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Why We Are Leaving the Apostolic Christian Church

Traever and Andrea Guingrich


(email: traever7@yahoo.com, ph: 309.229.6334, http://churchleavingstatement.blogspot.com)

This is an effort to make clear our biblical reasons for leaving the Apostolic Christian Church (ACC). This
explanation will not cover everything and cannot be exhaustive in either the reasoning or the biblical
support for each individual point. Essentially, these are the clearest and gravest of the many problems that
are evident, ignored by leadership, and just plain wrong. As you would expect we are ready and willing to
engage in discussion on each topic cited. You will find us amicable among differences, steadfast in truth,
and convinced solely by Scripture alone.

We desire to emphasize this is not an attack on individual AC’s. Many of our family and friends remain full
participatory members. Even those in leadership that we have had the strongest disagreements with are still
loved in our hearts despite our mistrust and disappointment in biblical adherence. We are not questioning
anyone’s salvation, motives, or sincerity to do right. We do however doubt the ability, knowledge, and
willingness of many in leadership. Unfortunately these characteristics have been mimicked by far too many
members, but by no means all. It is out of a desire to participate in a biblically minded church without
violation of conscience that we are removing our membership to attend elsewhere.

To sum up the essence of disagreement is simple: SOLA SCRIPTURA (Scripture alone). The way
Scripture is mishandled, passed over, and not treated as the sole rule of faith and practice is the primary
driver to the sinful symptoms found in the ACC, and thus for our departure. This is a serious charge so
examples will be given and deviation from Scripture cited. We can break it down into four main categories
to address some of the most serious violations…

1. Church Government
2. Church Discipline
3. Legalism/Traditionalism
4. Doctrine

1. Church Government

This subject is sadly often scoffed at or brushed off as not important. Many say that by itself it is not
enough to leave a church. In most cases we would agree, depending on the severity, of course. But the issue
isn’t so much the consequences of getting it wrong, though they can be seriously detrimental, but rather the
fact that the biblical model for church office and leadership structure is clear in the New Testament and yet
not followed. To create any other church government is to look elsewhere besides the Bible. Why one
would feel free to do so when running a church is unknown to the biblically minded Christian. Why would
we do anything other than what the apostles themselves did when building the church? Is not the Scripture
sufficient to show us how to operate a church?

Two offices for church leadership were created by the apostles: elder and deacon. The purpose and role of
each is clear. Elders serve as spiritual overseers of the church. Deacons serve as physical stewards of the
church.

Elder responsibilities: Elders devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and prayer. In this ministry,
elders feed the flock on the Word, guard the flock from false teaching, and guide the flock as they grow in
understanding of God.

Deacon responsibilities: Contrary to popular thought, deacons are not responsible for matters of spiritual
oversight or for teaching. Rather, their biblical areas of responsibility include meeting the physical needs of
the church, managing the financial matters of the church, and generally supporting the work of the elders.

These are the two offices we see in the New Testament. These are the offices we see Paul giving
qualifications for. These are the two offices we see exercised by the apostles and early church.

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One of the most important items to note is there is a plurality of both elders and deacons in the local
church. This is for several obvious reasons like decentralizing power from a single man and dividing the
duty amongst several capable men preventing anyone from being overwhelmed or too burdened. This is for
the welfare of both the men serving as well as the church itself. This model serves to protect both
individuals in office and the body of believers. Single elder headship in a local church does incredible
damage to both. Also, it is beneficial for the spiritual leaders to be able to work as a group when handling
difficult texts and issues. This is where we begin to see the deviation from the biblical model in the ACC.
The two offices are there, but they do not line up in either responsibility or quantity. In the ACC you will
find a single elder shepherding a local church. The office of deacon is somewhere between minister and
elder in terms of duty and responsibility. The trustees are close to fulfilling the role of deacon yet
everything is mixed up. The elders have full time jobs on top of the duty that comes with their role in the
church, often serving on various committees on both a national and local level as well. Something is going
to suffer when one’s time is demanded in so many roles. It will either be their job, their family, or the
church. Even if they were granted the needed gifts via the Holy Spirit, they would be rendered incapable of
properly fulfilling the role because the ACC has one man doing the job of 3-5. Similarly, it is easy to see
the danger in having one man in the position of head with no one in the local body equal in authority.
Nowhere in Scripture do we see a call for a head elder or for one man, other than an apostle, to lead a single
congregation. Interestingly, the post-apostolic church didn’t take too long to fall away from the practice of
a plurality of elders. By the third century single bishops/elders were ruling some local churches.
Eventually, the bishops from the most important cities began having more sway than small town bishops.
This gradually led to the single bishop from a single church from the most prominent city, Rome, becoming
the head of every other bishop. This bishop of Rome is also referred to as the pope. This illustrates the
danger of deviating from the biblical model. Clearly the ACC is nowhere close to that scenario playing out,
but cases can be cited where an individual elder’s preferences or traditions are all too obvious in the
church’s practice. But only one thing really matters here - it is a deviation from the biblical model.

Let’s look at the biblical data…

Elder is taken from the Greek word “presbyteros”. It is used interchangeably with “episkopos” where we
get the title of bishop and overseer. The offices of elder/overseer/bishop are all one in the same. We begin
by seeing that the individual Jerusalem church had a plurality of elders. This is seen in Acts 14:23, 15:2,
15:4, 15:6, 15:23, 16:4, and 21:18. There is no doubt to this fact. However, some may write this off because
it was the first church and the center of Christianity after the death of Christ. Also, the majority of the
apostles remained stationed there early on before the onset of heavy persecution. So let’s look at more
evidence. We see Paul meeting with a group of men from the church of Ephesus. These men are called the
elders and overseers. Again we see a plurality in both Acts 20:17 and 20:28.

Acts 20:17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.

We also read of Paul telling Titus to set up elders (plural) in every city in Crete in Titus 1:5.

Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in
every city as I directed you.

James 5:14 also speaks of a plurality of elders along with Paul in Phil 1:1 when he addresses the letter to
the local church in Philippi to the elders and deacons.

Phil 1:1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in
Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.

So we see there are 12 examples of a plurality of elders taken from the Bible. How many examples in the
NT can we find of a single elder or head elder? Zero. So why would we be comfortable with the ACC
doing that exact thing? We already know there are a group of men that fulfill the role of deacon because we
see seven individuals appointed to the office after it was created in Acts 6. It is important to note that the
tables written about in Acts 6:16 are literally called “deaconing tables” in Greek.

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So the question that needs to be raised is why would we run our church government any different than the
apostles? Why is the biblical model not being followed? The consequences can be debated, but they are
always negative when we deviate from Scripture. In the case of the ACC, it has crippled correction and
hampered any move toward more biblical church discipline, practice, and doctrine. What we see happening
is what you’d expect- an elder body in disarray unable to come to an agreement on anything of any
significance. Intense continued focus on traditions has led to polarity in leadership and thusly to members.
An agreement on even some of the more basic doctrines and Christian truths cannot even be reached. When
confronted on the topic and biblical evidence of church government the leadership has tended toward
attacking the clarity of Scripture by trying to muddy the waters and acting as if it is not clear. This is a
dangerous tactic that is often seen in postmodern and emergent churches. The clarity of Scripture goes
hand-in-hand with its sufficiency so we often see groups that all deny scriptural sufficiency like Roman
Catholics, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses likewise attacking the clarity we see in the Word. The elders
of the early church were under the authority of the apostles while they remained alive. Now, elders are to
be under the authority of the Word. There is no problem with interchange between churches, nor is the
model so rigid that no other committees or men can be involved. However, the baseline for the overall
authority for the church is a group of men serving as elders and a group of men serving as deacons. A
super-structure that rules above a local congregation and actually prevents local leadership from
implementing change/improvement is nowhere justified in the Bible. Obviously, this biblical model can be
abused, but that is never an excuse to look anywhere other than Scripture for governing a church.

For further depth on church government/leadership structure: http://marks.9marks.org/Mark9

2. Church Discipline

The church discipline in the ACC can best be described two ways: backwards and sinful. It has effectively
turned the biblical call for discipline into punishment for repentant members. The entire purpose of church
discipline has been rendered moot. The purpose is simple- to bring the sinner to repentance. Paul says he
wants them to be shamed in order to bring about restoration. If a Christian comes in repentance for a sin
there is no need to exercise the discipline process. There is no biblical justification for selecting a few
specific sexual sins as worthy of excommunication, as we see happening in the ACC. Church discipline is
also not to be used for a single sinful act, but rather for a continuous unrepentant lifestyle of sin. The
unrepentant heart is the key. Paul wants the brother to be shamed for their sin, as they should be. The steps
prior to excommunication within the church discipline process are all in place in order to prevent that
ultimate step if possible. A member in sin is to be confronted on an individual basis. If they stop sinning
and repent then there is no need for discipline. If they will not repent you move on to confronting with a
group of men. Again, if the sinner repents and ceases his sinful practice, the process ends. Only if the sinner
refuses to repent would the discipline be elevated to the elder/church level. If upon the confrontation of the
church leadership/body the violator still will not repent, only then would the ultimate step of
excommunication take place. Yet this is only done with the expressed intent to bring them to repentance.
Once repentance occurs the sinner is restored.

Let’s look at the biblical data…

Matt 18:15-17 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won
your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or
three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he
refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Simple and clear- if he listens it is done, you have won your brother. If he won’t listen, take others with
you, and if he yet will not listen, only then is it necessary to go to the church. If in the face of the church’s
confrontation he will not repent only then is he excommunicated. If anywhere along the way the brother
repents then the process ends.

1 Cor 5:1-13 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as
does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. You have become arrogant and
have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For

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I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed
this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in
spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of
his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good. Do you
not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be
a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Therefore let
us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the
unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did
not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with
idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with
any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard,
or a swindler - not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not
judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man
from among yourselves.

