The idea of "accepting Christ" sounds mystical and mysterious to some people. What is this "born again" stuff all about anyway? What am I supposed to "feel" if it happens to me? And am I even someone God would consider to bless in this way?
Let's break it down. Let's get beyond the semantics and talk about what it actually means to "accept Christ" as your Savior.
To begin with, it is necessary to understand that Jesus Christ is fully God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. A person who accepts Jesus is accepting "Immanuel," which means "God with us." (Matthew 1:23) Jesus is the "Mighty God," (Isaiah 9:6) and "God over all, forever praised!" (Romans 9:5)
In addition to this basic understanding of God's nature, it is also necessary to repent of your sin if you are going to accept Christ. The word "repent" literally means "change of mind." So you change your mind about the direction you are going. Rather than continuing to chase after sin, you now want to follow Christ and His will for your life. That is repentance. And without it, a person is unable to accept Christ.
The first sermon Jesus ever preached was simply, "Repent and believe the good news." (Mark 1:15) That brings us to the other necessary component of "accepting Christ." Faith is an essential part of the equation. Repentance and faith are flip sides of the same coin. A Christian has both of them in his heart. It is impossible to have biblical repentance without faith, or biblical faith without repentance. They go together, like peanut butter and jelly. Only in this case, it's not your body that gets fed, but more importantly, your soul.
So let's review what we have said so far. A person who accepts Christ is someone who repents of his sin; trusts in Christ to be forgiven; and believes that Jesus is true God and true man.
But what about feelings? Don't I need to feel something special to prove I have accepted Christ?
No. You don't have to feel anything in particular in order to become a Christian. Now many people do of course experience a wide range of feelings after accepting Jesus. And those feelings come and go throughout the Christian life. But a mistake is made if I look to my feelings as a way of authenticating my relationship with Christ. That misguided approach has actually led many people into a state of depression and despair. They are so busy "trying to feel something," they miss out on what it really means to have a growing relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Another danger with feelings is that a person is liable to try to duplicate what he felt the last time he had a spectacular spiritual experience. Christianity actually brings us something better than feelings. It goes deeper than mere emotions. It goes to the core of our being to the realm of our spirit. At that level, Jesus is alive on the inside of a believer. And while that experience will produce various feelings in a Christian's life, the essence of our faith is just that: faith, and not feelings.
If you attempt to base your spiritual confidence upon feelings, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and confusion. Feelings are usually all over the board and run the gamut of emotional inconsistency. God's Word on the other hand is constant and never changes, just as God Himself never changes. So do you want your heart to constantly bounce between highs and lows, or would you rather have spiritual stability in your heart and soul?
This brings us back to the basic question of what it means to accept Christ. There is absolutely nothing like it in all the world. No other approach or belief system can begin to touch the power and the results of accepting Christ.
It begins with an understanding of what God did so that He could accept you. His only Son, Jesus, was sacrificed on the cross as the payment for your sin. Without the atonement at the cross of Calvary, God could not accept sinners like us. Through Christ, God does indeed accept all who come to the Father through faith in the Son. That's just the way it works. So you see, God accepted you before you accepted Him.
Or is that something you have not done yet? If so, there is no sense in waiting any longer. Today is the day you can actually receive the gift of eternal life. By trusting in Jesus and His death on the cross, you "accept Christ." Through believing that you are saved by His work on the cross rather than your work on earth, you "accept Christ." By relying upon the Gospel of forgiveness rather than the Law's demands, you "accept Christ" as your Savior. But it all begins with knowing what God did to accept you.
If you don't feel worthy to be in God's family, don't worry. That is actually a healthy and accurate perspective. The truth is that none of us are worthy. But God's acceptance of us is not based on our "worthiness," but on Christ's sacrifice. It is only because of Jesus and His death on the cross that God accepts you. "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." (1 Peter 3:18)
Salvation is God's work from start to finish. He earned it, and He delivers it free of charge. Like other gifts and presents which you have received in your life, it comes to you without anything you have done to earn it. In fact, it is impossible for man to earn salvation. When men try to earn eternal life in heaven, they miss out on it.
Instead, they must come to see what God did in order to accept them. And then a person can graciously accept the free gift through faith by accepting Christ as the payment for their sin. Accepting Christ is all about relying upon His sacrifice. That's what it means to accept Him and to be born again. It's really not as mystical and mysterious as some people make it out to be.
So are you ready to believe Him and receive Him? And are you finally ready to see yourself as God sees you?