I’m increasingly getting annoyed with ‘Cheap and Easy Christianity!’ I have come to the conclusion that our church preoccupation with getting people to pray the sinners prayer. That is encouraging people to pray a simple prayer along the lines of, do you want to go to heaven and have eternal life, then say this pray…dear Jesus I need you, come into my heart, I confess my sins… Now you are saved…welcome.
The problem is, that nowhere in the Scriptures do I find an example where anyone asked Jesus into their hearts. Nor have I found anywhere, where this practice is taught. Now, I will admit that it does sound extremely Biblical. It does sound like a Scriptural practice. But, its important to ask the question if it is. The tradition seems to come from Romans 10:9 and Revelation 3:20:
If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, then you will be saved.
Rev 3:20, 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me..
In many ways, it would seem to be a logical step, that if we need to believe that Jesus is Lord in our hearts, we ask him into our hearts. It also seems from an initial reading from Revelation, that Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts, knocking to be let in.
But, is this what those scriptures are telling us to do?
Within the framework of Revelation, the context is framed around the church. Jesus is telling the church of Laodicea to repent of its sins. He is telling them that they are lukewarm and because they are lukewarm, he is about to spit them out of his mouth. He tells them I would rather have you hot or cold for me.
His message is one to believers and not to unbelievers. He is telling the church, a congregation of believers, that he wants to come into their midst. This is a challenge for us as believers to face today. Are we going to allow Jesus to come into our midst?
And it is within this context that Paul writes in Romans. True heart belief is followed by actions. It’s not merely a spoken belief, that has little to do with our actions and behaviour. True heart belief is followed by a life style of love. A lifestyle that loves one another. A lifestyle that loves the lost. A lifestyle that shows one is saved as well as one that says they are saved. His message in Romans is to the Jewish and Gentile believers. As he does in most of his letters, he addresses a variety of factions in the church, factions between race, gender and societal class. He tells them that their is no racial, gender, age or class distinction in Christ, and therefore, their very actions should show it.
If then, we have no example of telling people to ask Jesus into their hearts to be saved, what then does Scripture tell us to do. The answer is simple, though its not simple in practice. Simply put, we are called to tell people the good news about Christ’s death and resurrection. We are to tell people the good news about the hope we have in Christ Jesus. And we are to live out that good news, with a life style, that shows we truly believe that good news, that we speak about in Christ Jesus.
And its in the process of doing so, that people come to know who Christ is. They may be convinced of God’s love for them. They may become convinced of the truth of Christ, because of the love we have for all people. And they may be convinced that they too need to ask Christ to forgive them also. And then, and only then, will the Holy Spirit come and fill that person with his presence, enabling them to cry out, ABBA Father.
And the process is called, discipleship. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will quicken the process, and a person may accept Christ in a life changing way, when they first hear the good news. For others, it may be a more gradual change, over a period of time. But whether one accepts the good news quickly, or gradually, we need to go through the processes of discipleship, a process that doesn’t allow for easy faith – but one that truly reflects that indeed we do believe in our hearts and confess with our mouth, that Jesus is Lord.