130 thoughts on “The Sinner’s Prayer”

    1. Even in the middle of my worries and fears about whether or not I was really saved, I knew somehow that I’d missed the main message because “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18) But how could I be “perfected in love” being raised in an IFB church that deemphasized love as being worldly and compromising and instead emphasized holiness and justice?

      1. I think we have a fair idea how the Fundamentalist would define Holiness, but has anyone ever done a study of the topic from the Bible (whatever version) independant of the Fundy Mind-set? Or is that possible?

        1. Yes, I did. and I wrote the devotional, “Thirty Days of Holiness” based on the study. Here’s the basics I saw in Scripture:

          Holiness is characterized by God separating out that which He declares is sacred to Himself.
          Holiness is also characterized by Union, in which God creates the distinct union that in itself is consecrated to Him.
          Holiness (for human beings) is characterized by resting in God, which includes taking satisfaction in Him.
          Holiness includes worship/proclamation, the heartfelt declaration to God (or to others) of Who God Is.
          Holiness is expressed by a purity that is lawful but that transcends the sum total of the Law. In other words, holy behavior is lawful but not merely legalistic.

          Those were my findings!

      2. I think a big part of it is that Scriptures aren’t really clear on children raised in Christian homes. The Bible shows people as adults who didn’t know Christ who turned to Christ.

        Also a lot of preachers and even our own parents didn’t come to saving knowledge of Christ until they were adults. They preached what they knew: “I was involved in a life of sin and rebellion, but I’ll never forget the day I asked the Lord to forgive my sins. My life has changed 100% since that time!” But if you’re a child raised by Christian parents, 1) you’ve never been allowed to live a life of desperate sin, and the sins of complaining, laziness, etc. are ones that keep recurring after salvation, so your life doesn’t have that complete transformation that the evangelists tout and 2) you’ve heard the Gospel message 100,000 times so it’s hard to tell which time was the exact moment you REALLY trusted.

        People who grew up in a Biblically-illiterate home and made a decision later in life (a teen or adult) just do not understand the desperate longing and confusion we children had because our testimonies were simple and nondramatic.

        1. AND, because our lives (saved as kids/raised in church) did not change 100%, we must not really have been saved, right? I wouldn’t continue to complain and be lazy and all that; God would deliver me from that like the ones he delivers from alcoholism or gangs or whatever. right?

        2. This description is dead on! So many parents and so many advisors of parents still have not figured this one out. First generation believers have no experience that prepares them to raise kids in a sheltered “godly” environment, and the advice they get from “professionals” is horrible. Most books on Christian parenting focus on behavior and obedience, which usually doesn’t produce genuine converts, only professional hypocrites.

      3. I still struggle with this PW. I’m not sure if I’m saved or not. I always feel a need to say the sinner’s prayer mentally, just in case Jesus comes back.

        1. Jonathan, this was me for many years. I found out eventually that I had an anxiety disorder (OCD) which was turning the fundamentalist teaching at my Christian school into horrible mental rituals, and making it impossible for me to “be sure.” I still have a lot of spiritual issues but at least I have stopped using the sinner’s prayer as a panic button! 😯

          For anyone who has the same issue, I recommend A Thousand Frightening Fantasies by William Van Ornum or The Doubting Disease by Joseph Ciarrocchi.

    1. ARGH! RobM beat me to it by mere seconds. Oh well … for five seconds, I felt the joy of being first. Kinda like thinking you won the Powerball.

    1. Must “confess w/ your lips”! Good find. Nothing like working out the physical mechanics of soteriology! (sp?)

      1. tsk, tsk, it doesn’t count unless there was a soulwinner present to take credit for the kill, er I mean help with reciting the spell correctly, um, I mean without a soulwinner present who will tell the tale?

        btw, you didn’t happen to be choking your dog, cat, husband or child at the time you said it were you? That would have made for a good tale to tell but you would still need a soulwinner present to validate your story… and your salvation.

