Debunking the "Sinners Prayer"

The "Sinner's Prayer" is a staple in evangelicalism, especially in regards to personal evangelism. But is it Biblical, and if not where did it come from?

You might be surprised to know that the "Sinner's Prayer" is relatively new, and has it's roots in American revivalism.

In this episode I discuss the first characteristic from Bryan Wolfmueller's book Has American Christianity Failed? called "Revivalism."

I also promised to post a link in the show notes that give a detailed history of the prayer. Here's that link.   The link will only take you to part of Paul Chitwood's dissertation on "The Sinner's Prayer." You can download the entire 168 page dissertation in PDF by clicking a link on that same page. 

I'm trying something new. I put time stamps at the bottom of the Spreaker player to make it easier for listeners to find specific section of the episode that might interest them. I have not yet found a way to link them to the player itself so you'll have to scroll through the audio manually. Hope you enjoy!

05:55- I discuss a section of Wolfmueller's book that narrows down the biggest danger of the Sinners Prayer

16:25- Is the Sinners Prayer found anywhere in Scripture? If not, where did it come from? 

27:57- Charles Finney- Dwight L Moody 

35:32- Campus Crusade for Christ: Four Spiritual Laws 

Has American Christianity Failed?

Well it's official. After a long sabbatical (no pun intended) I've decided to take up the mic again and podcast. In this first episode in over a year I review the book Has American Christianity Failed? by Bryan Wolfmueller.

I also play part of a sermon by Troy Gramling of "Potential Church" to show what you'll here on any given Sunday in your typical American evangelical church. Then I compare it with a sermon from my own Pastor, David Gruenwald of St. Paul's Lutheran Church. The difference will be obvious. Hope you enjoy!

The Gospel is for Believers

Read Bible

Refrain from cussing

Witness to someone

Some of us love checklists. If we can check things off it lets us feel a sense of accomplishment. But when it comes to the gospel checklists are bad. Very bad. Paul wrote to a group of believers in Galatia to warn them about their own checklists. They had begun validating their own justification with the checklist of the Law. Paul's stern warning should also be a warning to us. It's easy to slip into that checklist mode, but when we validate our justification by that checklist we are treading on dangerous ground.

When we begin checking off our list we become spiritually prideful and arrogant of our own righteousness. Our boastfulness to be disciplined in "religion" becomes an all consuming fire. We become our own god. We become idolaters!

For others, it causes a deep depression. I should know. I've been that person more than once. I've looked at my own checklist, and though I was seeming doing everything could not escape the feeling of condemnation. My assurance came from within rather than from the Person and work of Jesus.

Christian, while the Bible gives us proofs to look at, while we are exhorted to examine ourselves, we must remember that these were never meant to be a hard copy list to go by. Looking inward will either cause pride or depression. Let us always look upward to God and outward to the cross.

Embedded below is a Phrase I constructed of Galatians 3:1-7. The notes are attached to the bottom of the Phrase. While it is only intended to be a general overview and not a deep exposition it still serves as a good reminder for believers that we still need the gospel–even after we're saved.

Feel free to look it over and leave some feedback if you wish. To God alone be the glory for our justification. If your browser does not support the embed please visit the page using this link. Thank you.


The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers

I was blessed to receive a copy of The Valley of Vision this morning by a brother in my Care Group from church. It is a collection of Puritan prayers and is both encouraging and admonishing at the same time. Below, is the very first passage I read after receiving the book. Read and be refreshed.

The Gospel Way

Blessed Lord Jesus,
No  human mind could conceive or invent the gospel.

Acting in eternal grace, thou art both its messenger and its message, lived out on earth through infinite compassion, applying thy life to insult, injury, death, that I might be redeemed, ransomed, freed.

Blessed be thou, O Father for contriving this way.
Eternal thanks to thee, O Lamb of God, for opening this way.
Praise everlasting to thee, O Holy Spirit, for applying this way to my heart.

Glorious Trinity, impress the gospel on my soul, until its virtue diffuses every faculty; Let it be heard, acknowledged, professed, felt.

Teach me to secure this mighty blessing; Help me to vie up every darling lust, to submit heart and life to its command, to have it in my will, controlling my affections, moulding my understanding; to adhere strictly to the rules of true religion, not departing from them in any instance, nor for any advantage in order to escape evil, inconvenience or danger.

Take me to the cross to seek glory from its infamy; Strip me of every pleasing pretence of righteousness by my own doings.

O gracious Redeemer, I have neglected thee too long, often crucified thee, crucified thee afresh by my impenitence, put the to open shame.

I thank thee for the patience that has borne with me so long and for the grace that now makes mw willing to be thine.

