The Sinners Prayer

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by johnjudge, Oct 31, 2007.

  1. johnjudge

    johnjudge
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    Can anyone explain to me where, and how this originates, because for the life of me I can find nowhere in the Word of God such a thing.

    All I have found is believe in your heart and be baptized, each and every one for the remission of sins.

    Not wanting to start an argument, just wonder why this is pushed so much as part of the belief processes.
     
  2. TCGreek

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    Does a person have to be baptized to obtain the remission of sins?
     
  3. Alcott

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    Doesn't it 'originate' from Jesus' story about the publican praying "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner"; as opposed to the Pharisee who prayed "I thank you, Lord, that I am not as other men"? And Jesus said the publican went away forgiven.

    An interesting corollary to this is that there is no gospel message involved. If you say 'this is before the church age' so he did not need to be baptized, or even to repent [there is sorrow, but no words of repentance in his prayer], that makes it easier to have been forgiven before the resurrection of Christ and the beginning of the church. Note there was nothing about sin offering or priestly atonement mentioned either-- just confession. We can say the sacrifice of Jesus made salvation possible; but can we say that sacrifice made it more or less difficult? This story can help to put confusion into that question.
     
  4. Tom Butler

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    Oh, it's too late. The very nature of this forum is to argue

    As to the question, I don't know who originated it, but the first I heard of it was 40-50 years ago. Some believe originated back in the days of Charles Finney in the middle of the 19th century.

    I ran across a blogger named Donald Crankshaw. His thoughts follow

    "What it comes down to is the least common denominator. If the Sinner's Prayer is how one becomes a Christian, then what happens if you get the words wrong? For that matter, there are numerous formulations of the Sinner's Prayer. Which one is right? The general belief is that the words themselves are unimportant, as long as you pray with sincerity. Even if the exact words don't matter, do you still have to hit all the correct points: Repentance of sin, submission to God, asking to be remade? And what about understanding? You need to understand what you're praying in order to be sincere about it, right? That would disqualify the large number of young children who say this prayer before they fully understand it. And there's something disconcerting about the fact that the vast majority of those who have called themselves Christians throughout history have never heard this prayer, much less said it."

    The Lord saved me in 1947. My pastor did not ask me to pray at all. And to my knowledge he never asked any lost person to pray the Sinner's Prayer.

    Some point to Romans 10:13 "Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall besaved." But it does not say to call on the Lord for salvation. It says to call on his name.

    Well johnjudge, welcometo the Baptist Board. Your questions and my comments should be enough to get this lovefest going.

    Release the hounds!
     
  5. npetreley

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    Sorry to be cynical, but it's probably pushed as part of the belief process because some folks believe if you can get someone to say the sinner's prayer, you can chalk that up as another soul won.
     
  6. Alcott

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    No argument there.
     
  7. Zenas

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    I always believed there had to be a public profession of faith (Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8), but I have never seen the "sinner's prayer" actually used in church.
     
  8. John of Japan

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    Down through the years and maybe centuries, many doing evangelism have had the sinner say a prayer. I've seen no evidence that it started with Finney (the boogy man who according to some started all of our bad practices today--usually without evidence). I have a book by a Presbyterian missionary to our island about a hundred years ago in which she had folks say a prayer.

    The "sinner's prayer" does not save. It is a work. Therefore it is wrong to require it for salvation. Many soul-winners down through the years have not required the sinner to say a prayer. John R. Rice would pray himself, then tell the lost person to take his hand if they were trusting Christ as Savior.

    Having said that, prayer is a work that show's faith. Therefore, in general I think it is a good thing to have the sinner pray. After all, Rom. 10:13 ("Whoseoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved") comes from Joel 2:32 which was used by Peter in his Pentecost sermon to invite folks to Christ.

    Personally, I do it this way. (1) I make sure the lost person understands that it is not the prayer that saves. (2) I make sure the lost person knows that it must come from the heart, not just be saying words. (3) I urge the lost person to pray in his or her own words. (4) I'll give them a prayer to say only if they insist they can't pray but still want to be saved--while emphasizing it must come from the heart.
     
  9. John of Japan

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    Don't apologize for what comes naturally! :smilewinkgrin:

    No doubt there are some like this, but most I know who urge a sinner's prayer are genuinely interested in their souls. It's a mistake to give a blanket condemnation about anything.
     
  10. Allan

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    Amen to that John. Amen to that!!
     
  11. tinytim

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    One of the greatest injustices is telling someone that is doubting their salvation to remember the time they prayed with the preacher as proof of their Salvation...
    And then add, "Satan wants to make you doubt your salvation.. .just take him back to the place you got saved, and show him where you asked Jesus into your heart" I shudder when I hear this now.

    The prayer doesn't save,
    The place doesn't save,
    Nowhere does it say to "ask Jesus into your heart.
    And the proof of Salvation is not a prayer you prayed back when!

    The proof is this...
    Are you sensitive to sin
    Are you bearing fruit
    Do you do God's will
    Are you building your life on Godly principles...

    And I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT WORKS FOR SALVATION...
    But proof of salvation by looking at your life... examining you life like Paul commanded in Corinthians....

    But too many people want to prove they are saved by a prayer they said with a preacher....

    Sorry, I seem to be ranting and raving, but I am still weaving after reading the Paul Washer thread, and watching some of his sermons on Youtube.

    The church didn't know what hit me Sunday morning....
    I basically laid it out straight for them Sunday morning and challenged them to find anywhere in the Bible where it says "Ask Jesus into your heart, and you will be saved."

    It is not there.. I printed out all the times the word "heart" appears in the NT, and showed them.

    NOr is a certain prayer...

    Personally, I think God cannot hear a prayer from the lost.
    And when a person is saved, they are saved before they ever pray the "sinners prayer" They have already repented and believed, or they wouldn't want to pray.

    How many times have you seen in VBS, the preacher do this...
    "Ok kids, how many love Jesus?" all raise hands...
    "How many want to go to Heaven to be with Jesus" all raise hands..

    "Then pray this prayer"... he prays, then says...If you prayed that prayer, then raise your hand... they raise their hands, he counts and reports to the church the next Sunday that 30 kids got saved!!!
    They are baptized, grow up in the youth group, graduate from HS, and then get into the world...
    Mom comes to church crying..."please pray for my son... he is a Christian, but has strayed...." Then at age 30 he "rededicates" his life...

    I am convinced, for most people, that they just got saved then!

    When the youth pastor did that in VBS, he potentially led people to HELL!!!
    Now imagine one of those kids are in their 20s...
    The Holy Ghost starts dealing with him...
    But he is convinced since he prayed a prayer in VBS, he is saved.... so he goes to the pastor... and the pastor says....

    "Satan wants to make you doubt your salvation.. .just take him back to the place you got saved, and show him where you asked Jesus into your heart"

    That Pastor just short circuited God's work in this young man's life...
    and basically sent him off hellbound!

    This is what salesmanship evangelism has done to American churches...
    I was taught this method of evangelism...
    FORM....
    This gets you in the door, and allows people to trust you, so you can get them to say a prayer, and tell them they are saved... only to move on to the next house... selling your wares for free...

    What is FORM

    F= family.. .comment on how nice his family is... ask him more about his family... this shows him you are interested...
    O= occupation... talk about his job... this builds his trust in you
    R= Religion...talk about his religion, or lack thereof... and try to ascertain if he is saved..
    M= Message... Take him down Roman's road, only to end at Romans 10:9-10 and have him pray a prayer.... then declare that he just got saved....

    This is nothing but a salesmans technique complete with a closer!!! The prayer....

    AND I AM SICK OF IT!
    Soul win... but do it the way God designed... not manmade techniques like Hyles designed!
     
  12. Amy.G

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    :applause: :thumbsup: :applause:

    Great post!!!!
     