  1. I don’t discount the possibility that a person actually can come to Christ this way; I’m sure it does happen. Nevertheless, the whole thing seems so mechanical and contrived. Fundies express disdain toward Catholicism for its insistence upon confession. I don’t see one bit of difference between that and this — not a whit. It all depends on where a person’s heart is, not on some words he mouthes. And that tie-in with Romans 10:10 is taken so badly out of context that it’s just plain silly.

    1. Fundies like to be able to measure it (whatever “it” is) out, count it, and put it into a box because otherwise it will likely get out of hand.

    2. A really good way to break a fundy is to point out that the Philippian jailer’s family and household were saved because he believed.

      1. I have always been afraid to bring up the jailer’s family for fear it would be yet more proof that women have no standing with God apart from a man. Does it really flummox them?

        1. That phrase is very general and I don’t think should be used (just as most narratives shouldn’t be used) to determine doctrine. The descriptions of the process of salvation in Acts is a little muddled. Is water baptism part of it, or not? tongues speaking/giftedness? I wouldn’t use that phrase alone to say that the jailer believed and that saved his house. I think its more likely that its a description of the results. His conversion and the subsequent conversion of his wife/family were a result of individual belief, anything else contradicts the entire NT. Paul makes it pretty clear that women have the same standing before God that men do.

        2. I agree with Solo. I think we misunderstand this story because of cultural differences – ours is a very individualistic culture, theirs was much more collectivistic, where decision making as a group by consensus is more common. I think they each responded individually, but did so as a family.

  2. Love the “I said it one too many times”! Sadly, the soteriology of many fundys I know doesn’t get past this right here.

    1. So true. They obviously forgot us when they decided exactly how people would need to get saved…lol.

    2. TBH, although my OCD can be traced back genetically to my great-grandmother and other family members, I think my fundy upbringing greatly exacerbated it.

    3. And think how many people in Fundamentalism must have OCD and suffer in silence because their pastor actually encourages those unhealthy thought patterns. Worse, many of these churches would shame anyone who would dare even think of therapy!

  3. Okay, I’m done with my little blue screen. I plugged in the wrong email before and didn’t have a Gravatar thing linked to it.

    BTW, ya’ll…. 13 more sleeps!

  4. I’ve always loved how salvation looks, sounds, and feels like some kind of magic spell. You have to say the right words, with the right emotion, to be saved, or it doesn’t take. The only thing missing is a dead chicken.

    I also frequently get the feeling that the tracts so many fundies hand out are trying to trick people into becoming saved by printing the verbatim spell right on the tract. (“Maybe if they read it out loud, and our saccharine tract has prompted the right emotions, they’ll end up saved before they even know it!”)

    Of course, when I ask my fundy friends about the difference between their liturgical prayers and magic spells, I get that look. You know, that fundy look of disapproval and horror that I won’t be spending eternity with them.

    1. I guess this show how little I know of the Bible, but can you give me an example of someone in the New Testament, praying the Sinners Prayer? and what are the right words? I want to make sure all the right boxes are ticked – my salvation depends on it.

    2. Or to use a favorite fundy preacher slogan concerning some sinner who was able to find the correct mixture of the sinner’s prayer’s ingredients: “He got in!”

    3. Or like at the beginning of the movie Labyrinth where Jennifer Connelly is trying to say the spell to get the goblins to take away her baby brother, and the goblins are all waiting but can’t do anything until she says it exactly right and they hear it.

      Which bring up another point: What is the proper translation of the sinner’s prayer into other languages? How can German or Polish or Russian fundies be certain the translation from god’s original English is the correct, inspired translation of the spell, I mean prayer?

      1. Labyrinth analogy FTW! Jennifer Connelly stole my heart in elementary school. Until Drew Barrymore came along. 😳

    4. Yeah, you either get that look, or the look of disdain, or some lame “explanation” that explains only that they are good at contriving explanations.

      1. I like Rabbi Marc Gellman’s division of prayer into four types: Thanks, Oops, Gimme, and Wow! But I do think that the Sinner’s Prayer and a buck seventy five (plus tax, and possibly tip) will get you a cup of nasty coffee at Starbucks, and not much else.

  5. “I said it sincerely but I actually hadn’t really repented.”

    “I said it too young to truly understand so I said it when I was older, but because I didn’t admit that I was totally lost at that moment in time – because maybe the first time really was efficacious and saying I was lost right then would have been a lie – the subsequent prayers didn’t count.” (That was my particular horror.)

    “I prayed with the wrong motivation.”

    1. “I said it sincerely and understood but since then I’ve sinned, and after just hearing that MOG preach about all those sins and how you can’t be a Christian and sin, I must not have meant it when I prayed.”

    2. …and then I got baptized again because, you know, it’s called “believer’s baptism” and if I wasn’t saved the first time that I prayed the prayer the wrong way, I need to be baptized again because this time it “took.” I think…… 😐

    3. “I said it too young to truly understand so I said it when I was older, but because I didn’t admit that I was totally lost at that moment in time – because maybe the first time really was efficacious and saying I was lost right then would have been a lie – the subsequent prayers didn’t count.” (That was my particular horror.”

      Oh my… this describes me exactly a few years back. I went to a pastor and said “I don’t think I am saved” and he all “well, you said you were, but if you think you aren’t are you ready to renounce your previous confession and get saved today”. My reply was “um…. no.. I might be”. So I walked away in more distress than ever, because now, if I wasn’t saved, I had to renounce God in order to be saved. I still have this fear today 🙁

      1. How could any one think that a previous (if incomplete conversion) should be renounced? Shouldn’t be completed or built upon finished instead?

        What magic is done by renouncing an incomplete conversion?

    4. This whole discussion reminds me of a little tongue-in-cheek satirical rhyme that we have around these non-IFB parts:

      Jesus loves me, so they say;
      I’ll find out on Judgment Day.
      The Sovereign God loves me so well,
      too bad he’s sending you to Hell.

    5. once, with “head bowed, eyes close, no one looking around: in jr church, I lost track of what the speaker was saying and RAISED MY HAND THAT I NEEDED TO BE SAVED.

      oh the horror. What would the looking around people think of me now? Esp. since I didn’t respond to the inviation.

      Maybe I should pray again, just to be sure.

      1. Hahaha, YES. I’ve done that before. Nothing like coming to and realizing what you’ve just announced to the world…

        Then you’re like, “Should I go up? Should I not? Do they think…? Oh NOOOO.”

  6. For our pastor it was, “Can you go back to that place and time in your mind where you accepted Christ as your savior?” I always remember being slightly concerned, because for me it was a process of first head knowledge, second Bible study and believing, followed by a change of heart. So I can’t specifically remember kneeling down at the foot of my bed (or where ever). Only that I love Christ because he first loved me. And that, I believe, is the answer. It took me a long time to get to this point and NO thanks to fundyism.

    1. One of our beloved site evangelists, Mr. Tom Farrell actually says if you don’t have the time/date written in your Bible, you aren’t saved!

      I don’t even have the Bible I owned when I got saved! Does that mean I need to do it again and have witnesses sign my commitment?

  7. How about “I prayed it in the wrong church”? You can never say it properly in a Presbyterian or Methodist church, after all. You must be in a KJV-thumpin’, soul-winnin’, blood-preachin’ Baptist church!

      1. There are some very serious heresies surrounding the blood that I have heard preached in IFB circles. Worse than consubstantiation in their damage to the gospel.

        1. Yeah, like Jesus never bled until the cross because every drop of his plood was precious and was needed for atonement.
          I was thinking uh, what about his umbilical chord for starters? Did they keep the afterbirth, for 33 or so years, to bring to the cross as well?

  8. Of Course God has nothing to do with it.. it is all about the sinner’s decision. God only has Skybox seats at the Game of life where he is on the edge of his seat, wringing his hands and nervously hoping that some soulwinner will be able to find the right words to trigger a response in the hearer, or that the tract will resonate with the readers and they will sincerely, really, really truely mean it when they say the sinner’s prayer.

    Or there is the other god:
    A very cruel god. He is holding open tryouts for this play called, “Eternal Life.” He takes a spiritually dead soul, props it up and brings it to the very brink of life… then takes his hands off and says, “Ok, its up to you…Choose!”
    “Go on… say the prayer!”
    “Perform for me! show me your worth!”
    “Upps, you almost had it that time, I almost believed you… next!”
    “Not sincere enough…next!”
    “More contrition…next!”
    “Oh, that was beautiful! Pay attention here people, that is how it’s done! You have a part, now go memorize your lines and keep to the script.”

