Updated: Jun 19
Rick Flanders is an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) who practices currently as an “evangelist” after pastoring for thirty years. He is very popular in revivalist type of IFB churches which is most.
Let’s consider some of the more serious heresies found in Flanders Field where the poppies don’t grow.
1. Flanders Teaches a False Gospel.
Concerning salvation, he essentially teaches no repentance (not ever mentioning repentance in his salvation invitations during sermons or in written material) or false repentance (when forced to address it in his books and articles or personal conversation), since he actually believes its only post-salvation. The following is mostly derived from the following four sources on repentance by Flanders: “Isn’t Repentance a Decision?” (May 2011), “Calling Sinners to Repentance” (Oct 2013), “Repentance Facts” (received by email in Dec 2014), and book “Back to Normal: Understanding Revival” (published by Preach the Word Ministries, 2013; Menomonee Falls, WI).
(a) Flanders falsely defines repentance.
He redefines repentance as merely "a change of mind,” doing so sixteen times in one article alone (“Repentance Facts”). In another place he writes:
"It is scriptural to say that making a decision (repenting) is often an appropriate response to the presentation of the truth” and ”repentance is a decision." (Isn’t Repentance a Decision?”)
Thus, he says, repentance is a “decision” because it is a “change of mind” but it's all unbiblical. He has to corrupt and ignore scripture and then redefine words to garner support for his view of repentance and thus the gospel. His definition concludes an intellectual “repentance,” one of mental assent and foreign to Gods Word, and is in fact reflective of the devils “faith” (Jam. 2:19).
The “repentance” he embraces is not found in Scripture but is reflected in another word (not any of the words translated as repentance or synonyms/principles) which is that of “metabalo” found in Ac. 28:6 and translated as "changed their minds.” The definition of "metabalo" is "to turn about in opinion; a changed mind" (Strong's), which is purely of the intellect, no action, and nothing of the will of man or his emotions -- all faculties of man involved in true saving repentance. So that is the word that men like Flanders are in fact representing when speaking of their false repentance.
As we see, the "change of mind" only definition is actually representing an entirely different word, nothing even to do with repentance. So how does Flanders find support for such an erroneous definition?
By deceiving the people into believing that there is only “one” Greek word behind repentance (“metanoia”) and that this word means “to change one’s mind.”” (Back to Normal, p. 34). He writes, “The Greek word for repent in the New Testament means to change one’s mind.” This is not true. We don’t know the meaning of a word by its etymology but by its contextual meaning in Scripture. He says there is one Greek word when in fact there are four Greek words behind repentance, either directly translated as such or its synonyms or principles, which are: “epistrepho,” “mentanoia,” “metanoeo,” “metamelomai.’ It is not in the scope of this brief summary to go into detail what each of these words means (so I would direct you to read here: Repentance is Not just a Change of Mind); nevertheless, none of these words are defined as only “a change of mind” which is easily provable by looking at each one and defining them in their context, as the linked report reveals.
By defining the word according to his own narrative, and not according to God’s Word. Even a simple test such as defining repentance in its context, reveals that it’s much more than only a “change of mind.” This writer has done a thorough study of all the examples of true repentance in the Bible, including that of the Lords (not for salvation of course or turning from sin or other error, but from the perspective of judgment), demonstrating that there is always a reflective change of action (turning from sin, self, stuff, people) that is wrought from a change of the will and emotion, from a poor, broken, and contrite heart.
By simply teaching what past and present heretical IFB gurus have taught (e.g. Jack Hyles, Curtis Hudson, Bob Gary Sr., Shelton Smith, R.B. Oulette, Van Gelderens, etc) and parroting Keswick theologian’s from the past and the present.
By producing straw men and smokescreens. In his articles he makes no attempt to support his false definition by the Scriptures (although not for a lack of trying, he does twist and wrest a few Scriptures), and falsely justifies his error by an erroneous definition of the Greek word "metanoia.”
(b) Flanders does not believe that repentance is turning from sin or self or idols, etc.
After he falsely defines repentance (“to change one’s mind”) in the book Back to Normal, he goes on to describe what this “change of mind” entails:
“The Bible is clear that men are saved by faith in Christ, but it is also clear that the faith the brings salvation requires a change of mind. The sinner changes his mind in order to believe in Christ.” (p. 34).
This is a "repentance" that is synonymous with faith. Turning from unbelief to belief. Purely intellectual, which is a false repentance. Nothing about turning from sin and self. nothing about the emotions involved in repentance. There are four Greek words that translate and describe repentance, and he doesn't even cover one. The Bible makes it very clear that man’s repentance is always a turning from sin and self and stuff and world, whether for salvation or after salvation, from all known sins/idols, from general sin (Is 55:6-7; 1 Th 1:9; Ac 26:20) and from specific sins (Ezk 18:20-23, 28-32; Rev 9:20-21; 16:11); turning from our stuff, material, riches—which is idolatry and covetousness (Mk. 10:21; 8:36-37; Lk. 9:25; 18:22; Ac. 14:15; 1 Th. 1:9); turning from the world (Phil 3:8-11; 1 Jn 2:15-17; Matt 6:24; Jam 4:4; 1 Jn 2:15-17); turning from our people, from loved ones, which is idolatry before God (Matt 10:34-37; Lk 14:26); turning from self, denying and dying to self (Mk 8:34; Jn 12:24-25); losing our life for Christ and the gospels sake (Matt 10:39; Lk 9:24; 14:26; Mk 8:35; Jn 12:25); taking up the cross (Matt 10:38; Mk 8:34; 10:21; Lk 9:23; 14:27); turning from false religion (2 Cor 6:14-18; Heb 6:1; Jn 4:23-24) with a desire to make things right with God (Lk 19:5-10; 2 Cor 7:10-11); counting the cost (Lk 14:28-32; 10:21; Matt 13:44, 45-46); forsaking all (Lk 9:57-62; 14:26-33); turning with contrition and compunction from going our way to God’s way with the desire, intention and motivation to serve and obey Him in holiness and righteousness (Ex 8:1; Is 55:7; Mk 10:21; Lk 15:17-21; 18:22; Rom 2:1-4; I Th 1:9), thus receiving Jesus as Lord, which means to surrender to the King (Mk 10:21; Lk 14:25-35; 19:12-27; 23:40-43; Ac 9:3-6; 10:36; Rom 10:3, 9-13).
Before you start grinding your teeth and blowing a gasket, why don't you look up the Bible references above and interpret them according to what the context says and then what parallel passages teach. Its called rightly dividing the word of truth. It removes shame. If you still don't get it, then we know the problem isn't me or the Word of God but you and your corrupted methodology of interrupting Scripture, that of eisegesis.
Repentance relates to God. The sinner sees himself and his sins as a Holy God views them in light of His Perfect Law, then turns from himself to Him, from idols (incl. material, riches, family, etc) to Him, and from his sins to Him. By faith we leave the old life for a new one, one that was about us and what we wanted to one that is about Him and what He wants. Passages such as Lk. 9:23-26; 14:25-35; Mk. 8:34-38; Matt. 16:24-26; Jn. 12:24-25 are not obscure. They are axiomatic. They are not different or separate from the gospel or from the normal teaching of Jesus; they are the gospel of Christ. These are principals that Jesus is preaching repeatedly throughout His ministry, over and over again in all different contexts. They are also seen throughout Scripture in all the testimonies of salvation found therein. Repentance is not a work—it’s demanded for salvation. The Bible says it and then it has nothing that contradicts it. Love rejoiceth in the truth. But this is just one part of the equation. In repentance you must turn to God (I Th 1:9-10; Ac 20:21) for in repentance alone there is no merit. You don’t earn God’s favour or become inherently righteous when you repent. It is the blood of Christ, not your repentance, that is the ground of forgiveness; repentant faith is simply the means through which salvation is received. Though it be the foundation of salvation (Matt 4:17; Lk 6:19; Lk 24:44-48), repentance is merely the catalyst to faith, which saves the soul. Only those wretched, ungodly, poor, blind, and naked sinners who surrender to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in humbleness and contrition with nothing but empty hands and a forsaking of their sin and selves, believing without reservation in the gospel, receive mercy.
(c) Flanders does not believe that saving repentance precedes faith.
"It is a false teaching that one must repent first in order to be prepared to believe. It connects somehow back to the wrong ideas related to the old “mourners’ bench” where sinners were expected to weep and agonize over their sins for a period of time before they could be saved." (Repentance Facts).
"Repentance is not the first step, to be followed by faith.” (ibid).
True repentance has no connection to the mourners bench, so that is a straw man argument. The mourners bench (introduced by the apostate Charles Finney who embraced a works-gospel and plenty of other heresy including Keswick "theology," which you can read about here: The False Gospel and “Revivalism” of Charles Finney) was false showmanship but that doesn’t sidestep true repentance. Repentance must always precede faith or there is simply no salvation (e.g. Matt. 21:32; Mk. 1:15; Ac. 3:19 and 4:4; 20:21; 26:20; Lk. 13:3, 5; etc). John the Baptist preaching repentance and making the crooked paths straight is a picture of repentance preceding faith. He pointed people to Christ, which is what true repentance will do, it turns to God by faith. It is the catalyst to faith. Repentance preceding faith is clearly noted in Matt 21:32, “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.”
The Bible is very clear that repentance ALWAYS precede faith, as seen in John the Baptists ministry (Mk. 1:1-4; Matt. 3:1-10; Lk. 3:3-16), made clear by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 21:28-32; 4:17; Mk. 1:15), by the Apostle Paul (Ac. 20:21; 3:19 and 4:4) and by the apostle Peter (see Ac. 3:19 and 4:4), etc (see also Is. 55:6-7). To reject the clear Biblical truth that repentance always precedes faith—and must—is to reject true repentance and thus reject the true gospel (see Mk. 1:14-15; Lk. 24:44-48; Ac. 20:21 and 24). This heresy by Flanders corresponds and dovetails with his heresy on repentance and faith being synonymous.
With the false definitions and denial of what man must repent from, Flanders is able to create convincing straw men and smokescreens to deceive people into believing that he believes in repentance. But there is no way around this aspect of repentance. Either repentance precedes faith or it doesn't, and if you reject repentance it's impossible to make it fit so he qualifies it equivalent with faith (which is also what a "change of mind" "repentance" actually means). A person that truly believes in this vital doctrine which without is impossible to be saved, understands the necessity of it preceding faith. He knows and understands the purpose of Christ's gospel preaching being based entirely around repentance, and that from the beginning of His ministry (Matt 6:17) to the end of His ministry (Lk 24:44-48), Jesus preached repentance, and He didn't mean faith! "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 6:17). “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.” (Lk 24:46-48). Not only was that His preaching (Lk 5:31-32), but as we note it was commanded of the apostles (Mk 4:12; Lk 22:47-48) and of all (Lk 22:47-48; Ac 2:42; 3:19; 17:30-31; 26:20; 2 Pet 3:19; etc).
(d) Flanders does not believe that true repentance is different than faith.
This has already been alluded to based upon other erroneous beliefs. He certainly believes they are one and the same, at least for salvation. His repentance is a decision to believe, whereas true saving repentance is tremendously different than that. He writes:
“Repentance and saving faith are not two distinct steps to eternal life. They are two facets of one step. Sinners change their minds (repentance) and decide to believe on Christ for salvation from sin (faith). Saving faith is a decision! In Acts 3 and 4, they decided (the repentance enjoined in 3:19) to believe (the faith that saved them in 4:4)." (Isn't Repentance a Decision).
Frankly, that is heretical. Its not even remotely close to what true repentance is. Repentance is not just changing your mind or acknowledging your a sinner. Practically 100% of lost people I have ever come into contact with have no issue with admitting they are sinners. Most of them would also profess to have some kind of belief in Jesus. In the article he makes it clear that they are the same to him; since repentance equates faith (“if a sinner has truly repented, he has believed") and repentance does not precede faith ("repentance is not the first step, to be followed by faith") -- so they are obviously the same ("the sinner is saved in one step: ‘Believe’"). So according to Flanders, if you have repented then you have believed, if you have believed you have repented, even though his repentance is not even remotely close to what the Bible teaches. This is not true to God’s Word, for there were those who “believed” but hadn't repented (e.g. Jn. 2:23-25; 6:60-66; Jam. 2:19), and those that had “repented” but hadn't believed (e.g. Ac. 19:1-7; Matt. 27:1-5). Both repentance and faith are matters of the will. Man can act upon both or reject one or the other or both. Repentance has absolutely nothing in common with faith (see first point). The only common denominator being both are required for salvation (cf. Matt. 21:32; Mk. 1:15; Ac. 20:32).
The obvious difference is even noted in many passages, such as Matt 21:28-32, “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.”
(e) Flanders does not believe that saving repentance necessarily changes a life, and that not all saved people are disciples.
In his series on Salvation and Discipleship, he repeatedly claims that one can be a Christian but not a disciple, one can be saved but unchanged, using salvation passages twisted into sanctification to try to support his lost cause (more on this later). This is blatant heresy. Every true born again Christian is a disciple of Christ from the very moment of salvation (Lk 14:25-15:32), although not every professing disciple is a true Christian (e.g. Jn 2:23-25; 6:60-66; 8:31-36; 1 Jn. 2:19; Ac. 8:13-24; etc). Read The Call to Discipleship is a Call to Salvation. Christ's call to salvation is synonymous with discipleship. Flanders divorce of the two is inadvertently causing great confusion in what Christ proclaimed. Christ's call to salvation through Himself includes an obedience to His teachings, and that always starts immediately at the moment of conversion (e.g. 1 Jn 2:3-5; Col 1:4-6; Matt 23:23; Ti 2:11-14; etc).
Flanders writes in another place:
“And regeneration is the result of salvation, but we must not claim the ability to discern it every time. . . . The inspection of fruits is about detecting "false prophets" (v. 15) and not about judging people's salvation." (Back to Normal, p. 34).
Wow. What a horrible lie and scandalous straw man. Firstly, his repentance is false to begin with so his repentance wouldn’t change a life indeed! So in that regard he is correct. Secondly, true saving repentance ALWAYS changes a life, immediately, continuously and forever (e.g. 2 Cor. 5:17; Ac. 20:18; 26:18; 1 Th. 1:9-10; Ti. 2:11-14; 3:3-8). Repentance must MUST produce a change of life, or it is false (e.g. Matt. 21:28-32; 27:1-5; Ac. 8:13-24; Jam. 2:14-26; etc). Thats the whole point of repentance. It changes the person. This error of Flanders connects back to his false definition of repentance. To go wrong in the definition is to go wrong in all other areas of that doctrine as well. The change of action that occurs in true repentance is the product of “godly sorrow” (2 Cor. 7:10-11) and is towards God (not self—worldly sorrow, Matt. 27:1-5; Ac. 8:13-24), which is the actual turning of the will of the heart from sin/self/stuff/people to God, which will bring the repentant sinner to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, since it is only Him that can cleanse, wash and save from sin. We see this very description in one who wouldn’t, the rich young ruler (Mk 10:17-25), which passage aligns with axiomatic scripture such as Matt. 16:24-26; Mk. 8:34-38; Lk. 9:23-26; 14:25-35; Jn. 12:24-25. True repentance is granted by God (Rom 2:4; Ac 5:32; 11:18), so repentance is not a work.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor 5:17)
True saving repentance ALWAYS produces a changed life and it happens IMMEDIATELY at conversion.
(f) Flanders associations further reflect his false repentance and gospel.
Flanders is a Paul Chappell guy, one of the members of the Old Boys Club. He is a listed author on Chappell's Ministry 127 site. He preaches in Chappells churches, which are revivalists churches, and other similar ones. Flanders is also a Sword of the Lord guy, which is clearly distinguished by its false repentance and gospel, and right from its inception. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Am 3:3). These men all propagate a false, perverted gospel, and that is why there churches are bastions of man-centredness and leaven.
Much more could be written here, but I'll leave it at that.
(g) Flanders does not actually believe that repentance is even required for salvation.
We have actually seen that thus far, the facts speak for themselves, obscured in deception, false witness, changing words, but there is even further concrete proof. What a man’s believes about a word or a doctrine will reveal itself in his definition and description of it and whether he will actually teach and use the doctrine. Since the “heart is deceptive above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), man has the cunning and masterful ability to deceive and Flanders seems to do a par excellence job of it. (The frightful thing is, Her 17:9 is written to lost people, NOT saved; the saved are found in Jer 17:5-6). Yes Flanders does use the word “repent” in his articles (although not in his preaching, which is tell-tale, and I have sat through many of his "revival" sermons), even claiming “Yes, repentance is required for salvation,” (Back to Normal, p. 34) but what he means by “repentance” is very different than what God means in His Word, as demonstrated above.
