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“I Prayed to ‘Receive Christ’ – but I Was Not a Believer”

 

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Yvonne shared her story with me on the post a week or so ago “I said the Sinner’s Prayer – So, I’m Good with God. I’m Going to Heaven for Sure!” I believe her story may bless you. Thank you, Yvonne, for allowing me to post this. 🙂

I appreciate the focus here on faith in what Jesus did on the cross to save us.

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

When I was in elementary school I went to a church service in which the sermon ended with a tear-jerking story, followed by appeal after appeal for people to come forward to receive Christ. My brother and I went to the front with several other people; then we were taken into another room and counselled. All I remember was saying “yes” when someone asked me if I wanted to be saved. I had absolutely no understanding about why I needed a Savior; I just felt sad that Jesus suffered on the cross. Baptism followed, but of course there was no change in my life, because I was not a believer.

Time passed, and I reached eleventh grade. I was still attending the same church where I was baptized, despite that I lacked any peace that I would ever be in heaven. No wonder. The sermons consisted of very little scripture–just one or two verses at the beginning, and then a long diversion into speaking against alcoholism or other ills of society. There was little from the Word of God, so how could this preaching lead me to real faith?

My only faith was based on what I had done years earlier: I HAD GONE FORWARD.

One day my Sunday School teacher asked our class to close our eyes; then she asked us to raise our hands if we knew that we were saved. I kept my hand to my side, so the teacher asked me to meet her after the Sunday evening service. I did, and it was there that she pressured me into kneeling and praying the sinner’s prayer. I was resistant–even defiant, but I eventually knelt and repeated the prayer that she prayed for my salvation. Mrs. J. joyfully hugged me as she pronounced me SAVED, and she urged me to be baptized as soon as possible. I did.

The only trouble was that I wasn’t really saved! Although I recognized that I was a sinner (after all, I had some inkling that the cheating on tests, the use of Ouija boards, and hypnotizing my friends was not scriptural), I still did not understand that Jesus had actually suffered for my sin on the cross so that I could have eternal life. Every time I expressed doubts about my supposed salvation, my Sunday School teacher told me to focus on what I had done that night when I had prayed the sinner’s prayer. That was the whole problem! Everything was based on what I had done. I was trusting a prayer–NOT the Lord Jesus and the precious blood that He shed in my place. That’s why I continued to doubt. After all, how can we be sure that we have said EXACTLY the right words if salvation is based on a prayer? Every time I saw a prayer at the end of a tract, I prayed it in case it contained something vital that I hadn’t said.

Like so many people who are spiritually lost, I had reduced salvation to an abracadabra prayer, and expected that to be the magic key to heaven. What an affront to God, who paid for my salvation at such a tremendous price!

AS AN ADULT

Sadly, I spent the next 33 years looking for peace and assurance and showing no change in my life. Oh, I was no longer into hypnosis and that kind of thing, but I was still the same old me.

  • I really didn’t want to read my Bible
  • I could still be rude to my husband with no twinge of conscience
  • I had little desire to meet with believers or hang out with them
  • I had no real love for the Lord.
  • All I had was a lingering concern about my standing with God and where I would end up when I died.

On one of those rare days when I was concerned about my soul, I started randomly flipping through my Bible, looking for something that would give me peace. When I reached the last few verses of Isaiah 52 and continued into Isaiah 53, my attention was suddenly riveted on verses 5 and 6: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities,: the chastisement for our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid upon HIM the iniquity of us all.”

I was there in that verse. I now saw that the Lord Jesus had been MY substitute. His back had been beaten, He had been bruised, nailed to a cross, and insulted in MY place, because He had taken my sin upon Himself. Saddest of all, God as the righteous Judge, had to pour out His wrath on His own Son, because Jesus was bearing the load of sin from all generations so that man could escape the hell that he deserves. I now knew a little of what my sin had caused.

Praise God! Now that I realized that my salvation is all based on HIM, I knew that, from that very moment, I possessed eternal life, as the Bible promises when it says “that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life” (I John 5:13). When we realize that salvation is all about HIM and what He did, we need not fear the future. Jesus’ resurrection, which was verified by hundreds of people, proves that God fully accepted His substitution for sinners. If He had not been perfect, with unlimited holiness, He could not have died for us. Only God was able to carry that weight of sin and thoroughly atone for it. All that we must do is simply trust that He finished the work that saves us.

Are you still trying to add to His work by thinking that you must pray a prayer, go forward to an altar call, or shed tears to show that you are sincere? WRONG. All of these things are DO. The Savior already completed all the work that was required. If you are not saved, seek Him with all your heart. Make that the top priority in your life. Then BELIEVE all that He did on your behalf. That is true faith.

