We've heard the phrase many times in sharing Christ with kids. "Just ask Jesus into your heart and you'll be saved." But is this a biblical way to describe the gospel and our response to it? As many churches (including my own) head into a week of Vacation Bible School, I want to encourage you with 7 reasons why I would not use the phrase "Ask Jesus into your heart" when sharing the gospel with children.
- It is not biblical -- no where in Scripture do we see this phrase
- It fails to call forth repentance -- children must see themselves as sinners first
- It ignores the doctrine of justification by faith -- children must see that salvation is not what they do, but what Christ has done for them; their response is to turn from sin and trust in Christ
- It makes Jesus someone we can control -- if we don't let him in, then he can't come in ... this puts the focus on us instead of his sovereign grace in salvation
- It is confusing language for a child to understand -- though we may think we're speaking on a child's level with this phrase, we may actually be confusing them more!
- It may lead to false professions of faith -- it is relatively easy to persuade a child to ask Jesus into his heart, but many who have made such a commitment later show no signs of regeneration
- It provides the wrong basis for assurance -- when asked to share their faith story, many kids will point to the time they "asked Jesus into their heart." Though God may have brought them to faith in Christ at that point, it is more helpful to point children to the cross for assurance rather than a past decision or prayer.
Now, it must be said that there is nothing inherently wrong with using the phrase, "Ask Jesus into your heart." However, I think it's clear that there is a better, more biblical way to describe salvation to children. Here's some helpful resources below: