The Encyclopedia Britannica uses 20,000 words to describe Jesus. This description takes up more space than the encyclopedia devotes to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed and Napoleon.“What it means to accept Christ” by A. W. Tozer (1963)
The following statements are from well-known people concerning Jesus:
French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau said: “It would have been a greater miracle to invent such a life as that of Christ than His actual existence is.”
At the end of his life, Napoleon Bonaparte, who engaged half of Europe in war, wrote these words in his diary: “With all my armies and generals, I have not been able to make one single continent subject to me in a quarter of a century. But this Jesus has conquered nations and cultures without the use of arms for centuries.”
Well-known historian H.G. Wells was asked what person had the greatest influence on history. He answered that if one were to judge the greatness of a man according to historical aspects, Jesus would be at the top of the list.
Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette said, “The more time that passes, the more apparent it becomes that Jesus, measured by His influence on history, led the most momentous life that was ever lived on this planet. And His influence seems to increase.”
Ernest Renan made the following observation, “Jesus is the most genial figure that ever lived in the historical field. His brilliance is eternal and His government will never cease. He is unique in every way and comparable with nothing and nobody. Without Christ history cannot be understood.”
Jesus Christ is the only Redeemer who suffered for us in order to attain and guarantee our entrance into heaven. Only those who believe in Jesus and surrender their lives to Him and lay their guilt and sins at His feet will gain entrance into the kingdom of God.
A few things, fortunately only a few, are matters of life and death, such as a compass for a sea voyage or a guide for a journey across the desert. To ignore these vital things is not to gamble or take a chance; it is to commit suicide. Here it is either be right or be dead.
Our relation to Christ is such a matter of life or death, and on a much higher plane. The Bible instructed man knows that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and that men are saved by Christ alone altogether apart from any works of merit.
That much is true and known, but obviously, the death and resurrection of Christ do not automatically save everyone. How does the individual man come into saving relation to Christ? That some do we know, but that others do not is evident. How is the gulf bridged between redemption objectively provided and salvation subjectively received? How does that which Christ did for me become operative within me? To the question “What must I do to be saved?” we must learn the correct answer. To fail here is not to gamble with our souls: it is to guarantee eternal banishment from the face of God. Here we must be right or be finally lost.
To this anxious question evangelical Christians provide three answers, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” “Receive Christ as your personal saviour,” and “Accept Christ.” Two of the answers are drawn verbatim from the Scriptures (Acts 16:31, John 1:12), while the third is a kind of paraphrase meant to sum up the other two. They are therefore not three but one.
Being spiritually lazy we naturally tend to gravitate toward the easiest way of settling our religious questions for ourselves and others hence the formula “Accept Christ” has become a panacea of universal application, and I believe it has been fatal to many. Though undoubtedly an occasional serious-minded penitent may find in it all the instruction he needs to bring him into living contact with Christ, I fear that too many seekers use it as a short cut to the Promised Land, only to find that it has led them instead to “a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.”
The trouble is that the whole “Accept Christ” attitude is likely to be wrong. It shows Christ applying to us rather than us to Him. It makes Him stand hat-in-hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us. It may even permit us to accept Christ by an impulse of mind or emotions, painlessly, at no loss to our ego and no inconvenience to our usual way of life.
For this ineffectual manner of dealing with a vital matter we might imagine some parallels; as if, for instance, Israel in Egypt had “accepted” the blood of the Passover but continued to live in bondage, or the prodigal son had “accepted” his father’s forgiveness and stayed among the swine in the far country. Is it not plain that if accepting Christ is to mean anything there must be moral action that accords with it?
Allowing the expression “Accept Christ” to stand as an honest effort to say in short what could not be so well said any other way, let us see what we mean or should mean when we use it.
To accept Christ is to form an attachment to the Person of our Lord Jesus altogether unique in human experience. The attachment is intellectual, volitional and emotional. The believer is intellectually convinced that Jesus is both Lord and Christ; he has set his will to follow Him at any cost and soon his heart is enjoying the exquisite sweetness of His fellowship.
This attachment is all-inclusive in that it joyfully accepts Christ for all that He is. There is no craven division of offices whereby we may acknowledge His Saviourhood today and withhold decision on His Lordship till tomorrow. The true believer owns Christ as his All in All without reservation. He also includes all of himself, leaving no part of his being unaffected by the revolutionary transaction.
Further, his attachment to Christ is all-exclusive. The Lord becomes to him not one of several rival interests, but the one exclusive attraction forever. He orbits around Christ as the earth around the sun, held in thrall by the magnetism of His love, drawing all his life and light and warmth from Him. In this happy state he is given other interests, it is true, but these are all determined by his relation to his Lord.
That we accept Christ in this all-inclusive, all-exclusive way is a divine imperative. Here faith makes its leap into God through the Person and work of Christ, but it never divides the work from the Person. It never tries to believe on the blood apart from Christ Himself, or the cross or the “finished work.” It believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole Christ without modification or reservation, and thus it receives and enjoys all that He did in His work of redemption, all that He is now doing in heaven for all His own and all that He does in and through them.
To accept Christ is to know the meaning of the words “as he is, so are we in this world” (I John 4:17). We accept His friends as our friends, His enemies as our enemies, His ways as our ways, His rejection as our rejection, His cross as our cross, His life as our life and His future as our future.
If this is what we mean when we advise others to accept Christ we had better explain it to him. He may get into deep spiritual trouble unless we do.