Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart

Ask Jesus into your heart
Okay, how do I do this exactly? And if I get a heart transplant, do I need to ask Him in again?

When I was a pastor, a friend of mine gave me an article called “Seven Reasons Not to Ask Jesus Into Your Heart.” The author of the article pointed out that the Bible calls us to believe in Jesus for eternal life, not ask Jesus into your heart. He gave seven reasons why we should stop using that idea when presenting the Gospel to others.

So it was with interest that I recently read a book called Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J. D. Greear.

Overall, the book carried the same message, that if we are going to tell people about Jesus, and invite people to receive eternal life, we might as well use the terminology the Bible uses, because it is more clear and more accurate. Let’s face it, the invitation to “ask Jesus into your heart” is just plain confusing. So Greear provides some good explanation for why we should stop using this confusing term.

However, I cannot really recommend his book, because although he was clear on this issue, the rest of his book is not terribly clear. The subtitle for the book is “How to know for sure you are saved” but throughout the entire book, Greear based the assurance of salvation on good works! If we ever base the assurance of our salvation on good works, we can never, ever know for sure that we are saved.

I am sure Greear would take exception with me on this point. What he actually argues throughout the book is that good works are the evidence that a person is saved. For example, on page 5 he gives the story of a man he met who cursed like a sailor, had tattoos all over his body (is that a sin?), and slept around. When Greear tried to witness to him, the man said that he had accepted Jesus as a boy, and so he was fine. Greear goes on to argue that this man is not saved because he did not maintain his confession of faith throughout his entire life (p. 6).

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your heartMost of this book is one long defense of this view. Pages 79-121 are devoted almost entirely to this idea. This is typical “Lordship-salvation-Calvinistic-perseverance-of-the-saints” theology, of which I have never been a fan. I think it is contrary to Scripture, contrary to the Gospel, and contrary to real-life experience.

And frankly, if I had to decide between telling someone to ask Jesus into their heart, or tell them that they can only know they are truly saved if they persevere in faithfulness and good works for the rest of their life, I will tell them to ask Jesus into their heart every day of the week. It is much less confusing and much less damaging than basing the assurance of salvation on our own good works.

Thankfully, I don’t have to make that choice. I tell people to believe in Jesus for eternal life, and if they believe in Him, then they have eternal life because of what He has done for them, not because of what they do for Him. Our eternal life is based completely and solely on the finished work of Jesus Christ, and not one bit on what we do or don’t do, either in our past, our present, or our future.

Assurance of eternal life is similar. It is based solely and completely on the promises of Jesus, not on our own perseverance in good works or commitment to following Jesus.

So what would I say to the cursing, tattooed, sexaholic? Well, first I might actually question what exactly he thought he did when he was a child. Since there are so many confused preachers and teachers out there, there are also a lot of people who are confused about how to receive eternal life. If he said a prayer, walked an isle, signed a card, raised a hand, or asked Jesus into his heart, I might try to clarify with him that none of these things will grant him eternal life. Only believing in Jesus does that (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47, etc.).

Then, once that is clear, I was say that the reason he should stop sleeping around and maybe watch what comes out of his mouth is NOT so that he can be sure he has eternal life, or keep his justification or anything like that. No, the reason is because those things are going to destroy his life. Sure, they might be fun for a while, but the instructions and commands of God are for our benefit and for our blessing, so that we can live a long and profitable life, full of joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment. God gave us boundaries so that we can enjoy life to the full! Damage, hurt, pain, heartache, sicknesses, sorrow, and a whole host of other problems come when we we step outside the boundaries laid down by God. (Yes, yes, bad things happen to good people to, but that is a completely different subject.)

So anyway, I like the main message that J. D. Greear was trying to get across in this book, but I wish he would have stuck with it, and not tried to get this second subject in there about how to know for sure you are saved, for that is where his book goes off track and becomes much less helpful.


[FTC Disclosure: A complimentary copy of Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart was sent to me for review on this blog.]

Want to learn more about Scripture and Theology?

Skeleton ChurchWhen you choose to receive my blog posts by email below, you will also receive my future eBooks for FREE.

As a bonus, you will immediately get access to one of my most popular eBooks: The Skeleton Church.

Enter your email address below to get started.


Advertisement

Comments

  1. gary says

    At the age of nine I prayed to ask Jesus to come into my heart to be my Lord and Savior. I loved being a Christian. I loved Jesus and I loved the Bible. I used to love witnessing to non-believers and loved defending my belief in (the Christian) God and orthodox/conservative Christianity. Then one day someone challenged me to take a good, hard look at the foundation of my beliefs: the Bible. I was stunned by what I discovered.

    1. The Bible is not inerrant. It contains many, many errors, contradictions, and deliberate alterations and additions by the scribes who copied it. The originals are lost, therefore we have no idea what “God” originally” said. Yes, its true—Christians can give “harmonizations” for every alleged error and contradiction, but so can the Muslims for errors in the Koran, and Mormons for errors in the Book of Mormon. One can harmonize anything if you allow for the supernatural.

    2. How do we know that the New Testament is the Word of God? Did Jesus leave us a list of inspired books? Did the Apostles? Paul? The answer is, no. The books of the New Testament were added to the canon over several hundred years. Second Peter was not officially accepted into the canon until almost the FIFTH century! So why do all Christians accept every book of the New Testament as the word of God and reject every non-canonical “gospel”? Answer: the ancient (catholic) Church voted these books into your Bible. Period.

    There is nowhere in the OT or the NT where God gives men the authority to determine what is and what is not his Word. If Second Peter was really God’s Word, the entire Church should have known so in the first century.

    3. Who wrote the Gospels? We have NO idea! The belief that they were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is based on hearsay and assumptions—catholic tradition. Protestants denounce most of the traditions of the Catholic Church but have retained two of the most blatant, evidence-lacking traditions which have no basis in historical fact or in the Bible: the canon of the NT and the authorship of the Gospels.

    The only shred of evidence that Christians use to support the traditional authorship of the Gospels is one brief statement by a guy named Papias in 130 AD that someone told him that John Mark had written a gospel. That’s it! Papias did not even identify this “gospel”. Yet in 180 AD, Irenaeus, a bishop in FRANCE, declares to the world that the apostles Matthew and John and the associates of Peter and Paul—Mark and Luke—wrote the Gospels. But Irenaeus gives ZERO evidence for his assignment of authorship to these four books. It is well known to historians that it was a common practice at that time for anonymously written books to be ascribed to famous people to give them more authority. For all we know, this is what Irenaeus did in the case of the Gospels.

    The foundation of the Christian Faith is the bodily resurrection of Jesus. If the story of the Resurrection comes from four anonymous books, three of which borrow heavily from the first, often word for word, how do we know that the unheard of, fantastically supernatural story of the re-animation of a first century dead man, actually happened??

    Maybe the first book written, “Mark”, was written for the same purpose that most books were written in that time period—for the benefit of one wealthy benefactor, and maybe it was written simply as an historical novel, like Homer’s Iliad; not meant to be 100% factual in every detail, but a mix of true historical events as a background, with a real messiah pretender in Palestine, Jesus, but with myth and fiction added to embellish the story and help sell the book! We just do not know for what purpose these books were written!

    I slowly came to realize that there is zero verifiable evidence for the Resurrection, and, the Bible is not a reliable document. After four months of desperate attempts to save my faith, I came to the sad conclusion that my faith was based on an ancient superstition; a superstition not based on lies, but based on the sincere but false beliefs of uneducated, superstitious, first century peasants.

    You can pray to ask Jesus into your heart 10,000 times, but if there is no evidence for his Resurrection, then odds are that he is dead. And if he is dead, he can’t hear your prayers. Sad, but the truth.

    • Sam says

      There are many reasons not to believe. Someone telling me I “must” believe because they do (I hear because they want it all to be true) is no cause for belief. For me, it is what some refer to as “the witness of the Spirit of God” that is my cause for belief, coupled with numerous personal experiences that can be explained only by “because He lives”. Trying to prove it to another is well nigh impossible, in my opinion. Most of the “traditional proofs”, as you pointed out above, can prove inadequate to the minds of many.

      The best evidence I have for his resurrection is within me. The best proof I can offer another is the love of Jesus shown to you through me. If I cannot show you that love, I have probably proven nothing to you except that I too am deceived and most likely that I am meaningless to you.

      • gary says

        I like your answer, but I hope you are saying it in the context of universalism. If you believe that Jesus is just one of many ways to Truth, I salute you.

        However, if you believe that Jesus is the ONLY way, and that all other belief systems will result in divine eternal punishment, and you believe this “one and only truth” simply based on your feelings, intuition, and personal experiences, then I must point out to you that Mormons, Muslims, and Hindus have the same intense feelings and personal experiences.

        • Sam says

          I’ve had discussions with people who think universalism means there are many paths to God (however they define God). Others think all will be “saved”. Some think this life is all there is. Some think it is all there is for those who do not follow Jesus, while those who do will continue to live.

