Speaking the Truth in Love

The Sinner’s Prayer

Has a friend ever shared with you the good news that he “got saved last night,” that he trusted Christ and said “the sinner’s prayer”? What did you say? Did you remain silent because you were afraid of giving offense? Below is a reply that you may wish to use or keep for future reference:

Thank you for sharing your news with me. I’m happy to hear that you want to follow Jesus. His love and grace are truly amazing! Would you mind if I shared my own salvation experience with you?

Paul says that “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10:9). I do believe that the Father raised his Son from the dead, and I have confessed him as Lord in the presence of witnesses. Notice that Paul doesn’t say anything here about prayer or confession of sin. He is thinking instead of a public confession of the deity and sovereignty of Christ.

Paul also urges us to have a change of heart: “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4). I’m certainly not a perfect person—far from it! But I have repented. I have turned “from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). Repentance is essential to salvation (Luke 13:5), but the popular expression “faith alone” leaves no room for it.

Paul talks about baptism too. He says that we are buried with Jesus “by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). After believing in Jesus, turning from my sins, and confessing Christ as Lord, I was immersed in his name for the forgiveness of my sins (Acts 2:38). The teaching known as “faith alone” suggests that a person walks in newness of life before baptism. He says the sinner’s prayer and is baptized a couple of weeks later. But look carefully at what Paul writes. Did Jesus rise from the dead before or after his burial? It was after. In the same way a lost person experiences newness of life after his burial by immersion into the Lord’s death.

Have you ever noticed that every “sinner’s prayer” is different? Have you ever wondered why? The reason is simple. There’s no biblical model for such a prayer.

Again, I’m glad that you want to follow Jesus. But please keep studying the scriptures. Don’t take your preacher’s word for it. Don’t take my word for it either. Your soul is far too important for that.

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