Those missing the Rapture will consist of professing Christians who prayed to receive Christ but did not belong to Him. This article encourages readers to examine their hearts as instructed by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Part One: False Conversions from Easy Prayerism
A Televised Event
A Sunday school teacher asked her class of seven-year olds how many would like to receive Jesus into their hearts. All the hands went up! “Repeat this prayer after me,” said the teacher: “Dear Jesus, I love you! Please come into my heart and make me a new creature in Christ and I will serve you forever. Thank you Jesus! Amen!”
“Now boys and girls, you have been born-again and are all children of God,” said the teacher who had just led several children in a prayer to receive Christ. “Next Sunday I will give each of you a certificate that identifies when you received Jesus into your heart,” said the teacher.
Although the preceding paragraph was on a ‘televised” event, the practice of leading young children to Christ in this manner occurs in many evangelical Sunday school classrooms each week.
The parents and church leadership express joy over so many of their children having found Christ at an early age. As the children grow and mature, the certificates on their bedroom walls are vivid reminders of their decisions to receive Christ.
Although “recital prayer” (or easy prayerism as a perceived method for saving souls) is widely practiced by many churches, it is also widely practiced by popular television ministries. On a recent television program, a minister led a middle-aged woman (on a stage in front of millions) to receive Christ by reciting a salvation prayer. The salvation prayer was very similar to the one recited by the Sunday school children.
Although we cannot judge whether God saves people who recite the prayer, we can judge the results from such prayers, which is the thrust of this article.
Is Reciting a Prayer Biblical?
Is reciting a prayer the way God intends for one to receive Christ? The Bible teaches we receive Christ by placing our faith in his substitutionary death through the finished work on the cross. Many churches and television ministries are producing false converts by using the recital prayer as the decisive moment for when salvation occurs. However, most evangelicals believe these salvations misfire most of the time—which is to say salvation never really took place for most who recite the prayer. Ironically, those who practice recital prayers (for getting one saved) think they are doing a great work for God. The confusion about salvation stems from the notion that we receive Christ by asking Him into our lives.
Justification for this notion originates from pastors who point to Romans 10:13 without mentioning the preceding versus in Romans 10:9 thru 10:12. The verses say, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. “
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 1 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Well meaning pastors place the emphasis for salvation on the confession (recital of the prayer supported by Romans 10:13) to the exclusion of the heart, which is observable only by the Holy Spirit. While the act of asking (calling) Christ into our lives is an expression of our desire to receive Him, it is seldom ever the ‘decisive moment” for the new birth. Since most who pray to receive Christ fall away, the telltale results show there is a serious flaw in the practice of reciting a prayer for salvation.
One major international ministry in particular promotes you cannot be saved without first reciting the sinner’s prayer. Think about that. Where in the Bible does it articulate that idea? What could be more dangerous than a church leadership to tell trusting and unsuspecting souls they are now new creatures in Christ when in fact they may not be?
Why Do They Fall Away?
Most evangelists agree that about 85% of those who pray to receive Christ drift back into the ways of the world, believing they are saved because they recited a prayer. What a horrible deception and tragic end for those who were never really born-again.
Many people, apparently, pray to receive Christ without any understanding of biblical truth, holiness and the need to be saved from the power of sin. There is no recognition of their need for Christ as a matter of life or death. People (both children and adults) feel (or are told they are) forgiven but do not seem to have realized the depth of their sinfulness and ungodliness.
False conversions occur when people (including children) do not fully comprehend the basic truths leading to salvation summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. If people are led to recite a prayer to receive Christ before being led to see their own sinfulness and hopelessness in Romans 3:23, they will not see their need for Christ to save them in Romans 6:23.
Jesus gave the parable about a sower who went forth to sow seed, God’s Word. All the people in the parable received the seed (God’s Word) gladly, but then soon fell away for diverse reasons. Only a few continued to feed themselves daily on the Word, becoming grounded in faith and growing deep roots in the soil of regeneration (Matthew 13:3).
The few who fed themselves daily on the Word were the ones who “received Christ” (by hearing, understanding and believing the salvation truths) and were born again by faith in the Word (John 15). Now, under grace, believers feed on the salvation truths presented in Romans through Hebrews. Salvation for the believer is in the epistles of Paul, which are on the substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection of Christ described in the four gospels.
Is it wise to tell someone who prays to receive Christ that she or he is now born again and heaven bound?
Countless authors have written volumes about the process of spiritual regeneration. However, what we know for sure about the majority of those who profess to receive Christ (using the modern recital prayer method) is that many will fall away or cease to continue in the truth. Easy prayerism (as the accepted approach) to winning souls contains “polished” evangelical appeals that pressure people into making decisions for Christ before their hearts have been fully cultivated by the Word of Truth.
Unfortunately, these high-pressure (and often emotional) tactics are filling churches with false converts whose hearts remain hard as stony ground and consequently uncultivated to receive the salvation truths. They are lost thinking they are heaven bound!
Why do most (professing) new converts (young and old) fall away? Most fall away because they have been deceived (by church leadership) into believing they have answered the call to salvation.
They fall away because they have no power to receive or continue in His word, and in many cases simply lose interest in God and church. In John 8:31- 32, Jesus said: “If you abide (continue) in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Jesus plainly teaches that those who continue in His Word (and especially the epistles of Paul, which are for the church) are the ones who have been born again.
Church leadership must return to TEACHING the basic truths about salvation and victorious living. These truths will give the church body (and those who join the Body) the vision with which to live in victory, discern growing deception in the church, uphold the brethren, and evangelize the lost.
Is the recital prayer the “definitive moment” for experiencing the new birth? While it can be for some, it is clearly not the “definitive moment” for most. The “recital prayer” is dangerous in the sense that it can create false converts and unknowingly condemn those who recite the prayer to an eternity without Christ.
Personal salvation occurs when the soul hears, believes and receives (personalizes) the “basic salvation truths” according to the biblical precepts of redemption. Although reciting a prayer is easy, it should not replace the need for the soul to personalize the basic salvation truths. Personalizing the basic salvation truths is a soul-searching experience that occurs under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit (John 16: 5-11).
Part Two: Making Sure of Your Salvation
Do You Belong to the Lord?
Although the Lord knows those who belong to Him (2 Timothy 2:19), do we know with certainty we belong to him? We cannot look at other believers and say whether they are born again even though they profess salvation. All professing believers need to examine themselves according to 2 Corinthians 5:17: ‘If any man be IN CHRIST, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Those who have been ‘born again’ by the power of the Holy Spirit will know it (Romans 8:16-17) because they will typically be in agreement with what the Bible says about judgment, their sinfulness and depravity before a Holy God (before conversion).
Born-again believers will be in harmony with what the Bible says about grace, their acceptance and holiness before God as they abide in Christ (after conversion) .
A convert will be hungry for the Word and persistent in searching the scriptures for truth and grateful by the fact that Jesus died in their place on the cross.
A born-again Christian is convinced by the resurrection power that gives them daily victory over sin and appreciative to the Holy Spirit who sustains them day-by-day through the power of the Word.
Genuine believers are able to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is love, joy peace(Galatians 5:22)
Born-again believers are mindful of those who are lost and in prayer for their salvation
Note: According to Charles Finney, a professing Christian who has no burden for the lost is himself lost.
When church leadership leads people into believing they are born-again (after reciting a prayer) when they have not been is an awful misnomer. Yet that is what many evangelicals are risking when they use easy prayerism to convince people they have received Christ.
What Must You Know to be Saved?
Although the Bible contains many salvation truths, three are most important for the would-be converts to know and internalize in their souls.
