Romans 10:9-13, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 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?”
Kindly said, anytime that you lead someone to prayer a sinners prayer to get saved, you are confusing them of what is the true Gospel. I am not splitting hairs friend, I know from painful experience what I am saying. I was 13 years old when I first truly understood that I was a sinner. I had heard the Gospel for the first time. The preacher said if you don't have the Holy Spirit convicting you about sin in your life, you're not saved. I knew that I wasn't saved. I was afraid for the first time in my life of going to Hell. That day from my pew I quietly received Jesus as my personal Savior. But I was too timid to walk down to the front of the church. Oh how I wish the preacher that day would have told me how to be saved in my pew He didn't.
So for the next seven painful years I struggled day-by-day in worry and misery, not knowing for sure if I was saved. I read every religious tract that I could get my hands on. They all said to pray at the very end. I listened on the edge of my seat when I heard preachers speak. They all said if you want to be saved, walk down to the front of the church to learn how. I wish they had simply told people how to be saved right there in their pew seat. But they didn't!
For years as a teenager I had prayed and prayed the sinner's prayer again and again, doing exactly what the church tracts told me to do, asking God to please save me. I must have prayed at least 50 times over the years! My eyes each time were filled with tears, and my heart with fear and worry. What if I missed Heaven? What if I went to Hell forever? Oh the agony of soul of not knowing! Little did I know that I was already saved, simply because I BELIEVED at age 13. At age 17 I couldn't take it anymore, so I decided to go talk with my pastor in his church office, and I did. He errantly concluded that since I didn't know I was saved, it must mean that I'm not. He then did the worst thing that he possibly could have done—he led me in another sinner's prayer! Oh boy!
Now I was really in a world of hurt! Now I couldn't dare tell anybody that I still didn't know I was saved, because my pastor just announced to the whole church that he led me to the Lord at age 17. The truth is that he had led me to the Lord at age 13, under his preaching, but because he required everyone to walk down an isle to learn about salvation, I never found out what had happened back in my pew. One of the worst injustices a preacher will ever commit is to require someone to walk down an isle to be saved.
My friend, Pastor Max Younce, had these important words to say about an observation he made at a preaching meeting he attended, to hear Dr. John R. Rice and Pastor Jack Hyles in the 1970's:
I stopped leading people in a sinner's prayer many years ago. I attended Hyles-Anderson College (1985-1993). I had the Roman's Road and the Sinner's Prayer engrained into my brain and habit. Pastor Hyles has often made it very clear that prayer does not save anybody. You can hear him say this at 15:10 and 18:40 time in the following sermon titled: 'FUNDAMENTALIST HERESY.' I don't know why Dr. Hyles chose to continue with the sinner's prayer, but he did. I don't like it or use it, because it runs the risk of confusing people. Dr. Younce doesn't use it, and I fully agree with him, and commend him for it. Pastor Steven Anderson uses the sinner's prayer, but I've heard him say that you CAN be saved simply by believing.
Now, I disagree with the Melbourne Hard Preaching Fellowship on YouTube that “the sinner's prayer is a work,” and you are not saved if you use it! That all depends on whether or not you are relying upon a prayer to save you! If so, yes, it is a work, and you are not saved. If you prayed a sinner's prayer as an expression of your heart's faith in Christ, then no, it is not a work. Still, I am very much against using the Sinner's Prayer to lead people to Christ, because of the very situation that I was in, confused and not sure what God expected of me to be saved. I did believe, so I know now that I was saved, but back then I kept wondering if I prayed right! I wondered if perhaps I had forgot to say something. I mean, every religious tract told me to pray at the end. Every Baptist preacher that I heard told me to come down an isle, and the way to be saved was to repeat a prayer after me: “123 follow me.” What confusion! What an injustice!
If you simply believe the Gospel (i.e., the Good News) of Jesus Christ—the Good News that He died on the cross for your sins, was buried and resurrected bodily the third day, you are saved. If what Christ did on the cross is your only hope for Heaven, you are born-again and saved eternally. Eternal life is a gift from God. The question is—have you received the gift?