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JimR

Personal relationship with Jesus

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Some of us may assume that all Christians believe a personal relationship with Jesus is important, but many pastors have pushed back against this idea, equating it to having an imaginary friend.  Even the Gospel Coalition site has published articles against personal relationship language. A web search turns up a stress on the personal relationship with Jesus on many baptist church websites, but dig deeper and you will not see it mentioned on their What We Believe page.  A couple of years ago i called up a local baptist pastor and asked him why this is so.  He snapped at me: What are you, the webpage police?  Ouch.

The personal relationship language implies some sense of directly knowing Him.  It is experiential and fulfilling.  To many believers, that feeling makes them Christians and gives meaning to their lives.  The spirit of Christ abides in us and we in Him.

Anyway, i would like to know how many users of this site believe a personal relationship with Jesus is both possible and important.

Edited by JimR

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I think that the terminology of "a personal relationship with Jesus" is rather vague without clarification...

I've seen (and heard) it used without a clear meaning too many times. However, I certainly believe in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ...

(Eph 3:14-19) 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

God puts the emphasis upon the heart throughout scripture; therefore, if the Lord dwells in the believer's heart, I don't understand how it could be anything other than a "personal relationship".

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Jim,

In our age, a 'personal relationship' with the Lord Jesus, apart from salvation, can mean a lot of different things to different people; especially with the Charismatics. That may be the reason why it is a difficult subject to discuss in an open forum.

Attached is a devotion that I wrote dealing a little bit with King David and his 'personal relationship' with God. Hope it is a blessing to you and to all.

God bless!

Alan

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Alan,

your devotional is very nice.  David clearly had a personal relationship with God.

Your comment is interesting about how the language about  a personal relationship with Jesus might be confused with how the charismatics approach religion.  I can see that.  On the other hand, charismatics seem to strive for exciting intense experiences.  Also they stress experience with the Holy Spirit and seem to push Jesus off into a corner.

The issue for us might boil down to this choice: is our relationship with Jesus entirely intellectual or does it feel personal?  Is love a feeling?  My reading of Ephesians 3 suggests to me that Paul knew believers might not go beyond intellectual assent but he prayed that they would.  

 

Ephesians 3:16-19 King James Version (KJV)

16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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I personally do not like the language of "personal relationship". The reason is because of how false Christianity uses it, and how prolific it is. It's along the lines of "invite Jesus into your heart". It is very difficult to find a clear gospel in the messages given by the people who use these terms, and they usually have a works based gospel at that. That "personal relationship" or "inviting Jesus into your heart" essentially equates to "a changed life" gospel. Jesus told saved people that if they loved Him, they should keep His commandments. By bible standards, there can be people who are saved, but do not obey His commandments, and therefor, do not love God. 

God sets the standard in the bible, so we should use His terms. I will tell people out soul winning that the bible does not tell us to invite Jesus into our heart to be saved, but it does say that if we believe in our heart, we will be saved. No gospel message should put a focus on the life they should live after they are saved, because we don't want to confuse that life with getting saved. When explaining eternal security, we should explain to them the good things that they should do after being saved, but only to point out that it is not required for salvation. 

A relationship with Jesus Christ cannot be more personal than the Spirit of God living inside of us, and nobody has a relationship with Jesus without the Holy Ghost living in them. Anyone can receive a gift from someone without talking to them every day. They can receive the gift without going to church, or ever reading their bible. It goes without saying that this is not what God wants, but God does not require a "personal relationship with Jesus" beyond them being seal with the Holy Ghost. 

Romans 4:5 makes it clear that a person can do no works and be saved by faith. I personally believe that a saved person who spends no time with God is not going to be fulfilled or even very happy, but I do not believe that it is a sign that they are not saved. If we are going to use mainstream Christianity's terms, we should put it in it's proper place, which is post salvation concerning "personal relationship with Jesus". I would tell them that they already have a personal relationship with Jesus if they are saved. Being a child of God is a relational situation. Beyond that, it can be a bad relationship concerning our interactions, or the lack thereof, with God. 

Let's say that we pray every day, but God is not hearing us because of how we treat our wife. Do we have a good relationship with God? Does that make us unsaved? It is a vague term that is not easily clarified. I have a personal relationship with my earthly father, but I don't like him, nor do I want to spend time with him. Personal relationships are very complex, and often difficult. I don't believe that it is a good term to use with people concerning God. 

I would rather just use God's words, such as "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us", "for God so loved the world", or "we love Him because He first loved us". Then we can point out to people that "if we love Him, we should keep His commandments". A church cannot help you with a personal relationship with Jesus beyond keeping His commandments. If they keep His commandments, they will love the brethren, and seek for the lost to be saved. They will preach the Word in and out of season. They will rebuke, reprove, and exhort with all long suffering, etc. If someone preaches about having a personal relationship with God, hopefully, they will preach that you can have a good personal relationship with God, or you can have a bad personal relationship with God, so choose this day whom ye will serve, the flesh, or the Spirit. 

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How many truths, words and phrases that are Biblical and right have Independent Baptists given up or forsaken over the years because someone else uses them incorrectly?

How often do you hear a hard hitting sermon on holiness? We gave that one up when the holiness movement arrived. "Abundant life"? Yeah, it's Bible, but we don't dare use it any more. Too Joel Osteen. "In the Spirit"? Biblical but too charismatic.

God created man and had a personal relationship with Adam in the very beginning, walking with him in the cool of the day. Enoch went home early with God simply because God was delighted with his personal relationship, he "walked with God". Abraham was God's friend. Moses spoke face to face with God as a man speaketh with a friend. John leaned on Jesus' breast and was the disciple whom the Lord loved. Jesus said henceforth I call you friends. Not servants.

A personal relationship with God is sorely missing from the lives of God's people today, and they desperately need to be led back to that wonderful, personal state of daily walking with God by us pastors. And I'll be hung for a sheep thief before I let false teachers, cowards and fools rob me of another beautiful, necessary truth from scripture to give to His people

So yes. I myself use the phrase. Heavily.

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35 minutes ago, weary warrior said:

A personal relationship with God is sorely missing from the lives of God's people today, and they desperately need to be led back to that wonderful, personal state of daily walking with God by us pastors. And I'll be hung for a sheep thief before I let false teachers, cowards and fools rob me of another beautiful, necessary truth from scripture to give to His people

Amen and amen. I agree wholeheartedly.

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Paul Christian,

Of course you are right that works have nothing to do with being saved.  Any who put their trust in works are following a different gospel.  If the relationship language implies works, then i will be cautious about using it.  Be assured, i do not hear voices in my head.  However, i do trust that He is with me always and that is a great feeling.

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