Again, we see total clarity. The sin was being boasted about and continued in rather than repented for. The
purpose is seen when Paul says that it is so his “spirit might be saved”. Also, we see a litany of sin that he
considers worthy of separating over covering far more than fornication, adultery, or murder. The intent is
clear- separate from men for non-repentant sin to bring them to repentance so that they might be saved.

2 Thess 3:6-15 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every
brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us… If anyone does not
obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may
feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Avoid sinful brothers for the purpose of shaming them.

1 Tim 1:20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught
not to blaspheme.

Reason for their excommunication: to be taught.

If you are familiar with the ACC practice of church discipline you will immediately see the gross violation
of Scripture. In the ACC members can come in repentance for a single sinful act and still find themselves
excommunicated with other members told not even to eat with them. This is nothing short of shameful and
sinful. There is even occasional use of Num 32:11 as an excuse to not restore someone over the age of 20.
Again, this is a sinful utilization of Scripture and an example of horrible misapplication. We’ve been told
that there is an element of keeping the church pure through discipline, but that can only be applied in the
case of non-repentance. Anyone that is repentant has their sin covered and paid for by Christ’s blood and
remains 100% justified by faith. Their sin does not un-justify them in the eyes of God. They have Christ’s
imputed righteousness and are equally pure with even the most pious of members. No one is justified by
their works, good deeds, or their avoidance of falling into sin. It is by faith alone. A church is never to
single out one sinner or particular sins as worthy of excommunication in spite of the fact that they are sorry.
It cannot be emphasized enough that this is a sinful practice.

Again, when confronted with the biblical evidence we have found the same response of attacking the clarity
of Scripture. There is an effort to muddy the waters as if it is not perfectly clear on the steps, process, or
purpose of church discipline. So as is always the case when the infallible source is mistrusted or not the
sole rule, we see men implementing a non-biblical practice. It’s almost as if there is resentment that
someone “got away with sin” and must therefore pay for it somehow. It is not the church’s job to levy
consequences for sin; sin has its own results. Church discipline can encompass warning, correction, rebuke,
excommunication, mentoring, and teaching, but ultimately it is solely to bring a sinner to repentance for the
purpose of restoration. Nothing more, nothing less.

For further depth on church discipline: http://marks.9marks.org/Mark8

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3. Legalism/Traditionalism

Under this heading we find the distinguishing trademark of the ACC. We see here that the ACC has found
a unity in its tradition and heritage rather than in Christ alone. Longtime members need not hear a long
discussion for what they have experienced their entire lives in varying degrees. The strong unbiblical
emphasis on traditions has several roots as well as negative consequences. It comes from a lack of depth in
teaching and doctrine of course, and dangerously leads people towards a faith plus works mentality for
justification. It also stems from an abuse of church authority. This has a history of occurrence in the ACC
going back to the 19th century and continuing until the present. Upon their invention or rise in use, the ACC
was markedly against cars, telephones, TV’s, internet, life insurance, lightning rods and several other
technological advances. Now, any Christian knows the dangers and temptations that can come along with
some of those examples along with other conveniences in modern society, but never should a church preach
anything other than against the sinful use of such tools. A hammer can be used to build a house or kill
someone, but owning a hammer itself is not wrong. The same principal goes for the internet or TV.

We also see tradition keeping the church promoting the use of a single old Anglican translation of the Bible
in the KJV. This is in spite of the fact of its well-known errors. Far more manuscripts have been discovered
and scholarship has led to even greater translation capabilities. Also, old-English is not a language written,
read, or spoken in the lives of the members. They have stubbornly held to an exclusive use of a less
accurate translation that is harder to understand for the sake of tradition. Understanding the Word should be
priority number one when reading the Bible, not its beauty. Accuracy should also be one of the primary
determining factors, yet there are prominent errors in translation as well as the fact that the actual meanings
of words has changed since 1611 when the KJV was first published. There are many historical,
grammatical, and textual errors pressed into service in order to maintain the exclusive use of KJV as well.
We would only suggest that each research the facts for themselves. We recommend the surprisingly
readable book “The King James Only Controversy” by James White. We have a copy available to borrow
or it can be found here: http://www.aomin.org/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=44

The church has no authority to rule in such specifics in people’s lives. The same goes for the silly and
pointless appearance guidelines such as no facial hair. A church has as much authority to tell a member
what color to paint their living room as they do telling them not to have a beard. They likewise have no
biblical grounds to prevent members from taking communion with non-AC believers. To threaten
discipline over such an unbiblical stance is almost obscene! This is a severe abuse of power. The church’s
authority is derived solely from Scripture, so when they are not standing on Scripture to rule they thusly
have no authority. The Roman Catholic Church has taken such abuses of power to the extreme. They
similarly do not have the authority to rule that members should not eat meat on Fridays, that priests should
not marry, or to extend many of the other absurdly unbiblical rules. It is not a church’s job to come up with
checklists on specific items in order to judge someone’s piety or devotion to God. The Bible teaches
modest attire and that our adornment is not to come from our outward appearance. This means they are to
preach the principle of modesty, not rule that women have to wear skirts and wear their hair up. Much more
could be said on this topic but it is almost too silly and clearly unbiblical to even spend too much time on.
But before moving on, the abuse of Scripture in the realm of traditions needs to be illustrated.

Let’s look at the biblical data…

It must be noted that most passages addressing tradition are either neutral or negative. We see more
warnings against tradition than we do promotion of it. This is not a contradiction of course, as you will see
when we read the apostles calling the church to adhere to the tradition that they taught in 2 Thes 2:15, 3:6
and 1 Cor 11:2. The important point here is that the tradition Paul is referring back to is the Christian
lifestyle and attitude of love and abstaining from sinful acts that he teaches about in all his epistles. There is
a tendency within tradition minded churches to use those verses as a black box to simply input whatever
traditions that particular church practices, or that they see fit, as if Paul came up with some list of specifics
that he taught. I have heard the exact interpretation of these verses given to me by AC elders as I have from
Roman Catholics. Both twist the meaning in the same manner; they merely use the verses to support
different traditions. This is not Paul giving a free-for-all so that churches can come up with whatever they’d
like as a tradition and find biblical support for it. This does not mean it is wrong to have a tradition of any

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kind nor is it wrong to be “traditional”, but there is a big difference between that and the elevated status
given to tradition in the ACC. Let’s also look at the warnings about this well-known human propensity to
both create and uphold their own traditions.

Matt 15:1-6 Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "Why do Your
disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." And He
answered and said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of
your tradition? "For God said, 'honor your father and mother,' and, 'he who speaks evil of father or mother
is to be put to death' "But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help
you has been given to God," he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And by this you invalidated the
word of God for the sake of your tradition.

We can see the warnings from Christ himself of human tradition invalidating the word of God. This is
especially applicable in the church discipline issue cited earlier.

Isa 29:13 Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip
service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned
by rote

This verse speaks for itself. It is a sad fact that it pertains to too many AC churches. It is a nominal
Christianity with a veneer of piety created by strict adherence to traditions of appearance or practice. It is
not devotion to God.

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile
way of life inherited from your forefathers

This needs to be thoroughly reiterated to the segment of AC’s that have flat-out denied the historical
evangelical gospel of salvation by faith alone; along with every verse teaching salvation by faith apart from
works. It is a sad instance when a church is aware of a gospel denying heresy and does not take strong
immediate steps to correct it.

Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the
tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Col 2:20-23 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were
living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, "Do not handle, do not taste, do not
touch!" (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)--in accordance with the commandments and
teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made
religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly
indulgence.

These may be the two most condemning passages against the traditions we see so strictly promoted in the
ACC. They are traditions of men, plain and simple. They are not taught in Scripture and they surely have a
mere appearance of wisdom in self-made religion with no distinguishable benefits being produced (unless
you count a false unity or a unity not found in Christ). Paul actually tells the Colossian Christians not to
submit to these traditions. It doesn’t matter who is trying to implement them. A Roman Catholic cannot use
the excuse that “it’s a tradition of my church” and neither can we.

Again, we have seen Scripture not being used as the sole rule of faith and practice. When we see deviation
from Scripture on simple things like church government, church discipline, and traditionalism then we will
surely find a deviation on in-depth matters like doctrine and teaching. Unfortunately that is exactly what we
see happening in the ACC as we will take a look at next.

4. Doctrine

A good way to sum up the spirit of this section is to state we are not looking for a way around the tough

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texts and tough words of the Bible; we are looking to submit to them. We must also state that these
doctrinal differences did not lead to the disagreements mentioned previously. Those had already been
points of divergence prior to any development of doctrinal dispute

This is a difficult subject to broach for many reasons. Not only is it the most important aspect of a church,
but it is also one of the least defined and least articulated realms in the ACC. It also takes the greatest
amount of defense and biblical citation; so it will justifiably be the longest section of our reasoning. There
is no way to address every relevant Scripture or properly exegete every verse commonly misinterpreted.
We urge anyone that disagrees and realizes the relevance of these doctrines to engage us in discussion. Do
not flee from what the Bible says. Words have meanings and the apostles wrote what they did by
inspiration for a reason. We are told in 2 Tim 3:16-17 that…

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for
training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

All Scripture is to be used. We cannot overlook the passages that make us feel uncomfortable. So-called
Christian homosexual groups do this with texts like Romans 1. Universalists do it with passages about hell
or God’s wrath because they think a loving God would never send someone to hell. And the sad fact is that
most 21st century American Christians intentionally ignore the texts that teach of God’s sovereignty in
salvation, God’s choosing of the elect, and God’s predestination of events as well as personal salvation.
More often than not the mere mention of those biblical words immediately brings false understandings to
mind. Rarely is the Bible sought out to explain what those passages mean or why they were written. But it
is a fact that they are written. The words are used. As Christians we cannot get around that. We must
evaluate what it says and find out why. The side of truth never flees from either discussion or examination
of Scripture. Remember that point when topics like predestination come up. Who do we always see running
from the examination of the text? Is that a characteristic we would see in Paul? What is there to be afraid
of? Are we not told by Peter to know what we believe and why?

