By Ken Cooper
The idea that a person is saved by merely accepting Jesus as his personal Savior and praying for God to forgive him is taught by many today. However, this doctrine is mans idea, not Gods. One will never read in the Bible of a person who became a child of God, or had his alien sins remitted, through prayer.
A case in point is the conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10. Here we learn that the Lord told Cornelius that his prayers had been heard and then told him to “send men to Joppa, and send for Simon” (vv. 5,32). Why send for Simon? Was it so Simon could tell him he had been saved through prayer? No. Peter later reports it this way, “Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter; who will tell you words, by which you and all your household will be saved” (Acts 11:13-14). Cornelius was a man who was seeking for truth, one who wanted to hear what God would have him do. Cornelius was not told that his prayers had saved him, rather, to send for Simon Peter who would tell him what to do to be saved.
Another example from which we learn this same truth is the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-11 and 22:1-21). Saul was traveling toward Damascus, when a light from heaven shined around him. Jesus spoke to Saul and told him to go into the city where he would be told what he must do. For three days, Saul could not see, he did not eat or drink, and he prayed. Did fasting and prayer cause the Lord to save Saul? No. Jesus sent Ananias to Saul to tell him what he must do. “And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16).
Prayer is not the way God has given for the alien sinner to be saved. No person is saved without first being taught (Jn. 6:44-45; Mk. 16:15; Acts 11:14), and no one is saved without obedience to the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8-9; 1 Pet. 4:17; Acts 2:27-38; 22:16). God tells us in the New Testament that we must: (1) Believe on Christ (Acts 16:31); (2) Repent of our sins (Acts 2:38); (3) Confess that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 8:37); (4) be baptized to have our sins forgiven (Acts 22:16).
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 14 p. 15
July 15, 1993