Invitations, Questions, Decisions…

Lately, in the Christian world there has been a debate going on about asking God into your heart and if this special prayer is appropriate or superstitious. I have read and heard several viewpoints on this topic and I decided to weigh in. Not because my opinion matters to a whole lot of people but because I have one and want to share it. Here we go…

Some are saying that the “salvation prayer” is unbiblical and superstitious. Some have no problem with the salvation prayer that is used in most churches today. I believe the issue isn’t with the exact words you pray but the issue lies within how the gospel is presented today. Let’s begin with the verse that is the basis of the salvation prayer I’ve heard most.

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”   -Romans 10:9

 And then we have the prayer…

“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I repent of my sins. Please forgive me and save me by your shed blood; come into my heart. I want to receive you as my own personal Lord and savior. Amen”

 As I understand this text, it says to not be ashamed that not only God exists but that Jesus Christ is His son, born to a virgin, who came to sacrifice himself for our sins on the cross. Not only that, but you need to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead so that the sacrifice would be complete and fully proving him as God’s son, our risen Savior. This requires faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Overall, I don’t have a problem with someone saying a specific prayer to accept Christ as their savior. As long as that prayer reflects their knowledge of sin, the hopelessness they have without Christ, their belief in everything that God is (Loving Father AND Just Judge), their belief in Christ and his sacrifice, and their willingness to be transformed inside and out. I think the one listed above is a dinky prayer that does not accurately portray my last statement. Besides, we say a prayer about everything else so why wouldn’t we say a prayer to ask God to include us in His family?

I will tell you what does bother me. Churches/people/pastors presenting only half of who God is. Churches presenting the Christian journey as a piece of cake where we constantly walk in the favor of God receiving untold riches and good health. In other words, the prosperity gospel. God is not a vending machine. He is not subject to our selfish desires but we are subject to His grace, mercy, and judgment.

It’s disturbing that people proclaim once you say this prayer, Blam! your life is changed forever, your heart is instantly transformed and you have a brand new start! It’s simply not that simple. Yes, your life is changed forever because you just committed your life to Christ but it’s not as easy as saying one prayer and then your done. It is a constant, persistent life journey focused on dying to self so that we may be more Christ-like. Allowing your heart to be transformed is not easy. Understanding the gospel and how far reaching God’s grace is, requires us to first understand the depth of our depravity as sinners and that’s not easy. Selfishly, no one wants to be humbled and believe they are in the wrong and must be forgiven but it must be done.

This life commitment we make isn’t about moving some stuff around in your heart and making room for Jesus so that he can live within your heart and be subject to every whim of your heart. It’s completely surrendering your heart, mind and life to God and becoming subject to his will. It’s not about a new master on the block to serve, its about getting rid of your other masters and serving the true Master of heaven and earth.

Becoming a christian, who follows hard after God is not simple nor is it an easy decision, requiring no thought, to make. Yet, churches today make it seem that way. Why? For the numbers? Listen, you may have a high number of people who pray that prayer but how many of those people are you discipling so that decision will remain? You can’t pick and choose what parts of God you share and what parts of the gospel you share. If you’re going to share, you must do it from beginning to end. God is who He is and He doesn’t need you to make Him look good. He can do that on his own. All he needs is for you to share the gospel, openly, honestly and unashamedly. He needs you to be real about what Christianity is and what it means to call yourself a Christ follower. One of the things it isn’t… easy. Christians are being persecuted more and more for their faith in God. In fact,   we’ve always been persecuted but are now experiencing it in a way we never have before. It is becoming a virtue in America to hate Christians. Are you preparing your people for that?

Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness. I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin. You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved. Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved. Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license, but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself. Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.

Amen.

**Originally posted to Blogger on 5-18-12

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