SALVATION and THE PUBLIC INVITATION
By Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor
HERITAGE BAPTIST BIBLE CHURCH
"Let Jesus come into your heart." This has probably become one of the most commonly used phrases in Christianity. It is used quite often when inviting people to trust Christ as their Savior, yet the terminology is not found in the Bible.
When I was in Bible college, I was talking to a young boy about Christ. I told him he could know he was going to Heaven if he would only invite Jesus to come into his heart. He looked at me for a few seconds, then asked me, "How do I invite Him to come in?" No one had asked me that question before and, quite frankly, I was stunned. I repeated what I had just told him, that all you have to do is invite Him into your heart. He then asked me, "How do I know if He came in or not?" My answer was, "Because He said He would." As the conversation went on the boy asked me to show him where Jesus said He would come into his heart. At this point I was praying desperately, "Lord, where is that Scripture that says you will come into his heart?" Scripture that state "with the heart man believes" were coming into mind, such as Romans 10:10, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Also, Acts 8:37, "and Phillip said, If thou believest with all thine heart. . ." As hard as I tried, I could not think of a single Verse to show him that said "Let Jesus come into your heart." I finally explained to him that what I meant was, if he would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for his sins, he would never perish but have everlasting life. This he understood and received Christ by faith.
I remember I was anxious to dig into my Bible and find that Verse that states, "Ask Jesus to come into your heart." I was convinced it was there and that I had read it many times. I was disappointed in myself that I could not remember where it was found. As I checked the approximately 717 times the word "heart" was used in the Old Testament and about 105 times it is used in the New Testament, I could not find one place where it said, "Let Jesus come into my heart."
I believe this was the first time I realized how confusing this had been to the boy. Here I had found myself using traditional terminology that I had learned, instead of the simple Word of God. Even though my motives were right and I was sincere, my terminology was wrong and confusing.
We will examine a little later the Verses that state, "You believe with the heart." Using the phraseology, "Let Jesus come into your heart," presents many questions and difficulties which we will look into shortly.
Before we proceed into these two areas, it is imperative to understand what the Bible is referring to when speaking of the soul, spirit, and heart. Let us briefly examine each one of these. As we shall see, the soul is the seat of one's emotions and desires. The spirit is the seat of one's intelligence, and the heart is the seat of man's conscience.
The Soul, Spirit, and Heart Explained.
The Soul (seat of emotions and desires). The soul is connected with our thinking and is that conscious life that God has created within man. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
The Word of God lets us know that the soul can be grieved, "And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel" (Judges 10:16). Weariness and bitterness of the soul, "My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul" (Job 10:1). Desiring, "But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth" (Job 23:13). Boasting, "My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad" (Psalm 34:2). Joyful, "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God..." (Isaiah 61:10). Sorrowful, "Then said he unto me, My soul is exceeding sorrowful..." (Matthew 26:38). Troubled, "Now is my soul troubled..." (John 12:27). Vexed, "The man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her..." (2nd Kings 4:27b).
When our soul is grieved, weary, desiring, joyful, sorrowful, and etc., it is connected with our thinking. It is not our pumping heart muscle, but rather that conscious life that is within man.
The word "soul" is also used in referring to the individual as a whole being (James 5:20; Romans 13:1; Ezekiel 18:20; Numbers 31:28). For example: Have you ever heard someone make the statement, "Oh look at that poor soul!" It is an expression that is referring to the person in general and not the soul specifically.
In Revelation 16:3 we find "And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea." This is a person alive that died physically in the sea by drowning. This has no reference to the soul itself specifically. The reason is, the soul itself never dies. In Revelation 6:9 and 10 we find some people who had died physically, but John sees and hears them in Heaven ... very much alive, "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
The body is the means through which we express our feelings and desires which come from our soul. When the body dies, the soul and spirit depart. In Revelation 6:9 and 10, these people had received Christ as Saviour and were seen alive and talking while "absent from the body, but present with the Lord." This is the confidence Paul, the Apostle, had when he said in 2nd Corinthians 5:8, "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."
When one dies who has rejected Christ, their soul and spirit also leaves the body and goes to a place of torment. In this place of torment they are just as much alive as they were on earth in their body. Here is a literal account of just such a man. We have the record found in Luke 16:22b-24, "...the rich man also died, and was buried (i.e., the body only); And in hell (lit. Hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." Read the whole account from Verse 19 to Verse 31.
As far as life after death is concerned, the only difference between the saved and the lost is their location. One is in Heaven, the other in torment. As the soul and spirit never die, death of the body only released them to a different location to live eternally.
I think it would be noteworthy, at this point, to acknowledge Jehovah's Witnesses' attack upon this man who went to torment. They teach the soul and spirit accompany the body into the grave and remains there until a general resurrection. They explain away Hell, teaching the lost will never be tormented eternally for rejecting Christ. Concerning Luke 16:19-31, they teach this is only a parable. How does the child of God answer their false teaching concerning Luke 16? We should be ready at all times to answer such attacks upon God's Word. In 1st Peter 3:15 we are told, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."
Let us point out several reasons why Luke 16 is not a parable, but a literal account of a lost man who went to torment.
If one would make an exhaustive study of all the parables in the New Testament, you would find that no parable ever uses a proper name. There are no exceptions. In Luke 16 there are two proper names used, Abraham and Lazarus. You cannot find this principle violated anywhere when you make a complete study of the parables. No, this is not a parable; but, a literal account of a real man who rejected Christ and has been in torment almost 2,000 years.
The word "parable" if from the Greek word "PARABOLE" which means "to lay along side of," "to liken to," and "to compare." A parable is used to compare and convey and illustrate a Biblical, literal truth. If this were a parable, which it is not, then it would be illustrating a truth which would be worse than that of the illustration, or parable. Saying it is a parable would only make the torment worse than is described here. One must remember that the Jehovah's Witnesses' eternal life is predicated upon their own humanistic, good works, and not the grace of God. Is it any wonder they want to do away with eternal torment?
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). The peace the Christian has with God comes by faith in Christ. Jehovah's Witnesses try to have peace with God by doing away with Hell and establishing their own good works.
This literal account agrees totally with other Scriptures concerning the subjects of torment and Hell.
(Jude 7), "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of ETERNAL FIRE."
(Luke 16:24b), " . . . I am tormented in this FLAME."
(Matthew 25:41), "Then shall he say also unto them (lost) on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into EVERLASTING FIRE, prepared for the devil and his angels."
In conclusion, man's spirit and soul never die, they only change location upon death, to Heaven or torment. The soul and spirit never goes with the body into the grave, for the body cannot die while the spirit is present. "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26).
Man and animals both have souls; but only man has a spirit. The soul of an animal is connected with the body. The soul dies with the body of an animal. Remember, the soul and spirit are not the human, pumping heart.
The Spirit (the seat of one's understanding and intelligence). This is where man differs from animals. In 1st Corinthians we are told, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit..." (1st Corinthians 2:11,10a).
When one is saved, they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who illuminates our understanding of the Bible. We can now understand the things of God; whereas before, the Bible seemed like a Book of mysteries. So it is when the Lord made man, He gave us the human spirit of intelligence that enables us to reason and understand things.
Notice in Job 32:8, "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." Animals do not possess this spirit even though they have feelings, emotions, and desires from the soul. In Psalm 32:9 we read, "Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee."
I believe I can verify this with a personal illustration. A friend and I went horseback riding one day. The people who owned the horses were relatives and had wanted to have the horses ridden periodically. The horses needed to be kept in the habit of being ridden. Needless to say, it turned out to be a disaster. My friend got on his horse first with no problem and went trotting across the field very nicely. By the way, we were riding bareback with only a bridle. I stepped up on top of a picnic table and climbed on mine. I tapped him gently in the ribs with my heel and we were "full-throttle" immediately. I was yelling, "Whoa, Whoa," and "Stop, Stop" at the top of my lungs and pulling back on the reigns as hard as I could, but that horse did not have enough understanding until we parted company. My ride lasted a total of about 45 seconds.
Wild animals act upon a God-given instinct to hunt and etc. Domestic animals do things by habit and relate certain things together. I have a Siberian Husky whom we have taught to do various tricks for a piece of candy. These things are not things that are comparable to the spirit that is in man. For example, what animal can learn a foreign language, invent a car, build plants, invent electricity, build a home, draw blueprints, understand mathematics, and etc? This kind of intelligence is from the human sprit that only man possesses.
In Hebrews 4:12 we read, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." The Bible teaches us that the Word of God is so sharp that it could even divide the soul and spirit. But, to the contrary, we have no Biblical evidence they are ever separated.
The Heart (seat of our conscience). We want to emphasize again, this is not the heart muscle. When the Word of God uses the word "heart," it is referring to a person's conscience and reasoning. It is that inner part of the spirit.
(Romans 2:15), "Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another."
Hebrews 10:22, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
(Mark 2:6,8), "But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts ... And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?"
Terminology Examined. When we use terminology that is not found in God's Word, it can become very confusing, and should be avoided when dealing with the lost.
Here are a few of the problems that can arise when we ask people to let Jesus come into their hearts.
How does a person let Christ come in? Does one make a surgical incision and let Christ in, then sew it back up? You may think I am ridiculous to say this, but it must be remembered that children do not always understand what you mean when this is said. Children who have been in Sunday School have seen pictures of Jesus and have a right to wonder, "Does Jesus in His body come inside of my body and live?" "Is this how He comes into my heart?" Of course, the answer is, "No." When a person speaks of the heart, children associate this with the heart muscle, and so do many adults. Children, especially, have a tendency to take literally what we tell them because of their inability to think in abstract terms.
If a person you were witnessing to asked you, "How do I let Jesus come in?" How would you answer them? When this happened to me I had to explain to the young boy what I meant. I had assumed he would have understood that I meant for him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, but I was so wrong. This confusion could have been avoided if I had avoided unscriptural terminology that I had coined from hearsay.
Does Christ come into your heart? The answer is, "No." It is the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The confusion that may arise is a doctrinal issue. The Holy Spirit is never to be invited to indwell us for salvation. God has promised to indwell each person with the Holy Spirit simultaneously with their belief in Christ. Receiving the Holy Spirit is the object of God's promise, not our invitation. Before Christ ascended back to Heaven, He left this promise in John 14:16,17,18a, that the Holy Spirit within would take the place of the Saviour Who had been with them, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter i.e., Holy Spirit), that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless . . ." (lit. an orphan).
Now, every believer in Christ is indwelt and sealed with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 makes this clear ... "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise."
There is no Christian who is not indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 makes this perfectly clear, "...Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
Remember, nowhere are we ever commanded to pray for the Holy Spirit to indwell us. Pentecostals err in this point when praying for the Holy Spirit and seeking evidence by the speaking in so-called tongues. When we ask someone to invite Jesus into their heart; but, It is not Jesus, but the Holy Spirit, that indwells us ... are we not paralleling the error that Pentecostalism makes in praying and pleading for the Holy Spirit. This thought leads me to my next point.
How would you know if Jesus came into your heart? Say that you just invited a person to "Let Jesus come into His heart" and they asked you this question, "How do I know when He comes in?" Of course, the are Scriptures to support what you meant, but there are no Scriptures to support what you said. With this terminology, the only way this person would know if Jesus came into his heart is, if he had a feeling or sensation. Then their salvation would be based on a feeling and not the Word of God. This would unequivocally parallel the same error as Pentecostalism in desiring the sensation of tongues as evidence they were receiving the Holy Spirit.
There is no terminology or phraseology as simple and clear as God's Word Itself when leading a person to Christ. How can one rephrase or improve upon Acts 16:30b, 31a? ... "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ..." They did not say, "Let Jesus come into your heart" and then have to worry about confusion and explaining what they meant by what they said.
Textual Exposition. Let us now examine the Verses that deal with believing with the heart.
(Acts 8:37), "And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest (be baptized). And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Believing with all thine heart simply means, I have no reservations or doubts within my conscience that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Philip was satisfied by this testimony that he was saved and then proceeded to baptize him.
(Romans 10:10), "For with the heart (conscience) man believeth unto righteousness..." The heart is not the muscle but the conscience of man. Your conscience will always tell you to do right, but only the Word of God tells us what is right. The soul desires peace, the spirit understands Christ died for us, and our heart (the seat of our conscience) believes unto righteousness. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). In Luke 24:25, believing is done with the heart (conscience), "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken."
(Ephesians 3:17), "That Christ may dwell in your hearts (conscience) by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love." To understand what it means by the statement "Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, one only has to read the surrounding Verses. First of all, it is addressing the believers at Ephesus, and instructing them how to grow and be strengthened. Verse 16 states, "...to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man."
In Verses 18 and 19 the results of Verses 16 and 17 are given, "(believers) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." The way to comprehend the length, width, depth, and height of God's love is to allow Christ o dwell in our conscience (heart) continuously. In other words, we are thinking about Christ at all times, which will strengthen us so we will be rooted and grounded in love. Verse 17 in no way implies Christ comes into our pumping heart with the asking. "Christ dwelling in our hearts (conscience) by faith" simply means, from the context, we as Christians need to be thinking about Christ at all times. If we do, we will be strengthened and able to better comprehend His love for us.
(Revelation 3:20), "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." When one reads this Verse, the word "heart" cannot be found. It is, nevertheless, almost universally used for the lost ... implying the door is the door to their heart which they must open to let Christ in. If we examine Verses 14-22, we find that these Scriptures are describing the condition of a local church located in Laodicea. The instructions to this church are not primarily to the lost but, rather, to the Christians who were in a backslidden condition. They were not cold; but lukewarm. Christ wanted them to be hot (i.e., lit. boiling). It would be like the Christian today who goes to church once a week, but does nothing for the Lord the rest of the week. Christ wants us to serve Him every day, not just on Sunday. There are three words that support the fact he is speaking to Christians and not the lost.
In Verse 15 we read, "I know thy WORKS." Since he is exhorting them to have good works, it has reference to service and not salvation, for salvation cannot be purchased with good works. Romans 4:5 states, "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him (Christ) that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
In Verse 19, the word CHASTEN is used. God punishes the lost, but chastens His children, "As many as I love, I rebuke and CHASTEN: be zealous therefore, and repent." "Chastening" is the Greek word "ELEGCHO" which means to train up a child or educate by discipline. Also, the word "repent" is the Greek word "metanoeo" and means to think differently or reconsider. The Lord is telling them they are acting like children and they need to reconsider what they are doing and start serving Him. The context here is referring to serving since we are saved, not accepting Him to be saved.
In Verse 20b, the word "SUP" is used in reference to fellowship, not salvation and sonship, "I will come in to him, and SUP with him, and he with me." In 1st John 1:7 we read, "But if we walk (obey) in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another..." When we sit down together to eat (sup) with one another, we have fellowship with one another. The Laodiceans were not serving Christ; therefore, there was no fellowship with Him. He wanted them to open their lives to serve Him, and this they were not doing.
When Christ stands at the door and knocks, He is simply trying to get their attention so they will "REPENT" (i.e., change their mind) and "OPEN THE DOOR" (yield to His will by obeying Him) and "SUP" with Him and He with me" (so we can have fellowship with Him).
We have been so prone to relating the word "heart" to the pumping muscle, that it is sometimes not realized how confusing it may be. This does not mean that people are not saved when this terminology is used. I am only suggesting that using Scriptural terminology such as "believe," "trust," "faith," and etc. for salvation would be less confusing.
Statements like "You can believe in Christ, but miss Heaven by 18 inches," or "You can have a head knowledge, but not a heart belief," are unwise. When one begins to analyze these statements, they become very hard to explain. They are confusing, and many times what is meant by these kinds of statements is an outright contradiction to God's teaching concerning salvation.
I have inquired of many people concerning the statement "head knowledge, but not a heart belief," to ascertain what they meant by that statement. Not all, but the majority by far, thought it meant that if a person was not serving Christ, they probably were not saved. One can easily see by this how misleading and confusing this kind of terminology can be. Just because a person is not serving Christ does not mean they have not received Christ by faith and are not saved.
A short time ago I was listening to WCRF, a Christian radio station from Cleveland, Ohio. This station is sponsored by Moody Bible Institute and they were airing an interview with a Senior girl attending Moody Bible College in Chicago, Illinois. Within her testimony she related how at the age of about 7 years, she was told to ask "Jesus into her heart" and she would go to Heaven. She went on to say that she had a problem with that and later realized it was not asking Jesus into your heart that makes you a Christian, but acknowledging that Jesus Christ died in her place. She stated that a person could ask Jesus into their heart and go on through life thinking they were a Christian when they were not. She explained that a person must understand that Jesus Christ became their substitute on the cross as payment for their sin. So, just asking Jesus into your heart without comprehending the purpose of Christ on the cross would not give one eternal life. Since this happened to her, it is easy to see why she emphasized that "A person must be careful when a child asks Jesus into their heart, that they understand that it is the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross that provides salvation, and not just repeating these words." She further commented that she does not even use that phrase any more, but emphasizes the substitutionary payment of Christ on the cross to eliminate confusion and misunderstanding.
In conclusion, the interviewer and the young lady agreed that some children take literally the terminology "Let Jesus come into your heart" and that we need to be clear on our message of salvation.
The terminology we use is probably far more important than we care to realize. This may sound harsh, but I believe we, as Christians, have become a little sloppy in our terms and phrases when presenting Christ. When we hear others using phrases over and over, it can become part of our vocabulary without really recognizing it. I believe this has happened down through the years ... as I found myself quoting cute little clichés that I had inherited and incorporated by hearing them time and time again.
I am very grateful to a little boy, years ago, who asked me, "How do I let Jesus come into my heart?" When I had to explain to him what I meant, this stimulated my thinking.
I pray that this section on terminologies will stimulate your desire to search the Scriptures, examine the terminology you use, then draw your own conclusions based on "thus saith the Lord."
Table of Contents
Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor
HERITAGE BAPTIST BIBLE CHURCH
P.O. Box 573
Walnut Grove, MN 56180
Telephone (507) 859-2519
Am I Going to Heaven?
Books by Dr. Max D. Younce
100 Bible Questions and Answers