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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

Is “Asking Jesus into your heart” an unhelpful Christian cliche?


J.D. Greear of Christianity Today has written an interesting post which asks pertinent questions on cliches that Evangelicals use and how these cliches have muddied the waters (caused many to doubt their salvation and led countless to have false assurances) …

If there were a Guinness Book of World Records record for “amount of times having asked Jesus into your heart,” I’m pretty sure I would hold it.
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…
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.
I walked a lot of aisles during those days. I think I’ve been saved at least once in every denomination…
A 2011 Barna study shows that nearly half of all adults in America have prayed such a prayer, and subsequently believe they are going to heaven, though many of them rarely, if ever, attend a church, read the Bible personally, or have lifestyles that differ in any significant way from those outside the church.

If the groups described in Matthew 7 and Luke 8 are not referring to them, I don’t know who they could be referring to…
I have begun to wonder if both problems, needless doubting and false assurance, are exacerbated by the clichéd ways in which we (as evangelicals) have learned to speak about the gospel. Evangelical shorthand for the gospel is to “ask Jesus into your heart,” or “accept Jesus as Lord and Savior,” or “give your heart to Jesus.” These phrases may not be wrong in themselves, but the Bible never tells us, specifically, to seek salvation in those ways. The biblical summation of a saving response toward Christ is [“repentance” and “faith or trust in Jesus alone”].

Isn’t it easier to ask heathens and pagans to simply “repent and put their trust” in Jesus? I do agree cliches just simply cause more confusion.
Besides my heart has just little space in its ventricles…and I am thinking about being an organ donor!

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8 responses to “Is “Asking Jesus into your heart” an unhelpful Christian cliche?

  1. Althea July 16, 2012 at 20:39

    I understand what you mean, but I think that there are worse things we can confess. The intent was right. I am assuming that 5,000 is an exaggeration (it does seem excessive), but even so, I would prefer asking Jesus into my heart that number of times, than becoming bedfellows with the devil. You mentioned doubt, and I must say that I am a bit curious to know why it took so many times. I myself gave my life to Jesus about 5 times, but then I wasn’t attending an evangelical church and really didn’t understand the full ramification of the ‘process’. Some people know the date when they became born again; I don’t, but it doesn’t matter, because I am 100% sure that I am now, and am also glad to say that I have been attending a dynamic church with lots of Word, and sound teaching for almost 5 years.

    • Acidri July 16, 2012 at 21:18

      I am glad to hear that you are growing in the word. Praise God!

  2. ChurchSalt July 16, 2012 at 21:00

    Not to sound like an alarmist, but I think the cliches are far from harmless. They deny the very core truths of the Christian faith and completely gloss over why our Savior came in the first place. I recently wrote an article on all the trouble and danger associated with this quasi-christian terminology and evangelism. I hope I’m not being rude or intrusive by posting a link (please delete if not appropriate).


    • Acidri July 16, 2012 at 21:16

      Your link may benefit some one in understanding this concept of cliches.

  3. Pieter Stok July 16, 2012 at 22:45

    My wife often reminds me that for young children who can be quite literal, asking a grown man to reside in your heart (physically) is a scary concept. For all of us. It would be good if we used words the Bible used. “Repent and believe” “Come to me (Jesus) …” etc.

  4. Andrew July 31, 2012 at 04:54

    You said: ‘Isn’t it easier to ask heathens and pagans to simply “repent and put their trust” in Jesus?’ However, we are saved by grace through faith, not by repentance or even trust.

    • Acidri July 31, 2012 at 06:03

      The bible commands us all to repent of our sins and put our faith in the completed work of Christ. Even then repentance is a gift that only God can grant…it is his goodness that leads us to repentance. Yes, His grace is shown to us when he regenerates a man dead in sin and brings him to respond to the gospel call.

  5. gary July 17, 2013 at 00:48

    Isn’t it odd that if the Baptists and evangelicals are correct that their “born again experience” is the true and ONLY means of salvation, the term “born again” is only mentioned three times in the King James Bible? If “making a decision for Christ” is the only means of salvation, why doesn’t God mention it more often in his Word? Why only THREE times? Isn’t that REALLY, REALLY odd?

    Why is it that the Apostle Paul, the author of much of the New Testament, NEVER uses this term? Why is this term never used in the Book of Acts to describe the many mentioned Christian conversions? Why is this term only used by Jesus in a late night conversation with Nicodemus, and by Peter once in just one letter to Christians in Asia Minor?

    If you attend a Baptist/evangelical worship service what will you hear? You will hear this: “You must be born again: you must make a decision for Christ. You must ask Jesus into your heart. You must pray to God and ask him to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart, and be your Lord and Savior (the Sinner’s Prayer). You must be an older child or adult who has the mental capacity to make a decision to believe, to make a decision to repent, and to make a decision to ask Jesus into your heart.”

    It is very strange, however, that other than “you must be born again” none of this terminology is anywhere to be found in the Bible! Why do Baptists and evangelicals use this non-biblical terminology when discussing salvation?

    Maybe it’s because…making a “decision” for Christ is NOT the manner in which sinners are saved!


    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

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