This is usually where we see an appeal to mystery and an inability to understand all of who God is and how
He works. We are not disagreeing with the fact that there is a massive amount of information pertaining to
those categories that is and always will remain unknown to us as humans. However, that is a straw man
argument because what is at issue here is God’s revelation to man- the Bible. It is about what He has told
us and what we are accountable to know and understand. Scripture is not written to be misunderstood but
rather to teach, reprove, correct us so that we may be competent and equipped (2 Tim 3:16). Again, it is all
of Scripture that is for this purpose. We will never be vindicated in ignoring the portions we dislike or not
studying something hard to understand. No one is claiming we are to fully understand God and His ways,
but Jesus held the leaders and people accountable for the written Word of God whenever he said “it is
written”, “have you not read”, and “what saith the Scriptures”. These same questions need to be asked of
these difficult topics.

This is easily the area where the clarity of Scripture is attacked the most, and not just by leadership in the
ACC. There is a drive to pretend that there is some sort of neutral position on these issues. This is
completely impossible. Two mutual exclusive ideas are present and there is no middle ground whatsoever.
Anyone that conveys that idea is either ignorant or dishonest (typically ignorant more than dishonest).
There is also an effort made by leadership in the ACC to act like non-definition in doctrine is somehow
humble. This again is a tactic of the postmodern/emergent movement. It is a false humility used as a cop-
out to avoid being confronted with tough biblical evidence to a contrary position. Often we have heard
appeals made to the fact that debate has occurred for hundreds of years over the subjects being addressed
and must therefore be unknowable. This is another straw man erected to avoid Scripture. The same
argument could be made about the deity of Christ and the Trinity, but neither of those debates are
unprofitable or unfruitful to defend. They have likewise gone on for hundreds of years, but that doesn’t
prove anything. Scripture is no less clear today than it was then on any of these subjects. The fact that men
have denied the truth of the Word for so long doesn’t show anything other than the reality that sinful men
are involved. We do not chose what doctrine to believe based on what we think the fruit may be; we believe
what the Bible says and let God bring about whatever fruit He sees fit.

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It is part of who God is and is therefore worthy of discussion. The fact that that is in the Bible is enough to
qualify it. It must not be avoided in order to stay comfortable! We are called in Scripture to leave behind
spiritual milk and crave the meat of the Word. We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our
mind. We are called to love God with all of our heart, soul, MIND, and strength. We are called to worship
God in TRUTH. So it is with this great leading from the Holy Spirit that we embark on doctrinal analysis.
At the heart of our disagreement is the doctrine of original sin, the ability of man, the free will of man, the
sovereignty of God, election, predestination, atonement, substitution, propitiation, grace and mercy, wrath
and reprobation, the justice of God, and the preservation of the saints.

Let’s look at the biblical data…

The Inability of Man


The fact is that since the fall man is not born as he was created. He is unable and unwilling, prior to
regeneration by the Holy Spirit, to have faith or submit and please God. This is just and fair because all
men are condemned in Adam’s free choice to sin. We are now born with a sinful human nature and are only
free to act in accordance with that nature. We are physically alive but spiritually dead and alive unto sin.
We cannot have faith for the same reason we cannot fly- it is outside of our nature. In order for that to
change God must give us a nature capable of faith. This giving of a new nature is called regeneration, being
born again, being quickened from the dead, etc. As a result of the fall we are born spiritually dead, enslaved
to sin, at enmity with God, spiritually blind and deaf, and unable to turn to God for salvation. Scripture is
clear and justly harsh on this fact.

Romans 8:7-8 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the
law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to
him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 our gospel is veiled... to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world
has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of
Christ, who is the image of God.

Matthew 11:27 "no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and
anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

John 3:27 John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven."

John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become
children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of
God.

John 6:44,65 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up
on the last day." And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him
by the Father.”

Romans 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God
made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses

Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked... But God,
being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our
trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved

Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good
who are accustomed to do evil.

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Matthew 7:18 "A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit."

Romans 5:12,19 sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to
all men because all sinned...by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners

Romans 3:10-12 None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have
turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

Ephesians 4:17-18 you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are
darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them,
due to their hardness of heart.

Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of
the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

John 8:34 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin."

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and
pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Galatians 4:8-9 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not
gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back
again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once
more?

Romans 6:6,16,17,19,20 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin
might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Do you not know that if you
present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey...? But thanks
be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of
teaching to which you were committed... For just as you once presented your members as slaves to
impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to
righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to
righteousness.

2 Timothy 2:25-26 God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they
may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Ephesians 2:3 we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the
mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind

Proverbs 21:10 The soul of the wicked desires evil

Genesis 8:21 the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the
intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth."

Isaiah 64:7 There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you
have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.

Deuteronomy 29:2-4 And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: "You have seen all that the Lord
did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great
trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a
heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear."

An even more thorough list of Scripture can be found here: http://www.traviscarden.com/articles/total-


depravity-verse-list

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Here we have just a portion of the verses that speak of man’s condition prior to regeneration. It’s an ugly
portrait. We see that there is a sense in which man’s will is free- free to sin and act according to his sinful
nature that is incapable of turning to God. But we also see that in a more important sense his will is not free
at all- enslaved to sin, unable to submit to God or please Him, spiritually dead, spiritually blind and unable
to understand the gospel. We are born this way. It must be reiterated that this is not unjust. It is a result of
Adam’s sin and the fall of man. All men sinned in Adam. We must also recognize that faith and repentance
are gifts granted through grace. They are not separate from grace but rather an extension of it. Faith is not
something we do that results in being born again. Rather, faith is a result of being born again. Before
regeneration, no one can have faith. Either it is a product of our sinful human nature or it is a gift created in
us by the Holy Spirit after regeneration. Scripture is clear…

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift
of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Phil 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for
His sake

2 Tim 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them
repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth

2 Pet 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness…

Acts 11:18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has
granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."

Romans 4:16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the
promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those
who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all

If faith comes before regeneration it can only be said that it comes from the flesh since we remain in the
flesh before we are born again. But Jesus tells us that the flesh profits nothing (John 6:63). The Spirit must
give life. Regeneration MUST precede faith. Those that disagree teach that the flesh not only profits
something, but it profits everything!

Free Will
Many claim this means free will is not possible. To put it bluntly, that’s exactly right. But to be more
specific and more accurate, that means that the idea of man’s autonomous free will is not possible. That
concept is never once taught in Scripture. Men have free will to sin, and they are not in any way coerced
into sinning. They are doing exactly what they want, which is to sin and never to submit to God. That is
man’s free will choice. He freely chooses to say no to God and yes to sin. As we have seen, repentance and
faith are not a part of man’s nature that is sinful and fallen. Therefore, man does not have the free will to
submit or please God by believing and turning in repentance. Regeneration must occur to free us from our
sinful nature and give us a new nature that is capable of such actions. Only God can truly have free will
when it comes to man’s salvation. Our free will choice was made in Adam. He had free will and made the
choice for every man. He was born with both the “ability to sin” and the “ability to not sin”. After the fall
he was cursed to be in a state of “unable to not sin”. This is the spiritually dead state that all men are now
born into- “unable to not sin”. Adam’s sin was imputed to us (Rom 5, 1 Cor 15:21-22). Once Adam was
regenerated, his “ability to not sin” was restored. So we see him restored to a state of “able to not sin” and
“able to sin”. In heaven, we will have our “ability to sin” removed and will live blissfully forever in a state
of “not able to sin”.

We must let the Bible and not the world define freedom. Do you think we lose freedom in heaven because
we won’t be able to sin? Is the option of sinning truly what we could call freedom? Is not sin actually
bondage? Is God less free than man because he is not able to sin? Jesus told the Jews that “they will know
the truth and the truth will set them free”. Those who hold to man’s free will believe they were always free

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to choose; they have no need to be set free. That happens to be the same response the Jews gave to Jesus…

John 8:32-36 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered Him, "We are
Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will
become free'?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of
sin. “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. “So if the Son makes
you free, you will be free indeed.

Jesus clearly has no belief in the free will of man in regards to righteousness. Let us not ignorantly claim
our own supposed freedom as the Jews did. God and man cannot both be free in terms of man’s
salvation. God is sovereign over all things at all times. This is not an “extreme” view; it is just a true
biblical view. God is always sovereign in everything. Never in Scripture are we given the idea that He has
voluntarily forfeited His sovereignty in any realm. Even when He gives Satan a leash, as in the case of Job,
He is still in control. God is by definition sovereign.

“If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of
grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.” - Martin Luther

This topic is vast and much more should be said about it to ensure proper understanding. For that see here:
http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Free-Will/

Predestination/Election
So seeing that no man is able or willing and that faith is a gift, we recognize that God saves whom He
pleases when He pleases. Remember, God owes grace to no man. He has mercy and compassion on
whomever He wills (Exodus 33, Romans 9). If He gave justice to all men then all men would get hell as
they deserve. But since God is also merciful, He predestines some to receive mercy and faith and so be
saved. If He were not to predestine then all men would simply act in accordance with their sinful natures
and reject God leaving heaven empty of any man. Only through predestination will any man be
regenerated, have faith, or be saved.

Acts 4:27-28 "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom
You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do
whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.

We see that all that happened to Christ was predestined to occur. Herod, Pilate, and the Gentiles and Jews
did what God predetermined to happen. He used their evil for His own glory and purpose. If the greatest
evil act of all time, the murder of Christ, was predestined by God Himself then we can be assured that any
and all evil is capable of being used by God for His own purposes. We are told that we are chosen before
time and predestined to salvation. We cannot skip over or avoid these passages and words in Scripture.

Eph 1:4-5, 11 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and
blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself,
according to the kind intention of His will…also we have obtained an inheritance, having been
predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will

Romans 8:29-30 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of
His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He
also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

It is very simple- Paul says we are predestined so we believe we are predestined. It doesn’t matter if it
violates what I used to think about so-called “free will”. The Bible says it so we as Christians are called to
submit and believe it.

The Meaning of “Foreknew”


Some want to take the passage in Romans 8 (cited above) and claim that foreknew simply means God
looked forward in time to see who would freely choose Him and then upon that basis predestined them. It is

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necessary to explain why that interpretation is impossible. First off, God says He foreknew us. It is
speaking of people, not their actions or anything they do. God is the subject, foreknew is the verb, and we
are the direct object of the verb. You may recall from the Old Testament that “to know” in Hebrew is the
deepest and most intimate form of love. It is usually reserved for husbands and wives. When Adam “knew”
Eve she conceived. The same term is used when other wives conceived as well. It is a Hebrew concept of
strong love. So when we are told we are foreknown and predestined it essentially means we were fore-
loved. It is not merely a statement of God’s knowledge. Of course, He knows our future actions- He knows
everything. That is not what Paul is saying here and it would be out of context. Also, if that were true what
would it mean when Jesus says to false Christians in Matt 7:23 “I never knew you”? Is he literally saying
that He is not all knowing and had no knowledge of them? Is He somehow denying His own omniscience?
Certainly not. He is telling them He does not have the deep, intimate, and ultimately salvific (salvation
related) love that He has for His sheep. Also, we see in 1 Peter 1:20 that Christ is foreknown. Obviously,
this does not mean He merely had knowledge of Christ. God foreknowing people is not a statement of
mental knowledge; it is a statement of incredible love! Secondly, to take that incorrect interpretation of
foreknew would make Rom 8:29-30 a universalist text (teaching universal salvation). With that meaning
we would be forced to say He foreknew everyone that ever existed since obviously God is all knowing.
That would also mean everyone that ever existed is also predestined, called, justified, and glorified. The
statement is clear from beginning to end that the ones that get glorified are the same ones that were
foreknown. There is no room in the text to lose anyone within any of the steps of salvation. Third, those
who believe you can lose your salvation would not be able to make any sense of this passage with that
meaning of foreknew. If that definition were true that would also mean that God knew beforehand that they
would fall away and would therefore never predestine, call, justify, or glorify them. So if they were never
justified, they were never saved anyway. That means they never actually had salvation and therefore never
lost it. So we can clearly see that there is only one meaning of foreknew that makes any kind of sense in
this text, and that is that he fore-loved us, before He even created anyone. It is a tough truth for sinful men
to accept, but nevertheless it is the truth.

This love of God before time that is spoken of in regard to those He predestined is different than the
general love God has for His creation. We love both our own spouses as well as our friend’s spouses, yet in
a very different way. In the same manner, God loves both His creation as well as His sheep in a very
different way. He has the same capacity to love in different ways as we do. We are not saying He does not
love everyone, but we are saying that the love He has for His people that are His possession is as great a
love as can be. This is the love that is being spoken of when God tells us He knew us. The prefix “fore”
means it was before time began. And the end result of our glorification shows that it is a love unto
salvation. This is why we called it a salvific love. When God knows you, you will be saved.

Chosen By God
We also read of Scripture telling us that we are chosen by God, not because of what we do or any good
within us, but simply by the good pleasure of His own will. Some call this arbitrary, but to say that is to
judge the unknown mind of God. He is never arbitrary. It is in accordance with His will and not our own.
We start first by seeing that God says He will show mercy on whomever He wants…

Ex 33:19 I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show
compassion."

Notice that this is told to Moses in Exodus right after he asks to see His glory. God’s free choice in
showing or not showing mercy is an integral part of His character. It is who He is. This is stated again in
Romans 9:15 directly after Paul taught about election…

Rom 9:15 For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL
HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION."

And we further read Scripture telling us we are chosen or referring to believers as “elect”…

Matt 22:14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."

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Mark 13:20 "Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of
the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days

John 13:18 "I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be
fulfilled

John 15:16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit,
and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord; and as
many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

They believed because they were appointed to eternal life. Had they not been appointed they would not
have believed.

2 Thes 2:13-14 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because
God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the
truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus
Christ.

Titus 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God
and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness

Rev 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from
the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain

James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and
heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

He chose us to have faith, not because we have faith. He chose us to be heirs, not because we decided to
become heirs.

We are not in a scenario where there are people drowning in the sea and God simply selects a few to save
that are willing to grasp onto His lifesaver. What we see in Scripture is a scenario where we are dead,
already drowned, and lifeless on the ocean floor. God selects a group from that rotting pile of evil men to
resurrect unto life. He breathes life into them and gives them a new heart to serve and desire Him. In this
free choice of God He displays the glory of His mercy.

The Undeniable Testimony and Defense of Romans 9


In reality, Romans 9 so clearly teaches the doctrine of election that little else is needed to prove it. Paul
easily anticipates the objections he knows men will raise in response to such a teaching. Yet these are still
the very objections raised against the doctrine of election today. This passage deserves an in-depth
examination…

Romans 9:6-24 But it is not as though the Word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are
descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: THROUGH
ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED." That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are
children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of
promise: "AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON." And not only this, but there
was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were
not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would
stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE
THE YOUNGER." Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”
What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, "I
WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I
HAVE COMPASSION." So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God

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who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO
DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED
THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH." So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens
whom He desires.
You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are
you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make
me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one
vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His
wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for
destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He
prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from
among Gentiles.

Paul has just finished the powerful verses often referred to as the “golden chain of redemption” in Rom
8:29-30, which we have already discussed. He taught that everyone that was foreknown gets faith and is
saved and is also never separated from this love of God. Now He knows that people are going to say that
the word has failed because Israel is the foreknown people (loved and chosen of God) and yet not all Jews
believe. This is where he decides it is necessary to teach election. Paul starts by stating that true Israel is
spiritual Israel. They are the children of the promise and not of genealogy. He illustrates this using Jacob
and Esau and making the very significant point that God’s choice was made prior to their very birth so that
it was known that it was not based on what they did or would do. It could not be said any stronger than
Paul’s words: “the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose
according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls. This point tears
the heart out of the argument that predestination/election is based on the knowledge of our future faith. In
actuality, our future faith depends on God’s choice to give it to us. God decided before they were born to
give mercy to Jacob and justice to Esau. Neither one deserved mercy. Both deserved justice. But God can
have mercy on whomever He wants. He owes it to no man! People react as if this is shameful to accuse
God of something so shocking as condemning Esau prior to his birth, but it says it right there! Some have
tried writing it off to make “hate” mean “love less”. This understanding would still not ease the problem
they have with the statement of God’s choice, nor would it fit their theology that God loves every man in
the same amount and manner. If they had a true biblical understanding of God’s holiness and man’s
sinfulness they would not be so shocked by “Esau I hated” but more by “Jacob I loved” 1. This is the
amazing thing about grace- it is undeserved and bestowed on God-hating sinners in order to turn them into
saints. God does it purely to make His glory known (verses 22-23). It is about Him and not about us. This is
a God-centered theology instead of a man-centered theology.

After teaching election Paul moves onto the first objection he knows will be raised- “that’s not fair!” We
see in verse 14 that Paul knows what’s coming: “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is
there?” Upon hearing this truth men will immediately accuse God of being unjust. This is where Paul
draws from Exodus 33 and explains that God can have mercy or compassion on whomever He pleases.
This is part of who God is! God has the free will to grant mercy. Besides, Esau never got injustice anyway;
he got exactly what he deserved- wrath. God doesn’t owe mercy to either Jacob or Esau. If He decides to
show mercy on Jacob it does not mean He is also under obligation to do the same for Esau. Paul reiterates it
in verse 16 that it does not depend on man’s will to be saved but on God’s. Again, he could not be stronger
or clearer: “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” This goes
hand-in-hand with all the points made previously regarding man’s inability to choose God. He also cites
Pharaoh as an example of someone He raised up for the very purpose of showing His power.

Again, Paul is ready for the obvious objection- “why does he still blame us and hold us accountable?”
Verse 19 shows he knows what’s coming: You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who
resists His will?" For many Paul’s answer is frustrating. But it should be familiar because it is the same
answer Job gets after raising the same accusation. He complained for almost 40 chapters about the injustice
he was being shown by God. God answers the same way the Holy Spirit directs Paul to answer- You’re just
a man, why do you think you can question God! Paul then uses the potter and clay illustration to show that

1
Comment originally heard from pastor James White

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God has the right over His creation to do whatever He pleases. If He wants to create a vessel of mercy such
as Jacob to make His mercy known, He is free to do so. If He wants to raise up a vessel of wrath like Esau
or Pharaoh simply to make His justice and power known, He is free to do so. In this we see the whole point
of creation- to glorify God! It is not about us, it is about HIM! We as vessels cannot complain to the maker
and say He has done wrong. The potter can take from one lump of clay and make both a beautiful vase and
a garbage can. It’s all up to Him. It’s HIS clay that HE formed for HIS purpose. The garbage can cannot
say to the potter “hey, it’s not fair that you made me to hold trash, I want to be like the vase”. Paul shows
how asinine such a scenario would be.

You must ask yourself which side you are on- the objector’s or Paul’s. Just think about it. If this passage
were not teaching the doctrine of election based purely on the will of God and not man, then why would
Paul ever need to answer these objections? Who would ever raise the objection of fairness or injustice if
Paul were actually teaching human free will? No one ever accused God of injustice in that system! The fact
that Paul anticipates and answers the same objections that are still raised today prove that he is truly
teaching election based on God’s predestination. Again, this is a difficult concept for many to accept, but it
must be said again and again that we are called as Christians to believe and submit to the teachings of
Scripture even if we don’t like them.

