Is The Sinner’s Prayer Unbiblical?

“Should it not concern us that there is no such superstitious prayer [The Sinner’s Prayer] in The New Testament? Should it not concern us that the Bible never uses the phrases accept Jesus into your heart or invite Christ into your life?”

David Platthttps://www.amazon.com/Stop-Asking-Jesus-Into-Heart/dp/1433679213

Amazon (Screen Shot)

Six years ago we became greatly concerned about what some New Calvinists (aka Calvinistas here at TWW) were saying about The Sinner’s Prayer. David Platt, who had authored the widely popular book Radical two years before (2010) was pastoring a church in Alabama, which Dee was able to visit several times. I enjoyed her first-hand reports of The Church at Brook Hills.

Back then Platt appeared to be the spokesman for this ‘radical’ position, which we believed to be a blatant denouncement of Billy Graham’s ministry. Platt seemed to be saying that the Calvinistas are doing it right, and those in Graham’s camp are doing it wrong. Who’s to say that God cannot use The Sinner’s Prayer to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ?

At the end of this post, I am including the entirety of what I wrote back in 2012, when our readership was quite small. Please be sure to click on the link to the original post and read through the comments.

Not long after that, David Platt was appointed president of the International Missions Board. Recently, he announced his resignation from that lofty post and accepted the position of lead pastor at McLean Bible Church in Northern Virginia.

Several years after Platt began denouncing the Sinner’s Prayer, J.D. Greear jumped on the bandwagon with his new book Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart. As Greear explains in this video, he could hold the Guiness Book of World Records for asking Jesus into his heart more than anyone else.

When he shared this message with his congregation, he told them he had been baptized FOUR TIMES! (2:30 mark). Hey, maybe that’s how Southern Baptists can stop the declining number of baptisms. In all seriousness, we believe it is unwise to paint those who believe in The Sinner’s Prayer with such a broad brush. For example, yours truly was baptized only once, and I have remained faithful in following Christ. No doubt MANY others could say the same.

Yet, this appears to be the latest Calvinista fad, and we fear it is going to prove detrimental in the long run. When they say The Sinner’s Prayer isn’t in the Bible, we respond by saying that ‘Trinity’ isn’t in the Bible either!

Here is David Platt declaring war on The Sinner’s Prayer.

Sorry, but there’s a Greek word for that – B-A-L-O-N-E-Y.

As we stated last week, we believe the Southern Baptist Convention is in for some BIG changes in the years to come. We find it very disheartening that the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention as well as the outgoing president of the International Missions Board have taken this position.

In writing his book, Greear was sly in getting Paige Patterson, a traditionalist, to write the foreward while getting endorsements from three of his Calvinista buddies, namely, Matt Chandler (a 5-pointer), Joshua Harris, and David Platt.

What are your thoughts?


David Platt Says the Sinner’s Prayer is “Superstitious” and “Unbiblical”

Posted on Monday, June 25, 2012 by Deb

“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.”

The Sinner’s Prayer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Platt_(pastor)

David Platt – Wikipedia

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”?


Comments

Is The Sinner’s Prayer Unbiblical? — 242 Comments

  1. Our friends have discussed both.

    Regarding the baptism deal – the daughter of an evangelical pastor said, “What’s the problem, too much traffic at the tank?”

    Regarding the Sinner’s Prayer – missionaries say that in a second language, the prayer is a framework for the new convert to pray in their own language – without getting over-the-top theological. Giving them a Bible in their own language expounds more. The new convert is receptive and having a Holy Spirit heart experience – angels in Heaven singing – that both acknowledge with simple prayer – in the convert’s language.

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  2. Oh wow, this post brings up some memories for me. I grew up in the Southern Baptist church and I remember finally understand what it really meant to “ask Jesus into your heart.” I don’t think it’s dangerous or damning at all. That’s what we heard as children, and then it evolved into “making Jesus lord of your life,” etc. as we grew and matured.

    But that whole “are you really saved thing” really makes me twitch. How dare Platt imply that people aren’t really saved! The Calvinist/culty church I left recently had sermon after sermon that implied things like this, and it made me question my salvation on more than one occasion. I was so worried that I broke down in tears multiple times. *That* is what is dangerous and damning, not the Sinner’s Prayer.

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  3. I’m not complaining, but the video stills posted here make Platt and Greear look like guest stars from season one of The Andy Griffith Show. Greear looks like the typical outsider who’s in town just long enough to scam the hicks. Platt looks like one of the hicks. Coincidentally, these guys are part of a larger movement that specializes in camoflogued, caricaturial distortions of their opponents.

    This is simply Megachurch pastors criticizing Megachurch methodology, while disguising their hypocrisy with one-liner theology.

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  4. In the first awakening Whitefield, et al. used the terminology was “hopefully converted and brought to a saving knowledge of Christ.” They did not use a sinners prayer. Change in one’s life over time was evidence of conversion.

    Billy Sunday had respondents shake his hand and sign a Convert’s Pledge.

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  5. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Eph. 6:18.

    Regarding that book title above, “Keep asking Jesus into your heart,” – if so inclined. God loves our invitation(s). A friend says, “Nag God, He loves it.” The daily practice of racing to the door to greet a loved one – run to Jesus, open arms, He is love. Never tires of us.

    Never mind theological demagogues in their fabricated bubbles. The Bible bursts that bubble. Even the Gospel has four points of view which is prohibitive to demagoguery in Jesus’ story.

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  6. In and of itself it’s not a bad thing but it has a bad connection for me.

    I was raised Anglican. Baptized as an infant & confirmed in the church at 14. I considered myself Christian.

    Flash forward a number of years & I was attending my wife’s Pentecostal church. There was a big push to say the sinner’s prayer & get baptized. At first I thought it was no big deal. But then I came to the realization that these folks didn’t consider me a Christian…at all. Until I went through this rigamarol. So I kiboshed the whole thing.

    If the sinner’s prayer is a start for someone, fine. But if it becomes the magic incantation to make one a Christian then no.

    Not evil but not required either.

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  7. Lita: it made me question my salvation on more than one occasion. I was so worried that I broke down in tears multiple times

    Sorry you had to go through this. Glad you see it for what it is now and ran the other way, to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Hebrews 12:2.

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  8. Jack: Not evil but not required either.

    Exactly. Even the dunk, dip, sprinkle – tank, river, lake, bowl – and at what age question is not a deal breaker for many mature Christians. We had a pastor that let congregants choose, and he honored their choice. “Yeah, I know they say I’m wishy-washy,” he said, “Oh well.”

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  9. I dislike it. It’s a sort of pietism that originated as a legalistic strain of Lutheranism in the 17th century and took its modern form with revivalism — an emotion-driven approach to recruiting new Christians while throwing aside two millennia of actual church tradition. A “magic incantation” isn’t a bad way of putting it.

    As anyone raised Evangelical can attest, it leads to endless anxiety over whether one has said the magic words properly, whether you meant them enough when you said them, and so on. Hence the endless rededication, altar calls, repeated baptism, and so on.

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  10. The SBC seems to be doing what they have become so good at:

    1.Codifying another’s (Proper) spiritual life to the extent of preaching Fundamentalism and a lot of man made rules. (see Wade Burleson’s recent post).
    2. Having the spiritual chutzpah to think that they can discern whether one has a ‘saving faith’ by observing outward behavior. (see also Wade Burleson)
    3. Thinking they have a handle on authority, piety and proper practices for the “Real Christian”. (See Wade Burleson)
    4. Thinking that they have some part in whether someone becomes a Christian—arrogant to be discussing what the “Right” way to share the Gospel as if they, and not the Holy Spirit, is what works in a person making a response to the Gospel.

    They seem much more interested in judging (and rejecting) than having a true love for lost people and a desire to tell them about the enormous good news of the Gospel.

    What a total usurping of authority on the part of these arrogant “pastors” to think that they have the wisdom to judge another’s heart and standing with God.

    Something about the log in one’s own eye seems appropriate here also….more than a whiff of Pharisee about this whole argument.

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  11. This kind of thinking also gives rise to the (possibly terrifying) actions that these Calvinist pastors might do in their “righteous” attempt to ‘lose’ a person so that he can be ‘truly saved” in a harsh & severe Reformed way–which will undoubtedly use fear, guilt and other ugly ‘motivators’….self-righteous people on a crusade can be terrifying in their single-mindedness.

    The spiritual or emotional damage that might be inflicted in the name of the ‘Proper’ Gospel application is frightening to consider.

    This also brings up the huge topic of Eternal Security, which is too big to be really debated in this forum….

    But-I wonder at the effrontery of some self-righteous bible teachers who seem to think that they can determine whether a person has committed a sin (post Salvation) that is so bad that Jesus death and atonement wasn’t sufficient to forgive…and would result in their being “Unsaved”…

    Either Jesus death was sufficient or it wasn’t….falling into either antinomianism or it’s polar opposite–that if living a life of fear wondering if your sin is too great….the ultimate nightmare.

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  12. Molly245:
    But-I wonder at the effrontery of some self-righteous bible teachers who seem to think that they can determine whether a person has committed a sin (post Salvation) that is so bad that Jesus death and atonement wasn’t sufficient to forgive…and would result in their being “Unsaved”…

    From everything I’ve seen of New Calvinist theology, they want to be God. They want to be able to say who is saved and who is not, and I think they believe that pastors are special enough to corporately save people. I do know that many New Calvinists believe in corporate salvation of families (thanks to one of my New Cal theology teachers). I’m pretty certain they apply this to pastors as well.

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  13. I think the “sinner’s prayer” has both good and bad aspects. Becoming a christian requires repentance and faith, and expressing that in a prayer to that effect is valid and often helpful. That said, saying a prayer doesn’t automatically make you a christian. No pastor or theologian would claim it does, but this idea does exist at the folk level due to the way the prayer is presented as the climax of evangelism.

    But “asking Jesus into your heart” has zero Biblical foundation and that style of wording should be avoided.

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  14. There is no magic.

    Say this, do that, use this amount of water, participate in this ritual, our priests are the real priests, behave this certain way, reproduce these behaviors in your life, saturate yourself with our theology, hang out with our only our people, obey our rules, the list goes on. Nor is the bible magic. Nor is the church magical.

    There is God and there are people, and we understand very little about how these interact. For that matter we understand very little about God and very little about man so how could we comprehend much less control how God and man interact.

    I never said any sinners’ prayer, possibly because I grew up baptist in pre-Billy Graham days. Imagine that. Is the prayer okay? Probably. Is it necessary? No. Is it biblical? Of course not-to be saved you have to fall off a horse and temporarily go blind. And to prove it was a real horse and you really did have your sight restored you have to pack your memory bank with out-of-context bible verses and learn all the external signs of convertedness whether overt or hidden, and notch your own belt with converts to your own group’s way of doing things. And you have to do all that quickly before they change all the rules-again. Or until you go join another group and learn a whole new set of rules.

    But there is no magic. There are tons of people who want to control other people however.

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  15. I’m always very appreciative how the words of Jesus bring clarity to the complicated formulas of well intended Christians: “the one who believes in me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). (ed.)

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  16. Seventy years ago I asked Jesus into my heart as a small child. My journey with Him has been marked by disobedience as well as obedience, but my faith in Him as Lord and Savior has never wavered, even though my discipleship left much to be desired at different points in my life.

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  17. okrapod,

    I love the wisdom of okrapod! How could I tell whether someone has been saved by saying the “sinners prayer” or not? I can’t. I did not say the sinners prayer. But I sure wouldn’t say that no one could. I wouldn’t encourage pressure to do so, offering assurance because one did say the sinners prayer. But that would not be to say one could be saved that way.
    “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform”

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  18. okrapod: to be saved you have to fall off a horse and temporarily go blind

    You had me spitting out my coffee with this – love it!

    I wish I knew you. I think you get it, whereas most of the people I know in ‘real life’ are still allowing themselves to be pushed around the board by these mighty chess masters. I never thought at my age I would end up rejecting most of what I believed all of my life. But it is good riddance, and marvelous to look for and believe in the best in all people.

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  19. An enduring question is “how do I know whether I have true faith?” or “how do I know whether I am regenerate”? A baptist would put it “how can I be sure that I am saved?”

    Personally, I’m not sure that it is possible to know — the subjective experience of what it is like to be regenerate is not described in Scripture with sufficient detail for me to be completely sure that my self-interpretation matches what the text says. I think that all one can do is trust in God’s mercies and work out one’s salvation in fear and trembling.

    I recall a revival at a non-SBC baptist church years ago in which, after the altar call and the sinner’s prayer, the revivalist instructed those who had prayed to rely on the fact that they had prayed as the evidence that they were born again. This was how they were in future to reassure themselves if they ever had doubts about whether they really were saved.

    I sympathize with neo-cal concerns at this point. It seems (to me) more biblical to call people to obedience to Jesus’ commands and for subjective assurance to be rooted in objective evidence of changed life (which is interpreted to be due to regeneration by the Holy Spirit). Evidence that is purely internal/subjective could be self-deception; the demons also believe, and tremble (of course, visible appearance of changed life could also be deception. something that can happen even in church leaders). I John and James (not to mention the synoptic Gospels) seem to point in this direction — love and good works — as the practical basis of assurance.

    This can go (and there are plenty of instances in which it has gone) in toxic directions, of course, with controlling church leaders pressuring people to perform in order to satisfy the elders that they exhibit sufficient visible evidence of renewed life for the elders to be confident that they are regenerate.

    It seems hard to find an equilibrium between easy believism and assurance by a yoke of works. I suspect that “kindness” has a role to play.

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  20. okrapod,

    Phillip and the Ethiopian are a good reminder that theology and sacraments are mostly about churchiology, reinforcing the need for ‘priests’ and ‘pastors’, when God is perfectly happy to use the guy running down the road. Then, without the slightest ceremony:

    “See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?”

    There are no magic words, rituals or man-made rules required to love and walk with God. He seeks and desires every single man, woman and child to know him as he is and trust in his goodness and faithfulness.

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  21. I agree with some here. Lots of memories and none good. The next time you see a passage that says we are saved by faith in Christ, go to the online interlinear and check out the Greek (the interactive interlinear at biblehub dot com makes it doable.)
    Does it say “faith in Christ” or “faith/faithfulness of Jesus Christ?” Likely you will not see a preposition “in” just a pure and simple possessive genitive case. And that’s great news.

