Prayer of Salvation Controversy

Tough Topic

Sooooooo…. Here’s a good one for you guys to debate (atheists, skeptics, cultists, and otherwise non-believers need not participate):

Is the “sinner’s prayer” a good or bad thing?

Just the other day I read a great article by BJ (a follower) on The River Walk. The subject was “The Sinner’s Prayer,” and the text was Matthew 7:21.

Some big names in evangelicalism (David Platt, for example) have a problem with the sinner’s prayer. Many even claim that this type of prayer has led to a plethora of false conversions. Some even go so far as to claim this kind of prayer is a form of “works salvation.”

My Two Cents

Below is the comment I left on The River Walk (tworiversblog.com):

Where do I start? Where do I end? I’m a Baptist. I’m a Baptist pastor. I prayed the “prayer” as a child. I am born again. I have given altar calls. I have invited others to pray the “prayer” during invitations. There’s no way I can know who was born again…or not; only God knows. However, I can tell you about fruit.

No, the prayer doesn’t save; Jesus does. But what I see so often today is an attempt by many to belittle, malign, berate, and denigrate something that is precious and effective if presented in context with the true gospel message. I have seen it so many times: young, intellectual, up-and-coming theologians stirring up strife within the body of Christ, all the while holding on to the banner of grace, attempting to change, as if change itself was something divine. Why not accept the “sinners prayer” with a little more grace and along with it teach the fundamental doctrines on which it depends to be effective?

We ARE commanded to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Rom. 10:13). Is it not a “sinner’s prayer” when a sinner prays for salvation? Yes, I believe that there have been many false conversions brought about by head-hunting preachers and evangelists leading silent, congregational “sinner’s prayers.” That is why when I give an invitation I always explain that true salvation will result in public confession (Matt. 10:32-33). In other words, I never say “Pray with me…” and then ask people to come forward. I say that if one is truly repentant, truly understands his need of new birth, truly finds himself humbled at the foot of the cross, then he will have no problem coming to an altar, making a public profession, and then being baptized.

So, to sum this up…sorry for the length…I was saved at the age of 6 (I’m 47) when I realized that I was a sinner, was going to hell, and that the only way to heaven was to accept God’s gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t have been able to recite the Apostle’s Creed, the Baptist Faith and Message, or even the Ten Commandments, but I knew I was lost. My dad led me to a little Sunday school room where we knelt at a little table, and it was there that my dad, a humble, former moonshiner, led me in the “sinner’s prayer,” because I didn’t know any better way to say what was in my little heart. That was the day I was saved, and I thank God my dad prayed with me.

That’s my 2 cents.

Well? Let’s discuss it.

15 Comments

Filed under salvation, Theology

Cacophonous Flabbergasts

Defining the Title

If you don’t know what I mean by  “Cacophonous Flabbergasts,” don’t worry; I’ll explain it for you.

You wake up in the morning, turn on the radio and/or television, and check your email, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. If you have time, you read a quick devotion and say a 30-second prayer of thanks for a new day.

As you eat breakfast, if you don’t distract yourself with meaningless, mind-numbing popular music, you turn on CNN, FOX, or some other network and hear nothing but depressing, irritating, and ultimately out-of-your-control news and propaganda (unless you watch Al Jazeera – nothing but objective truth). You may even learn a new recipe.

On the way to and from work you get bombarded by advertising created to snag your attention and your money. During breaks, and then later at home, even while doing other things, even while eating, you subject yourself to social media: cat videos; news stories; gossip; pictures of nude celebrities; images of ISIS victims; and things others have, but you want. When bedtime comes you’re ready for sleep, except one more game on the iPad must be played…then another…then answer an instant message…

Cacophonous flabbergasts: Incessantly loud noises and distractions made up of circumstances and situations – some controllable, some not – meant to sap our strength and weaken us, both physically and spiritually; the overwhelming, unending waves of life that eventually knock us off our feet and drown us.

The Result

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. If it’s not terrorism, it’s a phone call. If it’s not the stock market in trouble, it’s a friend with marital problems. If it’s not too many things on the schedule, it’s not enough money to pay the bills. If it’s not another unexpected illness that insurance won’t cover, it’s the water being turned off as you’re washing your hair, late to an interview.

The waves of life have a way of taking our eyes off Jesus, don’t they?

When we take our eyes off of Jesus; when we get distracted by all the upheaval, the noise, the shifting surface which continually gives way beneath our feet; there’s no peace, only fear, which leads to doubt, anger, depression, etc.

