A site reader asked us:
Regarding your article: The False and Misleading Gospel of “Accepting” Jesus Christ.
In that article, you had this verse:
For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Eph. 2:8
The word *gift* is in this passage.
When someone offers a gift to someone, that someone has a choice to either accept or reject that gift.
When God offered me the ultimate gift of His Son, Jesus Christ – the Son Of The Living God, to pay the ultimate sacrifice for my sins on that cross at Calvary, I *accepted* and received Jesus with all my heart, mind, strength, soul, and body.
Let’s look at the full Scripture given in our paper, which has the context you’re missing in your interpretation and application of the single verse you quote.
“But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved), and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the Heavenlies in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God [you didn’t accept Him; He gives you the gift of faith to believe on Him]” (Ephesians 2:4-8).
The Scripture is speaking of those who have been made alive and are already seated with Christ in the Heavenlies. These believers have been saved by grace through faith, the gift of God. God has done it – totally to His credit and glory, no credit going to man.
This means there is no “accepting” of Christ by those saved. Man’s acceptance of God enters the picture by way of your un-Scriptural interpretation of the Gospel. You’re presuming that unsaved people who haven’t received the gift of faith can, upon hearing of Him, accept Christ by their own volition and willpower.
But just because Christ died for all, and commanded the Gospel to be preached to every person, doesn’t mean that any single person can “accept” Him. Unless God grants the faith, which is mixed with hearing the Word of God, nothing happens in those who are moved to “accept” Christ, no matter how sincere or convinced they are. Only those to whom the gift of faith is given truly believe in Him and are saved.
The Scriptures are clear on this. Not all men have been given the privileged honor of faith in this day:
“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 ESV).
“No one can come to Me unless the Father Who has sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44 MKJV).
“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you…” (John 15:16 MKJV).
“And He said, ‘To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. But to others I speak in parables, so that seeing they might not see and hearing they might not understand’” (Luke 8:10 MKJV).
“You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it…. He who is of God hears God’s Words. Therefore you do not hear them because you are not of God” (John 8:44-47 MKJV).
So how can sinners choose to accept Christ, no matter if they are so-called believers in God, as were those whom Jesus addressed in John 8? Obviously men don’t have it within their power to accept the Messiah, certainly not the True One. They can, however, accept the false christ that is preached in nominal Christianity. That christ is the creation of carnal man’s imagination, the product of a perversion of the Scriptural Record. That’s what we prove in the paper you cited and in the links provided at the end.
The false christ is made in the image of his maker, man, whereas the True Christ is God, making men in His image, those who receive Him by faith. The false christ, being dependent on man’s power to choose and imitate him, is dead in the water. Only the resurrected Christ, Who causes us both to will and to do of His good pleasure, brings us eternal life and salvation.
Those of us who have received His grace and gift of faith would never say we accepted Christ. We didn’t have a choice as to whether we answered the call of God – it was determined by Him when and how that would happen and what we would do, just as with Saul of Tarsus. Saul didn’t accept Christ, but he did believe and immediately called Him “Lord” by the gift of faith the moment he was confronted.
Let me put it this way – did you make a choice to accept the gift of life God gave you at birth? What choice did you have in the matter of being born the person you are? So it is with the new birth from above. God is responsible for man’s spiritual birth, just as He is for the physical one.
“Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth? says the LORD. Shall I, Who cause to bring forth, shut the womb? says your God” (Isaiah 66:9 ESV).
“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 KJV).
So the question you need to know the answer to, Lisa, is: Have you been born of God, or have you been born of the will of the flesh and of man?
Are you hearing and receiving the Son of God by Whom we speak?
If you read Victor Hafichuk’s Testimony, it may appear Victor “accepted” Christ, because he did, but not by his own will or power or according to men’s terms; it was given to him from above to receive Jesus as Lord. It was the gift of faith at work that recognized and confessed Him, proven by the fruits that followed. Perhaps this example and explanation will help you better understand.