Updated July 23, 2007 (first published December 6, 1996) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
In July (1996) we published an article in O Timothy magazine entitled “Repentance and Lordship Salvation,”
1. The error that repentance is wrapped up in faith and does not have to be preached.
2. The error that to define repentance as a change of mind which results in a change of life is a “new” thing.
3. The error of confusing repentance with “lordship salvation.”
4. The error of saying salvation can be divorced from accepting Jesus Christ as God and Lord.
5. The error of saying that it is unbelief alone which condemns men and sends them to hell.
This is difficult subject and it is easy to be misunderstood, particularly if a reader has not seen many of our materials and does not understand our overall position and ministry. Also, when we mention the name of an independent Baptist leader who is promoting what we believe to be an error, it is natural for those who respect the man to react negatively toward us. They tend to shoot the messenger! We received a letter from a pastor who cancelled his subscription to
I. I BELIEVE SALVATION IS EASY AND IS OBTAINED BY SIMPLE CHILDLIKE FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST.
This pastor had gotten the impression that we believe salvation is a complex matter and that an individual cannot simply trust the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. That is definitely not what we believe. In my article on “Repentance and Lordship Salvation” I stated:
“I don’t like the term ‘easy believism,’ because salvation IS easy and it IS received by believing” (David Cloud, “Repentance and Lordship Salvation,” O Timothy, Volume 13, Issue 7, 1996).
Consider further the following statement from my booklet Easy Prayerism or Bible Evangelism:
“There is an evangelistic methodology in Christian circles today which is a plague to sound gospel preaching. Some call this ‘easy believism,’ but I don’t like that term. BELIEF IS EXACTLY WHAT GOD REQUIRES FOR SALVATION. ‘For by grace are ye saved THROUGH FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast’ (Eph. 2:8-9). ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (Jn. 3:16). Salvation is received by believing. FURTHER, GOD HAS MADE IT EASY TO DO. A child can trust Christ and be saved; a weak-minded person can trust Christ and be saved. Salvation is not difficult, except in the sense that the sinner has to humble himself and repent.
“I believe a better term for this problem is ‘easy prayerism.’ It is a methodology which focuses on getting people to say a prayer.
“Don’t get me wrong. I believe that ‘whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Rom. 10:13). I believe that those who pray to God in repentance and ask to be saved WILL be saved. I am not against prayers for salvation.
“What I am against is making this the focus of our evangelistic activity. Repeating a prayer is not necessarily salvation, and we must not confuse it with such. Just because 50 people pray a prayer, or raise their hands in a gospel meeting, or some other thing like this, is no evidence whatsoever that those people have been saved. It is one thing to show some interest in salvation; it is quite another thing to be saved” (David Cloud, Easy Prayerism or Bible Evangelism, 1992, Way of Life Literature).
If someone thinks we do not believe that salvation is easy or that it is received by simple childlike faith in Jesus Christ, they are wrong and they are misrepresenting us.
II. WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT A PERSON MUST REPENT OF ALL OF HIS OR HER SINS TO BE SAVED.
That is certainly not something we teach and it is not something we have ever stated in any article. In fact, I have plainly stated that I do not believe that. It would be impossible to “repent of all your sins.” I have been saved for 34 years, and I still have not repented of all my sins! Consider the following statement from my 1996 article:
“I don’t believe in ‘Lordship salvation,’ but I do believe in ‘except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish’ salvation, and I believe repentance is a change of mind which results in a change of life. Call that ‘Lordship salvation’ if you want to. Repentance is a radical change in attitude toward divine authority, and if a person does not have such a change in attitude he has not repented and he is NOT saved and he does not have ‘eternal security.’ ... Repentance is largely a change of mind in relation to God Himself, to the role He has in life and in one’s own life in particular” (David Cloud, “Repentance and Lordship Salvation”).
This is exactly what I believe about repentance, nothing more or less. It is a change of mind so radical that it results in a change of life. It means to turn around and go in a different direction. It means to lay down your arms and to surrender to God, to stop being at enmity against Him. I believe this is exactly what the Bible teaches about repentance, and I have shown this in the original article on Repentance, but nowhere have I said that repentance means to repent of all your sin or to turn away from all of your sin.
III. WE DO NOT SUPPORT ANY IDEA OF “LORDSHIP SALVATION” WHICH TEACHES THAT AN INDIVIDUAL MUST MAKE JESUS CHRIST ABSOLUTE LORD OF EVERY AREA OF HIS LIFE BEFORE BEING SAVED.
To require that a sinner make Jesus Christ Lord of every area of his life in order to be saved is an impossibility and would be the greatest form of works salvation ever devised. This false doctrine is actually taught by some independent Baptists, but we do not support it. It is a very dangerous doctrine which causes people to look inside themselves and to examine their experience rather than to look solely upon the Lord Jesus Christ and to trust solely upon His shed blood. We believe and are sure that salvation changes a man’s life, and we preach this boldly. One of the Way of Life booklets is entitled “Does Salvation Make a Difference?” The answer is YES! If a person says he is saved but he has absolutely nothing to prove it, he is deceived (2 Corinthians 5:17). To continually examine oneself, though, and to continually look at one’s experience as the basis for determining if one is saved, is extremely dangerous. Even the Apostle Paul, who, in our estimation, was the most dedicated Christian who ever lived, said of his own experience, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18). That is the experience of every born again child of God. The old flesh is still there even after salvation.
