I attended a birthday party recently for one of my stepdaughter’s school friends. A man told a Bible story at the start of the party. At the end of the story (which didn’t include the gospel), he made everyone close their eyes and say the “sinner’s prayer.” Afterward, he asked for how many of us was that the first time we “asked Jesus into their hearts.”
I have a big problem with that.
Salvation is NOT a prayer. Salvation is nothing we do. The only reason we have salvation is because Christ shed His blood and died on the cross, was buried, and was resurrected on the third day. Nothing else on this earth can give us salvation.
For one to be saved, the very first thing that must happen is that they must be called by God (Jn. 6:44, 65; 1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Pt. 1:3; Jude 1). This is the absolute first step. Salvation can not be obtained without first being called by God.
When God calls someone, He sends the Holy Spirit to work in a person to convict them of their sins; to bring them to the realization that they need Jesus Christ and that He is the only one who can save them and give them hope (Jn. 16:8-11; Acts 4:12).
The person then has a decision to make: they can either accept the calling of Almighty God by giving their lives to Jesus, by accepting Him as their Savior and Lord through faith [faith is both a mind and heart condition—faith includes believing the truth and all the facts about Christ, plus trusting Christ and obeying His word] (Jn. 14:21), or they can foolishly say, “NO!” to the calling of God thereby accepting their destiny in hell—knowing they may never get another chance. For, although God is a loving and gracious God, He may not call a person twice.
Salvation is free, yes. Salvation is easy, yes. But one cannot be saved by words or deeds or emotions—one can be saved only by having a repentant heart, through faith by grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9). I hate to think how many people are in this world believing or proclaiming to be followers of Christ because they simply said a prayer, when in fact they never experienced a change; the Holy Spirit never entered them and transformed their hearts and minds; they were never born of God (Jn. 1:12-13, 3:3). I hate to think how many professors of Christ are out there who live lives consistent with the Devil—whatever it may be (whether it be drugs, alcohol, lying, homosexuality, swearing, adultery), any life lived in sin is a life inconsistent with the Christian life (Jn. 3:20, 8:12; 1 Jn. 2:4, 3:4-10). A false Christian can live a life seemingly consistent with Christ, but they will always eventually turn back to sin because they don’t have the Holy Spirit and they never had true faith—think of Judas Iscariot (none of the disciples knew he was the betrayer [Mk. 14:18-19]). I know there are many of these people. I’ve seen them. I’ve heard about them. These are the people who at judgment will be told by Christ, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Mt. 7:21-23).
Do not be fooled by false messages of salvation. And do not teach false messages of salvation. Know the Word, know the Truth. Teach the Word, teach the Truth. It’s only by Christ’s blood and God’s grace that we are saved.