The Sinner's Prayer

The first idea of the sinner’s prayer is that you understand that we are all sinners, which is true. The second is knowing that Jesus is the solution, which is also true. But this only gets a non-Christian a small part of the way to salvation. Some of the proponents of the sinner’s prayer, argue that of course you have to have a deep knowledge of Christ and living a spiritual life, that it’s not just “accepting Him into your heart”. When someone sits down and studies the New Testament in depth, they will see that there is more than just accepting these two concepts.

The idea of “receiving Christ into your heart” seems to have first appeared around the 17th century. quoting o Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” In the mid-1700’s, a lecturer named John Webb misuses this passage as a basis of evangelizing non-Christians. “Here is a promise of Union to Christ; in these words, I will come in to him. i.e. If any Sinner will but hear my Voice and open the Door, and receive me by Faith, I will come into his Soul, and unite him to me, and make him a living member of that my mystical body of which I am the Head.” (Christ’s Suit to the Sinner, 14). Strings of preachers and denominations adopted this idea of “opening the door and letting Jesus into their heart”. This verse, taken out of context, could prove their point, but as we know it is imperative to always take any verse in the context its written. Revelations 3:14-20 is a plea to the Church in Laodicia, to find a fire for the Lord yet again. They were already converted Christians, seemingly complacent and resting on the wealth they had built for themselves. These people were miserable and just didn’t realize it. They were attempting to fill a void with wealth, but it wasn’t working. They were trying to put a round peg in a Jesus shaped hole.  

The sinner’s prayer doesn’t exist anywhere in the bible, instead proving that the idea of belief alone will not get you to Heaven. Jesus tells His apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). Belief is a part of being saved, but not the only part. Examples of believers being immediately baptized can be found throughout the book of Acts. One compelling account is found in Acts 16. The jailer that is guarding Paul and Silas is relieved to find that they did not escape after an earthquake, “and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household” (Acts 16:30-33). It is after the apostles speak the word of the Lord to the jailer that he believes and immediately was baptized.  

Every verse in the Bible is important to take into context. Context of chapter, context of book, and context of the entire Bible. Nothing is contradictory. If all that was needed was to merely believe, understand, and accept Jesus into our hearts—there would not be every example of conversion (post establishment of the Church) involving baptism.