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Category: Defending the Faith

Why is Election Unconditional (Guest Post by the Rev. Lasaro Flores)

Why is Election Unconditional (Guest Post by the Rev. Lasaro Flores)

We welcome a new visiting professor in this article. The Reverend Lasaro Flores, a dear friend of Pastor Matt presents us with a biblical look at why God’s Election of Sinners to Salvation is and MUST be unconditional…


Of course, in this article I’m dealing with God’s Election of sinners for Salvation. Both doctrines are involved, and include, God’s Grace. In Romans 11:5 it is called “the election of grace.” It goes without saying that Salvation is “by grace” (Ephesians 2:5,8). As most Christians accept that “grace” has the meaning of ‘unmerited and undeserved favor;’ therefore, on connecting “grace” with Election and Salvation, it simply means that God “elects” and “saves” us FREELY by His Grace! Therefore, BOTH are UNCONDITIONAL!!! If this is not true, then, it would mean that our Election and Salvation would depend on us sinners doing something “conditionally” in order for God to Elect and to Save us! In that case, we would have to throw out God’s Grace (and I say this reverently), out the window!

FIRST, here I would like to deal with Why Is Salvation Unconditional? Well, simply because we sinners are saved by God’s Grace; and NOT by anything that we do as a “condition” by which God has to save us. Ephesians 2:5,8 makes it very clear that we are “saved by grace.” Therefore, we can say without any doubt whatsoever that “we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved” (Acts 15:11); “for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11); and here “has appeared to all men” simply means God’s “so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3) has ‘shine upon, that is, become (literally) visible or (figuratively) known’ to all human beings wherever the Gospel is proclaimed, and is heard by anyone. But we have to say that absolutely NOT every sinner in the world “hears” the Gospel; and therefore, they die “having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12); and without the Grace of God they remain in the same state into eternity. Furthermore, it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Note that our salvation is ALL of God’s doing, that is, God saving us because it pleases Him! HALLELUJAH!

Therefore, since God’s Grace means that He ‘freely saves us by doing us the favor of saving us even though we don’t deserve to be saved,’ it is UNCONDITIONAL from FIRST to LAST, in that God “who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). How much more does this proves that our Salvation is UNCONDITIONAL in that we didn’t even exist when it was “given”to us; but it was “reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4) for that particular moment in which He would save us UNCONDITIONALLY “by His Grace!!!” Therefore,to deny that our Salvation IS NOT by God’s Grace ALONE through Faith ALONE in the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE, and His Redemption provided by Him, is to say that God CANNOT, or is UNABLE save the “first” of sinners; but has to depend on the sinner for God to save him!

SECONDLY, let us consider with Why Is Election Unconditional? Note that it is stated God “has chosen us in Him (i.e. in Christ) BEFORE the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, in love having predestinated us into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He has made us accepted in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:4-5). Here we see Election and Salvation connected together in Christ Jesus to ALL that are Unconditionally Chosen in Christ in that God does it ALL Unconditionally; in other words, there are no “conditions” for us to fulfill and accomplish, in that it is ALL done by “the God of ALL grace” (1 Peter 5:10) as He pleases!!! Amen.

THIRDLY, it folows then, that, we are to be grateful that God has chosen us to be saved. The apostle Paul reminds the believers of the church of Thessalonica that “we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning CHOSEN YOU TO SALVATION through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: into which He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). The word here “chosen” is different than the one on Ephesians 1:4, which means ‘to select.’ Here it is ‘to take one for oneself, that is, prefer.’ Oh, how that should humble us to know that God chose us to be saved because He DETERMINED to take us for Himself, that is, preferred to choose us for salvation simply because it pleased Him to do so UNCONDITIONALLY!

FOURTHLY, our Election to Salvation was NOT dependent on anything of ourselves, or from ourselves: IT WAS ALL IN CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF IN WHOM WE ARE CHOSEN TO BE SAVED!!! What does this mean? God didn’t look to us, or “depend” on us, in order to be Elected or Saved! In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ IS the Elect of God (Isaiah 42:1): “Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles” (cp. 1 Peter 2:4,6). As the Lord Jesus Christ IS the Elect of God from Eternity, and so in Him God chose ALL of His Elect (Ephesians 1:4) to “be holy and without blame before Him” in that God has made ALL the Elect “in Christ Jesus,” to be “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). Amen.

FIFTHLY, in closing let me say this: Election and Salvation IS NOT APART from “testifying the Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24); and so the ALL of the Elect will be saved by the means of hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have to hear that Christ Jesus died for sinners on the Cross and resurrected bodily from the Grave. They have to hear that is demanded “Repentance toward God, and Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21); as He Himself declares: “Repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). So, in asking: “What must I do be saved?” (Acts 16:30); the Scriptural response will be: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and YOU shall be saved…” (v.31); and ALL by Grace ALONE through Faith ALONE in the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE: ALL to the Glory of God ALONE!!! HALLELUJAH!!! Amen.

The New Covenant (guest post)

The New Covenant (guest post)

The following is a guest post from our favorite guest, James Quiggle

The New Covenant

Proposition One: there is a New covenant yet to be inaugurated between YHWH and national ethnic Israel.

Predicted. Jeremiah 31:31–34.

Yet future, “The days are coming.” The most likely timing is the Davidic-Messianic-Millennial Kingdom.

Not yet effective for national ethnic Israel, Romans 11:26–27.

Only with national ethnic Israel: house of Israel; house of Judah.

Unlike the Mosaic Covenant, which Israel could not keep.

A covenant YHWH keeps: “And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

A covenant of salvation: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts”; “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

An individual salvific relationship with YHWH. “They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares YHWH.”

The Holy Spirit indwelling implied. “No longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord.’”

Proposition Two: There is a New covenant currently in effect for the New Testament church.

Stated. Hebrews 10:16–17.

Predicted. John 3:3, 5, 6, 8; 14:25; 15:26.

Fulfilled. John 20:22; Acts 2:3; 1 Corinthians 6:19.

The New covenant for the NT church is made in Christ’s propitiation (i.e., his eternal high priesthood). Hebrews 2:10–17; 7:11–28; 10:5–14.

A covenant of salvation: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts”; “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

An individual salvific relationship with YHWH. They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares YHWH.”

The Holy Spirit indwelling stated, John 14:25; 15:26; 1 Corinthians 6:19, et al. “No longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord.’” The New Testament church is indwelt by the Holy Spirit now. National Ethnic will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit in the Davidic-Messianic-Millennial Kingdom.

Now in effect for saved Hebrew and gentile, i.e., the New Testament church. Hebrews 10:19–21. Not now in effect for national ethnic Israel.

Dispensational principle: National ethnic Israel and the New Testament church are two separate and independent people groups in God’s purpose, plans, and processes, though they have intertwining destinies. The New Testament church is not part of or an adjunct of national ethnic Israel, nor a participant in the kingdom or land covenants, nor a participant in most provisions of the Abrahamic covenant.

There is nothing contrary to Scripture preventing each people group from having an independent New covenant relationship with God in Christ, currently active for the New Testament church, yet-future for national ethnic Israel.

That the provisions of a New covenant are currently active for the New Testament church but not active for national ethnic Israel argues two independent covenants. The similarities are adequately explained by God’s purposes for both groups.

Conclusion: the yet-future New covenant stated in Jeremiah is not the New covenant regulating the New Testament believer’s relationship with God in Christ. They are similar, because God’s purpose is both salvific and fellowship with all his saved people. They are not the same because a) one is not in effect; b) one is in effect; c) the New Testament church is not Israel.

For contrary arguments see, Miles, “What is Dispensationalism,” pages 114–119.

1 John 2:2 and Calvinism

1 John 2:2 and Calvinism

While discussing Calvinism with a colleague, 1 John 2:2 came up.

Here is the text of the verse before we consider…

 “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

It has been said that this verse poses a problem for Calvinism but I disagree. The text clearly demonstrates that anyone who wants to can be saved. What it does not address is the question of who wants to be saved.

We tend to overthink matters and thereby complicate things. Does Scripture teach Divine Election?  Yes. Does the Scripture teach that man is responsible for his sin? Yes. Does the Scripture teach that only the Elect are saved? Yes. Does the Scripture teach us who comprises the Elect? NO!! Therein lies the problem with being too rigid in certain systems. God does not make a habit of revealing anything more than we need to know. Therefore we get in trouble if we go further than He has revealed and presume to know that which is not our business.

1 John 2:2 is not a problem for Calvinists any more than it is a proof of Arminianism. It is simply a fact laid out in Scripture. Here is the fact: The penal substitutionary atoning death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is absolutely sufficient for anyone that wants to be saved. This particular verse does not speak to who it is that would want to be saved and there need not be any controversy over the verse. In fact the only reason there is a controversy is that humand create one where one need not exist.

Declaration of Faith of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association (1845)

Declaration of Faith of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association (1845)


We believe the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; 1 that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, 2 and truth without any mixture of error for its matter; 3 that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; 4 and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true centre of Christian union,5 and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions, should be tried. 6

Places in the Bible where taught.

1 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Also 2 Pet. i. 31. 2 Sam. xxiii. 2. Acts i. 16 ; iii. 21. John x. 35. Luke xvi. 29- 31. Ps. cxix. cxi. Rom. iii. 1, 2.

2 2 Tim. iii. 15: Able to make thee wise unto salvation. Also 1 Pet. i. 10-12. Acts xi. 14. Rom. i. 16. Mark xvi. 16. John v. 34-39.

3 Prov. xxx. 5, 6: Every word of God is pure. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Also John xvii. 17. Rev. xxii. 18, 19. Rom. iii. 4.

4 Rom. ii. 12: As many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law. John xii. 47, 48: If any man hear my words — the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. Also 1 Cor. iv. 3, 4. Luke x. 10-16 ; xii. 47, 48.

5 Phil. iii. 16: Let us walk by the same rule; let us mind the same thing. Also Ephes. iv. 3-6. Phil. ii. 1, 2. 1 Cor. i. 10. 1 Pet. iv. 11.

6 I John iv. 1: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God. Isaiah viii. 20: To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 1 Thess. v. 21: Prove all things. 2 Cor. xiii. 5: Prove your own selves. Also Acts xvii. 11. 1 John iv. 6. Jude 3d v. Ephes. vi. 17. Ps. cxix. 59, 60. Phil. i. 9-11.


That there is one, and only one, true and living God, whose name is Jehovah, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth;* inexpressibly glorious in holiness;** worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love;*** revealed under the personal and relative distinctions of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost****equal in every divine perfection,***** and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.******

Places in the Bible where taught.

* Ps. Ixxxiii. 18: Thou whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth. Heb. iii. 4. Rom. i. 20. Jer. x. 10.

** Ex. xv. 11: Who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness? Isai. vi. 3. 1 Pet. i. 15, 16. Rev. iv. 6- 8.

*** Mark xii. 30: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. Rev. iv. 11: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Mat x. 37. Jer. ii. 12, 13.

**** Mat. xxviii. 19: Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. John xv. 26: When the Comforter is come, whom I will send you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. 1 Cor. xii. 4-6. 1 John v. 7.

***** John x. 30: I and my Father are one. John v. 17; xiv. 23. Acts v. 3, 4. 1 Cor. iii. 10, 11.

****** Ephes. ii. 18: For through Him [the Son] we both have an access by one Spirit unto the Father. 2 Cor. ii. 14: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Rev. i. 4, 5.


That man was created in a state of holiness, under the law of his maker;1 but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state it in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners,** not by constraint but choice;*** being by nature utterly void of that holiness required

by the law of God, wholly given to the gratification of the world, of Satan, and of their own sinful passions, and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin,**** without defense or excuse.*****

Places in the Bible where taught.

1 Gen. i. 27: God created man in his own image: Gen. i. 31: And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Ec. vii. 29. Acts xvii. 20. Gen. ii. 16.

** Gen. iii. 6-24: And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise; she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat; therefore the Lord God drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Rom. v. 12.

*** Rom. v. 19: By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners. John iii. 6, Ps. Ii. 5. Rom. v. 15-19; viii.7.

*** Isai. liii. 6: We have turned, every one to his own way: Gen. vi. 12. Rom. iii. 9-18.

**** Ephes. ii. 1-3: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath even as others. Rom. i. 18: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Rom. i. 32. Gal. iii. 10. Mat. xxv. 41. Rev. xx. 15.

***** Ez. xviii. 19, 20: Yet say ye, Why ? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? — the soul that sinneth it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. Rom. i. 20: So that they are without excuse. Rom. iii. 19: That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Gal. iii. 22.


That the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace,* through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God,** who took upon him our nature yet without sin:*** honored the law by his personal obedience, **** and made atonement for our sins by his death;***** being risen from the dead he is now enthroned in heaven,****** and uniting in his wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfections, is every way qualified to be a suitable; a compassionate, and an all- sufficient Savior.*******

Places in the Bible where taught.

* Ephes. ii. 5: By grace ye are saved. Mat. xviii. 11. 1 John iv. 10. 1 Cor. iii. 5-7. Acts xv. 11.

** John iii. 16: 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. John i. 1-14. Heb. iv. 14 ; xii. 24.

*** Phil. ii. 6, 7 Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God ; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. Heb. ii. 9 ; ii. 14. 2 Cor. viii. 9.

**** Isaiah xlii. 21: The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable. Phil. ii. 8 Gal. iv. 4, 5. Rom. iii. 21.

***** Isaiah liii. 4: He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Mat. xx. 28. Rom. iv. 25 ; iii. 21-26. 1 John iv. 10 ; ii. 2. 1 Cor. xv. 1-3. Heb. ix. 13-15.

****** Heb. i. 8: Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever. Heb. i. 3 ; viii. 3. Col. iii. 1-4.

******* Heb. vii. 25: Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Col. ii. 9: For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Heb. ii. 18 : In that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted. Heb. vii. 26. Ps. lxxxix. 19. Ps. xlv.


That the great gospel blessing which Christ of his fulness,* bestows on such as believe in him is justification;** that justification consists in the pardon of sin***and the promise of eternal life, on principles of righteousness**** that it is bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done,***** but solely through his own redemption and righteousness; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity.******

Places in the Bible where taught.

* John i. 16: Of his fullness have we all received. Ephes. iii. 8. i Acts xiii. 39: By him all that believe are justified from all things. Isaiah liii. 11. Rom. viii. 1.

** Rom. v. 9: Being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. Zech. xiii. 1. Mat. ix. 6. Acts x. 43.

*** Rom. v. 17: They which receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, 6hall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Titus iii. 5, 6. 1 Pet. iii. 7. 1 John ii. 25. Rom. v. 21.

**** Rom. iv. 4, 5: Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Rom. v. 21 ; vi. 23. Phil. iii. 7-9.

***** Rom. v. 19: By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Rom. iii. 24-26. 1 John ii. 12.

****** Rom. v. 1, 2: Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ ; by whom also we have access by faith into his grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Rom. v. 3: We glory in tribulations also. Rom. v. 11: We also joy in God. 1 Cor. i. 30. Mat. vi. 36. 1 Tim. iv. 8.


That the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel;* that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by a cordial and obedient faith,** and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth, except his own voluntary refusal to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ;*** which refusal will subject him to an aggravated condemnation.****

Places in the Bible where taught.

* Rev. xxii. 17: Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely. Isaiah lv. 1. Luke xiv. 17.

** Rom. xvi. 26: The gospel, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. Mark i. 15. Rom. i. 15, 17.

*** John v. 40: Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life. Matt, xxiii. 37. Rom. ix. 32. Prov. i. 24. Acts xiii. 46.