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  22. Samuel Conner: An enduring question is “how do I know whether I have true faith?” or “how do I know whether I am regenerate”? A baptist would put it “how can I be sure that I am saved?”

    I can’t help but believe The Church has turned a simple relationship with God into a ‘tradition of men’, and like national politics, we are supposed to choose sides as to whose ‘traditions’ are best. We will be ‘saved’ when God’s wrath is finally poured out on evil, if we are not evil.

    I used to believe in the cult teaching: only those who go to church, pay their tithes and bring dessert to the fellowship meals are ‘saved’. And being ‘sanctified’ means crossing more and more of your ‘t’s’ and wearing unfashionable clothing.

    Now, I tend to see it as: Do we value truth over tradition? Do we have an increasing hatred of evil, oppression and suffering that makes us long for something better? Do we cry out to God, day after day, ‘How long? How long must innocent people suffer and cruel, manipulative people enrich themselves off of their suffering?’ And lastly, desperately, do we cry with many tears, ‘What can I do?’

    It seems as if the church is all about setting up a great big mirror and demanding that you constantly look at yourself to see if you measure up. Whereas Jesus is all about ‘take your eyes off of yourself and go help somebody else’.

    I heard, in my decade under Calvinism, the whole tirade against the sinner’s prayer and anything else even slightly evangelistic. These people do not want to simply throw out a simplistic prayer, they throw out anything living and spiritual, leaving you with a dogmatic ideology to loyally defend and spread. They always have their well-crafted ‘reasons’. Maybe that’s what the geniuses in Dodeka do.

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  23. truthseeker00:
    It seems as if the church is all about setting up a great big mirror and demanding that you constantly look at yourself to see if you measure up. Whereas Jesus is all about ‘take your eyes off of yourself and go help somebody else’.

    I agree fully (with some residual hopes that it may be possible to inject spiritual life into Reformed ways of being Christian; I know some outstanding people, but your description seems apt in terms of “run of the mill”). One of my concerns with the kinds of evangelistic technique that I learned in my youth (in affiliation with baptist-oriented groups) is that they seemed to be appeals to enlightened self-interest, and that strikes me as not a great way to begin a journey under the lordship of the One who by precept and example calls us to lay down our own lives.

    Looking away from oneself toward the concerns of others is IMO close to the heart of what it means, practically speaking, to follow Jesus. “Love one another as I have loved you”

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  24. Samuel Conner: Personally, I’m not sure that it is possible to know

    I’m not sure that this is anything but the result of Church programming. Do we wake up every morning and ask our spouse, ‘How do we know we are really married? What if that pastor wasn’t properly ordained? What if we flubbed some of the vows? Did the unity candle go out too soon? Maybe we really should have taken communion together.’

    Knowing God, like marriage, is a relationship, not a ritual. If you live with and love your spouse, you’re married. If not, I don’t care how many words you mouthed, you have no true marriage.

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  25. truthseeker00: I’m not sure that this is anything but the result of Church programming. Do we wake up every morning and ask our spouse, ‘How do we know we are really married? What if that pastor wasn’t properly ordained? What if we flubbed some of the vows? Did the unity candle go out too soon? Maybe we really should have taken communion together.’

    Knowing God, like marriage, is a relationship, not a ritual. If you live with and love your spouse, your married. If not, I don’t care how many words you mouthed, you have no true marriage.

    “love” is the key here, and especially the character of the love. I think that one of the concerns that calvinists (old and new) have with “plan of salvation” evangelism methods is that in their tendency to appeal to self-interest as the motive to believe in Jesus (i.e., in order to obtain the benefits of that, specifically escape from terrifying post-mortem punishments), they are not actually turning from a self-orientation, but appealing to it. This kind of repentance may not a turning from self toward God, but a way of using God for one’s own purposes.” Turning to God in order to use Him for our own ends is not a rarity; that this is a pretty conventional way of relating to God is illustrated by the prosperity teachers that dominate some of the christian television channels.

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  26. Samuel Conner: I think that one of the concerns that calvinists (old and new) have with “plan of salvation” evangelism methods is that in their tendency to appeal to self-interest as the motive to believe in Jesus (i.e., in order to obtain the benefits of that, specifically escape from terrifying post-mortem punishments), they are not actually turning from a self-orientation, but appealing to it.

    I may be projecting my own views at this point.

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  27. It may be that a subtext in old and new calvinist objections to the sinner’s prayer is a concern about the implications it has for “ordo salutis”.

    Calvinists tend to consider it important to reckon that regeneration by the Holy Spirit precedes the experience of conscious faith (which is also produced in the person by the Holy Spirit). For them, but the time a person prays the sinner’s prayer, they are already regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Arminians reverse this order — faith precedes new birth, though IIRC in that view God does supply “prevenient grace” to enable the unregenerate person to believe.

    Calvinists tend to react strongly to anything that smacks of synergism in soteriology, and this may be part of why they dislike this prayer.

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  28. “yours truly was baptized only once, and I have remained faithful in following Christ” (Deb)

    When you see it, you can’t un-see it. It’s in your knower because you know it. No use dragging yourself back to the baptismal waters over and over. When you get it, you get it … period.

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  29. “When they say The Sinner’s Prayer isn’t in the Bible, we respond by saying that ‘Trinity’ isn’t in the Bible either!” (Deb)

    Of course both are there if you have enough spiritual sense to see it. Perhaps not in those terms, but they are truths woven through Scripture.

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  30. ‘Platt explaining at the Verge 2012 Conference why “Accepting Jesus In Your Heart” is superstitious and unbiblical.” (Deb)

    I always thought Platt looked scared to death in that video clip. I guess the superstition of it all frightened him. It’s amazing that the “church” allows folks to reach celebrity status by challenging the last 2,000 years of Christian experience.

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  31. “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.”

    My personal experience in Christ is not open to another man’s argument.

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  32. I heard the Gospel taught by a truly Godly man in a little independent Bible church many years ago. In conjunction with the Bible teaching, he presented a lecture on archeology proving the veracity of the Bible record. I was not convinced on the first evening. Something unexpected happened on the second night. While the teacher did offer the rather standard “come to the altar and pray to receive Christ”, it was not done in a manipulative manner. I was still not moved. Then he asked us to close our eyes and pray and he said we could even meet Jesus in the quiet of our own heart. I was not convinced. But THEN the strangest and most to me unexpected thing: one minute I was an unbeliever, then suddenly I believed. My spiritual eyes were opened. I never said the sinner’s prayer, just suddenly I believed and knew something in me had changed. I have been what I call a “true Christian” since that time. Like one other commenter said, I’ve had my ups and downs but I have never waivered in my belief in the saving power of Jesus Christ. I wake up every day knowing I am a different man than the one I was before that evening back in 1969. In closing, I have no issue with “the sinner’s prayer” as long as the one saying it has truly had a change of heart and as long as it is not presented as some magic formula. I would guess there are tons of folks that came to saving faith the same way I did, I was blind one moment then in a flash I could suddenly see.

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  33. Here’s a short list of things that drew me to want a relationship with Jesus.

    1) the Broadway Play: Jesus Christ Superstar (1970’s?) I could relate to a Jesus who wore blue jeans.

    2) the Cross & the Switchblade by David Wilkerson (1970’s?) I read the sinner’s prayer at the end of the book.

    3) A prayer meeting led by 2 Roman Catholic priests at an Episcopal Church who spoke about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

    4) The two books I took home from the library at the Episcopal Church library: Larry Tomczak’s “Clap Your Hands” and John Sherrill’s “They Speak With Other Tongues”

    After reading those two books, I knelt down and told the Lord that “they” said you have something more for me. “But, Lord, they are Episcopal so I don’t think I should believe them because as you know, I’m Catholic.” (smile) So…If it’s true that you have something more for me, I want everything you have for me….”

    My mouth immediately opened like a baby bird wanting to be fed. Nothing came out of my mouth (at the time) but I knew beyond a doubt that Jesus heard by desire to learn everything about Him and receive all that He has for me.

    I believe that there is no “one-size-fits-all” method of salvation but that the “ask-seek-knock” scripture will be honored regardless of the words used.

    “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matt 7:7-8

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  34. Back when Southern Baptists had their spiritual heads screwed on straight, O.C.S. Wallace said in his book “What Baptists Believe”:

    “Salvation comes to the soul that comes to salvation. Forgiving savior and penitent sinner meet … The repentance which is inseparably linked with faith, and leads to salvation, is a godly sorrow for sin.”

    Repentance is best expressed in heart-rending prayer. You can call it a “sinner’s prayer,” or another term which means the same thing, when a soul is awakened to the realization that he needs a Savior who forgives and saves.

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  35. Bill,

    I prayed the sinner’s prayer at a standard fire/brimstone revival at an independent baptist church decades ago, but I’m confident that I was already a believer before I accepted a friend’s invitation to attend the meeting. The pneuma blows wherever it pleases.

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  36. Max,
    It was a certainty for me as well. That is not to say I didn’t and don’t on occasion have doubts. But there are those dear souls like what John Bunyan called Mr. Doubter or something like that. This individual for what reason struggles with doubts. Thought from all appearances seems to be truly saved. In my experience they need a lot of encouragement. There are many differ people in the world.

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  37. Samuel Conner,

    Have you heard the one about the Calvinist who died and went to heaven, there was two lines for entry, the sign over one said “ calvanist”
    The sign over the other line said “ arminian”
    So the Calvinist got in the Calvinist line, when he got to desk for entry, St. Peter said, if you don’t mind me asking, why did you get in this line?. The Calvinist said I chose to get in this line. Peter said, well you’re in the wrong line, you need to go to the other line.
    So when he finally got to the end of the arminian line the angel said, why did you get in this line, and the Calvinist said, I was told to get is this line, and the angel said, sorry you in the wrong line, you have to go to the other line. We don’t know for sure if he ever made it in…..

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  38. Paul D.,

    So, are you saying that the average Christian is too dumb to understand that the prayer is not some magical incantation? I have met many people in my life who are committed Christians and point to that day as a change in their lives.

    Throughout my life I have been in churches which have taught that the sinner’s prayer is not to be looked at as an end to itself. I personally don’ts what the big deal is. God uses many ways to draw people to Himself.

    Sometimes it seems to me that there are a group of people out there who have the formula for doing it right and intend to force their way on everyone else.

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  39. Bill: THEN the strangest and most to me unexpected thing: one minute I was an unbeliever, then suddenly I believed. My spiritual eyes were opened. I never said the sinner’s prayer, just suddenly I believed and knew something in me had changed. I have been what I call a “true Christian” since that time.

    The exact thing happened to me. I didn’t pray anything but at one point in time I believed and I have never wavered in that belief. I wasn’t even in church. I was watching Star Trek! (True story)

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  40. Janet: Does it say “faith in Christ” or “faith/faithfulness of Jesus Christ?” Likely you will not see a preposition “in” just a pure and simple possessive genitive case. And that’s great news.

    This is how the KJV translates Galatians 2:20
    I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
    Galatians 2:20 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Galatians%202:20&version=KJV

    I have found this extremely helpful in my life. Thinking about being reassured by Christ’s faith and leaning on that rather my own straining to try to believe enough has made my faith a lot healthier.

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  41. I was a missionary in a country where it was very rare for someone to make a decision to follow Christ. Sometimes that decision took months, and often there was intense discipleship that preceded and followed it. Following Christ often meant disobeying or even getting disowned by your family. But those people are devoted when they join a church. They pray a lot and they are out helping people daily.

    I do think that many Western Christians like formulas more than they want to build relationships with people. They want things to be easy. They also like “winning”. That goes for both sides here.

    Traditional Baptists are really competitive when it comes to salvation numbers. And they often are so focused on salvations or getting new members that they forget to disciple anybody once they get saved. I’ve been at churches that spent so much time getting in new people that they had nothing for you once you were a member.

    While I do agree with the New Cals that the sinner’s prayer is often too simplistic, I don’t think they have any better solution. New Calvinists seem to want to make things “easy” by just controlling it all. For a group that says they believe in the sovereignty of God, they sure seem to want their own sense of sovereignty over who is in the church and who is not.

    While I lean much more to the Arminian side, I think the Western church has a real problem when it comes to discipleship, and that might be a bigger contributor to the lack of Spirit-filled Christians. Hardly anyone ever gets out of baby Christian stage, and I think our lack of prayer, dependence on formulas, and need to flaunt big salvation numbers is a sign of that. That probably means there’s a lot of pastors who are baby Christians as well, and few people think to question that.

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  42. I don’t object to the sinner’s prayer per se*, but the ways in which it’s presented. i remember how our next-door neighbor read me Bill Bright’s “Four Spiritual Laws” one day and expected me to make a decision for Christ right then. She was taking advantage of the shock and grief I was experiencing after having to contact the police because my mother had attempted suicide. I was 14. I did not need the Four Spiritual Laws in that moment. What I needed was to know my mom was going to be OK.

    My point is that a lot of these presentations of the sinner’s prayer are designed to take advantage of a person’s distress.

    *This is a good sinner’s prayer: Luke 18:13: But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

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  43. Bill:
    But THEN the strangest and most to me unexpected thing:one minute I was an unbeliever, then suddenly I believed.My spiritual eyes were opened.I never said the sinner’s prayer, just suddenly I believed and knew something in me had changed.I have been what I call a “true Christian” since that time.Like one other commenter said, I’ve had my ups and downs but I have never waivered in my belief in the saving power of Jesus Christ.

    My experience is quite similar. I went to church my whole life and had an intellectual belief in God. I believed that Jesus was who the Bible said He was. But I think the key for me was an understanding of what it meant to truly surrender to God. What changed in me that day was a decision that I was going to follow Christ no matter what He asked me to do. It wasn’t about whether I would go to hell, but who I would follow.

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  44. JD Greear is a man of contradictions. He got all bent out of shape regarding the sinner’s prayer. As you all know, he is a Baptist as well as a Calvinist – both facts that he hid from his congregation for a long time. Now, Baptists take baptism seriously. I thought a man like Greear would do the same.

    However, I visited his church 9 years ago just to see the hoopla. At the end of the service, he told everyone who wanted to get baptized to come and do it after the service. He said nothing about why. So a bunch of people came forward.

