Burning Straw Dummies
(with an outline of the Doctrines of Grace)

Randy Seiver

The New Wine Press--Tampa, Florida--Copyright ©1993

(Straw Man:  Misrepresenting an opposing view in a way that is easy to refute.)     

 † Dummy 1Dummy 2Dummy 3Dummy 4Dummy 5


The usual way of arguing against one of the doctrines of grace is first, to misrepresent it so badly that no serious student of the Scripture would ever embrace it; then totally demolish it with arguments that have nothing at all to do with the issue. In matters of controversy, this practice is sometimes referred to as "burning straw dummies."

A little honest investigation and serious study of the issues involved would cause the opponents of these truths to be far more reticent to speak against doctrines about which they understand so little.

Charles Spurgeon, addressing this very matter one hundred years ago, asked, "Why do they earnestly set themselves to confute what no one defends?"

It is the purpose of this booklet to clarify the issues in the Calvinism-Arminianism debate. 1 It is intended to be neither an exposition nor a defense of the doctrines of grace, since there is already an adequate supply of good literature on that subject (see bibliography.). It is rather intended to define the limits of the debate, so that those who shoot their venomous arrows at these poor, despised creates called "Calvinists," will at least know what their target is.

It is said that Mr. Spurgeon was, on one occasion, invited to debate the issue of infant baptism. His opponent suggested that they each, in turn, quote a verse supporting their own position. To this, Mr. Spurgeon agreed. His opponent stood first and quoted Matthew 19:14 -- "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for such is the kingdom of heaven." When his opponent sat down, Mr. Spurgeon rose and quoted his first text -- Job 1:1 -- "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job."

"Mr. Spurgeon," his opponent said, "I fail to see what your verse has to do with infant baptism." To which Mr. Spurgeon replied, "So, too, I fail to see what your verse has to do with infant baptism."

Scripture verses have been quoted (and misquoted) almost endlessly to disprove the doctrines of grace. Yet, in most cases, we would be no further from the real issue if we said, "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job."

The first "straw dummy" that we need to consider is the charge that "Calvinists" are man followers, who elevate Calvin's writings to (or above) the level of Holy Scripture. In reality, the "Calvinist" is no more a man follower than is the "Arminian." These are merely theological labels which designate a particular doctrinal position. Were it not for the woeful ignorance of Church history that exists today, these theological labels might prove useful in distinguishing doctrinal positions. However, this is not the case. The truth is that through the efforts of zealous, but uninformed, Arminian preachers and writers, the term "Calvinist" has been so tortured and twisted that few (if any) Calvinists would be willing to wear it without explanation.

The so-called "five points of Calvinism" were not even formulated in answer to the five points of Arminianism (the Remonstrants) until over fifty years after Calvin's death. Their relationship to Calvin or to Calvin's writings is only incidental. It merely arose from the fact that both taught the same truths.

In regard to the charge that Calvinists exalt Calvin's writings to the level of Scriptures, we find another clear evidence of willful ignorance of the subject at hand. If those who give this impression knew anything about the Reformation, they would know that all of the reformers and their followers believed that the Scriptures alone are binding in matters of faith and practice.

Consider the difference between the "straw dummies" and the real issues in each of the five doctrines of grace.



Straw Dummy

The doctrine of total depravity (inability) cannot be true because:

1. The Bible teaches that all are responsible to believe and repent.

2.The Bible teaches that man has a will (choice). Man is not a robot or a puppet.

3. Every man does not act as sinfully as he is capable of acting.

4.Even wicked men perform acts which are good in the sight of other people.

Real Issue

1. The Bible teaches that men, controlled by a sinful nature, are not able to believe or repent. The person who believes in free grace has no argument with the truth that sinners are responsible. What he denies is that God requires no more than man is able to do. For instance, God requires perfect
obedience to His law from those who possess no ability or desire to obey it (Rom. 8:7).

Man's inability springs from his sinful and rebellious unwillingness. He cannot (John 6:44), because he will not .

2.The Bible does teach that man has a choice and that he acts freely in the exercise of that choice. The issue concerns whether a person, controlled by a sinful nature, will ever make the proper choice. The Bible teaches that man's will is bound and controlled by his sinful nature; so that he
cannot and will not choose Christ, believe the gospel, or forsake sin unless God, in sovereign grace, changes his nature (John 3:19-21; 6:44; 6:65; I Cor. 1:18; 2:14; Rom. 3:11).

3. Every man, left to himself is capable of the most heinous sins. Every man at heart is the same (Prov. 27:19) --deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9).

4. Men are wicked in God's sight and totally incapable of doing that which is well-pleasing to Him (Gen. 6:5; Psa. 14:1-3; Eccles. 7:20, 29; Job 15:16; Jer. 9:3; Rom. 3:10-18).



Straw Dummy

The doctrine of "Unconditional Election" cannot be true because:

1. Anyone who wants to be saved, can be. "Whosoever will May come."

2. God does not delight in the destruction of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11), but desires that all men repent.

3. We should preach the gospel to everyone. If God has only planned to save some, why should we preach to and pray for all?

4."Election" and "predestination" are terms contrived by the Calvinists to cause confusion, bring division, and excuse a lack of evangelistic zeal (The issue is whether election ever took
place or not).

Real Issue

1. The true believer in free grace will never deny that God has extended a free offer of mercy, in Christ, to all who hear the Gospel. To deny that "Whosoever will may come," is to
deny the clear teaching of God's Word. The real issue, however, is whether any will desire salvation (in God's way and on God's terms) unless God gives him that desire (Psa. 14:1-3; Rom. 3:11; Psa. 58:3-5; John 3:14-21; 5:40).

2. Has God purposed to save every man? Since the Bible plainly teaches that God's plan or purpose is always accomplished (Isa. 46:10-11; Dan. 4:35; Prov. 19:21; Psa. 115:3), It should be clear that He has not purposed to save everyone. If He had, everyone would be saved.

On the other hand, the Bible sets forth God's elective purpose according to which He calls and saves His elect (Rom 8:28-30; 9:11; Eph. 1:4-5, 9-11; II Tim. 1:9).

3. God has commanded us to preach to (witness to) every creature and pray for their salvation. We are not to be governed by what God has planned (which is secret to us), but by what God has commanded.

God has ordained to use means to accomplish His purpose (Rom. 10:14-15). He does not save people apart from the use of means. Gospel preaching is one of the means that God has ordained to bring the elect to faith in Christ. Since we do not know who the elect are, we must preach
to and pray for all.

The primary purpose for witnessing the gospel is that we might glorify God in our obedience and faithfulness to Him.

4. Every Christian who has carefully studied the Bible must believe in election and predestination. These are biblical words. The issue is whether election is conditional (based on foreseen faith) or unconditional.


Straw Dummy

The doctrine of "Particular Redemption" cannot be true because:

1.Jesus' death was sufficient for all men.

2. Jesus' death was not limited, but was intended for all men.

Real Issue

1. The all-sufficiency of Christ's death is not denied by the true believer in free grace. The Canons of Dort, which is the historical statement of the so-called "five points of Calvinism" formulated at the Synod of Dort (Dordrecht) 1618-1619, state:

"The death of the Son of God is the only and most
perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and
is of infinite worth and value, abundantly
sufficient to expiate the  sins of the whole world."

The real issue concerns the intent of Christ's death. Did Christ intend to accomplish redemption, propitiation and reconciliation for every man? Did He intend to make salvation possible for all men? The free grace believer replies that, though Christ's death is of infinite value and is sufficient
to redeem every man (had this been God's intention), the true intention of Christ's death was to accomplish effectively the full salvation of the elect, and the elect only. (See outline for further detail.

2. Since all men will not be saved as a result of Christ's death, a limitation must be admitted. It must be limited either in its extent (in that it was not intended for all) or its effectiveness (in that it did not actually secure salvation for any). The real issue is not so much, "For whom did Christ die?" but "What did He do for those for whom He did die?" If we view Christ's death as an accomplishment, then it could not have been intended for every man.


