Let's Celebrate!

Optimism Out of Control, Let's CelebrateThese observations are a cause for great celebration... at least for believers and me.

As I explained, questions about the extent of God's grace in salvation grew like a dark cloud in my life, clouding my relationship with Christ.  I was not sure I would be able to rejoice in Heaven.  I needed to agree that Christ had done the right thing in saving some while eternally damning others.  Yet I could not and so continued to search the Bible for answers.

In the end, my own hypocrisy and blindness were exposed, but the good news totally erased the pain of my error!

I guess we could feel badly about the sentencing of Satan, The Beast, and The False Prophet to the Lake of Fire.  However, for me it was not quite the same concern to think about Satan going to the Lake of Fire as my family member or my neighbor.  Furthermore, my own escape from eternal damnation is guaranteed by the same love God has for all mankind.  Yet now I can agree that when God sentences an unbeliever to an eon in Hades that he has simply been assigned to a punishment that is fit for his unregenerate nature.  Without the new birth, we do truly hate God; Hades is a fitting punishment.  Unbelievers would not even want to go to Heaven where God is praised openly all day long.  Yet, I also have the hope that the "gates of Hades" will not prevail against the grace of God as I first explained in my article, Matthew 16:15-21, Optimism Out of Control.

We may prefer to hold on to familiar theological systems.  We may prefer the company of the majority view.  Unfortunately these choices may neglect the truth.  Beware.  We miss great joy when salvation is tainted with even the smallest work of man.  If we supply even the tiniest condition to our salvation then grace is no longer grace.  The party is ruined.  We also miss great assurance if we limit God's love to an imaginary subset of mankind.  How then can we be confident that God loves us unconditionally if he does not love all?  If we suggest any limitation to the atonement of Christ then we add hypocrisy to the invitation list.  The party is over.

I invite you to a radical reconsideration of your Christian faith... if you have faith.  I invite you to believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind.  In fact your own salvation is wholly dependent upon this truth!  So I invite you to believe that the burning passionate love of God for all mankind places all mankind, from Mother Teresa to Hitler, on equal ground at the foot of the cross.  Why join the majority of mankind who continue to cling to self-righteousness of some form or another?  Why refuse to believe that Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind?

Yet we know that in order to demonstrate his patient grace, God allows the majority of mankind to continue in unbelief.  God has ordained the existence of sin and allows mankind's ongoing rebellion against him for one reason only: to show off his grace.

Romans Chapter 11 gives an explanation of the dynamic of belief and unbelief among the elect and explains the future party that is planned when faith is finally awakened in all God's people -- even the hardest hearted.  Join me and read the Chapter in full.

Romans 11:1-32

Read Romans 11:1-32 (WEB), again,

1) I ask then, did God reject his people? May it never be! For I also am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2) God didn’t reject his people, which he foreknew. Or don’t you know what the Scripture says about Elijah? How he pleads with God against Israel: 3) "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have broken down your altars. I am left alone, and they seek my life." 4) But how does God answer him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6) And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

7) What then? That which Israel seeks for, that he didn’t obtain, but the chosen ones obtained it, and the rest were hardened. 8) According as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, to this very day."

9) David says, "Let their table be made a snare, a trap, a stumbling block, and a retribution to them. 10) Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see. Always keep their backs bent."

11) I ask then, did they stumble that they might fall? May it never be! But by their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy. 12) Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?

13) For I speak to you who are Gentiles. Since then as I am an apostle to Gentiles, I glorify my ministry; 14) if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh, and may save some of them. 15) For if the rejection of them is the reconciling of the world, what would their acceptance be, but life from the dead? 16) If the first fruit is holy, so is the lump. If the root is holy, so are the branches. 17) But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the root and of the richness of the olive tree, 18) don’t boast over the branches. But if you boast, it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you. 19) You will say then, 'Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.' 20) True; by their unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by your faith. Don’t be conceited, but fear; 21) for if God didn’t spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.

22) See then the goodness and severity of God. Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23) They also, if they don’t continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24) For if you were cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

25) For I don’t desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you won’t be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, 26) and so all Israel will be saved. Even as it is written,

"There will come out of Zion the Deliverer, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. 27) This is my covenant with them, when I will take away their sins."

28) Concerning the Good News, they are enemies for your sake. But concerning the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake. 29) For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30) For as you in time past were disobedient to God, but now have obtained mercy by their disobedience, 31) even so these also have now been disobedient, that by the mercy shown to you they may also obtain mercy. 32) For God has bound all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all.

33) Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out! 34) "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" 35) "Or who has first given to him, and it will be repaid to him again?" 36) For of him, and through him, and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen.

Are you still God's enemy?  Do you doubt?  Are you ready to celebrate with God and his family?  God has promised to turn away ungodliness from Jacob!  God has promised that his gifts and calling are irrevocable!  God's love for the unbelieving elect will not fail!  Are you now ready to lay aside conditional salvation?  Have you received the unconditional love of Christ?

Lord, give me boldness to make disciples through the gospel of grace!

Final Analysis

In the final analysis both Arminianism and Calvinism wittingly or unwittingly bend Scripture to fit their model of salvation.  Of course everyone knows that faith must also be reasonable.  Thus we might stretch our interpretations of Scripture to fit the best models available to us.  Furthermore, since Arminianism and Calvinism are both considered orthodox and commonly accepted, perhaps that is why followers of Jesus Christ have not been able to find unity even on the critical doctrine of Christian salvation.  Yet I am convinced the Biblical view is that Christ is the savior of all mankind.  Let's take one last look at our Salvation Evaluator matrix.


Let's note the strengths and weakness of each view.


The weakness in this view is seen by nearly everyone and the view is rejected.


This is the most common view found in Christendom.  However, the idea that mankind has a free will to choose faith is simply not supported in Scripture and misses the good news that we are saved instead because of God's free will.  Many proponents reason that the existence of free will is implied by the fact that we are commanded to trust Jesus.  They reason that if God asks us to do something then we must have the ability to do it.  Yet has anyone, except Christ, demonstrated the ability to obey God's commands without sin?  Arminian reasoning also neglects the clear Bible teaching that we are spiritually dead unless we are individually made alive by the Holy Spirit.  A dead person is not free to do anything.  We must be born again for spiritual life to begin.  Moreover, grace would not be grace if any condition of salvation rested with the individual person.  These compromises are bad enough, but the greatest was admitted by C.S. Lewis when he said that God arrested his sovereignty to allow for the "possibility" that people would choose or not choose him with their free will.  Arminianism is guilty of deposing God to make way for free will so that man can be god of his own salvation.  Adherents of this view are guilty of exalting their free will over the glory of God's sovereign grace and are in fact worshiping an imaginary god.  Consider the difference between two simple testimonies.  One man claims he is saved because he chose Christ.  Another man trusts that Christ chose him.  Which testimony gives praise to God's grace?  Friends, there is no Biblical defense that God is not sovereign or that he ever momentarily ceased to be the God of our salvation.  This is good news for us because God's gracious choices are trustworthy!


There are very few true Calvinists, but most modify their position in some way allowing for a free will choice of faith.  Once while in an "iron sharpening" session with a brother, he asserted that the two great pillars of the church are God's sovereignty and man's free will.  I am sure he is not alone in that assertion.  But those are hardly the two pillars of the church.  The companion truth to God's sovereignty is not man's free will, but instead man's responsibility for his sin.  Some oppose the idea that God is sovereign over both good and evil, claiming that then we would no longer responsible for our sin.  Yet the Scripture is clear in Romans Chapter 9 that both are true: God is sovereign over sin and we are responsible for our sin.  Those who continue to object to this truth must simply answer God's question to them in Romans 9:20.  Yet, true Calvinists are commended for holding fast to the sovereignty of God.  However, they also hold to the indefensible position that Christ effectively died for only a subset of mankind.  As such they undermine the incarnation and the very person of Christ and his vicarious atonement.  The critical heart of salvation is that the death of Christ on the cross serves as a substitute for the death we deserve.  We all deserve an eternal death penalty for our rebellion against God, but Christ literally died in our place.  Holy God cannot overlook justice, but justice was satisfied in our Heavenly trial by the death of Christ.  So we ask: did Christ represent all mankind on the cross, or only a subset of mankind?  The Scripture is clear in Romans 5 that Jesus has replaced Adam as the new federal head of mankind and so he represents ALL.  I have focused on this point in my article, Romans 5:12-21, Out of Control Optimism Part 7, Many = Many = All = All.  There is absolutely no Biblical defense to see it any other way.  The Calvinist is likewise just as misguided as the Arminian.  The Arminian view ultimately deposes God from his sovereign throne, while the Calvinist view undermines the greatest work of God the Son: his incarnation and substitutionary atonement for the sins of all mankind.


Likewise there are few who believe that Christ will save all mankind.  Someone once suggested that the majority of unbelievers are Universalists.  However, the truth is that the majority of unbelievers are Arminian or Calvinist in theology.  If they believe God exists at all, they think he is a good guy that will save those who make the grade or those who choose God with their supposed free will.  They believe that everyone has the ability to choose to trust Jesus and live a good life.  Since they imagine themselves better than Hitler and other evil people they hope to meet the condition of being "good enough" and pass the test.  Or if they realize that they failed the test, they somehow imagine that they are the subset of students given the gracious gift of a passing grade while the rest are flunked.

Furthermore, the few Christian Universalists that do exist are not unified, each interpreting the Scripture in different ways as summarized in the Wikipedia article Christian Universalism.  This article categorizes Christian Universalists as evangelical, charismatic, and liberal, each answering the difficult question of Hell and eternal damnation in different ways.  For example, many Universalists explain away Hell suggesting that Luke 16:19-31 is merely a parable, which we have already concluded is unbiblical.

Three Christian Universalists that have caught my attention are Madeleine L'Engle, John Wesley Hanson, and Abraham Lincoln.  L'Engle had a simple confidence that the grace of God would somehow answer our unanswered questions in the end and be victorious for all mankind.  Sadly she was rejected by mainstream Christianity for her beliefs.  (As an aside, she has always made an impression on me ever since my 6th grade atheist teacher read A Wrinkle in Time out loud to the class.)  Hanson on the other hand is a well thought out evangelical Universalist theologian, most noted for his classic work, The Greek Word Aion - Aionios Translated Everlasting - Eternal in the Holy Bible Shown to Denote Limited Duration.  This classic work is available for free from the U.S. Library of Congress website and also from my website.  He was likewise rejected by "orthodox" Christianity.  Dr. Heleen Keizer has also written a dissertation proving the same titled, Life, Time, Entirety - A Study of Aion in Greek Literature and Philosophy, the Septuagint and Philo.  You can read her 315 page dissertation online or an abstract of her conclusions from my website.  Finally, Abraham Lincoln is known and respected by all, yet few know that he also held to Christian Universalism.

Sadly one can believe variations of Arminianism, Calvinism, or even try to stand on the mystery in the middle and be accepted in most churches today -- as long as you believe that the majority of mankind will be eternally damned to the Lake of Fire.  This is a most curious and even pitiable indictment of present day orthodoxy.  Arminianism and Calvinism vehemently oppose each other, yet adherents could happily attend almost any church while holding either view as long as they agree that most of mankind is eternally damned.  How can Christian love of the truth withstand this terrible inconsistency yet be unwilling to consider that Jesus Christ did ALL for ALL mankind?

I have proved that Arminianism fails to worship God for his sovereignty.  I have also proved that Calvinism fails to worship Christ for his incarnation and vicarious atonement.  So 1) is there any solid Biblical defense for the position that Christ will save even the unbelieving men he calls "not my sheep?" 2) Is it truly possible that the unbelieving could be punished in Hades, yet be extracted safely and spared from the Lake of Fire?  3) Does Biblical Universalism properly warn the unbelieving of their certain punishment after death?

The answers to these three questions are yes, yes, and yes!

1) YES, there is ample Biblical defense to show that Jesus' label of "not my sheep" does not mean that these people are not elect.  As already explained, Hosea 2:23 makes it clear that the same unbelieving people called "not my people" are then called "my people" when they have repented and trusted God.  Another clear passage that is also connected to our Romans 11:32 interpretation is Romans 11:28 (WEB), "Concerning the Good News, they are enemies for your sake. But concerning the election, they are beloved for the father's sake."

So even though the unbelieving are considered enemies for their rejection of the gospel, they are still loved on account of election.  They are the rebellious elect.  Isaiah 53:6 reminds us that we, all mankind that is, are sheep gone astray.

2) YES, there is ample Biblical defense to show that Hades is emptied at the Great White Throne judgment as already explained in Revelation 20:13-14.  When the Sheep and Goats stand before King Jesus, redeemed mankind on the right will be finally saved, even to the surprise of the newly believing humans (Matthew 25:37-39), while the fallen angels on the left are banished to the Lake of Fire for The Ages of The Ages.  You may say that this is impossible because the New Testament consistently warns unbelieving humans of their eternal punishment.  I hope to speak to that in the pages ahead.

3) YES, Biblical Universalism certainly does warn the unbelieving.  Biblical Universalism states quite plainly that the sins of both believing and unbelieving mankind are forgiven based solely on the work of Christ and that nothing can ever separate us from the unconditional love of Christ.  However, if unbelievers do not repent from their self-righteousness and trust that Christ has already paid for their sins and the sins of all mankind apart from all conditions, then they will most certainly be punished for the duration in the fires of Hades.

Happy Hypocrites!

The choice is before us.

Years ago someone introduced me to the concept of being a happy sinner.  We might think that until we are in Heaven that the trials of this life can serve absolutely no good purpose.  We might think that until we are safely in Heaven with Jesus that our eyes should only be filled with tears for our current trials.  Surely God does not want us to take sadistic pleasure in our trials.  However, an engaged woman spends little time in gloom for not being married!  Instead she is busy making preparations because she is soon to be married to the man of her dreams!

Jesus likewise took no joy in the suffering of his cross.  But he did look beyond the suffering to the joy he would purchase.  Hebrews 12:1-3 (WEB) says,

1) Therefore let’s also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2) looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3) For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don’t grow weary, fainting in your souls.

Jesus endured the cross, but he did not enjoy it!  The joy he looked forward to was the eternal fellowship he purchased with us, his chosen people, and his Heavenly Father.

Let's strive to get ready, discarding the hypocrisy in our lives as we get ready to walk down the aisle with him and all of God's chosen ones.  We will not reach perfection in this life, but for his sake we strive to give him our "utmost for his highest."  Then on that awesome day our bridegroom will snap his fingers and erase all of our remaining sin, and we will walk down that aisle with him in perfect glory!

Partying Pagans?

Perfect glory awaits all God's people in Heaven, but we are far from that now.  So what should we do?  Martin Luther said, "Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly."  Really?  Sin boldly?


As much as we may strive to get ready for that great wedding day, there is something even more important than making progress in righteousness.  Really?  Sure, we should make progress in right living.  But even more importantly, we must testify to God's grace in our lives, telling the world that even the best Christian is still a sinner till the day he dies.  In fact as we get closer to Christ, we are even more aware of just how far away from him we really are.  Just how close do we think we are when we compare our lives with Holy God himself?  Some unbelievers might have a better sense of their standing than some of us Christians!  They might laugh at the idea of Christians trying to imitate God.  And it is a laughable undertaking.  Yet God commands us to follow him and he empowers us with his Holy Spirit.

The point is that you and I should remember to enjoy and praise Christ our savior even in the midst of our sinfulness.

Paul said in Philippians 2:17-18 (WEB),

17) Yes, and if I am poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice with you all. 18) In the same way, you also rejoice, and rejoice with me.

While in the midst of the agony of pouring out his life to serve others, Paul invited his Christian brothers to be glad.  Wise Solomon also says in Ecclesiastes 5:19 (WEB),

19) Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat of it, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.

So there is little value in seeking sadness when happiness is a gift of God.  There is enough sadness from day to day without hunting for more.  Yet Solomon also says in Ecclesiastes 12:12-14 (WEB),

12) Furthermore, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. 13) This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. 14) For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.

We are right to enjoy God and the life he has given us.  God does not want us walking around on egg shells pretending that we have not sinned!  There is no point in hiding our sin from the Lord.  Yet we are also warned to keep God's commands.  One day we will stand before him at the judgment and every hidden thing will be revealed.

However, because of grace we can be happy and enjoy God right now in the midst of our struggle with sin.  Yet we should also be motivated to obey him and please him.  To help you understand this dynamic, imagine a relationship with a perfect father.  The perfect father would be good and fun while caring for us in his home.  He would also be fair and just in disciplining us as needed.

Now quit imagining because God is our perfect Heavenly Father!

RSVP Review

Yes, God is our perfect Heavenly Father, but are we his good children?

While putting my thesis into words I conducted an informal interview for feedback.  Talking out ideas with others can be very useful to develop one's own understanding.  Good questions can also be very useful to get to the heart of the matter with others.  Jesus asked his disciples questions frequently.  So I asked numerous people this question:

What would be your reaction if you learned that the grace of Christ ultimately saved all mankind in the end, both believer and unbeliever?

The following answers expose serious problems in the average evangelical Christian's understanding of grace.

1.  "You have a case of optimism out of control."

That was one response and the namesake of this book.  The response offers a thumbs up for trying, but still only smiles at me as if I were insane.

2.  "That would not be fair after all our effort."

This response indicates a serious misunderstanding of grace.  Biblical grace is at least defined by most Christians as God's unmerited favor toward the redeemed, even if there is disagreement on the details.  Some have used the acronym G.R.A.C.E., (God's Riches At Christ's Expense), to define salvation very simply.  That being the case, then grace is already unfair by definition.  We all deserve eternal death for our sin, yet God graciously decided to save his people.  How is it then sensible that one saved person could say it is "not fair" that another person is also unfairly saved - regardless of the circumstance?  If even one is saved, that is already unfair.  What would be the problem with God unfairly saving a few more or all?  It may be that the one quoted above has never really received grace in his heart, but has only memorized the traditional Christian lingo.

3.  "Then there would be no reason to refrain from sin."

This response is very similar to the one above and likewise indicates a serious misunderstanding about grace.  This person must believe that he is saved from condemnation by his efforts to refrain from sin.  He must imagine that he has refrained from sin just enough when compared to other worse sinners.  He must think that he has made the grade and is saved while the others are condemned.  But just where does he draw the line?  Just how good do we need to be in order to be saved?  Are we saved if we are "not terrible?"  Are we saved if we are simply a positive number on the scale?  Or is it much tougher -- do we need to be almost perfect?  No.  None of these human scales of righteousness are sufficient.  According to God's word and his perfect holiness, absolutely no sin or impurity can stand in his presence.  None!  Simply trying to refrain from sin is not enough for a sinner to gain Heaven.  Furthermore, Christians do not obey Christ because of the threat of Hell, but because of his unconditional love!  This person's argument against God's love for all mankind is instead an awkward testimony to his own unbelief and self-righteousness.

4.  "Well I guess that would be okay, whatever God decides."

