Tuesday, December 8, 2009


There are times when I sit to type on topics such as this one, that I feel like shutting down the computer and not even starting, or to start with an apology to all of those who have such a wonderful gift of expressing truth in eloquent words. 'I ain't that way.' Mine will not use such voluminous vernacular, but simpler words from the heart.
We begin a study today on the topic of salvation, or how one obtains salvation. I am Baptist! I am unashamedly Baptist! I become more Baptist with every sermon I study! Being a Baptist, I believe in salvation by grace through faith! I believe salvation is a gift of God! I believe that salvation is obtained not of ourselves, not of works! (Eph. 2:8-9, Titus 3:5) I believe that even the faith that saves me is not mine own, but a faith of God that He gives to me (Eph. 2:8). In other words, I believe that all my good works are filth in the sight of God (Is. 64:6), and that I at my best, fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). No baptism, church attendance, sacrifice, or good deed can earn my way to Heaven. It is totally by His grace and faith! I believe this salvation is free to each and everyone as He died for the sins of the world (John 3:16) and is not willing that ANY should perish (2 Peter 3:9). I also believe that every good Baptist has 'Amened' every word I have typed and we all in one 'baptiminical' voice cry out

But it is then, I pick up one of our many tracts such as this one and read the back after our Gospel message is shared only to read, "If you will accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour, please pray this prayer with all your heart..."
Did we just add a work? Did we just put a standard by which to accomplish this work? Do we not 'assure' people of their salvation by pointing back to this work in saying, "Well, was there a time when you prayed and asked the Lord to save you?" Have we inadvertently added a work and as a consequence confused and robbed people of their assurance or (may God forbid) robbed people of their salvation?


Momof4 said...

Does the Lord then add a work in Romans 10:13 when he says, "Whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."? Is this calling not what we equate with the "sinners prayer?"

True faith will produce works. (James 2:14-26) If a person hears the Gospel (The work of a soul winner), understands it (the work of the Holy Spirit - I Cor 2:14), believes it (also the work of the Holy Spirit - as you mentioned - Eph 2:8-9), it will cause him to cry out to God to be saved. (A faith produced work)

Jesus in Matthew 12:41 refers to the repentance of Nineveh. In Jonah 3:5-8 it says the the people that heard Jonah's message of judgment believed God, proclaimed a fast, wore sackcloth, cried mightily unto God, and turned from their evil ways. Now notice vs 10 "And God saw their WORKS (emphasis added)..." So did their works save them? NO!!! Their faith did because it all started when they choose to believe God. None of the other things would have made any difference if they didn't believe and if they said they believed but did nothing -- then it was not true faith!!

That said, I believe that a sinners prayer on the back of a tract is not adding a work, but a guide to help one who reads and believes to know how to put their faith into action. Sure someone could, not believing, pray that as an empty prayer, and thus gain a false security, but that is the limitation of a tract. Therefore, we must use tracts only when direct soulwinning is not an option.

btw this is not Momof4, but her husband... didn't notice who was logged in until now! :D

Travis Burke said...

Thanks Mom of 4's husband :-)
The subject of Romans 10 will be covered later, just keep in mind that in context, Romans 10 is written to the Jew (10:1).
The rest of what you wrote I mostly agree. I will word it this way, and will get into it more in the next few weeks.
I agree that true faith produces works and that upon believing, one can pray-that is a fruit of salvation. You gave verses for every thought in your second paragraph except for "it will cause him to cry out to God to be saved." No Scripture for that one. I agree, a prayer is a faith produced work. Just as I can pray today, but a prayer does not save.
I agree whole heartedly with repentance (I'm on the repentance blacklist :-)
A person is saved by believing in what Christ has done for them, and that belief demands a repentance.
The problem is, as you stated, a sinner's prayer on a tract is a guide to help one put their faith in action. Not a bad thought I suppose, but most who read that tract are saved BECAUSE they prayed instead of praying BECAUSE they are saved.
The prayer is a fruit, not a means of salvation.
We have therefore, caused many to doubt their salvation because they then wonder if they have prayed right, prayed enough, prayed with all their heart, etc.
It's not our work that saves.
I will discuss this more in the weeks ahead and truly appreciate your thoughts.
Thanks for contributing!

Eli said...

