2. If you want to be saved, just invite Jesus into your heart.
Well-meaning people often use the phrase “invite Jesus into your heart.” They often base this on Revelation 3:20 where we’re told, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
With the phrase “stand at the door and knock” in mind, many picture the heart as a door where Jesus stands begging us to let Him in. Therefore, the lost are exhorted to “invite Jesus into their heart.”
However, that verse is addressed to Christians, not non-Christians. Verse 19 reads, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” Chasten means “to discipline” and is used of believers, not unbelievers (Hebrews 12:5-6). The passage addresses the church of Laodicea, one of the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3. Their wealth at the time had lulled the church into spiritual sleep; Jesus Christ described this distasteful condition as “lukewarm” and invites them to repent of their condition and make Him the center of their love and worship.
Additionally, in Revelation 3:20, the Greek translation of in to means “toward.” In a figurative language, Jesus is saying to Christians that He will enter the church and come “toward” the believer for fellowship.
The word dine referred to the main meal of the day to which you invite an honored guest. It was a meal given to hospitality and conversation. Again, the issue is fellowship, not salvation.
Why is this phrase so dangerous to use in evangelism?
There are those who “invited Jesus into their heart” and sincerely meant they were trusting Him as their personal Savior, and they are forever His. However, there are some people who think that by simply saying a prayer in which they “invite Jesus into their heart,” they’re saved. In this case, their trust is in a prayer, not in a Savior who died on a cross.
Ninety-eight times in the Gospel of John, the one book whose purpose was to tell us how to receive eternal life (John 20:31), we’re told to believe. It means “to trust in Christ alone as our only way to heaven.” There’s nothing wrong with someone praying to tell God they’re trusting Christ alone, but he or she must be aware that saying a prayer doesn’t save; it’s trusting Christ that saves.
Teach your people to use the right terminology. They should ask lost people to do what the New Testament asks them to do—believe—and this means to trust in Christ alone to save them.