    At the time, Greear was a pal of, get ready, Steven Furtick, who was also doing these mass baptisms. No preparation, no nothing. Most churches I have attended actually attempt to meet with those who are being baptized prior to the event to be sure they know what they are doing.

    Does Greear still do these impromptu baptisms? I don’t know, But the SBC sure brags on his baptism rates. So mass baptisms and no sinner’s prayer = Reformed Baptist doctrine?

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  45. Sinners can say a “sinners prayer” or they can say nothing at all. If so desired, they could wear orange traffic cones and women’s underwear every second Tuesday of months ending in Y. It’s purely a matter of personsonal taste. I’m of course… referring to the choice of underwear style and color. Also, a truly repentant follower, would choose burlap fabric, if they “needed to do business with God”.

    What Platt does not understand, are that doubts regarding authenticity of conversion is a normal human experience. That’s why we call what we have “faith,” as opposed to calling it “sight”.

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  46. In looking at most of the remarks here, I am reminded of a book by David Pawson [a UK minister] called ‘The Normal Christian Birth’ described as a book on Spiritual obstetrics, written out of a deep concern that many Christians have been badly ‘delivered’ – David who by no means would call himself a Calvanist devotes a whole chapter to the so called ‘sinners prayer’ and I heartily recommend it to folks who struggle with whether saying such a prayer was enough..He outlines 4 steps as indicative of a new birth,Repentance,Faith,Baptism and Reception of the Spirit..-We may argue about the sequence or interval of time in these matters but in our own lives and in the lives of others, they may be indicative of the reality of our New Birth experience.

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  47. As a seven year old, I attended a week long children’s rally at a small mission church in my neighborhood. My family and I attended a baptist church. One night a woman with a dummy told the story of Jonah. Something about it made the gospel so clear to me that I believed. Can’t remember that I said any specific prayer, but I “knew”. The last night the guy in charged asked everyone who had believed that week to come to the front. He had us repeat a “sinner’s prayer”. I remember being confused as to the why of doing that. Thankfully, I was blessed with loving Christian parents who listened to me, answered my questions, and as I recall now talked to me about not letting anyone “push” me into anything that didn’t seem right. That helped. For me, it was not the prayer that made the change. It was Jesus. For many of my little friends, it was saying that prayer. How the Holy Spirit calls us seems to vary for every individual. Maybe some people need to put into words what is happening to them? I don’t know.

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  48. Jonah was offensive to the leaders of the Jews on so many, many levels. One being the open access of all men to God. Consider just a few things from the book.

    1.The sailors knew nothing of God because they where foreigners. Jonah explained it was the national deity of Israel who made the Sea.
    2. The sailors asked God to be forgiven of a murder …before they committed the act. God can forgive anything he wishes.
    3. The calming of the storm confirmed to the men the prayer was heard. But, this was after the act was committed.
    4. God was not offended as the men respond in a normal, human and fleshly way. They made vows to God, even tbough God was in need of nothing.

    In chapter two, God hears Jonah’s prayer even after death. God can great request to a person in the underworld. Remember, Jonah is in two locations. He is in the Bottomless Pit, and undergoing digestion in the fish, at the same time.

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  49. J D Greear also has some ideas about or perhaps better said some attitudes about or better yet some recommendations regarding behavior regarding more than one hot button issue for Baptists. I am very carefully not identifying the issue which caught my eye, but I am thinking that given his ideas about some things SBC is probably headed toward some heated discussions in the future.

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  50. dee: At the end of the service, he (JD Greear) told everyone who wanted to get baptized to come and do it after the service. He said nothing about why. So a bunch of people came forward.

    I have yet to visit a New Calvinist church which presents a clear Gospel message to lost folks in attendance. One of the most sacrilegious things I’ve seen a young reformed pastor do regarding baptism is to post the following on social media “Baptizing next Sunday. Sign up on Facebook!” The same “pastor” also said at a communion service we attended: “I got the cheapest grape juice and crackers I could find at WalMart. Grab some on your way out.” Yep, he went to seminary and all that.

    Note: I listen to sermon podcasts at SBC-YRR church plants in my area, in addition to attending an occasional service to learn what makes these guys tick. I continue to be amazed at their irreverence for the things of God. The music is cool and the coffee is good, however.

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  51. dee:

    Does he still do that? I don’t know, But the SBC sure brags on his baptism rates. So mass baptisms and no sinner’s prayer=Reformed Baptist doctrine?

    If Greear’s church has a written membership contract, it may be that the group baptisms are for the convenience of introducing groups of to-be-baptized would-be new members to the way the church does things. It would be easier to do this in a group/classroom setting rather than individually explaining things to people one-at-a-time as they requested baptism. After the group membership class, a group baptism and (perhaps) a mass contract signing?

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  52. Paul D.: it leads to endless anxiety over whether one has said the magic words properly, whether you meant them enough when you said them, and so on. Hence the endless rededication, altar calls, repeated baptism, and so on

    Such folks are usually trapped in a church where “correct” doctrine supersedes personal experience, where more emphasis is placed on the teachings and traditions of men than the commandments of God. They have been taught that the essence of Christianity can be found in doctrinal propositions about grace, rather than a direct experience of Grace. When you have had an encounter with the living Christ, you know it.

    “I have written like this to you who already believe in the name of God’s Son so that you may be quite sure that, here and now, you possess eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

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  53. dee: Throughout my life I have been in churches which have taught that the sinner’s prayer is not to be looked at as an end to itself.

    Besides their claims of superstition, the New Calvinists view the sinner’s prayer as a “work” and that you are not justified by your works. It’s part of their version of “justification by faith alone” mumbo-jumbo, where regeneration precedes belief. Thus, no need to kneel at an altar, say a sinner’s prayer, and ask Jesus into your heart. The “elect” had their ticket punched before the foundation of the world – no need to “do” anything!

    I heard a young reformer give testimony about a mission trip to West Africa. In one of the villages the mission team visited, a young man walked up to him with a Bible in hand (given to him by a previous missionary). He told the “pastor” that he had been reading John 3 and essentially asked “What must I do to be saved?” The young reformer answered “You don’t have to ‘do’ anything. God’s grace has been extended to you.” No belief Christ, no repenting of sin?! New Calvinism is another gospel.

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  54. ION: Fitba’

    As I write, Mexico are 2-0 up on South Korea, and with not long left to play they look set to go top of Group F. If Sweden beat Germany this evening, they and Mexico will be through to the knockout stages with one match to play, and defending champions Germany will be out along with South Korea.

    Belgium won convincingly against Tunisia earlier today, and top Group G; if England can beat Panama tomorrow then they and Belgium will likewise go through.

    With the usual suspects of world fitba’ turning in some indifferent performances, this has been an interesting world cup so far. Indeed, Belgium are a possible dark horse* this year. Another interesting fact is that there hasn’t been a single goalless draw yet, even though England have played their opening match.

    IHTIH

    * I don’t know whether this metaphor means the same in the US as it does in the UK. I guess I’ll find out.

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  55. dee,

    “So, are you saying that the average Christian is too dumb to understand that the prayer is not some magical incantation? I have met many people in my life who are committed Christians and point to that day as a change in their lives.

    Throughout my life I have been in churches which have taught that the sinner’s prayer is not to be looked at as an end to itself. I personally don’ts what the big deal is. God uses many ways to draw people to Himself.

    Sometimes it seems to me that there are a group of people out there who have the formula for doing it right and intend to force their way on everyone else.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    it’s like learning how to learn.

    one of my kids has had difficulty finding academic success. to put her experience in my own words, she has seen herself “outside” and those do well academically are “inside” — they are separated by some kind of membrane. where’s the door? where’s the passageway? it seems completely sealed off.

    i’ve taken her to specialists, but no approach or method has been able to get her find the door to “inside”. the harder i tried to help (with “program”), the more she struggled. the more “outside” was her experience.

    i finally went to the school district begging for some kind of guidance, intervention.

    nothing. zilch. i stopped trying out of utter discouragement & exhaustion (heightened by care-giving for my own parents). not to mention having run out of money.

    (and let’s face it, the school district wants to look good so it focusses on measurable things at the ends of the spectrum — the champions with more evidence than thought humanly possible [4.75 grade point averages??] and those who neatly qualify for resources.)

    …but then the most amazing thing happened. last year, all of a sudden, things started to gel for her. she found her own way. she is finally learning how to learn. not through any program or method, just sort of trial and error. an alternative learner finding alternative ways on her own.

    if evidence amounts to a changed report card, well, “measurably” she’s still an outsider. sorry, can’t join the club. no invitation to the special honor roll assembly for you and your family.

    her progress is too incremental for that. too non-standard. the “measurers” have no idea of the marvelous things happening for her in her experience. it’s too internal. but no less powerful for her.

    but she is learning how to learn. she is experiencing the taste of success, which puts gusts of wind in her sails. good grief, a fabulous life skill to take with her forever and apply to everything.

    the spiritual parallel is, indeed, the long and winding road that leads to God’s door.

    if God is like a magnet, God can pull through any number of circuitous routes and unpredictable channels.

    how silly for humans to decide on what should and shouldn’t be acknowledged. i daresay it reveals what their faith is in.

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  56. Max: “I got the cheapest grape juice and crackers I could find at WalMart. Grab some on your way out.” Yep, he went to seminary and all that.

    Makes ya’ wonder if they got the cheapest cr@* (ed.) they could find in the market stalls when preparing for Jesus’ last Passover Seder.

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  57. Lita: But that whole “are you really saved thing” really makes me twitch. How dare Platt imply that people aren’t really saved! The Calvinist/culty church I left recently had sermon after sermon that implied things like this, and it made me question my salvation on more than one occasion.

    I was so worried that I broke down in tears multiple times.

    *That* is what is dangerous and damning, not the Sinner’s Prayer.

    Any time I talk to Church Lady (lady from my dad’s church), I get a heavy dose of this sort of thing.

    Even after I reminded Church Lady that I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior when I was a kid…

    She seems to think I was never “truly” saved because I have confided in her over having anxiety attacks and other problems well into my adult hood.

    In her thinking, a “real” Christian never ever experiences problems, despair, loneliness, emotional pain, or anxiety, but constantly has inner peace and joy.

    She’s a Southern Baptist but seems to think like a Prosperity Gospel Christian: if you just pray enough, or are Jesus-y enough, you won’t have pain in life.

    She’s into an Emotional Health Gospel, yet she’s a Southern Baptist, as I once was for many years. I don’t understand how a SB above all Christians can believe like this.

    Makes it impossible to confide in her often or very much.

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  58. I don’t think the Sinner’s Prayer is wrong of sinful.

    It’s just a way of accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Savior.

    The Bible says you have to tell God in prayer you know you’re a sinner and believe what Jesus did for you at the cross.

    I guess Calvinists are opposed to this sort of thing because they regard that as human-based, and they figure you’re either already one of the saved (elect) or not. Sorry, but I don’t see that in the Bible.

    I do see that the Bible indicates that human choice is involved, but it’s not your “choice” that saves you, so a choice does not have merit – it’s what Jesus did on the cross that saves you, but the Bible says you have to choose that.

    You don’t become one of the elect because God just chose you before the beginning of time – you become the elect by hearing the Gospel message and accepting it. And the sinner’s prayer can play a role in that.

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  59. Daisy: In her thinking, a “real” Christian never ever experiences problems, despair, loneliness, emotional pain, or anxiety, but constantly has inner peace and joy.

    Perhaps she might change her mind knowing Jesus, Himself, suffered despair, loneliness, etc. Pass this link along if you think she may benefit from it.

    The Emotional Jesus; His Ups and Downs

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/robertcrosby/2012/06/the-emotional-jesus-his-ups-downs/

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  60. Germany vs Sweden is goalless midway through the first half; Sweden have had a very big shout for a penalty turned down. Questions are being asked about why the ref didnae use VAR. Though so far, Germany have had an extraordinary 86% of possession…

    Remember, a win for Sweden (who are not as good this year as they have been in the past) will eliminate the world champions.

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  61. Daisy: it’s what Jesus did on the cross that saves you, but the Bible says you have to choose that.

    You don’t become one of the elect because God just chose you before the beginning of time – you become the elect by hearing the Gospel message and accepting it. And the sinner’s prayer can play a role in that.

    Thanks for putting it this way. Wisdom, in a nutshell.

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  62. Nick Bulbeck: eliminate the world champions.

    .. best about soccer is its capacity for surprise …
    – 1982: Algeria beat the mighty West Germany.
    – 1990: Cameroun stunningly defeated Diego Maradona’s Argentina.
    – 2002: Sénégal (1st WC game ever) humiliated France (defending champ) in opening game, Oh là là!
    – 2018: with only black and lowest paid manager, Aliou Cissé, Sénégal won over Poland.
    (courtesy: Oumar Ba, “NYR Daily”)

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  63. And remember that Platt hasn’t led the IMB (or their payroll, presumably), since his departure was conditioned on the hiring of a replacement. Anyone else shocked and stunned that said process did not appear to publicly have begun in earnest until after another Mohler-friendly appointee, I mean elected servant, glided into power at the SBC?

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  64. dee: I was watching Star Trek! (True story)

    Out of body experience, so to speak. Thanks for sharing this. Made my day.

    God is just the best – never doing anything the same way twice. Indeed, no one will ever be able to capture God’s “methodology”, as much as some would like to and capitalize on it $$$.

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  65. Max,

    “justification by faith alone mumbo-jumbo”

    Nice to see you’ve kept your sense of humour Max.

    In his “Exposition of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount” – at the ’Love your enemies’ bit – William Perkins writes “Hereby is condemned the common practice of men in these days, which is to wrong their private enemies any way they can by word or deed…..It is indeed agreeable to our corrupt natures to keep a grudge long in mind and to revive old wrongs; but this commandment of Christ condemns this practice, and binds us both to forgive and forget…….Christianity and private enmity cannot stand together; and therefore we must labour to abandon out of our hearts the hatred of any man’s person, and strive to show forth loving usage, even towards our enemies, though it be against our nature, both by speaking well of them unto others, and showing kindness unto them, both in word and deed….This commandment shows it to be unlawful for any man to utter evil speeaches of another, at any time, unless the occasion be just, and he be lawfully called thereunto, for love covers a multitude of sins..”
    (Works, vol 1, p380).

    G K Chesterton wrote “The duty towards humanity may often take the form of some choice which is personal or even pleasurable. That duty may be a hobby; it may even be a dissipation. We may work in the East End because we are peculiarly fitted to work in the East End, or because we think we are; we may fight for the cause of international peace because we are very fond of fighting.” (Heretics, p185).

    More and more it seems to me that people are stuck in “fighting” rather than the cause they profess.

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  66. A baptism story. In 2015 I was on a tour in Israel. The group included my pastor (who was touring as a tourist, not as a pastor) and about 9 other people from our church. The day we went to the Jordan River, my pastor gathered the members of his own flock and asked if we were okay with the tour director (also a pastor) baptizing us. It was pretty clear that he didn’t want to get into the water himself. Then he reminded us that baptism is actually a once-and-done proposition, and those of us going into the river that day who had been previously baptized were not getting baptized, we were getting dunked. Well, I got baptized in the Pacific Ocean many years ago (a funny story in itself, in which I acquired sand in every orifice of my body), but gee, pass up the Jordan River? Really? No way! So I got dunked. It was a hot day, and the cool water was very refreshing. So there. 🙂

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  67. Can’t update you all as fast as I’d like – this is a Linux laptop, and for some reason it keeps dropping the interweb connection.

    On a slight tangent, I didn’t like Linux at first, but it’s grown on me quite a bit.

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  68. truthseeker00:
    okrapod,

    Phillip and the Ethiopian are a good reminder that theology and sacraments are mostly about churchiology, reinforcing the need for ‘priests’ and ‘pastors’, when God is perfectly happy to use the guy running down the road. Then, without the slightest ceremony: “See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?”

    I highly doubt that the Philippian jailer and his household had deep backgrounds in Judeo-Christian thought and belief. They may not even have participated in a Lifeway study or T4G book signing. And yet:

    Acts 16:29-34 — “Calling for lights, the jailer rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. At that hour of the night, the jailer took them and washed their wounds. And without delay, he and all his household were baptized. Then he brought them into his home and set a meal before them. So he and all his household rejoiced that they had come to believe in God.”

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  69. jyjames: .. best about soccer is its capacity for surprise …

    Very true. I’ll always remember a comment from the manager of a very low-ranked team who were about to play a top-division side in the FA cup years ago: Of course we’ve got a chance. The ball’s round!

    In four out of the last five World Cups, the defending champions have been eliminated at the group stage. If Germany dinnae score a bit in the next 45 minutes, it’ll happen again.

    In that respect, even if in no other, England have consistently performed like defending champions.

    Stop Press: Germany have equalised!

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  70. Lowlandseer: More and more it seems to me that people are stuck in “fighting” rather than the cause they profess.

    It is true that debating the jots and tittles of theology is not the same as preaching the Gospel. May God forgive us for wasting words when time is so short.

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  71. Ken F (aka Tweed),
    Ken,
    Not familiar with that one although I have many of his books..’The Normal Christian Birth’ was his first book and I remember he was writing it when he visited us in the 80’s…. His writings and videos are distributed worldwide and are worth obtaining.. I remember when we first came to US in the 80’s ,for a while we lived on his tapes.. I know a lot of missionaries were grateful for his audio tapes and books..

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  72. jyjames,

    “Indeed, no one will ever be able to capture God’s “methodology”, as much as some would like to and capitalize on it $$$.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    well, at least there’s some transparency in the institution. 😐

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  73. Those commenters who suggest Calvinists cannot allow the Sinner’s Prayer due to theological presuppositions are correct. It you assert that God regenerates men, giving them the ‘faith’ to ‘believe’, where would be the need or place for the Sinner’s Prayer? Just doesn’t work. So, out it must go. It is one of many, many forbiddens to come. Y’all don’t know what ya been missin’ out on!

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  74. Random thoughts: if you are still SBC, this would be a good time for you to read Wade Burleson’s book The New Covenant Changes Everything best I remember the title. Somebody correct me if wrong, please.

    Second thought: I totally disagree with Greaer re asking Jesus into your heart to the point I would even question his salvation. Now, lots of Christians didn’t enter the relationship through the sinner’s prayer. But if you prayed sincerely, repeatedly, and felt nothing happened and no change, well, maybe you need one more trip to the altar.

    Third thought: I think the Calvinistas are thinking all traditional evangelism is the type they apparently were taught to do in seminary. You know, let the think tank determine the color of the walls, the lighting, the music even down to the tempo to affect the biological release and inhibition of given neurotransmitters to allow them to manipulate the desired effect. (I’m a former church musician, very poor one, but knowledgeable enough to have some minor training in doing just exactly that. Barf city.) NOW IF you have never been actually converted, think modern conversions are just manipulating a crowd response, and are disappointed people don’t follow your specific pharisaical rules, then yeah, modern evangelism stinks.

    But for those of us who were converted around 50 years ago pre manipulation and yet very much invitational, free grace, the much scorned easy believism knowledge that our works do not save us, His mercy does, the sinner’s prayer is a well remembered door way into the faith.

    And if the Calvinistas don’t think folks are cleaning up their acts fast enough, they need to realize only God decides the timing and method of folks’ sanctification.

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  75. jyjames: Right. If I were you, I wouldn’t go there.

    Thanks for the input, but I don’t have much of a choice.

    Since my Mom (who was my number one best friend) died, I’ve not had anyone to go to. My Christian aunts who live in the area don’t want to be there for me.

    Church Lady is at least willing to listen, I’ll give her that. Unfortunately, she sometimes likes to give theology lessons, rather than just empathize. She likes to sell me on Jesus rather than what I need, just a friend to listen.

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  76. By the ways, years ago, I started googling something about the Sinner’s Prayer.

    In the course of that research (I think it was, I may be mis-remembering), there’s a group that is in stark opposition.

    They are Christians who teach “Lordship Salvation.” They do not like the “Sinner’s Prayer,” and they think the way to get saved, or to prove your salvation, is to live holy at all times.

    I can’t remember all the details of it that I read, but Lordship Salvation sounded very legalistic and very exhausting.

    Here is Wiki’s page on the matter:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lordship_salvation_controversy

    The “lordship salvation” controversy (also “Lordship Controversy”) is a theological dispute regarding key soteriological questions within Evangelical Christianity…

    … According to one website advocating Lordship Salvation,

    “the doctrine of Lordship salvation teaches that submitting to Christ as Lord goes hand-in-hand with trusting in Christ as Savior. Lordship salvation is the opposite of what is sometimes called easy-believism or the teaching that salvation comes through an acknowledgement of a certain set of facts.”

    … Related to the issue of what must be included or not, the debate also looks at conversion using language which refers to concepts on “accepting Christ as ….”

    This is how the term Lordship became associated with the debate, by discussions of various ways to accept Christ; sometimes “accepting Christ as Savior” or “accepting Christ as Lord” were distinguished, and a debate ensued.

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  77. Nick Bulbeck: that’ll set the cat among the toilets

    Say what? Not heard that expression before.

    Ones I am familiar with:

    “Like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs”
    “Looks like something the cat dragged in”
    “Don’t let the cat out of the bag”
    “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”

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  78. In a dramatic final twist, Germany – who were down to 10 men following Boateng’s sending-off for a second yellow – won it through a spectacular Toni Kroos free kick.

    The Swedish players are all looking distraught but, in truth, they spent the entire second half behind the ball with no ambition beyond scraping a draw.

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  79. Lita,

    I personally believe that the uprising against the sinners prayer is the work of the devil. Who else would want people not to pray the “sinners prayer.” Who is the accuser of the brethern. For real.

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  80. Definition – Contention: given to angry debate; provoking dispute or contention; quarrelsome.

    David Platt, et al. are providing a good example of contention.

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  81. Janet:
    I agree with some here. Lots of memories and none good. The next time you see a passage that says we are saved by faith in Christ, go to the online interlinear and check out the Greek (the interactive interlinear at biblehub dot com makes it doable.)
    Does it say “faith in Christ” or “faith/faithfulness of Jesus Christ?” Likely you will not see a preposition “in” just a pure and simple possessive genitive case. And that’s great news.

    The words Eph 2:8-10 gives the place of grace, faith, and works very well (along with the confirmation of salvation as a gift of God and not our own doing). This is also the case with the words of Jesus in John 5 regarding those who have passed from death to life (v.24) and John 10 as far as His work as the good shepherd.

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  82. Nick Bulbeck:
    Can’t update you all as fast as I’d like – this is a Linux laptop, and for some reason it keeps dropping the interweb connection.

    On a slight tangent, I didn’t like Linux at first, but it’s grown on me quite a bit.

    We have the interwebs for the real-time scores, but the commentary works just as well with a couple of hours on it.

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  83. Nick Bulbeck: * I don’t know whether this metaphor means the same in the US as it does in the UK. I guess I’ll find out.

    Yes. “Dark horse” means the same thing here in the USA.

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  84. linda: Random thoughts: if you are still SBC, this would be a good time for you to read Wade Burleson’s book The New Covenant Changes Everything best I remember the title. Somebody correct me if wrong, please.

    You were really close on the subtitle! The book title is Radically New. It’s available here:

    https://www.amazon.com/Radically-New-Covenant-Change-Think-ebook/dp/B01DVM6700/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1459955448&sr=8-3&keywords=Radically+new

    I have it on my Kindle. 🙂

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  85. Nathan Priddis: In chapter two, God hears Jonah’s prayer even after death. God can great request to a person in the underworld. Remember, Jonah is in two locations. He is in the Bottomless Pit, and undergoing digestion in the fish, at the same time.

    Of course, a live David offered this: “O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. O LORD, You pulled me up from Sheol; You spared me from descending into the Pit.” Psalm 30:2-3

    and this: “For there is no mention of You in death; who can praise You from Sheol?” Psalm 6:5

    and this: “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor will You let your Holy One see decay.” Psalm 16:10, also quoted on Pentecost by Peter in Acts 2:27.

    This colors conclusions about Jonah’s status, as it obviously was a miraculous situation orchestrated from start to finish by God in which actual death is not automatically to be deduced, even with the references to pits and Sheol — which a live David made as well.

    This is also relevant to the Messianic aspect of Jonah’s experience referenced by Jesus in Matthew 12:40, as David obviously had Messianic correlations such as the one in Psalm 16:10, which pointed to the time after the crucifixion and before the resurrection but was written by a live David and likely would have related to his real-life experiences as with other psalms he penned,

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  86. GM: In looking at most of the remarks here, I am reminded of a book by David Pawson [a UK minister] called ‘The Normal Christian Birth’

    Thanks GM, I looked Pawson up, and found a sermon series on “The De-Greeceing of the Church.” Just getting into it, but the idea is that Greek thought is far more a part of our lives than we realize. And when we read Jewish scriptures through a Greek lens, we get all sorts of stuff wrong. So refreshing to listen to a teacher who understands architecture.

    Another character who is critical of the sinners prayer is Paul Washer. He describes himself as a 5-point Srurgeonist.

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  87. That should have been, 5-point Spurgeonist. As in Charles Spurgeon, “the Prince of Preachers.”

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  88. linda: for those of us who were converted around 50 years ago pre manipulation and yet very much invitational, free grace, the much scorned easy believism knowledge that our works do not save us, His mercy does, the sinner’s prayer is a well remembered door way into the faith.

    Good words! A lot of us converted 50+ years ago shout a hearty AMEN!

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  89. truthseeker00: Those commenters who suggest Calvinists cannot allow the Sinner’s Prayer due to theological presuppositions are correct. It you assert that God regenerates men, giving them the ‘faith’ to ‘believe’, where would be the need or place for the Sinner’s Prayer? Just doesn’t work. So, out it must go. It is one of many, many forbiddens to come.

    The average Southern Baptist pew-sitter has no idea what is heading their way. Everything will change, slowly but surely, in one generation.

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  90. linda: But for those of us who were converted around 50 years ago pre manipulation and yet very much invitational, free grace, the much scorned easy believism knowledge that our works do not save us, His mercy does, the sinner’s prayer is a well remembered door way into the faith.

    Amen!! Well said, Linda!

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  91. Platt, Greear, and other up-and-comer new leaders of the SBC reject pretty much everything about traditional Southern Baptist belief and practice. They probably look into the average SBC church and see demon-deacons and assorted other misbehaving members, and consider them as prime examples of folks who were ushered into the church by praying a sinner’s prayer … but living like the devil from thenceforth. Well, I’ve had my concern about those same folks in my 60+ year snapshot of the SBC. On the other hand, I’ve know true saints of God who knelt at an altar, said a sinner’s prayer, and accepted Jesus into their hearts. The issue is not the sinner’s prayer, but the sinner praying it and whether or not they genuinely experienced an encounter with Christ which changed their life.

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  92. linda: if the Calvinistas don’t think folks are cleaning up their acts fast enough

    “Proof” of salvation and God’s blessing:
    Like, more tithe required?
    More volunteer time invested in the local church?
    Improved Hollywood celeb-type makeover look, like Hybels’ type A that he was seeking?
    More adulation of demagoguery? Submission?
    More: appeal, of a certain look, achievement and possessions? 1 John 2:16

    Too rough around the edges, like, for example, Jesus’ disciples? John the Baptist? Jesus Himself? “He had no stately form or majesty to attract us, no beauty that we should desire Him.” Isaiah 53:2.

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  93. Max: The issue is not the sinner’s prayer, but the sinner praying it and whether or not they genuinely experienced an encounter with Christ which changed their life.

    For some, in “their” churches, the issue is how useful a person (prayer or not) is to their agenda:

    “They might ignore you forever.

    “But if you’ve got something they want – looks, … [sex appeal], money, prestige, a kindly manner, a wealthy family, good connections, or arm candy they’ll probably be back. They are very concerned with appearances, you see, and you may just make them look and feel good.

    “But it will be on their terms.”

    https://www.quora.com/Once-a-narcissist-throws-you-away-will-he-stay-away

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  94. Do you believe with all your heart?

    I think we have forgotten that it is belief In Christ and that believing is not necessarily in a set of doctrines, for when Faith is new, so is our understanding and so we are called to believe in One thing at the point of saving faith… we believe but One thing… And that One thing is Christ…who He said He was and what the Holy Scriptures said He he did. It is to look at the cross and to say, “that was for me. I was the one who needed that. I was the one that was hopeless and helpless apart from that work on the cross and that Person who accomplished that work … It was for me and I believe in Christ as the only way to the living God who is judge of all.”

    That is my gospel call, as an evangelist, and I could give no other for the holy Scriptures give no other condition for salvation…but to believe. And if that belief is genuine, the life will change, from the inside out.

    I have had poor sinners come forward and I simply present them to God and say, this poor soul desires their heart to change from stone to flesh and their life to change from unbelief believing in Christ. And then I just simply say… “It’s your turn… Talk to Jesus.” And then I am privileged to hear a true sinners prayer and I cannot believe He lets me do this. Everything else pales in comparison.

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  95. … And I will add, how did we get so far away from, “accept ME, oh Lord, a poor sinner“ to “I want to accept YOU into my heart?“. Something is grossly wrong.

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  96. Augustine,

    Thank you for sharing. I love your story. The Good News of Jesus (God came down to us) to a poor sinner (aren’t we all).

    Godspeed to you, faithful in your gospel call.

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  97. JDV: Of course, a live David offered this: “O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. O LORD, You pulled me up from Sheol; You spared me from descending into the Pit.” Psalm 30:2-3

    and this: “For there is no mention of You in death; who can praise You from Sheol?” Psalm 6:5

    and this: “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor will You let your Holy One see decay.” Psalm 16:10, also quoted on Pentecost by Peter in Acts 2:27.

    This colors conclusions about Jonah’s status, as it obviously was a miraculous situation orchestrated from start to finish by God in which actual death is not automatically to be deduced, even with the references to pits and Sheol — which a live David made as well.

    This is also relevant to the Messianic aspect of Jonah’s experience referenced by Jesus in Matthew 12:40, as David obviously had Messianic correlations such as the one in Psalm 16:10, which pointed to the time after the crucifixion and before the resurrection but was written by a live David and likely would have related to his real-life experiences as with other psalms he penned,

    To recap the question:
    Is the sinners pray unbiblical? I put forward that God hears men without regard to the opinion of early twenty first century theology.

    I cited gentile sailors, likely Phoenicians. Lastly, I cited Jonah’s prayer following being eaten and undergoing digestion.

    I recommend starting with
    Jonah 2:1. Remember, since Eden, a man is composed of body (called flesh) and soul. With two parts, the former houses the latter.

    At death, at seperation from the flesh, the soul departs. Jonah dies in verse one. In verse two we find him in two locations at once. He is dead and his soul is in Sheol.

    The Psalms you mention seem to be confusing you. I’m not sure if you read them all the way through. Psalm 16 has a flow that involves a change in both locality/time, as well as transition of Worlds. This is especially important to understand the final verse is in Heaven

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  98. Deb: I predict the SBC will shrink quite a bit

    Certainly within “traditional” ranks. This will happen for a variety of reasons: done or die being the primary ones. Southern Baptist traditional churches are predominantly populated by age 50+ folks; SBC youth prefer the bells and whistles of New Calvinism. Within 15-20 years, the Baby Boomers will be gone (dead). Generations X, Y and Z care little about the faith of their fathers. If SBC won’t serve what they want, they will go elsewhere. Evangelism and missions will fall victim to the new wave flooding SBC life. In the meantime, I’m hoping that a bunch of sinners will start praying.

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  99. Wartburgers: I know I promised to leave you, but this sinner’s prayer thing got me going again. Lord knows we need more sinners praying – I just don’t understand why the new reformers have to pick on them.

    I haven’t cleaned out the backyard shed yet – been too hot and humid – but may return to that task soon.

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  100. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    I hear you…

    And thus the reason that we likely do not have true conversions after all!

    I had one person say, “I want to become a Christian but I don’t think I have anything I need forgiven for.” I said, “Come back later, God is not saving you now, for when He is saving someone, they are made to know that they actually need saved.”

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  101. Best sinners prayer I’ve ever had the privilege to witness went something like this from a 40 something year-old woman , “I’m sick of my bad heart, I need a new one. Jesus, please give me a new one!”

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  102. Augustine: the holy Scriptures give no other condition for salvation…but to believe. And if that belief is genuine, the life will change, from the inside out … I am privileged to hear a true sinners prayer and I cannot believe He lets me do this. Everything else pales in comparison.

    Augustine, I pray that God will give you years and strength to continue preaching the message of Christ to those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying.

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  103. Fitba’

    England registered their biggest win at a world cup with a 6-1 defeat of Panama today. We currently top the Group G table, so I can only assume we have fewer yellow cards than Belgium because the teams’ goal difference is identical. Harry Kane’s hat-trick puts him, at least for the moment, in the lead for the Golden Boot.

    England’s cricketers are not having such a good day, though; chasing 206 to inflict a series whitewash on Australia, England’s top order collapsed leaving us on 50-5 at one point. Butler and Moeen have steadied the ship a bit, but it’s still an uphill task now.

    IHTIH

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  104. GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: Another character who is critical of the sinners prayer is Paul Washer. He describes himself as a 5-point Spurgeonist.

    These guys have some nerve, claiming to be heirs of Spurgeon. Not in this they’re not.

    Here’s Spurgeon leading sinners in a prayer:

    “Oh, that the unconverted among you may be moved to pray. Before you leave this place, breathe an earnest prayer to God, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, I need to be saved. Save me. I call upon thy name.’ Join with me in prayer at this moment, I entreat you. Join with me while I put words into your mouths, and speak them on your behalf…’I cast myself wholly upon thee, O Lord. I trust the blood and righteousness of thy dear Son; I trust thy mercy, and thy love, and thy power, as they are revealed in him. I dare to lay hold upon this word of thine, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Lord, save me tonight, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.'” —Charles Spurgeon, “A Free Grace Promise” (1888)

    Isn’t this the sort of thing that Greear, Platt, Washer, and Co. are railing against?

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  105. There was a day in SBC life when a Southern Baptist who declared a sinner’s prayer to be superstitious while another penned a book “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart” would be viewed as strange characters indeed. One is now President of SBC’s foreign mission agency and the other was recently elected SBC President! Whew!

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  106. More from Spurgeon, emphasis added:

    “But, just as you are, if you will RECEIVE CHRIST INTO YOUR HEART and confess Him with your mouth, you shall be saved! Oh, this glorious way of the salvation of sinners—so simple, yet so safe—so plain, yet so sublime—for me to lay aside my own righteousness and just take the righteousness of Christ and be covered with it from head to foot! —Charles Spurgeon, “Great Pardon for Great Sin” (1862)

    “Let Him in! Let Him in! Believe on Him! Trust Him and LET HIM INTO YOUR HEART—and you shall find Him the Physician of your soul.” —Charles Spurgeon, “Hosanna!” (1891)

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  107. I was standing on my deck this morning drinking coffee, enjoying a much needed rain, and praying. I was reflecting on the mess the organized church is in, as waves of conflicting doctrines spread through it. I sensed a still small voice within me saying “Things haven’t got desperate enough in America for the church to seek Me with all their heart … only then they will find Me.” I am now pondering that.

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  108. Jerome,

    Jerome,

    I see an ocean of difference between that first prayer from Spurgeon and the second prayer from Spurgeon. They may or may not both be ‘correct’ but they are not the same.

    In the first prayer the ‘sinner’ is the beggar. The second prayer casts Jesus in the role of beggar/ one who begs. In the first prayer it is Jesus who does/does not ‘accept’ the sinner, while in the second prayer it is the sinner who ‘accepts’/or is urged to ‘accept’ Jesus. These two ideas are worlds apart. If somebody can say ‘no deal’ in the first prayer it is Jesus while in the second prayer it is the sinner.

    Look at the action verbs in the two prayers and see the difference.

    Could both be true? Ah, well, that is a different question.

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  109. Meanwhile it needs explained as to why Spurgeon, a calvinist, is urging anybody to do anything if he believed in irresistible grace.

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  110. okrapod: Meanwhile it needs explained as to why Spurgeon, a calvinist, is urging anybody to do anything if he believed in irresistible grace.

    He couldn’t help it…

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  111. okrapod: Meanwhile it needs explained as to why Spurgeon, a calvinist, is urging anybody to do anything if he believed in irresistible grace.

    I’ve witnessed countless folks in church gripping the back of the pew in front of them until their knuckles turned white resisting the irresistible.

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  112. truthseeker00:
    Those commenters who suggest Calvinists cannot allow the Sinner’s Prayer due to theological presuppositions are correct. It you assert that God regenerates men, giving them the ‘faith’ to ‘believe’, where would be the need or place for the Sinner’s Prayer? Just doesn’t work. So, out it must go. It is one of many, many forbiddens to come. Y’all don’t know what ya been missin’ out on!

    Ah, yes. And the corollary to that is that god created millions, no, billions of people, knowing from the foundations of the world that he was not going to regenerate them.

    When I could no longer turn my head from that terrible realization, it broke my faith.

    Did god orchestrate that from before the foundation of the world, too?

    As Nick Fury once said, “Ant? Meet boot.”

    Strip away all the pretty words from Calvinism, and that’s what you’ve got.

    A loving god? Really?

    I am not attacking calvinists here. Just the belief system that led me to despair instead of the Bible-promised “joy in my salvation.”

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  113. Daisy: Say what? Not heard that expression before.

    Ones I am familiar with:

    “Like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs”
    “Looks like something the cat dragged in”
    “Don’t let the cat out of the bag”
    “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”

    I first ran into “set the cat among the pigeons” in an Agatha Christie murder mystery, set at a girls’ school. I don’t remember whodunnit anymore, but I do remember enjoying the reading, trying to solve the mystery before the big reveal at the end.

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  114. Lita: How dare Platt imply that people aren’t really saved! The Calvinist/culty church I left recently had sermon after sermon that implied things like this, and it made me question my salvation on more than one occasion. I was so worried that I broke down in tears multiple times. *That* is what is dangerous and damning, not the Sinner’s Prayer.

    So who is Platt, Greear, and many others who claim to regulate Jesus’ supernatural agency?

    Here are Jesus’ own words for them:

    “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”

    You want damning? Jesus also had this for those in his day, and also the present day dandies who claim that a ‘sinners’ prayer has no efficacy:

    “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

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  115. Max: until their knuckles turned white

    When young son applied for his present job he told them he had prosecuted X number of capital cases ‘to verdict’. So I said, what does it mean ‘to verdict’? So he said it means that you prosecuted the case all the way, nobody accepted a deal, and you are sitting there with white knuckles waiting for the jury to come back with the verdict.

    Sounds similar. Except for who has the white knuckles.

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  116. ___

    Hoodwinked: “The Prayer Wheel Is Broken, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    As I distinctly recall, the ‘sinners prayer’(tm) was never really designed to be an end-all-cure-all. It was a means to identify those in the meeting house, tent, etc. who showed or demonstrated an interest in Jesus’ good news, giving them an opportunity for prayer and one-on-one consultation ensuring those who would receive the salvation message of Christ Jesus, would make their commitment to Him with a “solid biblical foundation”.

    However, the Calvinist strategy today is replete with doubt inducing overtures. It is one of their ‘humility’ face cards. What they really mean is salvation = Calvinism.

    So in their 501c3 religious reality only a devout humble practicing Calvinist is considered truly saved.

    ***

    Jesus said if He be lifted up, He would draw all folk unto Himself.

    He was lifted up at the cross in 33 AD.

    Now He is in heaven (present tense) drawing all folk unto Himself…

    So, call upon Him today, He is listening.

    A simple prayer: ‘Jesus, Save Me’, will ‘START’ you journey,

    Hope awaits YOU!

    (You don’t have to be all on your own…)

    [tears]

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7f5za5tz3w#fauxfullscreen

    ;~)

    – –

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  117. refugee: god created millions, no, billions of people, knowing from the foundations of the world that he was not going to regenerate them … A loving god? Really? … I am not attacking calvinists here. Just the belief system that led me to despair instead of the Bible-promised “joy in my salvation.”

    That’s why 90+% of Christendom has rejected Calvinistic belief for the last 500 years. What love is this?!

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  118. In Angicanism there is a saying about confession, “All may, some should, none must.” In other words, confession is available to all if they want it, some should confess if they have something weighing on them, but no one has to confess to be in good standing with the church.

    It seems to me that this might also apply to the Sinner’s Prayer. “All may say it if it expresses their intentions, some should say it if they find it helpful, none must say it in order to be a Christian.”

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  119. Everyone’s testimony is different. I have nothing against the sinner’s prayer. But I had kept being told that if I said then I was a Christian. But saying it over and over again with the intention of my heart not to really know God then I was only saying it to escape hell. I was only saying it for what God was capable of doing for me. For me, it was like the people who kept following Jesus because he fed them and did miracles for them. Jesus told them that they had the wrong idea. I had the wrong idea and certainly I had the wrong heart. I did know want to know God because I did not like God (at least not the God I understood him to be). So for my salvation, God had other plans then repeating the sinners prayer just one more time. And that is a whole other story. For others, repeating the sinners prayer just one time at the leading of a speaker is just what God intended for them, and their life proves it.

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  120. Everyone’s testimony is different. I have nothing against the sinner’s prayer. But I had kept being told that if I said it then I was a Christian (I didn’t feel like one). But saying it over and over again with the intention of my heart not to really know God but only to escape hell was saying it only for what God was capable of doing for me. So it was basically superstition for me like the people who kept following Jesus because he fed them and did miracles for them. Jesus told them that they had the wrong agenda. I had the wrong idea and certainly I had the wrong heart. I did not want to know God because I did not like God (at least not the God I understood him to be). So for my salvation initiation God had other plans then repeating the sinners prayer just one more time. And that is a whole other story. For other Christians, repeating the sinners prayer just one time at the leading of a speaker is just what God intended for them. And their life goes before us, leading others to true unwavering faith in God (Hebrews 13:7, 17) .

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  121. I’ve been thinking about this topic for the last day trying to come up with a cogent thought, and all I really have is that we don’t know. For me, growing up in a family of Mennonites still coming to terms with the dress codes and the legalism, “turn or burn” sermons and the sinner’s prayer were very negative for me and caused me lots of distress about my “salvation.” Talk of people missing their “one true chance” was also very off-putting. The worst example was a church I went to was raising money for a new parking lot and talking about if we don’t build this, people will not come into church because they can’t find a spot and that might have been their only chance to be saved.

    These sorts of things are why I spent about 8 years as a Calvinist. I liked the logic of that system and the idea that God is big and holds onto us and won’t let go. I think of Calvinism as a high view of God and a low view of man. It didn’t become apparent to me all the problems with Calvinism, which I realized earlier. When I read what Platt and Greaar are saying about people, it infuriates me. It seems like the central tennent of “judge not” is that we simply don’t know what is going on in someone’s heart. We can speak out when they commit actions which hurt other people, but we cannot know about someone else’s relationship to God. The smugness with which they speak about other people is astounding. Most people are just doing the best they can, and if they don’t look like Platt or Greaar’s version of a “Christian,” maybe they should spend some time getting to know that person and learn about what they have been through. So much of Neo-Calvinism is just about shaming people for not living up to American upper-middle-class values. These preachers get paid fat salaries on the backs of the hard earned money of people in the pews just so they can tell them all the things that they would be doing if they were spiritual. Then the pastor will tweet a picture of taking his kids to ice-cream on Friday afternoon (because the pastor works on Sunday, don’t you know, so he gets an extra day off), and makes some comment about how he is “making disciples.” While the rest of the church is paying for him to have a weekday off a week and grinding themselves into the ground to try to enact all the things he is telling them they must do on top of their already hectic lives.

    For me, the idea that I don’t need to accept Christ into my life because Jesus has already included me in His Life is extremely helpful. Is that good for everyone, I really don’t know. If the sinner’s prayer had a positive impact on your life of faith, that is fantastic and I am so happy for you. It didn’t for me, but I have (through a long journey), found ways of conceptualizing these things that work for me. I think that is what we are all doing, and we should be humble about the process. We are all trying to find a way to think about God that makes sense to us. I don’t know if I’m “right,” but I’m less concerned about that as I used to be. What disgusts me about the Neo Cals is their utter lack of humility and their rock-solid belief in the correctness of their theology. That makes them spiritually dangerous.

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  122. Christine: In Angicanism there is a saying about confession, “All may, some should, none must.” In other words, confession is available to all if they want it, some should confess if they have something weighing on them, but no one has to confess to be in good standing with the church.

    That is a really lovely thought. I’m going to hang onto that.

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  123. Nathan Priddis: To recap the question: Is the sinners pray unbiblical?I put forward that God hears men without regard to the opinion of early twenty first century theology.

    I cited gentile sailors, likely Phoenicians. Lastly, I cited Jonah’s prayer following being eaten and undergoing digestion.

    I recommend starting with Jonah 2:1. Remember, since Eden, a man is composed of body (called flesh) and soul. With two parts, the former houses the latter.

    At death, at seperation from the flesh, the soul departs. Jonah dies in verse one. In verse two we find him in two locations at once. He is dead and his soul is in Sheol.

    The Psalms you mention seem to be confusing you. I’m not sure if you read them all the way through. Psalm 16 has a flow that involves a change in both locality/time, as well as transition of Worlds. This is especially important to understand the final verse is in Heaven

    Working backwards, the implication of confusion on this side of things bolstered by the notion that it came from insufficient exegesis — oh wait, I mean not even reading it — is quite something, as it’s coupled with a dismissal of their application to the relevant verses in which prayers from the dead (dead then alive) appears to be wrested. I certainly have drawn a different conclusion and could offer much Scriptural support centered around disputing the notion that prayers from the dead can be proofed out of the book of Jonah (which was raised by your stating such, which prompted my reply). What I didn’t do was cast you as confused or call into question your having read context surrounding Scripture you has posted and then offered interpretations regarding it.

    As to one’s reading of Psalms such as Psalms 16, you’re familiar with the concept of present and future fulfillment, right? No matter the future fulfillments of OT Messianic passages including the Psalms, there is often a present fulfillment occurring, of which the Psalms are a prime example. I mean, I was hoping my point about the earthly actions of the live David would convey. Do I need to list the number of actual historical, earthly occurrences (which are often in the preludes, such as Psalm 51) recorded in the Psalms whose truth are not negated in reality and significance by any Messianic or eschatological applicability?

    This Scriptural reality and means of interpretation and establishing context undermines yet another declarative statement you authoritatively offer concerning Psalm 16 — “This is especially important to understand the final verse is in Heaven” — as well as the definitive declarations about “a flow that involves a change in both locality/time, as well as transition of Worlds”.

    And the earlier replies from the Psalms to your first declarative statements are also relevant to your other definitive replies about Jonah’s status, which draw conclusions presented definitively in places that leave room for other interpretations or a concession that his status is not known in black and white terms. They still are colored by what I submitted in my first submission regarding Jonah’s status before, during and after the three days.

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  124. One of my friends got seriously converted while riding his bicycle home. As a result, he’s a very balanced believer [ha ha]. But that was probably 30 years ago, and he’s still walking it out.

    The best evidence that someone was born is that they are walking around today. They probably don’t remember their birth [and certainly wouldn’t want to — Yikes!], and they may have been normal or c-section or preemie. But the proof is that they are alive today. The proof is in the present.

    So it is with the new birth. It really doesn’t matter where or how it happened, and I don’t think it matters if the person doesn’t recall exactly when. Is Christ in you now? Are you spiritually alive?

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  125. In terms of the sinner’s prayer, I’ve heard some versions of this prayer in church that were a bit… lacking. You probably need to get repentance in there, mention Jesus as Lord, ask for forgiveness… at some point. But it’s not a magic formula. Someone can get seriously converted just asking Jesus to come into their heart, and someone could repeat all the right phrases, and miss the boat completely. It’s about the heart.

    Personally, I hate the invitations where the preacher asks everyone to repeat the same sinner’s prayer after him, so that any random lost people are encouraged to join the group and say the words along with everyone else… as if saying the magic words might cause someone to get accidentally saved.

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  126. GSD [Getting Stuff Done],

    blockquote cite=”comment-375610″>

    GSD [Getting Stuff Done]: ou probably need to get repentance in there

    Ah, yes, repentance, but it is important to not mistake it for a change of ways. Repentance is a change of thinking (that results in a change of ways) but it is in the change of thinking that makes way for confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart…”I now think differently of who I am and my desperate need for what Christ has done and I believe He has done that for me.” Repent and believe.

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  127. Muff Potter: who claim to regulate Jesus’ supernatural agency?

    Here are Jesus’ own words for them:

    “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”

    So appropriate. Thanks for sharing this.

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  128. At least two “sinner’s prayer” recorded and affirmed in NT scripture: thief’s and tax collector’s (Luke 18:13). Granted, no formulaic prayers offered in scripture like those routinely offered during “altar calls” but lighten up Platt, et. al. It’s a prayer.

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  129. I guess according to numskull platts or whatever his name is I’m not a Christian! I was given the gospel message Romans Road and John3:16 I made my decision to call on the name of Jesus (after being raised a Jehovah’s Witness for 15 years) people prayed for me and witnessed to me for two years and I also refused to go into the church of the people who raised me, needless to say In spite of my perusing JW I gave my life to Christ and asked Him into my heart! I finally acknowledged who He is and God has been with me ever since. I prayed the sinners prayer have never forgotten it either.

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  130. Sòpwith: the Calvinist strategy today is replete with doubt inducing overtures

    Jay Adams, a Calvinist, advised counsellors never to tell people that Christ died for them. He said that we cannot be sure who Christ died for. John MacArthur once answered a question admitting that nobody knows whether they will go to heaven until after they die. Other Calvinists say that we evangelise because we do not know who and where the elect are. The Gospel According to the Calvinistas: We cannot be sure of anything and nobody knows!

    What a contrast to the words of the Apostle John “he who hears my words and believes him who sent me has everlasting life” “these things I have written that you may know that you have everlasting life!”

    There e is a danger with the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” if used as the primary message. The gospel of God is that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, that he died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-3) and that he is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. If someone “asks Jesus into the heart” without reference to Christ as their saviour and sin-bearer, it becomes just a ritual. In Ephesians Paul prays that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith but this is for the one who already believes.

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  131. Patti: I have nothing against the sinner’s prayer. But I had kept being told that if I said it then I was a Christian (I didn’t feel like one). But saying it over and over again with the intention of my heart not to really know God but only to escape hell was saying it only for what God was capable of doing for me.

    Many people come to Jesus Christ out of those motives but the Lord saves them because he is merciful and kind. If you are drowning and someone reached out their hand to save you, you would reach out instantly. You would not spend any time making any promises or negotiations. After the rescue, you would have goodwill to your rescuer and want to express that love and appreciation. The comparison with those who came to Jesus to be filled with bread is a fallacy because they were not they were not looking for spiritual salvation or eternal life. They were just looking for temporary, physical food. The point that Jesus made was to come to him and have eternal life.

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  132. Nick Bulbeck,

    Hey, Nick, I hope you enjoyed the rugby result from Saturday. I think the Cape Town drought of the last few years has made the Bokke forget how to play in the rain! From the Cape Town winters of my childhood, I always feel that if there is rugby on the tv, it should be pouring with rain outside.

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  133. Augustine,

    To me, one of the core “issues” is when good old american captialism, and using the new lingo “ business analytics” enrered into evangelism. Reducing “conversion” to a simple prayer makes for great marketing… i.e. we spent this much at event X and Y people prayed the sinners prayer… so, we are Z effective compared to Joe blow over there that spent Z, but only had Q prayers… I have actually seen it reduced to this… just done a little more politely… I was also told I always need to “seal the deal” .. this approach is definitely NOT Calvanistic!
    P.S. I am not saying I am Arminian or Calvanistic… just like quantum mechanics, and an electron being both a particle and a wave, we humans are not smart enough to fully understand what appears at some level to be a fundamental contradiction..

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  134. NPR just interviewed JD Greear… he talks well and handles reporters questions well… I can see why he got picked… he is pretty smooth..

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  135. Jeffrey Chalmers: JD Greear … is pretty smooth

    One definition of “smooth”: very polite, confident, and able to persuade people, but in a way that is not sincere.

    New Calvinists are taking over traditional SBC churches in my area by stealth and deception … they are very smooth about it.

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  136. I predict that SBC baptism rates will climb under J.D. Greear’s presidency. The New Calvinists will have a Twitter campaign to get more folks in the water. One SBC-YRR church planter in my area posted on Facebook “Baptizing next Sunday. Sign up on Facebook!” This is evangelism?!

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  137. Deb,

    I don’t see much sacredness in the way sacraments of baptism and communion are handled in New Calvinist churches in my area. Hopefully, it’s just an immature behavior by some young “pastors” at SBC-YRR church plants here and not modus operandi in the movement at large.

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  138. Max: One SBC-YRR church planter in my area posted on Facebook “Baptizing next Sunday. Sign up on Facebook!”

    I suppose if you sign up to be baptized, it’s a sure sign that you are one of the “elect” … no need for the young pastor to preach the message of the Cross of Christ, nor for you to utter a sinner’s prayer to repent. As one young reformer near me advised his congregation “This is one prayer you never have to pray: ‘Jesus, forgive me of my sins’.”

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  139. Jeffrey Chalmers: NPR just interviewed JD Greear… he talks well and handles reporters questions well… I can see why he got picked… he is pretty smooth..

    He’s a professional. A professional (as elastigirl would put it), selling a brand-name.

    I don’t begrudge him that.

    My only beef is when he or any of them try and nullify the fervent prayers of those who believe differently than them. Jesus is fully human too. Why would he not honor an entreaty to come and dwell inside a person who asks him to?
    Theirs (Greear, Platt, et. al.) is a cold hubris that is both cruel and inhumane.

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  140. Max: I suppose if you sign up to be baptized, it’s a sure sign that you are one of the “elect” … no need for the young pastor to preach the message of the Cross of Christ, nor for you to utter a sinner’s prayer to repent.

    Once upon a time I made a list of what I could find in scripture as to what people were told to do (if anything) in order to be saved, as in answer to the question of what must I do to be saved. Add to that the evidences of salvation which were not preceded by that specific question, and add to that what was said in some sermon as a general statement-all in scripture. It was a mind-changing list for me. I highly recommend this for anybody who wants to get a larger picture of what scripture says on the subject.

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  141. Max: I suppose if you sign up to be baptized, it’s a sure sign that you are one of the “elect” …

    It might. Of course, that would diminish the preacher’s control of the situation and diminish the sinner’s control of the situation and that would acknowledge that God can and does do what He good and well chooses to do however and whenever and with whomever He chooses to do it-and who wants that. (sarcasm)

    Or it may just be superstition just like a sinners prayer may be a superstition-or not.

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  142. Max: don’t see much sacredness in the way sacraments of baptism and communion are handled in New Calvinist churches in my area.

    Baptists don’t believe in sacraments. Ordinances yes, sacraments no.

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  143. Sorry, guys, but Say-the-Magic-Words Salvation has been WAY overdone in the Evangelical Bubble.

    My experience was during the Heyday of Hal Lindsay near Ground Zero of Calvary Chapel. Global Thermonuclear War (and the even worse subsequent Hellfire) in lurid lip-smacking detail to scare ’em down the aisle and onto their knees saying The Sinner’s Prayer. Then the “Ressegue Regression”, where the first thing you do upon meeting a mark is (after the usual “Are You Saved?”) is to utterly break down any assurance of salvation from the last time they said The Sinner’s Prayer — “Are You Sure? Are You Certain You’re Sure? Are You Sure You’re Certain You’re Sure? Are You Certain You’re Sure You’re Certain You’re Sure?” etc until all is clear to Lead Him In The Sinner’s Prayer yet again. (I ended up a notch on half a dozen Bibles that way.)

    Altar Call Revivalist Salvation has left its own trail of walking wounded; I’m not surprised there’s an equally-extreme Truly Reformed pushback.I’d be more surprised if there wasn’t a pushback of some sort.

    (Leaving aside that the first half of The Sinner’s Prayer is a direct knockoff of a Catholic prayer called “Act of Contrition”.)

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  144. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    Augustine,

    To me, one of the core “issues” is when good old american captialism, and using the new lingo “ business analytics” enrered into evangelism.Reducing “conversion” to a simple prayer makes for great marketing…i.e. we spent this much at event X and Y people prayed the sinners prayer…so, we are Z effective compared to Joe blow over there that spent Z, but only had Q prayers…I have actually seen it reduced to this… just done a little more politely… I was also told I always need to “seal the deal” .. this approach is definitely NOT Calvanistic!

