Tag Archives: salvation

The Birthing of an 8 Year-Old: A Proper Time to Use the “Sinner’s Prayer”?

Last night I was blessed with the wonderful privilege of holding hands with an 8 year-old boy and his mother as he prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior! It was awesome!

The “sinner’s prayer” was involved, though. Was this a problem?

Let me describe what happened, then let’s talk about it.


It was Wednesday night, and that’s when the youth meet downstairs and the adults meet in the main sanctuary for prayer and discussion of Scripture (we are currently going through the book of Proverbs a chapter each week). After I had already gotten started, the mother and her son came in and sat in the auditorium. Frankly, I thought it was odd that they both came in…maybe he got in trouble, or something?

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Jhett and his mom, Cara, at a rodeo. It runs in his family.

Well, it was only after the meeting was finished that Cara and Jhett (Yeah, that’s his name. Cool, huh?), a young rodeo star in his own right (he’s a champion mutton rider!), walked up to me and wanted to talk.

“Jhett has something he wants to ask you,” his mother, Cara, said.

“Oh, really?” I responded. “What is it you want to talk about?”

Then, with a nervous voice, he looked up and said, “I want to be baptized.”

I said, “Oh! Well, let’s sit down and talk about it.”

I had to make sure what was going on, so we then sat down on the steps in front of the stage. I needed to know, first of all, if Jhett knew what baptism was and why it was important. I needed to know if he was even born again.

After some simple discussion, it became clear to me that Jhett had never actually become a Christian by repenting of his sin and giving his life to Jesus. If he had, he didn’t remember. However, it also became clear that he associated baptism with giving one’s life to Christ, so all I felt was needed was clarification and a little instruction.

Some people rightfully worry about false conversions when it comes to children. I’m one of them. The last thing I will ever do is preach a sermon to a bunch of children and make a blanket plea for “all who want to go to heaven come forward.”

Another thing I am very hesitant to do is ask a child to pray the “sinner’s prayer” with me.

Now, wait a minute! Haven’t I written a strong defense of the “sinner’s prayer”? Yes, I have! As a matter of fact, my dad led me through the prayer, helping me say what needed to be said, when I was only 6 years old (Sept. 27, 1973 – a Wednesday night). Why, then, would I be hesitant to lead another child through the “sinner’s prayer”?

Simple: I need to know that what they are doing is genuine and not coerced.

So, last night I explained to this wonderful young man what it meant to be a sinner, what sin was, and what God thought of it. I explained the first half of Romans 3:23, to which he responded with a look of shock. Then I told him about the “gift of God” and eternal life through faith in Jesus.

After first explaining everything in the most elementary way possible, then after asking if he understood, Jhett nodded in approval. He understood that he was NOT saved and WAS lost. He understood that he needed to be SAVED before being baptized. And when I asked if he wanted to pray to make Jesus “boss” of his life and trust Him with his soul forever, he said, “Yes.”

Why am I writing all of this? It’s important you see where I had to make an informed, wise decision where others may have either rescheduled with Jhett, or excitedly moved forward without any hesitation.

When it comes to adults, especially, I am a firm believer in: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).  If a person is unwilling to publicly profess his/her faith in Jesus, then I highly doubt their conversion.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” – Jesus, Matthew 10:32-33

Therefore, I had to pause for a second after I initially prayed with the boy. The first time we prayed, I asked him to pray to God in his own words something similar to a prayer that I would say. It was a “sinner’s prayer.” But when I was done, and Cara asked him if/what he prayed, he looked a little embarrassed and shook his head. I could tell he was nervous.

His sisters had come in and were sitting on the front row, watching with expectation. That probably didn’t help.

I then asked him something like, “Why don’t you do this…why don’t you go ahead and talk to God, just like we’re talking now, and tell him you are a sinner, ask for His forgiveness, and ask Jesus to take control of your life?” He balked at the idea.

(His mom nicely and wisely asked the girls to leave the room for a few minutes.)

“Can you pray to Jesus, Jhett?” his mom asked. With a frown and a shake of his head, he replied, “I’m too nervous.”

  • Did he not want to be saved?
  • Were we pressuring him into a false conversion?

These were questions that I had to consider at this point, and doing the wrong thing could be catastrophic.

I then asked, “Would you like for me to pray aloud and say the words so that you can follow along?” His eyes lifted.

“Would that be OK?” Cara asked. He nodded with a smile.

“Then let’s pray,” I said. “And let’s all hold hands.”

Why did I go forward with the “sinner’s prayer”? Because, as I discerned, I had not made an emotional, manipulative call for Jhett to come forward to accept Jesus – he came of his own free will. Even though his understanding of baptism was initially mistaken, the fact that he wanted to be saved, even though he was confused about the process, was evident and his desire was genuine, not coerced.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with using the “sinner’s prayer” as a tool to help someone who is already being drawn by the Holy Spirit unto Christ. I do think it’s important, however, that we use discretion when praying with children.

Now let’s go fill up that baptistery!


(My thanks to Cara and Jhett for letting me tell this story. Oh, and we may also have an up-and-coming “preacher” in the midst 🙂 )

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Filed under baptist, Prayer, salvation, Southern Baptist, Theology

Bedtime Prayer of the Saved by Grace

“Now I lay me down to sleep.

I KNOW the Lord my soul will keep.

And if I should die before I wake,

Then, HALLELUJAH! That would take the cake!

Thank you Jesus! Amen! Praise God!”

 

“Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” – Romans 15:33

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, grace, iPosts, Life/Death, salvation

Do You Have the Heart of the Renewed or Unrenewed?

Do you ever wonder how to tell if you have been born again, saved, or renewed by the Holy Spirit?

Well, I found the lists below in a John MacArthur study Bible a while back, and I thought I would share them with you.

Do a self-assessment (2 Cor. 13:5), if you’re concerned. If you’re NOT concerned, yet you fit more in the bottom half of the list, I’m concerned for you! It might be good for you to check out the tab “Eternal Life” at the top of this blog. Seriously!

Again, this is not original on my part, but I thought it was worth sharing. If nothing else it can shine some light on areas needing improvement.

Heart, Character of the Renewed

Prepared to seek God. 2 Chr 19:3; Ezra 7:10; Ps 10:17

Fixed on God. Ps 57:7

Joyful in God. 1 Sam 2:1

Perfect with God. Ps 101:2

Upright. Ps 97:11

Clean. Ps 73:1

Pure. Matt. 5:8

Tender. 1 Sam 24:5

Single and sincere. Acts 2:46; Heb 10:22

Honest and good. Luke 8:15

Broken, contrite. Ps. 34:18; 51:17

Obedient. Ps 119:112; Rom 6:17

Filled with the law of God. Jer. 32:40

Meditative. Ps 4:4

Circumcised. Rom 2:29

Void of fear. Ps 27:3

Desirous of God. Ps 84:2

Enlarged. Ps 119:32; 2 Cor 6:11

Faithful to God. Neh 9:8

Confident in God. Ps 112:7

Sympathizing. Jer 4:19; Lam 3:51

Prayerful. 1 Sam 1:13; Ps 27:8

Inclined to obedience. Ps 119:112

Wholly devoted to God. Ps 9:1; 119:10,69,145

Zealous. 2 Chr 17:6; Jer 20:9

Wise. Prov 10:8; 14:33; 23:15

A treasury of good. Matt 12:35

Heart, Character of the Unrenewed

Hateful to God. Prov 6:16, 18; 11:20

Full of evil. Ecc 9:3

Full of evil imaginations. Gen 6:5; 8:21; Prov 6:18

Full of evil thoughts. Jer 4:14

Fully set to do evil. Ecc 8:11

Desperately wicked. Jer 17:9

Far from God. Is 29:13; matt 15:8

Not perfect with God. I Kings 15:3; Acts 8:21; Prov 6:18

Not prepared to seek God. 2 Chron 12:14

A treasury of evil. Matt 12:35; Mark 7:21

Darkened. Rom 1:21

Prone to error. Ps 95:10

Prone to depart from God. Deut 29:18; Jer 17:5

Impenitent. Rom 2:5

Unbelieving. Heb 3:12

Blind. Eph 4:18

Uncircumcised. Lev 26:41; Acts 7:51

Of little worth.  Prov 10:20

Deceitful. Jer 17:9

Deceived. Is 44:20; James 1:26

Divided. Hos 10:2

Double. 1 Chr 12:33; Ps 12:2

Hard. Mark 10:5; Rom 2:5

Haughty. Prov 18:12; Jer 48:29

Influenced by the devil. John 13:2

Carnal. Rom 8:7

Covetous. Jer 22:17; 2 Pet 2:14

Despiteful. Ezek 25:15

Ensnaring. Eccl 7:26

Foolish. Prov 12:23; 22:15

Deceitful. Prov 17:20

Fretful against the Lord. Prov 19:3

Idolatrous. Ezek 14:3,4

Mad. Eccl 9:3

Mischievious. Ps 28:3; 140:2

Proud. Ps 101:4; Prov 6:14

Stiff. Ezek 2:4

Stony. Ezek 11:19; 36:26

Arrogant. Isa 10:12

Stubborn. Isa 46:12

Elated by sensual indulgence. Hos 13:3

Elated by prosperity. 2 Chr 26:16; Dan 5:20

Studies destruction. Prov 24:2

Often judiciously stupefied. Is 6:10; Acts 28:26,27

Often judiciously hardened. Ex 4:21; Joshua 11:20


John MacArthur Study Bible, © 1997

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Faith, Love of God, Theology

Adultery and Saints: What Ephesians 5 Says

Credit: Unknown

A word of advice:

When you pound the pulpit, make sure your fist splashes in tears.

That’s the way I felt this past Sunday when I preached a difficult sermon on adultery. I had to “pound the pulpit,” but my heart was broken for those who really need to repent.

You see, I know that there are those of us who’ve been affected by unfaithfulness or been unfaithful. Maybe you’ve even experienced the pain and devastation that divorce brings.

Some of you reading this have stumbled, fallen, and now would do anything to turn back the clock and erase the steps you took that led to failed relationships. If you could go back, you’d never be the “prodigal.”

You are not the primary audience for this sermon.

No, this sermon is mainly meant for those who think sexual sin is just something natural, excusable, and no big deal. Most importantly, t’s a wake-up call to those who may have been deceived into thinking their eternity is secure.

It’s a sermon that I hope God will use not only to restore some wounded relationships, but open the blinded eyes of the lost to the Light of salvation.

Listen and Share

I’m so tired of seeing marriages fail, people hurt, and children suffer. It doesn’t have to be!

I’d like to invite you to listen to the sermon I preached this past Sunday (Feb. 16, 2020) at Bethlehem Baptist Church. I hope it will encourage you to strengthen what you have, avoid temptation, and, if you feel inclined, examine your relationship with Jesus Christ.

And, if it’s a blessing to you, share it with someone.

To listen, click the “Sermon Audio” box, or just click HERE for “Adultery and Saints: What Ephesians 5 Says.” 


Oh, one last thing! … If you make it all the way to the end of the recording, you’ll get to hear my wife admit to the whole congregation that she needs to be a better wife! 🙂  No joke!

And I didn’t know it was coming!

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Filed under Culture Wars, Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Divorce, Family, Marriage, Relationships and Family

I’m Going to Offend Somebody

Offended Anyone?

Have you ever offended anyone? I bet you have. Sooner or later, all of us will. We may say something we don’t mean, act carelessly, or speak the truth without love. Offenses happen.

However, there are times when simple words and phrases will set people off. For example, if you want to rile people up into a tizzy, just get on Facebook or Twitter and post any of the following words (your opinion doesn’t matter):

  1. Image may contain: 8 people, outdoor

    Yes, that’s me in the center kneeling. My dad beside me. We raced Fords. (1987)

    Grits, okra, and turnip greens

  2. Roll Tide! / Go Vols!
  3. “Only two genders”
  4. “It’s only a translation.”
  5. Rapture
  6. First On Race Day (Ford)
  7. Second Amendment
  8. “My kids will never do that.”
  9. “only between a man and a woman”
  10. Donald Trump

Seriously, use any of those words and it won’t take 10 minutes before people are arguing and fighting, calling each other names, questioning each other’s religion, and saying things like, “DON’T JUDGE ME!”

Nevertheless, we should do our best to “live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). It should never be our intent to hurt feelings or make people angry. The apostle Paul instructed us to “follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).  So, as much as is possible, we should watch what we say, choose our words carefully, and do our best not to offend.

And, when necessary, we should apologize.

