Skip to main content

Does the ‘prayer of salvation’ save you?

4 laws e592ce6a
Tim Keller says, “Most decisions for Christ are not conversions. They’re commitments to get into a process.” Now if you grew up like I did, in a home where family members passed out tracts, that’s a provocative statement, maybe even heresy. Does it mean that if you’ve prayed the prayer of sa…
By Seth Barnes
4 lawsTim Keller says, “Most decisions for Christ are not conversions. They’re commitments to get into a process.”
Now if you grew up like I did, in a home where family members passed out tracts, that’s a provocative statement, maybe even heresy. Does it mean that if you’ve prayed the prayer of salvation you’re not necessarily saved?
 
Here’s where I’ve had to struggle through this: The first AIM projects featured a heavy evangelistic component. The whole objective of our effort was to get people to pray the salvation prayer. I believed then and still believe that salvation comes through Christ alone and that we have to repent and embrace forgiveness.
 
That said, I’m wondering how biblical our evangelism really was. In many instances, for example, we couldn’t guarantee that there would be any kind of follow up with the person we’d just evangelized. So, what do you do with a person who prays a prayer but believes none of the words he just said? Is that making Jesus Lord of your life?
 
Nowhere in the Bible do we see the prayer of salvation. What we do see is people repenting and following Jesus. We see them assimilated into a local group of believers and a discipleship process. To get someone to pray and then walk away is kind of like creating spiritual orphans.
 
Today a friend got me thinking. He wanted to know what I thought about his formula for getting saved. Here it is: 

 There are 4 Steps to know God.
 
#1. Realize – Realize all have sinned.  
We’re all screw-ups, broken and we cannot live up to God’s Holy ways.  (Romans 3:23)

#2. Recognize – Recognize Jesus paid for your sins when he died on the Cross.  
God became man, his name was Jesus Christ and he died on a Cross for your sins, then he rose again so we can be forgiven and have life after death. (John 3:16)

#3. Receive – Receive God’s forgiveness by turning from sins and start following of Jesus Christ today.  (John1:12)

#4.  The Result – The Result is a Transformed Life.  
A true follower of Jesus will have a transformed life. (John1:12)

So this is how we get to know God. Really? Let’s apply this process to realm of normal human relationships. Imagine if you were introducing me to a close friend. You want me to get to know him, but he’s been hurt by something I did. So the way I know him is by understanding how I hurt him, recognizing that he’ll forgive me and then receive his forgiveness – then I know him?? It’s preposterous. The most that I may know about your friend is that he’s thin-skinned.
 
Now, if your friend spoke to me and listened to me, and I felt he understood my heart, I might begin the process of getting to know him. Over time, as we talk, we might get to know one another. 
 
People need Jesus, but a spiritual hit job is no way to introduce them to him. It doesn’t show love and doesn’t move the person in the direction of making Jesus Lord of their decision-making process. It looks more like the kind of vending machine faith that we’re trying to get away from: “Just do this and you’ll get this.” We want to  move people away from performance by getting them perform. I’m sorry – it’s too transactional a process for a relational God. Yes, they need to repent, but it needs to be in the context of understanding and relational nurture. Have them pray the prayer embracing Jesus when they’re ready to begin to follow him.
 
Jesus, comparing himself to a shepherd, said this about knowing him, “His sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:4). 
 
In other words, like anybody else, if I recognize your voice, it’s the first step in getting to know you. If I can hear your voice, I might hear your heart. If I hear your heart, I might begin to understand places where our relationship is broken. As we Christians say, it’s all about a personal relationship with God.
 
We need to take a fresh look at this. 

Comments (25)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

about team