Catholics are often caught off guard by the question, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior?” That question may cause confusion for the Catholic because it is presented in a phraseology the Catholic is generally not familiar with. The questioner may observe a look of confusion on the Catholic’s face, or hear an answer that is other than what has been predetermined by the questioner as the “right” answer. What follows is typically an assumption that the Catholic has no personal relationship with Jesus and needs to “get saved.” I think the wrong question is being asked.
First of all, where in the Bible does one find the phrase, “Accept Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior?” It is not in the Bible. So, it’s not really a good place to start, anyway. There is, however, a lot in the Bible about repentance, belief, faith, baptism, confession and obedience. So, it would be better to start with one of those topics.
Ask Catholics the question, “Who died to save the world from sin?” “Jesus,” they will say, “look right there at that crucifix.” Good. “Do you believe that Jesus died to save you personally from your sin?” “Yes,” the Catholics will say. Good. “Who is greater, Jesus or Mary?” The Catholics will say, “Why, Jesus is greater. Jesus is God. Mary isn’t God, she’s a created being, a human.” Good. “Are Catholics supposed to follow the commandments of God and do good works?” “Of course we are! What good would it do to be a Christian without following God’s commandments?” That sounds like good sense. “What if you sin? Does God forgive you when you repent?” The Catholics say, “Yes. If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (OK, I admit most Catholics will not be able to quote that Scripture verse, but that is what they believe!).
So, asking the proper questions unveils a very real, personal relationship between the Catholic and Jesus Christ. But Evangelicals and Fundamentalists that “witness” to Catholics tend to not ask the right questions. Obviously, it is possible for a Catholic to get all those questions right in the head but not the heart. The same could be said for the Evangelical or the Fundamentalist. Only God knows whether the answers to the questions are genuinely from the heart.