“Turn From Sin” To Be Saved?

By David J. Stewart
January 2002 | Updated November 2022

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.” —Matthew 27:3

       Did you know that Judas repented? Read our text verse above in Matthew 27:3. Yes, Judas repented, but he still hung himself and went straight to Hell forever. Why? It's because Judas was only sorry for what he had done. A different Greek word is used for “repented” in Matthew 27:3 (which means “to feel remorse afterwards”) than the Greek word “repent” in Mark 1:15 (which means, “a change of mind”). Mark 1:15b, “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Notice that the Bible doesn't say to “repent and turn from sin”; but rather, “repent ye, and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL.”

You cannot show me anywhere in the Holy Bible where it says to “turn from sin” or “repent from sin” to be saved. Biblical “repentance” is the Greek noun metanoia, which means “a change of mind.” It is not a change of mind that leads to a change of behavior. The only turning from sin that God requires for salvation is the admission of our sinnership, the realization of our guilt as a condemned sinner.

It simply means that whereas we used to defend our sins as an unsaved person (John 3:20), now we've had a change of mind and say, “I have sinned and am guilty in God's eyes.” God gave us His law (i.e., Ten Commandments) to show us the awfulness of our sins (Romans 7:13), to convince us of our GUILT OF SIN (Romans 3:19). Therefore, we MUST come to Christ for salvation as a sinner. This is the only extent to which a person must “turn from sin” to be saved. God only saves “THE UNGODLY” (Romans 4:5-6).

Here is one of the best quotes that I've found on repentance, by Dr. Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951):

“Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture we read, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel.' Yet we find true believers exhorted to 'repent, and do the first works.' So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is repentance.” (Except Ye Repent, p. 16)

To require a change of lifestyle for salvation is a works-based false Gospel. To “repent” concerning salvation means “a change of mind” (not a change of lifestyle). Whereas an unsaved person used to defend their sins and live shamelessly in shameful sin without guilt, now there has been a change of mind and they desire forgiveness in Christ, knowing that they've broken God's law and deserve to be punished. The law of God points SINNERS to Jesus Christ the SAVIOR to be saved (Galatians 3:24-26). Repentance is a change of mind unto the Gospel itself. We are saved by BELIEVING the Good News of Christ crucified on the cross, buried and bodily risen (1st Corinthians 15:1-6), and not by repenting from anything! Albeit, no one has ever believed who didn't repent!

Judas is a perfect example of false repentance. The Bible says that Judas “repented” (Greek: metamellomaiin, meaning, “to regret”) in Matthew 27:3. Yet, Jesus said Judas had a devil (John 6:70). Judas didn't repent toward God in faith to be saved; but rather, he felt regret that he got caught for betraying the Lord. Judas brought the 30 pieces of silver back to the Pharisees, but they refused it. Judas cast down the coins down on the floor, then went and hung himself (Matthew 27:5). Turning from sinful behavior is not part of the Gospel. The false repentance of Judas evidences this truth. This is why I wrote this article. I am NOT adding a step to salvation which the Holy Bible does not teach. There are NO STEPS to salvation. I am simply warning everyone that there is a false form of repentance and salvation, which cannot produce the new birth in Jesus Christ. It is not enough to place one's faith in Christ, unless you admit you are a sinner. God only saves ungodly sinners. You've got to know what you're being saved from!

Contrawise, it is not enough to admit you are a sinner and turn over a new leaf. You must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. You must address the SIN question and the SON question. That is, you must acknowledge your sinnership, and also trust upon the Savior to be saved. You'd be shocked if you knew how many professed Christians in the churches today are not really born again. They are still in their sins, hellbound without Christ, possessing churchianity without Christianity. Satan's greatest weapon is to con people into living the Christian life without ever being born again. That's what Jesus meant in Matthew 7:13-14 when He warned “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Most religious people are not born-again. Religious wants to fit you with glasses, but the Lord Jesus Christ wants to open your eyes to the truth of the Gospel.

Evangelist Paul Washer errantly teaches that you cannot be saved unless you travel the narrow way of holy living, which is a gross misinterpretation of this passage of Scripture. The false prophets in Matthew 7:21-23 said “Lord, Lord,” but they were not saved. They had amended their ways—speaking in Jesus' name, performing “many wonderful works” in Jesus' name, and performing miracles in Jesus' name, but they were unsaved and went to Hell forever in their sins, because they had never believed on Jesus' name. They failed to do God's will concerning salvation. John 6:40 tells us God's will, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Lordship Salvationists are not saved because they think repentance means to change your lifestyle to be saved, which is self-righteousness. If you're wrong on repentance, you're not saved (just like Judas)!

As mentioned, Judas is a perfect example of false repentance. The Bible says that Judas “repented” (Greek: metamellomaiin, meaning, “to regret”) in Matthew 27:3. Concerning salvation, the Bible uses a different word for “repent.” Mark 1:15, “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” The word “repent” here in Mark 1:15 is the Greek metanoeo, a verb meaning, “to think differently.” Hebrews 6:1, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.” Lordship Salvationists need to repent from their dead works (not from sins) of religious self-righteousness and trust the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. Please read, The Great meaning Of “Metanoia”. A man must repent of anything and everything that is hindering him from doing the only thing that brings salvation, which is to BELIEVE ON THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!!! (Romans 1:16).

Confession Of Individual Sins Is Not Necessary For Salvation

Please don't misunderstand what I am teaching. Salvation is very simple. You don't have to make a list of your sins to be saved, nor try to remember every sinful thing that you've ever done. I'm not teaching that. I'm simply saying that God saves sinners! God does NOT save the self-righteous. The majority of the religious Pharisees in Jesus' day errantly thought they were going to Heaven, but they were not saved at all, and went to Hell forever. They had never been born-again. Thankfully, some of the leaders, like Nicodemus, did get saved. The Bible says in John 12:42 that many of the chief rulers believed on Him. The question is simply this: Do you admit that you are a sinner? GOD SAVES SINNERS, NOT THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS!

The Bible teaches easy-believism. Getting saved is as simple as going through a door. John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Getting saved is easy! Jesus is the door through which we enter into Heaven. There is no other name by which a person can be saved (Acts 4:10-12). To renounce one's sins simply means to admit that we have sinned and are guilty in God's eyes; hence, we see our need for redemption and run to Calvary to be saved by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There are no requirements to be saved. There are no steps to salvation. There are no strings attached to be saved. The Bible simply and clearly tells us to believed THE GOSPEL, which is defined in 1st Corinthians 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

Believe that Christ DIED, was BURIED and RAISED UP FROM THE DEAD after three days and you will immediately be saved. We are born-again (that is, born from above) by the Spirit of God the very moment that we place our trust in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The second birth is a one-time miracle, just like the physical birth. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be born twice physically. Likewise, once a Christian, always a Christian. Once a person is born, they are born and cannot be born again and again and again and again. When a person claims that they “used to be a Christian,” what they really mean is that they once ascribed to the philosophy of Christianity, or some religious organization; but they never experienced the miraculous second birth by faith in Christ Jesus.

