Ray Pringle: FALSE PROPHET!
By David J. Stewart
Ray Pringle (1921-2002) was a Church of God minister who taught the damnable heresy of Lordship Salvation, i.e., the unbiblical doctrine that a lost sinner MUST forsake their actual sins to be saved. Nothing could be further from the truth of God's Word. Salvation is the "free gift" of God as Romans 5:15 states, paid for by Jesus' precious blood. To require a person to give up their sins to be saved is a form of payment, which equates to works salvation. Romans 4:5 plainly states, "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Mr. Pringle is dead wrong in his interpretation of the Scriptures.
In a tract titled "BEWITCHED," published by WORD OF PROPHECY FELLOWSHIP, Ray Pringle explains his teaching on how to be born again...
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:19. Jesus said unequivocally and soberly: "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish!" Luke 13:3, 5. Christ's first message was: "Repent ye, and believe the gospel." Mark 1:15. The Holy Scriptures have warned all men: "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." Acts 17:30. If a person believes on Christ unto Salvation, he believes Christ meant what He said: "Repent, and receive me as Lord, OR PERISH!" To Repent means, "to turn around and go in the opposite direction; to give up your sins."
From reading the rest of the article on his website, I certainly agree with Mr. Pringle that "most people claiming to be born-again are not born-again!" Unfortunately, as with other heretics in the Lordship Salvation cult, Ray Pringle confuses the ROOT of the believer's faith with the FRUIT of the believer's faith. This is a fatal error. In Romans 4:3-5, Paul speaks of the ROOT of the believer's faith, which is by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ. However, in James 2:18-21 the Apostle James speaks of the FRUIT of Abraham's faith, which was evidenced when he offered up Isaac as a sacrifice to the Lord. Thus, we are justified by faith in the eyes of God; but we are justified by works in the eyes of men who cannot see our heart (1st Samuel 16:7). Ray Pringle requires lost sinners to have the FRUIT in order to be saved. It doesn't work that way. The FRUIT of one's faith follows salvation; it is NOT a prerequisite to be saved. To require works for salvation is payment, which negates the free gift of salvation paid for by Jesus' precious physical blood (1st Peter 1:18,19; Hebrews 9:12).
Making Salvation Difficult
As a result of the Lordship Salvation heresy, many sinners are reluctant to come to Christ because they know that they cannot stop sinning. The truth is that Lordship Salvationists are sanctimonious, self-righteous hypocrites. They're just as much dirty, rotten sinners as anybody else. Can anyone completely forsake sin? No, and if you say otherwise you are calling God a liar... "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1st John 1:10).
John 3:20 states, "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." Many lost sinners won't come to Jesus Christ because their works are evil; but the Bible DOESN'T say that they cannot come, It says they WILL NOT come... "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life" (John 5:40). God is willing to save anyone who comes as a guilty, hell-deserving sinner, under the condemnation of God's Law, who places their sole faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness.
Dr. Pringle confuses repentance with the fruits of repentance, and confuses faith with that which faith ought to produce. He confuses saving faith (which takes place in a moment of time—Genesis 15:6; Ephesians 1:13) with discipleship (which is a lifelong process). As Miles Stanford has said, "Lordship salvation is not the childlike faith of John 3:16. It rightly insists upon repentance but wrongly includes a change of behavior IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. No one questions that there must be a sincere change of mind, a turning from oneself to the Saviour, but Lordship advocates attempt to make behavior and fruit essential ingredients of, rather than evidence of, saving faith" (Miles Stanford, in his review of John MacArthur's book, The Gospel According to Jesus).
Ray Pringles Teaches a Perverted Gospel
Ray Pringle falsely teaches that "repentance" means "to give up your sins." Mr. Pringle is of the Devil...
To Repent means, "to turn around and go in the opposite direction; to give up your sins."
Mr. Pringle has woefully redefined the meaning of the word "REPENT." Pringle states... "To Repent means, "to turn around and go in the opposite direction; to give up your sins." Mr. Pringle was woefully deceived.
Biblical repentance is simply TURNING UNTO THE LORD for forgiveness of sins; NOT giving up one's sins. Acts 11:18 reads, "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." Notice that the Bible does NOT call this a repentance from sins. This is the "repentance unto life" which can only be found in Christ Jesus. The Word of God does NOT teach that we must give up our sins to be saved. If this were true, then no one could be saved because we are all sinners incapable of ceasing from sin. Even the best of Christians still commit sin! Believers shouldn't commit any sins, but the fact of the matter is that we all do. So how can you tell an unsaved person to give up their sins to be saved, when you can't even give up yours?
