“And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified” (v. 30).
– Romans 8:29-30
In theology, we speak of the ordo salutis and the historia salutis. The historia salutis is the history of salvation, and most of the Bible is concerned with it. When we do theology from the perspective of the historia salutis, we consider what Christ our Head has done and what He has been given, and then we consider what we as members of Him participate in. He suffered and was glorified, and in union with Him so have we. He was raised, ascended to heaven, and sits enthroned; in union with Him we have these privileges in essence now, and look forward to their fulness in the world to come. He judges all men, and we in union with Him will also judge the world. This is the way theology is done in terms of the historia salutis.
The ordo salutis is the order of salvation. This focuses on the acts of God and the response of the individual in salvation. God calls us, produces regeneration in us, so that we respond with repentance, faith, and obedience. Behind the divine call is God’s electing decree. The ordo salutis is not concerned with a temporal sequence of events, but with a logical order.
“All you need to do to be saved is to ask Jesus to come into your heart.” The problem with this statement is that it is not expressly biblical. The Bible nowhere mentions Jesus coming into a person’s heart. The wording generates a mental image that can easily lead to wrong impressions. The idea of Jesus entering a person’s heart is nowhere used in any gospel presentation in the Bible. Even the Scripture verse from which the “ask Jesus into your heart” concept is usually taken, Revelation 3:20, does not mention the heart or our asking Jesus to do anything. In context, Revelation 3:20 is speaking about the church fellowshipping with Jesus, not an individual person getting saved.
When the Bible gives a gospel presentation, it encourages people to believe (John 3:16; Acts 16:31), receive (John 1:12), or change their minds, i.e., repent (Acts 3:19). That is the proper response to the gospel. We are to change our minds about our sin and about who Christ is, believe Jesus died and rose again, and receive the gift of eternal life in faith. We are to recognize that we are sinners (Romans 3:23), understand that we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23), trust that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24), and receive the gift of salvation God offers us (Ephesians 2:8–9). All of this is done in faith, with God’s enabling (John 6:44). Salvation is not something we do or earn. Salvation is something we receive from God due to His mercy and grace.
While asking Jesus to come into your heart, i.e., enter your life, is not explicitly biblical, it is also not necessarily anti-biblical, if it is done in the context of a presentation of the biblical gospel. If a person understands sin and its penalty, understands the payment Christ made on the cross, and is ready to trust Jesus alone for salvation, an invitation to “ask Jesus into your heart” is not necessarily wrong. In fact, it could even help a person understand that the Spirit of Christ comes to indwell the soul (see John 14:17). However, it is always best to use the terminology the Bible uses. “Ask Jesus into your heart” does not fully communicate what is actually occurring.
When we are sharing the gospel, we should be extremely careful what we say and how we say it. Even the word believe can be misleading if it is presented as intellectual assent (agreeing that certain facts are true) instead of as trust (relying on those true facts). Judas Iscariot believed certain facts about Jesus, but he never trusted Jesus for salvation. Salvation is not about believing a list of facts. Salvation is not about asking Jesus to come into your heart. Salvation is not even about asking God to forgive you. Salvation is about trusting in Jesus as your Savior, receiving the forgiveness He offers, by grace through faith. Salvation is about being made new through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
- “share the gospel clearly … and call people to count the cost of following Christ.”
- “Tell them following Jesus will cost them their life…and tell them Jesus is worth it!”
- “ask the person if he or she has any questions and then ask if the person would like to repent and believe.”
- “…once that person repents and believes in Christ, the one who shared the Gospel should continue to lead that new believer.”
“Remember, our goal is not to count decisions; our goal is to make disciples,” he emphasized.
In the end, Platt remains cautious of the “sinner’s prayer” as it can be recited without a full understanding of the Gospel and of the life they’re committing themselves to.
He highlighted, “Assurance of salvation is not found in a prayer we prayed or a decision we made however many years ago as much as it is found in trusting in the sacrifice of Christ for us, experiencing the Spirit of Christ in us, obeying the commands of Christ to us, and expressing the love of Christ to others.
“Ultimately, however, I don’t want people to look to me or even to a ‘prayer they prayed’ for assurance of salvation. I want them to look to Christ for this. Assurance of salvation is always based on His work, not ours