Eternal life is a gift that cannot be earned or merited in any way. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Sorrow Is Not Necessary For Salvation

Please note that this is not the same as feeling sorry for one's sins. Sorrow is an emotion, which may or may not accompany the realization of one's guilt of sin. A person DOESN'T have to feel sorry or remorseful for their sins to be saved; but rather, must simply admit that they are guilty of violating God's commandments. Judas was sorry that he got caught betraying the Lord, but he didn't realize his guilt in God's eyes. Judas went to Hell. Clearly, this evidences that feeling sorry for one's sins is NOT required to be saved. And it also shows that even if a person is sorry for their sins, sorrow alone cannot save someone from Hell. Ye must be born again! The miracle of regeneration must happen, when God's Spirit enters into a person, forever to be with them. The very moment that you trust Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, by receiving the gospel (Jesus died, was buried and is risen) as payment for your sins, you are saved eternally.

Many preachers attempt to use the following Scripture to require being sorry for one's sins as part of salvation. 2nd Corinthians 7:10, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” May I say, this Scripture was given by the apostle Paul in relation to the adulterous man in 1st Corinthians 5:1-5. The man was confronted by church elders about his sin of fornication. The woman is never mentioned again, but the man did repent and is still a member of the church at Corinth. Amen! Now Paul tells them in his second Epistle that he didn't mean to be unkind, but rebuked them because godly sorrow works repentance.

It's important to keep in mind that Paul applied this Scripture to saints who were already saved. When a person repents (changes their mind) at the time of salvation, that is just the beginning of a whole new life in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17). Lordship Salvationists who pervert the gospel, expect a person who's not even yet a babe in Christ to feel remorse over their sins, which is impossible. The sorrow over sin comes AFTER the Spirit of God enters into a man. Jesus said in John 3:20 that the unsaved world avoids the light at all cost “lest his deeds should be reproved.” When a person changes their mind, trusting upon Christ to forgive their sins, then the new life in Jesus Christ begins. Let me put it this way—a changed life is the FRUIT of genuine repentance, and not a part of the ROOT of saving-faith.

The change comes AFTER a person gets saved. I live right because I AM saved, not TO GET saved. When I sin, God's Spirit Who lives in my body (1st Corinthians 3:17-18) convicts me, chastises and scourges me (Hebrews 12:6-8). Feeling sorry for one's sins is the result of our new way of thinking. Since we repented (had a change of mind) when we were saved, now we view sin differently and feel remorse over our sins. Hence, sorrow and remorse are character traits that can only come AFTER a person is saved. A person may feel sorry for their sins at the time of salvation, but the truth is that they are feeling sorrow as a new believer in Christ.

Being sorry (an emotion) for sins is NOT mandatory for salvation. God only requires that we acknowledge that we are guilty sinners; thus, we need the Savior. The entire purpose of God's Law is so that we'll realize our guilty condition for breaking God's Law, and then turn to the Savior to be forgiven and cleansed by His precious blood sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12,22-24; 1st Peter 1:18-19; 1st John 1:7; Revelation 1:5). Some gospel tracts and ministries tell others to feel sorry for their sins to be saved. It's a completely innocent mistake, yet very serious (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25 - the road to Hell is paved with good intentions). Roman Catholics require penance, a period of remorsing over one's sins, as part of their process of religious redemption. Of course, in reality they're the blind leading the blind into the fires of Hell.

Will a person go to Hell for adding feeling sorry over sins as part of the gospel? I think not. It's like telling someone that they can be saved if they'll walk down the church isle to the front. How many people have gone to Hell because they were too embarrassed to walk down an isle, or physically didn't feel good that particular day? No minister should force anyone to walk an isle to get saved. Every preacher should tell people how to be saved right there in their pew. My point here is that you won't go to Hell because you were told to walk down an isle to learn about the gospel. But the risk is that some people won't hear the gospel because they didn't want to walk down an isle. Likewise, you won't go to Hell because someone told you to feel sorry for your sins to be saved. But the risk is that some people may not feel that they are ready or worthy to be saved if they don't feel any remorse or emotions over their sins.

This is the danger of Jack Chick's gospel. In all of his Chick tracts he tells people to admit that they have sinned. But then he goes a step further and requires people to be willing to turn from sin, which he understands is the meaning of repent. I do believe that many people have been saved from reading Chick tracts. However, the woeful risk is that some people won't feel like they can be saved unless they are willing to stop living in adultery or stop cheating on their taxes or stop stealing at work or stop being a homosexual. No one can stop sinning. The only difference is that some people are trying not to sin and others aren't. I'm sure that's what Jack Chick means, but it has nothing to do with being saved.

I think Jack Chick teaches what he does because of people who live in gross immorality while simultaneously claiming to be saved. So Jack Chick adds the requirement to “be willing to turn from sin” to write them all off as unsaved reprobates. The problem takes care of itself in reality. John 3:20 says that wicked people run from the light, they don't come to it. Evildoers don't want anything to do with Jesus or the King James Bible. So you don't have to require people to be willing to stop sinning to be saved, because they don't want to be saved in the first place (not God's way at least). As the church becomes more worldly, so also is the world becoming more churchy. Lesbian and homosexual couples are pastoring churches all across America. It's demonic!!!

I love this video. God used a drunk Christian man to rebuke Ray Comfort's damnable Calvinist heresy that you must "repent of your sins" to get to Heaven...

John 3:20 Explains The Proper Biblical Meaning Of “Turn From Sin”

Personally, I don't like the terminology “turn from sin” and don't use it. The phrase is NOT found in the Bible. However, I don't believe that it does any injustice to the Scriptures, because a change of mind is a turn about in one's thinking. Albeit, preachers have to be a lot more careful these days with their choice of words, because Satan is attacking and redefining words to change the very foundation of Christianity to destroy it.

Notice in the following Scripture that the Bible tells the “unrighteous” (unsaved) man to forsake his “THOUGHTS,” not lifestyle. A Christian can backslide into a wicked life; but never become unrighteous once saved. Salvation cannot be undone nor lost, ever. So God tells the wicked person to repent, as with the adulterous man in 1st Corinthians 5:1-5. Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” A believer still commits sin. We can live above reproach, but no one can live above sin. A believer who is living in adultery is wicked. The Bible commands that person to repent of their ways and return to God. However, an unsaved person has never been born-again and needs to get saved. The Bible commands the unsaved (or unrighteous) person to forsake their thoughts, which is exactly what the Greek word for “repent” in Mark 1:15 means, that is, “a change of mind.”

Jesus said in John 3:20, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” This Scripture is why preachers say to “turn from sin” to be saved. It's because sin keeps men from coming to the light of Jesus and the Bible to be saved. Jesus said that the love of sin hinders people from coming to Him to be saved. Notice what Jesus said in John 5:40, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Jesus said, “Ye will not come,” He didn't say “Ye cannot come!” God's grace reaches out to ALL humanity. God will save anybody who desires to be saved, no matter how wicked or unwilling to depart from your sins. So in view of John 3:20, the old-time preachers used to say “turn from sin” because they knew that holding onto the love of sin is what prevents people from coming to Jesus to be forgiven and cleansed. This is acceptable Biblical doctrine.