Straw Dummy

The doctrine of "irresistible grace" cannot be true, because:

1. Men often resist (and resist successfully) God's offers of mercy in Christ (Gen. 6:3, Acts 7:51). They even resist and finally reject the powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit Himself (Acts 24:25)

2. People have a choice in coming to Christ. God does not force them to be saved against their will.

Real Issue

1. While it is true that sinners always resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51), the issue is whether the sinner's continual rebellion is able to thwart the eternal purpose and powerful grace of God.

If at God's appointed time (Gal. 1:15-16) He did not subdue the sinner's rebellion, and make him willing to embrace Christ in saving faith (Psa. 11:3), then none would ever believe (John 6:44-45).

2. The issue is not whether God forces people to believe against their will but whether any would ever be willing without a prior work of God in their souls. Those who believe in free grace, believe that God, not man, is in control in the realm of salvation (Rom. 9:16; I Cor. 1:30; 4:7; II Cor. 4:6; Gal. 1:15-16; 2 Tim 1:9; Matt 11: 20-27).


Straw Dummy

Many who are otherwise Arminian in doctrine, claim to believe this truth. But, in reality, they believe neither the Calvinistic nor the Arminian doctrine at this point.

If the opponents of free grace argue against the proposition that God will preserve all who profess faith in Christ no matter what they do (totally apart from the necessity of perseverance), then they are "burning a straw dummy."

This is not a Calvinistic position, but a four-point Arminian position.

Real Issue

The real issue has nothing to do with the necessity of perseverance. Both the Arminian and the true Calvinist are agreed at this point. The point of controversy is the certainty of perseverance.

The Calvinist believes that God so preserves and supports His elect in a state of grace that they will certainly persevere in faith and holiness unto the end. This perseverance is due not to the
strength of their will or the tenacity of their faith but to the power and grace of God working in them.

Those who fall away and perish in their sins, give evidence that a work of grace has never occurred in their hearts .(Consider- John10:27-29; Rom. 8: 28-29; Phil. 1:6; I Cor. 15:1-2;
Col.1:21-23; Heb. 3:6,14).

Doctrines of Grace Outlines 2



I. Doctrine Stated: God created Adam upright and in His own image, with the freedom and ability to choose that which is good and well-pleasing in His sight. Being left to the freedom of his own will, Adam fell from this holy estate into a state of guilt and depravity. He did not act for himself alone, but being, by God's appointment, the representative head of all mankind, act in their place. Thus, Adam's guilt and depravity were imputed to all his offspring. Since all humans are conceived in sin and are by nature the children of wrath, the entire being of every person has been so twisted that he is rendered unwilling and, therefore, incapable of pleasing God or even responding rightly to His overtures of mercy.


It is not:

  • whether people may do what is "good" in the sight of others.
  • whether people act as sinfully as they are capable of acting.
  • whether or not sinners have a will.

It is:

  • that sinners are wicked in God's sight and totally incapable of doing what is good and well-pleasing to Him (Gen 6:5; Psa 14:1-3; Eccles. 7:20,29; Job 15:16; Jer 9:3; 17:9; Rom 3:10-18). (Good works in God's sight are those which are performed for the proper motive—love for God, with the proper goal in view-God's glory, and according to the proper rule or standard—God's Word.
  • that every person, left to himself, is capable of the most heinous of sins. At heart, every sinful human being is the same (Prov 27:19).The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.
  • that although sinners are free to choose what they please, they are bound by a sinful nature and therefore totally incapable of choosing spiritual good over evil. By nature, sinners are:
  1. spiritually dead (Eph 2:1).

  2. spiritually blind (Eph 4:17-19).

  3. deaf (Psa 58:3-4).

  4. hardened (Eph 4:17-19).

  5. a rebel (Rom 8:7; Isa 53:6).

  6. polluted (Isa 64:6).

  7. unable to change (Jer 13:23).

  8. unable to come to Christ (John 6:44).

  9. unable to receive spiritual truth (1 Cor 1:18; 2:14).

  • that people are born sinners and must be regenerated before they can do anything that is acceptable to God, including a proper reception of the gospel (John 3:12; Rom 8:8; 1Cor 1:18; 2:14).
  • that every part (intellect, emotions, will, conscience—hence total depravity) of the sinner has been affected and is controlled by sin.
  1. The sinners intellect is controlled by his sinful nature (Rom 3:11; Eph 4:17-18;
  2. The sinner's emotions are controlled by his sinful nature (Rom 1:30; 3:18; Eph 4:19).
  3. The sinner's will is controlled by his sinful nature (John 5:40).
  4. The sinner's conscience is defiled by sin (Titus 1:15).


PelagianismPelagians hold that neither the guilt of Adam's first sin [original sin], nor his depraved nature has been communicated to his offspring. According to Pelagianism, the only effect that Adam's sin has had on the race is that Adam's seed has been affected by his bad example.

ArminianismArminians , like Calvinists, believe that Adam's guilt and depravity have been transmitted to all his posterity. They believe that man in a state of sinful nature is unable to choose good over evil. But, to this the Arminian adds the doctrine of precedent or prevenient grace. According to Arminianism, God grants prevenient grace to all sinners, freeing their wills to choose either to accept or reject Christ. Though Prevenient grace seems to be similar to the Calvinistic doctrine of efficacious grace, it differs from it in that prevenient grace, though granted to all, does not secure the voluntary compliance of any. Articles III and IV of the Remonstrants3 state,

III. That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the working of his own free-will, inasmuch as in his state of apostasy and sin he can for himself and by himself think nothing that is good—nothing, that is, truly good, such as saving faith is, above all else. But that it is necessary that by God, in Christ and through his Holy Spirit he be born again and renewed in understanding, affections and will and in all his faculties, that he may be able to understand, think, will and perform what is truly good, according to the Word of God [John xv. 5].
IV. That this grace of God is the beginning, the progress and the end of all good; so that even the regenerate man can neither think, will nor effect any good, nor with stand any temptation to evil, without grace (precedent (or prevenient), awakening, following and co-operating. So that all good deeds and all movements towards good that can be conceived in thought must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But with respect to the mode of operation, grace is not irresistible; for it is written of many that they resisted the Holy Spirit [Acts vii and elsewhere passim] (emphases mine).

CalvinismCalvinists hold that every facet of a sinner's being has been detrimentally affected by sin, so that he cannot choose good over evil or decide on his own initiative to receive Christ as He is offered in the gospel. Only that efficacious grace which God grants to His elect can enable sinners to respond favorably to the gospel offer.


Total Depravity Study Questions

  1. List three common misconceptions concerning what is at issue in the discussion of the doctrine of total depravity.
  2. Do those who believe that people are, by nature, totally depraved believe that sinners are unable to do those things that are good in the sight of other people?
  3. What constitutes a "good work" in God's sight?
  4. Is there any sin that wicked men, left to themselves, are unable to commit?
  5. Why and in what sense is the sinner's will bound?
  6. List nine characteristics of sinners. By nature sinners are:
  7. Is the sinner able to come to Christ in faith apart from a special work of God's grace.
  8. What do we mean when we say that every aspect of the sinner's being has been affected and is controlled by sin?
  9. List Scripture verses that show that every sinner's mind, will, emotions, and conscience have all been affected by sin.
  10. List , by name, the three major positions that Bible students take on the question of total depravity.
  11. What do each of these groups teach about total depravity?
  12. According to Pelagianism, in what way did Adam's sin affect his offspring?
  13. How does this differ from the views of both the Calvinist and the Arminian?
  14. How does Arminianism explain the fact that some sinners, though born in sin and totally depraved, willingly receive Christ as Savior and Lord?
  15. What is the difference between the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace and the Calvinistic doctrine of efficacious grace?



Definition:  Election is the eternal, sovereign, unconditional, and immutable decree of God, whereby, according to the wise counsel of His own will and for His own glory, He has selected for Himself some individual sinners from among all mankind, and of every nation, to be redeemed and everlastingly saved by Christ.


