There has been some controversy recently about whether Christian salvation is a matter of asking Jesus to come in to your heart. The problem with this phrase is that it is not biblical.
- The Bible doesn’t mention Jesus coming into a person’s heart.
- The idea of Jesus entering a person’s heart is nowhere used in any gospel presentation in the Bible.
The Scripture verse from which the “ask Jesus into your heart” concept is usually taken (Revelation 3:20) does not mention the heart or our asking Jesus to do anything. In context, Revelation 3:20 is speaking about the church fellowshipping with Jesus, not an individual person getting saved.
When the Bible gives a gospel presentation, there are certain things happening:
- The Bible says we are to believe in Jesus (John 3:16; Acts 16:31)
- The Bible says we are to receive Jesus (John 1:12)
- The Bible says we are to change their minds, or repent (Acts 3:19).
These are the proper response to the authentic gospel.
- We are to change our minds about our sin and about who Christ is.
- We are to believe Jesus died and rose again.
- We are to by faith receive the gift of everlasting life.
- We are to recognize that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23)
- We are to understand that we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23)
- We are to trust that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24)
- We are to receive the gift of salvation that God offers us out of his grace (Ephesians 2:8–9).
All of this is done in faith, with God’s enabling (John 6:44). Salvation is not something we do or earn. Salvation is something we receive from God due to His mercy and grace.
While asking Jesus to come into your heart, or to enter your life, is not explicitly biblical, it is also not necessarily anti-biblical, if it is done in the context of a presentation of the biblical gospel. If a person understands sin and its penalty, understands the payment Christ made on the cross, and is ready to trust Jesus alone for salvation, an invitation to “receive Jesus” is not wrong (John 1:12). It may be a matter of semantics to say “receive Christ” or to “ask Jesus into your heart.” It could help a person understand that the Spirit of Christ comes to indwell the human soul (John 14:17). It is best to use the terminology the Bible uses, so “Ask Jesus into your heart” does not fully communicate what is actually occurring.
When we are sharing the gospel, we should be careful what we say and how we say it. Even the word believe can be misleading if it is presented as intellectual assent (agreeing that certain facts are true) instead of as trust (relying on those true facts).
- Salvation is not about believing a list of facts.
- Salvation is not about asking Jesus to come into your heart.
- Salvation is not about asking God to forgive you.
Salvation is about trusting in Jesus as your Savior, receiving the forgiveness he offers, by grace through faith. Salvation is about being made new through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
I discovered one passage that deals with God’s message and the heart… When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. (Matthew 13:19 NASB)
The gospel is sown in the heart, the goal is to be the good, receptive soil that produces a bountiful crop.