A Distressed Young Man, Francis Chan and Lordship “Salvation”

By Jack Weaver

Below is a distressing note from a young man who is tragically unsure of his salvation. I am terribly distressed when I read his words and thoughts. We need to pray for him and many like him who have been confused by false teachers like Francis Chan, John MacArthur, John Piper, Paul Washer and others.

We witness many visitors to our web site who have been victims of the teaching of Lordship “salvation.” We see many who have finally and joyously understood the real meaning of God’s Free Grace and have trusted, not their behavior, not their works — but Jesus Christ alone as their eternal Savior.

Because of the nature and content of his letter, I will assign to him an assumed name of “Joseph.” I will also highlight in bold parts of his email, some areas of his concern and our possible discussion. I pray some of our readers will offer Joseph scriptural answers to his concerns.


Hello. I have seen your website a couple of times. I usually end up on your site when looking up stuff about Francis Chan.

I really don’t know how to start this email, so I’ll just dive right in I guess. I need help. I need prayer.

For years now, ever since I started college, more so in my second year of college, I have continually and constantly had nagging doubts about my salvation. I still to this day continue to have these doubts.

I will confess something to you first, however. Also since I started college, I have had a continual worry about evangelism. The thing is, I am uncomfortable talking with strangers, and as a result, have had trouble evangelizing them, almost not doing so at all. I have told my friends the gospel, but not usually right away. I am a person who struggles a lot with fear as well.

I know the gospel message of grace. I have told it to people, to myself, and I have been comforted by the grace of Jesus Christ toward me as a sinner. But always, without fail, my assurance goes away. I become increasingly more aware of my sin, which is good of course, but I then question my salvation.

The Bible teaches that good works follow those who believe. I look at my life, and have trouble seeing them. If I do see them, I question my motives. I’m a mess, in short. I am tired of not having any peace. I am tired of clamming up like a turtle because of my fear of judgment.

I know I have so many sins to deal with in my life. There are things i know I am not even aware of. You seem to be a person that loves the gospel of grace. Is there any words you can offer me for help?

I want to trust in Jesus Christ, and I do, but sometimes, I get scared that because I don’t do certain things, like evangelize often, I am not really saved.

I am in seminary now, and the problem is getting worse. Please help. I hope this all makes sense.


Joseph, we do understand your consternation and pray we can help you see God’s absolute assurance in Jesus Christ through His Word.

I will take a few of your concerns and address them:

  • You have been taught falsely that good works will follow those who believe. NOT TRUE, the Bible says believers SHOULD (not must) walk in good works (Ephesians 2:10) Nowhere in God’s Word does He say that a lack of good works condemns a person. Yes, believers SHOULD (not must) do good works but, by His Grace, we have that choice.
  • Be warned that some churches and seminaries teach that one must “Repent of or turn from sin”to be saved and/or stay saved. Read the Statement of Faith of your seminary. Such a statement is false doctrine. See this article:

    False Repentance, Perseverance and Lordship “salvation”

  • Very important. Your assurance does not depend upon your behavior or feelings — but solely upon God’s Word.
    “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God [Jesus]; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life, …  1 John 5:13 Believing that Jesus’ death and resurrection to pay your sin debt (which is death) is sufficient personally for you. Your belief/trust in Jesus is your guarantee of salvation. Jesus says to you: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. John 6:47 plus hundreds more similar verses.
  • Discard Francis Chan. His false teaching is misleading you and thousands of others. Use the search bar on this web site (upper right column) for “Francis Chan” and additionally read Bruce’s accurate articles about Chan’s apostasy here:

    Francis Chan – Failure to Help the Poor Could Send You to Hell

    Francis Chan’s Speech to 5000+ Christian Youths, Questions Their Faith

  • If your seminary training has not by now shown you how to have absolute assurance from scripture, you should seriously consider a change of seminaries. And one of the best is a good, solid Bible College Dayspring Bible College and Seminary in Illinois.
  • Go to Gospel Campaign’s web site, read and download the Gospel Booklet. It is very simple and clear.
  • Joseph if you indeed “know the Gospel of Grace” I question whether you actually sincerely believe it. See also our page: Eternal Life For You – Guaranteed!!
  • Don’t worry about evangelizing anyone until you are absolutely sure of your own salvation. I can imagine it would be difficult trying to explain salvation assurance in Jesus Christ when you do not have it yourself. But when you do understand and have that assurance then, by all means, enthusiastically share that freeing Good News with others. That Truth shall make you (and them) FREE!! “And ye shall know the TRUTH, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

Joseph, I am confident others will offer suggestions and encouragement to you from God’s Word. These are only a few thoughts but you must realize your assurance cannot rest in your behavior or works but only in Jesus Christ. He is necessary, He is enough and in Him alone is True Salvation.

Please join us in this discussion.

94 responses to “A Distressed Young Man, Francis Chan and Lordship “Salvation”

  1. Rob Welcome.
    I myself came out from what you are experiencing as a believer soul.
    weak and false legalistic Gospel message can provoke the thoughts you are experiencing.
    To walk in the Spirit comes from knowing our postion in Christ Jesus.
    We don’t do anything to be filled with the Spirit. We receive all of the Holy Spirit the moment we place our faith in Christ Jesus.. it is what we don’t do that causes us to grieve the Spirit.
    We are to mentally reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive unto God. (reckon means to count up what God says to be True in His Word and believe them to be true) Confessing our sin,, Present ourselves To God and yeild to Holy Spirit.
    How to be filled with Spirit ?
    Enjoy Christ Jesus Through His Word
    will we simply enjoy being saved by Grace Through faith..

  2. Rob, welcome and thanks for your comment.

    According to the Bible, if a Christian is walking in the Spirit, he will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, including those that you have mentioned.

  3. What if the problem isn’t just a lack of good works, but an abundance of bad works? My life is filled with resentment, hate, anger, cursing, bitterness. I have many times even cursed God and Christ. I believe what the Bible says, that God is propitiated and I rest in that with the thread-bare faith I have. But my life and walk are deplorable. And my heart is pretty hard as well.

  4. Amy Bennett – so sorry to hear, but praying with you for some that love the Lord too, to come into their lives, to feed His sheep. Praying for wisdom for you both. If you can’t talk to them, can you send them things? Maybe send them things from time to time with His Word in encouragement, most especially His love as they proclaim it, yet really don’t see it. Praying for guidance.

  5. False Teachers/Preachers cults alike love to prey on souls who love the word of God but know little of the Word of God . That’s why it is imperative for us all the read and study the Word of God for ourselves asking for wisdom and understanding. Growing from our position in Christ Jesus
    Resting in the finished work of Christ Jesus and allowing God to take care of all the rest via the Holy Spirit

  6. Hi Amy and Welcome to expreacherman an oasis of Grace
    We have experienced shunning when standing for the Truth of The Gospel in Grace
    Col 1:6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
    it is with a heavy heart to hear of your family using children as a weapon against you as they have fallen under the bewitching spell of another gospel
    We have friends we thought we knew after being in ministry with them for years only to now have them not even acknowledge my wife and I .

    Through this may we all occupy our heart/mind with the Word of God delighting in The Gospel knowing we our saved by Grace Through Faith by simply believing That Christ died for the ungodly and that qualifies me

  7. Amy,

    I am so sorry to hear that and will pray for you all. That is especially tough as the grandchildren are affected too. Thankfully there is hope in Christ and His Word can free anyone from the bondage of untruth. The true grace gospel message is so refreshing. I will pray that they will one day soon be receptive to it.

    Jim F

  8. Amy, welcome and thanks for your comment.

    It is a shame that your son and daughter in law have gotten drawn into the false doctrine of Francis Chan. I have prayed for both of them, and that they will be reconciled to you and your husband.

  9. We believe our son & daughter in law have joined the Chan cult and will no longer speak to us or allow us to see our grandchildren, in spite of the strong don in their lives. They seem to have the cult mentality of this group. I was raised in the salvation by works church and it is a blight on the message of Christ.

  10. HeRedeemed Me, welcome. May I ask you, since your name is in the past tense, do you believe it’s really already done, that you were already saved? If so, if it happens the moment you believe, then how can proof later come into play?

    Abraham was not justified as in made righteous when He offered up Isaac. Now we don’t know how old Isaac was, but a lad, so some say 12-14 years old. Since Abraham had Isaac at 100, we also know he was justified 25 years earlier at 75 when He believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. He was uncircumcised when He was declared righteous. So this justification that is spoken of is in the sight of men, a demonstration of a working faith. A testimony before men. As Titus 3:8 tells us our good works are beneficial to all. But if we are not exercising or demonstrating our faith — walking the walk, we are useless to others.

    9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

    10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

    11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

    12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. Rom 4:9-12

  11. Chapter 8
    Faith without works – James 2

    Often when discussing the Bible with the “religious” about salvation, you will hear, “But faith without works is dead”! “What about James 2”? Does James 2 tell us that works are needed for salvation? No, James is simply a book written to “already saved” people exhorting them to do good works. In this chapter we will examine James 2 and the statement: “Faith without works is dead.” First, we need some verses that say we are saved without works.

    • “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).

    • “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of WORKS? NAY: but by the law of faith” (Rom 3:27).

    • “But to him that WORKETH NOT, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom 4:5).

    • “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness WITHOUT WORKS” (Rom 4:6).

    • “NOT BY WORKS of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).

    • “And if by grace, then is it NO MORE OF WORKS: otherwise grace is NO MORE grace. But if it be of works, then it is NO MORE grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom 11:6).

    I think you get the point. We are not saved by works. It is clear. Then what about, “Faith without works is dead”? This is a true statement. However, “dead” does not mean “unsaved”. It means “inactive/useless”. Let us start with verse 14.

    “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14).

    The first part of this verse uses the word “profit”. We have already seen that salvation is a gift (Rom 5:15-20) and not of works. As a result, you cannot “profit” salvation. In the second part of the verse, James asks his saved brethren, “Can faith save him”? Well, the answer is no. Stay with me! The question we need to ask is, “Save them from what?” It is not from hell, as James is writing to believers—they are already saved (use of bretheren in James 1:2). Hell is not mentioned one time in James. What are they being saved from? Judgment (see verse 13). Faith will not save a believer from judgment. There are two other forms of judgment mentioned in the Bible.