Ironically, he does exactly what he says we shouldn’t. Immediately preceding the above quote in “Back to Normal,” he says “. . . but we must not misdefine it.” He is guilty as charged, condemned by his own words. We have seen his false definition, his equating of repentance and faith, his denial that repentance precedes faith, his denial that repentance is from sin, and his denial that repentance always results in a changed life. And all of these corruptions of true repentance can be seen summarized by his truly in one paragraph:
"To believe on Christ, one must repent. If a sinner has truly repented, he has believed on the Lord Jesus. . . . Repentance is not the first step, to be followed by faith. Saving faith involves a change of mind. It is not just praying a prayer; it is turning the heart. The sinner is saved in one step: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Act 16:31).” (Calling Sinners to Repentance).
Good about the prayer comment, but his “turning the heart” comment is clearly reflective of turning from unbelief to belief, since he equates repentance with faith and a mere change of mind. We see that he attempts to use the same lingual as those that stand for the true doctrine of repentance, but his descriptions and definitions of his lingual give him away and they reveal what he truly means. Lies and deception can only be hidden for so long.
This is even further substantiated by a personal conversation between a brother in Christ and Flanders with multiple witnesses present, which took place at the church we were attending where Flanders was preaching on “revival." Noting the absence of any repentance in any of his sermons, not once mentioned in over five sermons with each one having some sort of salvation invitation given, the brother asked Flanders whether repentance was necessary for salvation and he answered,
"No. If it was, it would be everywhere in the Bible that faith is spoken of, and it’s not in the book of John, so it couldn't be necessary."
Let's consider all his articles on "repentance" where he makes the case that he "believes" in "repentance” — Does he actually portray true repentance in these articles? Obviously not. But he has to give place to it, because its found in scripture and its on the diligent mind that does know the truth. Clearly he is a hypocrite and pulling the wool over peoples eyes. The brother then informed Flanders that we don't falsely divide the word of truth and that Jesus VERY clearly stated that repentance is absolutely essential for salvation, so we get the full picture of salvation by looking at all the Bible, to which Flanders contended that if it was so important to have repentance and faith preached together, they would appear together every time in scripture. Wow, talk about a straw man argument. How foolish of an argument is that! The Bible doesn't touch on every aspect of a subject every time the subject is mentioned. That is why we are commanded to rightly divide the word of truth. The following report, Repentance is a Major Element of the Gospel and Must Always Be Preached, Including Its Description sheds further light on this.
Flanders continued, claiming that in Luke, repentance was preached while in John, faith was preached. The brother suggested to him that that is why we have both books of the Bible, so that we can know to preach both. He also stated that it was not mentioned every time the gospel was presented and that preaching repentance in addition to faith would make it a two step process. When the brother reminded Flanders that we build our doctrines on the whole Bible, not just on one verse, passage, or book of the Bible, Flanders replied that "if a person believes, that means that he has repented." The brother then reminded him that the devils believe also but are not saved and then reasoned with him that Jesus Christ said that "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Lk 13). Flanders continued to argue that when a person believes, it means that they have repented. But its heresy and we can know what he means about repentance. It means nothing to him. Its just faith. They are synonymous in his carnal mind. It's also not true that John doesn't contain repentance. It does, for instance in Jn 3:19-21.
This conversation took place after Flanders completed his final sermon of that conference, which ended with an invitation to salvation, which as per usual was glaringly absent of anything repentance, with Flanders leading the congregation in a sinners prayer (which also didn’t include anything about repentance). He then said that if an unsaved person had prayed that prayer, they are now saved. Flanders, in the place of God the Spirit, gave unsaved people assurance of their "salvation." All this entirely absent from scripture, is blasphemous and borders demonic activity. It verifies the very definition of that false, corrupted, perverted and bastardized “gospel” of easy-believism and quick-prayerism that Flanders and majority of IFB preachers embrace.
It is unsurprising that their churches are full of dead mans bones. Unsaved professors. Hypocrites. Pew warmers. And they like to have it like that because they are cut out of the same cloth. When a person corrupts and perverts repentance, he is corrupting and perverting the true gospel of Christ (Lk 24:44-48; Ac 20:21 cf. v. 24; Mk 1:1-5 The Gospel is More than 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, and Repentance is an Important Component of It) which then subsequently indicates men like Flanders are false teachers and accursed:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:8-9)
Unfortunately, Flanders has deceived people into believing that he also believes in true repentance, when nothing could be further from the truth. He claims a two-sided salvation coin, one side being repentance and one being faith, but Flanders coin is actually an anomalous coin, a very peculiar coin indeed, that appears to have two different sides but in fact is only one. To help that deception, he creates many logical fallacies (straw men, red herrings and smokescreens) to support his heresy, which reveal his true belief concerning repentance and his true wolf-like character.
This is what Flanders really believes about repentance, even though he deceives people into believing that he believes in repentance by writing articles about it and mentioning it the rare time. His writings, preachings and personal conversations reveal his true position and that he is in fact a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’ll use some of the same language but he has redefined repentance and words associated with the doctrine, which increases the deception. But even a careful examination of what he is actually teaching on it when he does, reveals something entirely different than Scripture teaches. But he deceives the simple minded (gullible false “believers”) as Scripture says false teachers (Rom 16:17) will do (Rom 16:18).
His false gospel is noted further here:
“The requirement for salvation is simple faith. The requirements for discipleship include self-denial, absolute surrender to Christ, and the forsaking of all. . . . Failure at discipleship does not prove that one is not saved.” (Salvation and Discipleship, part 5).
To fail at being a disciple does indeed prove the person is unsaved. Read Jn 6:60-66. What he is describing here for “discipleship” is what Jesus describes for salvation (e.g. Matt. 10:32-39; 16:24-26; Mk. 8:34-38; Jn. 12:24-25). Jesus is not teaching lost people discipleship post-salvation, on how to be a better Christian. He is teaching them what it takes to be His disciple, which is what it takes to be saved. Jesus was not teaching a works gospel. Repentance is not a work—it’s demanded for salvation. The Bible says it and then it has nothing that contradicts it. Love rejoiceth in the truth.
This point further reveals why Flanders gospel is false; it is entirely void of Christ's Lordship. So he not only teaches "another gospel" but also "another Jesus" (2 Cor 11:4).
There is no salvation without true repentance (Mk 1:14-15; Lk. 13:1-9; Ac 3:19; 17:30-31; 26:20; 20:21). Repentance is a critical component of the gospel (Mk 1:1-4; Lk 24:44-48; Ac 20:21,24). When the gospel is preached, the focus should be on repentance and what it entails, as seen with John the Baptist (Mk 1:1-4; Lk 3:3-16), God the Son (Matt 4:17), the apostles as commissioned by Christ (Mk 6:12), and commanded of all (Lk 24:44-48; Ac 17:30-31).
No repentance or false repentance equate a false and perverted gospel, “another gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4) “Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Gal. 1:7). A person can’t and won’t be saved when they embrace a false gospel, and true saving repentance is most definitely part of the gospel, as made very clear by Jesus (see Matt. 4:17; Ac. 26:18-20; Lk. 5:31-32; 24:44-48; Matt. 21:28-32), by Paul (see Ac. 20:21,24; 26:18-29), by the apostles whom Jesus sent forth to preach (compare Matt. 10:6-7 & Mk. 6:12), and by John the Baptist (see Mk. 1:1-5; Lk. 3:1-16; Matt. 3:1-10). We also see this truth throughout the gospels in Jesus’s preaching to His mostly lost audience (e.g. Matt. 11:20-30; 12:38-42; Mk. 10:17-21). Today many gospel minimalists preach that repentance and faith are not part of the gospel, so as to avoid being condemned a false teacher preaching a false gospel since their preaching is largely absent of repentance, not to mention their perversion of this doctrine when they do rarely allude to it and their denial of its absolute necessity for salvation and immediate and ongoing fruit, as we see with Flanders.
Rick Flanders does reject the true doctrine of repentance. He doesn’t believe it, doesn’t teach it or preach it. His version is pseudo-repentance. Instead of believing God’s Word, he rejects it in place of his own version, including his own version of the gospel. That of course is the work of the devil (2 Cor 11:3-4) whom Flanders essentially serves while appearing as a “minister of righteousness” (2 Cor 11:12-15) -- so no surprise there are no true conversion from Flanders preaching. Rick Flanders is a heretic. He is a deceiver. He has never “renounced the hidden things of dishonesty,” but is “walking in craftiness,” and “handling the word of God deceitfully;” instead of “manifesting . . . the truth” and “commending [himself] to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor 4:2). Verses 3 and 4 continue the narrative, and imply that those who do this are “lost,” for the true gospel is hid to them. Flanders is a “dog” (Matt. 7:6; Phil 3:2; Is. 56:10-11) who is blown about by all winds of doctrine, and all who love God and His truth should beware of him, and mark him and avoid him (Rom 16:17-18) as God commands.
Flanders is deceiving people. The word “deceive” is defined as “To mislead the mind; to cause to err; to cause to believe what is false; or disbelieve what is true; to impose on; to delude” (Webster’s Dictionary 1828). Thus, as the title proclaims, Flander's field of false repentance is also a field of “deception,” which is “the act of deceiving or misleading” a person(s). Paul the Apostle warned of being “carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14) and to “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines” (Heb. 13:9), for true believers to be grounded in the truth of God’s Word, the sound doctrine and form of God’s Word, to be sober and vigilant. The Lord Jesus Christ warned likewise “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matt. 24).
We can’t be naive and gullible about false teachers and their tactics, like the simple are (and sadly the simple are unsaved people in scripture: Ps. 19:7; 119:130; Pr. 1:22-31; 8:5; 9:4-6, 13-18; 14:15, 18; 27:12; Rom. 16:17-18; but they don't have to be: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” — Ps. 19:7). It is “by good words and fair speeches” that false teachers “deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Rom. 16:18b). Why do they do that? “For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly;” (Rom. 16:18a). How do we know who they are? “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Rom. 16:17). The gospel, of all doctrine, when corrupted clearly exposes a man to be a false teacher.
Flanders field of false repentance and thus false gospel ties also into and dovetails with his field of false Revivalist-Keswick sanctification heresy, which is next on the menu.
2. Flanders embraces and propagates false revivalist/Keswick-type sanctification and two-tiered Christianity heresy.
That Flanders is steeped in Keswick- Higher life - Deeper life (et al) "theology" couldn’t be over-emphasized. But it’s unscriptural and heretical teachings on sanctification, and some soteriology (including repentance). This heresy is noted in a number of areas, such as the following.
(a) Flanders teaches the heretical two-tiered Christianity.
He divides salvation from discipleship, where someone can be said to be a Christian but not a disciple. In the previous point there was an example given, but its common in his preaching and teaching. Scripture however is very clear that "disciple" and "believer" are synonymous categories from a study of the word "disciple. No clear text contrast "believers" as a bigger category and "disciples" as an elite subcategory, while in many passages disciples are contrasted with lost people and in other passages Christ calls lost people to become disciples and thus receive salvation. For that matter, the Greek of Ac 11:26 equates as identical categories "disciple" and "Christian," so people like Flanders should exhort saved people to become Christians by a post-conversion act of surrender if they really were consistent with their denial that all believers are disciples. The Call to Discipleship is a Call to Salvation.
(b) Flanders embraces continuationism.
