An Appeal for Biblical Accuracy in Child Evangelism
- My son Eric was visiting us Sunday with his wife Leslie and their little dog. We had a talk about this very subject about salvation and inviting Christ in to your heart at such an early age. Eric said, "Dad that is what I did." And I said, "I did the same thing as well." Well were we saved? My answer to both of us was "yes." Salvation is a process in which Christ continues to produce in us unto perfection in us.
Let me finish this article today with this point:
Becoming a Christian is much like joining an army. It costs nothing to join but the good soldier is willing to obey and even lay down his life for the general. When somebody does join the army, their life is no longer their own. When somebody joins the army, they surrender their rights to their leader. That's what God expects of us. Look at what Jesus said about becoming a Christian (follower of Christ):
Matthew 16:24-25, "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
In order to become a Christian your will must be broken because it is naturally at war with God! In fact, the Bible says that our condition is pretty miserable, for we are born into this world:
1. An enemy of God —— our will is against His will (Rom. 5:10)2. Dead in sins (unable to anything that pleases God —— Eph. 2:1)3. Held captive by a foreign power greater than ourselves (Eph. 2:2)4. A child of wrath (someone destined for eternal judgment —— Eph. 2:3)
Have you ever seen a football game? There are two teams, each with different wills. One team desperately wants to run one way, and the other team wants to go the other way. They have opposing wills. We are born with a will that wants to do anything except turn from our sin and trust Christ for forgiveness! That's why becoming a Christian is primarily a surrender of your will!
This is an excellent example of communicating to children the truth about salvation. I truly believe that if we are more careful and clear in communicating these truths to the minds of children, we will be able to avoid long periods of time in people’s lives when they aren’t sure of their salvation or have to keep making professions of faith to be sure. Now, I do think it’’s important that if a child wants to express faith in Christ, we should encourage it—each and every time that desire occurs. At some point along the way, true faith will likely be expressed and assurance will come. We cannot see their hearts and must not put any stumbling blocks in their spiritual journey.
Ironically, four years before penning Into My Heart, Harry Clarke had written the music to another song entitled "What Must I Do?" I like the message of this song much better:
"What must I do?" the trembling jailer cried,When dazed by fear and wonder;"Believe in Christ!" was all that Paul replied,"And you shall be saved from sin."
- REFRAIN:Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,And you shall be saved!
- What must I do! O weary, trembling, soul,Just turn today to Jesus;He will receive, forgive and make you whole;Christ alone can set you free.
- His blood is all your plea for saving grace,The precious fount of cleansing!O come, accept His love, behold His face,And be saved forevermore.
"Ask Jesus into your heart."
On the August 8, 2007 edition of The Albert Mohler Program, a called asked Dr. Mohler: "Could you inform me where the term ‘ask Jesus into your heart’ came from and is it the proper way to be converted?"
The following is an edited transcript of Dr. Mohler’ helpful response:
The phrase "Ask jesus into your heart" comes out of the emotionalism of Revivalism. Revivalism is a very important movement. I came out of churches very much affected by revivalism. There is much to be thankful for there; there is also much to be concerned about there in terms of their understanding of conversion as something that is more emotionally driven than is described in the Scripture in terms of the faith that justifies. The faith that justifies, the faith that saves is a faith that means trusting Christ and his promises and receiving the promises of salvation.
Let me tell you the danger in the phrase "ask Jesus into your heart." Is it heresy? Absolutely not. It’s not heresy. It’s not a false way of describing the gospel. It does, for instance, on the positive side get to the fact that the heart must be involved. In other words, saving faith is demonstrated in the individual’s life coming to Christ when they do believe, and there is a decision made within the heart to believe. There is a yielding to Christ, a trusting that is a decision of the heart.
Of course, the big question is where does that decision come from? How does the heart become ready for that positive response, that trusting response to Christ? "Ask Jesus into your heart" is wrapped up in evangelical sentimentality. It’s not wrong. But it is not the best way of describing salvation.
The phrase comes back to a misuse of a biblical text in Revelation. "Behold I stand at the door and knock.""Is Jesus standing ready for all those who respond to him in faith? Absolutely. But he’s not just waiting and watching. The New Testament picture of Jesus, the biblical portrait of God is not just of a god who waits and watches but rather of a God who saves.
Is the heart involved? Absolutely. It’s emotional language. And we’re an emotional people. Especially in a movement like revivalism that became very adept at reaching people on an emotional level, it’s not wrong; it’s just not as right as it could be. It’s not wrong when someone says, "I became a Christian when I asked Jesus into my heart." It’s not wrong. But you need to make sure they really understand what they’re doing there.
[Salvation is] not just saying yes to a relationship. That is the sad and minimal part of this that people don’t understand. It’s trusting Christ and his promises. You know in the New Testament, there is this whole idea of fiducia, faith –– I love the way the Puritans put it when they said: "it is finally resting in Christ." So it’s more that we are in Him than that He is in us. Of course, he does dwell within us. But it’s not as if we are the host and he is our guest. He is the Lord and we acknowledge him as our Savior.