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.

Let’s look at another example.

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)

A parable is an analogy. Unlike most of our analogies, however, the ones Jesus told are perfect and part of His Holy Word. This is a contrast between two men’s faith. The first one was a Pharisee who was convinced that his own righteousness which he obtained with his religiosity and works made it a fact that God would justify him. The second man was a publican or tax collector. He was considered to be a “sinner” in that society and looked down on by everyone. They both went to the temple to pray. The first one justified himself and even prayed against the tax collector. However, the tax collector stood far off and humbly prayed for mercy from God. He recognized that he was a sinner and that realization brought him to the place of repentance and belief. His repentance was expressed in his plea for mercy. Our Lord tells us no more about him or the works God did in his heart other than telling us that he went down to his house justified. Was this an example of a sinner’s prayer saving a person. What is Jesus’ emphasis here? Isn’t it that no one is saved unless they humble themselves before the Lord in full agreement with Him that they are sinners and can’t save themselves no matter what they do. They must have mercy. Of course, God’s mercy is expressed to us by His grace. How do we receive that grace? It is by faith.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

The Pharisee’s faith was not saving faith, but the tax collector’s faith was. The prayer of humility and repentance was accompanied by saving faith through which God’s grace was given to the tax collector. He was justified or declared righteous by God because of this. What we did not see in this parable was any mention of regeneration, which always proceeds saving faith, because that was not what Jesus was teaching here. However, if we take the Bible in it’s entirety then we must also understand that this man humbled himself before God, recognizing that he was a sinner, because of the effectual call.

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)

Let’s look at another case.

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. (Acts 10:34-48 ESV)

I see Peter obediently preaching the gospel in these verses. He is in the house of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion. He is a Gentile. However, the Holy Spirit commanded that Peter go there and speak the good news, which he did. Notice that his sermon included a call to believe in Jesus so they can receive forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ name. He gave no invitation to make decisions. He had no Deacons down front to lead anyone in sinner’s prayers. Instead, as Peter spoke the good news the Holy Spirit fell on these people. Since Peter was a Jew as were his companions, God used the sign of tongues to signify to them that Jesus was building His Church and it included Jews and Gentiles. What was their response? They Baptized them.

Let’s look at another.

11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:11-15 ESV)

Was Lydia saved by praying a sinner’s prayer? All we have here is the fact that God opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. This tells us that what we preach is vital to people believing. God has chosen the foolishness of preaching as part of how people are converted. We saw that with Philip and the eunuch, Peter and the household of Cornelius and now we see it with Lydia. She was already a worshiper of God, but she was not a Christian. She heard Paul preach and understood it because God opened her heart. She believed. She was saved by Grace through faith. Then she was Baptized.

Here is another one from the same chapter in Acts.

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (Acts 16:19-34 ESV)

We see in this passage the Sovereign hand of God in setting up circumstances so that Paul and Silas would be in prison on a night when there was a great earthquake, which caused their jailor to come to the end of himself. Paul and Silas were partaking of the cup of suffering of their Lord Jesus Christ. As a result their jailor was prepared and drawn to the truth. He came to Paul and Silas. He asked them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Why would he ask that? Saved from what? How would he know that he needed to be saved from something? Isn’t this the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart. When was he saved? He was saved when he believed as Paul preached the good news to him. The next thing we see is him being baptized along with his whole family who also believed. We see repentance in action here as the man who firmly locked Paul and Silas into stocks now washed their wounds. He rejoiced greatly and set food before them.

Is it wrong to insist on using a sinner’s prayer in sharing the Gospel? I believe that if we us it, it must be done in a very judicious way. I mean, we must make it clear that salvation isn’t the result of praying that prayer, but by believing and repenting as God’s grace flows into the new believer through their faith. They receive salvation. The prayer is only good for expressing that faith and repentance, but it doesn’t cause it. That is caused by regeneration. Remember, everyone is dead in their trespasses and sins until God effectually calls them to believe and repent. So, the next time we share the gospel let’s remember that baptism is the expression of belief that we see in the Bible, not a sinner’s prayer. Baptism was the heralding event showing one’s entry into the Body of Christ. Instead of insisting on a sinner’s prayer, recognize God’s good work in the hearts of those who are spiritually hungry by enjoining them to satisfy that appetite day by day by following our Saviour. Disciple them, showing them how to do it. Teach them to pray, how to fellowship, and study their Bibles. Teach them to live a life of forgiveness and that their regeneration is God’s good work. Lead them into loving proper doctrine. Also, instruct them that the New Birth is just the beginning, not the end.

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86 thoughts on “Is the Sinner’s Prayer Necessary for Salvation?

  1. I have used it in the past but the more I have examined its product and the way it can deceive a person into a false snese of conversion the more I have abandoned it. Everyone should have a sense of when they were born again, but if today’s fruits and walk with Christ doesn’t match with what supposedly happened on that first day then there is a serious problem.

    And when we ask someone about their conversion they many times say I asked Jesus into my heart on such and such a date. Jesus coming into a person’s heart and life is not what is to be asked, that happens as a result of being born again. A sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and confesses himself to be an eternal follower of the Lord Jesus. It is upon this confession of faith that the fruits will grow or wither, revealing the authenticity of the born again experience.

    I know some have made a dumb issue about whether to refer to ourselves as Christians or Christ followers or something else and in the end you either are or you are not. I have come to prefer a “believing follower” which to me clearly defines the faith and corresponding works to any inquiry and when people ask you what does that mean it is a witnessing opportunity.

    I still think an altar call can be beneficial as an inquiry call but never as a “complete the deal” membership drive.

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  2. Mike,

    You stated that Jesus made a way for people to be saved. Did not he come to save that which was lost? Was not his work finished when He gave up his Spirit and died? I don’t know of any scripture that says He only made a way of Salvation.

    Philip

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  3. I just had this conversation on my Amazing Grace site. The commenter was accusing me of trying to save a person by using the sinner’s prayer. I had in detail explained the order of salvation. (Regeneration, the gift of faith which allows one to believe in Christ and claim Him as Lord and Savior and then the sinner is able to fall upon their knees and confess his sins and His forgiveness, the sinner is then justified and adopted into His family). The commenter felt I was using the sinner’s prayer to get them saved. I explained that it was the working of the Holy Spirit through regeneration that saved a person but that both new converts and believers are required to confess their sins and claim Christ as Lord and Savior. He didn’t understand that I was putting the work of the Holy Spirit first and then repentance. He then thought I was saying that repentance was just words and not the turning from sin. I wonder if this person is shying away from any sinner’s prayer whatsoever because of his new learning of the follies of trying to save a person by the sinner’s prayer. I don’t think I ever got through to him. I think it is dangerous when people don’t understand the steps of salvation and then feel that any type of sinner’s prayer is wrong. We are commanded to confess our sins…I hope people remember that part.