          None of us at this point can prove any of these opinions to the satisfaction of everyone. I have a friend who claims to have seen a UFO from distance of a few feet, another friend who claims to have been within a foot of an alien from another planet and another who claims to have visited other times. Can any of them prove their claims to the satisfaction of another? Probably not. “Too bad you didn’t have a camera along,” I commented to one. “Oh I did,” he replied, “but I didn’t take it out of my pocket. I knew I wouldn’t show the pictures to anyone. They’d claim the pictures were faked. I didn’t want to get in the middle of that and be labeled a nut case.”

          Do I believe my friends? I believe that they are reliable people and that they believe what they told me. I suppose the same goes for the stories people I know and find quite reliable have told me about their belief that they have encountered the living Jesus. I know others of other religions who believe they have experienced Jesus, God, ultimate truth or whatever they call what they encountered. We can debate the claims of all of these people, but cannot prove or disprove their claims.

          Is Jesus the only way to God? Surely not, else the people who lived before Jesus could not have encountered God and there are those who surely thought they did encounter God. Was it their imagination? Can people who follow other religions encounter God? What a tough question. They tell me they can. Most Christians think they cannot. Whom shall we believe? Just like the friend who claims to have encountered an alien face-to-face, I wasn’t there, so I cannot really know.

          Will everyone be “saved”? Personally, I hope so, but understand that most Christians do not think this will happen. Will the “unsaved” simply cease to exist or will they suffer eternal punishment? Again, since we live in the here and now, we cannot prove any of these possibilities. Stick around a few moments, and we will all surely find out, unless we die and that’s all there is.

          Would you expect me to say I’ve stood face-to-face with the risen Jesus? Even if I did, I doubt you would accept that claim.

          Many, many years ago a mathematician/philosopher was asked by one of his students (I was there), regarding a mathematical concept that a mathematical genius (I don’t remember which one) posited long before it was ever proven. “Professor, based on the information this man had available to him at the time, how could he possibly have figured that out. Wasn’t there a huge gap between what was known, and his conclusion? After all, it wasn’t proven until long after he was dead.”

          “True, true, sir,” replied the professor. “Yet there have always existed among us those who see what the rest of us do not see. Our existence as the human race has often depended upon what they see.”

          “How do they do it?” asked the student.

          “They have eyes that we do not have. Beyond that I cannot answer your question.”

          Some of us see the risen Jesus. Others do not. If death is not the end we all shall soon find out if what the few see is real. The proof awaits our arrival in that moment.

          What harm will it do you to accept the word of those you know to be reliable? Do you not know anyone you consider reliable who has encountered the living Jesus? Yes, I know there are those who confuse such an encounter with politics, power, money, controlling others, and so on almost to infinity, but do you not know anyone you consider reliable who has encountered the living Jesus?

    • LIBERTY says

      GARY, about a year ago I decided to look into the things you write about. I’ve got a few books in my library about the Canon of Scripture and I am getting through them slowly.

      Regardless of what I find, nothing you’ve written shocks or surprises me. Like Jeremy points out, it is simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and what He accomplished for me at Calvary which saves me from God’s wrath.

      Regardless of how I live after the point of trusting in Christ, if the bible is true then I am secure in God’s hands (1 Peter 1).

      If the Bible is not true, then I’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.

      My life was far more miserable living in sin and doing my own thing.

      I’d rather serve the God I believe in whilst I’m still trying to make sense of the Bible and how it “came into being”.

      Whatever I discover, I know I’d rather believe in Jesus than anything else.

      and I’m 100% OK with that.

      • gary says

        “Liberty”,

        I have no problem with a belief in God as long as it does not involve “WE are right, everyone else is wrong, and God is going to eternally punish everyone else for being wrong”.

        However, if you are a fundamentalist Christian who does believe that, you have nothing to base your exclusivist belief upon other than second century hearsay and the warm fuzzy feelings in your “heart”.

        • Liberty says

          Hi Gary,

          Thanks for your speedy response.

          As you say that there is no God and I say that there is a God, we cannot both be correct.

          One of us is clearly wrong. :-)

          There is either a Creator God or there isn’t and we evolved from the pool of scum.

          Despite the fact that many humans carry on like scum, I still believe in an intelligent Creator.

          You say that you have no problem with someone believing in God but you clearly do have an issue with it as you come to Christian websites to argue with believers about a non existent God.

