“What if I told you…” began in a line of a movie where people thought they were living in the real world, but in reality were serving as mere batteries for machines which kept them servile. The few who had been released from that system sought to tell others the lie they were living and it shook them to their core. What if I told you that they changed the formula on salvation by faith in Jesus Christ? It has been replaced by what is commonly called The Sinner’s Prayer a man-made invention the “earliest notion of which is less than 500 years old. It was not formulated as a theology until around the time of Billy Graham.” (Steven Francis Staten). And the concept of infant baptism is likewise not Biblical. What the truth is, found only in the New Testament, is far, far different. I urge you to consider what I am telling you about this. The destiny of your precious soul depends upon it.
WHAT UNINSPIRED MEN AND WOMEN HAVE TAUGHT, AND STILL TEACH, ON THE SUBJECT OF SALVATION BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST
A BRIEF HISTORY OF INFANT BAPTISM
Paul warned that the church would go into apostasy. While some of that was on its way (2 Thess. 2:7) and he warned of more to come (2 Thess. 2:3-12), it began in earnest in the second and third centuries. Infant baptism had its beginning in the second and third centuries through the efforts of men such as Cyprian of Carthage and Origen. It was part of the great apostasy. It has NO documented evidence for use in apostolic times nor did Jesus or any Apostle EVER command it. Men such as Tertullian opposed the idea – “Let them (children) come (to Christ) while they are growing up; let them come while they are learning, while they are being taught to what it is they are coming; let them become Christians when they are susceptible of the knowledge of Christ. What haste to procure the forgiveness of sins for the age of innocence. . . Let them first learn to feel their need of salvation; so it may appear that we have given to those that wanted” – (On Baptism, 18).
THE ERRORS OF INFANT BAPTISM
Foremost, it is not Bible baptism at all. Baptize = BAPTIZO – to immerse or overwhelm. (Strong’s); Sprinkle = RHANTIZO – to asperse, sprinkle. (op cit.); Pour = EKCHEO – to pour forth, spill. (op. cit.). Second, it does not involve faith on the one being immersed which is necessary – Mark 16:16 – “He that BELIEVES and is BAPTIZED shall be saved.” Children have absolutely NO understanding of faith in Christ. Furthermore, children would not need it anyway as they are sinless – Matthew 18:3.
THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION
Rejection of infant baptism produced a rejection of baptism itself as a human work of merit detached from belief in “faith alone” as justification for sin. Baptism became an “outward sign of an inward grace” and relegated to an act that merely provides membership in a denomination after a church-wide vote of confidence is taken.
FAMOUS PROTESTANT “EVANGELISTS” OF THE PAST INVENTED THE “MOURNER’S SEAT”
1730-1740 – Eleazer Wheelock – ‘“As far as one can tell, he would target sinners by having them sit in the front bench (pew). During the course of his sermon “salvation was looming over their heads.” Afterwards, the sinners were typically quite open to counsel and exhortation. In fact, as it turns out they were susceptible to whatever prescription the preaching doctor gave to them. According to eyewitnesses, false conversions were multiplied. Charles Wesley had some experience with this practice, but it took nearly a hundred years for this tactic to take hold.” (S. F. Staten – The Sinner’s Prayer). Men like Charles Finney, Dwight Moody and R. A. Torrence all added something to the mix which later became what is now the Sinner’s Prayer.
FAMOUS MODERN PROTESTANT “EVANGELISTS” – The Three “Bills”
Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, and Bill Bright all used the same basic methods for their “evangelistic” efforts leading to the finalized version of the Sinner’s Prayer. “Billy Graham was converted in 1936 at a Sunday-styled crusade. By the late 1940s it was evident to many that Graham would be the champion of evangelicalism. His crusades summed up everything that had been done from the times of Charles Finney through Billy Sunday except that he added respectability that some of the others lacked. In the 1950s Graham’s crusade counselors were using a prayer that had been sporadically used for some time. It began with a prayer from his Four Steps to Peace with God. The original four-step formula came during Billy Sunday’s era called in a tract called Four Things God Wants you to Know. The altar call system of Graham had been refined by a precise protocol of music, trained counselors and a speaking technique all geared to help people ‘accept Christ as Savior.’
In the late 1950s Bill Bright came up with the exact form of the currently popular Four Spiritual Laws so that the average believer could take the crusade experience into the living room of their neighbor. Of course, this method ended with the Sinner’s Prayer. Those who responded to crusades and sermons could have the crusade experience at home when they prayed, “Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”
Later, in 1977 Billy Graham published a now famous work entitled, How to Be Born Again. For all the Scripture he used, he never once uses the hallmark rebirth event in the second chapter of the book of Acts. The cataract (blind spot) kept him away from the most powerful conversion event in all Scripture. It is my guess that its emphasis on baptism and repentance for the forgiveness of sins was incompatible with his approach.” (S. F. Staten – op. cit.).
WHAT THE SCRIPTURES AND THEREFORE THE HOLY SPIRIT HAVE ALWAYS TAUGHT ON THE SUBJECT
WE ARE SAVED OR JUSTIFIED BY FAITH, BUT WE ARE NOT SAVED BY FAITH ONLY!
“Faith alone” shows up once in Scripture, but only when James states by inspiration that we are NOT saved by faith only – James 2:24. If it were by faith alone, what place is there for salvation by grace? By hearing? By confessing Christ? By baptism INTO Christ? Faith must be understood as TRUSTING OBEDIENCE, not MENTAL ASSENT, to the facts of the Gospel. Obedience involves ACTION on our part but is NOT a work of human merit! See John 12:42; 1 Corinthians 13:2.
FAITH COMES BY HEARING AND HEARING BY THE WORD OF GOD – Romans 10:17.
It comes only after the Gospel of Christ is preached or not at all. Faith is a matter of human choice. Faith in Christ leads one to the completion of the commands of Christ for salvation. It is the golden thread which ties all things together. Without faith we cannot please God and therefore could not be saved – Hebrews 11:6.
REPENTANCE, A CHANGE OF THE MIND AND WILL (DISPOSITION) TOWARD SIN MUST OCCUR – Acts 2:38.
One must determine to make a clean break with whatever the Scriptures show is sinful living. It is summed up in Jesus’ warning “SIN NO MORE” – John 5:14; 8:11.
THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST MUST BE CONFESSED (PROCLAIMED) AS DEITY – Matt. 10:32; Romans 10:9-10.
This is NOT a public declaration of the details of a sinful life, exposed to the world. HOMOLOGEO – to assent, acknowledge – to AGREE WITH the stated fact that Jesus of Nazareth is DIVINE. This is done “unto salvation” like all the rest of the Gospel commands, NOT in exclusion of them!
BAPTISM CROWNS FAITH AND PLACES THE BELIEVER “INTO CHRIST” – Acts 2:38; 22:16; Galatians 3:26-27.
No other act can do this – only baptism puts us “into Christ”! It follows if we are not baptized, then we are never put “into Christ.” And if we are not “in Christ” we remain unsaved. Baptism is by immersion ONLY and is for believers only. It is NOT a work of human merit! Like the baptism of John, it is of God (Matthew 21:25-26) and required for righteousness’ sake (Matthew 3:14-15).
What if I told you they have changed the Gospel plan of salvation and what you have been told, and may even now firmly believe, is a lie? Friend, that is EXACTLY what I am telling you. Open your New Testament and read it for yourself. Take off the blinders which have held you suspended in disobedience to God’s will. Of course you may continue to hold on to what you believe. It is a free country. Your mind is your own. But I have placed before you eternal life or eternal death so make your choice.
I HAD RATHER YOU BE MAD AT ME FOR TELLING YOU THE TRUTH, THAN HAPPY WITH ME FOR TELLING YOU A LIE.
– Danny McCain
Note: I am indebted to Steven Francis Staten for material on this important subject. I am uncertain where we agree on other subjects, but he is quite on the mark with this. For more information, please follow this link: http://www.bible.ca/g-sinners-prayer.htm