**** John iii. 19: And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Mat. xi. 20. Luke xix. 27. 2 Thess. i. 8.


That in order to be saved, we must be regenerated or born again;* that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind;** and is effected in a manner above our comprehension or calculation,*** by the power of the Holy Spirit, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; **** and that its proper evidence is found in the holy fruit which we bring forth to the glory of God.*****

Places in the Bible where taught.

* John iii. 3: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John iii. 7. Rev. xxi. 27.

** Cor. v. 20 : If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Ez. xxxvi. 26. Deut. xxx. 6. Rom. ii. 28, 29 ; v. 5. -1 John iv. 7.

*** John iii. 8: The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit. John i 13. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. James i. 16-18. 1 Cor. i. 30. Phil. ii. 13.

**** 1 Pet. xxii. 25: Ye have purified your hearts by obeying the truth through the Spirit. 1 John v. 1. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Ephes. iv. 20-24- Col. iii. 9-11.

***** Ephes. v. 9: The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth. Rom. viii. 9. Gal. v. 16-23. Ephes. iii. 14-21.


That election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which he regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners;* that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end;** that it is a most glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, being infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable;**** that it utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of his free mercy;***** that it encourages the use of means in the highest degree;****** that it is ascertained by its effects in all who believe the Gospels is the foundation of Christian assurance;******* and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves, demands and deserves our utmost diligence.********

Places in the Bible where taught.

* 2 Tim. i. 8, 6: Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God; who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Ephes. i. 3-14. 1 Pet. i. 1, 2. Rom xi. 5, 6. John xv. 16. 1 John iv. 19. Hos. xii. 9.

** 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14: But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation, through sanctification of the spirit, and belief of the truth; whereunto he also called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts xiii. 48. John x. 16. Mat. xx. 16. Acts xv. 14.

*** Ex. xxxiii. 18, 19 : And Moses said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And He said, I will cause all my goodness to pass be fore thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee ; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. Mat. xx. 15: Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own ? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? Eph. i. 11. Rom. ix. 23, 24. Jer. xxxi. 3. Rom. xi. 28, 29. James i. 17, 18. 2 Tim. ii. 9. Rom. xi. 32-36.

**** 1 Cor. iv. 7: For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? 1 Cor. i. 26-31. Rom. iii. 27; iv. 16. Col. iii. 12. 1 Cor. iii. 5-7; xv. 10. 1 Pet v. 10. Acts i. 24.

1 Thess. ii. 13. 1 Pet. ii. 9. Luke xviii. 7. John xv. 16. Ephes. i. 16. 1 Thess. ii. 12.

**** 2 Tim. 10: Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 1 Cor. ix. 22. I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Rom. viii. 28-30. John vi. 37-40. 2 Pet. i. 10.

***** 1 Thess. i. 4-10: Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God : for our Gospel came unto you, not in word only, but in power, etc .

****** Rom. viii. 28-39: Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? if God be for us, who can be against us ? Isaiah, xiii. 16. Rom. xi. 29.

******* 2 Pet. i. 10: Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Phil. iii. 12. Heb. vi. 11.


That such only are real believers as endure unto the end;* that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors;** that a special Providence watches over their welfare,*** and they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.****

Places in the Bible where taught.

* John viii. 31: Then said Jesus, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. 1 John ii. 27, 28; iii. 9; v. 18.

** 1 John ii. 19: They went out from us, but they were not of us ; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out that it might be made manifest that they were not all of us. John xiii. 18. Matt. xiii. 20, 21. John vi. 66-69.

*** Rom. viii. 28: And we know that all things work together for good unto them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose. Mat. vi. 30-33. Jer. xxxii. 40. Ps. xci. 11, 12; cxxi. 3.

**** Phil. i. 6: He who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Phil. ii. 12, 13. Jude 24, 25. Heb. i. 14. 2 Kings vi. 16. Heb. xiii. 6. 1 John iv. 4.


That the law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of his moral government,* that it is holy, just, and good;** and that the inability which the Scriptures ascribe to fallen men to fulfil its precepts, arises entirely from their love of sin;*** to deliver them from which, and to restore

them through a mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy law, is one great end of the Gospel, and of the means of grace connected with the establishment of the visible church.****

Places in the Bible where taught.

* Rom. iii. 21: Do we make void the law through faith ? God forbid. Yea, we establish the law. Mat. v. 17. Luke xvi. 17. Rom. iii. 20 ; iv. 15.

** Rom vii. 12 : The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good, Rom. vii. 7, 14, 22. Gal. iii. 21. Ps. cxix. t Rom. viii. 7, 8: The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Josh. xxiv. 19. Jer. xiii. 23. John vi. 44; v. 44.

*** Rom. viii. 2-4: For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Rom. x. 4. 1 Tim. i. 5. Heb. viii. 10. Jude 20, 21. Heb. xii. 14.


That a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers,* associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel;** observing the ordinances of Christ;*** governed by his laws**** and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by his word;***** that its only proper officers are bishops or pastors, and deacons,****** whose qualifications, claims, and duties, are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus.

Places in the Bible where taught.

* 1 Cor. i. 1-13: Paul, (unto the church of God which is at Corinth,) Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? Mat. xviii. 17. Acts v. 11; viii. 1; xi. 26. 1 Cor. iv. 17; xiv. 23. 3 John 9. 1 Tim. iii. 6.

** Acts ii. 41, 42: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls: 2 Cor. viii. 5: They first gave their ownselves to the Lord, and then unto us by the will of God. Acts ii. 47. 1 Cor. v. 12, 13.

*** 1 Cor. xi. 2: Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I delivered them unto you. 2 These, iii. 6. Rom. xvi. 17-20. 1 Cor. xi. 23. Mat. xviii. 15- 20. 1 Cor. 5 and 6. 2 Cor. 2 and 7. 1 Cor. iv. 17. i

**** Mat. xxviii. 20: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. John xiv. 15; xv. 12. 1 John iv. 21; John xiv. 21. 1 Thess. iv. 2. 2 John vi. Gal. vi. 2. All the Epistles.

***** Ephes. iv. 7: Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 1 Cor. xv. 12: Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Phil. i. 27: That I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel. 1 Cor. 12. 1 Cor. 14.

****** Phil. i 1: With the bishops and deacons. Acts xiv. 23. Acts xv. 22. I Tim. 3. Titus 1.


That Christian baptism is .the immersion of a believer in water,* in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit;** to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem our faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, with its purifying power;*** that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation, and to the Lord’s Supper,**** in which the members of the church, by the use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ;***** preceded always by solemn self-examination.******

Places in the Bible where taught.

* Acts viii. 36-39: And the eunuch said, See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized ? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest. And they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. Mat. iii. 5, 6. John iii. 22, 23. John iv. 1, 2. Mat. xxviii. 19. Mark xvi. 16. Acts ii. 38; viii. 12; xvi. 32-34; xviii. 8.

** Mat. xxviii. 19: Baptizing them” in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Acts x. 47, 48. Gal. iii. 27, 28.

*** Rom. vi. 1-14: Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Col. ii. 12. 1 Pet. iii. 20, 21. Acts xxii. 16.

**** Acts ii. 41, 42: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized, and there were added to them, the same day, about three thousand souls: And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers. Mat. xxviii. 19, 20. Acts and Epistles.

***** 1 Cor. xi 26: As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the Lord’s death till he come. Mat. xxvi. 26-29 Mark xiv. 22-25. Luke xxii. 14-21.

****** 1 Cor. xi. 28: But let it man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 1 Cor. v. 7, 8 ; x. 3-32 ; xi. 17-32. John vi. 26-71.


That the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day, or Christian Sabbath,* and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes,** by abstaining from all secular labor and recreations;*** by the devout

observance of all the means of grace, both private**** and public***** and by preparation for that rest****** which remaineth for the people of God.

