Receive Jesus Christ
(as your Personal Savior)
He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name” John 1:11-12.
The common plea to a sinner today it “Receive Jesus Christ as your personal savior and you will be saved from your sins.” Some add, “You will be saved eternally!” This, it is claimed, is “all that is required; nothing beyond this belief in Him as your “personal savior” is needed. With no further explanation just receiving Christ into your life is presented as the one time for all time response a sinner need to make.
Is such a conviction true to the Bible? From what John says receiving Jesus Christ grants a sinner the “right” to “become” a child of God. He adds: the believer is the one to whom this right to be born into God’s family. If one becomes a believer he doesn’t become a child of God before claiming the right offered to him.
Adam Clarke put this eloquently: “What an astonishing thought is this! The sinner, who was an heir to all God’s curses, has, through the sacrifice of Jesus, a claim on the mercy of the Most High, and a right to be saved!” J. Be Lightfoot defines it: “He gave them the privilege, the liberty, the dignity, ‘to become’.” “To become” is from the original term, gene/sqai. The word signifies, “to come to be” and it is illogical and impossible to think one can become what one already is.
How, then, does the believer in this passage “become” God’s child? Obviously the “right” to become a child of God the right must be exercised. The believing sinner now must choose either to become a child of God or not. There is a clear reference to how sinners exercise this right granted to the reception of Christ Jesus through belief.
Paul’s discussion of the redemption affected by Jesus sets it forth as the promise made before the Law of Moses was revealed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith”. Gal. 3:13-14.
As he elaborates he affirms that all of God’s children are what they are because they are “Sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” Gal. 3:26. These who have faith in Christ had become God’s children. How? “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ” Verse 27.
Read this comment by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown: “The argument is, By baptism ye have put on Christ; and therefore, He being the Son of God, ye become sons by adoption, by virtue of His Sonship by generation. This proves that baptism, where it answers to its ideal, is not a mere empty sign, but a means of spiritual transference from the state of legal condemnation to that of living union with Christ, and of sonship through Him in relation to God.”
Baptism to the believer is “putting on Christ.” It is as Albert Barnes commented: “That is, they have put on his sentiments, opinions, characteristic traits, etc., as a man clothes himself.” One who puts Christ on is “in Christ.” Paul notes that only the baptized believer becomes God’s child and is therefore saved from sin. “As many of you” (children of God by faith) are so because you put Christ on in baptism.
As far as the revealed word of God is concerned there is but one way to have the right to become a child of God. One must receive Christ Jesus through faith. Such a one has the “right” to “become” saved by putting on Christ in water baptism.
You are urged to consider this carefully. If you’ve been under the false impression that “receiving Jesus Christ as your personal savior” to be born into God’s family and nothing else is required, please realize that the inspired word teaches that unless you exercise the right, provided by your reception of Christ and faith in Him, by being baptized into Christ, you have no scriptural or logical claim to be a child of God. May He bless you with a clear understanding of His will for all of us.
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