broad is the canvas of God's love, how far the strokes of His grace? To
what lengths does it reach, and can it be put aside? In its various
forms, what is becoming known as "The Gospel of Peace" "Universal
Reconciliation" "Realised Redemption" "The Gospel of Inclusion"
"Comprehensive Grace" and what I shall refer to in this article as
"Fulfilled Grace" views the panorama of God's Grace in Christ as
study of 'Fulfilled Grace' will start with some basic definitions:
God's unilateral act in Christ of reconciling and restoring
the relationship between Himself and His creation. Humanity in [because
of] Christ has a renewed stance.
God's declaration and conferring of the status of
'righteous' upon man being put to the right with God
the result of the faith [faithfulness] of Christ in bringing
redemption i.e., the forgiveness of sin.
God's deliverance and is two fold in application. Primarily,
deliverance from the power and fear of sin-death, resultant in the
assurance of redemption, so enabling the renewal of the mind.
Secondary, deliverance from the coming temporal wrath of AD70.
"Unless a man is 'born again' he will not go to Heaven when he dies"
otherwise read as: "Unless a man is 'born again' he will be
annihilated, or suffer eternal conscious torment in the fires of Hell" that is how traditional evangelical Christianity has read and
interpreted the 3rd chapter of John's Gospel. 'Fulfilled Grace' turns
this notion on its head.
Jesus actually said was one could neither "see" i.e.,
comprehend nor "enter" i.e., apprehend the Kingdom
of God/Heaven as a present reality without the rebirth. In the Greek
these injunctions are in the aorist tense, meaning: an action as
having occurred, the results of which being past indefinite
Jesus was not pointing to some future state of being or to some future
destination beyond the grave i.e., Heaven. He was pointing to the
established standing or condition in God of having one's heart and mind
opened up to know the reality of His presence in the 'here and
now'. This is eternal life and is qualitative not quantitative,
it is relational not spatial
as Jesus prayed:
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
These things I have written to
you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know
that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe
in the name of the Son of God. cf. Jn 20:31.
outworking of this equates to the salvation of the soul and is
not to be confused with Redemption
the reconciling of humanity to God. Salvation in this
sense is the constant deliverance of the soul, the inner life,
from that which obstructs fellowship with God
the constants of life that challenge us to change. This approach to
understanding the salvation of the soul being thematic, as seen
in the renewal of the inward man, the hidden man of the heart [2Cor
4:16; 1Pt 3:4; Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23; Col 3:10; Tit 3:5].
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who
believe to the saving of the soul.
as opposed to the strict grammatical use where soul is indicative
of the physical body or the totality of the person. cf.
1Thess 5:23. This aspect however is not to be ignored, as we
again see the dual nature of this salvation, on the one hand in
the covenantal sense i.e., deliverance from the 'Old World' of
the Law, while on the other the temporal, tangible and quite
literal physical escape from the forth coming wrath-judgment of
God that was occurring in that last days time frame AD30-70.
Jesus said: "In your patience possess your souls." Lk 21:19.
And: "But he who endures to the end shall be saved." Mt 24:13.
on the other hand was the unilateral act of God with absolutely
no reference to the desires or wishes of man. For example, Israel was
redeemed out of Egypt without their permission or consent. They
were redeemed, period, whether they believed or not. Israel's
redemption was not conditional upon their active response in faith, nor
any act of repentance. They were elected by God in spite of themselves.
Belief and obedience [active faith or faithfulness]
certainly brought success and blessing, but these were built upon God's
predetermined choosing of Israel. Without any "prayer of faith"
or required "confession" corporate Israel as a whole, unbelieving
and rebellious were redeemed.
who then realised [comprehended] the inestimable value of
this great gift, in faith entered [apprehended] the Land
i.e., salvation the blessing of knowing His peace. We see a
picture of the two-fold nature of restoration in Jesus' encounter with
the 'ten lepers' of Luke 17:11-19
all were healed and restored [reconciled], yet only one entered into the
fullness [salvation] of this wholeness
[reconciliation-redemption]. It was his faith that appropriated
and grasped this blessing. In like fashion Jesus elsewhere said "go
in peace, your faith has made you well" i.e., saved you. [Lk
Redemption can produce a believer, but believing cannot produce
were we reconciled when we believed? No, but when we were dead in
trespasses and sins.
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through
the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be
saved by His life.
then makes a believer?
revealed righteousness or required righteousness?
