Know Your Bible

VOL. 13                                                                                                                         October 26, 2014                                                                                                                            NO. 34



Quite often in reading religious material or engaging in religious conversation with others, the reference is made to "the sinner's prayer". What is being referred to is the parable Jesus taught in Luke 18:9-14. By referring to this parable, many people would have you believe this is what a person must do to be saved. However, what was Jesus attempting to teach by means of this parable? Was it, what to do to be saved or was there another lesson He was teaching?

Verse 9 says, "And he spake this parable UNTO CERTAIN WHICH TRUSTED IN THEMSELVES THAT THEY WERE RIGHTEOUS, AND DESPISED OTHERS:". Jesus concluded the parable in verse 14 by making the statement: "...for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." We, therefore, learn that Jesus is using this parable to teach humility. Humble-ness will avail far more in God's sight than a high and haughty attitude.

All of us stand before God having sinned. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23). "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:8,10). Realizing we have sinned, we must never approach God in any manner other than that of humility. Also, realizing that sin is the common lot of us all, we must not despise others.

Jesus said that both the Pharisee and publican had went up to the temple to pray. What is to make us believe that the Pharisee was a child of God and the publican was not? Nothing in the parable states this to be the case. In fact, from the parable it would be no injustice to conclude that both these men were children of God. Though publicans had the reputation of being greedy because of their profession of being tax collectors, this is not to conclude that all publicans were ruthless and covetous. One of Jesus' apostles was a publican: Matthew (Matthew 9:9). Neither let us forget Zaccheus who was chief among the publicans (Luke 19:1-10).

There is nothing in the parable to teach us that the Pharisee was saved and the publican was lost. Both men were obviously children of God for both had went to the temple and both were praying. The point of the parable was that the Pharisee's prayer was unacceptable to God because he exalted himself, he trusted in himself that he was righteous, and he despised others. The publican, on the other hand, was justified in his prayer for he had not exalted himself but rather realized he had sinned and always stood in need of God's mercy.

Friends, this is not a prayer that alien sinners must/should pray in order to have their sins forgiven. Saul of Tarsus was praying when Ananias came to him to tell him what to do to be saved. However, the record does not reveal that Ananias told Saul to continue to pray until he had "prayed through" to salvation. Instead, Ananias said, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16).

In addition to people being told today to pray the sinner's prayer, they are being told to pray their sins away. Friends, we do not find, in the Scriptures, where an alien sinner was ever told to pray their sins away but we do read where they were told to "wash away thy sins" by the act of baptism. Baptism is the final step which one must take in order to have their sins washed away and to be "in Christ" (Galatians 3:27).

Many teach sins are already taken away before baptism and a person is in Christ without ever being baptized. However, to find the basis of such teaching we have to turn to the doctrines of men for these are not things we can find taught in the Bible.

There is no "sinner's prayer" that an alien sinner can pray and have their sins forgiven. As sure as "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God", God has one plan of salvation for all. "He that BELIEVETH and is BAPTIZED shall be saved; but HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT SHALL BE DAMNED." (Mark 16:16). "...REPENT, and be BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the REMISSION OF SINS,..." (Acts 2:38).

—E.R. Hall, Jr.

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In our prayers, I am constantly hearing the expression, 'Be with this one,' and 'Be with that one.’ What is meant by the expression? That question was addressed to this writer thirty years ago. He would like to think that the answer given in this article will be more enlightening than the feeble answer given then.

A consideration of the occasions when God said, "I will be with you," should help in providing an answer.

To Moses: When Moses asked, "Who am I that I should go up to Pharaoh?" God replied, "I will certainly be with you" (Exodus 3:12).

To Joshua: "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you" (Joshua 1:5). God further assured Joshua that the crossing of the Jordan on dry ground would show the people that "as I was with Moses, so I will be with you" (Joshua 3:7).

To Gideon: "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor" (Judges 6:12).

To David: Saul said to David as he was leaving to face Goliath: "Go, and the Lord be with you” (1 Samuel 17:37). Two giants faced one another that day: one, a physical giant; the other, a spiritual giant. The difference in the battle was in the fact that God was with the spiritual giant and was not with the physical giant. 

To Jeremiah: "Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you" (Jeremiah 1:8).

Obviously, the expression, "I will be with you," is assurance of success in whatever God wants to accomplish through that person whom He is with.

Present Day Application

How can a man and his wife leave family and friends to go into some foreign field to preach the gospel? How can they go where custom and language are different and where living standards are far below what they have been accustomed to all their lives? The answer: "And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19, 20).

How can a Christian face death in peace, with confidence as he passes from this life into the realms that he beyond? The answer: "Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me" (Psalm 23:4).

When God is Not with Us

If success is assured when God is with us, failure results when God is not with us. After the Israelites in their lack of faith refused to enter the promised land (Numbers 14:1-4), some had a change of heart and decided to go up after all. Moses warned them that they would not succeed, but would fall by the sword: "Because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord will not be with you" (Numbers 14:43). Their efforts indeed failed. One may appear to succeed for a while when the Lord is not with him, but eventually he will fail.

Conditions To Be Met

What must be true of one if God is to be with him? The answer is found in God's statement to Jeroboam after promising him ten of the twelve tribes: "Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house" (1 Kings 11:38). Unfortunately, Jeroboam chose to follow his own ways rather than God's, and consequently his name ranks among the infamous.

When my loved ones are sick, or I am facing surgery, or am leaving for gospel meetings, or am in distress in any way, I want the prayers of that person whom God is with. I do not care about his race, gender, or station in life. If God is with him, he is the one whose prayers will avail. That person is the richest of all persons. Let each ask himself, "Am I that person?” “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

—Bill Hall

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