Matthew 3:1, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Mark 1:4, “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”
Many Bible students misinterpret this passage of Scripture, particularly dispensationalists. Evangelist John R. Rice (1895-1980) offers this helpful explanation:
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.There are those who think that Peter in Acts 2:38 and 39 preached that baptism was essential to salvation when he said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” But the phrase “for the remission of sins” could well be translated “referring to the remission of sins” for the indefinite preposition of reference and so used many, many times in the Bible. People are not baptized in order to be saved, but baptized with reference to the salvation they had when they repented. So it has always been among Bible-believing Christians who follow the Scriptures.So here in Acts 10:43 we have the statement by Peter, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Get this great doctrinal matter settled: God has only one plan of salvation and that is all He ever had! He has only one Saviour, and that is Jesus Christ. Every Old and New Testament prophet agrees in this that “whosoever believeth in him shall have remission of sins.” [emphasis added]
SOURCE: Evangelist John R. Rice, “Acts: Filled With The Spirit,” pp. 251-252; Sword Of The Lord, Murfreesboro, Tennessee; ©1963
I don't like the phrase “turn from sin,” simply because it is nowhere found in the Bible. Although Brother Rice uses the phrase here, he also CLEARLY explains that he does not think it means to forsake one's sinful behavior as a requirement to be saved. Dr. Rice is correct that repentance is “a change of mind.” God was so careful with the use of this word, that he intentionally chose to use the open-ended, all-inclusive, Greek word: metanoia. When any preacher says that “repent” means “to turn away from your sinful ways,” he has errantly added to God's Words, which is a horrible evil (Proverbs 30:5-6). That man is preaching ANOTHER GOSPEL (Galatians 1:6-9).
I am shocked that so many professed Christians today (independent fundamental Baptists in particular) are extremely lackadaisical and indifferent in this important doctrinal matter. I agree 100% with Pastor Ralph 'Yankee' Arnold in this sermon, who exposes the sinful indifferent attitudes among professed Christians today, over the counterfeit gospel of Lordship Salvation. Right doctrine matters! All the Devil needs in order to creep his lies into a church, is for that church to stop contending for the faith (Jude 1:3). Revelation 3:2, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” At some apostate point in American history, our churches started prioritizing socializing and growing their attendance, over truth and righteousness!
John the Baptist preached the SAME Gospel as did Jesus and Paul. 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.