Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 4, 1998
Last Updated :
March 14, 2012
A Discussion On Salvation Prayers, Repetitive Prayers And Chants, Confessional Boxes, Private And Public Confession Of Sin, Forgiveness And Grace And Works
While the Roman Catholic Church outwardly claims to teach its members to have faith in Jesus Christ for their Salvation, anyone who is familiar with their doctrines will know that what they really teach is that the "Holy Mother Church" is the only one who can forgive sins and grant Salvation. In other words, contrary to the Scriptures, they are placing themselves between man and God, thus nullifying the one-on-one relationship I described previously. In essence, they are saying that one cannot approach God directly through Jesus Christ, but must go through the Catholic Church and its priests. If you are not a Catholic, then you are lost and cannot possibly be saved. But what do the Scriptures really say?:
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
1 Timothy 2:5, KJV
If this isn't bad enough, as I have already shown, even if one is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, the road to Salvation is still not an easy one. Similar to the Law-bound Jews of old, today's Catholic must keep and observe a multitude of church laws, sacraments and practices. If one does not do these things, then he may not be found worthy of forgiveness and Salvation. Because his faith is not directly in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but rather in the "Holy Mother Church", he falls under the bondage of having to fulfill all of these ecclesiastical obligations. In light of these many requirements, most Catholics are never quite certain of what their standing is with God. This uncertainty regarding one's Salvation is another clear example of how the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church are in conflict with the Scriptures. As I showed earlier through the verses found in the Epistle of John, God wants us to be sure of our Salvation. He wants us to have no doubt about it whatsoever. Sadly, with the Catholics, Salvation becomes a nebulous issue because one is never sure if he has said quite enough "Our Father's" and "Hail Mary's", or done enough other good works to merit what the Bible clearly teaches is a free gift of God:
"Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many . . . Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."
Romans 5:14-15, 18, KJV
A free gift is a free gift. If any other requirements are added to it, be they keeping certain laws, or observing certain practices, or belonging to a certain church, then it is no longer a free gift. It then becomes something which must be earned and worked for. Through such corruption of The Truth, a religion of faith can easily be converted into a religion of works. In short, the Roman Catholic Church, and other churches and organizations as well, have simply replaced the animal sacrifices of yesterday with a new set of rules and practices which can't save anyone no matter how often they are kept, or how frequently they are repeated.
Returning to the issue of confession, there is one example in the Scriptures where public confession of sin may be warranted. By public confession, I am not referring to entering a confessional box to reveal your sins to a priest, but rather to admitting your errors before the congregation of believers with whom you may happen to be in fellowship. This belief is based on the oft-quoted phrase "They that sin before all, rebuke before all." This phrase has been adopted from a statement made by Paul in his letter to Timothy:
"Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
1 Timothy 5:20, KJV
Notice that the verse does not actually say, "they that sin before all"; however, that is what it is usually understood to mean. After all, if it is just something between you and another brother or sister, or between you and the Lord, then why make a bigger issue out of it than it really needs to be? Most people don't care to hear about your personal sins. They already have enough of their own if they are being honest with themselves. On the other had, if your sin is something major which has affected a lot of people in a negative way, then as Paul states, a public rebuke may be in order. A public rebuke should result in public confession and public repentance. As Paul says here, the whole purpose of a public rebuke is not only to let everyone know that these things have not been done in secret, but also to strike godly fear and reverence in those who might be following the same wrong path, or at least who might be contemplating such things. The attitude I am referring to is one that says "Well, if that person can get away with it, then maybe I can too". Public rebuke helps to put a stop to this type of behavior, or at least it should if those who are involved are sensitive to the Spirit of God. As I have shown in other articles, in these Last Days, some have already hardened their hearts against God and are past feeling the conviction of His Spirit:
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."
Ephesians 4:17-19, KJV
Jesus followed this same practice of public rebuke on a number of occasions such as when He publicly rebuked the moneychangers in the Temple. In Matthew chapter twenty-three we find another example where He totally exposed the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees. Notice though that these rebukes, like those of John the Baptist, were not always followed by public confession of sin as would be expected if just one person were being rebuked and dealt with. The idea was to hopefully prick the public conscience so that some would come to repentance. That is why we are told that John preached a baptism of repentance:
"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."
Mark 1:4, KJV
John's whole purpose was to help people acknowledge their sins, and thus repent in preparation for He Who would come to give them full Salvation. Paul confirmed this in the Book of Acts when he said to the Ephesian Disciples:
". . . John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
Acts 19:4, KJV
The Prophets of the Old Testament did the same thing and were constantly rebuking Israel because of her sins and rebellion against the Lord. Tragically, despite the many Prophets the Lord had sent unto her, many of which she persecuted and killed, by the end of the Old Testament, we find that Israel is still just as hardhearted and rebellious as ever. It is for this reason that the Lord had to send forth John in the Spirit and Power of Elijah as I have fully explained in other articles on this topic.
Returning then to the topic of Salvation prayers, I am not certain how the practice evolved. However, if we consider some of the verses commonly found in Salvation tracts, some of which I use myself, we will begin to understand why praying a Salvation prayer has become a commonly accepted practice amongst those who preach the Gospel. Some of the following verses emphasize an act of accepting and believing in the Lord as our Saviour. Other verses show us that in order to receive anything from the Lord, such as the Holy Spirit, we must ask for it. Whether this requires a verbal prayer or just simply a mental thought or desire is not made clear. Still others show that we must personally open the spiritual door of our hearts and enter into Communion with the Lord. I am not referring to the practice of the Roman Catholic host or Eucharist, but rather entering a spiritual relationship with the Lord. Finally, other Scriptures seem to indicate that confessing the Lord before others verbally is also a condition of Salvation. Taken as a whole, these verses seem to be saying that, while not absolutely necessary, a Salvation prayer sure couldn't hurt; and it strengthens the Faith of those who have prayed it:
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:"
John 1:12, KJV
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
Matthew 7:7-8, KJV
"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
Matthew 21:22, KJV
"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."
1 John 5:14-15, KJV
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
John 15:16, KJV
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
Luke 11:13, KJV
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
Revelation 3:20, KJV
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Romans 10:9-10, KJV
As can be seen, asking is a very important part of our walk with the Lord. Granted, the Lord already knows that we have need of these things, particularly our physical needs, but it seems that this manifestation of our Faith by asking Him seems to be pleasing to Him:
"Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."
Matthew 6:8, KJV
"(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."
Matthew 6:32, KJV
"For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things."
Luke 12:30, KJV
As Romans 10:9-10 seems to indicate, the very act of verbally confessing and telling others about Jesus seems to be another requirement for our Salvation. Could this be why in some places the Lord said that "he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved"? Could this be referring to those who continue to manifest their Faith by witnessing to others right up to the end in spite of ungodly antichrist persecution? This is the price the first Disciples had to pay. Why should we be any different? Allow me to clarify that this is not working for our Salvation; but rather it is a manifestation that we are truly saved, just as I pointed out earlier. On the other hand, what if we don't confess the Lord before others? Again, the scriptural answer is very clear:
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."
Matthew 10:32-33, KJV
"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
Mark 8:38, KJV
"Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God."
Luke 12:8-9, KJV
What is very interesting about this act of publicly confessing Christ, is that the reason many people don't do it is simply because of pride. They have a personal image to uphold. They are afraid of what people will think of them if they start talking about Jesus and the Bible. In other words, they are menpleasers instead of God pleasers. As true Christians know, more and more each day, we are being made to look like fools in the eyes of the modern world. A typical response from the enemies of Christ might be: "With all of the 'truths' modern science has discovered in recent decades, how can you possibly be so foolish as to continue to cling to your ancient texts and religious 'myths'?" This type of reaction is nothing new. Satan has been using these same tactics to try to neutralize Christians for thousands of years. It all comes down to peer pressure and a fear of public opinion. Consider the following verses:
"These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue."
John 9:22, KJV
"Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:"
John 12:42, KJV
What a paradox! The very ones who are supposed to be representing God's presence on Earth, are the same ones who fight against Him and His children who attempt to confess His name! Not only that, while non-Christians and atheists accuse us of believing in and serving our God out of fear, they are guilty of these very things themselves. They are so afraid of being considered a little odd, a little abnormal, afraid of not being accepted by their peers, that they bow down in fear to their false god Satan. If they would just take a step of Faith and believe, they would be liberated from their bondage and lives of darkness. In his perverted way of seeing things, Satan has twisted everything around and made the Lie appear as the Truth, and the Truth as the Lie. The Prophet Isaiah uttered a strict warning regarding such things when he said:
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
Isaiah 5:20, KJV
Sadly, these stupid foolish people fall for his lies, because they are guilty of the very same sins of pride and vanity as he is. In the book of Acts we find other examples where the enemies of Truth persecute those who would dare to shine the Light into their world of darkness. Here is one example:
"And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men . . . and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go."
Acts 5:27-29, 40b, KJV
If you think the same thing isn't happening today, guess again. Some of the large popular denominations just love to persecute the smaller ones, accusing them of being cults and sects. They will go after any smaller church, organization, group or individual who dares to defy or question their established beliefs and man-made traditions. I know because I have experienced my share of persecution in my days. As the old saying goes, "When you do it right, the devil will fight!" Or, as the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12, KJV
Of course, to keep things in balance, we should also recognize that there are such things as cults which do gather around and exalt someone and/or some doctrine other than Jesus Christ and the Bible. As Jesus warned us in Matthew chapter twenty-four, there are many false christs and false prophets in the world today:
"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
Matthew 24:24, KJV
Therefore, we must indeed be wary of them. If you would like an excellent list of Scriptures which refer to these types of false teachers and doctrines, please see the article entitled "Christian Witnessing: Winning the Sheep and Waging the Warfare". What we need to realize is that some of the larger denominations use the fact that there are cults in the world today as a catch-all to harass and persecute other sincere Christians whose views may be different from their own. The point is, the minute you make a confession of Faith in Jesus Christ, either through a simple thought, desire, or a verbal prayer, and then begin to publicly witness the same to others, you should expect some degree of persecution from the enemies of Christ, even from some of those who claim to represent Him. Persecution is simply part of God judgment process. Until the wicked have filled their cup of iniquity, God cannot judge them righteously. Such is the case with the judgment of Babylon The Great Whore in the Book of Revelation:
"Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double."
Revelation 18:6, KJV
If you are interested in my own surmisings regarding this mysterious woman, please read my series "Revelation's Babylon The Great".
In conclusion, perhaps we can regard a Salvation prayer as a means of priming our spiritual pump, or as a means of legitimizing our new relationship with Christ. If a Salvation prayer helps to bring more people to Jesus Christ, I personally see nothing wrong with it. It certainly can't hurt anything. Rather than getting technical and arguing over the method which is being used to bring lost souls to Christ, let's all be thankful for the fact that good fruit is being born in the lives of millions of people all over the world. After all, that is what being a Christian is all about. It isn't just a matter of our own Salvation, but rather of sharing the Message of Salvation with others by whatever means the Lord puts at our disposal. Let's not get so hung up with the method, that we forget the Message. It is through belief in the Message that we are saved, and not through the manner or method in which that Message is delivered. I pray that this article has been a help and a blessing in your life, and that The Truth it contains will liberate many from their current bondage. As Jesus said:
". . . If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
John 8:31b-32, KJV