Easy believism, on the other hand, reduces salvation to a subtle, deadly formula of DO, which will end in “I never knew you” when you stand before God.

True faith brings a change in life style, a change in focus; if the Holy Spirit is not guiding you, you probably have good reason to doubt.

My advice to anyone who is seeking like I did for so many years is to really immerse yourself in the Word of God, as you are doing here. God always speaks to a seeking heart in some way through His Word, as He did for me through Isaiah 53. Others find the truth through other portions of Scripture, but it is there that you will subsequently find peace, hope, assurance and joy! 

May the Lord lead you to peace, if that is lacking in your life! God bless you, dear friend in Christ.

FROM APRIL:

Praying a prayer and going forward can be good things. They can be results of our belief in Jesus and our faith in what He did for us. But the prayer itself and the going forward or being baptized do not save us. It is faith in what Jesus did for us that saves us – and that kind of saving faith will always produce changes in our attitudes, behavior, speech and motives. We do things later because of our gratitude for all Jesus has done for us. The things we do are the fruit, not the cause of our salvation. I hope that makes sense!

Of course, once we decide to follow Christ as Savior and Lord and we decide to love, honor, please and obey Him, and to receive all that He has done for us on the cross – we are not suddenly perfect. There is a process of maturation – much like a baby learning and growing slowly to become an adult.

(Romans 8:29-30)

JUSTIFICATION is what happens when we receive God’s gift that Jesus extends to us. It is when we realize we are wretched sinners and that we need Jesus’ death on our behalf because we can never make ourselves right with God. At that moment, God puts all of the riches, holiness and goodness of Jesus into our account. Justification is an accounting term. I am now justified with God, made right with Him, my account is forever settled, because although I owed Him “billions of sin dollars,” Jesus has now satisfied my debt. His infinite resources are now in my account and when God looks at me, He sees Jesus. This happens when I open up my life, heart, soul and mind to Christ as Savior and LORD.

SANCTIFICATION is the process of us learning to live out all that Jesus has done for us and bringing God’s promises and our faith into reality. This is the process of God refining us and making us more and more like Christ. It is a lifelong journey. We will never be perfect until we reach heaven. But, we do learn to allow Jesus to live in and through us and we learn to allow God’s Spirit to have control instead of self. Then, the fruit of His Spirit fills our lives in increasing measure (Gal. 5). During this process, I may stumble and sin at times. But, I don’t want to sin and I want my fellowship to be restored with God as soon as possible. I am grieved that I grieve God when I sin against Him. I don’t ever want to abuse His grace. I don’t dare say, “Oh, I can do whatever I want and just ask for God’s forgiveness later. No big deal.” NEVER!!!!!!

I treat God and Jesus with honor and reverence and want to learn, grow, and understand more. I am no longer a slave to sin. I can choose to allow God’s Spirit to be in control of my life now. If I realize I have sinned, I want to get rid of all traces of sin, and I want God to change me and make me more and more like Jesus. I cannot live happily in sin anymore. I can tell when SELF is in charge of my life because sin reigns in my life (Gal. 5:18-21). I can tell that God is living in me when I see the fruit of His Spirit overflowing in my life (Gal. 5:22-23).

GLORIFICATION happens when we enter heaven. We receive heavenly bodies. We become perfect and sinless and faultless before God.

SOME TESTS:

I have a spiritual appetite when I belong to Christ.

  • I WANT to know God more
  • I want to be in His Word
  • I want His Spirit to fill me.
  • I don’t want to sin.
  • I want to love Him with all that is in me.
  • I want to love others with His love.
  • More and more, I hate things of the world, sin, and ungodly things and I long for God to make me more holy and more set apart for Him.
  • I want to be closer to God.
  • I want His will and His glory in my life, even if it costs me.
  • Worldly things become less and less important and Jesus and His Word become more and more important to me.
  • I want to get rid of any false ideas or lies or wrong teaching about God in my heart, mind and soul. I want to build my life only on Christ and the truth of His Word in the Bible.

People who don’t have any appetite for physical food have a big problem. They may be very sick. Very sick people often don’t want to eat. Of course, dead people have no appetite for food either. If I don’t have a spiritual appetite for God, the things of God, His power, His presence, His Spirit, His Word and His people, something is probably wrong. Either I don’t know God and am still spiritually dead, or I have cherished sin in my heart that is hurting my fellowship with God. Or I have a lot of lies in my life upon which I have built my faith that need to be corrected. If I have lost my spiritual appetite for God and the things of God, I need to ask God to do a heart check on me to see what the problem is. Most likely, there is sin somewhere choking my appetite for Him. But He can show me if I need to come to Him for the first time or if I simply need to admit my sin, turn from it, and receive His forgiveness and restored fellowship.

