I recently read an excellent article, linked here:
It demonstrates a number of faulty beliefs which are currently being taught in even some of the “best” traditional, evangelical Baptist Churches. Here is a very common one which is often thoughtlessly spouted by what is usually a young pastor.
“Which are more common? … Bible verses that tell us it’s “all about a relationship, not a religion,” or Bible verses that tell us to repent, be baptized and become members of Christ’s body-The Church? (This is a trick question-there are no verses that tell us to “have a personal relationship with Jesus,” instead, the Bible points to the establishment of the Church and its specific doctrine. Christianity is, by definition, a religion. You can stop being ashamed of that now. It is the only true religion-and it offers us the only true Good News!)”
I thought it was important enough to venture more comments. While it may be partly true, the statement is bad because it tends to detract from the actions of the all-powerful God who has stooped to rescue us from the predicament of sin and Hell.
Christianity IS NOT a relationship between you and the Lord Jesus Christ. The statement is a feminised, late twentieth century description of the spiritual process which occurs when the Holy Spirit enters us to convict us of sin and gives power for us to live for, in and through Jesus Christ the Son of God.
If you want to call that a personal relationship, go ahead, but make very clear to your listeners that it is not the personal relationship you have with another human being. With human relationships emotions are important between equals. In a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ we are able to rely on Him completely, and He knows our every thought. Our emotions don’t take priority.
With human relationships most of us know that life experiences have taught us very clearly that we CANNOT and indeed, SHOULD NOT trust any other person completely. People, no matter how close, will always let us down eventually. On the other hand Jesus will never let us down. If you can describe the Christian life as a relationship I am afraid you are grossly underselling the message of sin, its consequences and its payment.
If you are a minister, a pastor or a youth leader, please don’t fall into the trap of calling Christianity a relationship, unless you clearly describe what sort of spiritual relationship you mean.
In the meantime, God bless you!