Why Adults & Children Should NOT “Ask Jesus Into Their Hearts”

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

I can remember as a young boy whenever I was told to “ask Jesus into my heart,” that I thought I was inviting Jesus to be a part of the emotional aspect of me. After all, what child believes that his heart is the seat of his thoughts, desires, will, life, etc.? The heart in contemporary western English vernacular is largely the seat of the emotions: “I love you with all my heart.” In the Scriptures however, the heart is the seat of the mind, will, desires, emotions, etc. Virtually, everything that makes a person a person, is what the Scriptures mean when they point to the heart; for, the bowels, not the heart, were the primary seat of the emotions in Scripture. As a result, although I had “asked Jesus into my heart” at a young age, I was no more a Christian than the Devil himself.

Concerning this danger, Paul Harrison Chitwood in The Sinner’s Prayer: An Historical and Theological Analysis, writes,

At the same time, explaining the concept of inviting Christ into your heart is not always an easy thing to do. For children, who have not yet developed abstract thinking skills and struggle to understand symbolism, the idea can be most confusing. Even for adults the notion may seem obscure, even unintelligible. What does it really mean to ask Jesus into your heart? By simply staying true to the biblical requirements of salvation (calling on the name of the Lord, belief/trust, repentance, and confessing Jesus as Lord) this confusion can be avoided (pg.94-95).

Pastors, teachers, parents, etc., instead of telling your children to “ask Jesus into their hearts,” let us instead stick to the Scriptures, and tell our children to call on the name of the Lord, trust in Him alone, turn from sin, and confess Christ as Lord. Not only should we tell them to do this one time, but we should tell them to continue doing this for the rest of their lives. Also, we shouldn’t assure our children of their salvation, for this is God the Holy Spirit’s job. If they have truly trusted in Christ, then God the Holy Spirit will make this evident through transforming them instantaneously, progressively, and finally. NOTE: If we assure lost people that they are saved when they really aren’t, we make them twice as much sons of hell than before they professed Christ.

Furthermore, in my ministry I have spoken with countless people that believe they’re Christians simply because they prayed a prayer one time in their life. When asked what “asking Jesus into your heart” really means, I have found that few professed Christians that have done this, could explain to me what the symbolism meant. Thus, the church and primarily the world, are full of professed Christians that wouldn’t know the gospel if their eternal lives depended on it (and they do).

Finally, I have no problem with making the gospel as simple as the Bible does; however, we sin when we seek to make salvation easier than God does. Symbolism is only as good as its symbol; and if you are not telling your hearers the Symbol, then you are sinning regardless how many people you get to repeat a prayer or ask Jesus into their hearts. Teach the gospel, not a formula.

What are your thoughts about this article? Do you agree? Why or why not?

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

Comments

  1. says

    Yes, brother, yes! I abandoned long ago such confusing and potentially misleading “formulas!” I stick with repentance from sin and confession of Christ as God, Savior, and King.

  2. Scotty Karber says

    When we stop talking about things the Bible speaks clearly about in the way the Bible speaks of them because we want to “make them more understandable” we always get into trouble.

  3. John says

    I have been in SBC churches for over half a century, in over half a dozen fellowships. The one thing that stands out in my mind is that they were all concerned with numbers. When we measure success of ministry with number of ‘converts’, we slip into ‘easy believeism': come down front, pray the sinner’s prayer, and get your name on the roll. After that, you’re pretty much on your own. It’s no wonder we can’t find over half our members. I feel we are week on discipleship and accountability.

  4. says

    I strongly disagree with this article. I was saved by believing that Jesus died for my sins and rose again and asking Jesus to forgive me and to come into my heart and save me.

    I disagree that we cannot know that we are saved. Baptists for many years have preached a “know-so” salvation. If we do what God has said we must do to be saved, we can be confident in our salvation. Check out such basic salvation verses as John 3:16; Romans 10:9-13; Revelation 3:20 (yes, this verse does speak of salvation!).

    When the Roman Road plan of salvation has been properly presented, I’ve never seen a child old enough to understand, or an adult, have a problem with the concept of asking Jesus into their heart and life. Scripture itself, often speaks of Jesus in our hearts, so people of 2,000 years ago must have understood the concept as well.

    Everyone uses terminology that is not exactly found in Scripture. Words like Trinity, missionary, missional, etc. The real concern is whether the concept is biblical.

    Scripture says to be saved you must believe in your “heart” (Roman 10:9). The “Sinner’s Prayer” is found in Scripture (Luke 18:13; Romans 10:9-10, 13) and is valid today.

    While the exact phrase of asking Jesus into your heart may not be found in Scripture, the concept is certainly there.

    The Bible tells us our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Consider the following verses about Jesus in our hearts:

    Who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. -2 Corinthians 1:22

    For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. -2 Corinthians 4:6

    And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” -Galatians 4:6

    And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; -2 Peter 1:19

    Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. -Romans 5:5

    He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” -John 7:38

    That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, -Ephesians 3:17

    To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. -Colossians 1:27
    David R. Brumbelow

    • says

      David, why are you trying to confuse us all by quoting scripture?

      Surely, Paul meant something else entirely when he told the Ephesians, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;” (3:17a)

      And God didn’t mean He’d “write a new covenant on our hearts and minds”…come on David.

      Surely we don’t have to hide God’s word in our hearts so we won’t sin against him. It’s probably beneath our fingernails or something more modern like…well, like that leatherbound ESV Bible we keep on our bedstands. And that old silly organ that houses the evil desires that produce thoughts that give birth to sin…that’s so antiquated a term to use in a relevant discussion of “biblical” rationale. Come on! David. Get with it.

  5. says

    David, did you read the article? I argued that we could know that we’re saved, but that it’s God the Holy Spirit that informs us, not some other person or our judgment of our own sincerity. God the Holy Spirit produces fruit in us, validating our profession.

    What about the fact that the word “heart” doesn’t mean the same thing today as it did when the Scriptures were written?

    Why hold onto language that makes understanding salvation harder, rather than easier?

    • says

      Jared,
      You said, “Why hold onto language that makes understanding salvation harder, rather than easier?”

      Maybe, because that is the language the Bible itself uses.

      And because I’ve never experienced people who wanted to be saved having a problem understanding the concept of believing in your heart and asking Jesus into your heart and life. It does not make salvation more difficult. But if someone does have a problem understanding, we can simply explain the biblical concepts to them.
      David R. Brumbelow

      • says

        David, you’re adding “life” to heart. If telling them to ask Jesus into their hearts is sufficient, why are you adding “life”? Is it because telling them to ask Jesus into their hearts alone is insufficient?

        • says

          Either way or both is biblically correct, assuming you have presented the plan of salvation to them.
          Do you believe it is acceptable for someone to ask Jesus into their life?
          Do you believe the verses I listed above are not relevant to this issue?
          David R. Brumbelow

          • says

            David, the Scriptures are always relevant. You however need to consider that since no one, not one person, in Scripture ever “asked Jesus into their heart” that this probably means people aren’t saved this way. “Asking Jesus into your heart” is a modern phenomenon… and it’s lead to easy-believism; roughly 10 million Southern Baptists that don’t attend worship.

            The verses you cite emphasize enitre life, not merely the “heart” according to present day English language. I personally don’t like the language “Ask Jesus into your life.” It’s just not in the Bible. I believing in repenting, and placing your faith in Christ alone. Where does this “asking Jesus into your life” come from? Why not tell sinners to continually turn from their sins, and to continually trust in Christ alone? He will thus give them His Holy Spirit; and will grow them to look more and more like Him.

            David, you must understand that I minister in a community where everyone has prayed the sinner’s prayer; and most of them live like devils. We have 16 million southern baptists that have prayed the sinner’s prayer, but less than half that actually live out the fruit of the Spirit in the area of church attendance.

            Why are you so bent on holding onto langauge that isn’t in the Bible?

            Can I ask you a personal question? How many people are on your church roll? And, how many people attend your church faithfully?

          • says

            Jared, the language “is” in the Bible; see above verses I listed.

            As I’ve said before, if someone prays the Sinner’s Prayer and means it, they will be saved. We have God’s Word on it.
            http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2009/09/saved-by-sinners-prayer.html

            A regenerate church membership and church discipline can be accomplished whether or not the church uses the Sinner’s Prayer or the terminology of “Asking Jesus into you heart.” Most seem to be arguing against the “abuse,” rather than the “proper use” of the Sinner’s Prayer.
            David R. Brumbelow

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            “And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” – Luke 10:25-29

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father.”

          • Christiane says

            Christians are called to share in the life of Christ. So, you might say that we are invited to come into His Heart.

    • Jim G. says

      Bill, that is great! I really liked the last one. The gobbledygook we use to mask our real ignorance is astounding.

      By the way, I think “God has given me a word…” could be lumped in with “I feel led.” I heard of someone carrying a pencil with them and every time he heard “I feel led” he would hand them the pencil and let them feel the lead.

      Jim G.

      • Katie J says

        Only God knows and see’s the heart of men and women and children. He knows their real intentions. No one on earth should ever say who is saved or no or who can understand on not. My God is greater! His ways are not ours! We should help and spur on our brothers and sisters in Christ, not destroy by judging hearts we have no knowledge of what transpired between them and our Lord Jesus.

