One of the most common evangelistic phrases you will hear is “accepting or asking Jesus into your heart.” Not only is this unbiblical language, but nowhere does the Bible say to accept Jesus in order to be saved.
Now why is this important? The Bible is clear that a Christian is no longer a slave to sin and the world, but a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9-10 says: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved .”(NIV)
If you believe in Jesus as the Son of God, it is not merely believing a fact, but you have now entrusted your life to Him as Lord and God who died and rose for you. John 1:12-13 summarizes the correlation of believing and receiving Jesus: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
To believe in Jesus means you have turned from sin in repentance and now are following Him. You are taking hold of Him as your Savior and not letting go for the false idols the world has to offer.
Let’s use an illustration to explain the difference between believing in Jesus as the Son of God as a fact vs. factually and wholeheartedly. Imagine if Jesus had said to Peter “Come, follow me!” and he replied,”It’s O.K., I’m gonna stay here and fish, but I believe you’re the Son of God.” I don’t think anyone would say Peter was a disciple or follower of Jesus if he would have responded in this way!
Similarly, many people say they believe in Jesus, but some have not actually submitted to Him as Lord. James 4:4 says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Christians are called to deny the evil system of the world and follow Jesus.
So why should one give up their sin and trust in Jesus? First of all, the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and we have no righteousness because of our sinful state (Rom. 3:10). However, once one places their faith in Jesus, God no longer sees their sinful, nasty life, but rather Jesus’s perfect life. Jesus takes your sin, guilt, shame, and in return you are given His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21)! Not only does one receive the forgiveness of sins, but they receive eternal and abundant life (Jn.3:16, 10:10). A Christian has the highest quality of life since God is conforming them to the image of His Son and the Holy Spirit is guiding them to live an abundant life (Rom. 8:29,Gal. 5:22-23).
If you are saved and are actually following Jesus, then you must be prepared to combat the idea that going to church or performing “religious” acts saves you. An excellent question to ask a cultural Christian is, “Have you been born again?” Then follow up by explaining Christianity is about being a follower of Christ, not just sitting on the sidelines and living like the world.
If you have not been truly born again, but are rather a nominal churchgoer, or a cultural Christian who has no love for Jesus and others, then ask yourself this, “Am I following the world as my Lord, or have I submitted to Jesus Christ as Lord?” Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2), there is no better time to be forgiven of your sins and enter into God’s kingdom than right now. The Bible promises that, “…everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” (Rom 10:13). It is not a special prayer that saves, or a church, but the grace of God received by faith in His Son (Eph. 2:8-9).