Christmas can be a very glutinous time of year, considering our unhealthy consumption of so many things - presents, cash, food, football, vacations, Christmas Carols, Christmas lights, trips to grandma's house. It seems like the only thing we don't overly consume at Christmas time is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
There is a disconnect, I think, in the life of the modern day Christian. And I think it begins in the pulpit on Sunday mornings and continues with the church of today. Something is missing.
I have heard pastors speak about the necessity to pray a "sinner's prayer." That's okay I guess, the praying of the prayer, not the necessity of it. But if things end right there, if there is no follow up, chances are that "new believer" will backslide right into the same place he was before. And what if the prayer that was prayed was not sincere? Are they still saved?
The disconnect for the new Christian is what to do AFTER the prayer. There is no instruction book . . . other than the Bible. Often, new believers are left alone, on their own, to try figuring out what to do next.
I myself never prayed a "sinner's payer" but I was blessed to have someone in my life to guide me when I finally DID come to believe. That has made all the difference in the world for THIS Christian.
If we go back and look at the Book of Acts we can find out what the early church did when it came to new believers. After the Holy Spirit was given to the people of the church Peter preached a sermon to all present in the synagogue. After Peter's powerful message the people asked a rather typical question for the new believer.
"37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” - Acts 2:37
Peter replied with this critical statement for ALL believers.
"38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." - Acts 2:38-39
Are today's new believers told they must REPENT of their sins? Are modern day Christians Baptized AFTER they come to believe? Let's continue reading.
"40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
After these new believers came to believe Peter continued to pour into their lives. He encouraged them to separate themselves from worldly living ("Be saved from this perverse generation"). Peter was mentoring them. Let's keep reading. What else did the new believer do back then?
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church[h] daily those who were being saved." - Acts 2:40-47.
That's the key to why many "sinner's prayer believers" fade away in their faith. They don't continue in fellowship, there is no post-belief education or instruction. And what is really scary is, most of these new believers think they got saved and that's all there is to it. Not so. Satan LOVES devouring new believers, getting them to drift away from their faith and making them ineffective tools for Christ. They are still saved because of their belief but they are rendered impotent through their post-belief inaction and apathy. And that is where many churches fail.
Do you know a new believer? Someone who is relatively new in their faith? Come along side them, encourage them, instruct them, rebuke them should any false doctrine come into their hearts. We are supposed to encourage one another. We are a family! We should act like one.
War On The Sinner's Prayer - Paul Washer