Receiving Jesus Christ
Rock of Offence Commentary
Before making the final decision to accept Jesus Christ you should be aware of some facts. No one--not even Satan--can take salvation away once you receive it. Your salvation remains in force regardless of how much you fail. Yet, following Jesus does carry a "cost". It is not something that is paid in order to earn salvation. Rather, it is something that results from true repentance. When you receive Jesus you are entering an "unequal" covenant with the Son of God. You are deciding to vacate your current position in Satan's family and embrace your new place in God's family. If sincere, your decision will radically reorganize the priorities of your life. It requires that you abandon some things in your old life (II Timothy 2:19). It's serious business. The covenant is called "unequal" because you have nothing to contribute to it. That's why the salvation message is called "The Gospel of Grace". Our salvation is according to grace, which makes it a "gift" from God. It's a covenant where God does all the giving and you do all the receiving. It's a covenant where you begin to live for Jesus as a "loving" Lord who has rescued you from hell's destruction--by shedding His own blood (John 3:16-17, Romans 5:8-9). You are exchanging your old life of sin for Christ's life and riches. After receiving Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins a "sanctifying" process in your life. This process is designed to separate you from sin. It will continue for the rest of your earthly life. You will find that some of these "sins" are things you want to keep--and this is where the "cost" comes in. God's Word has made provision for this separation-from-sin process. He never asks you to do it in your own strength. The Holy Spirit provides you with this power (Acts 1:8). The Bible calls the Holy Spirit, "a helper". Your decision to follow Jesus, if authentic, will affect every area of your life. God's goal is to re-make you into the image of his Son (Romans 8:29-30). Every member of God's family gets the same treatment. If your attitude is to receive Christ and then continue to live your life your way--serious trouble is ahead.
Next, Satan, the enemy of the Christian, considers you a target. You will find yourself in spiritual warfare immediately. His attacks will come mainly in the form of thoughts and the use of deception through spiritual counterfeits and lies masked in religious doctrine and church traditions. The thoughts are designed to make you doubt God and His Word. Satan's thoughts, counterfeits and lies are designed to derail your commitment to Christ. They are crafted to make you ineffective for God's purposes and cheat you out of the blessings of Christ. God's Word contains powerful promises that enable you to fight this war and win every time (II Corinthians 10:3-5). But, you will need to spend time in God's Word and learn His ways in order to be successful. Remember that only God's methods succeed against Satan. Wrong teaching, no matter who it comes from or how "right" it sounds will bring defeat in your life. Just because you attend a "Bible-believing" church doesn't mean you're being taught the truth. Basing your life on God's truth MUST become your main priority in life and the Holy Spirit is your only reliable guide and teacher. You will discover that God's truth is a difficult thing to find among all the other "voices" in the religious world. Fighting Satan using God's methods bring victory. For this reason you must make a decision to "renew your mind" with God's Word if you're going to succeed in the Christian life. This involves replacing your natural human thoughts with God's thoughts--and it takes time in His Word. You cannot ride on someone else's faith. . .you have to know God's Word for yourself.
If you understand these things, then let's continue.
Receiving Christ involves repentance (discussed in an earlier article). For the non-Christian, this repentance is simply a change of heart. Some people receive Christ during a Gospel message. They hear the Gospel and decide immediately to trust Christ and dedicate their life to Him as their Lord. An example of this is when Peter preached the gospel to the household of Cornelius in Acts Chapter 10. It can be that simple. During the crucifixion, the thief on the cross next to Jesus said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom". Jesus said to him, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:39-43). That man had a change of heart that changed his destiny. God made the receiving of salvation that simple. It's a "heart" thing. It doesn't require religious rituals or affiliation in a particular church organization. It doesn't require adherence to a system of complicated rules or the understanding of a complex ideology. God's salvation is by grace. If he made the doorway difficult many of us would fail to enter. Our Father wants everyone to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:4, John 3:16-17).
Most people, like myself, received Jesus Christ through a prayer of salvation. By going this route, you can point to a specific time when your decision was made. This "specific time" is important when Satan lies about whether you're a real Christian. You can point to a specific time and place when you "appropriated" Jesus as your Lord and redeemer. You can tell Satan to take his lies and leave because...God kept his Word and He always tells the truth!
You could pray a prayer similar to the one below:
"Heavenly Father I'm coming to you in prayer because I recognize my need for your Son Jesus Christ. I understand that I'm lost and unable to help myself. I realize that I can't earn salvation through good works or any other kind of religious performance. I believe that Jesus died on the cross to cleanse me of all sin and that you raised (resurrected) him from the dead on the third day. I confess Jesus Christ as Lord. I place my trust in Jesus as the one who died in my place, to bear the punishment for my sins. Because of Christ's sacrifice on my behalf I receive your forgivenss right now. I receive eternal life as your free gift to me. I present my life so that you can make me into the image of your Son."Keeping a spiritual journal of the things the Lord will show you is a good idea. Make sure to write down the time and date when you prayed to receive Jesus. This simple prayer is just the starting point of a life-long journey where God will "show you great and mighty things that you know not" (Jer. 33:3).