually take completely over. (Matt.13:31-33)
Forward to our retrospective view, we see the Old Covenant as completely ending at the Cross, so everything we see in scripture after that (including the conditional nature of salvation, with a "race" to salvation along a "narrow path" that is "difficult") must be the fullness of the New Covenant. The result is thatt the "world that is perishing" mentioned in the rest of the NT is now assumed to be the "physical world", and people are presumed to still be condemned, for being "physical" ("natural" or "fleshy" in a literal sense) only, instead of "spiritual" ("reborn"), which then often ends up interpreted as a mind-change that should ultimately lead to a behavioral change from following natural desires that become sinful.
No one really lives up to this completely, so then we speak of an ongoing "struggle against the flesh", and then plug that into "running the race".

But what "flesh" really referred to was the physical inheritance of the Old Covenant (people thought they were saved because they were of Abraham's lineage), not the physical world. While it can also extend to the natural, unregenerate state of gentiles, it does not create a permanent dichotomy determined by behavior.

The Old Covenant was based on exclusion (hence, a small "flock" of called-out "chosen" ones in the midst of an entire world God was perpetually angry at), and the overlap period also maintained some exclusion (the Church as the new called-out "nation", and its persecutors or defectors facing God's wrath), which appears to form the pattern the modern doctrine of exclusion: called exclusionism follows. (i.e. they trace the pattern of "sinners in the hands of an angry God" with a relatively small group of people experiencing "grace", from Genesis all the way to Revelation, and this seems to confirm a perpetual exclusionism as God's universal plan, until the "end" of the physical world).
But this was simply part of a phasing in of a covenant of inclusion.

We know that "the soul that sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20) and "do this and live" (Lev. 18:5, Ezekiel 18:5-9, 20:11, 13, Luke 10:28) hail from the Law, but we in practice think they have simply been repackaged under grace, with "believe" or even "believe and repent" filling in as the new "do this". This reduces grace to a mere "easier task" or "lighter requirement"!
But no; these still remain apart of the Law, evidenced by the fact that this is what leaves most of mankind still condemned, under conventional theology!
We actually think that this "narrow path" that results is grace, but it's really part and parcel of the Law!

Two scriptures used to prove that conditional salvation effected by “choice” is still in effect:
Choose this day whom you will serve (Joshua 25:15; also 1 Kings 18:21)

This was under the Law, with Israelites being drawn after Baal or the other false gods their fathers had worshipped. So of course they were told to choose. And in the New Testament parallel to this, the people had to choose Christ over the “false god” their fathers had made out of the Law (ever so ironically enough).
Just like YHWH could save physical Israel where Baal could not; Christ could save spiritual Israel where the Law, enacted by their own efforts, could not. (And for the Gentiles, it was both their old false gods, still, plus the temptation to be brought under the Law by heterodox proselytizers such as we see with the Galatians).

Where we get hung up here is the fact that YHWH was the One who gave the Law, so to put the Law in the parallel category to Baal sounds totally incredulous!
But the key to this paradox is the OUR EFFORT part. The "idol" here is really MAN, meaning ourselves (or our religious traditions), and we are obviously not only not God, but also fallible and unable to justify ourselves. So to think that we can, and then go on and try to (along with the judgment of others and even ourselves some times, that always and naturally follows) is to worship something other than God!
Paul says “The Law is holy and good, but I am carnal, sold under sin” (Rom.7:12-14).
The whole purpose of the Law then was to show us that we could not keep it (which is a commonly recognized statement in evangelical Christianity, though in practice, they've simply scaled down the Law), and the "tutor" to bring man to Christ.

So anyone who holds onto the Law (with the “choice” and “effort” required) regardless (i.e. in ignorance) of this fact (when God has since given the FURTHER REVELATION of the Gospel; that “by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified” Rom.3:20, Gal.2:16), is “trusting in the arm of the flesh” every bit as much as the Baal worshippers and other pagans, whose gods had to be appeased by works (with the merit lying in the very discomfort of it, as is often implied in Christian teaching on “holiness” and “growth”).
Those who try to have both Christ and the Law (e.g. “the Cross covers us when we fall, but we must still be trying to obey and 'bearing fruits' of 'new life' in order to 'prove' we are saved”) are the ones mixing worship of Baal with worship of God. It's adding to Christ's work, which suggests it was not totally sufficient.

This still does not address whether we are still in the position of Israel being brought to the Promised Land, which is the entire context of these passages, or the antetypical New Testament “Israel” running the race to the spiritual “promised land” of full redemption. That is the premise conditional salvation and its arguments against the Fulfilled view is based on; and thus what the Fulfilled view denies.
The “commonly accepted message” ("CAM" in some pantelist discussions) uses these passages to prove that we are still in that paradigm; but that is putting the cart before the horse. If the Fulfillment has occured, then these passages are fulfilled along with the rest of the Law they are apart of which we say is no longer binding, such as the sacrifices and the [temporal] penalties.
So the real argument is when they would be fulfilled, and how they would be fulfilled. By a new physical world, where everything is perfect, which obviously is not here yet, and thus did not come “quickly” as promised? Or was it a secure redemption itself, not conditional on our actions, including our "belief", which when about God, would be represented by the first three commandments, and thus still apart of the Law.


The negative effects of so-called "orthodox evangelical soteriology"

Leaving grace to be conditional upon a person's "personal faith" has created a myriad of unresolvable contradictions and conflicts.

The biggest and most pertinent one to this discussion is that "orthodox theology" can't explain Matthew 16:28 "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."
While there are numerous other scriptures that indicate a soon return, these are interpreted in ways that redefine "soon" ("soon" in "God's time", or "soon for the [future] generation that is alive when 'these things' begin", etc). But this statement of our Lord clearly eliminates those possibilities, and rather than trying to interpret this one by our interpretations of the other ones, the other ones should be seen as agreeing with this one.
Some will then acknowledge the "the Kingdom" referred there is "spiritual", and referring to the Church, yet will still contrast this with a yet future "coming" with a new Kingdom. (Partial preterists, such as CRI's Hank Hanegraaf, fall into this camp). Yet the context (preceding verse) clearly shows the same events they associate with the future coming.

Others will go as far as to claim that Jesus and the NT writers thought it was going to be "soon" earlier on, but then God gradually revealed it wasn't going to be soon. Their answer for this will have to boil down to tentativity. God initially intended “soon”, but as time went on, decided He wanted more people to be born and potentially be “saved”, so He began extending it indefinitely. (This is how it usually goes). So it was good in that the end could come at “any time”, to any generation. “One size fits all”, basically.
Yet others even claim God said "soon" just to "keep us on our toes".

All of this has Jesus and the apostles, by the Spirit, teaching something not true! Even if you argue that they, including "not even the Son", did not know when it would be, still, if it wasn't going to be actually "soon", God would still never inspire them to say or write something that would turn out to not be true.

Another statement of Jesus virtually dismissed is Luke 17: 20, 21: "The kingdom of God comes not with outward observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." (KJV2000; KJV "within"= Gk. entos). I have seen at least one person try to say that "kingdom" here represents Jesus as the King of the Kingdom, the same way "king" and "kingdom" are interchangeable in the prophetic symbols of the crowns on the heads of the "beasts". Even if so, it is still telling us that all the language we see regarding the Kingdom is exclusively spiritual and not literal.

Another scriptural term, that has really become taken for granted in the way that it has casually been jumped to our age, is The LAST Days.
The last days really refer to the "last days" of Israel, and we end up with the irony that these "last days" last longer than entire history of Israel! If you insist it is referring to the last days of the entire world, then they still last a third as long as the entire Biblical history of the world. (Which is the entire history of the world in the typical 6000 year "young earth" position).
But "last days", while fitting as a hyperbole for a few years, could in no stretch of the imagination be extended to thousands of years (in a Plan that itself only lasts a few thousand years)!

Poor, inconsistent explanations of why miracles or special revelation (which the Apostles maintained after Christ's death) have ceased. (Or, of course, some do claim to be continuing them, in different ways).
The general answer is because of the completion of the scriptural canon, but the scriptures themselves do not say this. (This is read into 1 Cor. 13:8, but there is no reason "when that which is perfect has come" should not be the same thing here as what it is interpreted as elsewhere, and that is the return of Christ).
And then, we cannot even agree on what those scriptures teach, so they were not meant to be any replacement of special revelation.

Also, the guidance of the church. The replacement of Judas shows that the Church was intended to always have 12 chief apostles. However, this was completely lost after the "lost century", in the church of the early Christian Fathers, and even the organizations that claim "apostolic succession" do not maintain this.
The church thereafter reshaped itself into a sort of government, which eventually became powerful.

