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Truth vs “Free Grace” Heresy

Update January, 2022

I was informed in 2021, that J.B. Hixson (mentioned below) had resigned from Cornerstone Bible Institute. I did not see any public form of repentance on the school website, but that David Brewer is now president, and something in the newsletter about repairing relationships in the community…

By Matthew Monfore, last updated April 23rd, 2021;

J.B. Hixson and Cornerstone Bible Institute
This article is written because J.B. Hixson is president of Cornerstone Bible Institute in Hot Springs, South Dakota, near where JESUS IS KING MISSION is. Matthew (who is a former student and lived all but 4 yrs. of his life in Fall River County, where Cornerstone is located) is concerned for students, and those involved, who have been lied to.

J.B. Hixson believes that Christians do not have to turn from sins to be saved; nor do they have to have good works as proof of salvation.

If you are tied up in this “Christian” cult, please read this.

Hixson’s Writings
This article is written by Matthew Monfore, who has read all 3 of J.B. Hixson‘s books that deal with the gospel: Top 10 Reasons Some People Go to Hell; Getting the Gospel Wrong, Revised Edition; and The Gospel Unplugged (roughly 500+ pgs. altogether)

In Hixson’s Own Words
From most recent book Top 10 Reasons:

However, true moral reform is not possible for an unbeliever and is never a test for the salvation of those who are saved [and then he quotes Ephesians 2:8-9] (p. 39, underline and bold mine). I agree with the first part in the sense that unbelievers are incapable of “heart reform”, but the second statement of that sentence adequately summarizes what Hixson believes.

Hixson does NOT believe it is a matter of semantics, citing Charles Ryrie: “In my experience it usually came from students using it as a defense mechanism to justify a poor answer to a question” (p. 125, underline mine) [Hixson doesn’t give a foot note here for Ryrie, but it could be one of three references he cites by Charles C. Ryrie in his bibliography at the end; So Great Salvation: What It Means to Believe in Jesus Christ, 1997, Chicago, IL: Moody Press; Basic Theology: A Popular System[at]ic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth, 1999: Chicago, IL; Moody Press; Dispensationalism. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers]

To get to the bottom of Hixson’s beliefs, if you have a copy of Getting the Gospel Wrong, Revised edition, you can turn to the following pgs. to see his hermeneutics and interpretations of key passages (it will save you some time):

1 John 3 explicitly says Christians practice RIGHTEOUSNESS; unbelievers [those belonging to the devil] don’t. Hixson thinks this is “fellowship”, not salvation: pgs. 83-84, footnote 2

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says Lord, Lord…”. The passage refers specifically to those who practice lawlessness. And the context of this section (the Sermon on the Mount) obviously deals with repenting of sin [Matthew 5-7] even though dispensationalists seem to try to erase Jesus’ commands by saying they don’t apply to the church, only ethnic Israel. Hixson, though not addressing this form of dispensationalism, takes the absurd approach that “actions” aren’t “fruit”; just “words” are fruit [he cites Matthew 12:33-37] pgs. 117-18. Even if one plays Hixson’s hermeneutical dance, “words” are still “actions”. Right?…

James 2 on “Dead faith”, Hixson believes “dead faith” is not referring to unbelievers, but believers, albeit “unfruitful” and “unproductive” ones…: pgs. 107-110. That’s interesting because the context of James is comparing wickedness with salvation(1:21), hearers with doers (v.22), dead faith v. real faith (2:17-26), demonic wisdom v. heavenly wisdom (3:14-18), friend of world/ enemy of God v. submission to God/ repentance (4:4, 7-8), sinners at the Lord’ s coming v. prepared believers (5:1, 6, 7, 16).

Helpful Resources
Others have dealt with this issue in depth:
1. John MacArthur in The Gospel According to Jesus, 1988, Rev. 2008
deals with the beliefs of Zane Hodges, Charles Ryrie, and Lewis Sperry Chafer.

You can also listen to the 1980/88, 5-part sermon series by John Macarthur on “The Gospel According to Jesus” for free at: www.gty.org/library/topical-series-library/170/the-gospel-according-to-jesus-series-library

2. Dr. James White debated Dr. Robert Wilkin of the Grace Evangelical Society in 2005, www.aomin.org/aoblog/the-dividing-line/regeneration-and-perseverance-white-vs-wilkin Dr. White was disappointed how Dr. Wilkin mischaracterized his beliefs.


The Death of Hixson’s Beliefs in One Book: 1 John
The Scripture is clear on the life of a true believer: 
1 John teaches that those who are “born of God”/ “know God” practice righteousness. Those who do not practices righteousness as a habit of life belong to the devil. “let no man deceive you…He that commits sins is of the devil…whoever is been born of God does not commit sin…In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil: Whoever does not do righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother” (1 John 3:7-10) [Hixson thinks 1 John refers to fellowship and not salvation…ridiculous.]

For those who aren’t familiar with 1 John, the greek present tense can refer to continuous action. John is speaking about persistent, unrepentant sin. He is not referring to ENTIRE sanctification (as some holiness/Nazarene denominations/groups may believe where a believer is incapable of sinning). Christians await a day when their bodies will be redeemed (Romans 8; 1 Corinthians 15). There IS a growth in holiness through knowledge and experience. I think the quote John MacArthur brought up is a good statement: “Perfection is the standard; direction is the test”. We strive for perfection as believers; and the question is, is the believer growing, progressing, chasing after God, Truth, and practical (lived out) holiness (obedience to the will/Word of God).

Salvation is by Grace through Faith
Salvation is by grace through faith, regenerating a soul to do good works (Ephesians 2:8-10)

True Christians ARE changed!
“if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away…all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

All of this is included in the Conversion of one who believes in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who, alone, paid for sin (1 Cor. 15)

Hixson from his Books
J.B. Hixson states that: 
1.) it is not necessary to have good works to go to heaven,  
2.) works are not necessary to show that one is a christian; as salvation is purely by grace though faith.
3.) repentance is merely intellectual, “a change of mind” about being saved by Christ Alone v. a false system of works
4.) Those who believe works and repentance, “turning from sin”, are necessary to prove one is saved by grace through faith; believe a false, erroneous gospel
5.)Those who believe works and repentance are evidence of God’s work in a believer’s life, will spend the rest of their life doubting their salvation.
6.) Hixson misrepresent his opponents by stating that they believe in working/earning salvation when they state one must forsake sin and believe the gospel.

What’s at stake: 2 conflicting gospels; 1 true, 1 false.

Are “Christian” homosexuals, Christian? Of course not!
Practical nature of argument: There are homosexuals, pornography users, pedophiles, murderers, liars, etc. who can believe Jesus alone died for their sins, without turning from their sin (repenting); and they will go to heaven.

Despite numerous passages in Scripture that they won’t (they will be in Hell), J.B. and Free Grace proponents, believe that they will be saved, but lose “rewards” at a special judgment for believers called the Bema Seat.

1.) J.B. Hixson preaches a false gospel and is a heretic, falling under the curse of God in Galatians 1:6-9.
2.) Salvation by grace through faith inherently includes a forsaking of sin, and a production of good works.

Is Hixson right about Repentance? No!
Hixson insists repentance is only a change of mind about Christ, not a turning from sin. An argument can be made against Hixson on this level, but does repentance mean only that?
Not according to The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTTE). Jewish literature of the 1st century, Philo (c. 65x) and Josephus (c. 75x) used the Greek terms mainly for repentance of sin; it is not merely intellectual, but is the “conversion of the whole person” (NIDNTTE, 2014 Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI; Moises Silva, Rev. Ed.; metanoeo pgs. 290-293).

Also, William D. Mounce, a greek expert,  in his  Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (MCED) states that the noun and verb used for “repent” in the Greek mean “a radical, moral turn of the whole person from sin and to God“; and in answer to the critique that metanoeo is merely a compound greek word of the words “with/after” and “think”, combined to mean “Think differently”, Mounce refutes that a word’s meaning is determined by its etymology (how a word is formed); the meaning comes especially from the context of Scripture: “metanoeo does not simply mean ‘to perceive afterwards‘” (MCED, 2006, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI; General Editor William D. Monce, Repent, metanoeo, pgs. 580-581).

Arguing on the basis of “Belief”
On another level, even if one simply takes “change one’s mind” to be the meaning of repentance, the argument still falls apart. When one “changes his mind” he is changing his mind from sinful thoughts about God and himself; he is turning form sinful beliefs, from holding on to dead works. Hixson himself has written several books on all of the sinful beliefs people need to have corrected in order to believe the “Pure Gospel”.  Is unbelief a sin? Of course it is; when one goes from unbelief, improper belief, or whatever one wants to call it, it is sin. Scripture speaks of an “evil heart of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12).

Not a new argument
Not a new argument: The debate goes back to at least the 50’s, and exploded with John Macarthur’s 1988 book, The Gospel According to Jesus (a book everyone should read/be aware of in our day; also there is a sermon series on the topic at Gty.org). This debate is known as the Lordship debate/ controversy. Do Christians actually have to live like Christians to be saved/as proof that they are saved? Macarthur answers “Yes”! The Bible answers “Yes”!

Also, It appears J.B. Hixson is connected to Dr. Robert Wilkin of the Grace Evangelical Society (he has a website), though J.B. does not hold to Wilkin’s crossless gospel theory. Wilkin debated the Lordship issue with Dr. James White in 2005 (I suggest everyone watch/listen to it at www.aomin.org/aoblog/the-dividing-line/regeneration-and-perseverance-white-vs-wilkin/) White was disappointed Wilkin misrepresented him.

Misrepresenting his opponents
Misrepresentations: Lordship/repentance believers are not all calvinists, though many are (the writer considers himself a calvinist [who are also misrepresented]). Lordship believers do not believe it is impossible for a believer to sin, do not believe all of the learning and surrendering of a lifetime are done in one moment prior to/ at salvation (though the willingness to surrender is present[there is surrender]). Nor do we believe our beliefs cause us to doubt our salvation, or that good works [Hixson thinks when we refer to repentance we are referring to earning salvation by works] earn salvation/ keep one secure (saved). Salvation is a package of BOTH justification [God declaring us “righteous” based on our faith in Christ] AND regeneration [God changing the nature/heart of believers who desire to perform works pleasing to God] (see below).

Author of 1 John is author of the “Gospel of John”
The Book of the Bible that obliterates the Free Grace Theology is the book of 1 John.  The author of 1 John also wrote the “Gospel of John”. Free Grace proponents argue that the word “repentance” is absent from the gospel of John, though I would argue that the concept isn’t. But Apostle John who wrote the gospel of John also wrote 1 John, and Revelation too! Once again, 1 John destroys Hixson’s theology.

Scripture is clear and explicit that habitual sinners don’t go to heaven
Scripture gives several obvious lists that should be read as a warning to all who are living in sin : 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “…Be not deceived. Neither fornicators [sex outside marraige], nor idolaters…nor homosexuals…will inherit the kingdom of God…” See also Ephesians 5:3-10;  Galatians 5:19-21; Matthew 5:27-30.

True Grace
Biblical grace teaches people to deny ungodliness; and believers are regenerated (empowered to live a practical holy life) according to mercy (Titus 2:11-15 and 3:3-6)

Hixson’s Excuses and faulty interpretation
Hixson seems to have excuses for just about any passage that confronts his teachings…a passage that contradicts his, he says, is about rewards, fellowship, etc.

Impossible to repent without the Holy Spirit
It seems Hixson and the Free Grace proponents have rightly found that being able to live holy lives is impossible without the regeneration and work of the Holy Spirit, so they had to come up with a theology that fit their experiences of having little, to no, control over their fleshly lusts.

“Free Grace” people must repent
I encourage anyone in the Free Grace Movement to repent of their sin and trust alone in the whole Christ, Lord [God, master, supreme ruler] and Savior,….He will receive you. And those who entertain these heretics to mark them as liars and twisters of Holy Scripture and separate.