There is no end to misinformed and misguided people who say things about the Bible and Christ, while having no real education in the scriptures. This morning I read a post on Twitter by a man who stated: “I will give $1M to the first person who can show me the scripture that says we must have a “personal relationship with Jesus” for salvation. $2 M if you can show me the verse that requires we “make a decision for Christ” for salvation.”
At first I thought that this post was from an atheist, for they often say things of this nature and they rarely have any knowledge about the scriptures to support their allegations. As I clicked on the Twitter Feed of this man, I was surprised to learn that he claims to be a follower of Jesus!
Had this been a post by an atheist I would have ignored it as I do most of their statements. Understanding that this came from someone who claims to know Jesus, but seems to know nearly nothing about the fundamentals of the Bible, I took up the challenge.
It is hard enough in this present world where many do not believe in Jesus, without reading comments from someone who claims to know Jesus but states such foolishness. Statements like these from person who claim to be a Christian, while denying the fundamentals of faith, cause people to turn away from Christ, not draw near to Him.
Is A Personal Relationship And A Decision Necessary?
The idea that a person does not have to have a personal relationship with Jesus, is preposterous. Even more absurd is the second statement that we do not have to make a decision for Christ. This man may believe these two are true, but by stating that the Bible does not say these things, he is asserting that both are not true. It is not the opinions of people that hold authority in this world, but every word, principle, and precept of scripture that is all “God Breathed,” that is the final authority.
Some people use similar logic in other statements they make about scripture. “The word Rapture is not in the Bible,” is a common assertion made by people who claim to follow Jesus, but do not know what the word of God says. When we read the texts that Paul wrote concerning this event in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we find that Jesus had told Paul that He would return and take Christians out of the world before the wrath of the Tribulation begins. Although the word “Rapture” does not appear in the English text, it does appear in the Latin translation, “Rapturo.”
Lacking education in the scriptures, some Christians have objected to this doctrine simply because the word is not in the text. The same has occurred concerning this man who claims to be a Christian, but doesn’t know what the Bible teaches. He really thinks that if the Bible doesn’t specifically say “you must have a personal relationship with Jesus,” or “you must make a decision for Christ,” that the Bible doesn’t teach these doctrines.
It is important to understand that it is the principles and precepts of scripture that teach the truths of God, not always the specific words. Often the words and phrases we use today to describe certain principles of Christianity, came from precepts that are laid out for us without the specific words or phrases we give for these precepts in our modern language.
Not in every case do the precise words we use in English, appear in the original Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or other languages. What is important, and what does appear in the text, is what the verses are saying in their literal meaning.
It is not necessary that God use the precise words that we are looking for when He states a principle or precept. The idea that we do not need to have a personal relationship with Jesus or that scripture does not declare this anywhere, as this man, steve, asserts, is a lie.
Jesus described the need for everyone who believes in Him, to have a personal relationship with Him. Without this personal relationship,a person cannot be saved, because Jesus does not know them:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ~Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)
Jesus made it very clear that personal relationship with Him is essential to our salvation. Jesus said that when He comes again many people will claim that they did all sorts of things for Him, but He will say to them, “I never knew you.” The Greek word here, γινώσκω ginōskō, is used here denoting a personal relationship where a person is known by personal experience, not simply by an intellectual knowledge. It could not be any clearer: Jesus said that unless we have a deep and personal relationship with Him, we are not His, and are not saved.
That We Might Be One
A second principle of the scriptures is the intimate and personal nature of Jesus’ relationship with those who have believed in Him and follow Him. John chapter 17 is Jesus’ prayer to the Father, just prior to His arrest at Gethsemane, and His eventual crucifixion, and resurrection. I personally consider this chapter the most important in the Gospels because of the personal nature of what Jesus prayed.
Jesus makes it clear that His goal, as is the goal of the Father and the Holy Spirit, is that we might all be One as He, the Father, and the Spirit are one. Jesus describes Himself as “in us,” and we are “in Him. These are literal texts that described the most intimate and personal relationship that is possible. When two or more people become so close by their personal relationships with each other, that they are in total agreement in all their will, mind, purposes, and work, they become One.
