Don’t Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

Seeking-After-God_1920I grew up in a Christian world where salvation was only found through one door: praying the sinner’s prayer. At church, Bible camp, VBS, Sunday school, and in my own home, it seemed that there was one unifying message: the way to be saved from hell was to ask Jesus to come into your heart.

Where did that idea come from? There is no Bible passage that tells us to do this. There is no passage on praying the sinner’s prayer. Perhaps even more worrisome, no believers in all of the Christian Church held this practice. So where did nearly all recent American Christians get this idea?

It is probably because we have all heard evangelists quote from Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). “Usually the evangelist applies this text as an appeal to unbelievers, saying: “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. If you open the door, then He will come in.” In the original saying, however, Jesus directed His remarks to the church. It was not an evangelistic appeal.”

But even if Revelation 3:20 wasn’t originally an evangelistic Bible verse, could we turn it into one? No, because if we make this verse about “how to get saved,” we will miss the beautiful truth God has for us! Jesus is teaching His church to listen to His Word, the Scriptures, and seek Him with all of our heart.

Christian pastor and theologian R.C. Sproul wrote, “The point is that seeking is something that unbelievers do not do on their own. The unbeliever will not seek. The unbeliever will not knock. Seeking is the business of believers. Jonathan Edwards said, ‘The seeking of the Kingdom of God is the chief business of the Christian life.’ Seeking is the result of faith, not the cause of it.”

The Christian life begins at conversion; it does not end where it begins. It grows; it moves from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life. This movement of growth is prodded by continual seeking after God.

Just like we love God because He first loved us (I John 4:19), we will not seek after God until He first seeks us (John 4:23). Jesus does not stand at the door of my heart and knock, vainly hoping I will open it. Jesus is Lord of all, and even Lord of my life, whether I trust Him or not. The problem is not for Jesus; He is sovereign! The problem is for me: either I will trust Him, and own Him as Lord in glory, or I will be His subject of wrath for all eternity.

Jesus does not need to come into my heart, because He is right now sitting at the right hand of God the Father, the Almighty. There, Jesus sits because He has completely accomplished our redemption, and He is praying for each of His believers by name before the Father. Picture a military general: he is not down on the front lines, but above at HQ, where he can oversee the battalions and squadrons, directing them into the fray. Jesus is not indwelling my heart on the front lines of the spiritual battle; He is at the Father’s throne, guiding His Church toward the defeat of Satan.

Also, Jesus cannot come into my heart! In His resurrected body, Jesus cannot be at the Father’s throne, squeeze his glorified body “into my heart” (whatever that might mean), and be in your heart at the same time. He can, however, send His Spirit! Scripture teaches that it is not Jesus who lives within us, but His Spirit that indwells Christians.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks, but He is knocking for His church family to open up to seeking Him spiritually, day by day. “In your spiritual walk, are you moving from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life? Are you continually seeking after God?”

photo from Ligonier

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Cross Walk Bulletin

goodfriday (1)This Good Friday, we cannot hold the normal community CrossWalk that has always met at noon. But though we cannot gather, that doesn’t change what Jesus has accomplished for us!

For many of you, walking through our community while focusing on the last seven sayings our Lord uttered from the cross has been a moving and spiritually uplifting time. Perhaps for others, you have never participated in the CrossWalk before, but you have extra time to consider what Jesus said in His dying moments. How are you going to “make the best use of the time” this Good Friday?

We have provided the CrossWalk bulletin for anyone to use here. Want an extra challenge?! See if you can find Jesus’s seven sayings for yourself by looking in the Gospels! But whether you look them up or use the bulletin, prayerfully reflect on what God is teaching you this Good Friday. You can download the bulletin for yourself here.

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Maundy Thursday Service

Though we cannot gather, we want to reflect on what our Savior has done for us. Join us, especially as we ponder “Our Cup, His Life.”

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Resources For Monday of Holy Week

HolyWeek2Despite the strangeness of sheltering in place, we want to bring resources to encourage your faith.

Kids’ Video

Until April 12th, Crossway Publishing has made the The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film free to stream.
TheBiggestStory

You can view the movie here! Don’t forget to check out the rest of our resources for kids.

Bible Reading for Holy Week

With extra time at home, devote yourself to God’s Word & prayer during these days leading up to the celebration of Christ’ resurrection. Yesterday is regarded as Palm Sunday, when Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. You can find all the relevant passages in Matthew 21:1–11, Mark 11:1–11, Luke 19:28–44, and John 12:9–19. Here’s a brief clip explaining Palm Sunday.

On Monday, Jesus’ actions have often been puzzling. To understand what Jesus did the day after Palm Sunday, read Matthew 21:12–22, Mark 11:12–19, and Luke 19:45–48. With fig tree curses and cleansed temples, Jesus is doing something amazing. Here’s another brief clip explaining the Monday before Jesus’ death on the cross.