For a wonderful and contextual exegesis of this passage, you can download a free mp3 here (under the
“Latest Apologetics Articles” called “Romans 9 - An Exegesis to Share”): http://www.aomin.org/

Additional Verses That Should not be Ignored


Acts 16:14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God,
was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Lydia had her heart opened by God in order to respond. Had God not done so Lydia would not have
responded. She did not open her own heart. Lydia deserves no credit to believing and neither do we.

Acts 18:9-10 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do
not be silent, for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people
in this city."

God is telling Paul to preach because He has many people in that particular city. The beauty of these verses
is that they show not only the imperative to evangelize and the guarantee of success, but also the means by
which He calls the elect unto Himself, namely preaching. Jesus gives the same basic guarantee: that His
sheep will hear and they will come.

John 6:37, 39, 44, 65 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will
certainly not cast out…"This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing,
but raise it up on the last day…"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I
will raise him up on the last day…And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can
come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."

“To say that this means that Gods creates people for hell is just a straw man argument. It has been
responded to numerous times… “It is not only inaccurate, but it is downright dishonest, sadly. No one goes
to hell “only because God chooses not to draw them to him”. Men endure eternal punishment because of
the holiness of God and their own sin. The very idea that God is under the slightest duty to provide mercy
and grace to sinful men is part and parcel of humanistic religion, not biblical truth. And this kind of
“sentimentality as theology” viewpoint has led, many times in recent history, directly into the quagmire of
universalism.” - pastor James White

This passage can hardly be done justice to in this short space. But we again see Jesus classifying believers
as those given by the Father to the Son. We see the guarantee that those who are given WILL come and
they WILL be kept because Jesus will lose none. We see that God must grant the ability to come. Jesus
unashamedly teaches the inability of man both here and throughout the gospel of John.

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A great exegetical book called “Drawn by the Father” (a mere 60 pages) on this specific passage can be
found here or you can borrow one of our copies we have to hand out:
http://www.aomin.org/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=43_48&products_id=55

John 10:26-29 "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. "My sheep hear My voice, and I
know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one
will snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one
is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

We again see the use of the word “know” by Christ. He uses it in a greater meaning than simple mental
knowledge. He refers to all the believers as his sheep and then tells the Pharisees that the reason they do not
believe is because they are not His sheep. It is not the other way around. We do not become sheep by
believing but rather believe because we are sheep. He also gives the same guarantee of success when He
says they WILL hear his voice and WILL follow Him. Then He tells us that no one can take them out of
His hand. This “no one” includes ourselves of course. Jesus makes no exception for people “jumping out of
His hand” as some have speculated. Also, notice this same group repetitively being referred to as given by
the Father to the Son. This is consistent throughout Jesus’ words in the book of John. This same group is
always drawn and kept by Christ. Some have tried to make the claim that Jesus “draws” everyone and
immediately jump to John 12:32 (if I be lifted up I’ll draw all men to me). They try to make the case that
this means every individual ever is drawn. This is a completely different context and would mean universal
salvation for everyone since He has already told us that those He draws will come and will be lifted up on
the last day. He says this group will be saved three times in John 6 alone. So when He says He will draw
everyone it is clearly not a statement all individuals but all mankind (every type and kind of person from all
over the world). Another more obvious reason that interpretation is impossible is because we know there
are men that have died without ever even hearing the name of Christ. Clearly they were not drawn in the
sense that people are trying to use this verse to mean. The two statements cannot be equivocated.

1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God

The verb tense in the Greek makes it clear that all those going on believing in Jesus (present tense
continuous action) have been born of God (perfect tense, previous action with abiding effects). So again we
see that regeneration precedes faith. The fact that someone is presently going on believing shows that they
have FIRST been born again.

Further in depth exegesis on 1 John 5:1 can be seen here…


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsPzSKI6jvY&feature=player_embedded
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5_WvgOxq8A&feature=player_embedded

Whosoever
There are many more verses that could be addressed. One important set of verses that are often cited in
refutation to these doctrines are those that contain the words “whosoever”. This is a very common mistake
that people make but also a very easy one to correct. Most will read the verses saying whosoever and just
say it implies ability for everyone. Some good examples of this would be…

John 3:15-16 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so
loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass. That whosoever shall call on the name of the lord shall be saved

But what is the Greek word for “whosoever”? There is none! There is not a Greek word meaning
“whosoever” at all. The word used is “pas” and it just means all. So the question is all what? All believers.
In fact, some modern translations have these translated more accurately to avoid the confusion and they
read everyone who believes or all believers. The literal rendering of the Greek text is “all the believing
ones”. Everyone that calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved- no doubt about it. God loved the world
so much He gave His only son so all believers will not die but live forever- again, absolutely! The

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translation of “whosoever” is not wrong as long as people don’t try to cram so much false theology into that
one word. Especially since it isn’t even a direct translation. People try to make it say that it implies ability
when there is not even a hint of that in the passage. The Greek bears it out. A good example of the word
being used in a similar sense would be if we had a bunch of guys lined up that were going to play baseball.
They number off 1-2 all the way down the line to designate teams. Everyone would either be a one or a
two. We could say “all the two’s are up to bat first” or “everyone that’s a two is up to bat” or “whoever the
two’s are get to bat first”. The term whosoever doesn’t imply that anyone can just decide to be a two. That
is not how the term is used in Scripture. We cannot make it say more than what is intended in order to
support a theology that is not being taught. “Whosoever believes” is the same as “all believers”. There is no
difference in the text. Christ came so all believers would have everlasting life.

The Will of God


Another area of confusion is in the will of God. “The distinction must be made between the prescriptive
will of God, found in His law, and the decretive will of God, which envisions the existence of evil, and all
the corollaries that flow there from 2”. “Men can never successfully resist God's decretive will. Such
passages as, "For who hath resisted his will?" (Rom. 9:19) and "...he doeth according to his will in the
army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What
doest thou?" (Dan. 4:35), etc., make this clear. Men do resist and disobey the Bible which is God's revealed
will, but only when and to the extent God allows. However, what God has decreed is always accomplished.
Ephesians 1:11 says that God "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will". This verse refers to the
secret will of God in which He decreed all things before the foundation of the world 3.” Believing and
repenting is more than a mere offer- it is a command. In that sense it is the prescriptive will of God, just as
it is His will/command for no one to murder or kidnap, or even for Pharaoh to let His people go. Hence we
ascribe to God the concept of "desire" and say God does not "desire" that man do these things 2. Yet it is
His decretive will for Pharaoh to harden his heart in order for God to make His power known in him. It is
likewise His decretive will for Joseph’s brother’s to violate His prescriptive will by kidnapping Joseph and
selling him into slavery. He used their evil deeds for good. He knew what they were going to do, He could
have stopped them from doing it, and He used it for His purposes. In other words, He ordained it.

Gen 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this
present result, to preserve many people alive.

So in one sense we can say it is God’s (prescriptive) will that all be saved, because He commands all men
to repent and believe. But in another sense, God does not will all men to be saved because they aren’t all
saved. His (decretive) will is always done and never thwarted. When The Lord wills to save someone they
are saved. We can see His prescriptive will when Paul prays that the Colossian believers will be “filled
with the knowledge of His will” (Col 1:9). He’s not praying they will have special revelation about the
secret decrees of God, but rather that they will know His commands. We read of the decretive will when
Jesus prays “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We know Jesus being falsely accused and
murdered is not in line with the prescriptive will of God, but we also know that it was completely
predestined and in accord with the decretive will of God (Acts 4:28).

“The problem is in trying to read into God's will our own self-limitations. We can freely offer the gospel to
all, not because we reject election, nor because we ascribe to God a human-oriented desire that runs directly
counter to His own self-revelation and consistency, but because we do not know the identity of the elect,
and we have the full promise of Scripture that no man, no woman, no child, will ever, ever turn in faith to
Jesus Christ and yet be rejected by Him. ALL who believe will be saved. Will any man believe outside of
God's grace, God's granting of repentance and faith? Surely not, but again, we do not possess knowledge of
the identity of the elect. Hence, we can freely and properly proclaim the duty to repent and believe to all,
knowing that those who do so will be those God has drawn to Himself. We find ourselves completely
consistent with the Apostle who likewise said he endured all the trials and tribulations of the ministry "for
the sake of the elect" (2 Timothy 2:10).” – pastor James White

2
Quote from James White
3
From Article by Curtis Pugh found here: http://www.libcfl.com/articles/doc.htm

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For a more in depth study of this topic see here:
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1995/1580_Are_There_Two_Wills_in_God/

One passage that some try to apply this to is 1 Tim 2:4. The previous point could be used to explain it but a
simple look at the context will suffice.

1 Tim 2:1-6 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on
behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all
godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be
saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper
time.

We start by noting Paul’s point- every kind of man, even those in authority, should be prayed for because
God will save men from any and every group of people. Christ is the single mediator between God and
mankind and He was a ransom for every kind of person. Verse 1 is not a decree that we need to pray for
every individual ever. We do not need to pick up the phone book and start praying our way through it
because it says to pray for all men. Paul is speaking of all kinds of men, not all in the sense of every
individual person ever. You can see this when he starts describing what he means by saying “even those in
authority“. It is a class type he is talking about. This is the context that carries through to verse 4 where he
says God desires the salvation of all men. This is all types of men. We do not serve a God that wants
something and doesn’t get it. There will be men saved from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation with no
regard to social or economic class or race. God is no respecter of persons. The apostles had to explain time
and time again that it was not just the Jews that would be saved. This principle is taught in nearly every
epistle. It took repeated emphasis that God was granting salvation to more than just Israel. In this case, Paul
is telling Timothy that there are people that are going to be saved from every type/class of people, even
those in authority. This was most likely surprising since these were the kind of people persecuting the
Christians. So we can see how the context explains away the common misinterpretation.

