Life Reviews Theology

Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart Review

J.D. Greear. Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing 2013. 128 pp. $12.99

Tomorrow, the much-anticipated book Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart by J.D. Greear lands on a shelf near you. This little book packs the punch and is one of the best pastoral and practical treatments I have seen on how to know whether or not you are a Christian.

In the church today, scores of pew-sitters are confident they have eternal life because of a few words they prayed when they were five years old. Others sincere believers battle tooth-and-nail wondering where they’ll end up after their last breath. In this helpful book, Greear biblically, wisely, personally, practically, and humorously helps us understand what conversion and salvation are all about.

Greear primarily writes to two main people: 1) those who think they are going to heaven simply because they prayed a prayer; and 2) those who wonder if their “sinner’s prayer” will really be enough for them to walk through heaven’s gates. The problem, says Greear, is that evangelical shorthand for the gospel is, simply, not gospel. Telling someone to “ask Jesus into  your heart” or “accept Jesus as Lord and Savior” is simply not how the Bible points us to seek salvation (7). Hold your horses, however, if you think the book is a 128-page rant against the “sinner’s prayer.” Greear does not think the sinner’s prayer or saying, “ask Jesus into your heart” is heretical, and he even admits it might be one correct way to speak of salvation. Yet, his “concern is not on what words or actions we might use to express our faith in Christ but that we don’t substitute those words or actions for repentance and faith” in Jesus (9). In other words, the “sinner’s prayer” is not a ritual transaction between us and Jesus to get our names on heaven’s attendance list.

Contrary to popular opinion, God does want people to have assurance (ch. 2), and in order to obtain assurance, we must honestly examine our response to the gospel. Those who trust in the finished work of Christ as their only hope have eternal life. Cased closed. “If you base your assurance on what you do or how well you do it, you’ll never find assurance,” Greear writes. “If your assurance is based on what Christ has done, however, you can rest in His performance” (38).

The proper, saving response to Christ is summarized as “repentance” and “belief” in the gospel (see Acts 2:38). Greear spends a chapter each unpacking belief and repentance. The key to assurance is that the person who has truly been saved by God’s grace lives in a posture of repentance and belief in the gospel. “Repentance and belief” and “asking Jesus into our hearts” are not interchangeable, he states (41). Therefore, just because you prayed a prayer doesn’t mean “you’re in,” and just because you haven’t prayed a prayer doesn’t mean “you’re out.” Perhaps you ask yourself, “Did I pray the prayer?” or “Was I sincere enough?” or “Did my life change after praying?” Greear reminds us that the solution is not to invite Jesus back into your heart. The solution is to sit in a posture of repentance and faith, transferring the weight of your hopes of heaven off of you and on the finished work of Christ (43). The only question that really matters is, “Are you resting on Jesus today?”

The final three chapters cover the use of Scriptural warnings, the evidence of true faith, and what to do when you continue to doubt. But I won’t spoil any more. Get this book. Read it. Be convicted by it. Be encouraged by it. Be motivated by it to repent and believe in the glorious gospel! Then go find someone (because we all know someone) who struggles with assurance and give them this book. Neither of you will be sorry.


Praying the Gospel Over Your Life

From J.D. Greear on the Resurgence:

One of the revolutionary ideas of the gospel is that we begin to do what we ought for God as we are captivated by the story of what he has done for us.

Spiritual fruits do not develop in us as we focus on them; spiritual fruits come as we abide in Jesus (John 15:5). Spiritual “fruit” is much like physical “fruit.” When a husband and wife conceive physical “fruit” (i.e. a child), they are not thinking about the exact, scientific mechanics of making that child. They get caught up in a moment of loving intimacy with one another, and the fruit of that loving intimacy is a child. In the same way, spiritual fruits do not grow by focusing on fruit production, but by becoming intimate with the doctrines of the gospel.

Grow Your Fruit with the Gospel
Jesus said that saturating ourselves in the gospel, or “abiding” (lit., “making our home”) in it, is the way to abundant fruit. Sanctification is the daily process of pulling up the roots of our hearts from the flesh and grounding them in the soil of the gospel. Or, to change metaphors, we must send out missionaries to the unreached parts of our heart to preach the gospel and bring our heart under the subjugation of the gospel.

Things like radical generosity and audacious faith are not produced when we focus on them, but when we focus on the gospel.

 A Prayer of God’s Righteousness
About four years ago, I wrote a prayer for our church to help to this end. We often talk about “preaching the gospel to ourselves daily,” but how can you do that? This four-part prayer confronts us with the reality of God’s gift-righteousness and love:

“In Christ, there is nothing I could do that would make you love me more, and nothing I have done that makes you love me less.” Pray about this “gift righteousness” of the gospel (2 Cor. 5:21) and go to war against the incipient works-righteousness hardwired into our hearts.

“Your presence and approval are all I need today for everlasting joy.”  Pray about this value of God’s presence in our lives. It’s one thing to know that Jesus is your possession; it’s another for that approval to have such weightiness in our hearts that our captivity to other idols is snapped.

“As you have been to me, so I will be to others.”  Pray about and consider the extravagant generosity of God toward us. His generosity toward us leads us to radical generosity toward others.   

“As I pray, I’ll measure your compassion by the cross and your power by the resurrection.” Pray that God would help you view the world through the lens of the gospel. Seeing the compassion and power of God revealed in the gospel produces bold, audacious faith in our hearts. 

Focus on What Jesus has Done For You
Things like radical generosity and audacious faith are not produced when we focus on them, but when we focus on the gospel. Focusing on what we ought to do for God creates only frustration and exhaustion; focusing on what Jesus has done for us produces abundant fruit. Resting in what Jesus has done for us releases the revolutionary power of the gospel.

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More on Multi-Site and Bigger Buildings

Back on June 6, I shared some thoughts about multi-site churches.  Now, on the Gospel Coalition blog, there is a conversation going on about churches and buildings. Whether you are a pastor or a lay-person in the church, it’s good to be thinking about these things.

David Platt: Should Churches Spend Money on Nice Buildings

David Gobel: Reforming Church Architecture

J.D. Greear: We Want to Stay Light and Mobile, Flexible and Ready

Matthew Lee Anderson: Buildings Matter Because Bodies Matter


Jesus’ Condemnation of Religion

Here’s a post from J.D. Greear on Jesus’ condemnation of religion in Matthew 23.