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  4. Thank God somebody else saw this besides myself !!! I’ve never heard a pastor teach this in my life,.. i’ve never heard a pastor define the word “HOLYNESS”. come to think of it, I’ve never heard a pastor teach that the word Halleluyah was a praise to Holy name “YHWH”. I’ve never heard a pastor………………………
    IT”S OVER FOR THESE (“so-called”) CHURCHES

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  5. That is you CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH Jesus is Lord, and believe in your hear that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

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  6. I never use the sinner’s prayer when I share the gospel. I know that God will use the reading or hearing of the Word of God/the gospel to save. I did not say any sinner’s prayer, and I know I belong to Jesus. He used the following verses to bring me to faith: “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me”, and “Come unto Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. He used this verse to convict me of sin and bring me to repentance, ” All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” I will never forget those moments, and it all happened reading the Word of God, all by myself. I knew when I became saved because I was given the Holy Spirit, I knew Jesus was my savior and that he saved me. When I share the gospel I do not worry about closing the deal : ) because I know that God Himself will do the work in the person’s heart, and they will believe and repent and put their faith in Christ, without me telling them how to. I like to share the gospel and sow seeds. I believe the Father and Holy Spirit does it- draws people to Jesus.

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  7. Philip,

    You said, “You stated that Jesus made a way for people to be saved. Did not he come to save that which was lost? Was not his work finished when He gave up his Spirit and died? I don’t know of any scripture that says He only made a way of Salvation.”

    I suppose I don’t know what you are trying to say. Yes he came to seek and save that which was lost, but isn’t that providing a way for people to be saved? Yes His work was finished and complete. I don’t think I said anywhere that all Jesus did was make a way to Salvation.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  8. Amen Sarah. Yes, our salvation is God’s work, not ours, but we cannot fall into the snare of teaching Hyper-Calvinism which removes our responsibility to repent and believe.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  9. Ryan,

    Thanks for that quote. Notice that all those things spring from belief in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. What we confess comes from our Heart condition. That is the point. The work God does in our hearts brings the confession. Those who confess with their mouth are those who believe.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  10. Mike,
    I agree that we have a responsibility to repent and believe, but we can’t do it unless we are enabled by the Holy Spirit. And, the timing is His, not ours. “It is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12 (even if it takes forty years)

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  11. It is about time we leave behind this sillyness of “inviting Jesus into my heart and just say this pray and you will be saved.” It is the supernatural work of God that changes a sinner from the heart of stone to life, not the recitation of a prayer. Oh, what horrible, horrible moment it will be when Christ says “Depart from me you workers of lawlessness, I know you not.” Matt 7. I will not ask someone to pray but rather to go home and pour out your heart to a holy and just God, now that you see yourself as God sees you. I use a witness like “The Way of the Master”, letting the Holy Spirit use the Law written on every heart to convict. So many say, “Jesus did not come to judge” forgetting that after John 3:16 is verse 17 and 18, that “they are already condemned” for not beleiving. I have high regard for Paul Washer and how he witnesses. We are just vessels, being obedient; it is the Holy Spirit that does the awakening, “unblinding” and the convicting. I do not want the soul of anyone of my hands for giving them the false hope of “saying a prayer and being saved.” Thanks Mike for your post.
    John

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  12. John,

    Amen brother and thank you for sharing that. Paul Washer’s ministry amazing and we should thank God for sending him to us at this time. I have never looked at “The Way of the Master.” However, obviously I need to.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  13. Hello Mike,

    There are many that are calling on Jesus name today in many different religions. I do not believe that it is biblical for the true Christian to embrace every other person from differing religions as “brethren” if they claim the name of Jesus Christ, but that is a very popular teaching. Are all religions that claim the name of Christ walking in the victory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The Bible has a perfect example of this! The Bible plainly teaches that there are people not walking in Christian victory that even do ministry in Jesus name and they are not “Christians” even though they have “good” intentions. The Bible also speaks of “wolves in sheeps clothing”.

    Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? (Acts 19:13-15 KJV).

    Jesus said many will call him “LORD, LORD” and still not be saved.

    MANY will say to me in that day, LORD, LORD, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:22,23 KJV).

    These verses show that people can confess Jesus and still not truly believe in their heart. I have heard many in religion say that “they believe in Jesus Christ of the Bible”. Congragulations, their faith is now on the same level as a demon! The Bible even says a evil spirit can speak the name of Jesus.

    And the EVIL SPIRIT answered and said, JESUS I KNOW, and Paul I know; but who are ye (Acts 19:15 KJV)?

    God is looking at the heart as well as confession. Jesus said that many will honor him with their lips, but their heart is far from him, he said even their worship is in vain.

    This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me (Matthew 15:8 KJV).

    And God, which knoweth the HEARTS, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; (Acts 15:8 KJV).

    Doesn’t the Bible mention believing and confession as two seperate events. In my personal experience, my confession that “Jesus is Lord” was a result of my conversion (being set free).

    And many that believed came and confessed, and shewed their deeds (Acts 19:18 KJV).

    For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:10 KJV).

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  14. Amen Frank! I firmly believe that there will be many surprised professing Christians who will find that they are with the goats on Jesus’ left rather than with His sheep on His right. Many of those will be quite well known “Christian” leaders who proclaim pseudo-Gospels of works righteousness that I grew up hearing and believed was the real deal. However, as we look deeply at scripture and carefully exposit what we find there, we discover that much of what is called Evangelism in our time is nothing but a man-made system of inducing people to do some religious act in order to avoid hell or to improve their lives.

    We can’t do much about that, but we can tell the truth from God’s Word trusting that God will open people’s hearts to those truths.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  15. Hello Mike,

    The Bible says, “that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor 12:3). Wouldn’t this verse then also be claiming that it is the Holy Ghost at work in your heart that causes you to confess “Jesus is the Lord”? If that is the case, then would this verse stand against the theology that you “decide to make Jesus your Lord” and then you receive the Holy Ghost? What is your opinion on this?

