A resolution was presented at the Southern Baptist Convention a few years ago which contained the following:
WHEREAS, God desires for every person to be saved and has made salvation available for any person who hears the Gospel (John 3:16; Romans 10:14-17; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2); and
WHEREAS, A free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel is both possible and necessary in order for anyone to be born again (John 3:1-16; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13); and
WHEREAS, Prayer is God’s gracious means through which any person can communicate with Him and is everywhere in Scripture commanded and commended for every matter and every person (2 Chronicles 7:14; Matthew 7:7-11; Mark 11:17; Philippians 4:6); and
WHEREAS, Praying to God to express repentance for sins, to acknowledge Christ as Lord, and to ask for forgiveness and salvation is modeled in the Bible (Acts 2:37-38; Romans 10:9-10); and
WHEREAS, While there is no one uniform wording found in Scripture or in the churches for a “Sinner’s Prayer,” the prayer of repentance and faith, acknowledging salvation through Christ alone and expressing complete surrender to His Lordship, is the biblical means by which any person can turn from sin and self, place his faith in Christ, and find forgiveness and eternal life (Luke 18:9-14, 23:39-43); and
WHEREAS, It is biblically appropriate to help a sinner in calling on the Lord for salvation and to speak of Christ’s response to such a prayer as “entering a sinner’s heart and life” (John 14:23; Acts 2:37-40; 16:29-30; Romans 10:11-17; Ephesians 3:17); and
WHEREAS, A “Sinner’s Prayer” is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel (Matthew 6:7, 15:7-9; 28:18-20); now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in New Orleans, LA, June 19-20, 2012, commend the use of a “Sinner’s Prayer” as a biblically sound and spiritually significant component of the evangelistic task of the church; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage all Christians to enthusiastically and intentionally proclaim the Gospel to sinners everywhere, being prepared to give them the reason for the hope we have in Christ (I Peter 3:15), and being prepared to lead them to confess faith in Christ (Romans 10:9), including praying to receive Him as Savior and Lord (John 1:12).
The above resolution was written by Dr. Eric Hankins, Pastor of the
First Baptist Church in Oxford, Mississippi
Though also written many years ago, A.W. Tozer had this to say on the “Sinner’s Prayer:”
There are many variations, with different lengths, different wordings, different endings, etc., but the contents are usually the same. The prayer usually includes phrases like, “Dear Jesus,” “Come into my heart,” “I admit I have sinned” (at least the better ones contain this last statement – there are some who do not even like to mention sin in their “sinner’s prayer”), “Fill me with Your Spirit,” “In Jesus’ name. Amen.” Extremely harmless…nothing wrong with a prayer like that, right? Wrong! It isn’t the wording that’s important, it’s the state of the heart of the one saying it.
I believe that a true “sinner’s prayer” will gush out of anyone who is truly seeking God and is tired of being enslaved to sin. (Matthew 5:6) The very act of “leading someone in a prayer” is utterly ridiculous. You will find nothing even remotely like it in the Bible, or among the writings and biographies of those in Church history. It completely savors of crowd and peer pressure tactics, and (please forgive me) brainwashing techniques. I do not believe that Jesus wants to have his disciples “repeat after Me,” I believe He wants them to follow after Him! (Matthew 4:19, Matthew 8:22, Matthew 9:9, Matthew 16:24, Matthew 19:21; Luke 9:59, John 12:26, John 21:19,22; 1 Peter 2:21, Revelation 14:4)
Take a look at this short video from David Platt on “The Sinner’s Prayer:”
In summary, David says:
“I’m convinced that many people in our churches are simply missing the life of Christ. And a lot of it has to do with what we’ve sold them as the Gospel. I.E. Prayer this prayer, accept Jesus into your heart, invite Christ into your life. Should it not concern us that there is no such superstitious prayer in the New Testament?
Should it not concern us that the Bible never uses the phrase “accept Jesus into your heart,” or “invite Jesus into your life?” It’s not the Gospel we see being preached. It’s modern evangelism built on sinking sand and it runs the risk of disillusioning millions of souls. It’s a very dangerous thing, to lead people to think they are Christian when they have not biblically responded to the Gospel. If we’re not careful, we’ll take the life blood out of Christianity and put cool-aid in its place. It’s not just dangerous, it’s just damming.
Keith Green, famous Christian Gospel singer, co-authored some “WiseTracts,” which are still used by the The Billy Graham Association, Focus on the Family, The Salvation Army and many others. In one of those, he said:
“The greatest reason I believe that God can be grieved with the current use of such tools as the “altar call” and “sinner’s prayer” is because they can take away the conviction of the Holy Spirit prematurely, before the Spirit has time to work repentance leading to salvation. With an emotional splash that usually doesn’t last more than a few weeks, we believe we’re leading people into the Kingdom, when really we’re leading many to hell – by interfering with what the Spirit of God is trying to do in a person’s life. Do you hear? Do you understand that this constitutes “spiritual abortion”? Can’t you see the eternal consequences of jumping the gun, trying to bring to birth a baby that isn’t ready?”
Finally, Matt Chandler had this to say regarding the sinner’s prayer:
“We’ve taken Christianity and boiled it down to witchcraft. We give them this little card and say “pray this sinner’s prayer and you’re in. And so the people quote that thing, it’s like a mantra, put on the cloak, bring in the lamb, and quote after me…”
The most common objection I (Miguel) hear in support of using the sinner’s prayer is that we need to give people an opportunity to respond to the Gospel. To which I respond:
“It’s not our job to give people an opportunity to respond to the Gospel, it’s our job to give people the Gospel. It’s not our job to make them repeat after us in a prayer of salvation, it’s our job to proclaim the way of salvation. It’s not our job to get others to “confess that Jesus is Lord,” it’s our job to make disciples that live a life of confessing the mystery of godliness; That “He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, and taken up into glory.”
This a a repost from 2012…
Also a recent survey of people who have at one time prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer’ suggests that 85% of them have walked away from the faith permanently, in their own estimation.
Is it really time to breathe life back into this unbiblical and potentially dangerous
practice, or should we just let it die with dignity?