I Heard A Preacher Say “Turn From Sin” To
Be Saved! Is He Teaching Lordship Salvation?

By David J. Stewart | December 2013 | Updated November 2022

       Not necessarily! A lot of good preachers use that terminology, but I don't like it because it's not found in the Bible. Likewise, I don't like the term “Trinity” because it's not found in the Bible. However, the all-important word “Godhead” is found in Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9 in the King James Bible. All modern corrupted Bibles remove the word completely to attack the Lord's deity (that He is almighty God). Gotta love the dear King James Bible!!!

A man once wrote to me, saying that he'd read where Evangelist Oliver B. Greene, Pastor John R. Rice and Brother Lester Roloff had use the phrase “turn from sin” concerning salvation in their sermons. The man asked me to expose these great men of God as heretics for teaching the lie of Lordship Salvation. However, as you will see, they certainly weren't teaching heresy. I have found at least two dozen variations of the Lordship Salvation heresy amongst today's numerous radio preachers, Bible colleges and pastors. One way or another they all errantly place the burden of sin upon the sinner, instead of allowing Christ to bear the total weight of our sins as the Bible teaches (2nd Corinthians 5:21).

  1. First, we must understand (and not forget) that man's words are NOT inspired nor infallible as are GOD'S WORDS IN THE BIBLE. Charles Spurgeon was a prolific author. Yet, Spurgeon's words were not infallible, nor inspired. Our Final Authority is THE BIBLE!
  2. Second, we must understand that truth often exists in paradoxes. The Bible is filled with examples of apparent (or alleged) discrepancies, simply due to the paradoxical nature of truth.

    For example: Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 10:34, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Jesus said that He didn't come to bring peace to earth, but a sword. So why did the angel proclaim peace on earth at Jesus' birth? Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus didn't come to bring us peace because JESUS IS OUR PEACE. Matthew 10:35, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” Truth divides families and churches!!! Ephesians 2:14, “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” So as we see, there is no discrepancy at all. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can restore peaceful harmony between God and man. God didn't promise peace to the earth; but rather, God promises peace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. We must be extremely careful about labeling every man of God who teaches that we must “turn from sin” to be saved as a heretic, because many of them, especially the older preachers like Charles Spurgeon, Lester Roloff, John R. Rice and Oliver B. Greene, didn't mean what people are trying to attribute them as saying. You cannot determine any man's beliefs based upon one quote. The same is true of the Bible.

In the following helpful video by Pastor Curtis Hutson (1934-1995), he explains that it DEPENDS on what a preacher means by “repent of sin”...

 Dr. John R. Rice DIDN'T Teach Lordship Salvation

For example: Here is a quote from the beloved Dr. John R. Rice...

“To repent literally means to have a change of mind or spirit toward God and toward sin. It means to turn from your sins, earnestly, with all your heart, and trust in Jesus Christ to save you. You can see, then, how the man who believes in Christ repents and the man who repents believes in Christ. The jailer repented when he turned from sin to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” (John R. Rice, What Must I Do to Be Saved?, 1940).

Now, the above statement can really be distorted if you don't read carefully what Brother Rice says. Dr. Rice clearly states that he views repentance and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ as one in the same... “You can see, then, how the man who believes in Christ repents and the man who repents believes in Christ.” Thus, the “turning from sin” which Brother Rice speaks of is only in the sense of a realization of one's guilt; not actually ceasing from committing sin as a prerequisite to salvation.

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!

It bothers me when Baptist churches skew (a slanted position) Dr. Rice's writings, misrepresenting what he really taught. Anyone who represents Dr. Rice as teaching that you have to turn from sins, as a separate act from believing, is slandering him! Please read what Dr. Rice actually believes and teaches:

There are those hyper-dispensationalists who think that John the Baptist preached a different Gospel from Christ when he commanded repentance (Matt. 3:2). But it is the same repentance Jesus commanded in Matthew 4:17, in Luke 13:3 and 5, and the same repentance that Paul preached in Athens that God “now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30 31). Repentance is not a different plan of salvation from having faith: it is part of the same plan of salvation. Or rather repentance is simply another way of describing or looking at the plan of salvation. One who turns from sin to God has done so by trusting in Jesus Christ. A change of mind toward sin is necessarily involved in saving faith.

Everyone who genuinely repented under the preaching of John the Baptist put his trust in the Saviour John the Baptist preached, and was regenerated. There is no such thing as being “a disciple of John the Baptist” in any honest sense without being a disciple of Jesus, that is, without trusting Christ for salvation. [emphasis added]

SOURCE: Evangelist John R. Rice, “Acts: Filled With The Spirit,” pp. 251-252; Sword Of The Lord, Murfreesboro, Tennessee; ©1963

Oh dear friend, that is so beautiful. Please don't miss it! I have heard Missionary David W. Cloud and other false teachers, attempt to portray Dr. Rice as a proponent of Lordship Salvation, saying he taught that people must turn away from a lifestyle of sin to be saved. David Cloud even goes as far as to pitch Dr. John R. Rice against his successor Pastor Curtis Hutson (1934-1995). I explain this issue in the preceding hyperlink. Mr. Cloud claims that Curtis Hutson leaves off repentance, thus corrupting the Gospel. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I guarantee you that neither Oliver B. Greene, nor Lester Roloff, nor John R. Rice, believed that a person had to forsake sinful bad habits to be saved. What they did believe, and I do too, is that a person must realize their guilty condition as a needy sinner in order to be saved. Romans 3:19 teaches that God gave mankind the Law so that “all the world may become guilty before God.” That is what Brother Rice is saying. Galatians 3:25-26 says that the Law is a school teacher that points us to the Master (Jesus Christ) for salvation.

