Does inviting Jesus into your heart result in a saving personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? That is, does the person who prays a prayer in which He asks Jesus to come into his heart and life have the assurance of being saved from going to hell, God’s forgiveness of his sins and the assurance of eternal life?
I would imagine that most Bible-believing Christians would unhesitatingly reply “Yes!” After all, the exhortation to “invite Jesus into your heart,” or some variation of that phraseology, has been used for decades by most of the major Bible-believing evangelists and their organizations. Many, perhaps even most, born-again believers recited a prayer at the point they first made some kind of commitment to Jesus Christ and were told that it was an essential part of their salvation experience. I count myself among those believers.
However, the exhortation to invite or ask Jesus into your heart or life is never found as part of the salvation formula of the Apostles in the book of Acts. It was never used by Jesus Himself during the course of His Gospel ministry. In fact, it would have been a very strange thing for Jesus to tell those He was preaching to that they had to invite Him into their hearts to be saved. Since He was standing right there among them, no doubt if He had made some exhortation to this effect, they would have wondered how this were physically possible! More than that, the New Testament never teaches that salvation comes to any person because he has uttered such a prayer.
The only possible exception to this fact is found in Revelation 3:20. There Jesus, speaking to the Church at Laodicea, which had become luke-warm in its zeal for Jesus, says to the church members, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
However, this invitation spoken to believers, not unbelievers. It is addressed to the members of the “Church” at Laodicea. More than that, in the immediately preceding context, in verse 19, Jesus indicates that those whom He loves, He disciplines. Hebrews 12:8 tells us that God only disciplines His children or true believers. Therefore, when Jesus was speaking this to the Church at Laodicea, He was indicating the church had left Him out of their fellowship, and He was asking them to let Him back into it! Jesus was not offering them His salvation, but His fellowship!
So the very Word of God which we claim should be the basis for all that we teach and preach, and provides the content of the message that saves which we call the Good News or the Gospel, nowhere uses this phraseology which our modern-day American evangelists and the American Church of Jesus Christ often uses in order to get people saved!
Continued in Part 2