What Does It Really Mean To “Receive” Jesus?

What Does It Really Mean To “Receive” Jesus?

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When I was a little girl, I attended an after school Bible club across the street.  One day, as the program was ending, the leader told all of the kids to line up to pray with her and ask Jesus into our hearts.  Since it appeared that we weren’t going to go home for dinner until we did this, I stood in line.

Actually, I was happy to pray that Jesus would come into my heart.  I already believed in Him and had heard about Him all of my life.  Then as I grew older, I not only forgot about Jesus, but really didn’t pay attention to anything else about Him.  I didn’t attend church while I was in college and the distance between God and me grew even greater.

Finally, when I was 25 years old, my young life wasn’t going at all the way I wanted or expected.  Through my pain, I decided to change the way I was living and follow the Lord Jesus with all my heart.  I began to spend my weekends at Bible Studies and church instead of at the bars.  I immersed myself in the study of God’s Word and formed friendships with other Christians.  As I opened my heart to the Lord and learned more about Him, I grew in my faith.  God began to dramatically change me and I became a whole new person.

Can we pray a simple prayer, “Lord, please come into my heart?”

It’s not enough to believe in Jesus.  James 2:19 tells us that even the demons believe….and tremble with fear.  There is more to being a Christian than simply believing in Jesus or going to church.  In fact, I know a lot of people that “like” Jesus, but don’t spend any time learning what He teaches.

While Jesus was on earth, He crossed paths with many people.  Some accepted Him and many did not.  When Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000, they wanted to crown Him as king!  So Jesus was very popular at times.  But then, there were other times when Jesus’ teachings were so hard that people left Him.  They decided to abandon Him because they just didn’t agree with what He had to say.  Isn’t that what people still do today?  Some people may even keep Jesus at a comfortable distance and consider only parts of His teaching as acceptable.

John 1:11-12 tells us, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  Some translations say:  “those who believed and accepted Him…”

What exactly do we need to “accept” about Jesus?

His name:  This is His identity…. Emmanuel, God with us, Lord of all, the great I Am.

His sacrifice:  We accept God’s grace and repent of our sins.  Salvation is not earned by our works; Jesus paid for our sins through His death on the cross.

His authority:  He has all power and dominion over the earth and over life and death.

His teaching:  We study the Word of God, listen to preaching, learn God’s will.

His guidance:  We spend time with Him daily, praying and accepting the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

His power:  Knowing He is in control, we place our trust in Him.

His commands:  Even if it means enduring persecution for our faith, we live in obedience to Him.

I believe that my decision after college many years ago to not only believe, but accept Jesus’ authority in my life is what it means to “receive” Christ.  When we truly receive Him, He fills us with the Holy Spirit, just as He promised He would!


Laurie Driesen About Laurie Driesen

Laurie Driesen is a writer, entrepreneur and business owner. Her passion is to encourage and strengthen people's faith by sharing the truth of God's Word through her writing. In her recently published book, Beyond Regret - Living Your Life Purpose in Spite of Past Choices, Laurie shares how God uses our mistakes and detours to lead us into His will and accomplish His true purpose for our lives. Check out her website for more.


  1. Beautiful testimony, Laurie. Thanks for sharing!

    • Laurie Driesen says:

      Thank you Cynthia- I just had this on my mind as I talked with someone recently about receiving Jesus. I felt there had to be a way to explain that it’s not as simple as just asking Him into our hearts.

  2. “Asking Jesus into your heart” gives a child a good picture of having Jesus with her all the time . But as she matures, she needs to understand the rest of the story–what receiving Jesus really means. You’ve done a great job of analysis here.

    • Laurie Driesen says:

      Thank you Linda, I totally agree with you. In fact, I believe that I might have actually received the Holy Spirit as a child. After all, He seals us forever. Even though I walked away, the Spirit never let me stray too far. I wish I would have had the space to get into that a little in the post. But I did experience such a transformation when I was 25 that I always refer to my conversion as happening at that time. Of course, when I get to Heaven, I’ll ask God about it! Thanks for your comment Linda!

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