Tuesday, October 3, 2017
A Personal Relationship with God?
Nowhere in the Bible does it say we are saved through a personal relationship with God. In fact, the word relationship is not even found in the Bible. Obviously, the concept of a relationship between God and man is there because the Bible teaches that we should love God and have fellowship with him, but there is a difference between being saved and having a relationship with God. Using the word “relationship” when referring to salvation is problematic because it implies that being saved is an ongoing process.
Whenever people come at me with this “personal relationship” thing, I talk about the fact that I have a relationship with my wife and that it takes work. If either of us stops putting forth an effort, we won’t have a proper relationship, but that doesn’t mean we are no longer married. In fact, we could be legally married and have no relationship at all. Another example I use is the relationship between a parent and child. If one of my children grows up and wants nothing to do with me, I might no longer have a relationship with that child, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are still my son or daughter.
We are born into God’s family by faith, not works, and because we have a free will, a relationship is optional. God created us to have fellowship with him, and if we don’t have that fellowship, we will be punished, but we can't lose our salvation.
Salvation is a free gift, but our walk with the Lord takes work. It’s a daily thing. There will be times when you are out of fellowship with him because of unconfessed sin, and you’ll need to take care of that in order to restore the relationship.
“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:6-9
People have a hard enough time grasping the simplicity of salvation, and using unbiblical terms will further confuse the issue. When we knock on doors and ask people if they know for sure they are on their way to Heaven, they’ll often say, “Yeah, I pray every day.” The reason they think that will get them to Heaven is that they sit in a liberal church and constantly hear that "you need to have a personal relationship with Christ to be saved.”
A lot of people feel like they already have a relationship with God, but we need to make it clear that they need to put all their faith in Jesus Christ to be saved. Using Bible words like “saved” and “born again” makes it easier to explain to people that salvation is a one-time event and that it’s all by faith.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9
Here is a sermon to go with this article.