David Platt has some helpful remarks about the “Sinners Prayer” dust-up that has captured the attention of many Southern Baptists over the last few months. Platt also comments on the “Sinner’s Prayer” resolution that was adopted at the SBC in New Orleans last week. No one should be surprised that he voted in favor of the resolution. He writes:
What grieved me about this issue, though, was the way it was reported in a few particularly prominent places that seemed to imply that this issue was dividing Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the SBC, or even me personally from various leaders in the SBC. Some even suggested that as “one of the SBC’s Calvinist stars,” I am “against the sinner’s prayer” because I “don’t want the hopelessly condemned thinking they are saved or joining churches when they actually have no chance for life in Christ.” In addition to how nauseous such a label makes me, words really can’t describe how much a comment like this pierces my heart, for nothing (I hope and pray) could be further from the truth. Any cautions I have expressed with a “sinner’s prayer” have absolutely nothing directly to do with the doctrine of election, and I definitively don’t believe that certain people “actually have no chance for life in Christ.” Instead, my comments about the “sinner’s prayer” have been deeply motivated by a concern for authentic conversion and regenerate church membership—doctrines which many Calvinists and non-Calvinists, as well as a variety of Christians in between, would rightly value.
I believe without hesitation or equivocation that God loves all people in the world (John 3:16) and He desires all people’s salvation (2 Peter 3:9). As followers of Jesus saved by His matchless grace (Ephesians 2:1-10), we are compelled to go with urgency to all people to tell them compassionately of God’s love for them (2 Corinthians 4:5) and to call them clearly to repent and believe in Christ (Matthew 4:17; Acts 2:38). As we do this, I believe we simply need to be as biblical as possible (2 Timothy 2:15). Do I believe it is “wrong” for someone to pray a “prayer of salvation”? Certainly not. Calling out to God in prayer with repentant faith is fundamental to being saved (Romans 10:9-10). Yet as I pastor a local church and serve alongside pastors of other local churches, I sense reasonably serious concern about the relatively large number of baptisms in our churches that are “re-baptisms”—often representing people who thought they were saved because they prayed a certain prayer, but they lacked a biblical understanding of salvation and were in reality not saved. This, in addition to a rampant easy believism that marks cultural Christianity in our context (and in other parts of the world), leads me to urge us, as we go to all people among all nations with the good news of God’s love, to be both evangelistically zealous and biblically clear at the same time (Matthew 28:18-20).
You can read the rest of this post here. Platt also posted the manuscript from his sermon that he preached at the SBC Pastor’s conference. You can download the sermon here.
I really think that the argument surrounding the resolution at the convention lost the true concern. The concern was over how many, after leading someone in some sort of prayer, immediately declare those people to be saved. I believe that should be our great concern. Somehow it got lost in the Calvinism debate. Proof of that is how Steve Gaines proudly stated (“he wasn’t bragging”) that 200+ children at his church recently prayed the sinners prayer. So what? I can manipulate children, as well as adults, to repeat prayers and then tell them they are born again. But that doesn’t make them born again.
I sat under Dr. Platt in evangelism and preaching courses in Seminary. He is saying the same thing he has for several years. I believe that he is, as are many of us, heavily inspired by the ministry of Paul Washer and Mark Dever, to see a reclamation of a biblical understanding of evangelism and conversion.
Platt is on point, as usual.
Thanks for posting this, Denny.
Sorry Pastor Platt, I don’t know what your game is but you cannot have it both ways. You cannot in front of everyone say that the name of Christ is not enough for salvation, Romans 10:13, nor throw out Romans 10:9 and then say you are for them. Nor can you do all that and then say you are for the inerrancy of scripture. Do you even know what you are saying? The church is cursing people, by your proclamation, by having them say a sinners prayer that you then voted for. You sir are not radical or reactionary, you are confused.
Mr. Cook, I think you have misrepresented pastor Platt and indeed this entire discussion. The debate has never been about the use of the sinner’s prayer, but about the misuse of the sinner’s prayer. Is there anybody who wants to go on the record against sinners crying out to God in repentance and faith? I know Platt favors that kind of sinner’s prayer just like I do, and I’m sure as you do as well.
