When we were pondering many of the teachings of Charles Finney, Andrew Murray, R. A. Torrey, A. B. Simpson, Smith Wigglesworth, and D. L. Moody recently, we wondered, Where did we get some of the traditions that we practice today? Have we ever questioned “WHY” we do things different today than in years gone by? Where did we get the method of leading people to salvation that is predominantly used today?
When we were researching and writing our recent book, Heaven Bound, we were shocked to hear what Billy Graham and two former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention had to say:
“Up to 90% of our church members are not born again!”
If that is true in the Baptist church, could it also be true in the charismatic, Pentecostal, and other evangelical churches? The more we researched, the more we realized that there has been a radical departure from elementary, foundational truths!
First, we asked the question concerning the “sinner’s prayer,” which is more often than not used in churches, on street corners, and elsewhere, and repeated by millions of people to supposedly get people born again. The origination of this type of prayer is attributed to D. L. Moody, primarily to count the number of “decisions for Christ.”
In the past 60 or 70 years, evangelists (and many others) have used a similar prayer that they often take people through and then they are considered “saved,” or essentially, on their way to heaven. Unfortunately, a “sinner’s prayer” is found nowhere in the Bible and just saying a simple prayer of this nature does not guarantee any of us that we are heaven bound.
Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19 to “make disciples.” We were never told to take people through a sinner’s prayer and then add up the numbers and count them as converts. Some who say the sinner’s prayer do end up becoming disciples of Christ, but certainly not everyone. Some simply go on sinning as if nothing had changed in their life. Jesus said, “Follow Me.” We cannot walk in darkness and follow Jesus at the same time!
It is doing people a disservice to lead them to believe they are born again if all they did is say a short prayer. It is deceiving people to lead them to believe they are heaven bound when they are not following and obeying Jesus’ commandments. Many in the church today are deceived into thinking they are okay and on their way, when according to the Word of God, they are not!
The apostle Peter put it like this: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” – 1 Peter 4:17-18
This is why our recent release, Heaven Bound, was written—to expose several of the misconceptions that have been perpetuated in the church today. Many believe that once they say the sinner’s prayer, nothing can keep them out of heaven, no matter what kind of lifestyle they lead. It is one of the biggest lies the enemy has told the people of God. There is much more we could say here to refute this deception, but we encourage you instead to get a copy of Heaven Bound for yourself.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:13, “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” He requires faithfulness and obedience.
How do we know that? Because Jesus also said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My father in heaven.”
If you once said the “sinner’s prayer,” but you have never followed through with following Jesus (giving your life fully to the Lord,) it is not too late. If you pray in your own words (from the heart) a prayer of repentance today, the Lord will meet you where you are, and will lead and guide you as you determine in your heart to follow Him, to obey Him, and to “endure to the end,” as He gives you the grace to do so.