Have you received Jesus Christ as your personal savior? Have you ever heard that question before? I must confess that I’ve always found the phrase a bit odd. When I read or hear it, I have a knee jerk reaction in the form of another question. Have I received Jesus as my personal savior, as opposed to what, an impersonal one?
“Personal Savior” makes me think of Jesus at a mixer handing out business cards with Jesus of Nazareth featured prominently on its center and the job title “Personal Savior” in finer print right below. People work as personal trainers, so I suppose a Personal Savior is not too much of a stretch.
I find the phrasing redundant and nearsighted. A drowning man rescued by the life guard knows he has been saved. He doesn’t then introduce the life guard to his friends as “my personal life guard.” The life guard is there for all who are in the water. Jesus saved me, and while I sense that in an intimate and personal way, He is the Savior of the world. Jesus certainly cares about people individually, but the mission He gave us was the discipling of nations.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ESV
The Great Commission often gets translated into asking individuals if they’ve received Jesus as their “personal savior.” Salvation is assumed in discipleship. Note that Jesus commanded us to make nations disciples, to baptize nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that we would teach nations to observe the commands of Christ. I think this reality of the Great Commission is watered down to individualism and individual salvations in evangelical circles because of a lack of understanding about kingdoms in general and the kingdom of Christ in particular.
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ESV
We were born in the domain of darkness, the devil’s district and jurisdiction. When we were born again, the Father took us out of the devil’s clutches and placed us in the Beloved Son’s kingdom. Along with becoming new creations in Christ Jesus, we also took on a new citizenship. We were placed in the kingdom of Christ. This kingdom is both our starting point and the reward of inheritance. Our walk is not about striving to get into the kingdom; it is about walking worthy of the kingdom to which we belong.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: KJV
We are in Christ and He sits on the throne in heaven at the Father’s right side. To hope for heaven is a consolation. To understand that we are already seated there is a revelation. Kingdom’s have thrones. Those of us born under democratic governments lack the experience of the power of a true monarchy. Jesus is the king. His edicts are not up for a vote. What He says goes. Our choice as subjects of His sovereignty is to follow and remain or disregard and risk outer darkness.
21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; KJV
“If” is a small word with big implications. We will only be found beyond reproach IF we continue in the faith and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel. If we begin to doubt His coming, we will start behaving like the unjust servant who abused the other servants. The holiness of our walk is the real indicator of the fervor of our hope. To the degree that we believe the Lord can return at any moment will be the degree that we avoid sin at all costs.
35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. ESV
Faith, like salvation, is not a one-time event. We came alive through faith, but that was not the end. We need to live our lives through faith. Alive is an adjective. To live is a verb. Faith is the fuel through which our lives are to be lived if we seek to continue in Him, to remain enthroned with Him in His kingdom. Hebrews 10:38 and Romans 1:17 both quote Habakkuk 2:4, “but the just shall live by his faith.” The Hebrew word translated “by his faith” is ‘emunah, the basic meaning of which is “certainty” and “faithfulness.”
It is in certainty of Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life and in faithful adherence to His direction that we are to live our lives. This is the path that disciples must walk in order to receive the reward of inheritance. If we shrink back from the Savior and live a life of disobedience to the King, we will suffer loss. Jesus takes no pleasure in reprobates.