Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart

Posted by Pastor J.D. on April 11, 2012

If there were a Guinness Book of World Records entry for “amount of times having prayed the sinner’s prayer,” I’m pretty sure I’d be a top contender. For many years I struggled to gain an assurance of salvation. I have since learned that I am not alone. “Lack of assurance” is epidemic among evangelicals.

In this book I show that faulty ways of presenting the gospel are the source of much of the confusion. Our presentations of the gospel are not heretical, per se, but they often mislead. “Asking Jesus into your heart” or “giving your life to Jesus” often give false assurance to those who are not saved and keep those who genuinely are saved from it.

In this book I unpack the doctrine of assurance, showing that salvation is a posture we take to the promise of God in Christ, a posture that begins at a certain point but that we maintain for the rest of our lives. Along the way, I answer tough questions about assurance: “What exactly is faith? What is repentance? Why are there so many warnings that seem to imply we can lose our salvation?” I attempt to handle these with respect to the theological rigors required, while not losing sensitivity of a pastor or the communicative technique required to teach these things to teenagers. I weave through the book my own personal, often comically tragic struggle.

Chapter titles are:

1. Baptized Four Times
2. God Wants us to Have Assurance
3. Jesus in My Place
4. What is Belief?
5. What is Repentance?
6. Why Does the Bible Seem to Warn Us So Often About Losing Our Salvation?
7. The Evidence We Have Believed
8. What to Do When You’re Worried You are Not Saved

I would love your thoughts, so feel free to share below!

Pastor J.D.


J.D. Greear is pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (2011) and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved (2013). More

15 responses to Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart

  1. I can’t wait to read. Such an important subject that helps us understand Grace. Thanks for tackling this, J.D.

  2. JD, I imagine you know this, but Paul Chitwood did his dissertation at SBTS on this subject in 2001. It’s excellent! Keep on keeping on brother!

  3. First off, thanks so much for your blog. It truly is a blessing to many. I am looking forward to this book if it’s even half as good as your book “Gospel.” I think the desire for us as Christians to want to please Christ and be in his will often sends us down these exact paths you mention. You have such a unique way of interpreting the Bible, I am excited to hear what you have to say. Thanks so much for what you do. You are impacting way more lives than you realize. Keep it up!

  4. looking forward to reading this!!

  5. My husband posed the question to two ladies in our neighborhood bible study, “Is there a time in your life when God declared you as righteous?” In response, the two ladies each looked at us, disheartened, and said, “no.” The tragic thing is they had both been baptized and become members of churches earlier in life. Now, they either have no understanding of their righteousness through Jesus or they needed to repent and be made righteous! Time is still telling which of these is true, but wow, growing up in the church has made for some interesting ministry opportunities and I look forward to this book and learning more from it!

  6. Nooooo…!!I’m still digesting “Gospel”!!jk
    Look forward to reading it!Some very pertinent issues brought up which will be very beneficial to many within the church.

  7. Pastor JD,
    I can just about guarantee you I would be second in line for your world record! I too have struggled with this tremendously. I began struggling so deeply with this a few years ago during a hard point in my life. And of course right at this point I end up in a denomination that teaches one can forfeit their salvation upon a conscious decision to do so. I end up with a lot of mind games- I think evil thoughts and have bad feelings towards the Lord and then convince myself I have lost my salvation (or never had it to begin with). It has been a daily fight to believe God forgives me when I ask Him. I have moments when I can rest in His promises and moments when I don’t believe they apply to me. But I know the fight is worth it and believe God will help me with this even though I’ve struggled for so long. I cannot wait to read your book! That is for sure! Thank you for your transparency, and for believing God on behalf of others!

  8. P.S. I have found this article to be incredibly helpful and thought it might help others who struggle as I do!

  9. Back in the day when I was younger and dumber, a couple of us Youth For Christ staffers would sit in the balcony at KCYFC and watch the invitation (which, in too many cases I now consider to be manipulative, whether intentionally or not)…and watch many of the same teens (and not a few adults) respond every Saturday evening. We called them “aisle athletes.” Know Spirit of God worked in spite of us in many cases, but…

  10. As you have stated – confidence of assurance is not determined by the question “have you Asked Jesus into your heart” or “given your life to Jesus”

    Jon Piper has said that perhaps the best question to ask is – “is Christ your treasure?” ie. is there anything else you treasure in this life above Christ?

