If you’ve been around Christians long enough, you’re probably heard or been asked, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?”
Maybe you've even been asked, “Have you been saved?”
And maybe you’re wondering what on earth these people are talking about. I’m going to be as real as possible with you and try to explain that the best way I know how.
To me, having a personal relationship with Jesus means He is the center of your life. He is everything to you. You live your life for Jesus, to become more like Him every single day. You know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you’re going to spend eternity in heaven with Him. You believe He rose from the dead, and that one day, you too will be raised from the dead by Him.
Having a personal relationship with Jesus means more than saying God is real. It’s more than thinking there’s someone up in the clouds making the world go around. It’s more than believing in heaven and hell. And it’s a lot more than going to church every Sunday.
A personal relationship with Jesus Christ changes everything.
I know this because I’ve experienced that radical change in my own life.
A few years ago, while I believed in God—even the trinity of Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit—I had no idea how much He could change my life. I didn’t grasp the magnitude of His presence or His actions in my life right now.
I didn’t read the Bible on a daily basis, and I didn’t have a desire to. I didn’t go to Him in prayer. Even though I believed in God, I relied fully on myself. I didn't see myself as a sinner in need of salvation. I controlled my life, and by most people’s standards, I was pretty good at it. I was successful in every area. I was a good person. What did I have to worry about?
It took everything falling apart and me hitting rock bottom—plus years after that with God continually pursuing my heart—for me to finalize realize what I was missing and Who I needed.
I needed Jesus. When I began to see that, my life began to change.
Grace came into the picture, and I finally realized I could experience a deep sense of hope every single day. I didn't have to be perfect because I have a God who is perfect, a God sees me as perfect in Him.
I had to understand the full picture of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to enter into a saving relationship with Him. You see, the resurrection changes everything! Jesus was fully man and fully God. He was perfect; he never sinned. Yet He died the most horrible death imaginable for our sins. Because, like you, I am a sinner. We all are sinners in need of our Savior.
Jesus died, and on the third day, He rose again! He was resurrected and ascended into heaven so that we might have eternal life. His blood was poured out for us. He was the ultimate sacrifice, and He died the death that we deserve. He is the only way we can have eternal life with Him, rather than eternal separation in hell. Our sins are what nailed Him to that cross.
As my pastor proclaimed this Easter Sunday, Jesus loves us so much that He went to the cross. He is the only religious leader on the planet who rose from the dead. You can go around the world right now to find the remains of Mohammed, Confucius, Joseph Smith, and every other leader. But if you go to Israel and you look into Jesus’ tomb, you won’t see a thing. No bone, no remnant, no nothing. He is ALIVE. He is alive and active!
We see in the book of Matthew, as well as the gospels of Mark, Luke, and John, that Jesus rose from the dead. Hundreds of eyewitnesses accounted this. And do you know who the first person the risen Jesus revealed Himself to? A woman. He showed up to Mary Magdalene, a woman who was once possessed by demons and who Jesus healed. She’s someone who society would have looked down upon in every way. Yet Jesus made Himself known to her. This is no ordinary man, and this is no ordinary story. Had a human written this story, written the Bible, I can guarantee you that Jesus would not reveal himself to a woman. Even more so, He wouldn’t have died. He would have instead been the typical hero we picture: strong and mighty and unable to die.
But that’s just it: Jesus is the strongest and the most mighty. And He hasn’t died—not really. He was resurrected on the third day, and He reigns over heaven and earth!
We have access to God today through His word, through prayer, and through the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not some far-away God in some far-away place. He’s living and breathing in our lives right now. We can open up the Bible, read it aloud, and hear God speaking to us in this very moment.
God’s Word is so clear about what we must do in order to be saved. Baptism doesn’t save you. Repentance doesn’t save you. Going to church doesn’t save you. None of these works will give you a personal relationship with Jesus.
A personal relationship with Jesus—a saving relationship with Him—comes down to our faith. You know you are a sinner, you believe Jesus is Lord, and know in your heart that the Father raised Him from the dead. That truth changes your whole perspective.
Will you declare that with your mouth? Will you speak it aloud? Will you proclaim Him as Lord and Savior over your life?
You don’t need a pastor to do that. You don’t need a priest. And you certainly don’t need me.
You need Jesus.
You can invite Him into your life right now—and I pray you do. My heart breaks for the lost, and lately I’ve felt particularly burdened for those who live their lives just like I used to—successful, independent, in control, and yet totally oblivious to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how He changes everything. That was me. I was lost. I didn’t have this great hope. I didn’t have absolute assurance that I’d be spending eternity in heaven with Jesus Christ. I kept striving, looking at one thing after the next to fill me up: my job, my body, my relationships, you name it. Here's the thing: Nothing ever did because nothing compares to Jesus.
Jesus' love for us and His call for us to follow Him is summarized so clearly in one of my favorite worship songs, “O Come to the Altar”:
Are you hurting and broken within
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well
Jesus is calling
O come to the altar
The Father's arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ
We get to come to the altar. We have access to God right here, right now. We can have a personal relationship with Him, and we can be saved. Every single one of us is welcome. This salvation isn’t for a select few— it’s for the broken and the hurting and the man and woman like you and me.
I’m praying for you. I’m praying you would know and love Jesus. I’m praying you would accept Him into your life and finally receive the peace and hope you’ve been searching for all along. I’m praying your eyes would see and your ears would be open to hear.
If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved!
What are you waiting for?
Still have questions? I’d like to invite you to read these other resources:
- The Good News (Long Hollow Baptist Church)
- How to Know God Personally (Cru)
- What Must I Believe to Be Saved? (John Piper)
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.