“Accept Christ” has been a popular term to express the necessity of Christ in one’s life. The phrase “accept Christ”, however, needs explanation. If I were to walk up to Random Joe (that‘s his full name) on the street and tell him to “accept Christ” he probably would not know what I mean.
Random may associate the phrase with messages he has heard in his past. Some of Random’s past pastors may have used the term to describe how the sinner must cleave to the love of Jesus who died in the place of all men so that all might be saved. Perhaps another couple of his previous pastors used the term to designate that inexpressible experience one receives when they are illumined through the misapprehension of Scripture and thrust into the bliss of existential oneness with the Divine[!]. Whatever they were, these past exposures Random has had with the phrase will influence how he interprets “accept Christ”.
If he is a thinking man, Random will ask questions: “What does it mean to accept?” or, “Who is Christ?” or even, “Which Christ?”. If, in my approach to Random, I have not specified these things, he will not know what I mean. Further, if I can’t explain “accept Christ” I do not know what I mean. Defining terms is essential in communication.
If the term is left undefined, many people will get the wrong idea by the phrase “accept Christ” due to prior poor usage by others. But if the evangelist is careful to define his terms and present a clear strong Gospel message the term will not carry with it the negative features it did when false preachers presented it.
Don’t believe that it’s that easy to use a term that has presuppositions associated with it? Think back to Random Joe. Now from that sentence, “Think back to Random Joe”, did you think of random Joe (a random individual of the male gender) or did you think of Mr. Random Joe (the object of my previous paragraphs)? You thought of our dear friend Random, didn’t you? Why did you associate the phrase “Random Joe” to a particular individual as opposed to how the phrase is typically used in colloquial speech, that is, to indicate any arbitrary individual (a random Joe)? Because I defined my terms. Remember I said Random Joe was his full name, and proceeded to call him Random. Perhaps the upper case “R” in his name gave you a clue, but that would have just confused you if I had not told you Random Joe was his full name. Brilliant, isn’t it?
This is how God has created us; as rational beings, made in His image. So then, the phrase “accept Christ” could be Biblical and appropriate for the true Christian to use when evangelizing as long as the evangelist defines his terms. “Who is Christ” and “What does it mean to accept Him” are questions that need to be answered. How they are answered determines whether the phrase “accept Christ” is Biblical in a given instance.
Who is Christ?
Christ is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being eternal, of one substance equal with the Father yet for the glory of His own self and for the love He has for the elect, He took upon himself the form of human flesh, submitted Himself to the law, being perfectly sinless as is typified in a lamb without spot or blemish, He gave himself a sacrifice for the sins of the elect and for the accomplishment of their salvation. On the third day of His death He rose from the dead by the power of God in the same body which had been killed, conquering death and sin by His glorious work. Christ ascended into heaven where He sits on the right hand of God ruling and reigning with all power and authority until His Church is finally triumphant and victorious over His enemies on earth. Christ is therefore King. Christ is also Prophet, being the Law-giver, declaring and teaching the law during His sojourn on earth and foretelling of His death, resurrection and accomplishments . Christ is Priest, who atoned His own blood as a propitiation for those who would believe, making intersession for the saints, who are the people of God in every generation. Christ equips His Church with the Word which is complete and is the only epistemological foundation for sound belief, and the only tool used for dominion over Christ‘s enemies.
What does it mean to accept Him?
To accept Christ is to believe what Scripture says of Him and to submit to His law which is the 66 books of the Bible. There is no dichotomy between believing who Christ is and submitting to His law; accepting Him involves both. Belief without submission is impossible. One who claims to believe may accept the facts of who Christ is and what He has done, but if he does not live according to Christ’s commandments He hates both His person and His work and does not have true faith. To accept Christ is to love Christ, to love Him is to obey His commandments, cling to His work, abandon your way for His way. To love Christ is to share the mind of Christ, His will being your desire. This believing in and this accepting of Christ can only be done by the work of the Spirit of God, changing the mind to love Christ. If left to ourselves we would only hate Him.
This is what I mean by “accept Christ”.
This necessity of defining our terms should bring drive us to another application. That is, to be diligent to notice how others define their terms. One may say “Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship,” which by my understanding is a ludicrous statement. Christianity is the only true religion and a relationship is generally thought to be emotional, and emotion is undesirable in Christianity (still others would say relationship has to do with position not emotion — you’re either a friend of God or an enemy of God, but always in a relationship with God. So, Christianity is both). However, my former Pastor Riley Ware, used the phrase to denote a rejection of works (religion) for the adoption of the Father through the merits of Christ (a relationship), which is Biblical. He used the phrase to reject Arminianism and affirm Calvinism. This same phrase more often than not, is used to reject Calvinism for a works-grounded I love you, you love me, Jesus is my boyfriend expression of emotionally misguided fervor.
Let us be careful to define our terms, and be careful of those who don’t.
– Ben Murch