Places in the Bible where taught.

*Acts xx. 7: On the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them. Gen. ii. 3. Col. ii. 16, 17. Mark ii. 27. John xx. 19. 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2.

** Ex. xx. 8: Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Rev. i. 10: I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day. Ps. cxviii 24: This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.

*** Isai. lviii. 13, 14: If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord honorable; and shall honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasures, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight in the Lord, and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob. Isai. Ivi. 2-8.

**** Ps. cxviii. 15: The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacle of the righteous.

***** Heb. x. 24, 25: Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is. Acts xi. 26: A whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. Acts xiii. 44: The next Sabbath Day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. Lev. xix. 30. Ez. xlvi. 3. Luke iv. 16. Acts xvii, 2, 3. Ps. xxvi. 8; Ixxxvii. 2.

****** Heb. iv. 3-11 : Let us labor, therefore, to enter into that rest.


That civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society;* and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored, and obeyed,** except in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ,*** who is the only lord of the conscience, and the prince of the kings of the earth.****

Places in the Bible where taught.

* Rom. xiii. 1-7: The powers that be are ordained of God. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Dent. xvi, 18. 2 Sam. xxiii. 3. Ex. xviii. 23. Jer. xxx. 21.

** Mat. xxii. 21: Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s. Titus iii. 1. 1 Peter ii. 13. 1 Tim. ii. 1-8.

***Acts v. 29: We ought to obey God rather than man. Mat. x. 28. Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. Dan. iii. 15-18; vi. 7-10. Acts iv. 18-20.

****Mat. xxiii. 10: Ye have one master, even Christ. Rom. xiv. 4: Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? Rev. xix. 16: And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written King, of kings and Lord of lords. Psalm ii; Ixxii. 11. Rom. xiv. 9-13.


That there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked;* that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the spirit of our God, are truly righteous in his esteem,** while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked, and under the curse;*** and this distinction holds among men both in and after death.****

Places in the Bible where taught.

* Mal. iii. 18: Ye shall discern between the righteous and the wicked ; between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. Isai. v. 20. Gen. xviii. 23. Jer. xv. 19. Acts x. 34, 85. Rom. vi. 16.

*** Rom. i. 17: The just shall live by faith. Rom. vi. 18: We are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. 1 John ii 29: If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. 1 John iii. 7. Rom. vi. 18-22. 1 Cor. xi. 32. Prov. xi. 31. 1 Peter iv. 17, 18.

*** 1 John v. 19: And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. Gal. iii. 10 : As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse. John iii. 36. Isaiah lvii. 21. Ps. x. 4. Isaiah lv. 6, 7.

**** Prov. xiv. 32: The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death. See, also, the example of the rich man and Lazarus. . Luke xvi. 25: Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and thou art tormented. John viii. 21-24. Prov. x. 24. Luke xii. 4, 5; ix. 23-26. John xii. 26, 26. Eccl. iii. 17. Mat. vii. 13, 14.


That the end of this world is approaching;* that at the last day Christ will descend from heaven,* and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution;* that a solemn separation will then take place**** that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy;*****and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness.******

Places in the Bible where taught.

* 1 Peter iv. 7: But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 1 Cor. vii. 29-31. Heb. i. 10- 12. Mat. xxiv. 35. 1 John ii. 17. Mat. xxviii. 20; xiii. 39; xiii. 49. 2 Peter iii. 3-13.

** Acts i. 11: This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Rev. i. 7. Heb. ix. 28. Acts iii. 21. 1 Thess. iv. 13- 18, v. 1-11.

*** Acts xxiv. 15: There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 1 Cor. xv. 12-59. Luke xiv. 14. Dan. xii. 2. John v. 28, 29; vi. 40; xi. 25, 26. 2 Tim. i. 10. Acts x. 42.

**** Mat. xiii. 49: The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked, from among the just. Mat. xiii. 37-43; xxiv. 30, 31; xxv. 27-33

***** Mat. xxv. 35-46: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. Rev. xxii. 11: He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Mark ix. 43-48. 2 Peter ii. 9, 10. Jude 7. Phil. iii. 19. Rom. vi. 22. 2 Cor. v. 10, 11. John iv. 36. 2 Cor. iv. 18.

****** Rom. iii. 5, 6 : Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance ? (I speak as a man). God forbid; for how then shall God judge the world? 2 Thess. i. 6-10. Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them who trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us — when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. Heb. vi. 1, 2. 1 Cor. iv. 5. Acts xvii. 31. Rom. ii. 2-16. Rev. xx. 11, 12. 1 John ii. 8; iv. 17.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God ?
2 Peter iii. 11-12.

The following churches were represented:

Churches. Counties. 6. Mount Olive* Chatham. 7. Love’s Creek… Chatham. 8. May’s Chapel . .. . 9 . Mount Zion 10 . Mount Carmel . . . 11. Mount Gilead 12. Mineral Spring.. 13 . Pleasant Grove . . Chatham . Orange . ., Orange. ., Chatham . . Chatham . Chatham . , Chatham . . Chatham . . Chatham . Randolph . Orange . . Chatham . 8 67 10 66 2 172 3 43 2 127 65 1 80 43 Names of Delegates. ( Elder Levi Andrews . < William Gean (William Robertson. ( Daniel Hackney . . . . < John Lambert ( D. Murchison (J. W. Stedman . 1 William Burns ( Sherwood White . . . ( David Patterson . < David Johnson ( Samuel Barker ( Eloer W. H. Merritt , 1 John Hutchins ( William G. Weaver. (William Griffin .? A. G. Hinton ( H. J. Stone f. Samuel Dowd . < James Cmtchfield . . ( William Culberson . ( Augustus W. Bynum . 1 Kelleo Mitchell . . . < Allen Ellis ( John Dark 14 . Beave’s Chapel . . . 1 Eli Webster ; 1 105 (John R. Marsh (William H. Bridges. 15. Rocky River …. . < Henry Dorsett 8 63 ( Elder Wm. Lineberry ( John Thompson …. 16. Bock Spring < E. A. Moore 3 47 ( Stephen Moore ( Leander York …. 17. Sandy Creek . < Solomon S. Siler. 1 75 ( William Reece . . . ( Hasten Poe 18. Sandy Field…. . 2 Ruffin Andrews . . 37 112 ( Neverson Cates . .

( James S. Lasater. 19. Gum Spring . < James Gross 19 125 ( Abner Lasater . . . * Formerly Lick Creek. No. Churches. Counties. …..m,.* .v …/l(.r,fi.-:f …. ^, v JElisha Cagle ) 20 Mechanic’s Hill, Asa Williamson >• 1 38 B. P. Person ) 21. Fall Creek Chatham Alston Jones ». Bethlehem Moore { JJ£ ^awhorn. . . . J j „ ( Spencer Dorsett ) 23. Cedar Falls Randolph .? Matthew Sumner. . . > 2 16 ( James F. Marsh ) 146 1660 In 1846, this body met at Love’s Creek M. H., Chat

A History of the Sandy Creek Association, from its Organization in A.D. 1758 to A.D. 1858, by Elder George W. Purefoy, (New York: Sheldon and Company, 1859), 199-213

The Believer and the Law

The Believer and the Law

(Guest Post by James Quiggle ThM)

What is the believer’s relation to “The Law?” The apostle Paul said the New Testament believer is “not under law but under grace,” Romans 6:14. But then Paul said he was “not being without law to God but within law to Christ,” 1 Corinthians 9:21. Paul said, “The law is good if one uses it lawfully,” 1 Timothy 1:8, and “the law is holy,” Romans 7:12, and “the law is spiritual,” Romans 7:16. How do we resolve this seeming contradiction, as being not under law but not without law?

