Just “ask Jesus into your heart.”  It’s like the evangelical theme these days.  ‘I asked Jesus into my heart’ has become a part of so many salvation testimonies, and for many it is equated with salvation itself.  When my second daughter was born, I received a card from a Christian sister congratulating me, and praying that, ‘she was ask Jesus into her heart at an early age.’  While I appreciated the thought behind the words, my reflex reaction was, ‘I hope she never does that.’

WHAT?  Why?  Am I just being mean?  Why would I say such a thing?  Don’t I want my children to be saved?

As we drove to church this past Sunday my oldest, who is 5, asked how old she needed to be to repent and trust.  Repent and trust.  Those are words we don’t hear very often these days from anyone, let alone a 5 year old.  But these were words she has heard since she was born, and words she often uses.  She has never heard the phrase, ‘ask Jesus into her heart,’ and from me, she never will.  It is not uncommon for her to ask me a question about a hymn we are listening to, and whether the person singing had ‘repented and trusted.’

As you read this, if that had been your child, what would your response have been?  What a golden opportunity, right?  How easy it would have been to say, ‘Abigail, all you have to do is ask Jesus to come into your heart.’  Tempting, in a way.  Tempting to give myself comfort in thinking that my little 5 year old is now a Christian because she prayed a prayer and asked Jesus into her heart.

How many people in our country have done the very same thing, yet continue to live like the reprobate that they were and still are.  It is easy to say those words, and yet have no understanding of Biblical salvation.

My main problem with this trend is that it is no where in Scripture.  Yeah, I’m one of those literalists.  The Bible commands that we repent and trust, or repent and believe.  NEVER does it command us to ask Jesus to come into our hearts.  What exactly does that phrase mean anyway?

Abigail and I have had this type of conversation many times over the past year.  I do my best to answer her questions on her level, and I can see the wheels turning in her little brain trying to figure it out.   She knows the words, but also knows that she doesn’t understand ‘how to repent yet.’  I desperately want her to understand what it means to repent and trust, and I desperately want her to do so. But I refuse to lower the bar so that she can make an outward display that may or may not have any inward reality.  So I will continue to pray that God would enlighten her, that he would help her to understand what it means to repent and trust.  I will continue to trust in God’s Sovereign control over her salvation.  I will continue to have patience, and allow the Spirit to do His work of convicting my daughter of sin, righteousness and judgement, without trying to rush the process.

Most of all, I will do all that I can to NOT give her a false sense of security.  I hope she does indeed get saved at an early age, even before her next birthday.  But if she turns out to be a prodigal, I will continue to preach the Gospel to her, continue to help her see the wickedness of her heart (the same wickedness that is in my heart), and her need for forgiveness.  When and if she is regenerated, the Spirit will provide assurance, and fruit in her life will provide outward evidence of an inner change.  It won’t be a certain prayer or a certain phrase, but rather the work of a sovereign God changing her heart, granting her the gift of repentance and of faith.

For 10 more reasons not to ask Jesus into your heart, read this short article.