It is commonly held that faith is “accepting Jesus.” It is not. “Accepting Jesus” as a synonym for faith has many problems. First, it makes faith a one time act. But faith is a fruit ever blooming in the soul of the child of God. We live and walk by faith (Hab. 2:4; Col. 2:6; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).
Second, it makes an act of man move God to do something for him: ‘God has done all He can, now it is up to you.’ But faith is not me doing something to get God to do something. It is God’s gift that persuades and enables a believer to see and trust Christ as our successful Mediator, and thereby receive what God has already finished (Heb. 10:12; Jn. 19:30; Heb. 4:3).
The third problem with making faith “accepting Jesus,” is that it presumes that all men have the innate ability to accept Him. In this view, God has done everything possible to save all men, and wants all men to be saved, but it’s up to you to accept Him. “Won’t you please accept Him?” But scripture says not all men have faith (2 Thess. 3:2). Clearly, if all men do not have faith, God must give it to those that do (Eph. 2:1-10). As A.W. Pink said, “Faith is an exotic. It is not native to man’s nature.”
Fourth, the mistaken doctrine of “accepting Jesus” is in collusion with a more nefarious (fiendish) one. That mistaken doctrine is this: God loves all men alike but His love goes unfulfilled; Christ died for all men in a failed attempt to save them; and the Spirit of God calls all men from death to life but some dead men resist His call, while others find it within their spiritual deadness to respond. This exalts man and blasphemes God! It holds God hostage to man's will. Salvation is God’s choice. It is by Christ’s redeeming sin payment and everlasting righteousness for chosen sinners. And it is by the Spirit’s omnipotent call of chosen, redeemed sinners to life in unfailing, compelling, irresistible, effectual grace (Ezek. 37:5,9,14; John 6:37-39; Eph. 2:4; Col. 2:13).
Fifth, this notion of “accepting Jesus” makes God’s promise contingent on man’s action. But this is exactly the deception that the unbelieving Jews from Jerusalem tried to convince Galatian believers was true, as if it were consistent with the Gospel. It is not! Such an act is no different than circumcision. Circumcision is something man does to himself to make God include him in His promise -- to get God to fulfill His promise to him in particular. And any such act makes the death of Christ unnecessary (Gal. 2:21; 3:21)! But faith is what God does in a man to enable him to see and trust that what Christ has already done accomplished the salvation of chosen sinners (Heb. 1:3; Acts 4:12)! Sin is my doing. Salvation is God’s doing. Death is my deserving. Eternal life is God’s gift. Unbelief is native to me. Faith is foreign to me and God must give it in spite of my willful unbelief, out of His free and sovereign grace. Death is the wage I receive for my sin. Life is resurrection from the dead that I receive with Christ because He justified me by His blood (Rom. 4:25). The Spirit of God raises to life all those freed from sin by Christ’s death (Col. 2:12-13; John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6; Ezek. 37:5,9,14).
Sixth, another reason men make faith “accepting Jesus” is that they become concerned with a salvation that is entirely in God’s hands. They don't consider that they have already disqualified themselves. Men think their action will make things more secure. It unsettles man -- even unhinges him -- to think he must bow to Christ and relinquish his eternal destiny into the sovereign love and choice of God the Father (2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Thess. 2:13), to the redeeming work of Christ (Eph. 5:25; Jn. 17:2) and to the sovereign life-giving work of God the Holy Spirit (John 3:8).
What does this say about us? It says we think that we can accomplish what God alone must do. It says that we will be more safe if salvation depends on our will or our striving, or our labors, or our tears or our consent. In short, it says that we do not trust God! Have we learned nothing from God’s word and our experience?! “All have sinned” (Rom. 3:23)! “Dead in sins” (Eph. 2:1)! “None righteous.” “None that understand.” “None seek God.” “None good” (Rom. 3:10-12).
If salvation depends on man, then it is only as certain as man. And if anything is certain, it is that man is uncertain. He is as the grass of the field, the wave of the sea: unstable as water. But scripture ever points sinners to the Rock: Christ crucified (Rom. 8:34)! To see Christ, we must look away from ourselves. To come to Christ we must leave all else. To have His righteousness, we must forsake our own. To be washed, He must cleanse us by His blood (Rev. 1:5; 5:9).
Faith receives what God says is true, what He says Christ accomplished. All that is true is in Christ (John 1:17; John 14:6; 2 Cor. 1:20; Col. 2:16-17). Christ sat down because for His people He finished the work of redemption, made reconciliation for sins, established their everlasting righteousness, made remission for sins, justified them by His blood, sanctified them by His offering, forever perfected by His one offering to God those set apart in divine election (Heb. 9:12; Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21-22; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:9; Heb. 10:10-18; Dan. 9:24; 1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9).
Seventh, to “accept Jesus” implies salvation is a transaction between man and God. It is not. Salvation is a transaction between God the Father and God the Son (Rom. 3:24-25). We are saved because God received satisfaction from Christ. We receive salvation because Christ fulfilled the will of God (Heb. 10; John 19:30; Lk. 2:49; John 4:34; 5:36; 6:38; 17:5; 19:30; Heb. 13:20-21).