Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Be reconciled to God!

I am bothered by a phrase that has become such a cliché in the Christian community, yet, it is NOT found anywhere in scripture. The phrase is ‘I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ’. Nowhere in scripture does the Lord Jesus Christ command us to have a personal relationship with Him.
The word ‘relationship’ is defined as ‘a state of connectedness between people (especially an emotional connection)'. To be reconciled to a Holy God is more than a mere ‘emotional connection’. It involves a transformed life, a complete change from the inside out. This is not at all like any relationship known to man.
I do not find in scripture where Christ commands us to have a relationship with Him; we should desire to know this amazing God who saves, we should desire a certain intimacy with Him; but we must not confuse human terminology with what the Bible actually says…’be reconciled to God’. Below are passages concerning reconciliation…

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God”-2nd Corinthians 5:18-20

The definitions of 'reconcile' and 'favour' are...
Reconcile- Greek katallassō-return to favour with, be reconciled to one, to receive one into favour. From the root word allassō-to change, to exchange one thing for another, to transform.
Favour – Greek charis-good will, loving-kindness, favour-of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. {from blueletterbible.org}

Notice what the Apostle Paul states in verse 18, ‘hath given to us a ministry of reconciliation’; verse 19, ‘hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation’. The message of the cross is one of being reconciled to a Holy God through His Son. It isn’t a call for a ‘relationship’, as if Christ was our bff! We must not forget, God is exalted high above His creation, He is worthy of all glory and honor. We dare not lessen His sovereignty by using human terminology when referring to our being reconciled to Him. The Apostle Paul urges lost sinners to be reconciled, or returned to favour with, or get in right standing with a Holy God. He doesn’t encourage us to have a relationship, connection or experience with the Lord of all creation. Paul implores, encourages, beseeches those who are lost in sin to get in right standing with the Ancient of Days. By using ‘relationship’, which is human terminology, we ‘cheapen’ the reverence due a Sovereign God. We must bow the head and the knee to the Creator of all things; let’s not lose sight of who is deserving of our approaching the throne of grace with humility as well as boldness. Those who have been saved by His grace are now in right standing with the God of the universe; those in darkness must be urged by us to be reconciled to Almighty God. May we not lessen the severity of sin and the separation it causes, may we proclaim God’s truth as it is written!

17 comments:

Marie said...

Being in a right relationship to God is important, but defining that relationship on His terms is crucial. If we see accurately what our true standing is in view of Who He is, it should humble us. That He would condescend to call us friends is staggering.

I think that the concept of a "personal relationship with Jesus" is necessary, as God is a personal God and He HAS offered us so great a salvation and fellowship with Him. We cultivate this through prayer, and getting to know Him in His Word. His disciples were His friends during His earthly life, and we are called to be His disciples. A correct understanding of John 14:21 and John 15:9-11 (and similar passages) is key to understanding our friendship...it's inextricably linked to our obedience to Him. Ours to Him - sometimes the modern Word-Faith version is a bit reversed - as if Christ were at our beck and call!

Everywhere in Scripture we see that the blessings of God are conditional upon obedience TO God. The greatest of these blessings is fellowship (friendship) with God Himself - such as Abraham, Enoch, David, Peter, Mary, Martha and Lazarus enjoyed. So YES, this 'relationship' is possible....the word may not be biblical, but the concept is. However, it seems that the modern tendency towards narcissism, self-absorption and irreverence has sullied the concept. Instead of agape (commitment love that comes at personal cost), people think they can offer Christ phileos (friendship) storge (affection - 'He's a cool guy') or even eros (bridal paradigm run amok). The Lord doesn't want a fickle, humanistic, emotion-based human love from us. He wants our all.

So, while I wouldn't get rid of the concept altogether or deny the importance of 'a personal relationship with Jesus', I think it's necessary to define our terms and figure out what the quality and substance of that relationship is to determine if it's truly biblical. Jesus is in a sense our greatest Friend, but a message the Evangelical Church needs to be reminded of is that He is not our buddy - He is our Lord! Who's in charge here? HE IS!

lyn said...

Excellent commentary Marie. Thank you for posting.
God bless you sister!

Look up said...

To understand what terms like "relationship" mean to today's church, we have to get our hands on a Modernist/Postmodernist dictionary. The problem is that, like any cult they don't like to pin down exactly what they mean by the words. Even if they were to make an atttempt at it, by the very nature of Postmodernism, the dictionaries would never make it to print, because they become outdated faster than they can write.

If Spurgeon were to say that I needed to be in right relationship to God through Christ, I would know what he meant; but with the "preachers" of today, one can never be sure what they mean.

lyn said...

Thank you look up; you are right. The term 'relationship' is so broad, I've found more often than not it stems from a brand of easy believism...'I repeated a prayer', 'I made a decision', or 'I went forward'. It's like Paul Washer says, 'some people get saved in spite of, not because of these methods'.
When we say we have been reconciled to God through Christ, we are indeed biblical in our saying.

Marie said...

Amen, Look Up. I have never been in a post-modernist/"seeker sensitive" church, so I have difficulty even relating to that mindset. Especially being here in New England, I'm extremely fortunate to be in a Scripturally-sound, Bible preaching Christian church. I'm appalled at some of what I see online in the name of "evangelicalism". It just stuns me that folks could go so far from the truth and not be seriously convicted.

Check this out, both of you: http://www.alittleleaven.com/2009/03/jesus-our-new-bff.html

Unbelievable.

lyn said...

