Quote of Peter Ruckman on his commentary on Romans about Prayer
In his commentary on the book of Romans, Peter S. Ruckman says some good things. As a matter of fact, he gives our position more clearly than I do. Below are some examples of what he's been saying.
"Now there are two things that come up at this point. The first is the place of prayer in salvation. It is obvious that the mere act of praying itself saves no one! ... Cornelius did not get saved until he heard Peter preach (Acts 10:34-43) and he believed on Christ (Acts 10:43-47). So prayer in and of itself doesn't save a man." pg 404-405.
Ruckman also writes on page 406:
"There is nothing in the Scriptures (including here at Romans 10:9, 10,13) that says you have to pray to get saved..."
On page 407, he further states:
"Now, if prayer is a form of calling upon the name of the Lord (and it certainly is), then if a man confesses his faith in Jesus Christ to God in prayer then he is saved! ...After all, it isn't his prayer that saves him anyway..."
AMEN!!! I AGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY! I believe prayer saves no one. However, I do believe a person can get saved when he prays, but not by his prayer. That is to say, the prayer does not save him. But if he trusts the shed blood of Jesus Christ while he is praying, he is wondrously and gloriously saved!
So if we both agree on this, why does Donovan have any contention with me whatsoever?
The answer must be what Dr. Ruckman writes on page 405:
"Realizing this, a new group of heretics (in this case, Bible Believing Baptists), have come up saying that if a man prays to get saved (or more specifically prays the sinner's prayer), then he is lost. The idea behind this is the prayer is a work, and a man isn't saved by works (Eph. 2:8-9). So all a man need do is assent to the fact that Christ died for him and thank God for having already forgiven his sins."
Here, Ruckman says there is a group of heretics that teach anyone who prays is lost. They are then against prayer completely. As aforementioned, we are not against prayer, so we are not a part of this group! However, we are very leery of the Sinner's Prayer plan of salvation, as that does put the emphasis on prayer, and can leave a sinner thinking the actual prayer he repeats is his saving medium. (I've yet to hear a sinner's prayer that mentions the blood of Jesus).
It cannot be denied, that a person who trusts his prayer is trusting in that work to save him, just as anyone who thinks baptism saves is trusting in that work to save him. People trust in many things to get to heaven. Some think their church attendance will secure God's favor and grant them God's pardon, other's think if they do good deeds, or quit certain sins, or give enough, God will accept them. But all of these things are works.
We must then ask what is a work according to the Bible? Dr. Ruckman cites Ephesians 2:8,9 which tells us the answer:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
According to the Bible, a work is anything you can do 1. OF YOURSELF or 2. TO BOAST ABOUT. If a person prays, and hopes to attain God's mercy through it, counting on his actual prayer to save him, he is trusting in his own work of praying. But if a person prays, but trusts the blood of Jesus to save him, he's not working his way to heaven, he's simply by faith receiving God's give of eternal life. One preacher said it nicely, "The only thing a person can do that's not a work is BELIEVE."
The simple fact is the Sinner's Prayer can be taught as a work someone must do to get him to heaven, if it teaches that prayer is what a sinner must do to be saved. I understood it that way and tried to make my prayer my saving medium, and I was not saved because of it. I wasn't saved until much later, when I heard the Gospel and trusted Christ's shed blood alone for salvation.
Dr. Ruckman must think everyone who prays the Sinner's Prayer is saved. This is a very naive indeed. For even the Bible tells us that just because someone prays with his lips, doesn't mean he's necessarily trusting from his heart. Jesus said the following about the Pharisees:
"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Mark 7:6-7)
Anyone can repeat something. But salvation doesn't come from REPEATING with the lips, rather from REPENTING from the heart.
Countless millions have been deceived into thinking the actual prayer itself is the saving medium. I was one of them, and so was my wife. We are not heretics! And we did think our prayer was a work we had to do to be saved. That's why we prayed it time and again asking God to save us over and over again. If it didn't take the first time, why then did we have to say it over and over? And why didn't we get any assurance? Because we weren't saved!
If a man does teach prayer saves, he clearly is making prayer a condition of salvation, or a work that a sinner must do to be saved. That's the real heresy!
It's easy to get a person to repeat a Sinner's Prayer, but only God sees their heart. Not everyone who repeats something believes what they repeat. Further, there are others who repeat a sinner's prayer, but do so without trusting Christ's blood atonement. These people are lost!
The 1,2,3, pray after me method of soul winning is guilty of this. It puts the emphasis on the prayer, instead of on the blood of Jesus Christ. That's the problem, and we are not heretics for pointing this out! This is a real and important issue, and souls hang in the balance.
Finally, Ruckman says those he calls heretics, teach a man must simply assent to the fact that Christ died for him. I don't know what he means by assent. Does he mean they just have to realize it, or acknowledge it? This would then be the difference between the head belief and the heart heart. It's not enough to just believe in one's mind that Jesus died. One must receive it by believing from the heart in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Better stated, and more biblically, a man must REPENT, and BELIEVE the Gospel! Anyone can repeat without repenting, and pray without trusting. We do not preach a man must assent to anything. We preach a man must TRUST THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST!
Ruckman continues on the same page with:
"That false doctrine is the result of pastors running into a bunch of shallow converts who have never grown in their Christian lives and are living like the world. Being unable, or unwilling, to get those folks back into church under the preaching and teaching of the word of God, and not seeing many people saved under their ministries, those pastors turn on their congregations and try to 'retread' them so they can see some 'results.'"
Several problems present themselves here. If a guy says he's saved, but he's a shallow convert, and living like the world, one has to question if he was even saved to begin with! Secondly, if they don't want to get back into church under the preaching and teaching of the word of God, maybe they aren't saved at all! Dr. Ruckman makes no allowance for this whatsoever.
Finally, there is no such thing as a "retread." A person is either saved or he's not! Dr. Sammy Allen once said, "I believe if you can talk a man out of his salvation, he probably wasn't saved to begin with!" So if a guy does gets saved, it's because he was lost in the first place!"
I did not "retread" my wife. The HOLY SPIRIT convicted her, just as He did me. And we realized our whole lives we'd been deceived, trusting our own righteousness, instead of Christ's. We were religious, but lost. When we realized this, we rested in the finished work of Christ--his shed blood on Calvary, by FAITH!
A person can get saved when he prays. But even Ruckman states a person is not saved by his prayer. That's all my wife said in her testimony, and all I tried to make clear in my book, "The Heresy of the Sinner's Prayer." My book proves what Dr. Ruckman says, that a prayer does not save you! But it further shows how the teaching of the sinner's prayer can confuse a sinner into thinking repeating a prayer is a ritual he must do in order to be saved -- i.e. a WORK. I am not against prayer (my Dad got saved while he prayed), and I prove in the book that it's possible for a person to pray at the same moment he accepts Jesus as his Saviour (just as my father did).
So what could possibly be the contention that Donovan has with us? I guess, he wants to place me and my wife into the mold of those people Dr. Ruckman labels heretics which he thinks are against prayer. Let me reiterate. We are not against praying! A person can pray and accept Jesus as their Saviour, if they trust the blood while praying. But the simple fact is, NO ONE IS SAVED BY PRAYER ALONE! That is to say, no one is saved by their prayer of asking for salvation. To be saved, a person must TRUST the blood atonement of Jesus Christ.
That a person could erroneously think a prayer could save them is plainly seen, even in the late 1800's, by the quote of Charles H. Spurgeon:
"Thou art to be saved by faith in Christ...and in Christ alone. Do not think thou must experience this, or that, before thou comest unto Jesus...Rely not on anything thou canst do, or think, or SAY, or know; rest alone on Jesus only, and thou art saved. Give up all other trusts, and rely on Jesus alone, alone on Jesus, and thou shalt pass from death unto life."
Why would Ruckman say he believes prayer does not save a person, and then turn around and call "heretics" people who say the Sinner's prayer will not save you? This is not only INCONSISTENT but ILLOGICAL. You are either saved by prayer or you aren't. If you aren't, you are saved by FAITH alone whether you pray or not. Why does Ruckman say two DIFFERENT things? Why does he say a prayer doesn't save you, and then turn around and label as "heretics" those who point this out?
The simple fact is, "No prayer, not even the Sinner's Prayer will save you! You are saved by FAITH alone in the BLOOD OF JESUS, whether you pray when you trust it or not!"
Finally, let me say, even the Apostle Paul commanded his converts to look within to see what they were trusting in. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 he says: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"
Paul wrote this verse to a church. Was the apostle Paul trying to "retread" his people? Was he trying to talk them out of their salvation? I trow not! He wanted them to search their hearts and make sure they were indeed saved, and not lost religious people just going through the motions -- i.e. reprobates.