A personal relationship with Jesus


#1

I am curious about the meaning of a personal relationship with Jesus, I have been asked about mine, and while I feel I have a relationship with Christ it may not be the same thing. As a little background, I have worked with a member of a local Assembly of God who professes a deep personal relationship with Jesus, he is well versed in scripture and he speaks about the lord with fire and enthusiasm. Anyway, I understand that this is a very charismatic congregation, (speaking in tongues, discernment, prophesy, etc), and I think through that he has formed a somewhat invincible mentality when it comes to anything he "knows" from his personal relationship. Over the past 18 months working together I have seen and discussed some very uncharitable and prideful behavior which make me wonder about his relationship with the Lord. He feels he is absolutely guided by the Holy Spirit and has even conversed with Jesus, yet his behavior is contrary to what I would expect. (ie, no virtue of patience,wisdom, or charity) So my question is: Is there a danger in promoting the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus too strongly. When not properly formed, might it lead to a certain amount of hubris that can easily lead a person astray, especially if its not measured against anything but personal belief?


#2

I have felt similar things. When I was in High School, years ago, I knew a lot of the “Christian” crowd. (quotation marks for two reasons. First, often some people call themselves Christian in an exclusive way against other people of faith, like us. Second, sometimes they don’t always act Christian, like you demonstrated) In all that time, and years later in reflection, I think I may be approaching why they can be that way.

I think it has to do with two doctrines, the first being Sola Fide. It essentially says that by faith alone we are saved. I think that though they would never say it, it is essentially writing a blank check on the way they treat other people. In a nutshell, it is faith alone that saves, and nothing we can actually do has any effect on salvation.

The other one is that they often believe “Once Saved, Always Saved.” (OSAS) Why worry about charatibility when you are already “saved.” On top of that, isn’t even saying that you are saved amazingly prideful. Think about it, isn’t a claim like that making themselves God.

I do have problems with the emphasis on a personal relationship with Christ. Though I have a relationship with him, I feel that it is a over simplification on salvation.


#3

The concept of personal relationships is contrary to Christian teaching. When you love Jesus, it is never about you or him. Someone told me (an Evangelical) that the relationship is personal because for example, she can't make her parents love Jesus. Its their personal choice to accept Jesus or not. My response was, yes, while it is true that she cannot make her parents love Jesus, she cannot love Jesus without loving her parents. Loving God is not just about you and Him because Him means everybody. God has commanded us to love Him above all. And to love God is to love our parents, our neighbors, the least of our brethren, even our enemies. So how is that personal?


#4

[quote="sulliaa8, post:1, topic:282627"]
I am curious about the meaning of a personal relationship with Jesus, I have been asked about mine, and while I feel I have a relationship with Christ it may not be the same thing. As a little background, I have worked with a member of a local Assembly of God who professes a deep personal relationship with Jesus, he is well versed in scripture and he speaks about the lord with fire and enthusiasm. Anyway, I understand that this is a very charismatic congregation, (speaking in tongues, discernment, prophesy, etc), and I think through that he has formed a somewhat invincible mentality when it comes to anything he "knows" from his personal relationship. Over the past 18 months working together I have seen and discussed some very uncharitable and prideful behavior which make me wonder about his relationship with the Lord. He feels he is absolutely guided by the Holy Spirit and has even conversed with Jesus, yet his behavior is contrary to what I would expect. (ie, no virtue of patience,wisdom, or charity) So my question is: Is there a danger in promoting the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus too strongly. When not properly formed, might it lead to a certain amount of hubris that can easily lead a person astray, especially if its not measured against anything but personal belief?

[/quote]

You can ask your friend to point out in the Bible where it says anything about having a personal relationship with Jesus, and what that means, or how to achieve it. I have never seen that terminology used in scripture. Someone made it up not too long ago.

Second, you might ask him if a person were to eat the flesh of Jesus and drink His blood would that constitute having a personal relationship with Jesus.

Although nothing in the Bible mentions having a peronal realtionship with Jesus, eating His body and drinking His blood sounds pretty personal, and in the Bible Jesus tells us to do this.

