How many of us have prayed the sinner’s prayer? We get swept in the emotion of what is going on, we are called to the front of a church to say a few simple words. We are given reassurance that we would get to go to heaven because of it.
I remember the first time I prayed it. I was around 10 years old and my neighbor told me that Jesus was coming soon and that I needed to accept Jesus into my heart by praying this simple prayer and it would save me from the wrath of God.
Yes, my friend was 10 and did the best she could with her faith and theology to share, but I don’t believe that I was saved at that moment For many years I believed that I was a Christian because I spoke those simple words, but the truth is, salvation is not earned by saying a few words once in your life, if you never think about them or live them out after.
Nowhere in the Bible does it give us a sinner’s prayer to pray. Could you imagine Paul lining up 100’s of people, and saying, “okay now repeat after me…” No, they preached boldly, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” and as a result people began confessing on their own. It would have been people confessing their true depravity and finding freedom, not a generic, “Lord forgive me of all my sins.”
No, it would have been more specific and in our context today something like, “Lord forgive me of my anger, forgive me for the idol worship of Facebook that I put before you or forgive me of lusting after the flesh, etc.” Peter tells us in Acts Chapter 3 verse 19 to “repent, turn back that your sins may be blotted out,” so that He will forgive your sins.
How many millions of people have gone to crusades and made ‘professions’ of faith and were told they got their ticket to heaven and think they are good. How awful is it going to be on that day when they stand in their own confidence before the Lord, thinking they will inherit the kingdom of God, but hear the words found in Matthew chapter 7, verse 23 ‘depart from me I never knew you.’ Departing from Christ means they are going to be eternally lost because they put their trust in a prayer.
In the Bible, when people came to know Jesus it was a life altering experience, they were changed. David Platt said it best and I’ll paraphrase his comment, “if you are a follower of Christ your life reflects that. If someone comes in and apologizes for being late because they were changing a tire and were suddenly hit by a Road Train, you are going to look at him and know that he is lying, because no one hit by a Road Train gets up to tell about it. When you are hit by a Road Train, your life is changed, you are changed.”
The same is true with the gospel, if we confess Jesus and believe the prayer that we prayed our life will reflect it. We won’t be able to stop ourselves from changing to be more Christ like.
Can you truly be saved when you say the sinners prayer
In short, yes you can. According to Romans chapter 8 verse 28 “God uses all things for the glory of His name.” I am evidence of this, because when I was 19 I prayed the same prayer I had when I was a little girl, however this time I was transformed.
God doesn’t expect long and repetitive prayers, however, it needs to be more than lip service and something that you say once in your life without a lifestyle that demonstrates this faith. Faith in Christ means you need to live for Christ!
The same is true for people who attend church
Furthermore, did you know that going to church isn’t going to save you from hell? That is right, just like having prayed a prayer once in your life, doing Christian things, like attending church, prayer and fasting, taking communion, acts of service, being baptized are all great, however they have no power to save you from the wrath of God.
Salvation comes from acknowledging the Lord, calling on His name to be saved and making him Lord of your life. True conversion is something that becomes your identity, your old is gone.
If you are one of the many people who have put your trust into a prayer you once prayed, or attend church and yet don’t know Jesus as your Lord and savior, I urge you, repent unto the Lord Jesus Christ, because your eternal salvation depends on it. Confess your sins, believe in Him and live for Him, for that is true salvation.
Genevieve Wilson is a happily married home-schooling mum of 3, whose passion is to see people come to know Jesus. She is a seminary wife to her amazing husband.