What does it mean to receive Jesus Christ?

To receive Jesus Christ means to receive the free gift of salvation through faith in what He did for humanity on the cross and through His resurrection (Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 5:9; 10:12–14). It is by grace through faith that we are forgiven for our sins (Ephesians 1:7; 2:8) because Jesus paid the price by dying on the cross and then defeating death by rising on the third day after His death (1 Corinthians 15:3–8). This means that when God looks at us, He no longer sees our sin and rebellion. Instead, He sees Jesus' perfection and offering on our behalf (Hebrews 6:19–20; 2 Corinthians 5:17–21). All those who have received Jesus are justified before God.

With our salvation, it also means to receive the gifts, seal, and inheritance promised to us as adopted children of God, which are given through the Holy Spirit (John 1:12; Romans 8:14–17; Ephesians 1:3–14; 1 Peter 1:3–9). Once we accept God's gift of salvation through Jesus, we receive the presence of God Himself in the form of His Holy Spirit. He takes up residence in our souls and is able to help us (Ephesians 1:11–14).

We receive the seal of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13–14). This means that our salvation cannot be taken away from us, and we cannot do anything to lose it (John 10:28–30). The Holy Spirit is now the official guard of our souls. He intercedes for us to God (Romans 8:26–27), helps us understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10–16; Ephesians 1:17–23), transforms us (Romans 8:28–30; Philippians 2:12–13), fights the spiritual battles we encounter, and equips us to do the same (Ephesians 6:10–18).

We are spiritually born anew into God's family. We are a new creation, a new person in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17–21; Galatians 2:20). We can now call God our Abba Father, an intimate term from child to parent (Romans 8:15). That is why Jesus is called the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:29).

We receive adoption as children of God (Ephesians 1:5) and, therefore, we become inheritors of eternal life with Him and all the promises and love He offers. First Peter 1:3–5 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

We receive spiritual gifts. These include things like teaching, giving, acts of mercy, and others (1 Corinthians 12:1–31; Romans 12:3–8; Ephesians 4:1–16; Hebrews 2:3–4; 1 Peter 4:10–11). Christians often have more than one spiritual gift, and the purpose of these gifts is to build up and encourage the Church (1 Corinthians 12:7). We have the responsibility to use and develop these gifts for God's glory and out of love for Him and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 4:12–13). These gifts, though, come straight from God and are empowered by Him.

All of these things we receive through faith in Jesus work together for our sanctification, which is the progressive work of us becoming more like Jesus Christ until we join Him in heaven and are free from sin (Romans 6:22; 8:28–30). Our position of sanctification is secure in heaven (Acts 13:39), we are being progressively sanctified in this life (2 Peter 3:18; Philippians 2:12–13), and we will be completely sanctified once we reach heaven (Philippians 1:6).

Though receiving Jesus Christ begins with one act of faith in Him, there is so much more that the Christian receives and has yet to receive. "Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Romans 11:33). We could have ten lifetimes and still never get to the bottom of all there is to know and experience of God.

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