When Paul says the believer is “not under law,” he is speaking of the Mosaic Law—specifically the way his unsaved Jewish brethren used the Mosaic Law. The Judaism of New Testament times viewed obedience to the Mosaic Law as the only way to obtain the kind of righteousness that resulted in a saving relationship with God. Every negative use of “law” in the New Testament is a reference to this view of righteousness gained through obedience to the Mosaic Law. Paul specifically says this at Romans 9:31–32, “Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.” Paul’s statement at Ephesians 2:9, that salvation is “not of works” is partly a reference to the Jewish effort to obtain salvation through “works of the [Mosaic] law.” (The Gentiles had a similar view of obedience to their gods as the way to pagan heaven.)

What was the real purpose of the Mosaic Law? There are three aspects to the Mosaic Law. First, the Mosaic Law revealed God’s values through its precepts. These are the values by which human beings are to conduct their manner of life. Notice I did not say “these are the commandments” but “these are the values,” because some of the commandments do not make sense in these New Testament times, but the values and principles underlying the commandments remain valid. God’s moral values from the Mosaic Law are repeated in the New Testament—what some call the Law of Christ. God’s moral values do not change, therefore obedience to those values is still required.

Second, the Mosaic Law was a moral guide to protect God’s saved people from the destructive power of sin. “The [Mosaic] law is holy, the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12). “Before faith we were kept under guard by the [Mosaic] law . . . the [Mosaic] law was our paidagōgós to bring us to Christ,” (Galatians 3:23, 24). The paidagōgós was originally a slave who accompanied the adolescent minor heir when he left the security of the home, whose purpose was to protect the heir morally and physically. One of the more frequent trips was to the school house (in modern terms) and thus the paidagōgós became identified with this frequent task. The original meaning is exactly what Paul has said, “kept under guard” by the Mosaic law.

Third, the Mosaic Law condemned the sinner by revealing his or her sin. The Mosaic Law is “a ministry of death” and a “ministry of condemnation” (2 Corinthians 3:7, 9). And Romans 7:13, “But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good,” the Mosaic Law, 7:12,  “so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.”  “I would not have known sin,” said Paul (Romans 7:7), “except through the [Mosaic] law.”

So, when Paul speaks of “the law,” he is usually referring to the Mosaic Law. The New Testament believer is “not under the Mosaic law but under grace,” Romans 6:14. But is the New Testament believer without law? No. We saw above Paul said he was “not being without law to God but within law to Christ,” 1 Corinthians 9:21. The believer has been set free from the condemnation of the Mosaic Law, but obedience to the moral values the Mosaic Law expresses are still required of the believer. The believer has been set free from the worldly pursuit of righteousness and salvation through the works required by the Mosaic Law. But the believer is not free to sin because under grace, Romans 7:15. Rather, there is still a law the believer must obey—not to gain righteousness, but as the expression of righteousness received.

No careful reader of the New Testament letters can fail to be impressed by the commandments to moral behavior. For example, Paul repeats the second table of the Ten Commandments at Romans 13:9 as required of the believer—he even quotes Leviticus 19:18 as a requirement for obedience, noting that love of one’s neighbor incorporates doing the commandments. The Hebrews’ Writer gives several commandments in chapter 13. The book of James gives many commandments to “do this” but “don’t do that.” Peter in his first letter says, “let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, a busybody” (1 Peter 4:15), and positively, “honor all people love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17), and many more “do this-don’t do that” commandments. John’s first letter is full of instruction for Christian behavior. When Jude says “contend earnestly for the faith” he isn’t just speaking of doctrine, but practice also, noting all the immoral behaviors s examples of the things believers are to not do. Paul gives a rather complete list of “do this” behaviors in Titus 2:1–11. The moral commandments of the New Testament, the Law of Christ, as it is sometimes called, tells the believer how he/she “ought to walk and to please God,” 1 Thessalonians 4:1, through the commandments of Christ and the apostles, 1 Thessalonians 4:2–7.

The believer, of course, is able to obey God’s commandments and lead a life pleasing to God, just because he/she has been saved and regenerated (born-again), and continually receives grace, guidance, and power from the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life. The believer has been justified and sanctified, and therefore strives to lead a life of sanctification—through obedience to God’s commandments—as the expression of his or her sanctification, 1 John 2:6. Thus the many New Testament exhortations. Calvin brilliantly describes the believer’s relationship to the law. “The whole life of Christians ought to be an exercise of piety, since they are called to sanctification (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7). It is the office of the law to remind them of their duty and thereby excite them to the pursuit of holiness and integrity” (“Institutes,” 3.19.2).

To summarize. The New Testament writers spoke against the wrongful use of the Mosaic Law as a means to gain saving righteousness, teaching rather that salvation is not by doing but by believing. Thus the New Testament believer is not a participant in the Jewish effort to gain righteousness through obedience to the Mosaic Law. The New Testament writers, however, always exhort the believer to obey the law in the sense of God’s moral commandments, which express God’s moral values in specific precepts (thus the moral commandments of the Mosaic law are repeated in the New Testament for action by the believer), thereby urging a sanctified manner of living.

More simply, the New Testament commands obedience to God’s law as the expression of the believer’s salvific righteousness and sanctification, versus the wrongful use of the Mosaic Law as an attempt to gaining salvific righteousness and sanctification.

Understanding Heresy

Understanding Heresy

(Guest Post by James Quiggle ThM)

Heresy is an oft misused term and concept in Christianity. This essay will attempt to define the idea of heresy and its proper use. My sources are Geoffrey Bromiley, Gen. Ed., “The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia” (ISBE), s. v. “Heresy.” (The initials s. v. represent the Latin phrase, “under the word.”) Everett F. Harrison, Ed., “Baker’s Dictionary of Theology,” s. v. “Heresy.” R. K. Harrison, Ed. “The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary,” s. v. “Heresy.”  Spiros Zodhiates, Gen. Ed. “The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament,” s. v. “139. haíresis.” Gerhard Kittel, Ed., Geoffrey Bromiley, Translator, “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,” s. v. “haíresis” (1:180–184).

The basic meaning of the word haíresis is “choice.” The Greeks used haíresis to identify the various philosophical schools: the groups that in larger society follow the teachings of particular leaders in distinction from others. A Greek speaker looking at the FB groups I am a member of might identify the school (haíresis) of MacArthur, or the school (haíresis) of Sproul. To the ancient Greeks, a “heresy” was a teaching, a doctrine, or a school where doctrine was taught. At this time in history the word did not have the negative meaning it developed in Christian history.

The Jews used haíresis similar to the Greeks. For example, Josephus (“Antiquities,” 13.5.9) identified three religious “heresies”: Essenes, Sadducees, Pharisees. Josephus used the word in the neutral sense of a party with a distinctive emphasis. The New Testament, for the most part, uses “heresy” in the same sense as Josephus. Acts 15:17, the party (haíresis) of Sadducees; Acts 24:5, Paul is called a ringleader of the sect (haíresis) of the Nazarenes; Acts 28:22, “this sect (haíresis) is everywhere spoken against.” Paul, in Galatians and 1 Corinthians, further developed the idea of haíresis into dissensions, divisions, and factions. Peter (second letter) added the idea of incompatibility of opinion to that of faction, beginning the process that resulted in the technical sense the word is used throughout Christian history.

“Heresy,” as used in the history of the New Testament church, is a doctrinal departure from revealed truth, or an erroneous view held in opposition to revealed truth. A heretic is one who causes factions in the church through his heresy.

