After many conversations and debates (i.e., arguments) on the topic, I beg the question: “Based on what biblical principle does one ‘invite Jesus into [ones] heart’?” Admittedly, I understand the ideology behind the sentiment of this invitation, but the logical conclusions are inescapable; the theological ramifications, unacceptable. The question begged is rhetorical – I do not expect an answer (because there is not a scriptural one to be had). But the answers (almost always) offered prove only the point of my rhetoric.
Only because I like to argue I ask, “How does one go about ‘inviting Jesus into ones heart’?” The reply: “The Sinners Prayer.” I then beg the question: “Where, exactly, does one find the ‘Sinners Prayer’ in the Scriptures?” Again, the question begged is rhetorical to prove a point. For many the idea of “inviting Jesus into ones heart” is a manipulative attempt of control. The sentiment is that of prevention, rather than permission; bondage rather than freedom. It is more about a religion than a faith; conformation rather than transformation. Ironically, many of these are quick to judge the outward actions of others, but are completely ignorant of their own inner decay. Or (worse) they are keenly aware of their own inner impulses and simply project that wickedness onto others; assuming that everyone is as sensuous as they are.
For others it’s more innocent. They mean well. They say, “Jesus (or God) is my Copilot.” They think that Jesus is at their disposal, offering His help if needs be. Or they think that Jesus is locked away safely in their hearts and now they can take it from here – “Now I’m a good person” or (my favorite) “…a good Christian.” Some even “invite Jesus into their hearts” and believe Him to be like a genie in a bottle – three wishes if they ever need. But it’s Jesus who offers you and me the invitation to live with Him! We do not “live for Christ,” He offers a whole new life for living (John 3:3). After Jesus says “take up your cross and follow me,” He clearly explains that you must lose the old you so as to receive the resurrection of the new you (Matt. 16:24-25). “This is what we know: the person that we used to be was crucified with Him in order to get rid of the corpse that had been controlled by sin” (Rom. 6:6 CEB). Jesus doesn’t simply live in our hearts; He is now our life supply, our life for living. The lives we now live are by the faithfulness of Christ, not our own (Gal. 2:20). He is not the founder of a religion; an example of how to live a moral/ethical life of your own. It is not about ignoring or suppressing the desires and passions of the fallen nature, or counter-weighing the “bad” with “good.” It is that we have killed the desires and passions on the killing Cross of Christ (Gal. 5:24).
The Scriptures are clear. Those who attempt to (somehow) follow Jesus in the old life are “unspiritual” Christians (“carnal” – KJV). And those who lose their old lives – picking up their crosses and following Jesus to Golgotha; impaling the flesh on the cruel cross; being born again, from above – are “spiritual” Christians (1Cor. 3:1-3). The biblical principle is transparent. The grace of God (alone) is calling everyone to believe the Good News found in Jesus Christ. This rescuing is God’s gift, not something you possessed. We are God’s accomplishment, created in and by the faithfulness of Christ, in which we are called and equipped to live (Eph. 2:8-10). The invitation is incarnational – God, taking on flesh, inviting you to be a part of Him.