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  16. For the most part these are some good comments. And as a gospel preacher comvinced that Grace in the heart of a redeemed sinner is the work of God alone, and that the preaching of the gospel of His sovereign almighty grace, will produce, a confession of sin, a reception of christ righteousness and a life that follows in gospel obeidence, as new creatures, to His glory alone.

    As preachers and pastors,and evangelist, just avoid all forms of manipulations. Bill Graham, Finney, Billy Sunday, and our present day fads are all exposed as wood hay and stubble.

    Preach Christ, and watch God give the increase.

    grace-bible.com

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  17. Frank,

    I think I can contend a little stronger than an opinion about it. I like John MacArthur’s exposition of Justification and Sanctification in both The Gospel According to Jesus and The Gospel According to the Apostles. I also reccommend James White’s The God Who Justifies. In these works and others like them we learn that scripture teaches us that Justification and Sanctification are linked, but unique. There is not one without the other. Therefore, there is no receiving of the Holy Spirit later. We have all of Him when God saves us. We are not saved unless Jesus is our Lord. Therefore, we don’t make Him Lord later after salvation and receive a Second Blessing. Those who hold a No Lordship salvation stance teach otherwise. No, our Justification is once and done thing, but Sanctification is progressive from that point on. It may indeed appear that we reach some point in our maturity where we become more spiritual and walk closer with our Lord, etc. However, as we mature what we are really doing is learning to submit more and more of our lives “practically” to the Lordship of Christ. At some point we learn to be Spirit-filled by being obedient in all areas of our lives. I believe that that is what those who teach that there is a second blessing are seeing and misinterpreting. Also, I firmly believe that it is the Holy Spirit who works in our hearts to bring us to grow or mature in Christ. Without Him doing His good work we could never do it.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  18. Jesse,

    “Preach Christ, and watch God give the increase.”

    Amen brother! O that our preachers would just do this and forget about pragmatism and marketing techniques. Forget Church Growth nonsense. Be faithful to your calling and preach the whole gospel. To use man-made manipulation is nothing more than unbelief.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  19. Mike,

    I don’t think that he came to make a way to be saved. He came to do the saving himself. I don’t think He made a way to be saved, He just flat out accomplished that eternal Salvation on the Cross. It is Finished!!! All of God’s children that He predestined before the foundation of the world are saved. Have they all been regenerated yet. No, but they will be. Another thing I don’t understand is that you all keep saying that it is the work of the Spirit that does the saving. I agree with that. There was a comment earlier that said there was an order of Salvation. The first step was the work of God placing the Spirit in you. If you have the Spirit in you are not you a child of God. Does it not end right there, as far as eternal salvation is concerned? The rest I would have to say is just a peace of mind in this time frame world. You recieve peace when you realize that God has accomplished that Salvation and know that you had nothing to do with it, nor could of you had anything to do with it.

    Philip

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  20. Hello Mike,

    Are what you and Philip refering to is the doctrine called “perseverence of the saints”? Is that doctrine supported by this verse?

    Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6).

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  21. For those of us who did not grow up in an evangelical chruch but became Christians later in life, would you describe what the sinner’s prayer is? I’m not sure I understand the difference between what you are presenting and what you call the “sinner’s prayer.”
    Thanks

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  22. Philip,

    I don’t agree with you. You are saying regeneration is salvation. Regeneration is part of salvation and precedes faith and repentance. However it isn’t specifically how we are saved.

    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

    We are saved because our regeneration enabled us to believe. That is saving faith through which we receive Grace. No, regeneration is not the end. The end is God justifying those who believe and repent followed by sanctification, adoption and glorification. (Romans 8:29-30)

    No one is saved until God justifies them but all those who are justified are saved. On what basis are we justified? We are justified by faith alone. Galatians 2:15-16) No one is arguing that salvation is our work. It isn’t. Our faith and repentance are the result of His work which is our regeneration. God doesn’t believe for us, we must still do it.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  23. Diane,

    Sorry, please forgive me for not making this clear. Many evangelicals use a mechanism to “seal” someone’s salvation called a “sinner’s prayer.” There are various forms of it, but in essence, what it includes are the words that profess faith while asking God for forgiveness, etc. However, it is often repeated by new converts by rote. Our contention in this post and discussion is to show that no one is saved by repeating a prayer as someone else leads us in it. It isn’t the prayer itself that saves anyone, but it is faith and repentance that results from regeneration as people hear the gospel. The Bible is very clear that we are justified by faith alone, not works.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  24. Mike,

    Great post, and the comments are wonderful!

    Sadly, this has become my church. No offense, I am just sad that in order to find truth “preached”, I have to do it via internet. This speaks volumes on the state of the church!

    Can you explain Philippians 2:12? Some have used this verse to indicate that it is us that is in control, or at least a little, of working out our salvation.

    In Christ,
    Sherry

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  25. Hi Mike,
    I wonder how many of those folks that come away from crusades like Billy Grahams thinking they are saved because they have said “The Sinners Prayer.?”
    How many think they are saved by reading The Sinner’s Prayer from a tract?
    I use to watch Billy Graham years ago and when I seen the 100sand 100s of people that walked down the aisle to pray the Sinner’s Prayer, I question how many are walking around today living their lives like before and think they are saved? I am sure there are some that are truly saved and are walking with the Lord, but the majority are more then likely not. Salvation is Christ calling you, not Billy Graham or who ever. Good post MIke.

    Cristina

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  26. Pingback: Is The Salvation Prayer Necessary For Salvation? « Heal The Land With Spiritual Warfare

  27. Mike,

    How do you explain Romans 3:3.

    I believe that the justification happened on the Cross. That is where our sins where paid for. Santification is just setting apart, right. Was that not done before the beginning of the world. Justification happened on the Cross. Then regeneration happens as the Spirit pleases. If eternal salvation was a result of hearing the gospel would that not be a work of man. And should not every man be working to make sure that everyone heard the gospel. There is a verse that says that God has a people among every tribe, nation, and tongue. I beleive in Revelation. There are many tribes that don’t exist any longer that never heard the Gospel of their salvation. I believe that God had a people among them as well. Moses and the people of Israel wondered in the wilderness for 40 years in unbelief. Unbelief was what kept Moses out of the promised land and left to die in the wilderness. That unbelief was Moses choice, but I believe that Moses will be in Heaven when I get there some day. I wish I was better at conveying my thoughts. I hope that you could understand what I’m saying.