Here is another good test. Do I really want Jesus or would I be happy with heaven even if Jesus weren’t there? If I can be content without Jesus in this life and I don’t care if Jesus is in heaven or not, I need to look at my faith. Something is very, very wrong. What is my motive? Do I really understand who God is, who I am, and what Jesus did for me? Am I willing to live with Jesus as Lord? Do I see that He is truly the greatest Treasure there is in the universe? Do I see that He is worthy of everything I could possibly ever give?

Sometimes it can be really difficult for us as humans to accurately judge whether someone else has saving faith in God or not. My prayer is that we will not judge others, but that we might long for God to empower us to have increasing faith in Him and that He might continue to refine each of us and make us holy in His sight for His glory. I pray God might use each of us to point others to Christ and the love, truth, and power of His Word.

 

49 thoughts on ““I Prayed to ‘Receive Christ’ – but I Was Not a Believer”

  1. Wonderful post!

    Sometimes I check my heart condition as I meditate on what heaven is. It’s not sitting on a cloud eating bon bons 🙂 or doing the things we think are our favorite hobbies or activities here on earth (aside from loving others and obeying God). Heaven will be serving and glorifying God in fullness of joy! Without the distractions of this life and battles with sin and selfishness. Does the prospect of serving God for eternity bring me true joy? Or does that sound like a chore? It steers my mind back to where my desires need to be.

  2. Amen! How many people will try to give their prayer as a passport when they get to the Judgement Seat? God will be looking at us to point to His Son, not to our prayer! A prayer is a poor substitute for a perfect savior and not what I want to stand between me and an eternity in hell. Luke 13:23-28

    1. DeeDee,

      Yes, how I pray we will each put our faith completely in Jesus and His work on our behalf, not ourselves. How I long for everyone to know God and to know Jesus deeply, both here and in heaven forever. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Very true, and beautifully stated, Dee Dee. God doesn’t split the credit for salvation with anyone but His Son. The Lord Jesus accomplished EVERYTHING, and it’s our place just to believe what God promised..eternal life to those who trust Him as their personal Sin-Bearer. John 3:16-18 It’s such a simple truth but the Bible says “…few there be that find it.” It is wonderful to see so many clear declarations of faith at this site!

  3. Wow, this post has left me feeling perplexed. I am a hypnotherapist I have no desire to control others or have others focus on anything other than God.
    I have some serious thinking to do.

    1. Rebekah,

      I don’t know of a place where hypnotism is described as sin in the Bible. I am sure that there are people who can do destructive things with it and who may even use it to get into sticky things in the spiritual realm. But, I am sure that God can help you look at your motives and determine the best course of action for you. I know lots of people are greatly helped through hypnotherapy. Obviously, ultimately, we all need Jesus above anything else.

      I want to be careful not to call something a sin that Scripture doesn’t call sin. These were the thoughts of a young teenage girl. I don’t personally know God’s feelings on hypnotherapy. but, I do think there is great value in taking inventory every once in awhile about our jobs and the ethical dilemmas we face and to really seek God’s wisdom about them.

      Much love to you!!

    2. Thank You
      Your words bring relief. I sincerely felt that God has lead me in this direction. However when I saw the words hypnosis in the above writing, my heart sank. I have learned so much this year, however now I am reading the bible for the first time. So I still have about 90% left 🙂
      By the way we didn’t end up moving out of state. It didn’t work out. I had mixed feelings about it too when I found out.

      1. Rebekah,
        If there was a passage against hypnosis, I would certainly let you know!

        That is a twist in the plot that you ended up not moving. I Am so thankful that God is sovereign over your life and I love what He is doing in your heart. 🙂

  4. Your bullet-point list of “spiritual appetite” is really good. I’m trying to figure out what happened in the last few years because I don’t feel like those things ever really left me, yet I felt very abandoned (I WAS abandoned by people in many ways).

    I sure have had lots of unfruitful interactions with believers, though, that I still don’t understand. I’m really struggling, but I’m regaining my ability to read my Bible the way I once did: just God and I, with less and less interference from the world in my head.

