Pastor Arnold Murray always said to "check him out" so I encourage you to do that. Unfortunately when you do check him out his interpretations are far from Biblical and some are actually heretical. I believe the most heretical teaching from Shepherd's Chapel (other then denying the Trinity) is their doctrine of election. I will explain why I believe that as we examine the Biblical texts, especially Romans chapter 8 and Ephesians chapter 1.
So what is Shepherd's Chapel view of election?
Shepherd's Chapel teaches that, millions of years ago, there was a first earth age in which we all lived and we were in spiritual bodies. At some point Satan rebelled against God and convinced a third of the angels (us in spiritual bodies) to follow him. Others followed faithfully after God, and still others were undecided. God then destroyed the first earth age with the Katabole and created this present earth age. (See Shepherd's Chapel's studies: #30417, "Elect"; #30146, "Genesis, Chapters 1-6")
According to Shepherd's Chapel we are all now being born into this earth age so that we can choose to follow God or follow Satan. The ones that followed God, in the first earth age, are what the Bible calls elect and they were justified and glorified in the first earth age (see Arnold Murray's study in Romans chapter 8). They earned the right to be the elect of God in this earth age and are the only ones that can discern the deeper truths of Scripture. These elect have no free will, but all others have free-will to follow God or follow Satan. This sets a hard distinction between Elect Christians and Fee-Will Christians.
Does the Bible actually teach this version of the doctrine of election?
There is quite a heated debate among Christians as to the nature of the elect. Yet both sides of the argument (Arminian and Calvinist) agree that when the Bible speaks of the elect it is talking about all true believing Christians. I take the Calvinist (Reformed) understanding of the nature of the elect but I'm not specifically defending that view in this post. I'll be focusing on Romans chapter 8 to see if Shepherd's Chapel's view of election contradicts Scripture.
Romans 8:29 is one of the verses Shepherd's Chapel will use to substantiate their peculiar doctrine of election. Before we look at Romans 8:29 to see if it is speaking of all Christians or just a group chosen in the world that was we must look at the context of Romans 8 and follow Paul's thought.
Romans chapter 8 follows after Paul's writing about our struggle as Christians with sin in Romans chapter 7. Romans 8:1 is very important to our discussion as it sets the context of the whole of Paul's argument in Romans chapter 8.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)Paul states here that there is no condemnation (no fear of judgment) for those who are in Christ Jesus. This sets to context of what follows and show that we are talking about all believers in Christ and not just some separate group of special Christians.
Paul goes on in verse 9 to say:
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9)Again pretty clear language that the whole subject of this chapter is about ALL that belong to Christ.
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)Paul is talking about those that are the children of God.. ALL Christians are the children of God! I cannot stress enough that if you simply read Romans chapter 8 you see it is talking about ALL Christians and not just a sub-group of elect Christians.
Now let's take a look at the verse in question:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)Shepherd's Chapel will claim the "those whom he foreknew" means those God knew in the first earth age (see also this post). Yet look at what the verse is actually saying. God foreknew (new beforehand who he would choose). He predestined this group for a purpose. What is the purpose? "to be conformed to the image of his Son"(verse 29). Compare this to Phil. 3:21, 1 Cor. 15:49, Col. 3:10, 1 John 3:2. The predestined or elect group talked about here is all Christians. This group is foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified. Those terms, when taken in context to Romans 8, are talking about all believing Christians. There is no distinction in the text between a group of free-will believing Christians and elect believing Christians.
Christians are justified by the predestined choice of God and not by any action we performed in this earth age or any fabricated previous earth age.
Shepherd's Chapel has to force this separation of the body of Christ by saying there are two types of Christians, an elect group and a free-will group. They then read this unscriptural concept back into the Bible when the Bible does not teach that concept at all in the first place!
As if we needed any more proof that this is talking about all Christians Paul continues:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:31-33)Paul very bluntly proclaims that God's elect are all Christians.
It has been shown that in the full context of Romans chapter 8 that the Shepherd's Chapel view of election is completely false and heretical.
Another part of Scripture that Shepherd's Chapel uses to defend their false belief is Ephesians chapter 1. Let us take a quick look at what it has to say.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:(Eph. 1:1)Here we see the context and to whom the book is written to. It clearly states that Paul is writing this letter to the the saint who are faithful in Christ Jesus. That is Christians, all Christians.
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,(Eph 1:4-7)Ephesians 1:4-5 is very common verses used by Shepherds chapel to try and prove their view of election. If you read verses 4-7 very carefully you will see the context and meaning extremely clearly and it is at odds with the teachings of Shepherd's Chapel.
First off God chose us before the creation of the world, for a fuller explanation of katabole and that teaching of Shepherd's Chapel see my post here. Notice what is says next after it shows we are chosen. The text says we were chosen to be holy and blameless before Him (God). That is all Christians not just some sect of special elect Christians chosen in a first earth age.
now in verse 5 it says we were predestined. What does it immediately say after predestined? The text explains itself. We were predestined FOR adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. The purpose of being chosen and predestined is to be HOLY and to be adopted as SONS. That is descriptive of ALL Christians.
The next statement gives how. "according to the purpose of his will". That is God's will. It goes on to state that those that are chosen and predestined are the ones that have redemption through his (Christ's) blood.
Romans chapter 8 and Ephesians chapter 1 does not teach that there is a special group of "elect" Christians that were chosen in a first earth age because they sided with God. Both Romans and Ephesians proclaim very loudly that it is ALL true believing Christians that are Elect and Predestined. The purpose of Election and Predestination is clearly taught in Ephesians chapter 1 to be chosen for holiness and predestined for adoption as Sons (in other words to be Christians!).
Shepherd's Chapel false teaching of election is thoroughly refuted by Scriptures.
Soli Deo Gloria!!