Some years ago, and not long after I had re-committed my life to Christ, I was invited to have dinner with a friend and a married couple—we’ll call them Derek and Deidre. My friend wanted me to meet this young couple because she was enamored with their strong faith in God. She had bragged on them many times before. “They’re the best Christian people I know,” she said.
I’ll admit, I was a bit hesitant at first. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of meeting this couple, yet I wasn’t exactly sure why. As I drove to my friend’s house, I thought about what could be causing my apprehension, and before I arrived, a thought struck. It occurred that Derek and Deidre could perhaps be better Christians than I was. This line of thinking was rooted in my girlfriend’s view of them (and that she constantly told me how good these people were), which created a fear that I may not measure up to the standard of being a good Christian. But as soon as that thought came to mind, I remembered that imperfection is something we all have in common—even Christians. So, I dismissed my concerns, pulled into the parking lot, and looked forward to a pleasant evening.
An hour later, I would regret being there.
Derek and Deidre had arrived before I did. After my girlfriend introduced us, we moved to the dining room and sat down to eat. Both of them were very nice, and very young (they were in their early twenties.) After the hellos and a brief commentary on the weather, I felt quite comfortable and expected the night to go well.
Not long after I stuck my fork into the spaghetti, Derek looked at me from across the table and asked, “So, Chris, are you saved?”
“Yes,” I said.
“How do you know?”
It’s strange how the simplest, innocent small talk can serve as a prelude to an intense conversation—and fast. Still, I thought Derek’s question could be answered easily. “Well, because I know Jesus is the son of God, I’ve been baptized, and I just know it’s fact, like anything else you believe is true.”
But that wasn’t enough for Derek. “Yeah, but do you really know you’re saved?”
Now, I was curious. “What do you mean?”
“Well, have you said the Sinner’s Prayer?” he asked.
For those of you who may not know, the Sinner’s Prayer is a Christian term for the prayer someone says when they are asking God for forgiveness, and stating their belief that Jesus is the son of God. There isn’t one specific Sinner’s Prayer--this article gives four examples. Scripture from Romans clearly explains how a person is saved:
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, NLT)
At that time, I didn’t know how many versions of the Sinner’s Prayer existed, but I knew I was saved. However, Derek wasn’t as confident in my eternal salvation as I was, so he took it upon himself to give me some advice.
“Well, if I was you, I’d say the Sinner’s Prayer. Just to be sure.”
I paused long enough to let that sink in, then said, “Thanks, Derek, I might just do that.”
But Derek wasn’t done with me. He continued to call my eternal salvation into question and decided the best way to address my possible damnation was to discuss the process for obtaining God’s forgiveness. I don’t remember much about the conversation after that—probably because it took every ounce of my energy to maintain my composure—but as soon as dinner was over, I excused myself, said my goodbyes, and promptly exited the building.