Receiving Jesus Christ
“But to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
What does it mean to “receive Christ”?
According to the popular understanding, God is appealing to our will to make a decision as to whether we want Christ in our life or not. It is as though we occupy the place of a jury in a court room. On the one hand, we hear an appeal to make a decision in favor of Christ. On the other hand, we hear an appeal to make a decision in favor of Satan. After hearing the evidence, it is up to us. We supposedly choose by our own “free will” whether we will “receive Christ” or not.
It is up to us. According to this understanding, God loves all people the same, and he appeals to all with equal desire for their salvation. It is finally and ultimately up to the individual person whether he or she will “receive Christ” and so make the love of God “real” for them. Salvation, then, is understood to be the result of a decision. It is not the result of God’s decision, because God supposedly wants everyone to be saved.
God, says the popular view, has already made His decision. It is the result of man’s decision, for God, according to the popular understanding, can not “force us” to do something against our own will. Salvation is by the “free will” of man.
But this popular way of understanding salvation is false.
It is not what the Bible teaches.
The Bible does not teach that salvation is of the will of man.
The Bible does not teach that “receiving Christ” is an act of our “free will”.
Consider what the Scripture above is saying:
“…who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”.
According to the Bible, salvation and true forgiveness is by the will of God, not by the will of man. When a person “receives Christ”, it is not something that ultimately comes from the individual’s “free will”. To receive the true Christ is a demonstration of the will and power of God. We receive Christ, not by our own will, “not by the will of man”, but by the will of God. By the power of His Holy Spirit, God uses the good news of Christ’s effective work as a substitute for His people. He received the punishment due His people, that they might receive the resulting blessing of forgiveness and justification based on Him alone. (Matthew 1:21; John 10:11; 2 Corinthians 5:20,21; 1 Peter 2:24).
Why is this important?
Because the salvation God gives He gives to helpless sinners who are unable to save themselves. He did not come for the healthy, but for the sick, yes, even for those who are “dead in their transgressionsand sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
Hopeless, spiritually dead sinners have no inherent power to make a true decision.
They are not in the spiritual jury box, but in the spiritual grave.
If they are to be saved, God must decide. He must exercise His will, and raise them from death to life. If we see ourselves as other than the helpless and spiritually dead sinners that we are, we will embrace a “salvation” that is more a tribute to our own good judgment than an indication of true forgiveness. Such “salvation” is only false security, but is not true forgiveness. We need true forgiveness. May God teach us that “receiving Christ” is by the will of God!
“It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.”