  6. says

    Jared your writing has really been catching my eye lately. I promise I am not blog stalking.

    “Also, we shouldn’t assure our children of their salvation”
    Could NOT agree more. How many teens and adults are dealing with conviction but are told to ignore the Spirit because they have already “done that”

    I like what a previous commenter said “It’s no wonder we can’t find over half our members. I feel we are week on discipleship and accountability.”

    I am currently in a class on Romans at Liberty U. To round out the course I am writing a paper on the Spirit’s role in sanctification. Part of my paper is pointing out the modern church’s over emphasis on justification and neglect of teaching on sanctification. Which is why I believe we are turning out so few disciples.

    • says

      Jason, I appreciate the follow. Concerning an “overemphasis on justification,” I don’t think this is the primary issue. I think we overemphasize judging sincerity. In other words, we’ve overemphasized a person’s ability to judge his own sincerity when he says he repents, or we’ve overemphasized our ability to judge someone else’s sincerity. Thus, I think we’re overemphasizing the ability of the individual repenting or our own ability, not God the Father’s ability to justify instantaneously through Christ. All those who repent and place their faith in Christ alone are immediately justified. I don’t think we can overemphasize this; however, assurance of this justification is brought about through observing His fruit in us through time. I think the problem is that we want to assure someone instantaneously or assure ourselves instantaneously. God however will assure us through producing fruit.

  7. says

    I have struggled with the concept of “Asking Jesus into my heart.” I grew up with much of the same understanding as you did, Jared. As a child, I thought Jesus crammed himself into my heart and lived there (Lack of abstract thought). This is one of the problems I have with the phrase. The phrase does not communicate to children that Christ changes every aspect of you…your mind, will, desires, emotions, etc. Thus, I believe the phrase is more of detriment than a help. That is why we must simply proclaim what scripture states…Call on the name of the Lord, repent and believe on Christ.

    My biggest concern, however, is over the idea that the “sinners prayer = salvation.” When I ask people what they believe about Christ, it often revolves around the idea of asking Jesus into their heart as a child (Sinner’s Prayer). However, their life does not demonstrate an ounce of Christ…and has been that way for years and even decades. Yet, they believe they are saved. The problem is that we often point back to a time and place of the sinners prayer to give people assurance of their salvation. In my opinion, we may be patting them on the back assuring them of their salvation because they prayed a prayer all at the same time as they travel the broad road that leads to hell!

    Thanks for the post!

    • says

      Adam, I agree 100% with your concerns. I share these concerns; and thus, I literally live in a community where almost everyone has prayed the sinner’s prayer, and they believe they’re headed to heaven. Many of their lives however communicate the opposite.

  8. Jim G. says

    Hi Jared,

    Overall, I think your article is quite good. I like the emphasis on trusting, repentance and confession. That is the model which the Bible asks us to follow. I agree we should repeatedly do that.

    I do have one suggestion, though. You wrote:

    As a result, although I had “asked Jesus into my heart” at a young age, I was no more a Christian than the Devil himself.

    Now I don’t know you personally and cannot say for sure that your sentence above is false, but I suspect it is. I think you were on the road to conversion by asking Jesus into your heart at a young age. I think there was a long distance between you and the devil at that point. (Maybe you were using this as a figure of speech and if so, I understand).

    I for one do not think we are completely converted all at once – at least not necessarily so. For every Saul of Tarsus that gets knocked off the horse and instantly converted, there is a Peter who gradually comes to faith. I don’t think our whole heart (that is as you say mind, emotions, will, etc.) always gets converted at once. I grew up a Christian and remain one today. I recall always believing, trusting, and confessing. But I also remember the night of the baseball all-star game in July of 1990 when I yielded my will to him on top of everything else.

    I am watching and helping my own son today slowly coming to faith. Intellectually, I think he has. Emotionally, probably not. I believe he will, but his is gradual just as mine was.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that Jesus’ words of allowing the little children to come to him applies to your own childhood too. You were not mature enough to be fully converted as a young child. That is not your fault – you were just too young. But you gave what you had, and that should not be discounted. While I understand and largely agree with your point, a child who asks Jesus to dwell with him or her won’t get turned down. That becomes the tender shoot that we gardeners (parents, pastors, and fellow Christians) need to water, fertilize, and protect so that what was begun does not get destroyed and can grow to a fruitful maturity.

    I hope this helps.

    Jim G.

  9. Frank L. says

    I realize it is fruitless and futile to discuss Jared’s “anti-everything” approach to godliness. His posts have a common structure. It goes something like this: “Here’s the way you are doing it. Here’s the “biblical” way. Now what do you think about the way you do things?”

    It’s a no-win discussion. It won’t matter how many like myself or “hundreds” of others, including David above, started out with accepting Jesus in our hearts. Jared’s way of thinking always casts doubts on whether people are “really saved.”

    Jared seems to believe that there is some kind of magic in the “words” of Scripture. He seems to believe that proper syntax and exacting phraseology is the key to salvation.

    Much like the Pharisees Jesus encountered. He said they didn’t have God’s word “living” in them even though they were masters of the written word (Jn. 5:38-40).

    I know I’ll be slammed for attacking Jared and not being nice, but I think his doubt mongering is becoming a patterned problem. I also realize this is not my blog and anyone can try to establish their “brand” and all I can do is stand up and say, “Wait a minute, is their a pattern developing here.”

    The fact is, Jared, no where in the Bible does any manuscript we have from the early church state anything about “accept Jesus as the Lord.” That would be English, not Koine. So, if I follow your stict pattern of what “biblical” means, then please tell me which Greek manuscript I should use in my elementary Sunday School classes.

    • says

      Frank, The Bible says Jesus is Lord; and that we’re to have faith in Jesus. Therefore, we must have faith that He is Lord. You’re comparing apples to oranges.

      Concerning this comment: “Jared seems to believe that there is some kind of magic in the “words” of Scripture. He seems to believe that proper syntax and exacting phraseology is the key to salvation.”

      I believe individuals must understand what they’re doing or they’re just muttering empty words. Are you saying that it doesn’t matter if a sinner has a basic understanding of repentance, faith in Christ, who Jesus is, what He’s done, etc.? then they’re still saved? There is an essential amount of content a sinner must understand before he can be saved. They must pray with understanding.

      The term biblical simply means what the Bible says.

      • Frank L. says

        How bout starting with Ps. 119:11. Also, just do a quick check in any Greek or Hebrew lexicon where the word for “heart” in connection with salvation. Check any standard work in translation from say, “Wycliff Bible Translators” for an understanding of figures of speech.

        Look at what Jesus said to the Pharisees, particularly Jn. 5:38-40. See if He is not describing your approach to salvation.

        In regard to “understanding,” what do you mean: Bible School, Liberal Arts with a major in Bible and Religion, Master of Arts in Sacred Theology, or a Ph.D.? Yes, by that criteria I agree I’ve never seen one single child saved. In fact, I’ll bet you haven’t led four children to the Lord in the last three months — please correct me if I’m wrong. I’ll also bet you have led less than a hundred young people to the Lord in your life time — correct me if I’m wrong.

        That’s my point: your anti-everthing-everybody’s-doing-it-unbiblically-and-people-are-not-really-saved-who-profess-that-they-are approach is misguided–seriously misguided.

        I do absolutely agree with you: I don’t have to read your posts. Yet, there’s something in me that says, he’s a destroyer, not a builder, and I should say something. There’s a air of Pharsaism in your posts that I think needs to be challenged. But, you are absolutely right, I don’t “have” to read your posts.

        Having said that, I’d probably be better off not reading your post, and I suspect if you continue to post as profusely as you do here, then calling it SBC Voices will be false advertising and many “WILL” stop reading–myself included.

        I probably waste way too much time here anyway and only get frustrated or discouraged in my walk with the Lord, so, maybe I’d be better of doing theology rather than blogging about it.

        • says

          Frank, I don’t understand how John 5:38-40 desribes me.

          Concerning “understanding,” I mean trusting that Christ alone can bring you in right relationship with His Father. He died and rose from the dead so that those who repent and trust in Him alone for salvation will be brought in right relationship with His Father. How is this pharisaical?

          Concerning how many people I’ve lead to the Lord; if you mean how many people I’ve seen pray a prayer of repentance for salvation in my ministry, it’s around 300 (11 years). Now, this proves nothing since I didn’t die for these people. Christ alone grows His church. I don’t know why you keep pointing to numbers as some validation for doctrine. Only God knows who has truly trusted in Him; so, potentially neither you nor I have lead anyone to Christ.

          BTW: If you really believe that Christ grows His church, you cannot appeal to how many people you’ve pointed to Him as proof for your theology or “success” in ministry. He’s the One that is successful, not you.

          • Frank L. says

            Jared, share with the person you led to the Lord in the last month. What exactly did you say? I’d be interested.

            And, I’m not questioning your salvation anymore than you are questioning the salvation of countless others. What I question is your love and grace and Pharisaical approach to Scripture.

            I keep pointing to numbers because the Bible talks about the numbers of people being saved many times. Numbers are important to me because they are to God. Every number represents a soul — that’s important to me.

            Also, since you ask: I am suspect of people who always point out the mistakes (in their own mind) of other people who, unlike themselves, ARE willing to die to see others come to know the Lord.

