How often do we hear – say the sinner’s prayer and be saved? I remember sitting in the church pew whispering the prayer at the invitation just in case God didn’t hear me the last seventeen times. I was terrified of not going to heaven; not realizing it is mostly about a state of soul.
I recited it over and over because I had the head-knowledge that Christ died for my sins and through Him I could be forgiven. I recognized my need and knew I needed deliverance and of course I didn’t want to go to hell (not realizing the churches understanding was bound in lies), who does? However, I remained in charge of my life (often the part of the gospel quickly overlooked as churches focus on the number of people walking down the aisle). Jesus wasn’t Lord of my life, I was. I split Christ in two; I wanted Him as my Savior but His Lordship was on the back burner – and according to most churches that was okay, but it wasn’t and deep down I knew something was off, just not exactly what. I figured I just needed to say the prayer with more passion.
With Christ it is all or nothing. He is Lord and Savior. My plea was in vain because what I was looking for was a quick fix to my guilt, fear and terror of “hell” instill in by the church. Nothing changed in my life because I didn’t want to let go because I didn’t take the time to seek Him so I could know Him so I could trust Him to be my Lord. When it comes to salvation many churches overlook the significance and meaning of Christ as our Lord, it is all about a prayer and Lordship is an option. And for many who profess Christ is Lord, He isn’t. Our actions tell the truth; who we listen to, who we trust, who is the source of our truth, really. Words are useless without action backing them up. James 2:20
I wanted to believe in the words of pastors telling me that if I just said a prayer all was okay, but the restless in my spirit remained. Despite how I felt, for years I continued to try to trust in their words that left me barren, empty and spiritually deprived because without Christ as Lord we’ve got nothing.
The sinner’s prayer isn’t a magic prayer that takes us on a carpet ride into His kingdom; it is only an acknowledgement that our way isn’t the way to go. Surrendering our lives, believing in Him, Him being our Lord and Savior, and Him becoming the love of our lives is a much longer process. It entails knowing, trusting and living out what we know. We gain knowledge, trust and faith by abiding in His Word and cultivating a relationship with Him. If we aren’t abiding in His truth we can’t personally know and trust Him as He calls us to. Believe is a loaded word. If we truly believe Christ is our Lord then what would our actions be?
Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.”
Telling people they are saved if they say a prayer presents a false security and denounces Christ’s Lordship, besides how do we know if they are saved or not? We don’t save others; we don’t save ourselves, only God saves thus eventually he will “save” all. It was never a question in the magnitude of his love. It puts us in the wrong position in their lives, a position that only God should hold. John 1:12-13 We have to be very careful not to be the surety or guarantee of someone’s salvation by telling them they are saved – only Christ can be their surety of new life.
Proverbs 17:18 “A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, And becomes surety for his friend.”
Proverbs 6:1-3 “son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, 2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. 3 So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend.”
Hebrews 7:22 “by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant”
A ticket to heaven and a prayer that is the be-all-end-all is a dishonor to God and to what Christ has done for us. He came to give us new life, to be our Lord and our Husband, for us to draw near to Him and abide with Him now not just when we die. Going to heaven is only the continuance of what we have done on earth – abiding with our Lord.
We are to point people to the One who saves, not give them a false pre-mature security by telling them they are saved. It only cripples their spiritual growth and we play God’s role as being their guarantee of new life.
1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.”