From my In-Box:
I have a question for you. Do you think Receiving Christ as Savior is just as powerful as Believing in Him?
The reason I say this is, because for an unbeliever it may make it easier for him to transition into Christ and feel welcomed into Heaven.
Just a thought I’ve been kicking around in my head.
Several points come to mind.
First, the expression “receiving Christ as Savior” is not found anywhere in the Bible. Some people speak of receiving Christ as one’s personal Savior. That too is not found in the Bible.
Second, Jesus is the Savior of the world (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14). That is who He is. He is not only the Savior of believers. He is the Savior of everyone in the sense that He has taken away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Sin is no longer a barrier for anyone to be born again. Jesus paid it all at Calvary. Nothing is left for us to pay. So to “receive Christ as Savior” does not make much sense. He is Savior. It makes no more sense to receive Him as Savior as it does to receive Him as Lord. He is Lord and Savior.
Third, the expression “receiving Christ” is found once, in John 1:12: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Notice, however, that receiving Him is explained as believing in His name. Receiving does not explain believing. Believing explains what receiving Him means.
There is no other use of that expression in the Bible. In John 1:11-12 the contrast is clear. Most in Israel did not receive Jesus in the sense that they did not accept His teachings or His claim to be the Messiah and the Source of everlasting life. They rejected Him and His message. The remnant in Israel that did receive Him and His teachings were those who believed in Him for everlasting life (cf. John 11:25-27).
Fourth, when the questioner speaks of the joy someone would have if they realize he will be “welcomed into heaven,” he is not talking about us receiving Jesus. He is talking about Jesus receiving us. And, of course, He will. He is coming again to bring the kingdom to us, first on the Millennial Earth and then on the New Earth (Revelation 20-22).
Finally, the problem with asking an unbeliever to “receive Jesus” or to “receive Jesus as [personal] Savior” is that the person hearing that does not know what he needs to do. How does one receive the God Man?
I’ve met scores of people who thought we receive Jesus by inviting Him into our lives. But, of course, there is no promise that if we invite Jesus into our lives, we have everlasting life.
I personally invited Jesus into my life hundreds of times before I came to faith. I have met many people who invited him in many more times than I did until they too finally understood that the issue is believing in Him, not inviting Him in.
As a new believer on my college campus, I started sharing my faith. For a short time, before I saw the weakness in what I was saying, I asked people to invite Jesus into their hearts. I remember two incidents that cured me of that.
In one case, a young man prayed to receive Christ with me. That is, he invited Jesus into his life. The next week we met for follow-up. He told me that he had read the follow-up literature I’d given him and that he did not agree with it. The literature said that Jesus is the only way to God and only by faith in Him can one have everlasting life. This young man said he was Ba’hai and that he invited Jesus into his life because he knows that Jesus is a prophet and he wants all the prophets in his life. But Jesus is not the only way to God. He is not the Source of everlasting life. Thus ended our follow-up.
In another case, a young Catholic woman challenged what I was saying. “You are saying that if I say the magic words Jesus, come into my life, then I will be saved? Well, I invite Jesus into my life every time I take communion. And, not only do I invite Him in, but He comes in because I partake of the literal body of Christ.” Oops. I did not have an answer for her.
It is easy for people who believe in works salvation to invite Jesus in to their hearts. It is easy for superstitious people to invite Jesus in, thinking the more things they do, the better their chance will be that one of them was the right thing.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved ” (Acts 16:31). That is simple, just as John 3:16-18; 5:24; 6:35, 47; and 11:25-27 are all simple.