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Romans 10:9-10...Sinner's Prayer?

The Sinner's Prayer is taught in many religious groups around the world. It is said that once a sinner believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior, they can say a prayer which results in salvation. The prayer goes something like this:

"God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!" [1]

Preachers have certain texts from the Bible that they use in order to prove that the Sinner's Prayer is scriptural. One of them is Romans 10:9-10, which says,

"that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

This, however, does not teach the Sinner's Prayer for a couple of reasons.

First, nothing about a prayer is discussed in the aforementioned passage. All that is mentioned is believing that Jesus rose from the dead and confessing Him as Lord. To insert a prayer into this text is a grave mistake (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19). One might have an easier time using Romans 10:13 as a proof text for the Sinner's Prayer, but more on that will be discussed shortly.

Second, many people who advocate the Sinner's Prayer would agree that repentance is required for salvation (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; 17:30). They are quick to assume that baptism is not required because it is not explicitly mentioned in Romans 10. However, they neglect the fact that Paul omitted repentance as well as baptism. Does this mean baptism and repentance are not required in order for one to be saved? Why did Paul only mention belief and confession? Paul may not have explicitly mentioned repentance and baptism, but he certainly implied them.

The reason why Paul only mentioned belief and confession in Romans 10:9-10 is because he was writing this for a specific audience. In the verses prior to that, he said that his desire was for all of Israel to be saved. Why? Because they rejected the law of Christ and refused to give up on the law of Moses. The first steps of their salvation was to believe in Christ and not only believe, but confess Him because belief is not enough (John 12:42-43). Once they believed and confessed Christ, they were to call on His name (Rom. 10:13). What does "calling on the name of the Lord" mean?

The phrase, "calling on the name of the Lord", can also be found in Acts 2:21. When Peter said those words and many others, the Jews asked "Brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Why did they ask that? Did Peter not tell them to merely call on the name of the Lord? They asked because they understood what the phrase meant (Gen. 4:26; Psa. 145:18). It meant something more than just a prayer. This is why Peter responded, "Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38).

Paul was told to do something similar in order to be saved. God told him to go to Damascus to wait for orders (Acts 9:6). During that time, he prayed (probably for forgiveness) for three days (Acts 9:9, 11). Ananias came to him and said, "Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." (Acts 22:16). Baptism was required for Paul's sins to be washed away by the blood of Christ. Belief and confession was not enough, neither was praying for three days.

So, when Paul told the Jews in Romans 10:9-10 to believe and confess Jesus and to turn from the law of Moses to the law of Christ, repentance was implied. When he said to call on the name of the Lord in Romans 10:13, he implied baptism. After all, when someone believes the words of Jesus, they will naturally be baptized in order to be saved (Mark 16:16).

In summary, Romans 10:9-10 does not teach the sinner's prayer. It says nothing about a prayer and it implies more than simply believing and confessing Jesus. Belief, confession, repentance, and baptism are all required for one to be saved.


Works Cited:

[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/sinners-prayer.html

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