The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Why decision for Christ is so important

Hello, friends,

I’ve been studying universal salvation for quite some time. There is one theme in books defending US that puzzles me somewhat. It is the importance of making definitive decision for Christ. Decision is described as a pivotal happening, a one time happening or a step that moves one from one room to an other. I sense there is some kind of binary thinking here, your relation to Christ is either 1 or 0. For example in Kronen & Reitan: God’s Final Victory lots or room is given to analyze this one time change in ones will and relation to Christ.

Now, what I am questioning is the following. Is our relationship to salvation such a binary matter? Is that best way to describe it? Other possibility would be to think it as a gradual movement. It can be compared to falling in love. It does not happen in one moment (usually, exceptions are allowed). Instead there is a gradual movement, first you like her, then like more, then more and some day you call it love. Is it possible to think that our coming to Christ is similar thing? More a process than an instant change.

I think it depends on the person. For some it’s more gradual for some it happens quick. I’m still not all there. :smiley:

I believe that we grow in faith, though there does seem to be moments when there are growth spurts, and a breaking of the ground. Seeds germinate and grow for weeks under the ground, and then it seems they spout up over night. To me, being “born again”, making a “decision for Christ”, experiencing a new reality of God is much like the seed sprouting through the ground.

I think what’s more important is Christ’s relation to us (thus also God’s relation to us, especially if trinitarian Christianity is true), which cannot be binary.

But anyway. In one sense cooperation with God (also thus with Christ) is binary: we’re either fully cooperating with God or we aren’t. But someone could be easily cooperating with God in some ways while not doing so in others. The Bible is certainly full of such examples, not least the apostles themselves. I think there’s even a good harmonization argument that Jesus called Peter three times, and James and John bar Zebedee at least twice (maybe also Andrew twice though not at the same time as calling J&J twice)! They kind of seriously answer each time but then fall off, until they finally stay. Or they finally stay until they abandon Christ at Gethsemene, after which Peter tries to stick and falls away again etc., and then they’re called again after the Res, but Peter still has some problems to be addressed in Acts (thus the Cornelius incident).

So, yeah, by scriptural testimony itself the ‘valence’ so to speak isn’t exactly binary on our side of conversion. But it’s still an important point, I think, that at any time we’re either fully cooperating with Christ or we’re not fully cooperating with Christ – and Christ means to get us over to the 1 from that 0.

And thank God, Christ isn’t binary about that intention. :slight_smile: (Our faithlessness doesn’t obviate His faithfulness to us, etc.)

I’ve been a Christian for all of my life – I mean that. I don’t remember a time (except for a few years much, much, much later in life) when I wasn’t. When I went to church camp, there was always a lot of stress on praying the prayer, walking the aisle and so on, and I did that many times waiting for the big feeling to wash over me (never happened – not then). Naturally I worried that I wasn’t “saved” because I never had that experience that some people talk about. I WASN’T saved, but not for that reason. I thought being saved meant you go to heaven and not hell and all the other stuff in the meantime (which I did try to do) was just extra credit. Turns out, being saved means being saved from YOUR SIN, not from hell. And no, I wasn’t taking advantage of the freedom from sin, alas. My life would have been much more pleasant if I had, I feel sure.

Following Jesus is just following Jesus. Baptism is a nice rite of passage and I think it helps people to feel themselves to be “in” and not “out,” but I agree with you. Some have the crashing cymbals and fireworks and moving of the earth, and others just follow Jesus. The longer you do this, the closer you get to being like Him, the more closely you want to follow. I don’t remember ever making a decision exactly. I never seriously considered anything else other than following Him.

Paul suggests in Galatians that Christ is being formed in us.

Thanks for your very good points.

I think there is wisdom in JasonPratt’s idea, that from God*s point of view our position is binary. We are either in or out. And in US view, we’re all in, though all of us do not know it yet. And we who know it, do not live it fully, so from our point of view there is a gradual growth going on. One step up and two steps down, as that one apostle taught, was his name Springsteen? :wink:

My concern about importance of decision making was raised from some US-books, where US was defended by arguing that everyone will eventually decide for Christ and salvation. I do understand, that there is co-operation between God and human being. Our will must be in it (its different with machines, they can be manipulated from outside), when God pulls us to salvation. And if there is co-operation, there must be positive decisions from our part to work with God, to accept his friendship and his holymaking presence through Christ.

I have learned to think it’s in plural. Decisions. Our acceptance of salvation consists of a long line of very numerous decisions in which we join to God’s salvific work on us. Some of those decisions are positive (one step up), some negative (two steps down, arithmetics does not work now, I know). In light of this processual view of salvation the idea of singular importand decision sounds somewhat foreign.

I hope so. I am totally discouraged in that I am so rotten inside. I just can’t find it in myself to be a charitable person. It seems like Christianity makes no difference in my life.

I believe that it is clearly binary. There is in and there is out- but only God knows who is in and who is out, by the secrets of the hearts. "Many will say unto me on that day, “Lord, Lord”.

