Sunday, July 5, 2015

Is "The Sinner's Prayer"...a Prayer?

Ever since I got saved I have had the desire to share my faith and learn the bible inductively.  Within the past few years I have gotten into a teaching role and sharing with believers what I learned through the years in witnessing and studying God's word inductively.  With that being said I am always running into unbiblical views that run through the church.  If you know me or have gone out with me witnessing, there is one thing that absolutely makes my skin crawl, and that is when newbies use "The Sinner's Prayer" method in making converts to Christianity. 

Now I am not talking about a genuine, honest prayer that a repentant sinner prays in his own words to ask a Holy Just God to save them from their sins and ask for mercy. "The Sinner's Prayer" I am talking about is an unbiblical teaching that was created during the 1950's by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ and author of Share Jesus Without Fear.  This concept in which a person could repeat a prayer by a person leading them and that the person repeating would be saved.  This is also called in some circles, "Decisional Regeneration."  No one, and I mean no one is saved because they prayed a prayer.  It is not reciting the words or a phrase that saves anyone.  We are saved by grace through faith and it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Let's put it this way, if a person has to repeat a prayer to get saved, it shows several things.

The Person Does Not Understand The Gospel

If the person has no clue what to pray or why they are even praying in the first place, chances are they do not understand what the gospel is.  One time I asked a person what they thought the gospel was, and they told me it was a type of Christian music.  That may be true, but it's like the difference between an elephant trunk and a car trunk. Both are trunks, but different types. Instead of using the "Sinner's Prayer", explain the gospel to the person you are witnessing to and make sure they understand it. When we pray we need to pray with understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15). Qualify them and ask them questions to see if they know what they are doing.

They May Not Understand What Repentance Is or the Need For It

One time I was witnessing with a newbie and he asked the person he was sharing with, "Are you a sinner?  Do you need forgiveness?" and the person said he was a good person and didn't need to be forgiven for anything.  So my witnessing partner said, "Ok, well if you repeat this prayer after me you can be forgiven and be right with God." and the person agreed.  Hold the phone Henrietta!  This person just said he did not need forgiveness and does not understand the seriousness of his sin and how it affects his standing with a Holy and just God. 

It Gives The Person Praying a False Sense of Security When He May Not Really Have It.

If the well-intentioned evangelist after praying the prayer with the person and says to him, "Well congratulations, you are now a child of God.  Welcome to the family brother/sister Christian." and the person goes away thinking he is ok, when he may not be. That person then thinks they have "fire insurance" or a "get-out-of-hell-free card" and that is all Jesus is to them. They go on sinning and their lives do not change because they think they are ok.

The problem with this is that it's not our job to assure the sinner of forgiveness, but the Holy Spirit. According to Ephesians 1:13 the Holy Spirit is given by God as the promise or IOU note that they are saved and will receive the promises of heaven. To be honest...sometimes I have a hard time telling who is saved and who is not. I have experienced many times that people who have gone witnessing with me over the years, hard core fearless laborers, just walk away from the faith and say they love something else more than Jesus. That is frightening to me. It doesn't mean that they lost their salvation...but rather they didn't have it to begin with (1 John 2:19).

Do Not Be Deceived!

The reality is that not everyone who calls himself a Christian really is (Matthew 7:21). That's a sobering thought. But one that we need to consider. People claim to be many things in this world. They claim to be a good person (Psalm 14; 53); claim to love God (1 John 4:20); they claim to know God (1 John 4), and so on.  Most of the time it's not that we are playing the hypocrite or pretending to be a Christian when we are not. It's that we are deceived in thinking we genuinely are when we are really not. The bible warns us "not to be deceived" many times (1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Galatians 1:6, Galatians 6:7; James 1:16), but to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (Lamentations 3:40; 1 Corinthians 11:28; and 2 Corinthians 13:5). 

So let us continually examine our hearts and always be in prayer diligently searching the scriptures to see what God expects of us, and how we can draw closer to Him each and every day.  In an upcoming blog post I will share some scriptures and help you understand what it means to be in the faith to see if you truly are a child of God. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

It's Not Just a Wedding Cake

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me if I, as a Chrisitan would bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple because it's "just a cake".  I told him I wouldn't, but it's not the reason you may think. 

Yes, a wedding cake is just a cake.  It's made of flour, eggs, sugar, and decorated in a way that can be sculpted in ways that are simply amazing.  Then it is cut by the bride and groom and eaten by the guests.  Pictures are taken of it, and a ceremony of the bride and groom feeding each other is done.  That's about it.  You know, thinking of it, I don't even remember what my cake even looked like.  To be honest I can't remember most of the night either.  So what's the big deal then? 

Well, for me its a much deeper issue than just cake and causes more trouble than we realize for Christianity and not from homosexuals, but from the Lord Himself.  It's a matter of conscience, not ours, but of our weaker brother.  Here we go to 1 Corinthians 8:1-13.  What was happening here is that people were buying good cheap meat at the pagan temple that was sacrificed to idols.  These were choice cuts at a really reasonable price.  Some Chrisitans were buying it because it was good cheap meat, and some were not because they believed it became evil and would defile their conscience (1 Corinthians 8:7).

According to 1 Corinthians 8:4 says concerning eating things offered to idols, that an idol is nothing in this world, and that in verse 8 it says, "food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we better, nor if we don't eat are we the worse." Since idols are not really anything, than the food sacrificed to them is not anything either.  It doesn't draw us closer or further away from the one true living God.  Food in and of itself cannot help you keep your salvation, nor take it away because its meat sacrificed to an idol that's not anything either.  But if we go on if the weaker brother's conscience says, "do not eat meat sacrificed to idols" and he sees a stronger brother eat meat (which doesn't bother his conscience), it would encourage the weaker brother to violate his conscience which would be sin.

So let's bring this to what I am talking about.  Let's say I am a Christian baker and a homosexual couple comes in and asks me to bake a wedding cake.  Since gay "marriage" is not really marriage in the eyes of God and is nothing (like an idol), then a cake made for a gay wedding (like meat sacrificed) is in an of itself not evil either.  I won't lose my salvation if I make it. and according to 1 Corinthians 8:9 I would have liberty to do so.  Follow me?

But, lets say that a new believing Christian really believes gay "marriage" is wrong and his conscience says we should not even consent to go to a homosexual wedding because it's evil and that no Christian should ever consent to be associated with something like that. But let's say he hears that you, a long-time Christian believer is baking a cake for them, and then says, "Well, Frank is baking a cake for them and maybe gay 'marriage' is not bad. You, as the baker, caused the weaker Christian to abandon his conscience and sin.  1 Corinthians 8:9-13 says then that not only do I sin against my weaker brother, but I sin against Christ as well. 

But what is the harm really of making a weaker brother stumble?  Jesus said in Mark 9:42:
"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea."
Let me clear that up.  It would be better for you to die a grusome, agonizing death than to stumble a little Christian, even the most insignificant one.  Drowning to a Jew was the worst form of death imaginable. So in a sense, it would be better for you to lose your baking business than to stumble a weaker Chrisitan.  That's my point. 

Back to reality.  Let's face it, this country is full of weak Christians.  When it comes to bible knowledge, discernment, and keeping things in context with historical/gramatical hermenutics, there are very few.  The bible knowledge of the majority of American "Christians" is pretty shallow, and is made up of sermonettes, morning devotionals, and TBN.  So it would be benneficial rather to not bake the cake in the first place and offend the non-believer, than to bake the cake and offend the weaker believer. 

I hope that cleared up any confuison you might have had.  It's not that I don't want to see people unhappy or ruin their day. I just don't want to offend more important people to me, which is my brother, and my Lord.