The problem is today's false doctrine of Lordship Salvation, which teaches that it's not enough to admit you're a sinner and place your trust in the Lord. They also claim that a person must cease from old sinful bad habits, forsake the sinful world, make a commitment to God, surrender their will and life to Jesus Christ and endeavor with God's help to live a new life. They require all this to be saved, or a combination thereof. Biblically, you just have to believe the gospel to have your sins forgiven. That's it!

All God requires is that you realize your guilt of sin and thus, need for the precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Who came into the world to be crucified for your sins and mine? Do you believe that Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God? Do you believe that He died in our place on the cross, taking all our sins upon Him? If you believe that Jesus died, was buried and miraculously rose up three days later, and you receive that as full-payment for your sins, then you are saved eternally and 100% certain my friend.

Either sin will try to keep you from getting saved, or getting saved will try to keep you from sin. Albeit, salvation itself is a free gift, paid for in full by Jesus' blood sacrifice (1st Peter 1:18-19).

A Person Cannot Be Saved Without God's Law That Makes Us Guilty

There can be no salvation without the Law, without repentance, without acknowledging one's own sinnership. I am NOT saying that a person must turn from committing sins to be saved, God forbid. That would be self-righteousness. I am simply saying that to be saved, the Bible teaches that a person must acknowledged their SINNERSHIP. This is the only way that a sinner must “turn from sin” to be saved. It simply means that whereas you used to be an unsaved sinner who denied your sins, now you say as a Christian “I have sinned.” There has been a turn about in your thinking. Whereas you used to defend and try to justify your sins, now you acknowledge your sinfulness for breaking God's Laws. I am the biggest sinner that I know. I'm not proud of it. I hate sin, all sin, especially my own sins. I look forward to the Rapture, when the Lord is going to change our earthly bodies from corruption to incorruption. Amen!

Romans 3:19, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Many preachers are aware of the issue and attempt to be vague in their words, trying to take a middle of the road position. For example: Jack Jack errantly teaches that it's not enough to admit that one is a sinner; but also, he teaches that a person must “be willing to turn from sin,” which he understands means to be willing to cease from living a sinful lifestyle. That is heresy and not what the Bible says. Repentance is not a willingness to stop sinning; but rather, acknowledging one's sinnership. The only sin which a person must literally turn from is the only sin which can prevent a person from entering Heaven, that is, the sin of unbelief.

I DON'T label a ministry or website as heresy unless they clearly teach that a person must stop living in sin to be saved, because that is a false gospel of self-righteousness. There is a fine line between faith and foolishness. Many preachers use the phrase “turn from sin,” but they don't mean Lordship Salvation. Evangelist John R. Rice (1895-1980) speaks of turning from sin with all of one's heart in his popular gospel booklet, WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED? Yet, from reading the entire tract (and not taking words out of context) it is clear that Dr. Rice does not believe in Lordship Salvation (which is the false doctrine that a sinner must cease from committing sins to be saved).

There Can Be No Salvation Without The Law

The Biblical word “repent” means “a change of mind.” When a person believes upon the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, they have simultaneously repented. When a person repents toward God, they have turned their back to sin. One cannot repent without believing, and cannot believe without repenting. Repentance and belief are two separate parts to ONE STEP in salvation, and they happen simultaneously. Salvation is NOT a process. It is a new birth, the second birth, instant and irrevocable.

God intentionally used the noun “metanoia” for “repent,” which means “a change of mind.” We do not know what the change of mind is about. Thus, we need supplemental information, that is, additional information, to know what to change our mind about. God did this on purpose, to be all-inclusive of anything and everything that hinders a man from coming to the light to be saved. Repentance is from whatever is hindering you from believing the Gospel.

Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) states...

“Repentance is inseparable from faith. The Greek word for repentance in the Bible simply means a change of mind; that is, a wholesome change of attitude toward sin and toward God. One who turns his heart to trust in Christ has, naturally, turned his heart away from the love of sin.”

SOURCE: Dr. Rice, Here is My Question...; pg. 248, by Dr. John R. Rice, Sword Of The Lord Publishers; ISBN: 0-87398-158-8

Let us ponder the words of Jesus, who said in John 6:37, “...him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Any sinner who sincerely wants to be saved, may be saved, if he'll simply come by way of the precious blood of Jesus. 

Does a person have to stop sinning to be saved? No, that would be impossible. Acts 26:20 says, “that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” The word “meet” in the Greek is axios and means “deserving, comparable or suitable-worthy.” The Bible is saying that we ought to do works worthy of the salvation that we've been freely given in Christ Jesus. Scriptural evidence for this teaching is found in 1st Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” Carefully notice that the Bible does not say to do works to make one worthy of being saved; but rather, to do works meet (worthy) for repentance. No one is worthy of salvation. No one!

Repentance and belief happen simultaneously. The words “believe” and “believed” are mentioned 85-times in the Gospel Of John, but the word “repent” is not mentioned even once. Clearly, one who has believed HAS repented concerning sin. The only repentance which God requires to be saved is the admission that one is a guilty sinner deserving of Hell. So, repentance unto salvation does NOT mean forsaking sinful bad habits; but rather, admitting one's guilt of sin as Romans 3:19 teaches. That's the purpose of God's Law, that is, to show us our sinfulness and need for the Savior (Galatians 3:25-26). There is a witch-hunt on the internet against any preacher who dares use the term “turn from sin,” but I see no harm in those words unless it is made clear that it is a false Gospel of self-righteousness (aka, Lordship Salvation).

ALBEIT, I WOULD NEVER USE THOSE WORDS BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT FOUND IN THE BIBLE. For example: Dr. Kent Hovind's Creation Science Evangelism (CSE) plainly teaches a false gospel. Dr. Hovind's website, like Ray Comfort, says that it's not enough to be sorry for one's sins. Well the Bible doesn't even teach that. Never once are we told that we must “be sorry” (an emotion) for sin. Judas was sorry, but he still went to hell. Hovind's website says you must turn from sin and “endeavor” with God's help to change. That's damnable heresy. Eternal life is a free gift. You DON'T have to endeavor to get saved. You don't have to clean up your life, before or after salvation, as part of obtaining salvation. You don't have to feel sorry. You don't have to do anything except ADMIT that you are a big sinner and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ Who died, was buried and rose up three days later. Jesus shed His precious blood to pay for our sins.

Mark 1:15, “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Notice carefully that the object of the word “repent” is to believe the Gospel. The object of repentance is NOT turning from sins. That phrase is not found in the Bible. Yet, we do know that the Greek meaning for the word repent is “a change of mind.” Whereas a person used to live in sin and make excuses for them, now they admit that they are a guilty sinner. But repentance cannot exist by its own otherwise it's just turning over a new leaf, which is religious humanism. You must believe on the Lord Jesus, that He is the Christ, the Son of God Who died, was buried and resurrected 3-days later. If you believe, then you HAVE repented. You cannot turn to the Lord without your back being turned against sin. Try it, face forward any direction you want and notice that your back is facing the other way.

Biblical repentance is turning to Jesus Christ to be forgiven of our sins; not turning from the act of sin as a prequalification to believing on Christ. Anyone who says that you must “turn from sin” to be saved needs to explain what they mean, so you can determine whether it is a false gospel or the truth. If they mean to be sorry, they are wrong. If they mean to cease from sinful bad habits, they are wrong. If they mean to admit that a person has sinned, they are correct.

We must be careful when denouncing any particular preacher who dares to mention turning from sin to be saved, because Dr. John R. Rice, Brother Lester Roloff, Dr. Oliver B. Greene and other great men of God used that term, and I have read enough of their writings to know that they do not teach that a person must forsake a sinful lifestyle in order to be saved. It is the satanic ecumenical movement that has built a bridge between Roman Catholicism and Christian Evangelicalism which has spawned the hell-sent monster of Lordship Salvation in these last days.

“Turning from sin” is a vague term by itself, which is why I am careful not to refute anybody just for using the phrase. So if you mean turning from sin in the sense of changing one's mind about sin, then I agree, because repentance is “a change of mind.” The change is in one's mind, not in one's lifestyle (and that's the big difference between Biblical salvation verses the Lordship Salvation heresy). Same-sex couples today defend their sins, which is how I know that they are not saved. They have never repented concerning their sins. A Christian may be living a homosexual lifestyle, but they know it is wicked sin if they are saved and won't attempt to defend such wickedness (and God will chastise and scourge that person if they are a genuine child of God, Hebrews 12:6-8). Many Christians are shamefully living a sinful lifestyle of sexual immorality, as did Solomon and Samson. Christians don't defend their sins and deny their sinfulness. 1st John 1:8-10 plainly teaches that the truth is not in anyone who denies their sinfulness.

Judas Had False Repentance, Was Never Saved, And Went To Hell

Does a person have to stop living in sin to be saved? This is a highly debated issue these days in churches and theological circles. What saith the Scripture (Romans 4:3)? With all the talk nowadays about forsaking sins to be saved, I present Matthew 27:3 to you for consideration. Judas “repented” for betraying Jesus, and even tried to make amends by returning the money; but it wasn't genuine repentance. The Greek word for repentance here is different than in other Scriptures which concern salvation. Obviously, forsaking sins is not Biblical repentance. If it was, then Judas would have been justified; but he went to Hell. Jesus called Judas a devil (John 6:70). Biblical repentance must be rooted in the Law of God. 

Judas was sorry that he got caught, and likely wouldn't have committed the same sin again; but he never repented TOWARD God for his sins. So we see that the emotion of sorrow, forsaking the act of sin itself, and trying to make amends are not Biblical repentance. Many preachers in recent decades have fallen into the trap of Lordship Salvation, which is no salvation at all. You cannot get saved cleaning up your act, turning over a new leaf, nor by amending your ways. Salvation is completely of the Lord. Our part is to believe; God does all the saving!

There is a lot of fighting and misunderstanding today over the issue of repentance, and I believe God has laid it upon my heart to write this needful article. On the one-hand we have the Lordship Salvation crowd, and on the other-hand extreme those who want to label every preacher who dares mention the phrase “turn from sin” as a heretic. 

Many sincere believers have differences regarding doctrinal issues, but when it comes to disagreement over the doctrine of salvation, which the very foundation of Christianity, the false must be exposed and the truth firmly established in the heart of every believer. If we're wrong on repentance, then we're wrong on everything else too. This necessity is markedly seen today in the debate between Lordship Salvation and Free Grace. It's not just a matter of semantics.

John MacArthur's Heresy On Lordship Salvation

Let's start with the obvious. John MacArthur is wrong on repentance when he states:

Eternal security is a great spiritual truth, but it should never be presented merely as a matter of being once saved, always saved—with no regard for what you believe or do.  The writer of Hebrews 12:14 states frankly that only those who continue living holy lives will enter the Lord's presence. [emphasis added]

SOURCE: Kingdom Living Here and Now (pg. 150).

This is clearly unscriptural. Dr. MacArthur is teaching works salvation. Hebrews 12:14 doesn't mean that at all. To read more about what this verse does mean, and also read Dr. Oliver B. Greene's correct interpretation of this Scripture, please read John MacArthur Perverts Hebrews 12:14! 

Interestingly, MacArthur's recent “Revised and Updated” The MacArthur Study Bible correctly interprets this Scripture. So either Nelson Publisher's helped him write his commentary (i.e., a ghost writer); or else he's changed his doctrine and refuses to recant his previous heretical writings. The fact is that MacArthur contradicts himself often, which certainly doesn't bode well with being touted as a “world-class scholar.”

Dr. Jack Hyles and Dr. Curtis Hutson are 100% Correct Concerning Repentance

In Brother Hyle's book, Enemies of Soulwinning, in the chapter Misunderstood Repentance, he states:

So, from what must a person repent in order to be saved? He must repent of that which makes him lost. Since "believing not" makes him lost, "believing" makes him saved. In repentance there is a turning from the thing that keeps him from being saved to the thing that saves him. So, yes, there is a repentance from unbelief in order to believe. It is simply a change of direction. It means a turning around. You are going away from believing, and you decide to turn around and believe. You change your direction; you change your mind. With your will you believe and rely upon Christ to save you. In order to believe, you have to repent of unbelief. That which makes a man lost must be corrected.

Former Sword Of The Lord editor and faithful man of God, Dr. Curtis Hutson, also believed the same thing: Dr. Curtis Hutson is 100% Correct on Repentance! Without question, Pastor Hyles and Bro. Hutson make the best presentation of Biblical repentance and salvation. One must never forget that eternal life is a free gift, paid in full by Jesus' precious blood (1st Peter 1:18,19). Please read: To Him That Worketh Not and You Need HIS Righteousness!

Brother Lester Roloff

Taken at a glance the following statement might seem as if Bro. Roloff taught Lordship Salvation; but a careful review of his sermons evidence that he did not teach that. Here's a quote from Bro. Roloff . . .

“Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin. Repentance is a forsaking of sin. Real repentance is putting your trust in Jesus Christ so you will not live like that anymore. Repentance is permanent. It is a lifelong and an eternity-long experience. You will never love the devil again once you repent. You will never flirt with the devil as the habit of your life again once you get saved. You will never be happy living in sin; it will never satisfy; and the husks of the world will never fill your longing and hungering in your soul. Repentance is something a lot bigger than a lot of people think. It is absolutely essential if you go to heaven” (Lester Roloff, Repent or Perish, 1950s).

Carefully notice that Bro. Roloff says, “Real repentance is putting your trust in Jesus Christ so you will not live like that anymore.” Pastor Roloff is correctly teaching that genuine repentance brings forth a changed life; but he is not requiring a changed life to get saved. I agree that preachers need to be very careful in how they word their speeches and writings, especially in these Last Days when Satan is deliberately causing so much confusion in the churches. I won't defend a man for one second who perverts the Gospel, not for one second!

However, I don't condemn a preacher as a heretic either just because he believes that salvation should produce a changed man. That is exactly what the Bible says ought to happen (2nd Corinthians 5:17). The problem with Lordship Salvationists (like MacArthur) is that they mandate the change as a requirement to be saved, and that is a damnable false gospel that sends people to Hell.

Biblically, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, and whatever changes take place are God's department. Lordship Salvationists place the burden of changing upon the sinner as a prerequisite to saving faith. That is a false Gospel rooted in one's own self-righteousness. Brother Roloff didn't believe that a person has to stop sinning to be saved. This is clear from his other sermons.

Evangelist Oliver B. Greene

Although some students of the Bible have accused Dr. Greene of teaching Lordship Salvation, a carefully review of his writings evidences that he did not teach that. Oliver B. Greene believed just as the Bible teaches, i.e., that a changed life is the FRUIT of genuine repentance; and not a part of the ROOT of saving faith . . .

“True repentance is sorrow for sin committed against a holy God and not only sorrow for sin, but TURNING FROM SIN, FORSAKING SIN AND TURNING TO GOD. Sin nailed the Savior to the cross and certainly that fact alone is sufficient reason why ALL WHO HAVE GENUINELY REPENTED HATE SIN AND FORSAKE SINFUL WAYS” (Oliver B. Greene, Commentary of Acts of the Apostles, Acts 2:37-38, 1969)

Carefully notice that Dr. Greene says, “ALL WHO HAVE GENUINELY REPENTED...” The changes are a result of being saved, and not a mandatory requirement to get saved.

Dr. John R. Rice

For some reason the author of The Repentance Blacklist hasn't added Dr. Rice's name, but they need to if they're going to be honest, because Dr. Rice preached the same thing as Dr. Greene and Bro. Roloff:

To repent literally means to have a change of mind or spirit towards God and toward sin. It means to turn from your sins, earnestly, with all your heart, and trust in Jesus Christ to save you.

SOURCE: What Must I DO To Be Saved, by Dr. John R. Rice

Considering this quote by itself, one could be misled to believe that Brother Rice was teaching Lordship Salvation; BUT, he certainly is not.  Dr. Rice goes on to state...

The change in your heart, sinner, is God's part and you may be sure He will attend to that. Your part is to simply believe in Him. Whatever else is necessary in your eternal salvation, the Lord attends to when you trust in Him, or believe in Him.

SOURCE: What Must I DO To Be Saved, by Dr. John R. Rice

Did you read what Dr. Rice said?, "The change is in your heart..."  This is exactly what Brother Hutson and Pastor Hyles taught.  Salvation is of the heart; not of works.  Salvation is of God, not man.  Our part is simply to believe, but it is God who changes our heart.  Dr. Rice further states...

“One who believes in Christ has repented.”

SOURCE: What Must I DO To Be Saved, by Dr. John R. Rice

This statement alone by Dr. John R. Rice clearly shows that he didn't believe in Lordship Salvation!  Here is a quote from Dr. Curtis Hutson, with a quote which he provides from Dr. John R. Rice...

In an article in THE SWORD OF THE LORD, Dr. John R. Rice said:

"Sometimes the preacher does not himself fully understand the plan of salvation. He thinks of salvation as a process. First, there is a period of conviction, then a period of repentance, then an act of faith."

He [Dr. John R. Rice] went on to explain that when one trusts Christ as Saviour he also repents.

Dr. Rice is absolutely right. Faith and repentance are the same; they are not two separate decisions. One cannot trust Christ as Saviour without repenting or changing his mind. The very fact that he trusts Christ for salvation shows that he has changed his mind regarding sin, salvation, and God.

If one book of the Bible had to be considered "the salvation book," it would have to be the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John is printed and distributed more than any other book of the Bible. The purpose of this book is given in John 20:31, "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."

According to this verse, the whole purpose of the Gospel of John is that men might believe that Jesus is the Christ and believing they might have life through His name. In other words, it is written that men might be saved. Yet "repent" or "repentance" is not used one single time in the Gospel of John. On the other hand, "believe" is used more than ninety times in the twenty-one chapters.

SOURCE: Repentance: What Does the Bible Teach?

Curtis Hutson and John R. Rice are 100% in AGREEMENT on repentance!  Dr. Rice further states...

"Repentance is inseparable from faith.  The Greek word for repentance in the Bible simply means a change of mind; that is, a wholesome change of attitude toward sin and toward God.  One who turns his heart to trust in Christ has, naturally, turned his heart away from the love of sin."

SOURCE: Dr. Rice, Here is My Question...; pg. 248, by Dr. John R. Rice, Sword Of The Lord Publishers; ISBN: 0-87398-158-8

Let us ponder the words of Jesus, who said in John 6:37, "...him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."  Any sinner who sincerely wants to be saved, may be saved, if he'll simply come by way of the precious blood of Jesus. 

I also want to quote Dr. John R. Rice from his excellent book, "Dr. Rice, Here Is My Question...", page 248:

Question 200. Is repentance still necessary to salvation?

"Repentance is inseparable from faith.  The Greek word for repentance in the Bible simply means a change of mind; that is, a wholesale change of attitude toward sin and toward God.  One who turns his heart to trust in Christ has, naturally, turned his heart away from the love of sin ... It is a mistake to make a process out of salvation with repentance and faith as separate steps.  They are really different parts of the same step or different ways of speaking of the same attitude of heart.  One who repents, that is, has turned from rebellion and unbelief to trust Christ, has believed, of course.  One who trusts in Christ has necessarily turned his heart from rebellion and rejection of Christ and so has repented."

SOURCE: "Dr. Rice, Here Is My Question..."; ISBN: 0-87398-158-8; copyright, 1962, by Viola M. Walden

I agree with Dr. Rice 100%.  Don't miss what he said... "The Greek word for repentance in the Bible simply means a change of mind; that is, a wholesale change of attitude toward sin and toward God."  Brother Rice doesn't define "repentance" as turning from the act of committing sin, nor even as a willingness to turn from the act of sin; but rather, as simply a change of attitude towards one's sin and the Savior.  This is Biblical repentance.  If you know you are a GUILTY sinner, condemned under God's Law and deserving of hellfire, then you need only believe on the Jesus Christ to be saved.  Romans 3:19 tells us that the Law was given that all the world might become "GUILTY BEFORE GOD."

More Quotes from The Repentance Blacklist

Are these men all heretics?  Or is there a simple explanation for the misunderstanding? ...

Just now some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that ‘repentance is only a change of mind.’ It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning the repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one’s mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit. God-given repentance makes men grieve in their inmost souls over the sin they have committed, and works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form. We cannot find a better definition of repentance than the one many of us learned at our mother’s knee: ‘Repentance is to leave the sin we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve by doing so no more’” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Royal Saviour,” Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, Feb. 1, 1872)

Notice that Spurgeon said God-given repentance, "works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form."  Spurgeon is talking about the FRUIT of genuine repentance; not works salvation.

The lack of preaching against sin has brought in multitudes of false professions and false beliefs. … In the New Testament concerning salvation, repentance is always a change for the better and always a repentance from sin. Biblical repentance is changing one’s mind about their sin, the Saviour, and the Scriptures, which brings about a great change of direction in their lives (Acts 3:19)” (Pastor John L. Graf, Valiant for Truth, March 1997)

Notice that Pastor Graf said Biblical repentance, "brings about a great change..."  Again, he is talking about the FRUIT of genuine repentance; not forsaking one's sins to get saved. 

"You cannot have salvation without repentance and the evidence of salvation is a changed life (2nd Corinthians 5:17, 2nd Peter 3:9). You don't make Jesus "Lord," He is Lord. Salvation recognizes that and humbly submits to Him. Better to confess it with the mouth and bow the knee in this life than the one to come! (Romans 10:9, Act 16:31, Philippians 2:10-11). Repentance is not a work, it is part of the salvation God grants. It is from God so we can expect real and significant change in mind, heart, direction, motives, philosophy, life (Acts 11:18, 2nd Timothy 2:25, Ephesians 2:8-10)" (Pastor Steven Pawley, Antioch Bible Baptist Church, Lockport, New York)

Notice that Pastor Pawley said, "the evidence of salvation is a changed life."

Each of these men of God are talking about the FRUIT that follows genuine Biblical repentance; and NOT the forsaking of the act of sin to be saved.  I guarantee you that not one of these men of God believe that you have to forsake the act of sin as a requirement to be saved.  What they do believe is that genuine repentance will bring about a changed life, as a result of saving faith, and this is certainly Biblical (James 2:18).

Repentance Towards God

You can put all the faith in Christ you want, it means nothing if you're in denial about your sins.  The entire matter of salvation deals with OUR SINS.  Thus, repentance is when we come to the realization that we have sinned AGAINST GOD.  Notice what Joseph said to Potiphar's adulterous wife, who tried to seduce him in Genesis 39:9... "There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin AGAINST GOD?"  Joseph realized that if he did commit adultery, he would be sinning AGAINST GOD!  In Luke 15:21, the repentant prodigal son said... "Father, I have sinned AGAINST HEAVEN, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."  Notice what king David said in Psalm 41:4... “LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned AGAINST THEE.

Notice what the Apostle Paul taught in Acts 20:21... “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” You see, lost sinners need to repent TOWARDS GOD. Carefully notice in Mark 1:15 what Jesus said... “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Notice that Jesus DIDN'T say “repent ye, and forsake your sins.” No, rather, He said, “repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

The Guilt of Sin

To “repent” means to turn toward God to be forgiven of our sins. It means to confess our sinnership. Repentance is renouncing (as Spurgeon taught) our every sin, not defending our wickedness. A man who refuses to admit that homosexuality is a sin has not repented and is not saved.

Repentance is a change of mind, which Romans 3:19 says, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” God gave us the Law to show us our guilt of sin, and then point us to Christ for salvation (Galatians 3:25-26).

If you see yourself as a dirty, guilty, sinner (deserving of the Lake of Fire) and believe on Jesus, as the Christ, to be forgiven, then you are saved. You are saved immediately and born-again by the Spirit of God.

Most preachers today have lost touch with the reality of God's Law.  Here's a brief quote from Jonathan Edwards' classic sermon Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God...

“Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God's enemies.” —Pastor Jonathan Edwards

Could you imagine Joel Osteen speaking these same words to his coliseum of 44,000 followers?  He'd be preaching to empty seats mighty quickly.  Could you imagine Pat Robertson on The 700 Club speaking these words on national TV?  He'd be finished.  2nd Timothy 4:3 tells us why... "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears."  Americans are spoiled rotten with pride and self-righteousness.  Most Americans today only want to hear about how to get rich, prosper, and have better health.  This is apostasy!

Pastor Dwight L. Moody

It was Pastor D.L. Moody who stated in his sermon Repentance:

The day will come when you will wake up and know that you have been deceived by the devil. No unrepentant sinner will ever get into Heaven, unless they forsake their sin they cannot enter there.  The law of God is very plain on this point: "Except a man repent." That's the language of Scripture.  And when this is so plainly set down, why is it that men fold their arms and say, "God will take me into Heaven anyway."

Was Mr. Moody teaching Lordship Salvation?  After reading the entire sermon with much scrutiny, I am firmly convinced that Pastor Moody did NOT believe in Lordship Salvation.  In the sermon "What Must I Do To Be Saved" by Moody, no mention is made of "forsaking one's sins" to be saved.  In the sermon Repentance, Moody admits that he usually doesn't preach on repentance; but, due to pressure from critics, he does so to appease them.  It is clear to me that Mr. Moody would have chose his words more carefully, if he knew someone was going to accuse him of teaching works salvation.   Respectfully, I think Mr. Moody could have chosen his words better; but, in lieu of the overall context of this sermon, it is abundantly clear to me that Mr. Moody did NOT believe a person must forsake the literal ACT of sin to be saved. 

What Moody meant (which is clear from reading his entire sermon) is that a person who is legitimately saved, i.e., has experienced genuine repentance, WILL have a changed life. Moody makes the following statement below which shows this...

"I heard of a man who said he had been converted, A friend asked him if he had repented.  "No," said he, "I never trouble my head about it." My friends, when a man becomes converted the work has to be a little deeper than that.  He has to become repentant, and try to atone for what he has done.  If he is at war with anyone he has to go and be reconciled to his enemy. If he doesn't his conversion is the work of Satan."

Mr. Moody is talking about the FRUIT which evidences genuine repentance; he is not giving a plan of salvation here.  D.L. Moody was simply reiterating 2nd Corinthians 5:17, which states: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature...” Carefully notice that the Word of God states, “...if any man BE IN CHRIST...” He's already in Christ.  Hence, you don't forsake your sins to get saved; but rather, you forsake your sins because you ARE saved. Moody's entire sermon on repentance is aimed at the phonies who profess Christ; but, there is no signs of Christ in that person's life. We see such false conversions much today.

A Shallow Gospel vs. The Simple Gospel

Many unrepentant people today, who are proud and self-righteous, “think” they are saved simply because they “gave their life to Jesus.” This is the nonsense being taught in apostate churches today, and by greedy televangelists. Judas gave his life to Jesus and went to Hell. The Pharisees gave their lives to God, and went to Hell. You'd better get BORN-AGAIN! We are saved through Jesus' blood which takes our sins away. 

The great evangelist Charles Finney said...

“The severity of the Law should be unsparingly applied to the conscience until the sinner's self-righteousness is annihilated, and he stands speechless and condemned before the Holy God.”

This is the only way in which a lost sinner needs to TURN FROM SIN to be saved, i.e., to stand condemned before the Holy God.  This is exactly what Romans 3:19 says, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Salvation is simple, and we must not make it complicated to where a small child could not be saved. If you sincerely realize you are a guilty sinner in God's sight, and you by faith believe that Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and bodily resurrected 72 hours later, you ARE immediately and permanently saved (Romans 10:13). Salvation is that simple. Salvation is receiving, not giving. It is the gift of God!

Now a false Gospel is when the law of God is absent. Too many preachers today explain the CURE without the CAUSE of sin. We don't hear much today about the GUILT of sin. What we do hear a lot about is the CURE. But faith in Jesus without admission of sinnership cannot produce the new birth. Jesus can read your mind. The very moment that you believe on Him—that He died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and bodily raised up three days later—Jesus knows your thoughts and saves you because of your trust.

Televangelists utterly fail to preach against America's sins. All we hear nowadays is how someone was on the brink of bankruptcy, but then sent in their last $20 to The 700 Club, and now their life is a bed of roses. 2nd Peter 2:3 describes these greedy imposters in exact Words... “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” Woe unto America's phony televangelists!!!

Pastor Aiden W. Tozer was a False Prophet!

Pastor Tozer unquestionably taught the heresy of Lordship Salvation...

“In the Bible the offer of pardon on the part of God is conditioned upon intention to reform on the part of man. There can be no spiritual regeneration till there has been a moral reformation.”

SOURCE:  The Best of A.W. Tozer, Book 2, p115-117. Compiled by Warren W. Wiersbe

Wrong! Salvation is receiving, not giving. Mr. Tozer requires sinners to reform before they can be saved. This goes contrary to the plainest teachings in the Bible. Romans 4:5 states, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Mr. Tozer is teaching works salvation. For some excellent meat to sink your teeth into, please read: What Did Pastor Charles Spurgeon Believe About Repentance? (God saves sinners AS IS!!!)

The “Salvation Army” Teaches Damnable Heresy!

Now here's a group that should be on The Repentance Blacklist. I was greatly saddened recently as I read the official doctrinal statement of the Salvation Army. If you look at the Salvation Army's list of doctrines, you'll come down to doctrine # 9, which reads as follows...

“We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.”

Doctrine # 9 above is a lie of the Devil, NOT based upon the Word of God. Lordship Salvation necessitates the doctrine of losing one's salvation. The Salvation Army is teaching the damnable heresy of works salvation. They clearly believe that one's salvation is conditional upon works, and can be lost if holy living is not maintained. If you think you can lose God's salvation in any way, you don't have it my friend. Please listen to the awesome MP3 sermon, titled: “How Permanent Is Your Salvation?” (by Pastor Hank Lindstrom). Being “born again” is not a state that can be entered into and out of again; but rather, it is a new birth, just like the physical birth, which is irreversible and permanent.

Ray Comfort is a False Prophet!

On Ray Comfort's website, Wayofthemaster.com, under the drop-down-menu “Get Equipped,” there's a link titled Answers to 100 Common Questions. In this section you'll find Ray's heretical answer to the question... “Is Repentance Necessary for Salvation?” The answers are directly from The Evidence Bible, which was compiled and commented by Ray Comfort. This heresy also appears on Mr. Comfort's other website at... Livingwaters.com. Here is Ray's unbiblical answer to the question...

Is Repentance Necessary for Salvation?

It is true that there are numerous Bible verses that speak of the promise of salvation, with no mention of repentance. These merely say to "believe" on Jesus Christ and you shall be saved (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9). However, the Bible makes it clear that God is holy and man is sinful, and that sin makes a separation between the two (Isaiah 59:1,2). Without repentance from sin, wicked men cannot have fellowship with a holy God. We are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and until we forsake them through repentance, we cannot be made alive in Christ ...

If belief is all that is necessary for salvation, then the logical conclusion is that one need never repent. However, the Bible tells us that a false convert "believes" and yet is not saved (Luke 8:13); he remains a "worker of iniquity." Look at the warning of Scripture: "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth" (1 John 1:6). The Scriptures also say, "He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesses and forsakes them [repentance] shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). Jesus said that there was joy in heaven over one sinner who "repents" (Luke 15:10). If there is no repentance, there is no joy because there is no salvation.

SOURCE: http://www.livingwaters.com/witnessingtool/browse.shtml

Kindly, Ray Comfort is a confused man, but I believe sincere. He puts the cart before the horse. There is a fine line between the “doctrine of Christ” (2nd John 1:9) and “doctrines of devils” (1st Timothy 4:1). Mr. Comfort teach that a person cannot be saved (i.e., made alive in Christ) until they forsake their sins. It's supposed to be the other way around! Dr. John MacArthur, Ray Comfort, Paul Washer, John Piper, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson and Aiden Tozer all teach partial faith in Christ plus human efforts to be saved (aka, Lordship Salvation).

Genuine Biblical Repentance

All of the mighty Gospel preachers in the past (and faithful preachers today) believed that genuine Biblical repentance WILL produce a changed life.  2nd Corinthians 5:17 tells us that a believer is a "new creature" in Christ, former things are passed away, and all things new.  I seriously doubt the salvation of most professed "Christians" today, because they have never repented.  Phooey on a Gospel which preaches forgiveness without repentance.  A person must repent to be saved.  But repentance is NOT the forsaking of the act of sin to be saved; BUT rather, it is a lost sinner realizing that he or she is GUILTY, condemned under God's Law, deserving of hellfire—and simultaneously turning to the Lord Jesus by faith for forgiveness, Whose precious literal blood washes our sins away forever. 

Here is one of the best quotes that I've read on repentance, by Dr. Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951):

“Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture we read, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel.' Yet we find true believers exhorted to 'repent, and do the first works.' So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is repentance.” [emphasis added]

SOURCE: Dr. Harry Ironside; 'Except Ye Repent,' p. 16

Biblically, the noun “repentance” means, “a change of mind,” which compels a lost sinner to BELIEVE the Gospel. Jesus doesn't forgive sins. That is correct! Jesus has already paid for our sins on the cross with His precious blood (1st Peter 1:18-19). We receive the gifts of eternal life and forgiveness of sins through faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If a person judges them self as a needy sinner in God's sight, and receives Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for their sins, believing that He was buried, and bodily resurrected 72 hours later from the dead, they are saved immediately and permanently. This is “the Gospel” by which we are saved, to them that believe (1st Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 1:16; 1st Corinthians 1:21). 1st Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” There has always been only one way of salvation, that is, by believing on the Messiah. Acts 10:43, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

Salvation is simple, we are the sinners and Jesus is the Savior. We must not complicate salvation, and pervert the Gospel message, by requiring sinners to commit their life to Christ, invite Christ into their life, to cease from committing sin, or to surrender one's life to Jesus in order to be saved. If genuine repentance takes place, then these changes should be evidenced over time, if there is proper mentoring in a local New Testament church. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit that produces changes in a believer's life, and not self improvement. It sometimes takes awhile before a new believer grows in the Lord, to the point where he or she is willing to present their “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Without proper Christian mentoring, few believers are likely to mature in the Lord to ever become soul-winners as Luke 8:15 teaches.

We must not confuse the FRUIT of the indwelling Holy Spirit (James 2:18-21), with the ROOT of a believer's faith (Romans 4:5). Just as with a tree, the root precedes any fruit. Although the fruit and the root are inseparably related, the fruit does not bring forth the root; but rather, the root brings forth the fruit. It is just as ridiculous to expect a baby believer to live the Christian life, as it would be to expect a newborn baby to run a marathon.

Kindly, Jack Chick Teaches Heresy!

I have received numerous letters from people over the years, asking me to expose Chick Tracts. As you can see in the Chick Tract (title: “This Was Your Life”) page 20 (pictured below), Brother Chick defines repentance as “SURRENDER YOUR LIFE TO CHRIST...” This is the heresy of Lordship Salvation.

Also, on the back page of all his tracts, in step # 2, he REQUIRES lost sinners to “Be willing to turn from sin (repent)” to be saved. This again is Lordship Salvation. Beware Of 'Operation Somebody Cares' And Chick Tracts (a nightmare plan of damnation!)

If I say to my son, “You can use the car if you're willing to gas it” — the implication is clear — I expect him to fill the gas tank before he returns the car. Likewise, to require a person to “be willing to turn from sin” to be saved is implying that they MUST stop sinning in order to be saved. In other words, if you're required to be willing to do something, then it effectively becomes obligatory. I sincerely wish Mr. Chick would reword his tracts, but he is stubborn.

Brother Chick contradicts himself. On his website, his statement of faith is vastly different than his Gospel tracts:

“Salvation is the gift of God and includes the forgiveness of sins, the imputation of the Righteousness of Jesus Christ, and the gift of eternal life. Union with the triune God provides all blessings in this life and the life hereafter. Salvation is received by faith alone, apart from all good works and merit.”

SOURCE: http://www.chick.com/information/general/statementoffaith.asp

Yet, as you can clearly see in the Chick tract pages I've just presented to you, Jack Chick teaches something very different. If I have to “surrender” my life to Christ, or “be willing to turn from sin,” to be saved — that is Lordship Salvation! Eternal life is a free gift. Salvation is receiving, NOT giving. Jesus said, “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life FREELY” (Revelation 21:6). Did you read that... “FREELY!” Jack Chick is wrong! Folks, he's teaching millions of children through his cartoon tracts that they have to forsake sin to be saved. I was a big supporter of Chick Tracts for many years, until I was warned by a Christian friend, and I woke up. I realized that Jack Chick is teaching heresy. It's a shame that Mr. Chick is more of an artist than a preacher. He is doctrinally corrupt. Get mad at me if you want, you DON'T have to “be willing to turn from sin” to be saved. You simply need to BELIEVE the Gospel to receive the gifts of forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Jesus doesn't forgive sins. Jesus has already paid for everyone's sins. Forgiveness of sins is a gift that we receive by faith in Jesus Christ.

People can easily be misled by the wording in Chick tracts. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 tells us that salvation brings a change, because of the indwelling Holy Spirit (i.e., the new creature, Christ in us). We must never require a change, or even a willingness to change, as part of saving faith. To do so perverts the Gospel message. Salvation is WITHOUT WORKS (Romans 4:5-6). The only requirement to be saved is to judge one's self as a needy sinner in the sight of a holy God (Romans 3:19).

Saul (later renamed Paul) had a miraculous conversion in Acts 9:5, and in the very next verse he said, “What wilt thou have me to do?” Many preachers use Paul's conversion as a benchmark for salvation. I think this is wrong. It is important to notice that Jesus didn't require Saul to surrender his life in order to be saved—Saul VOLUNTEERED himself as a result of having been saved. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit which produces the FRUIT of a changed life in a believer, and not our own human effort. Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Dr. Jack Hyles Taught the Same Biblical Truth as Dr. John R. Rice

Dr. Hyles authored a wonderful book titled Enemies Of Soul Winning. Chapter is titled, “Misunderstood Repentance,” and he is countering the heresy of Lordship Salvation which is an enemy of getting people saved. The ONLY sin which we must literally stop doing to be saved is UNBELIEF. That's it. Does a person have to stop getting drunk to be saved? No. Does a person have to stop fornicating to be saved? No. Does a person have to stop stealing to be saved? No. The only sin which a person must literally forsake (in the sense of not doing anymore) is unbelief. To say otherwise is to state the impossible, for who can forsake all their sin? (Romans 7:14-24).

Now for those of you who would wrongfully call Dr. Hyles “shallow,” let me correct you by sharing with you chapter 7 from his book, Salvation Is More Than Being Saved. The chapter title is Salvation And The Law in which Brother Hyles states:

“Coming to Christ does not give us a license to sin; it gives us even more of a hatred for sin and causes us to desire to live a life of righteousness so that we can be pleasing to our God and show our gratitude and our love to our Saviour... Jesus set me free FROM sin, not TO sin.”

SOURCE: Dr. Jack Hyles; Salvation is More Than Being Saved; chapter 7, Salvation and the Law

Clearly, Bro. Hyles believed that genuine repentance brings forth a changed life.  This is what Dr. Rice meant when he said "to turn from your sins, earnestly, with all your heart."  Dr. Rice was referring to the "attitude" that genuine repentance produces.

Didn't Judas Repent?

Yes, but it was false repentance (basically it was Lordship Salvation). I quoted Matthew 27:3 way back at the beginning of this article because it evidences the fact that there is indeed a false type of repentance... “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.” Judas felt the emotion of sorrow, and even tried to undo the sin he had committed, but this was not genuine Biblical repentance. Judas went and hung himself, literally.

You see, unlike Peter who remembered the Words of Jesus (i.e., God's living Word) and wept bitterly, crying out to God for forgiveness; Judas experienced a shallow type of repentance that was void of the law of God. Many unsaved people today are joining apostate churches which never preach against sin. Since the law of God is not preached, there is no guilt or conviction concerning sin. There is no fear of burning in the fires of Hell. As a result, tens-of-millions of Americans are giving their hearts and lives to Christ, but they are not getting saved. They have churchianity without Christianity. They think they have been forgiven because they said a prayer, or have learned the philosophy of Christ; but they've never addressed the GUILT and CONDEMNATION upon them because of sin. No one has ever been saved who didn't admit that he is a sinner!

Conclusion of the Matter

I trust that this study of repentance has been beneficial to you. I have gladly spent several hours writing this article, and it has been my sincerest heart's desire to be as honest, Biblical and fair as possible in this critical matter.  one truth which we must never forget is that it only requires a childlike faith to be saved. Salvation is easy and simple. So simple that Jesus likened it to walking through a door (John 10:9). So simple that Jesus likened it to drinking a glass of water—John 4:10, “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” Man has absolutely no part in God's gift of salvation. We are not saved by good works, and we cannot be lost by bad works. How can we lose that which was not ours to give in the first place? Salvation is receiving, not giving.

Salvation is not doing your best, it is having Christ's best put to your account through receiving Him by faith. God will not save anyone who is trying to be saved, He will only save those who are trusting to be saved. There is a fine line between the turning from sin that the conviction and fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit brings; verses the turning from sin that false prophets require for people to get saved, which is self-righteousness and dead religion (Hebrews 6:1).

Oh, listen my friend, Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS!” Do you have HIS righteousness? I mean the imputed righteousness of God through faith in Christ Jesus. We have no righteousness of our own (Isaiah 64:6). To get to Heaven we need God's righteousness, which is found only in Jesus Christ, Who is the end of the law to all them that believe the Gospel (Romans 10:3-4; Romans 1:16; 1st Corinthians 1:21; Philippians 3:9).

So, please remember dear reader, you don't have to turn from your sinful bad habits to be saved, because that would be works. In Jonah 3:10 the Bible says, “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”

Also, nobody repented in the Holy Bible as much as God. Exodus 32:14, “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” We know that God cannot commit sin. So, obviously, to “repent” cannot mean to turn from sin, because God Himself sometimes repents. That is, God sometimes changes His mind.

Ye Must Be Born Again!

You Need HIS Righteousness!