            Honestly, without being too judgmental, I don’t see you as an ally in the fight for souls, but as an enemy behind the lines. I totally accept this statement as my own, personal opinion, but nothing you have written seems to lend itself to trusting you to walk beside me in the battle.

            If I am wrong about that, I’d be open to your showing me how your posts lift me up and help me as an SBC pastor better meet my obligation to love God with all my soul, all my heart and all my mind?”

            I just view you as a “finger-pointer.” I realize I could be wrong and would earnestly like to be shown my error in regard to your approach to others in the SBC.

            Since I just had a major heart-attack a few months ago, I’m not going to respond to what you say anymore until I become convinced you are a ‘safe’ person to discuss theology with. It’s become too personal for me.

            May God truly bless you and your family and give you a fantastic ministry to others.

            I question your sweeping condemnation of how others go about sharing the gospel with others. As with saying I’m unimportant to God in His work–a direct contradiction of the entire scope of God’s message to man. Very “neuvo-reformed.”

          • says

            Frank, my posts should lift you up because they help you to examine whether or not your methodology is biblical. Unbiblical methodology does not glorify God. At the very least, I hope this post encourages readers to examine their message. Maybe some have read this and thought, “You know, I do need to do a better job of making sure those that ask Jesus into their hearts, understand what they’re doing.”

            Concerning whether you view me as an “ally,” I’m not concerned with this. Having read only a few of my thoughts, I think you’re jumping the gun, and judging me over non-essentials.

            Frank, concerning leading others to Christ, I’ve already told you above what I always say.

            Also, where did I say that you were unimportant in the work of God? We plant and water, but Christ alone gives the increase. My point is that you are no more important than another other pastor laboring in the gospel. You seem to think you’re more important in the work of God than I am. You’ve made repeated statements against me, and my worth in laboring in the gospel. You repeatedly point to me blogging because I can’t do ministry. These are terrible, unfounded, judgmental statements to make.

            My heros in the ministry are not the ones that have had a ton of tangible fruit… but those that have labored and labored and labored with virtually no public recognition. They’ve remained faithful to the Lord without any pragmatic reason to do so… apart from His wonderful grace.

            Finally, I agree that souls are important to God, but numbers are not. The numbers in Scripture were clearly estimated, and the women and children were often left uncounted. It makes me know that the apostles and New Testament Scripture writers were not Southern Baptist because if they were, they would have definitely counted every soul that was saved, and reported it back to the convention. God cares about souls, not numbers.

          • Frank L. says

            I’ll start with the easy stuff first, and then, I’m done with you.

            1. “”You repeatedly point to me blogging because I can’t do ministry””

            I mentioned this “one” time and I very carefully talked around you as to indicate that there are many I see practicing this particular art. You exaggerate.

            2. “”Concerning whether you view me as an “ally,” I’m not concerned with this”

            I suspected as much.

            3. “”I’ve already told you above what I always say.””

            But, you can’t tell me about one last week. That’s my point, though I don’t expect you will get it.

            4. “”My heros in the ministry are not the ones that have had a ton of tangible fruit… but those that have labored and labored and labored with virtually no public recognition.””

            Thank you, I qualify as one of your “heroes.” However, somehow I suspect, that really ain’t so.

            5. “”Finally, I agree that souls are important to God, but numbers are NOT.””

            Your logic defies my understanding. Tell pray tell how you reach the former without estabishing the latter.

            You and I are cut from completely different cloths. I’m sure, as you have implied in nearly every blog of late, that you feel I’m not really saved. I accepted Jesus as my savior at an altar call in a typical Baptist church.

            I’m going to work very hard to ignore you. Being the sinner that I am, I don’t know if I will have the intestinal fortitude to do so, but I’ll try. Making people think is a great think, trying to make them doubt, is . . . well something else.

            5. “”judging me over non-essentials””

            Here’s where I may not understand you–you don’t seem to post like what you say is “non-essential.”

  10. Debbie Kaufman says

    Sometimes people are looking for a quick fix and they believe if they “ask Jesus into their hearts” everything in their lives that is wrong will be right. That would include broken marriages or money problems. When they find out that is not always the case, that sometimes their lives get harder, they abandon Christ and are angry, bitter.

    • Frank L. says

      Debbie, I agree with you. This scenario takes place often, even in the ministry of the Lord. Some hear the gospel and fall away. Was Jesus, “doing it wrong?” Did He use the “wrong lingo?” I don’t think you would say that He did.

      In my experience–just my experience, yours may be different–I don’t see thousands of people coming to the Lord and then falling away because they had an angigram and the Doctor didn’t see the Lord in there.

      I don’t have a great fear that we (SBC) are doing evangelism on a mass scale but we are doing it wrong. I have a great fear we aren’t even attempting to do it in any regular, person-to-person way at all.

      I just don’t agree that the problem with Christendom is that SBC’ers are doing evangelism all wrong–I really don’t think we are doing it at all.

  11. says

    Scripture such as 2 Corinthians 1:22; 4:6; Galatians 4:6; 2 Peter 1:19; Romans 5:5; John 7:38; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:27; Romans 10:9-13 must have been what inspired song writers to write:

    Into my heart, into my heart,
    Come into my heart, Lord Jesus;
    Come in today, come in to stay;
    Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.

    Out of my heart, out of my heart,
    Shine out of my heart, Lord Jesus;
    Shine out today, shine out alway;
    Shine out of my heart, Lord Jesus.

    -Harry D. Clarke (AD 1888-1957)
    First verse in Baptist Hymnal, 2008; p. 418

    “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart” by Rufus H. Daniel and Charles H. Gabriel; p. 624 in Baptist Hymnal.

    I expect people will go on singing them; I hope so.
    David R. Brumbelow

    • says

      We should point out that of the 9 passages you listed, only one talks about Jesus dwelling in our heart. A few mention the Holy Spirit in our hearts, a few mention Christ in us.

      The only one that mentions Christ dwelling in our hearts (Eph. 3:17) is Paul’s prayer for that church, not a prayer for their salvation but for their spiritual maturity.

  12. says

    Jared,

    Puleeeeeeze, enough already. You guys are not winning yourselves any friends in the SBC by continuing to harp on this issue. All of us believe that Jesus saves, not a prayer. The prayer is just the means by which someone asks Christ to save them. The continuing attack of you Reformed guys on the process by which people get saved is coming across as “do it my way or you’re not saved.” This sort of hubris is not helpful.

    Les

    • says

      Les, my point is that if you use the above methodology, to make sure those you’re talking to, understand what they’re doing.

      I think there are many that ignore the problem. This is a real problem in the sbc. Many profess Christ, but don’t understand what they’re doing. Just make sure they know what they’re doing.

      Make sure your hearers understand the Symbol.

      I’ll say it again, I’ve ran into numerous people that “asked Jesus into their hearts,” but couldn’t explain the gospel to me. Acting like this is a problem in the sbc won’t help the situation.

      Also, to you and others like you, don’t go “Reformed head-hunting.” Read the article, don’t read into the article. Where do I say “Do it my way or you’re not saved”? I’m simply saying to make sure people understand what they’re doing. Most children won’t understand what asking Jesus into their hearts means… unless you further explain it. If you don’t mean for them to ask Jesus into their emotions alone… which is what many children will think, then use different language.

      • says

        Jared, you said: “I’ll say it again, I’ve ran into numerous people that “asked Jesus into their hearts,” but couldn’t explain the gospel to me. Acting like this is a problem in the sbc won’t help the situation.”

        Some questions: Is the gospel a series of steps to salvation, or is it the person, Jesus Christ? Is it the message about Christ, or is it meeting Christ Himself? Is it something that we do, or is it the announcement of what God has already done in Jesus?

        I agree that it is wrong terminology to talk about asking Jesus into “our” life. Actually, we, by faith, come into HIS life. He invites us into HIS life. Yes, He lives within us, but our salvation is union with Christ, where His life becomes our life.

        Even though you are trying to rectify things, it still seems as though you are making the gospel a series of propositions to be believed and acted upon rather than coming into a relationship with Jesus Himself. However flawed the way that you criticize might be (and I don’t use it myself), it might be closer to the truth than what you propose, which seems to be some propositions and attitudes that we have rather than actually coming into a living relationship with Jesus.

        • says

          Alan, I don’t understand what you’re arguing? Could you explain how what I propose is more dangerous than asking Jesus into your heart?

          • says

            Jared, it just seems to me that you are possibly (correct me if I’m wrong) doing the same thing that you are criticizing, just from the other side. The gospel is not about repentance. It is not even about faith. It is about Jesus. We don’t ask HIM into OUR life – He brings us into HIS life. It is also not a series of propositions that we agree with and build our life around. The gospel is the announcement of the person of Jesus Christ and His work on our behalf. We don’t just believe in the work – we come into a relationship with Him. I know that you know all of that – I am not saying that you don’t. But, just as you are being critical of the “ask Jesus into my heart” language, I also think that the talk of repentance and faith aspects can also be criticized if the object of our repentance (turning away from depending on other things) and faith (turning toward depending on something else) is not actually Jesus Christ. For example, it does not save us to stop doing bad and start doing good. It also doesn’t save us to place our faith in our moral excellency. We are to repent from trusting in anything and instead, we are trust in Christ. Trust is not even the key here – Christ is. It is all about Jesus.

