The "Sinner's Prayer"

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by bmerr, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. bmerr

    bmerr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    0
    To All,

    bmerr here. Has anyone else ever wondered where the "sinner's prayer" came from? It's not found in the Bible. There's no command to pray to be saved. There's no example of anyone praying for salvation in Acts, the book of conversions.

    Despite the lack of any Biblical support for such a thing, it is widely taught at youth rallies, "revivals", and denominational "crusades" (a la Billy Graham).

    So where, oh where did it come from, if not the Bible? Who's idea was it? And how did it get so popular in such a short amount of time? I can't find any reference to a "sinner's prayer" anywhere dating before 1950 or so.

    You can hardly go to a religious website without finding some instruction on their "How to be Saved" page to "Pray a prayer like this..." It's even on this site.

    Just something to think about.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  2. dianetavegia

    dianetavegia
    Expand Collapse
    Guest

    It's not to be found in scripture but one might point to

     
  3. Johnv

    Johnv
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2001
    Messages:
    21,321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Since I'm a sinner, every prayer is a sinner's prayer [​IMG] .
     
  4. Timtoolman

    Timtoolman
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,403
    Likes Received:
    0
    What about romans 10:13? call upon the Lord shall be saved...
     
  5. dianetavegia

    dianetavegia
    Expand Collapse
    Guest

    “Not everyone who says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” Matt. 7:21

    Again, the Savior pointedly inquired:
    “And why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?” Luke 6:46
     
  6. hillclimber

    hillclimber
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2005
    Messages:
    2,075
    Likes Received:
    0
    Act 16:31, in addition to TTm's Rom 10:13
     
  7. bmerr

    bmerr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    0
    </font>[/QUOTE]dianetavegia,

    bmerr here. A few years ago I was a Baptist. during that time, I also pointed to this portion of Scripture as an example of the "sinner's prayer", or of salvation without baptism, or as a demonstration of Rom 10:9, 10.

    But one day as I was reading through Hebrews, I came across Heb 9:16, 17, which reads,

    "For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth."

    Now there is no doubt that the thief on the cross was saved. But was he saved under the New Testament? Since Jesus was not yet dead, he could not have been. As has been discussed elsewhere, Jesus lived and died under the Old Testament. It was in dying that He fulfilled the Mosaic Law and the prophets.

    When I realized this, I asked my pastor about it, and he didn't know what to say. I told him that if we were going to teach NT salvation without baptism we were going to have to find another passage to support it, because this one didn't.

    It wasn't long after this that I left the Baptists.

    Anyway, I think the search for the origin of the "sinner's prayer" will have to continue. Luke 23:32-43 doesn't teach it.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  8. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,434
    Likes Received:
    73
    Gal 3:5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith--
    Gal 3:6 just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"?
    Gal 3:7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. (ESV)

    Faith in the OT, Faith in the NT . . .

    Rom 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
    Rom 10:11 For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."
    Rom 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
    Rom 10:13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (ESV)

    ---------

    1Co 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

    --------
    bmerr, your analysis of Heb. 9 seems to be sound. I would merely say that you are (as I would expect from your denominational background) trying to divide the OT from the NT as far as ways of salvation.

    Faith in God has always been the way of salvation.
     
  9. bmerr

    bmerr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    0
    Since I'm a sinner, every prayer is a sinner's prayer [​IMG] . </font>[/QUOTE]Johnv,

    bmerr here. I understand what you're saying, but that's not what I'm talking about. I think you knew that, though [​IMG] .

    Beyond that, the fact that one sins does not necessarily classify him as a "sinner". What the Bible terms a "sinner" is usually one who lives consistently, habitually, and unrepentantly in sin.

    1 John 3:8, 9 contrast sinners and saints. It reads,

    8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
    9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

    Now, before I am accused of claiming sinless perfection, let's understand what is meant by "he cannot sin". It's like someone trying to sneak in to a movie theater, and asking the security guard to let them in through the back door. He replies, "I can't do that, sir!", yet the key to the door is hanging on his keyring.

    He is able to let the person in, but doing so would disqualify him as a security guard. In that sense, he can't do that. It would be a willful transgression of his duties as a security guard, and if caught, he would be subject to termination.

    Likewise, there are things that we as Christians have to meet with, "I can't do that!" For to do such things would be to willfully sin against God (Heb 10:26-31).

    While it is woefully true that even Christians stumble in their walk toward Heaven, the sinner walks steadily toward eternity in opposition to God and His commands, committing sin without repentance.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  10. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,434
    Likes Received:
    73
    1 John 3:8-9--

    It's quite simple. The present tense in Greek almost always implies continuous action. A Christian cannot be in a continuous pattern of sin as if he had not experienced Christ. Those who have truly encountered God will not remain in a pattern of continuous sin.
     
  11. bmerr

    bmerr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    0
    Timtoolman,

    bmerr here. I think the question to ask concerning this verse is "What does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord?" How does one do that? If it simply means to say the name of Jesus, then even those who use His name in vain would be saved. Certainly that is not the case. I think we could agree on that.

    Back in Acts 2:21, when Peter preached by inspiration the first gospel sermon, he also cited the verse that Paul used in Rom 10:13 (Joel 2:32). Right after he cites this verse, he presents Jesus of Nazareth as the long-awaited Messiah, claims that he and the others with him were eyewitnesses to His resurrection (v.32), and reminds the crowd that, oh by the way, you crucified him (v.36).

    Now just a few verses prior to this, the crowd had been told that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But what did they ask? "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" They were asking what they should do to call upon the name of the Lord, and thus, what they should do to be saved.

    You know what Peter told them. If you don't, keep reading.

    In the verses following 10:13, we find that in order for people to call on the Lord, they have to believe in Him, and in order to believe in Him, they have to hear of Him, and in order to hear of Him, other people have to preach of Him, and they need to be sent.

    And then in 10:16, we read "But they have not all obeyed the gospel".

    Now we should find out what that means, and how it relates to calling on the name of the Lord.

    I don't want this to be one-sided, and I've already gone on for a while. Check for yourself and let me know what you find.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  12. bmerr

    bmerr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    0
    hillclimber,

    bmerr here. I've got a co-worker who also goes by "hillclimber". He's into off-roading and dune-buggies and such.

    May I suggest reading beyond Acts 16:31? I don't mean to sound like a jerk or anything, it's just that so many seem to want to stop at verse 31 as if that tells the whole story of what happened that night.

    In fact, I'd suggest going back to verse 16 to learn why Paul and Silas got thrown in jail in the first place, going through to verse 23 where we first meet the jailer (I refer to him as PJ, for short), on to verse 27 to learn when PJ woke up (to determine what he might have heard up to this point), all the way through to verse 34, where we find all the events of his conversion summed up in the phrase "believing in God with all his house."

    It's an interesting study, and there's more to PJ's conversion than just verse 31. From the text, there's no indication that he had ever heard the name of Jesus Christ until verse 31, let alone the doctrine of His death, burial, and resurrection.

    Be careful out there on the road, sir. Hats off to OTR truckers. There's alot more to that profession than most realize.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  13. bmerr

    bmerr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    0
    StefanM,

    bmerr here. No problem with faith. The difference in points of view basically boils down to this: Some say "saving faith is obedient"; others say "Obedient faith saves".

    The example of Abraham is further explained in James 2:21-26. Apparently there were some who claimed to have faith, but their deeds or works were not consistent with this claim. (Aren't you glad THOSE people are not around anymore! [​IMG] )

    Anyway, James explains that faith is perfected, or made complete by works. In fact, in this section of Scripture, we find that it was only after Abraham offered Isaac that the Scripture you referred to was fulfilled.

    To sum it up, James tells us that faith apart from works, is dead. I'd say that the reverse is also true.


    At the risk of offending, may I recommend you look for a more reliable translation of the Bible? Please don't misunderstand; I'm not a KJOnlyist (though I once was). There is more than one good translation out there, but the "not-so-good list" is much longer. I personally stick with the KJ most of the time, but I would not bind that upon you or anyone else.

    I don't pretend to be a scholar, or even have a copy of the ESV. The reason for my comment (and I really don't mean to offend) is how Rom 10:10 is worded. It makes it sound as though one can be justified without being saved, or vice versa.

    To my knowledge, that is just not possible. To be justified is to be saved.

