ATLANTA, GA - When in church, we are often told that the bible is full of amazingly wonderful things. We are exhorted to read our bibles because not only does this help us know and serve God better, but also because the riches of scripture can never be exhausted. The pastor informs us repeatedly that no matter how much we study, we will always come away with something new.
Others, however, are more interested in finding something in the bible that many just assume is there. They are determined to find the answer to the age-old question, "Where exactly does the bible tell us to accept Jesus into our hearts?"
A joint venture to find this elusive phrase was initiated by the Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) back in 1994. The GBC, in partnership with Moody Bible Institute, Southwestern Baptist Seminary, First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, and Lakewood Church, has been focused on this task for the past thirteen years.
According to Dr. Daniel Moore, head of the GBC, "For years we have been telling people that they need to accept Jesus into their hearts. It is what we tell folks they need to do when we're out on Tuesday-night visitation. All of our VBSs focus on this. I've even given my personal testimony of when I was eight-years-old and accepted Jesus into my heart. Well, the GBC was asked in 1993, by a local layman no less, where in the bible this could be found. We laughed at first, but then realized we were in trouble. We determined at that point in time to find it."
The search continues to this day. TBNN has learned that the group effort of churches, agencies, and seminaries has poured over two million dollars into the project. How can this be defended?
Dr. Moore answered, "To us, this is the heart of the gospel. If we can't tell people to accept Jesus into their hearts, then what good news do we have? This is about our core doctrine. If there is no gospel, what are we even doing here?"
TBNN decided to go to some of the investigators. Dr. Donald Haskins, professor of biblical languages at Southwestern, told us, "A group of our experts, myself included, has scoured the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts to the best of our abilities. So far, we haven't found a blame thing. Bibleworks couldn't even find it. More significant than any of that, it isn't even in the KJV!"
Haskins told us that out of desperation, they have sent several researchers to Israel to dig for better manuscripts of the old and new testaments. "I know it is a long-shot, but it must be there somewhere. We'll just have to keep digging until we find it."
Dr. Michael Sanders, at one of the dig sites near the Dead Sea, informed TBNN, "We have found several pieces of pottery and a few coins. So far, though, no bible."
Back in the USA, Dr. Moore of the GBC seemed almost resigned to the inevitable conclusion. "I told myself that I would find the phrase 'accept Jesus into your heart' somewhere in the bible. I started over a year ago and still haven't found it. I've read the whole NT three times and the OT once. I just can't find it."
Moore continued, "To be sure, I found plenty of commands to 'repent and believe' and statements about 'confessing and believing.' Those sound good, but I'm afraid they leave out a bit of the beauty of a person inviting Jesus into their heart to live."
What will the GBC do now?
"I don't know," responded Moore. "I suppose we are going to have to go back to square one and reexamine the gospel. I mean, do we even have it right? Do we know what we are talking about? I'm afraid that if we do this, we're going to have to deal with issues such as sovereignty, election, repentance, obedience, and other things of that nature. Ugh! But before we give up, we'll keep looking. I know it's there somewhere because I invited Jesus into my heart a long time ago, and once saved, always saved!"