Online Prayer Time

We will spend time praying to the Lord Almighty on Wednesday evening! Here are the details through Zoom:
Brian Lund is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Zion Prayer Meeting
Time: Apr 6, 2020 08:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/337844095

Meeting ID: 337 844 095

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Meeting ID: 337 844 095
Find your local number: https://us04web.zoom.us/u/fbuThZo4AC

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Day for Fasting & Prayer

DayPrayerSeveral international ministries have called upon churches and Christians to consider setting aside time on Saturday, April 4th for prayer & fasting.

President of The Gospel Coalition and former mentor to Pastor Brian Rev. Dr. Julius J. Kim says,

Like many of you, I have been grieved and at times afraid as I’ve watched events unfold in our world in recent weeks. In light of what is happening because of COVID-19, we at TGC invite you to join us for a day to fast and pray this Saturday, April 4.

We want to pray to the Lord in faith, trusting in the words of Psalm 10:17: “O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear.

You can find all the details of the day for prayer & fasting here.

Prayer Guide

Feel free to spend the time in prayer as you see fit as the Lord leads, but for those who would like some direction, there is a prayer guide. Here’s an example from the guide:

Start your prayer time by reading Psalm 27.

I. Remember and rejoice in the character of God.

Reflect and meditate on the character of God: he is all powerful, all knowing, never-changing, ever-present, full of loving-kindness, mercy and grace toward all who call on his name.

Psalm 27:1-2

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.

II. Pray about your specific fears.

Express your fears, anxieties, and concerns to the Lord. Pour out your heart to him. Seek his face and ask for him to hide you in his shelter during this time of trouble.

Psalm 27:3-5

3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. 4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. 5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

III. Sing a song of praise to God.

Sing or listen to a hymn, song, or psalm. As you do, reflect on the Lord’s goodness, and ask him to help you trust him with your fears.

Psalm 27:6

6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

IV. Pray for your community and world.

Pray for the needs of the world around you: family members, neighbors, medical workers, governing officials, those who are suffering financially, and those who are sick. Ask the Lord to sustain, provide, heal, and guide. Ask him to give his people endurance, wisdom, and hope.

Psalm 27:7

7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!

You can download a free PDF of the prayer guide or grab it online.

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Live Stream: Faithful to the End

Pastor Brian shared a brief devotion last night:

The Scripture passages referenced were Philippians 1:6, II Corinthians 11, and Isaiah 46:10.

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Sunday Wrap: God’s Comfort

PreparingWorshipHere’s everything from the Lord’s Day of March 29.

Stream of Service

Worship Bulletin

Download here

Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs Playlist

Sermon

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Sermon: The Lord of Hosts Is With Us from Ps 46

“The Lord of Hosts is With Us”
Psalm 46:1 – 11
God’s Comfort & Presence
March 22, 2020

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Free Resources During Shutdown

ChurchResourcesMany ministries have made their tools and products either free or at reduced prices. Some of us have extra time on our hands, and this is a wonderful time to make the most of this situation!

Ligonier Ministries

Ligonier Ministries has opened up their collection of teaching series, which represents something like 2,500 lectures. They’ve also added 20+ teaching series to Amazon Prime and unlocked the group study feature at Ligonier Connect so you can take courses with others.

Logos

Logos is offering free access to some of their resources and courses, plus a free Faithlife Connect subscription (which allows you to watch films, documentaries, etc).

Crossway

Crossway is offering free access to their ESV.org basic subscription plan to all users through May 31, 2020. This gives access to study Bibles and other solid resources. They also have several free ebooks.

Adventures in Odyssey

Adventures in Odyssey is offering a free 4-week trial.

Simeon Trust

Simeon Trust has reduced the cost of their courses from $19 to $9.

Getty Hymn Sing

Their children helped (with hand actions!) in a family hymn sing. Requires Facebook account.

Dwell

The Dwell Bible app is free for 60 days.

Redeem TV

Redeem TV has launched a beta of their software with lots of free shows and movies.

Kids Free Resources

I know it says it is for “kids,” but with free movies and activities for the whole family, you might find something for you also! Zion Free Kid Resources During Shutdown

Do you know others? Share them in the comments! (Thanks to Challies for many of these.)

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Kids Resources During Shutdown

ChildrenMinistry2It is easy

101 Bible Crafts
BigPictureBibleCraftsHere’s a free PDF to 101 crafts and activities to teach God’s Word to kids! Download here!

Kids Animated Movie: Pilgrim’s Progress

You can watch this movie for free! They will ask for your email, and parents of very young children need to know there are some intense or mildly frightening scenes. Go to movie here.

BibleCardsFree Bible Cards
Here’s an activity that could be loads of fun for different ages and for those with different creativity. Cut out cards that have Bible verses are great for printing, decorating, and laying out around the house. Or, download the PDF and let the kids color on a tablet or iPad. Most important? Use these words of life for memorization and encouragement! Download here

Kids Crafts & Activities
Make an Easter “empty tomb rolls” with a recipe, cut out and color sheets, books & games, and so much more. Find it all here at theology for kids.

Family Devotion
Family worship is one of the important pillars of Reformed churches. Here is an easy overview of what family worship can look like. Need some more help? Use this free PDF from one of our Sunday school lessons with your own family!

Parenting Podcast
Tripp_Parenting_PodParenting in Light of the Gospel Podcast

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