For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Calvinist, Jeff Noblit: “The work of praying a ‘sinner’s prayer’ is not salvation. It can become a silly superstition and nothing more than a sacrament in Baptist clothes.” (A Southern Baptist Dialogue: Calvinism, p.98, emphasis mine)
In other words, asking Jesus into your heart is a “silly superstition,” and above all, “not salvation.” However, the reality is that the apostle Paul taught at Romans 10:13: “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Question: What does it mean to “call” upon the name of the Lord?
Answer: Prayer. (Acts 9:14; 1st Corinthians 1:2) You need to call upon Jesus in order to receive the free gift of salvation that He offers.
Question: Does this mean that you can pray to receive salvation?
Answer: This prayer to God, therefore, marks the exact moment when a person becomes Born Again, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, covered by the blood of Christ, forgiven of sins and sealed in Christ.
Romans 10:13 tells us: “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Question: What else could this mean, except that in prayer, there is a transmission of salvation. Jesus states: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24)
As a Christian, I would never say, “Go home and believe,” and perhaps the Holy Spirit will grant an Irresistible Grace. Rather, when a person prays to the Savior, there is an immediate transmission of salvation, from the willing hand of God to the repentant sinner in need.
Even Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, agreed with the transmission of eternal life by prayer:
Calvinist, D. James Kennedy: “Our faith and our repentance are the work of God’s grace in our hearts. Our contribution is simply the sin for which Jesus Christ suffered and died. Would you be born anew? There has never been a person who sought for that who did not find it. Even the seeking is created by the Spirit of God. Would you know that new life? Are you tired of the emptiness and purposelessness of your life? Are you tired of the filthy rags of your own righteousness? Would you trust in someone else other than yourself? Then look to the cross of Christ. Place your trust in him. Ask him to come in and be born in you today. For Jesus came into the world from glory to give us second birth because we must--we MUST--be born again.” (Why I Believe, p.140, emphasis mine)
Question: Is it possible to pray to receive the new birth?
Answer: Generally, most Calvinists say, no. Calvinism teaches that New Birth occurs without any conscious decision on man’s part, but rather, is imposed unilaterally, through which, a person is then able to repent, believe and be saved.
Calvinist, R.C. Sproul: “The Reformed view of predestination teaches that before a person can choose Christ his heart must be changed. He must be born again.” (Chosen By God, p.72, emphasis mine)
Sproul adds: “A cardinal point of Reformed theology is the maxim: ‘Regeneration precedes faith.’ Our nature is so corrupt, the power of sin so great, that unless God does a supernatural work in our souls we will never choose Christ.” (Chosen By God, pp.72-73, emphasis mine)
So that reflects the traditional belief of Calvinism, that one cannot pray to receive the new birth, in that one must already be regenerated in order to have such faith. So for a Calvinist such as D. James Kennedy to ask the question, “Would you be born anew?,” “Would you know that new life?,” “Ask him to come in and be born in you today” is doctrinally inconsistent with Calvinism.
Jay Carty: “Spiritual birth requires a decision. Spiritual deadness doesn’t. As a matter of fact, failing to decide is considered a decision against God’s solution and leaves a person spiritually dead.” (Playing with Fire, p.37, emphasis mine)
That’s exactly right. We don’t make ourselves Born Again. Rather, when we surrender our heart to Christ through a conscious decision to receive Him, God the Father makes us Born Again, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Here is a link to a Blog discussion on this point.