Saturday, June 7, 2008

7 Reasons NOT to ask Jesus into your heart???

Dennis M. Rokser is the pastor of Duluth Bible Church in Duluth, Minnesota, and has authored a publication entitled: “Seven Reasons NOT to ask Jesus into your heart.” Here is a link to his article, and I will provide a response:

http://duluthbible.org/widgets/download.aspx?file=%2ffiles%2fResources%2fPublications%2fBooklet_PDF_Files%2fSeven_Reason_3rdEdition.pdf

To begin, the author cites the personal accounts of Erwin Lutzer and Hank Lindstrom. The solution to Lutzer’s frustration is simply by believing what Jesus promised at Revelation 3:20, and Linstrom’s prayer is odd, given that if you feel that Jesus has left you, then it wasn't God that has moved, but you.

Nevertheless, let’s address each of the 7 points.

1) “Don’t ask Jesus into your heart because…it is never found in the Bible.

Well why not at least cite the verse that people use to argue that it IS in the Bible, namely, Revelation 3:20? (He waits until point #6 to do this.)

2) “Don’t ask Jesus into your heart because…it is not how someone is saved.

But if Jesus dwells in your heart, so does the Father (John 14:23), and how is that not salvation?

The author states that one “doesn’t have to pray to be saved,” and yet Romans 10:13 states that “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

Additionally, the author states: “…sinners are not saved by their good/religious works, including asking Jesus into their heart…” Unfortunately, we are left with nothing more than simply to take his word for it.

3) “Don’t ask Jesus into your heart because…it requires no understanding of the Gospel of Grace to do it.

A sincere prayer to invite Jesus into one’s heart accompanies an understanding that Jesus is both needed and that He can meet that need.

The author states: “Frankly, any five year old can ask Jesus into her heart without any true understanding of the person, work, and accomplishment of the Lord Jesus Christ….” Actually, make that any “four” year old, and frankly, Jesus said, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)

The author asks: “Are you trusting in a prayer that you prayed to be saved?” Why not instead ask, “Are you trusting in the One to whom you prayed?”

4) “Don’t ask Jesus into your heart because…it confuses the means of salvation with the results of salvation.

In other words, praying to ask Jesus to come into your heart “puts the cart before the horse” because you are in essence praying to receive the end result of salvation, that is, the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, instead of praying for the start of salvation. The New Birth is also the end result of salvation, so should no one pray to be made Born Again either?

Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, states: “Our faith and our repentance are the work of God’s grace in our hearts. Our contribution is simply the sin for which Jesus Christ suffered and died. Would you be born anew? There has never been a person who sought for that who did not find it. Even the seeking is created by the Spirit of God. Would you know that new life? Are you tired of the emptiness and purposelessness of your life? Are you tired of the filthy rags of your own righteousness? Would you trust in someone else other than yourself? Then look to the cross of Christ. Place your trust in him. Ask him to come in and be born in you today. For Jesus came into the world from glory to give us second birth because we must--we MUST--be born again.” (Why I Believe, p.140)

5) “Don’t ask Jesus into your heart because…it either results in no assurance of salvation or brings a false assurance to people.

The question is this: Are you trusting in a prayer that you prayed, or are you trusting in the person to whom you prayed? If you are trusting in the person to whom you prayed, namely Jesus, then the focus is not on you, but on God.

In terms of “assurance,” rest assured that on the basis of the biblically settled fact that God is both omnipresent and omniscient, that He hears you, at least for no other reason than because you can’t hide from Him. You will have to answer to Him for everything single thing that you will ever say and do. David said: “You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:3-8)

The author explains: “Now this is not to say that those who have asked Jesus into their heart are not saved. They may be genuine believers in Christ. But if they are saved, they have been reconciled to God through placing their faith in Christ, not by asking Jesus into their heart.

However, asking Jesus into your heart is a matter of placing your faith in the One to whom you are praying, or else why are you praying to Him at all? If you do not believe that He exists, or that He answers, then why are you praying to Him?

The author explains: “While asking Jesus into your heart may be an expression of positive volition towards God, or may accompany faith in Christ, it certainly is not synonymous with faith in Christ alone.

Why not? Doesn’t this sound like Special Pleading? After all, are you not trusting in the One to whom you are praying? Are you not positively answering the One who stands at the door of your heart, knocking? So how is that “not synonymous with faith in Christ alone” when it is entirely a matter of faith? Now if praying to Christ is nothing more than a ritual of repetitious prayer, then that’s one thing, but if praying to Christ is a matter of communication with God, then the author’s entire argument falls apart, as it has established a means of salvation, as per Romans 10:13.

6) “Don’t ask Jesus into your heart because…Revelation 3:20 does not teach it.

Concerning the Church of Laodicea, the author asks, “Is it the unsaved or the redeemed?” So does the author really want to say that those whom the Lord described as being “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” were actually taking up their cross daily and following Him? (I find it fascinating how some who profess a “Lordship Doctrine” simultaneously believe that Revelation 3:20 addresses believers???)

The author then states that the “door” of Revelation 3:20 means the door to a “meeting place,” and then has the audacity to say that those who believe that it is a door to a person’s “heart” is “totally foreign to this passage.” The fact is that Jesus used the symbol of a “door” before, and no, it wasn’t the door to a “meeting place.” Jesus states: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9) Next.

7) “Don’t ask Jesus into your heart because…it does not clarify the condition of salvation, it confuses it--especially with children.

The author explains that children are “prone to imagine Christ in bodily form somehow living in the organ that pumps our blood.” However, I find it odd that the author opted not to perform a research study in order to bolster his hypothesis.

Article posted on CARM.org:

http://www.christiandiscussionforums.org/v/showthread.php?t=113841

22 comments:

Stephen Garrett said...

I am a Calvinist. The man who you have cited is no Calvinist but a Hyper Calvinist and he gives Calvinism a bad name.

I agree wholly with you on this and have written about it myself.

God bless

Stephen

IndweltDaughter said...

Hello there, stumbled upon this. :)

This is not to make any comments on the content of this particular post, nor is it in relation to my own particular opinions regarding Calvinism, but in relation to Stephen Garret's comment before mine.

I grew up in the church that the author of this booklet pastors, (though I left several months ago,) and I thought you should know, in case you already don't, that he is the exact opposite of a Calvinist. Calvinism, at least his understanding of it, is preached against repeatedly over the pulpit.

Like I said, I have my own opinions regarding the theology of Calvin, and I don't agree for the most part, but the view I gained of it at the church I grew up in does not accurately describe what the majority of Calvinists believe. At least, when I have talked in the past to friends who hold to Calvinism, their description of what they believe was different from what I had been told it would be. (Some of the same phrases were used, but the meaning behind the phrases was what I realized to be different.)

Thanks for the post, I thought it very well put.

Many blessings

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hello Stephen and Amanda,

Thanks for the feedback and perspective.

I assumed that he was a Calvinist, and am a bit surprised to hear that he is the "opposite" of a Calvinist. Can you share a little bit more about what you mean by that? What does he specifically say that he objects to Calvinism the most?

Also, I have posted his article on CARM.org in order to get some feedback as well:

http://www.christiandiscussionforums.org/v/showthread.php?t=113841

Philip@ReformedVoices said...

As indwelt said,
Dennis is not a hypercalvinist, and not even a calvinist. (He has several mp3 messages on his website against calvinism.)

Despite that, As a calvinist, I appreciate the work Dennis has done on this pamphlet though. I have considered sending it to the pastor I had growing up that always lead altar calls leading people into the sinner's prayer, as if the magical formula would automatically save someone.

Many non-calvinists of the past such as A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, and Paris Reidhead were also against the type of "decion-based" salvation formulas that "asking Jesus into your heart" is.

Please watch this from Paul Washer when you get time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCbYrdxNUwU

God bless.

The Seeking Disciple said...

I am an Arminian and yet I don't believe in the "sinner's prayer" if by that you mean that people get saved by some evangelical mantra. While I do think that sinner's pray, I don't see in the Bible where the sinner's prayer was taught. However, at the same time I do believe in calling people to repent and believe in Jesus and confess Him as Lord in baptism (Acts 2:38, 41). While I don't believe in baptismal regeneration, I do believe that Acts presents baptism as the place of public confession. The evangelical church seems too lazy to do this and would rather call people down front, say a prayer, and declare them saved. If they do love Jesus (John 14:15) they will be baptised (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 10:48; 16:14-15, 30-34; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:1-4; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21-22; 1 John 2:3-6).

