what is, the prayer of salvation, exactly?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Darren, Apr 12, 2008.

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  1. Darren

    Darren
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    This is often accepted as a Baptist doctrine, though others claim it to, that's why its here.

    I'm hesitant to address this issue. Ever since I stopped believing it was the only way into heaven, I still believed the prayer of salvation held importance, in that it symbolized a commitment to our Savior and Lord. Surely believers are closer to God than those whom simply, with no true knowledge, try to do what is right.

    It is true that those of us who believe are closer to God than those who don't... but doesn't that include the Catholics (basically the mother church, the protestant church would not have the dominance it has without the Catholic church establishing our religion and preserving it from fading, or being trampled by the Muslims)? But they believe in no such prayer. They believe, from my interpretation, a one time commitment means nothing, only a life of repentance and service has value... I might be disposed to agree with that. No I'm not a Catholic, but doesn't stop me from recognizing a good point when I see it.

    So, exactly what is the prayer of salvation, or perhaps, more accurately called, the prayer of commitment?

    First off, what is it? What are the essential parts? When I was a child, I was taught it went like this:

    Believe in Christ's birth,
    death
    and resurrection
    Repent of your sins
    Invite Jesus into your heart
    commit your life to God

    If that is how it must go, must include all those parts... have I included or excluded anything unnecessarily? I'm being very serious. Have I missed or added anything?

    Where is this prayer mentioned or prayed in the Bible? I ask this because years ago, a Catholic asked me the same question and I was unable to answer. Indeed the prayer is inferred from all over the new testament, but I can't remember one instance where it is mentioned in whole as the one prayer of salvation... or mentioned at all in whole. Am I mistaken?

    Oh yes, I prayed it as a child. And yes, I meant it when I said it... and yes, the commitment is still in my heart, I'm not questioning its meaning in that manner, but rather the manner in which it is prayed and the emphasis that is placed on it.

    I'll try to be candid because I know this is a touchy issue. Many people on this board, I'm sure, believe this prayer is the one and only way to escape damnation. But to them, might I put forward that this is not an excersize in futility. The prayer needs to be defined, does it not? Also, is it not important to have it's location in the Bible on hand?

    I'm looking for specifics, not inferences, guesses or, "that's about right". So I'm saying ahead of time, I will seem very critical. I would think to either side in this discussion, this is something that has to be addressed.

    Please, please, please, use proper context. Yes that means you have to paste the section/verse, then the entire section its from (well at least tell us the reference if you don't want to take up space), this will require some research. This will require some work, but if you don't do it, I will call you on taking something out of context. That's abusing the Bible. Context is NOT- thankyou whoever created Bible Gateway for making it seem that way anyway :BangHead:- for a verse, the next sentence down or up. Context is not the chapter the verse is in (it can actually be the last paragraph of one chapter and the first four of the next). Context is the section the verse is taken from that reveals it's purpose. Actually most bibles separate sections so this shouldn't be hard.
     
  2. canadyjd

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    I'm not sure, exactly, what you are looking for. There are no "magic words" that you say that cause you to be saved. Someone, at some point, put together some "essentials" of the faith they thought should be/must be adhered to for true salvation. The "sinners prayer", in its various forms, became a mainstay.

    If you look at examples in scripture, you see people "pierced to the heart" and crying out "what shall we do?"(Acts 2:37), or simply hearing the gospel quietly in their homes when the Holy Spirit falls upon them (Acts 10:44), or studying scripture (Acts 8:30) and saying "what prevents me from being baptized?"

    I see many examples of prayers in scripture, and I certainly believe it is a good thing to humbly go before God in prayer.

    Jesus also gave us many commands; Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. Love the brethren, by this the world will know we are His disciples if we love one another; don't neglect the fellowship as some are in a habit of doing.... and so on.

    But the "sinners prayer", IMHO, is presented in our churches as a "work" that must be done to have salvation. "Just come to the front and say the sinner's prayer (repeat after me in you don't know the words) and you will be saved".

    And then we declare them to be saved......and upwards of 90% will never commit themselves to the cause of Christ, as evidence by lack of attendance in our churches.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  3. billreber

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    Hi, Darren!

    First thing I want to say is that there is no ONE reference that details a "prayer of salvation/commitment". The closest verse I know of is John 3:16, which has often been labeled the one-verse Gospel. It says "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting" (in some versions it says eternal) "life". There is only one thing mentioned here that we humans must do -- "believe in Him", refering to Jesus Christ, the Son.

    The context of John 3:16 is a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. The Scriptures for the context are John 3:1 through 3:21. You should especially/also read verses 14-15. Again, the only action we humans must take is the same one -- "believe in Him". I find it interesting that verses 17-18 are too often ignored. They state that it is UNBELIEF that results in condemnation. The implication stated in these verses is that we already "unbelieve", and must change to "believe" to be saved. That is also stated as the ONLY way to salvation.

    Another passage which shows what we must do is Acts 16:16-40. In this passage, Paul and Silas are arrested and placed in jail. When God miraculously frees them, but they do not leave the prison site, the jailer asks them (in verse 30) "What must I do to be saved?" Paul and Silas answer "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved".

    I must state that the tools I have used to help people believe in Christ ALL use the same basic approach that you have listed. I work with grade-school age children in Sumday School now, and they are learning the A-B-Cs of salvation:

    "A - ADMIT - Admit that you are a sinner. Repent, turning away from your sin. Read Romans 3:23, 6:23, and Acts 3:19.

    B - BELIEVE - Believe that Jesus is God;s Son and accept God;s gift of forgiveness from sin. Read John 3:16, 14:6, Acts 4:12, Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:8-9, and John 1:11-13.

    C - CONFESS - Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Read 1 John 1:9 and Romans 10:9-10, 13." (This was written verbatim from the Spring 2008 edition of the Southern Baptist Convention's literature, "Bible Teaching for Kids", inside front cover).

    I want to emphasize that this is a TOOL to help people understand what they are doing when they believe in Jesus Christ. Some of the other tools I have used over the years are the Roman Road (pretty much the same verses listed above from Romans), Evangelism Explosion (I don't even remember that one except for the title), and tracts that used these same verses. NONE of these tools is "the (exclusive) prayer to say", but only guides for witnessing and believing.

    My brother, please do not get caught up in the details of "what" to say, when the only important detail is "Who" you say it to -- Jesus Christ, the Son of God! If you (or anyone) truly believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, He promised that you/they will be saved. That's all that matters.

    Bill :godisgood:
     
  4. Darren

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    I must admit I was caught a little off gaurd by these first responses. On the first try, an official prayer of salvation has been dropped. I like this response. It means I'm dealing with people who have studied. There is NO actual reference to a specific prayer of salvation in the Bible. Actually, the only seemed requirement that's even somewhat provable (understand I'll be getting to why I think such belief is wrong), is general belief, not: accept, believe, committ, invite into heart.

    To tell the truth, my beliefs on the Bible specifically allowing only the "saved" to enter heaven, only changed at around 20. However, I always questioned the format of the prayer of salvation:

    Believe in Christ's birth,
    death
    and resurrection

    -when only His death saves you... but not believing in the other two sends you to hell... yes such has been alleged to me

    Repent of your sins

    -No problem with that.

    Invite Jesus into your heart

    -Ambiguous. My biggest problem with the official sinners prayer has always been this refence to inviting him into your heart. Often its said in conjunction with committment, repentence and belief... so what else could it be refering to? The only conclusion I have ever been able to come to is that, it sounds poetic. It sounds nice. I've asked before if this part can be left out, seeing as no one could ever tell me it's meaning, but usually, I was given a hesitent "no".

    Commit your life to God

    -No problem

    However, trying to stick to a rigid prayer of salvation, was not attempted here so far. Meaning, at least a few of you have done your homework. The prayer of salvation is an inference, not a specific Biblical requirement. General belief, committment and repentence seem to be the only credible requirements. By this, the Catholics also are saved. By this, the grand majority of Church going believers are. Its supposed to be generally accepted that the majority are pew warmers, and going to hell anyway, usually, this prayer is referenced as why. Seeing as, this prayer is an inference, isn't a life style commitment, more important than a one time commitment, especially one, really not referenced?

    To my knowledge, it is often preached as such, but you can't just sign on the dotted line (pray once), and call yourself saved, as if you were joining a book club.
     
  5. Don

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    Just a point of clarification, please:

    If you believe in Christ's death, then by logical association, you must believe in His birth. Unless you mean to say, the circumstances of His birth (i.e., born of a virgin).

    As for His resurrection, if you don't believe He rose from the dead, and/or you don't believe He was born of a virgin (as we're told in Scripture) -- are you sure we're talking about the same Jesus?

    Belief in Him is associated with the belief that He is God. Denying any aspect of His deity is placing question upon who it is you're believing in.

    If all you believe is that He died, then He might as well be Mohammed. Or some old fat guy named Don. :)
    ----------
    Fortunately, of the several different Independent Baptist churches I've been a member of, it was never preached that the prayer saves you or gets you saved. It was always preached as a guideline.

    I'm curious, Darren; you say in your profile that you're Independent Baptist, but the church you claim to be a member of is listed as part of a larger organization of churches, none of which seem to associate themselves with Baptists. In fact, they appear to be more Assembly of God, or even Pentecostal in their doctrine and core values. Has there been a change in your church, or are they still part of that organization? Or perhaps you're simply seeking more info than what you've previously received in independent fundamental Baptist churches?
     
    #5 Don, Apr 13, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2008
  6. Darren

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    I would go on, at this time, to explain why I do not believe only the saved go to heaven, but we haven't defined, as of yet, who the saved would be. That's the first point of this discussion for me really.

    For, those of you who are wondering, YES, this is going somewhere. I AM INDEED questioning the theologies of "Once saved always saved" and only the "saved" get into heaven. But, I see little point in just plowing into the subject like a bull in a China shop. Who is saved is the real question, only then can we discuss, whom is not.

    ______________________________________________________________

    Final question at this time:
    Remeber, we need references,
    Does it say in the Bible that the sacrifice of Jesus was for the whole world, or only certain individuals? Who are those certain individuals and what defines them if the latter?

    ______________________________________________________________

    Why am I doing this this way? Simple. I've done it before where I've just announce: "I don't believe only the saved go to heaven". Responses usually go something like this:

    7 "here, heres".

    13 accusations that I'm a heathen, blasphemer and or heritic. I try to defend myself against this, but there's usually little point in even trying.:BangHead:

    20 some odd people declare that "Jesus" is the only way to heaven. I try to explain that I believe that to, but I'm only questioning how He saves, not whether He is the source. These people usually never listen.

    A number of others show they've thought about this to, and say they agree, in cases where individuals haven't had the opportunity to hear of Jesus, He only judges their hearts or, maybe they can confess to their vague idea of God. I
    explain that this barely makes sense, especially since once they name said god, they go from probably saved, to deffinitely condemened. Also, if the fore, if God judges them by their hearts, why not the rest of us? Besides, that's not what I'm getting at.

    12 some people try to save my soul, discounting the fact that I just said I already was saved at thirteen, I suppose they think I'm lying. I'm not.

    And then, still others are "offended". :tear:


    I have a feeling I'm going to reget admitting that. All this being said, seeing how futile it is to discuss the end of the process first, please just bear with me as we explore the true definition of "saved". Rather than starting with, whether or not only the saved go to heaven.

    I fully expect many of you will ignore my request and jump to trying to show how the unsaved are going to hell. Well go ahead and try, but I'm going to do my best to steer the converstation to finding out who is actually saved first. (As much steering as a junior member can do.)
     
  7. Don

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    Simple question, simple answer. Who are the saved?

    John 3:16 ...whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    John 3:17 ...He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    "Whosoever believeth" is saved from condemnation. The condemned are those that prefer their evil ways as opposed to the Light (see John 3:19).

    So yes, Jesus came for all; but not all will be saved.
     
    #7 Don, Apr 13, 2008
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  8. belvedere

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    The responses so far have been excellent! Let's take a look at one of my favorite verses:

    Romans 10:9 if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," (A) and believe in your heart (B) that God raised Him from the dead, (C) you will be saved. (HCSB)

    So, we must confess that He is Lord; I believe that means confessing that Jesus holds all power, and salvation is only through Him.

    Now, notice the second part: yes indeed, one must believe in His resurrection to be saved! See, the two are tied: how could He be Lord if He were still dead?

    Also, just to emphasize what has already been stated, John 3:18 clearly says that whoever does NOT believe in Jesus IS condemned.
     
