Many denominational preachers tell sinners seeking salvation, that in order for them to be saved, they have to “just receive Jesus into your heart.” But they fail to tell people “how” to receive Jesus. The sinner needs to be told the specifics of “how” a person must comply with the clear teaching of Scripture in order to be saved.
If denominational preachers do attempt to tell folks “how” to receive Jesus, they usually make some vague reference to prayer and instruct the sinner to say something like, “Jesus, I now receive you into my heart,” or they tell him to “pray the sinner’s prayer” and proceed to give him a man-made model prayer to pray.
Such a prayer for the alien sinner cannot be found in the pages of God’s Word. In fact, God never authorized the alien sinner to pray for his salvation. In fact, he does not have such a privilege, because prayer is the privilege of “sons” (Romans 8:14-17). Prayer has never been the way to receive Jesus!
The instruction to “receive Jesus” is indeed a biblical one, for the inspired writer, John said, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:11-12). But this instruction alone is not sufficient to those seeking salvation. The Bible also tells “how” to receive Jesus. It need not remain some kind of a mystery.
The key to the “how” in receiving Jesus, is seen in John 1:11-12. Receiving Jesus involves the same process as becoming sons of God. One becomes a son of God “by faith.” This faith includes the obedience to baptism — “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27).
After folks have heard the good news of Jesus Christ, they already know that in order to enjoy its benefits, they will have to “receive Jesus” (cf. Acts 8:35). Why don’t denominational preachers tell them what they must do in order to “receive Jesus” according to the Scriptures? (Acts 8:36-38). It is indeed a tragedy for religious teachers to bring a sinner right up to the point of crying out for their sins to be forgiven them, and then fail to tell them “how” (or give them a substitute plan not found in the Scriptures) to accomplish it.
The New Testament teachers had no such problem. When sinners cried out on Pentecost, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” – they were told in no uncertain terms by Peter to, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ….” (Acts 2:37-38). They were not told to “receive Jesus,” because they already knew they should do this.
But “how” did they “receive Jesus?” By being obedient to God’s word through “faith” (Romans 10:17), motivating them to “repent and be baptized” so their sins could be remitted.