Many of the world’s preachers tell the seeking sinner who needs to be saved to “accept Jesus as your personal Savior” or “just receive Jesus,” but fail to tell people how to do it. The human creature needs to be told the specifics. That’s why the Scriptures spell out specific steps a person must comply with in order to be saved. Why can’t the preachers spell out these same biblical steps? As a result, most religious people do not really understand how one receives Jesus.
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 this 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. He does not have such a privilege. Prayer is the privilege of sons (Romans 8:14-17). Prayer is not the way to receive Jesus!
The instruction to “receive Jesus” is Biblical. John says, “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 enough. The Bible also tells how to “receive Jesus.” When we tell people to receive Jesus, we need to also tell them how to do so according to the Bible’s instructions. It need not remain some kind of a mystery to them.
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 of 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).
Most people, after they have heard the good news of Jesus Christ, know that in order to enjoy its benefits they will have to receive Jesus. Why don’t preachers tell them what they must do? It is 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). The New Testament teachers had no such problem. When the sinners cried “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” they were told in no uncertain terms, “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 “receive Jesus.” They already knew they should do this. But how? By allowing their faith to lead them to repentance and baptism. Why can’t preachers simply repeat the very same thing to those today who ask “What must I do?”