Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart
- Product Review (submitted on March 5, 2013):
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.