Is it OK to ask Jesus into your heart?
I’m finishing up the manuscript for a new book I have coming out early next year called Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know For Sure You are Saved. But because of the recent controversy stirred up by my friends David Platt and Steve Gaines, I thought I’d put my .02 in now (for more on that controversy, read here). For the record, the book will cost more than .02. But that’s just because it’s hardback. The content value probably remains about .02.
This is from a section at the beginning called, “A Couple of Things I’m NOT Saying.”
I’m not saying “Asking Jesus Into Your Heart Is Heretical”
When I say “stop asking Jesus into your heart,” I do not mean to imply that “asking Jesus into your heart” is an entirely inappropriate way to express repentance and faith. When you get saved, Jesus “comes into your heart” (Romans 8:9–11; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:27–28; Galatians 2:20). My concern is that quite often reducing salvation to this phrase obscures the primary instruments of salvation, repentance and faith.
There are lots of things that happen at the moment of salvation: we are washed in Jesus’ blood, sealed by His Spirit, guaranteed a home in heaven, grafted into the vine, our names are written in the book of life, Satan’s claims against us are nullified, and Jesus comes into our hearts… just to name a few. Asking Jesus to do any one of these for us is not inappropriate, but we run the risk of obscuring the fact that the only necessary instruments for laying hold of salvation are repentance and faith.
For example, if we were to go around telling people that if they want to be saved they should ask Jesus to “begin construction on their home in heaven,” that would not be wrong, per se (John 14:1–3), but it could be misleading. People with no remorse for their sin might still be excited about Jesus providing them with an eternal vacation home. Focusing on what Jesus promised to do after we are saved might obscure the one thing He said we must do if we are to be saved: repent and believe the gospel. Salvation is indeed a request for forgiveness of sins and for union with Jesus and with many other wonderful things, but the request is obtained not so much by the expression of a request but by faith in Christ’s finished work.
My concern in this book is not on what words we might use to express our faith, but that we understand saving faith and how we can gain assurance that we have it. Many Christians see salvation as a transaction one conducts with Jesus (signified by “inviting Jesus into your heart” or some equivalent) rather than the beginning of a posture they take toward the finished work of Christ.
I’m not saying “Pressing for a Decision When We Present the Gospel Distorts It”
Finally, I do not want (in any way) to discourage pressing for a decision when the gospel is preached. Preachers of old invited sinners to come forward and ask Jesus into their hearts if they wanted to be saved. While I may prefer neither the terminology nor the technique they employed, the gospel is indeed an invitation and each time the gospel is preached that invitation ought to be extended and a decision called for (John 1:12; Matthew 11:28; Revelation 22:17). In fact, if we do not urge the hearer to respond personally to God’s offer in Christ, we have not fully preached the gospel.
I am calling on people to “stop asking Jesus into their hearts” because God has settled their salvation in Christ and wants them to rest upon that fact in repentance and faith. Conversion is not so much a one-time ceremony you go through and that you’d better get right or else be eternally lost. It is a posture toward Christ that you begin at a point and maintain for the rest of your life.