    May God Bless you on this Glorious Day,
    Philip

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  28. Philip sees no reason not to and does so.

    read verse 37: 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.

    Philip did see a reason not to baptize him–he had not yet heard Philip’s confession of faith. As an evangelist he did the right thing by confirming that the Eunuch understood the same doctrine that had brought him to salvation. Leaving this verse out makes baptism seem equivalent to a “sinners prayer” as a method of ritualistic works added onto the gospel.

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  29. Billly Graham has said that he hopes that maybe 5 percent of those who come forward at his crusades are really saved. It is wrong to use psychological means like “heads bowed, eyes closed while the piano is played” to evoke an emotional response from people rather than waiting on the Holy Spirit. I really don’t care how many goose bumps one gets; it is the conviction of the Holy Spirit one must respond to. When we are no longer blinded by the god of this world and see ourselves as the wretched sinners deserving of death we really are, then we have to choose what we will do in light of this. We don’t “make Jesus Lord;” He IS Lord whether we want to acknowledge it or not. American “christianity” is really apostate, with rare exceptions in some churches. The real question, one I put to my wife who complains about this, is “Now that you know this, what are you going to do about it?”
    John F

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  30. Sherry,

    12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)

    v12 in this passage is talking about our progressive sanctification not our justification. Also, all we need to do is look at v13 to see who is causing our cirucmstances to be what they are so that we work through them in our cooperation with God in maturing in grace, submitting to the Lordship of Christ in all things.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  31. Thanks Cristina, though it is sad about so many people not being properly discipled and, instead, are told they are saved because of doing some religious act or praying a prayer.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  32. Philip,

    1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,
    “That you may be justified in your words,
    and prevail when you are judged.” (Romans 3:1-4 ESV)

    Well, Philip, you can believe that justification happened on the cross, but what scriptural proof do you have? This is speaking of the Covenant promises made by God to the Jews. Paul was using this to show the faithfulness of God as opposed to the unfaithfulness of the Jews in upholding their part of the Covenant.

    Yes, Moses is with our Lord now. Didn’t he meet with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration? Wasn’t he the prophet of God? Do not confuse God allowing His people to suffer the nature consequences for their sins with whether they saved or not. Two very different things.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  33. Ken,

    You quote v37. Unfortunately, that verse is not in the most reliable manuscripts of Acts chapter 8. I didn’t leave it out when I posted the scripture. It isn’t in the translation I use, the English Standard Version. Some manuscripts which do have it only have a part of it. Some have all of it. However, if we take it out as the ESV has done we see a totally different statement of how salvation works than if we leave it in. I believe that someone other than Luke added that verse later.

    You said, “Leaving this verse out makes baptism seem equivalent to a “sinners prayer” as a method of ritualistic works added onto the gospel.”

    If we use Baptism as a seal for salvation then you are right. However, as I stated at the end of this post, it is not for that, but as a sign of the regeneration that has taken place and as a profession of faith. We must never tell people that anything ritualistic saves anyone and that includes saying a sinner’s prayer by rote or baptism or taking the Lord’s Supper. We are justified by faith alone.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  34. Just an observation, Ken. The book of Acts is a book that can be used as an example and as exhortation and edification. It isn’t a teaching book, it is a narrative that accurately records events and words spoken by people. For instance Peter himself said in Acts 2:38 to “repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”.

    Many use this verse to substantiate baptismal regeneration, but in fact Peter probably mischaracterized baptism because he was still learning. Paul actually teaches him later on about some of these shadows of the law such as circumcision which some still parallel with baptism in a hybrid of covenant theology. The bottom line is that Acts is not used for doctrinal purposes given its narrative quality as are the gospel accounts. Paul is the revelator to the church and his epistles should have precedence when discussing doctrinal issues.

    One man’s opinion without tears.

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  35. Mike,

    I am still somewhat confused about your contention. If regeneration is only one step of the salvation process, can one be regenerated by the Holy Spirit, fail to follow through with the rest of the “process” before he dies, and spend eternity in hell?
    -Philip

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  36. No Philip. I don’t believe that. What I am saying is that we are Justified by Faith. If we lose that and concentrate on Regeneration only then we take the huge risk of making the mistake of neglecting the Gospel.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  37. Philip,

    It is disobedient to what our Lord commanded if we neglect the gospel.

    18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

    Say what you will, we must make disciples and that means we must preach Jesus. God has chosen the foolishness of preaching the truth to save people.

    21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21 ESV)

    Therefore, we must not neglect the gospel.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  38. Hello Mike,

    Wouldn’t the verse Romans 5:9 be declaring that justification came at the cross because that is where the blood was shed?

    Much more then, being now JUSTIFIED BY HIS BLOOD, we shall be saved from wrath through him (Romans 5:9 KJV).

    But then again Romans 4:25 says, “Jesus was delivered for our offences, and was RAISED AGAIN FOR OUR JUSTIFICATION (Romans 4:25), identifying justification with the resurrection. Seems like a contradiction but couldn’t both verses be true? Do you think that this means that the justification came from the blood shed at the cross, but wasn’t completed until it was presented to God? How would you reconcile these verses?
    This verse below is my attempt to reconcile the two. This verse speaks of both the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ as part of Justification. Either way this verse teaches that it is God that Justifies and nothing we can add to or justification.

    Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? IT IS GOD WHO JUSTIFIETH? Who is he that condemmeth? It is Christ THAT DIED, yea rather, that is RISEN AGAIN, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Romans 8:33,34 KJV).

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  39. Frank,

    You and I were justified by His blood when God justified us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Without the resurrection there is no gospel. I understand what you and Philip are saying about our justification being complete at the cross and resurrection, but it is not made effectual until be believe. That is why it is called Justification by Faith.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  40. Very Nice F Whittenburgh. You speak of our legal justification. Because Christ was raised from the dead we know we are justified because he was raised for our justification. But there is also another application of the word justification found in the bible. Rom 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. This justification is by our faith. Clearly the verses F Whittenburgh quoted and this isn’t speaking of the exact same justification but they are both scriptural. the latter Justification is the one that occurs after regeneration; it is a witness to us that we stand in the grace of God (v.2). However, our legal justification was on the cross before we were regenerated yea before we were born.

