5 Reasons Why Christians Should NOT Accept Jesus As Their Personal Savior

5 Reasons Why Christians Should NOT Accept Jesus As Their Personal Savior | Of Dust And Kings | T. E. Hanna
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In 1989, Depeche Mode released their 23rd single in the UK, a hit song that quickly climbed the charts and would eventually be covered by such notable musicians as Johnny Cash, Jerry Williams, Nina Hagen, and Marilyn Manson. The song was entitled “Personal Jesus” and the steady rhythm of the chorus drummed out the following lines:

Your own personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who cares
Your own personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who’s there
…reach out and touch Faith

While Depeche Mode used the “personal Jesus” idea as a metaphor for codependent human relationships, the concept has nevertheless permeated western Christian culture. Testimonies typically hail back to the moment when one has “finally accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and savior” and the standard evangelism question points to the same idea: “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?”

Yet Scripture knows nothing of a personalized faith.

Bear with me here, and let me clarify what I am NOT saying. I am NOT saying that we should not be impacted on a personal level by the Christian faith – we absolutely should. I am NOT saying that we do not come to Christ on a personal basis – we absolutely must.

However, the idea of a personal savior has taken on a life of its own, replacing the locus of the Christian life with our personal agendas and pushing Jesus to the margins. We customize, privatize, and minimize the Christian story, relegating Jesus to little more than “someone to hear your prayers, someone who cares.” This corrodes the very heart of the Christian faith, eating away at its life transforming power, and ripping Jesus away from His divinity in order to wedge Him into an idol fashioned after a hyper-individualistic culture. This simply won’t do.

Christians need to reject the idea of the personal Jesus, and we need to do it for 5 reasons:

1. Christians Are Called To Follow Christ, Not Just Accept Him

The central cry of Jesus was never “accept me.” In fact, it was quite the opposite. Jesus walked a path which called Him to be despised and rejected, betrayed and belittled, criticized and crucified. The call of Jesus to His disciples and to us is to follow. Following requires leaving things behind and forging forward, laying down your life that you might find it, dying to yourself that your might discover the life abundant in the purposes of God. Acceptance is passive. Following is inherently active.

2. Christians Are Called To Conform To Christ, Not Christ To Christians

At the heart of spiritual formation is the move to become “Christ-like”. Often, this challenges our preconceptions and wars against our desires. Good. It is supposed to. The Jesus Way is a way of transformation, of exposing our darker side to the Light of the World that the shadows may be cast away and we may become luminaries of incandescent glory, reflecting the blinding rays of the Son. We must never customize Jesus, reducing Him to an eternal moral teacher that can give us a hand when things get rough. We must allow ourselves to be confronted by Him, restored through Him, and conformed to Him.

3. Christians Are Called To Community, Not Isolation

John Wesley once wrote that “Scripture knows nothing of solitary religion.” From Genesis to Revelation, we see the story of a God who is creating a people, not just persons. In the instances where we see individuals emphasized, they are emphasized for the purpose of the people. Abraham was called individually to carry the covenant for what would become the people of God. Moses was called individually to free the Israelite people. David was called individually to lead a nation of God’s people. The prophets were called individually to be the mouthpiece of God to His people. The disciples were called individually only to then be sent forth to gather a global people. The popular notion that Christianity is a personal affair, making the community of faith unnecessary, finds no basis in the pages of Scripture. It is only in community that we find accountability, corporate prayer, unified worship, and the edification of the saints. It is only in community that we become the Body of Christ.

4. Christians Are Called To Serve, Not Be Served

So much of Christian rhetoric emphasizes the blessing of God and de-emphasizes the way of the cross. Much of popular Christianity is about seeking these blessings, about conforming God to our will, about how God somehow is charged with serving us. I am not diminishing the reality of the blessedness of God, but blessing is hardly the entire picture. Jesus completely inverts the concept of privilege, calling His followers away from notions of entitlement and into a life of servanthood. The reality of this is that, as we serve one another, we will be served in the process; but the notion that service is somehow owed to us is completely overturned. We, who claim ourselves as children of the greatest King who ever existed, express this most dutifully as servants.

5. Christians Are Saved For More Than Just Themselves

The Christian concept of salvation does more than just look over its shoulder at a sinful past now washed clean. It does more than look at the present as we are engaged in a process of spiritual renewal. It looks to the future, at the outworking of our salvation expressed as a transformed people transforming the world. In other words, Christians are not just saved from sin, they are saved to God. We become active participants in the breaking forth of God’s Kingdom as the redemptive order confronts and exposes the manifestation of sin in society. To limit the concept of salvation to a personal experience (or worse, a personal event) truncates the fullness of what it means to be Christian. We are not just saved from a life of sin; we are saved for a world where sin still manifests.

The popular evangelistic rhetoric calling for people to “accept Jesus as your personal savior” needs to be overturned. It is only in the call to “come and follow” and to “take up your cross” that we begin to regain the deeper things which have historically defined God’s people. It is here, in the deep water, where Christianity comes alive.

So… reach out and touch faith.

What do you think? How does the personalization of Jesus impact the Christian faith?

Image Credit: Espejo

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T E Hanna is the author of Raising Ephesus: Christian Hope for a Post-Christian Age and has published articles across the web on issues of faith and culture.

  • George S.

    I’m 56 years old and grew up trying to heed the evangelical imperative to “accept Jesus as my personal savior.” Every now and then someone would mention that I might also want to consider accepting him as Lord, too, but that really wasn’t necessary in order to go to heaven. So I got my ticket punched. The whole thing was just so bland and shallow; not at all how the Christian life was portrayed in the Bible. I believe the current evangelical (distinct from evangelistic) church is the lukewarm church God spews out of his mouth; all smiley face religion and “ministry” with so little repentance or sacrifice or worship.

  • Puttss Dion

    I visited Google to get ready for blog post of my own entitled “No, Jesus is not my personal savior.”. I found you. It feels good to know that I am not alone on this one. I’ll give you a link…after all plagiarism is a sin and one that requires restitution to boot!

  • ethan

    Thank you for this article. This phrase has so permeated Christian culture and has long bothered me but I couldn’t put my finger on why until doing my own study and this article hammered the point home. Another aspect far too overlooked is the importance of repentence. When someone says that you should accept Jesus as your personal savior, it implies that Christ will come to you if you ask. But Christ cannot be one with the sinful. As it says in James and so many other places that there is enmity between God and sin. Read through the book of Acts and in almost every account of conversion, the apostles tell the people to repent of their sins first. Never to “accept Christ.”

  • Pietas

    most real believers have left churches due to the worldliness, shallowness, hierarchical structure where you cannot speak freely during meetings, and dogma of the church leaders that is especially unscriptural. also Jesus did say when you pray, don’t be a hypocrite and pray in public (Matthew 6:5-7).

    • http://tehanna.com T E Hanna

      Paul actually laid out that you shouldn’t simply pipe up during worship, due to the need for order. He also laid out the need for leadership in the church, and I would challenge the notion that dogma is particularly unscriptural. Dogma, depending on what you are referring to when you use the term, is most typically the historical way that the people of God have come together in how they understand scripture. It is one thing to say that a person disagrees with their understanding, it is another to simple label it unscriptural. The latter is a bit over simplistic and fails to acknowledge the faithful attentiveness of Christians over the centuries that have brought our theological understanding to where it is.

  • Pietas

    one thing I did have an issue with is if it says we must enjoy the community of Christians, well where are they? most people are fake believers who just “Accepted Jesus into their heart”

    • http://tehanna.com T E Hanna

      I agree that we face a very real challenge with authenticity and passion in the Western Church, but I also think it would be inaccurate to lanketly state that everyone is a fake believer. Elijah did that very thing in the cave at Moriah, and God was very quick to correct him. It is a spiritually dangerous place to be when we have convinced ourselves that we are the only “true” Christian left, because it closes us off from hearing God at work through His people, it eliminates our ability to be held accountable, it stifles our spiritual integrity, and it very quickly gives way to pride and self-righteousness.

      We all fall short, even still. This is why participation in the community that God has called together is so integral to the Christian life.

  • Denton

    While the point of “personal savior” is a bit hair-splitting, the body of the message is right on the mark.
    We weren’t called to accept a personal savior and then go back to sleep. We are to pick up the cross and be representatives of the King. We tend to forget this.
    We are to bend to His will, not to try and mold Him to our way of doing things. We seem to want to forget this.
    We need to remember these things, while we walk through this world of distractions, pitfalls and man-made doctrine meant to deceive and render us impotent.

  • kenneth dawson

    wow such a good topic–I will give my own personal experience-I was converted into gods realm 38 years ago from a life of total heathenism-I saw jesus on the cross in my mind,then the next thing I know I sense a release of guilt,then I felt gods being come into me and it was like a light being turned on-all this happened while I was reading a jehova witness book–then I started attending a ifca church in Miami,went to bible college and crammed my mind with bible knowledge–26 years later on 09/01/2011 god gave me another vision this time it was jesus in his exalted position and he spoke to me and told me that the Christian life was his to live through me without my help and for the last 12 years he has been teaching me about my death with Christ at his cross to my own-know-it-all attitude.here lately ive been studying Thomas f Torrance,t Austin sparks,etc-i like Torrance because he teaches that in order to get a proper understanding of the bible which he calls epistemology you need to be onto-related with the very being of Christ living in union with your being-then you will grasp the real significance of what the scriptures are directing us to–what you think?

  • santhini

    How entirely true in this day and age when Jesus is customized to meet individual/environmental/societal concerns which have nothing to do with what God has called us to do.

  • http://www.dhtaylor.com D Taylor

    have not read all of the comments someone may have touched on this already.
    But the phrase Accept Jesus As Their Personal Savior goes along with many of the other misleading/confusing terms created and being used by churches today in evangelical gospel presentations, some other terms are: inviting Jesus into your heart, praying a sinners prayer, walking a church aisle, repenting from your sins, being sorry for your sins, Confessing Christ. All of these (and others that i did not mention) present a false presentation or altered view of what a person must do to receive eternal life. The Bible over and over list the sole condition for a person to receive eternal life, is to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and gives Eternal Life to all who will believe in Him for it. Read the Gospel of John when a condition for eternal life is given belief is stated as the only condition over 90 times
    John 20: 30, 31
    20:30 Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
    20:31 But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

    • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

      How does repentance play into this, do you think?
      And how does the belief deacribed in John upon which is the basis for eternal life differ from the belief in James which is ascribed to demons?

      • http://www.dhtaylor.com d taylor

        If i may i will discuss James first.
        1st Salvation is not offered to demons, God became a human to secure salvation for humans. Not sure if in the past demons , fallen angels were given a chance at redemption from their fallen state. I do not believe they were, being that they were in the very presence of God when their fall took place it seems like, from their failure of their test to confirmed their creaturely holiness. Their fallen state became fixed with no hope to return. That was why their main objective was to try and keep Christ from going to the cross. If they could have done that, then God would not have been God and they would have escaped eternal punishment. But they failed and Christ sealed their eternal fate. But still their belief makes them tremble, with that we see nothing else is needed to make the demons tremble but belief
        here is a link to a fine write up about that verse. https://bible.org/article/faith-demons-james-219

        • http://www.dhtaylor.com d taylor

          About repentance in receiving eternal life it plays no part, again take a look at the Gospel of John the one book that says it was written so unbelievers may believe and receive eternal life
          John
          20:30 Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
          20:31 But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
          Repentance is not used even once in the Gospel of John, Similarly, the fact that John knew about repentance (witness his 12 uses of the term in the Book of Revelation) and likely was a disciple of John the Baptist—who preached repentance—before he became disciple of Jesus ( John 1:35-42), yet didn’t even mention repentance in his evangelistic book, is proof he did not consider it to be a condition of everlasting life.
          Repentance is not Faith and by a study/reading of the Bible, Faith in Christ is what gives a person eternal life noting else over 100 times that is stated as the only condition.
          John
          6:28 So then they said to him, “What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?”
          6:29 Jesus replied, “This is the deed God requires – to believe in the one whom he sent.”

          Repentance, Confession of Christ, Baptism, etc.. is part of the believers life used in the sanctification, discipleship area of their life for growth.
          trying to keep this from being to long i have another link that has a good write up on repentance also i will post a link to an article about the use and misuse of Romans 10:9
          Repentance link http://www.faithalone.org/bookstore/ten-sample.pdf
          Use and Misuse of Romans 10:9 link http://www.faithalone.org/journal/1999ii/J23-99b.htm
          when repentance is used, a careful study of difficult passages in their context will usually help to bring about a clearer understanding of words in the Bible

          • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

            I enjoyed those articles. Thank you. I am not sure I agree with their conclusions, however.

            You prefer to cite the Gospel of John as your primary source. It should be noted that an examination of a theme as central to scripture as salvation needs to incorporate Scripture as a whole, but let’s begin with John.

            The question underlying John’s description of salvation is to ask just what he means by “believe.” The author of John’s gospel gives us significant insight to this in 3:36, saying that “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.”

            Here we see the author contrasting belief (pisteuo in the Greek) not with disbelief but with disobedience (apeitheo). If the antithesis of John’s description of belief is disobedience, then right belief must entail more than mere acknowledgment of Jesus’ divinity. To get a better grasp on this, you can see how the word (apeitheo) is used elsewhere in scripture. I will highlight two verses (although there are many). Romans 10:21 has Paul using this term when he quotes Isaiah, which reads “But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’” The issue with Israel wasn’t their lack of acknowledgment of God, but rather their refusal to yield to God’s authority and their consistent return to idolatry.

            Perhaps more interesting for our purposes, however, is 1 Peter 4:17, which reads “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” In this verse, condemnation comes as the result of disobedience, not disbelief.

            To clarify, I am not suggesting that we earn our salvation in any way, but rather that salvation implies a yielding of our will to the authority of God. This is what it means to make Jesus Lord: that we acknowledge Him as our king, and submit to His authority for our life. It makes sense, particularly given that the fundamental sin in the garden narrative was the decision for Adam and his wife to exert their will over and against the authority of God. The central rebellion of humanity since then has been the same. Yielding to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, then, restores a right relationship with God as our King, as it was intended to be before humanity’s rebellion.

            This is why repentance is so important, and we have to acknowledge verses such as these:

            “From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Matt 4:17

            “Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’” Mk 1:14–15.

            “He [Jesus] went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” Lk 3:3.

            “Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’” Lk 5:31–32.

            “I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.” Lk 13:3.

            “…and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” Lk 24:46–47.

            “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Ac 2:37–38.

            “…For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation…” 2 Co 7:10.

            And the list goes on. The process of turning away from human rebellion and restoring the proper relationship is central to salvation, central to the belief discussed in the Gospel of John, central to the faith discussed in the book of James, and central to the salvation discussed in Romans 10:9, as well as all the verses listed previously and many others that I skipped over. Belief is important, but it is not enough to simply know that God exists. One has to go from acknowledging God’s existence to yielding to His authority as king. It is entirely possible to recognize Jesus as God and to believe, yet to actively choose to live in rebellion against Him. Hebrews lays a pretty stark image of what happens with that.

          • http://www.dhtaylor.com d taylor

            did not see a reply button after your last post not sure if you closed the thread. but wanted to make one more post
            you said this at the bottom of your last post (Belief is important, but it is not enough to simply know that God exists.)

            If that is the understanding you received in the post i made, i will say this again and hopefully clearer.

            Eternal life is given to a person because that person has believed that Christ is the promised Messiah and He gives eternal life to all who will trust in Him for it.
            To believe in Christ is not merely to acknowledge that He was a good man, or even that He is God and died on the cross for us. It is to accept that He is the Guarantor and giver of eternal life to all who trust in Him for eternal life.
            John
            11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies,
            11:26 and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
            11:27 She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who comes into the world.”
            Also one more link to a fine article about the area of obedience (John 3:36)
            http://www.faithalone.org/magazine/y1994/94E2.html

            I will not address the other verses you posted since most if not all were addressed in the links (to articles) i posted in previous post, which you do not agree with. So i see no need to continue those points made in the links. They make their point very well keeping verses in context showing that repentance is not part of a person receiving eternal life but a part of the believers life (discipleship sanctification)

            By your approach any verse in the Bible is about (eternal life/salvation) as long as it mentions the word save, salvation or repentance. But if a person does a study on the words save/salvation they will find save/salvation often mean from salvation from physical death, danger either from Gods wrath or enemies of the faith
            link addressing this in the Old Testament http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2003ii/lopez.pdf

            And one about lordship salvation http://www.faithalone.org/magazine/y2003/03B1.html

            Two more last points
            in the verse Luke 3:3 the He in that verse is not Jesus but John the Baptist

            In 2 Corinthians 7:10 If look at in the verses context(7:1-16) a person will see 1. the salvation here is a physical salvation 2. Paul is writing to believers concerning discipline and getting back on track in their (believers) lives.

          • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

            I didn’t close the comment, it just only indents 4 or 5 deep to keep it readable.

            In response, however, I agree that salvation and repentance is bigger than the moment of justification – it involves one’s sanctification as well.

            The verses I listed, however, speak to one of three things: the forgiveness of sin, receiving life, or being delivered from the day of wrath. I would consider those three to be synonymous with eternal life. Of particular note was the third chapter of John, which contrasts belief with disobedience, and eternal life with God’s judgment; and the passage in 1 Peter, which does the same.

            The point is that, rather than pulling a verse here or there as a proof text, we have to look at the scope of scripture as a whole. Scripture as a whole universally identifies the problem (human sin and rebellion against God) and the solution (Christ’s atonement and our restoration, choosing to cease our rebellion and submit to the rightful authority of Christ as our Lord)

          • http://www.dhtaylor.com d taylor

            I define Repentance as I believe the Bible does, as turning from sin
            A question: In your view of what a person must do to receive eternal life. Does a person who is an alcoholic have to stop drinking before he receives eternal life. Or a person who is a smoker do they have to stop before receiving eternal life. I ask this because i believe most people see smoking and alcoholism as bad for the body so I would define these as sins.

          • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

            Perhaps I should clarify.

            By repentance (and lordship) I do not mean sanctification and Christian perfection. These are aspects of discipleship and Christian formation.

            Repentance is a turning away from sin and a turning to God. It is a recognition that God is my Lord, that He is my authority, and so I choose to yield my will to Him. This doesn’t mean that I do it perfectly, or that I cease being a sinner, but it does mean that my pursuit now elevates the will of God to be superior to mine.

            It does little good to say, “I believe that Jesus is God, but I don’t care.” We have to go beyond that. We have to be willing to say “I believe that Jesus is God, and I am choosing to make His will the authority in my life.”

          • http://www.dhtaylor.com d taylor

            John 12: 42,43
            12:42 Nevertheless, even among the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they would not confess Jesus to be the Christ, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue.
            12:43 For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

            Many of the leaders among the Pharisees episteusan eis auton, “believed on Him,” and yet they refused to confess their faith for fear of being put out of the synagogue (John 12:42).

            They hardly had submitted to the lordship of Christ or persevered in a life of good works.
            In fact, “they loved the praise of men more than praise from God” (John 12:43).

            Yet this technical term for saving faith characterizes their state of mind; they believed on Him!

            If one did not “know” before he came to the text that regenerate people could not be characterized by this, they would think this applies to true Christians.

            Only a theological system can negate the consistent usage of this phrase in John. Could not those hypocritical Pharisees, these secret Christians, be called “carnal Christians”?

            Similarly, it is written of Joseph of Arimathea at the time of Christ’s burial that he “was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews” (John 19:38-42).

            The Believers of Ephesus some of them were still practicing magic after they had placed faith in Christ. Acts 19: 11-20 they only gave up the the practice because of the beating that happened to Sceva

            The parable of the four soils all Matthew 13:1-23 , Luke 8:4-15 all but the first soil is said to be examples of believers. the second and the third are made ineffective by the pressures cares of the world.

            The word believer is used through out the Bible as one who has placed their faith in Christ and by doing that they have eternal life. The Bible give no indication that any of these are false believers.

            A person has either believed or they have not there is no gray/grey area in belief.

            I have not found in the Bible where this is added to the act of believing (“ I am choosing to make His will the authority in my life.”) and is a condition for receiving eternal life.

          • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

            I would challenge your understanding of those passages.

            In John 12, the phrase in vs 43 reads “for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God” and would imply that such a response failed to acknowledge God. This is particular true in light of Jesus’ declaration earlier in the same chapter (12:23-26) which reads “25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.” The rulers referred to in 12:43 would be an example of those who “love their life” and thereby fail to attain eternal life.

            The same thing is in the parable of the soils. The whole purpose of the parable is that only the good soil produced a fruitful response.

            I think, however, that you are still misunderstanding me. I am not claiming a works-based righteousness, nor am I professing that salvation is based on our ability to behave in the right ways. I am saying that eternal life comes from the one’s response to Jesus, the decision to make Him your Lord, which means submitting to Jesus as the ultimate authority and acknowledging His will over our own.

            This isn’t flowing from an isolated verse or passage, and it certainly isn’t built around the phrasing of one author and excluding the rest of scripture (such as the overemphasis of the use of “believe” in the Gospel of John). This is, rather, the overarching emphasis of Scripture in its entirety, beginning with Genesis, running through the historical and prophetic narratives of the Old Testament, climaxing in the Gospels, explained in the epistles, and culminating in the New Jerusalem in Revelation.

            The reverberating phrase linking all of this together shows up first in Exodus, is repeated in Deuteronomy, Hosea, and and the rest of the prophets, and reaches its finale in Revelation when all is made right again. It depicts the hope and purpose of God, and it simply reads “for they shall be my people, and I shall be their God.”

            In the beginning, we were united to each other and to God, with intimacy and perfect relationship. The rebellion of satan depicted in Daniel was that he “desired in his heart to be as the Most High” and the rebellion is depicted in Revelation. In Genesis, humanity joined in that rebellion when faced with a choice: “Take and eat, and you will be as God…” It was the desire for human autonomy, the pursuit of our own will over and against that of God, that invited sin into our world and resulted in the Fall. It was, essentially, the rejection of God as our Lord and King.

            So God sought us out. He made covenant with Abraham for the purpose of bringing forth restoration to all people (Genesis 12; Galatians 3). In preparation, he cultivated a holy people through whom He brought forth the culmination of that Abrahamic promise in Jesus. God, who is a God of both grace and mercy, brought the two together in the only way possible: He took the penalty of justice upon Himself so that, through His justice, He might extend mercy to all.

            Thus, Christ dealt with sin definitively on the cross, and we stand at a point where we are faced with the same decision Adam and Eve faced. Do we exalt ourselves as the principal authority and reject God as our King? Or do we choose to once again become part of the Kingdom of God, recognizing the proper ruler of that Kingdom, and declaring Him to be our Lord?

            And this is exactly what it is about: it is the breaking forth of God’s Kingdom once more in the midst of a broken creation, and the invitation extended to us to end the exile that began when humanity was expelled from the Garden, choosing to return to the Kingdom of God. Just like any Kingdom, however, it has a single authority. That authority is God. Choosing to yield to that authority does not mean perfection, it does not mean that we won’t mess up, it does not mean that we are perfect. It does, however, mean that we know who our King is, and choose to acknowledge the proper role that the King holds.

            The alternative is to do as Adam did and seek to make ourselves King. That decision inherently pits us in rebellion against God and His kingdom. It may believe that Jesus is God, but we still make ourselves adversaries of His kingdom.

            Faith is more than belief. It is a yielding of ourselves to the will of our King, and an acknowledgment of God’s governing authority in our life. That’s what we mean when we say that Jesus is Lord.

          • http://www.dhatylor.com d taylor

            your post said
            { In John 12, the phrase in vs 43 reads “for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God” and would imply that such a response failed to acknowledge God. This is particular true in light of Jesus’ declaration earlier in the same chapter (12:23-26) which reads “25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.” The rulers referred to in 12:43 would be an example of those who “love their life” and thereby fail to attain eternal life.}

            Verses 42 and 43 are contrasted with the ones in 37,38 39, 40 and 41 who had hard hearts and did not believe in him. The Bible specifically tells the reader: neverless many even of the rules believed in Him. These are clearly saved rulers and are being contrasted with the unsaved who did not believe in 40 and 41.

            John 12: 23-26 is clearly speaking about serving Christ not about a person receiving justification (eternal life/salvation).
            The phrase eternal life occurs 43 times in 43 verses in the Greek New Testament. Its common meaning of the free gift of regeneration resulting in final entrance into heaven on the basis of faith alone is 19 times 44%. and 15 times 35% receiving eternal life is based on works.
            Every time eternal life is presented as an acquisition in the future (15 times 35%) it is always based on works. When eternal life is presented as an acquisition in the present (19 times 44%) faith alone is the only condition mentioned.

            Understanding what words mean in the Bible you have to study the context and let that determine the meaning of terms. A word meaning some thing in one context does not always mean that, that word means in the same in another part of the Bible.

          • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

            I have a feeling we are going to be going in circles on this.

            I’m not particularly sure where you are gathering your data from. The phrase “eternal life” shows up a different number of times depending on translation. In the KJV it only shows up 26 times; in the ESV and NRSV, it shows up 43 times. The key to this discussion, however, isn’t in what “eternal life” means, it is in what “believe” means. The root of believe is the Greek pisteuo – literally, “to have faith”. It can carry two possible meanings: one is an intellectual acknowledgment, the other an active trust. This is why James careful delineates that saving faith requires a human response (James 2). It is why the author of John’s Gospel is careful to identify that the opposite of belief is not being unconvinced, it is disobedience (John 3:36). It is why Jesus calls us to follow Him, and why when the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he must do to receive eternal life, Jesus instructed him to go, sell all that he had, and follow Him. (Mark 10, Luke 18, Matthew 19). The issue there was not one of money, but of loyalty, hence Jesus’ teaching that “you cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). It is also why, in John 12:43, there is no discussion of eternal life. His emphasis was that there were those who believed, but still rejected Jesus because they valued the glory of man more than the glory of God. After all, it was Jesus who taught us that “whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my father in heaven” (Matt 10:33).

            The problem is that to make the argument that salvation is dependent on intellectual acknowledgment rather than yielding to God’s authority requires one to ignore the vast scope of scripture. Pulling a solitary verse here and there without dealing with the rest of what scripture has to say on the topic is proof texting. The entire arch of scripture, however, unceasingly reiterates the proper relationship between God and man is one of submission. An awareness that Jesus is God yet a refusal to submit leaves one still in rebellion, and it is a rejection of the salvation Jesus offers.

            After all, Judas believed.

          • http://www.dhtaylor.com d taylor

            Judas Believed do you have a text saying that
            John says
            John 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus had already known from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)

          • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

            Nope. My Bible goes directly from 6:63 to 6:65. ;)

            I jest, of course. Your citation underlines my point, though. Judas openly identified Jesus as Lord, and in his sermon Peter identified Judas as one who was “numbered among us” and who “had a portion in this ministry” (Acts 1:18). Judas was one of the disciples sent out that proclaimed Jesus as the messiah throughout the surrounding villages, as detailed in Luke 9 and Mark 6, and the disciples sent out are listed by name in Matthew 10. Judas is listed among them.

            The issue with Judas wasn’t the lack of recognition of who Jesus was, it was his betrayal. Despite knowing who Jesus was, despite believing it and actively proclaiming it, Judas ultimately turned from Jesus, rejected His lordship, chose to serve money rather than the Lord, and thereby rejected the eternal life that Jesus offered. This is whyI say you can’t just pull one verse (and out of context at that). When the author of John’s Gospel speaks of a saving belief, it is more than simply a cognitive acknowledgment.

            Judas acknowledged Jesus and who He was, but didn’t place his faith in Him. He did exactly what I’ve been pointing out all along. When the author of John’s Gospel lists the opposite of “belief” as disobedience in 3:36, we see that very thing play out in the life of Judas Iscariot.

            Faith is ultimately an authority issue. It is the act of making a commitment to Christ, not a mere nod of the head.

          • http://www.dhtaylor.com d taylor

            Good write up: We Believe: Jesus Is Lord by Arthur L. Farstad

            http://www.faithalone.org/journal/1989i/Farstad.html#auth

          • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

            That is a good writeup. He makes a few blanket pronouncements in there – most notably his description of “Bible Christians” ( a distinction that aggravates me to no end… ALL Christians are Bible Christians. The attempt to label oneself a Bible Christian to the exclusion of others is simply an attempt at a trump card) and he also concludes with the the pronouncement, seemingly out of nowhere, that salvation is simply rooted in belief. Oddly, this pronouncement is entirely disconnected from the discussion of the rest of the article.

            If I may make a few comments:

            In section 5 he unpacks the meaning of Jesus as Lord and Master as depicted by the term kurios (the Greek κυριος transliterates to kurios by convention, not kyrios. The ‘y’ comes from the visible similarity between the capitalization of the greek upsilon “Υ” and the the English “Y”. In Greek, however, the upsilon is pronounced as a ‘u’). He makes some strange claims, however, regarding the idea of servant (doulos). Doulos can refer to a servant, a slave, or an employee, so the working relation between a boss and servant in Eph 6:5-9 can faithfully be translated employer/employee without losing the meaning of the text.

