Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" Matthew 3:2
Now, with every head bowed and every eye closed, repeat after me: "Jesus come into my heart and be my personal Savior, Amen!" Millions have prayed the famous evangelical "Sinner's Prayer" and some indeed got saved being under great conviction by the Holy Spirit, but others just muttered a worthless oath! Why?
To understand this dilemma we have to look at the "Gospel of Jesus Christ" and see what was different then and how people were brought to the saving grace of God and the answer is: "The Gift of Repentance!" Jesus never led anyone in a prayer, nor did John the baptist, nor Peter, nor Paul or anyone else in the New Testament scriptures. The "Sinner's Prayer" was developed from Romans 10:8-10 which was actually taken from Deuteronomy 30:14-20 which is a covenant oath of commitment to the Lord. Inviting Jesus into your heart to be your personal Savior is not in the Bible!
According to the word of God we are saved by faith, but in order to believe one must be convicted that he has sinned against God, broken His laws and lived an evil life, or that he has come to desperation as I did when God saved me. Repentance has been taken out of the equation and considered by most to be confession and not a total about face in regards to an evil lifestyle. Without confession of sin and a heart willing to turn away from that sin, there can be no forgiveness, without which there can be no salvation!
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs16:25
JOHN THE BAPTIST'S INVITATION
"Brood (offspring) of vipers! (poisonous snakes) Who warned you to flee from the wrath (anger of God) to come?" Luke 3:7
There is nothing like making folks feel at home at your baptism ceremony and John made it known to the religious crowd that this wasn't just another dead religious service, this was the way to salvation! John the baptist would not be allowed in any of our modern day church services, not because of his dress, or his diet of grasshoppers, but because he spoke the truth that is able to set men free!
John was preaching the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ to those who were willing to die by repenting of their sins and to be baptized into death and raised in newness of life. John's message to the Jews who said they had Abraham for their father, believing they were inheriting salvation from their ancestors like many today, hoping to get in because of their grandmother's faith asked who warned them to flee from the judgment and anger of the Lord!
The people were cut to the heart by John's preaching of judgment and repentance and cried out in anguish saying, "What shall we do?" John proceeded to tell them to put feet to their repentance by turning away from their evil lifestyles by treating people fairly and by not defrauding them or extorting them any more.
"I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." Luke3:16
JESUS SHARES HIS GOSPEL OF REPENTANCE
Now a certain ruler asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Luke 18:18
That is the question every good evangelist, preacher, pastor and church member has an answer for! "Son, just bow your head and repeat after me" but Jesus isn't like us today and didn't preach the same gospel, He told the boy that no one is good but God, immediately dispelling the fact that being good saves you!
Then He recited the commandments and the lad said he had kept them from his youth, something no one has ever done but Jesus. Then He told the boy, "One thing you lack, sell all you have and give it to the poor and come follow Me! What! No self respecting preacher today would have let this rich boy escape without leading him in a prayer and inviting him to come to his church thinking he would become a "Big Tither!" Sad, but true, Jesus didn't lead Him in a prayer because the boy wasn't under conviction that his wealth had his heart and wasn't willing to be a follower, he just wanted the benefit of salvation but wasn't willing to pay the price!
The glorious gospel of Jesus Christ has been perverted by greedy men wanting to gain wealth and prominence by exploiting the unsuspecting to join "Their" church and fill their treasuries! The stark reality of this story is the rich ruler went to Hell, and although he was sorrowful and so was Jesus, he left lost and unless he later repented, died in his sins only to descend into damnation forever!
"How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! "For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Luke 18:24,25
Your servant in Christ, Timothy Laughlin