I remember leading a fifteen-year-old student through the gospel, which he knew quite well already, and then in receiving Christ by faith. He knew in his head, felt in his heart, and decided in his will to trust Jesus, repenting of his sin. I welcomed him into God’s family, congratulating him on his new faith in Jesus.
His mother held up her hand to stop me and then turned to her son with a question that disturbed me, “Son, did you feel any flutter in your heart? Do you feel any different?” His smile faded into a look of bewilderment. Since he had felt no such physical disruption, she said he’d need to do it again sometime until he felt differently. When I left that church, he was nineteen and had never had the confidence to declare his faith through baptism. After all, he was searching for an emotion that might never come.
In our evangelical culture, phrases like “just ask Jesus into your heart” are familiar and common, not because they are in the Bible, but because they’re part of our tradition, healthy or not. J. D. Greear has written a fairly short book – handy enough to give away multiple copies – that relays his experience, examines the doctrine of justification by grace through faith, clarifies the meaning of repentance and faith, and amplifies the beauty of assurance.
Here are a few of the big ideas I circled…
Salvation is a posture of repentance and faith that you begin in a moment and maintain for the rest of your life.
You’ll never give up your life in radical obedience until you are radically assured of His radical commitment to you.
God wants the intimacy of sons, not just the service of slaves.
We may not be worthy to be forgiven, but He is worthy to forgive for us.
Jesus suffered the full extent of God’s judgment; all that is left for me is love.
To get the context, you need to read this book for yourself, especially if you’ve wrestled with doubts about your own salvation. It’s also the kind of book that will almost certainly bring someone to your mind who has struggled with the issue of assurance. And not only does Greear effectively handle the theological issues surrounding assurance, but he does so in a language that makes this book as much a tract to share as a treatise to study. It’s written in plain language, and would make a great basis for a message series with an evangelistic thrust.
I hope you’ll pick it up, read it, and give a copy away. And if Jesus is already in you, stop inviting Him, and start celebrating His never-ending presence!