“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”
David Platt, a rising star in the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke at the SBC Pastors Conference last week just before the Annual Meeting. During his talk, he emphasized the "pandemic problem" of spiritual deception that is chronic in congregations and encouraged Southern Baptists to be on guard against a "false, superficial faith".
Platt addressed attendees, most of whom were pastors, with these words: "Are we calling people to biblical faith in a day of rampant easy believism? We must be very clear lest we lead people down a damning path of spiritual deception."
Here is Platt explaining at the Verge 2012 Conference why "Accepting Jesus In Your Heart" is superstitious and unbiblical.
As you might imagine, such radical ideas caused quite a stir among Southern Baptists, especially those who describe themselves as "traditional". Their concerns were presented last week at the SBC Annual Meeting, and a debate over the Sinner's Prayer ensued. Christianity Today featured an article regarding what happened – Southern Baptists Debate the Sinners Prayer.
The CT article highlights this portion of Platt's Pastors Conference address:
"I'm convinced that many people in our churches are simply missing the life of Christ, and a lot of it has to do with what we've sold them as the gospel, i.e. pray this prayer, accept Jesus into your heart, invite Christ into your life," Platt said. "Should it not concern us that there is no such superstitious prayer in the New Testament? Should it not concern us that the Bible never uses the phrase, 'accept Jesus into your heart' or 'invite Christ into your life'? It's not the gospel we see being preached, it's modern evangelism built on sinking sand. And it runs the risk of disillusioning millions of souls."
Ted Olsen, who wrote the CT article, explained:
Discussion over the resolution did seem to break down along Calvinist/Arminian lines…
Jared Moore, pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Houstonville, Kentucky, and a frequent blogger on Reformed theology, spoke against the resolution.
"I live in a community where everyone has asked Jesus to come into their hearts and none of them are at church," he told the delegates. "Many of them live contrary to Scripture. They're not repenting and having faith in Christ, yet they asked Jesus to come into their heart. … I have to get them lost before I can get them saved."
Meanwhile, Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, who has preached against Calvinist theology, called the Sinner's Prayer representative of God's New Covenant. He also noted that 262 children at his church recently prayed the Sinner's Prayer and invited Jesus into their heart. (Gaines also preached a defense of the Sinner's Prayer and "accepting Jesus into your heart" last month.)
"While asking Jesus to come into your heart may not be specifically in the Bible, I believe the concept is, just like the terms inerrancy and Trinity," he said.
The Christian Post reported on this SBC business as follows:
The recent decision by delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention to affirm the use of the "sinner's prayer" – known as a prayer of repentance and "inviting Jesus into your heart" – has undermined Calvinism in the denomination and placed a renewed emphasis on traditional Baptist soteriology: if you repent, call on the Lord and believe in Christ for mercy, you are saved.
The resolution, which passed Wednesday by a majority vote of around 80 percent, affirmed the belief that "repentance from sin and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation." Citing Romans 10:13, it also affirmed that "repentance and faith involve a crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord," more commonly known as the "sinner's prayer," as a "biblical expression of repentance and faith."
One strong caution in the resolution: "The 'sinner's prayer' is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel."
On the one hand, we agree with Platt that if the Sinner's Prayer is just a rote prayer, then it is absolutely worthless to the one who recites it. However, we believe there are many who pray it sincerely and truly experience a heart change.
How can David Platt know what is in the heart of the one who prays the Sinner's Prayer? In all fairness, Platt regrets how he phrased his concern about this prayer; however, there appears to be a growing contingent in Christendom that calls into question this prayer and "asking Jesus into one's heart".
Trevin Wax recently wrote a post featured on The Gospel Coalition website entitled: Is it Biblical to ask Jesus Into Your Heart? He presents his ideas as follows:
The Southern Baptist blogosphere has erupted in conversation on whether it’s proper to use phrases like “asking Jesus into your heart,” “accepting Christ,” or methods like the “sinner’s prayer” when sharing the gospel. Like many online conversations, this one has tended to generate more heat than light, and I get the feeling that good folks on both sides of this issue may be talking past one another.
This discussion over methods and terms has been bubbling under the surface for a good while now. A younger generation of pastors look out at the state of evangelicalism and are rightly concerned that many people with cultural Christianity in their background cling to assurance they are saved despite an overwhelming lack of evidence of genuine conversion. It’s no surprise that some pastors are blaming the methods and terms that became prevalent in the previous generation. That’s why we hear a pastor like David Platt consider a phrase like “asking Jesus into your heart” to be “dangerous” and “damning.”
We want to hear from our TWW "family". Do you believe the Sinner's Prayer is "superstituous" and "unbiblical" and that asking Jesus into your heart is "dangerous" and "damning"?
Lydia' Corner: Joel 1:1-3:21 Revelation 1:1-20 Psalm 128:1-6 Proverbs 29:18