By Dr Hank Lindstrom
Many unclear and unscriptural terms are being used today in presenting the gospel. God’s Word says, “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech (II Corinthians 3:12).”
I believe our effectiveness in presenting the gospel is directly related to our clarity. If we are not clear, then how will anyone understand what we are saying? The Scripture says, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For you speak into the air (I Corinthians 14:8-9).” There are many uncertain and unclear sounds being spoken today in the name of Jesus Christ, and the result of ten times is confusion. We need to recognize that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (I Corinthians 14:33).” Satan therefore is getting the victory and Satan is the author of confusion.
One such term or expression is “Ask Jesus into your heart”. The same expression is sometimes phrased, “Ask Jesus into your life”, or “Invite Jesus into your heart”. Nowhere does one find anything like this in the Bible. The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31).” Why don’t we use Bible terms? Why not drop the unclear ones?
I was raised on the phrase “Ask Jesus into your heart”, and yet I was never saved. Every Sunday morning in the church that I was raised we sang a song called “Come Into My Heart, Lord Jesus”. The words were as follows: “Into my heart, into my heart; Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.” We sang this song every Sunday morning and were given the opportunity to “Invite Jesus into our hearts”. Well, I sincerely invited Jesus into my heart each Sunday and yet I was not saved.
My theology was totally based on the words of the song. I would pray something like, “Lord, please come into my heart. If you came into my heart before and left, please come into my heart again. If you never came into my heart before, please come in for the first time. If you came in and left, please come back and stay.” The song taught that Christ could come and go at will. I was confused and frustrated.
I invited Jesus into my heart at least 600 times, yet I was not saved because that message is not the gospel. I hardly missed a Sunday at church from the time I was six years old until I was eighteen years of age. To be fair, let’s say that from the time I was six years old until I was eighteen on at least 50 Sundays a year I invited Jesus into my heart. Eighteen minus six is twelve years times fifty times a year equals 600 (six hundred) times that I invited Jesus into my heart. On at least 600 occasions I invited Jesus into my heart.
Not until after I had turned eighteen years of age did I understand that I had to believe the gospel message of the death, burial and resurrection in order to be saved. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).” I had never understood John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
In other words, “asking” is not what saves. A person must “believe”, or trust that Jesus paid for his sins on the cross, was buried and rose again from the dead. In fact, a person can ask to be saved and not be saved.
Both thieves on the cross “asked” to be saved and yet only one was saved. The dying thief that was saved was saved because he trusted Christ as the one who was dying in his place on the cross and would rise again from the dead and head up a kingdom. No one has ever been saved any differently than that dying thief who simply trusted Christ as his Saviour.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity (Matthew 7:22,23).” Many who were counting on being saved are lost according to the above verses. How tragic! They were lost because they were trusting in works and not trusting in Jesus Christ as their only hope for heaven.
What about Revelation 3:20? “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” First of all, the verse (Revelation 3:20) is not talking about salvation but about having supper or fellowship with the Lord. Second, the door mentioned is the door (read the context of Revelation 3:14-22) of the church of Laodicea. This is not a reference to the door of the heart or the door of your life, etc.
We are often told (and wrongly so) that we have a door to our heart. We hear that the door has a latch on the inside but not on the outside. Christ is knocking on the outside but can not come in unless we unlatch the lock from the inside of the heart. The Scripture teaches no such thing. This is untrue. This is nonsense.
It is sad because children are very literal in their approach to things. They are left confused. They see a contradiction between what they learn in biology and what they hear in church. In biology they learn nothing about a door or latches on the heart.
The devil will do all he can to confuse the lost (II Corinthians 4:4). He will often use our unclear terminology to accomplish this. Why not go back to the Bible terms? “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
Some will say, “I was saved by asking Jesus into my heart”. Actually, they were saved in spite of asking Jesus into their heart, because they trusted Christ to save them. It is either that or they are not saved. In my case, I asked Jesus into my heart on at least 600 different occasions and was not saved, because I had never understood the gospel and had never TRUSTED Christ as my Saviour.
I am pleading for the many who are confused and unsaved but thinking they are saved because of the use of this unscriptural expression: “Invite Jesus into your heart”. Let’s use “great plainness of speech”. Let’s go back to the Bible.