What is A Personal Relationship With Christ?
Establishing the Relationship.
INTRODUCTION: Christians often refer to their relationship with Jesus Christ as a personal one. We say,"Jesus is my personal Savior" or " I have received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior." We in witnessing urge people to receive the Lord Jesus as "their personal Savior."
Often born again believers are criticized and ridiculed because they refer to their relation to Jesus Christ, their Savior as a personal one. I recently read part of an article titled "5 Reasons why people should not received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior." The author describes himself as a critic, Christ-follower, and coffee addict. He is a student at Asbury Theological Seminary. which is a United Methodist School. The UMC ordains women including gay and lesbians, is liberal in theology, believes in baptismal regeneration, and the unbiblical works plus grace for salvation. His error was concluding that the biblical Christian uses the term in making Jesus Christ to fit himself and ignoring that the term is addressing . That is not what true Christian understand the term personal Savior means. Nothing could be further from the understanding of a Christian who has believed and accepted Christ as his Savior and Lord. The term is addressing the personal relationship that a believer has with his God and Savior Jesus Christ. "Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?" (Jeremiah 23:23) God has promised to "Never leave or forsake us." Surely, that shows His personal concern from us.
Have we not read Psalm 23? The Lord is presented as our Shepherd ever tending to us. God says He:
"He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." (Psalms 23:3-6)
My question to those who belittle the believer who believes God's word and understands the close relationship of the child of God with his Savior, please explain to me why God is not our "personal Savior."
Last week we looked at what the Bible says about establishing a personal relationship with our Creator Jesus Christ.
The relationship begins with:
1. Our recognizing that we are the creation of God.
2. Hearing the Gospel that Jesus Christ, God incarnate in flesh came to earth and suffered and died for our sin.
3. Realizing this that we are sinners, we ask God to forgive our sins and give us eternal life.
4. The Lord then forgives our sins if we are sincere and it comes truly and honestly from the heart.
5. That establishes the relationship and a person becomes a child of God receiving salvation.
I. The Relationship Begins with the New Birth.
A. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18a "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. . ."
B. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, " Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
1. The new birth begins the relationship with God. It makes all things new.
2. We receive the new nature of God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
C. That is made possible because our personal relationship with Christ brings us a "new nature."
1. The new birth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit make our relationship possible.
2. A sinner receiving new life from God (John. 3:1-16) and being born into God's family (John. 1:12-13).
3. It is the Holy Spirit who imparts this new life
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)
D. The new birth gives us an eternal inheritance and we are preserved by God......READ (1 Peter. 1:3-5).
1. The child of God has full assurance of eternal life.
2. It is God Himself who keeps us saved.
E. The Child of God life is completely changed by the power of the indwelling Spirit (1 John. 3:14).
1. 1 John 3:14, tells us that the now child of God will love his brethren, meaning his brothers and sisters in Christ.
2. 1 John 5:2, further explains that a child of God will keep the Lord's commandments. In other words, a child of God will live like a child of God.
3. Can I ask you a question? How could God come in and live within a person and that person not be changed by His presence?
II. The Child of God has his citizenship changed. This world is no longer our home: Ephesians 2:19 says,
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."
ILLUS: Carolyn and I, lived in Germany for about two years. It was a beautiful country with green valley's and picturesque mountains. We really liked living there, but although we liked the country, it was not home. There was something missing. To us Germany was a foreign land and people. We were never comfortable there.....most of all we really looked forward to going home.
You see our parents were in North Carolina, our friends and those we loved. When we were born we became a native of the Coastal Plains of Eastern North Carolina. That cannot change and no matter where we go, because of our birth in the beautiful green and fertile plains of Eastern North Carolina, we will always be Tar Heels...born and breed!
As a born again child of God, now even though my human home is North Carolina, my real eternal home is in Heaven with my Lord and Savior.
1. Ephesians 3:15 explains, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named."(Ephesians 3:14-15) Note the verse says the whole family of God is called by His name.
2. First we are called by the name of God. A true Christian stands out in this world. Jesus in praying for said "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:14)
ILLUS: I am an Abrams. That is my family name. I have an uncle who was born to my grandfather, Cooper P. Abrams, Sr. When his mother died his aunt raised him and she was married to a man named Creekmore. He had his name changed from Abrams to Creekmore. He was a born an Abrams, but now he is officially a Creekmore because of his adoption.
III. The Child of God's relationship is person and also intimate relationship. . (Rom. 8:12-17 READ).
A. The believer has received the Spirit of Adoption and therefore we are on intimate terms with our Creator.
1. We have full privilege to address God as our Father. We can call Him, "Father" or "Dad." Only the child of a parent can do that. "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15) "Abba" is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; “father” expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child. Jesus used the term in Mark 14:36, "Abba, Father" showing more than a formal relationship, but an intimate and personal one. ( See Rom. 8:15) Paul explained this personal and special relationship in says to the Galatians "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Galatians 4:6) Certainly, a child has a personal relationship with their fathers. It is the closest of relationships of fathers and mothers to their offspring.
2. Note verse Romans 8:17, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
3. God tells us in Rom. 9:26, "And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God."
4. We are more that just "heirs." The child of God is a joint heir, which means both parties hold the inheritance in common and equally.
D. The Holy Spirit assists us in our prayers to our Father. Romans 8:26. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26) How can we who are mortal even know how to pray to Almighty God? God has made this personal provision for His children. The Holy Spirit intercede for us so our prayers are what they should be to the Lord.
1. You don't have to pester God to get his attention. You don't have to grovel. You don't have to flail yourself as some false man-made religions do. You don't have to bite your lip and groan and moan or any of these kinds of things people do to show God they really mean business. You need only to Him in sincerity expressing your need or praise.
2. Jesus explained this in Luke 11:9-13, Note verse 11. "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?" Note the relationship is expressed as a son asking this father.
3. If you ask and God says no then He knows that is best for you. Our complete trust in the Lord will help us to accept what is right for us. Without true faith in the Lord and understanding this principle we might grow disillusioned with God and sin against Him. We know that no matter what the circumstance, if we are truly trusting in Him, everything is all right and on course.
4. Praying it personally to talking to God. It is awful hard to have a close relationship with someone you never talk to. Many people today are finally getting alarmed about the breakdown in the family and the rebellion and destructive traits in today's youth. One thing most of them are saying that if parents talked with their children one on one, man to man if would help bring the family together. Husbands and wives to do talk and parents are too busy to talk to their children. You get to know someone when you talk with them. The bonding of a friendship and the establishment of trust can only come through personal communication between to parties.
"Let all multiplicity be absent from your prayer. A single word was enough for the publican and the prodigal son to receive God's pardon. ... Do not try to find exactly the right words for your prayer: how many times does the simple and monotonous stuttering of children draw the attention of their father! Do not launch into long discourses, for if you do, your mind will be dissipated trying to find just the right words. The publican's short sentence "Oh God be mercifully to me a sinner," moved God to mercy. A single word full of faith saved the thief on the cross." (John Climacus ).
E. God our Father also, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit guides us and superintends every aspect of our lives. (Romans 8:28)
1. Even the bad things that come in our lives are allowed by God and because of being a child of they have in the end a positive effect. This is hard to accept and to understand, but the reality is it is absolutely true.
2. James 1:2-5, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
3. What a tremendous promise God has given us! For those that love God all things work out for good.
F. God has given us this local assembly, this church as our temporary spiritual family till we be joined in eternity.
1. Eph. 4:11-16. The purpose of the Lord establishing the "ekklesia" is to bring us together that we be edified and grow in Christ.
2. "Edify" means to build up.
3. In Ephesians 5:22f the Lord uses the illustration of the church as the example of how a family should be. Let wives be subject to husbands and husbands loving their wives.
V30 says "For we are members of his body of his flesh, and of his bones."
Verse 32 refers to this as a great mystery and makes the point that a church is an example of a true family. The relationship between a husband and wife illustrates that which exists between Christ, the bridegroom, and the bride, the "ekklesia" (the assembly or congregation). A mystery in the Scriptures is something that has not earlier been revealed. It means this is a great now revealed truth of the closest of the relationship that believers have with the Savior.
1. Let me ask you a question? Does the Bible teach that those that by faith received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, repent of their sins and turn to Him, have a personal relationship with God?
The answer is a resounding YES. Thank God the answer is Yes...we are the sons and daughters of God who saved us.
Note what God says about this relationship and what it means.
1. Ephesians 3:6 "That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:"
2. Tit 3:7 "That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
3. James 2:5 "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"
4. 1 Peter 1:1-5 "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
5. That brings us to the final and vital point of this message. God had made possible for every person on earth to enter into a personal relationship to Him. A relationship of adoption, of those that believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to become the very children of God for all eternity.
6. Two responses this morning to these truth:
a. If you are not a child of God, then believe, repent of your sin and receive Christ as your Lord and Savior.
b. If you are a child of God, you believed and God made you His child, then live that God your Father would be proud of you and you would bring honor to Him.
It is a calloused, evil and selfish soul that will dishonor his parents. Many of loving mother and father have been dishonored and had their hearts broken by disobedient children.
ILLUS: Some years ago a young man walked into the capital and started shooting people. His parents were on television with tears in their eyes and broken hearts apologizing for their son's actions. It was a pitiful sight. I have watched parents pour out their hearts over rebellious children. What a heartache they are.
Yet, the parents love them. That cannot change. They stand ready and deeply desiring to forgive and help.
ILLUS: A couple of years ago I learned a little of what being a true parent is all about and I believe also the love of God for His children. I was in a Wal-Mart store with my grandson Michael. As I watched him going from item to item in the toy department it dawned on me that he really had no concept of our relationship. He was not aware of how much I loved him and wanted the very best for him. Anything within my power to give him, that would not be harmful to him...I would move heaven and earth to provide.
I believe that is the way God our Father looks at us....He surely wants for us the very best. Our responsibility to is love him back, to serve him and bring others into God's family.
Can a man have a personal relationship with God? Oh, yes in fact that is the only relationship we can have with Him. Thank God.