4 Stars Out Of 5
Good responsed to the problem caused by the Invitation System
February 8, 2015
When I first heard the title of this book it really intrigued me, and I immediately added it to my list of books to read. I grew up in a Christian home and was raised in a Baptist church. I was taught that a person became a Christian by praying the Sinners Prayer and asking Jesus to come into his heart. My mom lead me to do this when, at the age of six or seven, I had enough of an understanding about sin and hell to know that because of my disobedience to my parents (and to God) I deserved to go to hell and asked her what I should do. When I got older, I can recall a couple of other occasions in public meetings raising my hand or standing to express my desire to rededicate my life to the Lord (not to mention times when I did it silently). J. D. Greear admits that, By the time I reached the age of eighteen I had probably asked Jesus into my heart five thousand timesI walked a lot of aisles during those days. I think Ive been saved at least once in every denomination. Not to mention being baptized four times.
"Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart" was written for those who:
- Have repented of their sin and prayed a sinners prayer numerous times, yet still have doubts about their acceptance into heaven
- Cannot recall a specific moment in time when they became saved
- Want to know how someone can know for sure they are saved
- Wonder if they have sinned too much or rejected God too often to be forgiven
So the question is put forth: How can anyone know, beyond all doubt, that they are saved? Satan, the great Liar, seems to be in the business of deceiving in two ways: 1) he deceives many who are not saved into thinking that they are, and 2) he keeps those who truly are saved in doubt that they are. Greear suggests that one of the reasons these two conditions exist is because of the trite, clich terms that are used when evangelizing the lost. The author makes the observation that in some church circles, conversion has become nothing more than reciting a ritualistic formula prayer. He acknowledges that it is Biblical to extend an offer or invitation to unbelievers to come to Christ. Preachers like Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards regularly entreated the lost to repent and to pray to God to save them. Certainly it is the job of a gospel preacher, evangelist, missionary indeed, every Christian to put out a general call and offer the gospel to the lost. But Greear points out that praying a prayer to accept Jesus or ask Jesus into your heart without a genuine repentance of sin and desire to obey and follow Christ does not result in salvation. Yet many rest all of their confidence and assurance on that moment when they prayed the sinners prayer rather than resting in the work of Christ. On the other hand, just because you dont recall inviting Jesus into your heart, or cant pinpoint your spiritual birthday as the day you were saved, doesnt mean you arent.
True spiritual regeneration produces both faith and repentance, which are outward signs of and responses to the internal work of God, for only a heart that has been changed by the Holy Spirit can believe or repent of sin. Greear spends a chapter on each of these elements, faith and repentance, which he explains are like two sides of a coin and go hand-in-hand. He explains what faith is not: mere intellectual understanding and mental assent about who Jesus is and what He did. Nor is faith a decision made at one point in time. Its a present posture (to use Greears term) that continues on throughout the believers life.
Greear observes that assurance of salvation can never come from looking back at what I did (or didnt do) in the past; that will always result in doubts. In fact, the reason many struggle with doubts about their salvation may be because they are looking at what theyve done/are doing rather than trusting in what God has done according to the promises in His Word. The best way to deal with doubts when they arise is not to look back at what took place at your supposed time of conversion (or refer to the date written on the inside cover of your Bible), but rather to look at your present state are you trusting Christ NOW?
He goes on to explain what repentance is not: it's not praying a prayer, feeling sorry about sin, or even confessing it. It isnt religious activity, partial surrender, or perfection. Repentance is not the absence of sin; in fact, Greear points out, Repentance ushers us into a life of greater struggle [with sin] not out of onethe struggle is proof of [our] new nature.
After looking at the topics of faith and repentance, Greear spends one chapter discussing the idea of eternal security, or what is sometimes phrased, once saved, always saved. Finally, before summarizing, he looks briefly at chief evidences that a person is truly saved. This couldve been presented as a legalistic checklist, ie. if youre really a Christian you will do this, and this, and this. Instead he sums it up as Christ Himself summed up the law of God: love for God and love for others.
J. D. Greear believes, as do I, that God desires for His children to have assurance of salvation. Greear states, Until you know that you are His and He is yours, your obedience will be limited. Your love will be stifled, your confidence will be shaky, and your courage will be minimal. God gave His Word to His children to reassure and remind us of His promises to us. God our Father desires for us to live abundant, victorious lives, filled with His joy and peace, and having bold confidence to approach Him. Does this mean we will always feel happy, will never become discouraged, and will no longer be tempted by or fall into sin? Does it mean we will never have times of weakness, fear or doubt? Of course not. But when those times come, we must look to Christ and trust in the truths of Gods Word, not to our own decisions, actions, or feelings.
"Stop Asking Jesus into your Heart" is a quick and easy read of only about 120 pages. J. D. Greears book isnt what I would call meaty or theologically deep, but it is sound and accessible to the typical Christian. I would recommend it to anyone who has had ongoing struggles with doubts about their salvation.