            I know that you believe that. I am just asserting that the gospel is actually about Jesus. Jesus saves. We experience salvation when we come into relationship with Jesus. The thing is, everyone here would agree with that. That is why when we argue too much about semantics, we can pick everyone apart. That is not my goal. It is just to say that even if we have some of the words wrong, if the person is in relationship with Jesus, they are saved. Knowing Him is eternal life.

          • says

            Alan, I agree with you. Thus, I don’t really understand how I’m doing what you’re saying.

            I agree that doctrinal accuracy doesn’t save; but, jesus does… however, we should try to be doctrinally accurate. I don’t think telling people to “ask jesus into their hearts” is doctrinally accurate; although, people indeed have been saved through this method. Jesus indeed saves all that come to Him. My fear is that “inviting Jesus into your heart” doesn’t encourage sinners to forake all things in order to follow Him.

          • Dave Miller says

            Excellent as always, Alan. We always have a tendency to get caught up in the process and forget that salvation IS Christ.

          • says

            Alan, you replied

            The gospel is not about repentance. It is not even about faith. It is about Jesus. We don’t ask HIM into OUR life – He brings us into HIS life. It is also not a series of propositions that we agree with and build our life around. The gospel is the announcement of the person of Jesus Christ and His work on our behalf.

            Isn’t everything you wrote a series of propositions? Does a person have to agree with them to have a right relationship with God? Should a person build their life around them?

          • says

            Mark, perhaps. I agree that there is nuance here. I guess that what I am suggesting is that propositions don’t save. Jesus does. We are to come into a relationship with Jesus. HE is the TRUTH. Truth, real Truth, is Jesus. I am trying to locate everything, even the propositions, the gospel, everything, in the person of Jesus Christ. So, we are not to believe in Jesus AND also be theologically sound. Those are not two separate things. They are one thing. They are the same. We have lots of arguments about lots of stuff, but when we come to Jesus we find life, truth, and the way.

  13. Debbie Kaufman says

    Les: I disagree. Again. It should be discussed. There are just too many unregenerate Baptists(among other groups but Baptist is my concern because I am one.) It’s time to discuss the most important thing, and that is salvation. We have a problem. To sweep it under the rug is just not right.

  14. Debbie Kaufman says

    It’s not wrong to assert things, discuss and get our Bibles out and start digging. We are either Bible people or we are not. Which is it? For both sides to get us digging is a good thing.

  15. Frank L. says

    Jared added his anecdote, I’ll add mine. There’s a little boy, one of the few that I have recently prayed with as they were coming to Christ.

    He is going on six. His Dad is drugged out and gone. His Mom is in prison. His Grandma rents a room in a house with him because it is all she can afford. This little boy was “hell on wheels.”

    We gave him a scholarship to our school for Kindergarten. He was in trouble nearly every day: hitting, cussing like a sailor, and just a mean, angry little boy. In the course of his many trips to my office for discipline, he came to a point that we talked about asking Jesus into his heart. He prayed to do just that.

    For the next couple of months, he was still “hell on wheels” but without hell in his heart. Slowly, he began to grow in the atmosphere of stubborn love. He even where’s an ushers vest and stands with his “big brother mentor.”

    Now, his cussing is almost gone. He is learning about “his space” and doesn’t hit as much. He is witnessing to his family, friends and anybody that will listen.

    It took me two times to baptize him because he got scared of our rather large, cavern-like baptistry. I finally got him baptized — with his Mom who had been released from prison and accepted the Lord into her heart. Oh, and his uncle who is a recovering drug addict also got saved because of this little guys testimony.

    Ask him: where’s Jesus live. He’ll tell you, “in my heart.”

    • says

      Frank, their perseverance in Christ will reveal their salvation. I think it’s wonderful that God is working in this family through Christ. He may have understood what he was doing. Time will reveal the fruit. It’s wonderful to be a part of this!

    • says

      Frank L, want to get that little fella all straightened out? Read him, Ephesians 2:5-6 “even when we were dead in trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”.

      Jesus isn’t in our hearts at all. Just the “covenant” is written “on our hearts and minds”. But here in Ephesians, Paul tells us that we are made alive “with” Christ and we are sitting “together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,”–we aren’t even here on earth. We’re sitting on the throne next to God, Himself. You probably ought to explain that to him so he won’t be all confused about where Jesus is and where he is cause he’s not really sitting in the church pew, but on a throne in heaven.
      [emphasis mine]

  16. says

    Jared,

    I’m not “reformed head-hunting.” I’m just making an observation that most of the people complaining about the “sinner’s prayer” seem to be reformed pastors. I don’t hear any complaints from very many non-reformed pastors.

    Debbie,

    I agree about too many unregenerate members, however, I do not agree that we have unregenerate members because of the “sinner’s prayer” methodology. I believe we have too many unregenerate members in our churches because we do not examine them before accepting them into our membership and because we do not enforce church discipline.

    Les

    • says

      Les, this has nothing to do with Reformed theology. I was questioning this mentality before I leaned toward Reformed theology.

    • says

      Les, you are a Calvinist, right? I seem to remember you distinguishing between being Reformed and being a Calvinist. No judgment, just trying to get straight where you are coming from.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Les: I agree and I disagree. I think sometimes we only give part of the truth of the Gospel message in order to push someone to make a decision. I have been guilty of this in the past with my own children and others I have talked to. It isn’t that it is meant, but we are so anxious to be able to say or think someone is truly saved(yes a Calvinist and reformed term that I happen to fully agree with).

  17. Bill Mac says

    Before folks get too hot and bothered by this, I don’t think anyone is saying that everyone who “asked Jesus into their heart” is not saved. Of course many are. The problem is:

    Ask Jesus into your heart is of, at best, dubious biblicality. The bible simply does not present salvation in those terms. So why are we? It is not, contrary to assertions, easier to understand salvation in those terms.

    I’m sure that many prayers that ask Jesus to come into hearts also ask Him to forgive sins and indicate repentance and faith. In that case, no harm done (if no real good either). But we all know that all too often “ask Jesus into your heart” simply stands alone, and as a result has little meaning and a lot of confusion.

    Asking Jesus to be your personal savior carries the same type of baggage. It is technically true that Jesus is our personal savior, but the bible never presents it in those terms.

    This has nothing to do with reformed theology. If we are going to have a great commission resurgence, then it does not hurt to examine the way we’ve been doing things. No resurgences come from business as usual.

    • Frank L. says

      “”This has nothing to do with reformed theology””

      Bill, I have no doubt this is true in your mind and heart (or where ever some important idea, thought, or belief can be kept) but I think the spirit of “neuvo-reformed” is all over this post.

      The whole “straining gnats and swallowing camels” has become–FOR ME–the hallmark of “neuvo-reformed blogging.”

      And I agree with you that many people who indicate they are accepting the Lord at one point, show evidence later they never really established a saving relationship — but I don’t think there is any evidence it is because of any particular “way” in which they expressed their desire at the time.

      Plus, how do we know who is and who is not saved, for sure? How hard really is it to use the Bible to make even the staunchest believer doubt his or her faith?

      In the 70’s and early 80’s there was one particularly popular SBC evangelist who made a name for himself by getting people to “really get saved and rebaptized.”

      I recoil against this path to presenting the gospel. I just don’t think sowing seeds of doubt is the way Jesus presented Himself to others. That is my personal opinion.

      • says

        “I think” “for me” “the spirit of neuvo-reformed us all over this post”

        Here’s where I fall out of the wagon. No evidence but one’s subjective opinion and then a sweeping generalization.

        Brother, I think your dismissal of benji was most unfair.

    • says

      Bill Mac, “But we all know that all too often “ask Jesus into your heart” simply stands alone, and as a result has little meaning and a lot of confusion.”

      No, we don’t “all” know that, Bill. In every church I’ve ever been a part of, when people choose to follow Jesus, and pray the “sinner’s prayer” if that’s what you want to call it, (I call it talking to Jesus and thanking Him for saving their souls and cleansing them from all unrighteousness, and committing to turn from their wicked ways and live for Him and follow Him the rest of their days)…most people do just that. They learn, and grow, and learn and grow and teach and lead others to know Jesus…and learn and grow and learn and grow.

      That has been my experience in churches which held up Jesus. Does everyone persevere in front of me so that I can tell if they are persevering? no. But many have and many did and many still do. selahV

  18. says

    Jared,

    On my post in which I apologized to Reformed pastors, I said that we could work together to reach the lost. The question to you is: will you work with me to reach the lost even though I will lead them to invite Christ into their heart by asking Him through prayer?

    Bill Mac,

    Rom. 10:9, 13 is not biblically dubious. “Confess” and “call” can be done through prayer.

    Les

    • says

      Les, I will work with you because I will do my best to make sure they know what they’re doing. :). Will you let me try and make sure?

      Also, I’m cool with encouraging them to pray… I do this. I just don’t use the forumla, or the “repeat after me.”

  19. Bill Mac says

    Les: Believe in your heart is not the same as ask Jesus into your heart. I understand that you think it is the same. I disagree.

  20. says

    Bill Mac said: Ask Jesus into your heart is of, at best, dubious biblicality. The bible simply does not present salvation in those terms. So why are we?