    Agreed, Paul's main mission was not to baptize, but to preach. This fact does not mean that Pual did not preach baptism. He clearly did. It is also clear that though he was not sent to baptize, he did baptize some (Crispus, Gaius, the household of Stephanas). His doing so was not against the commands of Christ.

    There is no Biblical restriction of the right to baptize, though in most denominations (where baptism is held as optional) only the pastor is permitted to perform the unnecessary act. That never made much sense to me.

    If Paul baptized someone, that person could, in turn, baptize another, and so on. There was no need for Paul to baptize everyone who received his message.

    Thank you for your assessment, sir, although I do not consider myself to be a part of a denomination. My denominational background is actually as a Southern Baptist. I'm sure no offense was intended.

    As far as my trying to divide the Old and New Testaments, it's already been done. Faith has certainly always been essential for salvation, though God's commands concerning such have differed in the different dispensations.

    Also, we get back to the question of what one means by faith. If it is mere mental assent, then those among the chief rulers in John 12:42, 43 were saved. However, if we mean faith that is demonstrated by obedience to God, then we come closer to an understanding of the Bible's definition of faith.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  14. bmerr

    bmerr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    0
    bmerr here. I'm not sure what you mean by "experienced Christ", and "those who have truly encountered God".

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  15. hillclimber

    hillclimber
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2005
    Messages:
    2,075
    Likes Received:
    0
    Where does the division lie bmerr?
     
  16. hillclimber

    hillclimber
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2005
    Messages:
    2,075
    Likes Received:
    0
    hillclimber,

    bmerr here. I've got a co-worker who also goes by "hillclimber". He's into off-roading and dune-buggies and such.

    May I suggest reading beyond Acts 16:31? I don't mean to sound like a jerk or anything, it's just that so many seem to want to stop at verse 31 as if that tells the whole story of what happened that night.

    In fact, I'd suggest going back to verse 16 to learn why Paul and Silas got thrown in jail in the first place, going through to verse 23 where we first meet the jailer (I refer to him as PJ, for short), on to verse 27 to learn when PJ woke up (to determine what he might have heard up to this point), all the way through to verse 34, where we find all the events of his conversion summed up in the phrase "believing in God with all his house."

    It's an interesting study, and there's more to PJ's conversion than just verse 31. From the text, there's no indication that he had ever heard the name of Jesus Christ until verse 31, let alone the doctrine of His death, burial, and resurrection.

    Be careful out there on the road, sir. Hats off to OTR truckers. There's alot more to that profession than most realize.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
    </font>[/QUOTE]While I don't see your point of the contextual look at Acts 16:31, I agree it is certainly worthy of study, as there is a lot there.
     
  17. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,434
    Likes Received:
    73
    bmerr here. I'm not sure what you mean by "experienced Christ", and "those who have truly encountered God".

    In Christ,

    bmerr
    </font>[/QUOTE]Those who have been saved.
     
  18. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,434
    Likes Received:
    73
    Romans 10

    9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

    10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    11For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

    12For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

    13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    ----

    bmerr, I would like to hear your thoughts on this passage mentioned earlier. The wording of the ESV is a bit dynamic in the passage, so I'll use your preferred translation for the discussion.

    I agree with your definition of faith as being more than mere mental assent. Belief IN something is far different from belief OF something. My concern with this passage is that if baptism is absolutely required for salvation, then why would Paul have neglected to have mentioned it in this passage?

    -----------
    Galatians 2

    16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

    17But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

    18For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

    19For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

    20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

    21I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

    --
    More Pauline justification by faith

    ----
    James 2

    17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

    18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

    19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

    20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

    21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

    22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

    23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

    24Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    25Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

    26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
    -----

    Gen 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

    Now, to use Paul's definition of faith in James' letter would be thoroughly inappropriate (and is the reason why some put Paul against James). Gen. 15 is prior to the sacrifice of Isaac, so to say that Abraham was not counted as righteous until said event would be erroneous.

    I see James as trying to define faith as more than intellectual assent (see v. 19). Such faith without works IS dead. But what of Paul? Paul's definition of faith, IMO, would include more than intellectual assent, encompassing both head knowledge and total trust in God. Such faith is NOT dead, and it will be demonstrated by works. I see no point at which Paul allows for a fruitless faith, but he does say that salvation is by faith alone.

    My overall interpretation is that "faith" without works was never true, Pauline faith. Pauline faith is faith that demonstrates itself through transformation of life (good works).

    My main question in all of this is as follows:

    If baptism is required for salvation, why isn't it referenced in these discussions?
     
  19. bmerr

    bmerr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    0
    StefanM,

    bmerr here. I appreciate your switching to the KJ for me. Like I said, I don't mean to be an "elitist" or whatever. I've been that route before, and there's little light, but alot of heat generated in the "onlyist" camps. But I think you'd agree that in many of the newer versions, alot of bias has crept in and distorted the text. Anyway, thanks.

    While I would have to agree that baptism is not mentioned in the verses you have given, I'd disagree that baptism is not mentioned in the larger context of the chapters, or even books that those texts are in.

    For example, if we continue in Rom 10, we find this statement from Paul in 10:16, "But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?"

    I'd like your thoughts as to what it means to "obey the gospel". In 10:16, Paul seems to use this phrase in conjunction with the idea of believing the report.

    Keeping with Romans, if we go back a few chapters to 6:17, 18, we read,

    But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

    Paul speaks of a time when these Romans had obeyed a form of the doctrine they had received, at which time they were made free from sin. What doctrine had the Romans received?

    There's also Rom 6:3-5 to consider.

    If we move to Galatians, we find that Paul is teaching that men cannot be justified by the works of the law. It's the Mosaic Law that he's speaking of. There was alot of bad teaching being done by the Judaizers. Those were the ones who tried to make the Gentiles be circumcised and such (Acts 15:1, 5).

    [As a side note, it's usually helpful when studying from an epistle to a church, to go back to Acts and see what was going on while Paul was in that particular city.]

    The influence of the Judaizers was so great, that even Peter and Barnabas were "carried away with their dissimulation (hypocrisy)" (Gal 2:11-13). As a result, Paul spent quite a bit of time undoing the false teaching of this group.

    In the text under consideration, the issue being discussed is, in fact, not baptism at all, but the matter of eating with Gentiles. Peter had been accused of this very thing in Acts 11:3, after Cornelius was converted. This was a BIG, HAIRY DEAL to many of Jewish heritage.

    Peter had been eating pork and whatever with the Gentiles at Antioch. But when the Judaizers showed up, Peter went Kosher, and Paul got in his face about it. He goes on to say in Gal 2:15-ff that they (Peter and Paul) being Jews by nature (heritage) ought to know that they cannot be justified by keeping the Mosaic Law. "Peter, you should know better than to be acting the way you have been!"

    Picking up in the text you cited, Paul says that we are justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, and not by the works of the law (Mosaic). Now I ask you: what is the faith of Jesus Christ? I would submit to you that it is the system of faith instituted by Christ's authority, Christianity. It's certainly not the faith that Jesus had Himself. If it were, then all would be saved, would they not?

    Paul actually does talk about baptism in Galatians, though. In Chapter 3, Paul continues to contrast the works of the [Mosaic] law to the hearing of faith. Along about verse 23, Paul describes the law as a schoolmaster, that brought them to Christ, that they might be justified by faith. Once faith had come, they were no longer under the law.

    The whole book is to convince the Galatians to not be brought under the bondage of the Mosaic Law, as the Judaizers were trying to effect. Paul wraps up Chapter 3 by telling them (Jews and Gentiles) that they were "...all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

    They were all on the same team in Christ.

    You mentioned the fact that some like to try and pit James against Paul. I've heard that too. The reality of the situation is that Paul and James were fighting. Not toe-to-toe against each other, but back-to-back, against different enemies.

    Paul fought against those who advocated the works of the Mosaic Law over, or without the faith of Christ. James fought against those who claimed to have faith in Christ, but did not manifest works that were in keeping with their professed faith.

    I'd still disagree that either one of them taught salvation by faith alone.

    James' audience was composed of those who had already become Christians, so he wouldn't have needed to speak to them of baptism, best I can figure.

    Well, I didn't mean to be so long-winded. These long posts often just get skimmed over, I'm afraid.

    Talk to you later.

    In Christ,

    bmerr
     
  20. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,434
    Likes Received:
    73
    Ephesians 2

    8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

    9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    ---
    I'd like to hear your thoughts on this passage.
     

Share This Page

Loading...