Tag Archives: Salvation


It is not uncommon to hear a person tell his story of conversion. Once, while sitting at the counter in a restaurant, a man told me his story. He was in a barber’s chair, felt convicted of sin, got down on his knees and prayed the Sinner’s Prayer. And from that moment forward he considered himself a saved man. How different, I thought, this was from the Bible stories of conversion.

The Book of Acts is the history of the first thirty years of Christianity and in this history we have the record of the Bible stories of conversion. The first is of the conversion of 3000 on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ. Upon hearing the gospel message people were convicted in their heart and asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They were told, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38) On that day those who “gladly received the word were baptized, and there were added unto them about three thousand.” (Acts 2:41) But there was not a word said about the Sinner’s Prayer. No one was told to pray the Sinner’s Prayer and no one led them in the Sinner’s Prayer.

There are many other stories of conversion found in the Book of Acts but not once is the Sinner’s Prayer mentioned. The Samaritans believed and were baptized. (Acts 8:12) The Ethiopian eunuch believed and was baptized. (Acts 8:35-39) Cornelius and his house were commanded to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (Acts 10:48) Lydia was baptized. (Acts 16:14-15) The Philippian jailer believed and was baptized. (Acts 16:30-34) The Corinthians “hearing believed, and were baptized.” (Acts 18:8) Saul of Tarsus was told, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16) Not a single time in the Bible stories of conversion was anyone told to pray the Sinner’s Prayer. Conversion by the Sinner’s Prayer is just not found in the Bible.

Claude Pharr

A Religious Curve Ball

Many times a batter has swung the bat in a smooth even swing at what seemed like a sure hit only to miss the ball completely. What happened? The pitcher threw him a curve ball. Likewise in religion many people having heard the gospel message and being desirous of the salvation offered, have nevertheless completely failed in doing God’s will. What happened? Religious teachers have thrown them a curve.

In the second chapter of the Book of Acts we have the record of the first day of Christianity. On that day the apostles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and began to carry out the commission Jesus had given them to spread the gospel message throughout the world. The apostle Peter was the main spokesperson that day. He explained the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; he spoke of the life, death and resurrection of Christ; he told of the ascension of Jesus back to heaven where He sat down on the right hand of the Father. Then Peter concluded by announcing that “God had made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:26)

Today this same gospel message about Jesus and what he has done for us is heard repeatedly throughout the land. It is proclaimed from a thousand pulpits, heard over the airwaves, written in books and pamphlets, communicated from person to person. But then comes the curve. Today when people desiring salvation in Christ ask what to do, instead of being told: “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38) as the Bible says, they are told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer.” This “Sinner’s Prayer,” so often promoted by modern religious teachers as the way to salvation is not found in the Bible. It is rather a deceptive substitute for what the Bible really teaches. And just as many a batter has been deceived by a curve ball, so many good people have been deceived into thinking they are saved by offering the “Sinner’s Prayer.”


Faith or Baptism, Which?

There are a number of passages of scripture which connect faith with salvation from sin. For example, the gospel “Is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” (Romans 1:16) And again, “By grace are ye saved through faith”

(Ephesians 2:8). There are also a number of passages which connect baptism with salvation from sin. For example, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16) And again, “Repent, and be baptized…for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38) Also, “Baptism doth also now save us.” (1 Peter 3:21)

Which are we to believe? It’s not an either or question – we are to believe both. It is pointless to talk about being saved by faith, if one does not believe what God, in His word, has to say about baptism. As for me, I accept all the Bible has to say and reject any man-made theology which would pit one passage against another. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16) And that settles it for me.

No Sinner’s Prayer

The way to obtain salvation in many denominations is by praying the sinner’s prayer. Each “Sinner’s Prayer” varies in detail, but they put forth the same idea: that if a person sincerely says and means these words, God will save them. But, there is no sinner’s prayer mentioned in the Scriptures. In the New Testament, not one person is told to pray to receive salvation.

For examples of the Lord’s plan of salvation, look in the book of Acts which details the preaching of the inspired apostles. In this soul-saving book, there is no record of anyone, at any time, under any circumstance, ever being asked to pray to receive salvation. Read of the conversions in Acts for yourself: Acts 2:37-38, Acts 8:4-5, 12-13, Acts 8:35-39, Acts 9:1-19, Acts 10:33, 42-48, Acts 16:13-15, Acts 16:30-34, Acts 18:4-8, Acts 19:1-5

Paul wanted to know what to do (Acts 9:6). He was told to go into the city and wait for someone to tell him. He waited three days, praying and fasting (Acts 9:9-11). If anyone could have been saved by prayer, surely it would have been Paul. Yet what did Ananias tell Paul when he arrived? See Acts 22:16. In other words, three days of prayer had left Paul still in his sins. So what was Paul instructed to do to be saved? See Acts 9:18.

Praying to obtain salvation is an invention of man. Jesus asks a simple question in Luke 6:46. The people saved in the book of Acts were never instructed to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer.”

According to our Lord, to receive salvation, sinners are to

hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized.


The Power of Sin




While sin is something people do, it is also a power in one’s life that takes over, controls and eventually brings ruin.

People who are living a life of flagrant sin usually consider themselves free – free from the restraint of rules. In a sense this is true – a life of sin is a life free from God’s rules, at least for the time being. But there is something else that is not usually considered: a life of sin is a life in bondage to sin. Jesus once said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant [slave] of sin.” (John 8:34 See also Romans 6:16; 2 Peter 2:19)

Although we see this clearly in the various addictions such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, etc., we are not so quick to recognize it in our own life. But just try breaking the hold of your favorite sin and you will feel its power. Sin, all sin, gets a grip; sinks in its teeth; and takes control. And once sin gets a hold on a person, it is not easily pried loose.

The good news is that the power of sin can be broken. In becoming a Christian we bury our old life of sin in the waters of baptism and are raised to a new life of freedom in Christ. (See Romans 6:4, 17-18)

Philip’s Invitation

Phillip is included in the list of disciples in Matthew, Mark, and Luke but other than that they tell us nothing about him. It is in the Gospel of John that are given the few scant details we know about this obscure apostle. We first meet Phillip in John 1:43-44: “The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Phillip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Phillip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Phillip saith unto him, Come and see.” (John 1:43-46)

“Come and see.” A simple invitation but it turned Nathanael’s life around. After meeting Jesus and seeing for himself, he confessed Jesus in these words: “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” (John 1:49) It all started with a simple invitation, “Come and see.”

You never know what an invitation can do. Invite a friend or a stranger to our upcoming Gospel Meeting. In so doing, you may turn someone’s life around.

Putting On Christ


We become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ but not apart from putting on Christ in baptism. The two are inseparably connected in scripture: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ”

(Galatians 3:26-27).

We must never think of baptism as a mere sign or symbol but rather as the divinely appointed ordinance in which we “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Just as we clothe ourselves in appropriate garments for protection from the elements, even so in Christian baptism we are clothed with Jesus Christ and thereby become partakers of his salvation.

All who “have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” and are “children of God by faith in Jesus Christ” thereby becoming partakers of all the benefits that are found in him.

Ready Answer #1

It is not uncommon for our friends to ask us a religious question. Sometimes they are seeking information, at other times they are trying to make a point. But in either case we should see it as an opportunity to teach some Bible truth. From time to time in the bulletin I will offer an answer to one of those questions. If you have one such, write it down and give it to me. I’ll try to answer it.

Question: Are you sure that you are going to heaven?

Answer: I believe what the Bible says. “If I make my calling and election sure, I will never fall but rather will have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom.” (2 Peter 1:10-11) What about you? The answer they give will most likely have to do with the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” If so, take the opportunity to teach 2 Peter 1 with them.

The apostle Peter wrote that we should add to our faith… virtue… knowledge… temperance… patience… godliness… brotherly kindness… love. He then added that by doing so we would make our calling and election sure. (2 Peter 1:5-11)