    Personally, I think the best way to present the gospel/call people to salvation is bound in the term “follow”–Jesus used it a lot, basically defined it as the crux of the Christian life/walk (Luke 9:24ff), and it contains those elements of believe and repent/confess.

    After all–following Jesus means 1) we believe that he offers something worth following and having our lives united with. In this case, that something is forgiveness, righteousness, and the ability to walk a new life.

    2) It means that we believe Jesus himself is worth following–which we know he is worthy above all as the Lord of all things.

    And 3) It means that we must turn from following some other path to follow him–thus repentence, confession, growing in faith, walking the Christian walk, etc.

    “Follow”–it’s clear, it’s biblical, it involves believe/confess/repent.

    I think a lot of this argument is over the “first step”–do you say a sinner’s prayer, do you counsel w/ a pastor, do you get baptized, do you cry out “Lord save me!”, or whatever.

    The first step shouldn’t be the focus one way or the other… it should be “what does it mean that Jesus is Lord and Savior”… that’s the answer to “how does it affect my life and my view?” And that’s “Follow.”

    • Bill Mac says

      I use believe, repent, confess language. Trust Christ as Savior, believe and follow, etc. It varies, but it never includes ask Jesus into your heart.

  21. says

    I think I will take a stake in this game. Indeed, I suppose I msut as I was converted from atheism as a result of seeing Jesus (in a vision or a hallucination..how can I say) just like it says in Rev. 3:20 (cited above by the dear brother from the gulf coast). it was the night of December 7, 1957, and I had attended a Youth For Christ Meeting in the Lindell Bible Church in St. Louis. who the speaker was, I do not know. I don’t even remember what he had to say. All I know is that I got to thinking I would like to go forward, and then I thought: “Why would I want to do this? I don’t believe any of it is true.” At that moment with my eyes wide open I saw Jesus in front of me, standing, facing me, about 8-10 pews in front of me. He had an arm lifted like he was knocking at a door. I lost all desire to go forward and wanted out of that place. It was dreadful embarrassing and filled me with a sense of shame. I resolved to tell no one as it is no a happy moment for an atheist, when the One he says does not exist shows up, seeking admission. I left that place and went home as soon as the service was over. Two blocks from my house, something or someone changed my mind, for Idecided to tell my mother. That night she told me to ask the Lord to forgive me of my sins which I did. At that very moment iwas crying, feeling an awful burden on my heart. the next moment I was crying tears of joy. I sat up late that night reading the Bible and was unable to go to church the next morning. But I did go that Sunday night of DEc. 8 and I went forward and made a public profession o my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The next Sunday the pastor baptized me.

    I had the habit in my first few years of being a Christian of telling people to ask Jesus into their hearts. Eventually, as my knowledge of what the Bible actually teaches, I came to realize that sinners are individuals and that God might use one avenue of approach with certain kinds of sinners and another with others. Mr. Spurgeon said of Isa.45:22 and the Methodist Exhorter’s remarks on the text that he should look, “I looked.” And he fond in that look salvation.

    Spurgeon himself did not think Rev. 3;20

  22. Chief Katie says

    Brother Jared,

    I read your article carefully. I think you are both right and wrong. I’m convinced however, that your motives are pure. I’ll do my best to explain but I’m not as eloquent as so many that regularly post here.

    As a young child of seven, I was living with foster parents because my own parents just weren’t up to the task of raising young children. I believe my foster parents were literally chosen by God to set my feet upon the high places (I love this illustration from II Samuel). In my young life, I’d seen a great deal of violence, and I had been left to care for my two younger brothers when my dad was in jail and my mom ran off with a man who was not interested in an instant family. There we were in a tiny apartment without an adult to care for us and no one except for my own mom knew that we were there and at that time, she did not have any thought other than to escape from the entire situation. Long story short, as best as I can remember we were there for about 3 days before my grandmother got wind of the situation and rescued us. I did my best to care for my little brothers, but I don’t remember God being part of my ready toolbox of options. I didn’t know who God was and if I had, I can’t say that I’d have been able to reason out such issues as a God who loved me but left me in such a predicament. We then drifted from family member to family member, but in the end, foster care was apparently the only solution.

    I was placed with a couple who had come from Quebec and Ireland. I’m guessing they were both approaching their 40’s and their single purpose in life was to please God. Within a day of my arrival (and I was completely beaten up emotionally), I was memorizing John 3:16. Talk about a culture shock. I was much more familiar with crude and vulgar language. Little by little, I dared to trust these people and soon found that there was a different way to live. My foster parents having both come from strong Anglican roots were not inclined to accept any doctrine, but that taught by scripture. They rebelled against any ‘institutional’ form of church and so they had their own small fellowship which they held in a community center. Did I say that they loved Jesus? I was in church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and of course Wednesday night prayer meeting. These lovely people were not hypocrites. They lived what they preached. To my way of thinking I was in church 24/7. God knew that I needed that.

    Over time, I came to have a reasonable concept of salvation. In fact, I took to telling the neighbors if they didn’t get saved they were going to hell. My foster dad, affirmed my belief and conclusions, but suggested that my approach needed some refinement. LOL! Jared, they did tell me that asking Jesus into my heart was the only way to obtain salvation. For a little girl who was desperate for stability and acceptance, Jesus did indeed fill my heart. I can’t say that I acted on what they told me right away, but I did try to reason if what they told me could really be true. Ultimately, whether I accepted Jesus out of my own pathetic desperation, or wanting to please two people who had shown me real kindness, I became a true believer over time. But there is no question in my mind, that accepting Jesus into my heart started me on that journey.

    I’m all grown up now **sigh** and I have learned, that the older I get, the more complicated WE have made salvation. I don’t think Jesus meant for us to make it so difficult. “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for such is the Kingdom of God”. Surely God knows the trusting nature of children. They don’t have to over-analyze language or parse every word. Seriously, I’ve watched people who claim to be saved argue for days over what the word ‘repent’ really means. Does it mean that a person has a change of mind towards believing in Christ, or does it also imply that a person also needs to ask for forgiveness? There are people who think that asking for forgiveness upon a change of heart or mind, is actually ‘works salvation’.

    I understand that you are concerned about the ‘magic prayer’ salvation, where one just says the required words and poof, they are now saved and nothing is required beyond that one act. I’m concerned too. I’m not sure however, if it’s for the exact same reasons you are. I’m a Calvinist, but I’m not opposed to altar calls. I’m opposed to misrepresenting the gospel by telling people that uttering a few words will place their name in the Lambs book of life. I don’t believe that. Nor do I believe that we can do anything to earn our place unto the King’s presence. Salvation is a HEART and MIND change. By heart change I mean a sincere desire to turn over our lives to the Risen King. It’s not a formula by where a person says words X, Y and z, and then does as they please.
    Now me, I trust the Holy Spirit to convict me when I am on the wrong path. And… I also trust that the same Holy Spirit works that way for people who think saying a specific prayer is the ticket puncher. It is our responsibility to proclaim the accurate gospel, but it is not our job to determine how sincere other believers may have been when they made a decision for Christ. Truthfully, although people say that the sinners prayer saved them, they know if it had any real impact on their lives and I don’t think they are really so ignorant as to believe mere words saved them.

    I don’t know where I might have ended up if two Godly people hadn’t talked to me about accepting Jesus into my heart. I’m so glad they did and you’ll never convince me that they should have done otherwise.

    Sister Debbie quoted the correct scriptures. Jesus did not make this complicated. In fact, He made it so simple that one does not need a seminary education to understand it. Believe and be saved. Even a little child can understand it and Jesus was clear that they should come.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Jesus did not make this complicated. In fact, He made it so simple that one does not need a seminary education to understand it. Believe and be saved. Even a little child can understand it and Jesus was clear that they should come.

      Exactly

  23. says

    My computer interrupted me. Spurgeon did not think Rev.3:20 was a verse for soul winning. Considering his love for the Puritans tht is strange. One of the first messages on the text by a Puritan directed at conversion that I found was one by David Clarkson, involving about 80 printed pages. And then I came across John Flavel’s whole volume on the text, some 11 sermons. In his bioraphy of J.P.Boyce, John A. Broadus, tells us that Boyce preached a soul winning sermon on Rev.3:20 in which he desribed the door at which Christ knocked (the door of the sinner’s heart) as being so tightly bound and shut fast that no human hand could open it. I think it is very likely that Boyce got his idea for the message from Dr. Basil Manly, Sr., who was his pastor in childhood. After all, Dr. Manly preached a soul-winning sermon on Rev. 3:20, perhaps even two of them. I made copies of two outlines from his notes a few years ago at SEBTS Library from the microfilm copy of his sermon MSS.

    Let me add to my conversion text, Acts 16:14, because I use to insist that man had to do the opening. Finally, I remembered that I had resolved to tell no one and something or someone changed my mind so that I called upon the Lord. Every one of the doctrines of grace, TULIP, is an invitation to take God on His terms, an invitation to do the impossible, a Divine therapeutic paradox, perhaps, which restores to man a sense of responsibility and awareness of his helplessness so that he cries to God for help. Like Lamentations 5:21 says, “Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned.” IMAGINE ASKING GOD TO TURN YOU, TO CONVERT YOU!

