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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : "If you want to be born again, say these words..."

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Joined: 2010/2/19
Posts: 89

 Re: "If you want to be born again, say these words..."

Savanah, I would urge any Christian brother or sister NOT to use this method in their evangelism! It does more harm than good. Sometimes some people get saved through this, but far more are deceived and damned throuth it. They think that salvation is gained through this "formula", and they do not consider their sin and depravity and the desperate need to repent in full surrender to Jesus. No where in the entire Bible do we have any examples of this method being used. The Bible commands us to preach repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus, the apostles and disciples all urged people to repent and believe the gospel. It is much more biblical to do likewise, and to endeavor to explain what that means or looks like in terms of a change of heart and life, not what to say with ones mouth. Blessings.

 2010/8/3 12:56Profile

Joined: 2008/7/24
Posts: 613


I was going watching some videos and came across this. I think it will be good for new converts.

Don't Expect a Perfect Repentance - Paul Washer


 2010/8/3 16:04Profile

Joined: 2005/10/28
Posts: 246
Logan City, Queensland, Australia


If you want some historical background as to where the Sinner's prayer came from, try this video:

"The Graham formula":

In short, the lineage can be traced back to:
Charles Finney > Billy Sunday > Billy Graham

If anything, the underlying premise I notice both within the methodology as well as the theology held by those who advocate it is that [i]Man, of his own choice and power, has within himself the ability to initiate his own salvation[/i]. That is, within the Order of Salvation, the first step is not with the Holy spirit regenerating an individual to become born again as is the case with the aforementioned John 3, but rather our free-will choice compels the providence of God to move in favor of the one reciting the prayer.

Let me be upfront in saying that I do hold to a Reformed/Calvinistic soteriology, though I attend a church that is an AoG offshoot where the predominant view is the oppisite Wesleyen/Arminian/Semi-Pelagian viewpoint.
I recently had a debate with a brother who held to the latter and simply refused to believe in the idea of God being the initiator of salvation and that man was totally depraved to the point of not being able to seek God unassisted. In short, this person was boasting that because of all the "salvations" he had led people to, his theology had to be right (despite the obvious backslide rate evident to all). I tried to reason with him as to whether he saw "saving Faith as a WORK [something we do from our own ability] or a GRACE [something that God freely gives according to his own pleasure]."
This person simply refused to answer.
I probed a bit deeper by taking his view to it's logical conclusion:
"If you honestly believe that saving faith is something that man initiates from his own choice and free-will, then is any means - emotionalism, peer-pressure, coercion, promises of prosperity, even 'hell-fire preaching' - of bringing a person to that point of decision justifiable?"
Predictably, no answer.

So the underlying problem is not just one of methodology; it's worldview issue.

Benjamin Valentine

 2010/8/3 18:59Profile

Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2010
Joplin, Missouri

 Re: "If you want to be born again, say these words..."

I have had periods when I wrestled with this very question. On the one hand I have seen people marvelously born again when they repeated a prayer such as this, and on the other hand I have seen countless people repeat such a prayer and continue to live with no fruit of rebirth evident in their lives. I would have to say that the prayer is Biblical. The determining factor is the unseen heart of the person praying that prayer.

I have always had a fundamental problem with the prayers for salvation en mass so to speak where tens or ten thousands of people are led in a prayer for this reason. Many may think they are OK because they repeated words without understanding and without rebirth. But I cannot deny that many are born again in that manner. I think it better, however, to go and make disciples. It seems to me superior to lead people personally to a saving knowledge of Christ. But what of evangelists who cannot do that because of the constraints of time and personnel? I guess there is a certain trusting in God that He can deal with people and sort it out much better than we ever can.

I believe that if the website explains to a person what it means to be born again and then shows them how they can pray to be born again, then I would be all for it.


 2010/8/3 19:38Profile

 Re: "If you want to be born again, say these words..."

"If a man believes with his heart and confesses with his mouth the Lord Jesus; the same shall be saved."

There are no formulas, it is God's grace, and His alone that brings Himself to inhabit a man or woman. The key here is believing with his heart. Only God sees that, and only God can make a person born again. Then; the journey begins; a walk of faith with God, with salvation being given to those who endure to the end, who learn of Him.

The Bible speaks of falling away, and of apostasy, and of enduring unto the end.

"Is the above Biblical"

Yes, it is Biblical, but if it just spoken, and not with saving faith, it is just a chain of religious words that are primarily symbollic.

Some say 98% of Billy Grahams converts were not walking with God, or had false conversions; proven by contact within one year after "being saved"; IE, coming forward. They repeated a similar prayer, and came up by the groves; and sadly, went back to their seats just as they were.

I'm glad you brought this up. It needs to be considered . We need, and must have reality in our fellowships. We need fellowships full of love and His holy Spirit, where men are convicted of sinfullness, and those that God added to the church are being fed and protected as they grow up into Christ.

This is where we are heading.


 2010/8/3 20:36

Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 2091

 Re: "If you want to be born again, say these words..."

Thanks so much to all who contributed to this thread thus far with their reply.

You may or may not have noticed the quotation marks in my original post. The reason for the quotation marks being that it is a quote taken from a website.

The website it was taken from is the website of the speaker of the present featured sermon here on sermonindex.

The article it was taken from is entitled, "A Clear Gospel Message."

Also at the bottom of the website is the following:

" © Copyright -

This article has been copyrighted to prevent misuse. It should not be reprinted or translated without written permission from the author. Permission is however given for this article to be downloaded and printed , provided it is for FREE distribution, provided NO ALTERATIONS are made, provided the AUTHOR'S NAME AND ADDRESS are mentioned and provided this COPYRIGHT notice ["Copyright by Zac Poonen"] is included in each printout."

Again, I thank you all for your contribution to this thread by replying as you have. It is much appreciated.

"Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. And the disciples came, and said to him, Why speakest thou to them in parables? He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath.
Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear." (Matthew 13:9-16)

"And he said to them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was alone, they that were about him, with the twelve, asked of him the parable. And he said to them, To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them." (Mark 4:9-12)

 2010/8/3 23:45Profile

Joined: 2003/12/1
Posts: 124
New Jersey

 Re: "If you want to be born again, say these words..."

I think the whole article needs to be quoted here to give the context to the portion extracted from it.

Rey O.

 2010/8/4 1:37Profile

Joined: 2005/6/18
Posts: 1481


hi, if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart thou shall be saved....nothing that you can brag on has anything to do with getting you saved...if the Holy Spirit does not birth you from above you are not saved no matter what formulae you follow.jimp

 2010/8/4 2:41Profile

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: "If you want to be born again, say these words..."

I was provoked by this kind of 'prayer' some years ago and wrote this article on the topic...

it is entitled "Receiving Christ".

Ron Bailey

 2010/8/4 3:34Profile

Joined: 2009/12/28
Posts: 8
ON, Canada



This article was inspiring and timely for this discussion. Prayerfully, I will meditate on the Scriptures mentioned, as it reveals even more of the Glory of God and His work of salvation.

Very few pastors I have heard mention the verses after John 3:16. This was something my Bible study group dived into awhile ago.

Thank you for this exposition of the Word.

God Bless you.

 2010/8/4 10:35Profile

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