Unsure that you are saved?
This is my personal review on Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart audiobook by J.D Greear, as part of christianaudio reviewer program
The title of the book caught me at first glimpse. It sounds controversial and there were funny questions going into my head the moment I saw the title.
The book mainly focuses on giving the assurance of salvation. How do you really know that you are saved? If it’s true that “once saved, always saved”, then why some of us doubt our salvation?
Although the book is written specifically to Christians who doubt about their salvation in Christ, it is also a great book for Christians who are already deeply rooted in Jesus. The book is theologically rich, with a mix of real examples and occasional jokes made by the writer, J. D. Greear.
You can use the book to strengthen those who are already in the faith, encourage those who are doubting their salvation and faith in Jesus, and also as a teaching reference.
The book is about 4 hours long, but the author always manages to keep it interesting. At times, he’ll explain a particular question or issue in great theological detail, and at other times, compare his (funny) real life experience as an analogy.
The narrator, Tom Parks, also does a great job in narrating the book. He doesn’t sound monotone and manage to capture the tone when the author is trying to be funny, or serious.
Excellent clarification of repentance/salvation
Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart is another one of those book titles that catches your eye instantly and causes you to pause to read what it's all about. I had hoped that it would focus on true repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus, but honestly feared it was something far from that - especially since it's such a relatively short book. To my delight, this book met and exceeded my expectations.
As someone who had asked Jesus into his heart multiple times and doubted the security of his salvation, J.D. Greear writes on a topic that is applicable not just to the unsure but to all Christians. There are many people I've talked with who believe a friend or loved one is saved because they prayed the "sinner's prayer" when they were young, despite lacking any commitment to the faith and bearing no fruit that is in accordance with righteousness as an adult. They can be perfectly nice people, but nice doesn't get your sins forgiven - only Jesus does. This is where Greear's book is so useful.
The format is very straight-forward, as is evidenced in the table of contents:
1. Baptized Four Times
2. Does God Even Want Us To Have Assurance?
3. Jesus In My Place
4. What Is Belief?
5. What Is Repentance?
6. If "Once Saved, Always Saved," Why Does The Bible Seem To Warn Us So Often About Losing Our Salvation?
7. The Evidence You Have Believed
8. When You Continue To Doubt
Although the book is only 128 pages including two appendices, it is theologically rich. Every page is packed with depth - no space is wasted here. Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart shows biblically what true Christianity is and how this gives assurance of salvation. Greear spends a good amount of time dealing with common insecurities people have with their salvation, particularly in the belief and repentance sections, which I found to be very clear in communicating what it means to truly turn to Jesus. Christians young and old would do well to read this book, if not to correct any errant beliefs about repentance and salvation, than to be reminded where life in Christ begins and ought never to leave (it only digs deeper).
I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Tom Parks. He has a strong but warm voice, talks clearly, and reads at a decent pace. I preferred to set the audiobook at 2x speed, however, because it felt a little more natural and is a personal preference of mine (I commonly do this with audiobooks).
This would be a great gift for anyone, including nonbelievers who may have a distorted idea of what "belief in Christ" means, and I would definitely recommend it without hesitation. It is biblical, Gospel-focused, practical, yet profoundly rich.
Worth the Listen
I received this audiobook courtesy of Christian Audio for the purpose of writing a review.
Narrator Thoughts - Tom Parks does the perfect job of reading this book in the matter-of-fact way that it is written. His clear and simple way of speaking provided the perfect framework for this book. It was a perfect choice.
Book Thoughts - As someone who has doubted they have saving faith, I really enjoyed this book. Greear spells out the truth so clearly that I found my faith refreshed and my soul encouraged. It's all about resting on the finished work of God, not what we do. "Salvation isn't about completing a ritual, it's about consummating
a relationship with God." - J. D. Greear. He also explored each scripture that some pastors use to threaten people with losing their salvation. He looked at them in the light of all of what Jesus taught and God's nature. It put my mind at ease about some things that I had heard preached.
If you would like to learn how to get your own copy of Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, stop by ChristianAudio or Amazon to get one.
Rest Assured in the Power of the Gospel
How many times have you asked Jesus into your heart?
If you’re anything like Pastor J.D. Greear and countless others, it could be thousands of times. “Am I really saved?” is a question that haunts Christians, causing them to live plagued with fear and doubt, rather than joy and peace. While I don’t know that my own count reached into the thousands, I can distinctly remember praying the “sinner’s prayer” every single time I heard it in a worship service, youth camp, or revival meeting growing up. “Just in case,” I told myself.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20′s that I finally realized I didn’t have to constantly panic over the state of my soul. The assurance that I was truly and eternally saved came through the counsel of a godly man, who taught me things very much like what Greear has written in this little book.
There are two prevalent problems associated with the doctrine of assurance: true Christians who doubt their own salvation, and unregenerate people who have a false assurance that they are saved. Greear seeks to tackle both of these problems.
In the book, false assurance is primarily chalked up to the common teaching that if someone “prays a prayer” they are saved. When this false teaching is accompanied by the true teaching that salvation cannot be lost, it is a recipe for disaster! The solution is to hold fast to the doctrine of justification by faith alone (stressed to a greater extent in one of the book’s appendices), so that people realize that there is nothing magical about any particular set of words which grants us a new heart. The faith that saves is a faith that is accompanied by a changed heart, a renewed mind, and an obedient spirit.
These same truths are also the solution to the problem of doubt. If a Christian is worried about his “status” as a believer, he need only examine his life for the evidence of salvation. Greear urges believers to focus not on determining precisely when their walk with God began , but rather on whether they are walking with God now. The presence of this evidence, particularly love for other believers, ought to set a Christian’s mind at ease.
Greear also addresses some of the common arguments raised against the idea that Christians can know they are saved in a chapter titled, “If ‘once saved always saved,’ why does the Bible seem to warn us so often about losing our salvation?” These are questions that must be answered, and they are answered very well here. Hopefully every reader will come away more convinced than ever in the perseverance of the saints.
This is a book that I know I’ll be handing out to believers struggling with assurance. It would have greatly benefited me a decade ago! I pray that the Lord will use it to aid many Christians to rest assured in the power of the gospel. If you struggle with doubt about your salvation, or know someone who does, get this book.
A quick note about the audiobook, which I received free for reviewing purposes from christianaudio.com: I think it’s the first book I’ve heard read by Tom Parks, but I really liked him! He’s a very engaging reader, and has the added benefit of sounding a lot like one of my favorite preachers. I hope to hear more from him!
A 'must-read' for every Christian
I was fortunate enough to listen to the audiobook version of this book. I found that it was easy to listen to and the narrator's voice was a good fit for the topic, although he did pronounce the word "Jesus" a bit funny at times :-).
This is one of those books that your read and think to yourself, "everyone needs to read this!". I think if more Christians understood the concepts covered in this book, Churches could spend less resources on counseling and the like, and focus more on our mission.
I recently read a review on this book from the Kindle version...
I agree with Aaron's review here, and probably could not do better myself, so here is his review in total, to save you going to the link.
How do you know if you’re really a Christian or not? Is there a way to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re really saved?
These are questions I’m sure we’ve all asked from time to time. But for many, there appears to be an almost fearful uncertainty about their salvation—a fear that they may have professed faith in Jesus, lived faithfully but then, at the end, find out they’re going to spend eternity in hell.
And so maybe they’re not “saved enough,” so they pray a prayer, maybe get baptized again, and are good until the next crisis of faith.
JD Greear, pastor of The Summit Church, knows what this is like. “If there were a Guinness Book of World Records record for ‘amounts of times having asked Jesus into your heart,’ I’m pretty sure I would hold it,” he says as he opens his new book, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart. His early years were a seemingly endless cycle of pray a prayer, get baptized, be jazzed up for a while, have a crisis of faith and doubt his salvation and pray the prayer again.
He’s not alone in his experience. “The Enemy—one of whose names in Scripture is ‘the Deceiver’—loves to keep truly saved believers unsure of their salvation because he knows that if he does they’ll never experience the freedom, joy, and confidence that God wants them to have,” he writes. “But he also loves to keep those on their way to hell deluded into thinking they are on their way to heaven, their consciences immunized from Jesus’ pleas to repent” (Kindle location 236).
He wants genuine Christians to have confidence in their salvation—but he also wants those who have false assurance to understand the truth of their situation. These twin goals drive this short book.
But is certainty something we’re promised—does God want us to be sure that we’re saved? Yes, writes Greear:
I can say with certainty that God wants you to have certainty about your salvation. He changes, encourages, and motivates us not by the uncertainty of fear, but by the security of love. That is one of the things that makes the gospel absolutely distinct from all other religious messages in the world. I’ll be so bold as to say that your spiritual life will really never take off until you have the assurance of salvation. (Kindle location 337)
This point, that our spiritual lives “will never really take off” until we have assurance of our salvation, is crucial.