Basic Salvation Truth One
Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
The Bible teaches humankind is subject to the wrath of God because they are displeasing to Him. What makes us displeasing to God? The sin nature. Matthew 7 talks about the strait gate and narrow way that leads to eternal life. Finding and then walking through the strait gate is the most difficult part about salvation because that the soul must look at, acknowledge the depravity it sees, and then come to grips with the fact s/he is lost and without hope.
God uses the Ten Commandments to help us see our sin nature. Unfortunately, most people refuse to look in the mirror of the Ten Commandments because they do not want to confess they are ugly, destitute, and rejected by God. If the truth be known, sin is the “spiritual essence” of every heart, which is at the center of every soul (Romans 3:10-18). We are not sinners because we sin but sin because we are sinners.
Mark 3:28 says that although God has forgiven humankind for their sins, there is one sin he will not and cannot forgive; and, that sin will send them to hell! That sin is the act of unbelief in the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Basic Salvation Truth Two
Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Since everyone is born in sin, all have the disease except Christ who was born without sin (Romans: 3:21). Everyone needs a new heart, a transplanted heart. Unfortunately, most people are unwilling to admit they have the disease and for that reason unwilling to say, “Yes” to the Surgeon of their souls. They are unable to view themselves as the publican in Matthew who said: “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.” They are unwilling to look in the mirror of the Ten Commandments. Why?
The answer is many evangelicals would have you believe one’s “heart disease” is nothing more than a “mild cold” that will go away with a simple prayer. Many ministries have diluted the seriousness of sin down to nothing more than innocent mistakes. The Bible paints a different picture of sin, one that shows our sinful nature as a terminal disease. The Bible teaches that every human heart is (corruptible) beyond repair and needs a new (incorruptible) heart, one that God Himself transplants through the seed of His Word (John 3: 1-21; 1 Peter 1:22-25).
1 John 5:4-5 says: “He that overcomes (or is given a new heart by the renewing of our minds through the Word of God) will come out from under God’s judgment into Christ. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 Corinthians 15: 1-5 says essentially the same but under the Spirit inspired penmanship of the Apostle Paul.
Basic Salvation Truth Three
The Bible says there are two sides to salvation. From God’s side, salvation is possible by grace through the finished work of the Cross (Romans 3:22, 24-25, 28). From man’s side, faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only condition God requires for salvation (John 3:16, 14:6; Acts 4:12; and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Faith is our response to the gift of salvation. From Genesis to Revelation, God uses grace and faith to put man right with Himself. Faith and faith alone is what please the Father (Romans 1:17; Romans 5:1).
To borrow from a popular analogy used by evangelists, imagine two brothers trapped by fire on a window ledge several floors up. Their only hope of escape is to jump into the net below. Suddenly, one brother leaps from the building and lands safely in the net. He finds salvation. The other (blinded by smoke and lacking faith in the net) backs away from the ledge and looks for another escape route. In the ensuing moments that follow, poisonous fumes overcome the second brother and he perishes in the fire. He finds death.
What saved the first brother’s life? It was his faith in the net. What took the second brother’s life? Obviously, it was his lack of faith in the net. The net was there for both of them. One said yes and the other said no.
From this analogy, we see that grace (made possible by the finished work of the Cross) is the net that God has spread out before all mankind. Those who jump by faith will find salvation. Those who do not jump will be lost. What causes a person to be lost? Lack of faith (unbelief) in Christ!
Before salvation can occur, the person must:
Acknowledge he or she is a sinner (caught in a burning building) with no way out and in danger of losing eternal life.
Look for an escape route from God’s wrath (the fire) by placing his or her faith in the unseen net far below (the finished work of the Cross)
Jump (take the leap of faith) believing the one holding the net far below is Christ himself.
How do we jump? According to the apostle Paul, we take the leap-of-faith by believing the gospel (with all of our heart) as outlined in 1 Corinthians 15 1-4:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…”
In closing, the Bible instructs believers to examine themselves to see if they are in Christ (and Rapture ready).