Personal Relationship with Jesus 

 

It is common at baptisms to mention that Israel crossing the Red Sea prefigured the believer's exit from the world through baptism; and therefore the wilderness journey is a prototype of our journey through life, to the Kingdom. For every man, this life is a lonely desert trek, a wilderness walk, with the pillar of fire to warm us by night and the column of glorious cloud to point out the way. Time and again, believers yearn for more companionship on the journey; perhaps through marriage, or through having more brethren and sisters to meet with in their area. And time and again, they find that while these things undoubtedly do help us on the way, at the end, we're alone, utterly and totally alone in our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The intense nature of that personal relationship with Jesus will in essence be the same, for the happily married brother surrounded by believing children and grandchildren, to the lonesome, isolated sister in some remote corner of the globe, who doesn't speak the same language as most of the present body of Christ. The man who finds treasure [or, perhaps, a deposit of precious metal in a field which could be mined] hides the fact (Mt. 13:44), and sells all he has to buy that field. The hiding of the discovery speaks to me of the utterly personal knowledge between a man and his Lord which we enter into when we 'find' the treasure of the Kingdom, the pearl of great price. For any man or woman who hears the Lord's words, He and His Father will enter in and make their abode with them (Jn. 14:23). Although we are a great multitude of redeemed, yet the communication of the Father and Son to us are still amazingly unique, even though we all hear and read the same actual words, and reflect upon the same facts. Right back at the beginning of God’s relationship with Israel He had made the point that “I will meet you [plural] to speak there unto thee [you singular]” (Ex. 29:42).  

There is the sustained implication that the personal relationship between Jesus and each of His followers is totally personal and unique. The Abrahamic covenant is made personally with every member of the seed " in their generations" (Gen. 17:7). The records of the renewing of the covenant to Isaac and Jacob are but indicators that this is the experience of each one of the seed. This means that the covenant love of God and the promise of personal inheritance of the land is made personally, and confirmed by the shedding of Christ's blood, to each of us. Paul appreciated this when he spoke of how the Son of God had loved him and died for him personally, even though that act of death was performed for many others (Gal. 2:20). This is one of the most essential mysteries of our redemption (and yes, there are some mysteries still); that Christ gave Himself for me, so that He might make me His very own; and therefore I wish to respond in total devotion to Him and His cause, to make Him the Man I fain would follow to the end. And yet He did it for you and for you; for all of us His people. All the current emphasis on fellowship and family life, good as it is, must never blind us to this ultimately personal relationship with the One who gave Himself for us. Each time a believer enters into covenant with Christ through baptism, blood is in a sense shed; the Lord dies again as the believer dies again in the waters if baptism. The Hebrew word translated ‘to cut a covenant’ is also translated ‘cut off’ in the sense of death (Gen. 9:11; Lev. 20:2,3; Is. 48:9; Prov. 2:21). Death and blood shedding are essential parts of covenant making. 

" Many" will be rejected at the judgment seat because they don't know the Lord Jesus Christ; they never had a personal relationship with Jesus, even though they have experienced answered prayer, done miracles, worked for their Lord etc. (Mt. 7:22,23; 1 Cor. 13). They will have built a spiritual house, but on sand. It isn't difficult to be a good Christian outwardly. But to know the Lord Jesus? That's another question. John knew his Lord. He repeatedly describes himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved (Jn. 13:23; 20:2; 21:7,20). Doubtless John was aware that Jesus loved all His people; but John is surely exalting in the fact that the Lord loved him personally.  

Our relationship with the Lord God is likewise personal. Each of us is " the work of God" , and we should therefore respect each other's spiritual individuality (Rom. 14:20). Moses on that last day of his life addressed the whole assembly of Israel; and yet he so often speaks in the singular (" thee" rather than " ye" ), as if to emphasize that the laws and covenant he was giving them was to them personally. Dt. 29:10,12 makes this clear: " Ye (plural) stand this day all of you before the Lord...that thou (singular) shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord" . That covenant was made anew by God to each generation; as Israel were offered the choice of death or covenant-life in Dt. 30:15,19, so the very same words were offered to Israel in Jeremiah's time (21:8). In the same spirit, Moses points out that Yahweh is the only God that can be personally known; all the idols could not be known personally (Dt. 29:26). No fewer than 137 times in Scripture we read the phrase " my God" . This was used in a public, unashamed way by many of God's children (it was a particular favourite of Nehemiah, David and Paul).