    1. JC,
      I know you have had some deep wounds, my precious brother.

      I don’t know exactly what may be going on with you spiritually. I do know that for me, when I held on to expectations of people, that tripped me up a lot. I personally have to lay down my expectations of others and put all of my faith and trust in Christ. People will fail us at times. They are all sinners. But Jesus will not fail us. The key there is for me to know who Jesus is as He reveals Himself and not to have wrong expectations of Him. I hope that makes sense. Ie: I used to expect God to submit to me. Not good. I must submit to Him!

      Another thing that grieved God’s Spirit in my life and messed up my spiritual appetite was cherishing sin in my heart. In my case, the biggest issues were pride, self righteousness, idolatry, unforgiveness, and bitterness. Those things are so toxic.

      Praying for God to help you get to the bottom of what is going on with you spiritually so that you might be spiritually well and in the best of health in Christ. 🙂

      1. April,

        Thank you very much. 🙂

        I have had many, MANY flaws too–probably so much worse.

        I have been thinking, that forgiveness takes a person who feels “powerful.” The ability to know that you have been wronged and been done harm, just as I have done harm to others out of my foolishness too. But, believing that the wrongs are very wrong and come from people’s faults, just as my sin comes out of my own faults and I need the Lord’s tolerance and patience.

        It’s complicated. Jesus calls us to oppose the world, and at the same time love it with a forgiving heart like he did. Sinners loved Jesus too, still with their faults and all. I’ve gotten very scared out of not being convinced that I was loved–unprotected. Someone once prayed over me and told me that his insight was a “love deficit.” He said everyone in that gathering loved me–and he was right, I had no belief of that at all. People do horrible things from their faults but still love too, just as I have done horrible things but still love too. 🙂

        So I can believe that the sin was wrong, oppose it, forgive it, love and receive love–from people. I can let go of my own faults too, oppose them, and go on loving too. Many people who give love are still in trouble with God for ignoring His salvation, but I think it’s important to know how to receive love from people in spite of their faults and your own.

        Jesus was able to forgive people as he was being nailed to the cross, for “they know not what they do.” I’m astounded by some of the things in the past involving people not seeming to know–what seemed obvious to me–the damage they did. It’s God who changes people’s hearts, but I think some of the love for me in my life is actually genuine after all.

        People don’t sin against you just to sin against you. They sin in general because they’re sinners–like I have sinned against others because I’m a sinner. It’s ultimately not personal–like when David said “I have sinned against you and against you alone.” (Psalm 51:4)

        I’m considering things like what it means to forgive ignorant and unrepentant sin (even if it means the relationship/trust is broken), accepting love from sinners in spite of it, while being firmly opposed to sin–all processes that apply inwardly too (that I am working out my own faults).

        My future is weighing on me too. I’m praying God directs my steps to where I will go to feel at a spiritual home. Yes indeed, I am on my knees constantly asking God to conform me to what he wants–Jesus knows how to change me into what I need to be, not vice-versa.

        Thank you very much for your prayers.

        1. JC,

          It breaks my heart that you have not felt fully loved at times, even among believers. You are loved here. You are accepted here. You are precious to us and just as equally valuable and important as anyone else.

          Loving sinners while not condoning sin can be really dicey sometimes! Especially for us as humans – as we are imperfect, too.
          What has helped me when I am sinned against – is to realize that if that person knew what he/she was doing and knew the harm they were inflicting, they would never do what they did. If they could see through God’s eyes, they would love as He loves. It helps me to think about what Jesus said on the cross – they know not what they do. That makes it easier for me to forgive. And, of course, looking back at how blind I was to my own sin for decades… I have to see that I did similar things that were so hurtful and didn’t even know I was hurting others myself. 🙁 How desperately we all need the blood, mercy and forgiveness of Christ

          We don’t have to fear people or being let down by people anymore. Because we have the power of God’s Spirit in us. He can empower us to overcome any disappointment or hurt that sinful people may cause. Thankfully! And, not only that – but the most amazing thing is that He, in His great sovereignty, can even use what people intended for evil for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. WOW! That takes the sting out of sin against us in so many ways. I love the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. What a powerful story of the overriding power of God’s sovereignty even over the sin and evil motives of sinful people to accomplish His good purposes.

          Yes, only God can change people’s hearts. Only He can open their eyes to their sin. I could not even open my own eyes, much less someone else’s eyes.

          People sin because they are not being empowered by God’s Spirit. When the sinful nature is in control, or we allow fear or sin to take over, we sin. If people were filled with God’s Spirit, they wouldn’t sin.

          We don’t have to trust people who have sinned against us. The trust may need to be rebuilt. But, in Christ, we have the power to forgive them and to not allow their sin to have any power over us. That is such freedom!