          Don’t you have anything better to do? :-)

          You appear to be a hypocrite because you say I cannot believe that WE as Christians are right and everyone who disagrees about our faith is wrong, yet you do EXACTLY the same thing!

          You believe that WE Christians are wrong and that your belief system is right.

          If my faith was based upon ‘fuzzy feelings’ (I have no idea what you’re talking about by the way, as I didn’t mention fuzzy feelings in my comment) then I wouldn’t have much of a faith as I am a young woman.

          And we all know how hopeless the emotions of a young woman are. :-)

          My faith is simply trust in a historical person called Jesus.

          You deny the testimony of those who wrote about Him. You have that right.

          I believe that the man called Jesus died for my sins and rose from the grave. My faith in Him is imputed unto me as righteousness.

          God smiles when He sees me.

          When he sees you, he thinks of Psalm 14:1.

  2. gary says

    Dear Liberty,

    I never said that I do not believe in God, I only said I do not believe in the Christian god.

    I too believe that Jesus was an historical person. I believe he was crucified. But I do NOT believe he was resurrected from the dead. Just because four anonymous writers say he was, is not good evidence. You would not believe four anonymous Muslim writers who say that they saw the angel Gabriel speak to Mohammad, so why do you believe the Christian anonymous writers and their supernatural tale?

    Please give your evidence for why anyone should believe the Christian supernatural tale over that of the Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, etc..

    Thanks

    • Liberty says

      Hi Gary,

      You wrote the following:

      “I too believe that Jesus was an historical person. I believe he was crucified. But I do NOT believe he was resurrected from the dead. Just because four anonymous writers say he was, is not good evidence. You would not believe four anonymous Muslim writers who say that they saw the angel Gabriel speak to Mohammad, so why do you believe the Christian anonymous writers and their supernatural tale?

      Please give your evidence for why anyone should believe the Christian supernatural tale over that of the Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, etc..”

      The only evidence that I have is the personal testimony of the people who witnessed his miracles and teachings. I made a choice to believe that He was crucified for sinners and by God the Father’s power was raised from the dead.

      The difference between what I believe and what Muslims, Hindus and Mormons etc believe is simple:

      The God of the Bible who sent His only begotten Son Jesus into the world to die on the Cross to save sinners does not require ANY GOOD WORKS in order for mankind to be saved or to have assurance of salvation.

      The God I worship simply required trust in HIS WORK at Calvary.

      Now, if you, the Muslims, Mormons and Hindus want to spend a lifetime being busy pleasing other gods whom they believe to be true… that’s up to them.

      But I know that I am a pretty useless individual at the best of times… prone to anger, impatience, unrighteous judgment, envy etc etc. In other words, I COULD NOT be a happy Muslim, Mormon or Hindu because if I truly believed what they say that they believe in… I would have absolutely no assurance of salvation nor would I have a love for their gods.

      I love the God of the Bible because he showed His love for me by making a way for me to be saved from my sins through His finished work on the Cross at Calvary.

      You say you believe in the historical person of Jesus and you believe he was crucified.

      What evidence do YOU have for your above belief?

      I choose to up things one notch by believing that God also raised Him from the dead.

      I thank God I am not responsible for the choices others make regarding Him.

      and I know that through my faith in the God of the Bible, I have a clearer understanding of my own failings and as a result I desire to be a better person who loves people with the same love which He has shown to us.

      No other ‘religion’ compares.

    • says

      Gary,

      You wrote:
      “”””””I never said that I do not believe in God, I only said I do not believe in the Christian god.”””””

      So what God do you believe in? Are you an atheist? Are you an agnostic? Do you follow materialism? Do you follow naturalism? Are you a postmodernist? Is blind chance, deep time evolution the creation story your god told in his inspired holy texts (some science text books)? Is you god “an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” and of ancient organic pond soup (sometimes called ancient pond scum)? Is you god an extraterrestrial (ET) from another galaxy that deposited organic seeds (pond scum) on planet earth?

      • gary says

        I am a believer in the scientific method, reason, and logic. I am an agnostic. There may well be a Creator, but he/she/it is most assuredly not the god of the Bible.

  3. gary says

    Hi Sam,

    I define universalism as the belief that God will “save” everyone; that he will not condemn, torment or punish anyone.

    I do not believe in universalism. It may be true, but there is no evidence for it.

  4. Gary says

    “The only evidence that I have is the personal testimony of the people who witnessed his miracles and teachings.’

    Please list these witnesses and upon what evidence you base your claim that they were witnesses to the miracles of Jesus.

    • Liberty says

      Dear Gary,

      I’m so glad you asked.

      Not because I think you actually care, nor are ignorant of what I am about to write.

      I’m glad because I get excited every.single.time I get to quote Scripture on the internet.

      Here goes:

      John’s wonderfully marvellous letter documents many miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ. Go read the whole book. It’ll take too long to post all the miracles as there’s way too many. :-)

      John 20:30 ends the chapter on this note and the following:

      “And many other signs truly DID Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book (we find out why later).

      BUT THESE ARE WRITTEN (ie: these signs), that you might BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that BELIEVING you might have life through his name.

      John 21:24:

      “This is the disciple which TESTIFIES of these things, and wrote these things: and WE KNOW that his TESTIMONY is TRUE.
      And there are also MANY OTHER things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the whole world itself COULD NOT CONTAIN the books that should be written.

      It finishes with a mighty big fat AMEN.

      So, the issue is not one of whether the miracles of Jesus (which testify of His person and mission) were documented by those who witnessed them.

      The ISSUE at hand is one of your UNBELIEF Gary.

      You choose not to believe the testimony of Scripture.

      I choose the believe the testimony of Scripture.

      Pretty simple EH?

      • gary says

        Yes, it is simple.

        The Muslims have a holy book that they believe came directly from God. Do you believe all the supernatural assertions in that book (the Koran) just because some guy in the 600’s wrote down a story of super-natural events? You assume that the author of John was an eyewitness just because he seems (to you) to say that he witnessed these supernatural events. Why do you believe the author of the Gospel of John regarding his alleged eyewitness experiences but you do not believe the author of the Koran, or the authors of the Hindu scriptures for theirs?

        Isn’t it true that you are choosing to believe a supernatural tale based on an anonymous first century author’s word? You are certainly welcome to believe that, but you are skating on very thin ice if you preach to non-Christians that your belief system is the only correct belief system about God, if all you have is your one ALLEGED eyewitness in addition to your feelings and intuition.

        • Liberty says

          Hi again Gary,

          You ask some great questions. I’ll respond underneath your questions:

          You asked:

          Do you believe all the supernatural assertions in that book (the Koran) just because some guy in the 600’s wrote down a story of super-natural events?

          – No I don’t believe the Koran is trustworthy. This is because the god of the Koran requires men to DO something in exchange for eternal life. There is no assurance from the god of Islam that my ‘good works’ are ‘good enough’ for me to gain eternal life. Therefore I do not find Islam particularly appealing.

          You asked:

          Why do you believe the author of the Gospel of John regarding his alleged eyewitness experiences but you do not believe the author of the Koran, or the authors of the Hindu scriptures for theirs?

          – Good question. Again, the Hindus and Islamists believe they must DO something in exchange for eternal life. Their Scriptures confirm this is the case. I know I cannot do good enough to ‘earn’ eternal life as their Scriptures tell me I need to do. Therefore, I cannot believe that their ‘way’ is a way I am able to consistently maintain and have assurance that I will be saved.

          You asked:

          Isn’t it true that you are choosing to believe a supernatural tale based on an anonymous first century author’s word?

          – Absolutely. That’s why it’s called FAITH. You believe that something is true on faith. We are all trusting in something… I trust in Jesus, you trust in something else.

          You then wrote:

          You are certainly welcome to believe that, but you are skating on very thin ice if you preach to non-Christians that your belief system is the only correct belief system about God, if all you have is your one ALLEGED eyewitness in addition to your feelings and intuition.

          Dear Gary, I am not skating on thin ice is what I believe is actually TRUE.

          The very worst case in this situation is:

          I am 100% wrong about my faith. It simply makes me one big massive douchebag.

          I’m willing to be said douchebag in the hope that my faith turns out to be correct and if I’m lucky by warning others I’ve managed to ‘save some’.

          One can only try.

  5. gary says

    How do you know that the Creator God does not require good works as Muslims and Hindus believe? Just because you believe it seems to be a purer form of faith, doesn’t not make it true.

    And, doesn’t your god require you to do something? You have to repent and turn from your “evil” activities. That is doing something. If salvation were really free, God would give it to you without asking and without having to change your behavior.

    • says

      Hi Gary,

      You asked:

      How do you know that the Creator God does not require good works as Muslims and Hindus believe?

      – The God which I worship desires that His people (those who trust in Him) do good works. These good works are not unto salvation. The bible is very clear that good works will not save a man. Only faith alone can save.

      You wrote:

      Just because you believe it seems to be a purer form of faith, does not make it true.

