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A CRITIQUE OF DR. ROBERT BOYD MUNGER’S
“MY HEART – CHRIST’S HOME”

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, August 15, 2010

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).


Franklin Graham usually ends his sermons by saying, “Ask Christ to come into your heart.” Where did this idea come from? John Flavel (1628-1691) wrote a series of sermons on Revelation 3:20, but the idea of “asking” or “letting” Jesus “come into your heart” seems to have gained notoriety from the hymn, “Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart” by Lelia N. Morris (1862-1929). However, it was Dr. Robert Boyd Munger’s pamphlet, “My Heart – Christ’s Home” (click here to read it) that made the idea extremely popular in the latter part of the 20th century. In that little booklet, Dr. Munger said, “One evening I invited Jesus Christ into my heart. What an entrance He made! It was not a spectacular, emotional thing, but very real…He came into the darkness of my heart and turned on the light.”

Dr. Munger (1910-2001) taught evangelism at Fuller Theological Seminary for many years, from 1969 until his death, and his message, “My Heart Christ’s Home,” became very well known, until the idea, “invite Jesus Christ into [your] heart” became part of the formula for receiving salvation which is now so well known among new-evangelicals. Yet the main text of Dr. Munger’s message, Ephesians 3:17, has nothing to do with a lost sinner “inviting Jesus Christ into [his] heart.”

The Epistle to the Ephesians was not written to lost sinners. It was written “to the saints which are at Ephesus” (Ephesians 1:1). Thus, Ephesians 3:17, as Dr. R. C. H. Lenski observed, is “not the first entrance of Christ into our hearts, but of further indwelling that is due to the strengthening we receive through the Spirit [verse 16]…Christ comes by the Spirit” (R. C. H. Lenski, D.D., The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, Augsburg Publishing House, 1961 edition, p. 494; comments on Ephesians 3:17).

Another verse that Dr. Munger used was John 14:23,

“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).

But this also refers to the work of the Holy Spirit, as does Ephesians 3:17. Jesus told the Disciples,

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 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. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (John 14:16-20).

It is in the context of the work of the Holy Spirit that God the Father and God the Son “will come unto him, and make [their] abode with him” (John 14:23). It is God the Holy Spirit that “shall be in you.” The Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Christ” in I Peter 1:11 and Romans 8:9, where “the Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ” are used together, and where the Apostle says,

“Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”
       (Romans 8:9).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said,

Note that, in this one verse, the Holy Spirit is called both the “Spirit of God,” and the “Spirit of Christ.” The terms are synonymous: thus, Christ is God, and so is the Holy Spirit (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995 edition, p. 1239; note on Romans 8:9).

Thus, I am convinced that it is the “Spirit of Christ,” not the man Christ Jesus, who dwells in our hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17). It is “the Spirit of God,” even “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9) that “will come unto him [a man], and make [his] abode with him” (John 14:23), not

“the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).

The first two persons of the Trinity do not come into one’s heart at conversion. No, it is “the Spirit of God,” even “the Spirit of Christ.” The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, comes into our hearts at conversion.

Now, what about Revelation 3:20?

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

Notice that the word “heart” does not appear anywhere in this verse! Nor does the verse say that “the man Christ Jesus,” who sits at the right hand of the Father, comes in! It is “the Spirit of Christ” who comes in! Also, and this is highly important, the lost sinner does not open himself to Jesus by an act of his will, and certainly not by saying the words of a prayer! Dr. Lenski said,

This opening of the door is misunderstood by synergists who imagine that the sinner is able to open the door by an exercise of his will, by his own natural powers [or prayers!]. They do not see that the will is bound, and that, because it is thus bound, cannot possibly open the door…The truth is that [Christ] comes to the door, stands there, knocks and calls with his voice. In this lies the power that moves the will to open the door…The Lord’s power of love and grace in and by his Word …reaches into the heart and moves it to open and receive. This is the picture here presented (R. C. H. Lenski, D.D., The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation, Augsburg Publishing House, 1963 edition, pp. 162-163; note on Revelation 3:20).

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

Jesus knocks at the door of your conscience by the sermons you hear from God’s Word. That is the primary way He knocks, through the preaching of the law and the Gospel. When your conscience is “pricked” by the preaching, and you cry, “What shall [I] do?” (Acts 2:37) then your will may be opened to receive “the Spirit of Christ” – who then draws you to the man Christ Jesus, seated at God’s right hand in Heaven.

We are told 15 times in the New Testament that the Lord Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. Here are just a few of those references,

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12).

“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool” (Acts 2:32-35).

“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).

“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:19-20).

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth”
     (Colossians 3:1-2).

And our opening text,

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

There are eight more verses that tell us the same thing – the risen Christ, in His resurrected flesh and bone body – is seated up in Heaven at the right hand of God! He does not come down and “walk through a little hole in the side of your heart” as one child said. She had been confused by the teaching in Dr. Munger’s book! No! No! The “man Christ Jesus” – at the right hand of the Father, does not come down and “walk through a hole in the side of your heart!” Nonsense! You must listen to the preaching of God’s Word, and come under conviction for the sins of your heart and life. Your soul must be opened by the Spirit of God. You must be drawn to Jesus Christ by the Spirit of God. You must have your sins atoned for by His death on the Cross! You must be washed clean from your sin by His precious Blood! That is the way of true salvation and true conversion!

Another criticism I have concerning Dr. Munger’s book is that there is so little of the Gospel in it. The only allusion to the Gospel is in the last sentence of the section titled “The Hall Closet.” Dr. Munger said,

No matter what sin or pain there might be in the past, Jesus is ready to forgive, to heal and to make whole.

But Dr. Munger did not say what sin is. He did not say a word about man’s depravity, his inner rebellion against God. No mention was made of outward sins either. Then, also, he did not tell us how Jesus is able “to forgive, to heal and to make whole.” He did not mention Christ’s death on the Cross in the sinner's place. He did not mention the horrible suffering Christ went through in the sinner's place, to pay the penalty for his sins. He did not say even a word about Christ’s substitutionary atonement,

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Also, Dr. Munger said not a word about “the precious blood of Christ” (I Peter 1:19). He never said, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).

What is this but pure “decisionism”? What is this but Pelagianism?  What is this but a man saving himself by “inviting Christ into his heart”? This is not salvation through the vicarious death of Christ, and His blood-sacrifice for sins!  This is not salvation by grace!  This is self-salvation! The sinner saves himself by prayer! The sinner saves himself by “inviting him” in. Away with it! Away with such crass decisionism from the face of the earth! No matter what others say or do,

“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…”
       (Romans 1:16).

No “asking” is needed. No “inviting” will help. Luther and Bunyan and Wesley and Spurgeon were all saved without saying any prayer – and certainly none of them asked Jesus to come in to their hearts! They heard the Gospel preached and they came to Jesus. No prayer of any kind was needed. They simply came to Jesus – and Jesus did all the saving! May that be true in your life as well. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 16:14-19.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“O Lord, How Vile Am I” (by John Newton, 1725-1807).