Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2005 12:19 AM
Subject: THE SINNER'S PRAYER [08/13--2005]

Luke 18:13, 14: "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

BOB'S NOTE: I have to differ with some brethren when they toss the sinner's prayer and its use to the Arminians. I think the Calvinist can most consistently use this prayer in evangelism, for he believes prayer derives from Divine influences upon the heart of the one praying.

Even the "pre-faith regeneration" advocate, Dr. W. G. T. Shedd, said,  "There is the highest encouragement in the Word of God to pray for regenerating grace of the Holy Ghost. It is a duty enjoined upon all men without exception, like that of hearing the gospel," and Dr. Shedd cites the Westminster Confession where it says "Prayer . . . is required by God of all men" (Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, page 524).

Directing sinners to faith in Christ obviously takes precedence over prayer, yet prayer can be a means of effecting the heart of a person and thereby prayer becomes an encouragement to his believing in Christ. 

Below are excerpts from what C. H. Spurgeon had to say about the sinner's prayer. Before quoting Spurgeon, it should be clarified and understood that Charles G. Finney, D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham or another other evangelist did not originate the sinner's prayer and its use, contrary to what some sources have said. Finney's methods are delineated in his Autobiography, and the sinner's prayer is not mentioned (pages 288, 289). Finney used what he called the "anxious seat."

Spurgeon predated both Moody and Sunday, and you can see he had a high regard for the practical application of the sinner's prayer of Luke 18:13.

As I said, it seems to me that of all people, Calvinists can most logically identify with the implications of the sinner's prayer for Calvinism is the most prominent theological system which teaches justification based solely on the provisions of the mercy of God, which is what the Publican was pleading in his prayer. Furthermore, a desire for mercy is prompted in the sinner by the Holy Spirit's blessing on the Word of God (Romans 8:26; 1 Cor. 4:7; Phil. 1:6; 2:13; Romans 10:13), which is the view of the Calvinist.

Note below how Spurgeon made use of the sinner's prayer.-- Bob Ross

We much prefer C. H. Spurgeon's high regard for use of the sinner's prayer than we care for Buff's putdown of its use today. He says the prayer was devised by "the Calvinist mindset," and in that we wish to commend his keen observation. Spurgeon, a Calvinist, preached two great sermons on the text in Luke 18:13, sermons #216 and #1949.  ><

In sermon #1949, Spurgeon said

His supplication speeded well with God, and he speedily won his suit with heaven. Mercy granted to him full justification. The prayer so pleased the Lord Jesus Christ, who heard it, that he condescended to become a portrait painter, and took a sketch of the petitioner. I  say the prayer in itself was so pleasing to the gracious Savior, that he tells us how it was offered: “Standing afar off, he would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast.” . . . My heart’s desire this morning is that many here may seek mercy of the Lord as this publican did, and go down to their houses justified. . . .
Now, I want to cheer your hearts by noticing that this man, through this prayer, and through this confession of sin, experienced a remarkable degree of acceptance. He had come up to the temple condemned; “he went down to his house justified.” A complete change, a sudden change, a happy change was wrought upon him. Heavy heart and downcast eye were exchanged for glad heart and hopeful outlook. He came into that temple with trembling, he left it with rejoicing. . . . Oh, that you might find mercy this morning! Let us seek this blessing. Come with me to Jesus. I will lead the way; I pray you say with me this morning — “God be merciful to me the sinner.”

In sermon #216, Spurgeon said the following:

Come just as thou art, with nothing of thine own, except thy sinfulness, and plead that before the throne—"God be merciful to me a sinner." This is what this man confessed, that he was a sinner, and he pleaded it, making the burden of his confession to be the matter of his plea before God. . . .

May I be made sure of heaven, and all that in a moment?" Yes, my friend, If thou believest in the Lord Jesus Christ, if thou wilt stand where thou art, and just breathe this prayer out, "Lord, have mercy! God be merciful to me a sinner, through the blood of Christ."

I tell thee man, God never did deny that prayer yet; if it came out of honest lips he never shut the gates of mercy on it. It is a solemn litany that shall be used as long as time shall last, and it shall pierce the ears of God as long as there is a sinner to use it.

Come, be not afraid, I beseech you, use the prayer before you leave this Hall. Stand where you are; endeavor to realize that you are all alone, and if you feel that you are guilty. now let the prayer ascend. Oh, what a marvelous thing, it from the thousands of hearts here present, so many thousand prayers might go up to God! Surely the angels themselves never had such a day in Paradise, as they would have today, if every one of us could unfeignedly make that confession. Some are doing it; I know they are; God is helping them. And sinner, do you stay away? You, who have most need to come, do you refuse to join with us. Come, brother come. You say you are too vile. No, brother, you cannot be too vile to say, "God be merciful to me." Perhaps you are no viler than we are; at any rate, this we can say—we feel ourselves to be viler than you, and we want you to pray the same prayer that we have prayed. "Ah," says one, "I cannot; my heart won't yield to that; I cannot." But friend, if God is ready to have mercy upon thee, thine must be a hard heart, if it is not ready to receive his mercy. Spirit of God, breathe on the hard heart, and melt it now! . . . .

Spurgeon closed the sermon with this plea:
Let us use this prayer as our own now. Oh that it might come up before the Lord at this time as the earnest supplication of every heart in this assembly! I will repeat it,—not as a text, but as a prayer,—as my own prayer, as your prayer. Will each one of you take it personally for himself? Let everyone, I entreat you, who desires to offer the prayer, and can join in it, utter at its close an audible "Amen."
Let us pray,

[And the people did with deep solemnity say] "AMEN."

P.S.—The preacher hopes that he who reads will feel constrained most solemnly to do likewise.

The cry of a young raven is nothing but the natural cry of a creature, but your cry, if it is sincere, is the result of a work of Divine Grace in your heart. When the raven cries to Heaven it is nothing but the raven’s own self that cries—but when you cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner”it is God the Holy Spirit crying in you!

The Ravens' Cry, Volume 12, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, page 55.

My Last 10 Email Articles --
WHININGS BY THE "MONK" [08/13--2005]  

CONVERSIONS IN ACTS [08/12--2005] 
BUFF PRAISES BOB'S BOOK [08/12--2005] 


BUFF ADMITS HIS ERROR [08/11--2005] 
BUFF'S BUFFOONERY, Part 2 [08/11--2005] 

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