Interpreting God's "activity" as "promised" in scripture in naturalistic terms to try to prove everything is the same now.
The perfect example is Matt.6:25-34 "Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, what you shall drink, what you shall wear..." etc., with the "birds of the air" and "lilies of the field" as examples.
Yet people expounding this passage will all attest that our own "effort" and "diligence" is required to live. The passage is describing living things that are automatically taken care of by the environment, with no [special] effort of their own required. Yet none believe this is literal. They just interpret it as "just don't be too worried about your circumstances, and be willing to have a 'good attitude' if God 'brings you through' a period where you have lost your job, lost your home, etc." Wouldn't it be nice if it did work for us like birds and lilies, then? But no one believes that; we would all say those people cannot just sit back and rest until the problem is solved!

This is sensationalistic, and used to basically sell the Christian life and make it sound like something it isn't.
It would be much better to simply take passages like this as applying to the disciples, who were living and traveling with Him, and no longer had to even make their own living! He created or multiplied food supernaturally. Nobody today has anyone doing that for them.

In conjunction with this, is semantic somersaults concerning "hard" versus "easy".
Faith and the Christian walk are initially painted as "easy" (through the "power" granted us), yet when we still have problems with them, then it is taught that they are "hard".
We hear terms such as "all you need to have is faith", "just believe"; "just ask", "just give God your problems", "just 'trust' Him", "let go and let God", "God changes your life", "You receive His power to grow and do good works" etc. which makes it all "so easy".

This is intended to not conflict with the notion of "grace, not works", and also becomes the basis that there is "no excuse" not to engage in this "simple faith" (and hence, the harsh condemnation for not meeting the "requirement"). Yet then, we are told "these things [especially, so-called "trust"] are active, not passive", "we must respond", "it is a daily struggle dying to self"; lists of systematic "disciplines" such as devotional time (interpreted as "the relationship") are often given, and because faith in the unseen is difficult, it is then acknowledged as not so easy after all!
But then, we're right back to where we started, regarding the necessity of "works".

Faith becomes a duty, where (according to preaching) not just man's sin but also along with it, Christ's death to pay for it leaves man in "debt" (e.g. "He did all this for you" preached in a way that evokes a sense of "owing"), and obligated to have to "give God" something (i.e., "your life") in return, basically, in order to have the debt removed.
"Procrastination" is even warned about, in preaching and tracts. We "procrastinate" in doing some "work" or "task".

The two main camps evangelical Protestantism is divided into, Calvinism (representing "monergism" which holds salvation is all God's work), and Arminiainsm (representing "synergism", which insists man must "cooperate" with God to be saved, with their "free-will") agree that man has been left in a state of debt toward God because of his sins (and Christ having to pay for them with His life), and must therefore DO something, or "give" God his life, in order to be saved. The Calvinists, while criticizing synergism as compromising "grace alone" in favor of "works", seek to get around this by arguing that God saves by regenerating the sinner first, so that he becomes 'able' to "turn" (repent) and come to God. That way, God is really the one who "did" something that started the process of salvation for the individual. Many Arminians will also try to insist it is the work of God, through His initiation of the "calling" of the sinner.

Neither realize that this is still a "give and take" transaction of de-facto "merit" or "earning". (Rom. 4:4; ergazomai {"work"} meaning "to trade", which this clearly is an example of!) The Calvinist theology is technically still synergistic. Man must still cooperate with God in salvation; only they remove the "free-will" aspect of this, and have God giving them an ability to do it. Just as much as the Arminians, no one can get in totally free with nothing on their part!
But Christ's death itself is the "giving back" that cleared the debt. Nothing else is needed. Both groups will often say something like this when defending or reciting the doctrinal protocol of "grace-alone", but don't realize how their faith-as-duty concept totally contradicts it.

Some, including Arminian revivalists, will go as far as to acknowledge that Christ's death did procure forgiveness for all sins unconditionally for all of man (like CG teaches), but that man is now condemned only for "rejecting Christ".
This makes no sense, for God to remove one condemnation, only to impose another. It is essentially a new LAW. The only benefit is it being "easier" than the bulls and goats used to atone for sin under the Old Covenent. But "easier" right there implies a system of WORKS. And it's not easier for those who never hear, or are not convinced (next few points).
Plus, those who believe this, when preaching on Hell, judgment and salvation still hold up our sins as being what condemn us. This is a reference to the Law that defines sin. So they don't really believe all sins are already paid for!

We often get courtroom analogies in these soteriological debates, so in this one, it's a scenario of a judge pardoning someone, but the criminal refuses to admit his crime, so the judge throws him in prison for his "rebellion". This would assume the pardon was conditional on his confession. Basically, a plea deal for total pardon. But this would only hold as long as the law he was guilty of violating was in effect.

But precisely the idea; the debt of sin is removed by the death itself; it does not become what amounts to another expense we are condemned for if we don't give something back.
This "duty" concept (whether one is aware of it in this term or not) is nothing more than sheer WORKS, clear and simple! Either grace is free, or it is no more grace (Rom.11:6, 4:4).
Of course, they don't start out seeking to prove works are necessary; I'm aware that they're only addressing scriptures that appear to place a burden on everyone to repent and believe or have "faith". However, "putting it all together", is where they end up devising these rationalizations of why "action" on man's part must be necessary. The biggest one ends up being to preserve morality in society. (Of which the aforementioned courtroom analogy leads into, as we shall see later). And Calvinism is just more rationalization piled on top of it, to try to not compromise grace-alone. But the overlap of covenants is what best explains all the scriptural data, without having to adjust one firmly held "traditional" point so that it doesn't contradict another.

The necessity of our "action" in appropriating Christ's blood to cover our sins by faith is generally compared to "applying" the blood (as in the original Passover, and the ensuing atonement system). But that was a physical TYPE of Christ's atonement. And it did hold, in the transition period of the New Testament. But just like in the Passover, where the death angel came quickly, and then the mandate to apply blood on the doorposts was over (for good), the antetypical event they were waiting for in the NT also came relatively quickly, and those who believed were covered, and those who didn't, perished. That too would be over, for good, afterward.
"I desire mercy and not sacrifice" (Hosea 6:6/Matt.9:13) means that while sacrifice may have been a means of grace, mercy went further than that. Today, when we appeal to the “difficulties” of obedience as “sacrifice” (which often becomes the justification of a lot of manmade rules), we are inadvertantly falling back on Law rather than grace.
Other illustrations speak of a "gift" that the person must "receive" (as opposed to refusing or ignoring it) in order to benefit from. But again, this is extending the physical analogy beyond the limit of its spiritual analogy.

Salvation becomes HARDER from Adam to the present.
Concepts such as "magnifying the Law"(Isaiah 42:21), "the spirit of the Law" (lust is spiritually equal to adultery, and hatred is equal to murder, etc. from the Sermon on the Mount), topped off with “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but NOW commands all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:31); the way they are used, make it look like His actual demands (even with "grace") have been all along getting harder, from Adam (whom nothing was apparently required of; discussed more below), to the OT (where they had the Law, but at least they had visible revelation along with it, and yet ignorance was still ultimately "winked" at), to the apostolic Church (where the Law was "magnified" spiritually and all were commanded to repent, yet they still had one, supernaturally guided Church), to now, where for thousands of years, we have had no visible revelation (and only conflicting claims of "supernatural" guidance), yet still have the higher demands placed on us, including now, an increasing need for "faith in the unseen"/"unprovable". To whom the least is given; the most is expected!

Calvinist-Arminian dispute over whether God determines who is saved, or leaves it up to our own "free will" and efforts in spreading the Gospel.
Arminians are right to question predestination as God basically trapping men in condemnation, but Calvinists are right that free will leads to the same thing (like those who never heard being hopeless, or life circumstances simply left them unconvinced), and a [mandatory] free will "belief" would still be something we do to earn salvation; just like a "work".

A concept called the "age of accountability" often comes up in this dispute. It holds that unconditional grace does spread to all below a certain age, when they do not understand sin and salvation. Some Calvinists will counter that it is not mentioned in scripture. No one knows when this age is. (Fundamentalists, for instance, while criticizing infant baptism, often nevertheless testify to "conversion" at very young ages).
It's like this one deed (public confession of Christ as Savior) holds the key to everything, and it becomes obvious that this is a "good deed". (Otherwise, if God could pardon infants unconditionally, then why couldn't He ever pardon everyone unconditionally? The assumption is because adults are "accountable" or "responsible", but this language right here implies works! God requires things of people based on their capability).

Inconsistent explanations of the role of baptism.
The altar call had become the de-facto replacement of baptism in "evangelistic services", and it is true that in the NT, baptism was connected with conversion (and hence, salvation), as Catholics and Campbellists will argue. Yet while we still maintain the practice (believing nothing has changed since the NT), we refuse to believe it initiates salvation, or is even necessary for salvation.
This is another evidence of the overlap of covenants. Baptism and conversion (including public confession) were works that were mandated in continuing with the Law's system of justification. The Cross immediately eliminated the ritual practice of this (blood sacrifice, circumcision, etc), allowing for "simpler" replacements such as belief, baptism, and others like communion. Yet once the Law was completely removed, even those would be fulfilled in purpose, as salvation is 100% by Christ's actions; not man's efforts in getting "covered" anymore.

