An individual must hear the gospel in order to know God’s will1,6. Not only does Paul tell us this plainly in his letters, but we see it played out in conversion stories in Scripture2,3,4,5. Interestingly, we see visions playing a role in all of these examples2,3,4 – even visions of Jesus, Himself5 – yet, in every case the fundamental pattern1 is followed (e.g. preacher sent, hearers hear, believers “call on him“), thus fulfilling what Isaiah writes, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”1
It should also be noted the role that prayer plays in each of these examples:
- In Philippi2, Scripture says that Paul and Silas met an eventual convert at a “supposed place of prayer” (vs 13); presumably, Lydia was there praying when Paul and Silas met her,
- The Ethiopian eunuch is coming from Jerusalem where he had journeyed specifically to worship God3 – no doubt praying during that time,
- Cornelius is told by the angel of God in his vision that his prayers have been answered4 – Cornelius was praying,
- Ananias5 is told by Jesus to “look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying” (vs 11)
If there were such a thing as a “Sinner’s Prayer” to recite for one’s salvation, why was it necessary for all of these ‘praying people’ to hear the gospel (and be baptized)?