I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED J.D. Greear's Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary. I would say it is one of my favorite favorite books. I knew I would want to read his newest book too. Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart is about the perseverance of the saints--or the preservation of the saints, if you will. It is about the promise of assurance, the reality of sanctification, and the importance of obedience. Greear stresses the importance of a whole gospel. That shallow gospel-invitations and shallow prayers can fail people. There are people who have assurance, that shouldn't have assurance; and there are people who are anxious and worried who shouldn't be worried. The gospel needs to be communicated in such a way that people KNOW it is not a one minute decision, but a life-long commitment. They need to know to count the cost, that committing to Christ could cost them greatly, will change them certainly.
Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart is a good examination of essential Christian doctrines. Think doctrines don't matter? It is hard to have assurance, have confidence, if you don't know gospel truths, if you're not trusting fully in God's promises as revealed in His Word. You may or may not "like" reading "big words" and theological terms, but it is of great benefit to understand doctrines like justification and sanctification. Even if you prefer to think of it simply as "Jesus dying in my place." (Of course, that's only half the story. Did you also know that Jesus' righteousness--his righteous life from birth to death--was lived on your behalf? That YOUR sin was credited to Jesus, that Jesus became your sin-bearer? He wore our sins so we could wear his righteousness.)
I loved that Greear stressed two aspects of salvation: believing (putting faith in Christ) and repenting (turning away from sin and turning towards Jesus). That salvation is not solely a matter of praying a written prayer or coming forward at an altar call. His chapter on repentance was one of the best I've read.
This book brought to mind the WONDERFUL DVD, The Biggest Question. If you're not a reader, and you have questions about Christianity, this one could be just right for you.
Also this podcast is great: Wretched Segment of the Day, July 5, 2013
The contents: "Baptized Four Times," "Does God Even Want Us to Have Assurance," "Jesus in My Place," "What Is Belief," "What is Repentance" "'If Once Saved, Always Saved,' Why Does The Bible Seem to Warn Us So Often About Losing Our Salvation," "The Evidence You Have Believed," "When You Continue to Doubt."
Salvation does indeed happen in a moment, and once you are saved you are always saved. The mark, however, of someone who is saved is that they maintain their confession of faith until the end of their lives. Salvation is not a prayer you pray in a one-time ceremony and then move on from; salvation is a posture of repentance and faith that you begin in a moment and maintain for the rest of your life. (5)
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. 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. (6)
Preachers in the revivalist traditions called for sinners to respond immediately to the gospel by walking an aisle or asking Jesus into your heart. While this may not be my preferred technique, the gospel is indeed an invitation and each time it is preached that invitation ought to be extended in some form. In fact if we do not urge the hearer to respond personally to God's offer in Christ, I do not believe we have fully preached the gospel. (10)
You'll never have the courage to embrace the cross until you have the confidence that you own the resurrection. You will never have the strength to say "no" to sin until you realize the unconditional "yes" that God has given to you in Christ. You'll never give up your life in radical obedience until you are radically assured of His radical commitment to you. (17)
There are only two postures we can take toward Jesus Christ. We either "believe" or we do not. (John 3:36) (27)
Salvation is a posture of repentance and faith toward the finished work of Christ in which you transfer the weight of your hopes of heaven off of your own righteousness and onto the finished work of Jesus Christ. The way to know you made the decision is by the fact you are resting in Christ now. (43)
Don't try to find assurance from a prayer you prayed in the past; find assurance by resting in the present day on what Jesus did in the past. If you are resting right now in what Jesus did two thousand years ago to save you, then, if never before, you are saved at this moment, even if you don't signify it with a prayer. It is the relationship to Christ that saves, not the prayer that signified the beginning of that relationship. When you started to rest is not as important as the fact that you are doing it now. (47)
Repentance is not subsequent to belief; it is part of belief. It is belief in action--choices that flow out of conviction. Repentance literally means "a change of mind" about Jesus. Repentance is not merely changing your actions; it is changing your actions because you have changed your attitude about Jesus' authority and glory. (55-6)
Repentance is not simply praying a prayer that acknowledges our sinfulness and asks for forgiveness. Nor is it walking an aisle, signing a card, or giving a public testimony. Repentance is not fundamentally a motion of the hands, mouth or feet; it is a motion of the heart in which we abandon our posture of rebellion and adopt one of submission toward Christ. Repentance is evidenced by outward action, but it does not equal that. (57)
Repentance is not securing a pardon before God so that we can go on sinning with impunity; it is a choice to submit to God and to seek ceasing from sin entirely. Repentance doesn't mean we amend our behavior, it means we begin to pursue God's will with abandon. (60)
Repentance, therefore, is not the absence of struggle; it is the absence of settled defiance. (67)© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible