Many Christians lack the assurance of their salvation, either as a result of faulty teaching, their own personal sins, confusion about saving faith, or a combination of all of these and more. Pastor J. D. Greear has struggled with the same doubts and writes this little volume to help others who are dealing with similar reservations. At the same time Greear wants to be careful not to give false assurances of regeneration. He believes Satan loves to deceive believers into being unsure of their salvation and delude unbelievers into thinking they are saved (p. 6).
Faith, or the saving response, as the author sees it, is repentance and belief in the gospel (p. 7). But repentance and belief are not two separate steps, they are part of the same whole: “Repentance is belief in action” (p. 40). And while he cautions against an overly radical Lordship position that places too much emphasis on our changed lives, at the same time he is solidly in the Lordship camp. To be a Christian is not like being a follower on Twitter; it is to seriously follow Christ (p. 61). Some might hesitate concerning Greear’s definitely Reformed understanding of perseverance. On the one hand, he wants to make certain that his readers do not misunderstand the phrase, “Once saved, always saved.” Too many people are resting in a supposed profession of faith made at some point in their past and, even though that profession has made no impact in their lives, they still think they are saved. Greear disagrees, “Salvation does indeed happen in a moment, and once you are saved you are always saved. The mark, however, of someone who is saved is that they maintain their confession of faith until the end of their lives” (p. 5). Said differently, “Once saved forever following” (p. 87). This means that those who are saved “will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again” (p. 88). Such a statement needs to be carefully examined as to its meaning and, depending upon what is meant, this reviewer might agree or not. However, when Greear writes, “We are commanded to labor and to strive to keep ourselves in the faith” (emphasis his) (p. 88), I think he has crossed the line into some form of works-righteousness. As Christians we will want to labor and strive to work out our salvation (Phil 2:12), but we will not labor and strive to keep ourselves saved. And that he quotes, without explanation, Roman Catholic author Flannery O’Connor (p. 60), as well as New Perspectives on Paul advocate N.T. Wright, is also problematic.
Overall, with the few exceptions mentioned above, Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart is a helpful little book that will give clarity to many concerning their salvation.
(Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), 128 pp + xiv, hard, $12.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel