Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Does the 'Sinner's Prayer' do more harm than good?

 

....what do you think?


In my last SC Letter (JAS 2) I made a statement in my intro that elicited the following response.
 
Thank you Jack.  Interested in your comment re not being a fan of the
sinners prayer.  Have heard this spoken of before, could you elaborate
please.  Thanks.
 
Hello Angela (not her real name)
 
Thank you for your question. I appreciate you making the effort to ask.
 
First, I want to say that I love praying with a person who is genuinely
repentant. Who knows what they are embracing when they choose to become a
follower of Jesus. I believe prayer - the Christian praying and (hopefully)
the convert praying - sets a seal on their commitment. But, here's my
problem 'the sinner's prayer'....
 
In our country only between 3% and 5% of children attend a Sunday School.
So, we have a growing population who know very little about the demands of
the true Gospel. These Christianity-ignorant people are encouraged to repeat
this prayer - the so-called altar call - at the conclusion of many church
services. After repeating the prayer, the congregation claps and the
pray-ers are told they are now forgiven and on their way to heaven.
 
Now, for somebody who has faced the challenge of the changed life style that they
will face, who has been under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and who has
a genuinely repentant heart, this can be, and I'm sure in many cases it has
been, their moment of salvation. BUT, for somebody who has had no dealings
with God and no knowledge of the claims of the Gospel, it can be a disaster
(though of course the Holy Spirit's miracle power isn't limited). But disaster
in this sense.  When the 'glow' of the meeting fades or the evangelist adds
another notch to his belt, and the realities of life come face-to-face with
the disciplines demanded by God's Word there will likely be a spiritual
meltdown. Then, If the person walks away from their 'decision', their
understanding will probably be, "I've tried being a Christian and it didn't
work for me." Like being inoculated with a 'shot' of the Gospel that now
gives them immunity from embracing the real deal.
 
When we look at the people in the Gospels who became followers of Jesus,
there's a tremendous variety in the way they came to faith. Think of each the 12
apostles; Zacchaeus; the thief on the cross; blind Bartimaeus; Levi;
(Matthew) etc.. They all heard the 'call' of Jesus, but in each instance it
was very different. Not a one-size-fits-all pattern.
 
A survey in the UK of the amount of time it took from a person beginning to
consider the claims of Jesus, to the moment of true decision, was
approximately four years.  I believe this proves that, as Jonah prayed,
"Salvation is of the Lord." And we could add, it is not of man.
 
Angela, I hope this goes some way to answering your question. Please write
to me if what I have written is not clear, or you have
issue with.
 
I'm very interested in everybody's thoughts/beliefs/convictions
 
You're free to pass on this SC Letter 
 
Jack
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 



 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 











 



 

 

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