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Asking Jesus Into Your Heart

posted Dec 20, 2016, 10:03 AM by First Baptist

 

As some of you know, I’m not a big fan of the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart.” This phrase is often used to explain HOW to become a Christian.

 

Let’s analyze it.

 

What is Good about The Phrase?

 

The phrase can be traced back to the Puritans in the 16th & 17th centuries. The Puritans were a group of Protestants who wanted to “purify” the Church of England from its Roman Catholic-like beliefs and practices.

 

One of their chief concerns was the widespread belief that church membership was the pathway to & guarantee of salvation. In other words, it was commonly understood and taught that church membership was the MEANS of salvation.

 

The Puritans rightly opposed this and insisted instead on the need for a personal conversion experience, whereby a person must repent of his or her sin and receive Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior.

 

Thus, the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” reminds us that the Gospel requires a personal response. Salvation is not something that can be assumed or taken for granted. Christ must be believed upon and embraced.

 

What is Problematic about The Phrase?

 

The phrase can be (and has been) seriously misused.

 

1.      The phrase isn’t found in the Bible. Jesus never encouraged anyone to “ask me into your heart.” Nor did any of the apostles teach this.

2.      It’s inappropriate, especially for children. To “ask Jesus into your heart” requires abstract thinking, an ability that young children do not possess. The only “heart” they understand is the thing that beats inside their chest and the only “Jesus” they know is an adult person.

3.      The phrase can imply that we are the initiators of our salvation; that God is passively waiting for us to make the first move.

4.      The phrase can imply that our “decision” is what saves us. Time and again, I’ve asked somebody the basis of their salvation and their response was that they made a “decision” for Christ (i.e., they asked Jesus into their heart).

5.      The phrase sets up a culture of “easy-believism,” whereby salvation becomes formulaic, mechanical, almost automatic. You walk an aisle, utter a prayer, and all is good.

 

Thus, use of the phrase actually backfires on itself. While intended to PREVENT false conversions, it can (if misused) LEAD to false conversions. People can think they are saved because they “asked Jesus into their heart” with no awareness of how to evaluate their true spiritual condition.

 

So, What Should We Tell People?

 

I would recommend we stick with the biblical language: repent and believe. Repentance requires the awareness that one stands condemned before a holy God. To believe means to rely upon Christ’s death on the cross to satisfy God’s wrath over the person’s sin & sinfulness.

 

Next week we’ll analyze another common phrase: “All Sins Are Equal in God’s Sight.”

 

 

Pastor Dan

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