O unite me to thyself with inseparable bonds, that nothing may ever draw me back from thee, my Lord, my Saviour.

3 Reasons Why It's Okay To Be Narrow-Minded

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary the word 'narrow-minded' is defined as, not willing to accept opinions, beliefs, or behaviors that are unusual or different from your own. 

Culture has assimilated our thinking to believe that narrow-mindedness is bad. Perhaps when it comes to every single opinion, or every single subject, or every single dogma it is unacceptable. But when it comes to the area of religion, and especially soteriology (salvation), narrow-mindedness is not a bad thing. In fact, I argue three areas in which narrow-mindedness is good.

Narrow-mindedness defines the gospel

The gospel is exclusive. Jesus is the only way a person can have a relationship with God. By its definition that makes the gospel narrow-minded. Jesus Himself admonishes His hearers that the way to God is narrow
(Mt 7:13-14)  “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Jesus' narrowness did not stop there. In John 14:6, conversing with His disciples, He stated, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me. 

Jesus left no room for any other way to have a relationship with God. He is it! He is the sole and only gate to the Father. His way is narrow and only those with a narrow mind to believe this will enter.

 Narrow-mindedness is logical

If Jesus is the only way to God then it is logical to say that no other religion can claim something different and be true at the same time Jesus' statement is true. It is the law of non contradiction. In other words, all religions CANNOT co-exist. We've all seen the bumper sticker. You know? The one in the picture below.

Containing all the symbols of the world's major religions, it is a statement that everyone should put aside their religious beliefs and live in harmony. However, it has become more about all religions being valid and no other religion is better than any other.

Religiously speaking this is a logical impossibility. Can peoples of different religions live together without blowing each other off the face of the planet? Absolutely! But different religions cannot all be true, for that would be a contradiction. If one is true then by logic the other cannot be. If Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh and the only way to have a relationship with the Father then His statement is either completely true or completely false. The claims of truth made must be able to be validated, and if they are it leaves no room for any other "truth" because nothing else will be true except the said, validated truth.

Narrow-mindedness is not a bad thing

Given that being narrow-minded in the area of absolute truth is essential then we must conclude that not all narrow-mindedness is bad. Everyone is narrow-minded in one way or another. Even those who are opposed to narrow-mindedness are narrow-minded of their narrow-minded peers, if you think about the definition given above. If you are not willing to accept my narrow-mindedness because it differs from your opinion, you are narrow-minded.

But standing for truth cannot be qualified as narrow-mindedness. Why? Because there is only one truth. And if that truth is absolute then there is no other truth. And if there is no other truth then it is not narrow-minded to claim that there is only one truth.

After all, either Jesus is who He claimed to be or He is not. He cannot be both God and not God at the same time (John 1:1, 8:58). He cannot be Savior and not Savior at the same time (Matt 1:21). He cannot atone for sins and not atone for sins at the same time (Heb 9:12). He cannot claim exclusivity and not claim exclusivity at the same time (John 14:6). Either He is, or He isn't (Heb 1:3). And that is the absolute truth!

Soli Deo Gloria

Phrasing the Scriptures

Phrasing, also called Block Diagramming, has become an integral part of my Bible study. Along with Arcing,  I find it very useful in order to find the flow of thought in the text. Below is Biblearc's video on their Phrasing module.

BibleArc's Phrasing Module from Bethlehem College & Seminary on Vimeo.

I hope that when you watched it you became as excited as I did when I watched it for the first time. I have been a fan of Phrasing for sometime, and until Biblearc got the Phrasing module up and running, had been content to Phrase on my own using a word processor.

Biblearc's module makes it super easy to to split the passage into phrases, indent them, and subordinate them with arrows showing which phrases are subordinate to the main anchor phrase. Back in November I took a Phrasing class offered by Biblearc. Below is a screenshot from one of the homework assignments.

Homework Assignment from Titus

We phrased our way through the entire book of Titus. But don't let that fool you; this small book was challenging and a bit difficult, at first. With all the arrows and labels it looks a bit confusing, but it really is a very helpful discipline to learn. Once you make it a regular practice you will find yourself able to be more proficient. Practice makes perfect and Phrasing & Arcing are no exceptions.

I can't recommend Phrasing and Arcing enough! I get excited about using these tools to discover the Truths of God's Word for myself. I hope you'll jump on over to Biblearc and begin learning these study methods. Once you do, I promise you will not be sorry.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Update to our Comment Policy

Dear blog readers

I was recently viewing some of the comments left on this blog and noticed that many of them were anonymous. I have changed the setting to no longer allow anonymous posting. You do not have to have a Blogger ID to post, but when you want to post you will be prompted to sign in either with Google or an Open ID, which can be pretty much anything from any account.

Thanks so much for your understanding.