Many in the church have reduced salvation to nothing more than simply saying a prayer. And, while it begins with a prayer, a prayer is not enough. Simply mouthing the words "forgive me" is not enough.
Don't get me wrong, I don't expect a person to know everything there is to know about follow Christ before starting out. In fact, I don't think people need to know as much as we think they do. But being a Christian means that we are followers of Jesus. Being a follower means that we are trying to do life in the way of Jesus, we doing what Jesus did.
How many people have we seen that have prayed the prayer, but have not taken on the responsibility of following? In contrast, how many would never claim to be a follower, but actually live out the love of God for Him and for neighbor.
I have been thinking about those who call themselves Christians, having said the prayer or whatever but act in very un-Christian ways, and those who would never call themselves Christians but act in very Christian ways.
Jesus tells a story about two sons. One son tells the father, "I won't do what you ask," but then goes and does it. The other son tells the father, "I will do what you ask," but then does not do it. Jesus asked the Pharisees, "Who was obedient?" The Pharisees said, "The first son."