Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 14, 1969
NUMBER 15, PAGE 2b-3a

Just Receive Christ

Don McWhorter

One of the most common phrases heard in religious circles today is the expression "Just receive Christ as your personal savior." This, of course, is in answer to the question "What must I do to be saved?" Perhaps you have been given this advice by some religious counselor. Or perhaps you as an adviser have given this answer to those seeking salvation.

An Objection I must, in view of what the Bible says, lodge an objection to that piece of advice. But just let me say that I do not object to receiving Christ; as a matter of fact I agree as to its absolute necessity. I do however object to the idea suggested by the word "just." It implies that receiving Christ is all one has to do to be saved. And that is not what the scriptures teach. Even without the word "just" the advice to "receive Jesus" without further steps is equally wrong. We all agree that the sinner must "receive Jesus" without further steps is equally wrong. We all agree that the sinner must "receive Jesus" because the Bible so teaches. However, God's Book tells us we must go beyond that point before salvation is given.

An Examination

John 1:11, 12 should clarify the matter for us: "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." Were those who "received" Jesus saved? No! But they were given the power to become the sons of God. If they were saved when they "received" Jesus then they were saved without becoming sons of God, for they were given the power to become sons of God. You don't become what you already are.

A Parallel

A close look at the passage under consideration will reveal that those who "received" Christ were the same as those who "believe on his name." The word "even" in that passage reinforces in unmistakable language that this was John's intention. So the advice "Just receive Christ" is in reality a parallel to the old false doctrine of salvation by "faith only." If those who "received" and those who "believe" are the same (and they are) and those who "received" were saved (as denominational preachers insist) then those who "believe" are saved. Of course the same objection is raised to this conclusion as is raised to the former.

Faith Vs. Faith Only

Just as we agreed that receiving Christ is necessary to salvation but objected to the idea that this is all that is necessary, we agree that faith is necessary to salvation but object to the idea that men are saved by faith only.

In the first place it flatly contradicts a plain statement of scripture. James says in 2:24 that men are not saved by faith only. This happens to be the only time the words "faith" and "only" or their equivalent are found together in the Bible. How could men believe salvation comes by faith only when the only time the Bible even mentions the matter it says "not by faith only?"

God's word further reveals that salvation comes through a living, working faith (Gal. 5:6,7). But the same Bible states that faith only is dead, barren, and imperfect (James 2:17,19,20). Faith only is not the kind of faith that saves.

Believer And Salvation

Our original text in John 1 states that the "receiver" or the "believer" is given the power to become a son of God. What is that power? Paul states it is the gospel (Rom. 1:16): " is the power of God unto salvation." The same verse says this power is "to everyone that believeth." So John 1:11,12 and Romans 1:16 are in perfect agreement. Both state that God gives the believer power to be saved, to become a child of God. Paul reveals that power to be the gospel.

In I Corinthians 15 Paul defines the gospel in the first four verses as being the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The Thessalonians were told they must obey it (II Thess. 1:7-9). Paul says the Romans did (Rom. 6:17,18) when they were baptized into the death of Christ, buried with Him in the watery grave, and raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3,4).

Have you "received" Christ as your savior? If so why not complete your salvation by exercising the power God has given you to become his son? Those who "receive" Christ have not gone far enough.

— 620 Hoke St., East Gadsden, Ala.