Galations 2:20-21

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." Galations 2:20-21

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sinner's Prayer

While Reading the book of Acts the other day, I realized the people who were believing in Christ were getting baptized right away-immediately. It's like the two went hand in hand. Baptism was their first confession of faith. I want be clear that I am NOT implying salvation by baptism. What I really want to point out is that it seems that salvation and baptism were very closely linked. It's like you wouldn't think of one without the other. I wonder if the "sinners prayer" has now replaced baptism or at least the significance of it.

A lot of times at the end of a sermon a pastor will say something this, "if you have never received Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and would like to today, please pray this prayer with me: 'Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen'"( Most likely this person will leave church that day without anyone else knowing they prayed this prayer.

I remember as a child I would pray a prayer similar to this every month or so for a while. I just wanted to "make sure" I was okay with God. Maybe the real question is what does it mean to be saved? But that's a different post for a different day.

Another thing to point out is that the first century Christians immediately starting telling everyone they knew and met about Jesus after being baptized. The gospel was just gushing out of these people. Why have we strayed from this practice? Why do a lot of Christians today wait months or even years to get baptized after being saved (me being one of them)? Thoughts?


Rachael said...

I'm nodding along with you - I think the significance of baptism has been hugely downplayed in the evangelical church (i'm in favor of infant baptism actually and for adult converts baptism within the first year or so of conversion - after they have received some discipleship training in what it means to be a Christian and are ready to more formally 'take their vows' as it were - I view baptism as equivalent to a marriage ceremony - a public declaration of lifelong commitment to a relationship with God and the Body of Christ).

I also agree that the sinner's prayer has been turned into a kind of sacrament by which people think they magically are 'saved' regardless of what they actually believe or how they actually live.

I also don't like the coercion often present at altar calls - especially when presented to young people in an atmosphere of huge emotion and spiritual peer pressure. I think it can lead to spiritual confusion and disillusionment just like you stated - the emphasis becomes on making sure you 'prayed it right' and doing it again and again, and it can really rob a young person of spiritual joy and freedom in Christ.

Anonymous said...

I agree with rachael.

It's my opinion that there's a social stigmatism attached to being that girl/guy who's always going around appearing as a "bible-beater". I believe the key difference between now and then is that Now, it's not socially accepted so much as tolerated for people of any religion really to spread it around. I think it's something everyone might want but no one wants to face at the cost of other peoples (i.e. family, close friends, co-workers, acquaintances) views of them. I thin people are just afraid of being outcast.

As for myself, I waited a long times to be baptized truly. I was baptized at birth, at 6 years of age and at 17(or was it 18?). I made the decision because I felt it was time to own up to something that I had always felt; a deep-seated faith and belief that God does exist, that he had a son born to living flesh to spend 33 years on this sin-soaked earth in perfect purity just to be thanklessly killed by a matter of uninformed public opinion. By the people he died to save. I'll never forget it and I'll never deny it happened or the fact of who he is. Some days (maybe most days) I'll falter but I'll never turn my back.
To sum that up, I say let it be until someone reaches out for it on their own.


Dave said...

good thoughts. and a lot more came to mind as I read. one stands out the most, you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing - thinking. and that's all i'm gonna share ;)

The Not So Simple LIfe said...

Wow, thanks for the comments! I now have some more to think about and probably post about in the future :)

Leanne said...

I was not baptized as a child though my brothers both were (I believe). My parents attended a church that went though a split and they left with a group of people to form another church. That church went through various transitions. Their new pastor had a program on Moody Radio. We spent a GREAT deal of time focusing on the New Testament and in particular the writings of Paul. This church believed in a dry baptism or dedication rite. Growing up, I was involved with Awana programs and attended a Christian camp in Wisconsin for several summers. Reflecting back on these childhood experiences, I can remember hearing the "Sinners Prayer." As I child, I think I was fairly lost in my faith and what I believed (and actually understood).

Brad and I have been attending a small Episcopal church in our neighborhood for about three years now. In 2006, we attended an Inquirer's Class to learn more about our faith, the Anglican Communion and the St. John's community. I chose to be baptized at the Easter Vigil service at St. James Cathedral. Rev. Kara and Brad were my sponsors. Brad was "received" into the Episcopal Church. He chose to be received because he was baptized as a child in the Catholic Church.