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Does the Bible teach 'the sinner's prayer,' and, if so, where can I find it in the Bible?
Answer by Bill Cavender

"Dear brother Bill: A religious circular left on my door tells me that if I will believe in Jesus, and repeat this 'sinner's prayer,' I will be saved from all my sins and will be God's child. This 'sinner's prayer' reads: 'Oh God, I know that I am a sinner. I believe Jesus was my substitute when He died on the Cross. I believe His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection were for me. I now receive Him as my Savior. I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins, the gift of salvation and everlasting life, because of Your merciful grace. Amen.' Does the Bible teach 'the sinner's prayer,' and, if so, where can I find it in the Bible?" (Alabama)

You CANNOT find "a sinner's prayer" or "the sinner's prayer" in the Bible. Such a prayer, and such a doctrine or teaching as saying or repeating "the sinner's prayer," is not in the Bible, the Scripures, God's holy word. Our Father in heaven, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 8:5-6; Ephesians 4:4-6), NEVER said anything about "a sinner's prayer;" Jesus, the Son of God, our Saviour, NEVER said anything about "the sinner's prayer;" the Holy Spirit of God, the Revealer of God's truths to mankind ( I Corinthians 2:8-13; 2 Timothy 3:14-17) NEVER said anything about "a sinner's prayer;" and the inspired apostles of Jesus, guided into all New Testament truths and teachings of God to men (John 14:26; 16:12-13; I Corinthians 2:8-13; Hebrews 1:1-2; Jude, vs. 3, etc.), NEVER said anything about "the sinner's prayer."

This "sinner's prayer" business and fantasy is the concoction and invention of many varieties of denominational preachers, especially preachers of various Baptist Churches and "the Cornerstone Churches" ("pastor" John Hagee in San Antonio, Texas, being their leader). They are the world's worst in teaching and spreading this false system of salvation from sins by repeating "the sinner's prayer."

Such deceptive ideas and doctrines, giving false hopes of salvation and heaven to untaught people, have been around for a long time. In the days of my youth, in the 1930's, my folks had an old "crystal set radio" (we had no electricity) and the denominational preachers would be saying, "Lay your hands on the radio and call upon Jesus as your Savior, and ask Him to save you, and you will be saved." Afterwards television came along and the television evangelists like Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart, Ernest Angsley, etc., would tell the listeners to "lay your hands on the television, and call on the Lord, and He will save you from your sins, and heal you of all your infirmities." (Also, be sure to send them a contribution to keep their ministries on the air, was always in the broadcasts and telecasts.) And when the internet and the computers came along, then, along with the televisions and radios, and printed literature, the hue and cry has been "the sinner's prayer" - and you will be saved, right then and there, if you will believe in Jesus and say "the sinner's prayer" (and be sure to send us a contribution "to keep this wonderful, absolutely-necessary ministry" going out into the world).

In the Bible, PRAYER is always taught and practiced as the PRIVILEGE of a child of God, one who was already saved from his/her past sins. In the Bible, PRAYER is never taught and practiced as the way and manner by which a lost sinner is saved from his/her sins and becomes a child of God through faith (Galatians 3:26-29). Please note these Scriptures:

Proverbs 28:9 - "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." A sinner must FIRST hear the law of God, believe it and obey it, and then prayer is his privilege. A man who won't hear what God says, yets wants to be praying to Him, is an "abomination" (literally, "the smell of dead fish"). Hear God, believe Him, obey Him, and then you have the right to pray!

John 9:31 - "Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth." FIRST, be a worshipper of God, a believer in Him, a doer of His will, and then to pray is the PRIVILEGE of such a one. Teach lost sinners about God and about the Savior, Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus comes by hearing about Him and learning His will (Romans 10:17). We cannot believe in anything or anyone we have never heard about. We must be taught first (John 6:44-45). Having heard and having learned of Jesus, we obey Him from our heart (Romans 6:16-18), and then, being God's child, we can pray.

I Peter 3:12 - "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." The "righteous" are those who "do righteousness," who keep His commandments and obey His will (I John 2:3-5, 28-29; 3:7, 10, 22; 4:9-10; 5:2-3; etc.). His eyes are upon, and His ears are open, to the prayers of the righteous, the doers of His will. His face is against them that do evil, the disobedient. Prayer is the PRIVILEGE of the righteous, God's children, forgiven people.

I John 5:14-15 - "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." God is, God is listening and hears, He can do something about our prayers ("petitions"), and He will do something about our prayers. This is what this Scripture says. BUT it must be according to His will that we pray - His will as revealed in Scripture (we have no right to pray contrary to what He has said and taught us in His word), and His will in dealing with us and answering our prayers by His wisdom and ways, not our's (Isaiah 55:8-9). The "we" and "us" in this passage of Scripture are His children, "the righteous," the forgiven ones, not the sinners in the world who are yet in their guilt

Jesus taught His disciples, His apostles, HOW to pray and What to include in prayers (Matthew 6:9-15; Luke 11:1-13). Jesus WAS NOT praying when He spoke these words! This IS NOT "the Lord's Prayer" as the world of uninstructed men and women call it. Jesus was simply instructing His apostles(and us) HOW to pray and WHAT to pray for and about. NEVER did He instruct His apostles to tell sinners to "pray the sinner's prayer and you will be forgiven!" There is no such thing, no such teaching in the Bible!

But WHAT did Jesus tell His apostles to tell sinner to do to be saved? Here's what He did tell them after His death on the cross for our sins, and His resurrection from death, and before His ascension into heaven:

Matthew 28:18-20 - "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Mark 16:15-16 - "And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

Luke 24:46-47 - "And He said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning in Jerusalem."

In Acts, chapter 2, after Jesus had ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit had come upon the apostles of Christ to guide them into all the truth, sinners, for the first time, heard the gospel ("good news, glad tiddings") preached in the name of Jesus Christ, believed they were sinners, and cried out, asking what to do to be saved. Peter, an inspired apostles, told them: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:37-41). On this beginning day of the gospel of Christ being preached to lost sinners by the aposles, about 3.000 people, sinners, heard the gospel, believed it (that Jesus had died for their sins and had been raised from death), and obeyed it in repentance ("a change of mind and heart, resulting in a change of life") and baptism "for the remission of sins," and were added to the church. THEN they were taught to pray! (Acts 2:42). They DID NOT PRAY THE SINNER'S PRAYER. They DID BELIEVE AND OBEY THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. This is the way and manner in which the gospel of salvation was preached, believed, and obeyed in the beginning. This is HOW it still must be done today - if a sinner, any sinner, is going to be saved. This is God's way, Christ's way of doing it, of saving lost souls. Denominational preachers want to do it by falsely telling a sinner to pray a concocted prayer! It will not work with God and with Jesus!

In Acts 8:5,12, Philip preached Christ to the Samaritan sinners, and "when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women." In Acts 8:26-39, when the Jewish Eunuch from Ethiopia believed the gospel of Christ taught him by Philip, he said, "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing." In Acts 10:47-48, Cornelius, the Roman Army officer, the first Gentile sinner to be saved, was baptized after being taught the gospel, which he believed. He had heard the words from Peter, the gospel of Christ, whereby he and his family could be saved (Acts 11:14). Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, after his encounter with Jesus and after his penitence for three days, was told to "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). In Acts 16:25-34, the jailer in Philippi believed in Christ, along with his family, after being taught the gospel by Paul and Silas, and was baptized the same hour of the night. In Acts 18:8, "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." In I Corinthians 1:14, Paul tells us he personally baptized Crispus.

Paul tells us that we become the children of God by faith, and heirs of God, when we are baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-29). He tells us that we are baptized into the death and burial of Jesus and are raised from baptism to a new life, just as our Savior was dead, and buried, and raised (Romans 6:1-7). Peter tells us that as Noah was saved by water, so "the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ..." (I Peter 3:20-22).

All of the Scriptures above, plus others we could cite, tell us that sinners are saved from their sins when they hear the gospel of Christ, truly believe in Him as the Son of God and our Savior, sincerely repent of their sins, and are baptized (immersed) into the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the remission of sins. Thus they are saved and cleansed by the blood of Jesus through faith (Matthew 26:28; I Peter 1:18-19; Romans 5:8-9; Hebrews 9:12, etc.). NEVER, NOWHERE IN THE SCRIPTURES, are sinners instructed to be praying "a sinner's prayer" concocted by a denominational preacher. Such a procedure and doctrine will NOT save a sinner from his/her sins! We had better believe the word of God in this matter, and not men. (Bill Cavender)

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