From the Pastor’s Desk- August 2019

Should Anyone Ask Jesus into Their Heart?

Have you ever seen an evangelism tract or heard someone talk about asking Jesus to come into a person’s heart?  Many people have actually prayed in these terms thinking that doing this initiates their personal salvation.

Obviously in such situations we know that they are not referring to the body’s blood-pumping organ in the chest. We understand that the heart here refers to the core of our being as mentioned in Matthew 15:19 – “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”   

There are no recorded accounts of Jesus nor any of the apostles ever telling anyone to become a Christian by asking Jesus into his or her heart. None. Neither are there any passages in Holy Scripture directing anyone to do this in order to be saved. None.

Since there is no biblical basis for the idea or practice of “inviting Jesus into one’s heart,” why is this being taught in some churches?

The New Testament tells us clearly that coming to faith is purely God’s working through His Means of Grace – His Holy Word and Sacraments.  But some people think that they must either co-operate with God or initiate coming to faith themselves according to their own “free will.”  We often refer to this as “decision theology”, that one must make a decision to follow Jesus.  However, since the Fall of mankind into sin, no human being has a free will to choose God.  Our inclination is only toward sin.  It is part of original sin and we inherit it from our parents and they from theirs.  You’ll note that you never have to teach a child how to sin, they come by it naturally.

That a person thinks he has initiated his own salvation by “asking Jesus into his heart” does not mean that Jesus isn’t in his heart or that he isn’t saved, only that he is ignorant of the fact that the faith in his heart is God’s doing and not his own.

Faith is the work of man in the sense that he does the act of believing.  St. John 6:28-29 says, “Then they said to [Jesus], “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”  It is man that believes, God does not believe for him. But faith is not the work of man in the sense that he by his own reason, strength, or will produces this faith. The change, or conversion, in a person’s heart is the work of the Holy Spirit turning a person from sin and unbelief to faith in Jesus Christ.

A number of other passages in Holy Scripture tell us the same thing.  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  (John 3:5,6)  You did nothing to be born physically and you also do nothing when being born of the Spirit.  “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)  You’ll notice that hearing is passive.  You don’t have to DO anything to hear.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)  So faith is that which apprehends the gifts of God given by His Grace through the Means of Grace  – His Word and Sacraments.

“No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Spirit.” Let us give credit where credit is due and give thanks to God for this wonderful gift!

~ Pastor Christensen