It is this Unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons who are united as One in all things, that allows them to be One God. The Bible is not seeking to explain the mathematics of these three persons, but to define their Unity of all things. Father, Son, and Spirit achieve this Oneness by their personal relationship with each other, Ginosko, whereby they have an intimate relationship be personal experience.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us…” ~John 17:20-21 (NKJV)
The Greek word used here by Jesus in stating “one,” is εἷς heis, literally one person in every aspect. In Greek thinking, the use of this word εἷς heis, denotes a complete personal relationship that requires intimate knowledge by experience and commitment. This is the very essence of personal relationship. Jesus is saying in His prayer to the Father that those who believe in Him, that they might be One with Him, in the same way that He is One with the Father, and the Spirit. A personal relationship is therefore, imperative to our salvation. Without personal relationship with Christ, no one is saved.
It is the desire of Jesus that those who believe in Him, would also be in this deep state of personal relationship with Him, as He is with the Father and the Spirit. Statements to the contrary, as with this man, do not create unity in the Body of Christ, but cause fractures and some people to stop believing. Jesus hates this sort of speech, and He stands in opposition to those who create disunity by stating such things.
Do We Need To Make A Decision For Jesus?
When we consider this question, we don’t really need anyone to clarify whether this is true. Basic logic demands that in order to trust Christ for our salvation we must make a decision either to trust or not trust. The very idea that a person could receive salvation through Jesus without making a sincere decision for Him, is utter lunacy.
Jesus is never seen in the New Testament as forcing Himself upon anyone. We see Jesus presenting the truth of who He is, and stating that repentance from sin and turning to Him is necessary, but then He allows each person decide for themselves.
“…unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” ~Luke 13:3 (NKJV)
When the rich young ruler came to Jesus, there was a discussion over the righteousness of this young man in keeping the laws that deal with people. When Jesus confronted him on his lack of relationship with God, ie, placing his material wealth above God, the young man could not make a decision to sell them all and follow Jesus.
It is likely that had this young man made a committed decision to follow Jesus—at all costs, including selling all he owned—Jesus would have told him that this was no longer necessary. By his willingness to sell all he owned, the young man proved that God was now first in his life.
It was a decision to follow Jesus with all of his heart, that was required of this young man, and he was not willing to do this. The text states that the young man walked away from Jesus and was not saved, because he owned many things and was not willing to make a decision to give it all up to follow Jesus.
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. ~Matthew 19:21-22 (NLT)
Jesus called this rich young ruler to make a decision to follow Him and when examined, the young man was not able. This is a clear call by Jesus to make a decision to follow Him, one that is necessary for anyone to be saved.
Scriptures Which Prove A Decision Is Necessary
Regarding the decision of every person for or against Jesus, the following are some of the scripture references which state clearly that each person must decide for or against Jesus.
“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” ~Matthew 12:30 (NLT)
“I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” ~Luke 13:3 (NKJV)
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” ~Matthew 6:24 (NLT)
“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” ~Luke 11:23 (NLT)
These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us. ~1 John 2:19 (NLT)
“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” ~Revelation 3:15-16 (NLT)
The Necessity Of Making a Decision To Serve The Lord In The Old Testament
Even in the Old Testament we see clearly that God called all those who would look to Him for their salvation, to choose who they were going to serve. One of the clearest of scriptures is found with Joshua who challenged the people to make a decision either for the Lord or against Him. Here in this text, the “Lord” whom Joshua is describing in this text from the Old Testament, is the same Lord we see in Christ Jesus in the New Testament.
But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. ~Joshua 24:15 (NLT)
This is a brief essay for the principles of salvation that require a personal relationship with Christ, and that we make a sincere decision for Christ before God will appropriate salvation and the forgiveness of sins to our record.
- There is No Salvation, Without Repentance
- Salvation Without Baptism, Altar Call, or Church Membership
- Who God Has Chosen For Salvation: Everyone
Categories: Causing Division in Jesus Church, Chosen/ Elected, Complicating a Relationship with God, Following Jesus, Living For Jesus, Not understanding salvation, Pleasing the Lord, Pretend Believers, Reasons For Unbelief, Robert Clifton Robinson, Studying the Word of God, True Repentance