Is Just “Asking Jesus into Your Heart” Doing Enough to Get to Heaven?
I was brought up on a sheep farm at the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand, and for as long as I can remember, I have always known there was a God. My parents are very sincere believers, and it was rare for a Sunday to go past without finding Mum and Dad with all us kids in church. I guess it was this upbringing that gave me a firm belief in God and the infallibility of His Word.
In fact, my parents and grandparents not only attended the local Presbyterian Church regularly, but they were also very much involved in the activities surrounding the church, including being an important part of the church leadership.
As I grew up, I followed their example and also put my energies into helping out in different aspects of church life, becoming quite involved in various activities. I spent a number of years as a youth group leader and I also got involved in a number of youth group activities, camps and holiday programs. I also took time to regularly pray and read God’s Word privately at home.
I began to feel particularly unsatisfied with the path my life was taking...
While I enjoyed this life as a Christian and felt spiritually fulfilled, as time went on I began to feel particularly unsatisfied with the path my life was taking, even though I was doing everything I had always wanted to do, working on my parent’s farm and shearing in the local shearing gang. I felt that God wanted me to put that aside and work for Him on a full-time basis. I had realised during my time involved in the church youth group that there were many people out there that needed help, and that farm work, even though I loved it, prevented me from putting as much time into youth work as I would have liked. It was only later that I realised that God wanted to show me some important truths about what it means to follow Him as the disciples in the Bible did.
Although I read the Bible fairly often, due to a series of different events, I became aware that my knowledge of God and what the Bible said was pretty limited. I therefore decided that Bible College would be the best way of changing this, and being keen to have a bit of a look around, I thought going to Bible College in Australia would be a good idea.
There were plenty of Bible Colleges to choose from, which didn’t make the decision very easy, but I prayed about it, chose one, and began to enrol. Little did I know that this new chapter in my life would be considerably more dramatic than I first realised!
To cut a long story short, I arrived at the Bible College and found myself rooming next to a couple of blokes from Germany who were also studying at the college. This was not that unusual in itself, but what they would explain to me from the Bible in the weeks and months that followed would cause me to seriously consider what being a Christian was really about.
Like many churchgoers, I had been brought up believing...
Like many churchgoers, I had been brought up believing that in order to be a Christian all I needed to do was ‘Ask Jesus into my heart’. I had never had any need to question this idea before, and simply accepted that if it was commonly preached in churches, then it must be correct.
However, after talking to my newly-found friends and after a bit of a study into the Bible, I was shocked to find that there is no Scripture stating that this is God’s plan of salvation.
Up until this point in time I had never really considered the subject very deeply, but when I was faced with the question of making sure I was following God according to His Word, I became aware I could not prove that what I had done was backed up by scriptures in the Bible.
True, there are some verses that allude to something similar, such as
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (ROMANS 10:13), which is of course correct, but there were also other scriptures which spoke of needing to do other things to be saved as well, such as “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved:” (MARK 16:16). So which was right? Or were they both correct?
The Bible talks a lot about sin and how we have all sinned. If asking Jesus into my heart was going to remove that sin, how exactly was I supposed to go about this?
As I continued to study, I began realizing that the Bible states there are actual actions from our side which are required for salvation. God is not the author of confusion (1 CORINTHIANS 14:33) and naturally wants us all to get to heaven (2 PETER 3:9). Therefore I knew He must be able to show me clearly in His Scriptures what I needed to do to be saved.
...study on what God’s Word actually said about salvation...
The next few months caused me to do an intensive study on what God’s Word actually said about salvation, and not rely on church tradition or what people had told me in the past. I wanted to know for myself whether or not I was following what God said I needed to do for salvation. If the Bible was true, then I knew it was the Word of God that would judge me on the Judgment Day and not someone’s idea of what they thought God wanted. This in itself caused some real soul searching because if what I was finding out was true, then many friends I had back in New Zealand had also not been told the whole truth about salvation according to God’s ways.
My two new roommates had really challenged my thinking about the whole subject of salvation and one thing that particularly struck me was the subject of baptism. They asked if I had been baptised and I replied that “baptism was an option and you don’t have to do it if you didn’t want to”. You can imagine my surprise when they showed me a number of Scriptures that clearly stated that baptism is necessary for entering the kingdom of heaven and that actually, it is the way to have your sin removed! Some of these scriptures included:
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Not only was this clear but I even found that Peter had commanded people to be baptised. (ACTS 10:48)
I started to wonder how I could have ever thought that baptism was not necessary! It just showed that I had never really searched God’s word about salvation; this was obviously one of the reasons God sent me to Bible College.
Finding out about baptism really got my brain working and I began thinking, “Surely this can’t be! I have been going to church all my life and no one has ever told me this… This couldn’t possibly be true as I had been to many other churches besides the Presbyterian Church, and they had never talked like this. Surely all these churches filled with sincere people can’t be wrong?”
But still, I could not get away from the fact that the Bible said it clearly in black and white, so it must be right. Knowing that God required baptism for salvation, and that I had not taken this step, I decided I had to get baptised, so I could follow God’s plan of salvation, and do things His way.
Another topic which came up during this period of investigation about salvation, was what it meant to “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” also known as the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. The New Testament often states that we, as believers, have the Holy Spirit and so I was under the impression that since I had asked Jesus into my heart, I already had the Holy Spirit.
...received the Holy Spirit...by the initial sign of speaking in tongues...
However, my two friends brought me back again to what God’s Word said, and asked me what happened when the first disciples in the early church (recorded in Acts) received the Holy Spirit for the first time. Again this caused me to look through the Scriptures and study what God had specifically recorded in His Word. What I soon realised was that whenever someone, or a group of people, received the Holy Spirit it was accompanied by the initial sign of speaking in tongues (another language). This I found a number of times in the book of Acts. This was not the “gift” of tongues which is often incorrectly discussed out of context, but the “gift” of the Holy Spirit. In fact Peter and others even used the sign of speaking in tongues to determine whether or not people had actually received the gift/baptism of the Holy Spirit.
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
This again shocked me as I had never tried to find out what God said in His Word about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and what it is really all about, even though I believed I had received it. However, what was even more shocking was when I found out the importance of receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter very clearly stated that those who repented and were baptized would receive this Gift (ACTS 2:38) but I soon found other Scriptures highlighting the importance of this.
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (which means being baptized in water and being baptized in the Holy Spirit).
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Worshipping the Father in spirit is praying in tongues as shown in 1 CORINTHIANS 14:14
For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
I also read a fantastic book which discusses this subject in depth entitled “They Speak with Other Tongues” written by John & Elizabeth Sherrill.
I would like to add at this point though, that some churches go completely overboard about praying in tongues and focus only on this. While the Bible clearly states that it is very important, Jesus was also very clear about the importance of living a holy life, dying to the worldly desires in our life and becoming disciples, which in reality takes the rest of our natural lives. So to focus only on speaking in tongues is contrary to what Jesus taught.
I knew deep down that I had to make a decision...
During this time of being confronted with what salvation is really about, and knowing that my friends and family back home would most likely think I was “on a bit of a bender” or had become a fanatic, I knew deep down that I had to make a decision. Either the Bible was the true Word of God and I had to obey it, or it wasn’t. Either it contained the Words of Eternal Life with which God wanted to show us how to live as a Christian disciple and get to heaven, or it didn’t. There could be no middle ground and I could not begin choosing the bits of the Bible I liked and disregarding the bits I didn’t.
In reality, I knew the answer to these questions was simple, because in my heart I knew the Bible was the Truth and the very Words of God. This therefore left one last question. Was I going to now fulfill what Jesus said I had to do to become a disciple and follower of Him, or was I going to now somehow avoid this whole topic for fear of what others thought?
I could not deny what the Word of God said. If I wanted Salvation from my sin and to receive Eternal Life, I knew I had to do it His Way, not my way. God’s Word is clear that Judgment day will be a terrible day for anyone who willingly makes decisions contrary to God’s Word, especially when they base these decisions on fear of what others think (REVELATION 21:8). I had to do what God said, no matter how hard that might be, otherwise I could not be a disciple. Jesus said:
If you love me, keep my commandments
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
...just like I had read about the disciples in the early church!
I therefore made the decision and was baptised and received the Holy Ghost with the Biblical sign of speaking in tongues. While this was quite dramatic in itself, I also experienced a peace and joy that settled deep within me. I was assured my sins were indeed washed away (ACTS 22:16) and the Bible became much more exciting and alive as I read it, with Scriptures popping out at me as the Holy Spirit began to teach me what it meant to be a disciple (JOHN 14:26). Faith also began growing in my heart and I experienced a number of miracles when I prayed for myself and others. Things were happening just like I had read about the disciples in the early church!
As a note of interest, the disciples that were with Jesus did not receive the Holy Spirit until Jesus left for heaven. Even before Jesus was crucified he taught them of what to expect, saying:
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
This was indeed my experience; He was with me all those years I was going to church and trying to follow His ways, and is now in me. Praise the Lord.
What will you do?
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues...
If you are reading this and you have been a Bible believer and devout follower of God for many years, this is not written to point the finger at you, or make you feel less of a Christian. It is simply to show you how I found full salvation according to the Word of God, and how it has changed my life. I also want to encourage you to check it out for yourself and see if what I have said is true. If I am wrong you can happily disregard it, but if I have followed God’s Word correctly and you have not, then you have some thinking to do…
If you are a pastor in a church, please consider this very seriously, as you are not only responsible for your own salvation, but you have other souls under your care which you will one day give an account for.
...and it is this that should guide us, not the behavior of other Christians.
To those that know me, I have not always spread the Word of God wisely since discovering my newly found knowledge of the Bible. Initially I was very enthusiastic (some would say over-zealous) and wanted to pass on how my life had changed. If I have upset you because of this, I do apologise, but would also ask that you don’t discount the message because of the actions of the messenger. God’s Word is holy, a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (PSALM 119:105), and it is this that should guide us, not the behavior of other Christians.
If you want to know more about the topics brought up in this testimony, please take time to study the appropriate Bible Studies on this website, and consider reading the following books: ‘They Speak with Other Tongues’ by John & Elizabeth Sherrill, ‘9 o’clock in the Morning’ by Dennis J. Bennett, ‘The Happiest People on Earth’ by Demos Shakarian, ‘A New Song’ by Pat Boone, and ‘The Story of My Life’ by Charles Price.
I hope this has helped you in some way. Don’t think that you can’t receive the same Holy Spirit in the same way that the early disciples did. If you ask, you will receive, if you seek, you will find. God promises to give it to you (LUKE 11:9-13)!
Have a great day.