This response is deadpan apathy.  Yikes!  Understanding grace in one's own life seems like a reason for deep passion and empathy towards others.  One would think that seeing grace in another person's life would also be a reason for great joy.  The grace of God, when understood -- even minimally -- breaks us out of our self-centered shell to know love for someone else besides ourselves.  It is like welcoming a new family member into the household.  It is cause for celebration!  So how could someone who understands grace, even in the least, have such an apathetic response to the question?  It would be like receiving a million dollar inheritance, being cured of cancer, and getting married to the girl of your dreams all on the same day.  Then when you learn that the same thing happened to your brother and neighbor you respond by saying, "Whatever."  Again, the one quoted above may say he is saved by grace, but deep inside, something in his heart has grown foul.

5.  "That would probably be awesome in heaven, but it is certainly not great now."

This ambivalent response is hard for me to understand.  On one hand there is an intellectual agreement that this would be awesome.  Yet on the other hand there is a very bold confession of a sinful attitude.  Perhaps the one quoted is just a painfully honest hypocrite.  Perhaps, the question caught him off guard and there was a guarded response.  Perhaps there is wishful thinking fighting with doubts.  Whatever the reason, the expected high flying joy is definitely having trouble taking flight.

6.  "There must be a compromise between Arminian and Calvinistic thought."

Another insisted that there must be a compromise between Arminian and Calvinistic thought.  He felt it may not be immediately evident, but there must be ground to stand on between ALL or PART of God's role in redemption, or a line to stand on between ALL or PART of mankind.  However, neither the theologian Boice, nor the philosopher Lewis thought there was ground in the middle.  Realistically the only place to stand between those options is 1) do not know, 2) do not want to know, or 3) do not care.  Yet most people attempt to straddle the fence, like the one quoted above.  Understandably, it is a challenge to our understanding.  The Bible is clear that people are punished in Hell, so the ALL for ALL combination does not seem like a viable option at first blush.  However, are we willing to have hope that the grace of Christ will even conquer the gates of Hell as he promised in Matthew 16:18 (WEB)?  "I also tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it."

7.   ... [no response, silence, next subject] ...

The most curious response I received was absolutely no response, silence, and a turn to the next subject.  I can at least relate to the sinful hearts expressed above because of my own sinful heart.  However, to have zero response seems the oddest response of all to me.  Perhaps we are so calloused and spiritually desensitized that thoughts of God, judgment, eternal bliss, and eternal damnation no longer evoke any emotion whatsoever.  Then again, Jesus faced the same challenge in his own generation as recorded in Matthew 11:16-19 (WEB).  His contemporaries would neither dance nor mourn when he spoke the truth.

16) But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call to their companions 17)  and say, "We played the flute for you, and you didn’t dance. We mourned for you, and you didn’t lament." 18)  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "He has a demon." 19)  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, "Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" But wisdom is justified by her children.

Jesus also told a parable relevant to the responses above.  The Parable of the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22:1-14 (WEB) gives us a picture of apathetic responses to a wedding invitation.  Verse 3 says "[the king] sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come."

Each of the Christians quoted above wants to come to the "wedding banquet" of Jesus.  However, the banquet they imagine is not very joyful.  There is no celebration of the victory of God's grace over sin for mankind.  Instead it sounds more like a poo poo party.

Though, one person replied to my interview question,

8.  "That would be plain awesome."

This response seems like the only sensible reaction for someone saved by grace.

I know my question and the responses above do not offer any additional Biblical defense for my position.  However, they do reveal that the hearts of those professing to be Christians quoted in #1-7 above are not standing on ground more solid than I.  In fact, those quoted are standing on very shaky ground.  Moreover, the most common evangelical Christian responses were incriminatingly devoid of grace.  The Bible says, "For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34 WEB).   The answers from these mouths have exposed some fairly wicked hearts.  I can understand each of them too well.  All is not lost, however, for these ugly responses barely come close to matching my own sin.