  9. Allan

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    Well said brother :)

    And in case your didn't hear yet, we did make it to NW Arkansas safely.


    As for the OP, I will be back in week and I will take this thread up and your questions to task. Indeed as the above poster set forth, what is Rom 10:9-10 but basics of a person understanding the truth and getting right in their heart before and toward God. I dont know of a Christian theology yet who doesn't acknowledge that as prayer.
     
  10. Tom Butler

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    This morning, I heard a noted TV preacher talk for a half-hour without so much as mentioning the gospel. He ended his message to applause, then turned to the camera and said, as he always does, "we never like to close our program without giving you and opportunity to be saved."

    He continued, "just say, Dear Lord Jesus..." and went to tell them the words to pray, a short version of what is called The Sinner's Prayer.

    Afterward he said, "if you prayed that prayer, we believe you got saved." This man does not know a single one to whom he spoke those words, yet presumes to judge their salvation because they said some words.

    It makes my blood run cold to hear someone say, "I know I'm saved because I prayed the prayer."

    Their testimony is not, God showed grace to me, convicted me of my sin, brought me to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus and saved me. The testimony is "I"----"I"-----"I" prayed the prayer.

    Just curious. Were any of you saved without saying the Sinner's Prayer? If one can be saved without it, as I was, then maybe we ought to dump a method so easily corrupted into just some magic words.
     
  11. Dale-c

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    The sinners prayer has led many to a form of decisional regeneration.
    It can actually be turned into a work.

    When I was young my dad was an evangelist and I was eager to pray the prayer others were.

    I am very thankful that my dad took the time to make sure I believed and I wasn't just wanting to go along.

    There are no magic words.
    A sinners prayer is no more required than Baptism is for salvation, though both will probably accompany virtually all true believers.
     
  12. Amy.G

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    I didn't say it. I'd never even heard of it. I was alone when God saved me and all I remember doing was telling God that I needed Him. I don't remember all the "exact" words I used, but there is NO doubt in my mind or my heart that I was saved right then and there.

    I think our prayer should be personal and come from the heart. God will save us in spite of our ignorance. :)
     
  13. David Lamb

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    Yes, I was. In fact I hadn't even heard of such a thing as "The Sinner's Prayer" before seeing it mentioned here on the Baptist Board. There is a notable "sinner's prayer" in the bible though. It is the prayer of the tax collector, in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee boasts of all that he has done. The tax collector pleads, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." But even saying those words, if merely repeating them parrot-fashion, like some kind of magic spell, will not save a sinner. The tax collector meant them, and he "went down to his house justified".
     
    #13 David Lamb, Apr 14, 2008
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  14. 4His_glory

    4His_glory
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    I never prayed a sinners prayer as well. At six years of age it was suddenly clear to me that i was a terrible sinner and in desperate need of God´s forgivness that was only found in Christ. I placed faith in Him and repented of my wickedness as best as a six year old boy can.

    A couple of years ago I was dealing personally with a boy who had come to VBS. I asked him simple questions concering sin and salvation to which he replied with simple biblical answers. I asked him based on what the Bible said, if he knew the danger of his sin, to which he replieded yes but he wanted to have his sins washed away. I told him we would pray: I would thank God for His grace in salvation and then he could pray and tell God what was on his heart. With out leading him in any sinners prayer he recognized his sin, acknowledged his repentance before God and trusted Christ. I did not give him word to pray. Latter he drew a remarkable picture:

    Himself with a frown with a storm cloud over his head. But on the reverse side was Crhist with light breaking through the could and saying: I want to save you. It was remarkable!

    Anyhow, I think there is a lot of danger in leading people in a sinners prayer. It CAN (not always but sometimes) lead to a desicional regeneration. What gets me is how some tracts here in Spanish tell people to "pray this prayer sincerely." In my mind this is not the thing to tell people who are traditionally catholic, who have been praying "sincere prayers" all there life to merit salvation.
     
  15. Allan

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    It is sad that most of you don't understand what the sinner prayer actaully is.
    It isn't a magical set of words put together to save you but a scriptural prayer (in most cases - I don't know them all) for the person whom God is dealing with to say if they don't know what to specifically say. WHy? In many cases the person doesn't know exactly what to say or how to begin, so a person 'can' lead them. No one ever states 'this prayer' saves you, but the fact of the matter is, when a person prays that prayer believing in their heart they are a sinner in need of salvation which comes from Christ alone.

    Has the prayer become a kind of short cut for some. Possibly. I think to many people 'rely' on the prayer rather than actually leading a person who needs some help getting started, but then backing off as that person begins to pray on their own, and let God deal with them as they pray.

    But the whole 'prayer becomes a work' argument is based either upon ignorance or misunderstanding.

    It is also notable that not one of you that declared you were saved without saying the sinners prayer were actually saved because you in fact did say it.
    As Brother David Lamb pointed out a well known sinners prayer from the scriputre.

    You can only be saved when you, knowing you are a sinner deserving of hell can only be saved by God's grace and mercy. Therefore you call out to him to save you. That my friend is the sinners prayer. There is no sinners prayer that is the same unless you happen to get something that has been that is printed in mass. The sinners prayers in most tracts, or evangelism training tools are all different.

    Thus if a person ever knows they are a sinner and in need of God's saving grace and they call out to God - They have just said the sinners prayer. And therefore no one is saved without saying it.
     
  16. Amy.G

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    You are right, but I think what most of us are meaning is that we didn't say the sinner's prayer, but our own sinner's prayer.

    There is no magic formula. I have know people in the past who would practically force others to say the "sinner's prayer" and then pronounce them saved.
     
  17. Tom Butler

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    As a matter of fact, I never prayed, never asked God to save me, never called out to Him in any way. My pastor asked me a series of questions to test my understanding of sin, my sinfulness, the consequences of sin, Jesus as the only way to be saved. (I was nine). He asked, "do you repent of your sins?" (Through tears) Uh-huh. "Do you trust Jesus for your salvation?" Uh-huh.

    That was it. He didn't even ask me if I wanted to be baptized. I think the reason is that it was taken for granted that I would. Nobody separated baptism and church membership back then.

    The other statement I picked out "You can only be saved when you, knowing you are a sinnner deserving of hell can only be saved by God's grace and mercy." Exactly right. No on can be saved until they know they are lost.

    I have no problem with any lost person calling on God to save him. God will not turn away one who seeks God's mercy.

    But we may also look for incidents of conversion the scriptures for guidance as well. In Acts 8, The Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip what hindered him from being baptized. Philip's answer was "if you ask God to save you." Naw, just kidding. It was "If you truly believe in your heart, you may." The eunuch's confession was "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Philip immediately baptized him.

    In Acts 16:31, the Philppian jailer: "What must I do to be saved?"
    Answer: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you'll be saved."

    In Acts 17, Paul, in his Mars Hill sermon said in v. 30 "God..calls on all men everywhere to repent."
    Answer, in v 32 some mocked. In v 34 "But certain men clave unto him and believed."

    Can such repentance be expressed in a prayer? Yes
    Can saving faith be expressed in a prayer? Yes

    But repentance and faith can be confessed as well.
     
  18. Tom Butler

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    I wish I could remember the source of this story. It was related by a missionary who was preaching Christ to a group of natives, probably in Africa.

    In the middle of his sermon, a man stood up and said, "I've heard enough! I believe!"

    I doubt seriously if that missionary said, "Hold on a minute, you'll have to wait for the invitation to be saved. Why, you haven't even prayed the prayer yet."

    I don't really think any of us on the BB really thinks people get saved only at church, only during invitations and only by praying the prayer.

    You really don't, do you?

    Do you?
     
  19. HisWordIsTruth

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    Paul tells us we don't have to "say" anything at all. We are saved when we simply believe. We don't have to verbalize anything to believe. Just believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. No need to bow your head or close your eyes or walk and isle or stand up or raise your hand, etc., etc. etc.

    The very moment you believe you are saved. The Christian "religion" has done so much to complicate such a simple message. It's truly sad.
     
  20. standingfirminChrist

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    Romans 10:8-10 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    It is quite clear here in Romans 10 how one must be saved. Just believing Jesus is Lord is not enough. One must also confess Christ. If confession is not coupled with believing, that belief is as James said... dead faith.

    But one also must repent. Christ said in Luke's Gospel 'Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.' God loves those who are of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. A broken heart is a sign of repentance.

    If one truly believes in Christ, one will repent, one will confess.

    Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
     
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