I know I am saved today because I have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for my eternal salvation, and “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). My faith is exclusively in Jesus Christ, not in myself or my changed life or my Christian experience. My Christian experience is pretty lousy when I compare myself with what the Bible requires of me. The Bible requires PERFECTION. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15). I don’t live up to this perfect standard. I am perfect only in my position in the blessed Lord Jesus Christ. If I don’t keep my mind and heart focused on my perfection in Christ, I become extremely discouraged. I become tossed about like a bottle upon the waves of the sea. I lose my anchor (Heb. 6:19).
To preach a “lordship salvation” which requires that sinners make Jesus Christ absolute Lord of every area of their lives in order to be saved is to confuse position and practice, justification and sanctification. This is similar to the error made by many Pentecostals and Charismatics who believe the child of God can lose his salvation. An excellent testimony about the danger of this false teaching is in the book “Holiness: The False and the True” by the late Harry A. Ironside (Loizeaux, P.O. Box 277, Neptune, NJ 07754). As a young preacher, Ironside was involved with the Salvation Army. He was taught that he could have an experience, a “second blessing,” whereby he could obtain perfect victory over his old nature. As all genuinely born again people do, he earnestly desired such an experience. He agonized over his sinfulness and spiritual imperfection. He diligently sought the “blessing,” praying, fasting, crying out, striving, believing. Finally he thought he had obtained “it.” He stood in the testimony meetings and joyfully told the people that he had “it,” that his struggles with sin were over. Of course it wasn’t long before he realized that he had been deceived and that the struggle with sin was still within him. At that point he became so discouraged and disheartened that he had to be hospitalized in a mental unit. He had determined to leave the Christian life and return to his old loves. In the hospital, though, he met some saintly Christians who patiently taught him the truth of biblical sanctification, and through this ministry of the truth he became anchored in Christ and went on to have a long, fruitful preaching ministry.
We have noted in many independent Baptist circles a serious lack of clear, sound teaching in regard to justification and sanctification, position and practice. Without such teaching new converts are left to struggle with the flesh without a proper understanding of the positional stability and unchanging victory they have in the Lord Jesus Christ.
IV. WHEN I SPEAK NEGATIVELY OF INDEPENDENT BAPTIST LEADERS, I SPEAK AS A FRIEND.
Many have advised me to speak out only against error in other groups and to leave my fellow independent Baptists alone or to speak only in generalities. It would be much easier for me if I would heed that counsel, and I can assure you that if it were up to me I would do just that. Contrary to what some allege, I do not enjoy controversy, and I could probably have a ministry many times as large as the one I have today if I had simply refused to say anything negative about men in my own “group.” I have weighed that counsel by the Word of God, though, and have found it to be unscriptural. This is the same counsel that was often given to the Old Testament prophets, of course. Jeremiah was told to keep his mouth shut in regard to his own king. He refused. Paul rebuked Peter publicly because of his compromise. Charles Spurgeon was lambasted for saying negative things in his paper about his fellow Baptists, but he was right in doing so. Even from a strictly practical standpoint, it is nonsense to say we must never seek to correct our fellow Bible-believing preachers. If compromise and error in our midst is not corrected, it will grow and leaven the entire movement.
When I criticize my fellow independent Baptists, I speak as a friend and as a member of the same family. I have been an independent Baptist since a few weeks after I was saved in 1973, and it is because I love independent Baptists that I refuse to remain quiet about error which I believe exists in regard to the presentation of the gospel.
By the way, though I love independent Baptists, I love the Lord and the Bible more, and whenever any group of independent Baptists leave the Bible I leave them. I pray earnestly that I will never be so faithful to my fellow preachers that I become unfaithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. That is a trap into which massive numbers of preachers have fallen throughout history.
REPENTANCE AND SOUL WINNING (D.W. Cloud) [ISBN 1-58318-062-1] This is an in-depth study on biblical repentance and a timely warning about unscriptural methods of presenting the gospel. The opening chapter, entitled “Fundamental Baptists and Quick Prayerism: A Faulty Method of Evangelism Has Produced a Change in the Doctrine of Repentance,” traces the change in the doctrine of repentance among fundamental Baptists during the past 50 years. Chapter Two is an extensive study on biblical repentance and includes what repentance is not, a study of every Bible passage dealing with repentance, repentance defined by preachers of old, illustrations of repentance, and God’s repentance. Chapter Three looks at four “Unscriptural Presentations of Repentance”: (1) An Easy Prayerism Presentation: Failing to deal plainly with repentance. (2) An Insufficient Presentation: Failing to define the terms of the Gospel so the hearers plainly understand, and failing to contrast the true Gospel with false gospels. (3) A Positive Presentation: Failing to lay a proper foundation of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. (4) A Need-Oriented Presentation: Failing to make a distinction between genuine salvation and mere reformation and ritual. Chapter Four is titled “Does Salvation Make a Difference,” demonstrating that profession without a corresponding change of life is not biblical salvation. Chapter Five, “Pentecost vs. Hylescost,” contrasts the late Jack Hyles evangelistic methodology with the Bible. Chapter Six answers questions that commonly arise pertaining to this subject, including “Are you preaching lordship salvation?” and “Isn’t your definition of repentance a works salvation?” (The former title of this book was “Repentance Is More Than a Sinner’s Prayer”) 2006 edition, 201 pages, 5X8, perfect bound $9.95