Bible Question:

How do you receive Jesus? What does it mean to receive Jesus?

Bible Answer:

Have you wondered, “How do you receive Christ?” Or, what it means to receive Him? The answer to the question is found in John 1:12-13.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who 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 (NASB)

What Does It Mean To Receive Christ?

Meaning of Receive

The word “Him” in John 1:12-13 refers to Jesus Christ (John 1:16, 14-18).  The Greek word that is translated as “receive” in this verse is lambano. The word can be translated as “to receive, to take, to lay hold of, to grab and to grasp.” This indicates that a person becomes a Christian by receiving or taking Christ. Yet that does not help us understand how to receive Christ. Anyone who is bilingual knows that sometimes it is difficult to understand a word in another language, and that is the situation with lambano.

Therefore, the best way to understand lambano is to see how the word is used in other verses. This is usually how we learn a foreign language. The first passage is Matthew 5:40.

If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Matthew 5:40 (NASB)

Lambano is translated as “take” in this verse. This is the basic meaning of the word. The word has the sense of taking something to oneself.

Another passage in which Lambano is used is John 3:11.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. John 3:11 (NASB)

Here the word is translated as “accept.” In the two verses before verse 11, we are told that Nicodemus and Jesus are talking. Then in verse 11 Jesus tells Nicodemus that people did not accept (lambano) His or our testimony. Here we discover that lambano can have the meaning of receiving with the sense of agreeing that a statement is true. That is, one receives the message because they agree it is true.

In John 3:32 the same idea is repeated again.

What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. John 3:32 (NASB)

In John 5:41 Jesus states that He does not receive or accept glory from others. We could say that He does not accept the praise of others.

I do not receive glory from men . . . John 5:41 (NASB)

in John 13:20 Christ uses the Greek word multiple times.

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” John 13:20 (NASB)

Here the word is used in the sense of accepting someone. That is, to receive Christ means to accept or welcome all that Christ said about Himself.

What Did Christ Say About Himself?

Therefore, we must ask, “What did Christ say about Himself?” We will not discuss everything that Jesus said. We will highlight several of His statements.

First, Jesus said that He was God (John 8:24, 58-59) and the Jewish leaders understood, but we know that they rejected His claim since they wanted to kill Him (John 5:18; 8:59; John 10:30-33).

Second, Jesus said that we are sinners in John 8:24 and that we will die in our sins unless we believe in Him..

Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24 (NASB)

Notice that Jesus revealed that He can save us from our sins if we believe in Him. What have we discovered that He claimed was true of Himself? He has told us that He is God. Therefore, we receive or accept His claims as true.

Jesus repeated the idea that only He can save us. In John 1:29 John the Baptist states that Christ is the One who can take away our sins.

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  John 1:29 (NASB)

Jesus makes a very strong statement in John 3:16 that declares anyone who believes in Christ will not perish and will have eternal life.

For God so  loved the world, that He  gave His   only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NASB)

But those who do not believe are already judged or sentenced to hell.

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18 (NASB)

Jesus has not left us a choice. If we do not believe, we will die spiritually.

Third, 1 Corinthians 15:3-9 teaches us that Jesus died for our sins. His physical body died and was buried. He returned to life. However, the Scriptures teach that His new body was an immortal body.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 1 Corinthians 15:3-9 (NASB)

Fourth, when we are told “even to those who believe in His name,” we are being told that “receiving” and “believing” go together.  When a person believes in “His name” that person will believe everything that the Bible says about Him. His name reminds us of everything about Him. That is, what happens when someone mentions the name of a person? When we hear the person’s name, we remember everything about the person. This means we must believe everything about Christ is true. Receiving or accepting Christ reveals that the belief is more than accepting intellectual facts. That is, what we believe about Christ must be accepted by us to our lives and when that occurs, we are affected.


Now, how does one receive Christ since we know what the verse says? The answer is that a person must believe what Christ reveals about Himself and receive or accept it.  Therefore, when Jesus said we are sinners, we must accept that truth. The proof we accept it will cause us to repent of our sins. In order to understand how a person repents, please read “How do I repent of my sins? What are the steps?” and “Must a person repent in order to go to heaven?”

A person who truly sorrows over their sin and is repentant will turn to Christ seeking forgiveness. Because they fear hell, they will be willing to yield themselves to Christ. Romans 10:9 helps us understand the proof a person is a real Christian.

. . . that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 10:9-11 (NASB)

This is the starting point. This is what a person must believe and this is the response to what they believe. Anyone who receives Christ and believes in Christ becomes a child of God–a Christian. You are encouraged to read the following:

Searching For God

Does John 3:16 promise assurance of salvation to every Christian?

I want to seek God; how do I seek God?

Must we confess Jesus as Lord with our mouth to be saved?

Suggested Links:

How do I repent of my sins? What are the steps?
What is the meaning of the word repentance in the Bible?
Must a person repent in order to go to heaven?
Searching For God
Does John 3:16 promise assurance of salvation to every Christian?
I want to seek God; how do I seek God?
Must we confess Jesus as Lord with our mouth to be saved?
What does it mean to receive Christ?