    1. Yup. This sort of teaching often results in children getting a warped view of God that continues into adulthood: an impotent God or a capricious, remote God. How is this any better than the gods of Greek mythology?

      The God of the Bible is sovreign yet loving, Fatherly and forgiving, all-wise and tremendously patient. THAT’S the God I want to serve, and that’s the God I believe the Bible truly portrays.

    2. It seems that while men put alot of emphasis on words and prayers, Jesus cared more about trust and belief, of course He would care more about the inside than the outside.

      First he draws everyone to Himself John 12:32 Jesus said “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me” continuing v 36 says “Put your trust in the light while you have it, so tht you may become sons of light.”

      John 3:16, of course, “Whosover (Greg waving hand) believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

      John 5:24 Jesus says “He who hears my words and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life.”

      Of course Jesus is not “a” way to get to God, He is the “Only” way. John 14:6 “I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except throught Me.”

      Now there is something that Jesus tells us we must do in order to secure this wonderful life, and what is that? Merely accept it. John 12:48 Jesus says “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”

      So good folks, Jesus is not all about words or prayers, from what I see here, its all about trust and belief. Make no mistake the plan of salvation is for everyone, you can accept it or you can reject it, Jesus said He that he draws everyone.

  9. Some Church of Christ members have had similar thoughts about their baptism: Did I do it for the right reasons? I still struggle with a particular sin, does that mean my baptism wasn’t valid? I’m not “bearing fruit” (in my old church, that meant “converting people”) does that mean that my baptism was right?

  10. Here is the whole song with Lyrics.

    Everyone turn in your hymnals and stand as Tony Mel leads us in this grand ol hymn of the Maxwell Smart faith…

    “Almost persuaded” now to believe;
    “Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;
    Seems now some soul to say,
    “Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
    Some more convenient day
    On Thee I’ll call.”

    “Almost persuaded,” come, come today;
    “Almost persuaded,” turn not away;
    Jesus invites you here,
    Angels are lingering near
    Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
    O wanderer, come!

    “Almost persuaded,” harvest is past!
    “Almost persuaded,” doom comes at last!
    “Almost” cannot avail;
    “Almost” is but to fail!
    Sad, sad, that bitter wail—
    “Almost,” but lost! 🙄

    1. Oh, goodness, how I loathe that hymn! “Almost Persuaded” was frequently sung at the church I grew up in as the hymn after the invitation. I always felt that it was so sick and twisted! My little brother and I could never decide if, paired with the music, it was humorously sick and twisted or just repulsive!

      1. It presents a pathetically weak, anemic god-in-a-box that is dependent on the actions of his creation in order to bring about salvation. 🙁
        That’s NOT the God presented in Scripture…

  11. So sad, so true.

    You know, I used to think that I was the only one (or at least one of the few) that was super-concerned about their salvation and prayed countless times for it. Then I started talking to other people my age from similar backgrounds, and realized that there were a lot of us! It’s more prevalent than the leaders would have had us to believe.

    Everyone is scared that they did something wrong; that somehow being saved is a guessing game, and you may get it right, but you also may get it horribly wrong.

    I’ve noticed that for a lot of people with the same personality as I (serious, not as likely to express emotion), this fear is rooted in the knowledge that we did not “feel enough joy” at our salvation. Ironically, even if we had felt it, we probably would have thought it was uncouth to show it.

    1. Me too. And in our church, you HAD to be 100% sure of your salvation to be saved. If you were 99.99999% sure, then you needed to get saved again!

      1. Ah yes, the percentage numbers. At one fundy youth camp I attended for a week, I put down 98% sure on the little form they had us fill out and give to our counselor. I’m not sure how I translated a feeling to a percentage, but I did. Needless to say, the counselor asked me in passing about it. I didn’t know what to say, except I wasn’t sure about it.

      2. I’m not a particularly confident person anyway, so asking me to say I knew I’d been saved 100% beyond any shadow of doubt gave me stomach-churning anxiety.