    • The chastening hand of God. God will discipline His own. (Heb 12:5,6)

    • The Judgment Seat of Christ where our works are tested. (1 Cor 3:10-15)

    Let’s go to verse 18. Before I start, we have to realize who is speaking. IT IS NOT JAMES. Seriously! James has created a fictional character that begins to speak… sort of like me telling you a joke: “one guy said to the other”; I have just created two fictitious men. How do we know this? Verse 18 starts with, “ye a MAN may say”. James didn’t say, “Verily I tell you” or “I say unto thee”. James creates a fictional man (ye a MAN may say). It is this man that is now talking. James actually calls the man vain in verse 20. I will substitute Bob for “man” to show clarity.

    Yea, Bob (a man) may say, “Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble but wilt thou know, O vain Bob (man), that faith without works is dead? (Taken from James 2:18-20)

    Yes, it is HUMAN VAINITY that thinks we have anything to offer God for salvation. The Bible is clear. Salvation is a FREE GIFT to anyone who believes the simple gospel message.

    Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar (verse 21)?

    The same question we asked about the word “save” in verse 14 is the same question we need to ask in verse 18. The question is, “Justified before whom?” It is NOT God.

    “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but NOT before God” (Rom 4:1,2).

    WORKS justify us before Man. Man looketh on the outward but God knoweth the heart (1 Sam 16:7). On to verse 22, which reads:

    “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.”

    Remember Jesus’s ministry. He said to his disciples many times “ye of LITTLE faith”, while telling the Gentile centurion “I have seen no GREATER faith than this”? From this we know that there are different levels of faith. WORKS bring faith to perfection. Notice the word, “perfect”. We see this word “perfect” when talking about works in 2 Tim 3:16,17.

    “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

    NOTICE, “the man of God” (already saved) may be perfect unto all good works. This is not saying that any flesh can be perfect. It is saying we are to be prepared unto all good works. This is confirmed in Titus.

    “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and PROFITABLE unto men” (Titus 3:8).

    I hope this helped explain “faith without works is dead”. It is a true statement. Faith that does not work is “useless or inactive”. It doesn’t PROFIT anything. It is not saying that works are necessary FOR salvation as that would contradict so many passages of scripture.

    FAITH ALONE in the gospel of Jesus saves from hell, but without works, that “saving faith” is unprofitable; it is “useless”. It will not produce anything. This is book written to exhort people who are already saved to do good works.

  12. HeRedeemedMe, welcome and thanks for your comment.

    We have received many similar comments from people who are confused by the meaning of James 2:17. James is not saying that someone whose faith is unproductive does not have eternal life. He is saying that someone whose faith is not productive is not being useful.

    We know this, because the Bible says that whoever believes in Jesus as Savior has eternal life, and this is not conditioned on doing good works to receive eternal life, keep eternal life, or prove to oneself or others that one has eternal life.

    We also know this, because other passages that are written to believers tell us to do good works. If good works were automatic, those passages wouldn’t have been written. See example below:

    Titus 3:8: This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

    Please see our “Difficult Verses” section for a discussion of that passage.

  13. HeRedeemedMe

    The comment about ‘nowhere in the bible does it say that a lack of good works condemns a person’ is not true. James 2:17 says Faith without works is dead.

  14. Capinan, usually preachers say with their mouth that they teach grace by faith alone, then they begin to add things to what they supposedly preach. And then they begin with their list of things you do if you are ‘really saved’. Or they begin with a list of things you do to ‘enter in’.

    Instead of saying you ‘doubt’ the person is a false teacher because you’ve heard them, maybe you might want to start testing the spirits, and searching the Scriptures to see if these these things are so.

    Remember in the end Jesus said there would be many deceivers and many deceived.

    These very popular preachers with large audiences, who have best selling books, are very suspect, just in the fact that many men speak well them. Jesus said they did their fathers did the same thing with the false prophets.

    I would appreciate it if you would tell me one that you think is not false, and then be willing to examine that one person’s teaching with the Word (as is done here at this site).

    In Christ.

  15. capinan, welcome and thanks for your comment.

    Many false teachers claim to believe in grace, but their focus on works to prove salvation contradicts their professed belief in grace.

    Insisting that Christians WILL automatically show fruit as a mark of conversion is simply not biblical. That errant belief would cause one to look to his own change of behavior, attitudes, etc for assurance of salvation, instead of looking to Christ alone.

    You mentioned 2 Corinthians 5:17. I would suggest you read our discussion of that verse under our “Difficult Verses” section.

    We also believe in repentance, when it is properly defined. Repentance means a change of mind. In Luke 13:3, Jesus was addressing the errant belief of his audience that they didn’t sin to the same extent as those whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

    Jesus said: “Suppose ye that these these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?”

    That errant belief – their relative goodness (self-righteousness) – was what Jesus was telling them to repent of.

    They needed to give up their faith in their relative goodness and trust in Jesus alone as Savior. Being good will not get one into heaven. You have to be perfect. And, the only way to have that perfection is by imputation.

    Please see our “Statement of Faith” for an explanation of repentance in an eternal salvation context.

    The object of repentance is never sin when the consequence is eternal life. And, when the object of repentance is sin, eternal life is never the consequence.

  16. Hi Bro,
    Thanks for your letter bro, but i doubt that those preachers you’ve said teaches a false gospel. I have read and watch their sermon and they believe that salvation is by grace trough faith alone in Jesus Christ thus faith produces good fruit as the mark of your convertion in Christ, let us all remember 2Corinthians 5:17″If anyman be in Christ he is a new creature”. I believe in repentace too, because through repentance a humble heart was produced, also repentace is Jesus teaching in Luke 13:3 ” Unless you Repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

  17. Curtis — yes, may we stop and listen when we read His Word. You know I think we tend to gloss over our own sins, or weak areas at times, and try to just move it along real quickly as if Jesus cannot see our dirty toes. It’s kind of a reality check to know He sees, and yet we need to allow Him to wash our feet. That stinkin’ thinkin’ of legalism/lordship/judaizing, is a hard to remove, tar-like substance. It seems about the time you think it’s off, you find another area you didn’t see. Takes awhile.

  18. Hi Gemma. Submitting to God, humbling ourselves under His mighty hand, is certainly part of being a good disciple/student, and growing in His Grace. Even then, if we are honest, we have not made Him Lord over all, nor is it possible, as we are imperfect, and He doesn’t judge on a scale.

    Let’s look at the verse and what confessing the Lord Jesus means.

    homologeō -(thou shalt confess) – this is to same the same thing, or agree with — and what are we ‘agreeing with’? The Lord (kyrios) Jesus (Iesous), and that means, kyrios = God, the Messiah, Iesous = Jehovah is salvation.

    And obviously we know God raised Him from the dead, why He was sacrificed for us. Confessing Him with our mouth doesn’t give us eternal life.

    But one must certainly agree and believe that Jesus is God, the Messiah, Jehovah who saves.

  19. I read your post this AM beholdason before leaving for work
    I had been listening to a internet radio station for passed couple months or so while driving truck and had some reservations but enjoyed the music ministry. Then today during the evangelism segment the announcer asked if someone wants to be a christian you simply “except Jesus into your heart AS Lord and he will give you the Free gift of eternal life ”
    what !!! I I wonder if the gentleman even heard his own words or even gives thought to what he just said ?
    Then during a testimony call the caller expressed how he came before Jesus and asked for forgiveness . the announcer interrupted his testimony and asked the caller if he had made Jesus the Lord of his life ? The caller said yes .
    I pray for the caller that he may find The Truth of the Gospel and be set free from the works for salvation and find the rest that Jesus paid for.
    I repent (change my mind about listening and supporting) the radio station and deleted it from my phone.

    was blessed today listening to Tom Cuzza at Northland the message ” Go and sin no more” really hit home and re enforced the decision made also helped clear up the chapter. Like Tom said we should stop and think when we read Gods Word


    Thank you Gemma for posting your question and for the follow up responses

  20. Gemma, you wrote:

    Jesus as Lord is the core belief to be saved.

    I say that Jesus IS the Lord. We don’t make Him the Lord through obedience or submission. Lord is His title. No one makes Him the Lord.

    When we BELIEVE on the Son, we are believing in Him as the Lord. We cannot make him Lord anymore than He IS.

    To say that we must make Him our Lord is to add works/obedience as a requirement for salvation.

    And that, would be heresy.

    Gemma, are you trusting in Jesus (who IS the Lord) as Saviour alone?

    Or are you trusting in your submission to His Lordship?

    If the latter, that is works salvation.

    Please read the Gospel of John and highlight every time you see the word BELIEVE in the context of salvation. Note the lack of reference to “making Jesus your Lord” in those passages.

    Then proceed to throwing out every single book by John Macarthur in your possession.

    Even better, burning them is a fabulous option.

  21. Gemma, He is Lord of all. He can be Lord of our lives. But letting Him be Lord of our lives is not a condition to receiving eternal life.

  22. Hello all 🙂 . What good will it do to us if the Jesus we believe in is not Lord? And if we say He is , then why can’t He be Lord of our lives? Jesus as Lord is the core belief to be saved. His lordship means everything along with His death for our sins and His resurrection (romans 10 :9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.) In order for Jesus to be your savior, He has to be Lord. It does not take away the salvation by grace, by faith. It just adds substance to faith.

  23. Curtis, thanks for posting.

    Bobbie Jo, what a powerful testimony!

  24. Here is a Testimony from a soul who found Freedom in Christ Jesus , with God using expreacherman blog

  25. Genevieve Jenks

    Great comments, I really liked the one from John, the one where he said that when he discovered the true gospel , he felt alone, he wondered if he was the only one that believed this.It was like that for me too.Satan does use this against us, to get us to question that maybe we are wrong.I also liked how he said that if any teaching doesn’t make sense in light of these three things-1. Believers are eternally secure.Heb 10:10-12,14. 2. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ.Eph 2:8. 3.We can have complete assurance of our salvation the moment we are saved.John5:24,1 John5:10-13. That it has to be false & I liked how he said If you read bible verses that seem to contradict these points , you are misinterpreting them.Thanks John, I know you wrote that a fair while ago, but it still helps, it helped me.

  26. For people who fear to be not saved because they think they don’t do enough evangelism or don’t help enough the poor or don’t do whatever work, I would like to point to them what does say James 2:10 :
    “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”
    It means that if in our whole life we miss just one time to evangelize, it is like we never did it in your whole life, if in our whole life we miss just one time to help the poor, it is like we never did it in our whole life. We lied only once? It is like we never tell the truth in our whole life.
    So what we learn for this verse is that whatever are the efforts we do, they won’t be sufficient, not to say useless. It seems desperate, but here comes the good news: 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” So the righteousness of Jesus is given to us by grace, freely, we just need to believe it. Jesus never failed once to evangelize, he never failed once to help the poor, he also never failed once to tell the truth, and finally never failed once to do any good works. The only way to be saved is to have this perfect righteousness being imputed on us. Being saved by faith alone is not questioning yourself if our actions show our salvation or not. It is looking only at God’s grace for salvation. It is like God wants us to move our look from ourself to him alone. At that point, we can start doing good works inspired from God, but they will never make us more righteous in front of God because we are already viewed by him as perfectly righteous. It seems strange at first glance that God call us perfectly righteous before it is the case in the acts, but let’s look at the story of Gideon: God called him a valiant warrior at a point of the story we will actually say the opposite. It is like God didn’t see the temporal state of Gideon but its future and eternal state. That’s how I can explain how it works with justification.

    @Joseph: That’s right that if you believe, you should see the fruits of your faith in your life. I am sure there are actually fruits in your life but you didn’t pay attention to them. It can be also as simple as spending time with God when you read some verses or go for a walk or wait somewhere. It can also be as simple as desiring of knowing God more because you begin to see how marvelous he is and you want to discover more of him so you can marvel even more about him.

  27. Yawol, so happy to meet you, praying for you and your family to grow together in the Lord, and experience a love that you have never known before. He loved you so much, He gave Himself for you, your wife, your children. God bless you all.

    Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

  28. Yawol,

    WONDERFUL!! Believe me, we here at ExP are happy and praying for you and your wife. You made a wise decision. There may be bumps in the road — but trust the Lord to hold things together.

    Be sure to get a King James Bible, then you and your wife together start reading in the book of John – alternating with the book of Galatians alternating one chapter at a time.

    Most important rest in the assurance Christ gives us that when you trust Him for eternal Life, it will NEVER end!! (1 John 5:13, John 3:16)

    You and your wife read over the verses and links everyone sent to you in comments.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  29. Thank you everyone. I broke down today and begged the forgiveness of my wife who suffered under me due to my doubt. The duck and diving, the manipulation, the verbal abuse and my weakness as a husband and father to lead my family is gone. I am still very scared but I prayed very hard today in my car as I was driving that he must help and give me strength to accept his mercy and believe in his providence. I am tired but also happy. I will stay here and read the posts for fellowship. Thank you.

  30. Yawol, I prayed for you today. Please read the links that Bruce and Jack provided.

  31. Yawol,

    You are welcome to come back and ask questions if you need or let us know how we can continue to pray for you. I am glad that our discussions were of help to you. I am burdened often for those who are either suffering or have been through deception. I will pray that God continues to work in you and that you find your answers in Him through His Word.

    Jim F

  32. Yawol,

    Welcome!! I appreciate your honesty in writing what you are going through.

    As a former atheist myself (until age 35), I understand your distress, frustration and seemingly unending hopelessness. Without Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can rightfully feel hopeless.

    However there is a solution!! That comes by understanding that we are all short of God’s perfection (sin) and then believing that God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, died on the cross and shed His blood for you personally to pay your sin debt. He was buried and was resurrected from the grave and is alive today. The moment you put your faith in Jesus alone as your Savior, you instantly pass from eternal death to eternal life. That is the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.. offered freely to you by your faith. As you have found, atheism is a dead end and has nothing to offer, either temporally or eternally.

    Here is the link to the article on Hope which Bruce mentioned:

    And here is the link to: Eternal Life For You:

    Many of us here at ExPreacherMan.com are praying for you — that you will trust Jesus Christ alone as your Savior and secure eternally the Peace that passes all understanding in Jesus Christ alone.
    From God’s Word, the Bible:

    And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

    Please come back and let us know how you are doing.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  33. Matt for Grace and Truth


    I will be praying for you regularly.

    Jesus loves you and desires to embrace you with His accepting arms.

  34. Praying for you now, yawol. Jesus truly loves you.

  35. Welcome Yawol, thank you for commenting.

    I and I’m sure that many others here will pray for you.

    Please take a look at Jack’s post that shows how you can experience real hope, joy and peace through Jesus Christ:


  36. Thank you for this one instance….it may have just saved my life. I am tired of all this deception in the world and my militant atheism that is despair in disguise. This crazy blasphemy collapsed inside me and I don’t know if I must cry or laugh. Please just pray for me because I am still amongst the wolves, my life is full deception, hardness and suffering. My smashed up childhood haunts me and I just hope by the grace of Jesus alone that I can have peace. I don’t want to suffer in this way anymore.

  37. Bruce,

    Thanks for that answer. I think that some get caught up in the word justified. It does help to understand that referring to practical righteousness before men.


    It should also be noted that there are not really different kinds of faith just different objects for faith. I could place my faith potentially in Buddha for salvation but that would do me no good. It would not be faith that results in salvation because Buddha cannot give me salvation. Salvation can only be ours if we repent of our unbelief and place our faith in Christ alone for salvation.

  38. Luke, James 2:14-26 is often misunderstood by those who believe James is teaching that faith automatically results in good works. If that were the case, then many of the exhortations to Christians to maintain good works, including those in James, would not need to have been written. For example, Titus 3:14 (NKJV) says this:

    “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.”

    Why would a believer need to learn to maintain good works to avoid being unfruitful? Because good works are not automatic.

    Salvation is by Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Good works are not required to obtain eternal life, to maintain eternal life, or to prove that one has eternal life. The Bible clearly teaches that good works may be rewarded at the judgement seat of Christ. But, eternal life itself is always a gift – never a reward. Any time you see the words “reward” or “prize” in scripture, it is never in reference to eternal life. Eternal life is called “the Gift of God”. Romans 6:23 (NKJV):

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    One succinct passage that clearly establishes the reward for work versus the gift of eternal life is 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. This passage describes the judgement seat of Christ, which is where all church age believers will be judged. It does, unfortunately, teach that some believers will not have any works. See text below (NKJV):

    “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

    If good works automatically follow salvation, why would this have been written?

    Clear Gospel Campaign has an excellent exposition on James 2:14-26, linked below. An excerpt follows:

    “James is not speaking of being saved by “faith plus works.”
    James is not speaking of a “faith that works.” (As if works “automatically” follow eternal salvation.)
    James is not saying that works will “automatically” follow eternal salvation.
    James is not saying that works will “prove” whether or not someone has “really” been saved.

    The reason, quite simply, is that James isn’t speaking about eternal salvation at all. He is speaking of salvation from trials and hardships.”


  39. Hello Luke. Here are some of my thoughts on James 2:

    Regarding James 2, if you do a search on this site, you will find that the chapter has been discussed in detail on several posts. Briefly, James is unmistakeably addressing BELIEVERS, not unbelievers. You will see this clearly in the first two chapters in which James addresses his audience repeatedly as, “my brethren,” or, “my beloved brethren.” James speaks of the QUALITY and USEFULNESS of a man’s faith, NOT the REALITY of his faith. He WARNS against a “dead faith,” that is, an unprofitable and useless faith, genuine faith to be sure (James already confirmed this fact in Chapters 1 and 2), but a faith that is not lived out in a way that would serve and please God as every believer OUGHT TO live. And, James warns of an unprofitable faith that could put the believer in jeopardy of losing some or all rewards at the judgment seat for believers (2 Corinthians 5:10; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). He admonishes his readers to live lives befitting the rich spiritual heritage which they already possessed by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This fits the overall thrust of the Epistle in which James wants his readers’ faith in Christ to produce maturity in their lives. James in no way is threatening his listeners with loss of salvation or with never having been saved to begin with. This is where Lordship Faith teachers like Francis Chan, John Piper, Richard Stearns, David Platt, Paul Washer and John MacArthur stray from the pure, simple, straightforward Bible gospel of Ephesians 2:8-9, Acts 16:30-31, Romans 4:5 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; INSTEAD, they advocate a merit-based “gospel” which insists upon a whole array of openly-visible works (extreme or radical works for some of them) in order to PROVE that one is truly saved. This false system of faith plus works is much akin to Catholicism (even to the cults). It artificially sets man up as the arbiter of who is saved and who is damned, based upon a works-proved belief model. And pity the poor Lordship Faith follower who never knows when she’s done enough; she lives in a perpetual state of fear and dread; she can never get a grasp upon assurance of faith that Christ would want for her to possess (see John 10:27-30). Living in fear and doubt is certainly NO WAY for a Christian to live!

    End Notes 1: James 2:19 does not speak of a deficient faith in terms of salvation. The demons have no ability to believe in the sense of salvation. The text says that they merely believe in the existence of one God. Re. Abraham and Rahab, in congruence with Paul’s writings, James 2:21-25 speak of a justification before men (practical righteousness), not before God (judicial righteousness].

    End Notes 2: John, in First John, as does James, addresses BELIEVERS about the quality of their salvation, not the reality of their salvatiion.

  40. From my uneducated perspective, of just looking the passage from James and taking it at face value, it seems like James is saying that true saving faith is ALWAYS accompanied by some type of deeds. He says “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” I completely, 100% agree that we are saved by grace, but that grace is through faith. Is grace saving, even if the faith is dead? Just some thoughts on that one specifically.

  41. Luke,

    Thanks for visiting ExPreacherMan. We appreciate your generalized question.

    Our Question: Obviously you have your own idea of those verses therefore please tell us the implication and meaning of them to you.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  42. How do you explain James 2:14-26, or 1 John 3:8-10, Jack? Not looking for an argument, I just would like to hear your thoughts on those passages.

  43. Mike,

    Thanks for asking about ExPreacherMan.

