The question "Would you like to ask Jesus to come into your heart?" is a magical combination of words, which - regardless of whether the one being asked the question understands the meaning of it or not - will determine (by the corresponding reply to it) where the addressee will spend eternity - or at least some part of it. Those who are children of God - ordained & chosen to be thus before the foundations of the world - will invariably respond "yes" to this question when asked, even if for no apparent conscious reason, even in the absence of any sense that it might make to them.

Those whose response will be "no," will always reveal by the course of their actions, behavior and whole being in the years to follow, that they have chosen another path, not the heavenly. Some people are given repeated chances to reply to this probably most fateful of all questions, and if they hadn't chosen to say "yes," and pray to receive Jesus as their Savior the first time around, they might do so the second, third or final time. Some have even answered "yes" repeatedly & "done it" a few times, perhaps just to be on the safe side, or simply because they didn't think much of it the first time around. Sometimes the result isn't any visible change, and there are people who will doubt whether such a person has been genuinely saved. While I personally am inclined to believe that anyone is saved "who confesses with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believes in their heart" (Rom.10:9,10) in the original sense of the word "believing" as "drinking in, receiving" (see also John 1:12), even if only for that one brief moment in their life, some may argue about this. But it seems to be undeniably clear that those who reject the offer to receive Jesus will always prove by their lives that in choosing not to receive Christ, they have chosen the other side.

When I was asked "Would you like to pray with us to receive Jesus in your heart" (the 2nd time around), those words didn't make any sense to me, but something inside me made me say "yes," for no explicable reason, other than that my heart knew that I wanted to become a child of God, and must somehow have been one already.

Those who asked me, joyfully responded, "Oh, would you like to pray for Jesus to come into your heart right now?" And I did. Sometimes, ever since that day in 1976 (I was 13 then) I fell back into ungodly behavior, and it was definitely not as if all my problems were solved on that day or I had suddenly become perfect. But ever since then, every fall & every mistake I made seems to have been a fall upward, one step closer toward the Throne of God's Grace. A short while later, my sister Barbara also prayed the same prayer, and although it seemed to have some immediate effect on her, negative experiences that followed in her life later (and the choices she made accordingly), didn't allow her to continue to cherish the joy of her Salvation, and she eventually turned into what I would call a "mental unbeliever." She doesn't allow her mind to believe in God because she cannot explain some of the experiences she's had - but she's basically what you might call a "good" person.

A few years later my half-sister, Ariane was born, and although her mother believed in God, Ariane seemed to be cut of a different type of wood. When my eldest daughter was around 4 or 5 years old, she asked Ariane (who was still a child of about 10 back then) whether she would like to pray to receive Jesus in her heart, Ariane's reply was a very determined, almost disgusted "NO!" It was obvious she didn't want to. As the years went by, she has proven by her actions and her entire vile being & anti-social behavior, on which side she was standing all along; and while there is still hope that she might yet get saved, at the point in time I am writing this, it is obvious that she has not yet chosen to become a child of God, & one would almost be surprised to see her change her mind.

Some people believe that a visible change & "metanoya" has to take place before someone gets saved. I personally believe in John 1:12, "As many as received Him (Jesus), to them gave He power to become sons of God," and it is the act of receiving Jesus that will result in a metanoya, or change, although one has to be willing to pray for the forgiveness of their sins as they pray the Salvation prayer. But it is the prayer that triggers the metanoya. It's like the seed of Salvation that is sown into the heart of the one who opens their door to Jesus, and it might only sprout & grow into a new life years later, sometimes not at all in this life, but I do believe in the Lord's mercy and saving grace to the extent that no matter what a person may have done who sincerely prayed this prayer, they will go to Heaven when they die.

When the Family started receiving messages from famous deceased people, I personally was very surprised that among the many messages from prominent dead people in Heaven, there was also a message from Richard Nixon, who had always been perceived as an extremely vile person by our community, and had even been compared to Hitler during our earlier years by our founder. Yet Nixon explained in his message from beyond that the single best thing he had done during his earthly life was to pray to receive Jesus in his heart during a Sunday school class in his childhood, and that was the one thing that got him into Heaven.

I personally believe that message. Otherwise there wouldn't be much sense in Jesus asking us over and over again to win souls for Him. If it wouldn't be easy enough for a child to receive Salvation, as He Himself states in the gospels (Mt.18:3), and if getting saved would be some complicated process, then it would make no sense, and much of our labor would be totally in vain. Our labor in winning souls is based on the simplicity of the gospel, and the simple fact that any child can receive Salvation. Some believe that children are "already saved" & somehow lose their innocence at a certain age. I prefer to believe the Bible, that we're "born in sin," and that we must be "born again" in order to "see the Kingdom of Heaven," as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3. This is a simplicity that often eludes the learned, and is way past their comprehension and beyond the grasp of their complex minds, but not beyond a little child's faith, just big enough to answer "yes" to the question, "would you like to receive Jesus in your heart?"

(First Published 08 May 2006)

No comments: