A Dangerous Teaching in Fundamentalism
By David J. Stewart
In David W. Cloud's audio sermon, Calvinism: Who's the Enemy?, he tells the story of a man he met in Nepal, India, who inquired about being saved. The man said he wanted to be saved, but was concerned about two things; namely, his immoral affair with his girlfriend, and his crooked business practices. The man was asking David Cloud if he would have to forsake these particular sins to be saved. David Cloud then stops telling the story, and mentions the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-23 in an attempt to justify the following heresy on repentance. David Cloud states...
"I believe we have to be clear with people that there is going to be a turning here. God's the one that is going to change your life. God is the one that is going to give you power. But there's going to be a change, and if you're not ready for that, you cannot be saved. I believe that's what repentance is. Many soulwinning programs just seem to try to wanna slip the Gospel by the sinner before he knows what's happening, get him saved, and then try to disciple him somehow later on, when there's never, ever, been a surrender to God." [emphasis added]
Now, that's just unbiblical folks! The bottom line to Cloud's teaching on repentance is that you cannot come to Christ for salvation unless you first intend not to walk in sin after you receive Him. This is "qualification by works" as a prerequisite for receiving Christ as Savior. David Cloud is teaching utter heresy.
What About the Rich Young Ruler?
Here's are Dr. John R. Rice's thoughts concerning Luke 18:18-23...
"The parallel accounts are given in Matthew 19:16-22 and in Mark 17-22. Mark says of the young ruler that "there came one running, and kneeled to him," showing his deep concern and his reverence for Jesus. And here he says, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He was seeking eternal life by way of the commandments--the law--by doing good things." [pg. 438]
"And I remind you that Jesus is not here giving a plan of salvation... He is answering the young man's question about a way to Heaven by keeping the law, and Christ here is using the law as it is intended--as a "schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24). [pg. 440]
SOURCE: Luke: The Son of Man, A Verse-By-Verse Commentary; pg. 438-440; by Dr. John R. Rice; Sword Of The Lord Publishers; ISBN: 0-87398-767-5
David Cloud misinterprets this passage of Scripture, to mean that a person cannot be saved unless he is willing to let God make some changes after he is saved. This is nothing less than a backdoor approach to Lordship Salvation. The simple FACT of the matter is that no one can forsake all their sins. Although David Cloud admits this, he contradicts himself when he teaches that a person "cannot be saved" unless their "ready" to allow God to make some changes once saved. If the man in Nepal had to give up his fornication and thievery to be saved, then he would also have to give up EVERY sin in his life, which would make him perfect. David Cloud's reasoning is extremely dangerous, and contradictory to the Scriptures. Jesus never asked anyone to be willing to change in order to be saved. Jesus always saved the person and then afterwards said, go and sin no more. The change comes after a person is saved. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 says "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." Carefully notice that the man is already IN CHRIST, i.e., he is saved.
David Cloud is placing unnecessary burdens upon lost sinners, by requiring people to surrender to God in order to be saved. The fact that Paul was pleading with the believers in Romans 12:1 to "present" their "bodies a living sacrifice" to God is proof that a person does NOT have to surrender their life to God in order to be saved. A genuine Christian should bare fruits of repentance in their life; but, this is not always evident, as witnessed in the lives of Noah, Lot, Samson, David, Solomon, Peter, etc. Even the best of Christians are still dirty, rotten, sinners.
Confusing the ROOT of One's Faith, with the FRUIT of One's Faith
I think what David Cloud is trying to get across is that when a person claims to be a Christian, there SHOULD be some type of evidence of it. This is what James meant in James 2:21 when he said... "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?" Abraham offered up Isaac in Genesis 22. However, Abraham was saved back in Genesis 15:6, which states... "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." The Apostle Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4:3. Paul speaks of the ROOT of Abraham's faith; BUT, James speaks of the FRUIT of Abraham's faith. We are justified in the eyes of God by faith alone (Romans 4:5); but we are justified in the eyes of men by our works (James 2:18). Many people confuse the ROOT of the believer's faith with the FRUIT of the believer's faith.
David Cloud, as do Ray Comfort and others, attempt to put the cart before the horse. Romans 4:5 clearly states... "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." If that man in Nepal had asked me the same question as he did to David Cloud, i.e., do I have to give up my sins to be saved?, I would have told him the exact same thing that Dr. Curtis Hutson, former editor of the Sword Of The Lord, told a man years ago...
Several years ago, after I finished preaching a Sunday morning service, several people trusted Christ as Saviour, including a lady and her five children. I noticed a man sitting on the same pew who did not respond. After the service, I spoke to him, while many of the members of the church were shaking hands with the lady, her children, and others who had trusted Christ that morning.
"Sir," I said, "is this your wife and children?"
"Yes," he replied.
I said, "Isn't it wonderful that they have trusted Christ as Saviour!"
"Yes," he replied.
Then I asked, "Have you trusted Christ as your Saviour?"
He dropped his head and said, "I'm afraid I haven't."
"May I ask why you haven't trusted Christ as Saviour?"
"Well," he said, "to be honest with you, I'm afraid I can't live it."
I suspected that this man had an idea that in order to be saved, he must promise God that he would never sin again, or he thought that repenting was turning from sin. So I pressed the issue. "What do you mean, you can't live it?"
"Well," he said, "I know that I will probably sin again."
I said, "Sir if getting saved is promising Jesus you will never sin again, then I would never get saved, because I know I cannot live a sinless life." I explained that to be saved one simply had to trust Jesus as Saviour. I opened the Bible to John 3:36 and read, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." Then pointing to the verse, I asked, "Does the verse say 'He that believeth on the Son and lives it has everlasting life'?"
"Oh, no," he replied.
"Then what does the verse say?"
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."
"Then must one believe on the Son and live it in order to be saved? Or must one simply believe on the Son, as the Bible says, to have everlasting life?"
"Well," he said, "I suppose that one must do what the Bible says - believe on the Son."
"Then will you trust Jesus Christ right now as your Saviour?"
With a smile on his face, he answered, "I certainly will." In a moment he joined his wife and children as the church members came by and shook hands, rejoicing with them in their decision to trust Christ as Saviour.
SOURCE: Repentance: What Does the Bible Teach?
Dr. Curtis Hutson is 100% correct!
No Salvation Without the Law
We need to preach the "Thou shalt nots" of the Bible. Sinners need to recognize that they've sinned against God. Many people today have a frivolous attitude towards coming to Christ, because they genuinely don't see their NEED. All they see is a big game of playing church, giving money to some greedy preacher, and being brainwashed. The fault rests upon America's preachers who have dropped the ball concerning the sinfulness of sin. The Apostle Paul states concerning the Law in Romans 7:13... "that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." The Law of God does the exact opposite of Hellivision (i.e., TV)--the Law SENSITIZES us to the sinfulness of sin! TV desensitizes it's viewers to the sinfulness of sin.
I am confident that David Cloud's concerns are centered in the
preponderance of shallow conversions today, and with that I would agree.
However, we must not pervert the simplicity of the Gospel message by
redefining "repentance." It is vitally important that we separate the
requirements to be saved, from the life that a Christian is expected to live
after being saved. Yes, a genuine believer should show forth evidence
of a changed life after being saved; BUT, that has absolutely nothing to do
with the requirements to be saved. A man only needs to acknowledge
that he is a guilty sinner, and TURN in faith to Jesus Christ for
forgiveness and salvation. It is the Law of God that shows us our
guilt before God (Romans 3:19). I am not diminishing the importance of
God's Law in salvation, or of the need for Biblical repentance; but,
"repentance" simply means "a change of mind," not "a change of mind that
eventually leads to a change of life." Although there should be a
changed life down the road, this is totally irrelevant to the meaning of
"repentance" concerning salvation. We mustn't mix the ROOT of one's
faith with the FRUIT of one's faith, for to do so is works salvation, which
is centered in self-righteousness.
There is a raging battle today over the matter of Biblical "repentance" in regards to salvation. I did not write this article to attack David Cloud, not at all; but to defend the Biblical Christian faith. I admire anyone who stands for what they believe, and I am convinced Mr. Cloud is 100% sincere in his beliefs. However, he is wrong on this matter of repentance. David Cloud stated earlier... "But there's going to be a change, and if you're not ready for that, you cannot be saved." No such heresy is taught in the Word of God. The Bible teaches that the change comes AFTER a person is saved (2nd Corinthians 5:17). A lost sinner DOESN'T have to be "ready" for anything to believe on the Lord and get saved. David Cloud teaches that if a person is not willing to make changes after he is saved, before he is even saved, then he cannot get saved. How ridiculous is that? It is absurd.
John 20:31 tells us why the Gospel of John was written... "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." Interestingly, the words "repent" and "repentance" are never mentioned even once in the Book of John. However, the words "faith" and "believe" are mentioned 98 times in the Gospel of John. Clearly, to believe on Christ is to turn one's back on sin, even though it is impossible for anyone to live without sinning. It is tragic that so many people today are perverting the simple Gospel. David Cloud admits in one statement that it is God that changes a man's heart; but then in the next statement he places the burden of being "ready" for that change upon the lost sinner. No lost sinner is ready for a holy life. 1st Peter 2:2 states... "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." Whatever happened to growing in grace? Whether David Cloud wants to admit it or not, discipleship is taught in the Bible (Matthew 28:20).
Jesus said in John 5:40... "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." Carefully notice that Jesus said "will not come," not "cannot come." John 3:20 states... "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." Most people today won't come to Christ because of their love for sin. However, the man in Nepal wanted to be saved, and he evidently felt guilt over his sins or else he wouldn't have mentioned them; yet, David Cloud misled the man, leading him to believe that he couldn't be saved unless he was willing to turn from those sins after he was saved. David Cloud's teaching is nothing less than masqueraded Lordship Salvation.
Ye Must Be Born Again!