  • God is sovereign—He is free to do what He will with His own (Dan 4:35; Matt 20:1-15).
  • God is righteous and always does what is right (Gen 18:25; Rom 9:14).
  • God is under no obligation to save anyone (Eph 2:8-9). If any are saved, it is by the free (without cause in man) grace (unmerited favor) of God.
  • Every person by nature is a rebel against God (Rom 8:7). Sinners are not only guilty of sin, but also unwilling (John 5:40; Acts 7:51) and unable (John 6:44) to come to God's remedy for sin.
  • Sinners, not God, are responsible if they continue in sin and go to hell (Matt 11:20-24; 23:37).
  • God, not man, is responsible if a man leaves his sin and goes to heaven (1 Cor 1:29-31; 4:7; Rom 9:16; Eph 2: 8-9; 2 Tim 1:9).


Negativelynot whether or not the Bible says anything about election. No one who reads the Bible carefully will deny that it says something about election. Consider the following verses:

John 6:39 Rom 11:5-6 2 Tim 1:9 John 10:16 1 Cor 1:26-31 2 Tim 2:10 John 15:16-19 Eph 1:4 Titus 1:1 John 17:2 Col 3:12 1 Pet 1:2 Acts 13:48 1 Thess 1:4 1 Pet 2:9 Rom 8:33 2 Thess 2:13 Rev 17:14 

PositivelyWhat was the basis of election?

Three answers have been given to this question:

  • 1) It was an arbitrary choice—at random and without reason.
  • 2) It was based on foreseen faith, works, or perseverance.
  • 3) It was based holy and wise reasons that are known only to God (Rom 11:33).

There are several reasons for accepting the third answer as the correct one.

  • 1. The Scripture says that election was according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph 1:5&9). His will is holy and wise. God chose some and passed over others because it was well-pleasing in His sight (Matt 11: 25-26). It could not have pleased Him had it not been wise and good.
  • 2. Election cannot be based on God's foresight. This does not mean that God did not foresee the faith, works, and perseverance of His people. It simply means that such foresight was not the basis of God's choice.

There is no biblical support for the idea that God's choice was based on what he foresaw.

The texts that are used to support this view say nothing about faith, works, or perseverance being foreseen (Rom 8:29; 1 Pet 1:2).

The word translated "foreknow" (Gr. Prõginõskõ) is used of more than prior knowledge of facts. Ginõskõ—"I know" is used of:

  • 1. The expression of a man's love for his wife (Gen 4:1 LXX; Matt 1:25).
  • 2. Jehovah's love for Israel (Amos 3:2).
  • 3. Jehovah's approval of the righteous man's way (Psa 1:6).
  • 4. Christ's lack of love for or approval of the wicked (Matt 7:23). See also Rom 3:17; 7:15; 2 Tim 2:19.
  • 5. In the NT, it is usually used with regard to God's knowledge of people, not events or facts.
  • 1 Pet 1:20—"Who was foreordained (foreknown)".

Rom 8:29—"For whom He did foreknow. . . ."

Since the texts say nothing about whether what God "foresaw" was good or evil, if foreknowledge means mere foresight of men's actions, then all have been predestined to be saved (Rom 8:29) since God's foresight extends not only to those who will be saved but to all His creatures and all their actions.

By nature, sinners have no faith, good works, perseverance for God to foresee (Rom 3:10-12). God does foresee faith, but it is the faith that He has given those who have been the objects of His eternal love. Faith cannot be both the basis of electing grace and the result of it, but see Acts 18:27-". . . those who by grace had believed."

Psa 14 tells us what God saw when He looked down on the human race. If God's choice were based on what He saw, He would not have chosen anyone.

Conclusion:  God's choice of sinful rebels must have been based on His holy, wise, and sovereign pleasure.  


  • National—(Deut 7:6).
  • Election to Office:  
  • Kings, priests, prophets (1 Sam 2:28;10:24;Jer 1:5).
  • Apostles (John 6:70).
  • Of Good Angels (1 Tim 5:21).
  • Of Christ (Isa 42:1).
  • Unto Eternal Salvation (Eph 1:4; John 15:16).


  • It is eternal (Eph 1:4; 3:11; 2 Tim 1:9).
  • It is sovereign (Matt 11:25-27; Rom 9:15-18).
  • It is unconditional, i.e., not conditioned on anything in the creature (Deut 7:6-8; Rom 9:11;11:5-6;Eph 1:5).
  • It is immutable (Isa 14:24;46:10-11;Rom 8:28-30;Heb 6:17).
  • It is wise (Rom 11:33).
  • It is individual (Rom 16:13).
  • It is for God's glory (1 Cor 1:31;Eph 1:4-6,12).


God is not fair if He chooses one and passes by another (Rom 9:14).


  1. God Himself is the standard of righteousness.
  2. He would have been righteous had He left the entire race to perish in sin.
  3. The fact that He sovereignly chooses to show mercy to sinful rebels does not make other rebels deserving of mercy.
  4. 4. God does not save any without full satisfaction of His justice (Rom 3:25-26).

God's sovereignty and human inability destroy human responsibility (Rom 9:19).


  1. The truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility are found side by side in Scripture (Matt 11:20-30; Acts 13:46-48).
  2. Inability does not destroy responsibility. Sinners are unable to keep God's commandments, yet he is responsible to do so.

If God has fixed the decree of election, why repent and believe? Why preach the gospel? Why pray? Why send missionaries?


  1. We should do these things because God commands us to.
  2. We should do these things because God's work is normally accomplished through the use of means (Rom 10:13-15).
  3. We should do these things in order that God might be glorified (1 Pet 4:11). The glory of God should be our primary goal in all that we do (1 Cor 10:31).

Election will keep people out of heaven. It destroys "whosoever will".


  1. Election is inclusive, not exclusive. All sinners would be excluded from the gracious presence of God apart from electing grace.
  2. All who truly desire to be saved according to the plan of God, will be saved. Whoever wishes may come.
  3. No one would desire to come apart from electing grace.  


HumilityIf rightly understood, the truth of election will cause us to see that the only difference between us and the vilest sinner is hell is that God has shown us free and sovereign mercy (1 Cor 4:7).

Reverence—1. The truth of sovereign grace produces a sense of reverence for God in the heart that nothing else can produce because it enables men to "see the Lord high and lifted up" 2. The "poor God theology" evokes pity rather than worship and adoration.  

Gratitude—The person who believes in free and sovereign grace is grateful because he knows that all that he is and has is due alone to the unmerited compassion of the triune God.

EvangelismA right understanding of Election will affect our evangelistic message, motives, and methods:

  • Message
    • We will become God-centered, not man centered in our approach to evangelism.
    • We will begin to understand that the purpose of God's salvation plan is not to make men happy, but to establish a right relationship between them and Himself.
    • We will begin to understand that the purpose of Christ's redeeming work is to bring men to worshipful submission to the triune God.
  • Motive
    • The prime motive for preaching the gospel is not love for people but love for God and a desire that He might be glorified by His creation.

  • Methods
    • A belief in "free will" will drive people to use cheap gimmicks.
    • A belief in free grace will drive sinners to God, since their salvation is in His hands, not in their's.


  1. List the biblical principles that form the foundation for a proper understanding of the doctrine of election.
  2. State the issue (negatively and positively) in the controversy over election.
  3. Give reasons why God's choice cannot have been based on what He foresaw.
  4. What is the true meaning of "foreknow" in the NT? Give examples.
  5. What must the basis of God's choice have been?
  6. List the different types of election and different objects of God's choice about which the Scriptures speak.
  7. List the biblical characteristics of election.
  8. What objections have been raised to the biblical doctrine of unconditional election?
  9. How can we answer these objections?
  10. What should be the practical effects of a proper understanding of election?
  11. Should the doctrine of election have any effect on our evangelism?
  12. How should this teaching affect the message we preach?
  13. How should this teaching affect our motives?
  14. Should our belief concerning the sovereignty of God in salvation have any effect on the methods that we use in evangelism? If so, what effect should it have?



Definition:  The redemptive work of Christ was definite in design and accomplishment. It was not intended to make salvation possible for every man but actually to accomplish salvation for the elect.

Christ, acting as the representative of all those given to Him by the Father, fully satisfied the infinite demands of God's law, and accomplished eternal redemption for them.

Even though Christ's obedience and sufferings were of infinite value and sufficient to expiate the sins of the entire race, had this been God's purpose, the accomplishments of His death were, by eternal design, limited to the elect only.


Both those who believe in free will and those who believe in free grace understand that the redemptive work of Christ was limited in some sense. "Free will" believers think that Christ's work was limited in its effectiveness. In their view, Christ's redemptive work did not secure salvation for anyone. It was simply intended to make forgiveness of sins possible, on the condition of faith.

"Free grace" believers understand that, even though Christ's redemptive work was of sufficient value to save every person in the world, it was limited in its design. It was God's intention, in sending His Son, to accomplish the redemption of those whom He had chosen for salvation. Loraine Boettner expressed the difference between these two views well when he wrote, ". . .for the Calvinist, the atonement is like a narrow bridge which goes all the way across the stream; for the Arminian, it is like a great wide bridge that goes only half way across." 4 The real issue in this controversy is not so much the extent of the redemptive work of Christ as it is the intent of His work.


The Scriptures clearly define the design and purpose of Christ's redeeming work. Consider the following texts:  Matt 1:21; John 6:38-39; 10:11,15-16;15:13; 17: 2; Acts 20: 28; Eph 5: 25-27; 1 Pet 3: 18.

According to these and other texts, Jesus came to save the following:

  • 1. His people,
  • 2. those given to Him by the Father,
  • 3. His sheep,
  • 4. His friends,
  • 5. His church,
  • 6. Those that are called, and
  • 7. those that are brought to God by Him.

The Scriptures represent the end results of the work of Christ, not as merely potential or possible, but as actual. Jesus did not make all sinners redeemable; He redeemed His people. Consider what the Bible says about the following aspects of the redeeming work of Christ:

  • Propitiation--an appeasement of God's wrath--Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 John 2:2;4:10.
  • Reconciliation--the restoration of sinners to divine favor--Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:19; Eph 2:16; Col 1:20-21.
  • Redemption--the securing of a release by the payment of a ransom price-Gal 3:13;4:5; Titus 2:14; Heb 9:12; 1 Pet 1:18-21; Rev 1:5;5:9.
  • Justification--Rom 5:9,18-19; Col 2:13-14.

In each case, His work is presented as an accomplishment.

The Scripture represents the work of redemption as a work of the Triune God (1 Pet 1:2).

  • The Father chose and gave to the Son, certain sinners to be redeemed by Him (John 6:38-39; 10:15-18,29; 17:2,6,9,11,24; Heb 2:13).
  • The Son laid down His life for those given to Him by the Father (John 10:15; 15:13; 17:19; Rom 8:32; Eph 1:4-7).
  • The Spirit applies the redemptive work of the Son (John 3:5;16:7-15; 1 Cor 2:4-5, 9-12; 1 Thess 1:5; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet 1:2,22; 1 John 4:13).

If the Son intended to redeem all men or to make all men redeemable, then there is a basic disunity in the Trinity. It is the purpose of the Father to save the elect and the elect only. It is the purpose of the Spirit to apply salvation to the elect only. It is inconceivable that the Son would frame and pursue a purpose contrary to that of the other members of the Godhead. This is especially clear since Jesus plainly states that His purpose was the same as that of the Father (John 4:34;5:30;6:38; Heb 10:7).


The Scriptures represent the priestly functions of oblation or sacrifice and intercession as co-extensive. The high priest appeared in the presence of God with blood which he sprinkled on the mercy seat. This priestly function answered to the intercessory work of Christ. He performed this function for none but those for whom the sacrifice had been offered. The priestly function of offering sacrifice corresponds to Christ's sacrifice of Himself on the cross. If we would know for whom Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice, we need only to answer the question, "For whom does He make intercession?" The answer is clear: 1. He intercedes not for the "world" but for those given to Him by the Father (John 17:9); 2. He intercedes for the elect (Rom 8:34, cf. v.33). 3. He intercedes for those who come to God by Him (Heb 7:25); 4. He intercedes for those who are called according to the terms of the new covenant (Heb 9:24 cf. v.15).

The Scripture depicts Christ as the representative or federal head of all believers,  not  of all men. Just as Adam's one act of disobedience actually condemned all whom he represented, even so Christ's one act of life-long obedience, up to and including His death, actually justifies all whom He represents (Rom 5:18-19).

The Scriptures declare that all of those for whom Christ died, died "in Him" and "with Him" to the reigning power of sin (Rom 6:1-6, cf. 5:6ff.; 2 Cor 5:14- 5).

The Bible plainly teaches that the death of Christ secured for His people all the accompanying gifts of God's grace (Rom 8:32). If the work of Christ was intended to accomplish no more for the elect than for the non-elect, then the elect can find no security or comfort in the redemptive work of Christ for them (as the apostle does in Rom 8:34). If one for whom Christ died fails to be glorified, then all may fail to be glorified.


What about those verses of Scripture that describe the work of Christ in universal terms? These depict Christ as dying for the "world" (John 1:29), "the whole world" (1 John 2:2), "all men" (1 Tim 2:6), "every man" (Heb 2:9), etc.

The words "world," "whole world," "all men," and "every man," do not always refer to every member of the human race.

  • "world"--John 1:10 cf.1:12;17:9; Rom 11:11-15.  

"World" often refers to Gentiles as opposed to Jews and is intended to combat Jewish exclusivism. John 11:51-52 shows what is often intended in the use of the word world. In such verses the biblical writers draw a distinction between members of the nation of Israel and the elect from among the Gentiles ,"the people of God that are scattered abroad."

  • "whole world"--1 John 5:19.
  • "every man"--Heb 2:9, cf. 2:10ff.
  • "all men"--1 Cor 9:19-23;10:33.

The context must decide the meaning of "all":

  • There are times that "all" designates all of a class ( John 1:16; 3:26;11:48; Rom 5:18; 1 Tim. 5:20).
  • There are times that "all" denotes all without distinction (all sorts) rather than all without exception (Rom 3:23; 1 Tim 2:4,6; Titus 2:11, cf.2:1-10).

What about 2 Peter 2:1, where Peter writes concerning false teachers who are clearly unbelievers, ". . .even denying the Lord that bought them?"

There are many legitimate answers to this question. For example, it has been pointed out that the Greek word translated "Lord" is despotes--one who holds authority over another. This would indicate that Christ bought them in order that He might have authority over them. John 17:1 states that He has "authority over all flesh (men), in order that he might give eternal life to all that the Father has given Him. " It would seem that the least complicated explanation would be that Peter was speaking of them, not in terms of the reality of the case, but in terms of their profession. These false teachers are those who claim that Christ died for them. This is precisely what he does in vv. 20-22 of this same chapter.  


  • It will affect our gospel preaching.
    • We will not feel the need to indiscriminately proclaim to sinners what the apostles never proclaimed, namely, "Christ died for you." "It is the gospel that Christ died for the most guilty of sinners who will believe, not that He died for all men whether they will believe or not."5
    • We will proclaim the work of Christ as a victorious accomplishment. It is not the possibility of salvation that the gospel offers, but salvation itself.  

  • It will affect our view of justification before God.
    • If Christ died equally for all men, then His work cannot be the sole basis of our justification. Kenneth Taylor was writing as a consistent Arminian when, in the Living Bible he paraphrased Rom 3:25, "He [God] uses Christ's blood and our faith to satisfy God's wrath." The truth is that when Jesus died, He satisfied God's wrath against His chosen people all by Himself--"Jesus paid it all."
  • It will affect our assurance of final glorification.
    • If Christ intended to save some who have already perished in their sins, then we who are relying for salvation on Christ alone, may also perish. If, on the other hand, Christ has effectually redeemed all whom He intended to redeem, then we are forever secure. If He has exhausted God's wrath that was due to His people, then His people can never experience that wrath. Augustus Toplady wrote,  

If Thou hast my discharge procured,
And freely in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine,
Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding surety's hand,
And then again at mine.

  • It will affect our worship.
    • It will focus our attention, not on the sinner's "decision," but on the glory of Christ, the victorious redeemer of sinners.


1.What belief do both 'free will' and 'free grace' believers have in common?

2 In what sense do Arminians believe that the death of Christ was limited?

3.In what sense do Calvinists believe that the death of Christ was limited?

4.Do Calvinists attribute any less value to the redemptive work of Christ than do the Arminians?

5.What is the real issue in the controversy over the extent of Christ's redeeming work? Is it concerned with the value or the intention of the death of Christ?

6.According to the Scriptures, what was the design and purpose of the redeeming work of Christ (seven descriptions of the same people)?

7.Do the Scriptures represent the redemptive work of Christ as a work that made propitiation, reconciliation, redemption, and justification merely possible, or as a work that actually accomplished these blessings for those for whom Christ died?

8. List four objective accomplishments of Christ's death.

9.What does the word 'propitiation' mean?

10. What does the word 'reconciliation' mean?

11. What does the word redemption mean?

12. What is significant about the fact that the work of redemption is the work of the triune God?

13. What is significant about the fact that the priestly functions of oblation (offering sacrifice) and intercession are coextensive (are accomplished for the same people)? Since the Scripture tells us that Christ only intercedes for those who actually come to God by Him, what should we deduce concerning the design and extent of His sacrificial offering?

14. For whom does Christ act as representative head?

15. In Romans 5:12-19, Paul argues that Christ, as the representative of His people, bears a typical correspondence to Adam. If the one act of Adam actually condemned all who were in Him as their representative head, should the redemptive work of Christ be viewed as potential or actual?

16. If, as God's Word teaches, all for whom Christ died, died in Him and with Him to the reigning power of sin, in what way is it significant that all men do not die with Christ to the reigning power of sin?

17. According to Romans 8:32, what will all of those for whom God gave up His Son ultimately enjoy?

18. What would be the effect on the security of the true believer of one for whom Christ died fell short of glorification?

19. Can the believer find any comfort or security in the redemptive work of Christ if Christ accomplished no more for the reprobate in Hell than He did for His believing people?

20. Do the words 'world,' 'whole world,' 'all men,' and 'every man' always refer to every member of the human race without exception?

21. To what does the word 'world' often refer in Scripture?

22. How can it be shown that the phrase 'whole world' does not necessarily refer to every person without exception (I John 5:19)?

23. What is the significance of the phrase 'every man' in the context of Hebrews 2:9ff?

24. Give examples of texts in which the phrase 'all men' does not refer to all sinners without exception.

25. Give examples of texts in which 'all' means all of a class.

26. Give examples of texts in which 'all' denotes all without distinction.

27. How can 2 Peter 2:1 be explained in the light of the doctrine of particular redemption?

28. How will our belief in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our gospel preaching?

29. How will our belief in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our views of justification?

30. How will our belief in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our assurance of final glorification?

31. How will our belief in the doctrine of particular redemption affect our worship?



Definition:  Effectual calling is God's gracious work in which He, according to His eternal purpose and electing grace, powerfully subdues the sinner's rebellion, causing him to turn to Christ in unfeigned faith and heartfelt repentance.


  • We do not mean that men (even elect men) never resist the free overtures of God's mercy and grace (Gen 6:3; Acts 7:51).
  • We do not mean that men cannot resist and finally reject the powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit Himself (Acts 7:51; 24:25).
  • We do not mean that men have no choice and make no decision in coming to Christ (Deut 30:19-20; Rev 22:19).
  • We do not mean that God forces salvation on sinners against their wills.


  • We mean that even though sinners always resist the Holy Spirit, the powerful grace of God cannot be thwarted by the resistance of the rebellious sinner's will.
  • We mean that at God's appointed time (Gal 1:15-16), He subdues the sinner's rebellion and makes him willing to embrace Christ in saving faith (Psa 110:3).
  • We mean that whenever sinners freely choose to seek the Lord, turn from sin, and receive Christ, they have been enabled to do so by a prior work of God in their souls (John 1:12-13; 6:44-45).
  • We mean that all who are called by God will come to Christ (John 6:45).
  • We mean that God, not man, is in control in the realm of salvation (Matt 11:20-27; Rom 9:16; 1 Cor 1:30; 4:7; 2 Cor 4:6; Gal 1:15-16; 2 Tim 1:9).


Both Arminians and hyper-calvinists believe that responsibility and ability must go together:

  • The Arminian teaches that since Scripture teaches that people are responsible to believe and repent, they must be able to do so.
  • The Hyper-calvinist reasons that since Scripture teaches that people are unable to believe and repent, they are not responsible to do so.

Scripture teaches that sinners are both responsible to believe and repent and unable to believe and repent.

Sinners are responsible:

  • (Luke 13:24; Acts 13:46; Matt 23:37; Rom 2:2-6).

Sinners are unable:

  • to see (John 3:3; 2 Cor 4:3-4),
  • to hear and understand (John 8:43; Psa 58:4-5),
  • to come to Christ (John 6:44),
  • to feel proper emotions(Eph 4:19),
  • to receive the things of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14),
  • to submit to God's law (Rom 8:7).
  • to change (Jer 13:23).


  • The outward call is issued every time the gospel is proclaimed.
  • It is a sincere, universal, offer of mercy in Christ.
  • It is to be published indiscriminately to all men and nations (Luke 24:47).
  • It is accompanied with the most powerful motives for its acceptance.
  • It is attended by the powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit.
  • It is never obeyed and received by natural men (1 Cor 1:18; 2:14; 2 Cor 4:3-4). It is never effectual by itself, apart from the inward call.
  • The words "call" and "calling" are never used in this sense in the NT epistles.

God issues the inward, effectual call to the elect, in conjunction with the preaching of the gospel, whenever it pleases Him to do so:

  • It is issued by God the Father (John 6:44-45; Rom 8:28-30; 1 Cor 1:9; Gal 1:15-16; 2 Tim 1:9).
  • It is made effectual by the Holy Spirit in regeneration (John 3:5-6; 1 Cor 12:3; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 1:2).
  • It is this call that makes the difference between believers and unbelievers (1 Cor 1:22-24).
  • It is this inward call that secures obedience to the outward call. Everyone who hears this call will believe (John 6:45; Rom 8:30).
  • It is extended to the elect only, in accordance with the eternal purpose of God (Rom 8:28; 2 Tim 1:9).
  • It is in this sense that the word "call" is always used in the epistles of the NT (1 Cor 1:26; Eph 4:1; 2 Tim 1:9; Heb 3:1; 9:15; 1 Pet 1:15; 2:9, 21; 5:10; Jude 1; Rev. 17:14).


  • It is powerful (Eph 1:19-2:5).
  • It is internal (2 Cor 4:6).
  • It is an upward (high) calling (Phil 3:14).

We are called to high privileges. We are called:

  • into fellowship with Christ (1 Cor 1:9),
  • suffering with and for Christ (1 Cor 1:9),
  • to live in the light (1 Pet 2:9),
  • for justification (Rom 8:30),
  • for sanctification (1 Pet 1:15),
  • to the promise of eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15).
  • to eternal glory (1 Pet 5:10).

We are called to high duties. We are called:

  • to be holy (1 Pet 1:15; 2 Tim 1:9),
  • to walk worthy of our calling (Eph 4:1).
  • to show forth God's praises (1 Pet 2:9).


  • It is immutable (Rom 11:29).
  • It is heavenly (Heb 3:1).
  • It proceeds from heaven. It is a summons that comes from heaven's throne.
  •   It calls us to heavenly blessings and destiny.


  • If we have heard the good shepherd's voice, our ears will be closed to the voice of strangers (John 10:5-8).
  • If we have evidence that we have been effectually called (faith in Christ, holiness of life), then we may be absolutely assured of eternal glory (Rom 8:30; 1 Thess5:23-24). We should also rejoice that our calling gives evidence of God's everlasting love for us (Jer 31:3; Rom 8:29-30).
  • We should be humbled when we realize that the only detail that distinguishes us from the vilest sinner in hell is the free and sovereign grace of God that has called us to life in Christ (1 Cor 4:7).
  • This truth should cause us to depend totally on God for the conversion of sinners. We must faithfully and diligently proclaim the gospel and pray earnestly that God will give the increase (1 Cor 3:6-7).
  • This truth should curb professional jealously in the ministry (John 3:26-27). It should also reprove man followers (1 Cor 3:4-7).



1.What is another name for the doctrine of effectual calling?

2 What are some of the ways in which the word "irresistible" has been misunderstood?

3. Does God ever force people to be saved against their wills?

4. Does God ever make people willing to be saved in accordance with His eternal purpose?

5. If people willingly and freely turn from their sins to Christ in saving faith, what must have already happened to them?

6. Will all of those whom God has called come to faith in Christ?

7. Who is in control in the realm of salvation, God or man?

8. Does God save people by accident or on purpose?

9. What do Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism have in common?

10. What is different about these two views?

11. What do the Scriptures teach concerning ability and responsibility?

12. Are all sinners responsible to believe and repent?

13. What are some of the acts that sinners are unable to perform?

14. How do the outward and inward calls of God differ?

15. Is the outward call of the gospel ever obeyed apart from the inward, effectual call?

16. Which person of the Godhead issues the call?

17. Which person of the Godhead makes the call effectual? What is the work called in which He does so?

18. Into whose fellowship are sinners called (1 Cor 1:9)?

19. To whom alone does the effectual call come?

20. In what sense is the word "call (calling, called)" always used in the NT Epistles?

21. Which comes first (theologically and logically, not chronologically), regeneration or faith?

22. List five characteristics of the effectual call?

23. What are some of the privileges to which the elect are called?

24. List five practical effects that this doctrine should have on those who believe it.

25. How can we know that we have been called effectually? If we have been called, of what two things (one past, one future) can we be sure?

26. Why is it impossible for the person that understands this doctrine to ever be proud that he has believed the gospel?

27. Should we be any less diligent in witnessing the gospel since we know that the results all depend on God?

28. What effect should this truth have on us as we seek to win people to Christ?

29. In the light of this truth, how should we react when we observe that another Christian's gifts and abilities, growth in grace, or accomplishments in evangelism, are greater than ours?

30. Why is it wrong for us to have favorite preachers in the sense of glorifying man for the success of the gospel (1 Cor 3:4-7)?



The Doctrine Defined: All of those who are truly united to Christ in saving faith will persevere in faith and holiness to the end.


  • It is not always possible for us to ever know for certain if another person is truly converted, (e.g., Judas--John 13:28-29.)
  • It is possible to have very uplifting, ennobling, reforming and exhilarating experiences of the power and truth of the gospel without a genuine conversion experience (Luke 8:4-15; Matt 7:24-27; Acts 8:9-23; Heb 6:4-6; 2 Pet 2:20-22).
  • It is not a mere profession, but a possession of faith in Christ that is certain to endure to the end (Matt 7:21-23). The Bible does not teach that everyone who professes faith in Christ and is accepted into the fellowship of the saints, enjoys the assurance of eternal salvation.
  • There is a difference between "eternal security" (especially as it is commonly taught) and the perseverance of the saints.

There are two extreme positions on this issue:

  • One is that preservation (eternal security) is absolutely certain, but perseverance is not necessary (Carnal Christian Doctrine).
  • The other is that perseverance is necessary but not certain (Wesleyan Arminian view).

God both commands and enables the saints to persevere in faith to the end (see below).


The uniform teaching of the Bible is that perseverance is both absolutely necessary and absolutely certain. If we emphasize either of these truths to the exclusion of the other, we are no longer on solid biblical ground.

  • Perseverance is necessary--only those who persevere in faith and holiness are truly saints (Matt 7:21-3;10:22; 13:18-23; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15; John 8:31-32; 15:4-6; 1 Cor 15:1-2; Col 1:22-23; Heb 3:6,14; 6:4-6; 10:35-39; 2 Pet 2:20-22.
  • Perseverance is certain--all of those who are truly saints will surely persevere in faith and holiness to the end (John 6:37,39-40; 10:27-30; Rom 8:1, 28-39; Phil 1:6; 1 Pet 1:3-5; 1 John 3:3; 5:18).

The purpose, work, and character of God the Father make the saint's perseverance certain.

He has purposed the final salvation (as well as all the steps leading to it) of every genuine believer:

  • He has marked out a people to be redeemed by Christ.
  • He has foreknown (set His love on) His people from eternity.
  • He has predestined all His people to glory.

His purpose is always accomplished (Isa 46:9-11; Dan 4:35; Prov 19:21; Psa 115:3)
There are only two reasons why a person would change his mind or purpose; neither applies to God

  • Inability to foresee obstacles that might hinder the execution of a plan.
  • A lack of power or resources needed to overcome obstacles that might arise. God is able to overcome every conceivable obstacle (2 Tim 1:12; Heb 7:25; Jude 24; 1 Pet 1:3-5).

~~In justification He gives a new legal standing that cannot be taken away (Rom 8:33).

~~In adoption He grants an inheritance from which we cannot be disinherited.

~~His immutability makes it certain. Since God is unchangeable (Mal 3:6):

~~His love for His people is unchanging (Psa 89:30-34; Isa 49:14-16; Jer 31:3; John 13:1: Rom 8:35-39).

~~His truth (His promises) is unchanging (Isa 54:10; Heb 6:17).

  • His righteous demands do not change. Once His righteous demands have been fully satisfied, we do not need to concern ourselves with further legal liability.

The work of Christ makes the saint's perseverance certain.

  • Since God is righteous, He cannot charge us with those sins for which Christ has already suffered (1 John 1:9-2:1).
  • Not only did Christ's death for His people deliver us from the penalty of sin; it also delivered us from the reigning power of sin, thus assuring our perseverance.

The work of the Holy Spirit makes the saint's perseverance certain.

  • In regeneration, He gives us a new nature insuring our perseverance in faith and holiness (1 John 3:9).
  • In sanctification He causes us to form new habits (Rom 8:13-14).
  • He seals us guaranteeing our safe arrival at our final destination (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13).
  • He is the earnest (down payment, guarantee) of our full inheritance (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:14).
  • He causes us to earnestly long for full conformity to Christ (Rom 8:23-29).


1) How would you define the biblical doctrine of the perseverance of the saints?

2) What four principles should govern our thinking about this doctrine?

3) What are two extreme positions that should be avoided with reference to this doctrine?

4) What does the Bible teach concerning the certainty and necessity of the saints perseverance?

5) Will anyone be saved for eternity who stops believing in the faithfulness of Christ to save them?

6) Will anyone who is truly a child of God ever stop believing?

7) What does the Bible teach about God the Father that assures us that those who are truly believers will ever be lost?

8) Why is it important for us to understand that God has purposed the final salvation of all believers?

9) Has God ever purposed (planned to do) anything that He failed to accomplish?

10 ) What two factors might force a person to abandon his plans?

11) Do either of these ever apply to God?

12) How does the fact that God has justified us relate to our final perseverance?

13) How does our adoption relate to our final perseverance?

14) How does the fact that God cannot change affect our views of the saint's perseverance?

15) How does the redemptive work of Christ make the final salvation of believers certain?

16) Will believers ever be found guilty for those sins for which Christ has already suffered?

17) Why is it impossible for believers to go on living in sin?

18) What has the Holy Spirit done to secure the final perseverance of the saints?

19) Does God ever justify anyone (declare anyone righteous) whom He does not also sanctify (make holy or righteous)?

20) What is significant about the fact that the Holy Spirit "seals" believers until the time that they reach their final destination?

21) What does Paul mean when He says that the Holy Spirit is the "earnest" of our inheritance?

22) What kind of desires does the Holy Spirit produce in the hearts of believers?


Suggested Bibliography For Further Study

Adams, James, Decisional Regeneration, Allentown: Sword and Trowel Publishers, 1973.

Boettner, Loraine, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1975.

Chantry, Walter J., Man's Will -- Free, Yet Bound, Christian Center Press, n.d..

Martin, A.N., The Practical Implications of Calvinism, Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, n.d.

Murray, Ian, The Forgotten Spurgeon, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978.

Murray, John, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1973.

Packer, James I., Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God, Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter Varsity Press, 1974.

________. Introductory Essay To John Owen's The Death of Death, London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1963.

Petersen, Henry, The Canons of Dort, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968.

Pink, A.W., The Sovereignty of God, London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972.

Reisinger, Ernest J., What Should We Think Of The Carnal Christian? Carlisle, Pa.; The Banner of Truth Trust, n.d.

Reisinger, John G., The Sovereignty of God in Providence, Southbridge, MA: Crowne Publications, Inc., 1989.

Spurgeon, Charles H., Free Will -- A Slave, Choteau, Mont.: Gospel Mission Press, 1980.

________. Election, Swengel, Pa.; Reiner Publications, n.d.

Steele, David N., and Thomas, Curtis, The Five Points of Calvinism, Philadelphia; Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1967.


True or False

  1. When we say that every person is totally depraved, we mean that everyone acts as badly as they are capable of acting.
  2. When we say that every person is totally depraved, we mean that no one is able to do good, even in the estimation of other people.
  3. When we say that every person is totally depraved, we mean that sinners do not truly have a will.
  4. When we say that sinners are totally depraved, we mean that God is not pleased with even the best and most upright actions that they can perform.
  5. When we say that sinners are totally depraved, we mean that every human being, left to himself, is capable of the most heinous sins imaginable.
  6. God gives to every person the ability to accept or reject Jesus Christ as He is offered in the gospel.
  7. Every part of every sinner has been radically affected and continues to be controlled by sin.
  8. Every person is free to choose what he pleases.
  9. Every sinner is bound by a sinful nature so that he is unable to make choices with which God is pleased.
  10. Arminians believe that, by nature, sinners have saving grace in themselves.

Fill in the Blanks

11. A good work is one that is done for the right ________,with the right ______in view, and according to the right_____.

12. Sinners are, by nature, spiritually _______.

13. ___ _____ every sinner is the same.

14. Every sinner is, of himself, unable to receive spiritual _______.

15. ____________ believe that neither the guilt of Adam's first sin nor his depraved nature has been communicated to his offspring.

Multiple Choice

16. Which of the following does the doctrine of total depravity not include: A. Sinners have no will, B. Sinners cannot do good, even in the estimation of other sinners, C. Sinners are unable to receive Christ unless God enables them to do so.

17. Sinners are A. Spiritually blind, B. Spiritually dead, C. Neutral in spiritual matters.

18. Sinners come to Christ because they: A. make a proper use of the free will that God has given them, B. Are born in a neutral state of freedom just like Adam was, C. have been granted prevenient grace, D. have been enabled by efficacious grace.

19. A. All true human beings are born in sin. B. No human beings are born in sin. C. All sinners, born by ordinary generation, are born in sin.

20. The reason that sinners reject Christ and perish in their sins is that: A. God has not given them grace to believe, B. they have misused their free wills, C. they are sinful rebels against God who, apart from grace, always resist every effort to reclaim them.



  1. Does God ever do anything that is unrighteous?
  2. Is God under obligation to save anyone?
  3. Do some men and women have natures that are less depraved than others?
  4. Who is responsible if some people continue in sin and go to hell?
  5. Who is responsible if a sinner leaves his sin and believes the gospel?
  6. What is often wrongly thought to be the issue in the de- bate about election?
  7. What is the real issue in the debate about election?
  8. Did God base His decision to save some sinners and pass over others on some act of faith or goodness that He foresaw in them?
  9. What do the Scripture texts that are often used to support the position that God's choice was based on something that He foresaw in those who were chosen actually say about foreseen faith/good works/perseverance?
  10. How is the Greek word ginosko (know) actually used in Scripture (OT and NT)?
  11. Why is it impossible, given the nature of man apart from the grace of God, for foreseen faith to be the basis of God's choice?
  12. What, according to Psalm 14, did God actually see, concerning man's nature and consequent actions, when He looked down from heaven?
  13. Of the following, circle the type of election that is not mentioned in Scripture: 1. national, 2. to office, 3. of good angels, 4. of sinners to everlasting destruction, 5. of Christ, 6. of sinners to everlasting salvation.
  14. Of the following, circle the traits that do not properly characterize election: 1. eternal, 2. sovereign, 3. arbitrary, 4. unconditional, 5. tyrannical, 6. loving, 7. immutable, 8. wise, 9. merciful, 10. individual, 11. gracious.
  15. Of the following, circle the effects of a proper understanding of the doctrine of election: 1. evangelism will be stifled, 2. God's people will be proud that He has chosen them, 3. God's people will be filled with a profound sense of humility, reverence and gratitude in the presence of God, 4. prayer will be restrained, 5. preachers will resort to gimmicks to get people saved.


16. All of the elect will be saved no matter what they do.

17. God is not fair if he chooses one sinner and passes over another.

18. God's choice of some sinners to be saved has no basis whatsoever.

19. God's choice of sinners to be saved was based on wise and holy reasons known only to Himself.

20. Election will keep people out of heaven.

21. The doctrine of unconditional election cannot possibly be true if God means what He says when He invites "whosever will" to come.

22. God would never hold men responsible to do what they are not able to do.

23. God's choice of sinners to be saved was based on the faith that He foresaw that they would exercise.

24. Since all of the elect are certain to be saved, there is no need to pray for the lost or to send missionaries to those who have never heard the gospel.

25. Everything that God does always seems fair.

Extra credit question--T or F

If I did well on this quiz, I have a right to feel proud of myself.




  1. Free grace believers are the only ones who see any kind of limitation in the redemptive work of Christ.
  2. The doctrine of particular redemption involves the teaching that the redemptive work of Christ was not of sufficient value to save everybody.
  3. The believer in free grace believes that the work of Christ was limited in its intention, not in its value.
  4. The Scriptures represent the purpose of the redemptive work of Christ as making it possible for God to forgive all men on the condition that they believe.
  5. The redemptive work of Christ actually accomplished the reconciliation, propitiation, redemption, and justification of His elect.
  6. In Scripture, the word "all" always means all without exception.
  7. Christ, as the "last Adam," represents all who were represented by the first Adam.
  8. Sometimes the word "all" refers to all of a class.
  9. Sometimes the word "all" refers to all without distinction.
  10. It is impossible for us to extend the free offer of the gospel to every man if we believe in particular redemption.


11. The work of a priest consists in two primary functions--offering sacrifice and making _______________.

12. Christ as our high priest offered ______________ as a sacrifice for those and those alone for whom He now makes intercession.

13. It is the gospel that Christ died for the most guilty sinner who will _______________, not that He died for every man whether he will believe or not.

14. All those for whom Christ died, die in Him and __________ to the reigning power of sin.

15. According to Romans 8:32, all for whom God delivered up His Son will finally enjoy _________________.


16. Christ died for: A. all of the sins of all men, B. some of the sins of all men, C. all of the sins of some men.

17. In Scripture, the word "world" usually refers to: A. all people without exception, B. all of the elect, C. people out of all nations as distinguished from members of the nation of Israel exclusively, d. all of the above, e. none of the above.

18. The phrase "every man" in Hebrews 2:9 refers to: A. the many sons that Christ will bring to glory, B. those who are sanctified, C. Christ's brethren, D. the children whom God has given Him [Christ], E. all of the above, F. none of the above.

19. The basis of a believer's justification before God is: A. The redemptive work of Christ alone, B. The believer's faith alone, C. a combination of the believer's faith and the redemptive work of Christ.

20. The word translated "propitiation" in the KJV means: A. the securing of a release by the payment of a ransom price, B. the restoration of sinners to divine favor, C. an appeasement of divine wrath, D. a right legal standing before God E. all of the above.



True or False

  1. Sinners never resist the Holy Spirit.
  2. Sinners have no choice and make no decision in coming to Christ.
  3. God forces salvation on sinners against their depraved wills.
  4. God's grace can be thwarted by the resistance of the rebellious sinner's will.
  5. God makes elect sinners willing to embrace Christ in saving faith.
  6. Some who are called (in the sense that the word call is always used in the NT Epistles) will persist in their rebellion and perish in their sins.
  7. Though God is sovereign in every other realm, man, not God, is in control in the realm of salvation.
  8. If God holds sinners responsible to repent and believe the gospel, He must also give them the ability to do so.
  9. Every time the gospel is preached, God calls sinners to repent and believe the gospel.
  10. The outward call of the gospel is never obeyed by the natural man.
  11. It is the sinner's free will that determines whether this call will be effectual or not.
  12. The inward call of God secures obedience to God's outward call .
  13. Some who are called inwardly, fall away and finally perish in their sins.
  14. If we are trusting God to save us through the redeeming work of His Son, we may be assured that He has called us effectually.
  15. If God has called us effectually, we may be sure that He has loved us forever.

Multiple Choice

16. When Calvinists use the term "irresistible grace" they mean that A. Sinners never resist the Holy Spirit's conviction, B. Sinners have no choice but to come to Christ, C. Sinners have no will at all, D. Only sinners that are enabled by God's effectual grace actually come to Christ.

17. The fact that some sinners embrace Christ in saving faith is A. Totally due to the sinner's right use of his free will, B. Totally due to the enabling grace of God, C. Due to a synergetic (cooperative) effort between God and sinners..

18. In themselves, sinners have A. neither the ability nor the responsibility to come to Christ, B. both the responsibility and the ability to come to Christ, C. responsibility but not the ability to come to Christ.

19. The outward call of the gospel is, A. Always rejected by the natural man, B. never rejected by the elect, C. never rejected when accompanied by the inward call of God.

20. When sinners come to Christ, we should A. congratulate them on their right use of their free wills, B. praise the pastor or evangelist for his persuasive powers, C. praise God for the power of His sovereign grace, D. All of the above.

Fill in the Blanks

21. Another name for effectual calling is ____________ grace.

22. God inwardly calls sinners to be saved according to His eternal ______________.

23. All whom God has called will come to _______ in Christ.

24. God's effectual call comes to the _________ only.

25. Theologically and logically ______________ precedes faith.




  1. The Bible teaches that all who make a public profession of faith in Christ will finally be saved no matter what they do?
  2. It is possible to know for sure that another person is saved.
  3. It is possible to enjoy an uplifting emotional experience as a result of hearing the preaching of the gospel without being truly born of God.
  4. Since perseverance is absolutely certain for the true child of God, it is not necessary for him to go on believing and obeying Christ.
  5. Only those who persevere in faith and holiness are truly saints.
  6. It is possible for true believers in Christ to fall into terrible sins.
  7. It is possible for true believers in Christ to continue to live in sin.
  8. Some whom God has chosen, Christ has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has regenerated will fail to persevere and will endure everlasting punishment.
  9. God's purpose is always accomplished.
  10. Sometimes God fails to save people even though He has done the best He can do.
  11. Sometimes God fails to accomplish His purpose because an obstacle rises that He hasn't counted on?
  12. Sometimes God fails to accomplish His purpose because He doesn't want to violate the sanctity of man's free will.
  13. Sometimes God fails to accomplish His purpose because He lacks the power or resources.
  14. Justification is a legal standing that can be lost if we fail to keep the 10 commandments as evidence of our faith.
  15. Though God has set His love on those who believe, He can stop loving them if they stop believing.
  16. God always keeps His promises.
  17. Even if Christ has paid the penalty for our sins, we can still perish in hell because we didn't accept the gospel offer.
  18. Christ's death delivered His people from the penalty of sin, but it did not free them from the reigning power of sin. This is why true believers can go on living in sin just like the unregenerate.
  19. The Holy Spirit's seal can only be broken by the rebellious will of the believer.
  20. True believers can live for years and never desire to be like Christ.


21. It is not a mere_________________but a possession of faith in Christ that is certain to endure to the end.

22. God both commands and_____________the saints to persevere in faith to the end.

23. The perseverance of the saints is both absolutely necessary and absolutely________________.

24. God's ________for His people is unchanging.

25. Since God is _________________ He cannot charge us with those sins for which Christ has already suffered.


26. All who are truly united to Christ will: A. persevere in faith even though they never experience sanctification, B. persevere in good works even though they may stop believing, C. Persevere in faith and holiness to the end.

27. A. Perseverance is necessary but not certain, B. preservation (eternal security) is certain but perseverance is not necessary, C. Perseverance is absolutely necessary and absolutely certain.

28. God has: A. purposed the final salvation of every genuine believer, B. planned all the steps leading to the saint's glorification, C. marked out a people to be redeemed by Christ, D. foreknown His people from eternity, E. Predestined all His people to glory, F. all of the above, G. none of the above , H. a,c,d,e.

29. God's purpose is: A. always accomplished, B. usually accomplished, C. accomplished only when people allow God to have His way in their lives.

30. The death of Christ: A. canceled our debt before God, B. delivered us from the reign of sin, C. assured our glorification, D. all of the above, E. none of the above.


Quiz Answer Key

Total Depravity Quiz

1. f , 2. f , 3. f, 4. t, 5. t, 6. f, 7. t , 8. t , 9. t , 10. f . 11. motive, goal, rule, 12. dead, 13. at heart (or by nature), 14. truth, 15. Pelagians. 16. A, B, 17. A, B, 18. D, 19. C 20. C.

Election Quiz

1. No, 2. No, 3. No, 4. They are, 5. God , 6. Whether God has an elect people, 7. the basis of election, 8. No 9. nothing, 10. of intimate, loving approval, 11. Because apart from God's electing grace there would be no faith to foresee, 12. That all were lost sinners who continually rejected Him, 13. (4), 14. (3, 5), 15. (3), 16. f (It is true that all of the elect will certainly be saved, but they will not be saved apart from faith, repentance, holiness etc.), 17. f, 18. f, 19. t, 20. f, 21. f, 22. f, 23. f, 24. f, 25. f, 26. f.

Particular Redemption Quiz

1. f, 2. f, 3. t, 4. f, 5. t, 6. f, 7. f, 8. t, 9. t, 10. f, 11. intercession, 12. Himself, 13. believe, 14. with Him, 15. glorification (or everything that Jesus purchased on the cross), 16. c, 17. c, 18. e, 19. a, 20. c.

Effectual Calling Quiz

1. f, 2. f, 3. f, 4. f, 5. t, 6. f, 7. f, 8. f, 9. t (outward call), 10. t, 11. f, 12. t, 13. f, 14. t, 15. t, 16. d, 17. b, 18. c, 19. c, 20. c, 21. irresistible, 22. purpose, 23. Faith, 24. elect, 25. regeneration (or calling).

Perseverance Quiz

1. f, 2. f, 3. t, 4. f, 5. t, 6. t, 7. f, 8. f, 9. t, 10. f, 11 f, 12. f, 13. f, 14. f, 15. f, 16. t, 17. f, 18. f, 19. f, 20. f, 21. profession, 22. enables, 23. certain, 24. love, 25. righteous, 26. c, 27. c, 28. f, 29. a, 30. d. 


1 Calvinism is a system of doctrine that sets forth the total depravity of man; unconditional election, particular redemption, effectual calling by God, and the perseverance of the saints as made possible by the Lord's working in them. Its emphasis is on effectual grace that is given to the elect alone.

Arminianism contends that the sinner, of his own free will, is able through the prevenient grace of God to choose Christ as He is offered in the gospel. In this system, salvation is a cooperative effort between God and the sinner.

2 These notes were originally written in outline form. I have subsequently changed the format to make them more readable. The points are arranged in order of importance as follows: (I) All Caps, (A.) First letter Cap. and italicized, (1.) First letter Cap., no italics, (a.) Smaller font, italicized, ((1)) Smaller font, no italics, etc.

3 The Articles of the Remonstrants are the classic statement of Armianism, formulated by the followers of James Arminius. These five articles were condemned as heresy at the synod of Dort (1618-19).

4 Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. p.153.

5 Robert Haldane. Romans. p.203.