I have been really questioning lately whether or not we should teach people to say 'the prayer,' does that really give people eternal life? Does one prayer one time save people for life? Because I know that is what I was taught when I was younger. I do know that saying that prayer and truly believing it provides us with the holy spirit who then starts to work from the inside molding and shaping us into new creations. For everyone however, it comes down to a choice, we have to choose to put some effort into a relationship with the Lord. It can't just be a go to church, pray occasionally, sometimes pick up my Bible and read it type of relationship. We have to say the prayer, believe it but then respond by walking with the Lord, I believe that is what brings eternal life.
So, I decided to go deeper than that. I know for me, when someone expresses an opinion I like to see where scripture supports that opinion. I am going to try and break down why I believe that, so bare with me and try and follow along.
I'll start with Genesis, I mean in the beginning they had eternal life. I figured why not look back and see what it was like in the garden, when they had eternal life already, and what corrupted that.
Genesis 1:27 through all of chapter 3 it talks about how Adam and Eve were created and how they walked in the garden with God (here eternal life is what they had), and then sin entered into the picture and they were no longer able to be in the presence of the Lord because they were aware of their sin, and felt ashamed. (no more eternal life)
It goes on, into chapter 5 I noticed that Enoch was taken up to be with the Lord, because it says in Chapter 5:24 "Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him." Enoch walked with God, so he had eternal life.
Then in Chapter 6 it talks about how Noah was saved from the flood where everyone else on earth was quote "blotted out" because it says in chapter 6:9 "...Noah walked with God." So, Noah was saved here only because he walked with God.
I'm sure there are many more places in the old testament that I could elaborate on like this, but now I am going to skip to the gospels where Jesus comes in play. This is where I really started to think about eternal life and what it means and how we obtain it.
Luke 17:21 "...for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."
John 17:3 "and this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
So why these two verses you might be thinking? Well, I chose Luke 17:21 because Jesus is the way to the kingdom of God, he was standing right there (walking with them), He was man but also fully God, and He alone was the only way to restore the barrier between man and God. So that man may be able to walk with God through Jesus Christ, and obtain eternal life, by knowing them both, God and Jesus. (refer to Ephesians 2:4)
Eternal life, in John 17:3 is described as knowing God and Jesus. This verse doesn't say that they acknowledge you as the only true God, but that they 'know you' the only true God. How do you truly know somebody? By spending time with them, listening to them speak, walking with them. Think about it, eternal life is already here. We already have it, IF we are walking with God. He is life, and that is what it was in the beginning, they were able to openly talk with him and walk with him. That is what Jesus provided for us, a way to openly talk and walk with him, daily. We have eternal life now, and not even death can separate us from that. (Romans 8:37-39)
Not just by saying a prayer one time, and then going to church every Sunday.
Now, I'm not saying that saying that prayer does not provide the Holy Spirit or that we should stop telling people to say it. I am just saying that we might need to reevaluate our way of thinking. Reevaluate what it means to have eternal life, instead of thinking that eternal life means living after we die, we need to realize that eternal life means living now because we are dead without Christ. We must know Him and walk with Him, while we are still here on earth.