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Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart

SAJIYH Greear

By J.D. Greear

If there were a world record for the “number of times asking Jesus into your heart,” I’m pretty sure I would hold it. I’ve probably “prayed the prayer” more than five thousand times. Every time was sincere, but I was never quite sure I had gotten it right. Had I really been sorry enough for my sin that time around? Some wept rivers of tears when they got saved, but I hadn’t done that. Was I really sorry? Was that prayer a moment of total surrender? Did I really “get” grace?

So I would pray the sinner’s prayer again. And again. And again. And maybe get baptized again. Every student camp, every spring revival. Rinse and repeat.

I used to think I was alone in this, that I was just a neurotic oddball. But when I began to talk about this, I would have such a slew of people tell me they had the same experience that I concluded the problem was endemic. Countless people in our churches today are genuinely saved, but they just can’t seem to gain any assurance about their salvation.
The opposite is the case, too. Because of some childhood prayer, tens of thousands of people are absolutely certain of a salvation they do not possess.
Both problems are exacerbated by the clichéd, truncated, and often sloppy ways we present the gospel in shorthand. Now, shorthand is fine insofar as everyone knows what the shorthand refers to. It is obvious, however, that in the case of “the sinner’s prayer,” most people don’t anymore. Surveys show that more than 50 percent of people in the U.S. have prayed a sinner’s prayer and think they’re going to heaven because of it even though there is no detectable difference in their lifestyles from those outside of the church.
On this issue—the most important issue on earth—we have to be absolutely clear. I believe it is time to put the shorthand aside. We need to preach salvation by repentance before God and faith in the finished work of Christ.
This does not mean that we stop pressing for a decision when we preach the gospel. The greatest Reformed evangelists in history—such as George Whitefield, C.H. Spurgeon, and John Bunyan—pressed urgently for immediate decisions and even urged hearers to pray a prayer along with them. Each time the gospel is preached, that invitation ought to be extended and a decision should be called for (Matt. 11:28John 1:12Rev. 22:17). In fact, if we do not urge the hearer to respond personally to God’s o‰ffer in Christ, we have not fully preached the gospel.
Furthermore, repentance and faith in Christ are in themselves a cry to God for salvation. The sinner’s prayer is not wrong in itself—after all, salvation is essentially a cry for mercy to God: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). In Scripture, those who call on God’s name will be saved. I’m not even categorically opposed to the language of asking Jesus into your heart, because—if understood correctly—it is a biblical concept (Rom. 8:9–11Gal. 2:20Eph. 3:17).
For many, however, the sinner’s prayer has become a Protestant ritual they go through without considering what the prayer is supposed to embody. God doesn’t give salvation in response to mere words; faith is the instrument that lays hold of salvation. You can express faith in a prayer, but it is possible to repent and believe without a formal prayer, and it is possible to pray a sinner’s prayer without repenting and believing.
This finally clicked for me when, almost in desperation, I read Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans. Luther points out that salvation comes by resting on the facts God revealed about the death of Christ. Just as Abraham was counted righteous when he believed that God would keep His promise, we are saved by believing that He has done so in Christ.
The gospel is the declaration that Jesus is Lord and has made an end to our sins. We are saved by submitting to those two truths. Conversion is a posture we take toward the declarations that Scripture makes about Jesus. The point is not how we felt or what we said at the moment of conversion; the point is the posture we are in now.
Think of conversion like sitting down in a chair. If you are seated right now, there was a time at which you transferred the weight of your body from your legs to the chair. You may not remember making that decision, but the fact you are seated now proves that you did. Your decision was necessary, but when trying to discern where your physical trust is— legs or chair—present posture is better proof than past memory.
Does this mean that backsliding Christians are not saved? No, believers can still backslide. Technically, any time you sin you are backsliding. As a believer, you will struggle with indwelling sin for the rest of your life. You will fall often, and sometimes you will fall hard.
But each time you fall, you get up again, looking heavenward. A person in the midst of a backslide may be saved, but assurance is only the possession of those in a present posture of repentance and faith (Heb. 6:9–10).
Ultimately, the world is divided into two categories: many are “standing” in rebellion against the lordship of Jesus, standing in hopes of their own righteousness to merit favor with God; others are “seated” in submission, resting on His finished work. So when it comes to assurance, the only real question is: Where is the weight of your soul resting? Are you still standing in rebellion, or have you sat down in the finished work of Christ?

SOURCE: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/stop-asking-jesus-your-heart/ NOVEMBER, 1, 2013 © Tabletalk magazine

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: http://www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

Dr. J.D. Greear is pastor of The Summit Church in Durham,N.C. He is author of the books Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart and Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.

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Christ-Centered Expositional Commentary Series Coming in the Spring of 2013!

Dr. Danny Akin Commenting on a New Exciting Biblical Commentary Series

At the SBC in Phoenix last year, David Platt, Tony Merida and I sat down with the great folks at Broadman & Holman to dream and brainstorm about the possibility of an expositor’s preaching commentary that would be both expositional and Christ-centered. In other words we talked about how faithful, verse by verse, exposition of the whole Bible could properly point to Christ as Jesus Himself taught us in text like John 5:39, Luke 24:25-27 and Luke 24:44-47. Well, that vision has come to fruition.

In the spring 2013 the 1st of a 40-volume preacher’s commentary entitled “Christ-Centered Exposition” will be published. David Platt, Tony Merida and I have the great honor of serving as the editors of the project as well as authoring together the first volume. The initial volume will be “Exalting Jesus in the Pastoral Epistles.” David will produce 1 Timothy, Tony will write 2 Timothy and I will pen Titus. The goal is for the entire series to be complete in 10 years! We certainly need your prayers for that goal to be met!!!

By God’s grace we have enlisted an incredible array of contributors for the series. We thought you might be encouraged and excited by the list of authors who are currently assigned to help us in this significant project, so I have listed them below. It will be apparent that the authors are all committed evangelicals, the majority are Southern Baptists, and most are on the younger side when it comes to age. That was by intention. Further, the Southern Baptists contributors represent the healthy diversity of theological perspectives that exist within our convention of churches within the parameters of the BF&M 2000. And, 6 of the contributors are African-Americans which is a real plus in my judgment.

Now, we recognize in a project of this magnitude there may be some adjustments along the way, but as of today those are the men who will participate and the book(s) they have been assigned.

Our goals in all of this are several. Above all we want to exalt and honor King Jesus. Second, we want to model faithful, biblical exposition. In this context we are excited to show the appropriate differences that exist within in this preaching model. Third, we want a strong missional thread running throughout the series. Building Christ’s Church and extending the gospel to all the nations will be a consistent focus of this series. Finally, for all who preach and teach the Bible, it is our hope and prayer you will be helped in your own ministry of the Word. These are exciting days for the Church of the Lord Jesus. The faithful preaching of His Word, as always, is essential to the health and vibrancy of His Body. May our Lord by His grace and for His glory, use this series for the fame of His Name and the great good of His people.

                                      The Old Testament

Genesis  Volume I Russ Moore
Genesis Volume II Russ Moore
Exodus Tony Merida
Leviticus Allan Moseley
Numbers David Prince
Deuteronomy Al Mohler
Joshua Robert Smith
Judges / Ruth Eric Redmond / David Platt
1 & 2 Samuel J. D. Greear / Heath Thomas
1 & 2 Kings Tony Merida / Jim Hamilton
1 & 2 Chronicles Danny Akin / Adam Dooley
Ezra / Nehemiah Tony Merida  / Jim Hamilton
Esther Jimmy Scroggins
Job Tullian Tchvidjian
Psalms  Volume I Danny Akin / Josh Smith
Psalms Volume II David Platt/ Jim Shaddix
Psalms Volume III Danny Akin / Tony Merida/ Johnny Hunt
Proverbs Jon Akin / Danny Akin
Ecclesiastes Darrin Patrick
Song of Solomon Danny Akin
Isaiah Andy Davis
Jeremiah / Lamentations Steven Smith
Ezekiel Landon Dowden
Daniel Danny Akin
Hosea / Joel Kevin Smith
Amos / Obadiah Greg Heisler
Jonah / Micah Eric Redmond / Bill Curtis
Nahum / Habakkuk Ken Fentress
Zephaniah / Haggai Micah Fries
Zechariah / Malachi Stephen Rummage / Robby Gallaty

 

The New Testament

Matthew David Platt
Sermon on the Mount Tony Merida
Mark Danny Akin
Luke Thabiti Anyabwile
John Matt Carter
Acts David Platt / Jimmy Scroggins
Romans David Platt
1 Corinthians James Merritt / Danny Akin
2 Corinthians Eric Mason
Galatians Tony Merida / David Platt
Ephesians Tony Merida
Philippians Tony Merida
Colossians / Philemon Matt Chandler / Danny Akin
1&2 Thessalonians Mark Howell
1&2 Timothy / Titus Tony Merida / David Platt / Danny Akin
Hebrews Al Mohler
James David Platt / Francis Chan
1 Peter Mark Dever
2 Peter / Jude Mark Dever / Danny Akin
1st, 2nd, 3rd John Danny Akin
Revelation Danny Akin

About Danny Akin: Daniel L. Akin [follow on Twitter] is the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in theology, preaching, and hermeneutics. Danny was previously the senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author or editor of a number of books, including A Theology of the Church, God on Sex, and the volume dedicated to 1, 2, 3 John in the New American Commentary Series. He also contributed a chapter to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Time. Danny is married to Charlotte, is the father of four boys, and is a proud grandfather of four. The Akins are members of Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Danny’s personal website can be found at DanielAkin.com. The article above is adapted from the June 12, 2012 edition of http://betweenthetimes.com/index.php/2012/06/12/excited-to-announce-the-launch-of-christ-centered-exposition-exalting-jesus-in-every-book-of-the-bible/

 

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Book Review Gospel: Recovering The Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary by J.D. Greear

 Wow! What a Fantastic Christ-Centered Book!

I never heard of J. D. Greear before reading this book; but after reading this one, I immediately purchased his only other published book called “Breaking the Islam Code” and can’t wait to get started on that one. I’m sure many more books from Greear will follow – because he is an exceptionally gifted theologian/pastor – he is astute, cogent, and practical in his biblical and cultural exposition of the gospel as revealed in the Scriptures.

I’ve been a Christian since I was six years old, but even as a so-called “professional” pastor for the past 25 years and yet I still feel like a baby in my understanding of the depths of the gospel. It has been exciting for me to see how pastors like Tim Keller and a new generation of young pastors have come along who are theologically astute and Christ centered and able to show the relevancy of Christ and the gospel and how it works not only in the past, and in the future, but especially in the NOW. We are the NOW generation, and the best way to live in the NOW is to apply the gospel daily.

It’s hard to improve on Tullian Tchvidjian’s description of the book from the inside cover:

“He [Greear] powerfully and probingly shows the gospel is just as necessary and relevant after you become a Christian as it is before because the gospel doesn’t simply rescue us from the past and rescue us for the future; it also rescues us in the present from being enslaved to things like fear, insecurity, anger, self-reliance, bitterness, entitlement, and igsignificance. J. D. makes the clear case that when the word of the gospel—Christ’s love for us without strings attached—grips our hearts, it sets us free and changes everything.”

In three powerful sections in the book Greear shows how “the gospel can do what religion cannot”; how to daily live out the gospel (the longest section of the book – absolutely fantastic); and how to develop a gospel-centered understanding of life.

Get two copies of this book – one to read year after year – and another to give away. I hope this book receives a wide reading, reception of, and application of the “revolutionary” gospel!

 

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