5 R’s: #5 Radical Belief
Belief. This little word is everything. It’s what your faith and eternal destiny hinges upon. The book of John alone uses the word “believe” about 50 times, and it is a consistent message throughout the Bible.
I’m going to step on a lot of toes here with this statement-one I believe is the Bible truth. Okay, here goes. Just saying a “sinner’s prayer” doesn’t get you into heaven any more than putting on a red suit makes you Santa. Nope. There’s a whole lot of people out there thinking they said “the prayer” one time in church, so they’re “in.” There’s also a lot of parents, friends, and family members out there who are so relieved that their child or loved one finally prayed a certain little prayer. But they are secure in nothing if that prayer hasn’t made a difference.
Before you think I’m a heretic, I’ll let the Bible speak for itself.
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” John 1:12
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
Oops…don’t see anything about a sinner’s prayer there. The key to being saved is belief! Belief that Jesus is who He said He is, that He did all that He said He did, and that He’ll do all He says He’ll do. He was perfect, He died as a sacrifice for everyone who would believe, and He rose from the dead in victory over sin and death.
“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
If you really believe all of that, it will change your life. A changed life is evidence of the belief that is taking place inside your heart. So what I’m getting at is that there are probably a lot of people out there who think they are saved just because they prayed some prayer, but they never meant it…they never believed. Their lives are no different than before. They are living for themselves and for this world, not for God as a daily living sacrifice. Let me clarify that praying “the prayer” could be the way someone gets saved if they truly mean it. But many people have actually never even said a sinners prayer, and yet they are saved because they do believe and it has totally changed their life.
Lest you think I’m being too harsh or “judgmental,” remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:18-20. “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.“ This is God’s “permission” for us to make observational judgments about people based on what we see. We aren’t allowed to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart, but we are allowed to make judgments about the fruit we see (or don’t see) in people’s lives. If someone is genuinely a “believer,” their life will show it. It may be baby steps because they have a lot to overcome, but there should be some evidence of belief. You can’t fully believe in the message of the cross and not be a changed person.
“Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.”
3 John 1:11