Sunday, January 30, 2022

On Accepting and Receiving

Is the difference between accepting and receiving just a matter of semantics? Are we being picky about words that to most people amount to the same thing? We will attempt to show they don’t.

Admittedly, in many cases either word would do, both being used to describe a positive response to a gift or invitation, but there is a difference. The first is the better word to use if you want to leave room for the possibility of some disappointment or reserve on the part of the recipient. The second would be better if you want to go on to describe the great pleasure a gift or invitation evoked.

An illustration may help ...

An Illustration

It was Christmas Day and we were in our old English homestead. I can vividly remember which room we were in and where I was sitting, the youngest of three boys in our family. It was my turn to open a present and I was quite excited. You see, in those days there were no ballpoint pens. The local school supplied thin cedar rods with a metal nib on the end. This had to be dipped into an inkwell before you attempted to copy what was written on the blackboard. You can imagine how messy the students’ hands were at the end of the day — except for some, that is: they came to school with fountain pens. I could tell by the shape of the small parcel I was unwrapping that I was about to become the proud owner of one of those prestige items.

Of course, even within that scale there were fountain pens and fountain pens: to possess a Platignum was one thing, but to own a top-of-the-line Onoto was another. (Do we ever grow up?) It was probably a difference in value made in the mind of schoolboys; both pens would do the job for which they were designed. But imagine my excitement when the wrapper was off and the little box bore the title Onoto. Alas, inside was a Platignum! Of course it was probably the salesman’s fault; he had just grabbed an empty box and popped the pen into it.

accepted it because it was free, but it was not well received — not really appreciated for its true worth.

The Eternal Quest

No believer fully appreciates our Lord for all that he is worth. Knowing him is an ongoing process that begins when he or she can say, “Though I was blind, now I see.” That process will continue into the future and know no end. Speaking to his Father, our Lord said, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” To poke around in your own heart to measure your commitment to him is not helpful and not what we have in mind. Instead, we are challenging those of us who try to point others to the Savior: Will we urge them to merely accept Christ, or to truly receive him?

Would-be evangelists should avoid hurrying enquirers to “just accept Jesus”. Children as well as adults need to know something of the One they are being urged to trust. We shortchange people by asking them to merely accept him. He is beyond compare, and there is no possibility of his falling short, failing to meet their need or satisfying their heart’s desire. Assuming he has been presented faithfully, seekers become responsible to receive him without any further doubt. Such is the nature of Christ, so glorious his person, so worthy of worship, that any refusal to respond in this way reveals a faulty understanding. He is the Son of God. Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

To accept the Savior may show at least we approve of his credentials. He has measured up; he is not the liar and deceiver that some said he was. We will allow him a room in our inn and not give him the stable. That will show people where we stand!

Your Language or His?

Are there no guides who speak language that will at least start converts on a higher road? Not that they will then be better than other saved sinners, but a faithful evangelist points people to the high road by using language that is more fitting; he will urge them to receive Christ. This is language that befits Christ’s majesty and glory. True, he once humbled himself to death on that shameful cross, but God has given him the name above all others. In his resurrection he is King of kings and Lord of lords. Such royalty calls for men to receive him without reserve. He deserves more than our approval and acceptance.

Paul boasted, “We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” In our measure we may do the same by using language found in scripture. In the first chapter of his Gospel, John tells us, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” That is the characteristic word used in scripture when speaking of those who have faith in the Son of God; they received him. We looked for, but could not find the word “accept” used as an alternative in that context. Yet how frequently we hear preachers of the gospel urging listeners to accept Christ.*

— Colin Anderson, “Accepted or Received?”, June 2014

* In 2 Cor. 6:2, “Now is an acceptable time” refers to a limited period in which we have opportunity to find acceptance with God, not to the manner in which we “accept” him.

No comments :

Post a Comment