        If the focus is God, of course we know God is 100% capable of holding us safe, but if the focus is us, how do we know if we understood enough, repented enough, trusted enough, used the right words, or was joyful enough?

      3. Yes! I always loathed that question, because I knew if I said I wasn’t 100% sure (I don’t think I’ve ever been 100% sure about anything in my life) then I would be subject to loads of scrutiny and pressured to make another decision, but if I was honest I wasn’t 100% sure because sometimes I had doubts. I hated questions like that. Also it’s very hard for me to put my emotional state into a percentage. Also I felt like they were just asking if I was 100% sure about my own belief and emotion and trust and sincerity while I prayed something, hence a warped sort of trust in my own ability to “perform” the prayer correctly or something.

      4. Reason number eleventy billion and three that I’m glad I’m a Lutheran/Anglican. Nobody ever pulled this crap on me at church.

    1. O-M-G

      I had a teacher at my fundy U that told this story of a former witch he met while out door knocking. She said someone had led her to the Lord a while ago, but she just didn’t “feel” saved.

      So the teacher asks her what version the souldwinner had used. She said the NKJV, and the teacher declares “well there’s your problem!” Of course he uses the KJV and she immediately gets saved!!

      🙄 Really, sir? REALLY?

  12. It seems like child abuse when this is repeated over and over in children’s church. I was in a church where week after week, there was an invitation for the little ones to come forward. One of the workers would take them into an adjacent room, and go over the plan of salvation with them, and had them pray the “sinner’s prayer.”

    When they were done, they got candy and small, cheap toys from a grab bag. Some of those kids went weekly, patiently enduring the plan of salvation, and the sinner’s prayer to get their little hands in the grab bag.

    That is just wrong on so many levels. 🙁

  13. Where I am a missionary I think everyone in the city has prayed the sinners prayer at least twice. The churches don’t grow unless they steal sheep (goats) from other churches. A new church started near ours and stole 1/3 of the people from our church. What a blessing to finally get rid of the hylesites without having to ask them to leave. Despite being taught against this type of heresy they continued to “win” several people a week who never got baptized or came to church. 🙁

  14. My mother and step-father have decided that I must not be actually saved because I no longer believe as they do or attend church.

    But here is the thing, I know that the upteen times that I said the sinner’s prayer as a child and a teenager that I was uterly and completely sincere. I meant it, and I lived it.

    While I could not say the sinner’s prayer today with sincerity, I resent having the sincerity or validity of my previous confessions of faith dismissed out of hand just because I don’t believe it or live it now.

    I asked my parents, on average, how many times a week I would need to go to church to be considered a good Christian. They agreed that at minimum once a week would be enough. I did the math, and I figured that if I need an average of once a week over a life-time, I don’t need to attend church again until the age of 63.

    My step-father says that even if by some fluke I do end up going to heaven, that I am forfeiting the blessings of God by not attending church and living for God. The hubris of that statement really infuriates me! It implies that my life is inferior to theirs and I am just too stupid to notice.

    It also raises the question, what do the blessings of God actually look like?

    When I compare my life to any fundies that I know, I have a better relationship with my chidren, am more financially solvent, have a better marriage; I am less anxious and angry. I derive more fullfillment and pleasure from my work. What exactly in my life is missing? What would the blessings of God give me that I don’t already have? Actually, how can they know that I am not blessed by God?

    Speaking of the blessings of God, this has been a great space to come and rant and find some healing. I am grateful for that.

    1. Christine, regarding that “plan for your life” yeah, all my IFB mates went to the MOGs IFB university, graduated, married, went to work in the…..wait for it….IFB university’s schooling system. That’s some plan, eh? Its a cult.

    2. Christine, don’t you realize that if it appears things are going well for you, this means that God doesn’t even care enough about you to allow Satan to test you!?! The only way to know you’re right with God is if you lose your job, there’s always a question if your car will start on a given day, and you’re always on the brink of having your electricity turned off or being evicted so that God can miraculously provide for you! That’s what fundies mean when they talk about God’s blessings!

