About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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The Sinners Prayer

Iíve been thinking about the sinners prayer lately. I am searching my brain to try to think where in Scripture I can find it. Jesus taught us what we call The Lordís Prayer, but that isnít the sinners prayer. Did Philip ask the Samaritans in Acts 8 to repeat the sinners prayer after him? There is no written statement saying he did. They merely heard the Word and "believed Philip" (Acts 8:12) and "accepted it" (Acts 8:14). Did Paul in Acts 9 repeat a sinners prayer? There is no record of it, unless you count "O Lord, who are you" (Acts 9:5) as the sinners prayer. How about the house of Cornelius in Acts 10, or the Ephesians in Acts 19; did any of theses people repeat this prayer. There is no mention of this either.

Did Paul teach a sinners prayer that would bring Salvation to a person. Unless my memory fails me, which could be possible, I canít recollect anyone in the New Testament saying or repeating the sinners prayer.

I am not saying that the sinners prayer should not be said, or hasnĎt been effective. I would like to put it in its proper perspective in light of what the Bible says. The sinners prayer in itself does not save a person. The sinners prayer may help a person get saved, or it may be a step in someoneís path to salvation, but it alone does not constitute salvation.

Peter, in his famous sermon in Acts 2:38 said it pretty clearly. He said, " Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". Peter has it right. We are not saved by our words alone. We are saved by doing something, and that is repenting, believing in Godís provision of the cross, and receiving His Holy Spirit. The emphasis is on what we do, and not on what we say. A matter of fact, Peter did not even suggest that these people pray. He simply told them to repent and be baptized and as a result they would receive the Spirit of God, calumniating in salvation. This may come as a surprise but one can get saved without saying any prayer let alone the sinners prayer, although it is likely the person being saved will talk to the Lord in one fashion or another.

My point is that just because someone prays a prayer, and especially repeats a prayer, does not mean they got saved. We as Evangelicals criticize Anglicans for their practice of infant baptism, and for good reason. We say that infant baptism does not save the baby who grow up thinking he is saved because of this baptism. They have a false since of their salvation. In like fashion sometimes we give people a false since of their salvation because we tell them that they are Christian because they repeated a prayer. Being born again is real and dramatic and everyone involved will know it. We donít have to tell or convince someone they got saved. They will surely know.


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