          Praying for God to direct your every step for His glory and for your great good, my precious brother.

          1. Thank you very much April. I hope you never doubt what a blessing you are to me too.

            Seeing such zeal for God, with an introspection, dedication and willingness to submit completely and give Jesus all we have–this feels like the most “familiar” company I’ve ever seen.

            Though I’m not thinking about marriage, just using your blog to help get a “new normal” thoroughly in my mind as far as Godly femininity is so incredibly important (for me and many men, what with what we experience). There’s so little refuge from what the world considers “normal” that hurts so much, and so little that helps real healing or protection for men. I’m contemplating cutting all ties to my family of growing up to avoid slipping back into the “old groove.”

            Thank you for your love. 🙂 It is a treasure.

          2. JC,
            A lot of men feel the way you do and find this blog and my Youtube channel to be an oasis and a shelter in the midst of a very harsh, condemning culture toward men. I’m glad that God is using this community to bless you and to help you find a new setting for normal about godly femininity. That is awesome!

            It is my prayer that what you see here is what you will find in every church and every body of believers. How I long and fervently pray for a new Great Awakening. Of course, it is already happening – as you can see. 🙂 God is so very good.

            I long to see my brothers and sisters find total healing in Christ. I know our culture, and your family, have created many deep scars and wounds for you. And you are far from the only one. How this breaks my heart! I want to see my brothers standing firm in their identity in Christ, filled with God’s Spirit, knowing who they are as godly men, using the gifts and talents God gave them for His glory and shining radiantly for Him. I want to see the same for my sisters. I also want to see this chasm between men and women closed. And I want to see understanding, empathy, sympathy, agape love, grace, forgiveness, kindness, patience, gentleness, goodness and blessing extended from one side to the other on a daily and “normal” basis. We are one body! I pray for unity as Jesus did in His great High Priestly prayer. That was the longing of His heart. How I pray we will have the unity He desires us to have in His Spirit.

            It is very easy to go back to our old ways of thinking, speaking and acting when we are around our families of origin. That is where we often learn dysfunctional ways of relating and thinking and identifying ourselves. It is so easy to slip back into the toxic, familiar ways when we go back to those relationships. Sometimes, there can be a need for a time of separation and healing. I pray God will give you His wisdom about that. Those are the most difficult and stubborn relationships to try to heal. Thankfully, with God, all things are possible. I pray for your family, as well, for God to work in their hearts and lives and for them to fully submit to Christ as Lord for His glory, as well.

            Much love, my brother!

      2. I also pray for God to expose any sin I cherish in my heart–expose me fully as I search myself, and uncloud my perception. Thank you 🙂

  5. Thank you for this article. So many times people are led astray by ones own perception. The way to the Father is through belief in your heart that Jesus is the son of God and He died for your sins, confession of your sins. Salvation comes through Jesus not works. We are all in a process being changed daily we have no room to judge one another but a lot of room to love one another. God bless you for posting this many will be delivered from this article.

  6. Yes!
    I remember saying a prayer many years ago that didn’t feel right. When I finally was saved it was through the word of God only. Now he is totally remodeling me from the inside out. Dealing with my heart , my style of dress, how I great people with a smile and openness, pruning me. I am so eager to serve Jesus.

    He spoke to me Friday morning he said “cut off all contact with men for the entire month of dec” I said okay “(having a man is my idol)

    Today I asked him why is the reason. “He said to make you a proverbs 31” I will choose attributes of GOD daily and study them. Then personalize what Christ has done to me and for me. I will do the same regarding a Godly women.

    I’m nervous and excited.

    Today at church the sermon title was “Who is Jesus? ” we went through many scripture of who he is. 🙂 I’ve been visiting churches and this one feels like home.

    Thanks April ♡♥

    1. Shy,
      I am so excited for you! I know that this time of “fasting” from romantic relationships will be a wonderful springboard for your spiritual life. Focusing on God alone and allowing Him to tear out all the worldly, idols stuff and rebuild your heart, mind, soul, femininity, ideas about relationships and your life on Him and His Truth is the best thing you could ever do. It will feel awkward and foreign at first. But I can’t wait to see all that God has in store for you this month, my precious sister!

      Please let me know how you are doing, what you are learning and how we can pray with you. 🙂

  7. Hi,
    I am a Christian. I trust Jesus’ atonement for me on Calvary. I love him and desire to serve him. There isn’t any hidden sin that I know of in my life, yet I struggle greatly with known sins: bitterness, pride, jealousy, mostly towards in laws, friends, relationships in general. I love my husband & kids and don’t feel insecurity there, but pretty much everywhere else I have that fear if rejection. It consumes me. I confess often and desire to have the victory. What am I missing? I love your blog. You are such an encouragement!!

