Saturday, March 7, 2015

Personal Relationship? Unbiblical Nonsense!

One of Evangelicalism's many presentations of a false gospel includes the invitation to "have a personal relationship with God/Jesus." Where in the Bible does it say such a thing? What in the world does it mean? What exactly is that supposed to look like? I do not know about anybody else, but the Bible's Gospel message is pretty consistent and clear: "Repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15); "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2:38); "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31); "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Romans 10:9). There is nothing in there about praying a specific prayer that supposedly saves you regardless of how you live afterward; there is nothing in there about "making a decision for Jesus"; there is nothing in there about walking an aisle and signing your name on a card or in the front/back of a Bible; and there is nothing in there about having "a personal relationship with God/Jesus." These are unbiblical jargon of a false gospel that has put numerous false converts in the pews in church because individuals fail to realize and understand that church is only for the believers. You do not change the way you do church in order to try and fill the seats with unbelievers hoping they will get saved. You evangelize them outside of the church until they are saved and then bring them into the church to enjoy fellowship with other believers.

When you leave out things like "repent," "believe," "worship," "obey," "holiness," etc., you present a false call of salvation. When you fail to address people's sins and expose their sins and show them how they have sinned so they can better understand the Gospel and what it means, you present a false call of salvation. Many people will admit they are sinners, but if you dig deeper and ask them why they are a sinner and what makes them a sinner, they cannot answer. For you to be ignorant and think there is no need to address their sins and warn them of hell, you are presenting a false call to salvation with a false gospel message. Look at how our Master did it in Matthew 19:16-26, Mark 10:17-27, Luke 18:18-27, and Luke 10:25-37. Jesus used the Ten Commandments to expose their sin and make them aware of how they have sinned against God. He then instructed them to repent by doing a complete 180 from what they had been doing.

An invitation to "have a personal relationship with God/Jesus" is an invitation to have a certain kind of experience. When people are not sure whether or not they have a "personal relationship," the temptation is to conjure one up. The things that draw us closer to God are repentance, faith, and obedience. Repentance from what is enmity against God, faith in what is true, and obedience to what is right. When we "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33), a "relationship" of sorts will develop all on its own. Emphasizing a "personal relationship" to the exclusion of concrete requirements such as repentance, faith, obedience, holiness, etc., merely creates a experiential form of Christianity. Whether or not we can "feel" a relationship with Jesus is irrelevant. Are we walking in constant repentance? Are we walking in constant faith? Are we walking in constant obedience? Are we walking in constant holiness? A person who has genuinely repented and believed will naturally walk in obedience and grow in holiness. A "Christian" faith that accepts the forgiveness and salvation of God but rejects repentance, holiness, and obedience is merely Cheap Grace. If you examine the fruits of such individuals you will see a professed "good tree" bearing rotten fruit, which is evidence that they are not saved in the least.

Calls to salvation that attempt to put us on equal footing with God and make us equals in a "relationship" with God are merely calls to send people to hell on a greased pole. We are not equals. He is God, we are His creation. He is Master, we are His slaves. He is sovereign over all things—including us. Jesus made it clear that we ought to count the cost of precisely what it means to follow Him, because "the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life" (Matthew 7:14). When you present the Gospel message to the unsaved, are you warning them and explaining to them how they had best count the cost of what their "decision" will mean in life? If you examine Jesus' words, quite frequently it appears that He is deliberately trying to push people away rather than draw them in. In today's Evangelicalism, they will use any means necessary to try and fill their pews with unbelievers. Jesus did the opposite. If we are not doing exactly like Jesus did, then we are not expressing true love toward these people. Truly loving the unsaved means we will warn them of what coming to Christ entails. Falsely "loving" them means we will make it as easy as possible for them to "come to Christ" even though they still remain dead in their sins. If you do not warn them to count the cost of what it means to come to Christ, then when trials, tribulations, and persecution come their way they will inevitably fall away because they did not count the cost to begin with. Their "decision" was made on the Easy Believism or Cheap Grace that you preached to them. And so you are guilty of them being two-fold the sons of hell than they would have been if you had said nothing to begin with or had preached the Gospel correctly.

A call to "have a personal relationship with God/Jesus" is unbiblical nonsense and needs to be removed from our vocabulary. Let us read our Bibles and imitate the things that Jesus did!

P.S.: While through our reading of the Word and prayer to God we will develop a relationship of sorts, which is indeed personal, this is quite different from inviting people to "have a personal relationship with God/Jesus." Most people try and measure a "relationship" with God by the standards of personal relationships they have with other people, which is experiential. In order to have such a "relationship," these people will attempt to have "conversations" with God wherein they label one of the thought processes or "voices" in their mind as "God." The relationship we have with God is not of this nature. He speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to Him through prayer. Having a relationship with God, while it is indeed personal, is vastly different from having a "personal relationship" with Him. Again, He is sovereign over all things; He is Creator, we are His creation; He is the Master, we are His slaves. He commands, we obey. We are not equals and we are not on equal footing. We had best remember this the next time we try to treat God like He's our buddy.