Chick Tracts Distort The True Meaning Of 'Repentance'

By David J. Stewart | June 2012 | Updated January 2016

Acts 20:21, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance
toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

       Jack Chick's website has added a new section in defense of their beliefs, countering the allegations against their ministry for preaching a false meaning of repentance. Bible doctrine concerning salvation is like the buttons on a shirt, that is, if you get the first button wrong then all the other buttons will be wrong too. Repentance concerning salvation is a critically important matter.

Please consider that Ray Comfort, John MacArthur and Chip Ingram are teaching the same false understanding of repentance as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists. And sadly, Jack Chick is also teaching a false understanding of repentance when he requires a person to be willing to cease from a sinful lifestyle as a prerequisite to being saved. Biblical repentance is correctly explained by Pastor Harry Ironside (1876-1951)...

"Repentance is the recognition of my sinnership — the owning before God that I am as vile as He has declared me to be in His holy Word."

SOURCE: Except Ye Repent, by Dr. Harry Ironside, chapter 3

Step one in Jack Chick's religious tracts is correct (as seen to the right). However, in step two Mr. Chick adds the unbiblical requirement to “Be willing to turn from sin,” which clearly means more than admitting one's sinnership, because that was step one in his plan of salvation. My friend, turning from sinful behavior is not a requirement for salvation.

It is tragic that many preachers view this theological debate as a mere matter of semantics and not worthy of dividing over. May I say, Judas repented in Matthew 27:3 and yet he went straight to Hell when he died. Judas is in Hell this moment, and will suffer there for all eternity because he died in his sins without Christ. Clearly, there is a false form of repentance that leads to damnation in the Lake of Fire forever (Revelation 20:15).

Judas Iscariot experienced reformation (feeling sorry for his misdeeds and even trying to return the 30 pieces of silver by which he betrayed the Son of God); but he didn't get saved. Salvation is neither reformation, rehabilitation, legislation, nor education; but rather, it is REGENERATION! Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Ye must be born again”!

False repentance places the burden of sin upon the sinner, requiring them to forsake sinful bad habits and the world to be saved; but the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ bore the total burden of our sins upon the cross. Jesus became as sin, so that we who knew no righteousness, could by faith obtain God's imputed righteousness. Jesus Christ beared the unbearably heavy load of our sins upon Calvary's cross, so that we wouldn't have to pay for them in the fires of Hell for all eternity.

I think Michael P. Bowen, in his excellent defense of the Christian faith titled, I NEVER KNEW YOU, says it best. ...

I am at eternal odds with the false, counterfeit messages of salvation-by-works that are taught from virtually every pulpit today, on every television channel, and on every Christian radio station; however, I am not at eternal odds with the individuals who preach these counterfeit messages. My heart literally goes out to all of them because they simply do not understand Christ’s plan of salvation. They have been lied to by a crafty enemy named Satan, whose sole aim is to take as many people with him to the lake of fire as he can possibly manage to steal away from God using a counterfeit plan of salvation that appears so real, so genuine, and so holy that few ever realize they have been deceived by it. Oh reader, so many of today’s professing Christians who think they are going to heaven when they die are not going to make it to heaven as they had assumed because they’ve been lied to by today’s error-filled gospel messages.

SOURCE: Michael Patrick Bowen, I NEVER KNEW YOU, pg. 17; © 2009, Hard Copies Are Available.

I thank God for Michael Bowen, whose doctrinally sound book is a continual blessing to me and so many others, clearly showing forth “the simplicity that is in Christ” in the Gospel (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4; 1st Corinthians 15:1-4). Today I handed out two hardcopies of I NEVER KNEW YOU—one to my Japanese doctor, and the other to a waitress at my favorite Korean restaurant. Amen!

How Permanent Is Your Salvation?
(an excellent MP3 sermon by Dr. Hank Lindstrom)

Let me give you a helpful illustration to help you correctly understand repentance and faith. Let's say an evangelist is traveling from Michigan to Hawaii to preach at a church. He boards the plane in Michigan and then flies toward Hawaii. He doesn't leave Michigan first, and then secondarily head toward Hawaii; but rather, he is moving away from Michigan and toward Hawaii at the SAME TIME. Likewise, repentance and faith happen at the same time. Repentance and faith are one deal. A person is saved when they turn to Christ by faith to be forgiven of their sins. As you turn toward the precious Savior, you are simultaneously turning your back against sin. This is a “change of mind,” which is exactly what repentance means in the Bible concerning salvation.

Jack Chick is correct when he says that “repentance” is not a fruit; but rather, it is part of salvation itself. Dr. Hank Lindstrom (1940-2008) is 100% correct in his statement: “You can repent without believing, but you cannot believe without repenting.” I highly recommend that you listen to the helpful MP3 sermon by Pastor Hank Lindstrom, titled: How Permanent Is Your Salvation? (an awesome classic MP3 sermon by Dr. Hank Lindstrom). “Repent” simply means “a change of mind.” However, a changed life is the FRUIT of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Repentance is a CHANGE OF MIND, not a CHANGE OF LIFESTYLE. A changed life is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and not a part of the ROOT of saving-faith. In other words, it is false doctrine to require FRUIT (works) from a person to be saved. Jack Chick makes the grave mistake of requiring a person to BE WILLING to clean up their life (be willing to turn from sin) to be saved. Mr. Chick doesn't understand the plan of salvation, so he gets it backwards. Remember, Mr. Chick is not satisfied with simply acknowledging one's guilt of being a sinner for salvation; but rather, he additionally requires a person to be willing to depart from the act of sin itself. This places an incredibly heavy burden upon the sinner.

Romans 3:19 proves Jack Chick a false prophet concerning the plan of salvation. 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.” The purpose of God's Law is to show men their guilty sinful condition, and then point them to the Savior to be saved. Galatians 3:24-26, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” The Law of God shows us our guilt of sin and consequent need for redemption, and then points us to the blessed Savior Jesus Christ for cleansing and forgiveness.

The entire perverted concept of requiring a person to be willing to stop living in deliberate sin to be saved is of the Devil and a false plan of salvation. What has happened is that religious people are sick and tired of shallow professions of faith, so they have taken it upon themselves to change the Gospel in an attempt to force people to live right. It doesn't work that way!!! Consequently, people aren't getting saved anymore. Dr. Hank Lindstrom correctly observes, “MOST PREACHERS HAVE REPENTANCE WRONG!!!” (a quote from YouTube video, “Repentance Word Study.” I agree 100%. Most pastors have been corrupted by the Devil, being conned into recognizing repentance as turning away from sinful behavior as a requirement to come to Christ for salvation. The culprit are the new, counterfeit, satanic, Bible versions.

William Lane Craig is another false prophet concerning salvation. In essence Mr. Craig teaches that a person's faith does not become valid until they depart from sin in their personal life. He misinterprets 1st John 3:8, “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” The Bible is simply teaching that a person who can live in gross immorality with no Holy Spirit conviction, no chastisement from the Lord and no remorse whatsoever, never got saved to begin with. When a person gets saved the Holy Spirit comes inside to live (indwell) that person (1st Corinthians 3:16-17). That doesn't mean that some Christians don't live in gross immorality (we have plenty of examples in the Bible of believers who continued in long periods of deliberate sin, like Samson, Solomon, the church at Corinth, Lot and Demas). The Bible is not saying that a believer who sins is not saved, God forbid. We all sin every day!

In sharp contrast, Mr. Craig errantly teaches that 1st John 3:8 refers to professed Christians who never really got saved because they never stopped living in sin. That's what he teaches! Craig says you cannot be saved until you stop living wickedly. That's not what the Bible is teaching. God is not saying that you have to give up your sins TO BE SAVED; but rather, that you should have given up your sins because YOU ARE SAVED. Brother Lester Roloff says, “Jesus saved you so you wouldn't live like that anymore.” If you still love your sins and have no Holy Spirit conviction inside, then you didn't get really saved. 1st John 3:8 is entirely a matter of whether or not you have the presence of the convicting and righteous HOLY SPIRIT living inside you.

Jack Chick's Defense In His Own Words

Here is the conclusion of their defense argument from Jack Chick's website...

How can we give “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:20-21, 27) and refuse to tell people to repent? If we don’t tell people to repent, we would be disobeying Christ, because He said that “all men everywhere” must repent (Acts 17:30). And Jesus said before He ascended into heaven that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (Luke 24:46-47).

This is not a work for salvation. No one can “boast” that his heart was changed by God. Repentance, an act on the heart, accompanies faith and is no more a work than faith itself is.

So we at Chick Publications preach “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

SOURCE: Why Chick Tracts Preach Repentance

Jack Chick is trying to sidestep the core issue. The issue is NOT whether or not repentance is necessary for salvation. Yes, repentance is required to be saved. No one debates that. I don't think anyone disagrees with Jack Chick for teaching the need for repentance. We all agree that repentance is not optional. Repentance is 100% absolutely required for the new birth. The Bible mandates repentance for salvation; it is not an option. Without repentance there can be no salvation. The problems with Jack Chick's tracts is that he espouses a FALSE meaning of what it means to “repent.” Jack Chick has a WRONG understanding of what repentance means.

In every single one of Jack Chick's tracts he requires a person to go further than merely admitting one's guilt of sin, but also “be willing to turn from sin (repent).” So according to Mr. Chick you cannot be saved by simply acknowledging your sinnership, you must also have a willingness to cease from committing them...

Jack Chick plainly teaches in every Chick Track that faith in Jesus Christ is insufficient to save unless you are willing to cease from your sins. That is a backdoor approach to works salvation!!!

In other words, Christ won't save you unless you first qualify for salvation by meeting the prerequisite of having a desire to stop committing sins. This is far from what the Bible teaches. Mr. Chick puts the cart before the horse, demanding a willingness to change as a qualifying prerequisite to faith in Christ. That is a back door approach to Lordship Salvation.

Mark 1:15, “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.” The word “repent” here is the Greek word metanoeo, meaning “to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider.” Jesus said to reconsider your ways and believe the Gospel. Jesus DIDN'T say stop living in sin and believe the Gospel. No one can cease totally from sin. So whether you give up 10% or 99% of your sins is irrelevant, because there's still some sin remaining. Even committing one sin makes us GUILTY OF ALL according to James 2:10. The entire idea of giving up sinful bad habits to be saved is satanic! 

Mr. Chick's article defending his position on repentance is good from what I've read. It certainly doesn't reflect the corrupt message in his tracts. It appears to me that he has put himself in an awkward position between a rock and a hard place. If he changes his tracts now, then he will confuse millions of people (and his critics will have a hey day). Please understand that my aim is strictly Mr. Chick's theological teachings in his tracts. This is not personal. I admire Jack Chick's awesome artwork and believe that he is sincere. Unfortunately, his tracts do add an extra requirement for salvation that God does not.

I honestly don't enjoy exposing Jack Chick's flawed definition of repentance. It's difficult for any man to admit after decades that he should have better worded his tracts. I'm always editing earlier writings myself. We all adjust our beliefs over time and need to make changes. It's much harder when you've published works in printed form. The fact that Jack Chick's articles and website statement of beliefs are written very differently than his ministry's tracts evidences to me that he wants to set the matter straight, but he has boxed himself in a corner so-to-speak. This is my humble opinion.

In Acts 20:21 Repentance And Faith Refer To One Event

Most people misunderstand Acts 20:31, assuming that repentance and faith are two entirely separate steps to salvation; but they're actually the same step. They are two parts of one step. The following Greek rule evidences that most people misinterpret Acts 20:21...

Granville Sharp's Rules of Greek Exegesis

Acts 20:21 does not teach two separate actions! Repentance and faith are shown as the same thing in this verse. Here is why;  

“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Any time two singular Greek nouns appear in a sentence and are connected by the conjunction "and" (kai Greek) and the definite article “ho” precedes the first noun, but not the second, they both mean the same person! This means that the appositive, “our Lord Jesus Christ” is referring to “God” in the first clause! Rendering this into the sentence it is then to be read as follows:

“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, ("EVEN") or ("that is") faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This is what Paul was preaching! Repentance toward God using the Granville Sharp's rules of Greek exegesis, is synonymous (means the same) as faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The illustration that I shared with you earlier about the evangelist traveling from Michigan to Hawaii is an excellent example of repentance and faith. You don't leave Michigan first and then afterwards fly toward Hawaii; but rather, the two are inseparable. The evangelist is DEPARTING from Michigan at the same time that he is moving TOWARD Hawaii. Likewise, repentance and faith are one deal, happening simultaneously (at the same time).

Faith and repentance are the same event according to the Greek grammatical rendering of this verse. 

Chick Tracts Preach ANOTHER Gospel

Jack Chick is correct that repentance is not a work; yet his belief and teaching that repentance means to “be willing to turn from sin (repent)” is dangerous, because it implies that a person must forsake sinful living to be saved, which is not true...

This is not a work for salvation. No one can “boast” that his heart was changed by God. Repentance, an act on the heart, accompanies faith and is no more a work than faith itself is.

So we at Chick Publications preach “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

SOURCE: Why Chick Tracts Preach Repentance

So a man shacking-up in fornication with his girlfriend may not come to Christ because he thinks he must either break-up with his girlfriend or get married in order to be saved. I mean, according to Jack Chick the man must do more than admit he's a sinner; he must also be willing to stop living in sin or no salvation. That is a false gospel.

Repentance is “a change of mind”; not of lifestyle, priorities, nor intentions. is teaching a false gospel of self-righteousness. It is an important matter. I've never understood Christian ministers who make light of doctrinal integrity, except that the love of money has made them indifferent and complacent concerning THE TRUTH. The truth is worth fighting and dying for.

A WARNING About Chick Tracts!

Chick Tracts seem to have a different answer than the Bible to the question, "What must I do to be saved?"

Surrender your life to Christ? That's Lordship Salvation!

"And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." —Acts 16:30,31

On their website's statement of faith, they state concerning salvation:

"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."


Bravo! That's correct. Now if only they stuck to it! You'd think that Chick Tracts were published by complete strangers in a different religion. How can their website by so right, but their tracts be so bad?

Charles Spurgeon Didn't Preach Lordship Salvation!

Both Pastor John MacArthur and Evangelist Ray Comfort have misquoted Charles H. Spurgeon as a secondary authority to support their damnable heresy of Lordship Salvation; but they never quote the following spoken by Spurgeon...

“You must not expect that you will be perfect in 'repentance' before you are saved. No Christian can be perfect. 'Repentance' is a grace. Some people preach it as a condition of salvation. Condition of nonsense! There are no conditions of salvation. God gives the salvation himself...

—Pastor Charles Spurgeon

SOURCE: (from a sermon preached at the New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, on September 23, 1855)

Clearly, Charles Haddon Spurgeon DIDN'T believe that ceasing from one's sins was necessary to be saved. Spurgeon plainly taught “there are no conditions of salvation,” which is what the Bible teaches. We are sinners and Jesus is the Savior!

To be saved one must simply renounce their sins before God. Some people may choose to stop doing certain sins upon being saved, while others may not be ready to break off lifelong sinful bad habits of shacking up (fornication), using illegal drugs or watching porno. Certainly, no one can stop all their sins, for only Jesus Christ is sinless (Hebrews 4:15). Salvation is the beginning of a new life in Jesus Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17; 1st Peter 2:2).

The process of repentance continues throughout one's life, although salvation itself is NOT a process. You get saved the very second you acknowledge that you are a guilty sinner and trust upon the name of Jesus, the Christ Who died, was buried and rose from the dead. The willingness to change is a separate matter from salvation, which change God initiates in the life of each new believer. You don't make changes so the Holy Spirit will come into live; but rather, the Holy Spirit comes in by faith in the Gospel and then works in the heart and mind of the believer.

Jesus plainly said in Revelation 21:6... “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life FREELY.” Jesus said in John 7:28, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” Jack Chick distorts the gospel by requiring sinners to be willing to amend their ways as part of saving-faith. He not only asks sinners to admit that they've sinned, but he also goes a step further and requires them to be willing to stop committing those sins. That is a backdoor approach to works salvation. It is a big deal. It is not just a matter of semantics. I also know firsthand that some people have been misled from the truth by Jack Chick's pamphlets, thinking that they couldn't be saved unless they were willing to stop committing sins. The Bible does not teach that.

You either have to be willing to stop sinning to be saved or you do not; Chick Tracts say "Yes," the Bible says "No" (Romans 4:5-6; Philippians 3:9; Romans 10:3-4).

The Bible plainly declares in Romans 4:5 that a man's FAITH IS COUNTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. That means that you don't need any self-righteousness to be saved (and a good thing because we don't have any to offer God - Isaiah 64:6). One man wrote to me and said there was a time years ago when he thought God wouldn't save him because he wasn't willing to stop shacking up with his girlfriend. He said if he had died during those years of confusion, he would have gone straight to Hell, and it said it would have been Jack Chick's distorted gospel that led him to believe he couldn't be saved. I then understood the danger behind Chick Tracts and the false gospel message contained in them. JACK CHICK IS WRONG!!!

Pastor Harry Ironside (1876-1951) Has it Correct

Please read the following excellent explanation of the Gospel by former Moody Memorial Church pastor, Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951)...

Harry A. Ironside“The Gospel is not a call to repentance, or to amendment of our ways, to make restitution for past sins, or to promise to do better in the future. These things are proper in their place, but they do not constitute the Gospel; for the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed. Do not make the mistake then of thinking that the Gospel is a call to duty or a call to reformation, a call to better your condition, to behave yourself in a more perfect way than you have been doing in the past …

Nor is the Gospel a demand that you give up the world, that you give up your sins, that you break off bad habits, and try to cultivate good ones. You may do all these things, and yet never believe the Gospel and consequently never be saved at all.”

SOURCE: Dr. Harry A. Ironside, from the sermon: What Is The Gospel?

Clearly, Ironside correctly taught a Free Grace view of the Gospel. Amen! Don't mess with the Gospel. Just believe it!

Romans 3:19 Clarifies the Meaning of 'Repentance'

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.” The word “guilty” in the Greek is “hupodikos” and means “under judgment, one who lost his suit; of liable to punishment from God” (SOURCE: Enhanced Strong's Lexicon). 

Hence, a person must realize their GUILT to be saved, i.e., that the condemnation of God is upon them because of their own sins. A person must realize that they are a guilty sinner who justly deserves to be punished in Hellfire. A person does NOT need to feel regret, sorrow, or a desire to do better to be saved. These are all emotions. Repentance is a “change of mind,” not a change of emotions. 

Harry A. Ironside correctly recognized repentance as the confession that “one is utterly without merit” and that if one is “ever saved at all it can only be through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Salvation is without works of self-righteousness. Romans 4:5 plainly teaches that a man's faith is COUNTED for righteousness, i.e., the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to one's heavenly record by faith. 

“Repentance is the recognition of my sinnership — the owning before God that I am as vile as He has declared me to be in His holy Word.”

SOURCE: Except Ye Repent, by Dr. Harry Ironside, chapter 3

Realizing one's GUILT is vastly different from a FEELING of sorrow or remorse over one's sins. To FEEL sorry for one's sins is an act of self-EMOTION; whereas, GUILT is a matter of self-AWARENESS. Many prison convicts are sorry (emotionally) for their crimes, but only because they got caught. They have no genuine guilt or awareness of the sins they've committed against God. Likewise, a person may walk down to a church alter and cry with emotion over their failures in life; YET, have NO awareness that they are under God's condemnation and awaiting judgment for their sins. 

A feeling of emotion, i.e., sorrow over one's sins is not Biblical repentance. Biblical repentance is when a lost sinner becomes AWARE that they are under the condemnation of GOD'S LAW for their own sins, and TURNS in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ to be forgiven... “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ...” Repentance and faith happen simultaneously, they are not two separate events. 

This fact is clearly evidenced by the Gospel of John, in which the words “repent” and “repentance” are not even mentioned once. Yet, we find the words “faith” and "believe" 98 times in the Book of John. Clearly, to believe upon Jesus is to have also repented. When a person repents, i.e., changes one's mind, about sin and the Savior, trusting upon the Lord for forgiveness, it is at that very moment of faith that the Holy Spirit comes to indwell that person forever. 

The reason why salvation is found alone in Christ, and why we are to believe ONLY upon Him, is because Jesus paid the price for our sins with His precious blood (1st Peter 1:18,19). Muhammad never did this. Confucius never did this. Buddha never did this. In fact, if you'll look in those graves, you'll find the bodily remains of each of those men; but Jesus' tomb is EMPTY, because He is alive forevermore. The stone wasn't rolled away for Jesus to escape the tomb; the stone was rolled away so the world could see that Christ had arisen! What a Savior!!!

Books have been written on one phrase or one word. The word repentance is critically important, as are the words faith, inspired, Gospel, Lord and the phrase, born-again. Terms are everything!!! The Bible plainly defines these terms so we don't need to wonder nor guess. False religious cults redefine these terms wrongly. Repentance simply means “a change of mind.” This change of mind compels a person to believe the Gospel. It's that simple. Anyone who requires more on the part of a sinner to be saved has corrupted the Gospel.

For Jack Chick to require sinners to be willing in their heart to stop committing sins is a requirement, an obligation. If I tell you that you can drive my car if you're willing to fill the gas tank, I've placed an obligation upon you (as a condition of using my car).

As a better illustration, let's say I own a bank. I advertise locally that new customers will receive a free toaster as a gift for opening a bank account. Is it really a gift when you have to do something to obtain it? I said it was a free gift? Clearly it is not. This is the same as Jack Chick saying that he believes salvation is a free gift, obtained by God's grace; yet he requires people to be willing to stop living in sin to have it. That's a reward, not a gift. Mr. Chick is sincere I am confident, but he doesn't properly understand what repentance means. I'm tired of people saying to push and pull at the same time. Hey, it's a free gift, but you still have to do shovel the 2-feet of snow to have it!

The Gospel is that Jesus DIED, was BURIED and RESURRECTED three days later for YOUR sins. If receive Christ's payment of the Gospel for your sins then you are saved. The blood of Jesus Christ washes our sins away.

Repent! Repent! Repent!

Lordship Salvation

The Curse of Lordship Salvation

The Hypocrisy of Lordship Salvation

The Foolish Doctrine of Lordship Salvation

Scriptural Proof that Lordship Salvation is a Lie

Lordship Salvation Ignores Babes in Christ and the Backslidden

Ye Must Be Born Again! | You Need HIS Righteousness!