He says He is the bread come down from heaven, that His flesh is REAL food, and His blood is REAL drink. He says unless a man easts His flesh and drinks His blood he has no life in Him.

There it is in your friend's Bible he is so well versed in. It is plain as day. There is no terminology about a personal relationship with Jesus. They made it up. On the other hand the thing the Bible does clearly say we are to do to establish and govern our relationship with God and that the Church Jesus founded has always believed from the beginning they deny.


#5

The danger is that many evangelicals believe in only a personal relationship. EVERY relationship is a personal relationship. But Christianity is not just a personal relationship but a communal one. It's a family bond. Reducing it to just 'me and God' removes the entire family of God that is given you when you come under the covenant. It's also important to note that the sign of the covenant, IS the Eucharist. We must, and Jesus demands it of us. He doesn't say it's a good idea. He doesn't say if you want to Eat my body and blood.. he says you MUST or you have no life.


#6

I've never understood how you can have a personal relationship with Jesus. We are so imperfect and mortal; Jesus is the exact opposite. I don't feel any connection with him at all, apart from wanting to do the right things in this life to avoid his wrath (God's wrath, but Jesus is, of course, God).
That sounds really negative, doesn't it? It's just that we hear so often about the loving God that I think we are forgetful of the God who will punish.


#7

[quote="bmullins, post:5, topic:282627"]
The danger is that many evangelicals believe in only a personal relationship. EVERY relationship is a personal relationship. But Christianity is not just a personal relationship but a communal one. It's a family bond. Reducing it to just 'me and God' removes the entire family of God that is given you when you come under the covenant. It's also important to note that the sign of the covenant, IS the Eucharist. We must, and Jesus demands it of us. He doesn't say it's a good idea. He doesn't say if you want to Eat my body and blood.. he says you MUST or you have no life.

[/quote]

I like your observation about the Family of God. Good point.


#8

I have found that when talking to people who say they have "a personal relationship with Jesus" they totally reject the idea that there is a roll for "the church/regilion". I think this is why so many people church hop. They go to a church that agrees with them.


#9

[quote="hansard, post:6, topic:282627"]
I've never understood how you can have a personal relationship with Jesus. We are so imperfect and mortal; Jesus is the exact opposite. I don't feel any connection with him at all, apart from wanting to do the right things in this life to avoid his wrath (God's wrath, but Jesus is, of course, God).

[/quote]

This is probably not a healthy view. As with the saints, we must do good out of love for God, not simply out of an unhealthy fear of being punished. This is not perfect love.
Jesus said that we are to live more abundantly, that we could be set free from sin to love as God intended for us to love. This communion with God, and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, is our personal relationship with God.

That sounds really negative, doesn't it? It's just that we hear so often about the loving God that I think we are forgetful of the God who will punish.

This is true but there must be a balance. We must be willing to warn others about the fate of the unrepentant, and yet we cannot use fear to simply coerce them into believing. Hopefully those who live in sin will recognize how much better life with Jesus would be.


#10

The evangelical concept of a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus, is modern Western, individualistic terminology unknown to the writers of Scripture and the early Church.
Our relationship with Jesus is intensely personal. That is true, but it is not exclusive.
The often cited verse for this is when Paul said ‘Christ in you, the hope of Glory’.
The problem is that in the Greek that Paul used it is plural, not singular.
It should read ‘Christ in YOU ALL, the hope of Glory.’ The Church is not made up of isolated individuals, but members of the mystical body of Christ Himself. Paul said we are “members one to another”.
Here is what evangelicals must wrestle with:
Jesus gave two very clear commands to His Church, Baptism and the Eucharist.
One cannot baptize oneself, it requires another person. Recieving the Eucharist requires another person, even if its a priest to a shut-un.
Christianity is corparate, not individualistic.
There was an old evangelical hymn called 'Me and Jesus on the Jerico road', or something like that. Giving the impression that our relationship with Christ is exclusive to an individual person. That is why they think they can 'worship at home' in the privacy of their living room listening to a preacher or sacred hymns.
Jesus gave a very clear worship COMMAND that requires other human beings. Not a 'Lone Ranger' christianity.
Catholics have a personal relationship with Christ. We know Him as Lord and Savior, we are members of His Body (how much more personal can one get?), we pray to Him, we worship Him, we adore Him, we seek to follow Him.
More importantly, receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ into our very person is pretty darn personal.
Interestingly, normally speaking, a marriage is not valid until it is consumnated.

John 6:53-56 (RSV) So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

So, can Protestants have a personal relationship with Jesus if they never partake of His Body and Blood?


#11

[quote="grandfather, post:4, topic:282627"]
You can ask your friend to point out in the Bible where it says anything about having a personal relationship with Jesus, and what that means, or how to achieve it. I have never seen that terminology used in scripture. Someone made it up not too long ago.

Second, you might ask him if a person were to eat the flesh of Jesus and drink His blood would that constitute having a personal relationship with Jesus.

Although nothing in the Bible mentions having a peronal realtionship with Jesus, eating His body and drinking His blood sounds pretty personal, and in the Bible Jesus tells us to do this.

He says He is the bread come down from heaven, that His flesh is REAL food, and His blood is REAL drink. He says unless a man easts His flesh and drinks His blood he has no life in Him.

There it is in your friend's Bible he is so well versed in. It is plain as day. There is no terminology about a personal relationship with Jesus. They made it up. On the other hand the thing the Bible does clearly say we are to do to establish and govern our relationship with God and that the Church Jesus founded has always believed from the beginning they deny.

[/quote]

A Jesuit priest preached our parish mission this past March. In one of his homilies, he recounted a time when an evangelical Christian tried to evangelize him, asking if he had a personal relationship with Jesus. The priest said, "Yes, but I don't want one." The evangelical was very puzzled and asked why. He continued, "What I desire is union with Christ...to be joined with him and be completely configured to his will and likeness...and this is accomplished by receiving him into myself through the Eucharist. Like an old married couple that has loved each other for so long that they have each become like the other, and you can't think of one without thinking of the other."

We have something beyond a personal relationship :)


#12

[quote="AlwaysCurious, post:11, topic:282627"]
A Jesuit priest preached our parish mission this past March. In one of his homilies, he recounted a time when an evangelical Christian tried to evangelize him, asking if he had a personal relationship with Jesus. The priest said, "Yes, but I don't want one." The evangelical was very puzzled and asked why. He continued, "What I desire is union with Christ...to be joined with him and be completely configured to his will and likeness...and this is accomplished by receiving him into myself through the Eucharist. Like an old married couple that has loved each other for so long that they have each become like the other, and you can't think of one without thinking of the other."

We have something beyond a personal relationship :)

[/quote]

That is extreamly profound and so very true! Perfectly stated!
Got to love them Jesuits! :wink:


#13

I am so very glad that this thread was started. I am Protestant studying Catholicism and attending Mass with my husband. This subject has always alluded me as to how do you have a relationship with him? Having come out of the charismatic movement I found that so many believe that you experience his presence in the worship, or music service, when there is heightened emotion and manipulation going on. That warm fuzzy, goosebumps feeling is what they liken the presence of God being.
However, having attended Mass where the real presence is I have found it to be totally different. But still I have not completely understood this having a personal relationship.
This is a very good thread and I am thankful for the godly, solid answers that have been given.


#14

[quote="hockeyfan, post:2, topic:282627"]
Though I have a relationship with him, I feel that it is a over simplification on salvation.

[/quote]

Absolutely, I always felt it implies a destination has been reached that is only reached at death. In the mean time its a work in progress.

[quote="bmullins, post:5, topic:282627"]
Christianity is not just a personal relationship but a communal one. It's a family bond. Reducing it to just 'me and God' removes the entire family of God that is given you when you come under the covenant.

[/quote]

[quote="JustaServant, post:10, topic:282627"]
The evangelical concept of a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus, is modern Western, individualistic terminology unknown to the writers of Scripture and the early Church.
Our relationship with Jesus is intensely personal. That is true, but it is not exclusive.
The often cited verse for this is when Paul said ‘Christ in you, the hope of Glory’.
The problem is that in the Greek that Paul used it is plural, not singular.
It should read ‘Christ in YOU ALL, the hope of Glory.’ The Church is not made up of isolated individuals, but members of the mystical body of Christ Himself. Paul said we are “members one to another”.