Continuationism is believing that the sign gifts specific for the apostles were not specific for the apostles but also for us believers today, IF we have enough faith. Allegedly it is FOR the furtherance of the gospel. This is tied to Keswick theology. He argues regarding Mk.16:
"Then He makes some promises. The promise in verse 16 is to the person “that believeth.” Verses 17 and 18 promise certain “signs” to “them that believe.”” (The Obstacle)
In an email exchange with him about this, he not only didn’t deny it but buttressed it even further by referencing 1 Cor. 12:7-11, which contains some of these same sign gifts. He also claimed, as the article did, that we can’t limit God and He can and will do whatever He pleases. There is truth to that, but not as he thinks. God doesn’t deny Himself or contradict Himself. He is ALWAYS true to His Word. What Flanders means is that God will do whatever He wants even if it contradicts Scripture. In attempt to prevent people from thinking that this is what he in fact means, he bends, twists and wrests Scripture to fit his “theology,” which is always the mark of a false teacher — 2 Pet. 3:16-17. Thats the fundamental error of this heresy and a major teaching of Keswick “theology” which is filled with heresy on the Holy Spirit since its inception in the mid 1800’s and tons of scripture twisting, which is the work of the wicked (2 Pet 3:16-17). He clearly embraces an experiential form of Christianity that echos a charismatic non-cessationist approach to the Holy Spirit.
(c ) Flanders false teachings on faith.
His sermons and articles are filled with false teachings on faith. He misrepresents the nature of faith in sanctification. He claims,
“Faith is the key both to assurance of salvation and to successful discipleship.” (Salvation and Discipleship, part 4).
In other places he also dissociates faith from obedience. Flanders faith is false. Neither statement is true. Indeed the just live by faith, but faith obeys, which is how we know its true faith, like in the examples of Abraham and Rahab (Jam 2:21-26), which is contrasted in that chapter to dead faith (Jam 2:14-20). The following passage clearly reflect this: Jn. 8:31-32; 14:15-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-5; Ti 2:11-14; etc. That is how we know faith is actually true faith, when it obeys God’s Word and commandments. If this were to be true what Flanders says, at least half the NT would have to be discarded and then we would have to completely neglect the role of the Word of God and good works, obedience, in sanctification (which is in fact what he does). Obedience is the mark of true conversion and is the Christian life (Rev. 22:14-15). Those that say they know and love God but don’t obey His commandments are liars and the truth is not in them (1 Jn. 2:3-5). This is why heretics pervert this teaching, and embrace the Keswick heresy of sanctification by faith alone, clinging to it like a pig clings to his mire -- because they can't obey the Bible, since sinners dead in their sins do not obey but imitate and conform.
(d) Flanders false teachings on abiding in Christ and the abundant life.
He writes about Jn. 15:
“In chapter 15, Jesus boils down what He was saying about the abundant life (the real Christian life, which is His gift to us) by giving us the metaphor of the vine and the branches. The key to that life from our perspective is to “abide” (“continue,” “remain”—verses 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11) in Him as a productive branch must stay connected to the life-giving vine. The “abide in Me” life is described as a life of continual dependence (verse 5) and absolute commitment (verses 9-10). Such a life is called friendship with Jesus (verses 13-16), and promises the experience of peace, love, joy, victory, and productivity. It is appropriately described by the Lord back in John 10:10 as having life “more abundantly” (beyond measure)." (Now Ye Are Clean).
This is keswick theology, two-tiered Christianity and only partially true. It would be true if he wasn't corrupting the foundational concepts of abide and abundant. The things received at salvation ("peace, love, joy, victory, productivity") is allegedly through abiding in the "abundant life.” All truly saved people always abide in the vine, but he writes as if one may be "connected to the life-giving vine" or may not be. Those that don't, are not truly saved. So the abundant life isn't only for those special Christians that continue to abide, who have "continual dependence . . . and absolute commitment" but to ALL truly saved Christians.
"In verses 2 through 5 we find Jesus describing the processes by which a believer is brought into and up to such a productive life. He is purged in order to bring forth more fruit. Having been purged (the word for “clean” in verse 3 comes from the root of the word translated “purgeth” in verse 2), he is ready to “abide in Me” for the abundant life. This is the process we often see working in revivals. The Father purges branches of the Vine in order to bring them to a new level of productivity. Once purged (the Greek word means “cleansed”) they are “clean through the word” and are prepared to abide in Christ and bear His fruit. Often in revival efforts, the Word of God is preached to the saints, and purging happens (remember what we read in John 13:1-11 and Ephesians 5:25-27). Then they are ready to surrender for service and reproduction (it is clear from verse 16 that the “fruit” of John 15 is not the fruit of repentance, nor the fruit of the Spirit, nor the fruit of the heart, but rather the fruit of the Christian, as in John 4:34-36, Romans 1:13-15, and Philippians 4:15-17: others becoming Christians through our Spirit-empowered witness). What is going on among Christians in revival is purging and then abiding.” (Now Ye Are Clean).
This is almost entirely false, based upon false and unscriptural Revivalism. It's Heretical. In the Bible, revival is what happens to lost people, not saved people. The word means to bring someone back from the dead, and never again is a truly saved person dead again; they are quickened forever (Eph 2:1-3; Jn 11:25-26; etc). Every saved person abides in Christ, always. They are always serving Him (Gal 1:10). John 15 is contrasting the saved and unsaved, not fruitful and unfruitful Christians (a contrast that don’t even exist in Scripture). Abiding in Christ is not an instruction on how to be a more fruitful Christian as Flanders falsely teaches. People who abide are saved people. Those who don’t, are not (1 Jn 2:24; Jn 5:38). Every saved person abides in Christ, in the vine, and He in them (Jn 15:1-16; 1 Jn 2:27; Phil 1:6; 2:12-13; 1 Th 5:23-24). They are never without the vine and do persevere in characteristic love to Him by keeping His commandments and fellowship with Him through His Word (Jn 17:17; Eph 5:26; 1 Pet 2:2).
"Abide" is an aorist constative imperative (the past tense of a verb without reference to duration or completion of the action, which means it continues on always in the present and into the future). The saved do not leave Jesus Christ. He always dwells in them, as Christ just spoke of in Jn 14, so they’re overcomers, they persevere. Overcoming happened at salvation (1 Jn 2:13-14; 4:1-6; 5:1-4). They remain attached to the Vine, which is abiding in Him. God is always keeping and working in them and never leaves them to themselves (1 Cor 1:6-9; Phil 1:6; 2:12-13; 2 Tim 1:12; Heb 13:21), and they cooperate with Him by continuing in Him (Jn 8:31-32). Faith in Christ is not a dead faith, but a living and persevering faith and its present in all that have it. A person born of God will keep on believing in Jesus as a practice, God indwelling him and enabling him to love Christ and keep His commandments, and consequently bring forth fruit. The fruit reveals the reality of their abiding in Christ and Christ in them, so those “Christians” without fruit are not true Christians, even though he says they are. The one that abides not (defectors like Judas and Demas), is not saved and will be cast into hell: “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (v. 6). Jn 15:1-8 teaches the one who does not continue faithful to Christ is as a branch without genuine connection to the Lord, a false professing Christian who’ll be cast into hell, where he’ll be continually burned (present tense, v. 6) for all eternity. The image of v. 6 is not one of loss of reward for a non-revived believer who doesn’t bring forth fruit but an unregenerate, “withered” and fruitless branch (Ju 1:12; Job 8:11-13), of which Judas is the contextual example. Believers are nowhere said to be cast forth but quite the contrary: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (Jn 6:37), but the lost are repeatedly said to be cast into the fires of hell (e.g. Matt 3:10; 5:13, 29-30; 7:19; 13:42, 48). Apparently bearing fruit or not doesn’t indicate any difference in eternal outcome. They’re counted saved because they made a profession of faith. They just lack "revival." Both go to heaven in the end but in complete contradiction to everything Jesus just said in Jn 13–14 and after in Jn 15–17. Abiding speaks of true conversion differentiated from a false profession that doesn’t abide, doesn’t bear fruit and in the end goes to Hell.
John 15 is the evidence of true salvation just like the preceding chapters and proceeding chapters. But that Flanders is teaching is not only heresy, its "damnable heresy" (2 Pet 2:1) because it prevents unsaved people from getting truly saved and rather inoculates them to the truth, and that is absolutely terrible on a scale of horrible.
Read here as to whether John 15 Teaches that Saved People May Not Abide in the Vine, in the Lord Jesus Christ.
(e) Flanders false teachings on assurance of salvation.
The view that 1 John does not give evidences of salvation, but only of “abiding,” which allegedly is characteristic of only some believers, is very strongly taught and promoted by Flanders (“Ought,” elec. acc., source) but its absolute heresy that corresponds to his heresy on John 15. He has adopted the apostate Zane Hodges’ heretical view of 1 John because it fits his Revivalist/Keswick unbiblical “theology.”
Men like Flanders do not understand the difference between truly saved people and false professors, even though the Bible continuously differentiates the two antithetical positions. He actually does not understand true salvation at all, which is the whole problem with all the heresy on sanctification, and why he rejects the true gospel that includes repentance. Because they have never actually experienced the new birth and all the things that occur at that very moment and then continue on forever (justification, sanctification, service, all spiritual blessings, partaker of the divine nature, new heart and new creation, cleansing and washing, all old things passed away and all things become new, ministers of God and ambassadors of Christ, etc), so they attempt to replicate this supernatural and superdramatic event with some second blessing revival experience, but it never comes and when they claim to have it, its a counterfeit. What they really need is that first blessing, then they’ll never need the second.
His heretical assurance of salvation is also seen in other areas, such as claiming we don’t look at ourselves but at Jesus for assurance of salvation, but that is blatantly false. He says,
“Whenever a Christian gets his eyes off Jesus and Calvary, and begins to look to himself for assurance of salvation, he loses what assurance he had!“ (Salvation and Discipleship, part 4).
Wow. That is absolute hocus pocus. 1 John and James and many other places plainly tell us to look at ourselves, our fruit, our evidence to know whether we are truly saved, whereby we receive assurance. Evidence of salvation is OBJECTIVE, not subjective and its NOT based upon faith in facts. 1 John alone contains about a dozen huge evidences of salvation and refutes his heresy (which is aligned with his heresy on abiding and faith), and reflects how a true believer has assurance; while the false professor does not, and should know he is unsaved by reading such epistles, lest he has seared his conscience through pride and is a man “of corrupt mind, reprobate concerning the faith.” (2 Tim. 3:8b). Hence why heretics like Flanders corrupt the teachings of 1 John, completely flipping it on its head, because they do not have evidence of salvation. Their testimony and Christian life does not align with scripture so they twist scripture to make it fit. He is also void of understanding the truth and Spirit-led interpretation of Scripture (1 Jn. 2:20-21, 27; 2 Tim. 2:15). So the statement that follows the above, “Real salvation is based on what Jesus did for us. When we focus on that, God gives us assurance grounded in faith,” is almost entirely false. This is having faith in faith, faith in facts, which is akin to the heretical Word Faith teaching pounded by Pentecostals from their preposterous platforms. That isn't assurance!
The series on so-called "discipleship" that Flanders taught is full of corruption of scripture. In fact I don’t think he interprets one passage scripturally. Some include: Matt. 10:37-39; 16:24-25; Mk. 8:34-35; Lk. 9:23-24; 14:25-35; Jn. 15:1-5; Matt. 11:28-30, which he all claims as sanctification, as yoking with Christ for post-salvation discipleship, but thatis blatant misuse and abuse. He is denying what God the Son is teaching here, which is not difficult at all to understand. He fulfils 2 Pet. 3:16-17 to the letter, "wresting . . . scripture, unto their own destruction" which is an "error of the wicked."
Flanders is a false witness preaching lies.
“He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. . . . A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” (Pr. 12:17; 19:9).
(f) Flanders teaches heresy on the victorious life.
“Overcoming is by faith alone, faith in Jesus Christ (1 John 5:3–4). Let’s recognize that victory over sin is to be had by the work of Christ. It is the victory described in Galatians 2:20 and we can have it today!”
This is seriously heretical. He completely denies what God has said. Christ sets us free at salvation! Victory happens at salvation: Rom. 6:1-23. Even Gal. 2:20 teaches that, which he perverts here, which is very typical of Keswick heresy. Paul is referring back to what occurred at salvation, "I am [perfect tense verb] crucified with Christ" (Gal 2:20), which corresponds with Rom 6:6, "Knowing this, that our old man IS crucified with [Christ]" and Gal 5:23, "And they that are Christ's HAVE crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." These are perfect tense verbs (aorist), which is a completed or perfected condition based upon something that occurred in the past, which is salvation.
(g) Flanders teaches a lot of error concerning revivalism, which runs contrary to God’s Word.
As noted already and further:
”Revival is the work of God by which He lifts His people up to the place where He can bless them (read James 4:8-10)." (Prayer Meeting Dynamics).
Really?! Where does the Bible say that? I read in scripture that at the very moment of salvation I was blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath [aorist perfect tense] blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Eph. 1:3). There are many more passages like that. God’s blessings are received at salvation and continue thereafter. He continues:
"He does this in answer to beseeching prayer. This truth is taught both in the Old and in the New Testament scriptures."
Again, this is absent from scripture. God answers our prayers as we pray according to His will, as we live in obedience to Him, not by begging (1 Jn. 5:15).
"When Israel needed revival, they gathered for prayer (read First Samuel 7, Second Chronicles 30, Nehemiah 9, and Joel 2).” (Prayer Meeting Dynamics).
He wrests these Scriptures completely out of their contextual meaning to support his false philosophy. When the prophets were praying for revival, they were praying for Israel’s salvation. Thats what "revival" means in God's Word. Israel as a nation has never been saved. Not once. Only a remnant. Including those days when these passages were written. Only a remnant of the Jews at any time has ever been saved.
He continues on with the same heresy conforming it to the age we live:
"When the New Testament churches needed a new filling of the Spirit of God, they gathered to pray (Acts 2, 4, 8, and 19)."
Really?! A "new filling of the Spirit"? That is Pentecostal/ Keswick heresy. It fits his statements and posts on praying for Pentecost to happen again. We don’t gather and pray to be filled with the Spirit! They did that in the first century because they were apostles. We are filled with the Holy Spirit when we are saved today, and then further controlled by Him, as we yield to Him. But once again, this illustrates a people that are not content because they are missing something?
(h) Revivalist Flanders misinterprets, misuses and abuses lots of Scripture to find support for his error.
Such as passages on “revivalism” and the like: 1 Sam. 7; 2 Ch. 30; Neh. 9; Joel 2; Ps. 85:6; Jn. 10:10; 15:1-6; Gal. 2:20; 3:2-5, 14; Rom. 6–8; 1 Cor. 15:57; Col. 1:27; 2:6; Heb. 3:7–4:11; 11:6; Jam. 4:1-10; and passages on rest: Is. 40:28-31; Ps. 46:10; 68:19; Matt. 11:28-30; Phil. 2:12-13; 4:13, and clear salvation passages classically manipulated and taught as sanctification/post-salvation discipleship: Matt. 5:3-10; 6:22-24; 7:24-27; 10:32-39; 16:24-26; 19:16-30; Mk. 8:34-38; Lk. 9:23-26, 57-62; 12:8-9; 13:23-30; 14:7-11, 16-35; 17:26-35; 18:9-17, 18-30; 19:1-10; Jn. 8:12, 31-32; 12:24-26; Jam. 4:1-10. These Scriptures are wrested out of their Biblical meaning to support his false philosophy, which is an "error of the wicked" (i.e. a lost person) (2 Pet. 3:16-17).
But this is normal in revivalist/ Keswick theological IFB churches, which is most of them, and majority of these would host him as an "evangelist." I think of Pembina Valley Baptist Church in Winkler, MB, who have hosted Flanders many times. At this church, the same revivalism and Keswick heresy is heard pounded from the pulpit weekly by the likes of pastors Mike Sullivant, Gary Driedger and John Rempel.
(i) Flanders recommends a lot of books authored by Keswick/ revivalists type purveyors who are deeply compromised men, heretics and apostates.
For instance: A.J. Gordon, Watchman Nee, Charles Trumbull, F.B. Meyer, Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth, John Van Gelderen, Oswald J. Smith, John Wesley, Charles Finney, Jacob Knapp, Andrew Murray, etc. Most of these were false teachers, unsaved religious men masquerading as sheep but in actuality, wolves.
There is lots more where this came from. I am merely scratching the surface. In Flanders Field people will be destroyed and many many battles lost because truth is not the military strategic manual that is followed. Instead, the philosophies of men are embraced and true conversions are never truly seen. Practically everything Flanders teaches on sanctification is heretical and much of his teachings concerning soteriology. He has fashioned himself “another gospel” and “another Jesus” and “another spirit” (2 Cor 11:4) because he is a heretic (Ti 3:10-11). No one should listen to the heresies that he purveys. People that are truly saved will know what he is teaching is heresy. They will see it because the Holy Spirit gives spiritual discernment (1 Cor 2:9-16) and so they test and prove everything by the Word of God (1 Th 5:21; Ac 17:11) and "earnestly contend for the faith" (Ju 1:3). They will hit the eject button on this heretic and false teacher (2 Jn. 1:9-11).
These evidences make it very clear that Rick Flanders is a false teacher and the Bible warns to turn away from such (Rom 16:17-18; 1 Tim. 6:3-5) and commands to expose and avoid them (Rom. 16:17).
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Th. 5:21)
"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Is. 8:20)
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Rom 16:17-18)