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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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Top Customer Reviews
Despite the connotations inherent in the title, this book is not an argument against the sinners prayer. Greear says that: "My purpose in this book hasn’t been to rail against the sinner’s prayer. I have led many to pray that prayer as an expression of their faith and, hopefully, will lead many more to do so. My purpose is to get at the basis of assurance." What Greear is trying to do is to convince you to stop repeatedly asking Jesus into your heart. In the first chapter, "Baptized Four Times," Greear frames the situation he is addressing, which the title tells you exactly what that situation is. Then he shows us that God not only wants us to have assurance of our salvation, but has done such an exceedingly thorough job of saving us through the work of Christ that a right understanding of the Gospel is all that's needed to provide bulletproof assurance. Next, in what I consider the high-point of the book, Greear devotes two chapters to developing a biblical understanding of "belief" and "repentance", respectively. The chapter on repentance is especially noteworthy for the discussion of how our less-than-perfect repentance can be accepted by God (not going to spoil it here. You'll need to read it for yourself :P). Greear then does an amazing job interacting with several passages of Scripture that seem to suggest that you can lose your salvation (I will spoil this though: you can't). The book is concluded with two chapters cataloging the evidence of true faith shown by a genuine Christian and an encouragement for those who continue to doubt.
This book is a much needed antidote to two different problems that are extremely prevalent in our culture today: lack of assurance and false assurance. There are many people who, no matter what you tell them, never seem to be convinced of their salvation and struggle with a continual doubt. This is a detriment to the church because it can paralyze a true believer, making them spend an unnecessary amount of time and energy worrying about being accepted by God when they already are. Satan is a deceiver and convincing true Christians that they are outside of grace is one of his deadliest weapons. But this weapon of deception swings the other way, too. Ironically, I'm certain it has a lot to do with the staunch distortion and abuse of the sinners prayer. But there are simply too many people who have been deceived into thinking that they are true believers when they are not. Greear's exposition of the Scriptures, and as already noted, his excellent treatment of the doctrine of repentance, is strong enough to leave either of these deceived fully convinced--either of their inclusion in the Kingdom, or their exclusion.
I'm definitely going to be passing this book on to those who are struggling with any assurance about their salvation, because I feel that it will adequately address all of the reasons for their doubt as well as some they probably didn't know they had. But I'll also recommend this book to any and everybody. The Gospel truths contained in this short book are too rich to not take the time to feast on. Whether you struggle with assurance of your salvation or not, you will find your faith strengthened by reading this book.
- “Once saved, always saved” vs. the concept of bearing fruit
- The relationship between faith and feelings
- The direction vs. the perfection of our repentance
- The necessity of repentance and faith and what those words mean
- The self- serving aspect of emotional catharsis which feels redemptive (i.e. youth camp conversions)
- True faith which doesn’t look to works or even to itself but only rests in the finished work of Christ
- True belief which is basically obedience
- God’s desire for our assurance
Anyone who has ever struggled with the doubt of their salvation should read this. I would also recommend this to anyone who has encountered or may encounter someone who doubts in the course of their ministry.
"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.