Why “praying to receive Christ” won’t get you saved

Last updated on October 10th, 2019


Building off of what I stated near the end of my last post, I’m writing this post to continue to fulfill God’s will for my life as a follower of Christ, by advancing the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve previously written a post on what the Scripture seems to indicate on how one receives salvation, which I’d highly recommend you’d read, but I never addressed the topic of how many professed Christians today promote the belief of one praying to receive Christ in order to gain salvation. Before I address this topic, I would just simply request that we withhold all pre-held beliefs and conclusions, and just let God lead us through His Word in what He appears to show us to believe and conclude. It’s something that I want to continually stress in every post that I write, that with anything in life, we have to continually ask questions and investigate Scripture objectively rather than just looking at it through the prism of what our traditions have taught us. We have to research the verses on whatever we’re trying to understand, and do our best to put all of the Scripture together, acknowledging all of the Scriptural facts in establishing our beliefs.

With that said let us consider seriously the thought that all one who has to do to receive salvation is to pray to receive Christ in their heart. Typically the prayer will sound similar to something like this. “Dear Lord, I believe you died on the cross for me and I ask you to forgive me of my sins. I ask to receive you as my Lord and Savior, in Jesus name I pray, amen.” You’ll at times have variations of this where people will add things like wash me clean with your blood and other things, but that’s the basics of the sinner’s prayer for salvation that often gets preached as to how one becomes saved. So objectively, I think the first question any of us should ask is does the Scripture specifically state, or even show an example, that one must pray to receive Christ in order to be saved.

One thing we have to remember is that Scripture is God speaking and/or illustrating the truth Himself (2 Peter 1:20). So if something is being stated in Scripture as what should be done, it’s what God is telling us to do. So going back to the question, does Scripture say that all one has to do to be saved is pray to receive Christ in their heart? Well, to my objective knowledge, and I’d sincerely appreciate anyone providing available verses to suggest otherwise, there is no verse that says, or shows an example, that you can be completely saved by just praying to receive Christ in your heart. To my knowledge, Jesus himself never said that you could pray your way to salvation. So it’s not in the Scripture, and thus not what God says, but seemingly just what man has invented.

Now there may be a verse that immediately comes to mind to some that affirms the way to one becoming saved is simply to pray your belief in Christ and ask to receive him as your Lord and Savior. Let’s objectively look at this verse that people will often point to. (Rom 10:9-10) states “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” If we’re all reading this correctly and honestly, yes, it does say believe, and confess, and a person is saved. This verse is true and absolutely should not be denied.

However, it is our job as Christians to acknowledge all of God’s Word. Now Jesus states in (Mark 16:16) “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” So if we’re all reading this correctly and honestly again, yes, it does say believe, baptized, and a person will be saved. Now someone might possibly say, “well it just says he who has disbelieved shall be condemned, not he who has disbelieved and not been baptized shall be condemned”. It’s an honest thought that one can bring up, but there’s a major problem with that thinking. If we look at things that way, one is essentially denying the truth of one portion of this verse, and only choosing to believe the portion of the verse they desire, which would lead us down a very slippery slope. The real question that has to be asked is disbelieving what? And in the context of the verse before this one, which you can read for yourself, it’s disbelieving the gospel Jesus tells the Apostles to preach, which is to believe and be baptized for salvation.

To continue with the larger point, we just looked at two different verses here, but they’re both rightfully what God says. Just as we can’t pick and choose one portion of a verse, we can’t pick and choose one verse over another. We have to put it all together, and in putting all of the truth of God’s Word together, one must believe, confess, and be baptized in order to be saved. You could also add repentance to that as well (Acts 2:38), because there are other salvation related verses that include that, and that’s how we’re putting all verses of Scripture together.

Some inaccurately conclude that baptism is a work that’s not a part of receiving salvation, and I won’t go into detail on why baptism isn’t a work since I’ve already discussed that in my previous Salvation post. The main point I’m focusing on this post is that it’s not scripturally accurate to say that praying to receive Christ is how to be saved, because it does not state that, and there is no such sinner’s prayer in there which man has seemingly invented over time. We looked at mark 16:16 showing Jesus, the man responsible for our salvation, disputing that notion by stating otherwise. So if anything, it’s highly deceiving.

There are many other verses where Peter and Paul, the apostles responsible for giving us a majority of our New Testament teachings, also dispute that notion by stating and illustrating how one does accurately become saved and a part of the body of Christ (Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:11-13, Hebrews 10:22, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21). These verses you can look at are just a few of many that we can all tie together to recognize what Scripture instructs of our receiving salvation. Prayer based salvation is a dangerous belief which is potentially leading millions of people to perish if they haven’t followed and respected all of what God states and illustrates in His Word on how individuals become saved (believe, repent, confess, be baptized). We truly have nothing to lose in making the choice to just go with what all of the Scripture states, as opposed to just what a portion of it states, and so much more than we can possibly imagine gaining, in obtaining eternity. God bless the true followers of Christ.


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