What does it take to begin a relationship with God?
Wait for lightning to strike? Devote yourself to unselfish religious deeds? Become a better person so that God will accept you? NONE of these. God has made it very clear in the Bible how we can know Him. These four points explain how you can personally begin a relationship with God, right now...
Point One: God loves you and created you to have a personal relationship with Him.
God loves you. Not only that, he made you as an expression of that love. He wants to enjoy that relationship with you now and for eternity.
Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Jesus came so that each of us could know and understand God in a personal way. Jesus is the key to knowing God. God is the source of meaning and purpose in our lives.
Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." (John 10:10b)
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3)
What keeps us from knowing God?...
Point Two: All of us are sinful and guilty before God, who is perfect and just. Sin has separated us from God and broken the relationship we were made for. Therefore we cannot know and experience God personally.
The Bible says, "...all fall short of God's glorious standard" (Romans 3:23). Though God intended for us to have a relationship with him, we fail to live in a way that is consistent with that relationship. We naturally want to do things our own way.
Deep down, our attitude may be one of active rebellion toward God or passive indifference, but it's all evidence of what the Bible calls sin. The Bible tells us that "All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).
The result of sin in our lives, the result of this breakdown of relationship, is spiritual separation from God, the source of our life, meaning and purpose. Cut off from God, we experience death. (Romans 6:23). Although we may try to recover our life's meaning and purpose through our own effort we inevitably fail. First, the relationship with God has to be put right.
This diagram shows the great gap that exists between us and God. The arrows illustrate that we might try to reach God through our own efforts. We may try to do good things, or earn God's acceptance through a good life or a moral philosophy. But our good efforts are insufficient to deal with our sin.
Imagine you stole your parent's car and crashed it. You might try to buy them an ice cream to make them feel better, but it wouldn't work. Someone has to pay for the car.
So, how can we bridge this gap?...
Point Three: Jesus Christ is God's only provision for our sin. Through him we can know and experience a personal relationship with God.
Jesus Christ is God's solution to the problem of our imperfection and rebellion. Because of Jesus' death on the cross, our sin doesn't have to separate us from God any longer. In his suffering and death on the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sin and in so doing, bridged the gap between us and God. He was our substitute.
"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God" (1Peter 3:18).
In this way, Jesus was unique. Not only was he a great teacher and an incredible leader, he was also the ultimate lover.
"But God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
No one else was qualified to act as our substitute, to take our place. As the ultimate act of love, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. Amazingly, God responded to that act and raised Jesus to life - the first person raised as a promise of eternal life to all who follow him.
"I am the way, the truth and the life," Jesus said. "No one can come to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
He also said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish" (John 11:25-26).
So not only did Jesus die for our sin, he rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). When he did, he proved beyond doubt that he can rightfully promise eternal life--that he is the Son of God and the only means by which we can know God. He said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Yet just knowing about God and his purposes isn't enough. We must choose to respond to what we know.
It is not enough just to know these three truths...
Point Four: We must each respond to Jesus Christ by placing our trust in him as our Saviour and Lord; then we can know and experience God personally.
The response involves two parts.
Firstly, agreeing with God that we have sinned (offended him) and deciding to turn from our sin. (Repentance) Acts 2:36-38
Secondly, trusting Jesus Christ to forgive us completely because he died for our sins. (Faith) Romans 10:9,10
The relationship is a gift of God and begins when we put our trust in Christ.
The Bible says, "God saved you by his special favour when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
And the relationship is personal.
The Bible says, "But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).
How will you respond to God's invitation? What will you do with Jesus?
Consider these two circles.
Self is on the throne
Jesus is outside the life
Interests are directed by self, often resulting in frustration
Jesus is in the life and on the throne
Self is yielding to Jesus
Interests are directed by Jesus, resulting in harmony with God
Which circle best represents your life?
Which circle would you like to have represent your life?
Begin a relationship with Jesus...
You can respond to Jesus right now. How do you express repentance and faith?
Let's return to the example of the crashed car. How can your relationship with your parent be restored? You would need to tell them you are sorry for what you have done, promise not to do it again, and trust that they will forgive you.
In the same way, you can place your trust in Jesus Christ by expressing your faith through prayer. (Prayer is simply talking to God)
God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as he is with the attitude of your heart. If you are unsure of what to pray, this might help you put it into words:
Lord Jesus, I realise that I have been running my own life and have sinned against you. Thank you for dying for my sins. I want to be the kind of person you want me to be. I receive you as my Saviour and Lord. Thank you for giving me this personal relationship.
If you sincerely prayed this just now, then you have become a child of God as he promised. You have begun a personal relationship with God.
What follows is a lifelong journey of change and growth as you get to know God better through Bible reading, prayer and interaction with other Christians.
I just prayed to receive Jesus (some helpful information follows)...
I may want to respond to Jesus, but I have a question I would like answered first...