Monday, December 12, 2022

You Don't Have To Pray To Be Saved

Acts 16:29-32 “Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”

Sadly, in what has been dubbed, “The New IFB Movement” (i.e., the New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Movement), a small but influential group of aggressive pastors are all echoing the beliefs and preaching of Pastor Steven Anderson. Although I do support the ministry of these men of God, and I am thankful for their soulwinning ministries, it disturbs me that they teach the Bible way to be saved is to pray.

Dear reader, you don't need to pray, confess publicly, call or ask Jesus to save you to get to Heaven, you simply need to BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. More specifically, you need to BELIEVE the facts concerning who Jesus is, what He did for you and why He did it:
  • WHO Jesus is - He is the Christ, the only begotten Son of God (John 20:31)
  • WHAT Jesus did for you - He died on the cross to pay for your sins and mine. He was buried and then three days later Christ bodily resurrected from the dead (1st Corinthians 15:1-6)
  • WHY Jesus did it for you - Because there is a penalty for sin, which is death, including the Second Death in the Lake of Fire forever (Romans 3:23; Revelation 20:11-15)
If you accept those FACTS concerning Jesus as the truth, placing your personal trust in them, then you are saved. Faith plus the Gospel equals eternal life. In the Gospel of John we find the word “believe” in it's various forms mentioned at least 85 times. Not once are we instructed to call, confess, pray or ask Jesus to save us. Read what Jesus said for yourself in these beautiful clear passages from John:
  • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
  • John 6:28-29, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
  • John 6:40, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
  • John 6:47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
  • John 11:25-26, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”
In all of these Scripture passages, Jesus simply taught to BELIEVE ON HIM to be saved. In John 11:26, “liveth and believeth” are not two different things, which would contradict the multitude of other passages of Scripture where Jesus simply said to BELIEVE. The sinner who believes on Jesus Christ is indwelt with the gift of the blessed Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9; 1st John 3:24), and is now alive in Christ (Galatians 5:25).

All of the New IFB preachers who are insisting that the Bible way to be saved is to pray, call or ask Jesus to save you are LIARS! I have heard New IFB pastors call people like me “idiots” for preaching that you don't need to pray to be saved. Respectfully, Pastor Steven Anderson says that it is stupid to go around saying that you don't need to pray to be saved, because he rationalizes that it is a normal human tendency to desire to pray, call or ask Christ to save them. Although I agree that there is a natural tendency to accompany faith with a prayer, I also think it is VERY important that people be taught that they don't need to pray, call or ask to be saved, because praying, calling and asking is NOT part of the Gospel.

I Was Deceived By Preachers To Pray To Be Saved

My own personal salvation testimony is the best illustration I can give you of why it is a bad idea to lead lost sinners to pray to be saved. When I was 13 years old I got saved. It was a Sunday morning in Chicago during the summer, at an old-fashioned Baptist church. The day I got saved I was too timid to walk down the aisle to find out how to be saved. This is a big mistake that a lot of preachers make, to require people to walk a church aisle to be saved. They are unfortunately adding an unnecessary step to God's simple plan of salvation, so they can boast of the number of people who got saved. That is wrong to do!

I had attended Sunday School my entire childhood, but had never personally received Christ as my Savior. In kindergarten my teacher led the class in a “1-2-3, follow me” type of prayer, but I didn't get saved then, because I didn't personally trust Jesus yet. There was no Holy Spirit conviction about the sins in my life. The teacher told my parents that I got saved and they had me water baptized. Unfortunately, I was still as lost as a polar bear walking down a street in New York City.

It wasn't until age 13 that I finally came under Holy Spirit conviction and I did get saved. I had heard the truth of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection all my childhood. I never questioned or doubted those truths, but neither had I personally put my faith in them to be saved. So that day, as best I knew how, I called out in my soul and asked Jesus to save me. Since I had gone down the aisle to learn how to be saved, and the pastor didn't tell us how to be saved from our pew, I left church that day with a holy horror over my soul.

Little did I know that it would last for the next several years. Every preacher that I had ever heard, and every religious tract that I had ever read (including Chick Tracts, which are eye-candy to children), wrongly told me to PRAY a sinner's prayer to get saved. So in my impressionable mind as a youth, I thought the way that you put your faith in Jesus is through a prayer. I had been deceived by Satan through sincere, but dumb dumb, preachers!!!

I used to literally cry tears of sorrow, worry and doubt that I was saved. It wasn't because I wasn't saved, but because no one had ever showed me THE TRUTH of the Gospel, which is that you can simply BELIEVE the GOOD NEWS that Jesus died on a cross for my sins, was buried and three days later He bodily resurrected from the dead. This is 'THE GOSPEL' according to 1st Corinthians 15:1-6). Nowhere in the inspired King James Bible are we instructed to pray, call, confess or ask God to be saved. Now, I did ask Jesus to save me from my soul, because Pastor Anderson is correct that it is a natural thing to do.

I was deceived to think that I must pray to put my faith in Christ. I learned the hard way decades later that BELIEVING is God's way to be saved, not calling. Respectfully, in the preceding video Pastor Jonathan Shelley errantly says that calling and believing are the same thing. Oh really? What saith the Scripture? ...
Romans 10:13-14, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”
Clearly, calling is NOT the same thing as believing, because the Bible says you cannot call until you first believe. The word “call” here does not mean to pray. I looked up the English word “call” in a Greek concordance (something New IFB pastors foolishly mock and refuse to do themselves). The word call means to invoke, which simply means to go to the Lord. We go to the Lord in prayer because we have already BELIEVED upon Him in our soul. This is why when people do walk a church aisle to learn how to be saved, they were already saved before they even left their pew, the moment that they BELIEVED on Jesus as Christ. That is what Romans 10:14 is saying. Faith is the only righteous thing that I can do.

Norm Diamante is 100% Correct That Believing is Enough To Be Saved

I fully agree with Norm Diamante (his YouTube channel is 'Good Hope') that you DON'T have to pray, call or ask to be saved, you simply BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. The following video is horribly attacking Norm Diamante for his free grace Gospel preaching...

New IFB Pastors Horribly Attack Norm Diamante For Preaching The Truth

Let me say, at about 10 minutes into the video, Pastor Bruce Mejia attacks Norm Diamante, accusing him of being a hypocrite. THE TRUTH is that like all wise preachers, Norm honed his theology over the years. It is obvious to any honest person that Norm changed his beliefs a bit. Years ago he led people in a sinner's prayer to ask Jesus to save them. But, as I changed my beliefs as well, Norm realized that he had been wrong, and he moved to the right, no longer teaching people to pray or ask to be saved. 

I am guilty of doing the same exact thing as Norm. When I attended Hyles-Anderson College (1985-1993), I led lost sinners to pray a prayer and ask Jesus to save them. I did share the facts of the Gospel with them. I believe they DID get saved. However, many years later I learned that I had been improperly taught how to lead someone to Christ. I learned from Pastor Max D. Younce that I didn't have to pray, ask, call or confess Christ at all to be saved, I just needed to BELIEVE. Pastor Younce backed up everything he taught in his books with the inspired Word of God. That helpful book by Dr. Younce that helped me is titled: 'Salvation And The Public Invitation' (backup link).

Yes dear friend, you can be saved WITH or WITHOUT confession!!! I and Norm are not “Bozos who attacks soulwinning” as Pastor Anderson says in the preceding video embedding into this blog. I will not call Pastor Anderson names as he does others. There is an inherent danger in telling people to repeat a prayer to be saved, because it may confuse them about what exactly is the Gospel. Pastor Harry Ironside (1876-1951) gets the Gospel 100% correct in this helpful Gospel tract titled: 'What Is The Gospel?' The following helpful excerpt is from the preceding Gospel tract by Dr. Ironside...
What then is the content of this Gospel? We are told right here, "I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." There is such a thing as merely believing with the intelligence and crediting some doctrine with the mind when the heart has not been reached. But wherever men believe this Gospel in real faith, they are saved through the message. What is it that brings this wonderful result? It is a simple story, and yet how rich, how full. "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received." I think his heart must have been stirred as he wrote those words, for he went back in memory to nearly thirty years before, and thought of that day when hurrying down the Damascus turnpike, with his heart filled with hatred toward the Lord Jesus Christ and His people, he was thrown to the ground, and a light shone, and he heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" And he cried, "Who art thou Lord?" And the voice said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." And that day Saul learned the Gospel; he learned that He who died on the Cross had been raised from the dead, and that He was living in the Glory. At that moment his soul was saved, and Saul of Tarsus was changed to Paul the Apostle. And now he says, "I am going to tell you what I have received; it is a real thing with me, and I know it will work the same wonderful change in you. If you will believe it. "First of all, "That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." Then, "that He was buried." Then, "that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." ~Pastor Harry Ironside (1876-1951): 'What Is The Gospel?'
As Pastor Ironside says, it is not enough to know what the Gospel is (intellectual knowledge), you must make it personal by trusting the Gospel (Good News) as your only hope for Heaven.

I like what Pastor Curtis Hutson said, “A good rule to follow when interpreting the Bible is to never use an obscure passage to contradict a clear one.” Kindly said, these New IFB pastors today (i.e., Steven Anderson, Jonathan Shelley, Bruce Mejia, Roger Jimenez, et cetera) all echo whatever Pastor Steven Anderson says, who is their undisputed leader. They are all doing exactly what Pastor Curtis Hutson said not to do, they are using an obscure passage of Scripture from Romans 10:13 to contradict the entire clear Gospel of John. In John we are taught to “BELIEVE” on Jesus at least 85 times, but not once are we taught to “call.

God's Method is Not To Lead Lost Sinners To Pray, But Believe The Gospel

Kindly said, what Pastor Anderson doesn't seem to understand is that adding a requirement to pray a prayer to be saved OBSCURES the light of the truth of the Gospel. When I got saved at age 13, I did believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross. I admitted to God that I am a guilty sinner. I trusted that Jesus was buried and then physically raised up from the dead the third day. I believed and personally trusted Christ at age 13. I was forever born-again by faith alone. But those basic beliefs in the Gospel were clouded by the unbiblical requirement to pray a sinner's prayer, which I had been taught in church for years.

So for many years to come I kept doubting God's gift of salvation, wondering if I had left something out when I prayed. Did I really know that I was a sinner? I do know now, but did I know back then at age 13? What if? What if I go to Hell forever and miss out on the blessings of Heaven? What if I got something wrong? What if? What if? But when Pastor Younce clearly explained to me the simplicity that is in Christ, through faith alone WITHOUT CONFESSION, WITHOUT CALLING, WITHOUT ASKING or WITHOUT PRAYER, my salvation beliefs were finally SOLIDIFIED. And now for the past 20 years I have been sharing with others the blessed truths that I was taught by other faithful free grace Gospel preachers (e.g., Pastors' Max D. Younce, A. Ray Stanford, Hank Lindstrom, Ralph Yankee Arnold, Mark Cambron).

To clarify, it is okay for a new convert to ask, call, confess and pray to accompany their faith in Chris, but no preacher should ever tell someone that the Bible says to pray a prayer to be saved, because it doesn't. When the Philippian jailor in Rome asked Paul and Silas how to be saved, their simple answer was to “BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST” (Acts 16:31b). Paul and Silas didn't tell the jailer to call, pray, ask or confess!!! So why do these New IFB preachers foolishly ADD words to the Word of God? Why do they make salvation harder than it really is? Kindly said, Pastor Anderson says that the New IFB preachers are “helping” people get saved by leading them to pray. But I am living proof that what Pastor Anderson is saying is untrue. I suffered much unnecessary worry, grief and stress because every pastor I heard preacher said to pray a prayer at the end of their salvation presentation. The problem is that what they were teaching was not the pure Gospel, it was a hybrid.

Dear reader, you don't need to walk a church aisle to be saved. You can be saved right in your pew. You don't need to ask, confess, call or pray a prayer to be saved. The Bible simply says to “believe” on Jesus. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now, we know that the thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember Him, and the blessed Savior did. It is not wrong to ask Jesus to save you. It is not wrong to pray. However, you need to know that you could just as easily BELIEVE in your soul the Gospel, and never pray, call, confess or ask for salvation, and you are still 100% born-again by faith alone.

I do not understand why these New IFB pastors are so angry and attacking pastors like Ralph Yankee Arnold, Max D. Younce, Hank Lindstrom (1940-2008) and A. Ray Stanford (1916-2012), who preach the Bible truth that you don't have to pray, ask, confess or call to be saved, the Bible simply teaches to BELIEVE the Gospel (1st Corinthians 15:1-4).

The inherent problem which has developed over the past half century is that many people are merely praying a prayer, a “1-2-3 repeat after me” type recital, who don't truly understand what the Gospel even means. Those people are victims, not converts! I am not saying that these New IFB pastors are doing that. I know Pastor Steven Anderson's preaching well enough to know that he DOES believe a person can be saved by faith alone, without praying or confession. But I humbly disagree with him that the Bible way to be saved is to pray a prayer in accompaniment of one's faith in Christ. That is not the Bible way. Yes, the thief on the cross who repented did ask Jesus to remember him, but that was not the norm. Our perfect standard is the Gospel of John. John 20:31, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” The Gospel of John is God's Gospel tract, as we just read in John 20:31.

The worse thing a pastor can do, to a person who is struggling with the assurance of their salvation, is to lead them in a sinner's prayer to be saved. Doing that obscures the truth of the Gospel, confuses the person more, and doesn't help them in the least to solve the problem! You don't have to pray to be saved. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. (1883-1968) emphasizes this great Bible truth...
“'Pray to be saved. Ask the Lord to save you.' This is what I heard a minister say to a convicted sinner who came forward for prayer at the close of an evangelistic service. Nowhere in the Bible are men told to pray to be saved. There are examples where men did pray and were saved. Men are told to repent, to believe, to obey the Gospel, but the Bible never says to pray for salvation. It does say that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, but nowhere does the Bible command men to pray to be saved. I think I know why, God, who made the human heart, knew that it was not necessary to tell convicted sinners to pray. If a sinner can see Jesus Christ on the cross, it is as natural for him to pray as it is for birds to sing or flowers to bloom. 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.'” —Dr. Bob Jones Sr., “Comments On Here And Hereafter,” chapter: Prayer And Praise, page 163; Bob Jones University Press, Inc., © 1942
Amen and amen! There is nothing taught in the Bible about praying a sinner's prayer to be saved. That is why I stopped using it years ago. When I witness to people now, I simply present to them 'The Gospel' – the Good News of Christ crucified, buried and risen the third day (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). Anyone who comes to God as a needy sinner, receiving Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for their sins, believing that He is bodily risen from the dead, is saved. It's that simple!

What such a person needs is to be taught THE TRUTH that salvation does not require a prayer to be saved. Jesus has already paid for everyone's sins with His precious blood. That is why eternal life is a free gift. Anybody can have that free gift. All they need to do is take it, by faith alone in the 'GOOD NEWS' of Christ crucified, buried and risen. When I learned years later that I didn't need to pray at all, it solidified my knowledge that I was saved. I haven't had a single doubt (God knows I speak the truth) in about 30 years. But I really owe it to Pastor Max D. Younce for 100% solidifying my faith, in his helpful book titled: “SALVATION AND THE PUBLIC INVITATION.”

In his book, Dr. Younce admonishes all pastors to give people an opportunity to accept Christ as their Savior from the pew, without requiring them to walk down a church isle to find out how to get saved. Respectfully, if the pastor under whom I was saved had given me the opportunity to be saved in the pew, and simply would have explained to me how to be saved without leaving the pew, it may have saved me seven miserable years of worry and fear. Requiring people to walk an isle ADDS an additional step to the plan of salvation, which God does NOT require. Likewise, praying a sinner's prayer is an ADDITIONAL step which God does NOT require to be saved.

You Don't Have To Ask, God Is Already Offering You Eternal Life

Since Christ has already paid for our sins in full with His blood on the cross, God is OFFERING salvation to us freely. If we ask God to save us, He will say: “Why are you asking me to save you? I already promised that I will save anybody who BELIEVES on the name of my dear only begotten Son.” God is offering to us eternal life. It would be silly to ask God to give us something, that He is already freely offering to us. 1st Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

I did not write this blog to attack New IFB pastors, God knows my heart. I truly love those guys and support their aggressive soulwinning efforts. I think it is wrong for anyone to falsely accuse those New IFB pastors of preaching another gospel. That is not true! Pastor Steven Anderson does preach an accurate free grace Gospel, but by leading people to pray a sinner's prayer he runs the risk that some people may become confused about what the Gospel really is (as I was for several years).

When I got saved at age 13, I believed all the elements of the Gospel and was saved, but because I didn't know exactly what God expected of me to get to Heaven, I was terrified and worried sick for several years to come. Until I read Pastor Max Younce's helpful Bible study books many years later, I had never heard any preacher say that you could simply BELIEVE the Gospel, without praying or asking or confessing or calling or walking a church aisle, and still be saved.

Pastor Jack Hyles did preach many great sermons about being saved by faith alone, but since the entire church and college family were trained to lead people to pray a prayer to be saved, that was engrained in my brain. I didn't even realize how such an unbiblical practice was confusing and hindering me from finding perfect peace concerning God's free gift of salvation. The honest truth is that you DON'T need to pray at all to get to Heaven, faith is enough.

If that offends you, or you think I am barking up an empty tree, it is only because you didn't suffer through the many agonizing years of not being sure that I was going to Heaven. I cannot express in words the emotional trauma that I dealt with for a decade and beyond. Eventually, after several years of fear and uncertainty, I stopped worrying and just decided to trust God regardless of my doubts, but I still didn't have perfect peace. It wasn't until I read Dr. Younce's wonderful book: 'Salvation And The Public Invitation,' that I finally had perfect peace. My salvation beliefs were SOLIDIFIED. I guess I just needed to hear someone say what I already knew, but I couldn't nail it down; which is THE TRUTH that the Gospel is simply a matter of believing the GOOD NEWS that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried and bodily raised up from the dead three days later. BELIEVING is all that God requires, not praying or asking or calling or confessing, nor anything else.

The only requirement to be saved is to realize that we are a guilty needy sinner and there is a penalty for our sin. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23). There is a penalty for sinning, which the Bible says is death (Romans 6:23; Romans 5:12). That includes the “second death” (Revelation 21:8b). That is what we deserve, which means we NEED a Savior. That is what I mean by “needy sinner,” we all NEED a Savior. That is the purpose of God's law in the Old Testament, to show us our sinnership, and bring us to Jesus Christ to be saved by grace through faith (Galatians 3:24-26).

I strongly suggest that you memorize some of these Bible passages that I have mentioned. It will help you to get the inspired Words of God into your heart. We need to hide God's Word in our heart. God has PROMISED you eternal life in His Word. Titus 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” Jesus said in John 6:47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
“Lord, help me to preach today as if it were the last sermon I would ever preach.” —Dr. Jack Hyles

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