    So there is a legal justification on the cross prior to regeneration in which the word would mean to make righteous. Then there is a justification in the resurrection of Christ which is a declaration of the justification on the cross. Then there is also a justification after regeneration that is by faith, that declares righteousness in our mind.

    I hope these thoughts are clear. I’m thoroughly enjoying this study.

    Philip and Howard

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  41. Frank, Philip and Howard,

    Please do not misunderstand me. I am not disagreeing with what you are saying about the incredible work of God at the cross and at our Lord’s resurrection. Amen and Amen! All I am saying is that we must not neglect sharing our faith. Yes, I believe God will save His elect, but He has chosen the preaching of the Gospel as part of that effectual process which brings us to belief. Regeneration makes us able to believe. It is the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to know and believe that brings it to fruition. We are justified by faith.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  42. Hello Mike and Philip,

    What is your definition of the “Justification of life” spoken of in Romans 5:18. Is it a different justification than that of faith or (legal justification -Philips quote). I am trying to understand each point of veiw. This is how I have understood the doctrine of justification.

    There are two conditions that you can be in living under in this world, “condemnation of sins” or “justification of life”.

    ” Condemnation of sins” means God says you deserve to die because of your sin.
    “Justification of life” means God says you deserve to live eternally because of faith in Jesus Christ.

    This is how I understand Justification. See I was made a sinner because of what Adam done, before I was ever born, as Paul taught in Romans.

    Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL men unto JUSTIFICATION OF LIFE. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall MANY be made righteous (Romans 5:18,19 KJV).

    You can see also in this same verse that I was made righteous by what Jesus Christ did on the cross BEFORE I was born! The only problem is that I didn’t know Jesus Christ died for my sins until someone comes and tells me about the “good news” of the Gospel, which is salvation through Jesus Christ. Until I heard the “good news” of the Gospel, I was living a life on earth, like Adam who was hiding from God behind the tree in the Garden of Eden, and I didn’t know I was forgiven and I was living under self condemnation.

    And, having made peace THROUGH THE BLOOD of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and ENEMIES IN YOUR MIND BY WICKED WORKS, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you HOLY and UNBLAMABLE and UNREPROVABLE in his sight: (Colossians 1:20-22 KJV).

    Because of Jesus sacrifce on the cross I am no longer living under God’s condemnation (Romans 8:1KJV), but until Jesus saved me, where was my condemnation coming from?

    A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, BEING CONDEMED OF HIMSELF (Titus 3:10,11KJV).

    As we read earlier in Romans 5:18,19, since my condemnation as a sinner came on me before I was born (from Adam), and my redemption from that sin was accomplished on the cross of Calvary before I was born, then that only leaves me, since Calvary, with the choice of “accepting or rejecting” that redemption (is this where the “faith” part comes in). I can then in no way “add to” or “take away” from my redemption that was accomplished on a cross BEFORE I WAS BORN!

    Can you or Philip expound a little more on your understanding of justification. Good discussion!

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  43. Frank,

    My understanding of Justification is as you stated. Christ’s Righteousness is imputed to our account when we believe, but not until then.

    I think what we must remember in this is that we must approach evangelizing from the human side of ledger not the doctrinal side. We have no idea who the elect are and we are commanded to make disciples. God has chosen the preaching of the message of the Gospel to save people by faith. Therefore, we must preach the gospel as Paul and the other Apostles did appealing to how all are depraved and under the wrath of God and that their only hope is to believe God as Abraham did, repent of their sins and surrender and submit to the Lordship of Christ. Of course, doctrinally we know that only those who are the Elect will be regenerated by God then believe, but we must present it as the fact that they must believe. If we try to manipulate people to make decisions then we are not believing that God will do this. That is why we must not do anything to that could cause people to be deceived into thinking that they are saved by religious acts.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  44. Mike,

    Are you saying that if a regenerate man doesn’t hear the gospel He will live eternally in Hell?

    Philip

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  45. Mike,

    Both would have to be my answer. I beleive there is a Legal Justification that happened on the cross. Which I guess would be by the faith of God. And I believe that we are justified in belief as we would declare our righteousness through Christ. But I would say that that justification would have nothing to do with our eternal state. It only gives us a piece of mind that knowing we are a sinner that the consequence for those sins were paid for on the cross. And this justification is by our faith.

    Does that answer your question?

    I would have to say that a regenerate man could not go Hell, or the work of Christ would be considered a failure.

    Philip

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  46. Philip,

    This is what I have been trying to say. There is legal justification complete in Christ on the cross and our effectual justification that is God’s declaration when we believe. No, I don’t believe that once Regeneration happens that that person will go to Hell. God is sovereign and will save all of His.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  47. Mike,

    I have been getting the feeling that you feel that the gospel is needed for eternal salvation. Am I mistaken in that feeling? I would like to try to tie up my thoughts here. I feel this conversation to be very encouraging and uplifting and has definately caused me to dig deeper. I appreciate that.

    Philip

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  48. Philip,

    21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21 ESV)

    Yes, I believe it is necessary.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  49. Mike,

    Sorry to throw two at you at once but, Ihave another thought. 1 Cor 1:18 The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness: but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

    This verse contrasts the saved and unsaved people and how the gospel affects them. If you aren’t saved the gospel is foolishness to you and in effect useless to you. But to a child of God it is the Power of God. I certainly would have a hard time thinking then that the gospel brings us to a state of eternal salvation. I will say again that when the word saved is used it doesn’t always mean eternally. A verse that I think is obviously not talking about eternal salvation would be, “Save yourself from this untoward generation.”

    Another question I would ask is, if our faith/belief gets us to the “final step” then could not our unbelief move us away?

    Some more thoughts,
    Philip

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  50. Mike,

    If the gospel was part of the eternal salvation of God’s people then would babies not have to go to hell? I guess that is my question restated.

    Philip

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  51. Philip,

    All of 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 is talking about the gospel and how it saves people. Paul was using how the unsaved looked at the gospel message as foolishness, but GOD CHOSE THE FOOLISHNESS OF THE MESSAGE TO SAVE PEOPLE! In this instance this is talking about eternal salvation.

    We are justified by faith Philip. What you are describing is election and what God did to setup our justification, etc. However, we are justified when we believe God. Do not confuse regeneration with justification. Regeneration enables belief and frees us from our old Sin Nature, etc. However, we are not justified until we repent and believe.

    The question about babies is unanswerable because the Bible is silent on this. Therefore, we aren’t going there.

