Bible Question:

What does it mean to receive Christ?

Bible Answer:

The gospel of John tells us that even though Jesus was born into a world that He created, some people did not receive Him. Both historical records of Pontius Pilate, Mara Bar-Serapion, the Jewish Talmud as well as the Bible tell us that many rejected Christ and ultimately murdered Him. The Jewish leaders eventually motivated the Romans to kill Jesus as recorded in all the gospels. Many rejected Jesus’ teachings, His miracles, His claims to be God and His message. Many did not believe Him.

Meaning of Receive Christ

But He was not rejected by everyone. Some believed in Him, had their sins forgiven and, consequently, gained eternal life. Today, we, who live over two thousand years later after His death and resurrection can receive Him and gain eternal life too! Listen to this offer.

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 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. John 1:11-12 (NASB)

The Greek word that is translated as “receive” in this verse is lambano. It is a very common word that simply means “take,” “grasp,” “seize,” “receive” as well as ‘to take to oneself” something or someone. The opposite of receiving something is to reject it – not take it. It was sometimes used of “taking a wife.” This implies that “receiving” Jesus means that a person willingly takes Christ to himself or herself. It results in a person giving himself or herself to Christ.

Receive Is More Than Intellectual Assent

Receiving Jesus is more than believing some facts about Jesus. John 3:16 helps us understand that a person must believe in Jesus in order to go to heaven.

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

The Greek word for faith is pisteuo which means “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance on,” “to have confidence in,” “to entrust,” “to have committed to,” “to rely on,” “to enjoy confidence,” and even “to obey.” Here are a few passages in the New Testament where pisteuo is used,

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. Acts 14:23 (NASB)

Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  2 Corinthians 1:9 (NASB)

Some teach that we only have to believe some facts about Jesus, but that is not the meaning of the Greek word. We must not only believe the facts about Jesus, but we must also “rely on” and “yield ourselves to” Him. True faith or true belief is faith that depends on Jesus, our God, to forgive our sins just as He said He would. It also includes an acceptance of the fact that Jesus will take control your life. A believer will follow Jesus or in other words become His disciple.

. . . 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 . . . Romans 10:9 (NASB)

One who believes, accepts Him and receives Him. Receiving is the result of faith.


Do you believe in Jesus? If you are interested in more information visit “Searching For God.”

Suggested Links:

How do you receive Christ? What does John 1:12 mean?
Must a person repent in order to go to heaven?
Must we confess Jesus as Lord with our mouth to be saved?
What must a person do to go to heaven when they die?
Characteristics of Biblical Faith
The Light