82 of 87 people found the following review helpful
If there were a Guinness Book of World Records record for "amount of times having asked Jesus into your heart," J.D. Greear is pretty sure he would hold it. Like so many church kids he asked Jesus into his heart when he was very young, and then again when he was slightly older, and then again every time he wondered if he really loved Jesus, and then again whenever he felt the guilt of sin. For years he wrestled with assurance and fought for an answer to this question: How can anyone know, beyond all doubt, that they are saved?
It is a question most Christians ask at one time or another; it is a question every pastor faces on a regular basis. Greear's new book Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart tackles this question head-on and does so very effectively. Greear sets out to accomplish two things: to help the Christian find assurance that he has been saved, and to help the unbeliever resting on a false assurance see his danger and to turn to Christ. "My prayer is that by the time we're done, you'll know exactly where you stand with God. I hope to show you how to base your assurance on a promise God gave once for all in Christ and not on the fleeting memory of a prayer you once prayed." What Greear teaches is consistent with what the best theologians have been drawing from Scripture for so long, that "what saves the sinner is a posture of repentance and faith toward Christ, that and that alone. Any `sinner's prayer' is only good insofar as it expresses that posture."
"Salvation does indeed happen in a moment, and once you are saved you are always saved. The mark, however, of someone who is saved is that they maintain their confession of faith until the end of their lives. Salvation is not a prayer you pray in a one-time ceremony and then move on from; salvation is a posture of repentance and faith that you begin in a moment and maintain for the rest of your life."
Greear begins with his own story of praying the sinner's prayer a thousand times and being baptized four times, using it to illustrate the importance of finding assurance. He then proceeds to show that God wants us to have assurance, saying that God "changes, encourages, and motivates us not by the uncertainty of fear, but by the security of love. That is one of the things that makes the gospel absolutely distinct from all other religious messages in the world." With that in place he reminds the reader of the gospel and explains both belief and repentance. One chapter answers this question: If "once saved always saved," why does the Bible seem to warn us so often about losing our salvation? Along the way he offers three bases for assurance: a present posture of faith and repentance; perseverance in the faith; and evidences of eternal life in our heart--a love for God and a love for others, particularly other believers.
Yet even then some will wrestle with assurance and to those Christians he offers wise and simple counsel.
"Am I really saved? How could I be, and still have feelings like this? What do you do in that moment? Pray `the sinner's prayer' again? ... The answer is relatively simple in that moment: keep believing the gospel. Keep your hand on the head of the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter how you feel at any given moment, how encouraged or discouraged you feel about your spiritual progress, how hot or cold your love for Jesus, what you should be doing is always the same--resting in the gospel. Rest in His finished work. That's all you can do. It's all you need to do. It's all God has commanded you to do."
I have just been in the South, so I can give a loud "Amen!" to that!
Two appendices round out the book and carry it to around 120 pages. The first asks who should be re-baptized and under what circumstances while the second looks at the indispensable link between assurance and the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
We have an enemy who is identified as the Deceiver. He loves to deceive Christians into thinking that they cannot possibly have been delivered from condemnation, and he loves to deceive unbelievers into complacency, making them believe that they have been forgiven even without true faith and repentance. Some of his most effective work is in removing assurance from those who ought to have it, and in giving assurance to those who should not have it. This book will comfort the Christian and challenge the deceived unbeliever. Full of useful illustrations, powerful insights and, best of all, gospel hope, it is exactly the book I will recommend to anyone who struggles with assurance. In fact, I am going to buy a few and keep them close at-hand; I know I will be reading it with someone soon enough.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2015
Read the other one star reviews. They go much more in depth into the problems with Greear's book. I have to say, it is disheartening to see so many people buying hook, line, and sinker into this book. Here's the biblical and practical problem that Greear has created for himself: He believes your salvation is based on your maintaining a relationship with Christ throughout your entire life. If you ever strayed, you were never truly saved. And his point is to give believer's confidence that they know for sure so they can move on with their spiritual lives. However, he only swapped one worrisome problem for another. You see, now, according to Greear, you are saved, so long as at no time in the future, you stray away from Christ. If you experience a great loss and turn from God, sorry, you werent really saved that whole time. Essentially, your backsliding nullifies your salvation experience. So now, all you have to do is worry that one day you might stray from Christ and your salvation was never real to begin with.
I havent even gotten through the whole book and already I feel like Greear is very confused. I mean, "yes, you can know for sure.....just so long as you never stray" is definitely speaking out of both sides of your mouth. He even takes Luke 8:13 and misapplies it ( you can even read it in the "see inside" feature of amazon). In the passage, the first group has the devil take the word from their heart, BEFORE they believe and are saved. The second group (the one Greear is referencing) believes but falls away during a time of temptation. He says "in the end they wont be saved". Uh...where'd he get that? Belief = salvation. Look at Phillip and the eunuch. "If thou believest thou mayest".
I think ultimately Greear promotes more problems than he solves. He essentially teaches that you must maintain your own salvation by sticking to the Lord and never straying. Unfortunately for that lost sheep.....you never belonged to the Shepherd to begin with....according to Greear.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2013
I really enjoyed JD's last book Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary and was eager to read his next. Stop Asking is a great companion to his earlier work. From the beginning of this book, it's clear that JD has written it because of the agonizing uncertainty about his salvation he experienced at a younger age. He shares his story that time and time again, when he listened to a pastor invite him to ask Jesus into his heart, his nagging doubts about whether he we repentant enough the last time he accepted Christ would drive him to respond to the alter call again.
This book is really written for two audiences. The first are Christians who need to stop worrying about whether their own conversion was "good enough". JD guides them to see that since their salvation is comes from Jesus' work, not their own, it will always be sufficient. As in his previous book, he also shows how the Gospel is not a milestone in their faith, but the cornerstone. You never get past it because it defines you as a believer.
The second group are people who may behave like Christians from time to time (or have done so in the past) and are under the false impression that the sinner's prayer alone will get them to heaven -- even if their life since shows no signs of redemption. Here JD carefully examines the difference between the backsliding and failings all Christians experience and the signs that you have not, in fact, been saved.
I liked that the book is short and to the point, and how JD is able to use some great stories to help clarify some difficult theological concepts. The only thing I wish he'd done differently is the book's title, which I think can give the impression that the book is a diatribe to other pastors and church leaders when it's really an intimate book to believers who want to stop struggling with their own assurance of salvation.
Disclosure: I attend JD's church and purchased a pre-sale copy of this book from the church resource table.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2013
J. D.'s personal testimony drew me immediately to Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart. He recounts asking Jesus into his hearts thousands of time and getting baptized multiple times. If you've read my testimony you know I was baptized as an infant in the Roman Catholic Church, baptized again around four years old, baptized again in junior high, and then again at the end of high school. Throughout my childhood until college I struggled deeply with my own salvation. I was particularly susceptible to the manipulation present in many of the messages preached at summer camp by evangelists. Many of these were filled with guilt and condemnation instead of grace and hope. The gospel was sadly absent.
I would sin, weep, and repent and then do well. I would then sin, weep, and repent and then do well. My life followed the pattern of Israel in Judges. I spent many nights up late night searching in Romans seeking God asking him why I couldn't overcome my sin.
It wasn't until God brought a handful of people into my life that loved the gospel and explained it in all its beauty and power that I discovered I was accepted by God and the same Spirit which changed my heart would empower me to live a life pleasing unto God (p. 18). J. D. went through a similar struggle and I believe with him that many Christians are experiecning this same cycle of sin, praying a prayer, baptism, ad infinitum.
Throughout this book J. D.'s exposition and application is balanced and straightforward. He doesn't cover the gospel. He unleashes it. He mines down to the roots of the mountain to find the source of our confusion. For example, J. D. explains how belief and repentance are connected:
The biblical summation of a saving response toward Christ is "repentance" and "belief" in the gospel (p. 7).
Repentance and faith are heart postures you take toward the finished work work of Christ. You might express the beginning of that posture in a prayer. The sinner's prayer is not a magic incantation or a recipe you follow to get a salvation cake. The real stuff--the stuff that matters--is the posture of repentance and faith behind the worlds you speak. The prayer is good only insofar as it verbalizes the posture (p. 8)
J. D. makes the connection between belief and repentance unmistakable. "Repentance is belief in action. . . . Biblical belief is the assumption of a new posture toward the Lordship of Christ and His finished work on the cross" (p. 40). Repenting is the shoes to belief's feet.
The strength of this book is the focus on Christ and his finished work ("base your assurance on a promise God gave once for all in Christ" p. 12; see also pp. 11, 16-17, 27, 31, 32, 40, 118). Weaved throughout the entire message of hope and assurance in Christ is the foundation of Christ's finished work. It's this foundation which provides assurance because God's faithful to his promises in Christ. I wish someone had shared this book with me in middle school or junior high. It may have saved me years of doubts and confusion. It certainly would've driven me to the foot of the cross. This is a book you can share with believers at any level. As someone who reads a lot I found meat in the promises of God in Christ and yet there was an approachability that the newest of believers could grasp. You won't find a better value book for new believers on this topic.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Wow! Talk about a title that grabs you! Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, How to Know for Sure you are Saved made me instantly want to read this based on title alone. Brilliant! How many times have we asked ourselves this very question: am I really saved? For me it's too many to count so I was anxious to delve into this and find the answers!
Greear takes us along his own spiritual journey and reveals the moments in his life where he felt he was "saved" beyond a shadow of a doubt, until, the doubt crept in. It's one of those things you feel complete assurance of in the moment but then the moment passes by and the doubt and fear creep in.
Like Greear, I had multiple moments of salvation in my life and two baptisms under my belt. What did it all mean? Was I really lost and saved again? Did one moment mean more than another? For me, reading a book based on someone's personal experience is so much more reliable and believable than just reading a theologian's thoughts on the subject with no personal references.
Greear addresses all of the specific questions we asks ourselves in that moment and squashes the doubt with Biblical references to the most frequently asked questions with regards to Salvation. This book would help someone who wasn't saved and had a lot of questions as well as people like me that are already saved, but have lingering doubts when we read certain verses. Is it possible to lose your salvation? Or are you really once saved, always saved?
I love that Greear tackled all of these questions and more with his book, leaving no room for doubt. Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart will answer any question you may have on salvation and give you peace on the subject.
207 of 279 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2013
When I was a pastor, a friend of mine gave me an article called "Seven Reasons Not to Ask Jesus Into Your Heart." The author of the article pointed out that the Bible calls us to believe in Jesus for eternal life, not ask Jesus into your heart. He gave seven reasons why we should stop using that idea when presenting the Gospel to others.
So it was with interest that I recently read a book called Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J. D. Greear.
Overall, the book carried the same message, that if we are going to tell people about Jesus, and invite people to receive eternal life, we might as well use the terminology the Bible uses, because it is more clear and more accurate. Let's face it, the invitation to "ask Jesus into your heart" is just plain confusing. So Greear provides some good explanation for why we should stop using this confusing term.
And if that had been the only message of this little book, I would have given it a 5-star rating.
The problem, however, was with the rest of the book, the part about "How to know for sure you are saved." This gets a 1-star. And although the 1-star portion and the 5-star portion should result in a 3-star review, I thought the 1-star portion was so theologically dangerous, I had to give it a 1-star review.
Essentially, from page 79 onward (and a few places here and there earlier in the book), Greear based the assurance of salvation on good works. In my reading of Scripture, if we ever base the assurance of our salvation on good works, we can never, ever know for sure that we are saved.
I am sure Greear would take exception with me on this point.
What he actually argues throughout the book is that good works are the evidence that a person is saved. For example, on page 5 he gives the story of a man he met who cursed like a sailor, had tattoos all over his body (is that a sin?), and slept around. When Greear tried to witness to him, the man said that he had accepted Jesus as a boy, and so he was fine. Greear goes on to argue that this man is not saved because he did not maintain his confession of faith throughout his entire life (p. 6).
Most of this book is one long defense of this view. Pages 79-121 are devoted almost entirely to this idea. This is typical "Lordship-salvation-Calvinistic-perseverance-of-the-saints" theology, of which I have never been a fan. I think it is contrary to Scripture, contrary to the Gospel, and contrary to real-life experience.
And frankly, if I had to decide between telling someone to ask Jesus into their heart, or tell them that they can only know they are truly saved if they persevere in faithfulness and good works for the rest of their life, I will tell them to ask Jesus into their heart every day of the week. It is much less confusing and much less damaging than basing the assurance of salvation on our own good works.
Thankfully, I don't have to make that choice. I tell people to believe in Jesus for eternal life, and if they believe in Him, then they have eternal life because of what He has done for them, not because of what they do for Him. Our eternal life is based completely and solely on the finished work of Jesus Christ, and not one bit on what we do or don't do, either in our past, our present, or our future.
So what would I say to the cursing, tattooed, sexaholic? Well, first I might actually question what exactly he thought he did when he was a child. Since there are so many confused preachers and teachers out there, there are also a lot of people who are confused about how to receive eternal life. If he said a prayer, walked an isle, signed a card, raised a hand, or asked Jesus into his heart, I might try to clarify with him that none of these things will grant him eternal life. Only believing in Jesus does that (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47, etc.).
Then, once that is clear, I was say that the reason he should stop sleeping around and maybe watch what comes out of his mouth is NOT so that he can be sure he has eternal life, or keep his justification or anything like that. No, the reason is because those things are going to destroy his life. Sure, they might be fun for a while, but the instructions and commands of God are for our benefit and for our blessing, so that we can live a long and profitable life, full of joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment. God gave us boundaries so that we can enjoy life to the full! Damage, hurt, pain, heartache, sicknesses, sorrow, and a whole host of other problems come when we we step outside the boundaries laid down by God. (Yes, yes, bad things happen to good people to, but that is a completely different subject.)
So anyway, I like the main message that J. D. Greear was trying to get across in this book, but I wish he would have stuck with it, and not tried to get this second subject in there about how to know for sure you are saved, for that is where his book goes off track and becomes much less helpful.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2013
I was encouraged by the content of the book but discouraged by things that were left out. The other comments express the virtues. However, several scriptures were not well covered. I am an oncologist and not a pastor or theologian. In Luke 14:25-35 JESUS ask us to count the cost of being a disciple. I have met a lot of people who call themselves Christians, (many of whom prayed Jesus into their heart) but do not understand what it means to be a disciple and have never counted the cost of being a disciple. Yes, Jesus paid our cost of sin. But HE ask us to count the cost of putting him first.
Second, Mr Greear mentions II Corinthians 7:8 but he does not cover II Corinthians 7:11, the Biblical definition of repentance. Why would one leave this out?
How different would the family of God look like if we were to not only pray to God for faith, but also obey him by counting the cost, and repenting the way God ask us to repent before we call ourselves Christian.
It is up to those who consider themselves to be teachers and the leaders of our churches to ask how they and their church are true to these 2 scriptures.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2013
Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J. D. Greear is a funny, applicable, honest book about the very real problem people have of only understanding the justification element of salvation. Greear takes a look at misconceptions, bumper sticker theology, and gives some perspective into the long haul of what it means to be a Christian. This book, while easy to read, delves into the superficial, egocentric theology so many Christians have embraced.
An application that Greear uses all the way through his book is the importance of a life of repentance. He in no way purports justification through works; he never even hints at salvation through works. Instead, he shares that once justified we should rest in Christ through a life of repentance. The author uses a number of excellent analogies to walk the reader through exactly what this means and what it does not mean. In doing this, he exposes many of the misconceptions that skip the repentance (sanctification) step of salvation. Additionally, Greear encourages those who do not fully understand the sanctification process and therefore feel that they need to recommit themselves to Christ again-and-again (thus the title) by showing what it means to live a life of repentance.
About three-fourths the way through the book, Greear shifts into a style of writing that roughly resembles a detailed checklist to help the reader self-evaluate the state their walk with Christ. He augments this with his appendices at the end of the book to offer the readers a clear, cogent way to appraise themselves. Greear does not present this in a “to do” list format. Neither is he dogmatic to a certain system of theology. Rather, he offers a diagnostic to correspond with the advice that he has offered throughout the book.
One of the things that I appreciated about this book is how clearly Greear differentiated between works based salvation and living a life of repentance. Repeatedly through the book, Greear points out that we must rest in the finished work of Christ. His “chair” analogy really drives home this point. His book offers arguably the best explanation of what a repentant life looks like without promoting works based theology. This point is touchstone in the ideas of faith and repentance and is unfortunately misunderstood (or just skimmed over) by many Christians and some pastors in the world today. Greear has written an amazing book that will affect many lives provided his readers can put their self-serving “Just as if I never did it” or “Once saved always saved” theologies on the backburner for a moment and really hear what he is saying.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The need for a biblically based doctrine of perseverance and assurance is compounded by today's emphasis on feeling. How we feel often takes precedence over what we think, know, or believe. This attitude has infiltrated the church. The movement offers emotion and excitement to fill the void created by the lack of true understanding. What is needed more than ever is a rich deep thinking about perseverance and assurance coupled with vibrant, sanctified living. The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints teaches that all who partake of the grace and power of saving union with Christ by faith continue in that union with its benefits and fruits.
In his new book Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How To Know For Sure You Are Saved Pastor J.D. Greer, Pastor of The Summit Church writes to speak about an issue in assurance that he knows all too well having struggled with it personally and also seeing others struggle with it in his pastoral ministry. He writes to explain that reducing conversion to a prayer that often grants assurance to those who shouldn't have it and keeps it from those who should.
The book opens in chapter one with his struggle with understanding assurance. Chapter two explain the basis for the Christian's assurance. Chapter three dives into how Jesus died in our place for our sin. Chapter four examines belief, and chapter five discusses repentance. Chapters six and seven explore eternal security and the evidence of our salvation. Chapter eight concludes with a helpful look at doubting and growing in the grace of God. The book also has two appendix the first of which is about baptism and the final one is about assurance and the doctrine of justification.
The part about this book that I appreciated the most is his examination of what the Bible teaches about the perseverance of the saints and assurance of the believer. While focusing on these grand themes the author doesn't skip through discussing the warnings in Scripture. The author also doesn't excuse our sin but calls Christians to grow in the grace of God and put sin to death. While some people may take issue with some of the things that Pastor Greer teaches in this book, in my opinion Dr. Greer does an excellent job tackling this vital topic in order to help Christians grow in assurance of their salvation.
While the title of this book may catch you off guard, make no mistake Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How To Know For Sure You Are Saved is an important book that will breathe fresh air into your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Reading this book will help you to understand how the gospel saves and sustains you. I encourage you to read this book and then reflect on it, and rejoice in the ability to know of the assurance of your salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2013
Ask any Christian if he or she has ever wrestled with the idea of assurance of salvation. You will find that a majority have at some point or still do struggle with assurance. J.D. Greear's latest offering, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart not only addresses the question; it goes to the heart of the issue by dealing with 1) Converted people who doubt their salvation (and shouldn't) and 2) Unconverted people who don't question their standing with God (and should).
Paige Patterson writes the forward and truly does the book a disservice by confessing his chagrin over the title of the book and by going so far to say that he "might disagree with some interpretations here or there." But once the reader is through the starting gate, the rest of the book is a true feast for the soul.
Greear attacks the problem of assurance with witty doctrinal precision and humor. But make no mistake. This book contains serious theological assertions that will drive readers to the cross and stay there for the rest of their lives. Greear does a magnificent of job of cutting through the lies of religion and straight to the gospel.
Here is what I really appreciate about J.D. Greear's approach - and I offer this as the highest of compliments. While he writes in a popular style (some might even consider his style somewhat akin to a hipster pastor meets theologian), I hear the great heroes of the faith cheering him on. As he stands at the center of the stage, I see the nodding head of Jonathan Edwards. I see the approval of John Bunyan. I see the grin of John Calvin. And I see the God-centered resolve of Luther. These are the kinds of theologians that fuel the fire for Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart. This is the kind of book that needs to be passed out like candy in youth groups. This is the kind of book that needs to be read by new believers. My prayer is that Greear's book will sell like wildfire. May God use this little book to fuel the Reformation fire that has been set ablaze by the Reformers and the English Puritans!