- Hardcover: 144 pages
- Publisher: B&H Books; 1.2.2013 edition (February 1, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781433679216
- ISBN-13: 978-1433679216
- ASIN: 1433679213
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 421 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved Hardcover – February 1, 2013
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"Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart" was written for those who:
- Have repented of their sin and prayed a sinner’s prayer numerous times, yet still have doubts about their acceptance into heaven
- Cannot recall a specific moment in time when they became saved
- Want to know how someone can know for sure they are saved
- Wonder if they have sinned too much or rejected God too often to be forgiven
So the question is put forth: “How can anyone know, beyond all doubt, that they are saved?” Satan, the great Liar, seems to be in the business of deceiving in two ways: 1) he deceives many who are not saved into thinking that they are, and 2) he keeps those who truly are saved in doubt that they are. Greear suggests that one of the reasons these two conditions exist is because of the trite, cliché terms that are used when evangelizing the lost. The author makes the observation that in some church circles, conversion has become nothing more than reciting a ritualistic formula prayer. He acknowledges that it is Biblical to extend an offer or invitation to unbelievers to come to Christ. Preachers like Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards regularly entreated the lost to repent and to pray to God to save them. Certainly it is the job of a gospel preacher, evangelist, missionary – indeed, every Christian – to put out a general call and offer the gospel to the lost. But Greear points out that praying a prayer to “accept Jesus” or “ask Jesus into your heart” without a genuine repentance of sin and desire to obey and follow Christ does not result in salvation. Yet many rest all of their confidence and assurance on that moment when they prayed the sinner’s prayer rather than resting in the work of Christ. On the other hand, just because you don’t recall inviting Jesus into your heart, or can’t pinpoint your “spiritual birthday” as the day you were saved, doesn’t mean you aren’t.
True spiritual regeneration produces both faith and repentance, which are outward signs of and responses to the internal work of God, for only a heart that has been changed by the Holy Spirit can believe or repent of sin. Greear spends a chapter on each of these elements, faith and repentance, which he explains are like two sides of a coin and go hand-in-hand. He explains what faith is not: mere intellectual understanding and mental assent about who Jesus is and what He did. Nor is faith a decision made at one point in time. It’s a present “posture” (to use Greear’s term) that continues on throughout the believer’s life.
Greear observes that assurance of salvation can never come from looking back at what I did (or didn’t do) in the past; that will always result in doubts. In fact, the reason many struggle with doubts about their salvation may be because they are looking at what they’ve done/are doing rather than trusting in what God has done according to the promises in His Word. The best way to deal with doubts when they arise is not to look back at what took place at your supposed time of conversion (or refer to the date written on the inside cover of your Bible), but rather to look at your present state – are you trusting Christ NOW?
He goes on to explain what repentance is not: it's not praying a prayer, feeling sorry about sin, or even confessing it. It isn’t religious activity, partial surrender, or perfection. Repentance is not the absence of sin; in fact, Greear points out, “Repentance ushers us into a life of greater struggle [with sin] not out of one…the struggle is proof of [our] new nature.”
After looking at the topics of faith and repentance, Greear spends one chapter discussing the idea of eternal security, or what is sometimes phrased, “once saved, always saved.” Finally, before summarizing, he looks briefly at chief evidences that a person is truly saved. This could’ve been presented as a legalistic checklist, ie. if you’re really a Christian you will do this, and this, and this. Instead he sums it up as Christ Himself summed up the law of God: love for God and love for others.
J. D. Greear believes, as do I, that God desires for His children to have assurance of salvation. Greear states, “Until you know that you are His and He is yours, your obedience will be limited. Your love will be stifled, your confidence will be shaky, and your courage will be minimal.” God gave His Word to His children to reassure and remind us of His promises to us. God our Father desires for us to live abundant, victorious lives, filled with His joy and peace, and having bold confidence to approach Him. Does this mean we will always feel happy, will never become discouraged, and will no longer be tempted by or fall into sin? Does it mean we will never have times of weakness, fear or doubt? Of course not. But when those times come, we must look to Christ and trust in the truths of God’s Word, not to our own decisions, actions, or feelings.
"Stop Asking Jesus into your Heart" is a quick and easy read of only about 120 pages. J. D. Greear’s book isn’t what I would call meaty or theologically deep, but it is sound and accessible to the typical Christian. I would recommend it to anyone who has had ongoing struggles with doubts about their salvation.
If you answered in the affirmative, congratulations! You’re a normal Christian.
Now think back to your teen years. You had more energy than you knew what to do with. Your body pumped with blood and chemicals prone to alter moods and even physiology: hormones. You fought to keep your head above the swirling waters of geometry, US history, British literature, and trying not to embarrass yourself in gym class. And despite what you heard from that one nexus-of-overachievement senior, you regularly broke the laws of physics by being completely invisible to your crush. Or you fancied a close friend of the opposite sex who never would think of you that way in a million years.
And did you feel saved?
Many of life’s most confusing experiences happen to us between the ages of 12-18. Through them all, we feel alone, certain of one thing: no one ever felt this way before we did at this exact moment. If we speak with honesty, these feelings never truly go away, especially in the realm of doubting our own salvation in Christ.
Enter J. D. Greear’s book Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: Teen Edition.
Greear approaches his task in several ways.
First, the book has a personal touch to it. He shares his own experience, in what I imagine took a great amount of humility to write. He shares about undergoing baptism four times. The book came into being, in part, because of his own personal struggle with assurance of salvation. Given his position as lead pastor over Summit church and now at the helm of the Southern Baptist Convention, his words provide encouragement indeed. The struggle with doubt unto multiple baptisms need not make one feel alone.
Second, the reader receives a thorough theology of salvation. Does “thorough” mean he says everything one could ever say? Of course not. However, Greear’s presentation explains concepts such as justification by faith, propitiation, and penal substitution (if not always using those words). He speaks with abundant clarity when he explains 1 John 1:9, saying, “…the basis of God’s forgiveness of us is not mercy, it is justice.” (30). Greear does not assure one of salvation through a sort of existential feeling of love for God that God finds irresistible. Nor does he empty God of every attribute but kindness. One has salvation in Christ through his cross, and salvation in the given life of Jesus proves just! One has assurance in Christ because of his “gift righteousness,” not his own earned righteousness (37).
Third, Greear deals honestly with Scripture. I myself received God’s saving grace at the age of 16. I took years to become a serious Bible student. When I began to gain traction and confidence in my ability to study the Bible, I started a study of Hebrews. I realized I did not know nearly as much as I thought! I had no equipment emotionally or intellectually to help me understand the warning passages in the book; Hebrews 6 threw me for a loop! Greear addresses portions of Scripture such as these with honesty, integrity, and ability. He never shrugs as if to say, “Well, I don’t know what to do with this.” Rather, he admits their challenge, but does not treat them as impossible to understand. At one point, he remarks, “Does all of this make your mind feel like it is going to explode? Then you’re probably getting it.” (84). His humble and somewhat humorous candor keeps the reader moving through thick theological ideas without eyes glazing and brains entering into shutdown mode.
Finally, though the book handles an intellectually and emotionally difficult topic by bringing in some serious doctrinal and Scriptural content, it never becomes a burden to read. The whole book, including the three appendices, reaches only 120 pages. Chapter length exceeds 20 pages only once; most of them have a much shorter length, usually around 12 pages which one can read in one sitting. The reader does not have to set aside an entire season of the year to take in all of the book’s content. The student attempting to analyze a Shakespearean sonnet in English class would find Greear’s book much easier to understand.
Greear produced an easy-to-read and encouraging book which will bring security to the sensitive conscience and perhaps conviction to the counterfeit Christian. With the gospel clearly presented, I would imagine some readers find themselves expressing belief for the first time somewhere between the two covers of the book. If you know a student struggling with doubt despite a commitment to Christ, I recommend Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: Teen Edition as a starting place to care for the weary young soul burdened with a lack of certainty before his Creator.