Praying to receive Christ, evangelism questions

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by zrs6v4, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. zrs6v4

    zrs6v4
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    Hey I don't want to start an argument, but I want to start an honest study biblically about praying to receive Christ and I want to begin by explaining why..

    When I was 11 years old I remember going to Southern Baptist church on sundays and hearing the gospel. I heard and was explained and understood to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and beleived. So I prayed to receive Christ with all of my heart honestly and was Baptized. I beleived I was saved. After that my life to begin a downward fall, I never really cared for church, bible study, or reading the bible at all. I really never changed although I thought I was a Christian (and still am confused if I was) I became a hypocrite more and more with horrible language, and later drinking, sex, drugs, and all of that stuff. I never really new anything about God other than He cared and Jesus loved me. On the inside my whole life I knew I was wrong and was doing wrong but eventually got to a point where I loved to be in bad situations.

    Anyway 9 months ago after being absent from church for 6 years and literally for 2years not even praying I was asked by my grandma to go to church with her (frequently but always had excuses). at that time I just got my dream car and been through about 15 different cars by the way. So I went and for the first time the message felt like it singled me out in the crowd and like it was meant for me divinely. I felt that it was now or never that I give my life to Jesus becasue I had never really lived for Him. Now I wasnt told this by anyone but it was on my heart and I wanted to truly, so I made a decision that I was going to live for Him and not run anymore. My prayer, life, actions, language, interests and everything have been transformed and are continuing to change. I am free of all my addictions now for the first time. As I have said I am now 22 and have been like I am for 9 months and crave Jesus all the time. Everyone has noticed and asks questions and for once I have real answers. I began to love to study and learn the bible and can answer a rediculous amount of questions, in fact its my major in college now (after 3 previous to my change) and I never dreamed it would be. my last nine months seems like 10 years and is a new life.

    Now here is my questions and concerns for my topic..

    I never understood praying to receive Christ. For me it seems like Christ changed my heart that day in church and I couldnt help to pray like a maniac confessing and asking for help. I know everything starts with prayer and it is the key in Christian life.

    For me I am still unsure if I was a Christian at age 11 or 22 and honestly biblically it seems like when I was 22 I was born again, but I know the Lord has mercy and grace, loving us beyond our understanding. My whole family and the pastors I have spoken to all said I was saved at 11, but I study the bible a lot and I did not show any signs of a follower of Christ, but now naturally I do.

    The last reason I brought this up was because I dont want to mislead anyone and get my testimony straight and true. I dont just want to tell someone to pray earnestly to Christ and they'll be saved b/c it doesnt seem like enough according to the gospel, but I am confused. I want to tell them to give it all to Jesus as I did, but I also know that only Jesus can make that possible for someones heart to turn to Him. I have been trying to teach my friends about Jesus and the truth for a few months now and slowly they have started to open up and listen. I got them all, oddly enough, to come to a revival at my church with an evangelist. All 5 of them went forward... What He spoke was 100% right on with the gospel, but at his closing he did this-

    1- had everyone bow their heads
    2- asked based on his message who knew they were going to heaven for sure
    3- asked who didnt to raise their hands
    4- asked those who werent sure and wanted to be saved to say a prayer for Jesus to turn their heart and lead them to repentance and save them
    5- asked them to stand up, and to come forward in front of the church b/c if they couldnt do it then then they wouldnt be able to in the world. more than I ever have seen went forward daily.

    He preached for 4 nights in my church each time about 200-300 people and 150 total came forward and said they were saved throughout all 4 nights added up..

    I want so bad in my heart for those to be saved but something bothered me about it, because of what I had gone through in my life and what I knew biblically.

    I know this happened in the Acts of the apostles, but I just hope it wasnt an emotional fest for all of us... I know it is all in Gods hands and I have been praying for it all day everyday, but I just wanted to get some honest opinions and help because 5 of my friends and many others went up.

    I am not saying I dont beleive in praying to receive Christ isnt biblical because it is to ask Him into your life, but I think its much more personal and serious based on what I went through. I would never dream of saying this to one of those who went forward, but I personally would just like some opinions and explanations as to leading everyone to Christ in the same way..
     
  2. John of Japan

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    Prayer is not necessary for salvation. It is a work. But when the sinner decides to pray to the Lord he is revealing faith. So I sometimes ask a prospect if he wants to pray and ask for forgiveness from the Lord.

    For scriptural basis for this practice, we do have the publican's prayer in Luke 18:13, "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." Again, since Jesus is God, anyone asking Him for salvation such as the thief on the cross is praying (Luke 23).

    Greatly used soul winner John R. Rice (1896-1980) did not ask the sinner to pray for salvation. Rather, he himself would pray that the Lord would save the person, then without saying amen would say to the prospect, "If you are trusting Christ as Savior, why don't you just take my hand as a sign of that." If the sinner did so, Rice would then say, "Now why don't you pray to the Lord Jesus and thank Him for your salvation."
     
  3. canadyjd

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    zrs6v4

    Thank you for your testimony. Salvation always results in a transformed life. There are, of course, various levels of Chritian maturity, but to be "born again" means just that...you have a new life.

    I find it unfortunate that those who counseled you advised you were saved at 11, rather than 22. They based their conclusion on the prayer you prayed as a child, rather than your testimony of a transformed life as an adult. Scripture study will support the latter.

    That said, I would follow my heart, and I think you are doing that. You may want to give prayerful consideration to being truly baptized for the first time if Holy Spirit has convinced of that necessity.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  4. Beth

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    wonderful!

    I really don't have anything significant to add to this discussion but to praise the Lord for your wonderful testimony!!! God bless you richly in your new life in Him!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    Your sis in Christ,
    Beth
     
  5. zrs6v4

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    Yea thank you all for the great encouragment of truth. I feel the same way but I have people all around me and in my family that I want to help but I realize it is solely a work of God as it was for me. I have a hard time telling people to just beleive, or to just have faith because I have found in my life that it simply was a gift from God to truly choose to Love Him over everything.

    Anyway, thank you all again, and I would like to ask that if anyone can remember to pray for me, Zach, my friends, family, and neighbors I'd greatly appreciate it becasue I need it so very very much.
     
  6. zrs6v4

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    Yes that has been on my heart for some time now, but it has been so hard to follow my heart with those close to me giving much different advice, but as time has gone on it is more clear that baptism is something I need to do truly. I have been praying for that for some time now.
     
  7. zrs6v4

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    thank you for the explanation and the scriptures, that is helpful in backing up prayer for salvation scripturally. I like when evangelists change things up and make things more real, it seems like the sinners prayer has become something its not to me, which scares me. You said it in your first statement. Salvation has already begun before you confess it to the Lord. It begins in your heart then flows from the mouth, and if it never was a turning of your heart and your mouth spoke then it wasn't real.

    John I understand that the Spirit guides you as you witness and to seek God for speaking to others, but What would you say to a 25 year old if they came to you and said, " I want to be saved". I ask because I want to be honest with my friends, but not be to harsh. It seems as if I always have words when I am talking to them, but I always seem to tell them to give it all to Jesus, in whatever way I may put it at the time. It is all I seem to know what to say becasue as I said thats what happened to me and what Jesus teaches. Its almost as if you are choosing to love and marry Him. It also is ironic how much marriage resembles what Jesus teaches to become His child throughout the new testament and the old. I obviously always encourage them to pray honestly to God and I pray for them, but I never seem to be interested in asking them to pray to receive Christ.. I cant obviously get into great detail but those are general statements.. thanks again
     
  8. webdog

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    I think your counsel that he was saved at 22 rather than 11 is just as faulty. Fact is, if his faith was genuine at 11, he was a believer then, followed by a time away from God and a return to the Father, ala the prodical son at 22.

    My testimony is very similar, as numerous Christians I have come across. I don't doubt for a minute I was saved as a child, as the many years I was not walking with Him there the conviction to return never left.

    When we are first saved, while we are new creations, the Bible also tells us we are babes in Christ. The maturation process is different for everyone, just like it is physically with babies.

    I believe the prayer of salvation is actually the first step in sanctification, as what flows from the heart comes out of the mouth. The moment one beleives, one is regenerated. The prayer stems from this belief.
     
    #8 webdog, Sep 19, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2008
  9. Jon-Marc

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    It doesn't matter what age a person is, if they don't fully grasp and understand what they're doing, they're wasting their time with a prayer for salvation. Here is my experience with that.

    When I was 16 I met a Christian boy who was 15. I was shy and withdrawn and had no friends. I was so desperate for a friend that I was afraid he wouldn't want to be my friend if I said no--so I went to church with him.

    During the invitation after the service, the boy asked me, "Are you saved?" I had no idea what that meant and just said, "Hard telling" and chuckled. He said, "It's no laughing matter." After the service I was approached by some of the men who had me on my knees, and one of them said, "Repeat these words after me." I did just that although I had no idea what the words meant, because they meant nothing to me. I was too shy thanks to the abuse I suffered at home that broke my spirit and left me weak-willed and timid to say so and just went along with what they said.

    When I went home, my dad jokingly asked, "Well, did you get saved?" I replied, "Yes, but I don't know what from." We all laughed. However, being abused by my dad and not having a good home life and being desperately in need of a friend, I continued going to that church. I found there what I wasn't getting from my dad, love and acceptance. I got involved with the music ministry and found I had a talent for singing. I spent as much time there as possible to stay away from my abusive dad. Unfortunately, I was still unsaved but eventually thought I was saved once I learned what that meant.

    However, I could have gone all through my life without ever knowing that I was still lost in my sins. Saying the right words doesn't guarantee that a person will be saved. There has to be knowledge of the fact that "I am a sinner", I can't save myself", and I must call on Jesus in humbleness and repentance and sincerely ask His forgiveness. Just saying "Lord save me" won't work if you don't know from what you're being saved as I didn't even at 16.

    It was nearly a year later on May 18, 1963 when I was reading in the New Testament that I finally heard God's voice and called on Him (in sincerity and understanding this time) for forgiveness. Now I KNOW I'm saved and have eternal life through Jesus Christ my Lord.
     
  10. zrs6v4

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    So what makes faith genuine God or a prayer that I made? Would a prayer not be a work to achieve salvation? salvation is received not achieved.. I thought praying to receive christ was how to be saved, so I assumed I was as Im sure millions do, but my testimony says it all unless I go against Gods word...

    I honestly also cannot tell someone if they are saved or not, b/c I cant even tell myself much less someone else.. Also how would I know what was on my heart, those who are in darkness think they know their heart, truthfully in my case only God knew my heart.

    I dont know but it doesnt make sense to become a Christian and to keep running from God no matter how old I was. I also had hypocrite guidence in my family, who only cared if I was saved, and me to. After being saved I thought that was it and it was all good. So I also struggled with how do I truly know if I beleive or not, heck everyone beleives and are saved according to what they say, I also dont think beleif comes until God gives it truly. beleiving is also a work to do to be saved in a sense. It seems after God gives grace He gives a true beleif to Him, but I am not sure on that. I thought I beleived my whole life, but I guess if I truly did, why did I not live like God was with me at all times and conitue practicing lawlessness. anyway Keep it flowing, this is interesting.
     
  11. stilllearning

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    Hi John of Japan

    You said..........
    Now I know, that this isn’t all that you said, but I was thinking about.........
    --------------------------------------------------
    Wouldn’t you consider this a prayer?
     
  12. John of Japan

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    Well said. :thumbs:
    When someone asks how to be saved there are at least a couple of ways you can reply. The important thing is that you teach them the Gospel, that Christ died for our sins and rose again. Then it is important that you invite them to trust Christ as Savior in some way. Remember that the very last command in the Bible is that those who are believers should invite unbelievers to "Come" (Rev. 22:17). I think that is very important, since the Lord made it the last command.

    First of all, you can just give your testimony of salvation and then just say, "Do you want to do the same thing, to trust Jesus Chirst as Savior?" Then you can lead them to do so, whether you have them say a prayer or not. (See my above account of how John R. Rice used to do it.)

    Another thing you can do is take them through a number of Scriptures to allow the Holy Spirit to work through the Word of God. You can just do this with your favorite verses about salvation, or you can do it with a set plan that gives the Gospel plainly, like the "Romans' Road" (3:10, 3:23, 5:12, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10, 13).

    Using Scripture in this way opens the way for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts to convict of sin (John 16:7-8) and lead them to salvation. It also gives you a chance to see what they understand and don't understand about the Gospel. Whatever you do, don't just say your piece without seeing if they understand the Gospel and if the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts.
     
  13. John of Japan

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    The phrase "call on the Lord" is an old Hebrew idiom from the OT meaning to believe in the Lord (Gen. 4:26). That doesn't mean it isn't a prayer. There are many times it is used in the OT to indicate prayer.

    But you have to take it in context. Look at v. 14: "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Believing comes before calling (praying), and it is believing from the heart that saves, not saying a prayer.

    Think of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, or the jailor in Acts 16. In neither case did the soul winner tell the person he had to say a prayer. In both cases the soul winner baptized the person without having them say a prayer.

    I hope this helps!
     
  14. zrs6v4

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    This is really how the Holy Spirit leads anyway from what I have begun to learn and see more and more as God reveals these things to me. I always give my testimony and try to stress that none of the works I did added up to salvation but was a result of God's goodness.. I absolutely love to read scriptures to people and explain them for a true meaning which equals up to the entire message in the bible from Gen-Rev. and not pulling things out of context. I truly appreciate your help and advice, and for the past few days I have thought so much on "grace" which is amazing if you truly think of what it is despite of what you've been told from others.. It cannot be put into words really..

    I I agree how you stressed "inviting them, the guests to the feast, any and everyone." thats really all you can do is to just tell them, just as you want to..
     
  15. zrs6v4

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    So John, it seems many people want to have the person their witnessing to to be saved right away, we all do of course. I think sometimes it takes time and God's time isnt always immediate although it is possible. I just feel that those who talk to someone for 30 minutes and try to have everyone they speak to say a prayer telling them they are saved is not the right approach and heartless. I think we need to heed to the guidence and trust of the Holy Spirit in each time of witness as the first days of the beginning of salvation. This is why I began this thread in the first place because my mom, my close friends, and other family members are all under the wrong impression it seems. I think patience is so hard sometimes and to put aside our feelings for whats right. I also think on a personal note that we cannot slack on our personal time with Jesus.

    Just a story to explain further on why I chose to make this thread, I am going to get personal and be straight forward, so bear with me.

    In my personal family where my mom and dad are split up and remarried, I live with my dad. Now my dad, grandma, grandpa, step-mom, and little brother all go to the same southern baptist church. The house I live in is broken, b/c my step-mom and dad are not living as one. They both profess to be Christians. My dad, at age 11, said a prayer got saved and baptized in a baptist church. he as I did continued to decline and gain some bad addictions. My dad joined the church 8 months ago with me and for 2 months was doing great. all of a sudden he goes 1 time a month, fights with my stepmom, gives me faulty advice, nags at my brother, hates his employees, does crack cocaine a little, and gambles money away from the family we dont have. Now He swears up and down that if you say a prayer you'll be saved, and would lead anyone to do so including my little 11 year old brother who sees my life and my dads, and isnt stupid. Now my dad will go to church and ball his eyes out and sing at the top of his lungs, but its like God stays at church. He seems to be greatly confused, no bible knowledge after 35 years and is not living a Christian life. Now I love my dad, and dont confuse my point I am making, but I just want to show that it doesnt make sense to be a Christian and live a life of destruction. I speak to him all the time and we have a good relationship, but I just dont know what to say anymore and all I can pray to God for is mercy on him so he may know God. I have never told him he wasnt a Christian and really dont know if I can say that either, but he is convinced he is going to heaven and is born again. This is probably one of my most complicated battles that makes things hard to understand. Now I know God can change my dad any day by grace, but as of now I can say there are no signs. It has taught me a lot and made me think, God has made good of it. I understand his situation compeltely, because it was me a year ago. any thoughts or advice? dont think I am down on this or sorry by the way, it does bother me of course and I'd sure like to see a change but its not in my hands.

    my point is that there is much more to a Christian life and its not just an addition. it is grace that sets you free.. :godisgood:
     
  16. tinytim

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    I believe that what we call the 'sinners prayer' is actually the first prayer of a baby Christian..

    The belief is what saved the person...
    Unless a person believes they will not pray...
    So the prayer is not part of salvation... but the first action of a born again child.

    sorta like a newborns cry when the dr. slaps their bottom! What a beautiful sound~!
     
  17. zrs6v4

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    Yes this is much more spiritual than that. A beleif to convince yourself to say a prayer to heal or receive a gift is not an answer and in essence thats what I did for awhile. And for no reason out of nowhere I had a divine appt. that I didnt know about and God turned my heart. From that point on my life is changing. There are two kinds of beleifs 1- a beleif and 2- a true beleif or gift from God.
    The type of beleiving that takes place after grace is a true beleif, but I beleived my whole life if Jesus Christ... in your first line replace beleif with "grace" there is absolutely nothing we are capable of doing to make ourselves Holy before almighty God. Lokk of how great the destruction of the world was after a simple disobedient bite of fruit.... God is much more Holy than we know of right now, and trust me when i tell you that we absolutely cannot beleive on our own. Before God you have nothing. Imagine yourself before God, if He said why are you here before me? would you say becasue Master I beleived or God becasue you willed it to happen by your mercy? You cant fool God, just be honest with Him and you cant even do that even if you try.... thats a speck of God's glory... Does a newborn beleive when you say something? does a pot beleive the potter made it?
    beleiving truly is much greater than we can begin to comprehend...
     
  18. zrs6v4

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    with that being said grace is the beginning of beleiving and even that grows. here, we all have doubts, correct? so does this mean that every time you doubt you are unsaved until you beleive again. When God gives you a gift as beleiving He also keeps that gift for you and it can never be taken away by anyone and He personally makes sure. I see things much different now and more realistically than ever before. Before it was traditional. Any work you try to do to be saved is no different than trying to justify yourself by that work. I encourage anyone to beleive but know that only God can give salvation. Adjusting yourself to fit that is simply not the answer. there is no answer to Gods grace it is entirely undeserved. Billy Graham would have no more of a reason to receive God's grace than Hitler.
    or you or me. we are all equally sinners and God is seperatly Holy. therefore to be before God we must be set apart and perfect by the blood of Jesus which is a gift.
     
  19. zrs6v4

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    My friend Nick prayed the sinners prayer and 2 days later I said, Nick isnt Gods grace so good that we have done nothing to be saved? He goes what, so you mean Im not saved? I changed the subject because he immediatly doubted and grew a great fear and confusion which I felt was not the time to clear things up because he was not in a position to learn. I would never tell someone they arent saved, and even if they tell you they are, only God knows and from their heart their mouth speaks and they will tell you where they are in life after spending some time and just listning to what there priorities are in life. Obviously they could be saved still, God only knows. It is up to Him
     
  20. zrs6v4

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    I dont want to make this sound impossible to be saved, but for us it is impossible to do it on our own. I do beleive God longs for all of us, but I just dont understand some depths which is good.
    I dont want to confuse anyone, or for that matter myself, hah, but make sure we can all learn together what the truth is. I dont want to make someone who is following God stumble or anything becasue of this and I am learning for myself and biblically this seems correct.. I am open for help and discussion, but at this point what I am saying seems right to me and I can only imagine, confusing for an outside reader, sorry. I hope I didnt hurt anyone or say something that is not correct so please correct me if Im wrong so no-one gets mislead.. thanks-Zach
     

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