Why Jesus Doesn’t Want You To “Ask Him Into Your Heart”

Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Writing | 102 Comments

 

I’ll never forget it. I was in middle school. All around me were other middle school kids crying. Hardly anyone was standing. It was a powerful moment—so much so that even now when I think about it a range of emotions come over me. Where was I? I was at a youth camp. It was the last night where everyone “asked Jesus into their heart.” Mercy Me’s “I Can Only Imagine” was playing while the camp speaker asked all the kids to bow their heads and close their eyes. He would then say, “ok whoever wants to receive Jesus repeat after me….”

 

Sound familiar?

 

Have you ever asked Jesus into your heart?

 

Now first let me say this—I am not arguing in this blog that Jesus doesn’t save through this method (because He clearly does). Also, John 1:12 would suggest we do need to receive Jesus in some way or another. But my question is why has it become so mechanical? So forced? So calculated? Receiving the grace of Jesus is a beautiful thing. We tell people it is free (which it is), but we forget to tell them it will cost them their life (which it will). I’m humbly submitting that this might be the main thing contributing to our lethargic, apathetic, and consumer based Christianity that’s plaguing our nation right now.

 

Doesn’t it haunt you that this “prayer” is never uttered in the New Testament?

 

Have you ever asked yourself why?

 

Doesn’t it haunt you that people never made a “decision” but rather gave up all they had to follow Jesus?

 

Why is the life we are calling people to, so different from what the original disciples called them to?

 

When I first became a Christian about 4 years ago, the church I went to would give an “invitation” at the end of every sermon. It was very similar to the experience above. He would have people bow their heads and close their eyes, and “accept Jesus into their heart.” He would then usually say something like “I see your hand, God sees your heart.” I think about 15 people would get saved every service. At this time they were probably a 3,000+ person church with multiple campuses in a tiny town. I remember thinking after about a year, that if 15 people were getting “saved” a service in a town of around 20,000 this city should be upside down for Jesus. But Monday through Saturday nothing seemed much different. Why? Also why do they bow their heads and close their eyes? I struggled with the fact that if someone can’t proclaim Jesus is Lord and that their heart has been changed by His grace in the safest of all places—a church full of people who already love Jesus!—then do we really think they would proclaim Him boldly out in the world, where He’s hated?

 

Let me clarify though before my email inbox fills up with not so happy Christians defending this method. I don’t care how you preach the gospel, as long as its the gospel that’s actually being preached. Is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the focus? Is there blood? Is there cross? Is there persecution? 2nd Timothy 3:12 says all who seek to follow Jesus will face persecution. Too many times we proclaim “your best life now”, instead of a rugged cross. If they are being called to more than a stirred heart, but called to an abandoned life, then by all means do it. But, people aren’t being called to die for the sake of God’s glory and His mission, then I’d be careful to call it the true message of Jesus.

 

Jesus isn’t after people “accepting Him into their hearts” He is after people boldly giving up all they have and following Him by faith, death, and suffering.

 

Nothing makes me tremble more at night then knowing there are millions of people (most likely in churches) who don’t know Jesus at all, and are being led to hell under the pretense that they are “good to go” because they prayed a prayer. In fact the main reason they stay distant from Jesus is that they think they’ve already “taken care of that.” The truth is, if a boulder dropped on top of you, you’d look different after the fact. Why is it then that supposedly when the most glorious, holy, amazing, and beautiful infinite God of the universe “drops” on us we don’t look any different? You are saved by grace, but real grace changes you.

Is that you? Do you actually know Him?

 

I’m not asking do you struggle or wrestle (you should) but I’m asking do you know Him? Do you love Him? Do you want more of Him? Even if you are struggling, if you can answer yes to those questions, you are in a safe place. But, if you are simply clinging to something you did years ago, but you have zero intimacy with your Creator, I’d tread softly.

 

From now on what do you say we….

 

Stop asking Jesus into our heart, and start asking Jesus to change our heart.

 

Stop receiving Jesus,  and start following Jesus

 

Stop raising our hand for Jesus, and start raising our obedience for Jesus.

 

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”

Luke 9:24-25

 

 

 What do you think? Has it done more harm than good?

 

102 Comments

  1. Josh
    May 14, 2012

    Couldn’t agree more, man. I’ve been trying to deal with false conversions in the Bible belt for a couple of years now. It’s like so many in church have just enough Jesus not to want anymore of Him at all…. tragic.

    Reply
    • Bozsi
      May 15, 2012

      100% the truth!! God is so good that the suffering will be worth it! Jesus is a personal God, so why do millions of people all pray the same prayer when it is all about just him and you at that moment? and when its not even in the bible??? so true

      Reply
  2. Trina Gueck
    May 14, 2012

    Great post. I remember walking to my car at GRCC sitting on the side of the mechanic building saying my own prayer. I remember being in church and thinking that I did it wrong b/c the pastor didn’t see me raise my hand….LOL.

    Reply
  3. Deanna
    May 14, 2012

    I love this! Well said, the Christians and church goers need to be shaken up! Many are living complacent lives using Jesus as an ornament and not truly having a relationship with Him or simply don’t know how to.

    Reply
  4. Joel @ Step Out Time
    May 14, 2012

    I agree wholeheartedly, when it comes to understanding that Christianity is not some religious exercise that we do to make ourselves feel righteous, I feel that this is where the modern church has missed the mark. Most times people are in a rush to get others to accept Jesus into their heart and the question I want to ask is; what is the point of accepting Jesus if there is no CHANGE?

    The gospel is not to be pimped out, instead of telling people what to pray, why don’t we allow them speak from the desperation they have in their heart to God?

    Reply
  5. Dillon Young
    May 14, 2012

    As a youth pastor, this is something that has been laid on my heart very heavily in the past year, yet I’ve been struggling to find the words. Thank you for writing this. I will definitely share.

    Reply
  6. Marlene Manzo
    May 14, 2012

    You’re awesome! Keep it up. You just inspired me and gave me insight into something I never even thought about.

    Reply
  7. trina3k@yahoo.com
    May 14, 2012

    I am so thankful to see young people hearing this, I believe that several generations gained false security because they were given the instructions to pray a prayer rather than to repent and ask for mercy!

    Reply
  8. Tammy M LeBlanc
    May 14, 2012

    I agree with you totally on so many of your views! I don’t attend church but I DO study Gods Word and me and “Papa” as I call him, talk intimately! I love my Lord!

    Reply
  9. Chris
    May 14, 2012

    This really slapped me in the face after reading it. I haven’t thought about this in a long time. I’ve always been one to roll my eyes and completely zone out when this method of salvation is presented. I was saved early in my childhood and had a really close relationship with God for many years. But I just drifted away from Him because I got distracted by other things, and I never thought anything of it because I felt like I was safe due to being saved years ago. I’ve been hurt by the church recently, and I’ve responded by distancing myself from God. When you said, “Stop asking Jesus into our hearts, and start asking Him to change our hearts”, it really made me start thinking about how every time I go to a retreat or a youth camp, I always get the emotional rush of Jesus Time, and I “ask Him back into my heart”. But I realize He’s always there; I just need Him to change my heart to want more of Him and to actually let Him manifest Himself in my heart.