    Our Web site, ExPreacherMan.com, is the result of sincere dedication to our Savior and intense research by our Administrators and many of our contributors whose comments you may read regularly on our published articles. We could not function without our friends and contributors and the Lord has blessed our efforts here. For instance, during the last month we have received an average of 400 web site views a day from all over the world. We have recorded almost 260,000 views since our inception, most of them being within the last 18 months. The Lord has blessed this work of many dedicated Believers who, by Grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, have God’s assurance of Eternal Life. This web site is not about those of us who work and comment here but about our Savior, Jesus Christ and proclaiming the simplicity that is in Christ.
    2 Corinthians 11:3

    “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

    You may read a short note about our Co-Administrator, Bruce Bauer and me by clicking on the listing on our header page, About Us or click this link:

    You may read an incomplete and rather old profile about me on my personal Gospel web site, WeaverClan.com:

    Thanks for your interest,

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  44. quick question I am new to this site and it is great expreacherman I see his first name is Jack what is his last name and maybe a litle bio about him if I may thanks mike t

  45. Mike,

    Thanks for the comment.

    It is not Biblical to ask God for His already given Gift of salvation. There is no prayer required for salvation, just a mental decision to trust Jesus Christ. However I believe if a person prays to the Lord, acknowledging that he is believing in Jesus alone as his Savior, that is OK. We must remember that such a prayer is not necessary and even that prayer could be misleading to the person unless he understands clearly that his one time decision to trust/believe/faith in Jesus Christ is the thing that saves him, not the prayer. I do believe a child can make a decision to trust Jesus, in whatever manner he/she does it. Then we should encourage them to grow in the Grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, clarifying to himself, his decision. Some may not remember that time of decision.

    One day an elderly lady (75) came up to me in tears after the Sunday sermon. I had spoken about making a decision to trust Christ as Savior. She said she had been a believer since childhood but did not remember a time when she made a decision to trust Christ as her Savior and wondered if she was really saved. I thought my message on salvation was clear that day (and hopefully every day). She lamented that she could not remember a date or time. I asked her, “Minnie, if you were to die right now would you go to Heaven?” She said, “Yes.” I asked her, “Why and how do you know?” The best I remember, she was crystal clear, “I trust Jesus alone as my Savior, He died for my sins and rose from the grave.” I think she, being quite Biblically literate, may have even quoted 1 John 5:13 or John 3:15. I answered her, “It does not matter when or how you trusted Christ alone to save you, just that you have done so.
    If you believe what you are telling me,
    that you have trusted Jesus alone as your Savior, according to the Bible you have eternal life in Christ. So rejoice in your salvation!” Minnie left very happy with a smile on her face and she never questioned her salvation “date” again.

    I could attribute that incident to an error in my message but I asked several folks and they said my message was clear and not confusing at all. I might consider that she was senile but she was younger and more active at that time than I am today. After that she was always joyful in her assurance and she happily and clearly shared her Savior with others at every opportunity.

    I like the idea of saying to a person who indicates they are trusting Christ as Savior, “You might like to mark this date when you decided to place your faith in Jesus Christ alone as your Savior, the moment when you passed from eternal death to Eternal Life. It is an occasion you might want to recall later in life.”

    My “decision date” is easy for me to remember (as an atheist) because it was at a Christmas Concert (that I was tricked into attending), December 15th, 1964, a month after my Conservative friends and I had suffered an humiliating national political defeat. That Concert night was a point in time when I made my decision to trust Jesus Christ alone as my Savior.
    But I never expect anyone to remember or base their salvation on a point in time when they believed in Jesus. I think that would be preaching “experience” rather than by God’s Word which is Salvation by Grace alone through Faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

    I apologize for the lengthy answer but this is an important and often misunderstood topic. I pray it is clear?

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  46. I remember years ago the devil would do a number on me of my assurance because I like a lot of people could not give a time or date when I was saved. As time went on I realized that a lot of believers did not know when they were saved but the important thing is If I know for sure that I am trusting Jesus Christ and His finished work ALONE it matters not if I can recall a date or not or when I first believed I can say I know I am saved. Some people can quote a date but were they really saved then or did they just walk an aisle, pray a prayer, do all they were told and the preacher declared them saved and may not have been because they were depending on the wrong things; just my 2 cents, maybe expreacher can comment on this–mike

  47. Dennis,

    Welcome back.

    Yep, today there are too many teachers and churches who pride themselves in being Fruit Inspectors. They will condemn you instantly if you don’t toe their line or don’t live up to their specific legalistic standards.

    But we can laugh at them, expose and then ignore them. Isn’t God’s free Grace Amazing?? !!

    Grace for our eternal life and Grace for our daily life.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  48. I have to tell you, the term “Fruit Inspectors” just absolutely cracks me up! The first time I read that, I laughed ’til I thought I would die! You guys are great, God bless you all! Such wonderful teaching. . .

    Still Laughing,

  49. Timothy, I would interpret 1 Thessalonians 1 (including 1:9) to be a commendation to these believers for their faithfulness in spreading the Gospel and in living lives consistent with their faith.

  50. Hello again, another question. How to interpret 1 Thessalonians 1:9

    Thanks and God Bless!

  51. Thanks John, that helps.

  52. Timothy, Philippians 1:6 does not teach perseverance of the saints. See attached article from Charlie Bing that addresses this passage:


  53. Timothy, welcome back.

    I had never read this passage of Isaiah until this morning. I don’t interpret it to mean that turning from sins is required for salvation. I think the passage may be an invitation to the unsaved to trust in God’s provision for their eternal life and for saved people to return to fellowship with God. Note the use of the word “way” for the wicked man and “thoughts” for the unrighteous. An unrighteous man would need to change his thinking in order to be saved – that is a change of mind.

    I have a great quote from J.O. Hosler on the concept of turning from sin for salvation. See below:

    “Salvation repentance is not turning from sin to Christ, but rather a turning to Christ with one’s sins. If someone believes in a false gospel, he cannot add Christ to his idol, but must turn his faith from a gospel which cannot save to Him Who can. It is not what one does with his sins, but rather what Christ does with his sins, that saves him.

    When a born again Christian falls into sin, he is expected to work at turning from that sin. But this is not a form of works that belongs within the prescribed boundaries of the gospel definition.

    A lost person can change his mind about sin and reform from some forms of wickedness, but he will be neither saved nor eternally rewarded for this. He may, however, reap some earthly benefits from living a prudent life.

    We do know from Scripture that assurance of salvation is possible, and we also know that no one completely ceases from sin. This brings us to the question of quantification. If salvation repentance entails the work of ceasing from all sin, when does one know that he has ceased enough to be certain of his salvation? The Bible presents absolutely no quantification standards. What sin would assure us that we were never saved in the first place—the first cigarette; the first pack; the first carton; the first crate, or, what if one never quits smoking? When do we quit sinning enough to know that we are saved? No one would know, and assurance of salvation would be impossible.

    Even after we have practiced godliness for extended periods of our lives, what is our guarantee that we will not fall into sin again and suspect that we were never saved in the first place? If we have no such guarantee, then we have no logical basis for assurance even after years of consistent godliness. From such a perspective, the biblical promises that the believer in Christ has eternal life are stripped of their assurance (Jn. 3:16; 5:24; 6:47; Acts 10:43; 16:31; I Jn. 5:13). So, that which would seem to be a “wholehearted willingness” to obey all of Christ’s commands would be no grounds for assurance in that many Christians are admonished for not following through with such a commitment. Paul thought it necessary to exhort the Corinthians to perform what they expressed a willingness to do the prior year (II Cor. 8:10, 11).

    Therefore, we conclude that the assurance of salvation is not based upon following through with a promise that one will turn permanently from all sin—a promise that no human being has ever kept. Assurance of salvation is to be based solely upon the unconditional promises of God in the finished work of Christ.”

  54. Thanks to all of you for your answers. Thinking about it, praying about it, and studying it makes more and more sense. I have a few more questions.

    This passage has confused me, and seemed to make turning from sins a requirement:
    “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7

    But after thinking about it, it seems like what this passage is saying in context with other scriptures is “Seek the Lord, have a change of mind, and trust in Jesus who is the way.”

    Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

    John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

    Do you think I’ve interpreted Isaiah 55:6-7 correctly?

    Also Philippians 1:6 gives the impression of Perseverance of the Saints, but that can’t be the case. So how is it to be interpreted?

    Thanks again John, Jack, and Bruce
    God Bless!

  55. Timothy,

    You are indeed welcome here. You will find dear friends here who love our Savior and His clear Gospel of Salvation by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ alone.

    We encourage you to participate in our discussions.

    It is particularly exciting that you have seen the Truth and removed yourself from the lie of false repentance. Welcome to the Peace of Free Grace that passes all understanding. Our commenter, John, who responded to you, lived for 20 years with a false message and finally trusted Jesus alone as his Savior about a year and a half ago. Study carefully all of the wonderful responses to your note, especially John’s because he has likewise “been there” and is now earnestly contending for the Faith once delivered to the Saints.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  56. Timothy, welcome!

    I am delighted that you have had the courage to throw off the man-made add ons to the plan of salvation and that you desire to share the Gospel of salvation by Grace through faith in Christ. I have prayed for you to have courage in so doing.

    In terms of sharing your faith, I would recommend familiarizing yourself with the plan of salvation, explained in a simple way. I will reference a couple of things below. Don’t worry whether people will agree with you or not – many won’t. You will find that people who are vested in works-assisted salvation may be more hardened and resistant to the real Gospel than other non-believers. Pray before giving your testimony, and make your testimony be about how you came to faith in Christ, not how Christ has changed your life.

    For presenting the plan of salvation, consider the following from Northland Bible Baptist Church:

    “(18) The general plan of salvation in God’s Word in a brief outline that is believed and practiced by the Northland Bible Baptist Church is as follows:

    (a) Establish the fact that all men are sinners. Isaiah 64:6, Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23, James 2:10.

    (b) Establish the fact that the penalty of sin is death. Ezekiel 18:20, Romans 6:23.

    (c) Establish the fact that you must be perfect to enter heaven. Habakkuk 1:13, Revelation 21:27.

    (d) Establish the fact that man can do nothing to obtain this perfection. Romans 4:5, Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:8-9.

    (e) Show how God provided a sin-bearer in the person of Jesus Christ and imputes to man His righteousness. Isaiah 53:6, II Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 3:9, I Peter 3:18.

    (f) Establish the fact that man needs only to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour for salvation. John 1:12, John 3:16-18, Acts 16:31, John 6:47.

    (g) Establish the fact that man can be certain of his salvation now and that his salvation cannot be lost because eternal life is eternal. John 6:37 & 39, John 10:28, Hebrews 10:10-14, I Peter 1:5.”

    An excellent resource for answering basic questions on repentance, eternal security and assurance is “The Gospel” by Ron Shea:


    And, a good basic tract on salvation is “Am I Going to Heaven”:


    Bruce has given you an excellent explanation of James 2. For further reading, please consider:

    Click to access cucuzza-faith-without-works-is-dead.pdf


    Thanks. John

  57. Welcome Timothy!

    We’re glad that you joined our discussion today. I commend you for searching out the Scriptures and for examining what you teach in light of proper word study and the clear gospel message of Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16-18, Romans 4:5, et. al.

    As to you question, here is a piece that was posted on another discussion some time ago. I hope that it is of help to you:

    Regarding James 2, if you do a search on this site, you will find that the chapter has been discussed in detail on several posts. Briefly, James is unmistakeably addressing BELIEVERS, not unbelievers. You will see this clearly in the first two chapters in which James addresses his audience repeatedly as, “my brethren,” or, “my beloved brethren.” James speaks of the QUALITY and USEFULNESS of a man’s faith, NOT the REALITY of his faith. He WARNS against a “dead faith,” that is, an unprofitable and useless faith, genuine faith to be sure (James already confirmed this fact in Chapters 1 and 2), but a faith that is not lived out in a way that would serve and please God as every believer OUGHT TO live. And, James warns of an unprofitable faith that could put the believer in jeopardy of losing some or all rewards at the judgment seat for believers (2 Corinthians 5:10; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). He admonishes his readers to live lives befitting the rich spiritual heritage which they already possessed by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This fits the overall thrust of the Epistle in which James wants his readers’ faith in Christ to produce maturity in their lives. James in no way is threatening his listeners with loss of salvation or with never having been saved to begin with. This is where Lordship Faith teachers like Francis Chan, John Piper, Richard Stearns, David Platt, Paul Washer and John MacArthur stray from the pure, simple, straightforward Bible gospel of Ephesians 2:8-9, Acts 16:30-31, Romans 4:5 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; INSTEAD, they advocate a merit-based “gospel” which insists upon a whole array of openly-visible works (extreme or radical works for some of them) in order to PROVE that one is truly saved. This false system of faith plus works is much akin to Catholicism (even to the cults). It artificially sets man up as the arbiter of who is saved and who is damned, based upon a works-proved belief model. And pity the poor Lordship Faith follower who never knows when she’s done enough; she lives in a perpetual state of fear and dread; she can never get a grasp upon assurance of faith that Christ would want for her to possess (see John 10:27-30). Living in fear and doubt is certainly NO WAY for a Christian to live!

    Notes: 2:19 does not speak of a deficient faith in terms of salvation. The demons have no ability to believe in the sense of salvation. The text says that they merely believe in the existence of one God. Re. Abraham and Rahab, in congruence with Paul’s writings, James 2:21-25 speak of a justification before men (practical righteousness), not before God (judicial righteousness].

  58. Hi guys,

    I’ve visited this site before, and really appreciate what you do. For about 1 1/2 years I’ve been preaching a false gospel of Lordship Salvation. A few days ago I ran into a guy who said repent means “a change of mind”, not “turn from your sins.” I doubted it at first, but after an exhaustive word study for “repent”, “repentance”, etc. I realized the leaven I have spread, and it grieves me. I know now without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus has saved (I now trust in him alone, instead of an impossible human try of turning from sin). However, I’m really scared to share, and defend the truth even with my dad (let alone a stranger). I used to bold as a lion sharing leaven, but I feel weak, and useless even though the righteous are as bold as a lion. Please, pray for Courage, Love, and Faith. On another note, James 2:14-26 now confuses me. How do you exegete it.

    Thanks and God Bless!

  59. Joseph, I have continued to pray for you.

    I heard a great sermon today from Dr. Tom Cucuzza of Northland Bible Baptist Church. It is linked below. I did my best to transcribe an excerpt that I thought might be of interest to you. Please see below:

    From minutes 19:31 – 20:07

    “Did you know that salvation is free? It’s free. Anybody you ever hear – and there’s a lot of preachers on the radio who will say all this and salvation is not free, it is going to cost you. Salvation is going to cost you. Friend, run! Do not walk to the nearest exit! Turn that radio off! Turn that TV off! That man is deceived and is deceiving. Salvation costs us nothing. Jesus paid the price and He offers us salvation freely. That’s what the Bible says.

    Yeah, but, I don’t know if I believe that. Dr. so and so said…what about Dr. God? Right?”

    [audio src="http://northlandchurch.com/2011/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/VOA-MP3-Message0263-Hebrews17.mp3" /]

  60. Kelvin, excellent recommended reading!

  61. Kelvin M. Mwereru

    Joseph | August 17, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    Thank you all so much for your gracious comments. They really have blessed me a lot. I do have some questions. I need help understanding the passages that talk about fruit in the life of the believer. In the Old Testament, God judged Israel many times for refusing to believe him and not bearing fruit. Why won’t believers receive the same judgment, and is there a possibility of becoming a false believer?

    In Christ,
    Hello Joseph,

    Read the following works by Pastor J. O. Hosler, Th.D. All in my drobox account.
    1. 1. Responding To Lordship Salvation (Attaching Personal Righteousness to the Back-side of the Gospel’s Requirements). By Pastor J. O. Hosler, Th.D.
    Link: http://db.tt/ubxVITIn

    2. Fruitless Branches (Do Fruitless Branches Go To Hell? – The Vine And The Branches:What It Means To Abide In Christ). By Pastor J. O. Hosler, Th.D.
    Link: http://db.tt/IVTJ1A6E

    3. Hogs And Dogs (Do Christians Ever Behave Like Hogs and Dogs? – Keeping the Gospel Clearly of Grace While Exhorting Christians to Live Changed Lives). By Pastor J. O. Hosler, Th.D.

    All the best ma’man – see ya in heaven! Be sure to look for me 😉

  62. Jason,

    Let me add, Welcome to ExPreacherMan.com. We welcome your comments and concerns.

    We pray you have read some of the encouraging notes to you and others.

    You have a lot of people on this web site praying for you to regain the love, peace, joy and assurance in Jesus Christ — the things that Lordship Salvationists tend to rob from believers.

    Please come back often and let us know how you are doing, we are concerned and praying for you.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  63. 2 Timothy,

    Let me also say, Welcome to ExPreacherMan.com.

    Yours is an interesting and sad but encouraging story and we find it so typical within the Emerging, modern New Calvinism (which is the old Calvinism with a few radicals added).

    We are indeed happy you are reading Dr. Cucuzza’s book. It is excellent and a great reference for many doctrinal Bible teachings.

    Please come back and comment often. Your experience is a valuable lesson for those trapped in the vicious cycle of Lordship Probation.. as Bruce so well illustrated about those poor attenders of that dark Neo Calvinist church in California.

    Thanks for that accurate succinct analysis of the LS movement and methods which offer, as you say, “no assurance in Jesus, no liberty, no joy, no fulfillment..

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  64. Hello All!

    “Joseph” I have been there too my friend. You have come to the right place for help. Bro Jack, Bruce et al have helped me and I’m sure you will get the same. There are so many different views out there it is hard to keep track of them all. With that in mind I have a story to tell. (Pardon if it runs long)

    I like to peruse various gospel tracts I see when I’m out and about. I have one in my possession that’s called whosoever. It has John 3:16 and Revelation 20:15 verses on it. And if you believe that Jesus died for your sins and trust him to be your savior you will be part of the first whosoever. If not you’ll be part of the second. Simple enough right? Nothing about turning, fruit being evidence, etc.

    Now right next to this tract is one. That has a checklist of what one believe about Jesus. We are all sinners in need of grace, Jesus is the Son of God, He died for our sins, placing one’s faith in Him is the only way to heaven. Again simple enough right? However the next line is to respond to what you believe and receive eternal life you must: 1) repent(turn from your sin life and yield your life to Christ) Um ok? What does that even mean? How much turning? How long? What if I mess up? Does that mean I was never saved? Are only small mess ups allowed as long as I avoid habitual sin? If so how often is habitual? Same questions apply to yield your life to Christ. Ahhhh!!!) Then 2)believe in Jesus as your savior (ok this we all agree on)

    That was my long winded way of saying this: If the gospel was complicated God would have told us so. Verses like John 3:16 would contain all the necessary caveats that some believe are a part of believing in Jesus. Another point is John 3:16 certainly contains the concept of repentance even though the word isn’t mentioned. Now tell me how could repent mean a turning from sin life in John 3:16? Again if that was the case God would have told us so. The only meaning of repent that can be taken from John 3:16 is a changing of the mind about Jesus and our need for Him. Same goes for the plethora of other verses about salvation, some containing the word repent some don’t. But the meaning has to be change of mind about Jesus and not some life long turning from sin, etc. Again if it were that complicated God would have said so. He didn’t and that’s good enough for me! God Bless you all!

  65. “This service was the last one I allowed myself to listen to of his because it effected me so negatively. I can be near him at a friend level, but when he starts in on theology, doctrine, etc., I have to leave his presence for my peace and rest in Christ”

    Yep. These guys are just going to pound their works-based religion into you, if you let them.

    They can’t give any assurance in Jesus. There’s no liberty, no joy, no fulfillment with them. Just, as you described in your first post, everything with them gets heavy and intense. Hardcore LS in teachings and books, heavy-handed accountability, and throwing the works-based “translation” of the ESV in your face.

    All the while playing the “too cool for school” image and posturing in every other part of their lifestyle. That’s the face of “New Calvinism”.

  66. 2Timothy1:7-12

    Thank you califgracer, but I’m just blessed it didn’t get to those extremes about the buildings, grounds, etc. About a year ago, our asst. pastor did leave our church and became asst. pastor at an Acts 29 planted church. By Easter this year, I had already forgiven him in my heart and I was content in supporting a brother in Christ preach the gospel. Unfortunately for me, I agreed to go and hear him preach one service. This service was the last one I allowed myself to listen to of his because it effected me so negatively. I can be near him at a friend level, but when he starts in on theology, doctrine, etc., I have to leave his presence for my peace and rest in Christ – basically agree to disagree. As you mentioned in your previous post, “‘Worship’ services became darkened (ref. to lighting and theology),” this seemed true of the church at this one service. In depth studies of Jude and Galatians, suggested by an experienced pastor, were critical to continue healing – amen! Blessings in Christ!

  67. Welcome 2 Timothy 1, we’re glad that you joined us today.

    I am heartened to hear of your strong stand against apostate teaching at your church. I am also glad that you were able to break free and find another church that preaches the Word of God. I heard of a similar takeover of a church in California over the past few years. The group had the same modus operandi as you described above. They came into an old established evangelical Christian church as a large group of “church planters;” that’s code for “we’re going to come in and take you over.” This group was actually part of a larger movement that goes under various names, one of them is called, “Revolution,” which is a pretty fitting description. Within months the incoming group swarmed the numbers and pretty soon took over the church, appointing their own staff and letting go most of the existing staff. All of the pew Bibles were replaced with ESVs. Every existing ministry was dismantled and “reorganized.” “Worship” services becamed darkened (ref. to lighting and theology). The building was painted gray. Beautiful stained-glass windows were blackened out. All exits remain locked except the one in the rear (maybe they don’t want anyone to escape). The incoming theology is Neo (or New) Calvinist, a la John Piper, Francis Chan, and their ilk. Incredibly, most of the existing church members didn’t even go down fighting; most simply put up with the wholesale changes and stayed put. How tragic!

  68. Jason,

    I ‘ll be praying for you to find the peace that comes from resting in Christ. The Bible should be your source of encouragement. Stay clear of J Mac or Chan types. I suggest a study on Galatians chapter 2. My advice is to make sure your gaze is always on Christ and not your performance or works of the law etc.

  69. Matt for Grace and Truth

    Jason, I’ll be praying for you.

    Sometimes, the classic hymns speak the truth of God’s free grace so eloquently…

    “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
    Freely bestowed on all who believe!”


  70. 2Timothy1:7-12

    Thank you for this website and all the help and encouragement in Christ, instead of hurt and discouragement. Awesome advice to “Joseph”, as well as, I am glad I found this website this March and began reading Dr. Tom Cucuzza’s book “Secure Forever!”.

    I noticed a change in our church whenever we had an influx of new people arrive in late 2007. During this time I was always asking someone or other, “Why has Sunday school and church became so intense? I don’t ever remember it being like this for me before. Please tell me what is going on?”

    During this time, the children’s and youth Sunday school curriculum went to Children Desiring God by John Piper. Also, we started to begin a couple of small groups and the leader really pushed us to find accountability partners. After a few weeks, I couldn’t handle it much more, so we quit our group. The books read and discussed since the inception of the small groups is “Desiring God” by John Piper and “Unfashionable” by Tullian Tchividjian.

    Also during this time, our church offered leadership classes for the men of the church but didn’t seem to encourage women, as any SBC church will follow the BF&M 2000. I felt my life experience might be calling me into women’s ministry and was interested where I would be able to use my gifts and talents. So I was able to obtain a few of these books from my pastor and didn’t attend any of the classes because I personally didn’t feel welcomed: “Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine” by Wayne Grudem and “Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry” by Micheal Lawrence. Therefore, didn’t have much of a mentorship experience and now prefer to learn and do through God’s plan.

    The couple of theologian names I can recall mentioned coming from the pulpit were Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, and Charles Spurgeon. Seemed to use the word effeminate a lot, and men need to step up into their leadership roles. Some others seemed to mention The Resurgence? The Gospel Coalition? XI Marks? Acts 29? Almost forgot, they changed all the bibles within the church to the ESV.

    This last two years, I was basically in a depressed state about my salvation and went to my pastor for help and encouragement, but I think he made it worse because he gave me the book “Am I Really a Christian” by Mike McKinley which is published by XI Marks. So after this, I don’t dare take anymore book recommendations from any Christian leaders, unless I know for a fact what their theology stance is or do the research myself (Berean?).

    Let’s just say that I am grateful to Christ that I have and always will be on a solid rock foundation in my faith and my personal relationship with Jesus since I was 7 or 8 years old. No matter how much seminary or bible college someone has, with this 5 year experience behind me, I will always be discerning and contending for the faith as Jesus by my side as my guide (Psalm 73:23-26). Since July, I believe our family has found another church home where I can continue on my healing journey. (Note: It was extremely difficult to leave a church after 12 years and a denomination after 30 years.)

    Blessings in Christ!

  71. Jason,

    I, too, was very touched by your comment. I can’t express enough that you refrain from listening/reading further from the likes of MacArthur, Chan, Spurgeon, or the many other countless teachers out there spanning years and years of Christian teaching. Truly, it hurts me to say, but I’ve gotten to the place where I have a very hard time even contemplating listening to another sermon; there are so many mixed messages. I have long been a listener of Vernon McGee, and was very troubled to hear what I consider an LS sermon of his just a few months ago. And then, in another sermon just a few weeks later, he stressed grace! What’s with that? Was he just in a tiff when he gave the former message? Was he provoked by another’s bad behavior? Why? Any message which seeks to move me to action by guilt (for being an American or so-called “easy-believism, or “intellectual assent” or what have you) will no longer be tolerated. Motivation is everything.

    And when I read letters like yours and Joseph’s, my heart wants to reach out and convince you that you are deeply beloved. What did the Father do when the prodigal son returned? He ran out to meet him, falling on his shoulders, weeping for joy. You were just a child when you told God to leave! What’s so different from your tantrum toward your heavenly Father than toward an earthly one? The difference is vast because of the object: God, Who created you, Who knows you and loves you more than an earthly parent ever could, is not so easily roused to wrath by tantrums (look at Jonah). It’s terribly hard to completely shed ourselves of a disapproving God, but we mustn’t exacerbate these cruel disturbances, whether inflicted by self or Satan, by giving heed to the varying counsel of worldly men. Let the bible and the Holy Spirit be your sole instruments of guidance.

  72. Jason,

    I went through exactly what you are going through now.

    Then the Lord had me read John 20:31. And it came to an end. It was settled, I am saved and I am going to heaven.

    Stop reading all the LS books (you probably stopped already) and read the Gospel of John.

  73. Welcome Jason,

    I was truly touched by reading your testimony which is similar to Joseph’s.

    May I encourage you to find assurance of salvation in the promises of Scripture rather than in some popular teacher’s guilt-based sermons, or in feelings or introspection, which can change daily.

    There is another post at this site where contributors shared verses of promise and assurance. I trust that you will find it encouraging:


  74. Hello Joseph
    You are in my prayer. My heart goes out to people like you.
    Trust in Jesus

  75. I hear the concerns about this type of teaching. I grew up in a Christ centered home and believed at a young age. Had some trouble through my early teen years with being a bit rebellious, nothing too bad on a worldly standard but for sure was not following Christ closely. Though I always believed and trusted him and his work on the cross to save me. I grew up and even went and worked for a ministry working with drug addicts in a rural environment. I recently went back to school working on my management degree with the intention of going back into ministry or where ever else God called me. I went through a bit of a minor crisis in my life and was really focused on making sure I was focused on God as the center in my life. I started to read some of these authors and for the first time in my life I was questioning my salvation it crippled me for the last couple months. I mean I am behind in school, not being a good Dad to my kids, and a distance husband as I had become obsessed with finding out if I was really saved as I thought I had been for over 25 years since I was a little boy when I trusted in Jesus sacrifice on the cross for my sins.

    Then I ran into some teaching on Hebrews 6 that said you could lose your salvation if you turn from the faith and I started remembering when I was a young boy I got mad at God and the Holy Spirit and told them to go away I did not want to deal with them or something along those lines. I cannot even recall why or exactly what I said. Based on this teaching on Hebrews 6 I thought I might have no chance of going to heaven and could not be brought back to redemption. I became an emotional basket case even worse than after reading and listening to John M and Chan and more depressed than I ever had been in my life. In the last few days I choose just to get back to the gospel I know of grace and focus on Jesus. I am still struggling with it. Sometimes I think I must of abandoned the faith based on the Hebrews 6 stuff, but then I remind myself I never stopped believing just pushed away and the fact that I am worried about shows that it is probably o.k. as if I had really done that I would not be worried.

    As well I am now so focused on what is real works that make Christ happy. I use to think trying to follow Christ daily, loving people, trying to help people, donating money to worthy causes, praying for people, worshiping God were all good works. I use to think it was o.k. to enjoy life in a good way with God. Now I am struggling thinking I have to sell all my stuff, things that I use to enjoy like riding horses, and fishing I feel like they were evil and unless I suffer every day I will not make heaven. It has eaten up my mind and I am worried I cannot get back to my trust and Joy. I pray every day to get back there.

  76. David,

    Thanks for your always encouraging words. And thanks for joining us in praying for Joseph. I am sure he has been blessed by all the prayer and encouragement.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  77. Matt,

    We always appreciate you so much and especially your clear, concise explanation of Salvation in Jesus Christ alone. We all pray Joseph will heed these wise words from God’s Word through you.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  78. It warms my own heart to see these dear brothers & sisters coming to help this struggling brother. Have we not all been there? I know I have. Joseph, Jack is right, it was no accident that you found this site! I don’t have a whole lot to add, just that as James Brookes, a great Bible teacher of the past, said that to seek assurance by looking within is like seeking life by looking at death, and seeking wellness by looking at sickness, as Paul himself confessed in Ro.7:18. Look to Christ alone. He IS our Life. He will certainly never cast you out. Yet all this is not wasted, Joseph because God can use your struggles to help others who struggle (2 Co.1:3-4). God Bless you!

  79. Matt for Grace and Truth


    I will be praying for you, too.

    Be a Berean… Search the scriptures to verify what is being said (Acts 17:11).

    The key: FREE GIFT eternal salvation (Romans 6:23, 5:18, Titus 3:5) … Per Romans 11:6, Eternal salvation is by either GRACE or WORKS. It can’t be both. It can’t be mixture. A true gift is free… no barter, no exchange, no probation, no “I’ll scratch my back, if you scratch mine.” You believe it and thereby receive it…and that’s it. Doesn’t that make the gospel oh so glorious and exciting? Doesn’t that make the gospel so simple and straightforward to share? (See 2 Corinthians 11:3). We “don’t muddy the water” anymore and simply proclaim that which is freely offered. (See Revelation 22:1 and 22:17).

    Also, free grace acceptance (Ephesians 1:6) is a pure motivation and encouragement for us eternally secure believers to joyfully love and serve our wonderful Lord! (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

  80. Joseph,

    We continue to pray for your understanding of God’s Eternal Security by His Free Grace.

    You said, “is there a possibility of becoming a false believer?”

    Great question!!

    1) There are many who profess faith in Jesus Christ but have never honestly trusted Christ alone as their Savior but are depending upon their works or “fruits” to prove their faith to God. God required no such proof. We hear regularly from such folks who follow and promote Lordship “salvation” and Calvinism. “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:5

    2) A true believer can indeed preach a false message. But a true believer can never become an unbeliever. I would consider your question about a “false believer” being one who has never truly trusted in Jesus alone for his salvation.

    3) As has been stated elsewhere in this thread, never look to yourself, your works or “fruit” as evidence of your faith. God doesn’t!! Take Jesus at His word when He says: “He that believeth on Him [Jesus] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name [Jesus] of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18

    4) We NEVER need worry about our eternal salvation once we have, at one time, decided to place our faith in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. Christ died for the sins of the world — that’s history. Believing that Christ died for MY sins and took my death penalty, that is salvation!! We are kept secure by God’s power, not our own! “[Believers] Who are KEPT by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:5 (The Gospel IS the Power of God – Romans 1:16)

    Joseph, if you have indeed trusted in Jesus Christ ALONE for your salvation you should rest in His promise and, according to His Word, consider yourself eternally FREE and kept safe by His Grace.

    A great admonition for every believer in Jesus Christ is: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

    Jesus is our SAVIOR, not a probation officer.

    In Jesus eternally, Jack

  81. Joseph, I will certainly be praying for you. To be sure, Francis Chan will lead you back to fear and uncertainty. He are some of my initial thoughts.

    Salvation doubts –

    A sure way to end up questioning your salvation is to try to look to your works for proof.
    Worry about evangelism –

    Yes, believers should witness to others and be involved in evangelism/discipleship. However, you should be sure of your own salvation first. Plus don’t compare yourself to others. Know that you are human and work with what you can with the abilities God has given you. I know many people who are shy and do not like starting conversations or speaking in public etc, but they are still used of God in evangelism just sometimes in less obvious or glamorous ways. Remember that every believer has different personalies, strengths, and spiritual gifts.
    Fear and questioning salvation because of sin-

    I think the thing is to realize that questioning salvation really comes down to questioning God. Are you saying that God cannot save you, will not save you, or has not saved you? If any of those then why? We know that God can save based on Christ’s finished work. We know that God will save all who believe the gospel putting their faith squarely on Christ. (This implies that there is repentance from any false way of salvation ie working for salvation, another god, etc.) We know that God has saved if we have trusted in Him. The key to our faith being real is not the kind of faith itself but the object. Be careful not to make the object of your assurance your works. The object of you assurance needs to be the same as the object of your faith. This means also that false believers would be those who put their faith in the wrong thing/person.

    Works following salvation-
    Instead, look at Christ and see His good works and righteuosness – that is what God sees when He looks at believers who are in Christ.

    Questioning your motives –

    This illustrates the whole problem with self introspection. There can always remain a doubt in that scenario. There is no end to questioning ourselves or God. This is why the resting point needs to be on Christ.

    Afraid of God’s judgement –

    Believers have no reason to fear eternal punishment.

    Afraid of others judgement-

    Don’t be controlled by the fear of man. Let your worth be deeply rooted in Christ. Don’t take rejections in witnessing personally. Many will reject because they are rejecting God’s truth. Also, a key factor is love. We should never witness out of the guilt of needing to do something to show that we are saved. We witness because we love God our Savior, and beacuse of that, we love others enough to share the good news with them. Plus, don’t add love to a list of litmus tests. Just realize that it helps overcome fear.

    I have so many sins to deal with –
    God has dealt with them. You deal with them as they come for purposes of sanctification, fellowship, and growth.

    I want to trust in Christ –
    You seem to be phrasing this as if it is a continual process that must be maintained in order to stay saved or for assurance to prove that you are saved.

    A seminary should be clearing things up not making them worse. Be aware that many seminaries will put forth a Calvinistic view on things. If you want Bible verses for some of this I can look them up later but many have already been given in other responses. I hope this helps some.

  82. Mary,

    Welcome to ExPreacherman.com!

    So happy to have you aboard. We appreciate your encouragement to “Joseph” and to those of us who “labor” for our Savior. As you know it is really a “labor of love,” to see unbelievers understand the Gospel of salvation by God’s Grace and seeing some who have been duped by false teachers come to a full understanding of the freedom we have in Christ Jesus.

    We pray you will visit and comment regularly to this ministry of Grace.

    In Christ eternally, Jack

  83. Joseph, there is a link on this website to “Voice of Assurance” (Northland Bible Baptist Church). See link below:


    Tom Cucuzza is the pastor, and his sermons are available to download. They are worth listening to, for believers and non-believers alike. One of my favorites is linked below:

    [audio src="http://northlandchurch.com/2011/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/VOA-MP3-Message0260-ToTellTheTruth.mp3" /]

    Here is an excerpt:

    Minutes 23:50-26:24

    “And when Jesus died on the cross, He took our sin upon Himself and He made the complete payment, leaving us nothing to pay for. He was buried. He came back from the dead. The Bible says if you put your faith in Him, he will save you from hell to heaven and he will give you, as a gift, everlasting life. That is an amazing, an amazing truth.

    But yet, most people say no I can t accept that. I have to do good works. But, that s not what the Bible says. You notice what it says in verse 9 (Ephesians 2:9)? Not of works, not of works, not of works. Lest any man should boast.

    Now, there are those who say that salvation is a gift, but you have to make a pledge to God that you re going to live right. But, wait a minute. He never said you have to make a pledge. He realizes we can t do it, that s why He paid for our sins through Christ.

    Some will say you have to repent of your sin. What does that mean? Do you know that nowhere in the Bible does it say repentance from sin brings salvation? Did you know that? It doesn t say it one place in the Bible. I challenge anybody. See, that is man. Still he has to interject that: well, I gotta do my part. I gotta do something to earn it. I have to do something to deserve it. But, that s contrary to Grace. Grace is unmerited, undeserved favor. And the minute we try to put in our two cents it s no longer grace, it s works according to Romans 11:6.

    See, this all may sound like a noble idea, but you will still fail to achieve it. And you are adding works to the finished work of Christ on the cross. You are adding your own merit and performance to salvation, which is works for salvation. You are trusting in yourself. If you have to live right to get to heaven, you re trusting in yourself. You re saying I put confidence in myself.

    Now, people will say this: oh no, salvation s a gift, but if you don t remain faithful then you ll lose it. OK, now what did you just say if that s what you believe? You said: if you don t remain faithful, you ll lose it. That means the way you keep it is remaining faithful. Right? It s just saying the same thing. One s positive, one s negative. So, what are we back to? We re back to that same thing. It depends on you and not what Jesus did for you.

    That s a false religion. True Christianity is this: we are utter failures, incapable of saving ourselves. That s why Jesus came – to die for our sins, make the full payment. And when we put our faith in Him, instead of ourselves, the moment we do He saves us and He gives us everlasting life.”

  84. There is much sense in all of your answers! I can see that fruit can mean many different things. I also think of the the passage in John 15, that the one causing the fruit to grow is indeed the vinedresser, God himself. If we abide in Christ, he promises that we will bear much fruit, and that is his will to do so. I can see that the branches being burned may not necessarily mean they are false believers who go to hell either. To say that might be stretching the metaphor Jesus is using too far. Your responses give me a lot to think about.

  85. Tremendous! Praise God for Joseph & his questions. Praise God for all
    the Godly answers. I pray for Joseph & all those who need to be set FREE
    from these Grace blinding doctrines.
    God bless, John G.

  86. Joseph, sometimes fruit may not mean good works. Consider Matthew 3:6. From Clear Gospel Campaign:

    “In view of this, what is the “fruit” meet for repentance in Matthew 3:6? Unfortunately, too many Christians hammer a figure of speech into some preconceived notion, such as Paul’s reference to the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23 or Ephesians 5:9, both of which depict good works and godly character (“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness” . . . etc.). But to impose this interpretation of the word “fruit” in Matthew 3:5-9 would be to contravene the very point of the passage. It is not our good works or our religion that saves us. It is our Redeemer. Fruit, quite simply, is whatever the context suggests. And what would be the fruit of repentance in this case?

    …And what was the fruit of the Pharisees whom Jesus addressed above? What does Scripture teach us? “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15) Their fruit was to proclaim salvation by the works of the law to their disciples, to root their disciples in that doctrine that they became more a child of hell then their teachers! This was the “fruit” of the Pharisees. The term “fruit” is a figure of speech, and does not have a fixed meaning. As with any metaphor or figure of speech, its meaning is determined by its context. And to look to Paul’s words in Galatians 5:22-23 or Ephesians 5:9 for the meaning of the figure of speech “fruit” in this dialoge in the Gospel of Matthew is just plain nonsense.

    The fruit of the Pharisees and Sadducees was the seed(s) of false doctrine that they planted, and the converts that sprung up from those seeds.

    When I meet believers who are unclear on the gospel, and they tell me they have a very good Bible preaching pastor, and a solid doctrinal statement, but they are confused on the message of the gospel, and the doctrines thereof, I need not see the doctrinal statement, or meet their pastor. I have seen the fruit of his preaching in his disciples. This tells me more about their church than I could ever learn from a printed doctrinal statement, or a face-to-face meeting with their pastor!”

  87. @Joseph: I understand what you are saying about the Tanach, but that’s only one side of the Tanach. Let’s look at several examples to see the other side.

    There is Abraham, who lied about the status of Sarah, refused to move all the way to the Land God promised, etc. If you read Abraham’s life, you see a spiritual journey based on small steps of faith over time. He didn’t always have perfect works, and sometimes seem to have backslid all the way into paganism –yet God persisted, and Abraham ended up a hero of the faith.

    There is Judah. Here we have a young man who slept with his own daughter in law in Genesis 38, and then is the only trust member of the entire Israelite clan in Genesis 43ff. What happened in the middle? He repented. Not works, faith.

    There is David, who committed adultery and murder, and yet is still called a man after God’s own heart. Not works, faith.

