Exposing the sinner’s prayer
by Barry Newton
In spite of the magical power of dragon talk, as Bilbo the Hobbit surveyed the underbelly of the powerful dragon Smog, Bilbo thought to himself:
“Why there is a large patch in the hollow of his left breast as bare as a snail out of its shell!”
While dragons might feel impenetrable and wield great power, genuine vulnerabilities exist.
Ideas, like mythical dragons, can sometimes be tyrannical in how their dragon talk magically attempts to force our minds into submission. For many the following logic is simple, straightforward and irrefutable:
“If salvation is by faith and if someone takes the step of genuinely accepting Jesus by saying the sinner’s prayer, then baptism can not be for salvation because he or she has already been saved by faith.”
However, a closer examination reveals such dragon talk comes from a lizard with a flabby underbelly susceptible to a biblical harpoon’s penetration.
For starters, the presumed plate armor is actually quite soft. At least two fatal flaws exist in this reasoning on salvation.
- When humans assert that someone has successfully accepted Jesus, their claim may not reflect God’s perspective. To assume that the two are equated involves nothing more than begging the question. To discover the truth about God’s opinion requires combing through the biblical text.
- Similarly, to assume salvation by faith involves saying the sinner’s prayer begs the question. Scripture must define what the gospel requires for trusting in Christ.
Enter the multi-pronged harpoon.
- First, nowhere does the Bible contain a conversion story illustrating someone simply saying a sinner’s prayer.
- Second, according to the New Testament, to rely upon Christ with faith involves being baptized.
- Third, the New Testament reveals that people enter salvation upon being baptized.
The inevitable conclusions? The original message included baptism as part of the faith response to Christ. Using a sinner’s prayer is a Protestant invention. That is quite a piercing harpoon, if true.
Consider these representative scriptural excerpts:
“You are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).
It was only after the jailer responded to Peter’s command:
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” by being baptized that he and his household rejoiced as having come to faith (Acts 16:31,33,34).
“Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins …” (Acts 2:38).
“Since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus … let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from a sinful conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10;19,22).
The dragon may not realize it, but his armor is gone and the harpoon is quite real.