The Gospel and the Sinner's Prayer - We Got it in Wrong Order

The Gospel is first about Jesus Christ and there is usually no mention of sins! Yet in the typical sinner's prayer, it starts with "I admit I am a sinner ...."! Such a wrong order has great significance in the way we share the Gospel and the way we live our new life. That also explain the weakness of many believers lives. Let's see the details...
The Pauline Gospel
A condensed gospel is shared by Paul in Roman 1:2-6 as in:
  • 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
    (Jesus the Messiah is prophesized in the OT Bibles)
  • 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh
    (Jesus came in the flesh of man as descendant of David)
  • 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
    (He is the Son of God as proven by His resurrection from the dead by the Power of the Holy Spirit)
  • 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
    (All man, Jews and Gentiles, can receive His grace by obedient trust in Him).
  • 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
    (Including the Romans, a kind of Gentiles).
We can quickly see that the Gospel is about Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, who came in the fresh, who died and was resurrected as proof of His Godliness and Power, and we can receive Him by faith because of His grace given to us. There is no mention of sins. Salvation is more than just forgiveness of sins but rather a New Creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Sin is an obstacle to be overcome but that is not the Gospel. The gospel is about us believing in Jesus Christ as God's Son and thereby be willing to accept His Lordship over us that we may be rebirthed as God's children( Gal 3:26) and to grow up into maturity as Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29-30). We are justified and glorified!!! 

Consider another often quotes verses for salvation: 
  • Rom 10:9-12  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  
  • 10  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  
  • 11  For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."  
  • 12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
Again, there is no mention of sins. Getting rid of sins is not the main objective of salvation. Getting us to be born again to take on the likeliness of Jesus through His resurrection is. Sin is automatically removed when we are born again.  Fighting sins and overcoming sins could be seen as our efforts like in any other religion. But being born again into the Family of God is nothing that we as man can do. It remove man's effort and work and nothing that man can proud of! Eph 2:8-10
    • Eph 2:8-10  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(We are saved for good work that God may be glorified with us!)
    John's Gospel
    John simplified it into a single verse:
    • 1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ,
    • and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 
    We are called by our names. A name identifies the person. John said God's will is simply this, believe in His Son Jesus Christ ..... who He is, what He did and do, and be like Him. Loving one another is the subsequent testimony that we are indeed rebirthed with His character. (1Jn 4:8  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. )
    • Joh 3:16  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

    Peter's Gospel:
    1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1Pe 1:4  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 
    1Pe 1:5  who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

    No mention of sins but about the great inheritance and power! 

    The Sinner's Prayer:
    A typical sinner's prayer is :

    Heavenly Father, I come to you in prayer asking for the forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven, and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I ask you right now to come in to my life and be my personal Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and wiIl Worship you all the day’s of my Life!. Because your word is truth, I confess with my mouth that I am Born Again and Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus Name, Amen.

    The confessions are all correct. The only problem is that it is in the wrong order and confusing the main objective (new life in Christ) with the sub-objective of forgiveness of sins. 

    The Implications:
    The sinner's prayer makes forgiveness of sins as the main goal. Making sins as the focus is the sure way to be in bondage of sins. The best ways to overcome sins is by knowing our righteousness in Christ. Knowing who we are in Christ will keep us away from sins because our mind are preoccuppied with Christ and there is no time for thinking about sins ... of course, the devils and the world will constantly tempt us to try to get our attention. We also know that the time that we are most prone to temptations are times of success, celebrations and nothing important to do. 

    The Gospel is about Christ. About who Christ is and what he has done and wanting us to be. We are a new creation in Christ. We are children of God. We have His righteousness and His mind. We are to live out His power and character in us as testimonies to the world. Think about His creative power and His work and be like Him. Such pure and wonderful thoughts will charge us up and keep us away from temptations and sins. The sinner's prayer, the sin consciousness, have make the gospel a passive and negative ones. No wonder many believers are weak. Get back to the right Gospel of Jesus Christ, God in us. It not about sin, but about Christ in us. That is positive and pro-active gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Lim Liat (c) 19-12-2015

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