Salvation and the Sinner’s Prayer

 As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. Be zealous, therefore, and repent!

Revelation 3:19 (LEB)

What must one do to be saved? Most of us were taught to say a prayer and “ask Jesus into our heart”. Where is this method found in the Bible? Did we see altar calls in the New Testament? Did we even see churches with altars?

Revelation 3:20 (LEB): 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, indeed I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me.

Yeshua tells us that He stands at the door and knocks and that it is up to us to open the door. I heard this verse quoted many times throughout my life, yet not often in context.

Revelation 3:19–22 (LEB): 1As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. Be zealous, therefore, and repent! 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, indeed I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also have conquered and have sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”

Yeshua reproves, disciplines and tells us to repent. It is important to note that this message was to the “church” and not to the Jews, as some say the message of Yeshua in the gospels concerning repentance, was only for the Jews and not the church. I say “concerning repentance” because there is only one thing to repent from, and that is living contrary to the law of God.

Matthew 5:18–20 (LEB): 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one tiny letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all takes place. 19 Therefore whoever abolishes one of the least of these commandments and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever keeps them and teaches them, this person will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness greatly surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Some will say, “I am fine with being least in the kingdom”. However, my answer to that statement is good luck with that attitude! We do not know what being “the least in the kingdom” will mean. What if it means being shut out?

Luke 13:22–29 (LEB): 22 And he was going throughout towns and villages, teaching and making his journey toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, are there only a few who are saved?” And he said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able to, 25 when once the master of the house has gotten up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ And he will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from!’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets!’ 27 And he will reply, saying to you, ‘I do not know where you are from! Go away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves thrown outside! 29 And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.

The door is narrow that Yeshua describes. In this scene, Yeshua describes people going to see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, likely with some of their loved ones, and then be “thrown outside”. Is this being least in the kingdom? Yeshua doesn’t say these people are thrown into the lake of fire, so what is their eternal destiny? What is this place of weeping and gnashing of teeth? What if being least in the kingdom is worse than this, as we see in Isaiah?

Isaiah 66:23–24 (LEB): 23 And this shall happen: From new moon to new moon and from Sabbath to Sabbath all flesh shall come to bow in worship before me,” says Yahweh. 24 “And they shall go out and look at the corpses of the people who have rebelled against me, for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

These verses in Isaiah are speaking about the future kingdom. Who are these people that rebelled against God? Perhaps rebelling against God is treating His ways and instructions with a causal regard? “I said the sinners prayer and asked Jesus in my heart, I don’t need to be concerned with the commandments of God. That was all for the Jews anyway”. This is the attitude of many believers. Where do these ideas come from? It certainly is not from scripture.

Matthew 18:7–9 (LEB): Woe to the world because of causes for stumbling, for it is a necessity that causes for stumbling come; nevertheless, woe to the person through whom the cause for stumbling comes. And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it from you! It is better for you to enter into life crippled or lame than, having two hands or two feet, to be thrown into the eternal fire! And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it from you! It is better for you to enter into life one-eyed than, having two eyes, to be thrown into fiery hell!

Are people who tell us we can disregard God’s laws guilty of causing people to stumble as in, “woe to the person through whom the cause for stumbling comes“? I certainly do not want to be that person.

Mark 9:42–48 (LEB): 4“And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it is better for him if instead a large millstone is placed around his neck and he is thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life crippled than, having two hands, to go into hell—into the unquenchable fire! 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life lame than, having two feet, to be thrown into hell! 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than, having two eyes, to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not extinguished.’

Sin is living contrary to God’s instructions and being proud of it! Yeshua tells us it is better to go through life without body parts than to go where the “worm does not die”. Isaiah told us, people in the Kingdom were going to see this. Is the thought of being “least in the kingdom” as appealing now? “At least I’ll be in the kingdom” must be very offensive to the Father. He sent His son to die so we could be with Him and we are going to show our gratitude by striving to be “the least”. We live in the foolish generation.

Where did the current model of salvation and the sinners prayer originate? Frank Viola and George Barna wrote a book called Pagan Christianity?, and catalogue the modern traditions of the church along with their historical origins. It is a well written book with many references to original sources. In chapter three, this book gives us the origin of modern day altar calls: “D.L. Moody (1837-1899) was the first to ask those who wanted to be saved to stand up from their seats and be led in a ‘sinner’s prayer’. Fifty years later, Billy Graham introduced the practice of asking the audience to bow their heads and close their eyes, ‘with no one looking around’, and ask them to raise their hands in response to the salvation message.”

Did we see any of these methods in the first century church? There are none recorded. It is all man-made rhetoric. I dislike gimmicks when it comes to the kingdom of God. People will either be drawn to God or they will not. There is not much sense with pretending. I am not implying that we cannot have meaningful relationships with people that will influence their lives and lead them to God. I am saying gimmicks to draw people to church with the mindset of “if we can just get them to come to church” do not produce results. The early church model was repentance and baptism to show that one has entered a covenant with Yeshua. Repenting from sin means we leave the life of sin behind. This means we cannot live deliberately contrary to God’s word.

1 John 2:1–6 (LEB): 2 My little children, I am writing these things to you in order that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one, and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. The one who says “I have come to know him,” and does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. But whoever keeps his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. The one who says that he resides in him ought also to walk just as that one walked.

“Confessing Jesus” involves agreeing with what He said and walking as He walked. Yeshua followed the Father’s commandments perfectly. This should be our goal in life. We should immerse ourselves in the word and try our hardest to be like Yeshua. It is by the Spirit of God that He sent us that enables us to this type of lifestyle. Contrast this with the message mega-pastor Andy Stanley recently gave to see how far we have come from the word of God in the following video clip on Twitter. The Christian Post also has an article about this at the following link: Andy Stanley, Christian Post.

“I know the ‘clobber verses’ and I know 1 Corinthians 6, and I know Leviticus and I know Romans 1, so interesting to talk about all that stuff”, proclaims Stanley. Casual disregard of the instructions of God, as demonstrated in this type of attitude such as, “so interesting to talk about all that stuff”, as if it is unimportant, is scary for me to witness. It is especially concerning considering the sphere of influence Stanley possesses.

God shows us His character through Israel and the Torah. God does not change, so if He told Israel how He felt about anyone disregarding the commandments of God then He still feels the same about anyone doing the same things today. Yeshua did not change the character of God, He possesses the same character as the Father.

Mark 7:6–8 (LEB): So he said to them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far, far away from me. And they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ Abandoning the commandment of God, you hold fast to the tradition of men.”

Ignoring, mocking or disregarding the commandments of God is serious business. Both the Father and Yeshua speak strongly against doing this.

Leviticus 26:14–18 (LEB): 14 “ ‘But if you do not listen to me and you do not carry out all these commands, 15 and if you reject my statutes and if your inner self abhors my regulations, to not carry out all my commands by your breaking my covenant, 16 I in turn will do this to you: then I will summon onto you horror, the wasting disease, and the fever that wastes eyes and that drains away life; and you shall sow your seed in vain, and your enemies shall eat it. 17 And I will set my face against you, and you shall be defeated before your enemies; and your haters shall rule over you, and you shall flee away, but there shall not be anybody who is pursuing you.

Repent from a life of an attitude of sin, get baptized and be in covenant with Yeshua. Walk as He walked, not as the apostate, 2023 church tells us to walk! No one wants to be deceived and found locked out where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth or be “an abhorrence to all flesh”.

Featured photo was provided by Emma Vail Photography.

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