Paul is also not saying Jesus was a ransom for every man that ever lived either. If He were we would be
looking at another universal salvation text because if Jesus was our ransom then we will be saved. This will
take us to our next point of atonement.

A more in depth exegesis of this 1 Timothy text can be found here:


https://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3018

Atonement
Atonement is a very important doctrine because it is not only how our sin is paid for but it is also the great
work of Christ on the cross. To get atonement wrong is to steal glory from Jesus by diminishing His great
work on our behalf. We are told He propitiated (satisfied) the wrath of God and atoned for our sins as a
substitute by bearing our sins on the cross. All those He died for in turn receive His imputed righteousness
and are interceded for by the Son to the Father. So the question that needs to be raised is “was anyone
actually saved at the cross by the death of Christ?” We believe the Bible is clear that indeed all believers
were saved. So how can it be said that Jesus died for “all” meaning every single person that ever lived?
How can Jesus do the exact same thing for us (believers) as He did for everyone in hell (non-believers)? If
Jesus did the same thing for every person and yet some are not saved, then who decides salvation- man or
God? If He died for all then man is the ultimate decider in salvation. There is no biblical teaching that Jesus
died for every individual ever and atonement is merely applied to some. The Scriptures that are used to
promote that idea are read in isolation outside of their original historical and exegetical context. Scripture
must be used to interpret Scripture. Sinners in hell do not have their sins atoned for by Christ. Their sins are
not paid for by Jesus, but rather by them. That’s the purpose of hell- to punish sin. Neither is the wrath of
God propitiated for those in hell. If it were, they would be in heaven with us for God would have no wrath
remaining to pour out on them. God poured out His cup of wrath on Christ at the cross, but only for the sins
of believers. Also, sinners in hell do not receive the imputed righteousness of Christ and are not interceded
for by the Son to the Father. Yet this is the case for those that Christ died for. To say that Christ atoned for
every individual that ever lived and that people still go to hell is to say that Christ never actually saved

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anyone; He just would have made them savable. We believe the Bible clearly teaches that Christ actually
literally saves. His atonement is not limited in its power to save but rather limited in its scope and intention.
It was powerful enough to save any and all of course, but only designed to save His sheep. To say
otherwise demeans the cross of Christ.

Isa 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The
chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

1 Peter 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to
righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Matt 1:21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their
sins."

Matt 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for
many."

Matt 26:28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

John 10:11,14-15 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the
good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the
Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

John 17:2, 9, 24 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He
may give eternal life…"I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You
have given Me; for they are Yours; "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me
where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the
foundation of the world.

Rom 5:10 For if while 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.

Gal 1:3-4 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for
our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father

Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written,
"CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE

Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a
people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Heb 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He
always lives to make intercession for them.

Heb 9:12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy
place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Eph 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a
sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Rom 8:32-34 He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all---how will he not also, along
with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring a charge against those whom God has chosen? It is
God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died---more than that, who was raised to
life---is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us

Rom 3:24-25 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom

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God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.

Heb 2:17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful
and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the
propitiation for our sins.

1 Cor 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the Scriptures

John 11:51-52 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that
Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of
God who are scattered abroad.

Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for
You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people
and nation.

This is the “all men” spoken of in Scripture- all mankind, not every single individual ever. You cannot say
Jesus saves you, He died for every person ever, and some people go to hell. That statement is impossible to
be true. If Jesus died for Hitler then Hitler is in heaven. If Jesus saves us and dies for every person then
salvation is universal. If Jesus actually saved us at the cross, if He literally died in our place, if He truly
bore our sins, and yet not everyone is saved, then the only conclusion is that Jesus only died for the elect. If
Jesus dies for you- you are saved!

He Atoned for “All”?


There are four options when it comes to the extent of the atonement: 1) He died for every sin of every man
2) He died for some sins of every man 3) He died for some sins of some men 4) He died for every sin of
some men. Option 1 leads to universal salvation because every sin ever committed would be forgiven. If
someone says that’s not true because every sin is paid for but some do not believe, then they are just being
inconsistent because would not their sin of unbelief be atoned for? Everyone would still be saved because
even those who do not believe have their unbelief covered if He died for every sin of every man. Option 2
and 3 both lead to universal damnation because no man gets into heaven unless He is perfect and every sin
is paid for by Christ. We absolutely must be spotless. Option 4 is the only option that makes sense or is
proven by Scripture. He died for every sin of every believer that ever lived. These men are therefore saved
and seen as righteous in the eyes of God.

As stated earlier, “there is scant to no evidence in the Scriptures themselves for a general atonement and the
Scriptures that are used to promote that idea are read in isolation outside of their original historical and
exegetical context. For example, one passage often cited is 1 John 2:2 which says, "He is the propitiation
for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." But read in context this is not
teaching general atonement- that Christ died for all the sins of every person in the world. John is here
saying to his original readers, rather, that Christ's propitiation is not only for the reader's sins only but for
the sins of people from every nation. How can we know this? By interpreting Scripture with Scripture. The
same author, John, in the book of revelation 5:9 explains plainly what he means: "...for you were slain, and
by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation."
It does not say that Christ ransomed every tribe and nation. It says he ransomed people FROM every tribe
and nation. The ransomed come OUT OF every tribe and language and people and nation. Not just Jews,
but also Gentiles. Not just the readers but from all peoples. In other words, as the Scripture says, "The good
shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Not the goats. He tells the Pharisees that they "do
not believe because they are not part of his flock." It also says Christ lays down his life for the church.
Hebrews 2:14-16 states plainly that his death was for the offspring of Abraham: "Since therefore the
children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he
might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear
of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring

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of Abraham." Meaning Jesus came to help the children of promise (the offspring of Abraham) through his
life and death.” – pastor John Samson

The same principle of particular redemption is true of the Old Testament sacrifices as well. They were for
the people of Israel, not for every individual in the world. The verses that state that Christ died for “all”
need to be taken in context. As is often stated, “all” means all without distinction (all kinds of men, not just
Jews) rather than all without exception (all men categorically). Another way of saying it is “all” means all
of something or all of a set. We need to ask “all of what” or “all of who”. It is not always how it is used, but
usually all is referring to all of those being written to. In most cases it is a group of believers in a particular
church or just believers in general. A good example is Rom 8:32 and 1 Pet 3:18. If this were not the case
then these verses can only be understood to teach universal salvation because we know Christ literally bore
our sins and literally saved us. Another example is in Heb 9:12 and 10:10 when Christ is said to have “died
once for all”. But it is saying once for all time. The context is that Jesus’ sacrifice is permanent and does
not need to be repeated over and over like the old sacrifices in the law. It is easy to misunderstand these
verses if the context is ignored. This is frequently the case when people argue for an atonement of every
single person that ever lived. We also need to recognize the use of hyperbolic language by the biblical
writers. It is not that what they are saying is not true, but rather that it is not intended literally. This is often
the case with the use of “all” or the “whole world“. A few examples…

Mark 5:1 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they
were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

We know not every single person in Judea and Jerusalem confessed their sins and got baptized by John.

Isa 27:6 In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout, And they will fill the
whole world with fruit.

Obviously the entire world is not to be read literally.

Rom 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed
throughout the whole world.

Their faith was obviously not being proclaimed in America. Paul is using a figure of speech.

Rev 12:9 the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world

We know this does not mean every person ever because we are expressly told elsewhere that the elect are
not deceived for it is not even possible (Matt 24:24).

Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the
world should be taxed.

Caesar was not trying to tax every person on earth. Chinese people were not being taxed by Caesar. This is
hyperbolic language meaning all the Roman world.

The term world is used in multiple ways. We cannot just use a single blanket definition of world = every
individual ever. This would turn the Bible into a jumbled contradictory mess. In fact, the Greek word
“kosmos” that is translated world is used in 14 different ways by John alone. The context of each usage
determines the meaning. We are told “not to love the world” and “to be separate from the world”. Then we
see Jesus saying He loved the world and in 1 John 7:2 it says “He takes away the sin of the world“. It has
been said again and again, but this is another instance where we would be forced to believe in universal
salvation if we held to the meaning of every person ever. Jesus did not take away the sins of Hitler. His sins
remain and He will go to hell for them. This does not mean that whole world or language of this sort is
never meant literally, but it is showing that context is key and that all of Scripture must be taken into
account. The important part is recognizing that when Jesus dies for a sin, that sin is atoned for. It cannot be
punished any longer. If a man has a debt paid by someone else, the collector cannot still come to the man

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and demand payment. God would be unjust if He punished both Christ and the sinner for the same sin.

There are more verses that are worthy of being discussed in regard to this topic. Some have taken a false
interpretation of verses such as 1 Tim 4:10 that states that God is the “savior of all people, especially of
those who believe”. A simple question can be asked to clear up the misconception- how can someone in
hell have a savoir? They are not even saved. So obviously Paul was not trying to say all men are saved. He
has to be stating the fact that there is only one savior available to anyone. The concept is seen elsewhere
when we read in Acts 4:12 that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven
given among men by which we must be saved”. 1 Tim 4:10 is a statement of the exclusivity of Christ, not
the extent of the atonement which Paul was not even talking about. Another quick reference would be to 2
Peter 2:1. Compare this verse to the one found in Deut 32:6.

