Romans 4:4-7, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”
Didn't Evangelist John R. Rice (1895-1980) teach that you must “repent from sin with all your heart” to be saved? Yes he did! Yet, Dr. Rice clearly didn't believe that a person must attempt to reduce their amount of sinning to be saved, as evidenced by this wonderful quote from him:
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. [emphasis added]SOURCE: Evangelist John R. Rice, “Acts: Filled With The Spirit,” pp. 251-252; Sword Of The Lord, Murfreesboro, Tennessee; ©1963
Clearly, John R. Rice believed that the way you “turn from sin” is by trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior. This is one step, not two, to be saved. That is NOT what the Lordship Salvation crowd are heretically preaching today. I keep hearing these false preachers teaching that you must turn away from your sins first, and then secondly believe the Gospel. That is a false gospel of partial faith in Christ plus works! You don't repent AND believe, as Dr. Tom Ferrell, Pastor Marty Herron and Bob Jones University preach; you repent TO believe as Dr. John R. Rice rightly taught. There is a fine line between faith and foolishness!
Having said that, I do not like nor approve of Brother Rice's poor choice of words. No preacher should ever add to the Scripture, to say something that God didn't say. Nowhere in the inspired King James Bible are we taught to repent “OF YOUR SIN” to receive God's free gift of eternal life. Proponents of this damnable heresy are often quick to falsely accuse the free grace crowd (e.g., myself, Dr. Jack Hyles, Dr. Curtis Hutson and Pastor Ralph Yankee Arnold) of leaving off repentance. No, we have not left off repentance, nor have we added something to the Bible which God did not say. To repent simply means “to think differently.”
I love how Pastor Bob Gray Sr. explains it:
“Repentance means to change your mind—change your mind—change your mind about how you want to get to Heaven to what God says you've got to do to get to Heaven. If you've got to repent of all your sins, you're still headed for Hell tonight.” —Pastor Bob Gray Sr., a quote from the awesome MP3 sermon, Why You Should Be A Part Of A Growing Church
Christian author Michael Patrick Bowen accurately states in his excellent book titled: “I NEVER KNEW YOU”:
“Repent, as Christ meant it to be in terms of salvation, means to change your mind from trusting in what you can do for God to trusting only in what He can do for you.” —Michael Patrick Bowen, a quote from the awesome book, “I NEVER NEW YOU” (Page 114)
The faithful soulwinning man of God, Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951), rightly states:
"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." —Dr. Harry Ironside, Except Ye Repent, chapter 3
I agree with all those explanations of repentance. Acts 20:21 speaks of “repentance toward God,” not from anything. Some foolish pastors coddle and bid Godspeed to false teachers, by alleging that in order to turn TO something you have to also turn FROM something. I agree! But when you require turning FROM something as a separate act of turning TO Christ to be saved, you have corrupted the Gospel. It is easy to see how words can be manipulated to teach a perverse plan of salvation (Galatians 1:6-9). The man who turns TO Christ has at the same time turned FROM all that had previously hindered him from coming to the light of the truth of the Gospel to be saved. Nothing more is required to get to Heaven than to simply BELIEVE the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is what Dr. John R. Rice rightly believed and taught.
In 2014, I heard Pastor Marty Herron at Harvest Baptist Church on Guam errantly teach hundreds of people on a Sunday morning, and I quote: “It is not enough to admit that you are a sinner to be saved, you must also turn away from a lifestyle of sinning.” I knew right there and then that Pastor Herron is an infidel, not a born-again Christian, a false prophet! Herron has added works to grace, perverting the Gospel. Where did he get that garbage theology? Look no further than his mentors: Dr. Steve Pettit and Pastor John MacArthur. I am not trying to be unkind or mean, I am contending for the faith once delivered unto the saints (Jude 1:3). I can preach the truth all day long, month after month, year after year, but people don't seem to take notice and “get it,” until I start to mention the names of heretics and step on some toes. Let God be true, but every man a liar (Romans 3:4). The greatest sin of our generation is complacency, indifference and tolerance of false teachers by professed Christians. Right doctrine matters! It matters which Bible that we use. Words matter to God. God cares and so should we as His redeemed children!
So, even though I disagree with Dr. John R. Rice's poor choice of wording, he vindicates himself by plainly explaining what he means by “turn from sin with all your heart” to be saved. Dr. Rice plainly taught that the man who BELIEVES on Christ has turned from his sins. This is not what the Bob Jones crowd are preaching today! Dr. Rice rightly recognized repentance and faith as being two sides of the same coin. He didn't see them as separate actions, and that is critically important to understand, lest you corrupt the Word of God and cast stumbling blocks before the people.
If a man must commit to forsake his lifestyle of sinning as a requirement to be saved, then a payment has been demanded of him. This is a false plan of salvation. In God's true plan of redemption, a man ceases from ALL his works (good and bad alike, which the Bible calls “dead works” in Hebrews 6:1). One of my favorite Bible passages is Hebrews 4:10-11, “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” If you want to go to Heaven, you simply need to CEASE from trusting in all your works (good and bad works alike) and REST in Jesus Christ. Look at this frightening theological garbage that Evangelist Ray Comfort wickedly preaches!
Dear reader, eternal life is the free gift of God (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9). You don't earn or merit that gift. You don't turn away from your sin to qualify for that gift. It is a gift! You don't have to live a lifestyle of repentance as Steve Pettit and Ray Comfort preach to prove the validity of your faith. You don't have to be willing to turn away from sin to get that gift. You simply take it by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30-31). You simply need to acknowledge the truth that you are a guilty sinner in God's sight (2nd Timothy 2:25; Romans 3:19-20), so you'll see your need to believe the Gospel (the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified, buried and risen) to be saved (1st Corinthians 15:1-4).
Our part in salvation is simply to BELIEVE the Good News of Jesus Christ, God does the rest. That is the simplicity that is in Christ (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4). Whatever changes that God wants to see take place in one's life as His child is His department, and you can be assured that He will not be an absent Father (Hebrews 12:6-8). Although I respectfully disagree with some of his wording, Dr. John R. Rice was a faithful man of God and I still fully support his ongoing ministry today at the Sword Of The Lord.
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