Rebutting David Cloud's "Repentance and Lordship Salvation Revisited" Article
Updated: Jan 22
As much as I appreciate David Cloud’s ministry especially his denunciations of error, “evangelicalism,” compromise, false teachers, bad “Christian” music such as CCM and “Christian” rock, other worldly music, Bible “perversions,” corrupt independent Baptists, etc, I could keep going on an on, David Cloud is not my standard for faith and practice. I try not to get personal with any posts, and here again I don't intend to. I have supported Cloud a lot over the years by many different means, at some personal cost. I've defended him when it hasn't been easy to do so (it hasn't been easy-defense-ism). When I finally did contradict him, in the area of false Keswick type sanctification and corruption of salvation passages (such as Lk 14:25-35), it was with his position—not him.
With the above disclaimer, I will address now this article in question. Cloud, and whoever propagates his teaching, wishes to steer men from an idea of Lordship salvation and in so doing, does great Biblical harm, because the Bible does teach that. God saves through Christ’s Lordship salvation alone. You cannot be saved in any other way. There is only one way, one truth, one life, and it comes through Lordship salvation and it’s found in God's Word from Gen 1 to Rev 22. It is the only salvation found in Scripture. Cloud in fact presents only a strawman of Lordship salvation, but he still obfuscates a biblical understanding.
Salvation is about Lordship. There is no non-Lordship salvation. People need to stop rejecting Lordship like that is some virtue, and in so doing, confuse people in such a way as to make their converts twice the children of hell they once were. I get that some are ignorant, but by pushing people away from the Lordship of Christ, they still ravage lost souls. Tied to Clouds straw man arguments here, is his corruption of salvation passages (such as Matt 10:32-39; 16:24-26; Lk 14:25-35; etc) into post-salvation discipleship. That is wrong and a great error, turning Christ’s preaching of His gospel and salvation into something sanctification. Now on to rebutting his article.
1. Cloud introduces his revisitation by explaining a cancelled subscription due to an earlier article against Lordship salvation a subscriber had read many years ago. For writing against it, a reader criticized him for believing it, perhaps because he had merely debunked a strawman. Unfortunately, to disabuse this critic Cloud further obscures the nature of true conversion. Cloud responds with a strawman that gives a false impression of what it is.
In his answer, first Cloud wants readers to know salvation isn't complex or complicated, but “IS easy.” Elsewhere, Cloud has written against "easy prayerism." He's against easy prayerism, but he's for easy believism. Why? Because believing is apparently easy. For as easy as it is to believe in Jesus Christ, not very many people do it evidently. I have witnessed to thousands of people with no one participating in this easy thing. According to Scripture, it is actually very difficult for man to believe. In Matt 19, Mk 10 and Lk 18, Jesus said to the rich young ruler, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." It is evidently hard, not easy, for a rich man to be saved. Someone asked Jesus, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" And Jesus answered, "Strive (agonizomai) to enter in at the narrow gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." (Lk 13:23-24). That doesn’t sound very easy. I know personally it wasn’t easy for me to get saved. Outside of God’s working in the heart of sinners, reproving, convicting, drawing, it would be impossible for man to be saved. One of the great lies of the modern church growth movement is that believing is easy. Cloud gave a pat answer that the wolf in sheep’s clothing Jack Hyles gave many times to defend easy prayerism.
Cloud also misses the point of "child-like faith." Sure, the Bible is plain enough that even a child can have the knowledge of salvation —scripture is perspicuous — but becoming "as a little child" isn't easy. This doesn’t mean believing is easy, a misuse of that phrase by Cloud. When Jesus said that, he wasn't saying that believing was easy. He said it because very few will humble themselves and become like a little child (Matt 18:3-14). That's why "few there be that find it." (Matt 7:14). True salvation very importantly demands becoming “poor of spirit” (Matt 5:3) and humbling of self before the mighty hand of God (Lk 14:11; 18:11-17; Matt 13:12; Jam 4:6-10).
“Easy-believism” is closely connected to "non-Lordship." Most lost people find it is easy for them to acknowledge that Jesus died for them. Almost no one rejects that truth. They, however, have a very difficult time with Jesus as Lord, because that involves the will. Believing is more than intellectual assent to a group of facts. This is where repentance and Lordship salvation dovetail. Those who know what it means to turn to Jesus Christ, to count the cost, don't find that easy to do. They'd rather hang on to their life for themselves. But Jesus said, "whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." (Matt 16:25: Mk 8:35; Lk 9:24; Jn 12:25).
2. Cloud contends that he does "not believe that a person must repent of all his or her sins to be saved."
That very statement alone is amazing. You don't have to repent of all of your sins to be saved? Alright, so what sin do you get to keep and still be saved? It is often one or a few particular sins that is the issue in repentance. It's actually impossible for someone to repent without the goodness of God granting the ability unto life (Rom 2:4; Ac 5:31; 11:18). In other words, it's not easy to repent of all your sins. Without God granting repentance, no man could or would repent.
3. Cloud's following statement in this context could lead to people becoming confused:
“Call that ‘Lordship salvation’ if you want to. Repentance is a radical change in attitude toward divine authority, and if a person does not have such a change in attitude he has not repented and he is NOT saved and he does not have ‘eternal security.’ . . . Repentance is largely a change of mind in relation to God Himself, to the role He has in life and in one’s own life in particular. . . . It means to turn around and go in a different direction. It means to lay down your arms and to surrender to God, to stop being at enmity against Him.”
These are "Lordship salvation" statements, so I will "call that 'Lordship salvation’” because I "want to." This is “Lordship salvation” and he should cling to that position and eschew the men who goad him into the errors of this article.
4. Cloud asserts that "nowhere have I said that repentance means to repent of all your sin or to turn away from all of your sin. That would be a works salvation, which is a false gospel."
Really?! Wow. Jesus said, "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Lk 5:32). So what are these sinners, Jesus speaks of, repenting from? Are they repenting of only some of their sins? They are repenting of all their sins—certainly not just some of them. Salvation requires repentance and repentance requires not only turning from all your sin, but also from yourself, from your stuff and from your people, made abundantly clear throughout the NT, including Matt 10:32-39; 16:24-26; 19:18-30; Lk 9:23-26, 57-62; 14:25-15:32; 19:1-10; Mk 8:34-38; Ac 3:19; 26:20; etc. When someone is saved, he has a new relationship to sin, one that Paul calls being "dead to sin." (Rom 6:1-2; 1 Pet 2:24). He counted his former life as "dung." Phil 3). He loves righteousness and hates sin. All of it, not just some of it.
Repentance is not akin to "stopping sinning" or "ceasing sinning." The message of repentance isn't "in order to be saved, you must discontinue all sinning." Sure, that would be works salvation. We're not saved by trying not to sin. Repentance is, however, an admission that even though we can't stop sinning, by the grace of God we want to and we turn from all known sin to God for deliverance and victory. Jesus' sheep hear His voice and follow Him (Jn 10). He doesn't lead them to sin. You can't have Jesus and your sin — no man can serve two Masters (Matt 6:24).
5. Cloud's third point is where his strawman argument reaches maximum:
“We do not support any idea of 'Lordship Salvation' which teaches that an individual must make Jesus Christ absolute Lord of every area of his life before being saved."
I know of no one who has taught that "idea" of Lordship salvation. If that is what Lordship salvation were, everyone should oppose it. No one "makes Jesus Christ Lord of anything." He is Lord of everything (Rev 4:11)! I know of no one who would call Cloud's definition “Lordship salvation." I would be interested in a quotation from any book from anyone who espouses that view. If it does exist, I would suspect it in something like Campbellism or some cult.
6. The following strawman by Cloud, built upon the previous strawman arguments, is in fact dangerous:
“This is a very dangerous doctrine that causes people to look at themselves and to examine their experience rather than to look solely upon the Lord Jesus Christ and to trust solely upon His shed blood.”
Thousands of passages speak against this idea. True salvation always has substance and evidence and fruit that require an examination of ones experience, noted in passages such as Ezk 36:25-27; Jer 23:3; Ps 1:1-3; 92:12-15; Pr 11:30; 12:12b; Matt 3:1-12; 7:15-26; 13:8-23; 21:28-32, 41-44; Mk 4:20-29; Lk 8:15-16; Jn 4:35-38; 15:1-16; Rom 11:16; 2 Cor 5:18-20; 9:10; Col 1:4-6; Jam 1:18; 2:14-26; 3:17; etc.
Wherefore would the command exist to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Pet 1:10)? It serves an important purpose, and there are more like it. The devils also believe (Jam 2:19) and they actually do much more than the average “Christian” in that they tremble and fall down in submission to Him, even obeying Him (see Jam 2:19; Mk 1:27; 3:11). A profession of faith without immediate and ongoing fruit is dead (Jam 2:14-26). It denies true salvation. Loving God is only evidenced by obeying Him, by keeping His commandments (Jn 14:15-24; 15:10-15; 1 Jn 2:3-5; 5:1-3; 2 Jn 1:5-6), and that requires a certain inward examination of ones experience.
7. Everything proceeding from that point is arguing against something that doesn't exist. It’s pure fabrication made out of sheer cloth. By separating himself from that fictitious idea of Lordship, Cloud can join all others who say they reject "Lordship salvation." What then happens someone comes to read about an actual, real scriptural position, but because Cloud rejects it, he thinks perhaps he must reject it too, because it's called "Lordship salvation." But what he's actually rejecting is true salvation. I‘ve seen this and very close to home; its very common among independent Baptists. Buts its excessively dangerous, pushing people away from true salvation and ravaging lost souls, making them twice the children of hell they once were.
8. At the end, Cloud says that this definition of "Lordship salvation" is similar to the perfectionism of Pentecostals and Charismatics. Not really. Quite the contrary. Perfectionism, second blessing theology, says that someone after conversion can reach a state of perfection after a second blessing experience. Ironically, Jack Hyles would have more likely gone for something like that, except redefining how sin was defeated through a type of soulwinning power and its results. Hyles believed that some of your sinning could be reversed through the results of your soulwinning, yielding a kind of perfectionism. To connect those types of oddball positions with Lordship salvation is a travesty of the greatest degree.
Hopefully, this "reproof of instruction" will be a "way of life” for some (Pr 6:23). There is nothing virtuous about rejecting true salvation, and Lordship salvation is true salvation. David Clouds rejection of Lordship salvation should be rejected. No one should be supporting or promoting arguments loaded with strawman.
Naturally, when someone rejects a Biblical position he will also corrupt passages of scripture to fit his egregious position. We see that with Cloud, twisting the following salvation passages into something post-salvation: Matt 10:32-39; 11:28-30; 16:24-26; Mk 8:34:38; Lk 9:23-26, 57-62; 14:25-35; Jn 12:24-26; etc. That must also be rejected.
The article in question is found here: Repentance and Lordship Salvation Revisited