Psalm 61:3

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Biblical Sinner's Prayer?

The Evangelical Jesus PrayerThis is partially (or totally) in response to "The Evangelical Jesus Prayer" found here.  The author of this article assures us that the so-called "sinner's prayer" employed by so many churches in our day and age is biblical, and therefore good and useful.  It is seen as biblical, not because it is drawn from the Scriptures verbatim (like the Lord's Prayer), nor because it is drawn from Christian antiquity (like the Apostles' Creed), but because it is a summary of the Gospel.

A typical prayer is quoted as: "Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be."

We are also warned against "theological snobbery and spiritual self-righteousness".  (In other words, don't get too picky about the words of the prayer.)  But I fail to see how this prayer is a summary of the Gospel, unless you are confused about what the Gospel is. 

"I open the door of my life..." is about what I have done.  Sure the prayer thanks Jesus for stuff, but smack dab at the heart of the prayer is a confession that I have done the right thing, asked Jesus into my heart, and really, let's be honest, saved myself.

This is not theological snobbery, just accuracy.  And lest we think that accuracy is not important, let us remember that it is called "God's Word" for a reason.  Words are the means that God uses to create and sustain faith. Obviously words matter.  Theological words matter more than any other.

So rather than asking people to pray an non-biblical prayer once they have heard the gospel, why not follow the example of the New Testament and baptized them for the forgiveness of their sins? (Acts 2:38, 8:13, 8:37, 9:18, etc)  It strikes me that the Apostles never preach the Gospel and then ask people to "receive Jesus into their hearts".  Rather, they preach the Good News and proclaim baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

The Church would be much better off today if it followed the biblical instructions of our Lord to baptize and teach (Matthew 28:19-20) rather than inventing it's own methods and prayers to make up for a lost respect for the Lord's work in baptism.       

2 comments:

  1. The woman of Rev 12 is now here, she is the prophet like unto Moses and Elijah Matt 17:3, Acts 3:21-23, Luke 1:17 delivering the true word John 1:1 from the wilderness to prepare a people for the Lord’s return. God our Father will not put any child of his into a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer7:31, Jer 19:5. Turn your heart to the children of God. A gift is now delivered to the whole world as a witness Matt24:14. http://minigoodtale.wordpress.com Prove all things.

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  2. Baptists vote to keep the Sinner's Prayer...again

    Preuters News Agency
    London

    Meeting today in London, a convention of the world's Baptists narrowly endorsed the continued use of the Sinner's Prayer as the hallmark act of Christian conversion. Here is the final draft of the convention's statement on this issue:

    "Baptists today again affirm the Sinner's Prayer as the act by which a sinner is justified before God. To be clear, it is not the recitation of the prayer itself that saves, nor is it necessary to endorse a set order of the words to be prayed, nor must the prayer be verbalized to others. What is necessary for salvation is this: A genuine, heartfelt prayer that 1.) acknowledges one's sinfulness and hopeless state of perdition before God 2.) cries out to God with true repentance of one's sins 3.) petitions God for his free gift of salvation 4.) asks Christ to indwell his heart/soul 5.) commits to abandoning his prior sinful lifestyle and promises to follow Christ and his righteousness."

    Controversy over this statement simmered for the entire three days of the convention. A group of younger Baptists from the developing world pushed for the removal of the Sinner's Prayer from the Baptist Statement of Faith, declaring that it was unscriptural and lacked any evidence of use in the Early Church. These young people read statements from the Early Church Fathers from the convention podium, noting that requiring a prayer (spoken or thought) for salvation was unheard of in the Early Church. This assertion created quite a stir as many of the older convention attendees were not accustomed to hearing appeals to the "catholic" Church Fathers as a source of authority for Baptist doctrine.

    The younger group put forward a new, brash, proposal as the new official Baptist Act of Christian Conversion:

    "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins."

    This proposal prompted outrage from the majority of convention attendees. One prominent Baptist pastor from the United States summed up the majority's sentiments by this statement:

    "Too Lutheran."


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