            It is also worth noting that Jesus is identified as doulos in Philippians 2. This goes with Farstad’s Hebrew depiction of the messiah as ebed-Yahweh… literally, “the servant/slave of the Lord.” The emphasis in Phil 2, however, is not just functional, it is a depiction of God’s humility in taking the form of the lowly. In this manner, the doulos is best seen as slave, as that was the lowest rung in Roman social class. So, to translate ebed-Yahweh as “slave of the Lord” would not be inaccurate either.

            Oddly, Farstad goes on to discuss servanthood and makes this claim:

            “The real question is: “What kind of servant (or slave) do we make ourselves?” If, like the OT slave who asked for his ear to be pierced with the awl to show his willing servitude, we submit and obey Him because we love Him, then we are on the way to becoming “good and faithful” servants (Matt 25:21). If we do not, we may prove to be lazy, unjust, or even wicked servants—but servants nonetheless.”

            On this basis, he goes on to link even wicked and unfaithful servants to eternal life. Yet, we see Jesus consistently describing the fate of the wicked servant as being cast into outer darkness, being expelled from God’s presence, being condemned to weeping and gnashing of teeth, etc. That is not the image of eternal life.

            I was also very surprised at his use of Nigel Turner for his word studies, until I realised that the article was written in 1989. Nigel’s material is outdated and not looked upon very favorably, based on the few reviews I could find that acknowledged his work at all. The lexical standards for Greek are the BDAG and the TDNT.

            However, I did agree with the fact that every definition of “Lord” given was in reference to some aspect of Jesus’ authority, just in different contexts. And that’s exactly right: everything revolves around our submission to His authority. In fact, I would even argue that our theology of who Jesus is can be grossly wrong, so long as we still yield and follow.

            One other thing: be careful about your sources. Biblically, you seem to be limiting your sources to just the Gospel of John. Scholastically, you seem to only draw from faithalone.org. Such an approach can result in a very narrow perspective on faith and scripture.

          • http://www.dhtaylor.com d taylor

            please excuse my randomness with the reply i am not a writer
            Also thanks for the hospitality this week on your blog but this may be my last post as i have grown weary of typing and trying to organize thoughts to type out.

            I have a question if i may ask and i ask because i am not clear on your position of Salvation(from hell) of the unbeliever.
            The question is do you believe that a person is saved in a moment of time or does it take a length of time for a person to be saved (a week, a month, a year, a life time)

            You said Judas openly identified Jesus as Lord
            I looked and all i found was where Judas called Jesus Rabbi. is there a verse stating where Judas Calls Christ Lord
            If any thing Judas had the works, casting out demons etc.. (except he was stealing money) what he did not have was the belief. even thought you say he did believe but again going back to John 6:64 he is said to not be a believer.

            {This is why I say you can’t just pull one verse (and out of context at that). When the author of John’s Gospel speaks of a saving belief, it is more than simply a cognitive acknowledgment.}
            John speaks of saving belief not because of some kind of special belief system but because of the object of saving belief which is Christ. That is why it is saving belief because the faith is placed in Christ. Not because the saving faith does not really mean faith but obedience.

            {(Judas acknowledged Jesus and who He was, but didn’t place his faith in Him. He did exactly what I’ve been pointing out all along. When the author of John’s Gospel lists the opposite of “belief” as disobedience in 3:36, we see that very thing play out in the life of Judas Iscariot.)}
            you say John 3:36 says the opposite of belief is disobedience John 3:18 says unbelief is what condemns a person not a lack of obedience in a persons life.
            John 3:18 The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God

            Looking back over our discussion this past week. here is what i have taken from our discussion that i believe lordship salvation teaches

            I gather from you post. that you are contributing to your salvation (from hell) by your commitment, obedience and repentance
            Examples of this is making Christ your Lord, replacing your will with that of Gods.
            You have define repentance as: ( Repentance is a turning away from sin and a turning to God. It is a recognition that God is my Lord, that He is my authority, and so I choose to yield my will to Him. ) and that repentance is part of a persons salvation (from hell) along with also being part of their living the Christian life (lordship, discipleship)
            That you define faith as: Faith is more than belief. It is a yielding of ourselves to the will of our King, and an acknowledgment of God’s governing authority in our life.
            You also said this about Faith (Faith is ultimately an authority issue. It is the act of making a commitment to Christ, not a mere nod of the head.)
            That your idea of belief is:( “I believe that Jesus is God, and I am choosing to make His will the authority in my life.”)

            ok one statement you said below
            (I think, however, that you are still misunderstanding me. I am not claiming a works-based righteousness, nor am I professing that salvation is based on our ability to behave in the right ways. I am saying that eternal life comes from the one’s response to Jesus, the decision to make Him your Lord, which means submitting to Jesus as the ultimate authority and acknowledging His will over our own.)

            with reading what you have said that is the only conclusion i can come to. Being that understanding from our discussion i get the impression you believe a person is given salvation(from hell) by Believing that Jesus is God, making a commitment to Christ, choosing to make His will the authority in my life, repenting turning away from sin and a turning to God recognizing that God is my Lord.
            Out of what you have said is required for a persons salvation (these listed above) require that you do action/works to make them valid how can a person commit to Christ(without that being a work) a person can not just walk around saying i am committed to Christ there has to be some type of action involved to show that they are committed.
            So with you placing that in the salvation (from hell) area required for an unbeliever to become a believer and not in the area of a believers life for their discipleship growth i get no other impression for lordship salvation.

            Not sure if you have any children. I do not, but i teach art to kids in k4 to 5th grade. Being around all kinds of children a person sees how trusting they are: an example of this is during Christmas time these children really believe there is a santa claus (the lie their parents and others tell them) there is no action they have to do to believe they just simply place their trust in what their parents have told them(even though it is not true) unlike the Bible which is absolutely truth and tells us that whoever believes in Christ is given eternal life. I see Mark 10:13-16 as showing how The kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Children are a picture of those whose simple trust illustrates what faith is all about.

            Mark 10:13 Now people were bringing little children to him for him to touch, but the disciples scolded those who brought them. 10:14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 10:15 I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 10:16 After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them.

            The article on lordship was posted to show how the people who believe in faith alone do not discount the Lordship of Christ. They just place it in the proper area in the believers life(discipleship) and not a part of an unbelievers salvation
            concerning the outterdarkness Jody Dillow has a chapter on this in his book Final Destiny or The Reign of the Servant Kings also by Dillow

            and we have not even had the time to discuss ( and i say because not being a writer i have grown weary typing and thinking how to get thoughts out to post, to much work to do, i not see how you do it day after day )
            the unforgivable sin of the blasphemy of the Holy spirit and how that plays a huge roll in repentance and baptism in the new testament for believers in Christ. One of the best sources for information on this is Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum of Ariel Ministries

            here is a link to a short article about this. http://www.arielm.org/dcs/pdf/mbs003m.pdf

            also this link http://www.arunrajesh.com/BibleStudy/mbs068m.pdf

          • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

            Taylor, you are always welcome on my blog. These types of conversation are good for both people involved. Even if neither of us changes our perspective on theology, such dialogues force us to engage it afresh, and grow as a result. I have enjoyed this conversation, and you are welcome to converse here any time with any topic that I post. Now, on to your questions.

            You asked:

            “…do you believe that a person is saved in a moment of time or does it take a length of time for a person to be saved (a week, a month, a year, a life time)?”

            That is a great question, and the answer is both, just as Lordship is both. There is a moment of redemption, whereby our sinful actions (past and future) are forgiven. This is the moment of our justification. Salvation begins here, but it is bigger than just that.

            The real question is: what are we saved from? If we are saved from hell, then yes. You could tie that into a moment. What we are saved from, however, is sin. Sin is bigger than individual actions, it is bigger than heaven and hell. Sin is an aspect of our fallen nature which manifests in evil deeds and ultimately leads to death. Hell is a consequence of the all-consuming nature of sin. I outlined an understanding of hell here: http://ofdustandkings.com/hell-doctrine-of-a-loving-god/

            So, while we may be forgiven of our sinful actions in a moment, the fullness of our salvation is completed as the very nature of our sin is steadily overcome through the process of our sanctification. As a result, we are transformed, restored into the image of our creator, and the sin which threatens to consume us is ultimately ferreted out, and our own inner darkness overcome with the light of Christ through the Holy Spirit. It is in justification that we come into the salvation of the Christian life; it is through sanctification that our salvation becomes complete.

            You also said:

            “Being that understanding from our discussion i get the impression you believe a person is given salvation(from hell) by Believing that Jesus is God, making a commitment to Christ, choosing to make His will the authority in my life, repenting turning away from sin and a turning to God recognizing that God is my Lord.
            Out of what you have said is required for a persons salvation (these listed above) require that you do action/works to make them valid how can a person commit to Christ(without that being a work) a person can not just walk around saying i am committed to Christ there has to be some type of action involved to show that they are committed.”

            I should point out that “making a commitment to Christ, choosing to make His will the authority in my life, repenting turning away from sin, and a turning to God recognizing that God is my Lord” are all synonyms for the same point. We enter into the salvation of God by realigning ourselves. That is, we do more than just acknowledge that Jesus is God (I could, for example, acknowledge that Jesus is God and choose to instead worship satan. I think you would be hard pressed to identify that as a saving faith.), I also have to choose to submit to His authority. Ergo, I choose to make Jesus my Lord and master.

            The difference between this and works is that works flow as a result of my commitment to Christ. It is the commitment that is saving, not the works. This is why Jesus says that we shall know believers by their fruit, and that James points out that faith without works is dead. It is not the works that save us, but those works will naturally manifest as the result of the commitment we have made.

            This is also a significant aspect to sanctification. We have already made the commitment to follow Christ, but as we continue to progress through our Christian life the Holy Spirit will continue to reveal to us the areas of our lives we still have not yielded to Him. We have made a commitment to do so, but the living out of that commitment is a lifelong process. So, therefore, our commitment is (in many ways) also a commitment of a repentant life and a continued yielding. Our commitment to Christ is not perfect by any stretch, and certainly is not perfect in the moment that we make it, but we place ourselves on a path that follows Christ and is dedicated a continued yielding of our lives to Him. Ergo, Jesus is our Lord, and we strive to live that out to the best of our ability.

            Lastly, you made reference to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This one is easy – Jesus Himself defines it for us.

            Keep in mind the context: Jesus just finishes casting out demons through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the religious leaders claim that Jesus draws His power from satan (beelzebub, actually). Jesus responds by accusing them of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, the one unforgivable sin. In fact, Mark 3 records it as:

            “28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” – Mk 3:28–30

            The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was where the people reject God to such an extreme that even the good that God does is attributed to satan. If forgiveness, after all, comes through a yielding to the authority of Jesus Christ, then a total rejection of God – a rejection that identifies God as the enemy, no less – is a rejection of God’s forgiveness itself.

            As a side note, your reference to children placing their faith in an authority figure inherently requires those children to recognize that authority figure. You can;t really remove authority from that, especially when Jesus explicitly defines it in the context of a Kingdom. A kingdom, after all, has a central figure of authority – the King, or Lord.

  • http://haroldmillerjr.com Harold Miller, Jr.

    Thank you so much for this post! You are right on the mark!!!!

    • Joey

      This is interesting stuff, but everyone who has responded appears to be a believer already. I was brought up in a Christian church, but Point 3 talks about “community” I have a mental disability which means that I appear normal but slightly odd, a little irritating (to recognize the problem doesn’t help to remedy it). So if the community (the church) doesn’t want me does that leave me outside of the faith? How can I come to salvation if I am unable to meet all the criteria? To be accepted may be a small thing to you, but vitally important if it is something you don’t have by nature.

      • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

        So you mind if I answer this in an article? This is such a great question, I’d like to expose it to the greater community…

        • Joey

          If you’re waiting for a reply – be my guest.

          • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

            Yeah, sorry. That was supposed to read “do you mind” not “so you mind”

          • http://tehanna.com T E Hanna

            Hi Joey.

            I’m sorry it took so long to put this together, but I wanted you to know that in January I am launching an entire series on mental illness in the church. I’ll be looking at mental health statistics, publishing some guest articles from people with mental illness that have struggles with this, looking at what some churches are doing to better help those members with mental illness, and (if I can land it) publishing a guest article from a Christian counselor talking about what we can do as Christians to be a better community for those with mental illness.

            I will be updating and re-releasing this article this coming week, and the mental health series should launch in January.

            Again, I apologize for the extremely long delay in addressing your question, but I hope the series brings attention to the issue and explores it in far more detail than a single article could.

            Hope you’ll be there to enjoy it.

  • http://Danklineh Daniel

    The meaning of accepting Jesus Christ as our personnel Savior is that to be born again…n we need to be born again cuz as John 3:3 states that “I tell you the truth,no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is BORN AGAIN”. :P

  • http://www.bmarkanderson.com(underconstruction) Mark Anderson

    Hi T E
    Catchy title. I think I know what you are trying to say. You want disciples and not selfish believers. You want corporate, active Christians, not isolated, “me-oriented” Christians. You want people who fear God as sovereign Lord, not self-centered babies. This is all needed and honorable. I’m with you.

    However, may I suggest you work on this a little more? Your clarification to Holly Anne helps some. Personal evangelism is hugely lacking among us Christians; your article in present form may well discourage already timid people from witnessing. We in leadership need to do everything possible to encourage our people to reach out in love, certainly not discourage or hinder them.

    The desire and act of evangelism is a demonstration of the very attitudes and actions you are calling for–discipleship and outward focus.

    To accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord does not mean passivity. It means a reaching out to Him in response to His love. It means a willful surrender of our entire being to his authority. It involves the fateful act of placing ourselves under His authority, not even knowing our future.It’s saying, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

    If you came across a person who genuinely wanted to be relieved of his guilt and sin, what words or phrases would you use to guide him into a committed life with Christ?

    • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

      That depends on the person, Mark. The reality is, God is at work on and with that person long before I ever came into the conversation. At best, I am participating with the work that God is already doing. First and foremost, I show up and pay attention.

      If I genuinely love people, genuinely live transparently, and genuinely own my faith and the transformational role that Christ has played in my life… then when God reveals to me where He is at work in the other person’s life, I simply expose it and invite people into that relationship.

      Faithful witness is embodied, I believe. It is lived. That plays out in how and what we speak, but evangelism is far more intimate than memorized pathways or rhetorical apologetics.

