Are We Saved By Prayer or By Grace?
By Jim Murriner
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
This verse is often misused as a proof text for those who teach that you must pray to be saved. God's Word is very clear though that we are not saved by anything which we do.
Here are a few scriptures which declare our inability in the matter of salvation.
8"For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" 9"Not of Works, lest any man should boast." 10"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
"Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law, for they stumbled at that stumbling stone."
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by faith of Christ, and not by works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
While praying might not seem to you to be work, let us think of others today who would teach us that we must pray through, to be saved. Their thoughts on this seems to be that there is some barrier some place that must be penetrated, that one might reach right into Heaven with their prayers. Thus they are making reaching Heaven with our prayers a very hard thing or a very hard work.
I hear many, who in many ways are very sound preachers, presenting the gospel, as it is in the Bible, having faith as the means by which we accept Christ as our Savior, and even having faith to be the gift of God, that we receive at the new birth, thus making our salvation, to be all of God, and not of us in any way. Yet many of these men will lay out certain steps one must go through, with the last step being the sinners prayer.
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet." We must consider the previous two verses as we continue to study on this matter.
I. God's word does tell us to call upon the name of the Lord.
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call."
Note here that there will be deliverance for those whom the Lord shall call. We can see then that the "whosoever" that's mentioned concerning calling upon the Lord, will not be everyone, but will only be those whom the Lord shall call.
II. What is God telling us here, in our text verse, Romans 10:13?
We are given an example in Luke 18:10-14 of a man calling on God, and at the end of this portion of scripture we are told that this man went down to his house justified.
10"Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, the other a publican"
11"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." 12"I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." 13"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." 14"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."
Are we to conclude then that justification comes by prayer, or are we to interpret this verse and our text verse by the Word of God and understand that justification is by faith as stated in Romans 5:1
"Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
As we look at the man and his request in Luke 18:13 we will be brought to our previous point that for the lost sinner to demand salvation of God, simply for the asking is to overlook the justice of God which demands punishment for sin, "...saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." The Greek word which is translated "merciful" in this verse is translated "propitiation in Romans 3:25, where the propitiation is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can see then that the publican was not demanding salvation from God, but was asking for mercy, and not mercy like a mere criminal would request of the court, but mercy based upon the sacrifice of the one who is able to satisfy the justice of God, by the sacrifice of Himself.
Preachers today tell people that they are not bad, and then in the same breath tell these same people to pray the sinners prayer to be saved. This publican was not one who did not admit to any sin and yet would say the sinners prayer. This publican was admitting his sin, and knowing that he could do nothing about it, was seeking, mercy upon the bases of what Jesus Christ had done upon the cross.
III. What then about the calling out?
Lets look again at Romans 10:13 & 14
13"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." 14"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed: and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"
While it does seem that the publican of Luke 18:10-14 did cry out, his crying out or what he said here gives us some great insight into what it was the he believed.
This publican returned to his house justified, not because of some word of a prayer that he stated, but because he had his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to be his propitiation, or his mercy seat. If you pray some prayer that men might have you pray, or some prayer which men might call the sinners prayer, this is not faith in in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but is faith in something which you do.
Be extremely careful that you do not trust your prayer or any other thing which you have done to get you to heaven. As a preacher or teacher or one who is trying to witness to someone else, be careful that you do not present another gospel, a gospel other than that which Paul had presented to the church at Galatia.
8"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." 9"As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
We would boldly say that someone teaching baptismal regeneration is teaching another gospel, and that someone teaching salvation by church membership is teaching another gospel. We would strongly condemn those who present works as a way for salvation, as teaching another gospel. I contend that all who tell the lost sinner to say the sinners prayer that he might be saved, are teaching another gospel.