      1. @Trapped Pentecostal: I was going to say, please tell me you are kidding. Then I remembered that whole thing of: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he recieveth.” I had forgotten about that.

        I suppose it is proof that God doesn’t really love me. Because I have to say that I have done some things since leaving that would be considered truly wicked by their standards. And my worst days “away from God” were better than my best days “in fellowship.”

        1. Christine, I can assure you that my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek when I typed that. There are, however, plenty of fundies (of many denominations) that seem to believe that very thing.

        2. And don’t forget this one from James: “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of any kind…”

          I see people all the time walking around saying, “But I have the joy of the Lord in my heart” when their lives are miserable.

          It’s been my experience that if you have to keep reminding yourself that you have joy, you probably don’t have it.

    3. Christine said:

      “I did the math, and I figured that if I need an average of once a week over a life-time, I don’t need to attend church again until the age of 63.”

      LOL! I did the exact same exercise. Now when people ask me if I go to church, I tell ’em I’m getting time off for time served. 😀

    4. Did you say STEP-father? Doesn’t he know that whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery? He had better add Wednesday church to his weekly ritual as pennance.

  15. Haha, Oh the times I answered those altar calls, “just in case.” Backsliding was a favorite topic in my Pentecostal church.

  16. @JT: You said, “I’ve always loved how salvation looks, sounds, and feels like some kind of magic spell.”

    You might like to know that you hit the nail on the head. Some of those who study religions from a scientific perspective actually think of fundies more as a magical religion (considered an immature religion), and they consider the sinner’s prayer more of a magical incantation than even saying the rosary.

    If you think about, fundies are full of magical ideas:
    Sin in the camp: the same as “making the gods angry”
    KJV: spell-book, words considered sacred and powerful only when read, spoken or acted upon exactly as written in the book.

    1. I don’t think it’s limited to fundies and catholics. The more “free-wheeling” congregations are like individual covens that have their own versions of favorite spells (pop christian songs) and their own modified spellbooks (translations of the bible and ancillary materials).

  17. I concur with just about everything said, and I’m only sad that I came so late to the conversation. I know “without a shadow of a doubt” that I’m saved, but it was only way into my adulthood that it happened. I think we focus on the wrong thing when we scare kids with hell when we really know there’s no way they can make a sane decision. I know because i lived it.

    1. No decision has to me made, just a soft tap on the shoulder, turn around, receive hug. It is finished.

  18. One of the most unfortunate vivid memories of my childhood is when an evangalist (Carl Hatch) came to my fundy church and walked back to my grandfather during the “invitation” and literally made my grandfather “repeat after me”. He only came because my mother begged him.

    1. wow, tell me that wasn’t a set-up! Talk about planned with malice aforethought. That was first-degree fundie evangelism if I ever heard it.
      What did Grandad do?
      How did it affect him?

  19. What if I prayed a more liberal version of the sinner’s prayer? Like the ones at the end of Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power? Or instead of asking Jesus to be my Saviour, I asked Him to be my “forever friend?”

    1. nope, the formula was set long ago and to change it now would draw the wrath of the Old Pathers. They are kinda like the old guard Vampires in the Twilght series…

      1. I have to agree with Don, that one is no good. You need to do it again, and do it right. Remember, 3 strikes, you’re out.

  20. Trying to make sense of this in my head. For a fundy to go out and do “hit and run” evangelism and have someone say the Sinner’s Prayer lets them check off that they “saved” someone for the kingdom. Yet these same fundies question their own salvation or the salvation of others because they may not have meant it enough? 🙄

    1. the thing is, we are all questioning our own salvation while assuming everyone else is very secure in theirs. I never knew that other kids prayed the prayer hundreds of times like I did. I thought everyone else got it right the first time.

  21. For years I thought saying “the magic words” is what made one a believer. Then, as a teenager, I realized that words are just sounds that are supposed to express inner feelings and thoughts of intent. A person’s faith can’t be limited by saying the right words at a specific point of time. I was “saved” when I was five, but as I got older, I truly understood what being a sinner meant, and what it truly meant to come to Christ on my own.

    I feel weird about giving out tracts, though they have a good intent and purpose, because they indicate that salvation is much like the “magic spell” that some people talked about earlier in the forum.

  22. yeah, then don’t give them out. if someone has questions about your Christianity, be honest and explain the best you can.

    don’t defend christians, churches, tracts, bible versions, etc. if someone is truly interested, tell them how you yourself live with Christ, tell them what christ actually said about himself, w/the least ‘christianeze’ possible.

    “You don’t know what God wants to give you, and you don’t know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life

    …no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.” Jesus (john 4)

  23. The church I grew up in would have the evangelist Tim Rutherford every year. He would preach that if you were thinking of Hell when you got saved then you didn’t have a valid conversion…along with a long list of other qualifications. So every year scores of ‘already saved’ people would get ‘resaved’ and rebaptized. I had one friend who did the whole thing publicly like 4-5 times. It was such a joke. There were also several pastors who got saved the right way, too. It was sadly entertaining.

    1. Hello, I read your comment on Bro. Tim Rutherford, and what you said was right he said was right along with qualifications or certian ingredients that bring you to salvation. (the work of the Holy Spirit) Yes, people found out they were lost through his preaching. But I know him personally and what would happen was he would preach for a full week, God would start working and then he would have to leave. People would examine themselves find out they were lost and instead of them seeking God they would go back on there profession. Probably the sinners prayer which makes it man’s decission instead of God granting Repentance and Faith. So, if you need help hunt Bro. Tim up he pastors in Falling Waters WV if you want a true man of God.

      1. Love your comment. I too realized that I was lost under good old fashioned preaching. Brother Tim has been a dear friend of mine for 20+ years. I am so thankful that he is faithful to our loving Lord. His preaching is part of the beautiful light God sent my way. In May 2011 God gave me a new heart and forgave me and freed me from the prison of sin and doubting. If any one has doubts of salvation I would recommend this man of God and a few others for truth of salvation.
        How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of great joy! (Not a direct quote…)

    2. I am Bro Tim Rutherfords daughter and never heard what you are saying he said, said. I’m just curious, what church were you from? The problem was, people would get under such conviction when my Dad would preach but never would let the Holy Spirit finish the work and would make a confession on their own. Get your facts straight before you say false things about a man of God.

  24. Wow, I could write a book, no a library on this one. As a pastor, I went through a terrible depression over this very issue. It was heart-wrenching. I actually ended up in the ER more than once with major anxiety issues, actually thought i was going to die once. All because of this issue. Thanks to my gracious & loving Savior & a loving wife & some caring Christian friends who walkewd with me through it, I made it, & I actually believe God has equipped me to hopefully encourage some other strugglers (2 Co.1:3-4; Ps.84:6). But this thing of pressuring someone to “walk an aisle” or “pray a prayer” just to “make sure” without understanding the magnificent grace of Christ is just wrong to me. Whoever said that nowhere in the NT did anyone say a sinner’s prayer is right! Oh my, I better stop before I write another book…….

  25. I have come to the conclusion that if we focus on whether we have done the sinner’s prayer, then it becomes works and not grace, what we do instead of what He did for all of us when He died on the cross to take away our sins.

    After all, aren’t we supposed to believe in Him and not in ourselves?

    I get puzzled looks from some Christians when I tell them I was saved 2000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross in my place instead of June–whatever day–whatever year. So I don’t worry about whether some prayer took hold or not and it really freed my heart because, as Jesus said, “it is finished.”

    Interesting that the jailer in Acts 16:30-32, when he asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved, was not told to ask Jesus to come into his heart but he was told, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.”

    So the jailer and his household heard he word and they believed it.

    Also, the Ethiopian Eunuch was not told to ask Jesus to come into his heart by Phillip in Acts 8:35-37

    “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”
    And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

    So just like the jailer, the eunuch heard the word and he believed it. So the choice we make is whether we believe the word of God or not and if we believe who Jesus is or not.

    Which makes sense as Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

    I was surprised to find out that the sinner’s prayer is not even in the Bible and that it is fairly new historically, it has only been around less than 300 years or so and in its current form it has only been used for less than 70 years, so does that mean no one was saved before it was used? the answer is, of course not!

