June 29, 2013

Praying For Salvation – Philip Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:07 pm by sranderson0103

Can one simply pray for salvation and receive it?  Is reciting “the sinner’s prayer” what God requires of us for salvation?  As always, the answers are to be found not by making sweeping declarations, but by examining what the Bible actually says.  What I, or any man, thinks, preaches, or teaches carries no weight whatsoever unless the Word of God confirms it. So, let’s take a look….

There is no New Testament passage that instructs an alien sinner to simply pray for salvation, but there are four important examples that need to be considered- and each one has a vital lesson to be learned.

The first occurs in Acts 2, on the occasion of the first gospel preaching done publically after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.  The crowd on Pentecost, through the sermon by Peter and the other apostles, became convicted of their sin(s) of having crucified Jesus.  They asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  They didn’t ask what to feel, or even experience, but what to do, understanding that salvation required activity on their part.  Were they told to say “the sinner’s prayer,” or “accept Jesus into their hearts”?  No, they were told to “Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins…” Acts 2:38.

Secondly, consider Simon in Acts 8.  He was definitely told to “pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart might be forgiven you” in the last part of v.22.  But there are a couple of vital considerations here also.  In the first part of the verse, he was told to “repent of this wickedness of yours and pray….”.  So, praying wasn’t the only thing required. However, it should also be noted that Simon had already been saved by belief and baptism, just like the rest of the Samaritans, vv.12-13.  Peter’s command for him to pray for forgiveness was as a fallen Christian coming back to Christ, not a sinner coming to Christ for the first time.

The third important example related to “praying for salvation” is found in Acts 10.  It is obvious that Cornelius was a “devout man, and who feared God…and prayed to God continually,” v.2.  For what was he praying?  While we are not told specifically, the object of his petitions becomes apparent from the response of God to them.  In v.4 he was told by God’s messenger, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.”  Then he was told to send for Peter.  Why?  Cornelius was devout, benevolent, and prayerful already- wasn’t this enough for salvation?  Evidently not, for when Peter arrived, the text says, “He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ,” v.48.  Cornelius, a believer, was evidently praying for salvation (undoubtedly among other things also), so God sent Peter to him that he might obey that which was still lacking: his baptism in Jesus Christ.

And finally, Saul of Tarsus is the fourth of our examples.  Saul had been a persecutor of Jesus and the church, Acts 9:1-2,5.  Then Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, vv.3-5.  But note carefully the words of Jesus to him in v.6, “but arise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.”  Having this great personal experience with the King of kings, and even conversing with Him directly, did not fulfill Saul’s spiritual need with regard to salvation.  So, he got up and went into Damascus as instructed, and spent three days and nights fasting and praying, vv.9,11.  Did this praying remit his sins and provide salvation?  When God’s messenger Ananias arrived to tell Saul what he must do, what did he instruct?  Notice the testimony of Paul (the Greek equivalent of “Saul”) on this point from Acts 22:16 when he recounts what God’s messenger told him, “And now why do you delay?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”   Ananias did not tell Paul to pray for salvation – he told him to be baptized for salvation.  Though Paul had seen and conversed with the Lord personally, and now, as a believer in Jesus, had spent three days fasting and praying, he was told to be baptized to “wash away his sins.” 

I realize that many today are told to “Pray the Sinner’s Prayer” or “Accept/Invite Jesus into your heart” to be saved, I just can’t find anyone in the New Testament who was told to do that.  What I do find is that in every case of conversion in the book of Acts, three things occurred each time to produce salvation: 1) the gospel was preached; 2) the respondents believed; and 3) they were baptized for the remission of sins.  Read it for yourself and see if this is not true, then please obey Jesus’ words given in the Great Commission of Mark 16:15-16.

 

 

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