Todd Friel is the co-host of The Way of the Master radio.
The music weeps, the preacher pleads, “Give your heart to Jesus. You have a God shaped hole in your heart and only Jesus can fill it.” Dozens, hundreds or thousands of people who want to get their spiritual life on track make their way to the altar. They ask Jesus into their heart. Cut to three months later. Nobody has seen our new convert in church. The follow up committee calls him and encourages him to attend a Bible study, but to no avail. We label him a backslider and get ready for the next outreach event.
Our beloved child lies in her snuggly warm bed and says, “Yes, Daddy. I want to ask Jesus into my heart.” You lead her in “the prayer” and hope that it sticks. You spend the next ten years questioning if she really, really meant it. Puberty hits and the answer reveals itself. She backslides. We spend the next ten years praying that she will come to her senses.
Telling someone to ask Jesus into their hearts has a very typical result, backsliding.
The Bible says that a person who is soundly saved puts his hand to the plow and does not look back because he is fit for service. In other words, a true convert cannot backslide. If a person backslides, he never slid forward in the first place. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (II Cor.5) No backsliding there.
Brace yourself for this one: with very few if any exceptions, anyone who asked Jesus into their hearts to be saved…is not. If you asked Jesus into your heart because you were told that is what you have to do to become a Christian, you were mis-informed.
If you have ever told someone to ask Jesus into their heart (like I have), you produced a false convert.
Here is why:
1. It is not in the Bible. There is not a single verse that even hints we should say a prayer inviting Jesus into our hearts.
Some use Rev. 3:20. To tell us that Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts begging to come in.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” There are two reasons that interpretation is wrong.
The context tells us that the door Jesus is knocking on is the door of the church, not the human heart. Jesus is not knocking to enter someone’s heart but to have fellowship with His church.
Even if the context didn’t tell us this, we would be forcing a meaning into the text (eisegesis). How do we know it is our heart he is knocking at? Why not our car door? How do we know he isn’t knocking on our foot? To suggest that he is knocking on the door of our heart is superimposing a meaning on the text that simply does not exist.
The Bible does not instruct us to ask Jesus into our heart. This alone should resolve the issue, nevertheless, here are nine more reasons.
2. Asking Jesus into your heart is a saying that makes no sense. What does it mean to ask Jesus into your heart? If I say the right incantation will He somehow enter my heart? Is it literal? Does He reside in the upper or lower ventricle? Is this a metaphysical experience? Is it figurative? If it is, what exactly does it mean? While I am certain that most adults cannot articulate its meaning, I am certain that no child can explain it. Pastor Dennis Rokser reminds
us that little children think literally and can easily be confused (or frightened) at the prospect of asking Jesus into their heart.
3. In order to be saved, a man must repent (Acts 2:38). Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of repentance.
4. In order to be saved, a man must trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).
Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of faith.
5. The person who wrongly believes they are saved will have a false sense of security. Millions of people who sincerely, but wrongly, asked Jesus into their hearts think they are saved but struggle to feel secure. They live in doubt and fear because they do not have the Holy Spirit giving them assurance of salvation.
6. The person who asks Jesus into his heart will likely end up inoculated, bitter and backslidden. Because he did not get saved by reciting a formulaic prayer, he will grow disillusioned with Jesus, the Bible, church and fellow believers. His latter end will be worse than the first.
7. It presents God as a beggar just hoping you will let Him into your busy life. This presentation of God robs Him of His sovereignty.
8. The cause of Christ is ridiculed. Visit an atheist web-site and read the pagans who scoff, “How dare those Christians tell us how to live when they get divorced more than we do? Who are they to say homosexuals shouldn’t adopt kids when tens of thousands of orphans don’t get adopted by Christians?” Born again believers adopt kids and don’t get divorced.
People who ask Jesus into their hearts do. Jesus gets mocked when false converts give Him a bad name.
9. The cause of evangelism is hindered. While it is certainly easier to get church members by telling them to ask Jesus into their hearts, try pleading with someone to make today the day of their salvation. Get ready for a painful response. “Why should I become a Christian when I have seen so called Christians act worse than a pagan?” People who ask Jesus into their hearts give pagans an excuse for not repenting.
10. Here is the scary one. People who ask Jesus into their hearts are not saved and they will perish on the Day of Judgment. How tragic that millions of people think they are right with God when they are not. How many people who will cry out, “Lord, Lord” on judgment day will be “Christians” who asked Jesus into their hearts?
So, what must one do to be saved? Repent and trust. (Heb.6:1) The Bible makes it clear that all men must repent and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Every man does have a “God shaped hole in their hearts,” but that hole is not contentment, fulfillment and peace. Every man’s heart problem is righteousness. Instead of preaching that Jesus fulfills, we must preach that God judges and Jesus satisfies God’s judgment…if a man will repent and place his trust in Him.
If you are reading this and you asked Jesus into your heart, chances are good you had a spiritual buzz for a while, but now you struggle to read your Bible, tithe, attend church and pray. Perhaps you were told you would have contentment, purpose and a better life if you just ask Jesus into your heart. I am sorry, that was a lie.
If you have been preaching that people should ask Jesus into their hearts, I beg you to stop immediately. You will give an account for all the souls you have led astray. Listen to the teaching “Hell’s Best Kept Secret”; it will help you present the Gospel correctly.