Marie- thanks for the link...how tragic. There was a woman who walked up to the counter for service where I work, and she was wearing a t-shirt that said, 'Jesus is my bff'. My heart was so grieved over this, I was speechless. Paul Washer says Christianity in America is almost all wrong, and it shows! But, we must keep in mind, God has, and always will have, His remnant. When I ponder that, I am SO-O-O grateful to God for His grace.
God bless you sister, and brother Lee as well!!

Dani' El said...

Interesting conversation.

I love this verse-
Mal 1:6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?

AND-
Gal 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

So although we call God, "Abba" or "Daddy" when we come to Him as His children, as a child, we should not forget He is Lord and Master, with due fear.

I despise the common definition of the fear of the Lord that takes the edge off, by saying it means "Reverential trust".
I see it more as "EXTREME reverence and awe" to the point where the greatest saints of the bible have fallen on their faces as though dead when in His presence.

I think we also see this appalling lack of due fear in the removal of due respect for authority for Pastors, so the Pastor becomes one's buddy/pal.
Same in the family, where parents want to be friends with their children to the point where they don't apply discipline.

As Marie points out, Christ calls us friends, but He is also Lord.
The lukewarm church leaves the Lord part out.

I think it's also due to the fact that most folks in the west have no idea of what it means to have a King, even to the point where it is repulsive to them, even in their knowledge of the Lordship of Christ. So they make Him their buddy, or worse, their Servant.

lyn said...

Hi Daniel- I just finished reading your post, I commend you for what you've posted.
Professing Christians flippantly claim to have a relationship with Christ, yet they seem to lack terribly in the fear and reverence department. It's as though the Lord is nothing more than a 'bud', or 'dude' to them. There truly is no fear of this magnificent Holy God...we should TREMBLE at His word, we should fall on our faces before Him. This amazing God who has so graciously saved us. People need to understand, God owes us NOTHING. No one is worthy of being saved!
I praise our Awesome God for each response here, it is encouraging to know there are true blood bought believers who understand what it means to have reverence and fear for our Lord!

Dani' El said...

Hey Marie, that "a little leaven" site is amazing. Thanks!

Lyn, I always enjoy coming round your blog, as you always have something tasty going on.

My blog is pretty focused on my message, but I love to talk Theology, on Marie's blog too.
I thought of starting my own theology blog, but I'd rather just enjoy my sisters' sites.

Isa 33:6 And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.

When I first set out in 05, I think what shocked me most, was the lack of healthy fear of the Lord. So many argued against me, usually with-
2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

I quickly point out, that "the spirit of fear" or cowardice, fear of evil, etc, IS NOT the fear of the Lord.
A big difference.

There is a terrible lack of knowledge and discernment, but first things first-
Psa 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

How many times have you mentioned the fear of the Lord, and at that word "fear" you see them cringe?
They say, "Fear?, oh no. God does not want us to fear Him."

lyn said...

Daniel, we should indeed have reverence for Almighty God. When there is a lack of fear and reverence, there is also a lack of true understanding of the attributes of God, and the absolute unworthiness of sinful man. What happened to Isaiah in Isaiah 6? When Isaiah saw this magnificent Holy God, he fell apart! He cried out 'woe is me, for I am undone'. This vision of God's holiness made Isaiah realize his own sinfulness. When we lose that reverence, we lose sight of our own sinfulness.
Let's keep in mind this from Phil. 2:12, 'work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.'

Dani' El said...

Amen Lyn!
Isaiah, and many more!

My namesake, Daniel, is listed as one of the greatest saints-

Eze 14:14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

But when Daniel is face to face with the pre-incarnate Son of God?

Dan 10:5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:
Dan 10:6 His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
Dan 10:7 And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.
Dan 10:8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
Dan 10:9 Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.

And only after the proper fear was shown by Daniel-

Dan 10:10 And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
Dan 10:11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.
Dan 10:12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.

People like to go straight to the "fear not Daniel" without noting the fact that Daniel was on his face in due fear.

(I don't know why, but I LOVE this subject. lol! Well actually, I know why. God has gracefully blessed us with it.)

lyn said...

Great passages Daniel! I am amazed at this verse as well, 'And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.'
This is a call by our Lord for Daniel to be strong because his encounter with the Lord caused him to be like a bowl of jello. The Lord's speaking is what strengthened Daniel to stand in His presence. It's also worth pointing out how Daniel gives credit where credit is due, 'let my Lord speak, for Thou hast strengthened me'.
The call to be strong is a call meaning 'to restore to strength, to make strong, sustain'. Only the Lord God could answer such a call! There isn't words to describe when we have an encounter with the Lord of all creation!

Steph said...

Joyous fellowship happening over here! Am so blessed by it :-)

Dani' El said...

Eze 1:28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
Eze 2:1 And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.
Eze 2:2 And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.

Jdg 13:21 But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.
Jdg 13:22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
Jdg 13:23 But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.

Exo 20:18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
Exo 20:19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
Exo 20:20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Rev 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

Dani' El said...

Reverence

Rev"er*ence\, n. [F. r['e]v['e]rence, L. reverentia. See Reverent.]

1. Profound respect and esteem mingled with fear and affection, as for a holy being or place; the disposition to revere; veneration.

lyn said...

Thank you Daniel for those passages that describe so clearly this great and awesome God we serve. I want to especially point out the word 'reverence' and the wonderful definition you provided. We do not hear of the need of this in our pulpits; we hear of a God who is all loving, but we are spiritually starved when it comes to reverence and fear.
We seem to have adopted a 'Jesus is my friend' mentality which, I am convinced, has led to this dumbing down of who God really is.
The lack of reverence falls squarely on the shoulders of the men who fail to preach the whole counsel, as well as those who refuse to study and meditate on His word.

Dani' El said...

Found yet another one in this morning's reading-

Mat 17:5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"
Mat 17:6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.
Mat 17:7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid."