Tag Archive: Sinners Prayer

The Top Five Reasons People Say the Sinner’s Prayer

Guest post by ObstacleChick

The number one goal of Evangelical Christian churches is to save souls from eternal damnation in hell. Therefore, the general plan of salvation is taught to children from a very young age. Terms like “getting saved,” “making a profession of faith,” “getting your heart/life right with Jesus” are bandied about quite a bit, all with the intention of making sure children and teens publicly announce that they have accepted Jesus into their lives as their personal Lord and Savior. Children are taught that we are all sinners; that as sinners our punishment in the afterlife is eternity in hell — a place of torment and fire and demons; that God loved us so much that he sent his son Jesus to earth to die on a cross in our place — for our sins — and that he rose from the dead; that all we need to do to be saved from an eternity in hell is to pray to God/Jesus, confessing and repenting of our sins, and asking Jesus into our hearts. The “Sinner’s Prayer” is the typical vehicle to salvation, and there are many versions. Here are a few basic ones listed below:

Bill Graham Version

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.

In Your Name. Amen.

CRU Version — Formerly Campus Crusade for Christ

Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.

The Sinner’s Prayer for Children

Dear God,  I know that I am a sinner. I know that you sent Jesus to be my Savior, and that He died on the cross to take the punishment for my sins.  I know that Jesus rose from the dead and is coming back someday. Please forgive me of all of my sins, and come into my life and change me. Please guide me in my life and help me to follow you for the rest of my life. Thank you for saving me and taking me to heaven when I die.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Ministry-to-Children Sinner’s Prayer

Jesus – I know that you made me and want me to obey you with all my heart. I know I have disobeyed and wanted to be my own boss. I have thought and done things against your directions. I am sorry. I know that you gave up his life to save me from these sins and make me your child again. I accept your promises and ask you to please save me now and forever.

Amen.

Children’s Version from SBC Voices

Dear God, I know I’m a sinner. I know my sin deserves to be punished. I believe Christ died for me and rose from the grave. I trust Jesus alone as my Savior. Thank you for the forgiveness and everlasting life I now have.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Among Southern Baptists, that’s all you need to do – once you’re saved, you’re always saved. You aren’t always in good standing with the Man Upstairs, but you’ll be safe from eternal hellfire and damnation.

chick tract 3

At some point, typically in childhood, people raised in Evangelical churches will pray the “Sinner’s Prayer.”  What follow is my list of Top 5 Reasons People Pray the Sinner’s Prayer.

Fear of Hell

Who wants to spend eternity being tortured by fiery flames in a place where the “worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44)? Eternity is a long time, longer than most of our human brains can comprehend.

chick tract 4

Pressure From Parents

Good Evangelical parents know that their number-one duty is to make sure their children are saved from eternal damnation in hell. Good parents CANNOT rest easy until they know that their child is safe from eternity in hell and that one day they will be reunited in the afterlife in heaven. My grandparents and my mom pestered me to death until I finally picked a day that I would go forward at the altar call and get it over and done with. (Note about myself: hell scared the hell out of me. But I do not like being told what to do, I like doing things in my own time and on my own terms, and if you pester me I will definitely not do whatever it is you pester me about. Also, at that age I did not like being the center of attention, and going forward to the altar in front of the entire church and having the whole congregation shake my hand was one of the least appealing things I could imagine doing.)

All Your Friends are Doing It/Emotional Appeal

If children have not made a public profession of faith in early childhood, they certainly will in adolescence or teenage years if their families consistently attend an Evangelical church. It isn’t uncommon for groups of adolescents or teens to make their profession of faith together at the end of a church retreat. Church retreats are designed to be fun but are also very emotionally oriented, as the youth pastor will talk about getting right with Jesus, living your life for Jesus, making sure you are following God’s will for your life early on so you don’t get into trouble and make a ton of mistakes in life. Youth pastors harp on the evils and dangers of rock music, alcohol, taking drugs, dancing, hanging with the “wrong crowd,” and having premarital sex.

Youth retreats would end each evening with an emotional altar call with many teenagers on their knees crying with the youth pastor and adult counselors chaperoning the retreat. It was common after a youth retreat for a long baptismal service to capture in baptism all those young, new converts for Jesus. The more teens who were baptized, the more successful the retreat.

Fear That You Didn’t Do it Right Before

I must have said the sinner’s prayer a dozen times during my teenage years, though I didn’t go to the altar again. The sinner’s prayer is so simple that sometimes I was afraid I didn’t do it right prior, or that it didn’t take, so just to be sure I would do it again just to reassure myself that I wouldn’t spend eternity in hell.

chick tract

A Desire to Fit In

In the church where I grew up, only members – that is, those who had been baptized in that particular church or who had moved their letter from an approved church – could participate in communion and in voting. I didn’t care about voting, but I sure cared about being able to take communion while all my peers were taking communion – the last thing a teen wants is to have to pass the communion plate while his or her friends are able to partake in the grape juice and wafers (or broken Saltine crackers if the congregation couldn’t afford the wafer tablets).

Does anyone notice how often feelings and emotions are manipulated with the salvation message? Fear is the biggest motivator – fear of hell primarily, fear of being separated from loved ones after death, fear of dying in the next three seconds and never getting a second chance. Without the fear of hell, I probably would have just gone down for an altar call, gotten baptized, and then I would have fit into the congregation. I don’t think I would have actually prayed a sinner’s prayer and meant it. Sure, I wanted to be a good person, but the fear of hell led me to pray the sinner’s prayer in private over and over and over again. I knew I had to go down to the altar call once, because the Bible said that we must do so publicly in order to be saved. And why would I – what would have been the reward for praying such a prayer without fear of eternal damnation in hell?

What was your experience with “getting saved” and praying the “Sinner’s Prayer”? Did you have any other reasons for praying the “Sinner’s Prayer”? Please let us know with a comment!

Scaring Children and Teenagers Into Getting Saved

hell

Why do Evangelical churches, pastors, and parents use scare tactics and methodologies to elicit salvation decisions from their young children and teenagers? Why are high pressure tactics used to get children to ask Jesus to save them and forgive their sins? Why can’t Evangelical parents wait until their children are older — say late teens — before pressuring them to repent of their sins and ask Jesus to become their Lord and Savior?

In what follows, I will attempt to explain the theological beliefs that drive Evangelicals to treat their children like prospects for buying new vacuüm cleaners or Florida timeshares. Week after week, Evangelical pastors preach the gospel, imploring non-Christians to admit they are sinners and in need of salvation and forgiveness. As I shall discuss at the conclusion of this post, many Evangelical preachers and churches go to extreme lengths to scare children into becoming Christians.

According to Evangelicals, thanks to Adam and Eve sinning against God in the Garden of Eden, all humans come into this world with sin natures. This means that humans are born sinners, and not that they become sinners. Humans have no choice in the matter. Adam and Eve as the first humans are the father and mother of the human race. Because they were sinners, so are we.

God’s punishment for human sin is that every human must die physically and spiritually (first and second death).  Eternal punishment in a burning lake of fire and brimstone — Hell and the Lake of Fire — awaits all humans after death.

Sometime in the future, Jesus Christ (God) will come back to earth on a white horse. Once he arrives he will defeat Satan and his followers, vanquishing sin from the earth. Jesus will then resurrect the dead and judge them, along with those who are still alive when He returns. Those who are Christians will be rewarded with a room in the eternal Kingdom of God. Everyone else will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Once this final judgment is completed, God will make a new heaven and a new earth. (I am well aware of the various eschatological schemes. I am trying to paint a general picture without getting caught up with all the various end-times interpretations.)

Since hell awaits all humans, the only way to escape the eternal pain, suffering, and darkness of the Lake of Fire is for humans to admit that they are sinners and that Jesus — thanks to his death on the cross, paying for our sins and satisfying God’s wrath — is their only hope for salvation and forgiveness. Only those who put their faith in Jesus will go to heaven when they die. (Again, I know that there are various soteriological schemes. I am trying to give the reader a broad picture without going into all the details concerning the order of salvation, Calvinism, Arminianism, etc.)

It should come as no surprise, then, based on the aforementioned core beliefs, that Evangelical churches, pastors, and parents are worried about their children going to hell when they die. Most Evangelicals believe that, while all humans are born into world with sin natures, children aren’t accountable for their sin until they reach a certain age or a certain intellectual capability. Some Evangelicals believe that the age of accountability is age twelve, whereas other Evangelicals believe that children are accountable for their sin the moment they understand the difference between right and wrong. All Evangelicals believe it is vitally important for their children to get saved as soon as possible — the younger, the better. It is not uncommon for Evangelical children to become Christians before they enter elementary school. In many Evangelical sects, formerly saved children, make new commitments to Christ — rededications — as teenagers. It is also not uncommon to hear of adults who have repeatedly rededicated their lives to Christ. As one old preacher said, just keep praying and asking Jesus to save you until it sticks.

Many Evangelical churches have what are called revivals. Hired guns called evangelists hold days- and weeks-long meetings at churches with the express purpose of “reviving” Christians and saving the lost. These evangelists are known for their fire and brimstone preaching, complete with stories about people who died without becoming Christians. These stories are key to evangelizing the lost. The unsaved, according to evangelists, need to know that every breath they breathe is a gift from God, and since the appointed time of death could happen at any moment, it is vital that sinners get saved today.

Evangelists held numerous meetings for me during my pastoring days. Two come to mind, both of whom went to great lengths to scare children and teenagers (and adults) into getting saved. One man was Dennis Corle. Corle preached several meetings for me in the 1980s. During one meeting, Corle asked if he could meet for a short time every night with the church’s children. I said yes, not bothering to ask why Corle wanted to do so. Imagine my surprise when I read a Sword of the Lord report of the Corle revival meeting at our church which stated that dozens of children were saved. Evidently, Corle spent his time with the children scaring the living hell out of them. And it worked. Previously saved children even made new professions of faith.

Another evangelist who comes to mind is Don Hardman. (Please see The Preacher: The Life and Times of Donald A. Hardman, A Book Review  and Laura’s Light by Laura Hardman, A Book Review .) Hardman held numerous meetings for me at two different churches. Some of the meetings were two weeks long — every weeknight, Saturday, and twice on Sunday. Hardman would often come out of the pulpit and address attendees personally, calling them by name if he knew them. At one such meeting, Hardman zeroed in on teenagers, going down the pews pointing his finger and reminding them that God saw everything they did. Needless to say, this scared a number of attendees — most of whom were church members — and come invitation time, numerous people came forward to get saved or get “right” with God.

Corle and Hardman were hardly unique as far as evangelists go. I sat in a number of revival meetings during my days as a Christian and a pastor, and I heard evangelist after evangelist attempt to psychologically manipulate people into making a decision for Christ.

Evangelists rely on love offerings to fund their ministries. These hired guns know that good love offerings and future engagements rely on them producing decisions. Sinners and backsliders walking the sawdust trail (a reference to yesteryear when evangelists held tent meetings and covered the aisles with sawdust) to the front of the church so they can do business with God, are visible demonstrations not only of God’s power, but the evangelist’s ability to goad, manipulate, shame, and scare people into making decisions.

Some evangelists, using the Billy Graham model, ‘prime the pump’ by having trained Christian altar workers come forward during invitation time. These altar workers give the unaware the illusion that God is moving and people are being saved. Contrary to Donald Trump saying today that he invented the phrase ‘priming the pump,’ Evangelical evangelists have been talking about and using this practice since the 1920s. While many evangelists don’t use such a crass phrase as ‘priming the pump,’ and instead use less offensive phrases such as ‘helping sinners take the first step’, I have heard several notable evangelists utter the phrase. The late Joe Boyd is one evangelist who comes to mind.

In the 1970s, I attended Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio. It was there that I was, at the age of fifteen, saved and called to preach. As was typical of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches during the church growth heyday, Trinity held two services on Sunday and one on Wednesday, along with Sunday school before the morning service and youth group before/after the evening service. The goal of every service was the same: the salvation of sinners and the reclamation of backsliders. Added to the weekly schedule of services were revival meetings. These revival meetings were special events geared towards reaching non-Christians. Church members were encouraged (commanded) to invite their friends, neighbors, and everyone they came in contact with to the revival. Get them to the revival, the thinking went, and let the evangelist, uh I mean God, do the rest.

These revival meetings were high pressure events. During the invitation, church members were encouraged to speak to their visitors about the condition of their soul. Countless prospects for heaven were badgered into coming to the front where altar workers would take them through the plan of salvation. Those who prayed the sinner’s prayer and answered the correct questions were deemed saved. At the conclusion of the service, the newly saved were mentioned by name to congregants who then showed their approval by saying AMEN! Afterwards, these newly minted Christians stood at the front so their new brothers and sisters in Christ could shake their hands, hug them, and give them spiritual advice.

One Wednesday night, a friend of mine by the name of Deke Roberts came with me to Wednesday night service. During the invitation, one of the high-pressure saleswomen of the church came to Deke and started asking him questions about his spiritual condition. After being sufficiently badgered, my friend went forward and prayed the sinner’s prayer. Several days later I asked Deke about his salvation decision. He told that he got “saved” just so that lady would leave him alone!

the burning hell

Some Evangelical churches use movies and drama events to lure people into getting saved. Teenagers, in particular, are the focus of these events. During my teen years, Trinity showed movies such as The Burning Hell and A Thief in the Night. These movies were quite scary, warning sinners of the danger of waiting until tomorrow to be saved. During my pastoring years, drama presentations became a popular way to get people saved.  Hell Houses and dramas such as Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Flames were (and still are) used as evangelistic tools to reach the lost. Thousands and thousands of people have made professions of faith though these manipulative tools.

Let me conclude this post with an honest reflection on my own use of psychological manipulation. At the time, I wouldn’t have considered my actions as manipulation, but I now know they were. At the time, believing that life is short and hell is real, I felt burdened to use any means necessary to reach people with the gospel. For many years, Sunday after Sunday, service after service, I preached the gospel, using poignant stories and passages of Scripture to remind sinners of the danger of waiting to get saved. Hundreds and hundreds of people made professions of faith and got right with God during my time pastoring churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan.  While I deeply regret manipulating people, in my defense I was only modeling that which I had experienced growing up in Evangelical churches and attending an IFB college. I did the only thing I knew to do. Fortunately, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I began moving away from using such tactics. Embracing Calvinism put an end to my use of altar calls.  While I still passionately chased after the souls of men, I left it up to “God” to save sinners. Needless to say, once I embraced Calvinism, the number of people saved under my ministry greatly decreased.

Did you grow up in an Evangelical church? Did the church hold revival meetings? What techniques did the church use during church services to “reach the lost”? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Just Pray This Prayer and You Will be Saved!

gods simple plan of salvation tractAccording to Evangelicals, getting saved is the most important decision you and I can make; more important than choosing whom to marry, where to work, what house to buy, whether to have children, and should I wear brown shoes with blue pants? (And the correct answer on the brown shoes, blue pants question is NO! NO! NO! Polly tells me I am fighting a losing battle. What’s next, women wearing white shoes before Easter? Dear God, what’s the world coming to. If this attack on propriety is not stemmed, people will be wearing pajamas in public.) Check all the boxes on your bucket list, but leave the PRAY SINNER’S PRAYER box unchecked and your life is deemed worthless — lacking in meaning, purpose, and direction.

Also according to Evangelicals, life begins and ends with Jesus. He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Jesus, according to the Bible, is the great I AM. He is not only the savior of sinners, but he is also the creator of the universe. All that has been, is, and will be, emanates from God alone. This deity is the one true God. All other Gods are false gods. This means that the overwhelming majority of humans — past, present, and future — are not saved, will die unsaved, and as a result spend eternity in hell and the Lake of Fire.

Most Evangelicals believe that Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Mormons and anyone else who hasn’t prayed the sinner’s prayer, will end up in hell with Satan, demons, fallen angels, and Barack Obama. Saying the sinner’s prayer is the one thing above all others that matters in this life. These false religions are sending billions of people to hell because their adherents haven’t prayed the Billy Graham approved sinner’s prayer.

Fundamentalist Geri Ungurean recently asked the question, Have You Truly Been Born Again — Or Has the Evil One Deceived You?  Ungurean used the God’s Simple Plan of Salvation tract published by Robert Porter’s Lifegate, Inc. as the primary text for her post. As I will show later, Ungurean edited the tract to better fit her theological beliefs, but for now, let’s focus on what she says about how a person is saved:

If you were to die today, and God asked you why He should let you into heaven – how would you answer Him?

….

I am asking you the most important question of life. Your joy or your sorrow for all eternity depends upon your answer. The question is: Are you saved? It is not a question of how good you are, nor if you are a church member, but are you saved? Are you sure you will go to Heaven when you die?

God says in order to go to Heaven, you must be born again. In John 3:7, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.”

In the Bible God gives us the plan of how to be born again which means to be saved. His plan is simple! You can be saved today. How?

First, my friend, you must realize you are a sinner. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Because you are a sinner, you are condemned to death. “For the wages [payment] of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This includes eternal separation from God in Hell.

“ . . . it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

But God loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear your sin and die in your place. “ . . . He hath made Him [Jesus, Who knew no sin to be sin for us . . . that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus had to shed His blood and die. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). “ . . . without shedding of blood is no remission [pardon]” (Hebrews 9:22).

“ . . . God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Although we cannot understand how, God said my sins and your sins were laid upon Jesus and He died in our place. He became our substitute. It is true. God cannot lie.

My friend, “God commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). This repentance is a change of mind that agrees with God that one is a sinner, and also agrees with what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

In Acts 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas: “ . . . ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ’ ”

Simply believe on Him as the one who bore your sin, died in your place, was buried, and whom God resurrected. His resurrection powerfully assures that the believer can claim everlasting life when Jesus is received as Savior.

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12).

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13).

Whosoever includes you. Shall be saved means not maybe, nor can, but shall  be saved.

Surely, you realize you are a sinner. Right now, wherever you are, repenting, lift your heart to God in prayer.

In Luke 18:13, the sinner prayed:

“God be merciful to me a sinner.” Just pray: “Oh God, I know 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.”

Just take God at His word and claim His salvation by faith. Believe, and you will be saved. No church, no lodge, no good works can save you. Remember, God does the saving.  All of it!

God’s simple plan of salvation is: You are a sinner. Therefore, unless you believe on Jesus Who died in your place, you will spend eternity in Hell. If you believe on Him as your crucified, buried, and risen Savior, you receive forgiveness for all of your sins and His gift of eternal salvation by faith.

You say, “Surely, it cannot be that simple.” Yes, that simple!  It is scriptural. It is God’s plan.  My friend, believe on Jesus and receive Him as Savior today.

If His plan is not perfectly clear, read this over and over, without laying it down, until you understand it. Your soul is worth more than all the world.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Be sure you are saved. If you lose your soul, you miss Heaven and lose all. Please!  Let God save you this very moment.

God’s power will save you, keep you saved, and enable you to live a victorious Christian life. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Do not trust your feelings. They change. Stand on God’s promises. They never change. After you are saved, there are five things to practice daily for spiritual growth:

Pray — you talk to God.
Read your Bible — God talks to you.
Witness — you talk for God.
Join a Bible Study — You will grow in your faith.
Develop relationships with other believers – Fellowship is so important!! – source

Here is a very simple prayer for those who want to know that they have truly been saved (born again).  God knows your heart, so He knows if you are genuine when you say this prayer.

Say this to God:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I understand that I am a sinner and I ask You for forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins so that I could receive Your forgiveness and have eternal life. I ask You to come into my life right now and become my personal Savior. From this day forward, Lord, I give you control of my life. Make me a new person and help me to live for You.  Amen”

If you said this prayer just now, I want to welcome you to the family of God!  There is nothing in this life that is as important than what you just did. And did you know that the angels in heaven are rejoicing over you at this very moment?

Pretty standard Evangelical fare:

gods-simple-plan-of-salvation

I would ask you the reader to right now stop what you are doing and take sixty seconds to prayer the sinner’s prayer, thus guaranteeing your room reservation for Trump Tower — Heaven location. I’ll wait. Pray, do it now, don’t delay. Push pause on the TV remote, call a time out, do whatever it is that you need to do to carve out sixty seconds to do soul-saving business with the Evangelical God.

Did you pray the sinner’s prayer? Great, you will now go to Heaven when you die. No more worries. Once you are saved, you can never, ever lose the golden ticket to your mansion in the sky. No sin is so bad that it is not covered by the ‘Get out of Jail Free Clause’ in your Eternal Salvation Contract — Evangelical Edition.

This kind of thinking is what leads people to conclude that Bruce Gerencser, the atheist, is still a Christian. Once married to Christ, there is nothing I can do, including blasphemy, to divorce myself from God. I will lose rewards in Heaven and I might be punished for my sins in the here and now, but there is NOTHING I can do that will separate me from the love of God.

This, my friend, is the bastardized gospel preached by countless preachers and believed by millions and millions of Americans. Is this the gospel preached by Jesus, the apostles, and the Apostle Paul? Lots of Christians think so, that is until they are confronted with people and lifestyles that offend their religiosity.  Can a gay man pray the prayer, remain gay, and go to heaven when he dies? Can an atheist pray the prayer, remain godless, and go to heaven when she dies? Can an abortion rights activist pray the prayer, continue advocating for abortion, and still go to heaven when she dies? Can a child molester pray the prayer, go back to molesting boys, yet still make to heaven? If Ungurean’s post is taken at face value, the answer must be YES!

Back in my Calvinist days, we called this system of salvation decisional regeneration or one-two-three, repeat after me. Much of the membership growth in Evangelical churches is based on the notion of people mentally assenting to a set of historical and theological propositions. Believe THIS and thou shalt be SAVED!  The Bible, at least in some verses, supports this version of Christian salvation:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation….For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.(Romans 10:9,10,13)

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30,31)

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:15,16)

However, in other verses, a far different plan of salvation is found. Take Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15-17:

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. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.

Wait a minute Jesus, didn’t you say:

 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. (John 6:47)

Make up your mind, Jesus.

The truth is this: Christians have spent the last two-thousand years fighting internecine wars over which and whose plan of salvation is true; whose one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism is the faith once delivered to the saints. If this post makes it into the broader Christian blogosphere, rest assured, zealots for this or that plan of salvation will set me straight on what must be done by whom to guarantee entrance into the God’s eternal kingdom — which is the final home of all believers, not Heaven.

Towards the end of the Ungurean’s cut-and-paste of Lifegate’s God’s Simple Plan of Salvation, she edits the tract to better reflect her personal views about salvation and Christianity. The original tract says:

Do not trust your feelings. They change. Stand on God’s promises. They never change. After you are saved, there are three things to practice daily for spiritual growth:

Pray — you talk to God.
Read your Bible — God talks to you.
Witness — you talk for God.

You should be baptized in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ as a public testimony of your salvation, and then unite with a Bible-believing church without delay. “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord . . . .” (2 Timothy 1:8)

“Whosoever therefore shall confess [testify of] Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).

Ungurean edited the copyrighted tract to say:

Do not trust your feelings. They change. Stand on God’s promises. They never change. After you are saved, there are five things to practice daily for spiritual growth:

Pray — you talk to God.
Read your Bible — God talks to you.
Witness — you talk for God.
Join a Bible Study — You will grow in your faith.
Develop relationships with other believers – Fellowship is so important!!

The original gave three things to practice daily for spiritual growth. Ungurean disagreed, so she deleted what the original said about baptism, and added two practices: Join a Bible study [not a church?] and develop relationships with other believers.

Ungurean also had a problem with the tract’s proscribed prayer.  While her post leaves the original prayer intact:

“Oh God, I know 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.”

Ungurean adds a prayer of her own:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I understand that I am a sinner and I ask You for forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins so that I could receive Your forgiveness and have eternal life. I ask You to come into my life right now and become my personal Savior. From this day forward, Lord, I give you control of my life. Make me a new person and help me to live for You. Amen”

According to Ungurean, if you pray her soul-saving version:

If you said this prayer just now, I want to welcome you to the family of God!

Did you notice the difference between the two prayers? Ungurean added: From this day forward, Lord, I give you control of my life. Make me a new person and help me to live for You. And there’s Ungurean’s out. Yes, getting saved is as simple as believing a set of historical and theological facts (what she deems as factual, anyway) and praying a prayer. But, those who are really, really saved give demonstrable evidence that their lives are controlled by God.  Who decides what this evidence is? Why every Evangelical church, pastor, and congregant. Behind all their talk about grace, most Evangelicals actually believe that truly being a Christian requires a certain standard of life. Except for the grace-extremists who say that once a person is saved, he is a-l-w-a-y-s saved, (men such as Jack Hyles, Bob Gray Sr., Curtis Hutson, R.B. Thieme, and Steven Anderson believe this), most Evangelicals actually preach some sort of salvation by works. And that’s okay, because that’s what the Bible says too. In fact, the Bible supports EVERY plan of salvation..

Here is a few other posts I have written on this subject:

Are you saved? Are you sure? Can you even be certain? Or, perhaps atheists, humanists, and not-punching-my-ticket-for-heaven religions are right. What really matters is the here and now; what really matters is living life to its fullest; what really matters is reducing pain and suffering; what really matters is making sure Donald Trump and his followers don’t destroy the world with a nuclear war.  When it comes down to it, Evangelicalism is little more than escapism. Evangelicals see the world as that which must be endured until death or Jesus returns. And while waiting for these things to happen — it could be today, MARANATHA! — Evangelicals withdraw into the safety of their Fundamentalist subculture — only leaving for work, shopping, ballgames, and making sure unsaved people live according to Evangelical interpretations of a two-thousand plus year old religious text.

Let me conclude this sermon with the jailor’s question in Act 16: Sirs, what must I do to be saved? When you get the answer to this question, please let me know. Based on two-thousand years of Christian history and a myriad of books, blog posts, and sermons purporting to definitively reveal the way to salvation and eternal life, I think I can confidently say that Christians are hopelessly confused and divided about what Ungurean and her fellow Evangelical say is the most important question we will ever be asked. Until these purveyors of salvation get it figured out, what should the rest of us do? To paraphrase Solomon: eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Works for me.