The "Scandal of particularity": People who never heard are simply unfortunate.
We better hurry up and get the Gospel to them (we are urgently motivated), but after 2000 years, there are still many unreached. (Oh, and again, many people who have heard simply remain unconvinced).
So they all remain condemned by the Law, through supposed "conscience" or "general revelation" (based on readings of Rom 1, 2 and John 1:9), that are ambiguous at best, and yet are said to "convict", but not lead to salvation unless they hear and then believe.

Based on this, all the doubts that even people who have heard struggle with, are dismissed as a sort of lie we tell ourselves; "holding the truth in unrighteoueness". Everybody really "knows the truth", and thus has the 'duty' to "respond"! Right off the bat, Romans 1 is referring to Israel, whom God "showed" Himself to through the Law and the Temple system, referred to as "the world". (v.19 says "...that which may be known of God". He also "showed" them again through Christ's works).
Can one know all that we can know about God just by looking at nature?
I've seen people make convincing arguments against faith using nature. Like "it's a violent universe". Some evangelicals will even admit that "We live among clues and rumors, some of which argue against a powerful and loving God. We too must exercise faith without certainty." (Philip Yancey, Disappointment With God p.241. Also, there's a whole book entitled The Myth of Certainty by Daniel Taylor).
It is clearly describing special revelation, NOT general revelation! Romans 2 then moves onto Gentiles "without the Law".
(At this point, when the passage says "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves", they will say "this is still not good enough to save them, but is only enough to condemn them". But the point here, is that this is contrasted with the "revelation" described in chapter 1, which was special, and thus they all the more had "no excuse". In any case, all of this says nothing about "requirements" or "action on man's part, to be saved" needing to be maintained).

Also, a person "responding" to what they were "shown" would not be faith (Rom 8:24), but rather works!

Arminians will try to say that people can respond to these forms of revelation, and then "God gives more knowledge—as He did to the Ethiopian eunuch and the Roman centurion". This leads up to them eventually having an evangelist sent specifically to them by God, so they can "hear" and then make that "decision" that gets them saved. (Everything hinges on just that one act!) But it becomes clear that progressively "responding" to graduated stages of revelation (in addition to a particular ACT being the goal of it!) becomes a regiment of works. It's all about what the people DO, and God essentially "rewarding" them with something (salvation) in the end.

This scandal also raises the questions (among nonbelievers) of why God would raise only one Savior, and in one place and time, if He demands everyone to hear and believe. (Of course, the answer again is that God has "shown" everyone through general revelation and conscience, —which still leaves nearly everyone lost).
But with unconditional Grace, only one Savior was needed in the world. It only took one man in one place and time to die on the Cross for sin. Man is limited by his location in particular places and times, but the Gospel is not about man's efforts and by extension, "abilities".
By all accounts, a "scandal of particularity" is anything but good news; it is the near ultimate triumph of the Law of sin and death! It's basically what the "good news" was designed to remediate!

Who to even "witness" to: Unclear line between "saved and lost".
While evangelists like Comfort and Cameron made it look so easy on their show to just approach random people, use the Law to convince them they are sinners, and then they usually realize their sin and need to repent (whether they actually do it or not at that time); what I myself found, is that nearly everyone I have encountered has pretty much made their decision one way or another. Many, either already some sort of born again Christian, or thorougly against it, often emphasizing that it can't be proven. But most are "nominals", who were nice people who identified with the Church, but didn't seem to really be "living for Jesus". Of course, being "nice" doesn't save; only "grace through faith" does.
Yet by what basis am I assuming they're not born again? By their works! Like if they've had children out of wedlock (and haven't openly renounced the act as "sin"), that would be a sure sign they weren't "really" following Him, right? They were "secular". Or if they smoked. Or drank. Or cursed. Or if they hardly ever mentioned Jesus on their own. If they didn't identify themselves as "saved" or "born again".
I actually felt convicted that I was wrongly "judging", and couldn't "witness" to such people! Whatever I said about Jesus, they basically nodded to!

What should people like that do to be "saved"? They already "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ". But "not really"; what it comes down to is that in order to be saved or "really believe", they must change their behavior. Or at least be conscious of this need, and trying to. It again becomes clear that works are in practice the determinant of salvation in the "orthodox" view.

Or if one accepts such people as "saved", then that just leaves the hard-nosed rejectors of Christ, and witnessing to them (in my experience) has just been running into a brick wall.
(If all the commands of the New Testament were still for us today, then if we are in a place where nearly everyone has "made their choice", or largely reject the Gospel message, then we are supposed to "shake the dust off our feet" and move on to another place! But most of us don't do that; remaining settled wherever we live.)

Reconciling "eternal security" with scriptures that speak of lost salvation or "falling away".
With the covenants overlapping, there was still a danger of falling under the condemnation of the Law, so they had to "press on" until "the end".
It may appear that the CG position only moves the apparent paradoxes between faith/security and works back to the first century. But these paradoxes aren't as unsolvable when understood in the context of an overlap of covenants, and a truly "soon" end of the age of the one passing away, with the believers having a "downpayment" (earnest) of the new one, and running a race they and their generation alone could actually live to see the end of. It's when we feel we have to stretch this to our age, that the meanings of concepts change, leaving greater conflicts.

—Remotely connected with this is the whole "Lordship salvation" dispute. Some Calvinists (particularly Baptistic ones) question the salvation of up to 2/3rds of professing evangelicals, for not producing enough "fruit". Calvinism and four-point Arminianism explain "falling away" as "they were never really saved to begin with". Many of these people (that they are suspecting of this false "easy-believism" —more clear language of a works-mindset) appear to trust in an "altar call" or a prayer as saving them, which the Lordship group sees as a 'work' (especially under a premise of "free-will") of potentially unregenerate people, who become "tares" deceived by a "false assurance".
They actually have a bit of a point here, and I have noted that many fundamentalists (for instance) who strongly condemn "infant baptism" themselves testify to some remarkably young "conversion" experiences. They were taught the Gospel, and at some point "made the decision" and "recited the prayer", and were at that point pronounced saved. Even though you wonder how much they really understood at that age; and when you see some of their fruits, such as the combatitiveness and pride, while condemning others for sin and "compromise", (including a bunch of stuff that really isn't even sin); then it looks like they did not really understand what they were "believing". (They were just following a religious "culture", like the Israelites of Christ's time).

But for the Lordship advocates to go around questioning people for "fruits" once again implies a works-salvation. And it also has God "electing" far fewer people than we even imagine.
While I contend that this would likely turn out to be true, apart from Fulfilled Grace, it still leaves little good news (if fulfilled Grace is not true). The Lordshippers themselves might find that they did not produce sufficient "fruits" either; truth be told. Nobody can, really. Even after this supposed "regeneration". That's why salvation is by Grace!

—What this shows, is that when judging by Law (obedience, "fruits" [behavioral growth] and even "correct belief" aka "TRUE faith" or "SAVING faith"), you can find ways to rule out 100%, and that's what these people don't understand. Calvinists are basically right to claim the Protestant version of the Gospel as their own (one of their arguments against Arminians), because part of the Reformer's premise was that God's primary plan is not grace, but rather "His Glory", which for some reason seems to be shown more through condemnation of man than anything else.
So Hell is really the whole point or aim, and "grace" then is an exception He makes for a small, "chosen" few. This is the basis of the "Commonly accepted message" (CAM), and some simply soften it in different ways (giving everyone choice, age of accountability, maybe some who never heard will be saved, etc).
It's impossible to draw any definite line, because someone can always take some scripture and use it to up the ante. That's what almost all religious debate is.

What exactly is "faith" in "Jesus Christ"?

The whole concept of "false gospels", where we condemn "cults" and even sometimes other evangelicals for wrong beliefs (or "fruits") that essentially nullify or at least call into question salvation (because then their "christ" is false, and thus "cannot save") basically RELATIVIZES "faith" or "belief on the Lord Jesus Christ" to the point that it is impossible to determine what this "saving faith" really is!
Every group claims to have it, and that others are wrong; citing numerous scriptures to support their stance. You just have to pick which group, and which creed and/or scripture interpretation you will follow. ("Orthodoxy" then is defined simply by the "majority", but the majority has been wrong before, such as before the Reformation!)