    Reply
  10. Carmen
    May 14, 2012

    Wow! What a way to be challenged tonight! Thank you for this!

    Reply
  11. Carolyn
    May 14, 2012

    Isn’t that the first part? Accepting Him? If Jesus were to call you, would you accept it? I do understand your point, I just think it all ties together.

    Reply
    • jeffbethke
      May 14, 2012

      good point carolyn! i agree!

      Reply
    • Juliet
      May 14, 2012

      I agree! Everyone is at a different point in their walk with him and He takes us just as we are…..

      Reply
    • Peter
      May 15, 2012

      Accepting, though, isn’t like checking “Yes” on the RSVP card. Acceptance means resting in the promise. Too often, we want an active role in our salvation…we want to feel like we’ve done something to earn or merit it. Nothing could be further from the Gospel.

      Imagine you’re in the hospital…laid up for quite some time. Your friend comes to visit you & tells you not to worry about your dog back at home. Your friend will take care of him…from feeding to walking to spending time until you can get back on your feet.

      What are you going to do? Are you going to “accept” the fact that your dog is being taken care of? Or are you going to worry about it until you worry yourself even more sick than you already are? And your accepting the fact your friend is helping out or rejecting the fact, your friend is still taking care of you dog.

      God is reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor 5), not counting our trespasses against us. We can either accept this Truth, or we can reject it.

      Reply
      • chris
        May 19, 2012

        yes God is reconciling the world to Himself but not everyone will make it. it is clear that people will go to hell (a literal place) for the sins that they commit. you can’t take just half of it.

        Reply
      • Shirley
        May 20, 2012

        I agree! We cannot earn our salvation,just glorify Him because of it. The blood of Jesus paid the price & by His grace we are saved & not by our works lest any man should boast…..Eph. 2:4,5,…8,9,10. ALL PRAISE & GLORY TO GOD THE FATHER THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS!!

        Reply
    • erica artzner
      May 15, 2012

      yea this video kinda does not make sense…. I mean , jeff you are always preaching that “GRACE” is what saves you. Now you post a video that is saying that you have to take up your cross and follow Him. ???? I dont know, kinda confusing… Doesnt the Bible say that If thou shalt CONFESS with thy mouth he is saved?”

      Reply
      • jeffbethke
        May 15, 2012

        yes it does erica. we are saved by grace, but that grace costs us our life. they go hand in hand. grace isn’t cheap, its costly. but its beautiful and transforms our lives.

        Reply
        • JBarr
          May 15, 2012

          But the whole idea of grace is that it is a gift which we don’t deserve and with nothing in return, now once we receive God’s grace we want to give God everything because he is so great and has given us so much, he then transforms our lives and makes them beautiful, but grace is not costly

          Reply
          • bb
            May 16, 2012

            so in other words, though we don’t have to earn grace, it still costs us our lives so…I think it sorta is costly. not in the sense that we earn it or bring it about, but in the sense that it results in a ‘cost:’ our lives, surrendered… (see the Bible reference in blog post: Luke 9:24-25 & romans 6)

            oh and I’d all so like to see where in the Bible or anywhere it says that grace is to be received “with nothing in return” (an evangelical sentiment, I would think). I sorta feel like the whole New Testament is talking about how we ought to live our lives in response to grace, not necessarily just out of gratitude (anonther evangelical, humanistic sentiment) but because it is the right way, the only real way, to live as free’d people, so in a sense this living sacrifice is given ‘in return’ for grace…again, not to pay for it, but as an outworking of that which grace actually does–free us from our selfish, sinful selves.

        • Danielle
          May 15, 2012

          I think what Jeff means is that biblical repentance is missing from the whole thing and so is the fact that Jesus tells us to count the cost and it isn’t just some quick prayer or saying.

          Reply
      • chris
        May 19, 2012

        yes but it also says that the people that do confess Jesus will follow Him. all through the Bible it talks about people that fall away (or don’t follow Jesus) and it says about them that they left because they where never part of Him. it says that His sheep (the truly saved) know his voice and they follow Me. it is grace that saves you and there is nothing that you do in your salvation. God calls you, God saves you, God sanctifies you, God changes you. it is all about God and not about you. but when God does this in your life there are things that will happen because of it ie. following Jesus. if you don’t follow Him, if you don’t change, if you don’t care then you obviously did not get saved no matter what prayer you said

        Reply
  12. Kiara
    May 14, 2012

    I fully agree with you .
    You couldn’t be anymore right. God bless you Jeff

    Reply
  13. Joy
    May 14, 2012

    So true. I can’t stand that we all “bow our heads and close our eyes” like people giving their lives to Christ is something that should be embarrassing or done in secret. I keep my eyes wide open and see who is raising their hand! The American church has got it all wrong. And I also wrestle with how many people are out there believing they are Christians without any relationship with Christ.

    Reply
    • Angel
      May 15, 2012

      “So true. I can’t stand that we all “bow our heads and close our eyes” like people giving their lives to Christ is something that should be embarrassing or done in secret. I keep my eyes wide open and see who is raising their hand! The American church has got it all wrong. And I also wrestle with how many people are out there believing they are Christians without any relationship with Christ.”

      -When you close your eyes, bow your head or even pray on your knees is all about paying respect and homage to God. God is King, and when we enter the presense of a king we must pay respect and understand that we are not or ever was worthy without Jesus. Remember that we were in darkness and we were rebels towards God and his love. See my disagreement when you stated this is that you keep your “eyes open and see who raises there hands”. When you do this you are not Christ- conscious. Meaning your not focusing on Jesus but watching others worship. By closing your eyes and bowing your head or even praying on your knees to God it does not mean your “Embarassed”. It means you are focused on what Jesus has done for you and becoming more intimite with him. By closing your eyes your not focusing on “little Sally” who came into Church wearing inappropiate clothing or “Johnny” who wears his pants sagging down to his knees. Instead of looking at others raising their hands or whatever it is distracting you should be Christ-conscious not Flesh- Conscious. Focus on the cross and He will lead you, read the Word and it will nourish you, meditate on it night and day and mutter the words and you will see His power and Mercy. I hope this comment helped you understand another point of view.

      Reply
      • Mike
        August 26, 2012

        I don’t know about him, but it sure helped me! God Bless!

        Reply
  14. Andres
    May 14, 2012

    Paul Washer’s youtube video titled “the shocking youth message” describes all of what you just said. I agree. We all need more of him, and we need to search for him it’s not only putting up our hand but giving up EVERYTHING. Your post also reminded me a lot of the book “Not A Fan” by Kyle Idleman, wow incredible book that will change the lives of every christian. Jeff I would love to read a post focused on the Holy Spirit!
    Thanks a ton, Hope God keeps using you!

