Greear, J.D. Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to know for sure you are saved. Nashville: Holman. 2013. 128 pages.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Salvation is not a prayer you pray in a one-time ceremony and then move on from; salvation is a posture of repentance and faith that you begin in a moment and maintain for the rest of your life. (p. 5)
Beginning with Greear’s own testimony and weaving his struggles of doubt through it, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, is an attempt to help believers understand that a true gospel response should bring certainty and a posture of faith and obedience. Borrowing heavily from his first book, Gospel, this short book works through the questions of what it means to be saved, what the gospel is, how repentance and faith are the proper response to the gospel, and touches on a couple of other issues like baptism and justification by faith.
One would say that Greear’s view of the gospel is highly individualistic, meaning that he emphasizes the gospel being in place for the saving of the person. I’m sure that Greear is more inclusive in his overall soteriology, but this book exemplifies that pigeon hole when he says the gospel can be summed up in four words: “Jesus in my place.” Greear never really touches on the gospel nuances of kingdom, restoration, or worship. This is, for the most part, a one-lens work.
Though, overall, I find this little book helpful and engaging, I would offer two levels of critique. I think Greear comes a bit short in helping the Americanized gospel message be more clear. Even in a more gospel-centric evangelical community, the word “gospel” is being thrown around so frequently these days that more needs to be said in this arena about presenting the message from a I Corinthians 15:3-4 context. I think Greear touches on that when he says, “Shorthand phrases for the gospel can serve a good purpose, insofar as everyone knows exactly what they mean,” but I’m afraid more could have been done in terms of clarifying the core tenants of the message which Paul calls “of first importance (I Cor. 15:3).
Secondly, even knowing Greear’s reformed perspective, I walked away from the book feeling like a case could be made for a “nurture” view of salvation. Typically, soteriology runs in two streams, one a more conversionistic stream, and the other a more nurturing stream, where one may claim being a Christian and “never knowing any different in their life. This is especially conspicuous in the section titled “Present Posture Is Better Proof than a Past Memory.” Although he says, “I don’t mean to imply that there is not a “point” of salvation or that salvation is something you grow into gradually over time,” his point seems to be muddied when speaking of people being raised in a Christian home coming to a point “where they realized they believed rather than one in which they decided to believe (45).” My question is, are we making a distinction without a difference here.
All in all, I think this can be a helpful read for someone struggling with doubt, but probably not helpful as a way to hash out a salvation theology. There are many things I appreciate about this book and a host of bold statements I’m glad Greear made. I would definitely put this in the hands of a student looking for assurance, a parent wanting to help diagnose their child’s spiritual condition, or a pastor wanting good salvation counseling material.