UPDATE: Giveaway has ended.
I have to confess when I was first approached about reviewing this book, I almost made a knee-jerk decision to decline.
Ever since my Christian Bookstore days, I've had a strange relationship with Christian Living books. I can predict fairly well which will challenge me, which stem from more legalistic theology, which ones are fluff and so on. Needless to say, I'm pretty picky about what I end up reading. I'm even pickier about the books I decide to review, especially because it's that much harder to write respectful criticism.
When I saw the title and a few of the endorsers, I thought, "this one isn't for me." But I paused to think it through and reconsidered for two reasons. First, it's important to read the work of those with whom you might not agree, not only to find common ground but because growth occurs outside of the bubble of sameness. Of course, this doesn't mean you can't grow and learn from people who have similar positions as you do. Second, I remembered watching a David Platt video last summer along the lines of the book premise and wondered how it would stack up.
Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart notes many Christians lack assurance of their salvation. Read that sentence again. Christians, believers, people attending church on a regular basis doubt their salvation. The book seeks to examine the language of salvation churches often use and suggest a more helpful lexicon.
I have friends who would pray the sinner's pray over and over again, just in case the last time didn't stick. We may have grown up in similar churches but it never occurred to me to doubt my salvation. I did, however, pray the prayer twice. Once, when I was a few years old, not entirely sure what I was committing to. The second time when I was 14. My faith has grown and ebbed and changed over the years but I never doubted my salvation. I'm not the target audience for this book but I know people who are.The author J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., says he must have prayed that prayer a 1000 times. He was even baptized 4 times, which makes me wonder what on earth was going on in his childhood church.
Greear leads us through whether God wants us to have assurance of salvation, what belief and repentance look like, and why salvation is about more than praying a prayer. There's much opportunity for legalism in such a conversation but I was relieved Greear didn't go in that direction. In fact, quite a few times, he took a different tack than I expected. It was rather refreshing, given the way salvation and evangelism is usually presented. And that's the whole point of this book.
For instance, it's commonly taught you must be able to point to the moment you first believed. An exact date is preferable. Otherwise, they infer you're not a "real" Christian. Greear, however, disagrees. "Just because we haven't prayed that prayer (or can't remember praying it) doesn't mean we haven't repented and believed...The point is not whether we remember making the decision to get into the posture [of faith] but whether we are in it now." (p. 41, 45)
I also loved what he had to say about faith and doubt.
I'm glad I decided to read it. It was an exercise in pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I would not normally gravitate toward this subject matter. I didn't agree with everything Greear wrote. I have a few quibbles with some of the examples Greear used. They either veered on cheesy or sent out some unintended questionable messages. But in the grand scheme of things, those are minor issues.
Most evangelicals will appreciate the message. This book will bring grace and freedom to those seeking assurance of salvation, as well as open the eyes of people who view salvation more narrowly.
B&H Publishers is offering one free copy of Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart to a lucky reader. The giveaway is for US residents only. (Sorry, non-Americans!) The giveaway will run through midnight Saturday February 16. I will notify the winner by email and they will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be picked.
Just follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.
Update: Giveaway has ended and the winner has been notified.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Greear's Official Website - http://www.jdgreear.com/
Official Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/pastorgreear
J.D. Greear's Official Twitter Account - twitter.com/jdgreear
Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart Promo Video - http://vimeo.com/45938893
Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart with no expectation that I would provide a positive review. The thoughts, opinions, and reactions are entirely my own.
Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon from HopefulLeigh, I'll get a few pennies to help support this site, along with my book habit. Thanks for your support!