Christianity, Devotionals

Accepting Christ…or Receiving Christ–What’s the Difference?

man holding sheep statuette

We all have prayed that our friends and family members will make a sincere profession of faith in Christ, that they will “accept Jesus” as their Savior and Lord. Occasionally I hear about someone’s having prayed to “accept Christ” and later learn that the person fell away. I’m quite sure, according to Scripture, such a person was not authentically saved to begin with, and I think that we Christians may be contributing to that sad fact without realizing it. I believe the Lord is challenging me to examine some Christianese we speak in the light of Scripture. Do we really mean what we are saying, or have the words we use become a habit or a formula that may be misleading?

For example, we often use the phrase “accept Jesus Christ.” I researched the words “accept,” “accepting,” and “accepted” in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, and nowhere does the Bible use the word “accept” in that way– accepting Christ. On the contrary, the word is almost exclusively used in the Old Testament to describe what God did when a Jew brought an offering to the LORD. If it was an animal without spot or blemish, the Scriptures say the offering would be accepted by the LORD. If the animal were imperfect in any way, God would not accept the person’s offering. I’m no Greek or Hebrew scholar, but nowhere in the entire English King James Version is there a single verse that says that we are to accept Jesus

God is the “acceptor.” We have no standing to accept Him. God doesn’t need us to accept Him. We need Him to accept us. Problem is–we’re unacceptable as we are.

bible book business christian

Oh, you may be thinking, You’re just quibbling over words. What difference does it make? Well, words are containers of thought. If we use the wrong words to talk about a thing long enough, it will make us think wrong thoughts. It could make a huge difference in the way we present the gospel to the lost, and whether they truly understand salvation.

Under the New Testament we no longer bring animal sacrifices, but we still must be acceptable to God to be saved. Before our salvation we were lost sinners –spotted and blemished lambs, totally unsuitable as an offering to Him. Only the offering of Jesus, the perfect Lamb, was acceptable to God the Father. We were hopelessly helpless to be acceptable to Him outside of Christ. That is why Christ is the ONLY WAY. That is why a person’s being hid “in Christ” is  his only hope of being acceptable or accepted. We believers should know that. However, that’s not the way salvation is often presented in mainstream evangelical Christianity. I don’t think the unsaved are led to really grasp the perilous nature of their situation.

For example, you may have seen the illustration of how a person can accept Jesus as his Savior where a preacher takes some object, usually a pen, from his pocket and extends it toward a person as a gift. The preacher says that in order to receive the gift of God, all you must do is reach out and accept the gift. There’s the word again. It’s free and easy. Piece of cake. I have used that illustration myself. Now I think it is so misleading.

We American are always suspicious of a free gift…

” …and that’s not all. If you call within the next ten minutes, you will receive a second slicer-dicer absolutely FREE. You only have to pay a separate fee.”

Twenty-first century Americans are cynical. They don’t want a slicer/dicer. They don’t want a ball-point pen. When we present the Gospel that way, it seems cheap, like a cheesy commercial. Lost folks will not appreciate or understand their desperate position and the gravity of their future without God’s intervention. That sort of shallow presentation probably will not produce a heart change at all. And unless God changes their hearts, they will be swallowed up by the evil world, and forever lost. We must not short-circuit God’s process.

So, how can changing one single word help produce a heart change? Please consider the following:

  •     “Accept” gives the illusion of salvation’s being something totally within our power, our choice to do. Nothing supernatural required.
  •    “Receive” says we acknowledge and surrender to God’s Power and His grace  for it to happen. Totally supernatural.

Jesus told us “Ask, that ye may receive.”  We are in a submissive position when we “ask.” God is the authority, we are not. We are never told to accept Him. We have no authority to “accept Jesus.” Why, the very thought becomes ludicrous, the epitome of arrogance.

We approach Jesus with a humble, penitent heart, asking Him to forgive us and to please come into our hearts, save our souls. He will know if our prayer is honest, and He has promised to respond to such an honest prayer. He will come in, and we will gratefully “receive” Him when He does.

What happens next will be the subject of my next post.

I challenge us to listen for those two words–“accept” and “receive”–in our daily conversations and to pray for discernment as to which word is relevant.

 

Journey to Publication, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Journey to Publication

 

20181027_074001.jpg
Lake Yale Word Weaver’s Retreat – 2018

Working on St. Anne’s

St. Anne’s is the working title of my novel. I brought my manuscript with me to the Word Weavers’ Retreat this past weekend. This Retreat was not a retreat in the sense of getting away from it all. This was more like getting serious about it all. Michelle Medlock Adams, a marvelous speaker, inspired us to not lose heart, to keep pressing on, to keep our priorities in order. However, most of the time was dedicated to what Word Weavers do, critiquing one another’s work.

I found the weekend both enlightening and confusing.

Enlightening: I learned about mechanics–those parts of writing for publication which are cast in concrete–things like layout rules, the correct use of ellipses and Em Dashes,  which font is acceptable, rules for the use of italics.  All of this was quite helpful.

Confusing: God comforted me, reminding me that critiques are given by human beings with often conflicting personal preferences. For example, I written the first page of St. Anne’s by jumping right into the action, hoping to hook the reader. One critiquing person said I needed to begin my story describing the setting so the reader could formulate a scene in his mind  before getting into the action. So, I rewrote the opening for another review of the same passage. This time I was told, by a new critiquing person, that I should not start out with detailed setting information because most readers would prefer to jump right in to the action.

Hmm.

So, the Lord taught me that in a work of fiction, some people like narrative description, and other people like action. It’s a matter of preference. I will lose some people if I don’t begin with action; others will close the book if I don’t give them a setting first. People are different, and I won’t be able to please them all. I need to do what’s right for my God-given “voice,” and take the critique for what it is–one person’s opinion.

I learned a second thing that confused and surprised me.  It is now fashionable to write sentence fragments punctuated as sentences. As a former English teacher and a mere novice to publishing in this millennium, I was saddened. It was like witnessing the end of literature as I have known it. Now I’m not talking about writing dialog. Dialog is different. I get that. For dialog to sound realistic, it probably should be in short bites, like people talk. However, modern writers are encouraged to write narrative passages that way too.  It smacks more of text messaging than novel-writing to me. This weekend I read lots of unpublished manuscripts wherein the writer often wrote so-called sentences using no verbs.

At all.

Period.

20181029_144121.jpg

C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. 

I guess my blessed reassurance from the Lord applies here too. People have different tastes. My tastes are more old-fashioned.

I don’t think I will embrace this radical change easily. Maybe I’m too old to change?

The books I like to read are old-fashioned. Seldom do I encounter fragments in the writings of Rosamunde Pilcher or C.S. Lewis, my favorites.

Will my tastes change?

I hope not.

Maybe.

 

Alaska, Devotionals

THE FINAL DAYS OF AN ALASKAN SUMMER – PART ONE

Alaska worked wonders again this summer. We go there to decompress …

20170822_151716.jpg

to escape the world …

20170825_092032.jpg

to stretch wide in the vastness of the land …

…. and to work with our hands.

 

20180708_06412620180831_092147

.

DECOMPRESSING:

The World is too much with us in the Florida city where we live for eight months. We go to Alaska four months to decompress. The damp air is pure and deliciously fragrant with spruce, moss, and wildflowers. Merely walking around the property is restorative, refreshing the soul. Every wildflower declares the glory of  my Creator who is intimately aware of my every step, every thought, every breath. He created this blossom for me to enjoy today. 

Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. Yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”       JESUS

 20180719_142540

 

Now the days are shorter, the mornings noticeably cooler, and the birch trees dance against the cobalt sky. Winds toss these tall branches with a distinctive rustling sound, reminding me of Jesus’ words–

The wind bloweth where it willeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but can’st not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth. So is every one who is born of the Spirit.”

20180512_102938_002.jpg

Do you experience the God you cannot see, but you can hear, and feel?

 

This Alaska Summer, Lord,

You provided yet again …

unfettered Time…

on Your vast Land … 

rejoicing in Your Presence…

 knowing Your Spirit like the wind …

  invisible but palpable …

   moving as You send…

 

Lord, I’m so grateful!

Amen