What Does It Mean to Have a Personal Relationship With Jesus?

George Sweeting
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Have you decided to follow Jesus? What does it mean to be a Christian and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

What You Have Done

You, my friend, have taken a life-changing step. You have decided to begin a new life. God has become your heavenly Father, and you are now His child; a wonderful eternal relationship has begun. it is really a brand-new beginning. in the words of Jesus, you have been “born again.”

Possibly you feel helpless to explain what has taken place. a new sense of freedom is yours. You are something like a happy child let loose in a big park. Practically everything is touched with divine newness, and it is delicious. You now have a new hope, a new outlook, and a new attitude toward everything.

Do not be perplexed by what you have experienced, for this is wonderfully normal and right. The apostle Paul puts it this way: “. . . if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). when you receive Jesus Christ, you become a brand-new person. You came alive spiritually!

When you become a Christian, you acknowledge three vital truths. Let’s explore them.

1. You have acknowledged your need as a sinner.

What is this decision that you have made? You have acknowledged that you were wrong and that God is right. You have agreed with God that you yourself are spiritually bankrupt. You have told the Lord of the poverty of your soul. earnestly you have prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13 ESV). Your first step was to acknowledge your need as a sinner.

Dead and lost are the two Bible words used to describe your past life. Dead things can’t grow. You do not grow into grace; you grow once you are in it. nothing is so completely helpless as that which is dead, and as far as God is concerned, all people through natural birth are spiritually dead. The Bible describes your spiritual transformation this way: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Your life has been changed from a dead to a living state in Christ. God has touched your life and imparted divine life—His life—eternal life. This decision is really a life-changing decision.

Lost is a descriptive word. The Bible states, “For the son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Without Christ we are lost like sheep without a shepherd—helpless, hopeless, and defenseless; we are lost like the prodigal son—separated, destitute, and disgraced. By your decision you have been changed from a lost to a found condition, changed from an enemy of God to a friend of God, changed from a stranger to a child of God. Your salvation is revolutionary.

“Our basic need is the forgiveness of sin. God’s provision for our need is found in the death of Jesus Christ.”

Seneca, the roman philosopher, said, “We have all sinned, some more, some less.” Coleridge, the great thinker, confessed, “I am a fallen creature.” T. S. Eliot’s character Cecilia Copplestone talks about her “awareness of solitude” and “a sense of sin.” John Stott, prior to his conversion, wrote to a friend and confessed, “I know the kind of person that I want to be. But I feel defeated. I fall short of my own ideals.” The Bible plainly says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV).

2. You have acknowledged Jesus Christ as your Savior.

The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to meet our basic need. Christ was born to die. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15 KJV). This purpose was accomplished when He died on the cross. repeatedly, Jesus told His disciples of His intended death. on the night of His betrayal by Judas, He broke bread with His disciples. Plainly, He explained to them the purpose of the cross. “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Paul simply and clearly wrote, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Isaiah prophetically penned, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Our basic need is the forgiveness of sin. God’s provision for our need is found in the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the sinless son, fully and completely bore the sins of the world. He took upon Himself our sin. The gospel is the good news of what God has done through Christ to forgive our sins.

Recognizing Christ as God’s answer, that He died in your place, you have come asking forgiveness for all your sins. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). in a definite act of faith, you have pledged your allegiance to Christ. at that moment, Jesus became your savior, and God forgave your sins.

The word confess is interesting. it simply means “to speak the same thing.” It means “to agree or acknowledge.” You have first acknowledged your need as a sinner, but you have secondly acknowledged Jesus Christ as your personal savior and Lord. what have you done? You “have believed” (John 20:29).

3. You are now beginning to acknowledge Jesus Christ before others.

You may ask, “Do I have to publicly confess Christ?” I must answer, “Yes, Jesus Christ requests a public confession.” and I might ask, “How can we help it?”

Jesus plainly said, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). If you have sincerely trusted Christ, you will want to tell others about it. This new life will be obvious, for “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).

Some new Christians try to be “secret” believers, but this is unwise and wrong. Imagine Dr. Jonas Salk keeping his polio vaccine a secret! This would have been criminal. So, too, a knowledge of God’s salvation places us in debt to the whole world.

Both Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea tried to be secret disciples. It took Jesus’ death to bring them to the place of openly begging His body from Pilate. The Scripture record is clear: “After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury” (John 19:38–40).

“Do not let your fear of others rob you of the joy of open allegiance.”

Do not let your fear of others rob you of the joy of open allegiance. it is sin to be silent when to confess would help another.

To be ashamed of Christ is a sad experience. it implies carelessness and failure on our part. it dishonors Christ and brings personal defeat. if Jesus Christ were ashamed of you and me, which we could easily understand; but for men and women to be ashamed of Christ is difficult to comprehend.

Ashamed of Christ? We must never be. Repeatedly we are encouraged in scripture to confess Christ openly and not be ashamed. Jesus said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). To be reproached for Christ now is to be rewarded later. At times we may be called upon to share in Christ’s sufferings. This really implies that He and we are together. “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed” (1 Peter 4:16), writes Peter.

I have found that failure to acknowledge Jesus often results in careless living, whereas a public commitment puts one on record before God and man. The fact that others know of your decision will help guard you against temptation.

Yes, your decision is a life-changing one. With Philip Doddridge you can say:

O happy day that fixed my choice
On thee, my Saviour and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away!

Yes, your decision has begun a happy, lasting change. You are ready to build a new life for the glory of God.

For Further Reading:

How to Begin the Christian Life

by George Sweeting

How to Begin the Christian Life has helped tens of thousands begin their Christian lives. Now let it help you or someone you know. Are you...

book cover for How to Begin the Christian Life