    Do you treasure your wife, your job, your kids, your money above Christ? If you don’t treasure Christ above all us, you still maybe Christian but because your heart is not 100% Christ’s, you may question your assurance.

    If one is not saved, if they cannot answer affirmatively that they treasure Christ above all us – they won’t have false assurances.

  11. Wow…I have just had this exact conversation with my boyfriend’s mother. I too have struggled with salvation, as I was brought up in a Presbyterian church & have since joined the Summit. Can’t wait to read this one!

  12. When will the book be available and is there a place online to order it?

  13. Assurance is a gift given to those who walk with God. God is near the righteous but far from the wicked. Obey God, and you’ll have assurance. Now many are ignorant of God’s commands, but He is often merciful. For instance, some people think Jesus drank grape juice with the disciples and didn’t drink from one Cup. So they have many little plastic cups of grape juice for Communion instead of one Cup of wine. God could still be near them even though He taught the Apostles to drink from one Cup of wine as one Body for Communion. God is more often than not a loving Father who, like we do, laughs at his little childrens’ mistakes. But eventually God can grow distant and even angry too! If God reveals the truth to them over and over and they continue to be disobedient in Communion, then God might eventually start taking His presence from them. The more accurate way to say it is they take themselves away from God’s presence. They will start to lack assurance.

    Many evangelicals lack assurance, you’re right. What many of them don’t understand, but what is more than obvious to non-evangelical Christians by the millions, is that many evangelicals are not walking with God. Consider those who hold up signs that say “god hates gays” or “your son went to hell” at gay funerals. They are stuobviously stupid and ignorant and not following God’s methods (‘the Lord’s servant must be kind, gentle, respectful, able to teach, so that their hearers will change their minds’). But even those stupid, ignorant people may be near to God at some points in their lives. However, many of these people have intentionally refused God’s correction because they grew up in a family and community that teaches hate. Therefore, they are more comfortable remaining in their stupid and ignorant family than they are with God. They literally hate the Truth more and more over time as He reveals Himself. They may live their entire lives rejecting His revelations and, as a result, may grow less assured with time instead of more assured. They are very much like the people whose families taught them to “defend marriage” by selling marriage licesenses through the civil government. The truth is that the church must judge itself and let God judge the world. No government ever has been nor ever will be able to license marriage. Marriage is created by two people before God. Yet evangelical Christians keep on denying the Truth in this and many other ways.

    Many evangelicals have their fingers in their ears, and, like that infamous “god hates gays” church, this is more than obvious to everyone but them and their family/community. God came as a “king” with a crown of thorns in order to confuse the evangelical Jews who were travelling over land and sea to win converts. Paul said to beware because God could graft the church out of His Vine just as easily as he grafted the nation of Israel out. Christ changed the former rules regarding marriage and said the reason the more Truthful rule was hidden at first was because society was so filled with hate, their hearts were so hard, that they simply could not accept the Truth back in the old days. What has happened before can happen again. God can change the Truth regarding marriage again in the future to make the evangelical God-haters stumble again, “crown of thorns” style. For instance, God could come back on the clouds in a totally unexpected way (in a youtube video on ‘cloud computing’ via the internet for instance), in order to confuse the evangelical Christians just like He confused the evangelical Israelis. He could even come back as a partnered gay man if that is what he wanted to do. I’m not saying He would, but He could if He wanted to. And if He did, we would have to bow down and worship Him no less.

  14. I’m a youth counselor, for a 100 person youth group. The above topic is of great interest to me. “Baptized 3 Times” is my own life story. “Begging Jesus to Change My Heart” would be a chapter I could write.

  15. I have started a small group for those in their early 20′s and they have voiced an interest in doing a study on your book “Stop asking Jesus into your heart.” Do you have any study written out? I am going to be writing one if you have some suggestions or an outline that would be very helpful. I have tried to reach the post high school/non-college group for almost 5 years now with little success. This year it has taken off and grown to over 20 in just over a month. I think your book would make a great study for them. Thanks for writing it.

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