Instead of going into great depth and increasing the length I will simply refer to the extremely thorough
explanation found here: http://vintage.aomin.org/2PE21.html

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Christ laid down His life for His friends. He goes on to tell them they are His friends because they are
believers. This is opposed to slaves which He tells them they used to be and even mentions again that they
did not choose Him but He chose them. All of this lines up with the points we have been making. What
Christ actually did to save us or who He died for should not be taught incorrectly. He died for Peter, not
Judas; to make him a believer, not because he was a believer. It is clear in Scripture and we must correct
any system that has taught us wrong theology. Jesus saves His people, His sheep, His elect by dying for
them and bearing their sins and thereby ensuring their salvation.

A more in depth discussion of this topic can be found here:


http://vintage.aomin.org/Was%20Anyone%20Saved.html
http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Definite-Atonement/Contemporary-Essays--Articles/

The Assurance of Salvation


Hopefully it is evident by now that salvation is 100% a work of God. We do not author nor finish our faith.
He does both (Heb 12:2). That is why we are told in Scripture that a true Christian cannot lose their
salvation and that the Holy Spirit is a seal of redemption. John writes to believers so that they may know
they have eternal life. We can be assured of our salvation. It is up to God’s faithfulness to save us, not our
own faithfulness to save ourselves. We persevere because we are preserved.

1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may
know that you have eternal life.

Rom 11:29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

2 Tim 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly
kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith

Phil 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until
the day of Christ Jesus.

Jude 1:24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of
His glory blameless with great joy

Who is it that keeps us from stumbling and makes us stand blameless before His glory? It is God Himself!
This is not just an empty promise. He does not merely mention that He is able to keep us from falling but
never does it.

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Jer 32:40 "I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them
good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

John 6:39-40 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given
me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and
believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Heb 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Matt 18:12-14 "What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does
he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? “If it turns
out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not
gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to
them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given
them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

Rom 8:35, 38-39 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other
created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Cor 1:7-9 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful,
through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Eph 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Matt 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to
mislead, if possible, even the elect.

The point here is that it is not even possible for the elect to be deceived. We have seen again and again the
Bible teaching election and calling believers “elect”. So one may ask “how do I know I am elect”? It is a
good question to ask yourself, especially since Peter tells us to “make our calling and election sure” (2 Pet
1:10). A.W. Pink gives an excellent reply to that very question…"How may I know I'm elect? First, by the
Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my
self-righteousness is renounced. Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty, and lost
condition. Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my
desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope.
Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me- a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing
for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ. Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to
the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it. Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned
by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this
point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness. Seventh,
by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all diligence to this end. Thus the
knowledge of election is cumulative."

This is no “cheap grace”. This is no “easy-believe-ism”. There is no room for allowing sin is a believer’s
life. “God's preservation of the saints is not irrespective of their continuance in the faith (1 Cor 6:9-10, Gal
5:19-21, Eph 5:5, Heb 3:14, Heb 6:4-6, Heb 10:26-27, Heb 12:14, Rev 21:7-8). However, it is God who
sanctifies us and causes us to persevere (John 15:16, 1 Cor 1:30-31, 1 Cor 6:11, 1 Cor 12:3, 1 Cor 15:10,
Gal 3:1-6, Eph 2:10, Phil 2:12-13, 1 Thes 5:23-24, Heb 13:20-21, 1 John 2:29, Jude 1:24-25, Eze 36:26-27,
Eze 11:29)”. More here: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/preseverance.html

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Eze 36:26-27 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove
the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause
you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Eze11:19 And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of
stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh

We read in Ezekiel of God’s promise to regenerate. It shows man’s dependence on God to “cause us to
walk in His statutes and observe His ordinances”. Promoters of free will must be consistent and say this is
a violation of man’s free will. Clearly God is explaining that His actions are the cause of our obedience.

We cannot switch back and forth from being regenerate. Nor can we go from adopted back to not-adopted.
The Spirit Himself bears witness that we are children of God (Rom 8:16). There are not justified saints that
somehow fall through the cracks and out of Jesus’ hand. All those that get justified also get saved. It
depends on God saving us, not us saving ourselves. Any other understanding is dabbling in the realm of
works based salvation. If salvation depends on something we do then it is faith plus works, which is
soundly condemned by Paul in Galatians. If we can sin our way out of salvation or acquire faith on our
own, then we are giving man credit to save himself. This leaves room for boasting. Whether it is
acknowledged or not it still leaves room for it. An excellent article on this topic can be read here:
http://www.reformationtheology.com/2010/03/the_most_helpful_thing_i_ever.php

Apostasy
We are all aware of people that have fallen away as well as the passages in Scripture warning Christians of
the dangers of doing so. We first look at John’s explanation for those who do apostatize…

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would
have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

It is clear that John knew that those forsaking the faith were never truly saved to begin with. One of the
purposes of them leaving is to show that to be the case. Notice what he says about if they were truly
saved/regenerate believers- they would have remained! Staying faithful to the end is a sure sign that you are
truly elect and regenerate. Those who do not stay faithful, or who continue in sin because they know
Christians cannot be lost, are doing nothing more than revealing their true nature as unregenerate.

Hebrews 6 is a frequently cited passage to attack the doctrine of perseverance of the saints. We can see
from the passage that the ones being referred to have tasted of the heavenly gift, but not eaten. They were
partakers of the Holy Spirit, but not sealed. These are not born again men but rather non-Christians within
the church experiencing the benefits of being surrounded by godliness and holiness. Notice in verse 6
where it is mentioned that such a person after falling away cannot be brought back by repentance. I have
yet to hear of someone that believes you can lose your salvation and also believes you are not able to repent
again in order to be saved. Yet this is the only consistent interpretation available to those claiming Hebrews
6 to be an example of a Christian being able to lose salvation. We see the entire second half of the chapter
teaching that they are saved and can be assured of it because God does not revoke His promise. Remember
what was stated in Heb 3:12-14, specifically verse 14 where it says: “For we have become partakers of
Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end”. Present tense is being explained
by the past and future tenses. IF we hold fast, then we truly WERE partakers. Also Matt 7:21-23 shows that
you can have enlightenment (head knowledge), tasted of the spirit through “common grace” and have
spiritual talents through “common grace” but not be known by the father (saved). Hebrews 6 is truly a
passage Christians should look to for full assurance of being permanently saved.

Heb 6:9-20 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany
salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love
which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we
desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the
end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the
promises. For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore

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by Himself, saying, "I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU." And so,
having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with
them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to
show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by
two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have
strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a
forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

The author’s point is that we know we are saved because we are part of the promise in contrast to those in
the first 8 verses of the chapter. Remember in Romans 9 where Paul was making the point that it is the
children of the promise that are saved. This same theme is used here to assure the believers that it is
dependent on God to stay faithful, not us. To twist Hebrews 6 into anything other than full assurance of
salvation for believers is truly to wrest the text from its intended meaning.

Hebrews 6, along with the other warning passages, serve as the very means by which God keeps His saints
from stumbling and falling away. He warns in Scripture because that is where believers look for guidance.
However, their obedience to the command to persevere is still dependent on grace, which has been
promised to us. It is like a child that is near a cliff. A diligent parent would warn them by telling them “if
you go over the edge you will die”. The purpose is to keep the child from getting near the edge and falling
off. The parent would also hold the child back, of course, which is also exactly what God tells us He does
for us, as we saw cited above (“He is able to keep us from stumbling” Jude 1:24). The warning passages
about staying faithful serve the same purpose as the parent’s warning. They are descriptive, not
prescriptive. As pastor John Samson explains: “A true Christian NEEDS to endure. In fact, he MUST
endure…all the way to the end. But here’s the truth that helped me so much: Saving faith endures,
demonstrating it to be supernatural in its origin. The true Christian WILL endure. Matthew is describing
the character trait of the true saint, namely endurance. If you see someone endure to the end, it is the
evidence of the fact that they are a truly saved individual. The one enduring is a saved person.”

More on Hebrews 6 specifically here:


http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/02/biblical_reflections_on_hebrew.php
http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0075.htm

Often when we speak of falling away we mean more than periods of trial or temptation or even gross sin,
but rather complete and utter turning away from God. That is something a true Christian with a new nature
given through regeneration will never do. David may have fallen into great sin but his eternal salvation
remained secure in God's hands. David relies on God for faith, and that is how we are saved. We cannot sin
our way out of heaven just like our works cannot gain us entrance. We are not saved by works but by grace
alone through faith alone. And we have already seen that faith is a gift.

We are to make our calling and election sure through our faithfulness. A lack of faithfulness is the exact
opposite- a sure sign of not being chosen nor being amongst the elect.

2 Pet 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you
practice these qualities you will never fall.

There are many that say that believing in this doctrine leads to sin or a freedom to sin since we think there’s
no way of losing our salvation. They cynically call it “once saved, always saved” as if were some kind of
“easy-believe-ism”. But that could not be further from the truth. No Christian is looking for an excuse to
sin. We are not looking for a way around the law of God. This has not led to any increase of sin in our
lives, nor has it increased sin in the lives of anyone we know that believes it. We believe God saves us and
will keep us saved. It cannot be said too often, one who continues in sin or returns to a life of sin is doing
nothing more than revealing himself to never have been regenerate. It is exactly as John put it in the very
first verse that was cited for this section (1 John 2:19): They went out from us, but they were not really of
us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be
shown that they all are not of us. How can it be anymore clear that those that apostatize were never actually

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saved? It needs to be clearly understood- our works/our sanctification is a result of justification, not the
cause of it.

For more on this oft debated topic see here:


http://www.monergism.com/perseverance_of_the_saints_by.php
http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Assurance/Perseverance-of-the-Saints/
http://www.kingschurchaz.com/FallfromGrace.html
http://vintage.aomin.org/eternalsecurity.html

History
It would be nice to be able to spend time on the historical data to these doctrines as well since it is
incredibly relevant, but we could not possibly do it justice in this short space. So we’ll just mention some
quick items of note…the church dealt with these very issues early on. It has gone by many names but
monergism is the most accurate. It means there is one who works in salvation- God. This is opposed to
synergism that teaches that man must cooperate with the grace of God on his own in order to be saved.
Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism are forms of synergism that were both declared heretical by the 6th
century. Most Christians in America today are essentially semi-Pelagian and it would benefit anyone
addressing these topics to take church history into account while doing so. The Roman Catholic Church
slowly developed and gradually fell away from the correct monergistic understanding of salvation into a
synergistic model. Providentially, the reformation was used by God to recover the true biblical gospel and
this error was corrected. Followers of Jacob Arminius, called the remonstrance, raised 5 points of
contention against the doctrine of the reformers and a belief in synergistic salvation began to develop once
again. However, this time there was more than one denomination so it varied from church to church.
Today, you will find a synergistic understanding of salvation in nearly every unbiblical church and group
that denies sola scriptura. Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Arminians, Eastern Orthodox,
Perfectionists, Finney-ists and all other sorts teach a synergistic salvation involving man working together
with God to save himself. This is also the case in all man-made religions- that man must work somehow or
do something to obtain salvation. The issue in this debate and at the reformation was never if grace is
necessary; it was if grace is sufficient. The question is if the grace bestowed on us by God is effective to
overcome our sinful nature and change us into followers of God.

Also, we would be amiss to ignore the fact that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Nearly all the great
theologians, reformers, and preachers of the past have been in agreement on the doctrine of monergistic
salvation. Even the modern missionary movement was started by monergists. The puritans, pilgrims, and
founding fathers (those that were actually Christian) were likewise made up almost entirely of believers in
monergistic salvation. The names of the great men would be far too long to list here. But it is a near
guarantee that if you research a great man of church history you will find him to be an unashamed believer
in this same doctrine. The popularity of contrary doctrine is probably best explained by Westerners’
obsession with enlightenment principles of individualism and humanism, etc 4.

Balance
Pastor Phil Johnson approaches the tendency of many to approach these doctrines with an imaginary
middle ground stance: “I'm afraid too many people take that approach with the problem of discerning truth.
They take a dialectical approach, where you resolve every issue by seeking the middle ground between two
opposing extremes—as if you could combine an erroneous thesis and its equally erroneous antithesis and
come up with a synthesis that is somehow true.

It's not particularly helpful to think in such terms. While it's true that errors often exist at opposite extremes
on both sides of any given truth, you can't necessarily find the truth by starting with opposite errors and
searching for the via media between them.

I'm always a bit wary of people who seek the middle of the road on every issue. Have you noticed, for
example, that whenever the doctrine of election or the question of human "free will" comes up,
someone will invariably declare that he (or she) holds a position that is neither Calvinist nor

4
Thought from pastor Phil Johnson

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Arminian but is squarely in the middle of those two "extremes"? A lot of people seem to imagine that there
is some safe, logically-coherent, middle-road position where divine sovereignty and human responsibility
essentially cancel one another out.

Let's be honest: That claim is often employed in an effort to stop meaningful discussion rather than advance
it. Many people who take that approach simply don't want to work through the difficulties posed by the
tension between the gospel call and the sinner's inability, or between God's absolute sovereignty and His
wrath against sin. They imagine that if they take a position in the middle of the road and cover their eyes,
they can simply avoid all such problems altogether.

That's not a biblical way of thinking. Scripture (as well as true Calvinism) stresses both divine sovereignty
and human responsibility. The truth is not a midway point where neither emphasis is taught at all, but a
balanced doctrine where both sides of the truth are fully stressed.

The balance between Christian liberty and godly living is also like that. Don't look for a comfortable
midway point between legalism and license. There is no safe "middle road" between legalism and license.
In fact, legalism and license often go hand in hand and are found together, because they stem from the same
wrong view of sanctification. Legalism is often a smoke screen for carnal living. But New Testament
sanctification properly stresses both liberty and love for Christ; both freedom from the law and freedom
from sin; both emancipation from the bondage of our sinful flesh and slavery to righteousness as the only
way to enjoy our new life in the Spirit.

Most Christian doctrines achieve balance in a similar way. Forget the midway point on a continuum, the
fulcrum on a teeter-totter, and the yellow stripe in the middle of the road. When we speak of balancing
these two truths, the idea is more like two oars on a rowboat. Try to paddle a typical boat with the paddle
on one side only, and you will just go around in circles without making any progress. The harder you row
with one oar, the faster and tighter your circles will be. You'll never get anywhere spiritually unless you put
both oars in the water.” 5

It could not be said much better than that. The middle ground on this doctrine in salvation is non-existent.
As stated earlier, anyone who says differently is either dishonest or just untaught and unaware of the issues
at hand.

Conclusion

"As a private member of a church, I have no right to be a member of a church whose doctrines I do not
accept; indeed, I ought not to regard it as a possibility that I could remain to profess what I do not agree
with. I am responsible, as a member of a church, for all that is taught and all that is done by that church in
its church capacity; and if I am protesting in my heart, and yet in my proper person continue part and
parcel of that church, I am not acting truthfully to God." - Charles Spurgeon

We agree whole-heartedly with this statement. It should be clear how far the ACC doctrine is from the
correct biblical understanding. Simply by continuing to attend the ACC we felt we were acting as a pillar
for unbiblical teaching. We must believe what the Bible actually says, not what we want it to say. That is
the fact we must realize after reading through this doctrine clearly laid out in the Word. Often people see
what they expect to see and overlook what they do not want to see 6. A perfect example of this is
evolutionists’ looking right past the glories of God found in His creation. However, we are to fight this
mindset in order to submit wholly to the Word. What we are told in the Word is that salvation is 100%
God’s work from beginning to end. He gets all the glory and there is no room left for boasting. Ask
yourself “what is the difference between me and my neighbor who hears the gospel but does not believe”?
Are you better than he? Are you more submissive? Are you just luckier to have been raised in a Christian
home? Did God create you better or more godly somehow? Are you a better listener, more obedient, or
loving? Of course not! There is no good in us and the flesh profits nothing! Faith is not dependent on us. It

5
Article found here: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2010/05/spiritual-equilibrium.html
6
Thought from pastor John Macarthur

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is not something we render to God in exchange for salvation. It is all a gift of God! He is the difference, He
is the decider, He is the reason we are saved!

This doctrine is not fatalistic. Personally, it has changed our lives by improving our marriage and
increasing our personal holiness. The sanctification that has been brought about through growing in the
knowledge of who God is and how He has saved us was like being born again…again. This is always the
result of correctly understanding Scripture. You will grow. You will be sanctified. We are to grow in the
knowledge and understanding of God. This non-understanding of the Word, among other errors, is the
primary driver of our departure from the ACC. Leadership has repetitively attacked the clarity of Scripture
on all the issues mentioned above. There is a strange willingness to take small unimportant parts of
Scripture absolutely literally like the holy kiss or the head covering, while the passages cited will not ever
be taken literally. Therefore, weighty matters of doctrine are ignored and overlooked. They use some
mystical idea of mystery for everything they are unwilling to address in regards to theology. The leadership
has fostered an environment that embraces ignorance and lacks teaching (Samuel Froehlich himself went to
seminary). We have not even touched on the enormous danger of untaught men giving unprepared sermons.
It’s like the blind leading the blind, forsaking their duty to shepherd the flock through biblical teaching for
a plethora of excuses about seminary or more inspired preaching through un-preparedness. We again see
the crutch of what can only be called mysticism used for preaching and even the marriage system. It is
treated as if we are to have some mystical leading in the opening of the Bible to certain passages as if not
knowing ahead of time leads to more Spirit driven sermons. It is the same approach for marriage- like God
is supposed to mystically confirm His secret will of who our spouse might be as if knowing them less and
not speaking to them is more faith-based. This is nonsense and even more important completely unbiblical.
This great lack of understanding and lack of proper teaching has led to members not knowing about or even
caring about doctrine. They typically run from a discussion on theology. This inevitably further leads to
nominal Christianity that is inwardly focused and tradition oriented rather than biblically oriented.

The most dangerous threats to the church today are not so much the liberals and atheists who make outright
and obvious attacks against scriptural authority. Rather it is the church leaders who appear friendly, gentle,
and genuine all the while destroying the foundations of the faith by refusing to address contrary biblical
passages under the pretext of avoiding division. We see the AC leadership borrowing from liberal and
postmodern thinking/methodology in order to avoid some of the hard truths of scripture. This has
conditioned the members to consider careful and studious handling of doctrine as both unimportant and
even divisive. Beware of the leaders more concerned with pragmatic results and people’s reaction more
than the necessity of affirming all truths found in Scripture. More than likely, the AC member who shows
signs of doctrinal definition and passion is looked at with suspicion or disdain by a leadership that has
deliberately made understanding of major issues and texts cloudy and confusing. In reality, true unity and
harmony cannot exist in a church when the common commitment is to practice, tradition, and heritage in
place of sound adherence to biblical models and doctrine 7. This is clearly a hard sin to admit to and
possibly even more difficult to correct.

It is our prayer that the leadership will have their eyes opened to the truths of the Word and the beauty and
majesty of biblical monergistic salvation. We pray that those in leadership would have the courage to stand
against the false teachings and unbiblical practices so prevalent in the ACC. We pray those seeking a deep
understanding of God and Scripture would stop giving more honor and weightiness to the leadership and
traditions than they do the Word. We pray that those raising questions of inconsistency and incorrect
interpretation would not continue to be bullied or falsely accused of creating unnecessary division. We also
pray that Scripture will no longer be relegated to a low level of not being able to be understood or fully
reconciled with itself. Ultimately, we pray that truth would prevail over the errors of men.

Doctrine matters. Theology matters. More than we will ever know.

Jonah 2:9 Salvation is of the LORD

7
Paragraph derived, but not directly quoted, from article by pastor Phil Johnson found here: http://www.9marks.org/ejournal/neo-
liberal-stealth-offensive

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