While making a heretical mistake doesn’t make a person a heretic, ignorance can make a person or church soil their garments (Revelation 3:4). One such mistake is instructing sinners to ask Jesus into their hearts. Though never found in scripture, the phrase comes from a poor interpretation of Revelation 3:20.
Laodicea, a major commercial center, flourished so much that the city refused imperial assistance to rebuild after the earthquake of 60AD. Jesus didn’t compliment the church. Instead, He rebuked them for arrogance and pride. Claiming to be rich, filled, and in need of nothing Jesus characterized the church as wretched, poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17). Despite their banking center, Jesus said they needed to buy gold from Him. Priding itself in manufacturing black wool (shipped all over the world), Jesus said it needed His white wool. Though they had eye salve (a world renowned medical school), Jesus said they needed His salve to anoint their eyes so they could see (Revelation 3:18). Their arrogance evolved from not believing they needed financial assistance to believing they did not need Jesus’ assistance. Jesus addressed their arrogance by commanding them to repent because He reproves and chastens those He loves (Revelation 3:19). Jesus was speaking to a church that had kicked Him out!In the first century, when a visitor knocked on the door of a house the owner let him in and the two shared in a fellowship meal. In contrast to corrupt Roman officials who forced hospitality on Asian Christians, Jesus offered genuine fellowship with HIS CHURCH. The context tells us that Jesus is knocking on the church door, not a sinner’s heart. He wasn’t knocking to offer salvation but for fellowship with His church.
Even without the historical context, forcing “heart” into the verse would be eisegeis (superimposing a meaning that the text does not imply). Asking Jesus into your heart is a saying that makes no sense. Does He literally or figuratively enter the right or left ventricle? What does the Bible say He is doing in a saved person’s heart? Isn’t He in Heaven always interceding (Hebrews 7:23)? Using Revelation 3:20 to justify sinners asking Jesus into their hearts leaves out, perverts, and diminishes the Gospel’s only true method of salvation: repentance and faith (Mark 1:15).
How do people ask Jesus into their hearts? Do they repeat a certain prayer or perform a certain good work? The saying confuses sinners and does not clearly articulate the gospel. Instead of experiencing regeneration, sinners who ask Jesus into their hearts might think they are saved, get a sense of false security, go through life confused, and perish at Judgment (Matthew 7:23). Sinners asking Jesus into their hearts are basically asking Him into their minds far short of the gospel command. The hole in a sinner’s heart is not for fellowship but for Christ’s righteousness which fully satisfies God’s wrath and is imputed the moment he repents and believes (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16, Romans 5:1, John 3:36, John 5:24). When Jesus’ work was finished, He sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12, Revelation 3:21). He isn’t a door to door salesman or a girl scout selling cookies. Jesus commands a sinner to repent (Luke 13:3). The Sovereign God doesn’t beg to be let in. The knocking associated with conviction comes from the Holy Spirit rebuking and directing a sinner from his sin. Jesus lives in a believer’s heart via the Holy Spirit. If still uncertain as to using the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart”, remember that many lost souls were saved and the early church had already been established before John wrote the book of Revelation. Because Jesus, the Apostles, the early Church, and no one in the Bible told sinners to ask Jesus into their hearts, the church today shouldn’t say it but instead interpret the Bible correctly (2 Timothy 2:15, Revelation 3:22).