Ray Comfort: Is it Just a Matter of Semantics?
By David J. Stewart | September 2014 | Updated April 2016
“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.” –2nd Corinthians 11:3
Someone recently wrote to me, trying to convince me that I and Ray Comfort believe the same Biblical doctrine concerning salvation, and insisted that it was merely a matter of “semantics” (i.e., the meaning, or an interpretation of the meaning, of a word, sign, sentence, et cetera). I certainly wish that were true. I wish it were true that Ray Comfort and myself believe the same thing, but we just express it in different words. The truth, and it makes me sad, is that we disagree on the Holy Scriptures. Mr. Comfort teaches “Another Gospel.”
My question to you is: Are there 2 Gospels?
- THE GOSPEL - I believe that one's salvation is solely based in Christ's righteousness and has absolutely nothing to do with one's desire to depart from sin. Romans 4:5-6 plainly teaches that salvation is without works of self-righteousness, and that we are saved by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. “The Gospel” is defined in 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 as: Christ DIED on the cross for our sins, He was BURIED, and then He bodily RESURRECTED on the third day for our justification. If you believe the Gospel, you are saved! The only requirement is to acknowledge that you are a guilty sinner in the sight of a holy God. Salvation is of the Lord, not man (John 1:12-14). A changed life is the FRUIT of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and not a part of the ROOT of saving faith. A person attempts to live upright because they ARE a Christian, and not to BECOME a Christian. A changed life comes AFTER a person is saved (in Christ), as a person grows in the milk of the Word (1st Peter 2:2). But this is Discipleship, not Salvation. Every believer has a choice to follow Jesus, or not (Romans 12:1-2). Salvation is not doing your best, it is having Christ's best put to your account through receiving Him by faith. Salvation costs the sinner nothing, because Jesus paid it all!
- LORDSHIP SALVATION - Evangelist Ray Comfort on the other hand, believes that a person must stop deliberately committing sin to be saved. He teaches that those who profess faith in Christ, but still continue in sin, are not saved because they have never given up their sins, which he teaches is necessary for salvation. Mr. Comfort even goes as far as to say in his The Evidence Bible (commentary for Acts 20:21, p. 1513) that professed believers who continue in sin have no guarantee of Heaven, despite their faith in the Gospel. Ray Comfort teaches that a changed life is part of the ROOT of saving faith. According to Mr. Comfort, a person must give up their sinful bad habits to BECOME a Christian. In this false plan of salvation, a sinner must change their own ways in order to be saved. Not surprisingly, Ray Comfort totally ignores the doctrine of Imputation in his The Evidence Bible. In Dr. John MacArthur's Gospel, salvation costs you everything, and I quote: “Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian. Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing.” (Hard To Believe, p. 93)
These are 2 drastically different Gospels and one is very wrong. Lordship Salvation is wrong!
Sadly, Mr. Comfort and his sidekick, Kirk Cameron, are doctrinally corrupted and confused; likely because they are followers of heretic John MacArthur (evidenced by Kirk Cameron promoting the John MacArthur Study Bible on his website). They are WRONG to teach that repentance unto salvation means ceasing from sin. They are also wrong to teach that repentance is a completely separate act from believing upon the Lord to be saved. These are 2 deadly heresies concerning salvation. THE TRUTH is that you simply turn to the Lord by faith to be forgiven of your sins and you are saved immediately, completely and eternally. It's that simple. We are the SINNER and Jesus is the SAVIOR!
A lot of Christians have brushed the issue aside as a matter of semantics, but the difference between the 2 Gospels is day and night. In fact, it is staggering! One includes a certain degree of self-righteousness, which is a false Gospel; but the other is solely based upon Christ's IMPUTED righteousness, which was purchased by the precious literal, physical, blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I believe that Ray Comfort is sincere, but sincerely wrong on salvation. I am writing this article to evidence clearly that Ray Comfort is errant concerning salvation, and it is NOT merely a matter of semantics. I say this kindly.
The issue is not about Ray Comfort, but about the integrity of Gospel. I don’t enjoy exposing false prophets, God knows my heart, and I don't receive a penny for doing this (I never have, nor ever will); but it is a joy and a privilege to contend for the Christian faith. If one is wrong on salvation, then he is wrong on everything. Ray Comfort is an extremely popular evangelist, with his ministries, THE WAY OF THE MASTER and LIVING WATERS. Unfortunately, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron teach the heresy of Lordship Salvation. Therefore, I must do my part as a God-fearing Christian “that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). ...
“Merely being sorry for your sins, or confessing them to God won't help you. You must turn from sin (repent).”
SOURCE: LIVING WATERS ministry, SAVE YOURSELF SOME PAIN
Heresy! That is self-righteousness! Adding even the slightest work of self-righteousness to the Gospel corrupts it into a false way, a false plan, a road to damnation. Even if you did attempt to “turn from your sins,” AT BEST, at very best, you could only turn partially from your sins, because NO MAN can turn away from all his sins. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!!! Even the faithful apostle Paul struggled regularly with the sinful flesh (Romans 7:14-25). Lordship Salvation requires that you do your best to stop committing sins, and maintain that mindset and effort as a prerequisite to being and staying saved. The Salvation Army teaches this junk theology too. Don't you see what Lordship Salvation really is? It is works for salvation, requiring human effort to receive the free gift of eternal life. This is not the Gospel my friend. Lordship Salvation is religion, and the Devil loves it, because it is a substitute for the Gospel (much like Seventh-day Adventism), blinding men and leading them into the Lake of Fire forever. Satan's greatest weapon is to con people into living the Christian life without ever being born again!!!
Ray Comfort Corrupts Matthew 7:22,23
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." —Matthew 7:22,23
On page 1197 of THE EVIDENCE BIBLE, Ray Comfort comments on Matthew 7:22,23...
"These are perhaps the most frightening verses in the Bible. Vast multitudes of professing Christians fit into the category spoken of here. They call Jesus 'Lord,' but they practice lawlessness. They profess faith in Jesus, but have no regard for the divine law. They tell 'fibs' or 'white' lies, take things that belong to others, have a roaming eye for the opposite sex, etc. They are liars, thieves, and adulterers at heart, who will be cast from the gates of heaven into the jaws of hell."
SOURCE: THE EVIDENCE BIBLE, by Ray Comfort, pg. 1197; 2003, Bridge-Logos Publishers, Orlando, Florida
In sharp contrast, read what Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) has to say Scripturally about worldly believers.
Ladies and gentleman, Ray Comfort is teaching works salvation! According to what we just read by Ray Comfort, every believer who is still living in deliberate sin won't be allowed into Heaven.
The correct interpretation of Matthew 7:22,23 must include verse 21...
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
What is "the will of the Father"? The answer is found in John 6:40...
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
The group in Matthew 7:21-23 were unsaved because they refused to do God's will concerning salvation. It wasn't because they still had personal sins in their life. Every believer still has sin in their life! We all sin every day. That's not to say that we have God's approval to sin, God forbid (Romans 3:31). It just means that even the best of Christians are still sinners. Ray Comfort wrestles the Scriptures to his own destruction.
John 3:20 states... "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (John 3:20). Such apostates are willing to follow a false gospel or a milquetoast preacher like Joel Osteen. However, it is not one's unwillingness to forsake personal sins that prevent a person from being saved; but rather, one's love for such sins. In John 5:40 Jesus said, "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." Jesus didn't say, "Ye cannot come." He said, "Ye WILL NOT come." But if such a sinner does come to Jesus, acknowledging his guilt of sin and sincerely desiring to be forgiven, the Lord will save him eternally.
Ray Comfort perverts Matthew 7:22,23 by claiming that false prophets are those who claim to be Christians; but are not because of sin in their life, i.e., because they have not literally forsaken their sins yet. Clearly, Mr. Comfort is teaching works salvation. Satan is a master liar and deceiver and his ministers are turned into ministers of righteousness (2nd Corinthians 11:13,14). There are many groups who falsely profess to be "Christian" nowadays, but it's not because they still have sin in their life... it's because they're trusting their own self-righteousness; namely, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christian Scientists, Scientologists, Lordship Salvationists and innumerable others.
Every proponent of Lordship Salvation claims that eternal is a free gift, provided by God's free grace, and that works are not essential to salvation; yet, they 100% contradict themselves when they mandate a changed life as part of saving faith. Forsaking one's sins is the FRUIT of genuine repentance; not a prerequisite to being saved.
Jesus clearly taught that the reason why the group in Matthew 7:21-23 wasn't saved is because they had failed to do GOD'S WILL. John 6:40 tells us that God's will is for us to BELIEVE ON JESUS CHRIST. Ray Comfort would have us to believe that forsaking one's sins is God's will for salvation; but that is NOT what the Bible says at all.
