(Image courtesy of http://www.lovethispic.com.)

Adrian Rogers is one of my favorite pastors.  On my way to school nearly every morning, I listen to him on the radio.  Today, at the end of his message, he gave an invitation for anyone who wanted to receive Jesus to pray the sinner's prayer after him.  After he ended, the music flared up and
a man's voice said, "If you received Jesus today, write to the ministry and let us know.  We would love to send you some information to help you grow in your faith."

Oh, how wrong we are to think we can receive Jesus' free gift of salvation because we choose to say a few words.  As a qualifier, can a prayer of repentance be the means for salvation?  I believe so.  But the deception lies in believing that the prayer saves us instead of Jesus Christ.  Assuredly, this cannot be the case because then it would be us who saved ourselves - our words - rather than the Word of God (John 1).

God brings us to a place of repentance, then He saves us through His Word, not ours.  Period.  Game over.

In Luke 18, Jesus tells a parable about a pharisee and a tax collector.  This parable is directed at people who treat others with contempt and are full of pride (see verse 9), but the tax collector's prayer - representing an infamous sinner - is one of great repentance.  "But the tax collector, standing far off [from the temple], would not even lift his eyes up to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'" (Luke 18:13).  Jesus goes on to say that this man, not the pharisee, went home justified that day (see verse 14).

If you are doubting or questioning your salvation, do not ask man for assurance.  "Man looks on the outside appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7).  Instead, examine yourself! "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless you fail to meet the test!" (II Corinthians 13:5).  Beware of anyone - even a pastor - who tells you whether or not you are saved.  You cannot trust man when it comes to salvation, no matter how "spiritual" and well-meaning the believer may be.

Again, stop looking to man - even pastors - for assurance of your salvation.  For there is no name under heaven by which men must be saved (Acts 4:12).  Search yourself and find out for yourself - between you and God - if indeed your heart is repentant and you are saved.

May you be blessed by God the Father!

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).