    1. Chris,
      It is great to hear from you! I am so thankful God is using the blog to bless you. What was your childhood like? What was your parents’ marriage like. We’re you abused at all? We’re they divorced? Did you feel that your parents didn’t have things under control? Did you feel loved as a child? Did you have a traumatic relationship before you married?

      Much love!
      April

      1. I come from a godly Christian home with wonderful parents. My mom babysat other children while I was in my pre teen & teenage years. I always felt like we were second place and was extremely jealous of those children. That’s when I remember feeling the rejection in spite of knowing my parents loved me. To this day, my parents don’t pursue me like I would love them too. I live 2,500 miles from home. I really don’t have anything to complain about and wonder why I feel that rejection? I get terribly jealous of others’ friendships, relationships, etc. It consumes me. I give it to God daily and confess it as sin.
        My parents aren’t divorced. I have a wonderful, godly husband who counsels me often. 🙂
        I idolize relationships and realize I have put that above my relationship with God. I want to be fully surrendered to Him and want to know how…..

        1. Chris,

          I am glad that you see what you are doing. That is the first step!

          I invite you to search the following terms on my home page search bar:
          – idol
          – idolatry
          – feel loved
          – people pleaser
          – bitterness
          – fear
          – expectations
          – overcome idolatry

          I believe these might help point you toward Christ and putting Him first in your life. I’m right here if you want to talk some more!

          Much love!

  8. I’ve prayed the sinners prayer many times but Jesus and I both know I don’t believe. I wish more than anything that I was a believer and could be saved.

      1. I think I don’t believe because I’m not one of his sheep and he didn’t place it on my heart that he died for my sins. I wish he did.

    1. Hello Judith,

      I feel that I must personally answer your post because of the similar frustration and concern that I had before I was saved. Right now you seem to be trying to follow a formula in order to find salvation, but you simply need to trust in what the Lord has already accomplished for you. The answer to the age-old question, “What must I DO to be saved?” is this: You CAN’T do a thing except believe that God is telling you the truth when He says that the work is already done. (John 3:16) To BELIEVE something is as non-doing as it gets. As soon as you add something beyond simple belief and think that it has any part in salvation, you have stepped out of the path that leads to eternal life.

      Look again at the verses that finally cleared up my confusion. (Other people see the truth through different verses, but these were the ones that spoke to me, so maybe they will open your eyes if you will carefully examine what they say.): “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)

      It is clear from your post that you already believe that you are one of those sheep who has gone astray, and you’re right. From the first sin that we ever sinned, we started down a road that led away from God. Like two ends of a magnet that violently repel and resist each other, God is repelled by our sin, no matter how small, and even one tiny sin prevents close fellowship with him. He cannot admit us into heaven until the sin problem that causes this alienation between him and us has been eliminated. But, since we have already contaminated ourselves with sin, we are helpless to do anything about that sin which condemns us.

      So, what does the rest of the verse say? “…and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Do you believe that the word ALL includes you? Did Jesus say “No, I refused Judith’s sin; she’s not included in that word ALL. I suffered for other people, but not for her.” (Would God be honest or holy if he said that?)

      Consider, too, whether the death of the Lord Jesus is able to take away the sin of an unlimited number of people who accept him as their personal sin-bearer. If Jesus had not been God, he would have sinned at some point in his life, and therefore he, too, would have been condemned for being a sinner. This is why the Son of God, taking on humanity and living a perfect life, was able to die for an imperfect world. As hard as his enemies tried, they could not find a single sin in his life. He said ” I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

      If you believe in your heart that God told the truth, that YOUR sin was part of that crushing, terrible load of sin that was placed upon Jesus because he loved you enough to die in your place, then you will not look for a formula or a prayer to save you. Formulas are substitutes for belief.

      Why do you suppose that Jesus cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The answer is that God at that very moment was pouring out his wrath against all the sin that the world has ever produced. That sin had been squarely laid upon Jesus as if he had committed it.

      As much as Jesus loathed sin, he brought himself under its weight because he loves you and me and wants to be able to live eternally with us. He took every vile, hateful, sin that has ever afflicted earth, and was willing to be punished for it in the sinner’s place–not just for one person’s sin, but the weight of ALL sin from every generation.

