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.”
I have a few Facebook and web visitors who are angry and emotionally worked up over this issue, because whatever Pastor Steven Anderson teaches they follow with a cult-like loyalty. I on the other hand, support Pastor Anderson when he is correct, and I rebuke him when he is wrong. Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001) rightly taught me to be loyal to principles and truth, and never to men or institutions. That is what is very wrong with the Pensacola Christian College (PCC) camp, they are loyal to their institution; and to their unsaved Calvinist buddies at Bob Jones University (BJU). Truth doesn't matter to them at PCC or BJU, which is why they refuse to contend for the faith as I am doing, by God's grace. PCC refuses to expose the BJU infidels that they are in bed with spiritually committee adultery. You'll never expose the devil you are sleeping with!!!
In fairness, I have heard Pastor Anderson teach that a lost sinner can be saved without praying. Unfortunately, some New IFB followers foolishly think that you must pray to be saved, failing to understand that Pastor Anderson does believe you CAN be saved without praying. I agree with Pastor Anderson on that. I would expose him as damnable false prophet if he didn't believe you could be saved without prayer. Thankfully, Pastor Anderson does believe that faith in Christ is enough to be saved.
The problem is that Pastor Anderson errantly thinks prayer is God's way of leading people to Christ. But the Scriptures do not agree with him. Yes, some places in the Bible men accompanied their faith with a prayer at the time of salvation, such as the repentant thief on the cross, who asked Jesus to remember him in eternity. However, as I mentioned earlier, the entire Gospel of John and Acts 16:30-31 teach very clearly that BELIEVING is the Bible way to be saved, not by praying. Nowhere in the Gospel of John did Jesus tell someone to pray, follow, ask, turn from past sinful ways, confess or call to be saved, He simply said to BELIEVE ON HIM (John 3:16; 6:28-29, 40, 47; 11:25-26).
When the Apostle Paul wrote to rebuke the corrupted churches at Galatia, he asked them in Galatians 3:2 if they had been saved by the keeping of the law, or by THE HEARING OF FAITH. Galatians 3:2, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Again, there is no mention of praying. It bothers me that the New IFB pastors are insisting that praying a sinner's prayer is God's method to be saved, when the Bible does not support that claim. Just because a few people prayed a prayer doesn't make it God's standard. I agree with what Dr. Bob Jones Sr. (1883-1968) said...
“'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., © 1942I am not against pastors who use the sinner's prayer (as Dr. Hyles did), even though I am against using a sinner's prayer unless the person receiving Christ is told that they DON'T get saved by praying a prayer. When I got saved at age 13, I cried out in my soul for Jesus to save me. It was a natural response to my faith. But I was saved by God's grace through faith, not by praying silently in my heart to be saved. I could have just as easily believed without praying. It is very important to explain to people that BELIEVING the Gospel is enough to be saved, with or without praying, lest they become confused later on and doubt God's free gift of salvation.
Albeit, leading people in a sinner's prayer runs the risk of confusing them for years to come. I worried for many years that I wasn't saved, because every religious tract I picked up to read, and every preacher that I heard from the pulpit, unbiblically led people to pray to be saved. Even though I knew that prayer didn't save me, God's grace through faith alone did, I sincerely thought that praying was God's method to be saved. I had been indoctrinated with the following way to be saved (something along these lines)...
- Admit you are a sinner
- Realize there is a penalty for sin, death (including a second death in Hell)
- Believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins, was buried and resurrected three days later
- Pray and ask Jesus to save you (and they usually quote a prayer for you to repeat)
It wasn't until decades later, when I learned from Pastor Max D. Younce's helpful book titled: "Salvation And The Public Invitation" (backup file) that my salvation beliefs were solidified. The reason why Pastor Younce's book resonated with me so much is because he writes about being saved in a church pew, which is exactly where I was saved. Dr. Younce scolds pastors who require lost sinners to walk down an aisle to learn how to be saved. Why does a person have to walk down an aisle to learn how to be saved? That is an excellent point! Those wicked pastors are adding an unnecessary step to God's simple plan of salvation.
I thank God for Pastors' Max D. Younce, Ralph Yankee Arnold, Hank Lindstrom, Mark G. Cambron, A. Ray Stanford and others who preach a simple free grace Gospel without using a sinner's prayer to be saved (as the Bible teaches). I will never use a sinner's prayer again, because it confused me and I know it will confuse others too, by obscuring God's simple plan of salvation, the simplicity that is in Christ (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4).
In his helpful classic sermon titled: "Fundamentalist Heresy," Dr. Jack Hyles explains that we are saved by faith alone, not by praying a prayer or asking Jesus into our heart. It bothers me that Pastor Hyles preached that we are saved by faith alone, but then taught us to go soulwinning by leading lost sinner's to pray to be saved. That is a contradiction. I have no doubt that 90% of the people who prayed a sinner's prayer did get saved, but I am also firmly convinced that many of those alleged converts became confused (as I did) and didn't get saved, or as in my case, worried for years to come about not being saved.
It is critically important that people be told that faith alone is enough to be saved. Why even run the risk of confusing someone by asking them to pray? What is the purpose? Why cannot they simply believe the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified, buried and risen the third day?
I do not criticize any pastor who leads lost sinner's to pray to be saved. I have never criticized Pastor Anderson or Dr. Hyles for leading lost sinners to pray to be saved. But I personally don't do it, and I think I am following the Bible more closely than those preachers who do use a sinner's prayer. The Gospel of John is on my side (or I should say, I am on the side of the Gospel of John). I believe most of those people who are led to pray a sinner's prayer did get saved. But I do also think some of them may have been confused, missing the truth of the Gospel because they were told to pray a prayer. The "1-2-3 follow me" lame prayer recital doesn't save anyone. But that is what often happens when Christian workers are taught to lead people in a prayer to be saved. It is inevitable over time, because their is a chain of miscommunication. What saith the Scripture? Acts 16:30-31, “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.” They didn't tell the Philippian jailer to pray, did they.
The bottom line is that the Bible plainly teaches throughout the Gospel of John, 1st Thessalonians 4:14, Galatians 3:2, Romans 3:24-25, 1st Corinthians 15:1-4, Galatians 3:26 and umpteen other Scripture passages, that faith in Jesus Christ is enough to be saved. Galatians 3:26, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” I don't see any mention of saying a prayer, do you? Oh, why can't preachers just leave the Bible alone!
So that is my position in this matter. The New IFB are very wrong. I've noticed that whatever Pastor Anderson preaches, all the other New IFB pastors parrot. Steven Anderson is the New IFB movement! I thank God for their aggressive soulwinning efforts, but I won't support them blindly when they are wrong.
In this YouTube video link where New IFB pastors horribly gang up on Evangelist Norm Diamante, Pastor Anderson downplays the issue like it's no big deal, making a fuss of why some preachers are quarrelling over praying a prayer to be saved. Yet, the very fact that Pastor Anderson and his followers are making an issue, proves that this is a sore matter. The very fact that New IFB pastors are ganging up on Norm Diamante to criticize him, proves that this is indeed a critically important matter, which strikes at the heart of preachers. It sure is an important matter to me!