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Accepting Christ into Your Heart

September 24, 2018 • Life for Leaders

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

 

Almost exactly fifty-five years ago, I went forward at a Billy Graham crusade in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Had you asked me why I went forward, I would have said that I wanted to accept Christ into my heart. On the field of the Coliseum, my counselor guided me to affirm the basic truths of the Gospel, using John 3:16, and then, through prayer, to invite Jesus into my heart.

A woman sitting by her window.The evangelical stream of Christianity often uses this language of accepting Jesus into our hearts as a way of describing the experience of putting our trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. This language is not common in Scripture, but it is suggested by Ephesians 3:17. Usually, the Bible speaks of our being in Christ or dwelling in him. But when we receive God’s grace through faith, a reciprocal indwelling occurs. We come to live in Christ, and he comes to live in us.

It is interesting, though, that in Ephesians, Paul prays for Christ to dwell in the hearts of those who were already God’s “holy people” (1:1). They had already responded to the Gospel in faith. Thus, folks in my theological tradition would say that they had previously accepted Christ into their hearts. Why does Paul pray for this to happen to those who are already Christians?

Here’s how I believe Paul would answer this question. Once we put our faith in Christ, he dwells in our hearts. Yet, in another sense, his indwelling is something that we need to receive on a regular basis. You and I need to open our hearts to Christ, to ask him to dwell richly in and among us.

Remember, in the biblical understanding, the heart is not only the place of emotion. It is the center of our inner lives, the locus of thinking, willing, and feeling. When Christ dwells in our hearts, therefore, he teaches us, guides us, and inspires us. Christ will make his presence known whenever we are open to him, whether in the boardroom or the classroom, whether among our colleagues or our family members.

Something to Think About:

Is your heart open to Christ today?

Will you invite him to live within you through his Spirit?

Will you offer to Christ all that you are inside: your thoughts and feelings, your dreams and fears, your loves and yearnings?

Something to Do:

In a small group or with a Christian friend, share the story of how you first came to “accept Jesus into your heart.” You may have a very specific moment to describe. Or you may talk about a long process of growing into faith.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, yes! Please live fully and freely within me today. Make your home in my thoughts, my emotions, my desires, my hesitations. Even as I once invited you to live in my heart, may this be the focal reality of my life today. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Jesus’ Hand in All Things (John 3:1-36)

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Ephesians

2 thoughts on “Accepting Christ into Your Heart

  1. Ryan Solberg says:

    Mark’s daily missives are helpful building blocks.

    Thank you!

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