The key to properly using the word heresy is to accurately identify “a doctrinal departure from revealed truth, or an erroneous view held in opposition to revealed truth.” The key phrase is “revealed truth.” In the most simplistic terms, revealed truth is “what scripture says,” “what God says,” “what the Bible says.” I am not denigrating the Bible in using the term “simplistic,” because I know and believe and teach that the Bible is the source of truth. What I am doing is recognizing that an accurate identification of the body of revealed truth depends on what the Bible says *and* how the New Testament Church defines what the Bible says. To the Roman Catholic I am a heretic because I do not depend on works to gain or maintain my salvation. To the Reformed Covenant theologian I am a heretic because I follow Dispensational theology. To some in the Presbyterian or Episcopalian camps I am a heretic because I practice baptism by immersion. To the Anglican—and many other modern denominations—I am a heretic because I interpret the Bible to mean homosexuality is immoral. To me, but not others in the modern Christian camp, “Mormon” doctrine is heresy.

The early church, in its first 500 years (or so) spent a great deal of time and discussion and hard theological labor answering the question, “what is revealed truth?” Modern Christians must be equally careful. Too often “heresy” and “heretic” are used in the sense, “he is a heretic because he disagrees with . . .” and here fill in the blank: “what I believe; what my church believes; what my denomination believes.” No essential doctrine of the Christian faith is without controversy and dissent. To list only modern heresies requires a book (of which there are several, usually identified by the word “apologetics” in the title). Instead of a list, I will use three examples of recurring issues on my FB groups.

The fact of the second advent of Christ is beyond doubt. “I go to prepare a place for you. And when I should go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be also” (John 14:2b–3). Any theology that denies Christ is coming again is heresy, because Scripture makes an unambiguous statement: revealed truth. Some deny this truth with a “spiritual” interpretation: Christ has returned in every soul he saves. That is heresy. Note merely in John’s Gospel, but in other New Testament writings, Christ’s return is a fact of future history, clearly and unambiguously stated.

On the other hand, disagreement as to when Christ will return will occur is not heresy. No one can point to particular scriptures that say when—calendar date—Christ is returning. As a premillennialist I have my opinion, but amillennialism and postmillennialism is not heresy. To me, these two views are erroneous, but the revealed truth is that Christ said, “No one can know when I am returning” (summarizing all he said on the subject). If no one can know, then divergent opinions on the when of his return are not heresy.

Dispensationalism is identified by many as a heresy, primarily because the non-dispensationalist believes Dispensationalism teaches more than one way of salvation. Dispensationalists have reproved this error time and again, but the error persists. Dispensationalism agrees with revealed truth: every sinner from Adam forward to the present and into the future was, is, and will be saved by God’s grace through the sinner’s faith in God’s testimony concerning salvation. On the other hand, few Reformed theologians would declare heretical the dispensational view that the NT church is not Israel. Most Reformed recognize that if they also consistently applied the historical-grammatical hermeneutic to ecclesiology and eschatology, they also would be dispensationalists.

A third issue that continues to appear on FB, (the groups of which I am a member) is (summarizing) “do angels have sexual gender?” Angels usually appear in Scripture as male gender—but not always, as the angels in Genesis 3; Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1; Revelation 4 demonstrate. Moreover, the use of the masculine pronouns “he, his, him” is often an artifact of good English, either because not present in the original language, or a matter of syntax, not gender, in the original language. You can see my opinion in the last sentence. But some look at the same textual evidence and do believe angels are sexually male, and thus angels are capable of sexual intercourse with female human beings. Others take a different view: angels do not have sexual gender as we understand gender, and therefore cannot engage in sexual intercourse with human beings. What do the scriptures say? The scriptures do not say. Neither view is heretical, simply different opinions. There are those on both sides of the interpretation who will disagree, some vehemently, but the Bible does not say—with the same clarity of, e.g., Christ’s return—whether angels do or do not have gender as we know it. Unlike the second advent of Christ, all opinions, pro or con, concerning angelic gender are inferred from what the little the Bible does say about angels.

Christians should take careful thought before applying the label of heresy to any particular opinion or person. The list of essential doctrines and unambiguous interpretations is quite short. There is room for different interpretations where the essentials of biblical doctrine are not present.



You Can’t Have a Post Tribulation Rapture

You Can’t Have a Post Tribulation Rapture

In Christian eschatology, the post-tribulation rapture doctrine is the belief in a combined resurrection and rapture of all believers coming after the Great Tribulation. This position is fundamentally flawed and, in my estimation, does not fit with the Bible.


  1. The Great Tribulation is a time of judgment and the true Church was judged at Calvary

12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Hebrews 10:12-13

One sacrifice for sin for all time…If your sin was paid for at the cross, it in manifestly unjust to pay for it again in the tribulation.

  1. The Tribulation is the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” and Israel (Jacob) is not the Church

‘Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.

Jeremiah 30:7

Quoting Got Questions Ministries, “In the previous verses of Jeremiah 30, we find that the Lord is speaking to Jeremiah the prophet about Judah and Israel (30:3-4). In verse 3, the Lord promises that one day in the future, He will bring both Judah and Israel back to the land that He had promised their forefathers. Verse 5 describes a time of great fear and trembling. Verse 6 describes this time in a way that pictures men going through the pains of childbirth, again indicating a time of agony. But there is hope for Judah and Israel, for though this is called “the time of Jacob’s distress” (NASB), the Lord promises He will save Jacob (referring to Judah and Israel) out of this time of great trouble (verse 7).”

The Tribulation is a time of purification for Israel during which the obstinately unbelieving will be destroyed leaving the faithful remnant to enter the Kingdom.

Ezekiel 37:21,22 Zephaniah 3:19,20 Romans 11:26,27

  1. The Church is not mentioned from Revelation 4-19

            There is not really much extrapolation needed here. If the Tribulation were, in fact, something the Church were expected to endure, surely the Holy Spirit would have warned us. I would go so far as to say that it requires a dismissal of logical inference to presume the Church will go through the Tribulation.

  1. Revelation 3:10 and tereso oras peirasmou

Tereso oras peirasmou (I will keep you from the hour of testing.) The hour of testing being referred to, here, is the Tribulation and it is Christ Himself who says that He will keep from the hour of testing.

  1. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

Where, exactly, is the comfort in facing the Tribulation?

  1. The Blessed Hope

The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.

1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 Romans 8:23 Titus 2:13 1 Corinthians 15:51,52

  1. There will be a final judgment but the Tribulation is not it

There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works but this is not the tribulation period. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Matthew 25:46 Mark 9:43-48 Revelation 19:20 Revelation 20:11-15   Revelation 21:8

  1. Lastly, the final judgment for believers is the Bema Seat not the Tribulation.

Quoting Got Questions Ministries, “Romans 14:10–12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. . . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (ESV). Second Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” In context, it is clear that both passages refer to Christians, not unbelievers. The judgment seat of Christ, therefore, involves believers giving an account of their lives to Christ.

The judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (1 John 2:2) and our faith in Him (John 3:16). All of our sins are forgiven, and we will never be condemned for them (Romans 8:1). We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives. Yes, as the Bible says, we will have to give an account of ourselves. Part of this is surely answering for the sins we committed. However, that is not going to be the primary focus of the judgment seat of Christ.

At the judgment seat of Christ, believers are rewarded based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27; 2 Timothy 2:5). Some of the things we might be judged on are how well we obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), how victorious we were over sin (Romans 6:1-4), and how well we controlled our tongues (James 3:1-9). The Bible speaks of believers receiving crowns for different things based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27; 2 Timothy 2:5). The various crowns are described in 2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10. James 1:12 is a good summary of how we should think about the judgment seat of Christ: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”


Can Christians really “bind satan” or “take authority over him?”

Can Christians really “bind satan” or “take authority over him?”

These days it is not uncommon to hear people “praying against Satan,” “binding Satan,” or “taking authority over the Devil.” One question always comes to mind, does the Bible really teach this? If not, what does the Bible teach about him and the Christian’s relationship to him? The answer is that the Bible does not teach that Christians can do any of the three. Here are some things that the Bible does teach about Satan and our relationship to him, not in any particular order:


  1. Even the angels do not speak against the Devil

Jude 9 (NKJV)

                  Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

In the original language Michael is referred to as an arche angelos, which means a chief or ruling angel. Michael may well be the most powerful of the angels and, yet, he appeals to the Lord as opposed to challenging him directly. If a chief/ruling angel dares not speak against the devil, who are we to do so?