    You all might appreciate Spurgeon’s sermon on the Warrant of Faith. After all, our problem is often that we want to impose our experience as the measure for all other conversions. The brother from the gulf coast is appreciated along with the blogger’s launching of this whole discussion without necessarily buying all that either one says. Much of our theology involves years of reflection and thought and reading and meditation and experience before we really get a handle on that which has gotten a hold of us. Just think: What would you do with people who were converted before the Gospel ever came to them? And their response when the message came was,”That’s what, that’s whom, we believe.” Look at A.H. Strong’s Systematic Theology and a Master Thesis on the Primitive Baptists of Indiana in the library of Ball State University. And this does not mean I approve of all the Primitives say on the matter by any means.

  24. Benji Ramsaur says

    I think if there was any Baptist association in history who could have bragged about numbers, it would have been the Sandy Creek Baptist Association.

    However, the Sandy Creekers had an interesting perspective on the numeric fruit God had blessed them with (see below):

    “…the churches persistently refused to send any statistical table showing their strength, holding that the Lord had refused to let David number the children of Israel, and they considered that command as holding good in their case.” [BR; 11-13, 1889; Early History of the Baptists in North Carolina--No. 7.] (bold mine)

    While I personally disagree with their application of Scripture here, I think we can see the underlying humility that they had.

    Now, there were so many churches planted that stemmed from the Sandy Creek Baptist Church alone. So, we are not talking about seeming fruit that rises up fast and then wilts, but fruit that lasts.

    And in the light of this, my interpretation of what happened in history was the God exalted the Sandy Creekers with enduring numeric fruit since God exalts those who humble themselves.

  25. Frank L. says

    “”I think.”” “”There are many””

    Here’s where I fall out of the wagon. No evidence but one’s subjective opinion and then a sweeping generalization.

  26. Benji Ramsaur says

    Frank L,

    If you disagree with my “I think” statements, then that is fine.

    However, when it comes to my “there are so many” statement, here is some historical evidence.

    In 2005 a memorial marker was placed on the property of Sandy Creek Baptist Church by the Baptist History Preservation Society which reads thus:

    There are thousands of Baptists churches as the result of the labours of Shubal Stearns and the Sandy Creek Baptist Church

    Also, on the Sandy Creek Baptist Church website, there is this statement:

    This Obelisk was placed by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in 1955 and the plaque on the North side reads:

    Original Site
    Sandy Creek Church
    On this site, in November-December 1755, Rev. Shubal Stearns, his wife, and those with him, seven other families, 16 souls in all, built their first meeting house, where they administered the Lord’s Supper.

    “It is a mother church, nay a grandmother, and great grandmother. All the Separate Baptists sprang hence, not only eastward towards the sea, but westward towards the great river Mississippi, but northward to Virginia and southward to South Carolina and Georgia. The Word went forth from this sion, and great was the company of them who published it, in so much that her converts were as drops of morning dew.”

    http://www.sandycreekbaptistchurch.org/tp40/page.asp?ID=260164

    Personally, I doubt that you would find any Baptist historian in any SB seminaries who would deny that enduring fruit came from the Sandy Creek Baptist Church.

    So, I think I have substantiated two pieces of evidence:

    1. The Sandy Creek Baptist Association of churches refused to provide their numbers based on their interpretation of what happened between the Lord, David, and numbers.

    2. The Sandy Creek Baptist Church was instrumental in numerous churches [i.e. thousands] being planted.

    Now, I will leave to you (and to the readers) what the significance of these two facts are.

    God Bless,

    Benji

    • Frank L. says

      Wasn’t referring to your “I think” or “there are many” that just happens to be a coincidence.

      My degree is in Evangelism so I’m very aware of Shubal Stearns. Sorry you got caught in the crossfire.

  27. says

    Good post. I agree the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” is extra-biblical and in most (if not all cases) unhelpful.

    We talked about it just a couple Wednesday nights ago while we were covering Ephesians 3:17, which is the only verse I’m aware of that talks about Christ dwelling in our hearts. Paul isn’t praying an evangelistic prayer there – he’s asking the Christ would dwell in the hearts of the Ephesian Christians!

  28. says

    When I was a boy, I sometimes listened to the radio as I went to sleep. Sometimes it was preaching. Sometimes it was radio theater. It depended on what I could find on the air at the time. On one sermon I heard that oft-used phrase “ask Jesus into your heart.” Raised in a Christian home, I finally realized that I needed to get serious about my relationship with God so I submitted to His lordship.

    In my mind, my little chest opened up and in came Jesus to live somewhere in my left ventricle. I knew somehow He was supposed to “be with me” now. I went to my parents shortly thereafter and had them help me go through the process to get baptized.

    At that age, from what I had heard from the pulpit and in Sunday School, I linked “heart” with “nearness”. But as an older child some of the adolescent conversations would go this way, “So, are you ruled by your heart or by your mind.” By that time, the understanding by implication was that “heart” was “emotion”. That is to say, if I were ruled by my heart then I would not make rational decisions but rather trust in the way I felt.

    So it was that my understanding didn’t progress, but instead regressed. I learned with my mind, but Jesus was relegated to how I felt about things. It didn’t take long for me to fall into sin. There was no call to repent and ask forgiveness. God loved me and I could do whatever I wanted. There was some sense of right and wrong, but no idea why or how it affected my relationship with God. I thought the joy that had departed my life was a result of some bad circumstances in the world.

    What really brought me back was a sense that I needed to repent of my sins and stick to the commitment I had made as a child. I still didn’t have assurance until one day as I sat reading my Bible a gal came up and asked if I knew I would go to heaven if I were to die right now. I said, “I hope so.”

    She said, “You can know for sure.” Then she pointed to I John 5:13 and I experienced a return of all assurance. In studying I John again just last week, I was reminded that the letter was intended to counter the false teachings of the Gnostics. John does do by talking about what we can know for sure and how we can know it. That whole book is this way. It’s full of phrases like “We know…” and “This is how you can know…” It’s a dense treatise on Christian epistemology.

    But it also takes us back to the nature of our faith. Many in this world say that such things as science give us objective truth, but faith is our belief in things we cannot prove and relegate it to wishful thinking. But this is false. We have been give a sure revelation of God and the Holy Spirit to open it up to our minds. Our faith is a result of knowledge, not wishful thinking.

    Therefore, where the Bible talks about “heart”, it isn’t talking about mere feelings. It’s talking about the knowledge we have that serves as our presuppositions for how we apprehend the rest of the world. Yet if this knowledge is truly central to our minds, then it stands to reason that it can evoke strong emotions when challenged. It is not that we are ruled by emotions, but that we are ruled by the certainty of the knowledge of God given to us by the Holy Spirit such that we trust Christ in all things and are well-motivated to serve Him in all ways.

    If only I had been taught this early on. Praise God that He is faithful to teach me where some have failed. And I pray that I am faithful to teach all my children and urge other parents to do the same.

    Great message, Jared!

  29. Benji Ramsaur says

    I do think there is a sense in which people receive Jesus into their hearts at the point of conversion.

    I get this from the truth that we receive the Spirit and the Spirit in Romans 8 is called the Spirit of Christ and then shortened to simply “Christ”.

    However, it is also true that we receive the Spirit by faith in Christ and so I do not think receiving Christ in the sense that I have given above can be equated with faith (even though they are closely related).

    Now, when it comes to the Revelation passage concerning Christ standing at the door and knocking, I have a hard time seeing that passage being applied to evangelism.

    I say that not only because Jesus is addressing the church (an already saved group of people), but also because I think the image that Jesus is giving is that He wants intimate fellowship them (i.e. eating together).

    In other words, they are keeping Him at arm’s length and He wants them to “open up their hearts” to Him. We see the same kind of thing happening with the church in Corinth keeping Paul at arm’s length in 2 Corinthians. And he wants them to “open up” to him.

    Also, John elsewhere uses rich imagery to describe fellowship (the branch being “in” the Vine) and I think he is doing the same kind of thing in Revelation as well.

  30. says

    I feel numbers are important but i also believe they are not the main thing and need to be carefully analyzed. For instance it is great to have 75 additions to the church in a year but how many were converts, how many were people who had relocated to the area and how many were just moving from one area church to another? How many converts were baptized, how many of those converts are now actively being discipled and are active within the church? How many members have moved beyond the attendance stage to the support stage were they are serving their church and community in Christ’s name? What about baptisms? How many of those being baptized made a first time profession of faith and how many were good godly people moving from a non baptist fellowship and had to be baptized to qualify to be a member? Again I would rather attend a church that could say they had x number of conversions and baptisms and they saw positive numerical growth than one who didn’t. But I also want to be wary as a church leader that I don’t get too high on my own hog and fool myself into believing the church is doing better than it really is.

  31. Frank L. says

    Wow! I am blown away. If the issue of salvation could be parsed any narrowly than in this thread, I don’t possibly see how. It’s not about repentence, one person says. Another says its not about faith.

    Of course, the right answer is always Jesus, even if it is really “just a squirrel in the tree.”

    If my congregation picked apart my Sunday sermon like things are being picked apart on this thread: I’d be burnt at the stake for heresy.

    As time goes on in this thread, I look for someone to disagree with his (or her) own previous post. As the poet said:

    To Live Above With Saints I Love
    O, That Will Be Glory.
    To live Below With Saints I know . . .
    Well, That’s a Different Story.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Frank: As you are a minister, I am going to say that your sermons need to be “picked a part.” So do all minister’s sermons. People in your congregation need to hear, study what you have said next to scripture in their homes, and come to conclusions. Doctrine and right doctrine is important. What one’s doctrine is determines how they live and how they view the Bible.

      • Frank L. says

        I agree, we need to “pick apart and have a search and destroy” mission over every little jot and tittle.” Just like the Pharisees we need to make sure all 600 plus laws of the Sabbath are followed to the “t.”

        Then like Calvin we watch as those we are opposed to are burned at the stake.

        I’ll say it again, though I doubt you will read it any more closely than last time. Jesus said just the opposite of what you say. You say right doctrine is important. Jesus said, you can “pore over the Scriptures” and have perfect knowledge of doctrine and, as a favorite evangelist friend says, “split hell wide open.” Please read John 5:38-40.

        Of course, I’m not promoting the spreading of error, but the spreading of dissension masked as “protecting doctrine” seems as bad as error.

        Of course, sense you don’t know what angst goes into hearing, developing, and delivering a message from God (or two or three or more) on a weekly basis, your comment probably makes perfect sense to you.

        Recall John gave the proper order of things: “Jesus was full of grace [then] truth.” I did take a little liberty with a conjunction but whats a couple letters among friends.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          Frank: The scripture says that Christ was full of Grace and truth. Both. I don’t believe you can have one without the other. When we know the truth of the scriptures we grow in the knowledge of God.(Col. 1:10).

        • says

          Yeah, I remember another passage that goes “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and grace” or was it “spirit and truth”?

          And I’m finally glad to see someone replacing “and” with “then” to force an order that isn’t found in the text. I guess you’d have no problem with me doing something similar with 2 Peter 3:9 then eh:

          “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise [to you] as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any [of you] should perish, but that all [of you] should reach repentance.”

          At least the reading of 2 Peter 3:9 fits the context, but I’ve been accused of “adding to the word of God” for reading it that way.

          :)

    • Chief Katie says

      Frank,

      In the interest of your blood pressure, do you think that maybe you should take a step back? I actually agree with some of the things you said here today, but it seems like maybe you’re a bit hyper-sensitive to what your are reading. You are just a few weeks from a major health concern, and it can’t be good for you to get yourself so upset. I’m truly not criticizing you, I’m concerned for your health. Prayers are lifted up for you.

      “Be still and know that I am God”.

      • Chief Katie says

        Oops! “what you’re (not your) reading”

        Why can’t we get an ‘edit’ function? Grrrrrrrr……

  32. Frank L. says

    Chief, is that an order?

    Seriously, I am between tasks and this actually helps relieve some pressure. Plus, I have nitroglycerin and I’m not afraid to use it!

    I do appreciate your prayers. Everybody tells me I should slow down. I know I should. I usually do about a day or two before I see my cardiologist — but she’s a type A person also, so she tends to cut me some slack.

    Again, Chief, thanks for your prayers. I really only had on CPO the entire time I was in the Navy, (a Master Chief with over 18 patrols under his belt), so any Chief is a good chief!

    By the way: I only missed one Sunday in church even having a major heart attack. I did miss three softball games, though.

    • Chief Katie says

      Well Frank, I’m not going to change the way God wired you. I understand that.

      Perhaps it would be a good idea if many of us (myself included) remembered that “a soft answer turns away wrath”.

      God Bless Brother…

  33. says

    Having served a Chairman of the Historical Committee of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association for 3-4 years (circa 1977-81) as well as Chairman of the Historical Committee of the BSCNC in ’85, I wish to commend Benji on his knowledge and care for the facts concerning Sandy Creek Assn. Being a Sovereign Grace believer (what some mistakenly call Calvinism – what would they have called that theology before him? After all people were dying for those doctrines in England before the Reformation), I do wish to say to Frank that the Calvinists were the first to put religious liberty into law…err I mean the Baptist believers in Sovereign Grace, namely, Roger Williams and Dr. John Newton in Rhode Island which left a great example that the founders of the the USA were not unmindful of. But, of course, the latter had the help of the Sovereign Grace Baptists of the period of the founding. In fact, like James Madison, they had to sometimes make agreements with the Sovereign Gracers about religious liberty in order to get elected to positions or to get something accomplished.

  34. Eddie Hagler says

    The bible puts a lot of emphasis on the conditionof our heart even to the point that salvation is where we believe unto to righteouness. Romans 10:10

    any normal child would understand if you told them they were in your heart.

    Therefore asking Jesus into your heart is easy to understand and vital in order to have a heart that believes on Jesus. Without Jesus and loving him salvation is not possible.

    • Chief Katie says

      Nicely said and so very true. Jesus used the illustration of childlike faith more than once.

      Asking Jesus into my heart as a child was the best decision I have ever made.

  35. Debbie Kaufman says

    Maybe this should be the question. Is walking down the aisle or praying the “sinner’s prayer” necessary for salvation? Is it a requirement? Or can one listen to the sermon or a person speaking the Gospel, the person believes and is saved with no prayer and no walking down the aisle? For example: The Bible simply says that Lydia heard, believed and was saved. (Acts 16:14).

    • Chief Katie says

      Excellent point Debbie. Absolutely spot on. For me the answers are “no” and “no”.

      I can remember the fire storm of criticism when John MacArthur denied having any particular conversion experience. Lot’s of hair on fire over that.

  36. Debbie Kaufman says

    The story of Philip and the Eunuch is also an indication of how God works. God directed Philip to be where the Eunuch was going to be in order to explain to him the plan of salvation and to baptize the Eunuch. Again all was the work of God both in the means and the person.

  37. Michael says

    Jared,

    Just FYI, at the close of sermons, I make an appeal for sinners to repent of their sins by trusting Christ for salvation. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but it’s all I’ve learned up to this point. What specific words do you use during an invitation time to appeal to sinners and if they respond, how would you pray with them (or not?) Just curious.

    Michael

    • says

      Michael, I do the same. I remind those in attendance that their sins have separated them from God, but that God sent His Son to die and rise from the dead to bring them into right relationship with Him again. They must forsake/repent all things and follow Christ. I invite those that want to make this public, to come forward. If anyone comes, I then pray with them, and encourage them to pray, confessing their sins to the Lord, and admitting their need for Christ alone. I don’t have them repeat after me or anything. I then present the person to the church for accountability. I also remind the individual that his fruit in the upcoming months and years will prove his profession, not merely his profession proving his profession. In the coming weeks we will discuss baptism as we observe the individual’s fruit. The person then will be publicly presented to the church for baptism, and approved by the church.

      My church hasn’t practiced biblical discipline in years upon years; I’m trying to gradually lead them into understanding the importance of accountability.

  38. Michael says

    “I invite those that want to make this public, to come forward. If anyone comes, I then pray with them, and encourage them to pray, confessing their sins to the Lord, and admitting their need for Christ alone.”

    Jared,

    I guess that was my point–what you just described is exactly what 99% of us as pastors do when people respond to the altar call. Wouldn’t this be the “sinner’s prayer”– your version of it? I understand the premise of your post and somewhat agree, but the point of salvation has to begin somewhere. The only way I can read in the NT is through some sort of prayer or faith act. I get it though–repeating some words and going on with life as usual in no way makes a person a Christ-follower.

    • says

      Michael, 99%? If it’s that high, then why have I talked to numerous professed Christians that had asked Jesus into their hearts, but couldn’t explain what it meant? I view easy-believism as a huge problem in the sbc… just based on observation and the churches I’ve pastored.

      The sinner’s prayer is a formula prayer, often a “repeat after me” prayer. Often those that lead people in the sinner’s prayer then present these people to the church as Christians; and/or believe that a person cannot be saved without the sinner’s prayer. The immediate assurance of salvation is the danger… as if the sinner’s prayer is the “final act that converts the soul.” Even your statement about the sinner’s prayer “the point of salvation has to begin somewhere” indicates that the prayer is the beginning of salvation. I used to be the same way; when I began in ministry, I was scared to get the sinner’s prayer wrong, because if sinners repeated the wrong prayer, they would still be lost. The Bible however indicates that the moment the individual repents and places his trust in Christ alone, he’s immediately converted whether he prays or not. The prayer isn’t a “final step.” It’s more of a testimony of what Christ has already done.

      I agree somewhat with Les though that biblical discipline could correct this easy-believism, but since most sbc churches don’t lovingly hold one another accountable, our communities are full of false-believers. My present community is difficult to minister in because almost everyone has said the sinner’s prayer. How do you reach a community that has said the sinner’s prayer, but doesn’t live the Christian life, without alienating them?

  39. Michael says

    “I invite those that want to make this public, to come forward. If anyone comes, I then pray with them, and encourage them to pray, confessing their sins to the Lord, and admitting their need for Christ alone.”

    Jared,

    I’m not disagreeing with a word you just said, but your words here are saying you pray with them and they pray confessing their sins, admitting their need for Christ. Is that a prayer or not? If you’re going to begin a relationship, don’t you use words? How else do you speak with God but pray? You have to use some type of words to communicate, whether you call it a prayer, statement, thesis, whatever. The only biblical way I’ve come across is praying. I think our churches are full of self-deceived “Christians.” The only way I know is to preach Jesus exalted, Hell hot, Heaven sweet and call sinners to come to trust Christ. Let God do the saving as His Spirit cuts hearts with the Gospel. Didn’t Jesus Himself say in Luke 12:51, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

    • says

      Michael, it’s a prayer, but it’s a result of God’s work in them. The prayer is not effectual in the least.

