Salvation is a Gift; Not a Reward
By David J. Stewart
"For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. —Matthew 21:32
In Matthew 21:32, Jesus plainly taught that repentance is synonymous with believing on Jesus. Who was it that believed?; the publicans and harlots. It was the self-righteous crowd who refused to repent and get saved. The Bible doesn’t tell us that the publicans and harlots gave up their sinful lifestyle. No, rather, the Bible simply states that they repented and believed on Jesus, i.e., they acknowledged their guilt of sin and wanted Jesus to save them. Eternal life is a free gift, freely given, and freely received.
There is a large group of heretics in America today, most of them from California, who require lost sinners to literally forsake their sins to be saved. Who can do that? Everybody, even the best of Christians, sins every day. Do you know why California has been nicknamed the “Granola state”? It’s because it’s a place filled with fruits and nuts. For some reason California leads the way in false prophets.
I don’t enjoy exposing anyone as a false prophet; but it is my duty as a Christian (Ephesians 5:11). I have received much criticism lately for exposing Ray Comfort’s false gospel. I do so without apology. Mr. Comfort is far more subtle than John MacArthur in his false teachings; but by careful scrutiny of Ray Comfort’s doctrinal position as compared to the inerrant Word of God, he comes up lacking. Mr. Comfort plainly states in THE EVIDENCE BIBLE (in his commentary concerning John 3:16) that a person cannot be made alive in Christ until they forsake their sins through repentance…
"We are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and until we forsake them through repentance, we cannot be made alive in Christ." —Ray Comfort
SOURCE: THE EVIDENCE BIBLE, by Ray Comfort, pg. 1345; 2003, Bridge-Logos Publishers, Orlando, Florida
You cannot show me this teaching anywhere in the Scriptures. Although it is true that a carnal believer cannot fully please God; there is nowhere in the Scriptures where God says he won’t save a person who holds on to personal sins. Ray Comfort is wrong on salvation, which makes him wrong on everything else too. Get mad at me if you want, the Bible is on my side. Salvation is the free gift of God… WITHOUT WORKS! Romans 4:5 and 6 couldn’t be any plainer: “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.” I love that word… imputeth! That means God literally takes Jesus Christ’s righteousness and places it upon our sinful record, declaring us justified… JUST-IF-I’D never sinned at all. What a Wonderful Savior!
Misleadingly, Ray Comfort and John MacArthur horribly take Charles Spurgeon's words out of context in many of their sermons and writings, claiming that Spurgeon taught Lordship Salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this quote by Spurgeon himself plainly reveals...
"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..."
— Charles Spurgeon
SOURCE: http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0044.htm (from a sermon preached at the New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, on September 23, 1855)
Why doesn't Ray Comfort and John MacArthur quote that? What Spurgeon did teach was that a sinner must “renounce” (i.e., reject one's sins) to be saved. To "renounce" does not mean to literally forsake, otherwise Spurgeon would have used a different word. It is clear from Spurgeon's own statement that he didn't believe in Lordship Salvation at all. Ray Comfort and John MacArthur are barking up an empty tree. Spurgeon simply believed that a person who attempts to justify any sins in their life cannot be saved, until they RENOUNCE all sins as being a violation of God's Holy Law... "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" (Romans 3:19). Jesus said in John 3:20... "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." It is not that we cannot be saved by holding onto our sins; but that our love for sin will prevent us from coming to the Savior to be saved.
Lordship Salvation is of the Devil and I’m going to fight it for the rest of my life. Salvation is receiving; not giving. You don’t have to give up anything to be saved. A gift is given unconditionally and freely received (Revelation 22:17).
I recently heard John MacArthur on the radio (his sermon tape, The Call To Repentance), in which he said that a person must exchange the world for salvation. This is unbiblical. If a person must give up the world to be saved, then how can salvation be a “free gift” (Romans 5:15; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8,9)? The errant theology being taught today by unscholarly men is akin to a bank offering you a “free gift” if you open a new account with them. Is it really a gift since you have to open a new account to obtain it? No Sir, not at all; It’s false advertising. A genuine “gift” means you don’t have to do anything other than freely receive it. Well, there’s a lot of false advertising in the religious world today concerning salvation.
Salvation is not a reward; but rather, a free gift. If you have to open a new bank account to obtain a so-called “gift,” then it’s not truly a gift; but rather, a reward that you earned by opening a new account. Anyone who tells you that salvation is a free gift; but first you have to forsake your sins to get it, is a liar! Salvation is not a reward; It’s a free gift paid for by Jesus’ literal, physical, precious blood (1st Peter 1:18,19; Hebrews 9:12).
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." —Romans 6:23