by Stephen M
Golden, Copyright © 12 November 2003
Many people believe the message of the Gospel is that “Christ died for you” and that we need
to “accept Jesus” as our “personal
savior” by praying “the Sinner’s
Prayer” so we might “receive Jesus”
by “asking him into our hearts.”
Unfortunately, none of that is the Gospel, nor the plan of
salvation, nor is any of it scriptural.
Let’s examine each phrase.
1. “Christ died for you”
You won’t find that in the New Testament. Instead, what you do find is, Christ died for us.
Romans 6:8 “But God demonstrates his
own love for us in this: While we
were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6 You see, at just the right
time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
1Corinthians 15:3 For what I received I
passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
Christ died for the
Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves
and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds
of the church of God, which he bought
with his own blood.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your
wives, just as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for her
Perhaps a better way to say it would be, “Christ died for
all who will believe in him––and you can be included.”
2. “Personal savior”
No place is Jesus ever described as your personal
savior. Jesus is the savior of the Church.
Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the
head of the wife as Christ is the head
of the church, his body, of which he
is the Savior.
He is not your “personal savior.”
At an Awana Leader Conference
(August 30, 2009), Dr. Stephen R. Lewis, Ph.D., President, Rocky Mountain Bible
College and Seminary concurred with this assessment in
describing this as Existentialism that has crept into our modern theology.
It’s not about you, it’s about Jesus. Jesus came to establish his church. He died for His Church, His bride, His
body. He is the Savior of His Church.
3. “The Sinner’s Prayer” — Praying for forgiveness of
sins to receive salvation
No one in the New Testament ever prayed to receive
salvation. You don’t pray to obtain
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of
you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the
forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
I believe the concept of the sinner’s prayer was developed
to fill in the gap or emptiness which results from removing the scriptural
practice of baptism from the plan of salvation.
God knew we as people need to do
something at or near the point of our conversion in order to
anchor the event in our reality. God
established baptism. Man established the
4. “Receive Jesus”
This must originate from the phrase “…all who received him…”
in John 1:12. It is completely
misunderstood. It has been given undue
importance in the plan of salvation, almost as if to say, “Jesus is coming into
me.” However, the meaning is clarified in the phrase that follows it.
John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children
of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a
husband’s will, but born of God.
Salvation is not granted at “receiving Jesus,” or at
believing in his name, but only the right to become children of God. No one is ever instructed to ‘receive
Jesus.’ The ones who did “receive him”
were not saved by that receiving, but were given the
right to become children of God.
You believe in Jesus.
You receive the Holy Spirit. You
receive salvation and eternal life. You
“receive Jesus as Lord” (Colossians 2:6), that is, you accept his Lordship, but
you don’t “receive Jesus.”
5. “Ask Jesus into your heart”
I can find no
scriptural source for this.
You believe in your heart:
Romans 10:9-10 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus
is Lord,” and believe in your heart
that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your
heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you
confess and are saved.
The Holy Spirit lives in you — Jesus does not.
Romans 8:11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ
from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
1Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
In more recent years, the idea of having a “personal
relationship” with Jesus has become popular.
I find no justification for it except as a human construct to help some
understand how they might live a Christian life.
Some have carried the idea so far that if they believe you
don’t have what they consider to be a proper personal relationship with Jesus,
or don’t ever hear you talking about your personal relationship with Jesus,
they doubt your salvation.
This makes salvation entirely subjective.