The Romans road and the Sinner's Prayer approach to evangelism

Discussion in 'Fundamental Baptist Forum' started by Truth Seeker, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. Truth Seeker

    Truth Seeker
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    The problems I have with the Romans Road is that it does not present a clear presentation of the gospel. Many times it leaves out repentance and the Lordship of Christ. The Romans Road is presented in a quick manner in order to lead the lost to "the sinner's prayer". Even if the person shows no interest, they are many times manipulated and pressured to repeat a prayer. The only scripture that comes close to supporting the sinner's prayer is Romans 10:13.

    Romans 10:13 "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

    Perhaps someone here can explain this verse in it's proper context. The "call" may refer to prayer and there is nothing wrong with prayer. But there is a difference between a lost person praying for THEMSELVES and expressing their repentance and faith than some "soul winner" making them REPEAT a prayer. We are not saying that praying is wrong if the person has truly repented and trusted in Christ at that moment. But let us not manipulate people into repeating a "sinner's prayer". This 1-2-3- repeat after me is found no where in the Bible. That's what we mean by the "sinner's prayer". So again I don't see Romans 10:13 supporting the "sinner's prayer".

    Another error with this method of "soul winning" is that right after they repeat that prayer they are presented with at least two scripture texts given them ASSURANCE of their salvation. The "soul winner" tells the person that they are now saved, a child of God. Next, the soul winner invites the person to visit his church and walk down the aisle during the altar call invitation to publicly confess Christ to the church. The soulwinner pressures the person to make a promise to God or shake the soul winner's hand agreeing that he will make this public confession at church. This is taken from Matthew 10:32.

    32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven."

    This is a misapplication of the text because in this very passage Jesus is speaking to His disciples about confessing not a lost sinner.

    Water baptism is how we publicly declare to the church that we are now a child of God. Not walking down an aisle during an altar call to publicly tell the church that they are saved. But many only go this far and never get baptized, and yet they were declared a child of God, making the soul winner and the pastor look bad. This method of evangelism is clearly taught in John R Rice's book "The Golden Path To Successful Personal Soul Winning". I know Rice believed in repentance but according to this book he also believed in using the Romans Road and the Sinner's Prayer. So was John R Rice also guilty of teaching easy prayerism (easy believism)?

    Can someone still be saved with this method? Yes, because we are never saved because of some method of evangelism we get saved by the grace of God. They get saved DESPITE of their method of soul winning. By the way, I also believe that the term "soul winning" has been hijacked by people who use this method of quick prayerism.
     
  2. JasonSelf

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    Truth Seeker, I am haven't been very active on this forum. As a matter of fact I was just popping in for a bit of research but then I came upon your post which presents a real hot-button item for me.

    First, let's dispense with a bit of due graciousness to those who have utilized the Sinners Prayer and the Roman's Road. God can use all manner of imperfect methods of presenting His gospel to save a person, including the ones that you and I will embark upon. I would admit, however that it would be a more effective gospel presentation if we actually present the gospel.

    Most of the materials (tracts or otherwise) I have found among fellow (at lest in my case) IFB's tend to be of the sinners prayer variety and many follow the Roman's road, as a result I don't give them out. This has forced me to begin doing what I should have been doing in the first place and sharing the gospel with somebody directly, with my own mouth...Law, Grace, Repentance, Faith. Way of the Master has some excellent resources for a more correct approach to evangelism.

    If you are interested in hearing some fantastic preaching on this subject (probably just cheer-leading what you already convicted of) check out Paul Washer on Sermon Audio, he comes down pretty hard Roman's road evangelism.
     
  3. Truth Seeker

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    I agree that God can still use an imperfect method of evangelism to save people. But I think that we should try to be as biblical in our methods in order to avoid false professions of faith. I know that even using a biblical method of evangelism can still result in false professions but we must be biblical in presenting the gospel. I'm also familiar with the Way of the Master and I like their approach to evangelism. Yes I agree that Paul Washer is critical of the manipulating salesmanship approach to evangelism.

    John R. Rice was one who believed in repentance as turning to God and turning from sin. But as I read his books I still think he was guilty of the salesmanship approach to evangelism. He also endorsed Jack Hyles.

    Take a look at this article by John R Rice:

    http://www.fbbc.com/messages/rice_soulwinning_how_to.htm

    I think David Cloud is right about the many problems in soul winning courses:

    http://www.wayoflife.org/index_files/19e752515df92fe3269d00bae671e4f6-1017.html
     
  4. Yeshua1

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    isn't ANY soul winning basically we are responsible to tells others the Gopel, while the Holy Spirit is the One that does the 'soul winning?"
     
  5. Truth Seeker

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    The Holy Spirit is the true soul winner but God uses His people as instruments for preaching the gospel. As soul winners we must do evangelism in a biblical way. It is the gospel that saves. The lost person must repent and believe the gospel and they shall be saved. But many of today's soul winning programs focus more on a prayer then on preaching the gospel itself.

    Is it wrong for a person to pray after hearing the gospel? No. Many times the prayer is an expression of their faith. They are expressing their joy of now being saved but again it's faith that saves them and not the prayer. But many soul winners use the "sinner's prayer" to lead someone to salvation. You see the order is wrong, and Jesus who is the great soul winner never used a prayer to save anyone. In fact, no where in the Bible is there an example of "the sinner's prayer". So if it's not in the Bible why use it in evangelism?
     
  6. JasonSelf

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    What then do you propose is in error about Truth Seekers Post? What would you propose would be a more effective course of action?....or is splitting hairs over terminology sufficient to lead men to Christ?
     
  7. Winman

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    This is simply not so. The parable of the publican and the Pharisee is a perfect example of the sinners prayer.

    Luk 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
    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.

    We are told that Jesus spoke this parable to those who trusted "in themselves" that they were righteous and despised others.

    Now, of these two men, which man was obedient to God and followed his commands? The Pharisee. The Pharisee boasted that he is not an extortioner, or unjust, an adulterer, or even as this publican was.

    Did the Pharisee believe in God? Yes. Then why was he lost? Because he trusted in his obedience to God, he trusted in his own works.

    Now compare the publican. Was he obedient to God? NO. He made no boast of being obedient to God as the Pharisee did, but freely confessed he was a sinner and pleaded for mercy.

    Did the publican promise to make Jesus the Lord and Master of his life and to quit sinning? NO. He simply cried out for mercy.

    Who went down to his house justified, that is, forgiven all his sins? The publican.

    Did the Pharisee who obeyed God as his Master go down to his house justified? NO.

    Think about that.

    There is absolutely an example of the sinner's prayer in the scriptures. And the publican did not have to promise to stop sinning and make Jesus the Lord of his life.
     
  8. Truth Seeker

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    I think the point that many people seem to miss, and I think it's really the point that is not the verbalization of calling upon the name of the Lord to be saved but the fact of one man leading another in prayer and declaring them saved.

    I personally believe that calling upon the Lord for salvation does not have to be verbal (Psalm 42:7 refers to deep calling - obviously a call which cannot be vocalised!). A person who can confess with their lips will ultimately do so, they cannot fail to when they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon salvation but it is not the verbalisation which saves, it is the repentant heart and grace through faith. If one must repeat a "sinner's prayer" to be saved, then what about the mute? How can they utter this prayer?


    I say again, it is not wording a prayer that is at issue here, nor ultimately is it an issue of verbal prayer. Rather it is the arrogance of "soul winners" to believe that they know when a soul can be saved, to the very minute of it and then *lead* that soul to Christ in prayer.

    Nowhere did I say that those who repent and believe do not cry out to God through prayer. What I'm against is the unbiblcal tradition of "leading" people in a prayer and then assuring them they are saved because they repeated a prayer.

    I believe that in Luke 18 the publican expressed his repentance and faith by praying. But did he had to pray to be saved? No. Was he lead to repeat some type of prayer? No. Again, I'm not against someone getting saved and then wanting to pray to God as an expression of his faith. What I mean by "sinner's prayer" is how it is use by many soul winners today. This idea of "drawing the net" or "closing the deal" by leading a lost soul to repeat a prayer is not biblical.

    Romans 10:13 says; For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

    Does this verse support the sinner's prayer? No. Here's why. Look at verse 14.

    Romans 10:14 "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?"

    Noticed that the Apostle Paul says that those who call on the name of the Lord are those who has "believed". In other words, these are believers who are calling out to the Lord. This is not "the sinner's prayer", but is a prayer for believers expressing their repentance and faith.
     
    #8 Truth Seeker, Sep 6, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2012
  9. Winman

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    I agree with you that the prayer does not save. Prayer is simply the evidence of the faith that was already there. If you did not believe Jesus is the Son of God who died for your sins and rose again, then of course you would not pray to him.

    The scriptures often use action words to describe what believing is. Jesus said "come" to me, the scriptures say, "look" to me, or "call" on me etc... These words are to help us understand what faith is, and to help us be assured that we have truly trusted Christ. When a person says, "I called on Jesus to save me" they are not saying they think saying a prayer saved them, they are telling you that they personally prayed and asked Jesus to save them.

    That is exactly how I was saved about 48 years ago, and I STILL believe in Jesus.

    Sure, you can pressure someone into saying a prayer they do not mean. I would never do that. You have to be careful and question the person to see if they really believe. If so, then you can invite them to pray and ask Jesus to save them. If they sincerely want to do it, then you have got yourself a real believer. If they hedge and hee haw around, you have yourself a non believer.

    We all doubt sometimes. It is a help to all believers when they can remember that moment they knelt down and sincerely cried out to Jesus in their heart to save them. This can be of great assurance.

    There is nothing wrong with the sinner's prayer if a person sincerely wants to pray. You do have to be careful and make sure they mean it.

    I had a young fellow I worked with years ago, and talked to him about the Lord for several months. I used to give him tracts. One day I said, "You know, you need to pray and ask Jesus to save you". He said, "I already did". I was surprised, I asked him "when?". He said, "the first time you gave me one of those tracts. I read it, and when I was finished I prayed and asked Jesus to save me. What do you think I am, stupid? I don't want to go to hell!"

    True story, and a funny testimony, but I knew he REALLY believed.
     
  10. Truth Seeker

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    I don't lead any person to repeat a prayer. The way that I see it presented is to always end in a prayer. Many people were saved in the Bible without ever praying. I would just give them the gospel if they repent and believe then that's fine I'm not going to lead him to some prayer. But if the person desires to pray then fine he can do that also but not necessary.

    Unfortunately, that's not how I see many soul winners do evangelism. For many soul winners it's when they "repeat that prayer" that they declare them saved. It's also how many of the gospel tracts end their salvation plan. To print that prayer at the end of a tract and tell the reader to repeat it, is unbiblical in my opinion. I would end a tract by saying now that you have repented and believed if you want to express your thanks to God in prayer go right ahead. Have them pray in their own words the best they know how but I would not print a prayer because that would encourage them to repeat it.
     
  11. Yeshua1

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    think that we are in agreement here in that its NOT the sinner accepting jesus by his self produced faith/response, its the truth that God is the One seeking/drawing/calling the sinner, and when God does it, regardless of the method, its real salvation!
     
  12. Winman

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    Well, you see different ways people believed. The publican absolutely cried out to God for forgiveness and was saved, so there is nothing wrong with that. When the Ethiopian eunuch wanted to be baptized, Philip didn't say, "OK, let's do this", he questioned him, saying, "if you believe with all your heart, you may". He prompted a confession from the eunuch. When the eunuch said he believed Jesus was the Son of God, then Philip agreed to baptize him.

    It is never a bad idea to see a response of true faith. Like I said, if the person desires to pray to Jesus, then you know you have a true believer.

    I heard the gospel when I was about 10 years old. The preacher preached about hell that day and I was terrified. When he asked if anybody wanted to come down and find out how they can be sure their sins would be forgiven and they would go to heaven, I almost RAN down to the front. I wanted to get this issue settled right then and there, I was afraid if I left that church I might die and go to hell. I was dead serious. They went through all the scriptures (I do believe it was the Romans Road) and asked me if I understood the scriptures and believed them. Then they asked me if I wanted to pray and ask Jesus to save me. I said YES, and I meant it. The preacher did help me to confess I was a sinner, and that I believed Jesus died for me, and I asked Jesus to come into my heart and forgive all my sins and save me. And you know, we are not supposed to base our assurance on experience, but I really believe I felt Jesus come into my heart. I have never been the same since, and even my family said I came home a changed person that day.

    Believing on Jesus is not simply believing facts. The scriptures show in Hebrews 6 that a man can be enlightened and taste of the Holy Spirit, and yet fall away in unbelief. To believe means to "trust" Jesus, that is to personally commit your soul to him, depending on him to save you. That is why it is never bad to lead a person in prayer to call on Jesus to save them.
     
  13. Tom Butler

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    I may be reading this wrong, so I'll rely on you to set me straight. When you say "lead a person in prayer," are you suggesting what they should pray, or suggesting the words they should say?

    If it is simply something like, "Do you want the Lord Jesus to save you? Then ask Him," then I'm fine with that. If on the other hand, when I hear someone tell a lost person, "pray something like this," I get nervous. It comes perilously close to "say these magic words."

    To repeat what I've said elsewhere, if we have to give him the right words to say in a prayer, then we have not properly prepared him with the gospel.

    I remember sitting down with my granddaughter, who was under conviction, and going through the Roman Road with her. When I asked her if she wanted Jesus to save her, she said yes. I said, "ask him." Frankly, I had to resist the urge to tell her what to pray, but I bit my tongue and shut up. This 9-year-old began to pray and pour out her heart to the Lord. Heh heh, she didn't need any help at all.
     
  14. Jerome

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    Do y'all find the following way to be unbiblical, arrogant, oh so improper, gospel deficient, gets me nervous, [insert epithet], etc.?

    "Oh, that the unconverted among you may be moved to pray. Before you leave this place, breathe an earnest prayer to God, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, I need to be saved. Save me. I call upon thy name." Join with me in prayer at this moment, I entreat you. Join with me while I put words into your mouths, and speak them on your behalf—"Lord, I am guilty. I deserve thy wrath. Lord I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to will and to do of thy good pleasure. ♫Thou alone hast power, I know, ♫To save a wretch like me; ♫To whom, or whither should I go ♫If I should turn from thee?♫ But I now do from my very soul call upon thy name. Trembling, yet believing, I cast myself wholly upon thee, O Lord. I trust the blood and righteousness of thy dear Son; I trust thy mercy, and thy love, and thy power, as they are revealed in him. I dare to lay hold upon this word of thine, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Lord, save me tonight, for Jesus' sake. Amen." —Charles Spurgeon, "A Free Grace Promise" (1888)
     
  15. Revmitchell

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    Then don't do it.
     
  16. Winman

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    I don't buy this argument. I was between 10 and 11 years old when I was led in prayer to ask Jesus into my heart, and I didn't think I was saying magic words. I knew I was praying directly to Jesus and asking him to forgive my sins, and come into my heart.

    I really don't see much difference in that pastor leading me in prayer and you telling your daughter to ask Jesus to save her. When they asked me if I wanted to pray to Jesus to save me, I said yes, and I meant it with all my heart.

    Now, if you see the person hee haw and sputter around, then it is obvious that person doesn't believe. I mean, if you believe, you are going to ask Jesus to save you.

    Believing is not simply believing a set of facts. It is a very personal commitment of your very soul to Jesus. It is the most serious thing you will ever do in all your life. If a person has sincerely made that choice, it is not wrong to help them along a little. Some folks are nervous, some folks do not know what to say and appreciate the help. They want to be saved by Jesus and that is what matters.

    To tell you the truth, I believe every person is already saved before they say that prayer, because if they did not believe in Jesus they would not pray to him. I really think the prayer is for the benefit of the new believer. They have a moment in time they can look upon and remember they asked Jesus to save them. They know if they meant it or not. Truth is, if they are worried about it, then they meant it. Then they can claim the promises of the scriptures for assurance like Rom 10:14 that says, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    See, if I doubt (and we all doubt once in awhile) I can remember that time I asked Jesus to save me and come into my heart. I can remember Romans 10:14 and that it says whosoever calls on Jesus will be saved. And I can rest assured that I am saved.

    It is kinda like this. Let's say you went to a convention and this super rich billionaire stood up on stage and promised to give one million dollars to anybody that asked him. Then he asks, "How many of you believe me?". You raise your hand. Will that get you the million dollars? NO. Believing he was telling the truth will not get you the million dollars. You have to call on him and ask, and then you get the million dollars.

    This is what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well.

    Jhn 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

    Luk 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

    I don't think there is anything wrong with asking a person if they want to pray and ask Jesus to save them, and then leading them along in prayer. Jesus told us how to pray the Lord's prayer didn't he?
     
    #16 Winman, Sep 8, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2012
  17. Tom Butler

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    My concern has always been the misuse, not the use, of the Sinner's Prayer. I have no doubt that your prayer out of a repentant heart was heard. But I did wonder when I heard a young woman tell me her sole hope of heaven was "well, I said the prayer." She is not active in church today.

    And you know, you may be onto something when you say one is saved before they say that prayer. If that's the case, then it does raise the question about the need for the prayer at point. Would it not suffice to simply say, "I repent of my sins and trust Christ for my salvation?" Would that not be following Romans 10:9, confessing Christ as Lord with one's mouth? Oops, there I am, trying to put words in someone's mouth.

    In any event, God is not hemmed in by what may be an inadequate outward expression of repentance and faith. He knows our hearts, whether we're praying to Him or confessing Him to others.
     
  18. Winman

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    I don't understand what the big objection to folks praying and asking Jesus to save them is. The prayer is simply evidence of the faith that was already there, but the prayer gives the believer assurance. Many thousands of Christians can tell you exactly when they prayed and asked Jesus to save them.

    Again, believing is not simply believing a set of facts about Jesus, it is entering into a personal relationship with him. You are going to pray to Jesus.

    So, I don't get this big objection to praying to Jesus for salvation. I would NEVER stop a person from praying to Jesus to save them.
     
  19. Revmitchell

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    People who have a true and sincere heart for God have that, not because of the use or misuse of prayer, but because God opened up the heart and they actually wanted God. There have been people who have served God in tremendous way for a life time after the weakest of gospel presentations. And there have been people who have rejected God after the best of gospel repsentations. All the hoopla over the sinners prayer is rather surprising coming from reformed folks. After all those who have a heart for God are predestined and forced to believe anyway. A rather inconsistent position.
     
  20. Bronconagurski

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    Very good post. The Pharisee never repented of his sin as he didn't see himself as a sinner. We are told to repent and believe the gospel. What is the gospel? Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again or our justification. Repentence is merely admitting we are a sinner and trusting that Christ was the propitiation for our sins. When the publican asked God to have mercy, he was basically asking God to provide him a propitiation, like when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled blood on the mercy seat.
     

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