[/quote]

So true. We are a flock not a collection of individual sheep. I know Christ left the flock to come get me , and the angels did rejoice, but I am part of the entire flock now. Sometimes it seems a personal relationship equates to special treatment./ privilege.

[quote="AlwaysCurious, post:11, topic:282627"]
A Jesuit priest preached our parish mission this past March. In one of his homilies, he recounted a time when an evangelical Christian tried to evangelize him, asking if he had a personal relationship with Jesus. The priest said, "Yes, but I don't want one." The evangelical was very puzzled and asked why. He continued, "What I desire is union with Christ...to be joined with him and be completely configured to his will and likeness...and this is accomplished by receiving him into myself through the Eucharist. Like an old married couple that has loved each other for so long that they have each become like the other, and you can't think of one without thinking of the other."

We have something beyond a personal relationship :)

[/quote]

Thats BEAUTIFUL!, I have never heard it put that way.

Thank you for the replies and the insight from everyone. I think the way it makes the most sense to me is, that I don't just want to hold Christ's hand I want to be held inside Christ. I don't need a personal relationship per se, but I strive for perfect union. I am not too eloquent, but this works for me!

Thank you CAF!

Fratus tuus in Christo


#15

[quote="plainatheart71, post:13, topic:282627"]
I am so very glad that this thread was started. I am Protestant studying Catholicism and attending Mass with my husband. This subject has always alluded me as to how do you have a relationship with him? Having come out of the charismatic movement I found that so many believe that you experience his presence in the worship, or music service, when there is heightened emotion and manipulation going on. That warm fuzzy, goosebumps feeling is what they liken the presence of God being.
However, having attended Mass where the real presence is I have found it to be totally different. But still I have not completely understood this having a personal relationship.
This is a very good thread and I am thankful for the godly, solid answers that have been given.

[/quote]

Just wait till you are able to receive Him. Now many people that are Catholic or not (ones who have taken Him wrongly) will say they don't get anything from the Eucharist. Now this would be true because they where taken Him in error or sin. the only time He works in you is, when one comes to Him, clean from sin. When I was away from the Church and would receive Him but it didn't do anything for me. Then when I was pulled back to the Church and desired to be in union with Her, I went to confession. Then I received Him and I could feel Him working in me or on me you could say. I loved it so much I went to daily Mass for around 6 months strait. Now today I am still growing but after that personal experience with Him, I can't or won't ever go back being away from the Eucharist.


#16

I thought this was an interesting writing from someone on the internet. I am an evangelical Christian so I am not sure I agree with the author's assumption of evangelicals. However, it makes for an interesting read. I hope it's okay to post this. I am not referencing the website or attempting to proselytize at all but simply offering out another's point of view to consider. Feel free to pick apart! (sorry for the long post...about 3 posts worth)

A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST
If you were asked to choose one of the following phrases to complete the sentence, which would you choose?

To be a Christian is...

(1) to believe that Jesus was born, lived, died, and was raised from the dead?
(2) to accept that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ in order to reconcile all men with Himself?
(3) to receive Jesus and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

Option #1 - has to do with the historical Jesus and the events of His life in the first century.
Option #2 - has to do with the theology of Jesus which explains incarnation and Christology.
Option #3 - has to do with the personal, subjective experience of Jesus.

There really should be a fourth option: (4) All of the above. The objective historical foundation and theological formulation are essential prerequisites to the subjective relationship with Jesus. But if one's understanding of Christianity is comprised only of assent to the objective facts, and devoid of the subjective personal relationship with Jesus Christ, can such a person be considered a Christian?

What does it mean to have a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ"?

Evangelical Christians have often proclaimed and explained that to be a Christian is "to receive Jesus and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." Many who have heard that proclamation have not been able to understand what evangelical Christians mean by that phrase. Is it possible for the non-Christian, the natural man, to understand or comprehend the meaning of that phrase?

The natural man can understand "religion" * how religious organizations function, how they solicit finances, how they utilize propaganda to get their message out. The natural man can understand rational assent to religious tenets, propositions, principles, statements of history, theology, and doctrine. The natural man can understand adherence to a belief-system, or devotion to an ideology or an organization. The natural man can understand "spirituality" if it is defined as the serenity of "well-being", or devotion to a meaningful cause, or the recollection of an ecstatic experience, or conformity to a moral ideal.

But is it possible for the natural man, the non-Christian, to understand what it means to "have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ"? The Apostle Paul explained that "the natural man cannot understand spiritual things" (I Cor. 2:14). Is "having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ" a spiritual reality that requires the presence and appraisal of the Spirit of Christ to understand what it means? If so, is it possible to adequately explain the meaning of this reality to a non-Christian?

A philosophy student, with whom I had an acquaintance, was very brilliant, well-read and articulate. He was willing and desirous of considering the facts of Christian history and theology under the microscope of human reason. But with a sneer and derisive comments full of scorn, he would mock and make deprecatory comments about those who referred to a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ." Why? This was outside of his ability to understand on a purely rational, philosophical and scientific level.

In our attempt to explain the phrase and its meaning we will consider the individual words of the phrase: (1) Relationship. (2) Personal. (3) Jesus Christ.

RELATIONSHIP - In its broadest sense this simply means that one object has a connection or correlation with another object. The relation of this to that. Mathematically, it may be the relationship of x to y. Geometrically, it may be the angle of relationship between one line and another line. Mechanically, it may be the relationship of the clutch to the drive shaft of an automobile, or one part of a machine to another part. Cosmologically, it may the relationship of earth to the sun; or even more extensively it may be the relation or relationship of everything in the universe to a constant (such as the speed of light within a vacuum), which is how Einstein developed his "Theory of Relativity", which was essentially a theory of relationship.

The above mentioned relationships are all impersonal relationships. As it is our objective to understand a personal relationship, we must explore what that means.

A personal relationship must involve at least one person. The first dictionary meaning of "personal" is defined as "how something relates to or affects a person." With this broad definition, a person can have a "personal relationship" with anything that affects or relates to them * a dog, a tree, a flower, a bottle of beer, etcetera ad infinitum.

An individual person might consider the historical evidence of a particular event or person, and then relate such to their own situation. Is that a personal relationship? An individual person might develop ideas into a logical explanation of how they fit together and function. Is that a personal relationship with a particular ideology? Can one have a personal relationship with history? ...philosophy? ...theology? If a person associates themself with, or relates to, a particular social unit, such as an organization like a fraternity, is that a personal relationship? Does loyalty, adherence, commitment and dedication to a grouping of other persons constitute a personal relationship? What is a personal relationship?


#17

An individual person might consider the historical evidence of a particular event or person, and then relate such to their own situation. Is that a personal relationship? An individual person might develop ideas into a logical explanation of how they fit together and function. Is that a personal relationship with a particular ideology? Can one have a personal relationship with history? 
philosophy? 
theology? If a person associates themself with, or relates to, a particular social unit, such as an organization like a fraternity, is that a personal relationship? Does loyalty, adherence, commitment and dedication to a grouping of other persons constitute a personal relationship? What is a personal relationship?

Surely the reader can recognize that I am questioning whether the phrase “personal relationship”, as used in the evangelical terminology of contemporary religion, is but the personal affect that Christian history, theology and community have upon a person who consents and assents to relate to such. In its broadest definition this could be called a “personal relationship”; but are we content to accept that as the intent of the Christian relationship with Jesus Christ?

PERSONAL - How personal does the relationship have to be to be a personal relationship?

If you receive a loan from another individual, is there a personal relationship between the payer and the payee?

Is the legal and contractual relationship between an employer and employee a personal relationship?

Do you have a personal relationship with your great, great grandfather who may have died twenty years prior to your birth? Or is it just a biological and genealogical relationship of heritage?

Is it possible to have a personal relationship with George Washington or Napoleon Bonaparte?

Is there a necessary personal relationship between siblings within the same family? Does biological kinship establish a personal relationship?

Let me share a personal illustration: I have a sister. We are related. She is my relative. We have a genetic and biological relationship. Is that a personal relationship? I have not seen nor communicated with this sister for over twenty years, nor does she apparently ever desire to do so. Do we have a personal relationship?

We must admit that the broadest definition of a “personal relationship” allows for a unidirectional relationship whereby an individual person relates to an object, an idea, a cause, an image, a fantasy, a mental construct, or a person who is no longer living. A “personal relationship” also allows for a relationship of two or more persons that is merely contractual, biological or social.

But a “personal relationship” is also defined as a dynamic inter-relatedness between persons, an experiential relationship between two persons that involves subjective interaction and communication, a person-to-person relationship, the connection, correlation and interaction of at least two persons in what might be better termed an interpersonal relationship.

I have an interpersonal relationship with Joe, for example. We are friends. We interact. We communicate back and forth. Since Joe is a Christian, I have a different kind of interpersonal relationship with him than I would have with a non-Christian friend. With a Christian friend I have something in common that allows for communion and fellowship (koinonia), a communication based on our spiritual commonality in Christ; a deeper level of interpersonal interaction and communication than I could have with a person who was not spiritually one with me in Christ.

But every other interpersonal relationship that I might have is not on the same level of experiential interpersonal relationship that I have with my wife. The interaction of our interpersonal relationship as husband and wife involves a connection, a “knowing”, an intimacy, an “intercourse” (social and sexual) that is deeper than any other interpersonal relationship that I have. And the fact that she is a Christian wife allows a spiritual communion and oneness that makes our marital interpersonal relationship as deep as any human interpersonal relationship can be.

That is why the Apostle Paul uses the intimate interpersonal relationship of husband and wife as the best human and physical analogy to the interpersonal relationship of a Christian with Christ. (Ephesians 5:22-33). The closest oneness and intimacy of personal relationship on earth that can be used to picture and describe and explain the oneness and intimacy of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, is the marriage relationship.


#18

JESUS CHRIST - What then is a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ"? Or would we be better served to refer, instead, to an "interpersonal relationship with Jesus Christ", in order to avoid any idea that we are referring to an individual person relating to an object, an idea, a cause, an image, a fantasy, a mental construct, or a person that is no longer living?

Is a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" just a relation of our mental assent to an historical Jesus? Is a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" just an ideological relationship of belief based on the circumstantial evidence of reports that we can read in the Gospels of the New Testament? Is it possible to have an interpersonal relationship with an historical personage that lived hundreds of years ago? Is it possible to have a interpersonal relationship with a logical construct of theological tenets about God and His Son, Jesus Christ?

Or does an "interpersonal relationship with Jesus Christ" necessitate an experiential, interactive relationship that involves an inter-relatedness, a oneness, a union, a commonality of identity, an intimacy, a "knowing" that can only be likened to the marriage relationship on earth?

That would necessitate the recognition that the Jesus of history, who walked around Palestine over 1900 some years ago, is still alive as a living Person, though in a different form * in a spiritual form, and capable of interacting in an interpersonal relationship with human persons today. That is the message of the Christian gospel * that Jesus lived, was crucified on the cross, and was raised from the dead in the resurrection, and having ascended to God the Father, He was "poured out" and made available in spiritual form, as the "Spirit of Christ" (Rom. 8:9), in order to indwell the spirits of persons in every age, becoming one with them in spiritual union, and becoming the basis of their new spiritual identity, as they engage in a dynamic interpersonal relationship with the living Lord Jesus.

At this point we need to admit that even the reference to an interpersonal relationship with Jesus Christ might be inadequate. The marriage relationship that Paul employs in Eph. 5:22-33 breaks down in illustrating the relationship of Christ and the Christian because the relationship between the Christian the the living Lord Jesus is also an intrapersonal relationship, involving the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ within the spirit of the Christian.

In order for the Christian to have a dynamic interpersonal relationship with Jesus Christ it necessitated that Jesus be a living Person. That was facilitated by the historic resurrection of Jesus when He was raised from the dead on the third day to become the every-living Lord Jesus. In order for the Christian to have a spiritual intrapersonal relationship with Jesus Christ, it necessitated that Jesus be a Spirit-person. That was implemented by the Pentecostal outpouring of Jesus in Spirit-form when the Spirit of Christ became available to indwell the spirits of receptive individuals in every age as the life-giving Spirit (I Cor. 15:45).

This is why evangelical Christians employ the Biblical terminology of being "born again," to explain the living reality of the personal Spirit of Christ coming to dwell in the spirit of a receptive person in an intrapersonal relationship, and that to engage in a growing and developing interpersonal relationship whereby the living Lord Jesus functions in and through the Christian.

It is important to understand that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is not just an objective relationship to the benefits that Christ allegedly made available by His historical actions of death, burial and resurrection. Protestant Christian religion, in particular, has tended to objectify the relationship of the Christian to God and Christ in a forensic, juridical and legal framework that posits the relationship as but the "justification" of a right relationship with God the Judge in the heavenly realm. As a corollary, the relationship of the Christian with God has been viewed as a static "reconciliation" that is no more personal that "reconciling" one's financial books.

The intrapersonal and interpersonal relationship of the Christian with Jesus Christ must be recognized as a subjective, internal, spiritual reality, whereby an individual in any age receives the living Spirit of Christ into his or her spirit (Rom. 8:9), thus becoming a Christian, a Christ-one. That relationship must involve a dynamic sense of ontological interaction and communion, a living and functional communication.


#19

Granted, this explanation of a personal, intrapersonal and interpersonal relationship with Jesus Christ requires spiritual understanding that can only come by the presence of the Spirit of Christ within the spirit of a receptive person. (I Cor. 2:8-16). That is the difficulty Christians have in attempting to explain what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It cannot be understood until He, the Person of Christ, is received by faith. Then, we have the spiritual and relational understanding of regeneration and new birth (Jn. 3:1-6). Then, we can have the spiritual understanding of the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ within our spirit (Rom. 8:9); that the living Lord Jesus Christ is in us (Col. 1:27; II Cor. 13:5), and lives in us (Gal. 2:20) as our spiritual life (Col. 3:4). Then, we can begin to fathom that we are united in a spiritual oneness of union with Him (I Cor. 6:17). Then, we can begin to understand that we are new creatures (II Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), and that our identity is only "in Him" as Christ-ones, Christians * that who I am can only be explained on the basis of Who He is. Then, we can begin to understand the dynamic function of the Lordship of the Living Lord Jesus, not just as an assent to His being Lord, God, Deity, but as the acceptance of the fact that my life is no longer mine to determine, but is entirely as His disposal and determination.

(Of course, my life was really never mine to determine, anyway. I was just deceived into thinking that it was, and that I was an independent self-determining self. I am convinced that one of the major reasons why the natural man, as well as most religion, including evangelical Christian religion, does not understand what a personal, intrapersonal or interpersonal relationship with Jesus Christ involves, is because they do not understand or accept that the non-Christian, the unregenerate person, has a personal, intrapersonal and interpersonal relationship with Satan, the Evil One - Jn. 8:44; II Tim. 2:26; I Jn. 3:10. cf. The Natural Man.)

So, how do we as Christians attempt to explain that the Christian life is a personal, intrapersonal and interpersonal relationship with Jesus Christ?

We do not want to "fake people out" and offer them "religion" instead * membership, involvement, commitment, dedication. In much of Christian religion today people are told about a relationship to "churchianity" rather than Jesus Christ. They are introduced to the "fellowship of excitement" whereby people can "get all excited about Jesus"; hyped up and "high" on Jesus. They are introduced to "programs", the success of which is evaluated by the numbers of buildings, budgets and baptisms. They are introduced to the "escape hatch" whereby the penalty of sin can be removed, and a "fire insurance policy" of eternal assurance in heaven is offered. The past can be forgiven, the future can be assured * such an offer provides an impersonal relationship to sin and an impersonal relationship to a future destiny, but it does not adequately encompass a dynamic and living personal, intrapersonal, and interpersonal relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ in the present.

It is imperative that we, Christians, explain, as best we can by the empowering of the Spirit of Christ, how a personal, intrapersonal, and interpersonal relationship with Jesus Christ is initiated and functions. Only God can effect that relationship of Christ with another, as an individual chooses in the receptivity of faith to receive the living Spirit of Christ into his or her spirit.


#20

Forgot to include this from the article:
What does it mean to have a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ"?
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