THE Calvinistic Bible

Are there a few Scriptures that seem to reflect the Calvinistic teaching that God foreordained every individual to salvation or damnation before He even created the world? Yes. On the surface, John 6:44 seems to support Calvinistic doctrine—until John 6:45 is consulted. If one does not consider the context of Romans 9, one might think Calvinism is taught. Two or three other Scriptures might seem to support their contention—until one looks closely at the text. But Calvinism disagrees with a multitude of clear-cut Scriptures in order to make its case.

This false system of theology cannot explain away these numerous passages; their attempts make it appear as though God is playing word games with His creation. Consider, for example, the way Donald Grey Barnhouse, in his commentary on Romans (Eerdmans, reprinted 1989), handles passages in which people are invited to come to God (of their own free will):

“Whosoever will” means “whosoever determines.” My next question is: “Who will determine to come to Christ?” The answer from the whole of the Bible is that, by himself, no man will determine to come to Christ. We read at the end of the Bible, “Let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will [whosoever determines], let him take of the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). I ask these solemn questions: Who will come? Who will determine? Who will take of the water of life? The answer comes from the whole of the Bible: Nobody, nobody, nobody…. Then why are the promises there? They are there to prove the total depravity of man… (4:1:41).

So, God is not only sovereign; He has a sense of humor, albeit, a little on the “sick” side. Imagine a parent saying to his crippled son, “If you want this $10,000 gift, son, walk over to me. C’mon. Walk over here to me, and I’ll give it to you.” “But, dad, I can’t walk. I want to, but I can’t.” “I know, son, hahaha. I just wanted to call attention to the fact that you are crippled.”

Consider the great invitation of Jesus: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). How surprising that the next verse does not read: “Oops, what am I thinking? You can’t really come of your own free will—because I didn’t give you any. Sorry, it’s just my little joke—to show you that you can’t do it”!

Just think of all the fun God had inspiring the Scriptures He did not mean to be written. According to The Calvinistic Bible (TCB), we should find the following:

“Choose you this day whom ye will serve” [but don’t strain yourself trying to decide because I already ordained what you would do from the foundation of the world]…“but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” [although it was not really our choice; God foreordained that I do it] (Joshua 24:15).

Poor, deluded Joshua! The whole Bible says nobody can make this kind of decision on his own. “Nobody, nobody, nobody.” He may have thought that he and the people had free will, but God had to will that all generation be faithful—just as He willed the next one to be unfaithful. Of course, one wonders why God conquered them with enemies so that they would cry out for deliverance, since there really is no lesson for Israel to learn about being obedient to Him. Whether they are faithful or ungodly, it is all a matter of His will—not because they love Him or have rejected Him.

Whatever did Solomon mean when he described some who “did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Pro. 1:19)? He writes as though man is a free moral agent. In fact, the whole beginning of Proverbs carries that perspective. “My son, hear the instruction of your father…” (v. 8). Why? “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent” (v. 10). Why not? If a man hangs out with sinners, it was fore-ordained, just as it is if he avoids such men. Why the warning?

Solomon also writes: “Do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways” (Pr. 3:31). What is it with this guy? Why does he keep thinking that men have choices to make? Solomon would make a lousy Calvinist—and so would the Holy Spirit who inspired what he wrote. Notice below what God Himself said in Deuteronomy 30:15-20.

See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.

Why is God inviting the people to life and good when He knows they can only do death and evil on their own? Who can choose life and good? “Nobody, nobody, nobody.” But God grants various conditions depending on which choice they make (blessing versus perishing). He then encourages them to choose life for the sake of their descendants. He had just given them the covenant of blessing and cursing in Deuteronomy 28, which also involves the people making the appropriate decisions. God makes so many eloquent pleas for His people to choose life, and yet Calvinists tell us that the whole Bible tells us that people can not determine, by themselves, to choose life.

Is God always insincere when He makes these pleas? He would be monstrous to do so. Consider the heartfelt plea of Ezekiel 33:11:

Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

How anyone can read all these passages yet think that man has no free will is mystifying. Israel could have answered back to this question: “You know why we will die—we don’t have any choice because you made us this way and determined the destiny of each one of us before the world was created.” God does not act foolishly. He would not beg the people to choose life if they were utterly incapable of doing so.

In Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth, he talks about the time period before the “Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good” (Isa. 7:15-16). The Calvinistic Bible needs to add an explanation to this verse—something like [Of course, no child can actually choose between good and evil.]

Why does the New Testament contain so many warnings against falling away, since 1) backsliding (or apostasy) was fore-ordained anyway, and 2) “once saved, always saved.” Yet Paul writes as though brethren were actually at risk (Gal. 1:8-9; 3:1, 5:4; 6:1). A true Calvinist would have to spend half of his life “explaining away” all of the Scriptures that involve choice or contain warnings against falling away. Hebrews admonishes us that we will be punished if we neglect our great salvation (2:1-4), if we do not mix the hearing of the Word with faith (4:2), or if we draw back (10:39).

These are just a few warnings. Why does Paul write to Timothy to take heed to his doctrine so that he will save himself and others (1 Tim. 4:16)? What difference could it possibly make—if everyone’s individual salvation was pre-determined? Why the emphasis on speaking as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11)? Why be concerned about truth at all (Pr. 23:23), since only those God wants to understand it will—and those He has predestined for torment could not understand it anyway? What value is a love of the truth (2 Thess. 2:10), if a person can only have it as God’s gift?

Below is what God should have said to Cain, if Calvinism were true.

“And if you do well, will you not be accepted? [But you can’t do well, Cain, because since your parents sinned, you are totally depraved.] And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. [Actually, you will never do well, since I have already determined that you would not. I selected you to be a bad example.] And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” [Tee hee. You can’t really rule over sin. I just said that so that you would realize how powerless you are.] (Gen. 4:7, TCB).

Actually, the whole Bible is full of choices for man. It contains promises and encouragement for him to do right and condemnations for rejecting the truth. The Bible clearly teaches that each of us will have to give account of himself to God (Rom. 14:11-12; 2 Cor. 5: 10). How dull would be the Day of Judgment to hear all the wicked say, “You know why I did evil, Lord. You made me this way.” We would scarcely be rejoicing with the righteous who would be saying the same thing. “You know why we were righteous, Lord. You made us this way.”

If such were the case, the evil would not be worthy of condemnation, nor would the godly deserve praise. We all just read the lines that were in our script. God can only be glorified by human beings if we genuinely offer Him our love and obedience of our own free will.


Alton W. Fonville

For even Christ pleased not himself…. Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God (Rom. 15:3; Heb. 5:8-9; 10:9).

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 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: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phi. 2:5-8).

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning (Rom. 15:3-4).

The Bible plainly declares that “obedience to God” is the prime requirement if we expect to please Almighty God. Our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated that in such a graphic way. He did not “do His own thing” as so many people want to do. He obeyed the will of His Father in all things, and “wrote the instruction book” for each of us to follow in order to also please God.

And the saying which we all hear so often, “when all else fails, read the instructions” has a definite bearing on our eternal salvation. Not following the instructions was behind the very first murder which was recorded in the Bible. The book of Genesis, chapter 4, records the details about Cain becoming envious and killing his brother Abel because God did not accept his “worship”. However, God did accept Abel’s. So, as we read, we ask, “Why did God not accept Cain’s worship?” The Bible tells us that also, but we need to study some more.

The New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 11, which we commonly refer to as the “catalog of the faithful,” tells us:

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh (Heb. 11:4).

By faith means that Abel was following the instructions which had to have been given earlier, since “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Both Cain and Abel had, no doubt, heard the same instructions from God about how to offer acceptable worship, but Cain used his own wisdom and “presumed that his sacrifice would be just as good.” When it was not, he was angry with his brother instead of himself. This is so typical with people, even of this day and time. When they are asked “the reason of the hope that is within them” concerning things which they do in worship or teach regarding salvation, the first thing which happens is an angry reply. Instead of “sanctifying the Lord God in their heart,” being ready to obey the Lord and giving a “thus saith the Lord” for their actions, they want to set themselves apart and do “what pleases them.”

Recently, I had the opportunity to ask a pastor of the local “Bible church” for his Bible authority for teaching that “saying the sinner’s prayer” made that person a child of God. His reply was typical. I got a short letter from him expressing his anger with me and even asking my forgiveness for that anger, and telling me that I did not show the love and compassion that Jesus taught. He made it clear that he did not want to discuss the matter or give me an answer to the questions which I asked of him.

Not only is this typical of denominations, even in the Lord’s church when the same questions are asked regarding Bible authority for certain practices and teachings, the first reply is usually anger. Some do not even show the common courtesies of an answer and just ignore the person who is trying to save a soul from death. 1 Peter 3:15 might as well be snipped out of the Bibles of many people, because it causes anger to arise in a hurry, which might even cause another murder. We need to “by faith” follow the instructions—Jesus did!

—337 Madison 4605; St. Paul, AR 72760

via Beacon (Pensacola, FL) December 22, 2008


M. E. Slaughter

It isn’t the things you do, dear.

It’s the things you leave undone—

That give you a bit of a heartache at the setting of the sun.

The tender words forgotten, the letter you did not write,

The flowers you did not send, dear,

Are your haunting ghosts at night.

The stone you might have lifted out of a brother’s way,

The bit of heartsome counsel

You were hurried too much to say.

The loving touch of the hand, dear,

The gentle, winning tone

Which you had no time nor thought for

With troubles enough of your own.

Those little acts of kindness so easily out of mind,

Those chances to be angels which we poor mortals find.

They come in night and silence,

Each sad, reproachful wraith,

When hope is faint and flagging

And a chill has fallen on faith.

For life is all too short, dear, and sorrow is all too great

To suffer our slow compassion that tarries until too late.

And it isn’t the things you do, dear.

It’s the thing you leave undone,

Which gives you a bit of heartache

At the setting of the sun.

Who Are These People?

Those who visit us for the first time may well have this question in mind. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of them before. What do they do?” Because there are so many religious groups and therefore a number of similar designations, some may have us confused with the United Church of Christ, the Church of God, or organizations like them. We are, however, different from all of these. Below are some things you might want to know about us.


In the New Testament, God uses several terms to describe the followers of Jesus. Oftentimes, they were referred to as disciples, meaning “learners.” We are still disciples, and we have a responsibility to continue to learn and grow throughout our lives (2 Peter 2:2; 3:18; Heb. 5:12).

To be called Christians, however, brings honor to Jesus the Christ (the Messiah or “anointed one”). The disciples were called Christians first in Acts 11:26, and the name has been used ever since. To call oneself a Christian is to claim that Jesus owns us, that we belong to Him, and that we obey Him in all things.

The New Testament also calls Christians saints because Jesus has made us holy (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:9-11) and brethren because, as brothers and sisters, we are all equal before God (Gal. 3:26-29). All these words have their own meaning and are appropriate.

Many people call themselves by names that have resulted from manmade organizations. We only use the names that are in the Bible. We are brethren, saints, disciples; we are Christians. That name is both appropriate and sufficient. If you were a member of this congregation, that is all you would be—a Christian. If our brethren in the first century were content with being called by such a name, so are we.


As you have probably already noticed, we cite the Scriptures often. You may wonder why. Although we live in a time where people want to be free to do their own thing, Christianity is not our religion in that we did not invent it. Jesus (at the Father’s bidding) did. He told His disciples: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18).

Actually, we have never been our own; we belong to the One Who created us in the first place, which is described in the very beginning of the Bible (Gen. 1-2). He gave us the free will to decide whether to serve Him or to please ourselves instead. Since the latter option carries with it eternal punishment, He encourages us to worship and serve Him—so that we can have an eternal reward.

In order to save us from the punishment that our sins deserve, He sent Jesus to die on the cross and pay the debt that we owed (John 3:16). Since God is the one Who created us and Jesus is the One Who died for us, we belong to them—“For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20).

If we choose to accept the salvation that God offers us through Christ, then we must realize that we are not in charge of determining how to worship or serve Him; God is. He did not need to consult with us; He already knows what is the best way to love Him and to live for Him.

Jesus gave His life for the church (Acts 20:28), and He is the Head over it (Eph. 1:22-23); therefore, what He says is right, and our own opinions are not valid. Because Jesus is the authority, we cite what He and His apostles wrote to demonstrate that we are doing what He wants rather than following our own ideas.

The Word of God

We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. What we need to know about God cannot be boiled down to sound bytes to be presented on the evening news. Phrases such as God is love and Jesus saves are true, but the Bible would be considerably shorter if that were all we needed to know. Following are some things that the Bible says about itself, beginning with what Jesus told His followers:

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

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 equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

“And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12).

“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

These are just a few Scriptures which show the value of God’s Word and show the reason we need to know it. For these reasons, you will find that we study the Bible here. Although literary works of men may be referenced, as Paul cited a Grecian poet to show that his point was not one that was strange or unfamiliar, nevertheless our focus is upon the Scriptures, because they were inspired of God (Acts 17:28).

Many devout men have formulated creeds, which members of a particular group must accept. Many of these creeds contain valid Biblical principles, and the motives of those who designed them were usually good, but they are still the thoughts of men. The churches of Christ have no written creed. The Bible is our only authority. No one is ever asked to memorize or repeat a creed.

Everyone is, however, encouraged to read, study, mediate upon, and know the Holy Scriptures. Both the Old and New Testaments are worthy of our attention, but we are under the New Testament of Jesus Christ, and not under the Law of Moses. Failing to make that distinction has led to much confusion. Jesus is our mediator of a better covenant (Heb. 8:6-7).

The Church

Many people may think of the church as a sort of “religion thing” for some pious souls—but not something needed by most folks. All too often our ideas are shaped more by society than by what the Bible teaches. Did you know, for example, that God had the church in mind before He even created the world (Eph. 1:4)? He also knew that, if He created man, Jesus would need to be sent to die for our sins (Rev. 13:8); so He planned that all of those who would be saved by the blood of Christ (Rev. 1:5) would become part of this special body of Christ, the church (Eph. 1:22-23).

Because of what would later occur, the church was prophesied of in advance; usually it is referred to as a kingdom. Consider this prophecy:

“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44).

When John the Baptizer began to preach: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2), people began to take notice. Jesus is King over this kingdom. In fact, the Jews wanted Jesus to be their earthly king, but He rejected that honor (John 6:15) because His kingdom is not of this world, as He told Pilate (John 18:36). The kingdom of heaven is spiritual, and Jesus received it after His resurrection. Daniel had said:

“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14).

This passage brings to mind Jesus ascending into Heaven after His resurrection: “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1: 9). Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, affirmed that God had raised Jesus up, that He had been “exalted to the right hand of God,” and that David’s prophecy (a different one than Daniel’s) was fulfilled in Christ because “David did not ascend into the heavens” (Acts 2:32-34). Many other passages relate to this event of Jesus ascending to heaven to receive His kingdom.

This spiritual kingdom is the church; it is a privilege to be part of the kingdom designed from eternity, built (Matt. 16:18) and purchased by Jesus (Acts 20:28), over which He is Head (Col. 1:18). The church and the kingdom are the same thing; Jesus equated these two designations (Matt. 16:18-19).


God has always expected those whom He created to worship Him. He is worthy of worship because He is the Creator and because He is the Redeemer as well, having made salvation available to us (Rev. 4:11; 5: 12). The Lord, however, never said, “Worship Me however you want.” As Jesus told the woman at the well, the Father is seeking true worshippers, adding: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

Worship that is not sincere would be worthless, and in Malachi’s day God’s people approached worship as a weariness (Mal. 1:13). Enthusiastic worship, however, does not mean jumping, clapping, swaying, or involve other fleshly exhibitions; it is more a matter of concentration. We focus our attention on God—on the message being presented, the thoughts expressed in prayer, the significance of the Lord’s Supper, and the words of the songs we sing.

Sincerity, however, is not enough. Since Jesus has all authority, our worship must also be according to truth. In the Old Testament God had ordained certain things to be done certain ways, but Jeroboam changed the object of worship (to golden calves), the place of worship (Dan and Bethel rather than Jerusalem), the time of worship (from the seventh to the eighth month); he even changed the priesthood from those whom God had authorized (the Levites) to just anyone from any tribe (1 Kings 12:25-33). Needless to say, God was displeased, and He refused to accept this worship. No matter how sincere the people might have been, their worship was not according to truth, and they were eventually destroyed because of it (2 Kings 17:21).

Our worship may not be what you are accustomed to, but we do only those things that God has commanded. The preaching and teaching of the Word is our emphasis, just as it is in the Scriptures. We also pray together when we meet (1 Thess. 5:17). And we sing, period. You will notice that we use no instruments of music. Yes, people sang to the accompaniment of instruments in the Old Testament, but we are not subject to that covenant. We are under the New Testament of Christ, and neither He, the apostles, nor any of the Christians in any of the churches in the first century sang to the accompaniment of musical instruments. We can only do the things that are authorized (Col. 3:16-17).

Two things are limited to the Lord’s Day (Sunday): the Lord’s Supper and giving. The New Testament teaches that giving was done on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2), along with remembering the death of Jesus (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:22-29). Many do not emphasize the death of Jesus, but it was the shedding of His blood that made salvation possible (Heb. 10:4). Therefore, Christians partake of His body and blood (symbolically) in the way that He showed His disciples on the night He was betrayed (Matt. 26:26-29). These five things the church in the New Testament practiced.


Since being saved from one’s sins is vital, we make certain that we teach only what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches a great deal about God’s grace, but some make the mistake of thinking that it is universally applied instead of universally offered. The grace of God is avail-able to all (Titus 2:11-14), but God placed requirements on its reception.

First of all, one must believe in God and believe in Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus performed numerous miracles to confirm this truth (John 21:25). John recorded a sampling of miracles to prove the Lord’s Deity (John 20:30-31). Many verses of Scripture emphasize the necessity of faith (John 3:16; 8:24; Heb. 11:6). But God requires more.

The hardest thing to do is to take this next step—repentance. Why is it so hard? Most of us are fond of certain sins—whether it be coveting what is not ours, desiring to fulfill fleshly appetites in an unlawful way (such as committing adultery), or simply by being willful and stubborn (1 John 2:15-17). We might find that giving them up is difficult, but in order to follow Jesus we must let go of all these and turn from them, practicing them no more. Yet repentance is just as essential as faith is. Jesus taught: “…unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). We must realize that Jesus has something much better to offer than sin—eternal life.

If one is willing to repent, then confessing the name of Jesus as the Son of God will surely not be a stumbling block (1 Tim. 6:12). Neither will being baptized so that your sins can be washed away. Some try to minimize or explain away baptism (usually the same ones who fail to mention repentance), but consider the first time the gospel was preached after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.

This great sermon was preached on the Day of Pentecost when Peter proved that Jesus is the Messiah the Jews were looking for. He affirmed that Jesus had ascended into heaven, as we mentioned earlier, and proclaimed the risen Savior as both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). The message pricked the hearts of those present, and they asked what they should do (v. 37). Now, you have heard many answers to this question of how to be saved, but how many of them match what the inspired apostle told the people on that day? He said: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (v. 38). This is what the Bible teaches, and this is, therefore, what we teach when people ask the same question today.

Now you know a little bit about us—who we are and why we do what we do. We pray that you will want to know more and want to schedule a private Bible study. You may have been taught other ideas, and we welcome the opportunity to look at areas of disagreement with you. Please visit with us again and remember Paul’s recommendation of the Word (Acts 20:32).