  13. Steven2006

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    Amen, great post, and I agree with all of it. My only question, and it is not just of you but everyone that I see that dislikes the sinners prayer, Romans road type of approach. What exactly do you say to someone that opens the door to their home (or sitting next to at a park bench etc.) to both share the Gospel, and see them be saved? This is not a criticism I am genuinely curious, if you have just a short time with this person, and they seem receptive. How do you go about it, and please be specific.
     
  14. tinytim

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    I don't mind using Roman's road... but I do start with the way Way of the Master starts... They first have to recognize they NEED Salvation....
    Not just WANT to go to Heaven....
    They need to know that they are seperated from God, and is already condemned to HELL....
    After I see they recognize that, then move into Romans... And when they fully understand the purpose of the Cross, you see a light in their eyes that you know they are ready....

    I then do it the way John of Japan described earlier... I simply tell them to tell God what is in their heart.... If they are unable... I help... but remind them that the words are not magical...

    I hope this answers your question....
     
  15. webdog

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    Tim, I agree with most of your post except the above. This sounds almost identical to my experience, except I was with my family and not a bunch of kids when I was saved. The world is a HUGE draw to one in their teens and twenties...and to just dismiss their salvation early on is wrong, IMO. I knew I was saved when I was away from the Lord all of those years. How? The constant "nag" by the Holy Spirit and constant chastening. I agree many people believe just saying a prayer saves them without it coming from the heart...but many people are genuinly saved this way, too. Who am I to condemn a tool used by God in bringing us to Him?
     
  16. Amy.G

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    Tim, you are on a roll tonight!
    Amen, amen, amen. That is the right approach! :thumbsup:

    I believe we have to speak to God in our own words, as you said. It may be nothing more than "help me".
     
  17. tinytim

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    Ever watch Joel Osteen?
    The closing....
    This is exactly what is sending people to Hell...

    "Now we never like to close a broadcast without giving you a chance to be saved.... Just repeat this prayer"
    Then he prays...and says...
    "If you prayed that prayer, we believe you were just born again"
    Then says something about living a victorious life....

    HOGWASH... He is leading people to Hell by diverting their faith from the atoning death of Jesus Christ to his magical prayer that he prays....

    Thousands have prayed that prayer, and now believe they are saved because Joel Osteen said they were...

    And other preachers that do this are guilty too.
    It is all about numbers and popularity....
    And when it all boils down it is all about attracting a following to attract their wallets...

    God just wants us to faithfully sow the seed, and let Him do the saving.
     
  18. tinytim

    tinytim
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    You just agreed with me, and didn't mean to... I bolded where you knew you were saved....

    No doubt some are saved this way, and I over generalized this...
    But I am not talking about getting saved, but trusting the sinners prayer to prove you are saved.....
    You said, "How? The constant "nag" by the Holy Spirit and constant chastening."
    That is what I meant when I said one of the proofs that you are saved is you are sensitive to sin...
    If a person prayed a prayer, but is not sensitive to sin... they probably just prayed a prayer....

    People that use the above approach need to do one on one counselling with those that raised their hand... to make sure....
    But if you read carefully what I posted, the leader didn't point out their NEED for salvation... they didn't point out that they were sinners in need of a savior...

    Everyone wants to go to Heaven... especially kids. And if you say, "do you want to go to Heaven, then pray this prayer" you are not presenting the full Gospel... only half of it... and a person cannot be saved without knowing what they need saved from.

    I hope this cleared that up.
     
  19. Amy.G

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    Absolutely. We used to be in a SS class where there was one young man that would actually brag about how many people "he" saved.

    Joel Osteen makes me sick.
     
  20. webdog

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    That did clear it up. I will only add that the "nag" from the Holy Spirit is not always a constant thing, either. I can think of living a sinful life, being caloused to sin for months, even years between...then I might get a comment from another believer, or hear something on the radio that God would use to say "see, you are really messing up your life without Me". I believe that God truly does let a child of His act in the way the prodical son did, let him go, and the pig pen will bring him back.
     

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