There is a woeful misunderstanding about repentance. Acts 11:21 states, "And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord." Biblical repentance is TURNING to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. Mark 1:15 proclaims, "And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." Notice here that repentance led to believing the gospel, NO mention is made about making a commitment to God or forsaking sins.
I am NOT saying that a believer has a license to sin. I am saying that a believer's walk (i.e., his fruit) has absolutely nothing to do with his salvation (i.e., the root of his faith). The Bible provides numerous examples of backslidden Christians who committed horrible sins (e.g., Noah, Judah, Moses, Samson, Rahab, David, Solomon, Jonah, Peter, et cetera). Lordship Salvationists have a problem with this because they have added works to simple faith in Christ. Let's consider the cart-before-the-horse scenario. You can't put the cart in front of the horse. That would be silly. It would be even more ridiculous to put the horse into the cart. The cart needs to go behind the horse, so the horse can pull it. As simple as this analogy is, it appropriately illustrates the foolishness of Lordship Salvation. A believer's FRUIT should follow his faith in Christ (i.e., the ROOT of salvation).
Let me be even more practical. An injured man doesn't get healed the moment he walks into a hospital. What if a patient were required to give up his injury before he could be admitted into the hospital? Ridiculous you say? It is just as ridiculous to expect a lost sinner to be willing to surrender his life to the Lord, and forsake his sins, in order to be saved. No sir, that is damnable heresy! Eternal life is a free gift (Romans 6:23)!
Forsaking Sin is Not a Prerequisite to Salvation
There are only a few references in the Bible where the word "repentance" is used with sin. The Bible usually speaks of "the remission of sins," but never commands anyone to repent "from sins" to be saved. Search the Bible and you will find that "repentance" is always mentioned with salvation, but it never tells us that forsaking sins is the way to be saved.
In Acts 8:22, Simon (a new believer) had said something wrong and Peter said to Simon, "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee." Simon thought he could buy the power of the Holy Spirit. Witches are accustomed to buying all sorts of demonic paraphernalia in order to practice their works of darkness. No doubt, Simon sincerely thought God's power was for sale. He was a new convert and needed to be taught the Truth of God's Word. My point here is that Simon was already a believer. So the word "repent" in this Scripture is used in an entirely different context than in other Scriptures which speak of salvation. There is a repentance unto salvation, and then there is another repentance of one's sins AFTER salvation (as we saw with Simon).
The only thing that we need to repent from to be saved is our UNBELIEF. Unbelief if the only sin which can keep a person out of Heaven. Do we have to realize our guilty sinful condition to be saved? Of course, yes! But there is not one verse in the entire Bible which requires a person to forsake sin to be saved. Nor does the Bible give anyone a license to sin. Every time Jesus forgave someone and healed them, it was AFTERWARDS that He said... go and sin no more. John 5:14, "Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." Yet, we see from the Bible that Christians do commit sin, sometimes horrible sins. King David commit adultery, impregnated the man's wife, and then had the man murdered to hide the sin.
I do NOT believe it is inappropriate to apply the parable of the prodigal son to the unsaved who need to come back to their Creator; but technically the parable is about a believer, a "son." The parable about the prodigal son applies to the wayward believer who is in need of repentance from sins. The repentance unto salvation is a ONE-TIME repentance, but the repentance from sins has no limit. Christians are people, and people are sinners. Just as a man cannot be UNBORN physically, neither can he be unborn spiritually. Once saved, always saved! For anyone to teach otherwise is to add works to faith alone. Dr. John F. MacArthur is a staunch Calvinist, and thus believes that a saint MUST persevere in holy living in order to go to Heaven. This is works salvation and a denial of the Christian faith! Once a person is saved, then they must grow in grace, by feeding on the Truth of God's Word (1st Peter 2:2). As a believer grows in the Truth, he or she realizes that there are changes in their life that need to be made. It is this change of mind (repentance) that leads to a holy life sanctified unto God. Works are not a part of saving faith; but rather, are the result of it.
Thus, it can be clearly seen that "repentance unto salvation" is very different from "repentance from sins." In Mark 1:4, John the Baptist speaks of "...repentance for the remission of sins"; NOT repentance from sins. Acts 20:21 reads, "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Notice that Biblical repentance is TOWARD God. In Acts 11:21 we read, "And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord." This is Biblical repentance... turning to the Lord. To turn towards Jesus Christ in faith for forgiveness of sin is to turn one's back against sin, even though that person may not be willing to forsake a particular sin at the time of salvation. It is ludicrous for anyone to teach that a lost sinner must give up their sins to be saved. As we saw with Lot, Samson and king Solomon in the Old Testament, not all believers live for God.
The Change Comes AFTER a Person is Saved, NOT before
The internet is plagued with heretics who are teaching that a person must forsake their sinful life to be saved. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 reads, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Please notice that a man does NOT become a "new creature" until AFTER he is in Christ (saved). The change comes AFTER a person is saved; NOT before. If a person claims to be a Christian, but is living a wicked life, then I would sincerely doubt that person's salvation as well. However, I am not going to start teaching a damnable heresy by saying that sinners must forsake their sins to be saved. Salvation comes through childlike faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing may be added. Once a man becomes a new creature in Christ, then he begins to change.
In Romans 12:1 the Apostle Paul asks the church, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." These believers were saved, but had not yet surrendered their lives to God. Paul was pleading with them to make a sacrificial commitment to God. Clearly, whether a believer lives for the Lord or not is completely irrelevant to being saved.
The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions
I believe that Ray Pringle was a sincere man with good intentions; but he was sincerely wrong (Proverb 14:12;16:25). Just like false prophets Ray Comfort and John MacArthur, Ray Pringle places heavy burdens grievous to be borne upon men's shoulders, by requiring them to forsake their sins to be saved. In Genesis 15:6 we read that Abram, "...believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Again, Romans 4:5 plainly states... "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." How much simpler could the Bible be? Consider Ephesians 2:8,9... "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Ray Pringle further states in his BEWITCHED tract...
Millions of our fellow Americans claim to be born-again but are deceived--they have not repented nor received the divine nature of Christ. This is discerned very easily by the way they live! The Bible warns that if a man hears the Word of God and disobeys it, he deceives himself. James 1:22. My friend, preachers today don't say much about Hell, but it's still real and terrible. The angels that sinned, God cast into hell, and so will He do to all men who refuse to repent! 2Peter 2:4. We must not get our eyes on these phony Christians who live like the World and Hollywood, and be Bewitched.
Now I agree with everything Mr. Pringle just said, and he is certainly correct about the preponderance of phony conversions nowadays; however, here is where he strays from the Bible and gets into serious trouble...
Do not listen to soothsaying preachers who preach an easy gospel void of old-fashioned Repentance.
What is wrong with an easy Gospel Mr. Pringle? 2nd Corinthians 11:3 states, "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." Salvation is extremely simple: we are the sinners and Jesus is the Savior. That's it. Eternal life is a free gift (Romans 5:15; 6:23). Mr. Pringle speaks foolishness when he criticizes an "easy gospel." Being saved is as easy as walking through a door (John 10:9). Being saved is as easy as drinking a glass of water (John 4:14). Salvation is as easy as receiving a gift (John 1:12;3:16). All we must do is come to the cross as guilty sinners, and then BELIEVE on Jesus as the Christ, i.e., as our personal Savior. 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." I don't see anything about a difficult, hard gospel there, do you?
I did not write this article to be unkind, nor to attack Ray Pringle. It is no light matter when we speak of repentance, for it is at the very heart of Christian fundamentalism. If we're wrong on repentance, then we'll be wrong on everything else. Either salvation is a free gift or it's not. Please read, Dr. Curtis Hutson is 100% Correct on Repentance! There's a raging battle in theological circles today over the meaning of REPENTANCE. Jesus exclaimed in Mark 1:15, "...repent ye, and believe the gospel." The Greek word for "repent" here is METANOEO, which means, "to change one's mind." Biblical repentance is simply a change of one's mind. This incontrovertible fact by itself should forever settle this matter of repentance; but the Lordship Salvation crowd continues to walk in darkness. There is NO controversy if you properly study the Bible, rightly dividing the word of truth (2nd Timothy 2:15).
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." —Matthew 7:15
Ye Must Be Born Again!