Is "faith" simple "belief" on Christ, regardlesss of what else you believe or do? Most will actually reject this.
Are the metaphysics of Christ necessary? (Dual nature, virgin birth, etc). Without these, you have "another Jesus", supposedly. Are "literal interpretations" of Genesis necessary? (Some insist they are). Of all the miracles? (One's "faith in the Word of God" is staked on this one). Is futurism (the "coming bodily resurrection of believers and visible return of Christ") the only true gospel? A few seem to argue even this, though most, while holding the doctrine will deny one must hold it.
Are works ("fruits") necessary after conversion? (Denial of this might garner the label "nominal" or "antinomian"). Belief in "new birth" and "salvation by grace"? (Cults often deny this one).
How much stuff that we or others say or do can be said to contradict works or grace, (or even contradict ourselves trying to uphold both)?
What about the fact that the racism widespread in the past was a false gospel? One that spat in the face of everything the New Testament taught, and sought to resurrect physical inheritance as defining a covenant relationship with God; precisely like the Israelites of old! That would wipe out a vast majority of people widely accepted as "conservative, Bible-believing" Christians over several centuries. (Of course, defenders of those Christians have to downplay this, and deny it was that bad, if not justified in some way!)
How about other things different groups try to stick us with that have a point? Like trading in the sabbath (one of the Ten Commandments) for another day not even explicitly commanded. Claims of "the true Church" organization, rather than the splintering of "denominationalism".
(We simply do not get to choose what constitutes a "true" or "false" gospel; not even a consensus we call "orthodoxy").

How can God have "shown" everybody all we can know about Him when believers cannot even settle these things? Clearly, "general revelation" has not led to much theological truth.

Taking this with the "few that find it" notion, it becomes clear that "faith" is NOT simple, and a lot of baggage, plus so many potential disqualifiers have been placed on it by all groups, and salvation therefore ends up in PRACTICE staked on some rigorous effort of man to sort through all of this confusion (even if it is God who "enables" it).
(To those who would say that it is by "simple faith in Jesus" and nothing else; that can imply an anything-goes ecumenicalism that might as well become universalism).

Of course, this all goes along with the notion that even "the devils believe and tremble" (James 2:19); hence just "believing" cannot be enough (as the works-arguing groups like to emphasize, but mainstream Christians have to deal with the verse as well). But again, this apparent direct rebuttal to Romans (esp. the following verses) can only be harmonized with the understanding of an overlap of covenants.
Paul lays down grace, in which works are contrasted with "faith", and points out that they had only an "earnest" of this until "the end" came. If they "hold fast", then they "are not under Law, but under grace". To those who try to take advantage of this conditional state of grace and ignore that the Law was still in effect, James reminds them that under the Law (v8-13), faith must be expressed through works.
(Mainstream theology has not sufficiently dealt with these two passages, which appear to directly contradict and rebut each other; leading some to believe that James' "Jerusalem Church" was at odds with Paul's "gentile Church"!)

Many attempts to reinterpret scriptures to get "problem passages" to fit, or even altogether soften this down. No less than Billy Graham and some others are said to have made some sort of allowances for those who have never heard to be saved. This naturally draws fire from other evangelicals. Yet it appears to have no Biblical defense (in mainstream exposition, that is). Deep down inside, the implications of a necessity to profess faith in Christ to be saved is just "too hard" in light of all the barriers to the majority of people in the world.

This should raise the question of whether salvation staked on the duty of hearing and responding is really the "Good News" of God.


The purpose of Pantelism

Thus, the Pantelistic view is not like liberalism or universalism, in abolishing Hell simply because it's too "distasteful". I had accepted Hell (in some form or another) for over 20 years, and had no plans to abandon it.

Pantelist writer Tim King points out that standard Universalism extends salvation to all "apart from the covenantal framework of biblical eschatology" (and this would apply to the evangelical compromise mentioned above, as well), and thus "the concept of salvation is severed from its Hebraic roots, the victory of God is reinterpreted through the lens of human worth and Christ is removed as the central figure in the victory of God", and thus "the true story of hope gives way to any number of stories and the foundation for the continued development of human society is compromised". ("Comprehensive Grace", Jul 30, 2002). So CG should not be looked at with the same presuppositions one might have about "universalism".

It is from realizing that the Good News is not about a future literal Kingdom that keeps being delayed well beyond "soon" by any stretch of interpretation. (And would be rendered virtually useless anyway, if "going to Heaven when we die" is really the primary hope as most profess). It's rather the abolition of spiritual death itself; and seeing how this answers all of these unresolvable questions.

This now makes all of Paul's teachings on Law, sin and death make so much more sense; especially the way he sometimes seems to put down the Law and say that sin only exists because of it. (Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, etc).
The Law brings death or "wrath". (Romans 7:10, 4:15, 2 Cor. 3:7). Many seem to think it brings life —but of course, only if you "keep" it. But therein lies the hook! Who can keep it? Even after conversion? Why else do we think Paul says it is against man?

In fact, many Pantelists will argue that our whole sense of "sin" based on the Law is the original "knowledge of good and evil" that caused the Fall (into sin) the first place! This would perfectly explain Romans 3:20, 7:7ff! The Church has at times taught that this "knowledge" was anything from sex to science, but the text clearly shows what changed; what they now "knew" once they ate the fruit. Remember, they were "naked and unashamed" originally, and the Fall simply brought in the shame (not the "nakedness", or anything else)! God had asked "who told you you were naked?" As one person once put it, "It was Satan who had been telling them things!"

Scriptures like John 3:18, 19, 36 (men condemned for "lov[ing] darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil") is understood better when read as referring to people who actually saw Christ. They had Christ before them, and had to choose Him; and they could see His good works (the actual evidence He held up as proving who He was), so thus were without excuse.

This is totally different from people who live thousands of years later (after the Old Covenant was totally abolished, and then the truth blurred by all the turmoil and confusion of Church history), or people in far away lands who never heard of Him. (If it were referring to simply anyone's "evil deeds", then we're all disqualified, and salvation would be by not doing the evil deeds, or, in other words, by works!)
"To whom much is given, much is expected". (Luke 12:48)

All of this would explain why God seems so uninvolved compared to all the "special revelation" recorded in the Bible.
All of that was part of a Plan, that is now long finished.

The Knowledge of Good and Evil

When man took on the knowledge of good and evil, he immediately, in his resulting shame, began working to cover himself. Judging himself "evil" (subconsciously, at least), he had to find a way to hide this and be "good", at least in his own eyes. (This even resulted in a constant tug of war between "hard" works versus "easy" compromises). Man and his religion followed suit ever since. The first pair initially tried using plant life as the covering, but God instituted animal skins. The firstborn tried with the plants again, but the blood is what ends up accepted. Blood must be shed, and this became engrained in all of their progeny as blood sacrifice became universal in ancient religion, even apart from the one God.

The entire Biblical history is God holding man up to his own reaction to his shame, through the Law and its judgments.
“You want to handle good and evil; then HERE, take it. That means you must be GOOD to be saved from your shame. Do this and live. Fall short of it (sin) and die. Be ye PERFECT as I am perfect! (Can't do it, eh? Well here's how. Still can't? What you need is Grace! In the meantime, here's some help while My Plan is worked out)”.

Hence, an increasing list of laws, starting with ritual sacrifice, then, seven general laws for all of man, and when these were repeatedly violated, a select nation was called out and given hundreds of laws, including the encoding of a general sense of man's physical nature being “bad” (sex becoming such a harshly judged taboo, menstruation being “unclean” along with leprosy, etc), despite the fact that everything physical was created “good”.
Yet none were ever able to completely do it, and had to keep falling back on the atonement system for justification. When a New covenant began being phased in, the Law was "magnified" spiritually, showing once and for all its impossibility. The Spirit was given to Christians as a "deposit", and to help them run the race against such insurmountable odds. Yet many still couldn't do it, hence an ongoing "small flock".

The effect of Knowledge of Good and Evil on the human soul was the sense of a "deficient self". The result:

I. We heap up for ourselves “gods” that we can control or appease through our own efforts
II. We make the true God into our own image to control others
III. We say and do self-serving things in His name
IV. We push ourselves to an unhealthy extent to achieve our own goals
V. We will hate our parents for messing us up
VI. We will kill if we project enough evil onto others
VII. We use the opposite gender for our own selfish purposes
VIII. We will take what we want from others
IX. We will lie on others to get our way
X. We feel we need what others have

All of that is to fill in for feelings of deficiency. (Fundamentalists and Reformed have long argued against the concept of "self-esteem" being used to interpret scriptures, and while they do have a point that it is often overemphasized in some modern teaching, the Fall story is clear that man suffered a sense of deficiency as the primary effect of the knowledge of good and evil.
Ironically, they think more knowledge of good and evil is the solution, and less of it is what has "caused" so much "sin" in the modern world!)

Christians will object to our “imperfection” being used as an “excuse” for not obeying God's Law. They believe that every person who lives must “repent”, meaning admitting his offense against God, and actively accepting the “covering” of his sins against the just penalty by Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, then resolving to try not to sin, ideally receiving “power” through the Spirit, first through “conviction” (greater conscience), which will then supposedly make it easier to sin less.
Then and only then will his “imperfection” figure in Grace; that God is no longer holding his sins against him.

But this "give and take" form of grace was still apart of the Law, which once again challenged man to be perfect. It is still premised on the “knowledge of good and evil”.
This can be seen in both Christ and Paul's warnings about being "handed over" to the judgment system (which Paul calls “Satan” in one instance. It was referring to the legal system of Israel. Why else would “Satan” be punishing blasphemy?) The power to obey, or more accurately, manifest love (through faith in the risen Christ) was part of the "testimony" of Christ. Testimony indicating a trial, as in a court; it was against the accusing Law system. A system that is long gone now!

So when "the world" pleads "imperfection", and that "God would understand" as the justification of their sins, they actually have a bigger handle on Grace than those who insist it is [still] conditional. "Sin" is "missing the mark" of perfection (Hence 1 John 3:6, 9 "Whoever abides in Him/is born of God does not sin"; a much misrepresented passage, leading some to define v5 "takes away our sin", and "born again" and even "abiding in Him", along with it as behavioral reform), and the Law shows that we cannot do it. Grace is God taking into account our limitations (Psalm 103:14). Man still thinks he can do it, and some "help" from God was all he needed, but that was not the point of the overlap period reflected in the New Testament.

Retribution and justice for sins committed in this age

In my defenses of the standard Hell theory on relativism.html, I cited "The Morality of Everlasting Punishment" by Mark R. Talbot ( as it offered a unique way of arguing the doctrine:
"Whenever we feel or observe injustice, we judge that the world is not the way it is supposed to be. For feeling or observing injustice involves feeling or observing a wrong being done that needs righting. And, in general, we know what it would take for the wrong to be righted, for the world to become what it should be: The perpetrator of the injustice should be called to account, and, at the very least, he or she should somehow be made to feel and acknowledge the wrong done, and to feel and acknowledge it in the appropriate degree."

So now adopting the Fulfilled Grace position, I was thinking in terms of how personal wrongs would be "made up". Mainstream Christians on one hand says to pray for the offenders, yet on the other hand, if they don't repent, the ultimate vindication is supposed to be them going to Hell, or at least being "dealt with" by God in a way that hopefully leads them to repentance. If they're already a Christian, it's "losing rewards".
But I always sensed that this was not something we should be finding comfort in. The disciples wished on their enemies a quick temporal retribution, and Jesus told them "you do not know what spirit you are of" (Luke 9:55).

Yet under a fulfilled grace view; God would not have to punish them at all in order for them to "feel what the victim felt". They will automatically "see" both the stuff they had suppressed (such as hurting someone and then squelching the guilt for it, as well as offenses they have long forgotten, etc), as well as the effects it had on others, and finally, they will realize how forgiven they are, which will be quite humbling.
It will actually be worse for the religious types, who think they've "repented" of all their sins, and are doing well, as long as they put forth the effort to keep trying to grow. (Self-denial, controlling their thoughts, the Christian "disciplines", etc). They too will see how much they still needed forgiveness, likely as much as the "unsaved" sinner!
(I often think to myself, that if duty-faith conversion were true, many would discover that they would have ended up in hell; and likely the deepest pit of it, since they toyed with scripture, and thus "should have" known better than the works-righteousness they lived and taught in practice. Talbot also argues that hell must be eternal because of the "limitessness" of our sins; like how much gratification we get is never enough; so it is a limitless "refusing to be bounded by the limits God has set on what we should be or do". This still negates grace; of God "not counting their sins against them").

So that seems to really explain how justice will work under Fulfilled Grace.


The traditional view has been scaled down from its "hardness" by nearly all of its advocates

The idea that God leaves such little clear evidence (through direct intervention or special revelation) in this world, but then demands everyone to believe in order to be saved contradicts the whole notion of grace in favor of works. You have to strive to find a "narrow path" against all the evidence otherwise, with "design in nature" plus "conscience" as the only "clues".

Whether Calvinism or Arminianism, this would have God trapping man in sin and death, and then "holding them responsible" in order to justify condemning them (as if He needed "justification" in the first place). And either way, most do end up condemned. The main answer to this, especially from the Calvinists, is that God has the "sovereign right" to do this. He "doesn't even have to save a few"; so, that He does is in itself "Grace". Many Calvinists will even insist that since history is only about "God's glory" and nothing else, and this "glory" seems to be made more evident from condemnation (based on their readings of Romans 9), then a few were all that were needed to be saved. In fact, the condemnation of the vast majority is what's needed for the redeemed to appreciate their salvation!

But something called "Good News" was proclaimed. (Some will try to cite 2 Cor. 2:15, 16 to say that the Gospel is good news only to the saved and a terror to "the lost", with "perish" assumed to refer to "every single person who is on their way to Hell". The verse says that the people (who are saved) are the "savor of death" to the perishing, not that the "good news" won't even sound like good news (to the average person). And "them that perish" is really referring to those remaining under the Old Covenant, which was "perishing").
Since God already had a relative few "chosen, faithful ones" saved under the Law, what was the "good news", then? What else really would have been accomplished by the Cross this way?

Calvinism boldly affirms that God leaves helpless men trapped (though they won't use the word "trapped", however), and Arminianism simply attempts to soften this down to people having some "choice" in the matter. But this only leaves them subject to circumstances, such as being in a place where they can hear the Gospel, and then seeing enough evidence in the available data or their experiences to be convinced and respond. As the Calvinists point out, you end up with the same result, of few being able to find the Way, despite God "loving" them.

Arminianism is really modified Calvinism anyway.
The two key doctrines Pantelism will be condemned for denying, are
1) God's sovereignty in allowing the ongoing default condemnation of all men.
2) the need for human "choice" or "response" to have this condemnation removed.

The foundations of Calvinism and Arminianism were solidified in the Christianity of Augustine, whose theology had shaped the Church into what it had become in its "golden" age. Even though the Roman Catholic Church gradually slid away from his monergism (unconditional election), all of the initial Reformers picked it up (and it eventually took on Calvin's name), and it was held as central to their position.
And Augustine, despite his monergism, still [ironically] held to works-salvation (hence, "synergism" or human cooperation still being involved), so this was softened down, in theory, with the Reformation emphasis on "faith alone". (Though in practice, it still had to be "proven" by one's works).

The two positions were supposedly harmonized in saying that God is the one who "enables" the men he "chooses" to make the "choice" for Him. The drawback, is that the world becomes a "script" the evangelist and convert are acting out, and whoever gets saved (no matter how few), are ultimately all God wants to be saved.
In Calvinism, it seems God's default plan in itself ends up being damnation (especially in light of the “sovereignty” argument from Romans 9); grace is an exception He makes. This has shaped the attitude of so-called "orthodox" Christianity toward "the hellbound world" all the way down.

It was only the Arminians, the Anabaptists and finally the Wesleys who introduced synergism (human free-will cooperation with God) into Protestantism, as monergism's "reprobation of the nonelect" was seen as "too hard". (And even within monergism, you have varying degrees regarded as too hard, such as supralapsarianism, to the infralapsarians, and double-predestination to so-called "single-predestinationists"). The two positions were also mixed, in movements such as fundamental or "revivalist" Baptists, who are basically Arminian (and follow the likes of Finney and Sam Jones), but still heavily influenced by Spurgeon and Edwards, who were Calvinists, though emphasized "man's responsibility" so much that they sounded Arminian.

It is from this influence that a strongly "exclusionist" mentality dominates much of the "traditional" view on Hell, where an angry God, whose default move towards man is condemnation, decides to have "grace" through a hard, "narrow path" that most ultimately won't find or complete (whether He called them out Himself, or placed it squarely in the hands of the church and the free-will of the sinner). Either way, He removes all special revelation, and yet "holds man responsible" for much more ambiguous evidence such as "general revelation" or "conscience", plus the "testimony" of very [even admitedly, usually] imperfect Christians.
This arrangement is virtually set up for most men to perish! (Let's be honest about it!) Yet the Arminians insist God is standing there "reaching out", waiting for everyone to come, and Calvinists just use this to prove their view, which is consistent with an idea of men being set up to fall. (Again, it's all about "His glory", not really the benevolent move toward mankind! Some just get fortunate in the plan).

A popular teaching in New-evangelicalism is that Hell actually is apart of God's "grace", because He "allows people their free will", including to reject Him. I recall CRI (Hanegraaf himself, IIRC) even saying that to do otherwise would be more "cruel" than Hell! This will be their main objection to CG. But the Calvinists, again, are right, in that our natures are basically predisposed to choose against Him. It also presumes a total sovereignty of free-will, which is more an assumption than any clear biblical teaching. So what CG says is that "Grace" is Him saving them in spite of themselves. Most people don't actually want to perish, despite whichever way their "will" might be leading them to behave now. (And we again see salvation ultimately tied up with behavior in these teachings).
As one writer points out here, in a debate: this "they go there of their own accord (rather than God really sending them there)" view is contrary to the very "historic Christianity" modern apologists appeal to, and is itself a softened-down view of Hell!

