Now that I have a little time this afternoon I wanted to get back to the pop quiz we had this last week on discernment. We have examined several questions and statements in order to practice our skill at discerning the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and sound and unsound doctrine. We should all readily admit that discernment requires the aid of the Holy Spirit and a working knowledge of the Word of God, and we should be teaching (discipling) those around us so that they too might learn to discern.
This week in our devotions we will be looking at a text in Matthew where Jesus will challenge His discples (including you and me) and show them that they will either learn to discern or they will be defiled by the traditions of men that attack the very Word of God itself. But for today, let us finish the quiz! Here is the last statement in our practice round:
5. For my sins to be forgiven I must ask Jesus to come into my heart.
I have heard preachers all my life give a gospel invitation and say to the congregation some arrangement of words that end up conveying this idea - that in order to be saved from our sin by Christ we must open the door and invite or ask Him to come into our hearts. I have heard pastors ask people who have walked the aisle, "Where is Jesus now?" and the answer fed to them is "In my heart."
Think about it. I grew up singing the hymn Since Jesus Came Into My Heart. And who knows how many times the text in Revelation 3:20 has been pulled out and pleaded:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
This verse of course is said to be Jesus standing outside your heart, knocking on the door wanting so desperately to come in if you will but only open the door!
But wait. Does the Bible say anything at all about asking Jesus to come into our hearts? Is Jesus in our heart? Is He standing at the door of our heart, knocking, expecting and hoping that we will have the sense to open the door and ask Him in?
Well, let us do a search. First we need to go to the Online Bible. Then we need to enter a few words for a search of the whole Bible (preferrably in a good translation - suggestions include NKJV, ESV, or the NASB). What words should we search for? How about "heart"? Well that is good but there are 926 verses with the word heart in it. So how about we see if the words "Jesus" and "heart" appear together. Ah ha. Fifteen results. But not a one that says that Jesus is to be asked to come into our hearts!
Well, what about the verse in Revelation 3? At the Online Bible we should enter Revelation 3. There we get the whole chapter and can read the context (a very important concept to Biblical interpretation). And we see immediately that there is no heart here at all! In fact, the door is the door to the church at Laodicea! He, JESUS, has been locked out of the church!!! And He wants back in!!! So this verse has nothing to do with asking Jesus into your heart, or even salvation. It is a verse of discipline for the church that in its lukewarmness had forgotten their Savior. It is a verse about repentance for spiritual pride, apathy, and neglect of God and His Word. This verse is not evangelistic - it is revivalistic. It is about the church repenting and obeying her Master.
So what does the Bible say then that we must do in order to be saved? If it is not a matter of asking Jesus into our hearts, then what must we do?
Here are a few verses that will help us answer the question:
Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.
Romans 10:9-10, 13
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
These are a few that illustrate the point. Salvation is not a matter of inviting Jesus into your heart, praying a prayer, walking an aisle, or filling our a decision card. It is a matter of repenting of your sin and believing on Jesus Christ. Then it is a matter of being holy, loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself. For we know that Jesus has told us that anyone who loves Him will obey Him! Have you obeyed the gospel by repenting of your sin and believing in Jesus Christ? For more details about the gospel command, be sure and check out yesterday's blog post where we took a look at John 14:15 during Dustin and Jamie's Wedding.
And now, for a bonus question to conclude our practice round of discerning:
Can you make Jesus Lord of your life?
Think about it and I will post an answer in the near future.