Lifeway Tract on Salvation--right or wrong?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Tom Butler, Apr 19, 2006.

  1. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    On several occasions I have run across a tract published by Lifeway Christian Resources (an arm of the SBC) on the plan of salvation. For the most part it is pretty solid, dealing with sin, repentance and faith.

    When it gets to the "clincher," it says the following: "To have the forgiveness of God and the assurance of heaven, and Jesus as your own personal savior and Lord, pray sincerely the following prayer as you repent of your sins and trust Jesus and Him only to save you."

    The follows what the tract describes as the Salvation Prayer: "Dear Jesus, I believe that you died on the cross for my sins and that You arose from the grave. I now ask you to forgive me of my sins and save my soul. Amen."

    Here's what jumped out at me: "..pray the following prayer as you repent of your sins and trust Jesus and Him only to save you.'

    To me, it seems that the tract has added something to repentance and faith--praying. I know, I know, call on the name of the Lord and you'll be saved.

    Am I nit-picking here? As I said, everything else in the tract is on the mark.
     
  2. Andy T.

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    They should have added clarification - pray along these lines - or pray something similar to this. Or they could briefly say that prayer is our human way of talking or petitioning to God, so to ask him for forgiveness, you can pray a prayer like this...
     
  3. donnA

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    It sounds like every other tract on salvation I have ever read, no matter who published it.
     
  4. Baptist Missionary

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    Yep, you are nit-picking . . . of course we all do that at some time or another. [​IMG]

    Every blessing,

    LD
     
  5. Clean1

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    Its not the prayer that saves you... its Jesus Christ. Yes, you need to confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and ask Him to forgive your sins
    and save you from hell. But the prayer just kinda guides you in what you need to say. If God wanted you to say a specific prayer He would have had it written down.
     
  6. Pipedude

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    It's hard to just "believe." If you're going to accept/receive Christ actively, it's certain that you're going to do something to express that decision.

    (Some forum members will believe that we are passive in conversion, but most of us believe that we are active.)

    Imagine witnessing to somebody in his home:

    "Elmo, is God dealing with your heart? Are you ready to repent and receive Christ?"

    "Yeah, preacher, I really am."

    "That's great Elmo. Go ahead and believe. There, all done? Wonderful; I'll see you in church Sunday."

    Yes, salvation comes only through faith/belief. But the act of believing almost HAS to take the shape of some outward act such as praying.
     
  7. StraightAndNarrow

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    I have a problem with the tract from the opposite perspective. It just makes salvation seem to be too simple. Say a quick prayer and you're saved. No real repentence of your own personal sins. No life-changing born again experience. Say the prayer and then forget about it for the next 40 years? No decipleship? A true conversion experience doesn't consist of reading a pamplet and saying "the sinner's prayer."
     
  8. John of Japan

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    The practice of encouraging a prayer to show one's faith in Christ is very old, and has been practiced by many different Christian groups down through the ages. I can document it being done by Presbyterian (and therefore Calvinist) missionaries on my own island of Hokkaido early in the 20th century.

    In my mind, there is no problem with the tract being discussed because it says to pray as you repent from your sins and trust Christ, not pray in order to repent and believe. As soon as a Gospel presentation says you must pray in order to be saved it is wrong, of course.

    John R. Rice had a unique method of "drawing the net." After witnessing to the prospect, he would pray with them and then with his head still bowed say, "If you will now trust Christ as your Savior, why don't you take my hand as a sign of that." Then when they did, he would ask them to say a prayer of thanks to the Lord for saving them. [​IMG]
     
  9. John of Japan

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    Pipedude, I think it is more accurate theologically to say that the believing is expressed by an act rather than "takes the shape" of an outward act.
     
  10. Tom Butler

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    Thanks, everybody for your responses. I guess I'm basing my OP somewhat on my own conversion experience, now almost 60 years ago.

    When I walked to the front my pastor asked me a series of questions. Such as, do you understand what it means to be lost? Do you understand that the penalty of sin is Hell? Are you sorry for your sins and desire to turn from them? Do you trust Christ for your salvation? To all, I answered yes.

    That was it. No prayer. Have any of you following this thread been saved without praying a "Sinner's Prayer?" More importantly, can you?
    Obviously, I say yes, but what say you?

    Pipedude, you said that the act of believing almost has to take the shape of an outward act,such as praying. I hold that salvation is followed by an outward act--but that act is not walking an aisle or praying a prayer. It is public water baptism. Baptism is our outward confession of our faith.
     
  11. Tom Butler

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    Straight and Narrow, you expressed concern that the tract makes salvation seem too simple, just a quick prayer and your'saved. No call to discipleship.

    In the tract's defense, it does call for repentance and faith. And it urges new Christians to read the Bible, pray, fellowship with other Christians--and it says God's place for doing those things is church and Sunday School.

    Tracts by definition cannot be deep and detailed.

    My concern is not so much the praying--it's the potential abuse and corruption of the prayer into some magic words. If we are basing our hope of Heaven on "I said the prayer," instead of placing our trust in Christ, maybe we ought to take a second look.

    I have no doubt that soul-winners who use the prayer are entirely sincere and would never intentionally lead anyone astray. But I have personally seen it mis-used more than once, and frankly, it made my blood run cold.

    John of Japan, if I understand your post correctly your Grandfather Rice did not have someone pray a prayer for salvation, but a prayer of gratitude for salvation. Excellent.
     
  12. John of Japan

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    You've got it right, Tom.

    For my own personal evangelism, sometimes I do it one way and sometimes another. I don't always feel the necessity to have the person pray, but sometimes I do. Usually when I do, I have them pray their own prayer in their own words, rather than giving them a prayer to pray--but if they don't know how to pray (especially a Japanese), sometimes I'll help them out. I think we need to listen to the Holy Spirit's leading here.

    But I always try to talk to them afterwards to make sure they were not just saying the words to please me, God or someone else. I think this is where many soul-winners mess up. They don't try to search the person's heart, to make sure their faith is genuine. [​IMG]
     
  13. Tom Butler

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    And, John, I think we should be careful in declaring them saved just because they prayed a prayer. You are right to search their hearts. I am not sure we can genuinely know their hearts until we can see some evidence. At the very least, we ought not to be giving their testimony for them. They need to give their own testimony.
     
  14. Plain Old Bill

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    We can't know their hearts at anytime. We just trust our best judgement based upon what we see. It is between God and the person whether they are saved or not.

    If a person believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior amd calls on Him as Lord and Savior he is saved,then he is able to repent."The sinners Prayer"(I've seen and heard at least a hundered different official versions)is for the benefit of the new believer.The prayer fixes the new converts salvation in thier mind and heart.Hopefully whoever made the introduction will know enough to take the new convert through enough scripture so he/she will understand what took place.Also hopefully whoever made the introduction will also follow through and see to it the new convert is properly discipled.

    The tract does as much as a tract can do.It is up to the new convert to follow the instruction in the tract.

    I know we want everything to be complete and perfect but that is not real life.We can't practically issue 5 study versions of the Bible,Strongs & Youngs concordances,3 Bible dictionaries, and our favorite books on doctrine or theology, along with a couple of our favorite sets of commentaries.

    When we pass out tracts ,sometimes we put them in phone booths,public restrooms,tables,bus seats and all kinds of places.We just need to get the best tracts we can and pray the Holy Spirit does the rest.That Lifeway tract seems to do the job.
     
  15. John of Japan

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    I agree, Tom. We should ask searching questions after we deal with them about salvation, without leading them to say what we want to hear by saying, "Hey, you said the prayer so you are saved."
     
  16. John of Japan

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    I agree with this, Bill. You can only do so much with a tract. The Holy Spirit must do the rest.
     
  17. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Tom,

    How do you understand the verse that says those who call on the Lord shall be saved? How does one call on the Lord by answering a few head knowledge questions about sin and faith? What do you think is meant by calling on the Lord? BTW, I find nothing in the tract as you presented it which would not be consistent with Reformed Theology, as only the elect will call on the Lord.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  18. Plain Old Bill

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    How many people are Bible college or seminary graduates before they read a gospel tract?How many unsaved people are concerned about reformed theology?How many calvinist or arminians are there who are saved before they develop thier theology?How many unsaved people know about the elect and the non-elect"?
     
  19. pinoybaptist

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    sounds pretty much like what idolaters say. it's not the picture, but the one represented by the picture. pretty much like keeping a picture of your wife or husband to help you feel their presence a little more. ('cept of course, the picture of the wife or husband is the exact representation of the remembered one.).
     
  20. Tom Butler

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    Joseph Botwinick said:
    Joseph, I believe that this is praying. And if a lost man or woman cries out to the Lord for salvation, the Lord will not turn him or her away.

    We have other instances in Scripture where praying is not mentioned. Peter in Acts 2--Repent. Paul in Acts 17 on Mars Hill--repent. Paul and Silas to the Phillipian jailer--believe. Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch--believe.
    Paul to the Christians at Rome--confess Jesus as Lord, believe that He rose from the dead.

    My concern is that too much modern soul winning skips the repentance part, hits the faith part a glancing blow and heads straight for the prayer.
    It's not the use, its the mis-use.

    My OP question was basically, if one repents and trusts, does he have to pray, too?
     

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