      So, do you see how wrong and thankless it is for us to refuse to accept the free gift of eternal life that he provides through such horrendous suffering? Do you see how insulting it is to him to think that we must observe a man-made ritual in order to be saved? And do you see how we cut ourselves off from heaven if we choose to disregard his sacrifice and go about our lives as if God will not ultimately hold us accountable for rejecting his Son? Disbelief is the greatest of all sins .because it considers Jesus’ death as worthless and ineffective. This is the reason that the sinner who chooses to reject, or ignore, the free gift of salvation must bear his own sin for all eternity.

      A person is born again at the moment he accepts that God’s word is true. In Numbers 21:8 God promised the Israelites who had been bitten by the poisonous snakes, that they would be saved if they simply looked in belief on the brass snake that Moses had placed on a pole. The snake represented the ugliness of the sin that, on a future date, was to be placed on Jesus. Were the people required to pray, climb the pole, or walk around the pole seven times? No, they simply had to believe that they would live if they looked with faith on what God had provided for their deliverance.

      In contrast, unbelief wants to DO, to FEEL and to BE a part of the solution; in so doing it essentially calls God a liar because it refuses to believe that the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient to save. Unbelief doesn’t accept God’s word as true, while true belief simply accepts what it is helpless to do for itself.

      When a person believes, then God as Judge views the person’s sin debt as PAID IN FULL. Since he has already punished Jesus for that person’s sin, the believer is assured of eternal life. God would not be a God of justice if he punished both Jesus AND a believer for his sin, would he? So, dear frustrated seeker, this is the Gospel–the good news that you have not yet accepted.

      Jesus atonement is complete. He cried out from the cross, “IT IS FINISHED!,” so ask yourself right now why you can’t trust his sacrifice to be complete, and to be all that you need. Simply BELIEVE! He is worthy of your trust and the only source of assurance. Ask God to direct you to the truth, and then immerse yourself in the Bible, and value it above men’s words. The Bible was written through the direction of the Holy Spirit, and it is the way that God speaks to a person’s heart and imparts the truth.

      Be encouraged; if you are seeking God with all your heart, he will allow you to find him, but you must come with empty hands.

      With love to you and to all who are still seeking like you are…

      Yvonne

  9. “Praying a prayer and going forward can be good things. They can be results of our belief in Jesus and our faith in what He did for us. But the prayer itself and the going forward or being baptized do not save us. It is faith in what Jesus did for us that saves us – and that kind of saving faith will always produce changes in our attitudes, behavior, speech and motives. We do things later because of our gratitude for all Jesus has done for us. The things we do are the fruit, not the cause of our salvation. I hope that makes sense”

    This is exactly what i truly believe in my heart… my old church was very modern.. they would have u raise your hand say a prayer and thats it.. my new church believes you MUST be baptized to be saved and that baptism is the point of your salvation. I don’t get it.. wouldnt it be the time you truly believe in your heart Jesus is Lord?
    My husband is spending time with men and mentoring them and they want to be saved and he prays with them and stays in contact with them, and when they decide to get baptized that is wonderful! He is there for them, but my husband is feeling like if our pastor knew he was just praying with them and they were confessing Jesus with their mouth and believing in their heart, and my husband says you are saved, hes afraid he will get in trouble… our pastor has to have meetings with them first and say what it costs to follow jesus and make sure they are really ready for that commitment.. is this biblical?

    1. helpmeet,

      In the situation where the thief was on the cross and trusted Christ – what did Jesus say?

      Baptism is a step of obedience. I go to a Baptist church myself. But – the key thing is not a specific prayer or baptism, from my understanding – but knowing God and trusting Christ and making Him LORD. Then, He will direct us to obey His commands. Few people truly understand that following Christ means giving up our lives daily for Him. He gave all for us – then we give our all to Him in gratitude. We obey Him because we are so thankful for all He has done and because His Spirit changes us and gives us the desire and power to obey Him.

      That is my understanding. Much love!

  10. Hello Peacefulwife, and Yvonne too, I was wondering do you think there is a point of no return. I was sort of like you two, prayed the prayer when I was younger, but really just wanted “fire insurance” to be saved from hell, not really wanting a Lord of my life. I prayed again when I was a teen, but realized even then that I didn’t want to admit I wasn’t truly saved all those years in between, it was too scary for some reason, or I was too proud. So I sort of just said well I rededicated with this prayer. Don’t know if I was saved before or not (even though now I’m sure I wasn’t). I prayed the prayer several times after that but never had real peace.

