If you have the opportunity to witness to someone and God convicts them of their sin and need for a savior, what do you tell them to do to become a Christian?
It’s not. There is no place in the Bible that non-believers are instructed to ask Jesus into their heart to save them.
And no place in the Bible says that if you do ask Jesus into your heart you will be saved. But, unfortunately, this non-Biblical tactic has grown to be the norm.
That’s a shocker to a lot of people. So what does the Bible say? Let’s look at some verses.
The Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?”
Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:30-31)
The key word in Paul’s answer is “believe.”
In the original Greek, the word “believe” (pisteuo) means to have faith in / to trust in.” It’s in the aorist tense in the Greek which means it doesn’t require future action, just a single decision.
The late Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer said in his book, “Salvation: God’s Marvelous Work of Grace, (p.33) “This one word ‘believe’ represents all a sinner can do and all a sinner must do to be saved.”
Chafer’s statement is Biblically consistent. Consider:
“…whoever believes in Him…” John 3:16
“He who believes in the Son…” John 3:36
“… he who hears My word and believes…” John 5:24
“…he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
“…everyone who … believes in Him, …” John 6:40
“…he who believes has eternal life.” John 6:47
“…unless you believe…” John 8:24
“…he who believes in Me…” John 11:25
“…everyone who … believes in Me…” John 11:26
“… that (by) believing you may have life…” John 20:31
You don’t have to pray a prayer or ask Jesus into your heart to be saved. You just have to believe that you are a sinner, incapable of saving yourself, and that God sent His only fathered Son to the earth to shed his blood, die for your sins and be resurrected, defeating death. You are, by faith alone, trusting God and His written Word to be true.
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” 1Cor. 15:1-4
The “gospel” or “good news” that you must “believe” centers on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose again. The gospel does not include “praying for Jesus to come into your heart.”
It is, of course, possible that someone “walked the aisle” or prayed the infamous “sinner’s prayer” and did understand the gospel– thereby being saved. But it was their belief in the gospel that saved them, not their walking the aisle, praying a prayer or asking Jesus into their heart.
And it is just as possible that there are many who have a false salvation security based on praying a prayer for Jesus to come into their heart without understanding the gospel!
But what about the verses about God living in us?
“…Which is Christ in you…” Col 1:27
“…Christ lives in me…” Gal 2:20
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts…” Gal. 4:6
Yes, every Believer has Jesus living in their heart.
But how did He get there? God came into our hearts at salvation, the exact moment we, by faith, believed the gospel. We don’t ask Him to come in, He comes in because we believe.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,” John 1:12
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,” Eph. 1:13
First we believe, then God sends His spirit into our hearts.
To tell someone to “ask Jesus into your heart” is blatantly skipping the scripturally necessary “believing in” / “trusting in” the gospel.
Dennis Rosker said it best in his book “Seven Reasons Not To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart.” He stated, “We have confused the means of salvation with the results of salvation.”
But what about Rev 3:20?
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20
Notably absent from this verse are the words “ask,” “Jesus,” and “your heart.”
If this verse is written to Believers, the context is about Jesus desiring to be number one in the lives of the believers as they had confused earthly success with spiritual maturity. Jesus desired the Laodiceans to make Him not only Savior, but also be predominate in their lives.
Many have misunderstood the phrase “I will come into him” to mean “come into their heart.”
Michael Cocoris discusses the Greek words used in Rev 3:20 in his book, “Evangelism, A Biblical Approach.” He says “Christ will come ‘in to’ (two different Greek words), not ‘into’ (one Greek word). The verse is saying that Christ will come in the church to the person, not that Christ will come into the person.”
Cocoris later adds, “Christ is speaking of fellowship, not salvation.”
Jesus wants a moment by moment fellowship with Believers.
“… taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor. 10:5
However, if this verse is written to non-Believers, as John MacArthur contends, the term “standing at the door” is not the door of your heart, but rather the door of the Laodicean Church. MacArthur states in his Commentary on the Book of Revelation, page 140:
“The door on which Christ is knocking is not the door to a single human heart, but to the Laodicean Church.“
MacArthur believes these people held to their own form of Godliness but were denying the power of the Holy Spirit (2Tim 3:5).
Therefore, regardless of whether Rev 3:20 was addressing Believers or non-Believers, it is not a verse instructing us that we need to ask Jesus into our hearts to be saved. It’s just not there.
Two quotes from Charles Ryrie from his book, “So Great Salvation.”
“…it seems to me that those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible ought to be especially concerned with accuracy in communicating the truth.“
“Just as words were the means God used to record the Gospel in the Scriptures, so words are the means we use to explain the Gospel to others. Therefore, a correct choice of words is important, even essential, in stating the Gospel well.”
There may be someone reading this who prayed a prayer and your faith of salvation is in the fact you prayed the prayer. Or you may have walked to the front of a meeting and your faith is in the fact you walked forward.
If there is any doubt that you are a Christian, simply believe by faith in the true gospel of salvation — that God sent His Son Jesus to die for your personal sins, and rose from the dead defeating death so you can have eternal life with God.
Salvation has zero to do with what you did in the past–or will do in the future–and everything to do with what Jesus did on the cross 2000 years ago. When you believe you are forever assured of eternal life with Jesus. Because once He comes into your life, He’s there forever. PTL!
We have a special DVD, “Are You Sure You’re A Christian?” Click here for details. If you can’t afford to purchase it, call us and we’ll send it for free. 800-977-2177
Bill Perkins is the founder and Executive Director of Compass International, Inc.
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