“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
~ Jesus Christ (Luke 13:3)
Founder of Christianity
“I say that a person does not need to forsake his sin in order to be saved”
~ Matt Slick
Founder of Christian Apologetics Research Ministries.
In one of the debates I had with Matt Slick of CARM (Christian Apologetics Research Ministry), we had this exchange:
Jesse Morrell, “I do believe you have to forsake your sins to be saved.”
Matt Slick, “Nope!”
Jesse Morrell, “But unbelief is a sin.”
Matt Slick, “Nope! Nope!”
Jesse Morrell, “Is unbelief a sin?”
Matt Slick, “Unbelief is a sin.”
Jesse Morrell, “Yeah, unbelief is a sin. Do you need to repent of unbelief to be saved?”
Matt Slick, “No.”
Matt Slick has since tried to “explain” his position on this matter, claiming that I am “misrepresenting him” when I quote that exchange. But all he has done is made matters worse by further confirming his heretical denial of repentance for salvation.
“Repentance is necessary to be a Christian, but not to become a Christian because repentance is the result of being a Christian, not the cause of being a Christian.” Matt Slick (Source)
Again Matt Slick said:
“I say that a person does not need to forsake his sin in order to be saved… I teach we must forsake our sin as Christians. But forsaking our sins is not what makes us Christians. It is the result of being a Christian” Matt Slick (Source)
“We forsake our sins because we are Christian… We do not forsake our sins to become a Christian… Therefore, as Christians we ought to forsake our sin.” Matt Slick (Source)
Matt Slick is saying that you get saved in your sins and in your impenitence, and then AFTER you get saved in your sins and in your impenitence, you start to repent.
To restrain and confine repentance to “the saved” is serious error, as the Bible says:
Act 17:30-31 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
Here we see Paul saying that God is calling the whole world of unbelievers to repentance. Paul was not preaching to believers in this sermon. He was preaching a message of repentance to a Gentile audience at Mars Hill.
Again we see that repentance is to be preached to ALL nations:
Luk 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Jesus Christ rebuked unbelievers for not repenting of their sins, even proclaiming damnation over them for their impenitence:
Mat 11:20-21, 23 “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes… And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”
Matt Slick says that repentance isn’t for the unsaved but for the saved.
Jesus Christ said the exact opposite of what Matt is saying:
Luk 5:32 – I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Repentance isn’t for the righteous (the saved), but for the unrighteous (the unsaved).
The saved have repented of their sins but the unsaved haven’t.
1Pe 4:18 – And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
1Co 6:9-10 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Since the saved are righteous, the Bible says they need no repentance. Whereas the unsaved are sinners and therefore need repentance:––
Luk 15:7 – I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
The saved person needs no repentance because they are already righteous (justified). But the sinner, who isn’t saved, is the one who needs to repent. And all heaven rejoices when the unsaved sinner repents. Why? Because they are getting saved!
Matt Slick says the unsaved don’t need to repent – the saved need to repent. The Bible says the exact opposite: The righteous don’t need to repent, the sinners do.
The Bible says repentance from sin comes BEFORE salvation:
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” 2Corinthians 7:10
“Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” Acts 8:22
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47
“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”Luke 13:3
“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. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are you ways my ways, saith the Lord” Isaiah 55:7-8
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” Proverbs 28:13
“Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions, so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die” Ezekiel 18:30-31
The biblical principle is this: Sin is only forgiven AFTER it is forsaken.
Act 3:19 – “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord”
Here we see that before your sins are blotted out, you must repent and be converted. The Greek word for “be converted” is “ἐπιστρέφω” and it is translated as “turn (16x), be converted (6x), return (6x), turn about (4x), turn again (3x).”
Conversion, which happens prior to the forgiveness of sins, includes turning from sin (Acts 3:19) and turning to God (Acts 26:20).
The Bible promises mercy to those who forsake their sins, not to those who are impenitent over their sins. To the contrary, the Bible promises wrath for the impenitent, not mercy.
Mat 12:41 – The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here
Rom 2:5 – But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God”
Nowhere in the Word of God does God ever promise salvation to the impenitent.
Heb 6:1 – “the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”
Act 20:21 – Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus taught that harlots and publicans were saved because they repented at the preaching of John the Baptist:
Mat 21:28-32 – “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
–Evangelism is calling sinners to repentance, urging them to meet the conditions of salvation. This is why we read in the Bible:
Mar 6:12 – And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
The message of the gospel starts with “repent.” Jesus started his ministry with “repent!”
Mat 4:17 – From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Jesus said one of his primary purposes in coming to the world was to call sinners to repent:
Luke 5:32- I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
To call sinners to repent of what? Given the context, that is he calling sinners and not the righteous, he is calling sinners to repent of being sinners! Calling sinners to repent unto righteousness!
Matt Slick only confirmed his heresy with his “clarification” post.
The root of Matt’s heresy is a false definition of repentance.
“repentance is defined as following the Law” Matt Slick (Source)
“Romans 3:28, says that we are justified apart from the works of the Law.” Matt Slick (Source)
And since he defines repentance as a work of the law, he concludes we are justified apart from repenting of our sins.
“Repentance (forsaking sin) is not what makes us a Christian.” Matt Slick (Source)
Since Matt Slick defines repentance as a work of the law, and works are not the cause of salvation but follow as fruit of salvation, he says you don’t have to repent to get saved but you repent if you are already saved.
The Bible, however, does not classify repentance as a work of the law. The Greek word (μετανοέω) literally means to “change your mind.” A sinner is “carnally minded” which is “enmity with God” (Romans 8:7), and therefore to be reconciled to God the sinner must “change his mind” (repent of his carnal mind). To be carnally minded, in the Greek, means to be fleshly purposed – living for selfish gratification. To repent of the carnal mind is therefore a change of purpose or intention – from living for self to living for God.
Repentance is not a work, or a deed, or a work of the law. Repentance is a change of mind. When applied to sin, repentance is a change of mind about sinning. Repentance is not “keeping the law.” Repenting of your sins is simply a change of mind about breaking the law. You realize how stupid and wrong it is to sin and so you change your mind about doing it. A lifestyle of keeping God’s commandments comes after salvation as the fruit of repentance.
The Bible makes a distinction between repentance and works:
Act 26:20 – But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should REPENT and turn to God, and do WORKS meet for repentance.
Notice that the message God told Paul to preach to the Gentiles was “repent.” This is where the message starts. Unlike what Matt Slick is saying, repentance is for the unsaved to get saved.
Also notice the difference between “repent” and “do works meet for repentance.” Works follow repentance, known as the “works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20) or the “fruit meet for repentance” (Matt. 3:8), but repentance itself isn’t isn’t a work.
Works follow repentance. But repentance itself isn’t a work.
Matt Slick himself defined “heresy” as:
“a false teaching. It is a belief or idea that is in contradiction to orthodoxy. In the context of Christianity, heresy is that which deviates from standard biblical teaching.” Source
Given his own definition, we see that Matt Slick is teaching heresy. The Bible does not classify repentance as a work of the law, like Matt Slick does. To classify repentance as a “work of the law” is gross error and serious heresy. The logical yet false conclusion of such a false and unbiblical classification is that “a person does not need to forsake his sin in order to be saved,” which the Bible says you must do in order to be saved!
Matt Slick’s heresy is two fold:
1. He says repentance is a work of the law.
2. He says you don’t have to repent to get saved.
Matt Slick calls himself a Calvinist but he seems to be alone in the Calvinist camp with his strange and unorthodox view that repentance is works of the law and that repentance is unnecessary for salvation.
A Lutheran Reformer named Melanchthon (1497-1560) said this:
“There are many who speak only of the forgiveness of sin, but who say little or nothing about repentance. If there is nevertheless no forgiveness of sins without repentance, so also forgiveness of sins cannot be understood without repentance. Therefore, if forgiveness of sins is preached without repentance, it follows that the people imagine they have already received the forgiveness of sins, and thereby they become cocksure and fearless, which is then greater error and sin than all the error that preceded our time.”
As we already saw, Paul who was the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13), was told to preach to the Gentiles repent, turn to God, and do works meet for repentance (Acts 26:20), and that He actually did testify to the Gentiles that they must repent towards God and have faith in Jesus Christ (Act 20:21).
Paul’s Gospel to the Gentiles included repentance from sin, so those who deny repentance from sin are preaching another gospel.
Galatians 1:8 – But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach another gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Beware of Matt Slick and his CARM Ministry, as he is preaching “another gospel” that was not the Gospel delivered unto the Apostle Paul.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” 1 Timothy 4:1
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