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I’m Saved! In Church I Walked Down The Aisle and Said A Prayer…

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SIH STSTA ICONAs a Pastor of 15 years, I used to ask the question, “Have you ever been saved from your sins?”.  I have received many different responses to this question.  Here are a few of them…

“Of course, I was baptized as a baby in (church name)”;

“Yes, I am saved, I am a member of (church name)”;

“Yes, I have kept all the sacraments of my church”;

“Yes, I was born into a Christian family, we’ve been Christians for at least four generations”;

“Why yes, thank you for asking, I walked down the aisle of (church name) and said the sinners prayer back in September of 2001”;

and many, many more.

It has broken my heart to hear responses like this coming from those for whom I care.  If you notice, in every case, the above responses imply that our salvation is based on something we have done.  The Bible makes it plain that our salvation does not lie in what we have done, but what the Lord has done in us.  (John 6:44-45, 6:63-66, Eph 2:8-10, Php 2:12-13, Col 1:25-29, Titus 3:4-5)

So where did we get the idea that salvation is based on something that we have done?  Sad to say, in many cases, the churches of today must take responsibility for fostering this false belief.  Since I am a Baptist pastor, I will use Baptist churches for my example… my heart aches when I see other Baptist pastors, at the close of the service, beg and plead for people to “come down the aisle and be saved” or “repeat the sinners prayer after me and be saved”.

In many cases, this is done by well-meaning pastors who are trying to encourage those in attendance to make a commitment to Christ.   But, instead of bringing about commitment, they are encouraging others to trust in a work for their salvation.

Please remember, a person can be saved just as easily standing in the pew, or sitting in a chair, or lying in a bed etc etc.  The Lord can work in the heart at anytime and any place, not just at the altar in the front of the church.  Likewise, salvation comes through Christ creating faith into the heart of the faithless, not by us saying any prayer.

Whenever the gospel message is given out in the Bible, it is never accompanied with the instructions to walk an aisle, or say a “sinner’s prayer” (the same can be said for baptism, church membership, keeping the sacraments, or being born into a Christian family).   The gospel message, when given in the Bible, is accompanied with the instructions to trust in Christ and His work. (Acts 16:30-31, John 3:15-16 etc etc)

The only way we can be certain we are saved is by knowing the Lord has worked in our lives.  How can we know this for sure?  The Bible makes it plain….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. … For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2Co 5:17-21)

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.  (Jas 2:14-26)

THE STUDY:

In the Bible, a true salvation experience brings about change in the life of the believer.  When God intervenes in the life of a sinner and brings him to salvation, the newly saved person becomes a new creation in Christ. (2 Cor 5:17-21)  This “new creation” involves a new attitude about the Lord and sin.  (Eph  4:22-24)  The newly saved now sees Christ as their Lord and despises the sin in their life.  This new attitude then motivates the Christian to begin a life of service to their Lord and Savior.  This service is described as fruit bearing. (John 15:1-5, Gals 5:19-26)  This changed life is one of the reasons why God has saved us (Eph 2:8-10).

Also, this changed life is what gives us the ultimate assurance that the Lord has worked a work of saving grace in our lives. James clearly presented this principle in James chapter 2.  In verses 14-26, James refers to “dead” faith as opposed to a Godly saving faith.  How can we tell the difference?  James tells us the works that we perform will reveal the true nature of the faith we have within us.   The lack of a changed life shows us that the faith we possess is not of God but simply a work that we performed in and of ourselves (a dead faith).  A changed life brought about by our faith, shows us that our faith is a work of God in our heart. (Please read James 2:14-26 in it’s entirety to come to a full understanding of James’ teachings.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

So let me rephrase my original question, “Have you ever exercised faith in Christ?  If so, has this faith produced a changed life within you?  Do you now love the Lord and seek to please Him with your life.  Do you now hate sin and strive to rid it from your life?”  These questions get to the heart of our spiritual condition.

If you can say, “yes” to all three, you can be assured that you have been forgiven of your sins and are a part of God’s family.  If you must say “no” to any, or all, of these then you must come to the realization you are yet in your sins.  If you are yet in your sins, please follow the dictates of God’s Word….

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”(1Jn 5:11-13)

If you would like more information about salvation, please refer to my blog page entitled “forgiveness”.

Also, if you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.


24 Comments

  1. This is a great blog! I remember being in that place of “working” for heaven – NOT A RESTFUL OR PEACEFUL PLACE. It is a sad place to be, but I can now say I’m FREE & living in His rest & it is the BEST place to be. I shared this post on my FB in hopes to help some1 else seek His face & His rest vs. self-focused salvation for that is an oxymoron.

  2. Great explanation of this divisive and potentially deceitful subject (I’ve had deep and long debates with friends on this issue).

  3. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmai.com says:

    Uplifting prayer,to refresh the inner self .Thank you for your support.Have a blessed Sunday.jalalMichael

  4. I believe God reaches down to us wherever and whatever circumstances we find ourselves…He knows however we are searching maybe even unknowingly. I also have an issue with emotionally wrought ‘saying the prayer of salvation’ if/when we really don’t know what the significance is…but only by doing so the avoidance of hell is promised…. Diane

  5. […] In Heaven has a post we all should read, I’m Saved!  In Church I Walked Down The Aisle and Said A Prayer…. After that, I suggest reading my latest post, BIG GOVERNMENT AND STRIVING […]

  6. dtrichards says:

    You’ve made a well thought-out argument, Rob, about the importance of “active” vs “acted” Christianity — it’s not about what we are doing, not about what we once did.

    I do hope, though, that you take a moment to minister to those who feel they must earn Salvation, and who think that, because they cannot answer “yes” to your three questions, they have not earned it. Notice that Paul, in his letters, often jumps between things he feels his readers should do, and assurances that they don’t have to worry about their salvation because it has already been given to them “from the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4)

    For people who feel helpless about their ability to exercise faith, to please the Lord and to hate sin, it’s good to assure them that, thanks to God’s grace and a small, minuscule decision they made to “turn to Christ”, they now have the help of an Almighty God to bring about those actions.

    I have great respect for your Bible teaching and wouldn’t mind some feedback from you on my post “Christians At Rest”, which deals with a similar issue, but from a different perspective.

    God bless you in your ministry.

    DT Richards.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      DT,

      Thanks so much for visiting SIH blog and reading and commenting. In response to your comment…

      Keep in mind what the three questions were:
      1. Have you ever exercised faith in Christ?
      2. If so, has this faith produced a changed life within you, do you now love the Lord and seek to please Him with your life ?
      3. Do you now hate sin and strive to rid it from your life?”

      All of these are seeking those who claim salvation to examine if a genuine change has happened WITHIN them. This change is an automatic change that takes place at the initial salvation experience. After establishing that an experience has taken place (Question 1), the remaining questions are not asking WHAT they did, but they are examining WHAT THEY DESIRE to do based upon what Christ has done within them. This is a very important difference.

      If a confessing Christian does not have a desire to serve the Lord or a hatred for the sin that they recognize in their life, they are not saved. These new desires are all a part of the natural, automatic change that took place at their receipt of a new nature and becoming a new creature in Christ.

      These new desires have nothing to do with “earning their salvation”, they have everything to do with the Lord working in their hearts and bringing about a change in their desires. The first change wrought by Christ is a change of desires and, then, a change in lifestyle as they spiritually mature.

      Of course, those who are just saved may find themselves questioning their weak faith and their inability to rid their lives of sin… But this is an entirely different issue. They are new creatures in Christ who now DESIRE to live for Him and deny sin in their lives. Their new desires are the outward evidence of their salvation. This is why, once again, if they can answer “yes” to the above questions we can assure them of their salvation although they may be doubting their ability to fulfill those desires. Of course, as they mature in the faith, added fruits of their new found life in Christ will be their actions of obedience to Christ based upon their changed desires within.

      Thanks again for some really good points that help to clarify the posting. I’ll be reading your post and commenting on it shortly.

      Lord bless you as you minister for Him.

  7. SLIMJIM says:

    I suppose it’s due to our sinful human nature where we are so works driven for our self-justification that Christians can sometime think it’s the basis of some kind of external act on our part that God looks at to justify us and save us. This was a very edifying read and a reminder as I’m prone to make a strong appeal for someone to get saved that I need to always operate in a Biblical paradigm. The Good news is so amazing.

  8. Debbie says:

    Pastor Rob, I hadn’t really given thought to how it sounds when we are telling someone to come forward and be saved. Thank you so much for pointing that out! And for clarifying that it is about what He does in us that matters, not what we do. God bless you and all the ways you lead us on to Jesus!

  9. I’m sure I’ve shared with you before about one of the saddest parts of my childrens/youth ministry over many years – what I call EASY-BELIEVISM.

    So many, when questioned on their spiritual standing, reply with “My pastor told me I am saved” or “Yes. I prayed a prayer – or raised my hand – or walked to the front” or “My Mum says I was saved when I was 4 years old” or “Yes. I signed a card” or . . . In those cases, further talk reveals they have no consciousness of their sinful state, or their NEED of a Saviour; no idea of repentance and NO evidence of spiritual life. These people are depending on a false assumption and can be harder to reach with the Truth.

    I like your four follow-up questions, which would reveal their spiritual condition and allow Holy Spirit to convict them and lead them to faith.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hi Angela,

      Thanks for your comments… yep, I am quite familiar with easy believism. It was sweeping the more liberal Baptist churches several years ago. Sad to say in many churches it has stuck and now we can see the results. More “carnal Christians” (who I believe are unsaved professors) and a watering down of the truth to almost unrecognizable level. May we all see the need to be in prayer for those who are caught up in this sinful movement that the Lord may open their eyes and bring them back to the truths and practices of His Word. Lord bless you my friend.

  10. Reblogged this on simplyjuliana.com and commented:
    If you have any doubt, if you died today where you would spent eternity, read this and KNOW! Don’t put this off…none of us knows what tomorrow holds!!

  11. My Tropical Home says:

    Pastor Rob,
    Is it wrong then to share the prayer that leads the searching soul to accept the Lord Jesus as Savior? After a few months of blogging I decided to share a page about my faith’s journey (testimony) and recently I felt that I should include the prayer after it.
    I don’t want to mislead or confuse anyone who reads that page but I also don’t want to not provide that opportunity to the reader. I believe that the person who would be reading that would be a searching soul not just the regular blogger who visits my blog.
    Thanks and blessings,
    Mary

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hello Mary,

      It is certainly good to have you visit SIH blog and to read your comments.

      About including the prayer in your posting. My personal thoughts are to keep it in the posting, but put a sentence or two right before it… “I am including this prayer to help illustrate the attitude and desires that should be taking place within the heart of those who are seeking a relationship Christ. True salvation lies in what takes place in the heart (repentance of sin and faith in Christ) not that which is spoken by the lips”….

      Something like that. I’m sure you get the basic idea, but can phrase things in a much better way than I. That would be my suggestion to you. But I am sure you understand that however the Lord leads you is what you need to do.

      May the Lord bless your ministry.

  12. Tom Raines says:

    Thank you! This is one of the best descriptions of salvation I have read. I do agree that WE as a church have focused too much on a prayer….great perspective that this is our action….thanks

  13. Yes, how many times have I heard people say ” I got saved…………..” When in reality they did nothing. Everything was done for them 2000 yrs ago and actually before the creation of the universe. As God lives outside of our time/space domain, he looks at our life as a whole, from beginning to end simultaneously. You were saved in the mind of Christ before you did anything. Basically all we do is wake up, and open our eyes to an already established reality.

  14. fgassette says:

    WONDERFUL ARTICLE. Love you commentary on the scripture.
    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.
    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  15. The scariest words in the Bible are, without a doubt, “Depart from Me; I never knew you.” Thank you for making salvation so clear. May there be boatloads of fruit from this article!

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