So people who like to rebuke the rejection of the doctrine of Hell (for the majority of humanity) as "too hard" should realize that their own belief system is scaled down from some harder doctrine for the same reason.
This shows that these "hard doctrines" are really not the "good news" (Gospel). They're the bad news the good news aimed to remedy in the first place.

(It can be a stroke to one's ego to portray himself as "tough" enough to "receive" stuff that is too "hard" for everyone else).

The true "offense of the Gospel"

There is a lot of talk in the changing times of the Church about "the offense of the Gospel" (or "offense of the Cross"), and how it is being "removed" in emerging trends in the Church (in addition to being what is really driving the rest of the world away).

But today, it's not the Gospel that is offensive to most people, it's the Law, for people's offense is taken at the notion that their behavior is being judged as bad, and the whole premise of this is the Law.
So none of this has anything to do with any "offensiveness" of a "scandal of particularity", or "particular election" or any other "hard doctrine" men may plug into the Cross.

Christians justify a “separation” ("us vs them"; "church vs world", etc) approach with Jesus' statement “I came not to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). What's ignored is that the “division” is caused, not by His followers preaching the Law, but rather the people opposing, and even persecuting them, and using the Law as their basis.

Even though popular forms of Christianity such as "New-evangelicalism" try to downplay the "Hell and judgment" aspects of their faith, and focus more on "love" and "fun" (garnering the charge of "removing the offense from the Gospel"), and even some of the more old-fashioned churches still don't like being characterized as "judgmental" or "hating" the world; since that Hell doctrine is still the underlying premise of their faith, then you'll still be operating under a premise of "exclusion", where "the entire world is lost, and God has led us to call everyone to repentance". Among other believers, it is "God has called us, as the Church, to make sure you're not 'falling away'". Hence, both within the church and without, it all boils down to a platform of judgment and ultimately, fear.
People see this, no matter how much you candy-coat it with "love", entertainment, therapy, modernity, intellectualism, etc. But again, this is all based on the offense of the Law, not the offense of the Gospel.

Under Comprehensive Grace (as the "Gospel") however, there is still "offense"; as even with a promise of total unconditional pardon, many people are still miffed at the fact that this is still based on a premise of GUILT. That is the basis of the "offense of the Gospel", because the root of the problem is that man wants to be "justified" by his own goodness (with or without the Law), and dismiss the guilt and shame that we all have deep inside. So they assume the whole religious concept was just conjured up to ease the guilt feeling, as if that automatically proves it was manmade. It was created to relieve our guilt, but this does not mean man made it up; man's tendency is to deny or suppress his guilt and/or shame one way or the other, so we believe this is the Creator's way of healing that rift.
Meanwhile, religious types who either reject or minimize grace, also believe that their works are justifying them. So they are offended as well. (Perhaps some who will accuse pantelism of removing the "offense" are themselves feeling this offense; that their salvation, by being apart of either the "chosen few" or "choosing few", is not as exclusive as they thought).

So "offense" cannot be extended to just any doctrine that people are offended by. The offense is connected to the Law, the good news is Grace; not the other way around as the above teaching makes it seem. If someone is offended by grace, it is because they are trusting in Law for their justification.
Hence, an offense "to those who are perishing" (being under the Law only leaves one condemned, and the reign of the Law over man was also perishing then. This doesn't say whether or not everyone is still actually "perishing" under the Law today, but when they try to put themselves under the Law, the Gospel still becomes negative to the self-justifying ego).

Perhaps part of the Spirit's "witness" to all of man (that they are redeemed) is the offense taken to doctrines like Hell and reprobation, which again really disputes the effectiveness of the Cross.
The fact that even many who have accepted the Gospel (evangelicals) are embarrased by or try to soften down these doctrines shows that perhaps it is the "offense of the Law" and not the "offense of the Gospel" we are seeing in them.
Paul says repeatedly that the Law was against us, so this figures. The Gospel is not against us unless we insist on being bound to the Law.


More oppositions

Christians in debates and apologetics dodge questions by falling back on the incomprehensibility of God or limitation of "human logic" way too much in defending traditional "orthodox" doctrine, instead of being willing to consider something that actually answers questions.
So it ends up like the more it doesn't make sense; the more likely it's "the truth". But this is actually a hindrance to the Gospel being seen as truth by the world! It also contradicts the notion that the Gospel is so "simple".
Prov. 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding" works both ways; and those who base "truth" on the "systematic theology" of "historic orthodoxy" (no matter how contradictory it is) are the ones surely leaning onto their own understanding!

People who question things are often told "it is by faith", and criticized for not "exercising faith". But I believe what I do in fact, by faith, having no absolute proof, or even way to convince anyone. It is quite a risk, since people believe that this much deviation from "orthodox historic Christianity" is "damnable heresy". It just seems to line up with scriptures in a way "mainstream" soteriology and eschatology don't; and so-called "orthodoxy" can only defend their view with fear tactics, a "majority rules" argument, and assumptions that "the truth" shouldn't make a lot of sense.
(People often liken faith to an analogy of being taken by a daredevil in a wheelbarrow, over a tight rope. Yes, to believe that God will save us with all our deep-rooted guilt, and going against the entire religious world's belief in us needing to meet conditions, IS analogous to riding the wheelbarrow over the rope! But the whole point is that it is about His ability, not ours. Now, if you think you better believe that one has to do good, try to pray, etc. just to be on the 'safe side', then you're like someone who will ride in the wheelbarrow, but carry a pair of huge stilts to "meet him half way" and thus "cooperate with grace". This after the "effort" of having to get into the wheebarrow, when you have no legs to even get there! Not right for you to get such a "free ride" without any "action" on your part, after all!)

The entire notion of "grace" being "cheap[ened]" if not requiring works shows an utter lack of understanding of what grace is, as even portrayed in Christ's teachings. This assumes (based partly on a misinterpretation of Heb.10:26-9) that the WORTH of grace is contingent upon our behavior or effort at behavior afterward!
Putting it this way, it should now become obvious that this is wrong. The worth of grace is in the fact that it was the blood of the sinless Son of God that purchased it, not on US and whether we recognize or "truly appreciate" it or not. To say that it becomes "cheap" because of our behavior or preaching about behavior is nothing short of blasphemy. (This is the sort of attack Satan makes on it in the first place, and actually what v.29 of the Hebrews passage likely means by "counting the blood wherewith he was sanctified as an unholy thing". What a reversal from the way people commonly see these things!)

In connection with this, another version of the courtroom analogy (usually from more works-oriented groups who deny grace-alone, but it can hold to orthodoxy in practice, as well) criticizes the notion of a judge just pardoning a criminal with absolutely nothing "required" of him. He'll just go on and commit more crimes. "Just look at all the lawlessness in society and even the Church after preaching on Law and Hell has softened down", as much of conservative preaching has lamented!
But this analogy is limited, because we're talking about God's salvation, not a human justice system, where law and order HAS to be maintained for society to function properly; i.e. crime has to be discouraged through a penal system of consequences. The religious world has projected this upon the Kingdom of God (often leading them to conflate their kingdoms and laws with the Kingdom of God).
But the truth is, we DO continue to repeat the "crimes" (sin) after conversion, anyway. If it were a matter of discouragement, the most we are doing is trying harder than others to stop; but the net result would still be a "kingdom" full of sin. God is not trying to build an earthly kingdom of behavioral perfection; literal perfection would be in the afterlife, when we shed this limited, imperfect existence, so salvation cannot be the end of any behavioral "growth" anyway. (Passages used to teach that, such as being "conformed into the image of the Son", or "growth through trials" were aimed at those NT believers who were waiting for the end of the age of Law).

Which shows that as teachers and preachers often criticize the notion of "fire insurance" to those who "just believe" and don't "obey" enough, their belief in the in-practice requirement of deeds is what leads by necessity to a concept of "insurance" in the first place.

Meanwhile, the Bible does actually have its own courtroom analogy, and what does it say is the worst thing you can do after receiving pardon? Commit the offense again? No, it's to turn around and be hard on another offender, by trying to use the Law on him! (Matthew 18:21-35). This is precisely what the Church has done to the sinners of the world by insisting they are still condemned because they have not made a decision or reformed their behavior!
People will point to Christ's instruction to "sin no more, lest a worse thing fall upon you" (John 5:13-15, also John 8:11). While of course, He doesn't want anyone to sin, He in those instances is not telling them how to be saved by Himself/God; but in both cases, it was the Pharisees, with the Law that were doing all the accusing!

And this should raise the question: If the "regenerate" are still imperfect and sin, and yet, the resurrection or instant "transformation" at the Second Coming instantly eliminates the entire sin nature, then why must it be staked on a "decision" now? Why wouldn't God just "transform" everyone, unconditionally, and the "sin" problem will automatically be solved?
People will say "God wants you to 'choose Him'", but the Calvinists have a big point that our nature is set to choose against Him.

"Submitting to God" is another term you hear, which people who question things are accused of "refusing", but this is just something else that has been defined in terms of a bunch of DO's (pray every day, have a good attitude if you don't get what you want, or you can't understand why, etc), and meeting a criteria. This is just another form of works.


The other main thing offered as proof of a continued judgment under the Law is the "changed life". This will be further addressed here: The Changed Life and Salvation

To summarize the main points of that treatise:
•The "changed life" is often held up as the main "testimony" our "witness" is based on. But first of all, "witness" means one actually SAW something. In scripture, never is it applied to some inner growth process, or "feeling" of the Spirit working. (Rom.8:16 is speaking of the Spirit's witness, not our own "witness" to other people).

•Part of the common assumption of this "changed life" focuses on certain behaviors, such as lust, angry outbursts, envy, cursing, drinking, and then the "bigger" sins, of killing, stealing, adultery, etc. But this can take us back to the problem of "pharisaical" type legalism, as it often neglects how much of our other behaviors are actually sinful.
What people who change their lives have that others don't is motivation. Hence, Christians are motivated by "obedience to God". This of course is a good thing.
Yet it would be highly arrogant and untrue to claim that only Christians have ever "changed their lives" just to back up the claim it is "supernatural". (Many do seem to claim this, especially in preaching).

The "new life" was being free from under the Old Covenant (which sentenced us to death), and "God's power" in this light was was really a "right" to become a child of God, not some kind of psychic force that creates some visible effect, such as changing our behavior, as it is often portrayed.
Hence, to reiterate, even the requirement to "believe" is ultimately more connected with the Law, than with "grace".

2 Pet.1:11 and Titus 2:11-12 show that "entrance into the kingdom" itself, is said to be the result of a list of deeds or "growth" (through behavioral change) Christian teachers often cite! (And I have seen Catholics and Campbellists use it to "disprove" Faith Alone altogether).
We end up splitting salvation into "past, present, future" aspects ("penalty, power and presence of sin"), but this is not what the scriptures expound, but rather what we are forced to posit to try to keep consistent with a futurist soteriology.

An overlap of covenants from AD33-70, (with a "deposit" of salvation) is the only explanation of this. "The Blessed Hope" (Tit.2:13) wasn't for an end to the physical world, but for salvation itself (v2).
Hence, we confuse all these scriptures speaking of surety, danger, faith and deeds (behavior). And this is why the "once saved always saved" debates rage on between the different groups!

•Using a "changed life" to differentiate the saved and unsaved (as is often done in practice) basically implies salvation by works. In a transitional period recorded in the New Testament, where people were still under the threat of the Law, then it figured in salvation.
Otherwise, "faith" becomes all about "doing". Again, the scriptures that appear to teach that are written in the transitional period where they were still partly under the Law. Failure to understand this leads to the endless dispute among different groups regarding grace vs works and eternal security, and supports groups which use it to deny grace alone.
Passages like 1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:7ff and James 2, when viewed in context (discussed more on other page), are clearly defining sin and righteousness as positional.

The Work of the Holy Spirit: God's Spirit has been "poured out on all flesh" (Joel 2:28/Acts 2:17). While it may not seem like it, as we are accustomed to thinking of the influence of the Spirit as causing good behavior, this can be understood as a greater level of conscience in mankind, compared to ancient times. This would be a part of what some acknowledge as common grace. Again, regeneration in this case, is positional, not behavioral. Behavior figured more for the firstfruits, who were coming out from under the Law.

Perhaps the number one scriptural statement that is used to support the "changed life" concept is the whole concept of "the new heart". But Ezekiel, along with other OT prophecies this was derived from, were contingent on Israel keeping its end of the covenant. When the nation didn't, all of those promises were spiritualized, including the very nation itself (Matt. 21:43, 1 Pet. 2:9). It was made clear that "by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal 2:16). So in 2 Cor.3, Paul now applies the "stone vs flesh" heart concept to the Law vs the Spirit. (v.3) It was then revealed that the Law itself was what kept the hearts as stone in the first place! In verse 7, it is even called "the ministration of death".
In v.14,15, it's revealed that those who continued to use the Old Testament as their guide, had a veil over their faces, preventing them from understanding! This would explain much of the Church today! (And hence, why it is so divided, including about doctrine and practices, and often having to accuse others of leaning too much on "understanding").

•The prolonging of the separation of the Law becomes the basis of an ongoing “us versus them” paradigm [supposedly] sanctioned by scripture. This is what is commonly termed the Church vs “the world”.
What ends up happening is that people use the notion of "regeneration/sanctification” to get around their own propensity for error common to all humans, while totally demonizing others. This explains much of what we have seen in Christian history.


More points

•We must beware the temptation of the "vineyard workers" (Matt. 20:1-16), who understood prior agreements where they had to work for their pay, but then became angry that God had paid later comers for less work. This is generally the gist of the response of those who criticize this doctrine. (Even if they're not aware of it). Again, how dare we make it so "easy", when others believed they had to work so "hard"! God's word to those opposing this is "is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with my own? Is your eye evil because I am good?" (v.15)

•The objection of "people going to Heaven for free with no consequences of their sin" really does not understand Grace at all. (It's like many are so busy changing "Grace" into some sort of "power" that changes our behavior or attitudes —based largely on 2 Cor. 12:9, that they haven't fully grasped its true meaning as unmerited favor!)
-The whole point is that those consequences were borne on the Cross. To maintain it has no effect unless we ourselves DO something; (even "anything, no matter how small") is to take us right back into works-salvation.
Those who argue this for one seem to believe a little bit of a fear factor is necessary to rein it in ("if there are no requirements, people will sin with impunity"), but this has never worked, as the most legalistic have fallen into the vilest sin. Love is to be our motivation now, anyway. (1 John 4:18, 19).
-People ask "do you believe sin is OK?" and "why should anyone obey, then?"; incredulous that anyone would believe we should obey, if we believed that all were saved now! (They think a doctrine like this is "turning grace into license"). They don't see the clear-as-day implication of works-righteousness in these attitudes. It actually implies that the fear of Hell was the ultimate motivation for doing good in the traditional belief system!

•People often say “Not religion, but relationship”. But then, “relationship” [with God] is often defined in practice as a bunch of “do”s! (which is what religion is defined as!)

•In much preaching, love is pitted against “holiness” (and often “justice”), as if it overrides love and grace. It's like “yes, God loves, but He's also still HOLY, so He MUST still punish”. They fail to realize that holiness in that context is connected with the Law, so again, they are trumping Grace with Law. God is holy, and man cannot measure it up, but God, in Christ no longer holds this against him. If you say He “cannot” do so (often citing “God cannot look upon sin”), then you have just rendered the Cross null and void (i. e. totally ineffective, or at odds with His holiness)!!!

•A response to this teaching to those who might ask an "orthodox" preacher or evangelist about it is "Satan is trying to trick you into going to Hell with this too-'easy' way that requires nothing from you". So then what is the solution? What does that insinuate? You better believe our "hard" doctrine just to be on the safe side! It's all about exchanging an easier path now for escaping total pain in eternity.
We often hear even fairly conservative evangelical circles (supposedly "softening down on Hell") criticized for "making sinners comfortable on the road to Hell”, and it becomes the "true believers'" job to make them “uncomfortable” (hopefully, to “save their souls”, but even if not, they still shouldn't be “comfortable”). But then what is the Good News? “You can escape Hell if you give up your comfortable sin”? Then the Gospel is shown to be “discomfort”, and thus, works.

Again, it should be clear that all of this is a mindset of works-righteousness! What you're really exchanging is Good News for bad news; but bad news is not what was translated into the term "the Gospel". Trust isn't really in Christ and His work (even though "belief" in this is undertaken as believed to be the "requirement" for salvation); it instead becomes to be in our own choice to follow the most scary, tough-sounding doctrine to save ourselves! (Whether this is cloaked under the garb of "preordained" monergism or "free will" synergism).
True Love casts OUT fear (1 John 4:18)
-The attitude is not “It's OK now, go and sin (in fact, it's not even really 'sin' anymore)”. It's to stop trying so hard to suppress things (which really betrays a failure of trust in Grace; our own attempt to add our own merit. To even accuse this as making sin "OK" is looking at it legalistically).

