I think in some ways we get this wrong, and it confuses not just new believers but also those who’ve believed in Christ for much longer.
The sinners prayer. It goes like this –
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.
This is a great prayer for asking Jesus Christ into your heart, for asking His forgiveness and acknowledging his power, love, and grace. It outwardly proclaims that in my HEART I believe Jesus was raised from the dead. And really, all of Christianity rests on that point – the resurrection of Christ. Paul directly tells us in one of his epistles that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, we are to be pitied above all people, because if He did not, our belief is in nothing.
But really, the question I have today, what’s on my mind, is..is that all? We say a prayer like the one above asking Jesus into our hearts and lives, maybe get baptized, and that’s it. We go to heaven. I know that is what is believed. But – if I say this prayer today, check that box, and tomorrow I go out and just live as I had every day before saying that prayer – am I saved? If I proclaim that Jesus is Lord of my life, that He was indeed raised from the dead, but go forward as if he hadn’t, did I really believe in my heart what I said with my mouth? Or did I simply check a box, complete a to-do list?
Think about something Jesus said – “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 One of the scariest verses in the bible. Don’t forget that all the disciples (except John) followed in Jesus footsteps all the way to execution. Peter insisted on being crucified upside down because he counted himself unworthy of dying as Jesus had. Why did these men die proclaiming the name of Jesus? Because they believed in their hearts that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. That confirmed He was the son of God, that all the things He had said with them and to them were the truth. So, they were going to do as He told them. And they certainly were not going to deny Him in front of men. Even if it meant their life.
“And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:11-14 . “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” This is ongoing, not one and done. Jesus told us over and over hard times will come, be prepared to endure suffering. Do you think lawlessness has increased? Do you think we have false prophets among us? Has the love of many grown cold? Our walk with Christ requires perseverance to the end.
The apostle Paul, who wrote Romans 10:9, upon which we base our sinners prayers, told us – “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12 ESV. We don’t work FOR our salvation, we work it out. The sinners prayer IS where we start. It is where we accept Christ into our hearts and declare our belief. It is our entrance into the family. But, is it just a beginning, or is it the end? If we believe in our HEARTS that Jesus was raised from the dead, proving He was the son of God, it will simply be the beginning of our walk of faith. What does your heart believe?
“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””