You are misrepresenting Platt by suggesting that he is against the use of a sinner’s prayer. He is only against it’s misuse, and I think we can all join him in that. Indeed the resolution precluded it’s misuse which was why it was overwhelmingly passed.
And Mr. Burke, those who agree with you may have voted for it for the reasons you gave. It is my hope that because of the deliberate inclusion of Romans 10 into the resolution that it was a resolution against the removal of that passage from the Bible as David Platt wantonly did on the SBC stage.
For some reason my reply to you did not post. So I will send again. I am not misrepresenting Pastor Platt, he is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. I sat and listened to him for 15 minutes excoriate the church for leading people to hell by having them believe that Romans 10:13 is true. I did not say it, he did. He said Matthew 7 cancels out Romans 10:13. He said it is possible to cry out in the name of the Lord, which is what the Sinners Prayer is, and not be saved.
I am not misrepresenting, but I do believe you are putting a pretty spin on it. The problem is you cannot ignore the fact that he rejected Paul in Romans 10, criticized the church for using the sinner’s prayer, and then said he was for it. Please go listen to the sermon again.
Tom, Read ALL of Romans 10. The chapter, in context, is speaking of coming to Christ through FAITH. This is true of the whole Word of God! Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9). That is the Bibles central message. Many have taken Romans 10:9,13. and have created a doctrine around 2 verses. It’s only because of faith in Christ first that you confess Christ with your mouth. It’s only because of faith that you call on the name of the Lord. The prayer is a result of your faith. A prayer cannot save you no more than being baptized can save you. I’m in no way against someone saying a prayer but, if they are depending on a prayer for salvation then what makes them any different than any other religion that practices a work salvation? If people are being told “just say a prayer and POOF! you’re saved” then they are being misled! They are missing what it really means to be a DISCIPLE.
I’ve also heard people basically tell those that have said a prayer before but now are confused to just say the prayer again, maybe this time it will take. Huh? Then there are those that would say that if you have never verbally said the prayer then you are not saved. That is tragic and sad. Read some of the Bio’s of some of the greatest spiritual leaders over the past 200 years and you’ll find that many of them came to Faith in Christ and a “prayer” had nothing to do with it.
NO ONE IS SAYING THE PRAYER SAVES YOU! And you miss the point. David Platt is not speaking about the misuse of the prayer at all! He outright rejected Romans 10:13. He said it, not me, that it was possible to call on the name of the Lord and not be saved. Argue about those who misuse the prayer, blah, blah, but your man rejected scripture outright on the Southern Baptist stage while you all argue about the evil churches who are leading people to hell by having them pray a prayer.
I think we may have a hermeneutical misunderstanding. Having a biblical theology will help us to not proof text. It causes us to look at the whole of scripture and not extrapolate a text and say, “look at that, this means…” What you have essentially said is that John 3 has cancelled out Romans 10. And I am sure you would never say that….right?
meant to say: “What you have essentially said is that Romans 10 has cancelled out John 3”. My apologies.
No Mark, you are the one having the misunderstanding. This is a whole other conversation where Pastor Platt is wrong, but since you asked, where Does Nicodemus call upon the name of the Lord, believe in his heart or profess with his lips that Jesus is Lord? Nowhere!! In fact Nicodemus never calls Jesus Lord, but says that anyone who teaches as Jesus does must have God with him. Nicodemus heard the teaching and recognized it as coming from God, but he had NEVER accepted Christ. Jesus in verse 11 says that Nicodemus has not accepted that very testimony.
So no, you are comparing apples and oranges. Nicodemus was not a believer in Jesus Christ, he was one who believed his teaching but had never put his faith in Christ–Romans 10.
Sorry Mr Cook, but we still don’t understand each other. I blame myself because I am not always clear. What I was trying to communicate is that praying a prayer is not the point, being born again is the point. I can “call out to Christ” and still not be born again. If I preach to my little girl to cry out to Jesus for salvation and she does so out of respect for me, then has she been saved? that may sound absurd but this is what I hear you saying: That God is obliged to save someone simply because they cry out, sincerely or not. At this point I don’t think it will make any difference. thanks for the dialogue.