I have also thought this, and it's made me wonder. Is it possible to believe all that Christ died on the cross for our sins, believe in the trinity, believe in everything you need to believe to be saved, and not truly know you're saved simply by lack of understanding.

That wording sounds confusing, but if someone were never really taught anything about the subject, but they wholeheartedly believed these things and were not even aware that this is what it takes to gain salvation.

This is going in a slightly different direction, but, couldn't someone who is Catholic or Episcopalian be saved simply because, even though many of their beliefs may be misguided, in this aspect they believe all these things. And although they think it is their works that will get them to heaven, they still believe that Christ died for their sins, as contradictory as that is. I know many catholics who believe all of that.

This is just a curious question raised in the light of someone who probably knows better than I.

Travis Burke said...

That is an interesting question, one in which I hope to address these next few weeks.
I believe again that we are saved by grace through faith and that the grace and faith is a gift of God. If one truly understands what they are believing in, then they will also truly understand the error of teaching they are receiving in false churches.
I too know Catholics who believe in the death and resurrection of Christ, but they believe that Heaven is obtained by their works, therefore they truly do not have faith in the atonement of Christ, for they look to themselves or some other means to assure Heaven. I believe this is just what the author of Hebrews was speaking of in HEbrews 4 when he wrote:
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

3For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Silence Dogood II said...

I agree that we are saved by faith and not by praying... As to scripture to support crying out to God, I did mention the account in Jonah 3, but you could also refer to the publican in Luke 18:13 where Jesus is illustrating the difference between the sincere and the self-righteous.

I also understand that Romans 10 is talking about the Jew in context, but it is also talking about salvation in context. It also says in verse 12 that there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek. (the verse immediately before the one I cited in my comment.)

We certainly agree that explaining the Gospel clearly and carefully is of the utmost importance. Satan is clearly involved in confusing the issue.(I Cor 14:33)

The husband of Mom of 4, properly signed in! :D

Travis Burke said...

Thanks silence do...err...momof4's husband..err whoever you are.
I agree with you pretty much Dan, just that both in Jonah and the Luke 18 I believe are teaching fruits of salvation. Nineveh showed their works after believing.
The publican in Luke 18 was used by the Lord in teaching about prayer and being humble in their prayers not thinking of ourselves too highly as the Pharisees do. Again the prayer has nothing to do with salvation.
Again, Romans 10 is an entirely different issue that I will just wait to address.
Just trying to get us thinking.
The synopiss of this post is my sentence in my first response:
Are they saved because they pray or pray because they are saved?
There is a great difference!

Sherri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chrystal said...

Loving this "discussion". As someone who was "saved", then "doubted", then "saved" then doubted..then SAVED..I understand that I was puting my faith in if I had done enough to "really be saved"..if I had done enough! Not the Lord, but ME! All of that faith and doubt was in myself. I can honestly say that my doubts were when I was questioning my prayer..This is a hard study..but I believe truly important. Can't wait to keep reading! Thanks for getting the ball rolling, and encouraging my own study on the subject.

E. Francis said...

I am conducting bible studies at our Baptist church on GRACE and its role in the new covenant. Most of our members, and ministers still believe that their salvation is predicated upon a mixture of law (their works) and grace (umerited favor). They have a hard time believing that their sins are freely forgiven, and continue to work to prove themselves worthy of salvation, even after their conversion experience. They often express feelings of unworthiness as their works usually fall short short of the expectations of the law by which they judge themselves.
This seems to be a hard concept for most christians to grasp because they fall into condemnation by the church when they commit sin.

Travis Burke said...

E. Francis,
Thank you for the comment. I understand what you have written. The Bible clearly teaches that our salvation is not based upon our works, but upon what Christ has already done. (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Our sins have been forgiven, because Christ said so and He cannot lie (Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14; Titus 1:2).
We all should feel "unworthy" for we all see daily what a wicked sinner we are; but His grace is what makes our salvation so amazing and sweet!
Jude 24-25 "Now unto him that is able to tkeep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty and dominion and power both now and ever."
We can't keep ourselves right-but He is Able! No church, no works, no standards can keep us from falling-but God is Able; and He does this work "with exceeding joy."
This makes our salvation not a drugery or fear of falling into condemnation, but a reason to every day give Him "glory and majesty and dominion and power!"