•The traditional view's biggest weapon is simply consensus. They will cite a “cult”s “unorthodox” view of Hell, including their exposition of the actual meaning of scriptural words such as “everlasting” [actually "end of the AGE"] or “Gehenna”, and say “ERROR”, while the standard proof-texts for Hell are labeled "TRUTH"; and to a new reader (like I was when first converted), it looked so good on the “apologists”, and so bad on the dissenter, because all these Christians believe the “mainstream” view, and the other view in comparison looks like a stretch; like one man's own private interpretation; no one else with any credibility interprets it that way.
But this is nothing more than the Catholic's “antiquity/ubiquity/unanimity” argument, that fills in where scripture does not support their doctrines and practices (which they then have to attribute to “oral tradition”, with a/u/u as the only evidence of this).
However, they will use this same claim on Protestants, who broke away from them, who at the time held the a/u/u status. (Particularly in the issues such as high liturgy, church hierarchy, an actual "presence" of Christ in the Communion elements, and the doctrines of Mary). The only difference between Protestants (including “evangelicals”, from which most of the apologists hail) from “the cults” and others such as the fulfilled view, is that the Protestants were able to increase their numbers and build up lesser institutional bases, so that one can be immersed totally in the subculture and never hear any other views, or at least any scriptural validation of them, so they look totally off base, while the prevailing views look “official”. But this is not what determines truth any more than it was when evangelicals first went against Rome.

Most believe Adam was "saved" with nothing more than passively receiving the skins God prepared for him (to the point of some believing it is heresy to believe otherwise), and there was no sign of actual repentance or trying to live a "changed life", or otherwise DOing anything at all. No "hard" walk of "faith", no "narrow" path, no "denying the world" (or "the flesh"), no fighting "Satan/Sin/Self", no "believing in the unseen", no defining of "receiving" as any "active" set of behaviors, "disciplines", etc. In their case, "receiving" would be wearing the skins; and this was presumed to be an automatic reaction, and desired by them. (Calvinists may try to argue that God's "calling" for them was an "effectual call" of "unconditional election" by which they were made to "desire" the covering; which is what is supposedly "withheld" from all the "reprobates" who do not desire covering. But that is nowhere implied in the text; it is a backward extension of their doctrine. God was there in the garden with them, and the focus was on God's clothing them, not their "action" in "receiving" it, whether "sovereignly enabled" or not).
The Law after Adam was added over time because of all the increasing sin (Gal.3:19), UNTIL the Seed should come.
So if God saved Adam like that, why do we think God can't save people this way again? Again, it seems to be the "vineyard workers syndrome".

"Forgive them, for they know not what they do". No condition attached, and their own limitation (which exclusionists, citing Romans 1, deny) acknowledged.
That would seem to point to the ultimate method of salvation, even though a condition was placed on the firstfruits.

"God is not willing that any perish, but that all may have everlasting life".
Christians often say that when a person gets saved, they say to God, "Thy will be done", and when a person is lost (cast into Hell) God is telling him "thy will be done"!
But the traditional view, with most people dying lost, then has man's will being done far more than God's will! The Fulfilled view, has God's will being done completely.

1 Timothy 4:10 "we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe." That's "especially" (Greek malista "most of all"; same word used in Acts 20:38, Gal.6:10, Phil.4:22, 1 Tim.5:17, 2Tim.4:13, Tit.1:10 and others), not "exclusively", but nevertheless, this is how most read it. Or, they try a tactic Calvinists use on other passages, and try to say "all men" refers to ethnicities rather than individuals. But still, the contrast between "all", and believers shows that believers held a special place, yet salvation would extend beyond them to all, again, as some of Christ's parables (mustard seed, etc) indicated.

Rom. 10:9 "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved". This chapter is also where we get our “how shall they hear without a preacher?” (v14), and from this, the urgent emotional call for those who already believe to join and support the Church and do their part to help get the message out before all these souls “slip into a Christ-less eternity”. (Of course, they still get distracted with petty disputes, entertainment, organization and infrastructure building, etc).

v13 quotes Joel 2:32, but Acts 2:21 also cites the whole passage, and applies all of its prophecies, which we spread out as beginning then but mostly being still future to us, as having all occurred then. The signs Christ performed are the fulfillment of the prophecy (v22), not some literal signs in the sky in our future, or in the 18th century or whenever (as another similar soteriology, called “historicism” claims). This shows that the “believe and be saved” mandate was for that time, which was the “end”, which would pass quickly.

•One of the biggest proof-texts for duty-faith is Heb. 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him". But it is clear that the goal of this passage is "pleasing God", and from the context (the OT saint examples being referenced as types), for the purpose of salvation. But pleasing God to be saved is pure works, isn't it? Especially when the verse continues, "for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him".

It becomes ever so clear that salvation would be by works, and this can only be harmonized by an overlap of covenants.

•While Armstrongism is rejected as unorthodox, that movement was one of the clearest embodiments of the exegetical system of futurism (though mixed with some historicism), and they sometimes recognized that the New Covenant would be ratified at the Second Coming of Christ:
"At Christ's return, those who are betrothed to him prior to that time will then go through an actual wedding ceremony and feast wherein the New Covenant will be ratified".;-Prophecy-against-Elam/default.aspx
But if the New Covenant is not yet ratified (as this most clearly implies), then it is a virtual admission that we are STILL UNDER THE OLD COVENANT!
Futurist soteriology does then confess an "overlap" of covenants, but simply assumes it continues to this day. But it was originally said by inspired writers that it would be a short time!

So what it shows is that the covenants were overlapping until the ratification, so the NT saints had to choose which one they would be under, and when finally ratified (in their lifetimes, or at least "soon" afterward), they would be in the Kingdom!

•Daniel was told to seal up the prophecy (12:9-13) because it would be well beyond his time (v13). Yet in Revelation it says to not seal up the prophecy for the time is near. (22:10)
These are more passages we take for granted. Why would thousands of years be "near" for John, and not Daniel?

•Think of all those sermons which passionately portrayed all that wrath coming down on Christ on the Cross, to the point He asked why His Father forsook Him.
The traditional view still has all that same wrath coming down on every sinner because they didn't make the right choice.
The reason why wrath was still poured on people or warned to be poured out in "the end" was because those people were choosing to remain under the Law. But once the Law was finally removed in AD70, "the cup" of God's wrath was complete. (Rev.15:1)

•CG explains why some things we take for granted as "natural" were considered sinful or evil ("defiled"-- leprosy, menstruation, many other sicknesses we have medical or psychological explanations for today, etc.) In terms of strict Law, the only thing that mattered was perfection, and these things are all apart of imperfection (as defined by the Law). This can even help point to a better resolution for the homosexual issue, where we see condemnation of it clearly in scripture, and then feel we have to insist it is a sinful "choice" so that it always fits Romans 1; and then gays insist it can't be helped, (and now even argue that the contexts of these scriptures aren't really condemning the practice in itself, or others use it to debunk the Bible altogether).
The same principle would include the much despised God-ordained slaughtering of the Canaanites. This was simply the Law at its most brutal (it was punishment for their sin, after all, and it really highlights Paul's teaching that the Law was "against" man!) Again, all that mattered was "Keep the commandments and live; sin and die". No room for error. There was obviously no grace in that, but it doesn't mean that was a "different god" from the New Testament (as a Marcionite perspective assumed), or that God was altogether false (as others use that to argue). That was Law (that man brought himself under), and Christ brought Grace.

The sense of guilt comes from the Fall of man, which colored the view of these things (this was especially marked for things like menstruation, and everything else sexual related; and it ran across all cultures and religions). In order to keep a "clear conscience" for the people He worked with, God strongly condemned these things, under the Law.
We can clearly see the "overlapping" nature of the covenental principles of Law vs Grace in Paul's treatments of meats offered to idols. Is it wrong or is it right? The NT seems to speak of it either way, but the ultimate issue in the matter is conscience. That's what gets "defiled"! So the sin was in man's mind, not the condition itself; the soul and not the body.

Now, after Christ, the sin is completly removed, and the human conscience has a sense of this; hence why people have such issues with many things they read in scripture, particularly the Old Testament, and decry the guilt connotation (which is presumed by most Christians to still be in effect, and leading them to have to scramble to explain why stuff like menstruation and leprosy were included in the list as so evil; or just ignore this altogether).

Again, the Bible is the record of God holding man up to his choice to take upon himself the knowledge of good and evil. THIS is why a lot of what we read there seems like it was borne of man's neuroses and ignorance!


Comprehensive Grace does not deny sin, the Cross or the "cost" of Grace (like standard "universalism").
It does not teach that sin is "OK" now, because it will go "unpunished". (The motivation for obedience is love).
It does not teach man is saved because he is basically "good", or "a loving God wouldn't condemn man"
It is purely by GRACE, just like conventional theology teaches!

It in fact, more than the traditional doctrines, captures the full significance of sin, grace and the Cross!
We cannot save ourselves! Christ took the penalty of man's sin! Let's not add to this!

Part 2: Ontological questions, purpose of life, alternative interpretations, a couple of tracts from a fulfilled perspective