Graeme Goldsworthy on asking Jesus into your heart

“Many evangelicals use the evangelistic appeal to ‘ask Jesus into your heart’. The positive aspect of this is that the New Testament speak of ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Col. 1:27); of Christ dwelling ‘in your hearts through faith’ (Eph. 3:17), and the like. It speaks of the Christian as having ‘received Christ Jesus the Lord’ (Col. 2:6). But it also makes clear that Christ dwells among his people by his Spirit, for the bodily risen Jesus is in heaven. Furthermore, there are no examples in the New Testament involving the asking of Jesus into one’s heart. In many cases, this practice represents a loss of confidence in faith alone

“…The gospel is seen more as what God is doing in me now, rather than what God did for me then. The focus is on Jesus living his life in and through me now, rather than the past historic event of Jesus of Nazareth living his life for me and dying for me. When the legitimate subjective dimension of our salvation begins to eclipse the historically and spiritually prior objective dimension, we are in trouble. The New Testament calls on the repenting sinner to believe in Christ, to trust him for salvation. To ask Jesus into one’s heart is simply not a New Testament way of speaking. It is superfluous to call on Christ to dwell in us, for to be a believer is to have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us. In the same way, it is not the New Testament perspective that we should call on Christ to give us the gift of new birth.”

Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2006), 176-177.