LET THE BIBLE SPEAK – The Sinner’s Prayer

LET THE BIBLE SPEAK – The Sinner’s Prayer


Announcer: Today on Let
the Bible Speak – A sinner wants to be saved. Should he pray and ask
God to forgive his sins and Christ to come
into his heart? We’ll let the Bible speak, next. From the churches of Christ Let the Bible Speakf Christ Let the Bible Speak with Kevin Presley ♪ Intro Music ♪ Thank you for joining us
today for Let the Bible Speak. It’s great to have you with
us for another Bible study. Billy Sunday popularized the
idea of the sinner’s prayer a few generations ago. The idea that a person
seeking salvation should ask the Lord to come into his
heart and pray that God for Christ’s sake will
forgive him of his sins. This is often dubbed
the sinner’s prayer. And people yet
today are encouraged if they want to be saved
to simply bow wherever they are and to say such a prayer and supposedly God
will save them. Multitudes of people believe that they were saved
in just that way. What does the Bible
teach about that? Is it right for a sinner
to even pray to God and beyond that to pray
for the forgiveness of his sins to
pray for salvation? Can a person outside of
Christ even pray to the Lord? Acts chapter nine beginning
in verse 10 tells us that there was a
certain disciple at
Damascus named Ananias and to him said the Lord
in a vision, Ananias. And he said behold,
I am here Lord. And the Lord said unto him,
arise and go into the street which is called straight and
inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of
Tarsus for behold he prayeth. Well here we have the case of a sinner named
Saul praying to God. A lot of sinners pray
from time to time. But what are they praying for? And is God listening? Namely does God hear
what is often called the sinner’s prayer? Is that how sinners receive
the forgiveness of their sins? Well we’ll see what the word of God says about
it in a moment. – If you would like to dig
deeper into the Word of God I’d like to provide you
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Bible Correspondence Course. We should begin by
defining what we mean by the word sinner. Aren’t we all sinners
in the sight of God? Well in one sense
we certainly are. Paul said in Romans three in
verse 23, for all have sinned and come short of
the glory of God. Romans three and verse 10 says, there’s none
righteous no not one. And John writing
to Christians said that if we say
that we have no sin then we deceive ourselves. So in the generic sense
everyman is a sinner and has nothing to
merit his coming into the presence of God. But the kind of sinner
we’re talking about today is an unforgiven sinner,
an alien to the kingdom and outside of Christ Jesus. Someone who’s lost
in their sins. You see when a man obeys the
gospel of Christ and becomes a child of God he is no
longer a sinner in the fact that sin no longer
has control of him or dwells in his heart. He no longer lives under
the condemnation of sin. Paul said in Romans
chapter six in verse 17 that God be thanked that
you were the servants of sin but ye have obeyed
from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered
you being then made free from sin ye became the
servants of righteousness. Now does that mean a
Christian never sins? Well no, but I no longer
live in and serve sin. My relationships to God
and my relationship to sin those relationships change
when I become a Christian. So when I use the word sinner
today I’m talking about a person who has never
been baptized into Christ for the remission
of his or her sins. Galatians chapter three
verse 27, Acts two verse 38. Can such a sinner pray and
what should he pray for? You know sinners are often
encouraged to pray today. I hear on other
religious television
and radio programs all of the time the speaker
telling sinners at home to bow their heads
and pray with him. I’ve been to services
where sinners were asked to come down to the front
and kneel down at an altar and pray for salvation
or for the infilling of the holy spirit and so on. And perhaps that’s the practice of the church where you attend. In fact there’s a very good
possibility that’s the case. But what does the Bible
tell a sinner to pray for? And for that matter, does
the Bible ever tell a sinner to pray at all? Well let’s begin by
noting some of the things that sinners are often
encouraged to pray for by people today. You know first some are
told that they should pray for a light from heaven. Or they should pray for
knowledge, for enlightenment. But does the Bible teach
that a sinner should pray for the revelation
of God’s will? Is that how faith in God is
created within a person’s heart? Well the apostle Paul answers
that question powerfully and concisely in Romans
chapter 10 in verse 17. He said faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Now get that, my friend, faith is created by hearing
the word of God. The holy spirit doesn’t
zoom down from heaven and zap a person with faith. He doesn’t circumvent
the word of God and create supernaturally,
mystically, a measure of faith
in a person’s heart. A person doesn’t fall down
on his knees without faith and get up with
faith after some sort of feeling or experience. But rather faith comes
by hearing and hearing by the word of God,
the Bible says. In fact the context
surrounding that verse shows the necessity of a sinner
hearing the preaching of the gospel before
he can be saved. Notice what Paul said there. Beginning in verse 13, he
says for who soever shall call upon the name of the
Lord shall be saved. And we’ll talk more
about calling in the name of the Lord in a few minutes. He says, how then
shall they call on him in whom they have not believed and how shall they
believe in him of whom they have not heard and how shall they
hear without a preacher and how shall they preach
except they be sent? As it is written how
beautiful are the feet of them that preach
the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings
of good things. But they have not all
obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah sayeth, Lord who
hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Well Paul you see,
says a sinner could not be saved without
hearing the gospel. If that’s the case what
good would it do for sinner to ask God for knowledge? God’s plan necessitates
that a sinner read or hear the gospel
preached in order to obey it and be saved. And it’s really
as simple as that. Now there’s a difference
between the time that Paul is talking about and the time we’re
living in today. In Paul’s day the gospel
had not been written down and didn’t have the
New Testament record
to read and study. And so by necessity a sincere
sinner had to make contact with a person who was
inspired by the holy spirit in order to learn
how to be saved. And that’s what happened
before the nobleman of Ethiopia could be saved
according to Acts chapter eight. Now I want you to
follow this carefully. The nobleman had
been to Jerusalem to
worship God according to the law of Moses
and was returning to his home by way chariot. He had a scroll of the
prophesy of Isaiah with him. Perhaps he obtained
it while in Jerusalem. He was reading the
famous words of Isiah that comprise what we
know as the 53rd chapter. And that passage foretells
of Jesus’ crucifixion and how he would be
the sacrifice needed to take away our sins. The problem was
this man didn’t have the slightest idea who
Isiah was talking about. This was merely a prophesy
and he was unaware of it’s fulfillment and
so he was blindly groping through the Old
Testament scriptures. But he wanted to learn
what they were saying. Now if faith comes
through a sinner praying, couldn’t he have just
asked God for it while he was riding along in his chariot and God sends some
direct operation of the holy spirit upon
his heart to cause him to understand what
he was reading? Well that seems to be how some
people think it happens today but that’s not what happened. The Bible says that
God sent Philip the evangelist over there
to that Gaza road where this man was traveling and when Philip found him he
asked him, do you understand what you’re reading? And he said, how I can I unless
some man should guide me? You see the fulfillment
of Isiah’s prophesy had not yet been written
down in the New Testament. It was being preached
by word of mouth while the apostles were being
lead of the holy spirit to write the New Testament. And thus Paul said
it in Romans 10, how shall they hear
without a preacher? Now today I can read
the gospel for myself and I can learn what
I must do to be saved. A person who has never
heard of Christ can pick up a copy of the scriptures and
if he has an open heart he can learn all by himself
what God wants him to know and what he must do to become
a Christian and go to heaven. Because God can enlighten
him through the word that God has
revealed from heaven. Well that wasn’t the case
during the infant age of the church when the gospel
had not been fully revealed and written down. But what has not changed is
that faith comes from hearing the word of God. Whether that word
had to be preached by someone 2000 years ago or whether I read
it for myself now. In Psalm 119 verse 130 the
Bible says the entrance of thy words giveth light. And the nobleman
there that we read of in Acts chapter
eight when he said how, when Philip asked him do you
understand what you’re reading and he said how can I, I don’t. Philip didn’t say well you need
to pray for the holy spirit to come into your
heart and explain all of this to you, enlighten you. He didn’t say that. The Bible says Philip
opened his mouth and began the same scripture
and preached unto him Jesus. So we get knowledge of
God’s will for our lives through preaching through the word of God not through
some supernatural experience. But then what about this, should a sinner pray for salvation? Now perhaps you’ve heard
of the sinner’s prayer. And that’s the prayer that
people are urged to pray in order to receive
Christ into their hearts and to become a Christian. As I said, that was popularized by an evangelist named Billy
Sunday many, many years ago. But does the Bible ever
instruct any sinner to pray such a prayer? I want you to seriously
think about that. We almost take it for granted that the Bible must say
that because that is what is so commonly preached today. That’s what sinners
everywhere are encouraged to do in order to be saved. But where in the New Testament
was any sinner instructed to pray to God for salvation. Was it on the day of
Pentecost recorded in Acts chapter two in verse 38? Now those people
heard the gospel and they were convicted
of their sins. They wanted to be saved and they asked Peter
what shall we do? Well now he could have said,
well repent and come up here to the front or kneel
down where you are and say this prayer. Repeat after me and invite
Jesus into your heart. But that’s not what Peter said. He said, repent and be
baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins and you shall receive the
gift of the holy spirit. Notice that every single
one of them was commanded to repent and be baptized for
the remission of their sins. Not one word was said about
saying any kind of prayer in order to be saved. Well do you suppose we might