      – You’re right. I could be very wrong and you could be right. We all have a choice to make as to what and whom we believe in. I choose to trust in Jesus Christ because to be perfect honest… there is no better choice for me. I have lived my life for myself, apart from God and it was horrible. The Bible answers many questions that I have and I trust that what it says about God is true. I answer to God for myself, as you may have to also… if the bible is true.

      You asked a very good question:

      And, doesn’t your god require you to do something? You have to repent and turn from your “evil” activities. That is doing something. If salvation were really free, God would give it to you without asking and without having to change your behavior.

      Firstly, the word ‘Repent’ in the New Testament comes from the Greek word METANOIA. The meaning of this word is a change of mind.

      Whenever you see the word Repent, Repented or Repentance in the New Testament, the passage is calling on the subject to ‘change their mind’. The object and consequence of the Repentance (or lack thereof) depends ENTIRELY on the context.

      False teachers within the ‘Christian’ Church teach the error that a man must ‘turn from sins’ in order to be saved.

      The bible does not teach this at all.

      John’s Gospel is abundantly clear, as are many passages within other NT books that for eternal salvation all a man must do is trust in (believe on) the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. His death, burial and resurrection means that we can be saved through faith in Him. His blood sacrifice was accepted by God and all we must do is believe.

      Romans 6 talks about those believers who would use grace as a ‘license’ to sin.

      Salvation of God is entirely 110% a FREE GIFT.

      Romans 6:23 says:

      For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

      Romans chapter 5 constantly refers to this gift as a ‘free gift’.

      Romans 4 is about our justification being through FAITH alone and not by keeping the law (ie:doing good works).

      Christians should do good works. James 2 talks about ‘faith without works’ being DEAD. Dead does not means non-existent. It means useless and ineffective. If Christians say they have faith but do not put it to good use (through ‘works’), then it profits no one. It also effects their eternal rewards at the Judgment seat of Christ. The context is clear on this issue.

      Our justification before God Gary is simple trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.

      What is stopping you from simply trusting in Him to save you?

      I ask this sincerely.

      • gary says

        I trusted in Jesus for years as my God, my Lord, and my Savior…until I found out he is dead.

        On the issue of a free gift. If I have to do ANYTHING to receive a gift it is NOT free. If I must believe/place my trust in Jesus in order for God to save me, that is not free. Something is only free if it is mine without asking for it or doing anything to receive it.

        • says

          Hi Gary

          You wrote: I trusted in Jesus for years as my God, my Lord, and my Savior…

          – Awesome. If what I believe in is true, maybe one day I’ll see you in heaven.

          You then wrote:

          … until I found out he is dead.

          – Glad to hear you found real life witnesses who were there and verified this fact for you. ;-)

          You then wrote:

          On the issue of a free gift. If I have to do ANYTHING to receive a gift it is NOT free. If I must believe/place my trust in Jesus in order for God to save me, that is not free. Something is only free if it is mine without asking for it or doing anything to receive it.

          – The Bible is very clear that one much accept the free gift on the basis of faith. The Bible does not equate FAITH (belief/trust/receiving/accepting) in Christ as ‘WORKS’, as you redefine it so smoothly for your own convenience.

          Those who are condemned are those who are remain in their unbelief.

          Those who accept what God has done in Christ receive the free gift.

          What you fail to understand is that God OFFERS the free gift to all mankind.

          It is man who refuses to ACCEPT the free gift.

          The Bible is abundantly clear.

          You choose unbelief.

  6. gary says

    “those who are condemned”

    What a disgusting statement.

    If you want to believe in Jesus because it makes you feel better, that’s great, but if you believe that your god is going to condemn people to eternal punishment for not believing in him, then your belief system is evil.

    I strongly suggest that you and all other fundamentalist Christians (if you believe that your way is the only way, you are a fundamentalist) read Bart Ehrman’s blog. You will learn ALOT.

    Peace to you.

      • gary says

        I’m glad to hear that, Liberty. We should all seek the truth, rather than seek evidence for the sole purpose of confirming our own personal biases.

        Peace and happiness to you.

  7. gary says

    I thought it would be interesting to look at the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus from the orthodox/conservative/evangelical Christian stand point, excluding, however, baseless assumptions. I am excluding fundamentalists in this discussion because fundamentalist Christian views are so extreme that it would be hopeless to try and reconcile them with the actual evidence. Some fundamentalists would probably believe that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John sat down and wrote their gospels within ten minutes of the Ascension.

    A. The Gospel of Mark

    So, let’s start with the first gospel written, as almost all scholars agree: the gospel of Mark. Most scholars believe that it was written sometime between 65-75 AD. So let’s accept an earlier date for the writing of this gospel: mid 60’s, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem.

    1. Who wrote Mark: the gospel itself does not tell us. No clear assignment of authorship is given until Irenaeus in the late second century. Yes, Papias in the early second century mentions that someone told him that John Mark had written a gospel, but Papias does not identify the gospel.

    2. Where was Mark written? We don’t know. Most scholars do not believe that Mark was written in Palestine, but let’s just say that it was. So the gospel is written 30-35 years after Jesus’ death in 30-33 AD. Historians tell us that the average life span of people in the first century was age 45. How many people would still be alive in 65 AD who had been old enough to witness the crucifixion of Jesus? If you were fifteen in the year 30 AD, you would now be fifty in 65 AD, above the average first century life span. And I would bet that even most fundamentalist Christians would believe that the disciples were older than fifteen at the time of the crucifixion. So let’s say that the disciples of Jesus were between twenty and thirty years old in 30 AD. That would make them fifty-five to sixty-five years old in 65 AD, if they were still alive! We have no proof that any of the disciples were still alive in 65 AD.

    3. Even if Mark were written in Palestine, 30 years after the death of Jesus, and there were still people alive who witnessed the resurrection, how soon was the gospel put into public circulation? Maybe the author wrote it for just one wealthy benefactor. Maybe he wrote it just for his small group of Christians, none of whom were old enough to remember the crucifixion. Maybe the gospel was not put into public circulation until after 70 AD. If true, the entire city of Jerusalem has been destroyed, most of its inhabitants are dead or carried off. If there had been a tomb of Jesus, who would now be alive to point out where it was. Remember, all this is assuming that the gospel was written in Palestine or at least circulated in Palestine in the 60’s or 70’s. For all we know, the gospel of Mark was written in Rome and copies of it did not arrive in Palestine until after 100 AD or later! Who would still be alive to say, “Hey, that’s not what happened!”?

    4. Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple.

    Even if Jesus did prophesy/predict the destruction of the Temple, is this proof that he is God? If someone living in Europe in the mid 1930’s had predicted that Europe would be devastated by a second world war, that Germany would lose, and that Germany would be partitioned as punishment for starting the war, would we believe that this person was God? Just because someone predicts something that comes true is not proof that they are divine.

    5. Was the author of Mark an eyewitness to the Resurrection?

    The author of Mark never claims to be an eyewitness. He even writes in the third person. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the author was not an eyewitness but to say he was is simply a guess.

    B. The Gospel of Matthew

    1. Who wrote Matthew? The author does not tell us. The assignment of the apostle Matthew as author of this gospel is not mentioned until the late second century by Irenaeus.

    2. Most scholars believe that Matthew was written after Mark and that one can find 70% of the content of Mark within Matthew, often word for word.

    3. Where was Matthew written? We have no idea. Again, for all we know, it could have been written in a foreign country, far away from any eyewitnesses to the crucifixion. We have no idea when it was first circulated in Palestine for any elderly eyewitness to say, “Hey. That isn’t what happened!”

    4. Was Matthew an eyewitness to the Resurrection?

    The author of Matthew never claims to be an eyewitness. He writes in the third person. Again, not proof that he was not an eyewitness but to say he was is no better than a guess. The author of Matthew could simply have been writing a story he had heard third, fourth, or twentieth hand.

    C. The Gospel of Luke

    1. Who wrote Luke? The author of Luke does not say. No clear assignment of authorship of this gospel is given until the late second century by Ireneaus.

    2. Where was Luke written? We have no idea.

    3. The author of the Gospel of Luke also borrows heavily from the Gospel of Mark. Approximately 50-55% of the content of Mark can be found in Luke, frequently, word of word.

    4. Was the author of Luke an eyewitness?

    Luke very clearly states in the first few verses of chapter one that he is not an eyewitness. He states that he carefully investigated the writings of others (Mark and “Q”?) which he didn’t seem to find satisfactory, and that his sources had given him eyewitnesses testimony. However, he does not identify his sources. Were his sources eyewitnesses themselves or were his sources associates of eyewitnesses giving him “eyewitness” testimony from their source or sources, which would make Luke’s information, at best, second hand information.