While some treat the notion of assurance or certainty as something that leads people into laziness and apathy—after all, if “once saved, always saved” is true, the it doesn’t matter what we do, the argument goes—Greear’s point is that assurance is what motivates our obedience rather than hindering it.
Repentance and belief in the gospel—”the biblical summation of a saving response toward Christ,” as he puts it—demands not that we pray a particular prayer (not that that’s a bad thing), but that we obey Christ.
To be saved means to repent of your sin and to fix your eyes on Jesus and His finished work by faith—and this inevitably leads to a changed life.
Greear’s connection of obedience to repentance and belief is important—perhaps the most important thing in this book. It’s both the most challenging thing for modern evangelicals to grasp about the gospel, but also among the most liberating.
Too often we get caught up in questions about whether or not a call to obedience is a denial of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Greear, like many others before him (including the authors of Scripture), is very careful to make it clear that obedience is not the grounds of your salvation—rather, your salvation is the grounds of your obedience.
There are points you can never pass spiritually until you are confident that Jesus will support the full weight of your soul. There are sacrifices you’ll never make and commands you’ll never obey unless you are convinced of their eternal value… You’ll never give up your life in radical obedience until you are radically assured of His radical commitment to you… Religion commands us to change our behavior, but it cannot change our hearts. It can tell us to do what is right, but cannot give us a love for the right. Only the gospel and the assurance it yields creates a passion for the right in our hearts, because only the gospel goes deep enough to actually change the warped nature of our hearts. (locations 378, 388, 402)
“The gospel of God’s grace creates in us the desire to obey,” he writes (location 482). This is so important for us to get—in fact, if it’s the only thing you take away from Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, your time reading the book will be well spent. Genuine obedience is never motivated by fear—it’s motivated by love. Our certainty of God’s love for us in Christ is what allows us to obey Jesus, imperfectly though we do. But make no mistake: where there is no evidence of belief, there is no genuine belief.
“Saving faith, because it is rooted in a new, born-again heart, has in its character the impulses that produce good works, he writes. “Where those good works are absent, so is saving faith. It’s not that good works are equal to, or interchangeable with, faith, but that true faith always produces good works” (location 1978).
Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart is a very good book, and is sure to benefit a lot of people. Give it a careful read and share it with others. You won’t regret it.
- Show ALL Reviews
Great for reference.
The problems addressed by J.D. Greear’s book, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart are very real ones. Many people who identify as Christian do so only because they “prayed a prayer once,” but their life shows no evidence of conversion. Also, many Christians live in perpetual fear of “losing their salvation,” or not experiencing a dramatic enough conversion to believe they are saved.
Greear himself lived in fear for many years and wrote this book to specifically address the latter problem. I found his honesty to be refreshing, as well as his words compelling. This is a book written from the gut, but focused on the head more than the heart. And that's a good thing. Feelings can be deceiving, Greear points out, and remembering your conversion isn’t as important as knowing where you stand with Jesus today.
Highlights for me included Greear’s explanation of what true repentance looks like (chapter five), and the significance of Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross (chapter three). Also, Tom Parks does a great job narrating this audiobook.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I could use this book for its stated purpose; namely to hand out to people who are struggling with assurance of salvation. I simply disagree theologically with too many concepts in the latter part of this book. I was able to sort through these statements and get to the gems underneath, but I fear impressionable young people who are struggling in their faith will not be able to go to such lengths.
I like the book and I agree with most of it. I will use it for personal reference when I teach on related topics. I just can’t necessarily recommend it to the struggling students I work with. It would raise more questions than it answers.
Please Note: This audiobook was gifted as a part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. This has in no way influenced my opinion or review of this work.
A Gem I Hope to Return To!
Very well written book! As you can tell from the book's description, the author has some humor. Very readable, very enjoyable. If you're worried about the title being sacrilegious, be sure to read the book! Despite the humor and lighthearted moments, the book is trying to help us understand a very important issue.
In summary, I'd say the basic premise of the book is that to know if you're saved you look at the position you're in now. Plain and simple. We don't look back at the past to see if we said the prayer like we really, really meant it, if we cried enough, if we were truly sorry, if we really understood the Gospel, etc. No, are you resting in Jesus right now?
I don't say that to spoil the book, because knowing that shouldn't ruin your experience one bit. Highly recommended for both young and mature believers! Very useful resource.
I received a free audio recording of this book courtesy of christianaudio.com for review purposes.
