J. D. Greear asks: Should We Stop Asking Jesus Into Our Hearts?
By the time I reached the age of 18 I had probably “asked Jesus into my heart” 5,000 times. I started somewhere around age 4 when I approached my parents one Saturday morning asking how someone could know that they were going to heaven. They carefully led me down the “Romans Road to Salvation,” and I gave Jesus his first invitation into my heart. . . .
[But h]ad I really been sorry for my sins? And could I really have known what I was doing at age 4?
So I asked Jesus to come into my heart again, this time with a resolve to be much more intentional about my faith. I requested re-baptism, and gave a very moving testimony in front of our congregation about getting serious with God.
Not long after that, however, I found myself asking again: Had I really been sorry enough for my sin this time around? I’d see some people weep rivers of tears when they got saved, but I hadn’t done that. Did that mean I was not really sorry? And there were a few sins I seemed to fall back into over and over again, no matter how many resolutions I made to do better. Was I really sorry for those sins? Was that prayer a moment of total surrender? Would I have died for Jesus at that moment if he’d asked?
So I prayed the sinner’s prayer again. And again. And again. Each time trying to get it right, each time really trying to mean it. I would have a moment when I felt like I got it right and experienced a temporary euphoria. But it would fade quickly and I’d question it all again. And so I’d pray again.
Although my experience was quite different from Greear’s, I did go through something of a crisis of assurance of salvation in high school. It was not a major crisis, but it was enough to cause me to wonder whether I had gone through the right procedures to “get saved.” At some point it finally dawned on me that I needed to trust the promises of God in Christ and not the efficacy of my own decision-making abilities. I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I love so much the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism:
Q. What is your only comfort
in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,
body and soul,
in life and in death
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.