What do we mean by 'A Personal Relationship with Jesus'?

I was speaking with a ‘seeker’ who says that they are on the verge of embracing atheism. A church goer for decades, they have read the Bible and prayed, yet say God has never spoken to them and feel inadequate and sceptical when they hear others speak of a ‘personal relationship with Jesus’. They asked what is a personal relationship with God and what is the Biblical foundation of this? Would love to hear other’s responses before I meet with this person again soon.

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Hello @Keith_Moore

Great question.
Just to present a brief explanation, having a relationship with God is like having a relationship with anyone else.

  • We accepted each other (having a relationship with God starts by accepting Him)
  • We spend time to each other (we spend time with God)
  • Talking to each other (having a relationship with God is having a personal communication with Him through prayer and studying the Scripture)
  • Seeking for one another (having a relationship with God is a continuously growth of intimacy with one another)

Having a relationship with God is like having a relationship with anyone else. The difference is, we enter a relationship with our LORD, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Intilligent Designer, the Prince of Peace, and the Savior of our soul.

I would recommend you present to them the uniqueness of Jesus. In the way they know that every longing of their heart is found in Him, for them to see the beauty of Christ and the message of the gospel.

For biblical foundation, I recommend you to read these articles:

I hope these help!

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@Keith_Moore It sounds like you have yet a small open door to still plant a few seeds of life into this soil.
First, I just want to say, may the LORD grant you wisdom as you seek to gently speak the truth in love by 1. How you live out your own life in Christ (Speak God’s love by your actions, when necessary use words), and 2. How you simply interact with this person as a friend.

There is much that can be unwrapped and addressed in this deep aspect of the relation between God and mankind. However, I simply want to attach a few links that might help with some already preparatory work, granting some aspects of an underlying foundation:

I also wonder if perhaps you might know whether there has been some recent circumstances that have brought deep hurt in this person’s life or maybe confusion as to, if there was a God, why would He allow whatever it may be into their path—which may tend to cause this person to drift away?

I hope the links were helpful and look forward to hearing your thoughts, as well as hearing from others who will contribute to this conversation.

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Thanks, @Keith_Moore - I pray for God’s wisdom while you are engaging with your friend/seeker, and at the same time, I also pray for God’s grace to open the hearts of a person who attends Church for decades. A personal relationship with Jesus is very similar to our earthly relationships.

  • For any relationship, you should have a commitment on both sides. John 15:4 says Abide in me, and I in you. This is not a condition for the relationship but I would say, it is a consent for the relationship. Our Lord is so gentle that He doesn’t want to force us even though He is willing to give everything for us.
  • Secondly, in our earthly relationship, we have to communicate with each other. Relationship with Jesus requires prayer in faith and that’s the communication with Jesus. Philippians 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Just like earthly relationships don’t agree with all our wants and needs, Jesus may also answer or not answer our Prayer but it is always for our good if we are faithful.
  • Trust - In our earthly relationship, we expect trust with each other and Jesus also expects trust/faith in Him. In this case, Jesus has shown/proved his faith in us by dying for us, by redeeming us, and by promising to walk with us. Isaiah 30:21 - Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”. Another verse that articulates better about the faith and trust is 1 Corinthians 4:2 “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
    Obedience and mutual Understanding - In our earthly relationships, we expect mutual understanding, we expect obedience to each other’s commitment, and personal relationship with Jesus is no different. There are numerous times when I disobey to follow through on my part of the commitment in my personal life, Jesus reminded me gently the next hour or the next day. Proverbs 14:29 says whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. We get Obedience and understanding in our life through God’s word - Psalm 119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
  • Accountability - This is absolutely crucial for any personal relationship and relationship with Jesus is no exception. When you speak to your friend/seeker, gently emphasize the importance of accountability in our relationship - How we treat disappointment, lies, betrayals, sacrifice, mutual grace, and commitment in our relationships. Romans 14:12 - So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Last but not least, just like every relationship in the world is unique, the relationship with Jesus is also unique for each one of us with completely different experiences because He understands who we are and where we are and meets us there and again that requires a mustard seed of faith in Him. I will pray for your friend/seeker.

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@Keith_Moore While seeking God all these years, did this person fully surrender everything they are and have to the Almighty? Did he/she come before God with a deep conviction of sin? I wonder what their church going experience has been, and whether reading the Bible has been to gain a blessing rather than to know the Blessor? Would this dear seeker be willing to ask God for a deeper sense of sin, and therefore a greater understanding of the need (and desire) for the Savior? He who has been forgiven much loves much. I wonder if that would help.

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Dear Keith,
All of the responses to your great question are undeniable truth to me, therefore I cannot add very much. I would like to say that once your friend has said a simple prayer to the Holy Spirit to show him how to have a personal relationship with Jesus, it will be done for him. My prayers never go unanswered.
I pray that your friend will be open to this one recommendation and give it a fair chance.
Thank you for your loving care and concern for your friend. I know God will bless you & him because you are both blessed & highly favored already!
Sincerely, Kathy

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Hi @Keith_Moore the answers written here are really amazing. I don’t have much more to add but I’ll give what I can.

A part of having a relationship with God or any other person for that matter, would be to know their voice and their presence. Of course it’s different for everyone and it’s not as easy as being said, but like a friend or father we’re able to be truthful with God about out lives.

The more we spend time seeking him and being in his presence, we’ll learn to see God’s presence, direction and hand in our lives. Just as we can recognize the footsteps or voices of our family members, we’d be able to do the same with God.

Be it through his words standing out to us, through people around us, through small ‘coincidences’. We’d realize that we have a personal and all powerful God invested in us. Just as it takes 2 to clap, we should seek him vice versa as well. As we do, like in any relationship, it’ll impact and change us to be more like Jesus himself.

Wisdom, love, help and direction are all directly accessible from God and all we have to do would be to believe and put our trust in Jesus, the God that will never fail us. To reach out and grip his hand of reconciliation between creator and creation :blush:

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Thanks everyone for your great answers, and for the links to other threads/articles. They’ve been helpful. Also, some helpful questions suggested for me to ask my friend. God is good, so I trust He is doing something in his life right now.

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This is exactly what I was going to ask. Well said.
Someone can go to church all their lives, and not actually be a Christian. It’s so important to know what the true Gospel is. Was his church teaching the True Gospel? Man is totally depraved and in need of a Saviour, and recognizing we are sinners and how we need to repent is the first step to a relationship with God. God will always meet you in that place if we hunger for Him and recognize our need for Him!

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