    There is Jonah, a man who had works, but (apparently) no faith in the character and promises of God (or took those promises in a selfish, rather than God-like, way).

    Even in the Tanach, people are called to repentance through faith, not works. Salvation has always been by faith in the promises and character of God, through relationship with God, rather than through law.

    Now, do works often result from repentance? Yes –abandoning idols is a form of work that shows a change in faith (but this wouldn’t be considered a work in our modern sense of “works”). Do works often result from faith? Yes, as in David’s fight with Goliath. But does the Tanach actually say, anyplace, that if you don’t have works, you don’t have faith? I’ve not been able to find it, at any rate.

    Let me put it another way –every moment you’re focused on your works, and whether or not they’re “good enough,” is a moment you’re spending focusing on the flesh and the power you have to do good, rather than on God and his power to do good through you. Faith first, then let the works fall where they may –knowing this, that God will make the works fall where they most please Him.

  88. Welcome Joseph!

    I strongly recommend that you peruse the GraceLife Ministries Web Site (see the link to the right). Dr. Charlie Bing has many excellent articles to address the issue of “fruit” as well as many other related topics. Here is one of his articles:

    Can Good Works Prove Salvation? GraceNotes no. 28 – Dr. Charlie Bing
    There is every reason to think that those who have believed in Jesus Christ as Savior and are consequently born into God’s family will experience a changed life to some degree. Some would say that this changed life is evidenced by good works which proves they are saved. If that is true, then the converse is true: if there are no good works, then there is no salvation. In this view, good works (sometimes called “fruit” or evidence of a changed life) prove or disprove one’s eternal salvation.

    Some passages are used to contend that works can prove or disprove one’s eternal salvation. Probably the most common are James 2:14-26, John 15:6, and Matthew 7:15-20. But James is writing to Christians about the usefulness of their faith, not its genuineness. Likewise, in John 15:6 Jesus is talking about fruitless believers and compares them to branches that are burned, in other words, not of much use. Matthew 7:15-20 warns against false prophets (not believers in general) who can be evaluated on the basis of their evil deeds or heretical teaching (not an absence of works in general).

    There is no passage of Scripture that claims works can prove salvation. In fact, there are many problems with trying to use works to prove salvation, or the lack of works to disprove salvation.

    Good works can characterize non-Christians. Works in and of themselves can not prove that anyone is eternally saved because those who have not believed in Christ will often do good things. In fact, good deeds are essential to many non-Christian religions. Sometimes the outward morality of non-Christians exceeds that of established Christians. In Matthew 7:21-23 we see the possibility of those who do not know Christ doing great works, but their works are useless in demonstrating their salvation; they are not saved.

    Good works can be hard to define. Though we might define a good work as something done by a Christian through the Spirit for the Lord, how can we always know when that is true? It is hard to imagine even a single day when a Christian (or non-Christian, for that matter) would not do something good like go to work to provide for a family, hold a door for someone, or brake for a squirrel. How can we know when these things are done through the Spirit and for the Lord, especially if they can be done by non-Christians?

    Good works are relative. While a person’s behavior may seem excessive, it may actually demonstrate great progress in that person’s Christian growth. A man slips with a curse word that startles other believers, but those believers do not know that before his conversion, curse words flowed freely. The amount of fruit must be considered in the context of one’s total past life, a difficult thing to do. It may also be relative to the amount of sin in one’s present life. For example, if a Christian were to commit adultery, we might focus our thinking on that sin so that we ignore the other good things he is doing.

    Good works can be passive in nature. The fruit of salvation is not always what we do, but often what we do not do. As a Christian, one may no longer get drunk or may refrain from yelling at an inconsiderate motorist. This fruit of the Spirit, self-control, may not be detected by others because of its passive nature.

    Good works can be unseen. In Matthew 6:1-6 Jesus told his followers to give and pray in secret rather than publicly. A person who never prays in a group may breathe a prayer while driving and no one will ever know. Another may not attend church, but give regularly to a Christian charity. These are works that go unobserved by others.

    Good works can be deceptive. Since we can not know one’s motives, a seeming good work could be done for the wrong reason. A person might give money to a church to impress others. Another might volunteer to work with church children only to wait for an opportunity to sexually abuse them. These are not actually good works at all! Motives are difficult to discern, even for the doer, but God knows each person’s heart (1 Cor. 4:3-5)

    Good works can be inconsistent. The Bible allows the possibility of believers who begin well, but fall away from their walk with the Lord or fall into sin (1 Cor. 11:30; 2 Tim. 4:10; James 5:19-20). If a Christian shows the evidence of a changed life, but later falls away, at what point in their life do we examine them to prove or disprove their salvation? If there can be lapses in good works, how long does the lapse continue before one is judged as never saved?


    Nowhere does the Bible teach that fruit or good works can prove one’s eternal salvation. Since the fruit of good works is not easily discerned or quantified, it can not be reliable proof of salvation. The subjective nature of measuring one’s fruit creates the impossibility of knowing objectively whether someone is saved. The amount of fruit necessary to please one Christian “fruit inspector” may not please the next “fruit inspector.” As Christians, we are created in Jesus Christ to do good works (Eph. 2:10) and expected to do good works (1 Tim. 6:18; Titus 2:7, 14; Heb. 10:24), but good works are never attached to the condition for salvation, which is faith alone in Christ alone (Rom. 4:4-5). While good works can be corroborating evidence for one’s faith in Christ, they are not sufficient to prove or disprove it. Only faith in God’s promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ guarantees and proves our salvation.
    Dr. Charlie Bing, GraceLife Ministries

  89. “Joseph”
    I am so glad that you have found this website! It is not a mistake at all, God wants you to know His truth and to experience the freedom that His truth brings to our lives. The guys that write this blog are right on in their doctrine! It is so refreshing to see truth here as so many people are off. I will pray for you. Please remember there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

  90. Thank you all so much for your gracious comments. They really have blessed me a lot. 🙂 I do have some questions. I need help understanding the passages that talk about fruit in the life of the believer. In the Old Testament, God judged Israel many times for refusing to believe him and not bearing fruit. Why won’t believers receive the same judgment, and is there a possibility of becoming a false believer?

    In Christ,

  91. John,

    Thanks so much. That is wonderful Biblical information and advice for “Joseph.” We are also praying for him.

    GrandPaw Andy,

    Fifteen Grandkids?? You and Debbie are not old enough for that many. I remember sweet Pam as a baby — who now has grown up into a wonderful Christian Mother. Tell her hello from us.

    Andy, you and Debbie were such a great blessing and asset to our church ministry here, We have missed y’all ever since you left. Give Debbie a hug and our love.

    Thanks for staying in touch and standing strong for the Gospel of God’s salvation by Grace.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  92. Jack, Great info and guidance, so many cloud the simplicity of salvation by Grace thru Faith with repentance and good works, will always be grateful i trusted Christ in your ministry many years ago and was grounded in the word before i could be confused as is the case here, praying for y’all, side note: Pam just had grand kid number 15 2 days ago, saved by the fact that Christ died to pay for my sins as i could not, his death, burial and resurrection did it all , Andy Race

  93. Joseph, reading your letter made tears well up in my eyes. I have already prayed for you and I am ecstatic that you have found your way to this website. I don’t think that is an accident. There are more than 600 million active websites on the internet and God has led you to one of the very best places to help you with your issue of assurance.

    God loves you Joseph! He loves you so much that he sent His only begotten Son to die for you and bring you life! He offers eternal life freely to any of us who choose to believe that Christ’s death and resurrection has paid the complete price for our sins. He does not require anything in return. Eternal life is God’s gift to us. Once we believe in Jesus alone, and quit trying to save ourselves, He gives us eternal life. He will never take it away.

    God also wants us to have assurance. He does not withhold assurance from us for any reason. He implores us to believe His promises. The basis of assurance is what Christ accomplished on our behalf – never what we have or haven’t done. When God sees a believer, He sees him as holy and blameless. Jesus Christ took our sins from us and gave us His righteousness. Jesus Christ will present all believers to God the Father holy and blameless.

    Joseph, I grew up in Southern Baptist churches. I always believed that Jesus was the Son of God, who came to us in human form, was crucified for our sins and raised from the dead.

    But, there is something about the plan of salvation that I had wrong until about two years ago. I had always thought that I had to “repent of my sins” and “commit to follow Christ” in order to be saved. I had repeatedly heard those concepts at church. Joseph, those things are just not true. They are one of many tools that Satan uses to counterfeit the real Gospel. By believing that I had to repent of my sins and commit my life to Christ in order to be saved, I had been trying to make a deal with God – a trade of my promises of future works for His gift of salvation. When we try to buy or trade for eternal life, we are rejecting His gift.

    After years of trying to figure out whether I was saved or not, I finally read a couple of Gospel presentations that did not have any works (such as “repenting of one’s sins” or making Christ the Lord of one’s life) added on. I kept asking myself: “where is the rest of it”? It then dawned on me that salvation is a gift, not a trade.

    As soon as I realized that salvation was a gift, I started searching to see if anyone else out there believed that. I looked at books by well-known evangelists, websites for the SBC and other mainstream protestant denominations, sermon archives, etc., and I could find very few that seemed to believe what I did. I felt very alone. Satan used this to attack me. I prayed and finally decided that I was going to trust God’s promises and not listen to man’s lies, church traditions, or anything else that contradicted His word.

    God has told us three things very clearly:
    1. We are saved by Grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8)
    2. Believers are eternally secure (Hebrews 10:10-12,14)
    3. We can have complete assurance of our salvation the moment we are saved (John 5:24; 1 John 5:10-13)

    Joseph, if any teaching does not make sense, in light of those three things, it has to be false! No matter who says it. If you read Bible verses that seem to contradict these points, you are misinterpreting them. Remember, Satan used scripture to try to tempt Jesus – he will also use scripture, always out of context, to confuse you.

    I would recommend the following to gain assurance:
    1. Make sure you are trusting in Christ alone for your salvation.
    2. Take God at His word.
    3. Quit listening to people who distort the Gospel with man-made add ons.

    Joseph, I apologize for my long-winded response.

    Thanks. John

  94. POWERFUL Jack!

    I truly trust that “Joseph” will heed your words of counsel and encouragement to find assurance in Christ and his finished work on the cross.

    May the Lord guide you into his peace, Joseph.