I don’t personally believe the language of scripture supports that “everyone is in- most just don’t know it yet”. There is room for everyone to get in. There is a key for every person who ever lived or will live. The entry fee has been paid already for all. Everyone will eventually be drawn to the entrance and enter. But as yet, there are many who are out.

So for me the salvation of all is about “the dispensation of the fulness of times” and “each in his own order”, proceeding until all everyone is in and God is “all in all”.

I’m going to give one of those “fuzzy” answers–sorry. In a sense it is binary. You’re either going this way <----- or you’re going that way ---->. It’s possible you might pause for a short time, but long pauses are difficult to maintain. Now it could be possible that you’re going toward God, following Jesus, but you’re sooooooo very far away that people looking at you might think, Now there goes a reprobate if ever I saw one! and yet, you are following Jesus and moving toward the kingdom of God. Likewise, you might start out in life due to circumstances of birth, training or whatever, quite close to the kingdom, but you may be headed away. Yet you look good. People think, What a man of God he is!. You may even think it yourself, because compared to those around you, you are a very moral and caring person, but God knows that if you continue in this direction, five years from now it will become obvious you’re headed away from His kingdom.

In this sense, it’s not binary at all. Even though you may not know you’re following Jesus, He is drawing you. You are becoming a believer. Likewise even though you may not realize you’re following false gods (materialism?), you are walking away from Jesus. You are resisting Him, or else maybe it’s not your time. Maybe you need to be tried by fire to see what’s really inside, and so you’re being led away by your own lusts and enticed. My new favorite verse:

If we have within us a seed of selfishness, that seed must be dealt with. It cannot be allowed to lie dormant until an opportune time, only to sprout and pollute and poison the paradise of God. So even though we might in the present be being led away by our sins, even this is part of our journey into the Son.

Where do you find anything about “a decision for Christ” in scripture?

Some speak of “accepting Christ as your personal Saviour.” The phrase “personal Saviour” doesn’t occur either.

But there is one sentence about “receiving Him.”

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who trusting into His name. (John 1:12)

Notice that this verse doesn’t say those receiving Him, those trusting into his name, are thereby children of God. Rather Christ gives them the AUTHORITY to BECOME children of God. Becoming children of God must take something more than receiving Him or trusting into his name.


When I read “receive,” I think of maybe receiving a package in the mail. I wonder (and am asking you since you study Greek) whether this doesn’t rather mean to receive as one might receive a guest? So those who received Him as Messiah, welcomed, believed, trusted, and so on – whatever goes with that – are given the power, etc.?

(Oh yes, and completely off-topic – I’ve always wondered. If you end a sentence with an abbreviation like etc., or follow it with a comma, do you drop one of the punctuation marks? Very confusing for me. Thanks!)


Hi Cindy,

There are two Greek words translated as “receive”:

The first is “δεχομαι” (dechomai).I give this in its lexical form. In Greek there are many different forms of a verb depending on its person, number, case, and mode. This word means “receive” in a passive way, as you said, "maybe receiving a package in the mail, or receiving a person into your house—a person who came knocking at your door.

The second is “λαμβανω” (lambanō). This word might better be translated as “take” or “obtain.” It implies some action on the receiver’s part to acquire whatever it is he obtains. It is “λαμβανω” that is used in John 1:12. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God…”

As to your punctuation question, I believe it is correct to use a comma after “etc., etc., etc.”

The point that confuses me is whether to place a period before or after a final quotation mark. I know it is placed before in a long quote, such as, John said, “I saw a large, black Newfoundland dog beside the store.” But what if the quote is a single word? Example: There are two Greek words translated as “receive.” Is this correct? Or should it have been as follows? There are two Greek words translated as “receive”.

An example from an online grammar site:

Rule 5a. Quotation marks are often used with technical terms, terms used in an unusual way, or other expressions that vary from standard usage.
It’s an oil-extraction method known as “fracking.”

So I guess that is the fracking answer! :open_mouth:

:laughing: Dave! Thanks for that. I, like you, Paidion, was wondering about that one too.

And thanks so much, Paidion, for explaining the two senses of “receive.” It’s a pity we don’t have the words to translate passages like these more precisely. It causes confusion sometimes, I think.

So, would this be correct?

“Could you please help me to move my furniture and heavier boxes and etc.?”

I would say that it is correct to place the question mark after the period in “etc.”.
But was I correct in placing a second period above in order to terminate my sentence?
Or WORSE, should I have placed the second period INSIDE the final quotation mark?
Or does the period in “etc.” do double duty and serve both as an abbreviation and as a sentence terminator?

Thanks again, Don. :smiley:

I think the period does double duty – because it just looks too weird to put in two of them. :laughing: Nothing is cut and dried (except maybe maths). You’d think grammar would be too, but apparently there’s such a thing as “fuzzy punctuation!”

I think it relates to John 3.

Jesus Christ tells Nicodemus that we must be born again though some scholars translate born again as be begotten from above.

Christians trust Christ as in Romans 10:9. You have to trust the one imparting spiritual birth to you…relationships that last are based on trust and faith is “spiritual trust”.