      If I were to give advice on the heart of evangelism, it would be this: Love Jesus with everything that you are. Love people with everything that you are. Evangelism happens in the overlap.

      • http://bmarkanderson.com Mark

        I grew up in the Lutheran church. As we gave the weekly offering in our Sunday School we sang the same song every Sunday.
        “Come into my heart, Come into my heart,
        Come in to day, Come in to stay,
        Come in to my heart, Lord Jesus.”
        The song meant nothing to me. Then one day everything changed. I found myself singing for all I was worth. I was singing aggressively, with the same gusto as if I were running for a touchdown. The lights were going on inside this selfish junior high kid.
        I felt wonderful, but I was too scared to tell anyone for years. Looking back I realized God was getting inside me as I sang “Come in to my heart.”
        Life went on. About 8 years after this Sunday School encounter I confided to a pastor that I thought I was saved, but something was missing. I didn’t know what. He wisely pulled me aside and showed several Scriptures including–
        John 1:12 But to all who received Him, who believed on His name, He gave power to become children of God.
        Revelation 3:20 Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into him . . .
        This was another huge event in my life. The pastor showed me that I had received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I was saved! I was assured of eternal life. The peace and assurance propelled me to reach out to high school and college age students. That outreach has since expanded to include food, spiritual, and physical provisions for people on several continents.
        Now T E, may I kindly ask you several questions? When you posted your article “Five Reasons Why Christians Should NOT Accept Jesus as Their Personal Savior,” were you aware that it might influence some young person to do exactly what you said? What if I had read your article and refused to allow the Holy Spirit to come over me in Sunday School?
        Were you aware that your post might quench evangelism in some Christian people? I confess privately to you that it diminished my zeal. I am still praying that God will heal me from that article. (I know it was meant well.)
        One more question. “Jesus said, “I have called you to reap” (John 4:38) Are you winning any souls? Who can you name that you have “reaped” in the past year? I hope you have led some to justification by faith in Christ.
        And you don’t have to answer to me. I merely want you to know that you are a gifted and influential writer. I like how you said, “Love God. Love people. Evangelism happens in the overlap.” You have a powerful platform. May you use it wisely.
        Sincerely,
        Mark

        • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

          Thank you Mark.

          The title was intentionally controversial, and the article was designed to stimulate exactly these type of conversations. I think the article itself unpacked what was meant, tho.

          I am in no way dismissing the need to come to Jesus personally, the reality of a personal relationship with Him, the redemptive grace and assurance of salvation, or the transformation that happens internally.

          What I am pushing back against, however, is the way we pacify the faith. On the one hand, we shape Jesus after what we want Him to be, rather than allowing ourselves to be conformed to Him. We see this particularly in the moralistic therapeutic deism that is rampant in our culture. We personalize Jesus. Thus my pushback to a personalized savior.

          We also make Christianity passive, allowing the faith to be about “accepting Jesus” rather than responding to a call to follow, to take up our cross, to yield to the lordship of our King. Declaring Jesus as Lord is more than just accepting him – it is granting him authority over our lives.

          In answer to your other question, I have had the distinct privilege of being personally involved in the moments whereby individuals this past year have responsed to God’s grace – at least 5, depending where you start the year. I have also had the privilege of participating in the work God has done in restoring people to their faith, or connecting people with a church, or helping unbelievers begin that road of exploration. All within the past year.

          I rarely work from home. I position myself at cultural hubs – especially starbucks – and intentionally begin building relationships with the employees and other regulars. I rarely have a day of work go by where I am not somehow engaged in a discussion regarding faith with one of these relationships – and it all arises very naturally, very organically.

          If we love people and love God, and then we put ourselves where people are, I don’t think we can help allowing God’s love to pour out of us

          • http://www.bmarkanderson.com Mark

            Thank you for your response, T E. Somewhere I remember the disciples saying, “Now you are speaking plainly, not in figurative language.” Your clarifications help.

            I’m also happy to hear how you are actively leading people to faith in Christ.That is exciting!

            May your ministry expand!

            Sincerely, Mark

  • http://Sharingthefaith.net Kimberly Medina

    Wow, I never looked at it that way. I say Jesus is my Lord and Savior all the time. But with that said He did change my life in miraculous ways and I do “follow Him” and I am out in the world trying to help others come to accept & follow Him also.

    • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

      I agree that we have to encounter Jesus personally. My complaint is with the way we personal-ize Jesus, and the way we often make Christianity a passive faith.

  • http://mariaegilsson.blogspot.ca/ Maria Egilsson

    Challenging and soul stirring. I have posted a quote from your article and will be following up with another quote (and a link) in the next day or two. Thank you for writing this timely article!

    • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

      Glad you liked it, Maria!

  • http://triciajots4jesus.wordpress.com triciajots4jesus

    Good points. I hadn’t thought about it like that.

    • http://tehanna.com/ T E Hanna

      Hi Tricia! Thanks for stopping by, I hope to see more of you!

  • http://doylevan.wordpress.com/ Evan Doyle

    Thanks for sharing… American culture has certainly broadened the narrow path that Jesus calls us follow Him on. He is a gracious, merciful, loving God.

  • http://www.businessreviewpro.com michael

    I have never considered these thoughts but find it interesting all though my take on Christianity is simple or Black and white as the bible itself. I see all these different opinions and thus the confusion was born. I believe in the word not translations. I think this is what pulls us away from the way God wants us to co habitat. The key is Christian and simple its a yes or no question not a multiple choice or a 1-5 star choice. Its you are a Christian based on the foundation of the word or you are not PERIOD. I have been a Christian in training since I can remember having memory. I am intelligent enough to figure out that all these multiple denominations are again man made interpretation to conform to the way a individual or group proclaims, so as to be able to live a life they choose to live. I believe that we must take the word (Bible) for it face value and not try to use it to our own way of conformity or liking. God Bless You

    • http://tehanna.com/ T. E. Hanna

      So who interprets the Bible? If we interpret it individually, as you seem to suggest, what happens when our interpretations disagree? Do we not wind up right back at denominations and theological traditions?

      That’s all theology is… the framework for how we understand and think through what Scripture has to say in faithful ways.

  • http://darrellcreswell.wordpress.com/ Darrell Creswell

    I enjoyed this very much, nice piece – In Christ Darrell

    • http://tehanna.com/ T. E. Hanna

      Thanks Darrell! I appreciate you stopping by!

  • http://freshmannatoday.wordpress.com Bob

    Excellent points. We are called to be followers of Christ. We are also God’s sons and daughters when we decide to follow Christ our Savior. In my opinion the emphasis on “personal Savior” originated to emphasize that the presence of Christ resides in all believers, making our relationship with Christ a personal life-changing experience. Thanks for your insight.

  • https://www.google.com/profiles/103604860487947366840 Christian Ballenger

    Absolutely agree with you my friend!!! This “Jesus and me” Christianity is destroying our faith. People don’t even realize how far from Christ they actually are by not embracing the true call to follow him, by actively participating in his mission to the world as part of his Church. Thank you for contending for our faith.

  • http://robinclaire.wordpress.com Robin Claire

    Hi,
    This is my third comment. Sorry about that.
    It looks like my earlier comments are not showing up. Are they?
    thanks
    robin claire

    • http://tehanna.com/ T. E. Hanna

      They were just awaiting approval ;)

  • http://robinclaire.wordpress.com Robin Claire

    I forgot to click on the “comment notification” so I’m commenting again – to get on the notification list.
    robin claire

  • http://robinclaire.wordpress.com Robin Claire

    Hi T.E.,
    I just want to tell you – how much I enjoy the way you think and work your Christian walk.

    I wrote my testimony on my blog in 6 parts. I linked them one to the next. Here is Part 1
    http://robinclaire.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/how-robin-was-saved-part-1-3/#more-4711

    I’d love you to go through it and give me your HONEST feedback. This is an astounding testimony – but I still have chinks in my Christian walk that upset me. I find it very, very difficult to read the Bible regularly. I read it when my back is against the wall. Otherwise I don’t read it, and I don’t know why, nor what to do about that. It’s a long, up-hill battle for me. Do you have anything that might help?
    Also: I am starting to collect testimonies on my blog. I have a Page with categories for each person represented. I just started it and so far I’m the only one represented. Do you think you might be interested in being a part of this. Have you written your testimony? If you have, would you mind me “borrowing” it for my blog? If so, can you tell me where to find it on your blog (s)?
    much love to you, and thank you for sharing your walk with us. I’m sorry this was such a long comment.
    robin claire

    • Michael

      Robin Claire wrote: “I find it very, very difficult to read the Bible regularly. I read it when my back is against the wall. Otherwise I don’t read it, and I don’t know why, nor what to do about that. It’s a long, up-hill battle for me. Do you have anything that might help?”.

      GET YOURSELF A GOBIBLE! It’s half the size of a pack of cigarettes and light weight. Plug it in your ears and ENJOY! (You do have to buy a version that suits you of course. But you could start with listening to audio versions online.)

  • Christa

    That’s good stuff!

  • http://www.jackopines.wordpress.com Jack

    It sounds like what you’re basically saying is that Christianity is a call to discipleship. I have seen people “accept Jesus” and then go living the way they’ve always lived. I, too, have issues with this. For those who are truly believers, whose hearts God has changed, they will want to do all that you listed above. I remember reading that Charles Finney always made Christian conversion a difficult thing. He would tell his hearers that if they wanted to follow Christ, there was a cost involved. They would have to truly repent of their sins, surrender entirely to God’s will and follow Him in every area of their lives.

    • http://tehanna.com/ T. E. Hanna

      Exactly.

  • http://melaniejeanjuneau.wordpress.com melanie jean juneau (motherofnine9)

    excellent- your original language and turns of phrse turns everything inside out and lets the light shine on the lies

  • http://www.richards-watch.org Richard

    Most interesting indeed in view of recent on-line discussions! Have just returned form our church life group where discussed Romans 6 indepth, which especially covers your 2nd and last points. So thank you very much.

    • http://richards-watch.org Richard Barker

      This is still rattling around in my mind so – hope you don’t mind – but had to post on my blog with recommendation for my readers at http://wp.me/p1Y1yB-363. TOO important a topic to ignore. Thanks again TE

      • http://tehanna.com/ T. E. Hanna

        You are always free to share or reblog anything you find on this site, just please include a link back to the original – which you did. Thanks!

  • http://ramblingsofapoet.wordpress.com Holly Anne

    How should one become a Christian then? This post isn’t very clear to me.

    Are you saying we shouldn’t bring God down to our level? Because He already did that on His own when He came to live here as one of us. He did it to be OUR sacrifice. That’s pretty low. We shouldn’t keep Him there, because He rose again and is reigning, but he did it for each individual. I would say that’s pretty personal.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but your title is incredibly misleading unless you believe that God makes people Christians against their will (Calvinism)

    • http://tehanna.com/ T. E. Hanna

      Good questions!

      The emphasis I am making is not that God does not encounter us on our level, but that he calls us to something far deeper than a passive acceptance of Him. The issue I have with the way “accepting Jesus as your personal savior” plays out is that it entirely passive and requires little of us in response, it privatizes Christianity which leads to Christians who see their faith in isolation rather than in community (how often have you heard people claim they can be perfectly acceptable Christians without the church?), it pushes Jesus to the margins in that He is there when we need Him but fails to impact the rest of our life, and it enables us to customize Jesus in shaping him to our desires rather than us being formed into his likeness.

      I would be fine with “choosing to follow Jesus as savior and Lord” but not “accepting Jesus as your personal savior”

      • http://ramblingsofapoet.wordpress.com Holly Anne

        Ok that makes more sense :) Thanks for clarifying!

    • Chuck

      Mr. Hanna, I agree that the outcome of accepting Jesus as your personal savior is to not commit to the walk as a christian, but Protestantism in general has cultivated and nurtured this false doctrine since at least the 1930′s. Many believe all that one has to say is a sinners prayer to be saved, this of course is the foundation of the personal savior with all its colors. No scripture will be found for a sinners prayer. Obedience labeled as works has been consistently disparaged in the past century and yet the bible is clear on that matter. (James 2:14-26; 1:21-27). Works of merit are not saving works, but who decides what is a work of merit? The “Denominations”? “Christians”? “Religious Leaders” (etc.) Jesus say’s if you love Me, keep My commandments.(John 14:15) This same Jesus taught Nicodemus what it meant to be born again. (John 3:1-5) The religious community for the most part disparages, denigrates, and mocks bible baptism(immersion), but that is a subject of which Jesus and the Apostles did have a lot to say, namely it is commanded in order to be saved. (Acts 2:38; 8; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 18:24-28; 19:1-4) Paul recorded the inspired reason for baptism. (Romans 6:1-5) Jesus Himself commanded His apostles to baptize and was baptized Himself. (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 3:21-22; Mark 16:15-16) Baptism is not the removal of the filth of the flesh. (1Peter 3:21) Nor is it magic or holy water that saves. I am immersed every time I swim or take a bath, but that does not save me. It is the baptism for the remission of sins that Jesus commanded that saves. The concept of personal experiences of salvation and the disconnect from church and christianity is the root to this problem of personalization. It is is very popular because it allows one to claim christianity, even feel good about themselves and not be accountable for their salvation, works, or their lack thereof. Jesus does not teach this kind of christianity. (Matthew 16:13-19; Mark 9:1; John 14:6; John 18:36-37; Acts 2:47; Ephesians 5:22-32; 1:22-23; 3:8-21; Colossians 1:9-18) Our work in the body of Christ, the church of Christ, the kingdom of Christ is an important part of our salvation. (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1Corinthians 12:12-27) And the road to salvation must start with the recognition I am a sinner in need of a savior. (Romans 3:23) and the blood of Jesus Christ saves me. (Romans 6:1-5) and with this knowledge I am compelled to repent of my sins. (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:37-38) confessing Jesus as Lord and Christ. (Romans 10:9-10) ready, yes, even eager to be buried in the waters of baptism for the remission of my sins. (Acts 2:38; 8:36; 1Peter 3:21) arising to walk a new life being faithful until death. (Romans 6:5; 2Timothy 2:15; Galatians 5:15-26; Ephesians 5:8-21; Revelation 2:10) And it is with this that I have a common salvation with obedient believers in Jesus Christ. (Jude 3; 1Corinthians 1:10-18; Ephesians 4:1-6) No sectarianism or denominationalism, just simply christians in the church which Christ died for. (Matthew 16:18; Acts 11:26; Romans 16:16; Ephesians 5:23,32) A practice of these things will solve the problem of the personal savior mentality.