Mark, please call me Tom. We don’t have an argument over being born again, we seem to be having an argument over how that happens. You correct me if I am wrong. I hear you saying that God is not obliged to save someone simply because they cry out. So Paul, in your estimation, was wrong when he said ALL who call out in the name of the Lord are saved. Did I miss that? If that is what you are saying, then I completely disagree with you, because I cannot disregard Paul and Romans 10:13. God is God and is obliged to do as he wishes, but he says in his word that he is unchanging and faithful, holy and just. Why would God inspire Paul to write it, and then not do it? That would make him capricious, not to mention a liar.
But back to the subject. I am unwilling to judge your salvation experience as being “truly” salvific, versus someone else who appears to be more saved. There are plenty of denominations who judge your salvation experience based upon any number of criteria, like say speaking in tongues. That is what I hear going on right now, though using a different criteria. God says through Paul that ALL who cry out in the name of the Lord will be saved! In an argument with you, Pastor Platt, or any other person versus Romans 10:13–I will choose Romans 10:13.
Are you aware that in John 3 Jesus and Nicodemus are speaking in a kind of code using Hebrew idioms?
For example, are you aware of how many ways someone might be said to be “born again” in 1st century Jewish culture?
Am I aware…Nicodemus obviously was not, because he had to ask Jesus what he meant.
Are you aware that the Jewish expectation was for a military/political liberator? You cannot use this text to say what Pastor Platt meant, because it is not what Nicodemus was asking. Jesus was clarifying for Nicodemus what the nature of the Messiah was.
You and he are reading your 21st Century cultural understanding on the text, not I.
Yes, it is obvious from the gospels most Jews were seeking a Messiah of political liberation, this is true even for the disciples in Acts 1.
Nicodemus and Jesus were both aware of the ways someone could said to be reborn in 1st century Jewish culture, after all they were both 1st century Jews. But today we are NOT such people, and so it can take some work to figure out what is going on. But if you already think you know what is going on, you will not be motivated to seek more info.
My point is that it is easy to take some text from the 1st century text like the gospels out of context, simply by being ignorant of the 1st century cultural context. Hence my question, which you did not answer.
Don, I did answer.
OK, I will ask again, you posted a reply but did not answer my question, how many ways did a Jew in the 1st century think one could be born again?
Don, I’ll answer your question directly if you can answer mine: Where are the various ways the ancient Jews understood born again first cited? And you can’t use Isaiah, Ezekiel, or 1 Chronicles. You suggest a monolithic understanding of the concept, so please provide some kind of affirmation for that. For instance, at least one of them did not come into existence until the 13th Century.
Second, only one has a bearing on this text.
I ask a simple question and you decline to answer. For all I know, you know more about this subject than I do. But one will never know until you choose to answer.
John Hi .The faith you talked about in your comment is on target , one thing you do not mention. is that the sinner does not have the faith to be saved. unless the Holy Spirit is drawing him to it , the saving faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. and one gets saved through that faith given to him at the time he calls on the name of Jesus. and that faith is available to all sinners. Living faith only comes after salvation, and repentence will only come after salvation, and then progressive sanctification starts in the life of a new beleiver.And he will live a life that others can see Jesus in him .as proof of his salvtion.
Many thanks for Pastor Platt placing the manuscript on the web. I had forgotten that he began by attacking the whole premise of the name of Jesus, and thus Romans 10:13, in the first 30 second of his message. He did this by expounding on John 2:23-24, and wrongly asserting that those who believed in him there were not saved because Jesus did not trust them. NOWHERE does it say that, but rather it says that Jesus needed no testimony from humanity verse 25–he understood that their current understanding would preciptate their desire for a political messiah. This is the crux of John 3, Nicodemus is wondering when the revolution will come. Jesus rightly corrects him on his understanding by stating the most memorized verse in the Bible–3:16. To the very end his disciples still did not understand this truth, until the Spirit came at Pentecost. There is nothing in these two chapters that goes to suggest that those who believed in Jesus’ name were not saved, or to suggest that Nicodemus believed in Jesus as the Son of God. You cannot use them the way he did and be true to the text.
Pastor Platt from the beginning of his message was working to dismantle Romans 10, to discard it because it is inconvenient for his theology. He does this by wrongly interpreting John 2 and 3, and putting words in the passage that are not there. He adds and subtracts from scripture to suit his pleasure, and yet in the same sermon warn us to beware of those who do the very things he is doing.