The Battle On the Sinner’s Prayer

There is no sinner’s prayer in the Bible.

The Bible never says that anyone should accept Jesus into their hearts.

That may seen surprising to you if you’ve been involved in church for a long time.  It may be confusing since guys like me have spent years and thousands of dollars hoping and praying that people would find faith in Christ through praying a prayer to ask Him into their hearts.  How did we come to this point?  Is this really a controversy?

In the past few years, we seen guys like David Platt and Paul Washer REALLY challenge the scriptural basis for asking Jesus into your heart.

I’ve always believed the idea of asking Jesus into your heart with a sinner’s prayer was present in the scriptures even though it doesn’t say that exactly.  I’ve NEVER felt that I was leading anyone astray by telling them that salvation is a one time decision that happens with repenting of your sins and putting your faith into Christ/asking Him into your life.  I’ve seen a lot of YouTube clips and Podcast speaking against this type of thinking (like the ones above), but have never seen anyone do a defense of the act until now.  Steve Gaines does an incredible job of giving a basis for having someone ask Christ into their life.  He uses many scriptures in defending this practice.  Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Center of Theological Research at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary also writes about the theology behind this phrase. Both of these are great resources for people offering an invitation.

I agree most with Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham’s grandson) that just repeating words doesn’t save you.  We could get anyone to repeat words.  It is repentance and that inward decision to accept what Jesus has done for us.  I do think we should seek to use scriptural language, but I don’t think the ‘sinner’s prayer’ or ‘asking Jesus into your hearts’ is bad as long as it is with scripture and clear communication of the Gospel.

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