    Years later I heard a hard-hitting sermon on repentance and felt it hit home. The preacher talked about you have to repent and about this girl who kept saying “‘Lord IF I’m not saved, please save me.” Not until she admitted she wasn’t saved in the first place, or, repent of her pride I guess, did God save her. I thought that must be me. I felt after that sermon, I heard God say to my soul “I never knew you!” But I didn’t go forward 🙁 I was too scared, I guess too scared to admit my lost state. Even talking with my counselor (this was at camp) I couldn’t admit it. Even for years afterward back home in my church, I felt convicted after every sermon on sundays and felt I should just go forward and admit I’m NOT saved (not necessarily trusting in the going forward, but repenting of my pride) and then everything might be ok. But I could never fully make myself do it. 🙁 In my mind I couldn’t admit everything was fake and “start over” cuz everyone thought I was saved. Plus I thought, what if I go forward, pray with my pastor and STILL I don’t have peace? Then what will I have done wrong? But I guess that was just an excuse. Finally the urge to go forward stopped, and I was convinced I was like Judas or Esau, no hope for repentance. I had squelched the Holy Spirit.

    Well I eventually convinced myself that that wasn’t the case (really I distracted myself with other things). I thought I was okay and read and prayed sometimes and sometimes thought God was showing me things. But I guess that was a fake as well.

    Then recently something awful happened. I became aware of a sin from my past that was much worse than I thought it was, a sin that would change my life if confessed to my pastor, etc. But I needed God’s strength if I was going to confess it. It scared me so badly. I’ve been running from it while sort of saying with God’s help I will confess it in time…in time…for almost two months I was in this living hell of fear for this sin. Now I’m starting to feel the conviction slipping away, and I feel like there’s no hope for me. I can’t confess this without God’s help, and I feel God wants nothing more to do with me seeing as I have ignored Him so much 🙁 I’m sorry for the length of this post, but would you pray for me? If God could have mercy on me and grant me repentance. I want real peace so badly.

    1. NeedSomeHope,

      If you ignore the Holy Spirit, His voice and the conviction do grow weaker and your heart gets harder and harder. BUT – you ARE hearing His voice calling you to come to Him and you absolutely can turn from your sin and turn to Christ and yield full control of everything in your life to Him.

      It’s not too late!

      I pray that God might draw you to Himself and that you might have the courage to stop trusting self and living your own way and follow Jesus, even if it costs you everything. It is so worth it! You give Him all of yourself, and He gives you all of Himself and all that He has. 🙂

      Much love!

    2. Yes there is hope for you! Don’t give up. You have already discovered that there is no peace in things that YOU do to try to obtain salvation. That’s an important step.

      Take a look at the story in Numbers 21, which is actually picture of salvation. When the Israelites sinned, God sent poisonous serpents among them which bit them. The result: they would soon die in their sin unless God provided a substitute to take the punishment that their sin deserved. If we aren’t saved, we’re under a death sentence, too, because of our sin, but there IS hope if you simply trust what Scripture says, rather than a man-made formula.

      God told Moses to set a bronze serpent on a pole to represent man’s sin. Why? Because it symbolized what GOD would do in the future. 2 Cor. 5:21 says that Jesus became sin for us; in other words, He was lifted up on a cross, where He willingly took the sin of the world upon Himself and suffered the penalty for it so that we wouldn’t have to die spiritually.

      God said that if the people looked on that serpent and trusted God’s promise to save them, they would escape punishment. However, if they proved that they didn’t believe God by gazing elsewhere, they died without hope.

      You still seem to be looking around for something that you can DO to be saved, rather than simply looking at what He has already finished. God gave the Israelites a choice; they weren’t forced to look at the bronze figure and trust God’s promise, but the consequence of rejecting your Savior is bearing it yourself.

      Read John 3:14-18, which is the New Testament explanation of that story in Numbers 21 that symbolizes salvation. Count the number of times that BELIEVE is listed in some way. Was anything else required in those verses besides BELIEVING? If God is satisfied with simple belief in His Son’s work, why aren’t you?

      Yes, there is certainly hope for you, and I will pray that God will open your understanding!

      May God bless your search!

  11. I am meditating on the fact that the choice to follow Christ is not at all a one-time thing, but a choice we make constantly:

    Luke 9:23
    And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

    1. If we are talking about a Christian taking up his cross daily and following his Lord and Savior, I would agree because I believe that Jesus was speaking with His disciples in that verse. However, Scripture is quite clear that salvation is a one time event, since John 3:3 says that we must be born again (not born again, and again and again) in order to enter heaven. Once we are saved we must be willing to take up our cross daily, but we have no power to do that until we are born again and receive the Holy Spirit.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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