    The apostle Paul would have some very strong words for these tactics and underlying motives. It may start with something like this, “who has bewitched you…“

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  145. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:42 (quoted in the Neo-Cal/YRR-approved (TM) ESV.) The thief on the cross sounds like he said one of those horrible ‘superstitious’ sinner’s prayers to me! Jesus’s answer, however, is the key, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” It doesn’t look like Jesus had any problem with the sinner’s prayer–and if it’s good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me!

    The notion that the SBC even sees the need to entertain a resolution about the sinner’s prayer demonstrates to me that the denomination has totally lost its way.

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  146. Max:
    Wartburgers:I know I promised to leave you, but this sinner’s prayer thing got me going again.Lord knows we need more sinners praying – I just don’t understand why the new reformers have to pick on them.

    I haven’t cleaned out the backyard shed yet – been too hot and humid – but may return to that task soon.

    This sinner’s praying for continued heat and humidity, so you’ll stick around a little longer!

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  147. okrapod: Baptists don’t believe in sacraments. Ordinances yes, sacraments no.

    Agreed. Wrong choice of words. SBC “ordinances” of baptism and communion are symbolic acts of obedience to the core of Christian faith.

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  148. okrapod: Or it may just be superstition just like a sinners prayer may be a superstition-or not.

    Well, some of the things the New Calvinists come up with are (IMO) unjustified belief in supernatural causation, so I would put that in the superstitious category. Scripture speaks much about the sovereignty of God, just as Scripture speaks much about the free will of man. It all works together in a way that is beyond human comprehension. To put the mind of God into a neat systematic theological box is to stand in arrogance before the Creator.

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  149. JDV,

    I mentioned reading because I was unsure if there was a proof reading issue. Let me explain with the following. (BTW, I have serious proof reading issues that show up in my comments. A person could make guesses about my personal bio from these)

    Did you notice your first comment denied (presumably an inadvertent denial) the Inerranccy of Scripture?

    It’s a good thing you comment anonymously, depending on what, if any official capacity, in which you serve in the Church. You contradicted Short Statement – Point Four of the Chicago Statement:

    4.”Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.”
    https://swbts.edu/about/affirmed-statements/chicago-statement-biblical-inerrancy/

    Personally, I think the Chicago Statement is blather, but try telling that to a Pastor Search Committee.

    How did you contradict Inerrancy?
    Because Jonah 2:2 states that Jonah was in Sheol. Vs:6 mentions he saw the roots of the mountains and also bars of the Earth. This takes place while he was also in the fish. The Book of Jonah, counts as an event in World history, as mentioned in point four cited above.

    JDV stated that Jonah was not necessarily dead and in Sheol.

    Jonah’s sorry soul either was, or was not in Sheol. If he wasn’t, then he fibbed. That is not a translation issue. It is a non-factual recounting of events by an eye witness.

    Do arcane statements made thousands of years ago, by prophets that are seldom read matter?
    Yes. Emphatically yes.
    Because Jonah was a prophet, as it was said:
    …”Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: ….

    And Jonah was a sign of things to come:
    “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow….”

    This Jonah testified to us, and for our benefit:
    “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things,..”..

    Now I think it’s ironic that I denounce the Conservative Resurgence and all things related. I call the principles who hatched it, false brothers. I am not battling for the bible, as others claim to do. But, I do read it, and sometimes remember bits and pieces.

    As far as the other portions you mentioned, work on one thing at a time. Start with Jonah.
    On the plus side, you can recalled the Scriptures very well. Or you took the time to Google.

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  150. ZechZav: Jay Adams, a Calvinist, advised counsellors never to tell people that Christ died for them. He said that we cannot be sure who Christ died for.

    That sounds like when I was in my teens and twenties, when my brain would overload with hyper-detail and lock up like Robby the Robot given two conflicting orders. Only I’d lock up and start arcing like foil in a microwave at not just conflicting “truths” but even just inconsistent ones. (For those too young to remember Forbidden Planet, think Robocop 2 when Robocop has all these letter-of-the-law conflicting protocols programmed in, all Top Priority.)

    And such theological minutiae are just asking for that sort of thing.

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  151. Max: Well, some of the things the New Calvinists come up with are (IMO) unjustified belief in supernatural causation, so I would put that in the superstitious category.

    Real kicker when one of the Romans’ main beefs about this particular “noxious cult” was they WEREN’T superstitious enough to be a REAL religion.

    To put the mind of God into a neat systematic theological box is to stand in arrogance before the Creator

    You mean Calvin’s Institutes DON’T have God All Figured Out?

    “And so I shall turn my hat backwards! Your brains are too rigid to handle that, so all your heads will explode!”

    “What were all those explosions?”
    “A paradigm shifting without a clutch.”
    — Dilbert

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  152. Patti: Everyone’s testimony is different. I have nothing against the sinner’s prayer. But I had kept being told that if I said then I was a Christian. But saying it over and over again with the intention of my heart not to really know God then I was only saying it to escape hell.

    “Are you Sure Your Intention of Your Heart was Genuine? Are You Certain You’re Sure? Are You Sure You’re Certain You’re Sure? …”

    CATCH-22.
    Been there, done that, still got the scars.
    That Way Lies Madness.

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  153. Max: I’ve witnessed countless folks in church gripping the back of the pew in front of them until their knuckles turned white resisting the irresistible.

    Huh?

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  154. Estelle,

    I think the overall Series result was about right, though. It was a decent weekend for English sport, that said; we were 114-8 against Australia, chasing 205 to win, before Butler and Rashid put on 81 for the 9th wicket. There was fitba’ too, but hey.

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  155. Headless Unicorn Guy: That Way Lies Madness.

    Way back in my day the IFB folks sometimes talked like that but the SBC did not. When our church for the first time got a pastor who had gone to Moody originally and then was in Louisville to attend SBTS and finish undergrad at Georgetown he started preaching about are you sure and sure that you are sure and if you are not sure come now and let’s make sure, my parents were basically disgusted. They thought that sewing doubt was one way to get some more professions of faith and hence baptisms and make the preacher look good. All of which was very fundamentalist and not very SBC at that time and that place.

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  156. okrapod: They thought that sowing doubt was one way to get some more professions of faith and hence baptisms and make the preacher look good.

    Especially when you start from End Times Wretched Urgency and then add in a local folk belief that the ONLY thing God will require of you at the Great White Throne (a la Jack Chick) is “How Many Souls Did YOU Lead to Christ?????” And that “How Many Souls?????” is what will determine your reward in Eternity.

    This resulted in some really insane levels of Wretched Urgency and equally insane tactics/tricks to get more notches on your Bible.

    (Aside: Has anyone else encountered this “local folk belief”? Sounds “very fundamentalist” to me.)

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  157. Nathan Priddis: Jonah’s sorry soul either was, or was not in Sheol. If he wasn’t, then he fibbed. That is not a translation issue. It is a non-factual recounting of events by an eye witness.

    You are making the mistake of falling into the trap of wooden literalism. Here is an example based on something Jesus said: “he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” By your way of thinking, the way one can know whether someone is a believer is based on whether or not they get thirsty. If they get thirsty it means they don’t believe. Yet Jesus also said, “I thirst.” Does that mean he did not believe in himself? Of course not. It means that the words he spoke had more than a strictly literal meaning. I know you know this, yet you insist on making every word in the bible have a literal interpretation whether or not it was meant to be taken literally.

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  158. I can’t judge an individual, specific or generic, who prayed the sinner’s prayer. But I can’t help wondering how different the church would be, if the corporate salesmen were forbidden from using it from the stage. I don’t think the sinner’s prayer leads to “easy believism” as such; but I do think the emotionally-charged altar call, with the sinner’s prayer as a tool to close the sale, does.

    There’s another dark side to the corporate use of the sinner’s prayer, beside easy believism. In the cult we were part of in Glasgow, the CEO used it at every opportunity to gain outward tokens of commitment from people he’d never met. This generated a steady stream of “successful” sales that accrued to his credit and enhanced his reputation, but in order for that to be maintained and the organisation to grow physically, somebody had to keep those sales on the books. So, once a mark had prayed the sinner’s prayer, they were assigned to the responsibility of a small group leader. And woe betide the group leader whose recruits didn’t attend every meeting and conference.

    Past a certain point, the CEO was forced to give up boasting about the number of converts his church had created, and instead boasted about the number of visitors it had attracted. The burned-out and exhausted lower-middle management layer just couldn’t subsidise the headline sales figures any more.

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  159. Nathan Priddis: Because Jonah 2:2 states that Jonah was in Sheol. Vs:6 mentions he saw the roots of the mountains and also bars of the Earth. This takes place while he was also in the fish… Jonah’s sorry soul either was, or was not in Sheol. If he wasn’t, then he fibbed.

    A far more likely explanation is that his words were neither lies nor documentary, but poetry.

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  160. Ken F (aka Tweed): Here is an example based on something Jesus said: “he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” … the way one can know whether someone is a believer is based on whether or not they get thirsty. If they get thirsty it means they don’t believe. Yet Jesus also said, “I thirst.” Does that mean he did not believe in himself?

    Reminds me of this bit from The Life of Brian.

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  161. Critics of the “sinner’s prayer” need to think seriously about praying one while they still have time on planet earth. It certainly wouldn’t hurt anything.

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  162. Ken F (aka Tweed): You are making the mistake of falling into the trap of wooden literalism. Here is an example based on something Jesus said: “he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” By your way of thinking, the way one can know whether someone is a believer is based on whether or not they get thirsty. If they get thirsty it means they don’t believe. Yet Jesus also said, “I thirst.” Does that mean he did not believe in himself? Of course not. It means that the words he spoke had more than a strictly literal meaning. I know you know this, yet you insist on making every word in the bible have a literal interpretation whether or not it was meant to be taken literally.

    I would say the same as I did to JDV. One thing at a time. If you read the earlier comments, they where struggling with Scriptural mention of things like “pits.”

    Now about having wooden literalism. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing:” That’s kinda the dead giveaway. It’s apparently a personality trait of God to hide things. The simplest place to hide something, is to just stick it in plane site. I mentioned one small hidden thing.

    “Bottom Pit” is an extremely simple example. It’s nothing more then a riddle. A “pit” with no “bottom,” is the internal volume of a sphere. It’s not metaphor, but geometric shape. Which sphere? The one your feet are on.

    Jonah was shocked to find himself where every direction is up. The same object or action will appear different based upon the perspective of the observer.

    You asked about something far more complex then a large object the shape of a basketball.

    I can sorta already hear the objection, because the Earth has tangible mass.

    The Earth remained constant, Jonah was the variable. He died, and became only semi tangible. His perspective changed.

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  163. “Did you notice your first comment denied (presumably an inadvertent denial) the Inerranccy of Scripture?”

    Flat-out wrong. I’ll point back to my very first post to you to once again use Scripture to make my point and toss aside your latest absurd contention and accusation regarding my posts, as yours continue to mushroom into more and more troubling direct jabs at me: “Of course, a live David offered this: “O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. O LORD, You pulled me up from Sheol; You spared me from descending into the Pit.” Psalm 30:2-3.”

    Young’s Literal Translation has it thus: ‘Jehovah, Thou hast brought up from Sheol my soul, Thou hast kept me alive, From going down to the pit.’ Take your own advice, start with Jonah, and do a little bit of comparison on the Google machine: words, context, the entire thing.

    “As far as the other portions you mentioned, work on one thing at a time. Start with Jonah. On the plus side, you can recalled the Scriptures very well. Or you took the time to Google.”

    The meritless condescension fits you, especially as the other portions (let’s say present and future fulfillment of Messianic Scripture) bolster the relevance of the Psalms whose relevance you sprint from. All you appear to have demonstrated is the ability to make definitive assertions, insufficiently back them up when brought into question, and then dish up apparent strawmen and passive-aggressive ad hominem digs that discredit no one but yourself.

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  164. Ken F (aka Tweed): You are making the mistake of falling into the trap of wooden literalism. Here is an example based on something Jesus said: “he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” By your way of thinking, the way one can know whether someone is a believer is based on whether or not they get thirsty. If they get thirsty it means they don’t believe. Yet Jesus also said, “I thirst.” Does that mean he did not believe in himself? Of course not. It means that the words he spoke had more than a strictly literal meaning. I know you know this, yet you insist on making every word in the bible have a literal interpretation whether or not it was meant to be taken literally.

    The rabbit hole (or should I say Pit) logic is quite something.

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  165. JDV,

    -You type faster then I do.
    -Your not using ESV. Surprised.
    -I’m not impressed by what passes for Evangelical scholarship, but I thought did fairly well.
    -I don’t think you should take it as condescension. (ed.)

    If your angry enough that it matters, tell me about present/future. You’ve mentioned it twice, but haven’t elaborated.

    -Psalm 30 is your best argument.
    -The Miktam was weak.

    I’m using mobile with erratic internet. I’ll tell you if I have to actually get the keyboard. If you don’t care, then whatever.

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  166. I spoke with a young Calvinist, one time, who was against both the sinner’s prayer and altar calls. Being raised a traditional Baptist I couldn’t believe anyone could be so against these things as he was. First of all, it is not the words of the prayer, it is the feeling of the person who is saying the words. Though of course he disagreed with that, since he said that was human centric, and man has no say in being saved. However, there is a simple story in the Bible, that tells me that one does not have to do anything other than to believe that Christ is Christ to be saved by Him, the story of the Thief on the Cross, he wasn’t baptized or confirmed, he didn’t go through a new member’s class, or attend Sunday School, yet Christ told him he would be with Him, that day in paradise, and that sinner didn’t do anything more than others do in the sinner’s prayer.

    Also, I do not have a problem with altar calls, and the emotionalism of it, emotion ISN’T a bad thing, and if one cannot become emotional about the saving grace of Christ, then one should not be emotional about anything. Calvinists seem too devoid of emotion, like the dead churches Baptists use to talk about, when we were known for being the middle ground between the emotionless main-line and the Pentecostals. I understand that some people dislike emotion and “feelings” having anything to do with faith, but that is how I relate to my faith, and one of the great things about being Baptist, or at least it WAS one of the great things about being Baptist, is that we understood there is no one way to Christ, each person has a unique experience, and that the experience isn’t what matters, as long as the person knows and believes in Christ for their salvation.

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  167. The Bible has so many different testimonies of how people came to believe on Jesus Christ. so I do not understand why we have to criticize everyone else’s stories when we do not even know each other’s backgrounds. If some are saved at the moment they repeated the sinners prayer and they know it who am I to judge their heart and the person who led it who am I to judge their sense of Gods leading to have led it? I km ow my heart and what I wanted and I also know The change in my heart when it was where God wanted it to be. I do not believe that anyone has the right to tell someone else whether or not they are saved just according to some words they might have heard them say. It was a real eye opener for me to learn for instance that believe in the greek means so much more than simply believing something is true. Even the demons know it’s true. How could I have spent my entire upbringing in evangelical fundamentalism and not known that? But just because the sinners prayer has been misused does not mean that it is bad.

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  168. Nathan Priddis:
    -Your not using ESV. Surprised.
    -I’m not impressed by what passes for Evangelical scholarship, but I thought did fairly well.
    -I don’t think you should take it as condensation.
    If your angry enough that it matters, tell me about present/future. You’ve mentioned it twice, but haven’t elaborated.
    -Psalm 30 is your best argument.
    -The Miktam was weak.
    I’m using mobile with erratic internet. I’ll tell you if I have to actually get the keyboard. If you don’t care, then whatever.

    I appreciate the consistency in approach; “if your angry enough that it matters” is so you. The random ESV ‘dig’ is also to quote Ferris Bueller ‘so choice’. And some declarative tidbits as well, quite the bonus.

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  169. Patti: I do not believe that anyone has the right to tell someone else whether or not they are saved just according to some words they might have heard them say.

    That’s true, but a stick points both ways. Even when I was a christian, I stopped being excited about evangelistic sales figures a long time ago. I suppose the altar call is harmless enough, provided the respondents remain both free and responsible in equal measure thereafter.

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  170. Jarrett Edwards: each person has a unique experience, and that the experience isn’t what matters, as long as the person knows and believes in Christ for their salvation

    Amen! And my personal experience is not open to another man’s theological argument. A disturbing element of New Calvinism to me is that such belief minimizes individual Christian experience. The new reformers think that the essence of Christianity can be found in a rigid set of doctrines about grace, rather than a direct experience of Grace. An encounter with the living Christ appears to be foreign to them. Thus, they criticize a sinner’s prayer, altar calls, invitations to accept Christ, etc. Although these things don’t assure salvation for anyone, they have been used in some faiths to help millions/billions of folks over the centuries to find Christ. As you note, knowing and believing in Christ for salvation is all that matters, not knowing and believing in “correct” doctrine.

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  171. okrapod: Headless Unicorn Guy: That Way Lies Madness.
    Way back in my day the IFB folks sometimes talked like that but the SBC did not.

    My experience was in SoCal in the Seventies, and SoCal in the Seventies was HEAVY Calvary Chapel influence.

    Remember the definition of “Nondenominational Christian = Baptist with the labels painted over”?
    In SoCal of the time it was “Nondenominational Christian = Calvary Chapel Clone with labels painted over”.

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  172. Patti,

    Much agreement here. I believe in freedom of religion and especially in freedom of conscience. Those who demand conformity or non-conformity to a particular prayer believe in neither.

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  173. Nathan Priddis: Now about having wooden literalism. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing:” That’s kinda the dead giveaway. It’s apparently a personality trait of God to hide things. The simplest place to hide something, is to just stick it in plane site. I mentioned one small hidden thing.

    So what you saying is the clear meaning of scripture is correct when it makes sense to you personally, but hidden by God when it does not make sense to you personally, even if it makes sense to others.

    Here is another example of a prophet making a very clear statement:
    Jer 20:7 – “O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived;”
    If Jeremiah was telling the truth, then God is a deceiver (liar). If he was not telling the truth then Jeremiah was a false prophet and his book should not have been included in the bible. Per you logic, these are the only viable options from the clear meaning of the words. Do you agree, or do you suppose those words could have a more poetic (non-literal) meaning?

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  174. Muff Potter: Those who demand conformity or non-conformity to a particular prayer believe in neither.

    Especially when that particular prayer is neither required nor forbidden in scripture, all the while the requirers and the forbidders claim to believe in sola scriptura.

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  175. Max: Amen! And my personal experience is not open to another man’s theological argument.

    I agree with you here. There’s a world of difference, to me, between someone praying the sinner’s (or any other first) prayer, and a salesman persuading a whole load of people to pray the sinner’s (or any other) prayer.

    If a salesman says to me, I preachedTheGospel, and 20 people were saved… Meh. Some may’ve been, but probably nowhere near 20.

    On the other hand, if any Wartburger says to me, I prayed X, and I encountered God thus… I have no reason to doubt them. At least, I don’t doubt they experienced something; it may have been a projection of their own wishful thinking, prompted by auto-suggestion; but it may be that there IS a God and they really encountered Him/Her.

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  176. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Well played Ken, and it begs another question; did God harden Pharaoh’s heart or did he harden his own heart?
    Again, it depends entirely on who ya’ talk to, and what vantage point and what vector you’re sighting along.

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  177. the Jay adams quote about not telling every counselee that Jesus died for them, because you don’t “know” if He did or not, is yet another shock to my system. I’m stunned at what these people believe, I can’t help it. I had never heard any of this heresy before. And to think I was in “biblical” counseling…ha.

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  178. Ct: the Jay adams quote about not telling every counselee that Jesus died for them, because you don’t “know” if He did or not, is yet another shock to my system

    It’s another gospel which is not the Gospel at all.

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  179. Nick Bulbeck: I agree with you here. There’s a world of difference, to me, between someone praying the sinner’s (or any other first) prayer, and a salesman persuading a whole load of people to pray the sinner’s (or any other) prayer.

    Great point! I didn’t have helpful experiences with the sinner’s prayer, but I’m not going to discount anyone’s story who prayed the prayer and it changed their life.

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  180. Ken F (aka Tweed): So what you saying is the clear meaning of scripture is correct when it makes sense to you personally, but hidden by God when it does not make sense to you personally, even if it makes sense to others.

    Here is another example of a prophet making a very clear statement:
    Jer 20:7 – “O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived;”
    If Jeremiah was telling the truth, then God is a deceiver (liar). If he was not telling the truth then Jeremiah was a false prophet and his book should not have been included in the bible. Per you logic, these are the only viable options from the clear meaning of the words. Do you agree, or do you suppose those words could have a more poetic (non-literal) meaning?

    Ken. The statement that God conceals truth, was just my parroting Solomon. It’s not something I made up. It’s from Proverbs 21.

    As far as Jerimiah is concerned, I would be angry at God as well. I would definitely feel deceived.

    But first…..How do you come up with these verses? Is there some sort of contradictory verse list floating online?

    I had no idea this morning I would be asked to adjudicate claims of God, and his Prophet.

    I mean, who am I? I am but a child.
    But, I’m stuck here waiting around for a few hours. Internet connect sucks, so not sure if this will work.

    1. Did Jerimiah feel deceived?
    Yes. (20:7)
    To the point that he hated his life, and like Job, he cursed the day he was born. (20:14-18)

    2. Why?
    Because, no doubt you recall his objections that the ordination of God, was not advisable, saying:
    “Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.” (1:6)

    3. But God said: “I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.” (1:8)

    4. Furthermore, God said: …”..they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail guarrenagainst thee; …”…

    5. But Jerimiah did not ask for a clarification of the terms and conditions, of the promises of God.

    6. Nor did God issued guaranty against being thrown down a well, loss of property, pariah status, foriegn abduction or generally having life beat the piss out of his prophet.

    7. Jerimiah retaliates by writing a Lamatation, confident it will never be read…ever.

    8. Strangely, it is turned into a popular 1930’s hymm.

    9. Sadly, a hapless young man will later select this very hymn for his wedding, and unknowingly doom his future, to a cycle of Lamentation.

    10. Or so it would appear.

    So. Your answer is similar to a statement I made yesterday.

    What someone sees, depends on the viewers point of view. God, Jerimiah and our hapless young man, each had a different angle of view.

    This thread is no longer fresh.

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  181. Muff Potter:
    Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Well played Ken, and it begs another question; did God harden Pharaoh’s heart or did he harden his own heart?
    Again, it depends entirely on who ya’ talk to, and what vantage point and what vector you’re sighting along.

    I had some time to kill, but the ISP sucks and lost my comment. The thread is tired and don’t feel like trying to remember what I said. So…

    Briefly…..
    1, How are you getting these verses?
    2. Did you forget Jerimiah 20:17 is dialogue?
    3. If so, understand from chapter 1:all verses, what specific statements of God are being responded too by Jerimiah, and why.

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  182. Nathan Priddis: But first…..How do you come up with these verses? Is there some sort of contradictory verse list floating online?

    I had no idea this morning I would be asked to adjudicate claims of God, and his Prophet.

    I consulted from my memory, not a list. But I am sure such lists exist. On several recent threads here you have stated some strange conclusions based on what you believe are passages that can only be interpreted very literally according to your limited understanding of the passages. Whenever a commenter challenged your interpretations you dug in and either shifted the topic, emphasized on off-topic point, or insulted the commenter. Even though you make it sound like the Bible is clearly literal, in the end you agree with those of us who say it is more complicated (as you demonstrated in agreeing that Jer 20:7 cannot be understood literally).

    Here are some other fun passages (chosen from memory, not a list);
    Psalm 22:6: “But I am a worm and not a man” – did David really think he was an actual invertebrate and not human? Since this is a prophetic Psalm, did Jesus also think he was literally a physical worm”
    John 10:9 – “I am the gate” – Does Jesus expect us to believe that he was made out of wood and stone and had hinges/locks installed?
    Psalm 98:8 – “Let the rivers clap their hands” – Are we to really believe that rivers have hands?

    There are tons over verses like this in the Bible that cannot be interpreted literally. My advice: before jumping to conclusion on what appears to be a very straightforward literal interpretation, consult some other other sources. You might find that your conclusions are not as solid as you think.

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  183. A more salient point: “Should it not concern us that there is no “ordained position” of “senior pastor” in the New Testament? Should it not concern us that the Bible never uses the term “senior pastor?” Who are you, David Platt? Who are you, J.D. Greear? Elders and shepherds are all plural terms in scripture. In each body of believers, there were multiple elders. Yes, there ARE instances of “persons in charge” of bodies of believers in scripture. One was called Diotrephes (3 John:9-12.) Others in these “positions” are referred to as Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6, 14-15). Through the Apostle John, Christ states that He “also hates the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.” In summary, Matt. 23:8-10.

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  184. Lowlandseer:
    This thesis explains the dangers and limitations of the sinner’s prayer.

    http://faithsaves.net/the-sinners-prayer/

    What struck me:
    It did not appear until roughly 1950.
    Major proponent Campus Crusade for Christ (or whatever trendy moniker they call themselves these days) developed it into the Four Spiritual Laws as “a spiritual [sales] pitch.” Like door-to-door vacuums or encyclopedias.

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  185. Headless Unicorn Guy: What struck me:
    It did not appear until roughly 1950.
    Major proponent Campus Crusade for Christ (or whatever trendy moniker they call themselves these days) developed it into the Four Spiritual Laws as “a spiritual [sales] pitch.” Like door-to-door vacuums or encyclopedias.

    Billy Graham. What strikes me is not so much the practice itself but rather the lousy attitude of some who not just took up with it but who wanted to say that everybody who did not take up with the practice is possibly/ probably/ certainly ‘not saved’. It became not just a simple (simplistic?) device for personal evangelization but it also became for some a litmus test for dividing the ‘us’ from the ‘them’.

    And don’t forget the ‘Romans road’ method of personal soul winning. That at least had the advantage that the personal evangelizer need only remember one chapter&verse and then take it from there with marginal notations; no need to become conversant with anything more than that. Proof texting on steroids. And no need for little booklets with color coded pages.

    So, too bad for the Ethiopian eunuch; he was reading the wrong text.

    So, in my lifetime only, there we SBC were in the pre-BG era apparently doomed for lack of RomansRoads and SpiritualLaws and SinnersPrayers. Then the R / SL/ SP people came along and started getting people really(!) saved. And now the pendulum is swinging to something entirely different yet again.

    And meanwhile everybody, that would be everybody, is saying ‘the bible says’ or ‘the bible does not say’ or ‘the bible says but that is not what it means’. Imagine that. Two thousand years of western style christianity and we still can’t figure out what the heck is going on at even this basic level. The only thing we agree on is that ‘we’ are right and ‘they’ are wrong, whoever the ‘we’ and the ‘they’ may be.

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  186. I think it depends on the situation and how the one sharing with the unbeliever and they use it. I prayed it and have never looked back and baptised only once. However, my brother prayed it after a boy in his class died…he knew enough to know about hell and was afraid. I know that the plan of salvation was taught in our church and he prayed. However, his life has never shown fruit and he is now in 50s having spent his adult life out of church. When you talk about spiritual things he’ll say he prayed a prayer as a young boy. When you speak with him it is almost like he views the prayer like an incantation. He doesn’t call it that but his perspective is like something magical happened….he prayed and wam bam he is saved and once saved always saved so he doesn’t have to worry about his sinful ways. He has never really lived like he was convicted or struggling with the fact his life was very sinful. He’d periodically get religion when his life was messed up but the minute it was better he was gone and no more church or “religion”. So, somehow in his mind praying the sinner’s prayer is messed up thinking. I grew up in same church and family and yet my brother and sister’s ideas about the church and beliefs are worlds apart. I know it grieved my mom and dad. I believe the sinner’s prayer is helpful guide in talking about Biblical things.

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  187. Computers are unbiblical. So are blogs. But they work and work well.

    Oh, you meant theology. There’s a lot that isn’t in the Bible. There’s no mention of Lesbians, Gays, or Trans people, and the hate for them has become biblical to some denominations. There’s no mention of the Trinity, nor of Purgatory, nor of the Sinner’s Prayer, nor of infant baptism, nor of an ‘age of accountability’, nor of Joseph and Mary’s ages…

    A lot of what people believe is based on someone else’s interpretation of what a particular translation says. Take Elohim — after reading some translations you are led to believe that Elohim and Yahweh are the same, but in other translations it looks like Yahweh supplanted Elohim as the god of the Israelites.

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