Russell Moore wrote the following about J. D. Greear’s new book, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved:
I have to admit the title of this book made me uncomfortable. It sounded to me like a tract against the so-called “sinner’s prayer,” and I find it biblical to cry out “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner!” But as I read this book I found that is not what it is about at all. In this volume, J. D. Greear, one of the most dynamic and brilliant pastors in evangelical life today, addresses a common problem among Christians: the sense that we can never get assured enough that Jesus hears our sinners prayer and receives us, just as we are. This book throws the spotlight on Jesus as a welcoming, merciful Savior who joyously receives all who come to Him. This book could help free you, or someone you love, from the nagging fear that Jesus is trying to keep you out of His kingdom.”
I haven’t read this book yet, but having assurance of our salvation is something in my 20 years of ministry that I have seen many, many Christians struggle with – especially youth. I remember as a youth pastor seeing some of the same kids pray to receive Christ every time an invitation was extended. So many people rely upon their feelings rather than the promise of scripture.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son butgave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, (Romans 8:31-38, ESV).
On the other hand I don’t quite agree with Moore’s remarks. I have seen kids, particularly youth I have worked with in lock-up, approach the “sinner’s prayer” as though it was a magical incantation. If there is no understanding about the Gospel then to utter words doesn’t matter.