The word "repent" in the Bible means, “A CHANGE OF MIND,” but we don't know exactly what that change of mind is. I think Dr. Jack Hyles explains repentance the best, and I agree with him 100%.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.

Dr. Hyles loved, promoted and honored Bro. Roloff often. Do you think Bro. Hyles would have honored Bro. Roloff if he taught heresy? No way! Obviously, many great men of God used (and use) the phrase "turn from sin" when preaching about salvation. I don't think they should have used that phrase, because it is UNBIBLICAL.

However, in the case of Oliver B. Greene, John R. Rice, Charles H. Spurgeon, Dwight L. Moody and Lester Roloff—they are all referring to the evidence that only the indwelling Holy Spirit can generate in a believer—a changed life! But please understand that living a changed life is NOT proof of being saved, because even unsaved religious people (like Roman Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists and Mormons) can live a changed life too. The ONLY thing that a Christian has to prove that they are saved, which an unsaved person cannot have, is the indwelling Holy Spirit. What saith the Scripture? 1st John 3:24, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” That is something that ONLY YOU can know, as an individual. That is the purpose for which God authored the Epistle of 1st John (1st John 5:13).

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...

Heretics On Salvation

However, here are some heretics that clearly teach works salvation:

I expose pastor, John MacArthur, because he foolishly teaches...

"Salvation isn't the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scripture; it's the fruit of actions, not intentions. There's no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile...The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny" (Hard to Believe, p. 93). [emphasis added]

Well MacArthur certainly makes it hard to believe! MacArthur speaks blasphemous lies! Salvation is receiving; not giving. It is obvious that MacArthur is teaching works salvation, even though he repeatedly teaches salvation by grace through faith in other places. MacArthur is confused and confusing at best. Did you know that Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists teach the same false understanding of repentance as John MacArthur! Ray Comfort agrees with the Jehovah's Witnesses!

Evangelist, Ray Comfort, has also become entangled into this new evangelical misunderstanding of repentance.

I know many old preachers who say that a person should receive Jesus as their "Lord and Savior." I could technically criticize them for preaching Lordship Salvation," but I'd be dead wrong. Jesus is the Lord and everyone who gets saved has already received Christ as their Lord (i.e., the one supreme in authority, God). We don't make Jesus Lord; He is Lord! The idea of "making a commitment" or "surrendering" to Christ is Christian discipleship and has nothing to do with being saved.  Salvation is a free gift.

I expose the Salvation Army, because they clearly teach works salvation. 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."

SOURCE: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Wolves/salvation_army_heresy.htm

It's damnable heresy! If someone can show me anywhere where Lester Roloff, John R. Rice or Oliver B. Greene taught that doctrine I'll expose them as heretics too.

Repentance Is Recognizing My Need For The Savior As A Sinner!

It's as simple as this... if you realize that you're enough of a sinner to need the Savior, then come to Him and you will be saved! Jesus PROMISED in John 6:37 that “Him That Cometh To Me I Will In No Wise Cast Out.” Don't let anyone sell you on the lie that you have to first be sorry for your sins, or be willing to give up sinful bad habits or forsake the world to be saved. No you don't! All you need to do to be saved is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30-31).

This is definitely a delicate issue. Certainly, Lester Roloff and Oliver B. Greene are not wrong on repentance.  When viewed from the Lordship Salvation window of our time, it may appear that preachers who used the phrase "turn from sin" back then were heretics; but preachers back then taught salvation and repentance from sin as almost being synonymous, because genuine repentance brings forth new life—i.e., a changed life.  However, none of the great preachers of the past required sinners to forsake the act of sin as a prerequisite to be saved.  No, rather, they simply taught that genuine repentance is mandatory for true salvation, which brings forth a life of righteousness.  Of course, even the best of Christians still sin every day, and the Bible if filled with flawed believers who messed up horribly. There is a fine line between seeing our sinnership and recognizing our need for the Savior; verses the turning from sin that false prophets require for people to get saved. If we're wrong on repentance as believers, then we're wrong on everything else too.

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

Repentance and faith are inseparable. The Gospel of John mentions the word "believe" 85-times; but the word "repent" is never mentioned even once. In genuine salvation, one who believes on Jesus Christ has repented; and one who repents has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. 

Pastor John MacArthur Teaches Works Salvation!

The Gift Of Eternal Life Is Wrapped In The Wonderful Package Of Jesus


“Faith is the only righteous thing that I can do!”
—Pastor Jack Hyles, a quote from the MP3 sermon titled: God's Reversal Of Psalm 51

1st Corinthians 16:24, “My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

Souls Are Dying!

How Permanent Is Your Salvation?
(an excellent MP3 sermon by Pastor Hank Lindstrom, 1940-2008)

Mark 1:15, “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

“The mark of the child of God is that he loves everybody!”
(a quote from Pastor Jack Hyles' classic MP3 sermon, “FORGIVENESS”)

Mark 11:22, And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

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