The Dangers of the Faith-Only Doctrine


By Don Ruhl

In the January 2000 issue of The Berean Call (a free publication that is mailed out to over 16,000), Dave Hunt answered a question that shows the awkward and false positions the faith-only doctrine will lead a person.

The Question

After mentioning Hunt’s book The Nonnegotiable Gospel, a person wrote:

…I could not find the word “repentance” mentioned anywhere! Also at one place you said there is nothing for us to do. Dear brother, but there is, it is to repent…Couldn’t you…make one small change and say rather, “There is nothing for us to do but to repent!”

At first, Dave Hunt admits repentance has a place:

Paul preached “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21); Jesus said “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mt 9:13); the disciples, when first sent out by Jesus, “preached that men should repent” (Mk 6:12); and the early church rejoiced when they realized that God had to the Gentiles “granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).

Here Dave Hunt made the case for repentance very good. How can we dispute with these statements of the Holy Spirit? This should settle the matter.

Did The Holy Spirit Blunder?

Now watch Dave attempt to show that repentance is not part of the gospel:

And yet the words “repent,” “repentance,” or “repented” are not found in the entire Gospel of John, the Gospel to which evangelicals most often direct a person for salvation.

Is the Gospel of John the only book in the New Testament? Is it the only Gospel account?

The words “believe” and “faith” are not found in Second and Third John. Does this mean that it is permissible for a Christian to live without faith? Can repentance be taught without that word being used? Yes, and guess which book of the Bible I am going to use to prove it? That is right, the Gospel According to John!

Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (Jn. 5:14).

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11).

Moreover, what is the purpose of the Gospel According to John? Was it to establish repentance? It had another purpose, but that does not rule out repentance, even as the Song of Solomon teaching on married love does not rule out the necessity of being a member of the body of Christ. In John 20:30, 31 John himself gives his purpose:

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name (Jn. 20:30, 31).

The word “mercy” does not occur in the Gospel According to John. Shall we conclude then that God’s mercy has nothing to do with saving us?

Dave Hunt then asks: “Did the Holy Spirit blunder in leaving repentance out?”

Did the Holy Spirit blunder in leaving out “believe” and “faith” in Second and Third John?

Dave also argued: “Nor is there anything specific about repentance in the gospel as Paul defines it in 1 Corinthians 15.” Was Paul trying to give everything in First Corinthians 15? Just as we asked about the Gospel According to John, we need to ask ourselves what is the purpose of First Corinthians 15? It is establishing the truth of the resurrection, teaching that the resurrection is inherent in the Gospel.

Let us learn to seek all that God says on a matter:

The entirety of Your word is truth… (Ps. 119:160).

…I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).

Dave also made this puzzling statement: “I fact, repentance is by no means a major theme of the New Testament. Why?”

How much is the weekly contribution of the church mentioned in the New Testament? Just a few times. Yet, I have never heard of any church or denomination not to taking up a collection every week.

The Theme Of Repentance In The New Testament

Then Dave Hunt says that repentance is indeed a New Testament theme,

Could it be because repentance is implicit in believing the gospel? To believe that Christ died for my sins, I must believe that I am a sinner and that my sin makes me worthy of God’s judgment, which Christ took for me. Thus believing the gospel includes a turning from sin toward God through Christ. By receiving Him, I am in fact repenting through a total change of mind toward God. And God, who knows the heart, knows this without it being articulated in a certain way by the sinner coming to Christ.

He made a good argument for saying that repentance is implied in other things. If I truly believe in Jesus Christ, then it will show up in my life, that is, I will turn from sin and turn to God.

Yet, incredibly Dave says next: “Since the Bible doesn’t specify repentance as part of the gospel whereby sinners are saved, I dare not do so either.”

When Peter was asked by thousands of Jews: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). What do you think they were asking? They were now convinced that Jesus was the Christ. However, they knew that something was lacking. They wanted to be saved from the wrath of God.

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Peter, said that repentance was specified. This means, contrary to Dave Hunt, I dare not leave out repentance!

Now you will see how the faith-only doctrine confuses an intelligent man:

I’m not saying it might not be good to preach repentance…, but it would require considerable explanation. Might not requiring repentance cause some confusion? What exactly is meant by repentance?

We must do as the disciples did in Mark 6:12, a passage Dave Hunt used at first, and preach that men should repent. The only reason Dave Hunt questions repentance is that his false doctrine of faith-only has confused his mind.

Read some more confusion and awkwardness from this faith-only advocate:

How thorough must repentance be? Must the person repent of every sin ever committed? Is he then under obligation to live a life above sin? Might this put a burden upon the sinner which he cannot bear, not yet realizing that Christ will give him the strength to live a new life?

Do you see any prophet or apostle in the Bible holding back repentance because it is too burdensome?

Finally, Dave Hunt concludes: “I had not consciously left out repentance, but I think it is best left that way.” What do you think is best? Is not the best way to say it the Bible way?

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