Review of GraceWest Bible Church, Albion
GraceWest declares itself to be a reformed church
GraceWest Bible Church of Albion, Australia declares itself to be a reformed church. This means that its doctrines rest upon those taught by Calvin when he attempted to reform the catholic church in the 16th century, hence the name “the Reformation”. Calvin never left nor denied the catholic church but merely desired to reform it.
Calvin believed in the teachings of that same Augustine who is declared the “Doctor of Grace” by the catholic church. Augustine based his doctrines largely upon his Manichean beliefs (a strict Gnostic sect) and taught that all things are predestinated without any freedom of will for mankind to alter his direction in life.
They teach that all mankind is foreordained for either heaven or hell
GraceWest doctrine rests upon a belief that God has foreordained all things according to his will, including the salvation or condemnation of all people. In particular, where you go when you die is predetermined from the beginning by their allegedly sovereign God who, according to Calvin, predestinated all mankind to either life or death.
Reformed doctrine has conflicting teachings
Now this reformed doctrine has certain conflicting teachings built into it. If you attend this church or one with similar beliefs, or are considering doing so, then please think very carefully for yourself about the following. Your eternal future (heaven or hell) will depend upon how you deal with these issues. Don’t just believe something because a person with alleged learning says so! Read (particularly the Bible – sola scriptura) and research for yourself to determine what you will believe. When you stand before God as Judge, these “experts” will not be able to take your side, nor can they be your advocate. You will either stand alone or you will stand with the Lord Jesus as your Advocate. It is what you do with the Son of God that will determine your eternal destiny!
Reformed doctrine says you will go where their God tells you to go
Because reformed or calvinist churches teach that man has no free will to have any say in his eternal destiny (heaven or hell), then they will teach that God alone will decide this for every person without exception. They teach that God has determined your eternal future from the beginning, and that this decision cannot ever be altered. For example, in their doctrinal statement, GraceWest states that “sovereign election will result in what God determines.” Therefore, reformed churches must believe that only those who are chosen to be saved may in fact be saved. If you weren’t chosen by their God, then you can never be saved. For example, GraceWest states that “All whom the Father calls to Himself will come in faith, and all who come in faith the Father will receive (John 6:37-40, 44; Acts 13:48; James 4:8)” That is, only those on that list of the elect (the chosen ones) can ever be saved; no-one else at all!
(Their supporting verses do not support this doctrine anyway)
Note that those supporting verses added here do not actually teach what they say they do.
For example, John 6:44 does not say that all who are called must come, but that all who come must have been called. Think carefully on this!
Acts 13:48 mentions that the Gentiles received the eternal life that the Jews themselves rejected 2 verses before in Acts 13:46. The Gentiles merely accepted what the Jews had just previously rejected of their own free will.
James 4:8 does not appear to be particularly relevant here.
John 6:37-40 actually discusses two separate groups: all mankind who will be present at the resurrection to either life or death (see John 5:28-29), and those who choose to follow Jesus as His disciples.
Reformed belief teaches that man is unable to want to seek God
Reformed churches must believe that man can do nothing at all to seek God, and that God must make the first move by giving man new life through the Holy Spirit in a process called “regeneration” (= being born again). MacArthur (who teaches a similar doctrine to that of GraceWest) teaches that the gospel is the outward ineffectual call of God and that it is the inward call of the Spirit that is effectual in saving man. (“The Doctrine of God’s Effectual Call”) That is, MacArthur teaches that the gospel is unable to save anyone until after they are born again. But, how can you be born again yet not saved??
(Note that GraceWest currently (July 2022) offers classes based on Fundamentals of the Faith by MacArthur.)
Reformed belief teaches that all people start off as spiritual corpses
Reformed churches teach that all people are like spiritual corpses, dead to God, unable to respond to God in any way, and that they must be born again by the Spirit before they are able to respond to the gospel and be saved. Thus, in reformed doctrine, man cannot respond to the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ until after he has been born again (regenerated) by the Spirit. In reformed doctrine, the gospel is only effectual to save after a person is regenerated (born again).
In reformed belief, spiritual corpses cannot respond to the gospel
Some reformed churches teach that the gospel is what God uses to draw man to himself. But, how can any man respond before he is regenerated? Claiming the use of the gospel to draw man to God would then assume that man can respond to God before he is regenerated by the Spirit. Evangelising using the gospel is in conflict with their teaching that man is a spiritual corpse until God makes him alive again first.
Reformed church evangelism of the lost is an oxymoron
So why does GraceWest also claim that “According to Matt. 28:18-20, our ultimate task is to reproduce ourselves by proclaiming Christ to every man and to bring him to the knowledge of the Saviour. This involves a compassion for the lost condition of those around us, a clear communication of the gospel to them, and a persuading and pleading with all to embrace Christ.” (https://gracewest.org.au/what-we-believe/)
Especially noting that most people are not on their God’s list of the elect (chosen ones), and therefore unable to be saved, ever, no matter how much the gospel is preached to them, according to their reformed teachings! And all the elect chosen ones will be saved in spite of whether or not the gospel is preached to them.
Reformed church preaching to the lost is like reviving bodies in a cemetery
Please consider this carefully. If the gospel is ineffectual for the non-regenerated, then it is only effectual for those who are already born again and therefore already saved. And therefore, what purpose does the gospel fulfill then? Can a person enter heaven after being born again yet before he hears the gospel, believes in Christ and is saved? Is their Jesus really the only way to the Father according to John 14:6? Reformed church evangelism is like preaching to the already converted!
The reformed gospel is based upon random selection by their God
The reformed church teaches that their God has chosen (elected) his people from the beginning. And, as Calvin taught, this means he has also chosen from the beginning those people whom he will send to hell, also without any say from those people. They declare this election to be unconditional. The definition of “unconditional” means “without any conditions applied” or, in other words, “random”.
Unconditional election is really random selection
Thus the unconditional election is actually random selection where their God selects by chance (via his celestial lottery) whom he will permit to go to heaven. Those of the elect have won the lottery and will be paid their prize of eternal life. The rest have lost and will therefore be sent to hell for losing.
Just one single condition at all would prevent it from being unconditional. The reformed gospel has no conditions applied at all, other than perhaps the number chosen for heaven (that is, the size of the sample group).
If you don’t understand reformed doctrine, then don’t accept it
If you cannot refute these statements without declaring it to be a mystery hid in the secret counsels of sovereign God (this is the calvinist’s favourite response), or if you are able to observe serious inconsistencies in reformed doctrine, then please check it out. Test all things; hold fast to that which is true (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Do not ever assume that any church or spiritual teacher is correct without checking him or her out. It is your spiritual future that may well rest upon who you listen to and what teachings you accept.
Don’t wait until the judgment to find out if you are right or wrong
It is too late to do this when you stand before God in the judgment, so be absolutely certain of what you believe! Only the foolish would believe everything they are told without checking it out first!
The only assurance of calvinist salvation is to persevere to the end
Calvinists can never be assured of their salvation until they have persevered until the end, so how can they assure you of your salvation if they cannot even be assured of their own? All they can say is see if your works persevere to the end. Calvin taught that if you fell away before the end, then God had given you a temporary faith which he termed an inferior operation of the Spirit. And, that the only way to discern between a real faith and a temporary faith was whether or not you persevered to the end. Calvinists can believe as much as they like, but they cannot have assurance of eternal life until they persevere to the end.
Whatever you believe of any of this should be the consequence of your personal research into it all (Acts 17:11). Don’t take my word for it, either, but test what I have written, check me out, and believe what you personally will believe. After all, it is God who will judge all things, no-one else.
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