Thank you for your excellent questions. I too have heard and seen Christian leaders plead with their audience to “give their life/heart to Christ” and they are actually pleading with unsaved sinners. They believe that the unsaved can become saved if they give their life to Christ. Is this scriptural? No, it is not! One is not saved by anything they do, for Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (NKJV). The fact is sinners are saved by “Christ GIVING HIS LIFE FOR US” and not by “our GIVING OUR LIVES TO HIM.” This is confirmed in John 10:10-11, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd GIVES HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP.” God the Father sent His Son to this earth for that very purpose, as we see later in verses 17-18, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I LAY DOWN MY LIFE that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I LAY IT DOWN OF MYSELF. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

I will never forget hearing a gospel message at a Bible conference where the preacher closed with these words: “Some preachers will tell you at the end of their message to ‘Give your life/heart to Christ,’ but God doesn’t want your sinful heart UNTIL he gives you a NEW HEART!” Those simple words are spot on, for until one is given the new life (with a new heart) that Jesus spoke about in John 10:10-11 their hearts are still in rebellion against God. But once we do receive the New Birth our hearts are brought into subjection to God; we then love God and desire to do His will. It is then that God asks us to “give our heart to Christ.” We have this truth brought out in Proverbs 23:26, “My SON, give me your heart.” Notice, God is speaking to His “son”; to one who has been born again into His family. He would never ask the lost sinner who is still “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesian 2:1) to give Him their heart. We have a blessed example of born again believers giving their lives to Christ in 2nd Corinthians 8:1-5 where the apostle Paul was speaking of the willingness of the saints in Macedonia to give money to the poor saints in Jerusalem and it is beautiful read (in verses 3-5), “For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but THEY FIRST GAVE THEMSELVES TO THE LORD, and then to us by the will of God.”

This passage really brings into bold relief that before we can really serve Christ, whether it be by ministering to the saints or by preaching the gospel to the lost, we must FIRST GIVE OURSELVES TO THE LORD. Once we give our life/heart to Christ, everything else will fall into place. We will then be willing to give of our money, our time, our talent, and everything else that the Lord has given us to use for His honor and glory. I will close by quoting another verse where God asks believers to give our life to Him: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that YOU PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY, ACCEPTABLE TO GOD, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).  (475.3)  (DO)