    Reply
  15. danielle smith
    May 14, 2012

    please dont call it “false conversion” and belittle thousands upon thousands of people coming to Jesus including mine. (in reply to the previous comment @Josh). I look at asking Jesus into your heart to be about the equivalent of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ as it says in the new testament (acts 16:31) Let me ask you this, does God dwell in an unbelievers heart that has never known God? How about the one who has accepted everything that Jesus has done and walks with Him daily…. does God dwell in them? 2 Corinthians 6:16 ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.. The sinners prayer is just acknowledging the cross (where one possibly didnt before) , and asking to become Gods temple that He dwells in. And for the atoning blood to make us new. I prayed that sinners prayer, and i went home and searched for God daily, and I havent stopped since. There are MANY MANY MANY world changing Christians out there that started with the sinners prayer. It was their first step toward God, and they wont stop till Jesus returns. Just my two cents.

    Reply
    • jeffbethke
      May 14, 2012

      totally, which is why i made sure to clarify twice i wasn’t attacking the method as a whole, but in general.

      Reply
      • danielle smith
        May 14, 2012

        Yeah, that was for Josh, I appreciate the feedback!

        Reply
      • William Hannah
        May 14, 2012

        I really agree with what you said Jeff. I have caught myself watching church on tv and almost allways re-doing the sinners prayer, even though I know I am a Christian. I am going to try what you said, I had stopped re-doing the sinners prayer etc… but have been looking for something to replace it with when I feel that ol Baptist (run to the altar) tug, and I think this will help me. I have been just praying for the people in the service during this time, and asking God to lead me, now I will add asking Jesus to change my heart and make it more open to His desires… thanks for ALL your input Jeff, we really luv ya and what your doing!!!!

        Reply
    • Juliet
      May 14, 2012

      Amen! ;-)

      Reply
    • chris
      May 19, 2012

      you have a point but you where saved in spite of what you did and not because of what you did. but there are many poeple that cliam to be saved and point to this prayer as proof but the fruit of there life (the way the Bible says you can tell if some one is saved) says that there not. i have tried to talk to tons of people that are obviously not saved but sware that they are because once upon a time they said this prayer and now there fine. this way of “getting saved” is sending people to hell. like i said you may have gotten saved this way but you are the exception not the rule. just look at all the people that don’t do anything for God, live like the devil, contradict the Bible and what it says and still call themselves Christians for proof of that.

      Reply
  16. Ben
    May 14, 2012

    It makes me feel confused and worried when reading this because I think to myself, what should I be doing if I truly want to become a follower of Christ? I almost have this insatiable hunger with no certain way of satisfying it. I really want more than just going to church and casually reading Bible verses. I feel as if there is so much more to it, more than what I see in the church.

    Reply
    • jeffbethke
      May 14, 2012

      good question ben. the church is a good thing though because in the church you are in a community of people who have that same desire as u. be hungry and continue to pursue him for the rest of your lives. the beauty is u can’t exhaust him.

      Reply
      • Amanda
        May 14, 2012

        I have heard it put this way… Church is like a tool box for your relationship with Christ. You have all these tools (people or lessons) and when you need them you can use them. Each one is different and you can choose how to use them (through discernment ) I don’t know if that helps any, but it helped me.

        Reply
    • Rebecca
      May 15, 2012

      If God truly dewels in your heart, you will see him and his hand in everything. The more you ask him to direct you in the path he has designed for your life, as well as the more you speak to him with intimacy from your heart the more God revels him self to you. I think having people accept Jesus into there hearts is the first step but then asking him to change your heart and your life is the second step. Plant the seed and let God take care of the rest. Because i know Jesus can make the impossible for man possible. We have a supernatural God.

      Reply
    • Jason
      May 15, 2012

      I almost feel as though I shouldn’t try to do anything for the Kingdom.

      It’s only a matter of time before someone writes, rhymes, or sings something poetic about how I’m “doing it all wrong.” I seem to read something like this (nothing personal against you, I actually love your work)every week, and if the goal is to make those who are in ministry to feel inadequate, guilty, worthless and confused – it’s totally working.

      Is there only one method to come to Christ? No. But hearts DO matter to God. And if hearts matter than a decided Heart must be followed up to help transfer from the decision – to – discipleship. Jesus told his disciples, “Come follow me and I will make you Fishers of Men.” They didn’t become Fishers of Men when they left their nets (decision), the ultimately became Fishers of Men during their journeys with Christ (Discipleship) and ultimately in the early Church (Fruitfulness).

      I think the problem here is that ministers may offer the sinner’s prayer as an end all be all..without having any follow up to decisions/recommitments. That’s a problem with the ministry/Church more than the method itself.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Reply
      • jeffbethke
        May 15, 2012

        i feel you jason. i was in no way hoping to discourage some but i think its a real enough problem in regards to actually leading people astray that we have to address it. again, people can be saved through this, but we should always shoot to be Spirit centered in all that we do, and sometimes this method is looked at for the salvation rather than the blood of jesus.

        Reply
    • Shiann
      May 15, 2012

      Ben, thank you for your honesty. My very first thought led me to this scripture:

      “James 1:26-27 New International Version (NIV)
      26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

      It doesn’t always feel good, but is a mark of doing the right thing. I know it is my daily attempt to serve in this kind of way.

      I am encouraged by your search and inspired to remain passionate. I hope you do not take this as a formulaic approach, it is truly not intended as a simple answer. (It certainly isn’t simple for me!)

      Reply
    • Frank
      May 15, 2012

      @Ben – It’s not that you can’t pray and ask Jesus to come into your life – prayer is talking to God, just like talking to a friend. If you want a relationship with God, of course you would want to talk to him, so telling Jesus that you want him to be your friend is nothing wrong. But it would be wrong if you only want to pray a prayer which is supposed to “get you a ticket to heaven” and not want a relationship with Him, which is not the case for you if you genuinely want a relationship with God. Don’t worry, you can pray like you want to talk to him, God hears you! And you know that you are a true Christian when your heart’s desire is to be obedient to Him, and your life has been changed and is continually being transformed by His love.

      Reply
  17. Tyler
    May 14, 2012

    “Whoever desires to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the sake of the Gospels will keep it.” -Jesus
    “Take up your cross and follow me” -Jesus
    “It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives within me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God” -Paul
    “I die daily” -Paul
    “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God”

    It is not NEARLY enough to allow Jesus to come into our life. He must BE our life. None of this life ought to be our own.He bought it with a price.

    Reply
    • Johnie4usc
      May 18, 2012

      “I die daily” is taken completely out of context. Paul is saying he faces death daily. He even goes on to describe a couple ways that he faces death daily. We can’t make Christ our life. He already is our life. He is our very source of abundance and grace upon grace.

      Reply
  18. Lilly
    May 14, 2012

    Your words has changed my point of view on religion. All i saw before was all these people pretending to be ‘good’ and pretending to be Christian. i hated it, and that’s why i started to hate church. You helped me understand and motivated me to study on my own. and I found my love for Jesus as i got to know him, with your help. Thank you!

    Reply
  19. Megan
    May 14, 2012

    Beautifully said. I am so blessed by your blog and the way God uses you to get a message across. I totally agree, rather than asking Him into our hearts, ask Him to simply change our hearts. A big key to living a Christian life is getting into the habit of continually asking God to change us to look more like Him.

