The Psalmist wrote, “I shall give thanks to you, for you have answered me, and you have become my salvation” (Ps. 118:21). Some people seek to shorten the path to salvation by oversimplifying and diluting what the Scriptures say. This verse should not be construed to mean that prayer, a “sinner’s prayer”, is all that is required to be saved. At the beginning of the road to salvation is a heart and soul that yearns for God’s help. And God answers this yearning. What is in the middle is what is often ignored by religious teachers. It takes more than a prayer to prayer to be saved, it takes belief and obedience to the Gospel to be saved.

It matters what a person believes. Not just any person will be heard, but only those who receive Jesus. It says, “the stone which the builders rejected, has become the chief cornerstone.” (Ps. 118:22). A person can pray all day, but he must hear and believe in Jesus Christ. And not everyone who believes will be saved, but only those who repent and turn to God for salvation. The Psalmist wrote, “The LORD has disciplined me severly, But He has not given me over to death” (Ps. 118:18). Implicit in God’s punishment is the necessity to repent when turning to God. A person who prays for God’s salvation must hear and obey the truth of the Gospel. This also requires that a person be baptized, according to Jesus’ command, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19). The rite of baptism is the place where the alien sinner, who is now believing and repentant, is first introduced into the saving grace. Paul was told, “And now why do you delay, arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins calling on His name” (Acts 22:16).

It is true, God hears the prayers of sinners. But God does not save merely through a prayer. Cornelius is a good example where the angel of the Lord said to the yet unsaved Cornelius, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God” (Acts 10:4). But God did not save Cornelius until he followed the instruction to bring Peter to his home to hear the Gospel. Peter had to come and preach,

38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. 40 “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 10:38-43)

It’s just as the angel told Cornelius concerning Peter, “14He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.” (Acts 11:14). To be saved, Cornelius had to hear Peter’s message of the Gospel and to be baptized. God heard the prayers of Cornelius, but Cornelius had to obey the Gospel to be saved.

Remember, if we don’t ask, we won’t receive. “Hear my prayer, O LORD! And let my cry for help come to You” – Psalm 102:1. The only “sinner’s prayer” that is in the Bible is the one that is accompanied with belief and obedience to the Gospel. God bless you.

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Categories: Cornelius, God hears, prayer, prayer heard

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