What About Charles Spurgeon?
As with other false prophets, Ray Comfort leans heavily upon the quotes of historically great men to support his unbiblical position. THE EVIDENCE BIBLE quotes Spurgeon often. Unfortunately, Ray Comfort (as does John MacArthur) horribly take Charles Spurgeon's words out of context, and claim that Spurgeon taught Lordship Salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this quote by Spurgeon himself plainly reveals...
“You must not expect that you will be perfect in 'repentance' before you are saved. No Christian can be perfect. 'Repentance' is a grace. Some people preach it as a condition of salvation. Condition of nonsense! There are no conditions of salvation. God gives the salvation himself...”
—Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon
SOURCE: http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0044.htm (from a sermon preached at the New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, on September 23, 1855)
Why doesn't Ray Comfort quote those words by Spurgeon? Ray Comfort is guilty of twisting the Scriptures around and misrepresenting the beliefs of Spurgeon to support his unbiblical position.
ABOVE: Although Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon did in fact at times teach what seemed to be Lordship Salvation, at other times he made very clear that he did not. This type of contradictory doctrine is common amongst preachers whose sermons are recorded for decades, as preachers are only human and do sometimes contradict themselves when striving to preach THE TRUTH, because the truth often exists in itself in the form of an illusion of contradiction. For example: Romans 10:9 teaches to “confess” the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation. Many sincere Bible students have errantly concluded that salvation requires open confession of Christ. However, if we simply cross-reference the Scriptures, we learn in John 12:42-43 that many of the chief priests “BELIEVED” on Christ and were saved, but they “DID NOT CONFESS HIM” because of the Pharisees, for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Yet, they were saved!!! Such seeming contradictions abound in the Holy Bible, and in men's preaching as well. Just as false prophets take the Scriptures out of context to support their personal agendas, so also do they to great preachers of the past. Spurgeon clearly did not fully support the idea of Lordship Salvation.
Charles Spurgeon On 'Repentance'
Some Bible teachers like John MacArthur and Ray Comfort have attempted to misquote Charles Spurgeon to support their Lordship Salvation heresy; but they need to keep reading Spurgeon's sermons, because Charles Spurgeon clearly DIDN'T believe in giving up sins to be saved. Again, Mr. Spurgeon plainly said:
"You must not expect that you will be perfect in 'repentance' before you are saved. No Christian can be perfect. 'Repentance' is a grace. Some people preach it as a condition of salvation. Condition of nonsense! There are no conditions of salvation. God gives the salvation himself..."
SOURCE: Charles Spurgeon, sermon: REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE, [http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0044.htm (from a sermon preached at the New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, on September 23, 1855)]
—Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon
Clearly, Charles Haddon Spurgeon DIDN'T believe that forsaking one's sins, or grieving, or feeling sorrow, or being willing to turn from them, was necessary to be saved. Rather, Spurgeon believed that they were evidences of the indwelling Holy Spirit (1st John 3:24), but this is after-the-fact, and not a requirement for salvation itself. Spurgeon plainly taught “there are no conditions of salvation,” which is what the Holy Bible teaches. We are sinners and Jesus is the Savior! If you admit that you are a guilty sinners in the eyes of a holy God, and you BELIEVE THE GOSPEL, you are saved eternally and securely!!! Galatians 3:2, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Ah, there's “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4).
When you hear the Gospel preached, receiving what you hear (i.e., believe it), you are born-again into God's kingdom. That's why Galatians 3:2 calls the Gospel, “THE HEARING OF FAITH.” In Hebrews 4:2, we learn that Moses preached the Gospel to the Jews in the Wilderness, but they perished in unbelief, because they did not have faith in the truth they heard. Hebrews 4:2, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” It wasn't because the Jews refused to turn from their sinful ways that kept them out of Heaven; but rather, it was their UNBELIEF. My friend, if you've never done so, please receive now Christ's sacrifice on the cross as full-payment for your sins, believing that He was buried, and bodily resurrected from the dead three days later. This is “the Gospel” according to 1st Corinthians 15:1-4.
Repent! Repent! Repent!
Ray Comfort Says Sinful Believers are Not “Safe” in Jesus
On page 1513 of THE EVIDENCE BIBLE, under the section “Questions & Objections,” Ray Comfort addresses the statement: “Because Jesus died on the cross we are forgiven of every sin.” Here’s Ray Comfort’s reply to this statement…
“The forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ is conditional upon ‘repentance towards God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Acts 20:21). It is a gift that God offers to everyone, but individuals must receive it by repenting and trusting in Christ, or they will remain dead in their sins. No one has Biblical grounds to continue in sin, assuming that they are safe just because Jesus died on the cross. See 1 John 3:4-6.” [Emphasis added]
SOURCE: THE EVIDENCE BIBLE, by Ray Comfort, pg. 1513; 2003, Bridge-Logos Publishers, Orlando, Florida
Those are some very dangerous words at the end, “…assuming that they are safe just because Jesus died on the cross.” Are not all believers “safe” in Jesus Christ? Yes, they certainly are safe (Ephesians 1:13; Isaiah 28:16; Romans 10:11); but Ray Comfort teaches they are not. Ray Comfort is teaching heresy to say that believers who fail to forsake their sins are not safe in their salvation. Such reasoning places a heavy burden upon the sinner, requiring one to depart from sinful bad habits as a prerequisite to be saved.
Ray Comfort's teaching here beckons the
question: How much sin is considered “safe”? Aren't we all willful sinners
at times? Yes indeed. Is any amount of sin “safe”? Clearly, Mr. Comfort
interprets “repentance” for
salvation as ceasing from one's sins, which is entirely wrong. Man's only
part in salvation is to believe on Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins
The major problem with Ray Comfort’s theology is his faulty understanding of what Biblical “repentance” means. It is interesting that Ray Comfort avoids defining the term directly; whereas the New Testament Greek does… METANOIA, “a change of mind.” That’s it! Ray Comfort understands “repentance” to mean literally forsaking one’s sinful lifestyle to get saved. He’s putting the cart before the horse. The changed life comes AFTER a person is saved, as the Holy Spirit convicts them about sin and they grow in the milk of the Word of God. Changing one's life is not a prerequisite to be saved. This is what 1st John 3:4-6 means. A believer’s faith should be evidenced by a changed life; BUT, you can’t mandate that changed life, i.e., forsaking one’s sins, as part of saving faith. The fact is that the Holy Bible is filled with stories of unholy saints, who chose to live in sin (e.g., Lot, Samson, David, Solomon, Demas, Peter, et cetera). The entire matter can be remedied by simply differentiating between SALVATION verses DISCIPLESHIP.
Dr. Harry Ironside (former pastor of Moody Memorial Church, 1930-1948) correctly understood repentance to mean…
“Repentance is the recognition of my sinnership — the owning before God that I am as vile as He has declared me to be in His holy Word.”
SOURCE: Except Ye Repent, by Dr. Harry Ironside, chapter 3
Clearly, Ironside taught a Free Grace view of the Gospel. H.A. Ironside correctly recognized repentance as the confession that "one is utterly without merit" and that if one is "ever saved at all it can only be through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ." Salvation is without works of self-righteousness. Romans 4:5 plainly teaches that a man's faith is COUNTED for righteousness, i.e., the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to one's heavenly record by faith. Repentance and faith are inseparable. The Gospel of John mentions the word "believe" 85-times; but the word "repent" is never mentioned even once. In genuine salvation, one who believes on Jesus Christ has repented; and one who repents has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
Also, here is the best quote that I've found on repentance, by Dr. Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951):
“Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture we read, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel.' Yet we find true believers exhorted to 'repent, and do the first works.' So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is repentance.” (Except Ye Repent, p. 16)
In sharp contrast, Ray Comfort separates repentance from faith, thus requiring lost sinners to cease from their sins as a prerequisite to placing their faith in Christ for salvation (which is a false Gospel).
Salvation is Not Hard
Ray Comfort makes salvation hard, as does John MacArthur (who even authored a book titled “Hard To Believe”). My friend, it is not hard to believe. The reason why people won’t get saved is because they willfully choose not to come to Jesus Christ to be saved… “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:20). In John 5:40 Jesus said to the unbelieving crowd… “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Carefully notice that Jesus DIDN’T say… “Ye cannot come.” Rather, He said, "Ye will not come." Salvation is freely given and freely received by faith alone (Romans 6:23; Revelation 22:17). Salvation is not hard at all. What is hard is people’s hearts! Anyone who acknowledges their guilt of sin and wants to be eternally forgiven may, by simply believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
John 6:40 tells us the will of God concerning salvation… “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” I don’t see any mention of “repentance.” Do you know why? It’s because a person who turns to Jesus Christ to be forgiven of their sins has repented. It's the very fact that one repents that causes them to believe on the Lord for the forgiveness of sins.
An Every Word Bible
I am dismayed when I hear professed Christians say
that the Bible is not something we should fight over. What? If God is going to
judge us for the very words we speak (Matthew 12:36), then don't you think that the Words He
speaks are equally important? Yes, of course! Everything that we believe as
Christians hinge upon EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDETH OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD
(Matthew 4:4). Therefore, I need an every word Bible! God only wrote one
Book! There are literally hundreds of English translations, which vary widely in
their content, meaning, and doctrine. This is why I defend, love and promote only
the King James Bible. All other English translations on the market today
are corrupt! It does matter, very much, that we have the right message, from a
There is Only One Gospel
Ray Comfort once kindly wrote to me, attempting to convince me that our doctrinal differences are a mere matter of semantics (i.e., wording the same belief differently). I told him that we do not agree at all on the issue of salvation, because he believes that a person cannot be saved and deliberately continue in sin; but I do believe that. The difference is much more than mere semantics, it is night and day.
Ray Comfort is sincere, unquestionably, but he is doctrinally messed up from following Dr. John MacArthur. Biblically, a professed believer who continues in habitual sin will be convicted by the indwelling Holy Spirit, otherwise the Holy Bible says they are a “bastard” (and that is the Word God uses), meaning that they were never really born-again at all (Hebrews 12:6-8). Every Christian sins. There's not a single Christian who has ever lived that could live above sin. Hopefully, by God's grace, we can live above reproach as much as possible. Still, there are no perfect Christians. We are living in perilous and wicked times, where a man can do 100,000 good deeds, yet his reputation be completely ruined for just one sin that has been publicized.
This is how Satan works, not God. God will judge every Christian for the GOOD and the BAD done in the body. 2nd Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” So you see, believers who choose to sin aren't getting away with anything! And also, the imperfect Christians whose names have been battered into the ground by hypocritical haters and condemning critics, will be rewarded by God for all the good which they have done in the Lord, despite being made to feel like garbage by evil accusers. You're never more like the Devil than when you accuse others! Albeit, refuting false prophets who go against the Word of God, and exposing those who openly promote sin and Communist, must be done in a Christlike spirit (Ephesians 5:11; Titus 1:10-13).
Jesus said in John 6:37 that He would not turn away anyone who comes to Him for salvation (and that includes the vilest sinner who isn't ready to give up his sinful bad habits yet). All God requires to be saved is that a person acknowledge their guilt of sin (Romans 3:19), and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL (Acts 10:43; Romans 10:13). Acts 16:30-31, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
Most of the false prophets teaching the heresy of Lordship Salvation are from California (John MacArthur, Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, Jack Chick, Rick Warren, et cetera). California is a hotbed of false prophets! Lordship Salvation is the teaching that a person must “turn from sins” to be saved, committing to follow “Jesus as Lord” of one's life. In Jack Chick's case, he's a bit more subtle, teaching that it's not enough to admit one's sinnership to be saved; but a person must also “be willing” to stop living in intentional sin to be saved. These are all damnable heresies that destroy the gift of God. You don't give up anything to be saved. Jesus gave up everything to pay for our sins! Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS! If you want to be saved, then “repent toward God” (Acts 20:21) by placing your faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It's that simple.
There are hundreds of perversions of the Gospel nowadays. One of the most popular is to “Invite Jesus into your life.” That is not the Gospel. Every believer needs to be a watchman, a pitbull guard dog, that shines the light of God's Word upon the darkness of the world. That's the only way to expose the darkness, i.e., by shining the lamp of God's Word upon it. Salvation is easy—We are SINNERS and Jesus is the SAVIOR—Simply BELIEVE THE GOSPEL Oh sinner!
Please listen to, How Permanent Is Your Salvation? (an awesome MP3 sermon by Pastor Hank Lindstrom, 1940-2008).
If a person must forsake their sinful habits to be saved, then salvation is extremely complicated. The hypocrisy of Ray Comfort's and John MacArthur's Lordship Salvation heresy is that NO ONE can give up all their sins. 1st John 1:10 says that we are calling God a liar if we say we are without sin. Only Jesus is completely without sin (1st Peter 2:22).
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.” —2nd Corinthians 11:3
Ye Must Be Born Again!| You Need HIS Righteousness! | Believe The Gospel