The saving grace of God is so totally, awesomely immense! But it is limited. It is not all-accepting, indiscriminately saying to all comers: “Welcome. Enter into My Kingdom”.
God has limited His grace of salvation to be effective ONLY for those who are sincere in heart. God only saves those who truly repent of their sin, those who actually turn away from their sin, those who truly receive Jesus as God and Lord of their life, those who truly follow Him.
In the original Greek the word for “receive”, as in the prayer – “I receive you Jesus as my Lord and Savior”) is Paralambano. It means “not to withhold obedience“. It means “to join to one’s self”. 1
There is a lot of vagueness in many of our English terms. But in the Greek, when you “receive” Jesus as Lord and Savior, you join yourself to Jesus; you do not withhold your obedience to Him, but rather: you follow Him wholeheartedly. 2
Your type of “receiving” (whether it be a vague “yea, well, okay” or “paralambano) shows up in the way you conduct your life, the way you vote, the allegiances you strike, your world view, the philosophies you extoll, the way you deal with your monies, etc.
Jesus Himself put it this way: ‘and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ – Mark 12:30 (See also: Matthew 22:37 and Luke 10:27). “Receiving” is deceiving, because it is a matter of your heart, not your words.
But God is not deceived by an insincere confession and still fettered heart. God sees into your thoughts and intentions, into the “inner man”, your inner soul – and He discerns whether it is said with all… or just lightheartedly. Even the demons acknowledge that Christ is Lord, God of the Universe — but they do not “Paralambano“, they do not join themselves in allegiance to follow Him. Demons withhold obedience. What about you?
Are you truly saved? Have you sincerely accepted Christ – from the heart? Does your life show that you have joined yourself to Christ, or does it shout loudly of a disobedience withheld?
The rich young ruler had it ALL ALMOST together, but when Jesus finished clarifying the “paralambano” requirement for salvation — the man sadly walked away, unwilling to truly join himself in allegiance to Christ with all he had. He never made it to the paralambano moment, because he allowed his possessions to withhold his obedience. At that point he was still lost in his sins. How about you?
There is an eternal difference in the two: you either “Paralambano” Jesus and follow Him, or you merely say “Yea, well, okay Jesus” when it is convenient for me.
1. Referenced by Dennis Swick in – Does saying a “sinners prayer” save one from going to hell?
2. References to “receive Jesus”: John 1:12; 16:24; Mark 9:37; and 1 John 5:11-12.