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← God Saves - The Sinner's Prayer Only Hurts People

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Showing Revision 2 created 10/14/2017 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. Psalm 105:5 says,

  2. "Remember His wonders which He has done."
  3. So it is a good thing for us to remember
  4. and to think about what God has done
  5. in our life.
  6. I grew up in a home
  7. where my family took me to church
  8. basically every time the doors were open.
  9. So the reality of God was in my life
  10. from infancy upward.
  11. There was never really a time in my life
  12. where my parents didn't
    make me go to church.
  13. Through that time,
  14. there was conviction of sin.
  15. There were times especially when
  16. revivalists would come through,
  17. and I would have an emotional experience.
  18. And I would realize the reality of hell.
  19. Realize where I was at.
  20. So I would walk an aisle,
  21. pray a prayer,
  22. and make a decision
  23. that never seemed to really last.
  24. People make jokes about this,
  25. but I actually believe that at my house
  26. in Alabama, there are at least
  27. two Bibles where I have,
  28. "I, Mason Vann, was saved..."
  29. and the date.
  30. And signed it, so I wouldn't doubt it.
  31. So that's a reality.
  32. That's not just a joke that people make.
  33. I have at least a couple of those.
  34. So that's kind of the realm
  35. in which I grew up.
  36. And I can remember the final time
  37. in that period of my life
  38. that I came under conviction.
  39. A revivalist had come through,
  40. and made a very emotional appeal,
  41. and yet God was dealing with me
  42. on a certain level.
  43. So that thought came over me
  44. that I am not right with God.
  45. And I need to be right with God.
  46. And that every
    profession that I'd made
  47. up until now was not real
  48. and I needed something that was real.
  49. So I went forward once again.
  50. And this time, I decided,
  51. this time is going to be real.
  52. I am really going to make an effort
  53. this time to be a Christian.
  54. So, I think I printed it again
  55. in the back of my Bible
  56. that I was saved on this date.
  57. So I started diligently trying
  58. to read my Bible.
  59. One of the times before that,
  60. I had come under such
    intense conviction of sin,
  61. that I went downstairs in the basement
  62. and went into a corner
  63. and I sobbed for hours.
  64. As a matter of fact,
  65. my father came down there
  66. and asked me
    what was going on.
  67. So that's kind of the reality
  68. of the level of
    conviction that I was under.
  69. But this time,
  70. it was going to be different.
  71. So I set to reading the Bible
  72. and to praying the best that I could.
  73. Every night I would light a candle,
  74. turn off all my lights,
  75. and light a candle by my bed,
  76. so that I would read
    my Bible by candlelight,
  77. because that felt more spiritual.
  78. That's a funny thing,
  79. but it really helps us to realize
  80. what's going on with a lot of things
  81. like Catholicism,
  82. and people that use lighting
  83. and soft music and things like that.
  84. My life was propped up on
  85. things like reading
    my Bible by candlelight.
  86. It gave me the feeling that this was real.
  87. But as soon as the candle went out,
  88. there went my spiritual life also.
  89. Well, this began to fade.
  90. And this is about 12 or 13,
  91. and I was very much into baseball,
  92. sports and athletics and things like that.
  93. My father is actually in the Hall of Fame
  94. in a college in Alabama.
  95. So he was really
    pushing sports and things.
  96. So I was heavily involved in these things,
  97. and began to run around in these circles
  98. with people that were into sports.
  99. And we as a crowd began to move away from
  100. all that we had grown up under.
  101. And we began to get into things
  102. that we knew that we should not be doing.
  103. And so, I kind of, in my mind,
  104. walked away from the whole church scene.
  105. Even though I was still going to church,
  106. and things like that,
  107. I knew that I wasn't real.
  108. But I kept going to church
  109. because I was trying to
    ease my conscience.
  110. Well, about 14 and a half,
  111. this conviction came back.
  112. And it came back this time
  113. with such reality,
  114. such an unshakeable
  115. hold on my life,
  116. I could not do anything
  117. to get away from it.
  118. During that time,
  119. most people's perception of me
  120. was that I was a tough guy.
  121. I was a guy who had very little emotion.
  122. I had a very quick temper.
  123. So most people thought of me,
  124. probably, as a person who would never
  125. show any kind of sorrow or remorse
  126. or anything like that.
  127. Well, little did they know,
  128. that every night when
    I came home from their parties,
  129. and I came home from
    hanging out with them,
  130. that I would cry my eyes out
  131. for about one to two hours each night,
  132. under the reality that
  133. I am not right with God.
  134. My profession of faith is worthless.
  135. Those Bibles with the date in them
  136. are worthless.
  137. Despite everything else around me,
  138. I am not right with Christ.
  139. And if I go tonight,
  140. I will die under the wrath of God.
  141. So, every night it was
    basically the same routine.
  142. I would cry myself to sleep.
  143. And right before
    I would go to sleep,
  144. I would pray the
    sinner's prayer again,
  145. because that's what I
    was taught growing up.
  146. That's how you became a Christian.
  147. You prayed the sinner's prayer.
  148. And so this continued for about two years
  149. that I was in this state of reality
  150. and such intense conviction.
  151. Well, my temper ended up
  152. getting me in trouble.
  153. And without going into
    too many gory details,
  154. I got into a fight with a guy
  155. from a neighboring city.
  156. All my friends were supposed
  157. to come to this fight,
  158. and I was clearly smaller than this guy,
  159. and so the plan was that
    I basically start the fight
  160. and then you guys come and help me.
  161. Well, that is not how the plan worked out.
  162. God was pursuing me.
  163. And God providentially, looking back now,
  164. as a Christian I can see,
  165. God was closing in on me
  166. at this point in my life.
  167. And so, needless to say,
  168. I lose this fight.
  169. And I am running for my life.
  170. Literally, I am running for my life.
  171. And for two weeks,
  172. I'm hiding out from everyone.
  173. And all these people are looking for me.
  174. Well, providentially, the youth group
  175. at the church I went to
  176. was going to South Carolina.
  177. The year before, I had went with my friend
  178. to South Carolina.
  179. We met some people up there.
  180. So I thought, I have to get out of town.
  181. So what I'll do,
  182. I'll catch the bus up there.
  183. And my friend and I will
    hang out with these people,
  184. and when the youth
    group comes back,
  185. we'll catch a ride on the way back.
  186. So that was the plan.
  187. So you should have seen the shock
  188. on the youth group's face, when I,
  189. the pagan of the school,
  190. show up on the church bus,
  191. going to South Carolina.
  192. I mean, these people were dumbfounded.
  193. A dear brother at the time,
  194. who had some discernment.
  195. He began to pray for me.
  196. He was the youth leader at that time.
  197. And he began to pray for me.
  198. He knew that I was just
  199. in a world of mess.
  200. So, we go up there.
  201. And throughout this time,
  202. and especially through those two weeks,
  203. I had been able to, so much of my life,
  204. drown out the voice of God.
  205. See, I hated when I
    had to lay my head down
  206. on a pillow.
  207. Because then the voice of God
  208. would come rushing back.
  209. So if I wasn't listening to music,
  210. I was at a party.
  211. If I wasn't at a party,
    I was talking to a friend.
  212. If I wasn't talking to a friend,
  213. I was doing something.
  214. I would do absolutely anything
  215. to avoid silence.
  216. Because when silence came,
  217. the voice of God came back
  218. rushing into my life saying,
  219. "You're not right with God."
  220. "You know you need to be converted."
  221. So, this whole thing with this fight,
  222. and my support system for
  223. drowning out the voice of God
  224. with my friends,
  225. all came crumbling down,
  226. and here I find myself on a trip
  227. to South Carolina.
  228. During that time in South Carolina,
  229. I don't really have
    any recollection that
  230. I was making another decision
  231. that I was going to follow Christ.
  232. I did not go up there with the mindset
  233. that I'm really in trouble
  234. and I need to make another decision.
  235. I had already seen enough at that point
  236. to know that it was
    going to take more than
  237. me just praying another prayer
  238. for something real to happen.
  239. And so, the first two
    days were pretty normal.
  240. I don't even really
    remember much about them.
  241. About the only thing that I remember
  242. is the very last night before we were
  243. to leave and go back the next day.
  244. It seemed to be a really emotional time.
  245. And I can remember a little bit that day
  246. of thinking about some of these things
  247. about I'm not right with God,
  248. I need to be right with God,
  249. but I feel absolutely powerless.
  250. And so during that night,
  251. like I said, typical emotional time,
  252. everyone bowed their heads.
  253. So, out of courtesy, I bowed my head.
  254. And I do remember thinking
  255. when I bowed my head,
  256. I need something real.
  257. I can't explain what happened.
  258. But somewhere between the time
  259. of bowing my head
  260. and when I looked up
  261. and opened my eyes again,
  262. the only thing that I could see
  263. was the glory of God
    in the face of Christ.
  264. All of a sudden,
  265. the wilderness had become a pool.
  266. And the love of God came
  267. rushing into my life.
  268. It overwhelmed me.
  269. I could not be helped.
  270. The youth leaders didn't know what to do.
  271. Because I was crying my eyes out.
  272. I had such an overwhelming sense
  273. that I'm free.
  274. I am free.
  275. This whole thing.
  276. This whole burden of sin.
  277. Two years of the wrath of God
  278. closing down on me.
  279. All of my sins are gone.
  280. And Christ is no longer this
  281. religious figure that's way back there
  282. 2,000 years ago
  283. carrying lambs around
    on His shoulders.
  284. All of a sudden,
  285. He is the risen Son of God,
  286. and I love Him.
  287. And I want to follow Him.
  288. I don't ever want to sin again.
  289. I don't ever want to do anything
  290. that would offend
    love that is this precious.
  291. And so that was that night.
  292. They wisely sent me back to my room
  293. and said you need to pray.
  294. I misunderstood that.
  295. Because I had grown
    up under the mentality
  296. that you had to pray
    and ask Christ into your heart.
  297. And so I go back to my hotel room
  298. once I can kind of compose myself some.
  299. And I began to try to
    pray the sinner's prayer.
  300. But I was much like the prodigal son
  301. when he returned to his father.
  302. You know, on the
    way returning back,
  303. he had rehearsed this speech
  304. that he was going to give
  305. to his father when he got back.
  306. And basically what happens is,
  307. when the prodigal
    actually shows up,
  308. the father cuts him off
    halfway through the speech
  309. and says I don't
    want to hear all that
  310. you can do for me.
  311. I'm glad you're home.
  312. And so that's the way I felt like
  313. praying the sinner's prayer.
  314. It's like I'm asking Christ
    to come into my heart
  315. and He's saying,
  316. You don't have to... I'm here.
  317. I'm here.
  318. I'm a living reality.
  319. Your sins are done.
  320. Your sins are done.
  321. And so there was joy unspeakable.
  322. And my life was totally different.
  323. I made a phone call.
  324. I believe it was that night
    or the next day,
  325. to all the people that I'd
    gotten into a fight with
  326. and said I don't care what
    you do when I get back home,
  327. I have become a Christian now.
  328. Which, what do you say to that?
  329. But I want to say something
  330. about this whole thing
  331. because there was joy unspeakable.
  332. And there was so much happiness.
  333. but I went through several months,
  334. maybe even a couple of years
  335. of darkness in a way
  336. over this whole issue
    of the sinner's prayer.
  337. You can hear guys preaching against that,
  338. and you can think,
  339. maybe you're overemphasizing this
  340. a little too much.
  341. Maybe you need to back off a little bit.
  342. Well, that hurts people.
  343. Bad doctrine hurts people.
  344. And it hurt me.
  345. And here's the way that it hurt me.
  346. For months and like I said,
  347. maybe even a couple of years
  348. after I was saved,
  349. I left almost every meeting I was in
  350. about halfway through the meeting
  351. and went to a Sunday school room
  352. and would pray the sinner's prayer.
  353. Because I thought,
  354. Lord, You're so real to me,
  355. but I cannot be saved
  356. because I was taught that the way
  357. that you become a Christian is
  358. you pray, ask Christ into your heart,
  359. and then God saves you.
  360. Well, none of that happened.
  361. All that happened to me was
  362. I bowed my head and at some point
  363. God shown the light of the knowledge
  364. of the glory of God in the face of Christ
  365. into my heart,
  366. and I was converted.
  367. And that's basically the
    way that it happened.
  368. And so, like I said,
  369. this went on for a couple of years.
  370. And what brought me out of all of that,
  371. was someone gave me a tape
  372. by Paul Washer.
  373. And this was back before the days
  374. when everyone knew Paul Washer.
  375. And it was a tape of Paul
  376. preaching on Hosea 4:6
  377. where it says,
  378. "My people are destroyed
    for a lack of knowledge."
  379. And somewhere in the midst of that sermon,
  380. he mentioned Jeremiah 17:9 where it says,
  381. "The heart is desparately wicked
  382. and deceitful above all things,
  383. who can know it?"
  384. God made that verse real.
  385. God brought that home to me.
  386. I didn't hear anything
    else he said after that.
  387. Because I realized,
  388. God began to unpack that verse in my life.
  389. And He began showing me,
  390. if my heart was desparately wicked
  391. and deceitful above all things,
  392. and myself - I can't even know it?
  393. There was no way I
    was going to save myself.
  394. So all of a sudden,
  395. these verses started becoming real.
  396. Matthew 1:21,
  397. "You shall call His name Jesus,
  398. and He will save His people
  399. from their sins."
  400. I realized what happened that night.
  401. I didn't save myself.
  402. God saved me.
  403. We're not saved by deeds
  404. done in righteousness,
  405. but by His mercy.
  406. And so what happened that night,
  407. is that God in His mercy
  408. opened my eyes to see
    the preciousness of Christ.
  409. And that vision so raptured my heart
  410. that I wanted to follow Christ
  411. all of the days of my life.
  412. And so that's what the
    Lord has done for me.
  413. Amen.