Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Sinner's Prayer

Rom 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Much is being said these days, pro and con, about "the sinner's prayer."

There are some who say that one must merely believe the gospel and that will suffice for salvation. Some have even said that to insist a penitent must voice a prayer to the Lord in addition to that belief is tantamount to a "works" salvation. They also think that the use of a sinner's prayer has damaged Christianity greatly, that it tends to easy believeism. That too many are dependent on a prayer they parroted rather than a transforming heart belief.

There is no doubt that many are resting in such things as confirmation, baptism, church attendance, righteous living or any number of works for their security as a Christian, including a prayer they said.

But these are the clear words of the Apostle which demand both a heart believe and a heart's call upon the Lord for salvation.

Verse 9 states that both oral confession and heart belief are necessary for salvation.

Some choose to be guided by their observations of the lives of many who have made false professions without true belief as a reason to reject the use of a sinner's prayer. But we must trust and obey the clear teaching of the Scriptures rather than our experience.

Jesus gave an example of how one is saved in Luke 18 when He taught:
Luke 18:10  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Here, a sinful tax collector felt his wickedness and condemnation before a holy God and pleaded that God would be merciful to him, a sinner. As a result, this man went home justified. If ever there was a sinner's prayer for salvation, this is one!

In fact, we can pinpoint a time in history when belief and praying for salvation began to be required for justification. Adam was still living, the second generation had given birth to the third and then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.

Gen 4:26  And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

The psalmist understood that to take the cup of salvation, he needed to call also upon the name of the Lord.

Psa 116:13  I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. 

The thief on the cross next to Jesus came to belief in Christ at the last moment. We hear his cry to the Savior, "Lord, remember me when thou comest in to thy kingdom." Subsequent to that request was the Lord's reply, "Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise."

I am concerned about those who claim to have a real heartfelt belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, but have refused to confess with their mouth by calling on the name of the Lord. Have they skipped and important component to their justification?

Also, I have to question the conversions of those whom they have led to faith in Christ. If they discourage a prayer to call on the Lord's name, but stress only belief, is that person saved?

I know that I believed a long time before I called on the Lord for salvation. Was I saved in the interim? I thought so. But it wasn't until I expressed my belief in the Lord with a prayer that I found complete assurance. That is not only my experience, but that's what the Bible clearly shows.

Have you believed in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and rose again? If so, would you confess to Him your sinful condition, ask Him to wash your sins away with His blood, enter into your life and save your soul?

1 comment:

dlmcouch56 said...

Thanks Pastor. I believe that NOT to call on the name of the Lord after saying the sinner's prayer..would be like stepping in the shower, but not turning on the water; like brushing your teeth with nothing on the brush and expecting your teeth to be clean and your breathe fresh. You can't do something half way and expect the full reward. Great blog. In Christ, who is also in me, Diana M.