I am not sure when the sinner’s prayer became the focus of a person receiving God’s free gift of eternal life that exists only in the Person of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, but I think I may know where the “If you believe with all your heart” derived from.
That statement is found in an encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch as the eunuch traveled from Jerusalem where he had come to worship. We find the story in Acts 8:25-40.
Philip had just seen the city of Samaria transformed by his ministry and instead of being allowed to rest on the success of his ministry and enjoy the harvest of souls there he was directed by the Holy Spirit to go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza. As he traveled on that road he saw the eunuch and the Spirit said to him, “Go up and join this chariot,” so Philip ran until he caught up with the chariot where he heard the eunuch reading in the Book of Isaiah what we know to be chapter fifty-three, verses seven and eight. The original texts of the Bible do not have chapters, verses, or even punctuation marks.
Philip asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading.
You do not have to ask complicated questions to lead someone to Jesus. Sometimes a simple question opens the door to leading someone to and through the One who said He was the door. The eunuch replied, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” He then invited Philip up into the chariot to sit with him where he asked Philip who was Isaiah referring to, himself or someone else. This whole story is filled with extraordinary insights.
Philip began to expound on the text the eunuch was reading and obviously perplexed by, and beginning from that text Philip preached Jesus to him.
It was at this point the enuch saw water and askd Philip if anything prevented him from being baptized, which leads me to believe Philip included in his “sermon” the necessity of baptism in the salvation experience of the eunuch. This is where Philip makes the famous statement, “If you believe with all your heart, you may [be baptized].
It is interesting the text does not say the eunuch prayed asking Jesus to come into his heart. It says he declared, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” In essence he declared he believed God raised Jesus from the dead and confessed to Philip Jesus was Lord, meaning he was surrendering his life to Jesus’ lordship.
The chariot was ordered to stop and Philip baptized the eunuch right then.
Here are two questions I would like you to consider as it pertains to the “If you believe with all of your heart” statement.
1. Is your whole heart in this or are you holding out a part of your heart?
2. Are there portions of your heart you are keeping for yourself, or someone else?
If you are hanging on to something or someone that is more important to you than Jesus then that which you hang onto will hang you.
Judas believed in Jesus! Judas followed Jesus! Judas even walked in miraculous ministry with Jesus! But what he refused to surrender to Jesus eventually hung him.
Friend, did you say the sinner’s prayer meaning it with all your heart or did you mouth the words while hiding something or someone in your heart?
If you did then it is time you surrendered all of your heart to the Lordship of Jesus. If you don’t then Jesus is not the Lord of all of you, and if He is not Lord of all He is not Lord at all, to you!
Receive and steward God’s passion, power, presence, priority, process, promises, protection, provision, pruning, purging, purity and purpose!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury, DMin
A spiritual revolutionary