find it in the conversion of the nobleman that
we talked about there in Acts chapter eight? He wasn’t instructed to
pray for understanding. Philip preached to him to
give him understanding. The word of God gave
him understanding. So was he told to
pray for salvation? Now here was a man who
wanted to learn the truth and Philip was the man
who taught it to him and the Bible says
that Philip climbed up into his chariot and
preached Christ unto him beginning with that
prophesy of Isiah. Now you know they could
have pulled over by the side of the road and Philip and
this man had gotten down beside the chariot and prayed for
the Lord to forgive this man of his sins but that’s not
what the record says happened. Do you know how the
nobleman responded when Philip preached
Christ unto him? How did he respond when
Philip preached Christ to him? I’ll show you how he responded
he said see here is water. What doth hinder
me to be baptized? So no sinner’s
prayer there either. Where do you suppose
that idea comes from? Continue reading through
the book of Acts. Acts chapter 10, Acts
chapter 16 and time and again you’ll read
of men and women coming to faith in Christ upon
hearing his word preached. And if you find one example
of them being told to say the sinner’s prayer I hope
you’ll write me and let me know. Someone might say, well
now wasn’t Saul commanded to call on the name of the Lord? And didn’t Paul
later tell people to call upon the name
of Lord to be saved in Romans chapter 10 as
we read a few moments ago? Well let’s look at that. In fact that brings us back to where we really
began our study in Acts the ninth chapter. Now Saul was a zealous
Jew who was busy trying to destroy the church of Christ. He was persecuting Christians
everywhere he could find them. But the Lord changed all of that in an unforgettable
experience along the Damascus road. Jesus appeared to him
and confronted Saul about the way he had been
treating his church. And Saul came to understand
that this Jesus who’s name he had despised was indeed alive. He was resurrected and
reigning in heaven. And Saul was trembling
and he was astonished the Bible says and he asked the Lord, what whilt
thou have me to do? Now here’s a man who
wanted to be saved as badly as any man ever
wanted to be saved. He now knows that
Jesus is the Christ and he has the opportunity,
think on this, he has the opportunity to ask
the Lord himself what to do about his condition. He’s not asking a preacher. He’s not asking a church leader. He’s asking the Lord
Jesus Christ what to do about his
sinful condition. Acts chapter nine
in verse six says the Lord said unto him,
arise and go into the city and it shall be told
thee what thou must do. Now Jesus said that
someone would come and tell him what he
had to do to be saved. Well the Bible tells us that
a few days later Ananias was dispatched by the Lord to
Damascus to deal with Saul. And the Lord told Ananias
to go find Saul of Tarsus for behold he prayeth. Well there you have
it, there it is. The Bible gives us an
example of a praying sinner. If you’re looking for an example in the New Testament after
the great commission was given to go preach the gospel, if
you wanna find an example of a praying sinner
here’s one right here in Acts chapter nine. But wait a minute, what do you
suppose Saul was praying for? Well the Bible doesn’t tell us. But if it was for the
forgiveness of sins the Lord didn’t hear his prayer. You see Saul was a religious man and it’s not surprising
that his reaction to the events of the
Damascus road would cause him to want to pray. He’s not new to religion. After all Saul has
a lot of questions. Here he is struck blind. He’s waiting in great
suspense for three days for someone to come and
explain all of this to him. I suppose I would
be praying too. But Saul didn’t pray through or Saul didn’t pray
himself into salvation. No rather the Bible
says that Ananias came to him and restored his sight and he then told Saul to
get up and go be baptized. Now in fact he could
have knelt down with him at the side of the bed or in the room where Saul
was at and prayed with him to be filled with
the holy spirit. To receive salvation, to let
Jesus come into his heart. However you wanna phrase it. And that’s what would happen in many denominational
churches today. Friend think about that. In the overwhelming
majority of cases if a person walked
in off the street and told a preacher
that he had come to understand and believe
that Jesus was indeed the son of God what do I
need to do to be saved? Nine out of 10 or more
preachers would say, well why don’t we just
kneel down right here and ask Jesus to save you. But that’s not what happened
in Damascus that day. That’s not what happened
to Saul of Tarsus. Acts 22 verse 16 says that Ananias told Saul now
why tarriest thou, arise and be baptized washing
away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord. Now that’s your Bible. Do you see that my friends? Saul was told to call upon the
name of the Lord to be saved. But how was he to do it? By being baptized in
order for the blood of Jesus to wash away his sins. You see baptism puts one into a new relationship with Christ. Paul said in Galatians
three in verse 27. For as many as
have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Now I didn’t read that from
a church of Christ creed book because the church of
Christ has no creed books. The Bible is the creed
of the Lord’s church and the only creed
of the Lord’s church. Friends that’s what
your Bible says. As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And being in Christ
causes one to obtain a number of spiritual blessings
he didn’t enjoy before. One of those blessings
is the ability to pray through Jesus Christ
as a mediator onto God. I receive that
privilege in Christ. But I don’t have that
right before I’m in Christ. I don’t have that privilege
before I’m a child of God. I must call upon the
Lord’s name or avail myself of the authority in that
name by being baptized for the forgiveness of my sins and when that happens I’m
then in a new relationship with Christ that includes
the right of access to the throne of God in prayer. From that day forward
when I sin as a Christian then I may go to the
Lord’s throne in prayer and ask for pardon
from that sin. However that is not a
privilege of the alien sinner. The sinner outside of Jesus. That sinner must first become
a child of God by reason of the new birth. And that takes place
when one in faith and repentance is
baptized into Christ for the remission or forgiveness of his sins and not until then. You see the concept
of a sinner’s prayer is not taught in the Bible. Despite it’s popularity
in the world today. It is instead a 20th
century phenomenon spread by evangelists and revivalists
such as I said, Billy Sunday. Later Billy Graham. They called hundreds
at a time to the edge of a platform to recite
a prayer for salvation. But my dear friend you
don’t need one word. You don’t read one word of
that in one single account of conversion recorded
in the book of Acts. We need to be telling
sinners what Jesus said they must do to be saved. Jesus told his disciples
in Mark 16:15, go into all the world and preach
the good news. Preach the gospel
to every creature. What did he say to preach? Verse 16, he the believeth and
is baptized should be saved. And then you see the one
who in faith and repentance is baptized into
Christ can enjoy the wonderful
privilege of prayer. Now first Peter three
in verse 12 says, that the eyes of the Lord
are over the righteous and his ears are open
onto their prayers but the face of the Lord is
against them that do evil. That doesn’t mean that
a person must be perfect in order to pray but
it does mean they need to be in a relationship with God through Christ Jesus
covered by Christ’s blood. That’s the only
way we can access the throne of God in prayer. The blind man whom Jesus
healed long ago was challenged by others about what
had happened to him. And the man said he
didn’t exactly know what to make of Jesus power except that he did know this one thing. He said, for we know that
God hearth not sinners but if any man be
a worshiper of God and doeth his will,
him he hearth. John chapter nine and verse 31. You see the blind man
understood an important truth that many today
simply don’t see. They’re spiritually
blind to this truth. This man understood
that God’s ears are open to the prayers of those who are in a spiritual
relationship with him. And not those who are
estranged from him. It was evidence that Jesus
was indeed pleasing to God. In a right relationship with
God that he would be able to have such a
relationship with God that he could have
his prayers answered. So can a sinner pray? What can he pray for? All of the spiritual
blessings that are appointed in Christ are obtained by
entering into a relationship with Christ and that
only takes place when a sinner hears the word of God. Believes it with all his heart. Repents of all of his past sins. Confesses his faith in Christ and is buried with
Christ in baptism for the remission of his sins. – The Psalmist said,
“Through Thy precepts, “I get understanding.” The Bible is the
revelation of God to man and you simply can’t live for
God until you know something about the Word of God and you may say,
“Well, I want to read “and study the Bible, but I
don’t know where to begin. “I feel overwhelmed” or “I
don’t understand the Bible.” I want to offer
you a wonderful way to get acquainted
with the scriptures. You’ll learn about
some of the most basic and foundational
teachings of God’s Word and you’ll get a better
handle on how to read and approach and study
the Bible as a whole. Won’t you get in
touch with us today and ask to be enrolled in the
Bible Correspondence Course. It won’t cost you a penny
and we’ll mail the lessons to your home and you take
your time to read and study through the lessons, I think you’ll be surprised
how much you’ll learn. Perhaps someone along
the way told you to be saved simply invite
Jesus into your heart and say the sinner’s prayer. But I hope you can see from
our study of the scriptures that’s not the Bible answer to the question what
must I do to be saved. If you would like to obey
the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you believe that
Jesus is the son of God and you’re ready to
repent of your sins it would be our joy to
assist you in being baptized into Christ for the
remission of your sins. And I hope that you
will get in touch with us and let us know
that’s your desire. If you would like a free
transcript of today’s study so you can go back and dig a
little deeper we’ll be happy to send it to you, again
it is free of charge. Just ask for the lesson,
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look at past broadcasts of Let the Bible Speak and see some our Let the Bible
Speak classics broadcasts all the way from
1965 up until 2008. Thank you so much
for joining us today for Let the Bible Speak. I hope you’ll tell someone
else about our program in the week to come
and make your plans to join me back here next
time for another study if the Lord wills. Until then have a great week
and may the Lord bless you.

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