Jesus in the 12 Step fellowships?


It was shared with me by those who were quick to see where religious people are right… that prayer, meditation, and self reflection are keys to an ever growing conscious contact with God. In connection to that Power, which today I trust in Faith is the Holy Spirit, I have found a new freedom and a new happiness. I can comprehend serenity and I know Peace. I am still learning “H.O.W.” to have true relationships through Honesty, Open Mindedness and Willingness. Today I am learning forward but understanding backward. Turns out the “W.H.O.” has been with me all along my journey and those I journey with. For me…Jesus is coming into focus sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly but He and His promises always materialize, if I continue to work for them.

“Grace is not opposed to effort, but it is opposed to earning.” Dallas Willard


Hi. I find the 12 step groups absolutely Great for any Christian wanting to grow in God’s Will. It keeps me reviewing my sins/issues & letting them go to God where He wants them.
I work/minister in a Christ centered recovery group every week. We deal with all life issues, we call hurts, habits & hangups. All people are welcome!
I love to watch God working in people’s lives.
I don’t know if RZIM allows me to say their name. Please let me know. I would love to promote this Great ministry.


Hi there, Cheryl. Is that a paid position you have there, or more a regular “meeting”? I’m retired now so it is like i get paid by SocSec to go to meetings and do “step work” with new friends. It’s a great life! Yea, God!

As far as your question, i don’t know the answer exactly, but i suppose we should keep some degree of anonimity here. On the other hand, if you work for a non-12-step recovery organization i imagine you could mention their corporate name.

And i agree with you that it is a great blessing to watch our Heavenly Dad ever at work, transforming lives. Have you ever heard the saying, “The King of kings. and Lord of lords. has humbled Himself to become, for us, the Sponsor of sponsors, and Trusted Servant of trusted servants”? That has a lot of meaning to me, personally. You, too?

No, it’s not a money paid position, but the blessings are more then any money i could receive. I’m retired & on SS too.
I’m still going to wait for admin to answer the ‘organization nane’ question, don’t want to get kicked off here.
No, I’ve never heard that saying before.
Have a good day & ttyl.

Next i wanted to share a little-known (or little talked about at least) aspect of AA (and to some degree the other brands of 12 Step groups). And that has to do with the underlying “God concept” that is implicitly suggested by the literature.

For example, as noted above, the 2nd Tradition (guideline for the success of groups) points to “a loving God”, who “expresses Himself through the group conscience”. He is “the One who has all power”. And the AA Big Book gets more specific on pages 62 and 63.

In preparation for Step 3, which is “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”, there are some suggestions regarding what God is to be like to us.

In my own words, He is the Heavenly Father, the perfect Dad, and we are His kids. He is the flawless employer / boss, ever wanting to develop the best in us in whatever positions that will satisfy our basic natures and gifts – we are His willing workers. And He is the Divine director / owner of all – we are His agents or representatives.

Once again, these concepts can ultimately point only to Jesus Christ, as i see it. So here’s the question i want to raise here: is that “another Gospel” as some would say, or could it be these are concepts that will lead us to Him as we grow spiritually, relying more and more on Him, and less and less on our own abilities and will?

What say U’all?


It’s interesting, @DeanW… I would say that it all depends on what one means by (big G) Gospel. It seems to me that the Gospel (big G) must communicate certain components/tenets for it to be considered as the Gospel in its fulness.

What I would say you (or the AA Big Book) are communicating is a partial Gospel. It seems that one is committing to submitting to God ‘as one understands Him/Her/It/Them’. There are key elements of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that are present, but it is not there in its fulness.

So, no, I wouldn’t consider it ‘another’ Gospel so-to-speak like Paul would reference in 2 Corinthians 11 and Galatians 1, but I wouldn’t say that it’s the full Gospel.

And that’s by design, I imagine? There seems to be much more a trust that the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth of Jesus Christ to them in their journey of recovery. Would you say that’s accurate or would you push back? :slight_smile:


Hi, Kathleen. No, i have no push back – you have seen correctly that the full Gospel cannot be a standard part of the 12 Step fellowships, since most people coming in have a distrust of religion and much confusion about God being a demanding, hostile, vengeful kind of being. Most of these folks had a broken home and only a very few had a good church experience as part of their up-bringing.

So first the newcomer needs to begin to come to trust their fellow recovering addicts, then see that there is almost no “self-righteousness” among us, yet we have found workable relationships with the “God of our understanding”. Then, as they begin to relate to us more and hear/see the changes in us, they can begin to believe that there is an accepting, caring, “Higher Power” that wants to help them in their specific-substance recovery, and later in all aspects of their lives.

Given more meetings and time away from their active addiction, they will normally get into the Step process, which i understand to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, who then leads them (sometimes very gradually/slowly) to Christ. Not all people will come to know Jesus this way, of course, but a lot of folks do, Me included, and i was a confused, militant atheist when i got into recovery.

It is a “partial Gospel”, definitely, yet the environment is conducive to wanting to know more and more about this Power that helps us stay sober/clean/abstinent. Naturally there is a heavy emphasis on “gradual-grace” rather than “instant-righteousness”, since many of us have been rejected and “burned” by highly critical, judgmental religious groups, and rebelled against “the pharisees”, so to speak, who misrepresented the true God of infinite goodness.

I will plan to write some more about the way Jesus reveals it is Him who is healing us, soon. I appreciate your thoughtful interaction – thank you.


Wow. This is amazing! I love being reminded that God can reveal Himself in whatever way He wishes!

“gradual grace” – a very apt description! Like a sort of slow warming process… I find grace often operates in my life like that too…melting down my self-righteousness. :slight_smile:

Thanks for all your reflections on this!


I like that, “melting down my self-righteousness”. Like “softening up our forzen-hard hearts”. Must be the Son-God , the God of the Sun Source. Sounds like a poem in the making…

Thanks, Kathleen. By the way, you probably know that your name derives from a word meaning “pure, virginal”? I guess we are all that, in Christ. One big kathleen-clean Family.


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Next, i take a look at the “promises of AA”. (Note, though, that there is some variance, for example, Narcotics Anonymous states only one promise, “the freedom from active addiction”).

There are over one hundred “promises” in the AA Big Book, but 12 of them are given special emphasis, when the person in recovery begins to clean up their past [after turning their lives and wills over to God, confessing past wrongs, and depending on Him to remove our shortcomings/character defects]. These are read aloud in most meetings:


We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.

Self-seeking will slip away.

Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.

Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.

We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.


The reading goes on to state that these promises are being fulfilled among those who sincerely give themselves to the principles of the Steps, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but if we are willing to do the work He lays out, with His help, they do come to pass. (This paragraph is in my own wording and my experience).

Since, no person can come to the Heavenly Father apart from Jesus Christ, but only through Him, i submit the fulfillments of the promises are evidence that Messiah is the true, and only, “Higher Power” of the 12 Step fellowships. And in Him is the Land of the Promises.

Any rebuttals? Please feel free…in Him…

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Consider the implications if Jesus Christ is actually the rescuing power in the 12 Step fellowships. Here are some:

He is very, very patient with “the chieftains of sinners”, as some would consider the alcoholics and extreme addicts of various types.

He humbles Himself to remain anonymous so that recovery groups can be united in their primary purpose (of recovering others like themselves), rather than arguing about His name or about religious doctrines.

His compassion and mercy are extended to many hundreds of thousands of needy people who seem unable to find a relationship with God in the usual institutions.

He answers the Serenity Prayer, which is said at almost all meetings, by building serenity/acceptance, courage and wisdom in the least serene, most fearful, most foolish of folks – meeting by meeting.

He inspires and empowers the growth that leads to an increased experiencing of the “promises” which He establishes in the lives of those who follow His principles in the Steps.

Many who were dieing of fatal “illnesses” are given new lives, even if they are confused about His name/nature, as long as they are willing to turn to HIm in their limited understanding (or misunderstandings).

In the “spiritual kindergarten” environment (as a founder called it) of the fellowships, the spiritually blind are beginning to see, the spiritually deaf are beginning to hear, the spiritually lame are beginning to walk, and run, and dance, and the spiritually dead are coming to life.

To His eternal glory and praise, in His most amazing love for the lost.


For anyone interested in an in-depth study of the relationship of the 12 Steps to the Scripture, i find the 12 sections of the following (unofficial) on-line reference to be very thorough: for a history

For a specific Step, just substitute its number in this address:

[Note that the commentaries with these Scripture quotations are from a person with, and are not authorized by any specific “anonymous organization”.]

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Thanks for these refections, @DeanW!

One of the philosophical ruminations I had off your comments was: Do you think Jesus is content to remain anonymous?

You wrote that

He humbles Himself to remain anonymous so that recovery groups can be united in their primary purpose (of recovering others like themselves), rather than arguing about His name or about religious doctrines.

I found that an interesting way to look at it, but I got to thinking about the healings he instituted as recorded in the Gospels… People either knew who he was when they came to him for healing or Jesus returned to those who did know who he was to reveal himself. (I’m thinking particular of the man born blind in John 9.)

Do you think that Jesus remains anonymous to those in the program, or do you think he eventually reveals himself? He definitely didn’t remain anonymous in your case! :smile:

Thanks for continuing the conversation, Kathleen. I was afraid that i had scared you away with my observations on your name. They were intended as a compliment, by the way, with a ring of theological truth in it.

As far as the question, “does Jesus remain anonymous in recovery meetings”?, you are right that He didn’t do so in my case. And in hundreds of thousands of other cases, also. Part of the literature that is read at every AA meeting says, “We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.” (found in ‘A Vision For You’)

Jesus/Yeshua said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (found in multiple NT books) The context was: He was talking to the disciples about the deceitfulness, the “leaven”, of the pharisees. But it is also a general principle of the Kingdom that more complete revelation will come at the exactly right time.

The pattern i see is that He allows a few “old-timers” to remain atheistic, some to remain relatively agnostic, some to return to other religions they were raised with, but the great majority, who are around long enough, begin to see that only Jesus Christ can exemplify and fulfill all the principles and promises of the fellowships. It seems to me that He finds it useful to allow some small number to refuse to acknowledge Him for the sake of the newcomers coming in, who would be repulsed and scared away by a too obvious preaching of the full Gospel.

It is very exciting to folks like me to see a new person, as confused and rebellious about religion as i was, begin to see the “clues” to Who is recovering them (their “Savior”, though they might not like that term, and choose instead their “Rescuer” or their “Recoverer”). And anyone who truly grows in the principles of the 12 Steps, cannot help but become more honest (oneness with Truth, which He is), more open-minded (to the Spirit, of Holiness), and more willing to see God as their “perfect Parent” (perfectly loving Dad/Mom which He is).

As you, and all other Believers, know, there is much joy in the little discoveries we make (/He gives) that help us understand and trust Him more. And more. And more. And more…ad infinitum…



Hi Kathleen-

May I submit a question for reflection here. Did Jesus actually reveal who he was or did the Father on his behalf? I’ll use Peter as an example

Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven Matthew 16:17.

I might note that revelation for Peter came after some time walking in his presence.


Excellent point, Nathan, if i may respond. It is my belief that God (eternally 3 in 1) can reveal His true nature at any time in terms we can understand, yet in a limited way given our finite intelligence and perception.

But i don’t remember Christ ever saying “I am the Messiah”. Instead, He seemed to always depend on the Spirit to reveal to people that He was. Then He would agree with the person saying it, in words like, “Thou sayest it” (KJV), or “You have said so” (ESV).

And this fits with His perfect humility. He referred to Himself as the Son of Man in many places, but i don’t recall HIm using the words “I am the Son of God”. Ever. Do you? It was usually demons, dictators, detractors or disciples who called Him that. Fascinating…He depended on His Father to reveal His actual identity.

John 12:49 (ESV)

“For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.”

Perfect submission with absolutely no self-aggrandizement.

Thank you, Nathan.

John chapter 10 is an interesting dialogue to meditate on and let form us as students of Jesus. He gets direct with the ruling religious class after spending much time in plain sight, teaching truth and working miracles. My walking around question is who do people say that I am? Do I let my works speak for me? Then the profession of faith given at the proper time has “Weight” that I am also a son of God and follower of Christ. A child one with the Father who has “a faith that works” to paraphrase back into The book of James which is affectionately referenced by sponsors/disciple makers walking in the steps of Christ.

“I and the Father are one. 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from “the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands”

Thanks for correcting me, Nathan. I had forgotten about that verse. The only other one i found, which is similar is:

Matthew 27:42-44 ESV

“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way."

It still seems interesting to me that both this example, and the one you gave, are the only places where a search for the words “I am the Son of God” gets results, both of which are not examples of Him saying the sentence currently but rather some indeterminate time in the past. In all other cases, He seems to have waited for the Spirit to reveal it to the person He is speaking with.

Not sure what exactly to make of that, yet. But somehow it seems to fit in a deliberate pattern of humility. Reminds me vaguely of the verse:

Galatians 4:6 ESV
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”.

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I also would like to present an example of Christians who consider the 12 Step fellowships to be a work of satan, leading to more bondage, not freedom in Christ. I had expected to meet this kind of confrontation here, but i’m glad i have not (yet).

Here is an extracted example taken from the website of
“Recovery in Christ Ministries”:

"Don’t be ignorant of Satan’s devices; he uses deception to keep us in his camp, or keep us living in bondage even though we have escaped from his camp. A strong deception of our day is this: Satan offers a refinement process, which promises freedom from addiction. And Satan has clothed his program in God garb to make it look Godly.

"Of course, I am talking about A.A., and N.A. These programs consist of a set of “spiritual principles”, which are beneficial to you and your community. If you live by these principles, you may indeed overcome drug addiction, but you will nevertheless, remain in Satan’s camp.

"A.A. makes the same mistake that the religious people made in Yeshua’s day. In Yeshua’s day, the Jewish leaders placed Moses ahead of Abraham, and tried to know Yahweh through their works. Paul told these men that they had to submit to Yeshua to know Yahweh, and enter His Kingdom. The same is true for A.A. members.

"A.A. without Yeshua is a ticket to Hell.

"A.A. with Yeshua is just another form of bondage.

“Don’t be deceived. Refining yourself with a set of spiritual principles will not bring you into Yahweh’s Kingdom so that you can know Him. There is only one way into Yahweh’s Kingdom, and only one way to know Him.”

I will respond to this concept, and accusation, in a later writing. (I have been “advised” to seek an answer from Him in prayer and meditation first…)

:thinking: I mean, I do agree with this statement in principle, but I do not agree with the conclusions they draw. Yes, refining oneself ≠ ‘salvation’ in an ultimate sense, but I wouldn’t presume to limit the avenues by which God can reveal Himself to an individual. Spiritual principles, if they are true, can lead you to Truth itself.

Any idea what this ‘one way’ is? I assume it’s via Jesus? I’d be curious to know how they understand that…