    I know someone may throw at me one of the most mis-used passages in the entire bible, James 2:19, that says even the demons believe, when I say that believing in Jesus is enough to be saved but I will address that in a follow up post.

  26. To understand the context of James 2:19 we need to read the preceeding text to find out what it is talking about, which is how works show that we have faith as obviously demons don’t do good works and besides, it doesn’t say the demons believe in Jesus, it says they believe there is one god (some translations say god is one)

    James 2:18-19

    “But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!”

    So, as I said in my last post, believing in who Jesus is enough to be saved as even though there are other passages in the Bible where the demons recognize who Jesus is, when Jesus drives them out of people, obviously they don’t believe in Him the way believers do as they can’t possibly have evidence of good works that believers have.

    1 John 4:15 it says, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

    So I am saved and God is in me and I am in Him because I believe and confess who Jesus is, The Son of God.

    That being said, I really don’t have a problem with people doing the sinner’s prayer as even though technically it isn’t in the Bible, the Bible does say that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, but my problem with it is when some people say that everyone has to do it to be saved.

  27. Not to monopolize the conversation, but I need to clarify what I mean when I say that to believe is good enough to be saved, for example, in Acts 8 the Ethiopian Eunch was reading from Isaiah 53 and he asked Phillip for his assistance on what it meant and it says that Phillip, beginning at this scripture (Isaiah 53) preached Jesus to him. This passage foretold of Jesus dying on the cross in our place to take away our sins and it also tells us that everyone of us like sheep have gone astray.

    Also, in Acts 16 it says that Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to the jailer. So while it doesn’t say specifically what they told him, it is safe to say that it was what Phillip told the Eunuch.

    In addition, from Romans 10:9-10 it says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

    So when I say that I believe in Jesus I mean I believe with all my heart that Jesus died on the cross in my place to take away my sins, that God raised Him from the dead on the third day, and that Jesus is the Son of God (confessing the Lord Jesus).

    For those who don’t think that is good enough, again from 1 John 4:15, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

    I have friends who go out into the community to witness to non believers and while they don’t believe I am not saved, they tend to think that I am not doing enough for the Kingdom of God when I say that I never lead people in the sinner’s prayer and they shake their heads when I tell them I don’t do so because no one in the Bible ever did so.

    In closing, I would like to add that I hope this site isn’t about bashing core Christian beliefs that the Bible is the true word of God and that Jesus is the only way to heaven as that isn’t just what so called fundamentalists believe it is what all true believers believe and Jesus said it best in John 4:16: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

    Now let someone else have a crack at it here as in my three posts here I have stated what I intended to say.

  28. Just gotta say WOW! I believe the Lord allowed me to stumble across this forum. I too went through the raised in church and I was a good kid and rebelled somewhat as a teen, but never completely rejected God. So I didn’t have one of those tear-jerking stories that other new believers have. Also I was raised in a fundamental baptist church. Oh, the negativity(and so caught up in all the little details) in that church. I don’t doubt they are saved but I know that I never felt freedom in Christ in that church. My mom still attends, but now for myself being in a nondenominational church for 10 yrs now I get bad vibes from a lot of funds, I’m like some of em are more evil than athiests. I’ve suffered with the anxiety symptoms as well, I did the sinners prayer at 6 and got baptised at 6 and it was only to drink the grape juice for communion, because you had to be baptised in order to partake of it. I was constantly saying the sinners prayer after that especially when I had an anxiety attack. It was like I felt the power was in the phrase, but the transformation was never in my heart until recently. Now I feel like what day was the actual real time I did it? And should I let people know it is not until now that I understand what having Christ in my heart/salvation is. I now understand that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and I don’t want to do anything to disrespect his property. I am not in fear anymore that he will take my salvation away when I slip up. Thank You Jesus for what you’ve revealed to me within these past 2 yrs and for making Your word so clear and Your Love so……..just no words to describe it…You are an awesome God! Amen

  29. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and “yessing” along with all of these comments.

    This has been my reality for years. It’s even worse for my younger sister. I hope someday we can both work through this, but we have a long ways to go. 🙁

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