For in it [the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed
from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by
the Law [required righteousness] make one a sinner? No
the Law only revealed a pre-existing condition of man's sin revealed through his inability to walk uprightly.
the Gospel [revealed righteousness] make one righteous? No
the Gospel reveals the pre-existing condition of God's
revealed through the faithfulness of Christ, and puts out 'the call'
and proclaims "come walk in it"
finding rest and peace for the soul
salvation, the assurance of redemption.
Although 'redemption' and 'salvation' are indelibly linked and often
appear as interchangeable terms, there are important and significant
differences between the two, and some crossover of thought occurs where
either salvation or saved are used in the "global"
sense, properly referring to 'redemption'
reflecting the essence of Divine deliverance. "Redemption"
however is to be "brought back"
that's what God did in Christ, reconciled the world back to himself.
"Salvation" in comparison is to be "brought into"
that which those who through belief in God through Christ appropriated
enter in faith.
enables us to find the Way of salvation which is in Christ alone.
It is the work of divine Grace. If our believing could produce
redemption then Jesus died in vain. Redemption however can produce
the working of repentance which is the turning of the mind and heart in
thankfulness to God.
is the realisation, the revelation of mind and heart that
knows I am loved and accepted by God, that knows all
are loved and accepted by Him. The work then of salvation
is that of assurance
the knowing that I have been restored unto God
accepted in the Beloved [Eph 1:6]. This knowledge of
acceptance i.e., assurance is what multiplies grace and peace
and works divine growth and transformation [2Pt 1:2-4].
Someone might say "if all be redeemed then why believe!?" Why?
Because, as a 'believer' I know there is no conflict between me
the bondage of fear has been removed:
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He
Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy
him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those
who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
cf. 1Jn 4:18; 5:4.
appropriates this saving of the soul this releasing from bondage,
but this saving is not in a "next life" heavenly sense, no, this
saving means the restoration of the inner life here and
as King David prayed: "He restores my soul" [Psa 23:3]
this is the perpetual work of the Spirit i.e., sanctification
the maintaining of what has been eternally established. cf.
Heb 10:14. This is the reality of being 'born again', the reality of
comprehending and apprehending the Kingdom. To not do so is
NOT to be outside the Kingdom, but is to not fully appreciate or
experience the blessings of it
for all are under His Domain [Act 17:26-29; Psa 24:1]. It
is similar to that of illegal immigrants, not knowing the peace,
security and assurance of the legal status of citizenry
hence subject to the bondage of fear.
'Fulfilled Grace' acknowledges this reality of a reconciled humanity in
line with the Scriptures:
I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses
you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles
by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you
all the nations shall be blessed."
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of
this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My
flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."
God by the life giving faithfulness of Christ justified the nations?
That [Christ] was the true Light which, coming into the world,
gives light to every man.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The
Lamb of God who takes away the sin [the offence] of the
For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives
life to the world."
Jesus taken away the sin of the world by the sacrifice of himself, so
bringing light and life i.e., redemption to every man? Or does "every"
not mean that?
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be saved.
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the
suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the
grace of God should taste death for every man.
Jesus really draw "all" to himself, "tasting death" so
that the world might be saved?
For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the
faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not!
anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him;
for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent
man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
11:32-33 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He
might have mercy on all.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How
unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
who [God] desires all men to be saved and to
come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one
Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself
a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
God's mighty work and desire for humanity really hamstrung by unbelief,
or was it the opportunity for the exercising of His great mercy?
But the free gift is not like the offence. For if by the one man's
offence many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the
grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
Therefore, as through one man's offence judgment came to all men,
resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous
act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification
of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so
also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.
For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the
dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made
Clearly "many" means "all"
and it was the soon coming Parousia that made and declared the many-all,
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if
One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who
live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them
and rose again. ...that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the
world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has
committed to us the word of reconciliation.
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am
and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him,
whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through
the blood of His cross.
was it a perfect or partial peace, how broad was Christ's world?
Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you
said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed
the Christ, the Saviour of the world."
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as
Saviour of the world.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.
For to this end we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust
in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of
those who believe.
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours
only but also for the whole world.
is the Saviour of "all" men
especially the faith sanctified first-fruit saints.
comprehensive scope of redemption for all is scripturally sound,
and only our limited view of it causes us to do the following:
have turned Jesus' statement "I am the way the truth and the life
no one comes to the Father but by me"
into a conditional clause, making it a caveat
Jesus was in fact stating and declaring the actuality and centrality
of his mission in redeeming and reconciling humanity back to God
is because of Jesus
alone that mankind is brought
to God, through Jesus alone that we are able
to come before Him;
it was HIS work he was announcing not ours. We
have erred and added to Jn 14:6 by turning it into a formula
whole area of "faith" in the light of 'Fulfilled Grace' is quite
interesting. It is the faith of Christ [faithfulness] that
wrought redemption; it is faith in Christ that accesses salvation
i.e., the active knowledge
our justification i.e., being declared by God "My people."
of what has been touted as our faith response to God is better
understood as the faith response of Christ in his obedience to
the Father i.e., his faithfulness. This is not discounting active
faith on behalf of believers, for surely that is a given in Scripture
e.g., Heb 11:6 and Gal 3:36 et al. There are however
enough scriptures that place the onus of faith on Christ in his
work of salvation
in the greater sense of that word. The following verses from the KJV
reflect the Greek text better on this point. They all show the action
of faith being on the part of Christ and NOT the believer, as is
reflected in many modern translations:
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise
by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
the promise [Greek
means assurance [Liddell & Scott] i.e., of redemption
so it is those that believe, that experience this promise or
assurance, not unlike the "especially of those who believe" of
1Tim 4:10. Or as the apostle John wrote that inner witness:
5:10 He who believes
in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not
believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the
testimony that God has given of His Son.]
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but
by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ,
that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the
works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but
Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live
by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of
the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the
righteousness which is of God by faith:
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen
through faith [i.e., Christ's faithfulness], preached
before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations
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:
the above focus on the work of Christ when viewed in line with
the Greek text which runs true of Paul's words:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Similar to "the just shall LIVE by faith" of Rom 1:17.
The emphasis being not on the means FAITH but on the ends
LIVE i.e., the just shall live because of faith
the faith of Christ. Paul's from "faith to faith" being similar
to his from "glory to glory" as of by the Spirit of the Lord.
what of the tenets of personal faith?
confession and believing. Paul said:
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who
who do not believe either through ignorance or arrogance still seek to
justify themselves according to their own means of self righteousness [Rom
not being aware that their righteousness has been established
through Christ. His justifying faithfulness restoring humanity unto God
atonement [Rom 5:11]. One's faith response to this gains access
into the arena of life, releasing the joy of salvation.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with
God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access
by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of
the glory of God.
above verses show the dual nature of the workings of faith
both Christ's and the believer. Humanity having been justified by
Christ's faith is at peace with God
from His perspective. Having come to belief i.e., faith, the
believer in turn accesses by faith the grace in which because
of Christ, humanity now stands [reconciled], and so rejoices and
experiences the hope of glory. This is the difference between the 'righteousness
of faith' as seen in following the Greek text as reflected in the
KJV and YLT of Romans 3
bringing redemption [man's state], and that of Romans 4
where Abraham's faith is credited to him for righteousness [the
believer's standing], being brought into vital
relationship with God i.e., salvation, the assurance of being
reconciled, as Isaiah said:
"This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their
righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." Isa 54:17b.
righteousness that was accredited to Abraham's account was just
that, credit. Abraham was not righteous of his own accord, nor
any prior to the work of Christ [Rom 3:10]. Abraham's faith did
not secure him the condition [state] of righteous before
his faith gained access to provisional righteousness [standing]
i.e., it was "credited" or held in abeyance for him
not unlike credit card 'reward points' that are "credited" to one's
not until later redeemed at maturity. The thrust of Scripture was that
not until he was perfected with the rest of the saints would he
have attained the state or condition of promised righteousness.
And all these, having obtained a
good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God
having provided something better for us, that they should not be made
perfect apart from us. cf. Heb 11:13.
For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of
righteousness by faith.
further the provisional nature of this righteousness in the
first-fruit saints of the "this generation" time frame AD30-70
from the literal reading of Paul in Romans 4:
Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
but also for us [1Cor 10:11]. It is about to be
[mello] imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord
from the dead. cf. Rom 3:26 regarding the demonstration
of His righteousness at this present time.
which had been accredited, or held in abeyance for those that
believed was about to mature, was ready to be
fulfilled in the Parousia of Christ
bringing in the age of righteousness 2Pet 3:13, thus bringing to
fruition the outworking of their salvation [Phil 2:12]
through Christ on behalf of the whole harvest, finding
consummation in the resurrection.
in Christ's Parousia provisional righteousness was fulfilled and
complete, becoming the promised righteousness. So righteousness
being established the promise to Abraham is fulfilled
all families of the earth blessed [Gen 12:3]; thus
righteousness was established in Christ's Coming for all humanity.
the state of righteousness equates to the reconciliation of
redemption [Rom 3] through the faithfulness of Christ. The
standing in righteousness equates to salvation
the transforming of the soul [Rom 4], as exampled in Abraham
this is how "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for
righteousness" [Rom 4:3] is to be understood.
Further, Paul in Rom 10:6-8 is drawing on Deut 30, along
with the subsequent passages dealing with the blessings and the
curses of walking or not walking with God. Not walking with God does
not nullify God nor make Him non existent
it does however miss the divine goodness in more specific ways, though
He is good to all [Lk 6:35].
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and
believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you
will be saved.
in the first-fruit setting we have the dual sense of "being saved"
from the coming wrath of AD70
a frequent theme of Paul [Rom 1:18; 2:5-9; Col 3:6; 1Thess 1:10;
2:16; 5:9], and the ongoing transformative work of salvation
the deliverance from the willful desire to transgress [1Jn
3:6, 9]. This is evident from verse 10 where both "believes and
confession" in the Greek are in the present continuous tense
not a one time singular event as such, but a continuing
reality, or as Paul says: "conversation" i.e., life style.
For with the heart one [continually] believes unto
righteousness [into being justified], and with the mouth
[continual] confession is made unto salvation [into being saved].
Confessing and believing then, being expressions of faith make the
pre-existing condition of righteousness effectual for the
believer in that active faith taps into the blessing of
righteousness [Gal 3:9]. But confession and belief do not
Christ's atoning work of obedience alone established righteousness.
said: "we believe therefore we speak" 2Cor 4:13. Coming to
the knowledge [belief] of the condition wherein Christ has
already placed us [our state] [Rom 5:1-2] will bring with
it the accompanying confession, this is redemption producing the
believer [our standing], NOT vice versa. Just as confession
is part of the outworking of salvation, so then, believing
into righteousness is for righteousness' outworking, not
the attaining of it
for the state of righteousness is imputed not according to our
faith, but Christ's faith, and his alone. This verse is the only one in
the entire New Testament where these two words believes and
confession are rendered in the passive voice
hence into being justified/saved, being brought into
the blessings of Redemption through the archway of faith
that which comprehends and apprehends [born again] God's Kingdom
the transformation of the inner man, the saving of the soul. That
is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God
through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
The biblical term "salvation" is as broad an expression as one can find
in relation to the ministration of God's grace; however the turns of
be saved or being saved must be understood as
being descriptive of the subject to which it is being applied;
and as explained above there are a number of different biblical aspects
to what being saved means. Pertaining to REDEMPTION
everyone IS saved, having been delivered from sin's
offence adjudged so by God i.e., reconciled. Likewise, just
as humanity was not involved in the imputation of guilt through
Adam's sin adjudged so by God, so man was not involved with his
redemption-reconciliation either, that was between God and Christ
man however was the recipient of it, the beneficiary.
there was established through the Cross of Christ a broad all
encompassing unilateral and universal deliverance [Heb 9:26]
what we call salvation; it brought redemption-reconciliation TO
the whole world collectively. This redemptive and reconciling
act of God in turn has the potential of bringing a personal
deliverance again, what we call salvation, to those OF the
world individually. Thus humanity truly IS already saved
objectively [de jure in principle, in law] and "in Christ"
collectively, yet when one comes into a personal revelation of
Christ's meritorious grace this salvation truly works subjectively
[de facto in reality] an apprehension, acceptance,
appropriation and application of Christ's saving work, individually
and THIS IS the assurance of salvation.
once for all delivering work of Calvary which brought humanity's
corporate redemptive reconciliation, had and has nothing
to do with man's personal individual belief system. However, the
salvation that comes from this redemption is what is experienced
in the life those who through personal faith in Christ embrace
what Paul taught as the renewing of the mind i.e., the saving
of the soul. This in the stance of the believer is the
veracity of belief and confession, but does not change the
status of humanity as being wholly, and in every respect
before God and by His means alone, redeemed and reconciled.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He
would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be
strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that
Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being
rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all
the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- to know
the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled
with all the fullness of God.
David G. Embury
© Copyright 2004ΰ