Does the Bible Teach that "The Sinners Prayer" is the Way of Salvation?

From Billy Graham to Max Lucado and all sorts of preachers in between, the message is the same--if one desires to be saved from sin by Jesus Christ, all one needs to do is pray “the sinners prayer.” The following is an example of this prayer.

Heavenly Father:

I come to you in prayer asking for the forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I ask you right now to come in to my life and be my personal Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and will Worship you all the day's of my Life!. Because your word is truth, I confess with my mouth that I am Born Again and Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus!

In Jesus Name, Amen.

The sincere truth seeker will ask at least the following question concerning “the sinners prayer:” Does the New Testament of Jesus Christ teach that the way to receive the forgiveness of one’s sins is by one sincerely praying the “sinners prayer.” Let us learn from the Bible the answer to our question.

Jesus said, “If you continue in my words then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). Jesus also prayed, “Father sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Further, Jesus plainly said that His word would judge each one of us (John 12:48). We recognize, then, that the Bible will read and mean the same on the Day of Judgment as it does now and vice versa. Moreover, we are directed by inspiration to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

With the importance of the previous truths understood, we recognize that if “the sinners prayer” is acceptable to God it will definitely be taught in the scriptures. Therefore, let us study the New Testament to find the answer to our previously posed question concerning the truthfulness of “the sinners prayer.” We would urge anyone who believes in “the sinners prayers” to find one verse of scripture that teaches that such a prayer will save anyone from sin. We are bold enough to say that the New Testament of Jesus Christ does not contain one verse that teaches one is saved by praying “the sinners prayer.“

Further, in the book of Acts Luke records nine cases of people who were converted to Christ through the preaching of the gospel of Christ. “The sinners prayer” is not found in any one of the nine cases of conversion. Surely, if “the sinners prayer” would be found anywhere in the New Testament, it would be in the inspired book that records the early church’s preaching of the gospel and those that responded to it in order to be saved. After all Paul declared that the gospel is God’s power to save men from sin (Romans 1:16). Therefore, we understand why Jesus ordained that it is to be preached to every creature in every generation (Mark 16:15; 2 Timothy 2:2). Surely, if “the sinners prayer” could be found anywhere in the New Testament, we would expect it to be revealed in at least one of the cases of conversion recorded in the book of Acts. BUT IT IS NOT FOUND IN THE BOOK OF ACTS. NEITHER IS IT FOUND IN ANY OTHER BOOK OF THE NEW TESTAMENT OF JESUS CHRIST. That being the case, from where did “the sinners prayer” originate? We can only conclude that it came from the mind of men and not from the mind of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; James 1:25).

What does the Bible teach that man must do in order to be saved by Christ from one’s sins? To answer this vital question one must be willing to take all of what the Bible teaches on the subject before determining what the way of salvation for man is. In answering the previous question please note that in the book of Acts the gospel is always preached to people before they are saved. This is the case because it is the power of God to save a person and one must hear the Gospel in order for faith in Christ to be produced in the mind of hearer (John 5:24; Acts 15:7; Romans 10:17). Therefore, all persons who are accountable to God are brought to belief in Christ (John 3:16-18; Acts 16:31). Believers in Christ are then commanded to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30). Following repentance one must confess his belief that Christ is the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10). Having complied with the preceding steps in God’s plan of salvation one is only then scripturally qualified to be baptized (immersed) in water in order to obtain the forgiveness or remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:38; 10:48; 22:16; Romans 6:3, 4; Colossians 2:12; Galatians 3:26, 27; 1 Peter 3:21). Therefore, God’s plan of salvation as revealed in the totality of the New Testament’s teaching on the subject. Thus, one must:
     1.  Hear the Gospel of Christ;
     2.  Believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God;
     3.  Repent of one‘s sin (turn from the practice of sin);
     4.  Confess that Christ is the son of God;
     5.  Be baptized to obtain the forgiveness of one’s sins;
     6.  Be faithful to Christ (1 Corinthians 15:58; Revelation 2:10).

In the accounts of conversion to Christ recorded in the book of Acts, we learn that every person was baptized in order to be saved. Again there is not one account of anyone being saved by praying “the sinners prayer.” We say again that this prayer is no where taught in the New Testament. This is the case because salvation by faith only is not taught in New Testament (James 2:7-26; also see Hebrews 5:9). “The sinners prayer” will not save anyone from sin. It is a lie and must be rejected and repudiated.

THE NINE CASES OF CONVERSION IN THE BOOK OF ACTS.

     1.  3,000 on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41)
     2.  The Samaritans (Acts 8:9-12)
     3.  Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-39)
     4.  Saul/Paul (Acts 9:1-19 & Acts 22:3-16)
     5.  Cornelius’ Household (Acts 10:44-48)
     6.  Lydia (Acts 16:11-15)
     7.  The Jailer (Acts 16:16-34)
     8.  The Corinthians (Acts 18:1-8)
     9.  The Ephesians (Acts 19:1-7)

-David P. Brown

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