A great book about assurance for all believers
Stop asking Jesus into your heart. That's the title of the new book by J. D. Greer which tackles the recent controversial question of the sinner's prayer and assurance. During last years annual Southern Baptist Convention, a resolution was brought forward warning of the dangers of saying the sinners prayer. It did not pass. Ever since then, the question over the legitimacy of the sinner's prayer has remained a rather hot topic among conservative Christians.
I picked up this book because of that debate. I assumed, rightly it turned out, that Greer was in the tradition of David Platt which is to not think that saying the sinner's prayer is what actually saves the sinner. I agree with that position. Though his book raises the issue, the purpose of this book, as the subtitle suggests ("How to Know for Sure You Are Saved") is assurance.
Greer begins the book telling his story of setting the world record for asking Jesus to come into his heart. He did so in pursuit of assurance. It is that issue that dominates its pages. Greer does not pass the sinner's prayer. In fact he goes through some pains to make it clear to the reader that there is nothing inherently wrong with the prayer and that he encourages those in whom he evangelizes to say a prayer. However, Greer is concerned with those that justification takes place when a prayer is given. Prayer does not save the sinner. Jesus does. And Jesus saves those who both believes in the gospel and repents of their sins.
Each chapter lays out the gospel. Greer assures us that assurances can be known. He also assures us that affirming justification by faith alone offers greater comfort than more works-based, sinner's prayer salvation does. The books longest chapters regard what the Bible says regarding believing and repenting. These two chapters I found to be extremely helpful. He explains that to believe in Jesus means more than mere intellectual belief. Likewise, repenting goes beyond apologizing for sin. When we have believed and repented, as defined by Scripture and not pop-evangelicalism, then we can be assured that we are saved.
But what about the hard cases. He concludes the book with that question. The answer? Keep believing in the gospel. Keep preaching the gospel to yourself. The gospel is what saves. Not a prayer. Not good deeds. Nothing but the gospel. Greer helpfully points out that those who struggle with knowing whether or not they are bearing enough fruit are likely under the control of the Spirit. After all, one who desires to grow more and to do more for the Kingdom and the King, is likely already saved.
Overall, this is a great book. I began it thinking it was going to bash the sinner's prayer. Instead I read a book from a pastor who desires to comfort the reader regarding assurance. Greer is a clear writer and I would recommend this book to anyone in my congregation where I serve.
christianaudio was kind enough to allow me a free digital download of this book. The quality, as always, was great.
Very helpful for teens
Are you sure that you’re saved? How can we know that we’re saved? J. D. Greear, pastor and author, hopes to answer these questions and more in his book Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart. The book itself is written in everyday language and uses the Bible to support its premise, namely that you can know for sure that you are saved.
I remember wrestling with these questions myself when I was younger. Quaint phrases like “once saved, always saved” did little to encourage a close examination of the Bible and more often than not were used to give assurance that so-and-so was going to heaven even though he or she wanted nothing to do with God and nothing to do with His church. Hardly what you’d call encouraging!
Greear, on the other hand, points to Scripture as the source of our knowledge on this topic and explains the gospel clearly in a way that his readers—likely teenagers and older—can understand. His reflections not only touch on the assurance of our salvation and security in Christ, but also how those truths should affect our Christian walk.
I’d never read anything by Greear before picking up this book, but I’d heard his name enough to know that he’s well-liked and people are looking to him for biblical answers to life’s questions. After reading this book, I am confident I can point others to him as a source of encouragement and solid teaching.
I would like to note that Greear, who was once a youth pastor, writes in a way that will resonate with teenagers. He uses a lot of humor, which is quite apparent from even the first sentence of chapter one. If you or someone you know is a teenager or young adult, this book may be a good resource for you.
I received this audio book from christianaudio for the purpose of review.
A good short book on assurance
Given the title, one may think that this book is about methods of evangelism or is a discussion about alter calls, but it is actually about assurance of salvation.
This book gets down into the nitty gritty of how one can be saved, and how you know that you are saved. It is not content with popular traditions of assurance or “once saved always saved” but goes to the Bible to make its arguments. And, it does so very convincingly.
This book is very theological and pastoral. It is a book I would both give to a new believer and a former seminary student that is questioning their salvation.
I heard this audiobook narrated by Tom Parks. He is a great and articulate, warm narrator and I really feel like I was sitting in on a old pastor giving advice and counsel to one of his struggling sheep.
I loved this book and would recommended it to anyone asking questions regarding their assurance.