    Reply
  20. Will
    May 14, 2012

    Jefferson I completely agree! Have you ever read Scot Mcknight’s book “The King Jesus Gospel”? You make a lot of similar points to him. It’s a short, easy read that offers some DEEP perspective on this issue. Here are some of the things he talks about: Salvation Culture vs. Gospel Culture, Making Decisions vs. Making Disciples, and What is the Gospel? I strongly recommend it for all!! It has completely changed my perspective on evangelism, the church’s mission, and how I read The Bible. Keep preachin and doin’ your thing bro!
    In Christ,
    Will

    Reply
  21. Ashley
    May 14, 2012

    Love it! But when we ask Jesus into our heart shouldn’t it automatically be changed, without asking? :D

    Reply
  22. riante'
    May 14, 2012

    I agree! If Christianity and Christ was all about prayers and deeds to get us to heaven we would still very much be governed by The Law, we’d still have to sacrifice animals, get a pastor to approach the Father on our behalf rather than having a real conversation with Him etc. now we have GRACE, Grace that saved us from judgement, Grace took even the worst of the worst and died for them. If someone had to give you a 100 000 000 in what ever currency for no reason but just because they loved you, people today would live a life as if they felt indebted to that person but yet The King of Kings gave His life for you and yet people settle for being Sunday Christians? As you said so aptly “You are saved by grace, but real grace changes you.”

    Reply
  23. Johnie4usc
    May 14, 2012

    Okay, so I just have one question. Jesus tells us that we must deny ourselves and pick up our cross daily, however, Paul tells us that we already have been crucified with Christ. The cross was a tool of crucifixion. Through the cross, Christ was put to death and was buried, but then resurrected. The believer followed Him in these things as his/her old self was crucified and put to death and his new self, with a new heart and spirit, was raised and is now seated with Christ. So my question: Is “carrying our cross” really for us if Christ carried our cross already? I mean he gave us a new self, so we don’t really need to crucify ourselves daily because Christ did that once for all. That’s our new identity now and we shouldn’t have to kill it daily. Maybe this will make sense? Haha i don’t know, its just on my mind now.

    Reply
    • Brittany Parker
      May 15, 2012

      Jesus gave us a “new self” in like a new Christian lifestyle but we are still fallen and still need to realize that we need Him every day.

      Reply
      • Johnie4usc
        May 15, 2012

        No, we’re now the righteousness of Christ, we’re now holy, we’re now blameless before Him. If we were still fallen, we would still go to Hell, but God has changed us. In Ezekiel it says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.” God has changed us from the inside out. We’re not fallen anymore. We’re not sinners saved by grace. We’re saints who have been remade and have become a “new creation in Christ.” Yes, we need God everyday, but Jesus Christ lives inside of us. Our very source of life depends on Him now. Jesus Christ carried our cross, our punishment, our sin on his back so that we wouldn’t have to. That’s what changed history. The cross put us from the Old covenant into the New covenant of grace.

        Reply
        • Brittany Parker
          May 16, 2012

          I think you are confused about what the word fallen means. Fallen just means that we are still sinners. When Jesus died for our sins He did not die so we would sin no more which is what I think you are implying. If Jesus came to do that then we would be like Adam and Eve in the garden after He died for us. We are in no way “saints” after Jesus died on the cross. We are still sinners. We are broken which is where grace comes in because we are still not deserving of grace but it is still given to us.

          Reply
          • Johnie4usc
            May 18, 2012

            If we’re still sinners, why does Paul call us saints in most, if not all, of his letters to the churches? He always starts off by calling them saints and reminding them who they are in Christ. Again, the risen Christ doesn’t join himself to filthy sinners. He only joins himself to righteous and holy saints. This isn’t self righteousness. This is righteousness from Christ that he has imparted onto us. We’re not sinners anymore. We’re not even sinners saved by grace. That isn’t even biblical. Paul always called us saints, not sinners. You’re born a sinner in Adam. You were reborn as a saint in Christ. That’s biblical. The church needs to start seeing themselves as God sees them. Not as sinners or filthy worms, but as righteous, blameless, holy saints. Righteousness, blamelessness, and holiness all comes from Christ. It’s not something we work for. It’s something that is imparted to us when we believe.

  24. Lindsey
    May 14, 2012

    Convicting, to say the least. I know I am a Christian, but your statement “The truth is, if a boulder dropped on top of you, you’d look different after the fact. Why is it then that supposedly when the most glorious, holy, amazing, and beautiful infinite God of the universe “drops” on us we don’t look any different?” really hit home for me. I believe as Christians we can stray… but ultimately, there must be something different about our lives that sets us apart from the rest. We have been forever changed because of His grace… and we should show it. Thank you for this. It definitely gave me the check that I needed.

    Reply
  25. Rachel
    May 14, 2012

    If we don’t “ask Him into our hearts” and base our salvation on repentance then it seems like all we have to do to be a Christian is do do good works for God and we’re saved. That’s not the reason why people are saved and go to Heaven. The reason is and only is by repenting of our sins, turning from them. And following Jesus. If there is no repentance there is no salvation.

    Reply
  26. lindsay
    May 14, 2012

    You nailed it! We are a lukewarm church because of this ‘mentality’.
    We are all guilty!
    Thanks for raising questions we need to answer

    Reply
  27. Sheri-Lee
    May 14, 2012

    Thank you for this, i have struggled to find someone to answer my questions and always end up feeling “guilty” by others for even having those questions in the first place. You ask those same questions but provide the answers in the best, simplest explanations. Can you not write a Bible Study? =)

    Reply
  28. Sho
    May 14, 2012

    I LOVE the fact that you have brought this to the light. It is indeed about a life lived for Christ: Denial of self, placing Jesus before our emotions, desires, dreams and taking up our cross (dying to self) and living for him daily. Something I am not perfect at but strive to do.

    However, I would like to know your thoughts on Baptism?

    Jesus’ last words to his disciples:

    “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20

    Peter’s response to the people who were ‘cut to the heart’ in regards to their knowledge of them being active participants in Jesus’ death on the cross:

    “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” -Acts 2:38

    Jesus himself was baptized (Matthew 3:13-16) and if we are to live our lives like Christ, shouldn’t we be baptized as well? Not saying that we should just dunk ourselves (all action and no heart) but see it as a beautiful participation in the death (death of our old self), burial and resurrection (being born again…John 3:1-7) of Jesus…I see it as a marriage, a special celebration of a life united with God/Jesus Christ.

    There are other scriptures about baptism as well but these are the ones that came to my heart/mind…sorry for the long response…just wanted to share. :) Thanks for all you do for God and his kingdom! Your heart, boldness and devotion to God definitely calls me higher!

    Sho

    Reply
  29. Katerina
    May 14, 2012

    Awesome. Look at how bold you are! Thank you Jesus for YOU! What a true example your being ! I’m encouraged!

    Reply
  30. Sho
    May 14, 2012

    Also, Francis Chan has some awesome points that moved my heart to rethink my walk with God and digging deeper in his Word:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Is8QnxviOI

    Reply
  31. Jailer
    May 14, 2012

    Great post. Another aspect of this problem is what it does to our worship services: http://www.philippianjailer.com/2010/11/man-centered-worship-our-altar-call.html

    Please indulge me while I quote myself:

    … Beyond this, however, lies something more insidious. We have in our churches the subtle destruction of the corporate worship experience when its report card is visible response. Thus does the church succumb to our craving to immediate gratification, in which “rescued souls” serve as our validation. This is the worship service as a weekly tent meeting.

    There also exists a temptation to see the visible responses we see at altar calls to be determinative, when in fact they are often very problematic. We fail to see how seriously returning evangelistic “false positives” can harm the church and those we seek to save. By this I mean that our desire for validation can drive us to hound people into emotional responses often without substance. To paraphrase R.C. Sproul, it is the tendency to see every “profession of faith” as automatically implying the “possession of faith”, neglecting the truth that “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” …

    Reply
  32. Johannes
    May 15, 2012

    Wow! You nailed that one pretty well. Keep it up!

    Reply
  33. dan waits
    May 15, 2012

    This was SO spot on!

    Reply
  34. Sammie
    May 15, 2012

    Right on Bethke! Been thinking about this for a while. A huge issue within many Christian schools today. It becomes too easy. Christian living is not easy……PERIOD! It is easy to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, but it is hard to follow Him as such.

    Reply
  35. Lleini
    May 15, 2012

    I would go to church when I was about 17 and would pray that prayer of accepting Jesus and then the next day would think “why doesn’t it get into me?” I wanted it to.
    1. If there is nothing to be saved FROM then why should you want to be saved? I was never taught that there was such a thing as satan or hell and if there was I’d worry about it when I start worrying about my retirement fund. I did finally get saved at 20 when God opened my ears and I found out that Jesus gives you the best promises in this life as well as the next and satans only intention is to ruin, to rob and to kill and not just after your dead and not just if your Hitler or a murderer or something, its real. 2. Receiving the Holy Spirit, Im not sure whether people are asked if they would like to receive it, I was and it was prayed into me. I wasn’t baptised for another 14 years at34.
    Im now 38 and Ive had 15 years of horror as a Christian though the horror has just stopped. satan runs out of fuel. I used to grieve because the man who I loved married another and my only child was taken by her dad interstate, and he wouldn’t let me see her and for years I thought the only two things I loved in the whole world I don’t even have in Heaven as there are no husbands or wives in heaven and my baby daughter would be all grown up in Heaven so she wouldnt’ need me there . I contracted a blood disease at 32 so I couldnt easily meet someone to even have more children as It was relatively contagious. I was humiliated by gossip everywhere I went. I was poor, I was sick, I looked dreadful and there was nothing I could do about it. Its been 15 years and the last 10 of horror and at 38 Jesus has fully restored me. I didnt want to forgive the people who had harmed me as I thought, well if I forgive then they get away with it and Im still left with a disease, a scar on my face (I was beaten, stabbed and then the person who said would help ‘treated me shamefully’ (as the Bible puts it) for 3 days. I came from a wealthy area and the gossip and sneering was humiliating – for more than a decade!. I thought, as ‘my child is now 10 my chance to be a mother is gone’ and then suddenly, I was at church and I forgave and………. I am young again, Im bursting with joy! The years of injustice where I was separated from my baby got me accepted into Law in the state where she was and I am soon to be sworn in as a Lawyer to help other mums and their little ones and though it doesnt help the past grief and worry I had I trust Jesus with that too. I was hopeless at school but God helped me study. The thing I almost can’t believe is my face! I look young again and not in some philosophical way. I mean I have gone from looking like an old maid no matter what I did and people thought I was 50 to looking like my profile picture does- not too bad!!!!! I love, love , love You Jesus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!whooooooooooooohoooooooo

    Reply
  36. Lleini
    May 15, 2012

    Having written what I just did in the above ‘essay’ I have forgiven but there is another dimension to it also. I got a message from a woman the other night saying “He still loves you” about a certain guy. Let me tell you this, love does no harm to it’s neighbour, it ALWAYS protects, it doesn’t have someone beaten up or left for dead or send in scary people not caring what will happen, it doesn’t break into your house, it doesn’t laugh behind your back, it doesn’t scar your face, it doesn’t have you raped,… it doesn’t inflict you with diseases and spread slander, it doesn’t leave you naked without clothes and then laugh at how you look, it doesnt leave you without a roof, it always covers for you, it doesn’t visit you to laugh at your poverty, it doesn’t gloat when a child is teased at school, it doesn’t lie to ‘protect’ your hurt, it doesn’t EVER hurt on purpose. With the measure you use it will be measured back to you
    (perhaps you could change my name for this message and the above one?) Whatever you decide)

    Reply
    • Ma Sands
      May 15, 2012

      Dear, dear Lleini. I am weeping, at your story. You poor, poor child that God has lifted to His realm and made as rich as He, inheritor of all that is His Father’s. I have learned that God lets much like that happen to some, like He did for Job, because He had on purpose created the person *j*u*s*t* *s*o*, with a capacity to love Him and be loved by Him that amazes all who look on…….and the “testing” is on purpose to teach oneself strength, and that resting in Him is where all the glory and power is. XXOO!! I am so glad you turned, to look Him full in the face and to let Him have His way with you!

      Reply
      • Lleini
        June 1, 2012

        I came across Ma Sands words to me almost by accident. No one has ever spoken to me like that, thank-you isn’t enough. Your words made me feel loved. God bless you. Thank-you.

        Reply
  37. Cat Stewart
    May 15, 2012

    I can’t speak for all churches, but the Baptist church I grew up in, would offer an invitation, we would bow are heads and close our eyes, not for discretion, but to PRAY. Pray God would touch hearts and for the Spirit to move and lead. Then when it was over the ones who came forward gave a “public profession of faith”. So it wasn’t done to lend privacy to the one’s excepting Jesus

    Reply
  38. Tori
    May 15, 2012

    As someone who has only become a Christian this year (Thursday 2nd feb, 10am :-) )at the age of 30, your words ring very true in my ears. I came from a Christian family, went to church for most of my life and asked ” Jesus into my heart” every year when others were getting confirmed or baptised. But I never walked with him, never gave up what I thought was the most important things to follow him, never truly loved him and what he did for me. In fact I did the opposite. I rejected him and I didn’t even know it. I lived a false and hollow life. And yet he still loved me enough to die for me, knowing that I would reject him for so long and so often. I praise God that I am saved, that my sins are washed clean with Jesus’ blood. You words, along with Pastor Driscoll’s and other Godly people have and are equipping me to follow my lord Jesus, obey him and let him change me into the Tori that God see’s through the blood of the lamb.
    You and you’re beautiful fiancé are in my prayers.

    Reply
  39. Paul
    May 15, 2012

    Yeah, awesome you bring up a lot of truths. I think the title shouldn’t be Jesus doesn’t want you to ” ask him into your heart”. It is more Jesus doesn’t want you to JUST ask Jesus into your heart. But it should be made clear that by asking Jesus into your heart it doesn’t stop there. I still think it is a vital step for some Christians to do in saying they believe Jesus is real, because that is a big hurdle for some, but churches need to make it more clear that but saying that you are not just saying a commitment, but pledging your life.
    You have to Accept he is real, Accept that he loves you, Accept his charge over your life, Let him seep into your whole life, Listen to him, Live your life for him. Sadly a lot of people only get to the first two.
    Peace
    Good on you, I hope you make some big changes for God in your community!

    Reply
  40. Karen Chandler
    May 15, 2012

    Wow. The idea of the weekly alter call of my childhood seems to have missed the point. The church I attend now focuses more on coming along side and helping with your walk. Less quantity. More quality. Thank you for articulating that side of the debate so well.

    Reply
  41. Simone
    May 15, 2012

    Hey Jeff.
    I like your post. What do you think about baptism? Cause I think in order to be safe you need to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:36-37)
    Jesus says to his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
    That’s what he tells us to do. So, let me know what you think =)

    Reply
  42. wanda
    May 15, 2012

    You are so right. I had been going to church for a few months consistently and every Sunday the Preacher would ask us to close our eyes and raise our hand if we had not been saved ,but wanted to be. I can understand in a way why they do this, because i was terrified to raise my hand. I did’nt understand it at the time why i felt that way,because now i would be standing up shouting yes i want to be saved. But my preacher would ask us whom wanted to be saved to close our eyes and raise our hand and then they would start playing a song and he would invite us yo the pul pit. And that was how i was saved by the preacher asking if i was ready to bring god into my life and get my salvation. I can’t remember it word for word now,but i will never forget the awsome feeling ghat came over my as my preacher prayed over me. I think it is fear and not understanding the process of being saved. I know that’s how i felt at the time. Don’t be afraid run ,walk,crawl to that pulpit to be saved. You will never regret it. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it in front of everyone, then call the preacher to the side and tell him you would like for it to be done in private. It does’nt matter how you do just do it. Wanda

    Reply
  43. Beverly
    May 15, 2012

    If you were to ask people if they are disciples of Christ, majority will say “no”. Ask them if they are Christians and the answer is “yes”. In the New Testament, “disciple” is mentioned far more than “Christian”. It’s just that people don’t know the difference. There’s more to salvation than saying a prayer. Hear the Word, Believe the Word, Repent of your sins, Confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, Baptism to wash away your sins and be born again a Saved child of God. To follow and worship Jesus, one must be in relationship with Him. You can’t have a relationship with anyone if you don’t talk to them and communicate and think of them daily and know them. Most church going people don’t even do that yet claim to be Christians. Most people want the easy way thinking they have to do nothing else except say a prayer and can continue living the way they always have. Their lives never change, they never repent of their sins and change their hearts. So many are deceived. Thank you for spreading the truth and thanks for the social media to reach so many.

    Reply
  44. rolando
    May 15, 2012

    I couldnt agree more!!! People can get way too pasive with The Faith. …here is an image which illustrates this point: “And there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people CAUSING them to err.” NSFLB Isaiah 30:28b

    Reply
  45. Amy Musay
    May 15, 2012

    I remember being saved at the age of 14. I dont remember much from these years because i had a rough childhood.. I do remember that day I can see it in my mind as clear as can be and it has been 24 years. After that point Jesus was in my life for sure.. no matter what i did he was there.. leading me even though most of the time I was trying to be defiant and run.. I had a relationship with him strong.. stronger than any relationship i have ever had.. I know alot of people don’t feel this.. I did and he is still leading me in everything i do.. Sometimes i dont listen and do the wrong things.. but he is there.. always. I am very thankful and lucky to have him in my heart.. and want to live for him.

    Reply
  46. Becky
    May 15, 2012

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

    Reply
  47. Rene
    May 15, 2012

    Amen! Totally agree! And why do we practice the ‘Great Omission’ and neglect discipleship? [sigh]

    Reply
  48. Sean
    May 15, 2012

    I definitely see what you mean. I also know that some people are saved through that simple strategy, but the amount of genuine conversions that come from it aren’t outweighing the amount of false security Christians that emerge. Today’s christianity is a lot different than what the disciples were on! But you’re right, Christ is amazing and if He has truly opened your eyes to what’s real, there will be a tremendous change over time, if not immediately!

    Reply
  49. Sara
    May 15, 2012

    This one hits home hard and I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit. My mom has cancer and is terminally ill. She thinks she’s OK since she prayed a prayer way back in the day. Only God knows her heart, but aside from a commitment to my well-being as her daughter, she really hasn’t demonstrated a life defined by the radical call of the gospel. She gave up church fellowship when I was in middle school and in her later years retreated from family and friendships…anything that might hurt her. My heart aches for her to share the life I know in Jesus. I hope and pray that all of us will have the courage, kindness, love, and gentleness to proclaim the truth boldly. One day it’ll be too late.

    Reply
  50. Pat Wesolowski
    May 15, 2012

    I, too, am bothered with the phrase, “Ask Jesus into your heart,” but at the same time I think you are confusion salvation with service. They are two separate things. One follows the other. One cannot be a Christian and serve God until he has accepted Christ’s payment for his sin. No works involved. Free gift. No torture, trial, tribulation in return for salvation. However, once one decides to live a sold-out life as a follower of Christ, then things change. Yes, it’s very sad that so many claim to be Christian who are not following Christ. Are they still Christians? If they once were, they still are. Does it grieve God. Absolutely … just like the luke warm Christians in Revelations. Be careful not confuse salvation with service or people will believe they earned salvation because of something they did.

    Reply
  51. Reyna
    May 15, 2012

    While preaching, how do you go about asking people if they want to accept Jesus as their Savior? I agree completely with everything you wrote, but now I’m left wondering what the best (or Biblical) way to have people receive Jesus is.

    Reply
  52. Christen Mitchell
    May 15, 2012

    A post by my daughter;
    Jesus Groupies.
    by Brittany Ann Mitchell on Friday, January 21, 2011 at 1:23pm ·

    I was just perusing through videos of Francis Chan and his sermon entitled “Jesus: More Than A Savior” pointed to the fact that Jesus Christ isn’t only our savior; He’s (supposed to be) our role model!

    Francis then continued to point out that we LOVE Jesus and we admire the fact that He would lay down His life and be humiliated so we could be saved and be in direct contact with God, but we would NEVER let that happen to us.

    First off, I’m in the same place as most people with this. I’m not judging/pointing out specific flaws in specific people. This idea convicted me and how I view my “Christianity”.

    “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” – 1 John 2:6

    Think about that.

    My stomach churns when I think about it.

    We stand in absolute awe and love for our Jesus. We stand with “arms high and heart abandoned” in admiration for our almighty God and Savior. We are in love with Jesus! Who wouldn’t be? He gave his life for us. He hung nearly naked on a cross with nails going through the bone of His wrists and ankles. He was so brutalized that He didn’t even look like a person.

    So who wouldn’t want to offer accolades to the greatest hero in history? I can’t think of anything I love to do more than to lift my voice in worship of my favorite Being. I’m in absolute love with the Lord!

    But…do I live like Him?

    I claim to live in Him and delight in Him. But do I LIVE like Jesus lived? Do I LOVE like Jesus loved?

    He approached people with leprosy. He cared for the “unclean”; the rejects of society. He hung out with tax collectors and people who were viewed as evil. Jesus: the ultimate embodiment of pure, unadulterated, holy love.

    I am NOT the embodiment of pure, unadulterated, holy love.

    I’m not even the embodiment of TRUE love. In fact, I generally don’t like people.

    HERE IS THE PROBLEM.

    We live as Christians. We live in Christ. We are supposed to be like Him and do what He did. But we don’t. We adore Him. We glorify Him. We can’t imagine following any other “god” and believing in anything else. We’re like groupies for our Jesus.

    People LOVE their favorite band! They follow them (true groupies), advertise for them, sing their songs in the shower, listen to all of their music, read anything a band member might say, dress like the band, go to every show, tell the band “I love you guys! You’re so amazing!”…some bands even have street teams that go advertise in the STREETS for shows and such. But…you don’t pick up where the band leaves off. You don’t get a group together and do what the band does. You don’t strive to be a member of the band. You may dream about it…but you don’t work for it. “That’s a little too radical for me…” is what I think (personally).

    But…is it too radical? Moving back to being Jesus’ groupies: is it too radical to pick up where Jesus “left off”?

    I don’t think it is. Jesus wants us to be like Him. He wants to show us how to walk like Him. Talk like Him. Act like Him. BE LIKE HIM. So, it’s not too radical.

    Let’s not be “Jesus Groupies” anymore. Let’s get out there and wash feet, interact with the “rejects,” bring ourselves to a place where we’re so overwhelmed with Jesus’ love and kindness that we don’t even begin to care about social status.

    Let’s move to that place where we can truly be humble. I know I want to go there. I want to be like Jesus. I’m tired of being stand-off-ish. I’m tired of loving Jesus and not being like Him in everything I do.

    I’m done being a groupie. It’s time to be a member of the band. It’s time to get out there.

    Much love,

    Britt.

    Reply
  53. Eric
    May 15, 2012

    Isn’t it unfair to judge other people’s method of following Christ without getting to know them first? There seems to be a lot of generalization happening. Although the things discussed in the may be true and may strike a cord with people’s experience, I feel that there is a lost opportunity to grow in community with your neighbor. Isn’t it best to lead by example?

    If people don’t wish to follow your example, there could be two possibilities. The first is that the people don’t wish to truly follow Christ. The second is that you haven’t followed Him enough to inspire others to do the same. We can’t do much about the first possibility. And sometimes, we woefully fail at the second. However, given the choice between acting on first or the second interpretation, I’d have to choose the second because. The first interpretation causes me to judge others prematurely. The second always has a chance of conversion for myself and others.

    Reply
    • Eli
      May 15, 2012

      Amen! Total argeement here.

      Reply
  54. Dana
    May 15, 2012

    I was 9,it was the end of either VBS or revival..I’m not to sure. I went up not fully understanding what had actually happened to me. I went up and said the prayer. Because every one else was.. Cut to high school thought because I wasn’t drinking, smoking, doing drugs having sex that I was saved. I was listening to horrible music, and all in all, just felt worthless.. In, 2001,I graduated high school and went to college, classes weren’t working no matter how. hard I tried.. So In 2003,I switched classes. That august, I was in an a very scary hydroplaning
    accident, my mom kept saying we’re ok just thank Jesus,.. Well I couldn’t.. and that scared me, because if I’m saved then I SHOULD be able to!! To make make matters worse, even christian music was bothering me. Well that March at revival I accepted Jesus. Satan said, you didn’t get saved, so for about a year I lived the way I was. Jesus, got a hold on my heart and I’ve had a fire ever since. I haven’t been perfect, but because of grace, I know I am his!

    Reply
    • Dana
      May 15, 2012

      I’m thankful for you, Jeff! You have given me a new perspective on my relationship with God! I’ve not been as devoted as I should, you always find a way to get me thinking and I pray Gods protection and blessing for you and your fiance!

      Reply
  55. Celeste
    May 15, 2012

    COMPLETLY LOVE YOUR BLOG, you are s right. God Bless you and thank you for your obedience. You are allowing God to use you in such a mighty way to wake up and refresh being a christian and woman and man of God for not only the youth but all those you touch , reach adn come in contact with. GOD BLESS!

    Reply
  56. Megan
    May 15, 2012

    Thank you for this insight! I have been pondering on this recently as well. So awesome how He works, right? I have heard my entire life that the “prayer of salvation” was all that we need as Christians to get a “go straight to Heaven pass” But lately as I have been growing and digging into the Word, I am starting to contemplate.. Is it really enough? Also if you say the sinner’s prayer but there is no change, or even a change for some time but then you “backslide” was it really geniune in the first place? So how many people consider themselves Christian because they uttered the words in a church service but missed the point? Most importantly are they going to Heaven?

    Reply
  57. BV
    May 16, 2012

    Thank you!!! I’ve been so struggling with the whole say the prayer and poof you’re saved concept. I worked in youth ministry for 5 years and the church was always pushing me to get kids to say THE PRAYER and count how many got saved. Problem was no lives were really changed. The kids mechanically said the prayer so they could get to the snack or whatever but then they went to school the next day and nothing was different. I wanted to introduce kids to Jesus the way Jesus himself did it…. through cultivating deep relationships and discipleship, not a once and done emotional event. No one at the church wanted to really discuss this. Even though they said they were biblically correct, no one could point out the prayer to me in scripture….eventually I resigned because I just couldn’t be okay with the church’s philosophy.

    Reply
  58. Jenah
    May 16, 2012

    Once accepted by Christ He will never let go..no matter what you do, who you choose to follow..He will always be there..Christians can even stray..But Christ never does….

    Reply
  59. Lori
    May 16, 2012

    My husband and I have recently been discussing this same thing. Both are Christians now for about 8 years. Have been concerned about “the prayer” right from the beginning. Jesus can see way past the words…in fact, we act as if the words themselves have power. We don’t even allow people to struggle to find their own words, we say, “Close your eyes and repeat after me in your head.” Yet, we are so quick to condemn others who say rote prayers in their churches. My husband will tell you, he’s never said “the prayer.” Before anyone questions his status as a “true Christian”, I’ll be the first to tell you, he’s a new person since seeking Him. It’s true, we must seek Him daily or else we begin to fit in too well in this fallen world.

    Reply
  60. Kyle Unger
    May 16, 2012

    While I very much agree with this post, I posted a link to the blog in the Facebook group for my youth group, and a girl commented showing a part in the New Testament where it DOES say we need to accept Jesus (doesn’t say into our hearts though)
    luke 9:46-48 They started arguing over which of them would be most famous. When Jesus realized how much this mattered to them, he brought a child to his side. “Whoever accepts this child as if the child were me, accepts me,” he said. “And whoever accepts me, accepts the One who sent me. You become great by accepting, not asserting. Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference.”
    Thoughts?