Forgetting what is behind, let's continue learning about the grace that has covered all.  Lord willing we will discover if there are solid Biblical answers to the many objections that Jesus Christ is the savior of all mankind.

Mystery in the Middle

Hopefully I have persuaded you to consider the weaknesses of the popular traditional salvation models.  Both Arminianism and Calvinism are reasonable at points, but unreasonable at other points.  These facts ought to be enough cause for every Christian to consider the interpretation of Scripture that Christ is victorious in the salvation of all mankind.  Yet perhaps you still do not feel comfortable with ALL of PART, or PART of ALL, or ALL of ALL combinations of the Salvation Evaluator.  Perhaps the Mystery in the Middle feels safer than parting ways with tradition.

However, before you try to find rest in the mystery in the middle, please consider a few more points.  First, the majority of Christian thought has always insisted that Christian faith be reasonable.  Faith properly defined and understood is confident reliance and trust on factual evidence.  Israel was commended for their obedient witness and walk through the sea on dry land.  However, later they are rebuked for not trusting God even though they witnessed the incredible first hand fact of his power to deliver.

Christianity likewise requires no "leap of faith," but instead confident trust in the facts of Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection.  So Arminianism and Calvinism are at least commended for being coherent reasonable systems.  They refuse to stand on mystery.  Yet, even so they remain at odds with Scripture.

So please consider again the two questions posed by the Salvation Evaluator.

Is God the savior of ALL or PART of mankind?

Does God do ALL or PART of the saving?

Can you find any possible middle ground between God as savior of ALL or savior of PART?  Any reasonable model of understanding must make one choice, ALL or PART!  Can you find any middle ground between God doing ALL or PART of the saving?  Is there any middle ground between UNCONDITIONAL and CONDITIONAL love?  Any reasonable model of understanding must make one choice, ALL or PART!

Second, there have been some forms of Christian faith that have emphasized Sacred Mysteries as introduced at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_mysteries.  Some may argue that the Trinity and Divinity of Jesus fall into the realm of mystery and so salvation is also a mystery.  Certainly the knowledge of God himself and his love extends beyond our abilities to comprehend.  Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:8 (WEB), that the riches in Christ are "unsearchable."  He says again in Ephesians 3:18 (WEB) that Christ's love "surpasses knowledge."  And yet again in Romans 11:33 (WEB), "How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!"  Yet these statements are about God himself.

However, are the facts of our salvation also a mystery?  Certainly not!  The Bible promises that through faith we can have confident knowledge of our salvation.  John writes in 1 John 5:13, "...that you may know that you have eternal life..."  Do we have confident knowledge of our salvation?  If we answer yes, then I ask, "On what basis?"  I have already shown that the Arminian Christian adds human condition into the salvation equation, and thus insecurity.  I have also shown that the Calvinist Christian adds self-deception into the salvation equation suggesting that they are loved, but not all.  So then is mystery the missing ingredient in the salvation equation?

Friends, the mystery in the middle is the worst of all places to stand!  Faith is confident reliance upon the facts of Jesus Christ.  How could it be better to ignore the beautiful facts of Christ and his Word in order to stand on the question mark of mystery?  Why choose this model of understanding?  Should we explain the apparent conundrum of salvation with the appeal to mystery?  We must not trust our salvation and the damnation of others to a mystery!  Jesus Christ is not a mystery, but instead he is the mystery revealed!  Colossians 1:26 says (WEB), "the mystery which has been hidden for ages and generations. But now it has been revealed to his saints."  We must trust that Christ loves us and our neighbors, unconditionally!  Salvation is neither a mystery nor a paradox as further discussed in my Appendix article, Real or Apparent Paradox?

Finally, regarding faith we are reminded,

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 (WEB)

Just because we cannot see the things we hope and trust in does not mean they are a mystery!  Instead, exactly the opposite is true. Christian hope is founded on the rock solid facts of Jesus Christ!