Is the Sinner’s Prayer Necessary for Salvation?

by Mike Ratliff

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:34-39 ESV)

Is a sinner’s prayer necessary for salvation? Is it wrong to use one in sharing the gospel? If we read the New Testament from Matthew through Revelation we will find not one example of anyone praying a sinner’s prayer to be saved. Look at the example of Philip sharing the gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch in the passage at the top of this post. The eunuch was reading from the book of Isaiah. The Holy Spirit commanded Philip to approach and join the chariot. The eunuch was obviously reading aloud, which was how the ancients read. Philip heard him read from Isaiah 53. He offers to explain the passage. Philip explains that what he was reading is a prophecy about Christ. Then he preached the good news about Jesus to the eunuch. What was the good news? Of course this is the preaching of the fact that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross paid the price as the propitiation for the sins of the Elect. In other words, he explained to the eunuch that Jesus had provided a way for people to be saved from the penalty for their sins which separated them from God who is Holy and Righteous. What was the eunuch’s response? He believed immediately and asked to be baptized. Philip sees no reason not to and does so.

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