The Rock of Offense

On the other hand, there are times when we MUST offend. Sometimes speaking the truth is the only loving thing to do; anything less is an offense to God.

For example, the following words will not make many friends but are guaranteed to generate hate-filled comments from around the troll-dwelling universe. Yet, they must be said!

  • Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man can come unto the Father but by Him (John 14:6).

As a blogger, my words are read all over the world by people who hate the name of Jesus, and when I mention Him they go ballistic. I hate it for them, but how can I remain silent?

Jesus told the followers of John the Baptist,

“…Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. – Luke 7:22-23 

I don’t like offending people, but here’s the thing: if we let the fear of offending silence the Truth, how then can we “follow after the things which make for peace?” There can be no real peace without the Prince of Peace.

So, I guess I’m going to offend somebody.

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Filed under blogging, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Faith, General Observations, Life Lessons, salvation

My Pre-Salvation Testimony

Testimonies

I’m a Christian. So, when I talk about my testimony, I’m talking about my personal story, not what’s given from the witness stand.

You see, we Christians, particularly we church-going folk, like to talk about what God has done in our lives. We like telling others about where the Lord has brought us from, how he’s changed us, and what He’s currently doing in our lives. We like to “testify.”

But as I say that, it seems to me that more Christians than not are pretty silent about what God has done to transform them. To be honest, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve been to a “testimony service” where there’s no preaching, just people telling their stories – their testimonies.

The “Great” Testimonies

But maybe it’s because so often what gets the most press, so to speak, are the testimonies that wow the audience, the “great” testimonies of how God delivered a horrible sinner and turned him into a saint. …Yeah, I know, that’s what salvation is, but work with me for a moment

What people really want to hear are the salacious details of debauchery and crime, the drugs and alcohol, the millions blown on a life of sin … you know, sort of like Kanye … and THEN how God miraculously saved them from all the excitement.  You don’t draw a crowd with a boring testimony like, “I was saved as a small child and lived a relatively God-honoring life the last 40 years.”

Why would the average Christian want to stand up in front of people and watch them yawn? For the most part, a lot of people who are born again by faith in Jesus Christ think their story isn’t worth telling, at least not worth making a big deal.

That’s why I want to share, for the very first time, my pre-salvation testimony… to encourage the average believer who’s never been a murderer, a drug dealer, a dope addict, a wifebeater, a famous musician, or a politician.

My Story

I’ve written before about my life after God saved my soul, but I’ve never written about what I was like before I gave my heart to Jesus. I didn’t want to give the devil too much credit or make my past life look attractive to those who might be tempted by the depravity to which I was bound.

Honestly, some people talk about their lives before Christ like salvation was only something they resigned to. It’s like: “I had everything money could buy – women, drugs, fast cars, airplanes, houses on the beach, and a modeling contract – but then I got saved, and now I go to church.

But not me… I was a true sinner, lost and on my way to hell, and I’m glad Jesus saved me!

Before I got saved, I was an immature, unpredictable, maladjusted mess. For a few years, I was in such a world of my own that nobody could understand me; my vocabulary was horrible, worse than a sailor’s. My language was so bad I’d even make up words to express the neediness inside.

For at least a year I drank all the time. Rarely ate a bite of food.

I never cared about my own well-being, but lived every day without any thought of life or death. I took every risk, broke every rule, and in trouble with authority on a regular, sometimes daily basis.

Before Jesus saved me, I was self-centered, self-serving, and entitled; I felt everything should be done for me, that I shouldn’t have to do anything for myself. For a couple of years, I didn’t even try.

I was like the homeless in San Fransisco; I’d defecate anywhere and anytime I wanted. Once, while attending a party at my parent’s house, I literally walked into the middle of the living room where the church people were sitting, and urinated into an ashtray on the coffee table!

The face of an unrepentant sinner full of unholy potential.

I took advantage of everyone who loved me, especially my mother. Fortunately, I had good parents who loved me through those unredeemed years, even though it seemed like every paycheck of theirs was meant to keep me alive.

That is why I could never thank God enough for what He did when He saved me on September 26, 1973… when I was only six years old!

God spared the world from what I could have become.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Humor, self-worth, Witnessing, worship

Is Faith an Irresistible Gift?

For your consideration…a fresh new video from Soteriology101.com

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Filed under Faith, salvation, Theology