    Reply
  61. Christy
    May 16, 2012

    Thanks for this article! I just happened to come across this article after a close friend o mine posted it on FB. I’d like to make a few comments if I may. I’m certainly no expert by any means, much like many, still growing and learning more about out Sweet Jesus day after day.

    I am guessing these comments are not exclusively for kids at a youth camp but for the general population praying to “accept Jesus into their hearts”. I had a chance by His grace to serve around the world in missions and saw some really incredible things and some really heart-breaking things. There were times during evangelism while living in Mexico City that the Lord would lead us to walk up to girls that were forced into prostitution (child-trafficking), teenagers that were hurting because of family issues and young men who were left abandoned by the wives and facing divorce. They were people that were really hurting which was unknown to us before we approached them. I have to say that during those times in consoling them, encouraging them and introducing them to Jesus, the Holy Spirit did in fact lead us to pray with them asking them to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Matthew 14:6
    “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” Matthew 14:12-13
    “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you will also live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Matthew 14:19-20

    I included these scriptures because this describes a very intimate relationship between a person and Jesus. I firmly believe that it’s not the issue of asking Jesus into our hearts. That is simply a verbal expression of faith, that we do believe He is the Risen Christ who died for us and you’re choosing to take a step and welcome Him into your heart. The issue is ensuring that it is fully explained prior to the prayer, who Jesus is and to address any questions or concerns then the most important part – Discipleship. What do you do with the person who has just accepted Jesus into their heart?? That is where you will see people begin living Luke 9:24-25.

    The many that were touched in Mexico, accepting Jesus into their hearts were radically changed; tears were flowing, some fell to their knees, some couldn’t let go of our necks. That was the power of the Holy Spirit.

    I agree that more needs to be done. It’s not just about accepting Him as your Savior but I would gently admonish you to avoid entertaining the comment you made: “Nothing makes me tremble more at night then knowing there are millions of people (most likely in churches) who don’t know Jesus at all, and are being led to hell under the pretense that they are “good to go” because they prayed a prayer.” I’m not sure that’s a fair statement to say that they are being led to hell. How do you know that? They may not be bearing the fruit in their lives that the Lord would want for them. Perhaps they are being robbed of an inheritance in eternity because of their apathy towards Christ, but who’s to say that is determining their eternal salvation? I totally understand the angle that you are coming from, but I think it may be more effective to introduce them to the real Christ – A God of Love who is in constant pursuit of their hearts.

    Also, it seems to make sense that when one chooses to be in an intimate relationship with Jesus, it should take some time and He is so patient with us. We have to acknowledge Him and accept Him into our lives before we can ask Him to change us. That’s the beauty of a free will. How can Jesus change something He hasn’t been given permission to do? He could, we know that, but He’s a gentleman. He’ll wait till He’s invited and then the heart operations begin.

    You have a lot of truth in here. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  62. Elliott
    May 17, 2012

    During Christ’s ministry on earth, those who came to hear were the curious, the convinced and the converted. Today, those who assent via the “sinners prayer” and invite Jesus into their heart are convinced, but about what is open for discussion. If convinced, this may be thought of as a ticket out of hell or affiliation with a Jesus fan club. It may also be the beginning of a serious consideration of the implications of conversion and sanctification.
    Many have said the prayer only to find themselves converted much further along. While it makes for better behaved neighbors for unconverted ‘Christians’ to follow the practical social teachings of Christ, even the best behavior cannot merit one’s place in the Kingdom of God. I am vexed by the predominance of ‘good’ cultural Christians within the body today. Perhaps that is why it has become so easy for Liberation Theology, a Social Gospel and endorsement of homosexuality to flourish within the church of our day.
    Most congregations are “outer court” of the curious, the tares and even Satan’s own emissaries in the pulpit! Having lost the culture war, the remnant, true church is forced underground. A reading of Barna’s “Pagan Christianity” let’s us know that this is not a problem restricted to our time. Nevertheless, the Church in America more closely resembles the Laodicean church of Revelation 3 than to any of the other 6 churches mentioned.
    God is sovereign in calling His own unto Himself, despite our efforts and formulae! Perhaps the church of today is the best that can be hoped for given that the head of the church is still separated from the body and Satan is unbound, running ever stronger in this world.

    Reply
  63. cme_v
    May 18, 2012

    So glad you are adding this to the conversation! Nearly 20 years ago in Bible College while studying the book of Acts, I did a study on every conversion in the book. It was eye opening!!!!! This has been a spiritual burden on my heart ever since…we have turned following Jesus into a “how to” mechanical exercise leading many to doubt if they are really saved because they are not sure they really “meant it” when they prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer.” We do not save ourselves by any WORK…including g prayer. Jesus saves.

    Reply
  64. Rodrigo
    May 20, 2012

    Thank you man, this helped me realize about my situation with Jesus.

    Reply
  65. Naomi
    May 22, 2012

    I remember weeping as an elementary school child, because of that prayer. I remember so many kids my age weeping, asking the same question. How do I know that I’m really saved? How do I know I asked him in my heart? When people asked me this churchy question I didn’t know how to respond, because when I met Jesus and gave him my life, it meant so much more than that question. And when they asked me if I had Jesus in my heart, I didn’t understand them.
    I also remember a few years later, when I was struggling with my own bitterness and anger and utter brokenness from being abused. That was the question they kept asking me, because they didn’t know how to deal with my pain. They didn’t know how to convey the beauty of grace and healing the Lord was ready to offer me. I weep about those times, because how many of the people I knew who don’t know what it means to be a Chrisitan. I weep that I never got to learn those beautiful things about truly discipling someone from wise leaders. I think about all the souls I could have helped come to the Lord, or spoken truth to, or could have given the answer to, if I had only known then.
    I thank God that I have had the grace to learn those things from Him. But what beauty would it be, to teach and be taught the true meaning of Christianity in the Christian Church.

    Reply
  66. Brad Price
    May 23, 2012

    The Bible is clear that the way a person is saved is by grace through faith. This means that we place our faith in Jesus Christ and we make a public statement of that fact for others to see. What you are discussing is the quality of faith needed to be a Christian. The problem with your statement is that you forget that faith grows. It has a beginning and then it grows. Are you really going to look a sincere believer in the face and tell them that they need to conjure up more faith before they can start their life with Jesus? Small faith in a great God is enough. We know that without the Spirit of God in a person’s life, they will not be able to live the Christian life. Are you really asking them to be as serious about their faith at the beginning as they will be in 10 years? Do you think that God is waiting to find out if they will be serious some day? He already knows who belongs to Him. At their first immature step of faith, they are already His. He has known and loved them since before the creation. We help people take their first steps. We help them take their other steps. It is not our place to make it more difficult to accept Jesus. Your message is not for the convert, it is for the person who needs to turn more and more of their life over to Jesus as the Spirit works in their life. Some will, some won’t…the problem is not the sinner’s prayer.

    Reply
    • jeffbethke
      May 23, 2012

      brad, i think you totally misread my blog bro.

      Reply

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