The Seeking Disciple said...

Philip, I love the story about A.W. Tozer preaching before a large group and at the end of his message people were expecting an altar call but Tozer, who didn't practice altar calls, declared, "Now don't come down here and cry about it. Go home and live it!"

Charles Spurgeon opposed altar calls and he declared that if salvation was a work of the Spirit of God then we need only exhort sinners to believe in Christ and allow the Spirit to bring about repentance and transformation by His grace. While I don't fully agree with Spurgeon, I do see his point.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

There is an exact point in time when a person becomes Born Again, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, covered by the blood of Christ, forgiven of sins and sealed in Christ:

Romans 10:13 tells us: “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

What else could this mean, except that salvation & eternal life are passed from the generous hand of God, to the sinner praying to Him in faith, and which occurs at a specific point in time?

As a Christian, I would never say, “Go home and believe.” I do not have the perspective of, “Just tell them to believe, and perhaps the Holy Spirit will grant them ‘Irresistible Grace’ so that they will believe and be saved.”

No. When a person prays to the Savior, there is a transmission of salvation from the generous hand of God, to the sinner in need, and even Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, stood in agreement with Arminians that we are to encourage the lost to pray for this transmission of eternal life from the hand of God:

Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, writes: “Our faith and our repentance are the work of God’s grace in our hearts. Our contribution is simply the sin for which Jesus Christ suffered and died. Would you be born anew? There has never been a person who sought for that who did not find it. Even the seeking is created by the Spirit of God. Would you know that new life? Are you tired of the emptiness and purposelessness of your life? Are you tired of the filthy rags of your own righteousness? Would you trust in someone else other than yourself? Then look to the cross of Christ. Place your trust in him. Ask him to come in and be born in you today. For Jesus came into the world from glory to give us second birth because we must--we MUST--be born again.” (Why I Believe, p.140, emphasis mine)

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Here is the write-up on Romans 10:13:

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/Paul/Romans10_13.html

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Stephen,

Do you have a link to the article that you said you had written?

Thanks in advance,
Richard

TrueHope said...

While I prefer the phrase "receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord" (see John 1:12-13), I have no problem with the phrase "asking Jesus into your heart".

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." (John 4:10)

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

True Hope,

Good point.

Here are two other verses that stand out to me:

Jesus states: “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:9-13)

Jesus states: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

faithplusnothing said...

No where in the bible does it say to "ask Jesus into your heart" to be saved. We are only to put our belief in what Jesus did to be saved. Paul tells us it is what we believe that saves us. It is to all that believe.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

However, if you skip down to v.13, Paul quotes the Old Testament passage which says, "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

1) How do you feel that a person can "call upon the name of the Lord"? Is it through prayer?

2) What does it say that calling upon the name of the Lord specifically results in?

a helmet said...

I think Calvinism has abandoned the reformed acquisitions.
In the final analysis Calvinism embraces a salvation-by-works doctrine. Though it's subtly disguiesed as Sola Fide. In a "classical" salvation by works system (f.e. Allahism) it's like this:

faith + works => justification

So no justification without works.

In calvinism it's like this:
justification => faith + works

Easy to see, if there are no works, ther either will be no salvation or there is none. In any case, there is no salvation without works. So in the final analysis it all boils down to a different attitude towards works.

The Allahis must do works and boast. The Calvinist also must do works, yet simply may not boast. That's the only real difference.

So beware! Calvinism is salvation by works!

bereansearch said...

That last comment shows the ignorance of most synergistic people have in their understanding of Calvinism.

It works like this: the Word is preached, God's spirit convicts them of sin, God's spirit does a regenrating work in their hearts and minds making them born again, in doing so God reveals Himself to them - giving them faith, granting them repentance, and the works (just like in James 2) is the supernatural and outer evidence of the work of the spirit. So God even gets credit for the faith, the repentance, and the works...

How is this works salvation???

I can not praise myself for my faith in God or my intelligence to turn to God and believe. If Calvinism is a works based salvation, then it is God who does all the work.

bereansearch said...

Faith without works is dead. Truly, this is not faith at all. The works do not save you, it is simply the only observable evidence that in fact you ARE saved. If there is no change, there is no Christ. If you know change, perhaps you know Christ. If you deny this then you must deny the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. It is all over the Bible. Judas had a dead faith, and so does anyone without works. You are not saved by works but you are saved UNTO good works.

Chinchillord said...

I've always thought of the sinner's prayer as less of a required thing to be saved as you seem to imply from your comments about Romans 10:13 more of a representational (is that a word?) way of placing your faith in Christ.

Consider spurgeon's personal testimony:

http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/helpseek/spurgeon.htm

No mention of praying a prayer or anything just placing his faith in Christ. But can we really doubt that he was saved? (Following your blog from now on by the way. :))

Chinchillord said...

I've always thought of the sinner's prayer as less of a required thing to be saved as you seem to imply from your comments about Romans 10:13 more of a representational (is that a word?) way of placing your faith in Christ.

Consider spurgeon's personal testimony:

http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/helpseek/spurgeon.htm

No mention of praying a prayer or anything just placing his faith in Christ. But can we really doubt that he was saved? (Following your blog from now on by the way. :))

Abercrombie @ Christ said...

Brother Dennis Rokser is definately not a Calvinist nor a hyper-calvinist, he is a 'born-again true grace'Christian pastor.
However those of us at 1st Calvinist Church do appreciate his teaching on the misunderstanding the text of Revelation 3.20. Pastor Rokser's booklet,
Seven Reasons Not to Ask Jesus into Your Heart!
is a very popular FREE study in our bookstore. <><

joel lay said...

I know this is an old thread, but it came up early in the search.
This article is definately NOT Calvinist, but Pauline dispensational, FYI, if you had to label. Regardless, the focus on the article really has nothing to do with Calvinism or Arminism. It has to do with "what is the Gospel?"
If we exclude hyper-Calvinism all agree that Faith is essential. And it is the object of that faith that matters. When I was 12 I understood I was a sinner, Christ was a Savior, and I needed Him to save me. So without any theological expertise I "trusted" Jesus as my Savior.

The critique is very poorly formed. As one who has worked for eleven years with children, we repeatedly hear children say, "I asked Jesus into my heart." Does this mean the child is saved? No. Does this mean a child can't come to Christ? Of course they can. And you made a logical fallacy implying that this article says they can't.

joel lay said...

I know this is an old thread, but it came up early in the search.
This article is definately NOT Calvinist, but Pauline dispensational, FYI, if you had to label. Regardless, the focus on the article really has nothing to do with Calvinism or Arminism. It has to do with "what is the Gospel?"
If we exclude hyper-Calvinism all agree that Faith is essential. And it is the object of that faith that matters. When I was 12 I understood I was a sinner, Christ was a Savior, and I needed Him to save me. So without any theological expertise I "trusted" Jesus as my Savior.

The critique is very poorly formed. As one who has worked for eleven years with children, we repeatedly hear children say, "I asked Jesus into my heart." Does this mean the child is saved? No. Does this mean a child can't come to Christ? Of course they can. And you made a logical fallacy implying that this article says they can't.

Richard Coords said...

Hello Joel,

There are several points, but one thing that immediately struck me was this: "We repeatedly hear children say, 'I asked Jesus into my heart.' Does this mean the child is saved? No."

1) How do you know the answer is No? (I think you're wrong, and if you have a special revelation from Heaven as to the absolute confidence of your answer, then I cry bunk! Jesus said that whoever believes in Him has life. (John 5:24) I don't care if they are 4 or 40, and I don't care if they have a full understanding of the Gospel, grace, sin, ect. Certainly the thief on the cross didn't, and yet he is with Jesus today. Moreover, Jesus said to let the children come unto Him, and I have every reason to believe that it is salvific.

2) As I pointed out in #2, John 14:23 clearly indicates that the desired destination of God is within the believer: "Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." Whether you wish to call that "abode" their heart, their soul, their spirit, or whatever else that you wish to call it, the New Testament phenomena is "Christ in you," and that is in the absolute *literal* sense. God takes up residence in the believer as a deposit. (Ephesians 1:14, and you can also add 1 Cor 3:16.) The whole point is that IF, and I repeat, IF, the desired destination of God is within the believer, as a means of taking up residence within a person, then what pray tell, could possibly be wrong with submitting and asking Jesus to come into the one place, again, the one place, that He earnestly desires to enter and take up His abode? Even Calvinist D. James Kennedy prayed the same prayer, as I documented. So I understand that you do not like my critique. Fine.