“Praise God, praise God again. My name is so and so and I love Jesus as my personal savior and I have a personal relationship with Him…” This was the opening line to most testimonies in my Sunday school. Many years later down the line, I wondered what this ‘personal relationship with God’ meant. If you’re reading this and probably wondering the same, gear on and come with me along this journey of ‘discovery’. If on the other hand you’ re in this relationship, you might want to see if you are meeting its terms.
Based on the book of 1st John, the following are essentials for the relationship with God:
- One must first believe in Him
This relationship with God is a father- son relationship and it cannot be possible unless one believes in Him. It would be utterly insane to be in a relationship with someone you don’t believe in, and in His existence. The belief in Him is what earns you the right to be His son. (Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, children not born of natural descent, nor human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God; John 1: 12)
Believing that He was there in the beginning when the earth was formless and desolate. That He was the Word and that through Him all things came to be.
- One must acknowledge that Jesus is God
In John 1, John talks of the true light that was going to be man’s salvation. He was referring to the coming of Jesus. 1 John 1:5 confirms to us that God is this light.
In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1: 1) … 14; The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Therefore, Jesus is God, and through Him we get our salvation.
- One must walk in the light; in Jesus and therefore in the truth
It’s common knowledge that light can’t dwell together with darkness, thus, walking in the light means not walking in darkness. Darkness in this context means sin. So that when we receive the light; Jesus, He makes us free from sin (darkness). He is the light in our darkness; in our sinful nature. (If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet we walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His son, purifies us from all sin. 1John 1-6)
- One must confess of their sins
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth (who is Jesus) is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John8- 9)
Remember, from Paul’s epistles we know that we are accredited righteousness not by our works; not by how much we preach, how well we sing in the church choir, how much we read the bible, our righteousness is by faith through the blood of Jesus Christ. On our own, no matter how much we do, we are unrighteous and fallen from the glory of God, but through Christ we gain righteousness and therefore the power to defeat sin. Isaiah 1: 18 shows us God’s willingness to cleanse us of our sins. (… and the blood of Jesus, His son, purifies us from all sin. 1John 1-6). But for us to receive this grace we have to confess that we are sinners.
Otherwise: If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives (1John 1:10) yet He is not man that He may lie. Jesus came for the salvation of sinners, so technically those who claim to have no sin don’t exactly need Him and therefore there is no need for the relationship in the first place.
- One must obey His commands and be in Him
We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His spirit (1 John 4:13)
The man who says “I know Him”, but does not do what He commands is a liar and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:3)
…And this is His command: To believe in the name of His son, Jesus Christ and to love one another as He commanded us. Those who obey His commands live in Him and He in them (1 John 3: 23-24)
Christianity basically means Christ- like hence, living as Christ did. The love Christ has is for the whole world, for everyone. If we are Christ- like, we should be able to love everyone around us. 1John 2:2; He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
1John 2:9; Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness and walks around in the darkness, he does not know where he is going, because darkness has blinded him.
In the gospel books, Jesus says that Love is the greatest of all commands, Love, first for God and then for one’s neighbor. Also, there is no way one can claim to love God if they love not their neighbor that they see.
To know God, this is understanding and we know that the son of God has come and has given us understanding… to know Him who is true.