Repentance And Works In Cultic Theology: Part One -- By: Ron Rhodes

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 06:1 (Jan 2000)
Article: Repentance And Works In Cultic Theology: Part One
Author: Ron Rhodes

Repentance And Works In Cultic Theology:
Part One

Ron Rhodes*

[*Editor's note: Ron Rhodes earned Th.M. and Th.D. degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is President of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries—a discipleship ministry helping Christians become biblically literate. His address is P.O. Box 80087, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688. His email address is [email protected]]


The evangelical community tends to debate gospel issues without referring to the theology of well-known cults. Reviewing the theologies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ offers a sharp contrast to the true gospel, the gospel of grace. Part 1 examines the theology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in relation to salvation, repentance, and good works. Part 2 will consider the Latter-day Saints’ gospel.

Salvation according to the Watchtower

Although saying, “Salvation is a free gift from God. It cannot be earned,”1 the February 1, 1996 issue of The Watchtower magazine criticizes a grace-alone, faith-alone view of salvation. Throughout that article interesting details emerge regarding the relationship between salvation and the necessity of good works. According to the theology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses:

  1. salvation is not simple,
  2. salvation requires repentance and works,
  3. putting up a hard fight for the faith is essential,
  4. faith without endurance will not secure eternal life,
  5. the gospel includes works,
  6. the gospel originally included works,
  7. Watchtower Society affiliation is needed for salvation, and
  8. salvation is a free gift requiring deep appreciation.2

Salvation Is Not Simple

The following dialogue occurs between a ten year-old boy named Johnny and a stranger:3 Stranger: “Young man, do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” Johnny: “Of course I do.” Stranger: “Praise the Lord! … Another soul saved for Christ!”4 The question is then posed: “Is salvation really that simple? Was Johnny ‘saved’ from the moment he said those words regardless of what he would do for the rest of his life?”5 To those who understand grace alone by faith alone the answer is obvious: Saying words, even repeating prayers will not save a person, but faith alone in Christ alone for eternal life does save. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses do n...

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