      The main question is how were people saved in Scripture? Prayer was not part of the “process.” The moment people first believe, the relationship begins. Prayer is a testimony of this reality.

  40. Debbie Kaufman says

    I think what bothers me most is scripture taken out of context such as Luke 12:51. Christ was speaking of the fact he did not come to give outward peace, but inward peace. To preach simply hell is hot, heaven sweet, etc, is not giving all the Gospel and it’s taking Luke 12:51 completely out of context. I find this the most bothersome thing of all among most Southern Baptist ministers. They do not preach the Bible in proper context.

    • Frank L. says

      Debbie,

      Instead of constantly criticizing every preacher but one in OK for being so biblically illiterate, I’d like to suggest an option:

      Join the CBF and pastor your own church. If you half as brilliant a Bible scholar as you profess, and have the people skills that are second to none as you suggest, then I’d wager you would be able to build a mega-church.

      Contrary to your opinion: “most” Southern Baptist ministers are very good Bible students and take the context very seriously. You are typical of what makes being pastor so discouraging at times: stone-throwers.

    • Dave Miller says

      Debbie, I think your accusation against SBC preachers is an unwarranted generalization.

      Frank, I think you could respond without the sarcasm and insults.

      Either talk to each other or move on. We can do better than this kind of discussion.

      • Frank L. says

        Sorry, Dave. I just get tired of the same old criticism against preachers from people that have such contempt for the ministry. I don’t think “most” Southern Baptist preachers are poor exegetes and deserve some consideration for working long hard hours and still never feeling like you quite measure up.

        Actually, what I wrote was much kinder than what I was thinking, but obviously, I didn’t mask it well enough. So, I’ll move on. As Mike points out in a post above or below — this thread is like a merry-go-round: really pretty horses, but does cover much ground.

  41. Michael says

    Debbie,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I’m curious though, how do you get the context of this paragraph (12:49-53) as being Jesus speaking about peace? Jesus is clearly warning about the cost of discipleship and following Him. That’s exactly what Jared’s point has been–no prayer saves you. I agree with almost everything he’s said to this point. I was simply trying to ask how he handles people that respond to the invitation, so that I might become a better minister in this regard. I’m always looking to learn. I don’t know which SBC pastors you’re referring to, but I don’t think you’ll find many that will agree with your interpretation of this text.

  42. Debbie Kaufman says

    Luk 12:12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
    Luk 12:13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
    Luk 12:14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
    Luk 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
    Luk 12:16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully,
    Luk 12:17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’
    Luk 12:18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
    Luk 12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’
    Luk 12:20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
    Luk 12:21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
    Luk 12:22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.
    Luk 12:23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.
    Luk 12:24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
    Luk 12:25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
    Luk 12:26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?
    Luk 12:27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
    Luk 12:28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!
    Luk 12:29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.
    Luk 12:30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.
    Luk 12:31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
    Luk 12:32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
    Luk 12:33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
    Luk 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
    Luk 12:35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning,
    Luk 12:36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.
    Luk 12:37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.
    Luk 12:38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!
    Luk 12:39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.
    Luk 12:40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
    Luk 12:41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?”
    Luk 12:42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?
    Luk 12:43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.
    Luk 12:44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.
    Luk 12:45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk,
    Luk 12:46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.
    Luk 12:47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.
    Luk 12:48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
    Luk 12:49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!
    Luk 12:50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!
    Luk 12:51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

    Many Christians of that time period were looking for a savior to bring peace to the world. To save them from the government of the time. Christ came to bring inner peace, notice the list in the passage you gave, all outward possessions, outward comforts. Christ came to sacrifice Himself and to bring inner peace between God and man. Inner peace, not outward peace or comfort.

  43. Debbie Kaufman says

    How lovely on the mountains
    are the feet of him
    who brings good news, good news,
    proclaiming peace,
    announcing news of happiness:
    Our God reigns! Our God reigns!

  44. Michael says

    Many Christians of that time period were looking for a savior to bring peace to the world. To save them from the government of the time. Christ came to bring inner peace, notice the list in the passage you gave, all outward possessions, outward comforts. Christ came to sacrifice Himself and to bring inner peace between God and man. Inner peace, not outward peace or comfort.

    I agree they were looking for a political Messiah. Notice in the text you gave, it doesn’t mention peace once until it gets to v.51 and by then He is speaking about discipleship. I’m not arguing the Bible with you, if that’s what God has spoken to your heart, so be it. And it certainly could be a secondary application. But the primary interpretation of the paragraph we were speaking of is not peace, it’s the cost of following Christ. I think we’re off the main point, which is–how do you begin a relationship with Christ? You said Lydia believed it in her heart. I agree, so do I. But doesn’t there have to be a beginning point somewhere. If we have to “believe in our hearts AND confess with our mouth” then who do you confess to if not in a prayer to God? The bottom line is no prayer saves you, but sincerely praying to Christ, repenting of your sins most definitely saves you.

  45. Debbie Kaufman says

    Michael: The word believe(as I am sure you know) comes from the Greek root word which means persuaded. One does not have to pray a prayer in order to become “persuaded”. I see no such evidence anywhere in scripture. They believed and were saved.

    Interestingly altar calls and prayers for salvation did not come about until the 1700’s, if one looks at church history. It was later on that a more controlled situation was developed in churches. The problem comes when a formula is produced in order to obtain salvation. Prayer is not done in order to obtain salvation, repentance comes later in some people’s lives, does that mean they did not have salvation? I don’t believe so according to scripture. Prayer is the life blood of Christians throughout our lives. But if you look at Paul’s ministry for example, there were no prayers, no altar calls. The message was given, and some or many believed.

    Acts 10:43-44 “…To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will received remission of sins.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

  46. Debbie Kaufman says

    By the way: a passage that is used is “Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead and you shall be saved”. But this is not necessarily talking about a prayer. One could confess verbally through witnessing what they believed and that would be confessing with your mouth.

  47. Michael says

    Debbie,

    Ok, wow, I think I’m done because this will just keep going around in circles. I could exegete the word “believe” for you but I won’t. I’m going to drop this and move on. But thanks for the conversation. I will continue to preach Christ, repentance and call sinners to confess Christ, trust Him and live the rest of their lives serving Him. I will continue to PRAY with people to begin a relationship with Christ. You continue to let people that just believe go on thinking they’re saved. I think Jesus said even the demons believe and they tremble.

  48. Debbie Kaufman says

    Michael: Can demons be redeemed? I don’t believe so.

    I do not believe either way is wrong, I am simply pointing you to the Bible for what we believe. Aren’t we Biblicicts? If you can point to an altar or sinner’s prayer I would change my mind if shown in the Bible.

  49. Kent says

    I have commented at one of Mr. Moore’s other articles on this subject but I will briefly restate what I stated elsewhere.

    What bothers me about the sinner’s prayer and asking Jesus into your heart is how some people who use this method think that if some hasn’t done so, that they aren’t saved.

    If I tell them I am a sinner who has repented of my sins, that I believe with all my heart that Jesus is Lord and that He died in my place on the cross for me, a sinner who cannot ever save myself, that I believe that Jesus died and rose again on the third day, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, they ignore what I just said even though I have confessed this with my mouth, I just confessed it to them, and I will confess it to anyone anytime.

    Oh, I have also been baptized.

    In the Bible people heard the word, believed the word, and were baptized and that is how I was saved.

    If people doubt that some people ignore you when you confess your faith but tell them you don’t want to ask Jesus into your heart, try going to a church that uses this method and watch how some of them react.

  50. Kent says

    Michael, the section in James 2 where it says, “you believe there is one God, you do well, as even the demons believe and tremble” is in the context of how works are evidence of faith and since demons obviously don’t do good works, then they cannot be redeemed but saved people have good works as evidence that they are redeemed (saved) by the blood of Jesus.

    One question I have is, if it is an absolute requirment that we are to ask Jesus to come into our hearts, then why didn’t Phillip tell the Ehiopian eunuch to do so in Acts 8 and why didn’t Paul and Silas tell the jailer in Acts 16 to do the same?

    In both instances they heard the word and they believed it so if it is good enough for them, it is good enough for me.

    Like I said, if someone truly repents and calls on the name of the Lord, even through some sinner’s prayer, who am I to say they aren’t saved?

    But at the same time, who are people who use this method to say that people who have heard the word and believed without saying such a prayer aren’t saved?

    I am a confirmed Lutheran, bapized in a Lutheran church who doesn’t do any kind of sinner’s prayer or altar call who happens to be attending a non denomiational church that does stress asking Jesus into our hearts but I know I don’t have to do so as He is already in my heart.

    Yes, non denominational people and others who use the sinner’s prayer, there will be Lutherans and others in heaven who never said “the prayer” if they believe and trust what Jesus did on the cross.

    When people ask me when I was saved I tell them, “two thousand years ago” because I believe and trust in what Jesus did and not what I do as after all, isn’t it supposed to be all about Him anyway?