I was looking out my bedroom window about 20 years ago watching my 6 year old daughter being evangelized by a neighborhood girl of similar age. As I watched, my daughter bowed her head and prayed what we were told later was the ‘Sinners Prayer”. I was elated, not only because she was “saved”, but that God had allowed me to witness the moment of her transition to eternal life through Christ! After our daughter told us the details, my wife and I told the pastor and she got baptized. Hugs all around.
Ten years later, my daughter got baptized again, after being “saved”, again. So, what happened? Did she do something that was so bad that she lost her Salvation? Nope. (I hold this theology loosely but I don’t believe one can lose their Salvation.) Did she mess up and not say the Sinners Prayer correctly? Nope. (The prayer is only a reflection of the heart.) Did she get sprinkled the first time and needed to be immersed for it to work? Nope. (Baptism doesn’t save anyone.). Did God reject her on the first attempt for lack of effort? Nope. (We can not earn our Salvation through any effort of our own.)
What did she do wrong?
Let’s start at the beginning…
Why would anyone want to be “Saved”?
Put simply, Salvation is where we have our sins (all our sins) paid for by Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. Because of that, God can accept us as His children, we receive the Holy Spirit within us, and have the assurance of eternal life in Heaven with God. Further, there is an outward sign of this new personal relationship with Christ as we repent, or turn away from our sin nature and toward the commands of God, not to earn His favor, but because we love Him and desire to do His will. Salvation is a “free” gift from God, but the most valuable present we could every receive in our lifetime. It not only provides joy and a roadmap for life on this earth, but an eternity in a place of indescribable peace and love in Heaven.
What does it take to be “Saved”?
The Bible is, in my view, pretty clear about Salvation. First of all, ironically, we have very little to do with it. In the book of Ephesians (Eph. 2:8) the Scripture says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”.
The reason Salvation is considered a gift rather than something we have to work to achieve (like being a “good person”) is answered in the next verse (Eph. 2:9) which reads, “not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Unlike nearly every other religion, the God of the Bible has already done all the “work” to save us.
Since pride or “boasting” is one of the most prevalent sins, God has taken that out of the process. As Christians, we do not have to be better than someone else to be “saved”. In fact Paul, one of the greatest characters in the Bible stated, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24)” Paul goes on to say in the next verse, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”, an acknowledgment of his Salvation in spit of his wretchedness.
An even more interesting passage from Scripture comes as Jesus is crucified. One of the thieves on a cross next to Him asks Jesus to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. Jesus responds, “Today you will be with me in paradise”, a reference to Heaven. The point is that this thief could not do any “good deeds” or be a “good person’ to earn a place in Heaven, while hanging on the cross. Instead, he believed in who Jesus was, with his heart, and was saved immediately. (Luke 23:39-43).
The Sinners Prayer
There is no formula for asking the Lord to save your soul for eternity. The prayer below is a guide for what you need to believe, both intellectually and with your heart, sincerely.
“Lord God, I know I am a sinner and I know your Son died on the cross for my sins, and rose from the grave. I ask you to come into my life, forgive me of my sins, and save my soul. I turn over my life to you as both my Lord and my Savior. In Jesus name. Amen.”
Why did my daughter “fail” at the first attempt?
So for Christians, this is probably the most profound question one can ask… Why did my daughter feel she needed to get re-baptised? The answer is simple. She was not truly saved the first time she asked God to forgive her of her sins, she just thought she was. And, for her denomination, baptism is a sign of obedience, to be completed AFTER one is saved.
The first time praying with that little girl in our backyard, my daughter had head knowledge of what Salvation was and, in her mind, I believe she desired a relationship with God. But she was unwilling to give her heart to God. She intellectually acknowledged who God was, the Creator of the universe, and was willing for Him to be her Savior. However, she was unwilling to give her heart to God (or Christ) and follow Him as her Lord.
When that precious little girl told my daughter about Jesus, she wanted to go to Heaven. She wanted a Savior to get her there. But, my daughter was not willing to change, to repent of her sins, to turn away from this world and learn who God is through His Word, the Bible. There was no change in her life that would indicate she had the Holy Spirit living within her. James 2:14-26 makes the point that, “faith without deeds is dead”. Deeds or works do not save anyone. However, once saved, there is a heart change that cannot be hidden and will show up in our outward behavior.
My Daughter Today
Today, my daughter is raising two precious grandkids in the Lord, building a foundation with her believing husband, and setting the stage for their profession of faith and hopefully their heart change as we all plant and water the seeds of faith, knowing only God provides the growth (1 Cor. 3:6-7).