Salvation is not an event, but the beginning of a beautiful process
News Flash! ‘The salvation prayer’ does not exist in the Bible.
“But I don’t get it,” says my brother, “should I [give my life to Jesus] again? Coz I [said the salvation prayer] at uni and I pray all the time… I mean, I don’t read the Bible [nor go to church], and I want to improve on it, but I pray all the time.” This isn’t a typical conversation I have with my brother, so I’m pleased I had the opportunity to share the gospel with him! However, he is not alone in his thoughts regarding the salvation prayer. Have we been deceived?
‘The salvation prayer’ or ‘prayer of repentance’ echoed in many churches around the world often marks the beginning of the beautiful process of sanctification, to be set apart from the world through the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:12). However, many people say the prayer without understanding the full implications of what it means to do so. Sadly, the salvation prayer is also viewed as a “stamp of approval” that is done to be saved from the wrath of God. However, a prayer, no matter what kind of prayer it is, cannot save us. Only God can save us. Jesus Himself says in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does [present tense — persistently does] the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
A careful study of the conversions in the book of Acts will reveal that in not a single instance is the lost sinner instructed or encouraged to “pray” for their salvation. Instead, those honest souls who longed for redemption were admonished to believe on the Lord (Acts 16:31), repent of their sins and be immersed for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38; cf. 22:16) to enjoy a relationship with Christ (Galatian 3:27) and enter his spiritual body (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Let’s take it further. Accepting that we have fallen short of the glory of God because of our sin and Jesus Christ is our Lord and saviour is the first step that shows the understanding that we are sinful and need to be saved from God’s wrath. Once this happens, we start our beautiful journey with Him (and the angels rejoice, hallelujah! Luke 15:10). In recognizing that we need Jesus, He then instructs us to love God with all your soul, all your strength and all your mind, and to love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22 34:40). Remember, Jesus Christ, the Son, is a person of God, just like the Holy Spirit and the Father are persons of God. God is one in being and three in person. Once we have professed our faith in Jesus Christ, we are then baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to have a new life in Him. Peter’s statement in 1 Peter 3:21 hangs together on baptism expressing a saving, spiritually newborn condition of heart in the believer.
How do we love the Lord?
Jesus says we do this by obeying His instructions, His commandments and submitting our will, desires, aspirations to His perfect will for our lives. Warning — we cannot do this on our own accord; that’s why the person of the Holy Spirit is there to help us! Jesus said to His disciples they should pray in the manner of asking the Father to “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:9–13). The daily bread is the word of God, and because it is the word of God, it nourishes our spirit. It’s valuable, timeless and provides wisdom. God wants to have a relationship with us. He knows us, He formed us, and He wants us to know Him. We can’t have a good relationship with someone we don’t spend time with.
God assures us that it is He who works in us, not the other way around. The Holy Spirit produces good fruit in us, and it’s evident through our character; love, joy, peace, long-suffering (patience), goodness, self-control, kindness and gentleness (Galatians 5 22:23).
[Jesus says,] Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
It’s Christ alone who gives us salvation; becoming a Christian removes the penalty of sin, but it doesn’t (immediately) remove the reality of sin in our earthly life. So, we require a secondary form of daily repentance, which is also the work of the Holy Spirit, to produce a sanctifying process. As the Holy Spirit convicts believers of daily sin, He is prompting repentance and leading us into a more Christ-like life to maintaining a repentant heart. The closer we get to Jesus Christ, the more we’ll realize our imperfect human ways and how we need Him so much.
Submit to God and let the rest follow.