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Question #180

What should I do when I get discouraged praying for someone's salvation?

I pray for the salvation of well known people such as the ones of television or well known sports people. I don't know the word to use but is that stupid to worry about their salvation. I get so discouraged praying for anyone's salvation.

The Answer:

Principle No. 1 – IT IS NEVER STUPID TO WORRY (in the sense of being concerned) ABOUT THE SALVATION OF OTHERS, be they famous, infamous, or unknown. God is concerned about the salvation of all men. 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9. Ought we not to be like God? Did God not command us to take the gospel to every man? But do those observations really address the question of whether one should pray for the salvation of particular persons? Surely they do. It is always right to pray that what God has commanded will be obeyed and His purpose accomplished. The difficulty comes from the truth that God does not save the alien sinner in response to prayer, not even the so-called “sinner’s prayer,” as evidenced by the fact that Scripture records no instance of its use and no example of anyone being saved by it or anything close to it. However, that does not mean that the saved ought not to pray for the salvation of the unsaved. Jesus Himself set the example when, while on the cross, he prayed for those who were crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. But God did not save them even in response to the prayer of Christ. This is clearly evidenced in Acts 2 when Peter lays the crucifixion to the charge of his hearers. Acts 2:36. When God has forgiven a sin He no longer “remembers” it in the sense of laying it to the charge of the forgiven. Hebrews 8:12; 10:17. They were saved when, based upon their faith, they repented and were baptized for the remission of their sins, including the sin of crucifying the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Acts 2:38.

The same method must be used today. Prayer for the lost, whoever they may be, must be coupled with the proclamation of the gospel. It is only through that procedure that the lost can be saved.

“14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:14-15.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)