There are more than few who present the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican as an example to support the "Sinner's Prayer" as a means to forgiveness from sins. (Luke 18:9-14)
THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT THE PUBLICAN IN THIS PARABLE EVEN BELIEVED IN JESUS.
Jesus used this parable to illustrate the futility of a self-righteous attitude. Jesus was not saying non-Christians can say a form of the "Sinner's Prayer" as the means to being justified before God.
The Scriptures teach that sins are forgiven because of God's grace (Ephesians 2:8), faith in Jesus as Savior (John 3:16), confessing Jesus as Lord, believing in His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 10:9-10), repentance (the intellectual commitment to turn from sin and turn to God.--Luke 24:46-47) and water baptism, (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, Galatians 3:27, 1Peter3:20-21).
Jesus nor any apostle ever stated that non-Christians should say a Sinner's Prayer, in order to receive forgiveness from sins.
ONLY CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE BEEN WASHED BY THE SHED BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST CAN RECEIVE FORGIVENESS FROM THEIR SINS, BY PRAYER!
John 20:23 tells us: "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." Now, this is Jesus speaking directly and only to His Apostles, our first bishops. The forgiveness of sins is an authority given by Jesus to His bishops! To this day it is the bishop who holds jurisdiction over the Sacrament of Reconciliation and only those priests whom the bishop with jurisdiction has given faculties to forgive sins can do so. So, if Mr. Finnell wishes to rely on Scripture - he must submit himself to one who has been granted this authority! This authority, as pointed out, is traced all the way back to Jesus Christ Himself in His Word at John 20:23, and there's really no getting around this.
Yes, it is those Christians who have been washed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ who can receive forgiveness - but it is also only those who have been thusly empowered to forgive sins who can do so!
We can also agree with Mr. Finnell that the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee relates to the futility of a self-righteous attitude. However, he calls into question whether or not the Publican is even a Christian. Well, the Publican is NOT a Christian! Christianity had not been born yet! Christ had not yet built His Church, as He promised He would do (Matthew 16:18-19).
Back to the point... Mr. Finnell does a good job of laying out what it takes for forgiveness EXCEPT the KEY POINT of WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS! Yes, He will claim that forgiveness is by the Blood of Christ, but it is Christ Himself who tells us WHO can forgive sins - and sins THEY do not forgive are NOT FORGIVEN.
May God guide Mr. Finnell, and all who are reading along, the Spirit of Wisdom and Grace to seek out what God's Word REALLY tells us about forgiveness.
A blessed Ash Wednesday to you too and may you have a good Lent.