    You say you have a hard time relating to the fact that the gospel is necessary for salvation. If so, then why are be commanded to preach it? Why did Paul suffer for it. It is necessary.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  52. Mike,

    The Gospel is preached to bring light to what God has done for us. Is the preaching of the gospel not a work of man? Where is the gospel preached to the old testament Saints?

    I would lean toward that babies are saved. I wouldn’t argue one way or the other I don’t guess. But I believe in Samuel one of David’s child dies and he morns the whole time he is sick, after the baby dies He says it is in the Lords hand now. You may know that story, I don’t remeber exactly where it is though. That has a lot to do with my leaning I guess.

    Philip

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  53. Philip,

    The Gospel is preached to do as you say AND to show sinners whom God is saving their separation from Him because of their sin. This is what brings them to repentance. How did Abraham get saved? Paul uses him as our example of being justified by faith. He believed God. The passage about David saying that he was going to be with his child who died uses the word SHEOL for where that is. That is the Hebrew word for grave.

    I heard a sermon several years ago about how Old Testament Saints were saved. They were saved just like we are. They believed God. Samuel worked in the tabernacle of God several years before he knew God. Those who are saved in the O.T. are referred are often referred to as Knowing God.

    Since Calvary, God has chosen the preaching of the Gospel as the means of bringing people to belief. I am not saying, and you should know this by now, that it is the preaching itself that saves anyone. God uses the truth of the GOSPEL so that lost people who hear it will REASON as the Holy Spirit works in their hearts. Those God regenerates believe and repent. Those He doesn’t don’t. You are leaning towards the fact that belief and repentance are not necessary for salvation. Yes they are. All whom God regenerates will repent and believe.

    Saved people need to hear it as well so they can examine themselves and rejoice and worship God because of the great work He has done in their hearts.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  54. Mike,

    Repent means turn from, right. Repentance is something that needs done daily, is it not. Even though the putting away of the sins was done on the cross, efectually our sins are forgiven as we ask for that forgiveness. I wouldn’t want to say that god causes us to repent. That is something we are commanded to do. I don’t think that all repent of there sins. If we said that repentance was necessary to eternal salvation then we would need to be eternally saved daily. I do believe that all of God’s children will in some way have faith that God has saved them.

    Another thing I would hate to say that someone didn’t go to heaven because we didn’t do our duty to preach the Gospel.

    Philip

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  55. Here is a Biblical example that may help in this discussion. In Paul’s case, hearing the Gospel message alone did not convert Saul (surnamed Paul). Saul heard the Gospel message being preached and thought it was blasphemy.

    And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any OF THIS WAY, whether they were men or woman, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem (Acts 9:12 KJV).

    At that time Saul was a devote believer in (Jehovah) God and the whole Old Testament, (books of Moses, the Psalms of David, the proverbs of Solomon, the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and all the minor prophets), and even after all this Old Testament knowledge, Saul (Paul) still went around persecuting Christians in the name of God! He had even sat at the feet of the great Bible teacher of that day, Gamaliel. Which tells me that the true Gospel was hidden from men in the Old Testament.

    How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages WAS NOT MADE KNOWN unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets BY THE SPIRIT; (Ephesians 3:3-5 KJV).

    Later though something happened in Saul’s (surnamed Paul) life that so radically changed him that the Bible says that he now preached the faith that he once destroyed.

    But they had heard only, that he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed (Galatians 1:23 KJV).

    WHAT CHANGED? The gospel message was the SAME! The gospel message hadn’t changed. What changed Paul and turned his life totally around was meeting the one who the Gospel was talking about and having the witness of the Holy Spirit enter into him. Now Paul’s writings are considered every bit as divinely inspired as the Old Testament prophets’ words are!

    For our gospel CAME NOT unto you IN WORD ONLY, but also IN POWER, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake (1 Thessalonians 1:5 KJV).

    Before the sudden apperance of Jesus to Paul on the road to Damascus, the Gospel message was considered blasphemey by Paul, after that sudden meeting with Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit, the Gospel became “the power of God unto salvation” to Paul.

    So many focus on the witness of the Word that they forget the witness of the Spirit is required also.

    The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Romans 8:16).

    Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given of us his Spirit (1 John 4:13 KJV).

    And there are three that bear witness in the earth, THE SPIRIT, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one (1 John 5:8 KJV).

    Whether or not we have “ears to hear” the Gospel message is up to discretion of the Lord.

    John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven (John 3:27 KJV).

    It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For JESUS KNEW FROM THE BEGINNING who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that NO MAN CAN COME unto me, EXCEPT IT WAS GIVEN UNTO HIM OF MY FATHER . From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him (John 6:63-66 KJV).

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  56. Philip,

    The act of turning to Jesus as Lord and away from our way of living is the repentance which is coupled with belief. We are saved by GRACE through faith. We repent after regeneration because we are now capable of repenting. No one can repent this way that is not regenerate. We are commanded to be obedient to all of God’s commands. Are we capable of 100% obedience. No. We sin. But as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling then we mature in grace and walk in repentance. Saving faith and repentance are coupled together inseparably. It is through this that we are justified. We walk in repentance, but that is talking about sanctification not our justification.

    Our sins after salvation don’t condemn us to Hell. Instead, they sever our fellowship with God until we repent. That’s what 1 John 1:9 is all about.

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  57. Frank,

    Yes, I would never disagree that it is our regeneration that takes the gospel and makes it effectual. It takes both. Just preaching it and just hearing it is not going to save anyone. But, when God sends His power to regenerate us then we do believe. It may not be right when we hear the gospel, it may be later, like it was for me and like it was for Paul, but it is still in our minds and hearts and is used by the Holy Spirit as He regenerates our Hearts so that we DO Repent and Believe.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  58. Hello Mike,

    Another good discussion. I think I understand the positions where both you and Philip are coming from.The Bible also claims that Jesus turns us from are inquities and that repentance is also listed as gift of God.

    Unto you fisrt God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away everyone of you from his iniquites (Acts 3:26 KJV).

    And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will GIVE THEM REPENTANCE to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Tim 2:24-26 KJV).

    About the baby question. There is scripture showing that God makes descisions about the future of babies even before they are born when sin is not even in question. Apparently sin is not the determning factor when God deals with babies. According to Romans 9:11-13, the point is probably moot that you can change the child’s future anyway, even by infant baptism. It’s future is still in the hands of God. No matter what topics you dicuss in the Bible, it always comes back to the Soverignty of God’s will over man’s will.

    For the children being not yet born, NEITHER HAVING DONE ANY GOOD OR EVIL, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; It is said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau HAVE I HATED (Romans 9:11-13).

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  59. I feel like we are trying to lump the word justified into one meaning. And saying that everytime the word is used it is used as a legal justification. I feel that we are doing the same thing with the word saved. Thinking that everytime the word is used it means eternally. Is there not salvation in hearing the good news. My wife is due to have a baby now anytime. I know now that my baby has physical life. I can see and feel her moving around. Having a baby is scary thing. Many things can happen during that process. When she finally gets here I will be so relieved to know that she is healty and be able to get to know her. Even though she has life now, It is real yet. You know what I’m saying. When she gets here that life will be made known unto all. The baby will have been saved. WHAT!!! Is the room that they go to not a delivery room. Is the baby not being delivered. The baby is alive now. She will be no more alive when she gets here then she is right now. What she will have is the love that we now have for her will be much more effectual. She will be able to feel it. She will be able to enjoy life as we do. This also is what we are able to do when we hear and understand the gospel. We are then able to enjoy the life that we already had. The love that God has for us becomes more real. My wife is a very strong individual, she doesn’t plan on using any pain medication for this, trying to go all natural. To think what she is going through by love. Just as Christ bore all the pain for us on the cross to assure his children a place in heaven. God didn’t ever say anything about predestining anything in life except our place in heaven. The Gospel is a temporal salvation. It brings us joy here in this life. I’m going to try and write an article tomorrow afternoon along this line on my site. I would enjoy any comments on it. oldbaptist.wordpress.com

    Philip

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  60. Dear brethren,

    The discussion seems to be very interesting and I pray that the Spirit of God will use these to strengthen all those involved as well as those who browse through. I just want to encourage all of you as you seek to grasp the mystery
    of the Gospel that saves anyone who “calls on the name of the Lord (Jesus Christ)”, “believes on the Lord Jesus Christ”.

    I have no problem with the sinner’s prayer. For me it is one way of expressing your faith in Jesus, admitting your helplessness (sinfulness, wretchedness) and your need for God’s grace and mercy. It is not the words, but the attitude of surrender and total dependence on God’s grace that matters. It is one’s faith that makes salvation effectual in his/her life. Salvation is a package (gift) that God is offering to mankind. Only those who respond positively and act on it (expressive response) receive it. I should believe that God has something worthwhile to offer to me as a solution to my dilemma, I should be willing to go to Him and express my desire to have it since I realized there is no other place I can find the solution and I should accept it thankfully. This is what makes the process. It may be humbling (if not humiliating) to some, it may hurt their pride and ego. Some may have apprehensions about their obligations in response to accepting this gift. But one has to come to a point of decision and be willing to stick with it. No fooling God! It may be something like the water in a ‘drinking water dispenser’. It is stored in the tank for anyone who wishes to drink. But they need to operate the tap with faith to have the drink.

    Regarding the need for preaching, we may look at the parable of the seed (Mat.13; Mk.4; Lk.8). The Sower scatters the seed and it falls on different kinds of grounds. It shows the responses from people to the preaching of the Gospel. Only the good ground brings forth fruit. Others may or may not accept the seed. The Spirit of God quickens the seed to sprout. It is again the Spirit of God who prepares the ground with the rain of grace and faith. The seed is always accompanied by the Spirit, because it is the ’sword of the Spirit’ (Heb.4:12; Eph.6:17) and it is the ‘power of God unto salvation’ (1Cor.1:18). It will not return void, but accomplish its purpose at the appointed time (Isa.55:11). But the worker has to sow the seed, that is his call. Apostle Paul was a thorny hard ground till the Spirit of God mellowed him down on the way to Damascus.

    Regarding the salvation of babies or people who have not heard the Gospel message, no one can have conclusive answer, since the Bible doesn’t give such an answer. We need to leave it to the unimaginable grace of God who loved sinful mankind and gave His own son for a ransom. But God will not accept this as an excuse for not communicating the Gospel message or not living Godly lives.

    God Bless all those who browsed through or participated in these discussions. May you be rooted in faith and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. May God be glorified through all our lives. Amen!

    In Christ,

    Joji

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  61. Joji,

    The problem with the sinner’s prayer is if it is not used judiciously. If we give people the impression that saying the prayer saves them then we are leading people into deception. On the other hand, saying a prayer to God at salvation is great, but it must come from the heart not simply reciting some words from a tract or repeating after someone. That was what I was trying to say in this post.

    Thanks for the great comment.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  62. Philip,

    I understand what you are saying, BUT we are discussing salvation from the wrath to come here. We are talking about God saving His people from His own wrath. That comes via justification by faith alone.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  63. Philip,

    21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21 ESV)

    So are you asking me to explain 1 Corinthians 1:21? The Holy Spirit takes the Gospel as we hear it and works in our Hearts with it. You are asking me to explain something that God does and didn’t bother to tell us how. Of course it is the Holy Spirit who effectually calls people to salvation. According to that and other verses we see that it through the preaching of the Gospel that God brings this about. Ask him Philip.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  64. 1. If we are not justified until we believe, what are we to believe? If we are to believe that Christ’s blood is applicable to us, but it is not until we believe, then we are to believe a falsehood to make it true. It is not true until we believe it. So, we believe a lie to make it truth. There’s no logic in that.

    2. Romans 3:24 says, “being justified freely by His grace..” If we are justified freely, than it is without condition on our part, be that believing or anything else. James 2:21-24 talks of a justification by works. Obviously then, there must be more than one type of justification.

    3. Christ “was raised again for our justification.” in Romans 4:25. Was He, or was He not? If He was raised again for our justification, we were declared righteous when He was raised again. If declared righteous before God, we need not be declared righteous in that court again. He was either raised again for our justification, or He was not.

    4. As His Resurrection in Romans 4:25 was the declaration of our righteousness, his blood procured righteousness for us. Romans 5:10 says that “we were reconciled to God by the death of His son,” and verse 9 says we are “justified by His blood.” Well, if Christ accomplished the making righteous of those for whom He died with His blood, and we are now reconciled to God, and God publicly stated that He accepted the offering by Christ’s resurrection, then no power can undo that justification, or call it incomplete. Once again, He either accomplished it, or He did not.

    5. Ephesians 2:15&16 says that Christ made us one with God, and made peace for us with God. So then, the argument that God views us as objects of His wrath until some action takes place by us denies that Christ made peace. Consider this. God does not grant good gifts to those whom He does not consider justified. In the new birth, we are granted a life that will never die. i.e. eternal life. So then, is their argument to be that God gives eternal life to someone before He legally considers them to be justified? How can He give a good gift to one that He has not said is righteous? If so, He then denies His own justness, for in the granting of faith to them in regeneration, He declares them to be righteous. (see Gal.3:8 and Rom.3:30).

    6. Belief is a good work, in fact, a righteous work. So then, if Titus 3:5-7 is true, how can we be justified before God by our righteous work? Titus very plainly says we cannot.

    7. We are justified eternally/legally by the faithfulness of, not in, Jesus Christ (if referring to our part). We are experientially justified by belief. Galatians 2:16.

    8. Isaiah 53:11 says “shall Thy righteous servant justify many…” If He justifies us, are we still lacking in legal justification before God?

    9. In regard to the argument that those under the law had a different faith than we do, consider this. Abraham’s faith was the same as ours (see Galatians 3:9), but he didn’t have the Gospel as we have it. Why, because God giveth to every man “the measure of faith.” All have the same measure. Not many measures or different faiths, but “the.” If so, then all infants, adults, those before the Cross, and those after the Cross have that same gift of faith implanted in them in the new birth. Belief cannot come without faith being there first.

    These are thoughts from a dear friend of mine. I thought I would share them with you.

    May God bless,
    Philip

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  65. Philip,

    1 What is it that we believe? Are you kidding? First, we finally understand that we are utterly lost and unable to save ourselves unless God saves us. We believe God that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. Your logic makes no sense. What do you mean that we are to believe a falsehood to make it true. Where did anyone ever state that? We believe that Jesus is our Saviour, our propitiation for our sins and that God will save us if we repent and believe.

    2 Justification is one but it is many-manifold as God’s grace is many-manifold. Do not try to split these up into various forms of justification and grace. You will end up doing what you are doing in trying to nullify the gospel as the means of our justification.

    3 You don’t really believe this do you? You know that that statement is not saying that once Jesus was raised the Elect were Justified. The word “for” tells us that this is our provision for justification not the practical fulfillment of it

    4 Yes He accomplished it, but the answer is the same as my answer for #3.

    5 The “us” Paul is talking about are Christians. They are already in Christ. Cart before the Horse.

    6 Belief is a good work if it was ours. But Ephesians 2:8-9 says that it is a gift from God which makes it His work that we are able to believe.

    7 That one I can agree with some. Perhaps a better way to state this is that we are Justified in Christ by His works, and efficaciously by faith. There is way to much evidence in Paul’s writings to say that we are not justified by faith. The burden of proof is on those would say otherwise.

    8 Not a valid supposition. That verse simply says that many will be justified.

    9 I have never said that Abraham had a different faith than we do. I said he had the same faith we do. He believed God. He was justified by faith. To say that the gospel wasn’t preached in the Old Testament is false. Abraham was promised that his seed would accomplish what Jesus did. He believed God and it was accounted to Him as Righteousness.

    Much of these thoughts are saying the work Jesus did saved you and me without is doing anything. However, Paul is very clear that people believe by hearing the gospel through which God justifies them. We cannot say that positional work is efficacious until God makes it happen. I believe that is what you and your friend are doing. Yes, all of Christ’s work accomplished it all. It is done. No argument from me, but it is not efficacious in our lives until we are justified by faith.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  66. So you are saying that the death on the cross doesn’t have the power to produce the effect it was intended until we believe??? So the power of man is greater than that of God. Interesting thought.

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  67. Philip,

    What? I never said any such thing. Here is what I said, “Yes, all of Christ’s work accomplished it all. It is done. No argument from me, but it is not efficacious in our lives until we are justified by faith.” Who justifies? Is it us? Nope. It is God. Who saves? It is God. Think of Christ’s saving work as done, but not “fulfilled” or “completed” until God justifies us. That is all I am saying. You are saying there is no reason to preach the gospel even though we are commanded to do so. You are saying the gospel is not necessary, but the Bible clearly says that people are saved by hearing it. I am not denying what you are saying about Christ’s work being complete. I am denying what you are implying that we are justified any other way except by faith.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  68. I am not denying that we are justified by faith. But it can not be the putting away of our sins. That had to be done on the cross of Calvary. Justified has two meanings. It can mean to make righteous or to declare righteousness. Faith is a declaration of the work already done. Faith is a fruit of the Spirit. We must have the Spirit, (Spiritual Life), in order to bear that fruit. We have to have life to bear fruit. Dead things don’t bear fruit. Forgive my synonim, and spelling, but what you are saying is that a tree isn’t a tree until it bears fruit. That can’t be true! What fatih does is justifies that an apple tree is an apple tree. We are justified that we are a child of God because we bore the fruit of God. The fruit doesn’t make us a child of God it only justifies that we are.

    I don’t deny that the gospel should be preached. Never done that. I have seen the work of God displayed in the preaching of the gospel in my own life. I spend most of my weekend driving miles to hear the Gospel. I’m driving to Alabama which is a day away just to visit with God’s people and hear the same Gospel preached that we hear at home. We have friends all over the country because of the unity that the gospel brings to his people. I love to hear the gospel preached. Without the gospel I’d have a hard time following after God daily and remembering that which he has done for me as clearly. The Gospel is preached as I have said and you have agreed with many of times to bring life and immortality to light. It makes known the good things that were done for us.

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  69. Philip,

    No, I’m not saying that a tree isn’t a tree until it bears fruit. The faith that justifies us is given to us by our Regeneration. That is proved in the exegesis of Ephesians 2:8-9. I have a real hard time understanding why you can’t see that it is by believing and repenting that we are saved since the faith which causes that is a gift from God. So, yes we are justified by faith ALONE!, but that faith is the faith God gives us.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  70. I believe we have taken this discussion just about as far as it needs to go. Philip (Oldbaptist) thank you for the discussion and stretching my thought processes with your posts. Please forgive me for my abruptness and tendency to not make myself clear as I should. I pray that the Lord will keep you and bless you.

    Comments are now closed for this post.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  71. Pingback: Final Answer: The Sinner’s Prayer Is Not Only Unnecessary For Salvation, It May Not Be Expedient! « Heal The Land With Spiritual Warfare

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