(Article for publication week of 2-6- AD 2014)
"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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13).
The Lord has laid on my heart to bring you a series of articles on the subject of saving faith. Having considered some simple truths regarding the subject, and having shown that there is a faith that will not save, we are proceeding to describe saving faith by some of its principle acts, the first of which is "receiving" Christ as declared in John 1:12-13. (If any of our readers wish to review past articles, they are all archived at matthesevenfourteen.blogspot.com. We wish to publicly thank Brother Dale Wiscaver for maintaining the blog site.)
Our text here in John 1:12-13 virtually equates "receiving" Christ with "believing on His Name." This is the reason we say that receiving Christ is a principle act of saving faith. Verse 13 makes it clear that regeneration precedes faith (note well that they who receive Christ "were born... of God".) No one can believe to the saving of his soul until he is regenerated by the Holy Spirit. And when a sinner is regenerated, He will believe on the name of Christ, actively receiving Him by faith. Though an elect sinner be passive in receiving the gift of faith by regeneration, he must actively receive Christ, for faith is active. Two of my good friends who know the New Testament Greek confirm to me that the word translated "receive" in our text is indeed in the active voice.
To receive Christ to the saving of your soul is to actively receive Him for all that He is. You cannot have part of Christ; you must have all of Him or you will never be saved. You must receive Him as the only Saviour of sinners, and as your rightful Lord. You must receive Him as the only Mediator Who can get you to God. You must receive Him for your whole and sole righteousness. You must receive Him for justification and sanctification. You must receive Christ as He is revealed in the word of God from Genesis to Revelation.
Believing on Christ is an act of an empty handed beggar, receiving the gift of salvation that comes through the only Saviour of sinners. The person who receives Christ must admit that he is nothing but a poor bankrupt sinner ten thousand talents in debt, and not a penny to pay. No one has ever truly received Christ by faith who did not first come to see himself as a vile wretch and completely undeserving of anything but hell. Augustus Toplady poetically describes saving faith in his hymn "Rock of Ages" (incidentally President Davis' favourite hymn): "in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling."
Poor sinner, I urge you this moment to actively receive Christ as your Lord and Saviour to the salvation of your soul. Reach out the empty hand of faith and receive Him. Boast not of thy doings. Give up all pretensions of your own goodness and receive the Person and Work of Christ as the LORD your Righteousness. You will never be disappointed with Christ, nor will you ever regret receiving Him. May the Holy Spirit work faith in you that you may receive Christ, believing on His Name.