Much like Peter, whether intentionally or not, we allow the cacophonous flabbergasts to drown out His voice and divert our attention, and we become afraid

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid… – Matthew 14:30

Change Your Focus

rough-seasI don’t know about you, but I’ve let a lot of what is going on in the world get me down. I’ve let the bills make me worry. I’ve let a lot of bad stuff take my focus of Christ. I’ve been flabbergasted by the cacophony of trials and tribulations.

What about you?

Maybe we should do as Peter did when he began to sink. Maybe we should quit looking at the waves and turn our focus back on Christ. Maybe we should cry out, “Lord, save me!”

And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him… – Matthew 14:31

He did, and He will.

1 Comment

Filed under General Observations, God, politics, worship

Rainy Days Aren’t That Bad

Cold and Rainy

Some people think I should be committed. They have good reasons, I suppose, especially when it’s cold and rainy outside. You see, I am one of those strange people that actually enjoy rainy days.

Yes, when I wake up in the morning to cloud-induced darkness, the sound of water droplets hitting my roof, and the thought of having to drive on wet streets with my windshield wipers struggling along to a steady 4/4 beat, I get excited. That makes me strange. Maybe even crazy.

But seriously, I have no problem with cold, rainy days like today. Believe it or not, driving a school bus in the rain, especially in the early-morning darkness, feels sorta cozy. I mean, think about it: I am the one in the warm confines of a climate-controlled vehicle, unafraid of other motorists, enjoying the soft roar of water droplets tapping on the metal roof, and thankful I’m not those kids having to stand in the cold rain waiting on me. (Of course, there are a couple of kids I’ve known…well, that’s another story)

There Are Limits

photo (39)As I look up at the dark, rain-soaked, leaf-bare tree in my front yard I can admire a beauty never seen during summer.  The same thing goes for driving in the rain; everything sparkles and glistens when headlamps, brake lights, and blinkers illuminate the wet pavement. I’ve learned to find enjoyment in cold, rainy weather. But, I’m glad it doesn’t last. Yes, there are limits, even to my madness.

Even though I can enjoy stormy weather, I do so with the knowledge and assurance that warmer, sunny days will return. I can find peace in the rain because I know one day it will stop, and I will enjoy the flowers. I can find ways to enjoy the cold while it lasts, because scorching days are sure to come. What gets me through one season is the hope that another season is just around the corner.

Seasons Change

Why do we get so depressed, so discouraged, so faithless, when cold and rainy weather moves in? Oh, it makes us change our fair-weather plans, rearrange our schedules, and cancel certain events, but why act like it’s the end of the world? Don’t we know that “in ever life a little rain must fall?”

Maybe you’ve never thought about it this way, but God sends the rain as a sign He hasn’t left us, that He’s still active in our lives. Paul and Barnabas said that God left the rain as a “witness” to fill our hearts with “gladness” (Acts 14:17). The rain, along with the sunshine, show us God is watching over us, giving us what we need in due season.

Are you waking up to a cold, rainy, depressing day? There is beauty to be found, even at times like this. Just remember, silver linings are rarely noticed without the clouds.

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Depression, Faith, Life Lessons, Life/Death, Struggles and Trials

Prayerless and Powerless

The Second Book

Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray

I am now well into the second week of 2015 with one book read and another started. The first book I finished was Donkey Tells a Promise Kept. The book I am reading at this moment is Living a Prayerful Life by Andrew Murray (1828-1917).

If you have never heard of Andrew Murray, he was a South African preacher and pastor (of Scottish decent), but more than anything a prayer warrior. Some of his theology may not sit well with all of us, but one thing is certain: this man had a heart for God like few others.

Quote of the Day

I am not even a quarter of the way through this little book, but there is something I’ve got to share with you. Something Murray wrote is convicting me, stinging me with a pain sharper than any wasp, more like the burn of a red-hot poker to the heart.

The Enemy uses all his power to lead the Christian – and above all, the minister – to neglect prayer. Satan knows that however admirable the sermon may be, however attractive the service, however faithful the pastoral visitation, none of these things can damage him or his kingdom if prayer is neglected. – Andrew Murray (p. 28)

I’m not going to lie – I don’t pray like I should. What a waste! What a sin!

I have preached some pretty good sermons and tried to do all the pastoral stuff, but how much more effective could I have been had I spent more time on my knees and less time at a desk? What if I spent more time talking with Jesus than talking about Him?After all, the whole reason the disciples called for the selecting of deacons was so that they might first give themselves “continually to prayer…” (Acts 6:4).

Preachers, before you worry anymore about your outline for Sunday, your clever illustrations, or your Power Point, spend some more time prostrate before the throne. If we neglect earnest prayer, we’ll have no power, so what’s the point?

One finger pointing, three back at me.

5 Comments

Filed under book review, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Prayer, Preaching

Who Am I?

Anthony Baker:

Wow! Just…WOW! This post is from a blog I just started following, and it will surely be part of a future sermon. Who am I? Read and find out ;-)

Originally posted on Kim Andrew's Blog:

I am an Israelite in the desert, You have delivered me and still I doubt. You have performed miracles before my very eyes, and still I question You.
I choose the world and then curse You when everything goes wrong. I keep turning away, and yet You still protect me and give me chances that I don’t deserve.

I am Jonah, running in fear from the purpose You have given me.

I am Gideon, I try to tell You that You’ve got the wrong one, that I am not good enough to do what You need done. I doubt that You can use someone like me.

I am David, I allow my momentary impulsive desires to compromise everything You’ve built and everything You’ve done for me.

I am a pharisee, I consistently choose legalism and rules over truth and compassion.

I am the rich young ruler, unable to part with…

View original 216 more words

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Donkey Tells: A Review

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone! Yes, I know it is January 8, but I haven’t been able to write anything substantial until now. This, with the exception of a re-blog of something my daughter did, is the first post of 2015 – I’m so excited!

In December I wrote a couple of posts having to do with resolutions. One of the things I decided to do this year is read more – a lot more. As a matter of fact, I am going to attempt to read a book every couple weeks. Will I make it? At least I am going to try. What I will promise – and will achieve – is that I will be reading much more than that past, and that’s an improvement.

What has exceedingly hurt you in time past, nay, and I fear to this day, is want of reading. … And perhaps, by neglecting it, you have lost the taste for it. Hence your talent in preaching does not increase. … You wrong yourself greatly by omitting this. You can never be a deep preacher without it, any more than a thorough Christian.” John Wesley to John Premboth on August 17, 1760*

The First Book!

Believe it or not, I am just now into the second week of the year and have already finished my first book: Donkey Tells a Promise Kept.

Shortly before Christmas, the author of Donkey Tells (J. Thomas – aka, James Neff) paid me a welcome visit. When he came, he brought an autographed copy of his book in exchange for one of mine – a fair trade, indeed. So, after a home-cooked Southern meal which included fried okra, banana pudding, and coffee, I agreed to read Donkey Tells and write a review.

The Review

photo (38)

Click on this picture to order

This is a unique little book, for sure. Even though it is meant to be read by younger children, the message is profound enough for the adult. I would, however, recommend buying this book to read to little kids. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of illustrations, so it might be more effective if read aloud as a nightly devotion for your elementary-aged child.

Donkey Tells a Promise Kept is a sweet story of a mother donkey (Sydney) explaining to her colt (Micah) the reason behind why the little colt would be carrying Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem (see Matt. 21:1-7). It also tells of what happens after all the “hallelujah’s” and “hosanna’s” fade away.

Now, don’t get your panties in a wad if you are the type who wants everything you read to be absolutely biblical; J. Thomas’ re-telling of certain well-known Bible stories, told through the recollection of a donkey, are not meant to be completely historical. However, Jesus may have talked to animals. Who knows? And, for that matter, animals may actually go to heaven, right?

Essentially, this is a sweet little book that can help communicate the gospel story to a child through an imaginative tale of talking donkeys with a little more spiritual insight than many adults.

The ending of the book leaves an opening for additional stories, to which I look forward.  However, I’d suggest firing the former illustrator and hiring me; just pay me in coffee, fried okra, pinto beans, and cornbread.

Donkey Tells is 132 pages long, but the print is larger, thereby making it a quick and fun read.

Buy the book or download it. You’ll enjoy it – and that’s a promise!

 

*Quoted in Ben Witherington’s Is There a Doctor in the House?: An Insider’s Story and Advice on Becoming a Bible Scholar, pg. 71.

 

2 Comments

Filed under book review

What are You Doing to the World?

Anthony Baker:

Here are some beautiful pictures taken yesterday by my daughter, Katie. When I looked at them I told her, “You know, there is a verse in the Bible about turning the world upside down.” So that’s the question: why aren’t we still doing that?

Originally posted on Shutter Elf:

Acts 17:1-7 ESV – (1) Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. (2) And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, (3) explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”DSC_1534

(4) And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. (5) But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.DSC_1507

(6) And when…

View original 71 more words

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized