Tracts are often found, placed on counters, in bathrooms and just about anywhere people may be found, that briefly lay out what is often referred to as an invitation to become a Christian. Certainly those that sincerely wish to help others find salvation for their soul are to be commended in their efforts that go beyond what the average person will do. However, it seems that these tracts just about always fall far short of teaching what the Bible teaches one must do in order to find salvation. In most cases they point out how all have sinned, which is good for the Bible clearly teaches all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). They point out how Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind, which is good for He certainly did that (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:16). But, they usually conclude with a plea for the one who believes in Christ to drop in prayer and pray the sinner’s pray. This prayer is usually some form of admitting that one is a sinner and that they accept Jesus Christ as their savior. The interesting thing about all this is; there is no example in the entire Bible of anyone ever being told to pray the sinner’s prayer!
The church had her beginning on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This beginning is recorded in the second chapter of the book of Acts. The rest of the book of Acts is an historic account of how the gospel was taken throughout the world, people were saved and the church grew. Peter was the major spokesmen on that day of Pentecost recorded in Acts chapter two. He preached the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the fact that “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts. 2:36). Now, what follows in the text? Does Peter tell the people the bow down and pray the sinner’s prayer? No, instead, after the people then questioned, “what shall we do”, they were told by Peter to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:37-38).
In the following chapter of the book of Acts, Peter proclaimed the same gospel message to those in the temple after their attention was gained by the healing of the man lame from his mother’s womb (Acts 3:18). Did Peter then tell them to pray the sinner’s prayer if they wished to be saved? Again, the answer is no. He told them, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3:19).
In the eighth chapter of the book of Acts we find two examples of people being converted. The first is found when Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them (Acts 8:5). Not a word can be found about a sinner’s prayer in this account, but we do find where the text says, “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12). Following his teaching in Samaria, we find Philip joining himself to the chariot of the treasurer of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians (Acts 8:26-34). Philip preached Jesus to him (v. 35) and the eunuch said, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized” (Acts 8:36). This would have been a good time for Philip to say, “just pray the sinner’s prayer” if that was what the man needed, but instead Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Acts 8:37-38).
The ninth chapter of the book of Acts records the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. After coming to the realization that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and the Savior of the world, Paul asked the question, “Lord what wilt they have me to do” (Acts 9:6). Did the Lord tell Saul to pray the sinner’s prayer? The answer is the same as in the previous examples, no He did not. He told Saul to go into the city of Damascus and he would be told what to do (Acts 9:6). Now most say Saul was saved right there on that road, however the text does not teach that. In Damascus, after Ananias had restored his sight, Saul was told he needed to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
There are numerous other examples of conversion found in the book of Acts. No where, in any of them is there any teaching concerning praying the sinner’s prayer. It is simply not found in the Bible. As we often point out; since the New Testament is our guide for Christianity, if it is not found in the New Testament, it is not a part of God’s instructions for man and is therefore false. So, what do all these examples show that one must do in order to have salvation? Not every item is specifically mentioned in every example, for it depends on where the person is in their spiritual journey when they are told. For instance, if one already believes, as did those on Pentecost, there is no need to tell them to believe. Putting them all together we learn that one must hear the gospel (Acts 2:37), believe that gospel (Acts 8:12), repent of sin (Acts 3:19), confess Christ (Acts 8:37) and be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
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