  1. The demons know Jesus and they know who belongs to Him including who has His authority. The consequences of trying to misuse Christ’s authority can get ugly rather quickly.

Acts 19:11-16 (KJV)

11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

So the sons of Sceva, trying to use authority they did not have, were literally beaten and overcome by the demonized man. If you think someone is being demonized, it is best to pray for them; leave the casting out to the Holy Spirit.

  1. Christians are commanded to resist the Devil

James 4:7 (KJV)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

We, as Christians, are to resist the devil. How do we do this? We resist the Devil in the same way Jesus did, with Scripture. When wicked thoughts come, or situations place us in a position to be tempted, the surest way to deal with that is to stand on the Scripture and trust Jesus to deliver you from the situation.


There is so much that could be said on the topic of Christians and their relationship to the devil, but this will serve as a starting point for you.

Freed By Grace

Freed By Grace

Lately I have noticed that a number of my Calvinist friends are anathematizing Arminians for teaching something that they do not actually teach. Before I continue, I want to make clear that I am Calvinist, all five points but I am also a former adherent to Arminianism and I am currently a member of the Society of Evangelical Arminians. Why would I, a self admitted Calvinist, be there? Discussion; it is hard to understand someone’s point of view if you will not talk to them and so I pursue friendships with Arminians of both stripes, Evangelical and Wesleyan. I digress…

Many of my brethren go off on tangents regarding things they think Arminians teach that are not actually to be found in Arminian doctrine. In this case, they claim that Arminians teach that man has a free will to choose Christ. This is not quite correct. As a point of reference, when I refer to Arminian Soteriology, I will be referencing the document, the FACTS of Salvation ( , by the excellent theologian Brian Abasciano. Permit me a rather large quote from Brian,

“We speak of the will of man being freed by grace to emphasize that people do not have a naturally free will when it comes to believing in Jesus, but that God must graciously take action to free our wills if we are going to be able to believe in his Son whom he sent for the salvation of all. When our wills are freed, we can either accept God’s saving grace in faith or reject it to our own ruin. In other words, God’s saving grace is resistible, which is to say that he dispenses his calling, drawing, and convicting grace (which would bring us to salvation if responded to with faith) in such a way that we may reject it. We become free to believe in Jesus and free to reject him. The resistibility of God’s saving grace is clearly shown in Scripture, as some of the passages already mentioned testify. Indeed, the Bible is sadly filled with examples of people spurning the grace of God offered to them. In Isaiah 5:1-7, God actually indicates that he could not have done anything more to get Israel to produce good fruit. But if irresistible grace is something that God dispenses, then he could have easily provided that and infallibly brought Israel to bear good fruit. Many passages in the Old Testament talk about how God extended his grace to Israel over and over again but they repeatedly resisted and rejected him (e.g., 2 Kgs 17:7-23; Jer 25:3-11; 26:1-9; 35:1-19). 2 Chronicles 36:15-16 mentions that God’s persistent reaching out to his people, which was rejected, was motivated by compassion for them. But this could only be if the grace he extended them enabled them to repent and avoid his judgment yet was resistible since they did indeed resist it and suffered God’s judgment. Nehemiah 9 presents a striking example of Old Testament testimony to God continually reaching out to Israel with his grace that was met with resistance and rejection. We do not have space to review the entire passage (but the reader is encouraged to do so), but will quote some key elements and draw attention to some important points. Nehemiah 9:20a says, “You [God] gave your good Spirit to instruct them [Israel]” and is followed by an extensive catalogue of gracious divine actions toward Israel in vv. 9:20b-25. Then 9:26-31 says,

26 Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. 27 Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. 28 But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. 29 And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey.30 Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

The text affirms that God gave his Spirit to instruct Israel (9:20a) and that God sent his prophets and warned Israel for the purpose of turning them back to him. God purposed his actions to turn Israel back to him/his Law, yet they rebelled. This shows God allowing his purpose to not come to pass because of allowing human beings a choice of whether to yield to his grace or not. Intriguingly, the word translated “bore” in Neh 9:30 uses a Hebrew word that usually means something like “draw, drag, pull” and gets translated in the Greek translation of the Old Testament used by the early church with the same word used in John 6:44a (“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”). A better translation of Neh 9:30 would be, “Many years you drew them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear.” The text speaks of a resistible divine drawing that seeks to bring people to the Lord in repentance. Stephen also furnished a good example of the resistibility of grace when he said to his fellow Jews, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it” (Acts 7:51-53). Luke 7:30 tells us that “the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves.” And Jesus, who spoke to people for the purpose of saving them (John 5:34), yet found that they refused to come to him to have life (John 5:40), and who came to turn every Jew from their sin (Acts 3:26; see the treatment of this text under “Atonement for All” above), yet clearly found that not every Jew believed in him, lamented over his people’s unwillingness to receive his grace, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Luke 13:34; see further Ezek 24:13; Matt 23:37; Rom 2:4-5; Zech 7:11-14; Heb 10:29; 12:15; Jude 4; 2 Cor 6:1-2; Ps 78:40-42).

Arminians differ among themselves about some of the details of how God’s prevenient grace works, probably because Scripture itself does not give a detailed description. Some Arminians believe that God continually enables all people to believe at all times as a benefit of the atonement. Others believe that God only bestows the ability to believe in Christ to people at select times according to his good pleasure and wisdom. Still others believe that prevenient grace generally accompanies any of God’s specific movements toward people, rendering them able to respond positively to such movements as God would have them. But all Arminians agree that people are incapable of believing in Jesus apart from the intervention of God’s grace and that God does bestow his grace that draws toward salvation on all morally responsible people. With respect to the gospel, seventeenth century Arminian Bishop, Laurence Womack, well said, “on all those to whom the word of faith is preached, the Holy Spirit bestows, or is ready to bestow, so much grace as is sufficient, in fitting degrees, to bring on their conversion.”

The concept of “freed will” raises a broader question of whether human beings have free will generally, apart from the realm of pleasing the Lord and doing spiritual good (again, people are not free in this area unless God empowers them). The Arminian answer is yes. People have free will in all sorts of things. By this we mean that when people are free with respect to an action, then they can at least either do the action or refrain from doing it. People often have genuine choices and are therefore correspondingly able to make choices. When free, the specific choice someone makes has not been efficiently predetermined or necessitated by anyone or anything other than the person himself. In fact, if the person’s action has been rendered necessary by someone else, and the person cannot avoid doing the action, then he has no choice in the matter and he is not free in it. And if he does not have a choice, then neither can it properly be said that he chooses. But Scripture very clearly indicates that people have choices and make choices about many things (e.g., Deut 23:16; 30:19; Josh 24:15; 2 Sam 24:12; 1 Kings 18:23, 25; 1 Chron 21:10; Acts 15:22, 25; Phil 1:22). Moreover, it explicitly speaks of human free will (Exod 35:29; 36:3; Lev 7:16; 22:18, 21, 23; 23:38; Num 15:3; 29:39; Deut 12:6, 17; 16:10; 2 Chron 31:14; 35:8; Ezra 1:4, 6; 3:5; 7:16; 8:28; Ps 119:108; Ezek 46:12; Amos 4:5; 2 Cor 8:3; Philemon 1:14; cf. 1 Cor 7:37) and attests to human beings violating God’s will, showing that he does not predetermine their will or actions in sin. Furthermore, the fact that God holds people accountable for their choices and actions implies that those choices and actions were free. Nevertheless, it is important to note that Arminians do not believe in unlimited free will. There are many things in which we are not free. We cannot choose to fly by flapping our arms for example. Nor do we deny that our free actions are influenced by all sorts of causes. But when we are free, those causes are resistible and we have a genuine choice in what we do and are not caused necessarily to act in a certain way by God or anyone or anything other than ourselves.

Finally, the concept of freed will also implies that God has ultimate and absolute free will. For it is God who supernaturally frees the will of sinners by his grace to believe in Christ, which is a matter of God’s own free will and sovereignty. God is omnipotent and sovereign, having the power and authority to do anything he wants and being unconstrained in his own actions and will by anything outside of himself and his own judgment (Gen 18:14; Exod 3:14; Job 41:11; Ps 50:10-12; Isaiah 40:13-14; Jer 32:17, 27; Matt 19:26; Luke 1:37; Acts 17:24-25; Rom 11:34-36; Eph 3:20; 2 Cor 6:18; Rev 1:8; 4:11). Nothing can happen unless he either does it or allows it. He is the Almighty Creator and God of the universe to whom we owe all love, worship, glory, honor, thanks, praise, and obedience. Therefore, it is good for us to remember that behind human freed will stands the One who frees the will, and that this is a matter of his glorious, free, and sovereign grace, totally unmerited on our part, and provided to us by the love and mercy of God. Praise his holy name!”

In candor, I do not find in needful to elaborate on what our learned commentator has written. Instead, I would like to summarize/paraphrase:

  • Both the Calvinist and the Arminian believe that man is under Total Depravity (T in TULIP and T in FACTS)
  • Both would believe that it is in act of God’s grace that allows man to come to Christ.
  • Our Arminian brethren believe that the Holy Spirit has freed the individual’s will to respond to the Gospel Call
  • We disagree on whether or not grace is resistible but we do not disagree that it is God who elects and the Holy Spirit who administers the act of grace.
  • Calvinists and Arminians agree that nothing can happen unless God either does it or allows it.
  • We agree that God is the Almighty Creator and God of the universe to whom we owe all love, worship, glory, honor, thanks, praise, and obedience.
  • Like Calvinists, all Arminians agree that people are incapable of believing in Jesus apart from the intervention of God’s grace and that God does bestow his grace that draws toward salvation on all morally responsible people

There are points of Arminian doctrine that I vehemently disagree with, perhaps even to the point of calling them heterodox but I am loath to call them heretical. The charge of heresy is the most serious charge that can be leveled because true heresy damns the soul eternally and I do not find that the Arminian position on salvation meets the level of damnable heresy, I just disagree with it.


At the end of the day, there will be Arminians in Heaven and I hope to get close enough to the Throne of Grace to meet Tozer and some of his brethren. If we forget that Arminians also have a place in Heaven, we insult the very One who died to redeem them unto Himself.


Until next time, grace to you.

Apostle? Prophet? Prophetess? No

Apostle? Prophet? Prophetess? No


I made the following statement on Facebook: “If the pastor of your church goes by Apostle, Prophet, Prophetess, or something similar, run far and run fast. The Biblical Offices of Apostle and Prophet closed when John the Apostle and Elder passed away on Patmos. There has not been another since him. Neither shall there ever be one again.” Following that statement, I was asked, what Scripture I am basing that on. Not to put too fine a point on it, I am basing that on the same passages upon which I base Cessationism, and a few others. Let’s start with the the easiest of these three to deal with and move from there.

Can a “prophetess” be the pastor of a church? Surprisingly, I have been invited to churches where the “pastor” is prophetess so and so. Never mind the question of whether or not there are prophets and prophetesses today, the short answer to the question is no. (1 Timothy 2:12-14, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9) Taking only the qualifications we find in the Bible, a “prophetess cannot be the pastor of a church.

Are there Apostles and Prophets today?
I would like to share with you the answer from one of my favorite websites,

“The movement to restore the offices of apostle and prophet bases the claim that apostles and prophets are to be a part of the church on Ephesians 4:11-12. These verses say, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”

During the first century of the church, there was an office of apostle and there was a spiritual gift of apostle. The office or position of apostle was held by the 12 disciples of Jesus plus Matthias, who took Judas’ place, and Paul. Those who held the office or position of apostle were chosen specifically by Christ (Mark 3:16-19). The replacement for Judas is seen in Acts 1:20-26. Note in this passage that Judas’ position was called an office. It should also be noted that Paul was chosen by Christ (1 Corinthians 15:8-9; Galatians 1:1; 2:6-9). These men were given the task of setting up the foundation of the church. It should be understood that it was for the universal church that these men were a part of the foundation (Ephesians 2:20). The foundation of the church (universal church) was laid in the first century. This is why the office of apostle is no longer functioning.

There was also a spiritual gift of apostle (this is not to be confused with the office—they are separate). Among those who had the spiritual gift were James (1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 1:19), Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14; 1 Corinthians 9:6), Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7), possibly Silas and Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:7), and Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:6, 9). This latter group had the gift of apostleship but not the apostolic “office” conferred upon the Twelve and Paul. Those who had the gift of apostle, then, were those who carried the gospel message with God’s authority. The word “apostle” means “one sent as an authoritative delegate.” This was true of those who held the office of Apostle (like Paul) and those who had the spiritual gift (like Apollos). Though there are men like this today, men who are sent by God to spread the gospel, it is best NOT to refer to them as apostles because of the confusion this causes since many are not aware of the two different uses of the term apostle.

The gift of prophet was a temporary gift given by the Christ for the laying of the foundation of the universal church. Prophets also were foundational to the universal church (Ephesians 2:20). The prophet proclaimed a message from the Lord for the believers of the first century. These believers did not have the advantage we have of having a complete Bible. The last book of the New Testament (Revelation) was not completed until late in the first century. So the Lord provided gifted men called prophets who proclaimed messages from God to the people until the canon of Scripture was complete.

It should be noted that the current teaching of the restoration of prophet and the office of apostle is far from what Scripture describes of the men who held the gift of prophet and the office of apostle. Those who teach the restoration of the office teach that the men who claim to be apostles and prophets should never be spoken against, should never be questioned, because the person who speaks against them is speaking against God. Yet, the Apostle Paul commended the people of Berea for checking what he said against the Word of God to make sure he spoke the truth (Acts 17:10-11). The Apostle Paul also stated to those in Galatia that if anyone, including himself, should teach another Gospel, that person should be “accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9). In everything, Paul kept pointing people to the Bible as the final authority. The men who claim to be apostles and prophets today make themselves the final authority, something Paul and the Twelve never did.

It should also be noted that Scripture refers to these men in the past tense. 2 Peter 3:2 and also Jude 3-4, state that the people should not stray from the message the apostles gave (past tense). Hebrews 2:3-4 also speaks in the past tense of the those who performed (in the past) signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Did the Ante-Nicene Fathers recognize any Apostles or Prophets?

As far as I have been able to tell, no they did not. The closest we come are the men who are called the Apostolic Fathers, so titled because they were taught directly by the Twelve. On a side note, if there were ever any “apostolic succession” it would be through these men and since we do not see that in any of their writings, that idea must also be deemed false.

In post apostolic church history, we see the church being governed by the local bishop and his fellow elders. We do not see the moniker of Apostle. In fact, the last person in the Bible to be given the title of Apostle was Paul but since John was the last to die we say he was the final apostle.

Did the magisterial reformers recognize the offices of apostle and prophet?

No. I have extensively read Luther, Calvin, Knox and I am endeavoring to read Zwingli and I cannot find a contemporary “apostle” or “prophet” referenced in their writings.

What about the Church Councils? Surely they recognized the offices of Apostle and Prophet? Again, the answer is no. Jerusalem, Nicea I, Nicea II, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople I, II, or even III, none of them mention (to the best of my knowledge and research) ever mention someone holding the office of a Prophet or an Apostle.

I must, then, conclude that these offices are closed. I do not find any evidence to the contrary prior to the Azusa Street incident. Absent evidence from the Bible, the Church Councils, the Church Fathers or Ecclesiastical History I do not buy the idea of Apostles and Prophets today.