    D. The Gospel of John

    Many conservative Christians believe that the author of John infers that he is John, the son of Zebedee, by using the term “the beloved disciple”. I personally (and many scholars) do not think that the author of John is referring to himself as the beloved disciple but is claiming to be recounting the story of the beloved disciple. But let’s assume that the author of the Gospel of John does claim to be John, the beloved disciple. What evidence do we have to determine if his claim is true? Do we have any contemporary Christian or non-Christian testimony that states that John, the son of Zebedee, wrote the Gospel of John? No. We do not. The assignment of authorship of this gospel is not made until the end of the second century, again, by Ireneaus. Papias makes no mention of this gospel.

    So just because someone claimed to be John, the beloved disciple, recounting an eyewitness account of the life, death, and supernatural resurrection of Jesus, should we take him at his word?? Many, many “gospels” were floating around the Mediterranean world in the late first and second centuries. The non-canonical Gospel of Peter may have been written even earlier than Mark! Yet, no one, including fundamentalists, believes that the apostle Peter wrote the Gospel of Peter. So, how do we know that the author of the Gospel of John, if he really was claiming to be John, was really John, the beloved disciple, son of Zebedee?? The fact is, that we have no more evidence that John wrote the Gospel of John than we do that Peter wrote the Gospel of Peter, other than Irenaeus’ declaration in 180 AD, in France, one hundred and fifty years after the crucifixion, that the four gospels we have today were written by the persons that he asserts, based upon evidence, that he never gives!

    E. What Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus do we have so far?

    We have four first century books describing the alleged facts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but only one, (maybe), claims to be an eyewitness testimony.

    Dozens of Romans senators claimed that the first Roman king, Romulus, was snatched up into heaven right in front of their eyes…but no Christian believes this eyewitness testimony.

    Thirteen men living in the early nineteenth century signed legal affidavits, swearing under oath, that they personally had seen the Golden Tablets delivered to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni with their own two eyes, and three of these men signed affidavits that they had seen the angel Moroni himself with their own two eyes…but yet no Christian believes this eyewitness testimony.

    Thousands upon thousands of devout, pious Roman Catholics have claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary, alive, often many hundreds or even thousands together in the same location, at the same time…but no Protestant or evangelical Christian denomination believes this eyewitness testimony to be true.

    Yet, Protestant/evangelical Christians will believe as absolute fact, that a first century dead man walked out of his tomb after three days of decomposing, ate a broiled fish lunch with his friends, and then levitated into outer space based on the testimony of…one…,possible, eyewitness’ testimony!

    F. But what about the Apostle Paul?

    The testimony of Saul/Paul of Tarsus is used by Christians as secondary proof of the Resurrection of Jesus. Christians do not allege that Paul saw a resurrected Jesus prior to his Ascension into Heaven. In I Corinthians Paul makes this statement, “Have I not seen the Christ?”

    But when Paul says he has “seen” the Christ, what did he see actually? Well, Acts chapter 26 tells us exactly what Paul saw, in his own words: Paul saw a talking, bright light that told him that it (the talking, bright light) was Jesus. And, Paul very specifically states, that he saw this talking, bright light…”in a heavenly vision”.

    Talking bright lights are not resurrected bodies and visions are not reality.

    Yes, Paul came to believe that Jesus had been bodily resurrected, but there is no evidence that Paul believed this due to seeing a resurrected body. Paul was a Pharisee, and Pharisees believed in a bodily resurrection, so if Paul believed that the talking, bright light speaking to him on the Damascus Road was the executed Jesus, then he would of course believe that he had seen the (bodily) resurrected Jesus, even if he had actually not seen a body, but only a bright light!

    Conclusion:

    The belief that a first century dead man, named Jesus, walked out of his tomb with a new, superman-like body that could teleport between cities (Emmaus and Jerusalem), could walk through locked doors (the Upper Room), and could teleport into outer space (the Ascension) is based on one alleged eyewitness who wrote a book 40-60 years after the alleged event, whose authorship was not mentioned by any Christian or non-Christian until 150 years later, at the end of the second century, when it was finally called the Gospel of John…and…on the “heavenly vision” of a vision prone Jewish rabbi, Saul/Paul of Tarsus (who also said that he was teleported to the “third heaven”. What other writer of the Bible refers to the concept of multiple heavens?)

    And we are asked to believe that based on this “evidence”, Jesus of Nazareth now sits on a throne in the far reaches of outer space, ruling as our Almighty Lord and King of the Universe??

    The Romans and Mormons have better evidence for their supernatural tall tales than this tale! It is an ancient legend, folks. A fantastic, supernatural superstition. The chances that it is true are infintisimal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *