Come into My Heart, Lord Jesus???
An Appeal for Biblical Accuracy in Child Evangelism
The language of "asking Jesus into one’s heart" is part of a soul winner’s basic vocabulary, at least in my experience. It is firmly entrenched, it seems, especially in children’s ministries today. Consider this recommended prayer for children given by one church:
Dear God, Thank you for making a way for us to turn from the wrong things that we have done. I know I have done wrong things, but right now I want to look upon Jesus so that you will forgive me for the things I have done. Please let Jesus come into my heart, to live forever there. I want to live forever with God. Thank you for loving me. In Jesus Name I Pray, Amen
Now, to be fair, this prayer does deal with forgiveness of sin. It acknowledges the love of God. But what it fails to do is to lead a child to verbalize trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Isn’t that what the Gospel is all about?
Before I try to persuade you to stop using this terminology in your personal evangelism, let me assure you of two things:
- 1. Some people are genuinely saved when asking Jesus into their hearts.
- 2. There are many wonderful Christians who take the time to explain salvation clearly to children even if they use the "into my heart" phrasing.
Now, I know some of you are thinking right off the bat: this is just semantics. But is it? I was talking with a father in our church just last week, and he related to me how his young, preschool son firmly believes that Jesus lives in his real, physical heart. Just semantics? I don’t think so.
There are some legitimate concerns I have about the concept of "asking Jesus into our hearts." Let me share them with you in the hope that, if nothing else, you will become even more committed to the precision we must have in communicating the Word of God.
CONCERN #1: IT TENDS TOWARD EASY-BELIEVISM.
- There are Christians who are more interested in acquiring decisions for Christ than they are in making disciples of Christ. Often, "asking Jesus into your heart" becomes the magic formula for easy spiritual decision-making. Unfortunately, much of the time, these witnesses give an unclear and incomplete Gospel presentation. Consequently, many of the "decisions" made fall away in short order and were likely never genuine.
CONCERN #2: IT IS EXEGETICALLY UNFOUNDED.
Search the Scriptures. You will not find a passage through either precept or pattern where "asking Jesus into your heart" is employed in evangelism. Not once. Surely that must account for something. How can we be comfortable in using so consistently an expression that lacks ANY Scriptural support?
Some will ignore context and appeal to a passage like Revelation 3:20.
- Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
- Although this verse is used heavily in evangelistic methodology, it is often taken out-of-context. In context, the Christian will find that Jesus is speaking to a church, a lukewarm church that has lost its fellowship with Christ. In John’s vision, Jesus tells this church He is knocking on their door and pleads with them to open the door and resume fellowship. It’’s not about salvation.
- Sometimes, instead of taking things out-of-context, we simply take them out-of-order. Such is the case for other New Testament verses where the result of salvation is turned to become the means of salvation. What about these verses?
- But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:12)
- To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)
- I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)
- Another popular Gospel song exclaims: "What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart!" Does Jesus really come in?
- The short answer is "Yes, He does." We can’’t dispute the clear teaching of these verses. But while Jesus’’ indwelling is certainly a result of salvation, there is simply no biblical evidence that His spiritual entrance into our lives is part of the means of salvation
Part one of this article, will finish part two (3) later than I will give you Al Mohler's point of view of this article later as well.
CHILDREN CAN BE SAVED AT AN EARLY AGE. I WAS 7.1 YEARS OLD WHEN THE LORD TOUCH MY MIND AND ALLOWED ME TO UNDERSTAND THE NEED OF BEEN SAVED. WILLIAMSROAD BAPTIST CHURCH, ROANOKE VIRGINIA